Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cincinnati, not so bad

The reports I got about Cincinnati from everyone but Max had been mostly negative. Tom let me know that is was a pit of a town while others including my Dad had gone to visit only to find little or nothing to do. Therefore I approached the city with apprehension, but have concluded that it's not so bad. But don't come here for the chili. The unanimous consensus among the Parkinson's that the chili is not great. We went the the famous Skyline chili to try true Cincinnati chili. What separates this chili from the chili everyone else knows and loves is that it is served on spaghetti noodles (pretty good), and it contains cinnamon (not good). What amazed us the most about Cincinnati chili was the shear amount of it. Skyline restaurants are separated generally by about two blocks in this town. They apparently can't get enough of it.

On the positive side of the Cincinnati food front was Jungle Jim's grocery store. This place was amazing. It appeared to be a Mecca for food and public bathroom lovers (they won an award for the nicest public restrooms in the country). When we walked in there was a greeter with a map who had to describe the layout of the store to us. I've never been in a grocery store that requires a map. This is because they have a huge selection of everything! I was most impressed with the beer selection. There was a wall display of domestic beers from all over the country. Max and I each selected a six pack to try. Hers was a java stout (brewed with coffee) and I picked an outmeal stout. I still haven't tried out the outmeal stout, but the java turned out to be quite good.

It has been fun hanging out with Max and I am glad we got to see where she lives and get a better understanding of what she does. Her place is kind of funny because it is converted offices running the length of a hallway, so it reminds me a little of the dorms. Our room turned out to have a gorgeous view of the Ohio river and the towns of Kentucky that lay beyond.

Tomorrow we head back to Macon and from there to Kansas City.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Date Night

Cali got me tickets to Kurt Elling for my birthday and we went on Friday night. Elling is a jazz singer and is best known for his scatting and amazing ability to sing just about any jazz lick that a saxophone could play. I was really impressed with him and his band. I spent most of time watching the drummer who was extremely intense. He even managed to break one of his drum sticks at the conclusion of the concert. We also sat next to a guy Cali knew from college. He was pretty funny; he brought a date and never really introduced her to us. He also spent most of the time talking to us instead of her. We sensed he might be in trouble later.

Before the concert we went to a restaurant called Fritz's. Cali located this restaurant on the internet because she was in the mood for something salty. Fritz's definitely fulfilled that craving. There are two of these restaurants in the Kansas City area. One is posh and it is located in Crown Center. The other is not very posh and it is located in Kansas City, Kansas. We went to the latter. For those of you who don't know, there are very few beautiful parts of Kansas City, Kansas. However, I think this Fritz's probably has more character than the other one. It was clear Fritz's was a local favorite and it seemed like a great place to take kids. You order on a telephone and then a train delivers your food! It was so cool, the train car traveled around the restaurant on tracks that ran over our heads and then it dropped our meal onto a metal tray just above our table! The food was similar to Winsteads or any other diner, but we decided to try their special which was a burger with hash browns on it. If I were Max I would have had a camera and I would have taken a picture of it, but since I didn't you will just have to picture it yourself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow day!

Most people don't get the luxury of a snow day, but that is one of the great things about being a teacher. It is crazy icy outside so we are stuck at home again. Cali of course loves being stuck at home, but I am kind of indifferent. However, I am enjoying the scenery. I wish I could take a picture of our back yard because it is beautiful. The trees are covered with ice and icicles hang from every surface. Of course this is kind of scary also because our power line looks pretty weighed down. Cali is worried we will lose power so she has worked herself into a frenzy to get as much baking done as possible while she can use the oven. I have mainly been organizing cd's, reading, and doing other frivolous work. I have a hard time working on anything of any importance on days like today. They seem like such a gift so I hate to squander them by doing actual work. I got started on the latest Nick Hornby book which so far is great and I also am reading the Barak Obama book, Dreams from My Father. His story is fascinating. It reads like a novel and as I am reading it I keep forgetting that it is someone's actual story. It just seems so fantastic. My life story I am afraid wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. It's probably more exciting then Malachi's though. He spent today's snow day sleeping in various chairs. He is even more of a bum than I am.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Recently I have been frustrated with many things at my schools. Especially with my 6th graders. I have tried to give them more responsibility and choice in my strings lessons, but so far it only seems like it has opened the door for more complaining. I keep trying to emphasize what things are their domain and what sort of things are my decisions, but we are struggling to find that line. Cali has noticed some of the same problems in her schools. We have some kids who seem to think they are the teacher and that they should make the decisions. Somehow I need to find a way to balance giving them some choice and input into the classroom, but still having them respect the decisions that I make.

Another difficult issue is at home practice. Some students will go weeks without practicing at all. They will come in and say, but Mr. Martin I had a lot of homework. I keep trying to tell them that they had homework for my class as well, but orchestra is put on the back burner when it is pitted against spelling and math. My latest plan is to get them to practice during Hannah Montana. I figure if they practice during every commercial break they will get a total of 10 minutes worth of practicing which is just enough.

These issues may be coming to light because we have concerts coming up. I just want them to be really good and to be successful. I only hope that I am not pushing them for my own selfish reasons, but instead to see them accomplish something great.