I am back from camp and have in fact enjoyed a nice afternoon with C & L, who are in the area for tomorrow’s Chicago vs. Chicago game. There was a new indoor mini-golf place over at Stratford Square mall which we were told just opened last week. I’ll take their word for it since it has been over ten years since I have been there. Following 18 holes of golf (out of 54) we decided our eyes were getting tired of the black-lighting (the whole place was lit that way with the neon paints) and proceeded to have some dinner. Deciding against the one real restaurant which L said seemed like an Applebee’s after looking at the menu, we opted for the food court. I had Chinese, they had Sbarro’s and some pretzel dogs. All of us had blue raspberry lemonades from the pretzel stand which was quite good. Instead of going back to play more golf, which we could have as the fee C paid for us covered the entire day, we talked for a bit and walked around the mall which surprisingly was still quite active with seemingly less than 5% vacancy. I guess maybe I am used to other local malls, not counting Woodfield in Schaumburg, that have closed in the last several years. We stopped at a pet store and C & L found that they could happily own a glorified mutt with a fancy name for the bargain price of $1600. No, I didn’t accidentally add an extra digit. Not $160 or $600, but over a grand and a half! Ouch. Well, that was pretty much it. They had to go shortly after and so we went our separate ways.

What? You wanted to hear about my week at camp? Well, that is coming soon. As for the title, C talked me into updating Live Messenger with the newer Live Essentials version and I noticed I could install a Writer program to write my blog posts. Right now I am seeing this post exactly as it should appear on my blog page once published- grey background, full justification, and lowercase title included, unlike the WordPress editor on which I would have to click a preview button to see how it would look. It seems pretty nice and barring any difficulties I will probably give this a longer test run with added pictures and whatnot. There seem to be things that I don’t think the WordPress editor even has. I’ll see how it goes. Well, until later…

Edit: Well, that didn’t go well- I needed to edit the post straight away.  It added a bunch of #160s and forgot to encase the paragraph tags in <> symbols so the post had extra p, em, /em and /p characters included in the text.  I guess there are bugs to be worked out- oh well.

And I’m off…

Would you take one look at me and say, “Send that boy to camp?”  Well, whatever your answer that is precisely where I am headed.  Six days in Michigan taking charge of 5-7 nine- and ten-year-old boys.  There are roughly 100 campers going this week and we are headed there a couple hours earlier than last year.  Previously the buses were scheduled to leave at 11, now it is a bright and early 8:30, which by the way is when you should see this post (central time).  However, we are headed home early as well- Friday after dinner instead of Saturday morning.  As usual there are some new things to see when I get there, but probably the most anticipated is seeing the buses go all the way down to the game field so we don’t have to walk a mile to get to our cabins.  Ahh…

I suppose I will have to write up my tale when I get back just for you readers 😉

I was thinking about writing up my week ahead of time, 3-5 posts for the week using the delayed posting feature, and then see how accurate I was at the end since I have been there four times before after all, but I ran out of time.  Sorry about that.  It’s not as if I have gone a week without posting before.  Sigh.  Well, assuming I survive, see you in about a week!

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Look! It’s the…

A few months ago I made a post about a mystery painting.  That mystery has not been solved, but on that post I used a graphic with a somewhat suggestive van in it.  In fact, when searching my clip art collection with the key word “mystery” that was one of  the results.  I chuckled when I saw it then proceeded to use it.  Fast forward to last week when on my way to work this little beast turned out in front of me- no not literally in front of me thereby cutting me off, but in the other lane.  If you didn’t get the suggestion last time, you are sure to this time.  All that’s missing is the name on the side and a great dane sticking his head out the window.

Speaking of that mystery painting, I finally got around to taking a picture of the signature.  If you know it, please let me know:

Do I hate blogging?

I haven’t really lacked the time in the evenings so I guess I must.  At this rate, no one will miss me in a week when I head to Michigan for a week of camp with the tykes who weren’t even born yet when I started working in the kid’s ministry.  So what have I been doing?  Well, as I noted a week ago, I started training for my new job.  For four of the five days this week I was driving out to a number of dealerships north of here, the furthest an hour away because those are the places Rene, the one I am training with works.  After this week I am wondering if I will really earn much more at this job than subbing.  As it stands, I would have to take pictures of 75 cars a week in order to earn the same amount.  If my dealerships are as spread out as hers then I will be on the road for several hours per week.

Here’s what a typical day looks like.  Arrive at the dealership with a printout of all the cars on the lot that the dealer has upped to the web that are still missing pictures.  Search for the cars in the lot, noting that several are being detailed (cleaned) or repaired, or just waiting for one of the two to be done.  Those vehicles will have to wait for another time.  Once that is done, which can take a half hour or more if the dealership is large and has many cars to be done, it is time to get the keys for the ones that can be done.  This is where we find out that some of the cars have their keys already checked out to someone else.  Now we have to talk to those people or get the keys from another source if necessary, like the dealer bags which have the information and second set of keys for each car.  Finally, we can start doing the work for which we’ll be paid.  One (or two since there are two of us for now) at a time we bring the cars up, search the options in them so the right one get marked, print out dealer stickers with said options listed as well as mandatory-by-law warranty stickers.  Next (or first, depending on the person) several photos are taken, skipping or minimizing any major defects- these are 99% used cars after all.  One of the common photos to be skipped is that of the engine if it’s really dirty.  What is up with today’s car engine by the way?  Most of them seem to have a plastic covering whose sole purpose is to make the engine look nice when the hood is opened, usually sporting some model number as well.  Seems like a waste of money if you ask me, but someone somewhere must have determined that this is what people want, otherwise why bother with the added expense?  So with the pictures done, the car has to be returned- I prefer one dealership which insists on doing this themselves as they park them “perfectly” using two people- and a new one retrieved.  When finished we print out a receipt which is signed by the contact in the dealership and one copy given to their department that handles the finances.  Then it’s on to the next dealer.  We do two or three in one day, but I suppose the ones making the bigger bucks are doing more.  I bet theirs are closer together.  As for Rene, she has a personal goal of 100 cars per week which doesn’t earn much more than I make as a sub during the school year.  That goal was not met this week.  Thursday the daily goal of 20 (five days, 20 cars each equals 100- get it?) was met almost all at one dealer, but Friday we only did I think 11 cars.  I don’t remember the other two days I was with her, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t do 20 both days.

This job of course is all outdoors, which for me means the added expense of sunscreen without which I would burn to a crisp.  In fact, after Monday which was mostly cloudy I still was quite red after I didn’t use it.  Monday also had a huge downpour while we were at the third dealer.  There had been some light rain earlier in the day, but at the end it just came down in sheets.  An umbrella didn’t help one bit as it was accompanied by high winds.  Since we were taking photos at the time, we ended up in that vehicle.  Too bad it was a very old vehicle with few options.  The defroster couldn’t keep up with the constantly fogging front window.

Well, I’ll tell you more about the job in another post I’m sure, but for now I am tiring of writing so- until then!

Who wants to be a superhero?

No, Sci-Fi channel (or should I say SyFy?) didn’t renew Stan Lee’s reality show for a third season.  But apparently 106 5th and 6th grade students in Berwick, Maine wanted to be superheroes.  Or at least dress up as them.  After a university in the UK set a Guinness record of the most people in one room dressed as superheroes with 103 students and staff members a teacher at Knowlton School decided to try and break the record.  Their new record, if their attempt is accepted (i.e. no one else tried for the same record with more people), might be short lived though as the university vowed to take back the record if anyone were to break it so whether or not they will be in the next Guinness World Records book depends on how quickly this university can respond.  It may well be that the teachers at the Maine school were clever with their timing as summer time means break time so it may not be until fall or later when the university tries to take back the record.  For the full story (with pics!), click the link below:

‘Superhero’ students gather in Berwick to set new Guinness World Record

From kids to kars.. er, cars

It looks like this may truly be the end for the summer, but it is also a beginning.  I was able to secure jobs for the last three days.  I even had a job for this morning, but I canceled it when I was still awake at midnight and it required an earlier start.  I stupidly took a nap yesterday afternoon so that affected my being able to get to sleep.  Monday was an extension of Friday as it was a two-day assignment.  It was a light-duty assignment since it was an assistant position.  I was pleasantly surprised though to find the assistant I subbed for had a paid lunch-duty assignment, so the lower-paying assistant assignment was offset a little by this.  Too bad my Wednesday assistant assignment didn’t have such a thing.  It’s the end of the year though, so I take what I can get.  The two assistant assignments differed somewhat in that the first was there for a group of five kids (four actually since one has been out of school for the last couple of months) while Wednesday my attention was focused on just one boy with autism.  For the first I was on hand for the rest of the class as needed, which wasn’t much being the end of the year, and for the second I stayed around this one boy, but did help his neighbor too who needed it at times.  Across from him was another boy with albinism- the second I met this year.  As seems to be standard with this condition, he had vision problems which required extra-large textbooks and he had to wear sunglasses and a hat outside.  There really wasn’t a lot of academic work being done on these last few days as the grades had already been turned in.  There was a lot of cleaning and turning in books and extended recess times.  There was a lot of letter writing in one of the classes (imagine writing a letter- at least half a page each- to every student in the class.  They were doing only five a day, but still very monotonous.  They also did math speed drills, practicing the times tables.  I also did a lot of copying.  Well, at least I was paid.  It was also a rest in a way which is perfect for this time of year.  Tuesday was completely different.  You already know about the fire, but aside from that it was a very normal teaching day with math, reading, and so on.  I didn’t do much teaching though- a lot of facilitating.  Get them started on something, and off they go as I walk around keeping them on task.  I saw one of my now-former weekend kids, but only for math.  The teacher I subbed for did advanced math.

As I write this I am still trying to secure a job for tomorrow, but I won’t be surprised if nothing turns up.  One district is already out of the running.  Monday however, I start on something new.  I will be training to take pictures of cars for ads.  Actually, I think I mentioned this in another blog post so I won’t repeat it, but now I have signed the contract and have an official starting date.  He is even allowing me to do my usual week at camp, which is coming up in less than three weeks.  Training can last three weeks to three months depending on how quickly I learn the ropes.  This should become my priority over subbing, but I will probably still do maybe one day a week, more in winter if there are less cars to do.  I will see.

A sobering Tuesday

On Tuesday I was on my way to a job and had to choose a route to take.  One of the routes, the one I didn’t pick, was blocked with police tape and vehicles, which I found out when I passed it taking the other route.  Like accidents and such I pass from time to time, I wondered if I would see it in the paper tomorrow whatever it was.  I found out much more quickly than that.  When I arrived at the school, I signed in and took note of an article someone had laid out, printed from the local paper’s website.  A fire had claimed the lives of a mother and a fifth-grade boy that very morning.  The dad, who is said to have set the fire due to financial problems, would die in the hospital a day later.  Being closer to the school I was at than any other school in the district I figured I would be dealing with more than teaching today because guess what- I was subbing for fifth grade.  As it turned out, while this school was closer the main road was a dividing line so in fact he went to a different school.  I guess they didn’t want kids to have to cross the busy road.  For me that meant not having kids who needed to be consoled, but now the ones at the other school would be the ones involved in the crisis counseling.  The fire wasn’t even mentioned where I was, but I can bet today this school had some counselors on hand since after all, the family lived only about a half-mile away.  There were two surviving children.  I pray that they get the help they need to be able to move forward.  I am not sure if I ever subbed in the fifth-grader’s class.  His name isn’t familiar, but I think I may recognize him, but maybe not- I have been with hundreds of different kids after all.  One thing is for sure though, I will never be subbing in his class again.

May God comfort those two kids who are now parentless and minus one sibling.  Peace to them.  Typically I don’t identify the districts I sub in, but this news deserves a couple of links:

Officials look to cause of fire that killed members of ‘perfect family’

Police: Kevin Finnerty left suicide note, started fire