Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Infinity and Beyond

On this day in history, NASA was created.

Happy birthday, NASA! Not only are you an important part of fifth grade science (and history, as far as I'm concerned), but you are a part of what makes America a great nation.

As I told the kids during the past year as we studied it, my Uncle Jimmy on my Grandpa's side (Yes, his name was "Jimmy Carter", but he wasn't that Jimmy Carter) was an engineer for NASA. Up to a certain point in my life, I was convinced that I would one day be an astronaut. That is, until everybody started telling me that astronauts would have to know a lot of math, and by the point I decided to focus in on math, it was too late.

But the fifth grade me? Yeah, he was going to go into outer space. So a little part of me will always be attached to NASA and the space program, even if it's only through heredity.

It's in my blood.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Benefit Of Being Around Like-Minded People

What a great--and 5-1-related--weekend.

Friday night, thanks to the Andersons, I got to attend the Beatles tribute band Classical Mystery Tour at the Symphony on the Prairie. It was great to see some familiar faces out there...

It was a fun night for sure, and I even got my fifth graders to get up and dance to "Twist and Shout" at the end of the second encore. Thank you to the Andersons for the tickets, and to Mr. Lundy, whose ear I think I talked off all night. It was fun to see Reed, Lara, Lucas, and Billy again before they go off to middle school. Gorgeous weather, good music, and excellent company. Thanks, Anderson fam!

Then, today, Griffin and his dad took me to watch the Reds game in Cincinnati. Once again, we had fantastic weather, and it was great to spend the day with those gentlemen. I also realized today that Griffin could pretty much be a baseball commentator with just the information he knows off the top of his head already at the tender age of almost-eleven.

(The selfie of Griffin and his dad originally had me to Griffin's left, but I looked enough like a bulldog that I couldn't really do that to myself...)

Thanks to the Griffin and his family for an outstanding day of baseball with my favorite 5-1 baseball fan. (Hey, he roots for the right team; of course he's my favorite baseball fan from the past year.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Dark Night's Dark Knight

On Wednesday, I realized it was Batman Day. Batman Day was set to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation of Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for DC Comics in Detective Comics #27 back in 1939.

You would think that I, of all people, would have made special mention of Batman Day on Wednesday, but evidently it wasn't a high enough priority for me to mention until it was too late. Anyway, here I am, wishing the big man in black a happy 75th, and a thanks for keeping Gotham City safe. Heck, it seems that we could use your help in Indianapolis right about now, but that's a discussion for another time.

Thanks for being a part of the heroic ideal, Batman!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Son of Thunder

Imagine how excited I was when I was at the dojo this evening, teaching my classes, when Miss Meredith, who works the front desk, brought this to me. I didn't even need to read the note on it to know it was from Miss Madi, legendary Chuck Norris fan from 5-1.

Not only does this DVD contain three classic Chuck Norris movies, but also two bonus Charles Bronson movies. I see a testosterone-fueled movie marathon night coming soon.

Thanks so much, Madi! Come on in to the dojo and I promise I will show you how to turn your hands into fists of fury and how to turn your feet into righteous justice-makers that would make Chuck Norris very proud indeed.

(Side note: Chuck Norris is now 74 years old, all you parents out there. Yeah. It made me feel old too.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Small Step; Giant Leap

This is the 45th anniversary of the day the United States landed on the moon. 

I remember my mom telling me that she spent this evening in a hotel room while her parents slept, with her brother, watching the moon landing on TV. 

Those who paid attention during our astronomy unit this year will remember that Neil Armstrong (Purdue graduate, just saying...) stepped off of the lunar module and said the words, "This is one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind..." 

In an interview after returning to Earth, Armstrong was quoted as saying, "It suddenly occurred to me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. It felt very, very small." 

Armstrong passed this mortal coil nearly two years ago now. His legacy lives on in anyone who looks up into the night sky and thinks, "I would love to go there."

Swinging Sticks of Fury

One of the coolest things about karate camp last week was that we received a visit from Sensei Rudy Pavletic. This will sound a bit boring, perhaps, to those who aren't connoisseurs of karate, but Sensei Pavletic is the man responsible for creating the renowned "nunchaku kata", which is a routine using nunchucks. While he was there, he taught several students the double nunchaku kata. (The name of the single nunchaku kata is impi sho no nunchaku, but I honestly can't remember the name of the double version.)

This is Miss Emma showing me what she learned from Sensei Pavletic. I had decided by that point that we only had so many pair of nunchaku to go around, let alone go around twice, so I figured I'd learn it from someone else who had learned it. I told Miss Emma that I would have to have her teach this to me in the dojo.

At karate camp, I got to once again lead the campfire this year. I also got quite a bit read--including finishing up a book recommended by Chico's dad (Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine St. Exupery), a book recommended by Mr. Hunter (David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell), and finishing up re-reading a book that I'm reading along with Shoji for tutoring (The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney).

But my new goal is to learn that double-nunchaku kata, because really, when you watch someone do it, they look really awesome.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Word Crimes

Your parents (okay, your dads) and I all know that Weird Al Yankovic is one of the smartest guys who has ever lived. This should be proof. You can all stand to learn a thing or two from a guy whose name is "Weird Al".

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hi, Friend

Happy Birthday to Shoji! Shoji is in Japan right now visiting relatives, but we want to send him our most sincere wishes for an awesome birthday spent with his family. 

What can we say about Shoji? What can you say about an eleven year old professional golfer who is also an excellent baseball player and a pretty funny guy to boot? Shoji came on to the scene at Woodbrook mid-fourth grade year. Everyone called him Sunshine because he hailed from California.  I think I can count on one hand the amount of times Shoji wasn't in a good mood this past school year.
Happy Birthday, Friend, and many many more.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flicker Of the Campfire, Wind In the Pines

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. It's been a busy few, and my upcoming week will be even busier, as I will be at karate camp. Luckily, the camp setting should afford me a chance or two to sit down and update Mr. Carter's Dojo throughout the week.

I do want to take this chance to thank a few people who gave me some very kind birthday shout-outs last Wednesday: Evan, Shoji, Chico, and Mitchel. You're true blue, guys. (Also, thank you very much to all the parents out there who wished me well that day. You're all fantastic people.)

Okay, it's about time for me to shove off down the road. Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

He's Here To Collect

Cartoon by P. S. Mueller. Thought everyone might get a kick out of this one.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tragedy On a Summer's Day

Mrs. Barb Boros, a teacher retired from Woodbrook for a few years now, died yesterday.

I don't know how many of you had connections to her--people with students who are older definitely would either have known her or possibly had her as their child's teacher.

Mrs. Boros was from the old school. Of course, when I started at Woodbrook, the Old School was the secret to our success. She was the lady in the picture when you went to look up "school teacher" in a dictionary from the 1960's. She had a chain on her glasses and could silence a room with a look.

She had a collection of smiley faces. In her class pictures, she always had a little plush smiley face sitting on her shoulder.

I will say this for her. Out of the fourth grade teachers of her time, I always found her students to be the most prepared for the fifth grade. Nothing against anyone else who taught fourth grade with her, but her students were always sharp as tacks. They had been taught by a master teacher. 

Thinking about her this evening, I keep smiling to myself thinking of just little random anecdotes we've all shared about her over the years. Everyone who knew her has their "Barb Boros story".

Rest in peace, Mrs. Boros.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Happy Independence Day!

On this date 238 years ago, at least some of the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. As you hopefully recall, some of them signed it about a month later. Most of you will remember John Hancock's name written in those big letters so that the king wouldn't need to put on his glasses in order to read his name.

I hope everyone keeps the reason for this day in mind as they're watching the parade and the fireworks, as you're eating your burgers and brats. Remember all of the soldiers who have died for our country.

Have a great Fourth!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Set Of Her Jaw; The Glint In Her Eye

Earlier tonight, I received a text from Miss Emma's parents from down in Fort Lauderdale. She is down there for the AAU Karate National Championships. Emma earned two bronze medals. One in weapons and one in sparring. That's third in the nation in two events!

Up until just a couple weeks ago, I thought I would be in her coach's chair today, but life has a way of working out sometimes that keep things from happening.* So I was really happy to get that news. I know how hard it is to train for the Nationals, and I also am well aware of the time that she put into preparing for today. Congratulations, Miss Emma!

[Emma, send us a picture of you with your medals in Ft. Lauderdale and I'll post it here.]

Over the past couple of weeks, it's been my pleasure to hit some of your baseball games. Thanks for the invitations and keeping me updated when schedules change. I'm glad I got them in while I had a couple weeks where it was possible.

Oh, and I also had the honor of getting to see Patrick H. (5-1 '08-'09), who had moved away to North Carolina, come back and play in a soccer tournament up here at Grand Park. When I heard he was back in town, I made sure to get up there to see it.

Here's a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt that sums up my thoughts on the matter:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
                                                                      --President Theodore Roosevelt

Well done, everyone! Don't ever stop. 

*(Luckily my plane ticket is transferable.) (And, by the way, don't worry. It wasn't any big deal that led to my not going--I'm totally healthy, not in trouble, etc. Just one of those "life got in the way" things.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Don't Know Why There's Something Else

On this date in 1964 (that's fifty years for those too lazy to do the subtraction), President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

This was a major victory, not only for African Americans and other minorities, but for women as well. This very bill outlawed segregation of swimming pools, buses, and parks. It protects minorities' rights to vote. It protects minorities when it comes to employment (the jobs they can take), education (the schools you can attend), and stops you from being separated for purposes of race in places such as schools and public places. 

This bill is still a work in progress, mind you. But we're on our way. We are well on our way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our Neighbors To the North

Happy Canada Day!

Yes, in a few days, we will all be gazing up at the rocket's red glare (or just the fireworks) in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. (You know, that thing that Qwerty Stevens went back and witnessed...) But for today, it's the day of "Canada's Birthday", when the three British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada all came together to become the great country of Canada on this date in 1867.

So let's all tip our Uncle Sam hats to our neighbors to the north today. Let's consider our hockey playing friends, like Grant D. and Jack B. (And if you're still reading, Luke B., you Native Canadian, I'm not forgetting you right now...) Let's be thankful today for round bacon, lumberjacks, and Sault Ste Marie. We are thankful for the setting for the book Hatchet, for speakers of French, for a place where the plural of "leaf" is "leafs" instead of "leaves", and for the fact that the people are so darn polite.

We love you, Canada.

O, Canada, we stand on guard for thee!