At war with chickens

What?  It’s time for my weekly post again?  I guess I should wrap up my camp series since I have been back for three weeks now…  Let’s see what I can write about.  How about the annual new thing at camp?  This year it was the water slide.  No, nothing fancy like at water parks- just a large, plastic(?) construction pipe shooting down into one of the camp’s many water holes- one that fortunately did not have a (deserved) name like Leech Lake.  Actually there were two pipes- only one of which the kids got to go down due to their age.  It went straight (well, angled) down into the lake.  The other one had a nasty upward curve at the end- this became the unofficial leader slide.  This pond, by the way, was 14 feet deep at maximum so  the kids wore life vests.  As well, there were a few lifeguards who were fortunately unneeded for our time there.  I helped a little with pushing kids down and managed to go down the leader slide twice during the time.  As leaders, we weren’t required to wear life vests and so I didn’t.   I have to say I didn’t entirely enjoy the experience, though it was certainly exhilarating.  It probably has to do with my paranoia of losing a contact in the water.  I wore goggles, but they were ripped off my head during the landing the second time I went down.  I felt it happen so I kept my eyes tightly closed while swimming, thereby keeping both contacts intact.  Needless to say, that was my last time down the slide.  After that I had a little fun dragging some of my campers through the water by their feet when they approached shore- something that could only be done because the life vests kept them afloat.

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An activity introduced last year was the pontoon boats.  The kids were taken on a tour over the lake on these boats, and even made a stop for some swimming fun and ice cream.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to partake this year due to overcrowding- only two leaders got to go with.  Notice in the above picture (remember, you can click on them for larger versions!) three different head-band colors on just the boys- that’s three different cabins without counting the girls cabins also present!  So, one leader promptly dragged down a kayak, intending to follow the pontoon boats and another quickly followed suit.  Never having been in a kayak before, I didn’t think following the pontoon boats would be suitable for me, but as I had been looking at these kayaks wistfully over the last few years I did decide to take one out.  I later learned that I could have just taken the kayak out to the swim and ice cream spot but I didn’t know at the time so I just paddled around the kids doing canoeing (an activity my cabin missed out on this year due to a windy day the day before).  It was fun, but I am not sure what I would have done had the kayak flipped.  I guess I would have had to slide out and drag it ashore as I can’t imagine how I could flip it back over while sitting in it or getting back in in the middle of the lake after sliding out and turning it over.  Fortunately I didn’t have to.

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Did I mention Leech Lake earlier? That last picture is Pastor Steve getting tossed into Leech Lake as one of the many rewards for treasures kids could find. After he climbed out, he counted out the leeches as he pulled them off. Don’t worry, there weren’t too many, but earlier in the week he had the service who had the most sign-ups shave his hair into a mohawk- poor Steve! My team lost this one by the flip of a coin (two services tied), oh well.

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My final say on camp week, unless I remember something else I wanted to write, is about the drama.  Every year there is drama included as part of the lesson time, but until this year I didn’t get to do it.  Part of this was due to uncertainty over whether I would even go to camp as summer work was unclear.  This year I was able to say that I was going for sure, but even so I didn’t get to perform until the last evening session.  Originally I was going to play a role as a soldier prepared for battle, but the day Pastor Steve came to get me during cabin rest time, my junior counselor was asleep so I couldn’t leave the cabin, and it was felt that I shouldn’t wake him up.  Instead, they switched my role to the Colonel who was waiting for the soldiers to be prepared (one was Private Slacker, so as you can imagine not everyone was prepared… long hair, wrong uniform, silly things in backpack, lack of understanding…).  On the last day everyone was surprised when Slacker was actually prepared much to the surprise of  his drill sergeant who was afraid to show him to the Colonel.  By the way, my name was Colonel Sanders- we were at war with the chickens of course- now why would chickens be at war with the Colonel?  Hmm…

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EDIT: A couple more waterslide shots I pulled from the camp video:
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A Servant’s Weekend

I may not always serve the Lord as I would wish too.  In fact I quite often find myself serving yours truly.  But the last weekend had me at my church for drama, singing, and leading.  It started Wednesday night with choir rehearsal when the director announced they were looking for a few people to be a part of a drama for Good Friday.  I thought about it and sent an email back saying I could, but for only three of the four services as I had to work for at least part of the day.

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The Good Friday service was made up of a few parts, starting with singing and followed by a short announcement.  For a half hour then everyone could walk around the worship center (95% of the chairs had been removed) visiting different areas.  One area had the text of the last days before the Crucifixion projected on walls for people to read.  Another had a giant cross people could sign.  There was a section with artwork portraying these days and an area with a looping video about a medical perspective on the Crucifixion.  There was also an area with replicas of a Roman flagrum, a spear such as used to pierce the sides of the victims to test for death as they did with Jesus, a crown of thorns, and others.  So following this time was another brief message followed by more songs.  The drama was during the half-hour tour time.  Like everyone who heeded our pastor’s wishes, we were dressed in black.  We would walk around and at various points break into one of two skits.  There were two main characters in one, the scene where Peter denied being a follower of Jesus three times, and one main character in the other, the scene in front of Pilate.  The rest of us were people in the crowd whispering or shouting out on cue- “crucify him!” or “yes, he is one of them” or similar.  The interesting part of the drama was it just happening right in the middle of everyone, and then we would be done, fading back into the wave of people- and boy, were there a lot of people, especially during the final service.  One could barely move at times.

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So Friday I was there from about 3:30 to about 8:00.  Then Saturday, I had to be back again at 1:00 for choir rehearsal, dressed and ready to sing.  We warmed up on our own then joined the worship band in the worship center, put back together from the day before.  I tell you, we sang for what had to be two straight hours on the entire worship package including our three songs and the five that the congregation sang together.  Since the majority of the guys sang tenor, I decided to sing bass.  Okay, let me not kid myself.  Some of that music, if it could talk would say, “first tenors only- second tenors need not apply.”  Following rehearsal we had a short break before lining up for the real deal.  I took this time to visit the 4th and 5th grade room.  I talked to some of the other leaders and kids before I had to go.  I would miss their worship time and craft time where they made crosses out of nails, but would be back during teaching time.  The singing went well, and so did the 4th and 5th grade small group time.  The teaching went well too, but it wasn’t me teaching.  In fact, due to choir I relinquished my own Sunday teaching time to someone else.  Following two choir times, who knew how my voice would be?

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Sunday we had to be back at 7AM, when we tried to watch a video from the night before.  It was either a bad disc or a bad player, but most of the video was a rapid, silent fast-forward.  Oh, well- that’s technology for you.  We had a short warmup and practiced a few of the songs, but not the entire set this time.  We performed, then breakfast was waiting for us.  Ahh…  There’s the real reason I serve.  Kidding aside (we did have to donate for the food if we were able!) both Sunday services went great as well.  I was back in the 4th and 5th grade room after the second service where we ended up merging 4th grade small groups which was fine.

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I went right to lunch from there, meeting my brother, nephew, mother, grandmother, and uncle for an Easter lunch (not brunch).  We ate, we chatted and bantered, and afterward we went to my house for some pie and chatted and bantered some more.  I’m tired of typing so I’ll skip the detail here.  As a bonus though, here are links to videos of most of the songs we did including the video shown at the start of our service with us singing.  I couldn’t include one song because it is an original from the musicians at my church and no one has made a youtube video with it.  Most of these are not us, just videos pulled from youtube.  Most.  Oh, and let me wrap up with this- in case you did not return to the comments of my last post, I mentioned that I updated some of the pictures by adding larger versions, so check them out- it may be easier to ID me now. 😉

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So anyway, the videos:

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Missing them already

This post was written last Tuesday, before the last post, but the sentiments still apply of course.  There was a video too, but unfortunately I did not get permission to post it here.  However, once it is officially posted at the church website I will be allowed to post that link.  Technically, the video is viewable now online via the site it’s hosted on, but since the link isn’t public yet it’s still being treated as private.  So, to the post:

Well, this last weekend was it. Maybe it was the way we went back to permanent small groups so I had the same kids each week, or maybe it was putting together the video, the first time I have ever made a video like this for 4th/5th grade, but I don’t recall feeling this way about any other group of 5th-graders leaving. Maybe it was both. It’s not as if I haven’t gotten close to the students before, I have. There is even a select group who I shared a cabin with for two summers a couple years back. Maybe my memory is just faulty. I don’t know. So two weeks from now we’ll be introducing an entire new group of kids into 4th grade as we move this last year’s 4th grade up to 5th. Due to the way things are done in the kid’s ministry with 4th and 5th grades going to service with their parents the last weekend of every month, the 3rd-graders actually have one more week before they come to us as 4th-graders. This weekend was also the swan song for this year’s drama for the K-3rd grade kids. This would ordinarily have been my week, but I had switched with someone who couldn’t do his week last weekend. Ironically, I received a call on Friday night that the one playing the guest role for the weekend couldn’t make Saturday night, so could I fill in for him? I did, which rather made things strange. I was performing with my cast, but not in my normal role. I did wear a false mustache and Fedora (can you guess the role type it was from the headwear? 😛 ) so I would at least look less like me in my other role playing a different role.  Hmm, could that last sentence of mine be more confusing?  At least you now share something with undoubtedly some of the kids who watched. 😀 . If you haven’t yet figured out the guest role this weekend, I’ll have to pull out my whip and… do something with it.  So anyway, as it turned out the original actor couldn’t make Sunday either, but the director filled in that day so I could at least spend an entire service with the very last 5th grade group at the 11:15 service.  Yes, I do miss them.

Busy, busy

The last day or so has been a bit busy.  Part of it was me wasting time on Hamsterball, a clone of the 80’s hit arcade game Marble Madness, and part was preparations for church this weekend.  I have been wasting a lot of time on Hamsterball.  Those who remember Marble Madness will remember that the game uses a trackball.  The player would madly roll that trackball to guide his or her marble downhill (in one case uphill!) to the exit, encountering many an obstacle on the way down.  Two players could even play at the same time, adding to the madness.  Hamsterball plays a great tribute to this game, but it looks like the two player game is limited to either a one-on-one battle to knock the other off a platform, or playing just one board at a time instead of an entire tournament.  Actually, the battle part can be up to four players- one-on-one-on-one-on-one, as it were.  Instead of a marble, the wonder of current technology allowed the programmers to turn it into a hamster ball, with the hamster dutifully running in the ball as it moves.  You can play in resolutions of 640×480 up to 1280×1024, in a window or fullscreen.  Unfortunately, fullscreen for me means the game is stretched to fill my widescreen display making the ball look flat.  When windowed, the game displays a correct aspect ratio fortunately.  In lieu of a trackball, I have tried to play this game using a mouse, the track-pad on this oversized laptop, and an analog Saitek game controller.  The game controller works the best for my purposes, but I still would like to get an arcade-style trackball at some point.  I missed out on buying one for $50 back when I could afford one.  The game itself starts with ideas from Marble Madness and takes off from there.  Besides the classic enemies like an enemy ball and disappearing floors, you will encounter fans, saws, giant hammers and mousetraps, and much more.  Remember the world on Marble Madness where your marble goes up ramps instead of down?  Well, add sideways to this game in a world where the gravity changes depending on where your ball is on the screen.  Here are some pictures from the game (click for larger size).  You can also find a bunch of videos on Youtube:

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The business with church involved the 4th/5th grade ministry and children’s drama.  I had a script to finish memorizing for the rehearsal which started at 3:30.  In addition, for the review game, Jeopardy, for 4th/5th grade I made some cards to draw for the categories and point values.  Sure, we could have let the students pick for themselves, but when there are 30-50 kids in the room, with half of them (two teams) having to agree that would have caused the game to drag.  One of the pastors used a die to decide in the past, but where’s the fun in that when we could have the kids draw from a box cool-looking cards instead?  On top of that it was rewards weekend.  As such I had to call about ten kids in my small groups to remind them to bring their reward sheets with them.  Most of them did, but a couple still forgot or couldn’t find them.

An odd thing happened this weekend.  There was a guest pastor from California, and for some reason on Saturday night he thought the service was two hours (it’s really 1½ hours) and so we were wondering in kids ministry what was going on when 6:45 rolled around, then 6:50 and the parents still weren’t there to pick up the kids.  I learned the next day of what happened.  The pastor was corrected and had to shorten his message by a half-hour otherwise chaos would have ensued between the two morning services as people for the second service arrived to a full parking lot because the first service hadn’t left yet 😯 . In the end, everything worked out well.  The review game was only its usual chaos, the drama went well- if not always perfect- for the three services, and the kids were too fully engaged in the room games Saturday night to care that their parents hadn’t arrived yet (I do feel for the other classrooms though that didn’t have carpetball, four-square, and air hockey).

Last performance of the year

Well this weekend was a special one, for more than one reason.  First my friends from Ohio came out and visited.  Thbey came out to see their family and then came over here for the “nightcap” before they headed back.  It took us a bit to decide on where to go for entertainment.  For a very populated area I couldn’t think of much in that line.  There is a lot of outdoor entertainment during the warmer months, but it was cold and wet so that was out.  Indoor water park down the street?  Too expensive.  Laser tag?  Kids not old enough.  So we settled on Chuck E. Cheese.  We got there and it was so packed that people were making their own parking spots at the side of the building.  Fortunately some people were leaving so we got a spot.  Inside, C bought a bunch of tokens which the older girls used for the most part.  A couple of times C would raid the cup of tokens, but the two girls used most of them.  There were a couple of rides, some skill games, a video roller coaster, and video games.  The favorite seemed to be the Nickelodeon race game which basically stole borrowed heavily from Mario Kart.  The younger of the two could not reach the accelerator when she played, so her older sister did that job for her while she steered.  I didn’t get to talk to C and L much at this time, but it was quality time with their two oldest.  Following CEC, we went to a local hot dog joint, down the street from me actually, and had us some good food.  There is where we were able to talk, that is between young C spitting up and some issues that crept up with the girls eating.  From there they dropped me off (we all went in one vehicle), changed the baby, and they were off for home and I was off to part 2 of this post…

…Drama.  This was my cast’s weekend to perform so I had to be at my church at 3:30 for rehearsal.  Between making a DVD for another friend in OH and the visit this mornig I had no time to shower so I dragged my grubby self over to the church.  We found out that the learning center where we perform was in use so we rehearsed in the room next door.  I gave the two giggling kids some candy (4th and 6th grade) and we were slowly able to get through the lines.  We then did it with blocking a few times.  Through all this time the guest author (there is a different “guest author” every week) never showed up.  Steve, the children’s pastor, didn’t know anything about it so I gave the director a call and he was surprised that he hadn’t shown up.  I hung up and a few minutes later Steve got a call from him and it turns out he wouldn’t be coming, so Steve would have to fill in (again…) for the night.  The one who was supposed to be there would be there for the Sunday performances.  Now, because Steve is the kids’ pastor he had many other duties to do so we still didn’t get to rehearse with him.  This may or may not have contributed to what happened next during the performance.  Bear in mind that I am an experienced actor and rehearsal had actually gone fairly well, especially line-wise by the time we got to the performance.  I did my puppet part well, but when I walked out to do my live character, I started off fine but then I forgot my lines!  How…?  Anyway, I at least stayed in character and the others tried to cover until I was able to recover a few lines later.  I almost missed my puppet entrance after that because I was mad at myself.

Today’s performances went fine though I am happy to say.  There was a line flub by the kids in the first performance today, but mothing like my flub last night.  I will miss this drama for the next two months.  We will be off for the holidays.  Next week is the last one until January, but it is a different cast so I am done until that time.  Hey, more time to memorize for the next one, right? 🙂

This space under construction

Construction- gotta love it.  Construction on the roads, construction of buildings, and so on.  Just yesteday when I went to vote- nice short lines by the way, a far cry from the two-hour wait I expected- one of the volunteers there noticed where I live and mentioned she lives down the street in a two-story house.  Of course I was thinking, “This is a ranch neighborhood, except for…”  Then she completed my thought by adding that they had just added a second story.  Construction.  Just a few years ago it seemed like every fifth house was being made into a McMansion, a topic proudly taken on and condemned by the King of the HIll crew just last weekend by the way.  If there can be one good thing said about this economic downturn it means less of these teardowns.

Today I can add construction in classrooms to the list of construction to deal with.  I subbed in music today and the music room was under construction, so I had to hold class elsewhere.  The other music/drama teacher gave up her space to me and decided to hold her classes in the regular classrooms so it didn’t bother me.  We didn’t do much.  It was a last-minute illness so the teacher just set me up with videos for lesson plans.  For the morning she left two alternatives- a Beethoven movie titled “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” and a movie titled “Bach to Rock.”  Well, Beethoven wasn’t in the building let alone upstairs, so we watched the other one.  Ironically when I went to the library after work the Beethoven movie was on the rack with recently returned movies.

There was one more class before noon where I read a book to the kids and then in the afternoon I travelled to another school.  Fortunately the road construction that had been going on a couple of weeks before in front of that school was finished.  I had stupidly left the lesson plans at the other school so I upset the secretary at the afternoon school by having the morning school fax it over.  Apparently the fax machine was in a room where only the secretary could retrieve it and she was very busy.  That drama over, the afternoon classes were, well, drama so naturally we watched sing-a-long videos. 😛

Well, that was my day today.  Monday as I previously mentioned was 8th grade math.  No teaching, just worksheets.  And a practice ISAT extended response problem for the Algebra classes.  The only interesting thing to write about was homeroom at the end of the day.  I may have blogged about a boy recently from Italy a couple of weeks ago when I did ELL.  Well, that boy was in my homeroom.  Actually, the homerooms in this district have two teachers and here is where it gets interesting.  The other teacher is the Italian teacher.  That’s right, this school has an Italian class.  I subbed for her last year incidentally.  I wonder why they chose to put this boy in this particular homeroom… 😛

Busy busy

With a new school year comes not just employment but things going on at my church as well.  Okay, I haven’t been that busy, but compared to just a week ago it seems like it.  Also, I have been catching up on my internet reading since I was down for much of last week.  It still goes down daily, but they tell me I have a perfect connection and it must be the work they’re doing in the area.  I can only hope it goes away after awhile proving them right, otherwise I’ll be stuck since they’ll never find anything with my “perfect” connection.

Monday I took a half-day job, but when I got there I found out the secretary put a teacher’s request in for the wrong day.  They then proceeded to remove the assignment from my job list so I can only hope I’ll get some sort of compensation for it, but if not I least I can have the satisfaction of working only four periods today and getting a full day’s pay for it (the norm for middle school is six periods).  The teacher came in to work and decided he was too ill to work so I picked up the late assignment.  I did not work first period as a result.  Then I found out the teacher only has five periods, helping out in the office a 6th period.  That is not normal and they didn’t have me do it, though I did ask about it.  To top it off, the teacher has a student teacher so he did most of the work.  Cool.

Yesterday was an easy day too, though when I got there I was a little concerned as the teacher didn’t leave any lesson plans.  Fortunately I only had to teach one class.  The rest were either co-teach classes (you know what that means- the other teacher does the teaching an I help as an assistant) or resource/study hall.  As it turned out the one class they were just working out of a packet, so I just taught the next page of the packet and had them start their homework in class.  Of course when I got home I found an email outlining the plans- apparently the system allows for a teacher to upload the plans to the sub-system and have them emailed to the sub.  Having never had this happen before, I never realized it could do this so I never bothered to check my email before heading to work.  Fortunately for me I had pretty much followed the plans without realizing it! Whew…

Besides work I had my usual small group Monday night and tonight I had rehearsals for both children’s drama, which starts up again this weekend, and choir.  Since they overlapped, I had to miss a little bit of each.  I just wish it hadn’t been the first rehearsal as that is one that people shouldn’t miss, even in part.  Well, that’s how it goes I guess.  I have two more choir rehearsals next week and will have to miss small group as a result but they understand about that- it only happens a few times a year.  I’ll just have to make sure they are set on song lyrics as that’s kind of my job- I usually set up a couple of powerpoints and bring my computer in.  That’s one of the nice things about this new computer.  I guess I will just have to print something up and drop them off- I’ll be in the same building after all.  Someone else provides the music by the way in case you’re wondering.  My small group starts off each week with a couple of worship songs.

Well, that’s it for now.  Time to get ready for some sleep.  It’s going to be another early day tomorrow.

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