All posts by Brian

Golden 8all

In a sense, this day should not be any more1 important than the previous one hundred seventy.

Ideally, one should treat this day like any other. They importance of each should be equivalent.

The fact that they’re not to students can frustrate many a teacher.

The fact that they’re not to teachers can frustrate… teachers.23

Now that I’m on my eighth go-around, this much I know: This one day need not define me.4 I have always told my students on the previous 8 opening days that one number5 in the absence of additional context should not mean much. It wasn’t until recent campaigns that my mind fully accepted the same should be true for us teachers.6

There are personal and professional circumstances that I will not discuss here, but I have come to understand that sometimes, it is not until faced with the possibility of losing that which one is most insecure of losing does one allow themselves to face up to the reality there might be something more… something greater… something grandiose out there.

Earlier this Spring I went for a scramble down to Abiqua Falls in Oregon that could have ended me.7 Yet I felt an uncanny peace in my heart, knowing that should this ride come to an end later this Spring,89 that I would be able to walk away, knowing that it was a journey that I didn’t nearly deserve.

Yet in the back of my mind, one fear of insecurity rings out: That my fine-wine index may vary inversely with my ability to relate to my clientele. I have long told myself that I’ll continue on this ride for as long as I can do it well.10 This campaign11 has at least shown me that that golden balloon has not yet hit that line.

  1. nor any less []
  2. To clarify: I mean that we can frustrate ourselves. []
  3. Also, depending on the school or district for which one works: the fact that they’re not to administrators frustrates teachers. Basically, teachers are a shafted people group. []
  4. Because I know there have been seasons earlier in my journey when I allowed it to. []
  5. and as a corollary, one day, or one test score, et al. []
  6. See: “Things that go through my head before the AP Exam (May 6, 2014)” []
  7. No exaggeration. There are multiple paths down the ravine and let’s just say I took the worst one down… []
  8. As of now, for the record: It is not. []
  9. I’m talking about my professional journey — I was scared as heck for my personal safety while hanging by a rope down the near-vertical decline []
  10. Which… sometimes I wonder. How do we even know… []
  11. in which I have been blessed with some of the most wonderful students []

Movies I Saw in 2017

This year’s1 list is shorter than the previous three, thanks to my two month break from the cinemas in June and July.23

Like the previous iterations (see: 2016 2015 2014), this is in reverse-chronological order.4

The tl;dr version?

“Molly’s Game” makes the top of my list5 with “Your Name.”6 and “Thor: Ragnarok” not far behind. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” might make my top 50.78


Molly’s Game9
Star Wars: The Last Jedi10
Lady Bird11
Justice League12
Murder on the Orient Express
Blade Runner 2049
Thor: Ragnarok14
Logan Lucky15
Kingsman: The Golden Circle16
The Hitman’s Bodyguard17
Baby Driver18
Wonder Woman19
The Dark Tower20
The Mummy22
Free Fire23
Alien: Covenant24
The Fate of the Furious25
Your Name.26
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 228
Lego Batman
The Great Wall30
John Wick: Chapter 231
Kong: Skull Island32
A Cure for Wellness
XXX: Return of Xander Cage34
Patriots Day35

  1. There are still a few days to go at the time of publishing, but this is going to be it. []
  2. blame: Iceland. and Ireland. and… the PNW. If you’re into blaming Canada for everything, do so… []
  3. along with my focusing on… other projects. []
  4. IMO, 2017 > 2016. []
  5. If sorted by reverse-chronology or by awesomeness []
  6. Don’t trip out over my punctuation: The. period. is. part. of. the. movie. title. []
  7. If you think that’s savage, buy me a drink and I’ll tell you what I really think… []
  8. However this is especially savage when you consider that I barely saw 30 movies this year. I know, I’m slipping… []
  9. This was very good, in a “so ridiculous that it’s almost inspiring” kind of way. No, I swear, I don’t plan on doing anything illegal o_0 []
  10. If you’re heading to the movies and have a choice between this and “Molly’s Game”, please: watch “Molly’s Game”. []
  11. This was good. []
  12. I give props to DC for casting Khal Drogo as Aquaman – just not a cool, tough sounding superhero otherwise. []
  13. Matt Damon’s finest moment, this is not. []
  14. I kept seeing the phrase “Best Marvel movie ever” thrown around before I saw it. I scoffed. Turns out it wasn’t that wrong… []
  15. Ocean’s Eleven with rednecks, and a NASCAR race in place of a casino []
  16. Not quite as charming as the original. Either really bad or fairly entertaining – still not sure which… []
  17. You need some decent Sam L. every now and then… []
  18. Had to watch this on BluRay after my summer travels… []
  19. Another one I had to watch on BluRay. Very unlike DC – meaning very good – though I thought it slipped in the final act. []
  20. I’ve read absolutely ZERO of the books, but I thought it was pretty decent… until it apparently runs out of reel in the last 20 minutes or so. []
  21. Like any Chris Nolan movie, I hope you saw this in genuine IMAX. I wonder what he’s working on next… []
  22. Ugh. Tom Cruise’s finest moment, this is NOT. If you’re debating watching the home release: Do not. []
  23. I had to Google this, as I totally forgot what it was about. Long story short: Brie Larson. []
  24. Still mad that I had to sit next to a six-year old for this at the freaking ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE… []
  25. a.k.a., Fast and Furious 8 []
  26. Goodness this was good! []
  27. That ending though… almost begs for a sequel, just for the post-apocalyptic entertainment value. []
  28. I didn’t like it as much as the first, though I know others disagree []
  29. Not to be confused with “Logan Lucky”. This one has nothing to do with rednecks heisting a NASCAR race… []
  30. Matt Damon’s finest moment, this is definitively NOT. []
  31. Not nearly as good as the first – which was greatness. But a pencil, you do see… []
  32. They’re trying to tie this in with Godzilla to do some super-villian mashup, Avengers-style? … … … really?! []
  33. You need some decent Matthew McConaughey every now and then… []
  34. My propensity for cheesy Vin Diesel and all… []
  35. Markie Mark in his typical heroic tear-jerker – this one about the Boston marathon bombing []
  36. Mathilda has come a long way~ []

They Don’t Mix Well: Ginger Ale and iPad Pro (12.9″)

While we’re on the topic of travel, I’ve had some friends ask me how I’m liking the gargantuan 12.9″ iPad Pro — or if I even still have it.

Short answer: I don’t. 1

Long[er] answer:

Last July while flying to/from Europe for vacation, anytime the stewardess came by with ginger ale, I had to put the iPad away. I could not fit both the 12.9 inch iPad and my ginger ale on the airplane seat tray tables at the same time.

That is literally what pushed me over the edge: I couldn’t use the iPad and drink ginger ale on a flight at the same time.

As soon as a I got home from vacation, I put that thing up for sale.2 While I do miss it on the occasional weekend for sheet music,3 I’m now using the 9.7″, which does the better job all-around for me.

Bottom line: Don’t mess with my ginger ale~

  1. Which is the answer to both questions: How I like it, and whether I still have it. []
  2. I use Swappa, incidentally. []
  3. and it was GREAT for sheet music, but I don’t play enough to justify it solely for that []

Thanks, United.

A couple of weeks ago I booked a flight with Delta Airlines to an international destination that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now. For the sake of this narrative, let’s just refer to this place as “Aceland”. 1

The flight had one stop in Minneapolis – St. Paul before my international transfer.

Well… three days after I plunked my credit card down for my plane ticket, I get an email stating that my first flight to Minneapolis was rescheduled/changed/delayed, leaving me with a paltry 41 minute layover to rush across the airport for my flight to “Aceland”. 2

41 minutes for a transfer to an international flight.3

This airline only does one flight a day to this particular destination, so missing the connecting flight would force me to waste away for 24 hours in Minneapolis.4

So I called customer service and kindly asked if they could possibly put me on a different flight.5

The conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m concerned that the 41 minutes is… well… not enough time for me to make the transfer, especially since it’s an international flight.
Agent: Well, the airline policy is that 40 minutes is the minimum necessary time to make an international transfer.
Me: … uh… what
Agent: Yes. Since your transfer is 41 minutes, you should be able to make it. 6
Me: Well, I happened to check, and there is another flight that goes through JFK with a 3 hour layover, and that flight has the exact same cost as mine. Is there anyway to switch me over to that flight?
Agent: Unfortunately, since your current layover is above the 40 minute minimum, that would cost you a fee for a flight change.
Me: … How much is that fee?
Agent: [clicking of keys on keyboard]7 Three hundred forty-nine dollars, sir.
Me: What the… so basically I’m going to lose a day in “Aceland” because there’s no way in heck I’m going to be able to make that transfer in 41 minutes. And the only way to fix that is if I let you guys extort me for another $350?
Agent: …yes that is the bottom line. I am sorry but that is the airline’s policy.
Me: What?!?! This is… ($*&%*#$) Unbelievable.

And that put me in a pretty foul mood for this entire past week. Do I seriously fork up another $350 to preserve day 1 of my long-planned vacation? Or do I start hitting up the gym to practice for my cross-terminal dash in a couple of months? 8

Well the very next day after the above phone convo, there was an incident with United Airlines involving a bloodied-up overbooked passenger.

Mind you, I wasn’t flying with United, but the airlines tend to be very sensitive in competing with one another for PR.9

Four days later, I decided to give Delta customer service another call to give it another shot. Who knows, right?

This time the call basically went like this:

Me: I have a 41 minute layover to make an international flight, which I’m concerned about.
Agent: Hmm. We have a flight that goes through JFK with a 3 hour layover, would you like us to put you on that flight instead?
Me: Would there be a charge for changing my flight?
Agent: Absolutely not.
Me: That would be fantastic.
Agent: Great! I’m emailing you your new itinerary now…

Thanks, United.

  1. Of course it’s not actually named “Aceland”… but don’t worry about it. []
  2. Don’t try to guess. It’s not worth the chase. []
  3. If you’ve never flown internationally… 60 minutes would be more interesting than you’d like. []
  4. Emphasis on the words: “waste away” and “Minneapolis” []
  5. One that was basically not guaranteed to screw me out of a full day of my trip []
  6. Again: horse manure []
  7. or perhaps fake sounds of keys clicking on a fake keyboard…? []
  8. And would my baggage successfully even make the transfer in that short a time? I wonder… []
  9. This bit on using game theory to deal with overbooked flights was an interesting read, I thought. []

Empty shell


I’m a teacher.

And I’m an introvert.1

Many a years I have students ask me how I’m a teacher, but on 99.9%2 of days, it’s just a job that you deal with, and it’s not even a thing.

On 99.9% of days, it’s a job that you really enjoy and look forward to.

But every once in five blue moons or so, you have one of THOSE days.

One of those days where you just want to crawl into your shell and hide under a rock for a month. 3

I had one of those days this week, and boy, when you’re already at the point in the year where it’s damn near impossible to tell the forest from the trees… well. =/

  1. I am *definitely* an introvert. []
  2. I actually took some time to do the math and figure how many “nines” belonged there… []
  3. I suppose we are still within two weeks on either side of Spring Break, which is when just about every teacher questions the meaning of their existence… []

Movies I Saw in 2016

As with the previous two iterations, this is in reverse chronological.1

The tl;dr version is pretty short this year:
La La Land.3
Honorable mention? “The Nice Guys”.

Honestly not the greatest year…4

(Hit up the footnotes for my brief thoughts on each)

The full list:

La La Land5
Rogue One6
Edge of Seventeen8
Doctor Strange9
Keeping Up With The Joneses13
Jack Reacher 214
The Accountant15
Deepwater Horizon16
The Girl On The Train17
Kubo and the Two Strings
War Dogs19
Sausage Party20
Bad Moms21
Star Trek Beyond22
Jason Bourne23
Suicide Squad24
Ghostbusters (2016)
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates25
The Shallows26
Finding Dory27
Neon Demon28
Independence Day: Resurgence30
The Lobster31
X-men: Apocalypse32
The Nice Guys33
Money Monster
Neighbors 234
Captain America: Civil War35
The Jungle Book
Everybody Wants Some36
Batman vs Superblegh37
The Huntsman: Winter’s War38
Midnight Special
10 Cloverfield Lane41
London Has Fallen42
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot43
Where To Invade Next44
Ip Man 345
Hail Caesar47
The 5th Wave48
13 Hours49
The Big Short50
The Revenant51

  1. This time, listing new releases only. []
  2. for the thinker []
  3. for the artsy sentimentalist []
  4. …in movies. I’m talking about movies. … What were you thinking of…? []
  5. I now want a sign that reads: “Seb’s.” []
  6. I approve of Felicity J. []
  7. Sandstorms will never be the same. []
  8. Okay so the part of me that was charmed by “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl” also enjoyed this one. Or maybe it’s just because an Asian dude played the hero. ::shrug:: []
  9. Okay, this was good but really, do we expect any less from Marvel? I distinctly remember thinking to myself about 5 minutes into the movie, “Why can’t DC think up anything half this good?” []
  10. I maintain: Everybody ought to see this movie. Everybody. []
  11. I wish they would have made this a series on Netflix. Two hours of film hardly did this one justice. []
  12. I approve of Felicity J. []
  13. PSA: This movie has nothing to do with Felicity Jones. []
  14. I’m secretly hoping that J.K.’s “Cormoran Strike” novels get turned into movies, and that Tom Cruise stars in them. It’ll never happen, with his height and lack of English accent… but I’m still hoping. []
  15. Did you like John Wick? I suspect Ben Affleck did… []
  16. Super powerful. Gave me a similar degree of feels as “Lone Survivor” []
  17. Entertaining but disjointed []
  18. Typical Tom Hanks []
  19. Typical Jonah Hill. Or is it typical Miles Teller… []
  20. There is nothing typical about this movie []
  21. Yeah, I watched it. []
  22. The motorcycle bit felt odd… []
  23. Sorry, but this sucked. The Jeremy Renner one was better, IMO. []
  24. Just don’t DC. []
  25. I feel like this was a free showing… []
  26. More than just Blake Lively in a bikini. Oh and Galveston looks nothing like that… []
  27. Get your feels-shields up for this one. []
  28. Weird. Hope you’re not eating anything towards the end. []
  29. If you told me that this was the fourth “Hobbit” movie, I would not have been any less confused. []
  30. Be skeptical of any movie that makes it its namesake of the holiday on which it releases. []
  31. Artsy charm []
  32. How did this one end up so bad after the first two of the trilogy?!? It felt like such a waste. []
  33. I really enjoyed this one. []
  34. Chloe G. M. did better than par on this one. []
  35. Basically “Avengers 2.6” []
  36. Apparently Lea Thompson — the mom in Back to the Future — has a daughter that also acts. []
  37. Would you believe me if I told you this was autocorrect? Well I’m not fixing it either way. They should’ve just called the movie “Martha!” []
  38. It was free screening. Jessica C though… []
  39. The shots of Oregon were cool. []
  40. I actually don’t remember if this was good or bad. I didn’t even remember that Gal Gadot was in it until I checked just now! []
  41. Unbelievable 11th hour plot twist. []
  42. If they make a third, it should go straight to XBox []
  43. Tina Fey’s finest hour, it is not. []
  44. Another one that I’d classify in the “everybody should watch this” category. Worth watching. []
  45. Not as good as the second… definitely not as good as the first []
  46. They did well considering the budget. []
  47. George Clooney’s finest hour, this is not. []
  48. I kinda feel bad for Chloe Moretz. I’m pulling for her but she can’t seem to hit a good movie… []
  49. I don’t know what this one scored on Rotten Tomatoes… but if I had to guess, I would guess somewhere in the 50’s or 60’s. And I would say that’s about right. []
  50. Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie for ‘best supporting actress’! []
  51. The first Leo movie that I thought even deserved an Oscar nomination []