About This Blog

For the next 365 days, I am focusing on KARMA as my resolution to 2010. I'm open for stories, ideas and kismet. EMAIL ME.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Bye, Mr. Nelson

When you view this posting, I will be in an Airplane, which is sad, because Leslie Nelson is no longer with us. I believe my corny humor began when I was imprinted by the dumb jokes from that movie (and its sequel). I love wit when it is mindless and nerdy, which he excelled at. Good Bye, Leslie. Your work made a tremendous difference to this world.

Which reminds me of a knock knock joke I read yesterday.

Knock Knock.
Whose There?
Tank Who?
You're welcome.

Let's hope my Texas hotel has internet service!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oops, almost forgot

I've been so overwhelmed with my own agenda and research, that I haven't found time to do final evaluations for the student teachers I supervised for the last twelve weeks. Knowing that grades are due in two weeks and that each evaluation takes some time to complete, I decided I'd better take a night off from my own work, and begin evaluating the work of the student teachers. A part of me wishes I could just say: SEE THE OBSERVATIONAL NOTES FROM THE SEMESTER, but as with everything educational, someone always wants a number applied.

Applying numbers is where my head goes upside down and that is what grading is all about.

It would be nice if karma magically scored all the students for me, but I know that won't happen, so I should get back to work. Grades are due real soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chicken Noodle Poop

Did Saturday already end? I forgot to experience it, so I wouldn't know.

Actually, I did live a little and got a Hoffman sausage at the dome that probably was the highlight of the day. I worked for five (plus) hours so Nikki could have $25 put into her colorguard account (I'm claiming the solo as my investment). I came home, worked out at the gym, then went to writing for seven straight hours. Wola! My life.

I also made homemade chicken noodle soup with materials I could find. I had a cooked chicken from Price Chopper, broth, spices, beans and noodles, so I experimented. If no one hears from me on Sunday, you should know I failed. With a fire in the stove and soup in my tummy, I didn't mind too much that I was a dummy behind a computer screen again.

Karma is slurping, that's for sure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tool Time with Butch

Having decorated my house for the holidays post turkey, I spent most of yesterday's black friday working on my research. I did, however, accomplish another pre-hibernal goal with my father - repairing the snow blower in anticipation of the blizzards to come. Specifically, my father and I rewired the clutch cable auger without killing one another. This shows excellent karma indeed.

As with any mechanical snafu, the project required more patience and perseverance than expected. We had to work with rusted bolts, stubborn wheels, and difficult hooks in order to get the machine back to its working condition. The whole episode reminded me of Tool Time on Home Improvement and the humor that comes from manual labor.

I am extremely thankful, however, that we were successful and I am totally appreciative of his assistance. Neither one of us killed the other, even with the stress of working with small parts, tight spaces, and stubborn nuts. Instead, we achieved.

Friday, November 26, 2010


To entertain ourselves during the gravy and stuffing, Cynde brought a self-entertain basketball hoop that we could wear on our heads and do our Central New York moves. Between pies, wine, green bean casserole, and corn, we had the ability to throw red and white ping pong balls at each others head.

Karma comes from being a good sport and from throwing things at family members out of complete love. Karma also comes from the incredible ways we Crandalls look while wearing hats.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turk-Day Happiness

I was officially booted off the Island for this holiday event and, because (karma clap) my potatoes were supposedly lumpy at last year's turkey festival, I was assigned to wine and rolls. Although I've lived my life for 365 days rather proud of my mashed potato skills, it turns out that there was an undercurrent of gossip that my mashing was inadequate and sub par.

The result of this is the assignment of pre-bottled wine and packaged rolls so that I can do no wrong.

My older sister made me a potato-turkey, however, as a table centerpiece and named him "Lumpy." Mike added the feathers and he is displayed above. I am proud of this creative bird as he is a true indication of the Thanksgiving festival that lies ahead.

Happy day of gravy, universe! Let family take over all the joy there is to have in this world and pray that no one gets hurt when you sit down to dine with your loved ones.

After all, after today, comes black Friday and the season to be jolly. Oh, Joy to the World! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scooting the way toward karma

While preparing for a move, Tricia gave me a scooter she bought for her daughter that was the "toy of the year" when she got it. A child sits on it and by rotating the handlebars back and forth, the vehicle moves across a hard surface. I brought it to a family I knew had lots of kids and they sent me this photo last night on my cell phone.

The smile, the tapestry and the scooter put happiness into my world view. Karma is the ability to both give and to receive. In a culture of excess, success comes from finding a home to help others.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I like to think I'm an optimist

I like to think of myself as seeing the glass half full, so knowing I was going to be back at the dissertation grind and that I had to take a half hour off to do a phone interview with a potential employer, I became proactive.

I piled all the books that I thought might be relevant to the questions they might ask and stacked them by my side. I had to laugh, however, because after question one, I began wandering around the house and pacing. I'm not sure why I thought the stacks would give me a leg-up on my answers. They only made a colorful display of intimidation on my kitchen table.

Still, I channeled all their content in an attempt to sound smart with my responses. I always tell students that every book is a life time of achievement produced by the writer(s) that created them. Whereas experience is the best teacher, every text is a compilation of lived experiences. So, I hope all the karma of these mentor books were with me. I wish, however, that I had the brain that could retain more than it does.

Oh, well. C'est La Vie!

Monday, November 22, 2010

And Home Again

The best part of my Florida trip was seeing Vickie, a friend from high school, who lived in the area. She came to get me and we drove to the beach for a drink, crackers and catching up. This is the girl, 24 years ago, who I met a football game and who told me she desired to pour a bottle of Dr. Pepper on my head. I said she wouldn't.

She did.

Fast forward to high school and Vickie was central to all my experiences. She was the girl who tripped and fell over every thing. She's the one who could be heard on every floor of the school. She was the activist stirring up political trouble at every turn. She was the heartbeat and soul for loving the class of 1990.

She left for Florida soon after graduation and I don't see her enough. I believe the picture she took at the beach says everything about how much I enjoyed rekindling the friendship. I will channel this seen as I readjust to the winter to come.

As Tricia said when she learned I was seeing Vickie, "Brace yourself for the ride. Hold on tight."

I held on tight and every second was enjoyable.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Music - The Sundays

I began listening to THE SUNDAYS when I was in college. This is one of my favorite songs of theirs and because today is Sunday, and my Disney experience is coming to an end. I'm singing the same song - the story has ended and I will be back in my wireless home and universe very soon.

Seriously, Disney. Really?

I mean, I'm posting this on a Wednesday night four days in advance because you are not caught up with the digital world. Give me a break.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This kid cracks me up- I HATE DISNEY

On Day two of my Orlando conference, I find this I HATE DISNEY video created by a boy with a lisp who makes his case. While I'm inside all day listening to others around the country talk about English teaching issues, I will be thinking about the creative videos I would make if I actually could be online while I'm a guest in Disneyworld!

But, no! Not in the land of make believe! KMart has wireless. Airports have wireless. Gas stations have wireless. But Coronado Springs and the rest of this kingdom? Nope. You need an ethernet cable and a credit card. I welcome anyone to send these posts to what ever consumer groups keep track of bad businesses and I will be proud to stand for all guests who can't believe that this resort is not wireless.

I hope Walt himself is spinning in his grave.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Celebration of Marcelle

One of the real reasons I came to NCTE this year (with its wireless setting...argh) is to support my friend, colleague and mentor, Dr. Marcelle Haddix. She is receiving the promising researcher award at the conference and it makes me happy to be able to support her.

I worked with Marcelle on the Writing Our Lives conference two years in a row, co-taught with her at Syracuse University, and received the Joan N. Burstyn Award to do collaborative research with her as my mentor. She is a role model, indeed.

If you want to hear an interview with Marcelle, click HERE. If you want to see a video of her work, click HERE.

Good karma comes to those who work hard. Congratulations Marcelle. You deserve this honor.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

this is for Mike and Sean

Mickey Mouse is a capitalist rodent.

I have paid $10 for 24 hours of internet use in my room, but I will be honest, I'm posting the next four days ahead and trying to get everything done in the 24 hours because I'm not paying $40 for four days. Mickey can choke on Donald's beak for all I care.

Even so, the Disney hub has the new Cars movie trailer up and I post it here for those who loved the first one.

I'm a little overdone with the magical land of happiness, especially as everything is out of control costly. I should have known. It's beautiful, but they want $32 for a six pack of Budweiser. Seriously. I brought bagged peanuts, but they won't last. I believe if there's a continental breakfast, I'm totally scamming bagels for lunch and dinner. My room is nice, the running is nice, the weather is nice, but my income is not. One of the reasons I'm here is to network so I might make money one day again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thus my Orlando adventure begins

Hot diggity dog!

I think.

I've packed materials so I can continue writing while in the land of make believe. I will try my best to make believe that I actually can take a few moments for R & R, but I know better. I will rest when sleeping.

More to come.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


In the whims and fancy of changing seasons, my friend Tricia called to ask if I could help her get her house ready to put on the market (in 24 hours). I went over and did outside work, but told her I have limited time. Even so, she fed me lasagna on my great grandmother's china (which she bought) and, out of nowhere, pulled out a deck of tarot cards and read my present, past and future.

I've had my cards read a few times and am always spooked by how revealing they are. The last thing I expected from my leaf-blowing favor was to have my future read by Tricia. Even so, she did a great job and we were both inwardly contemplative by what the cards revealed...especially in light of finishing my dissertation and moving on with my life.

One of the odder cards asked me to look at the major events of yesterday to find meaning for the major changes I hope to have with my tomorrow. (See yesterday's post: Volleyball game with the boys). That can be interpreted a billion ways, but I like how yesterday blended my Kentucky life with my Syracuse life: sport, school, academia, and working with refugees and youth.

The other card that stood out was my personality card, which was placed upside down when layered on the table. Being upside down is an impish way to read what the card says, Tricia reported. Well, the card said I am an odd bird, an eccentric, a wild man, an imp, and unpredictable, so what an upside variation of this means, who knows? Perhaps it is that I'm normal, predictable, sane, and angelic.

The third card that cracked me up was where my present state is supposed to be. Trica pulled out a pregnant woman in a field of watermelons. She told me it's because I'm at a place that is nerve-wracking but inevitable...a new birth and a change (I suppose if I was knocked up that would be something new. The card featured a woman who was 8 months pregnant and ready to pop). Going into a semester of final doctoral work, I am hoping that something IS born out of all this work. I'm ready to deliver this dissertation already.

I have tarot cards but I never use them. I am thinking, however, that it might be a nice night (hint hint - I'm a cheap date...beer) to read someone else's and return the favor given to me last night. Karma for karma. That's what I say.

Monday, November 15, 2010


In Louisville, I often went to watch the Lady Cards play because they were stellar athletes on the court. Coached by Leonid Yelen, when they joined the Big East, I was excited that they'd get to play Syracuse, too. Often a buddy of mine, Dean - coach and gym teacher at the Brown school, and I would go to the games to catch Big East action. Usually, we'd sit in proximity to Denny Crum who also showed his support. Tournaments in Louisville were always exciting to watch.

Fast forward, and now I'm in Syracuse.

Yesterday, the Lady Cards were in Orange territory, and Abu, Lossine, Mustapha and Edem and I went to the game. It's always promising to see good sport on the court and yesterday didn't fail us...although Syracuse lost their mojo after the first game. Even so, the play was strong and I love the unions between Syra-ville and Louis-cuse. It always makes me feel karmically centered between all my worlds.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the quest for Nikki's Frou Frou Face

Arriving to my niece's house because she claimed there was no food in her house, I learned she could shoot "a seven" and "nail it" with her rifle, but she couldn't make a sad face to appear pathetic and sad for her routine. We tried to work on this but she failed miserably.

Poor Nikki. Such a deprived child having to spend quality time with her brother on a Saturday night. Even so, she still couldn't harness her inner chagrin. Sigh. Pathetic, miserable child.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writing Our Lives

I’m just a man born to Syracuse (New York)
90% nerd-brain and 10% true dork,
who scribbles his ideas in the porkity-pork-pork of dreams-
or, at least this is what it sometimes seems,
when I unleash the language streams into notebooks
that are written by you all (Writing our Lives),
You, the moonbeam captives wrapped
in a million paper reams of finding the exact words.

I’m just a man born to Syracuse (New York)
A madman emptying an ocean with a poetic fork
and, today, I’m talking through a teaching torque,
a tongue-twisted twizzling-tapdancing dork
who offers this poem to you all (Writing Our Lives).

I croak communication on a lily pad that strives,
ambitiously delivering the way my mind drives,
with honey-dipped words buzzing with the deliciousness of hives,
those busy-buzzing flutterbugs and the winged weirdness that arrives
to the horizon of kismet and our galaxy of hope…
(I live my life clean cuz poetry’s my dope.)

I’m just a man born to Syracuse (New York)
delivering underground writers as your emcee bird-stork
introducing verbal blends in this rhythm-rap gone berzerk,
Ah, Bryan, chill-out, they already know you’re that jumpy jerk
who is looking for the pitter-patterned perk
of writing history with you all (Writing Our Lives)

& I surmise beyond the scholastic lies and after all the political cries,
societal succotash and educational drivebys,
and the frustration of low expectations –
trust me, I know the many sighs –
that each of you stand part of a larger universe…
So, with pens to papers
thoughts to ink, you must rehearse,
to push the boundaries, to break the deficit curse,
unraveling the workshop within you to reimburse
the soul of your magical minds.

So today this man finds himself before you with this muse:
a teacher, a writer, a thinker in Syracuse (New York),
These streets will make you feel brand new
& I’m with you to inspire, too, set fire to, what you must quickly do,
right here in Syracuse (New York)
with this opening, centralized call.
It’s autumn, so the leaves must fall, you all (Writing Our Lives)

It is common sense that self-doubt always deprives,
so I want you to take a moment to give yourself high-fives.
And let it be known we want you to thrive
To choose to live life enormously large – we want you to strive,
to create memories and opinions that come alive
in your own archive of a doodled imagination.

You must make the difference for navigating the circumference
of this global, so-you-think-you-can-dance, immense coincidence and circumstance where we ask you take a chance…No, take a stance,
and put your words onto the page…
(with them you can rage and upstage those who doubt
what we already know you can do.)

I’ve got some words to say…do you?
(and I hear that train coming, choo choo choo,
I think I can, I know I can, I am human, it’s true…)

But I’m just a man from Syracuse (New York)
90% bird-brain and 10% pure dork and,
celebrating my outside-the-box thinking, I’m here to uncork
the possibilities that live within you all (Writing Our Lives),
(cuz karma only survives when the young writer thrives
alive upon the notebook’s page.)

So, Syracuse (New York),
This is my rampage, the whacky sage on the stage
with a quest to enrage the words that live within you all (Writing Our Lives).
There you go, that is my call.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In Celebration of Sharon's Retirement

Dear Sharon,

Many years ago you arrived to a wedding wearing a melon dress. We danced together and ever since, our relationship has been extra special, so much so that you always received the most beautiful couple I found from Sunday wedding pages of the Courier Journal every Valentine's Day.

Now, many years later, we find ourselves at your retirement and I wish I could be there to dance with you once again. As your colleague, teacher of your two beautiful children, and admirer of your husband's one-in-a-million handlebar mustache, I send you an official "lab" dance to let you know I am thinking of you. You have been a great friend, mentor, and wonderful educator.

You deserve immense happiness in your retirement and I envy your position of an emancipated American who has paid their dues to a working life: long hours, immense weeks, and constant stress. The time has come, however, to be amazing and awesome on your own terms and without the chatting, bantering, poking, fussing, and defiance of 7th and 8th graders.

Woot Woot to you. Go out in the world and bring your own sexy back. Represent Brown for life!



Thursday, November 11, 2010

14 years ago today

Fourteen years ago today, Alice began her first day at the Brown School as a long-term sub. I called her when I knew there was a position, and she immediately filled in. I wasn't there yet, as I completed my student teaching and was working on another degree at the University of Louisville. As I wrote to her, we were impish partners in crime from 1994 - 2007 through the MAT program and through the miracle of finding work together at the Brown. From 1999-2007 we team-taught, collaborated, and wreaked havoc in beautiful, wonderful ways.

Happy Anniversary Alice. I wish you the karma of all the Powerballs we ever bought and the serenity of finding a solution to, "Dang, I need to win the lottery bad."

The lives of all students who walk through that building are never the same because they get to learn from you. Hands down, you are the best historian I've ever met.

I would not have become the teacher I was at Brown if it wasn't for you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NWP, Me, and technological reality

I had a SKYPE meeting with the Louisville Writing Project last night and, although I am several states away, I was invited to join. They were on screen as was I.

The GATES FOUNDATION has funded a project to get teachers to address the National Core Standards and LWP was asked to model teacher lessons that can be accessed as part of the bigger project. Missy Calloway of Kentucky volunteered to lead a model conversation and we met, online, to hash out the items that need to be addressed as writing instruction is unified across the nation.

I am slowly turning into ET and I now know whey extra-terrestrials have bug eyes. When you look at a screen as much as I am, your eyes naturally grow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Cynde and Mike, From Baby

My dog was acting strange all day and when I found out what was bothering her, she recorded the following confessional video. During a visit by my sister and her husband, she jumped in their truck in hopes of having a little quality time with relatives she rarely sees. When I was trying to get a dog biscuit from me, she went on a rant about the neglect and abuse she felt from her aunt and uncle. All that talk of anchors and drowning had her feeling really anxious. What she really wanted was a ride around the block. That's all she asked for. So sad. So very very sad. Poor canine karma.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I like being George Jetson

With Sundays, I usually deny myself fun-days, because the scum days of a work week lie ahead. This is why I'm thankful for SKYPE and how, even though I don't participate like I should, I can still see others physically and online. It is digital karma and I am thankful for that. No Toy Story 3 for me, but when my day comes, I will enjoy it beautifully.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday Night

There's comedy to my life sometimes, but there's also good ol' fashioned drama. You just never know.

Last night was a total geek-fest. At one point, I had to freeze the moment in time to say, "What are we doing? It's Saturday night."

Mustapha was working on an essay for his College English class on poetry and language, Edem was working on an essay to get into college, discussing how, in two years of schooling in the United States, he has passed his NYS Regents and wants to go to a four year school. The twins were doing research online and going through my library to find books to read. I was organizing data for another day of dissertation writing tomorrow. And at one point, everyone was in a different room totally nerding-out and getting their work done. It was odd.

Then Mustapha found African drums on my iPod and hooked it up to speakers. For a few minutes, they danced in a ceremony in the kitchen and went mad wild. But then it was back to work. (They filmed themselves dancing but deleted it because they were so embarrassed by how bad they danced.

Too bad, because posting their dancing online today would have been wonderful karma for this Sunday. When you think about what urban kids are doing on a Saturday night, it is not commonly conjectured that they're staying in to do homework.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

School Pride

Mom said this was a good show, but it took a night of staying in, cleaning, a fire in the woodburning stove, and "chill" zone to actually watch it. Wow! Great for the schools that get chosen.

What is good: 1) schools that deserve a makeover get it, 2) pride is enhanced, 3) change occurs.

What I wonder about: 1) Why does the media frenzy of Hollywood and media have the money to fix ills that our nation's and states' governments do not, 2) What is being done to fix the problems of broken communities that do not employ (or train people to be employed) so that there's a tax base that can add to the success of schools? Without a productive, sustained, and healthy community, a school can not healthily sustain a productive school, 3) If our nation has capital to spend through corporate donations and sponsorships, why don't we have a more equitable society beyond NBC programming?

It is beautiful, and I'm impressed. But, what do we do to assure the beauty and impressions of what our nation is REALLY suppose to be occurs in every city, in every district, and for every child?

I believe in the Karma of the American people. We can and NEED to do better.

Friday, November 5, 2010

vulgar karma

My countdown to friday night is special for one reason. I want to chill out, look around, and clean my house. That is my goal.

I realized I needed such a goal as two major Bryan realities came to the forefront. The first was in my bathroom. I knew the floor and tub needed major cleaning and, trying to get ready for a cleaning, I filled a tub with water and chlorine. I went to the garage to get the mop, and when I went to bathroom again, the mop completely fell apart. The entire bottom fell off. So, I went to get the other mop, and when I did, I pushed it once against the floor and the sponge came off. I had a tub with clean water to clean, but no mop to clean the floor with.

Disgruntled, I decided to put ear wax drops in my ear because it's been clogged for a week. I get major earwax build-up and I thought I'd try this, especially since I learned that the wax candles are a hoax. Once I did this, large chunks of wax kept falling from my ear and I had to use tissues to clean it.

Thinking about my bathroom floor - the entire house, for that matter - and seeing my tissues with ear wax, I decided that karma was telling me I am completely disgusting. To rectify this, I must clean.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Thoughts

My local library is growing quite accustomed to me arriving, plopping down my laptop and books, and spreading my papers all over the tables. Although there are times where it gets too noisy, I find the space to be useful for writing as much as I am. I am sure the regulars who are there think I'm insane, especially when I get into the flow and forget where I am. I don't move and type for hours and hours and hours.

Today, however, as I was anticipating the warning announcement to leave - it is usually directed at me (I don't know why they don't just tap me on the shoulder to say, "it is time") a woman approached me and asked, "Bryan?"

Why yes, that is me.

It was a mother to one of the kids who were a part of a book club I ran at the library a couple of years ago. She said, "You are always working so hard when my daughter and I see you in here, so we don't want to disturb you. We just want to say hello and to give you positive energy for whatever is is you are always doing."

Karma. Dissertation.

I thanked her and I left the library feeling their good wishes. Good thoughts. Good deeds. Good words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When it's bad

Funny how it didn't rain yesterday, because I could of sworn it poured.

I don't think karma is being bad to me, it's just that I'm dancing as fast as I can while spinning forty-five plates in the air, and I feel like I'm running out of time before it all crashes. Perhaps a crash will be a good thing, because then I can sit in all the $#@$# and say, "Hmmm. Let's evaluate this situation, shall we?"

The sad thing is I'm enjoying everything I'm doing. It's just I don't have enough time to get it all done. I spend all of my day working and get no where. Oh, that's right, I've claimed I'm a madman emptying the ocean with a fork in previous posts. Well, the metaphor still works.

This too shall pass.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

for Kristen - posted a day after your day

Dear Kristen,

I moved home in the summer of 2007. You saw me transition into doctoral student work and have been a tremendous guide.

Together, we endured our own foundations of being encultured into higher education before we were asked to stand before them as an ape. You gave me Foucault as a prison mate. You helped me understand (with my pea brain) statistics. More importantly, you continue to give me tremendous support and guidance, advice and encouragement, laughter and friendship, and after today, HOPE. You were a year ahead of me and quantitative. I'm a year behind you and qualitative. You are the Peanut Butter. I am the Chocolate. No. You're simply you - awesome.

Congratulations on a well-deserved accomplishment. You will always amaze me, but hearing your success today makes me feel even more proud of knowing you and learning from your inspiration.

Here's to all the phenomenal things ahead for your, Dr. Munger.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Congratulations, NorthJars

The CNS Northstars didn't win the New York State Field Band competition, but they represented. A special shout out needs to go to Ted Mascari and his work with the Victor Blue Devils who won this year, upsetting the predictable and often political wins of the Wildcats of West Gennesee. Orchard Park also had a spectacular show. It was good to see so many striving so hard this year and to know that all the hard work paid off. Congratulations to Nikki and her thumb. Twenty plus years of knowing the Carrier Dome, it's good to see the traditions continue.