Rhyme Time: Get a Job(s)

Teaching aboard the millennium falcon. Obi-Wan isn't pictured, he had to go to the bathroom. The sign with the rooster reads "this isn't the rooster you're looking for"
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Teaching aboard the Millennium Falcon. Obi-Wan isn’t pictured, he had to go to the bathroom. The sign with the rooster reads “this isn’t the rooster you’re looking for”

My injourney

has led me

To many

Ways to make a penny.

 

My preservation,

Indeed, my continuation,

Rests on many a vocation.

A patched together living in summation

 

The latest of these

I do with ease,

Lounging in my jammies

Teaching English to Chinese…

 

…Children. Thanks to the internet,

I don’t get wet,

Or take a jet.

I Haven’t even been to China, yet.

 

Pronunciation and grammar are my trade;

American dollars are what I’m paid.

Fortunately, I don’t have to grade…

…Papers, and the lessons are already made.

 

I simply report to the designated digital place

With a smile on my face,

Speak at a slow pace,

And keep a clean workspace

 

“No, not ‘parsent’

“It’s pronounced ‘parent’

Don’t worry about your accent

I know what you meant

 

This pedagogical enterprise

Supplements my daytime guise

Where I mesmerize

Teach and civilize…

 

…local students at the secondary age

In order to engage

Them with sage

Advice for life on the world’s stage.

 

These jobs offer little remuneration,

But, keep in mind, monetization

Isn’t the only form of “job well done” dispensation,

Much of my efforts are met with adulation.

 

Indeed, the compensation is sufficient

For spiritual nourishment,

But the commercial payment

Won’t even cover rent.

 

Such is the way

I earn my pay

Allowing me to stay

Productive and bizzay (busy)

 

Life doesn’t stop because of brain injury.

I’ve still got to get out and feed the monkey.

I just never imagined I’d be

So busy…

 

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Marginalization of Honesty

snap-2016-11-11-at-22-43-08

If you haven’t heard yet, Donald f*in Trump is the next president of the United States. I’m sure many would agree that this is some bullsh*t, but I’m going to stop there. I think I’ve a more poignant point (pointnant?) that rings oh so loudly.

You see, I’m a teacher. As such, I’m on the forefront of the future. This is not me bragging or patting myself on the back, I’m simply stating that children are said to be our future and teachers work with children, ergo I get to see what may be a norm in the generations to come.

I gleaned what may well be a new cultural standard in the coming years from a recent conversation with a talkative, precocious first grader with long, scraggly blond hair. I was in the library at a local elementary school when this insightful ragamuffin voiced his gaiety that Donald Trump will be our next president.

Of course, in my head I’m thinking kid, we need Donald Trump as president about as much as we need an enema (entertaining when it happens to someone else); but I held my tongue, and I’m glad I did because his next comment both frightened and amused me.

As if trying to sell me on Trump as president, he very casually said,

“He only lies a some of the time, not as much as he used to.” I guffawed. He reacted as if it were a statement of fact, not meant to inspire comedy.

It occurred to me then that honesty has been compromised. It’s no longer about lying or not lying. It’s about who lies the least and/or who’s best at covering it up. Shouldn’t the expectation be total transparency from our elected officials? Will this become a party slogan in the years to come? “Vote for Justin Bieber (I can conceive of this happening now), he tells 40% fewer lies than his opponent.” Or maybe, “research indicates that one out of every four statements made by Trump in the 2016 election was found to be a lie. Justin Bieber vows to lie only once for every five statements*. That’s a 20% reduction in zingers coming from your commander in chief. So a vote for Justin is a vote for more honesty (not too much though).”snap-2016-11-11-at-22-43-08

Anyway, I’m getting off track here, the point is the ethical landscape of our culture is overgrown with lies and deceit without a standard of decency to maintain it. The boy can’t be faulted for his opinions, he’s only 7 or so; but do his words ominously predict a future of “honest enough”? Or am I overanalyzing something a child said?

*This statement may or may not be true.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

The More You Know…

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I’ve started substitute teaching. You probably remember crusty, old geezers teaching your class when one of your teachers was gone. These fossils were fond of telling students that they don’t know what hard work is, that they had to recite the pledge of allegiance in Greek and had to learn math with an abacus.

 

Whatever the case, there was always the assumption that, like teaching vampires who only came out during the school day, subs didn’t have an everyday normal life; when the school day was over they’d retreat to the school basement to read the textbooks for enjoyment before using them as a bed to sleep on until they were called to action again.

 

My point is that, with a single day substitute, there isn’t really a chance to get to know the sub.

 

I typically sub at the school where I once taught and assisted librarily, so I know most of the teachers and they know of my condition. Given enough notice, I’ll offer to give a presentation to the kiddos about me. This way the teacher doesn’t have to prepare as much and the students get first-hand knowledge of why I am the way I am. I’ve posted a version of this presentation before (LINK), but it was a raggedy old PowerPoint.

 

AND THEN…last summer – I went to a writer’s conference to pitch my memoir. I wanted to stand out, so I put together a presentation. I had just given the students a crash course in PowerPoint presentations and Prezi, so I thought I’d give that a try. I didn’t get a book deal >:(, but my presentation was pretty sweet. Find it HERE

 

AND THEN…a new school year started and the sub jobs came pouring in. So far, I’ve presented to about 250 seventh graders, most of the eighth graders saw it last year.

 

AND THEN…my younger sister, a Latin teacher (She teaches Latin, she’s not a teacher who is Latin, no one is or really has been since the Roman empire), asked me to come talk to one of her classes. I thought that this nexus of presentation opportunities called for a revamped presentation.

 

AND THEN…I combined the raggedy PowerPoint with the fresh, shiny Prezi to create a PreziPoint (PowerPrezi?). The svelte can be viewed in all its smoothly transitioning glory HERE. Or, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced the presentation here in slideshow form.

 

AND THEN…actually, ‘AND THEN…’ doesn’t work here, but I’m nothing if not consistent, the frames with a 🌟 in the lower right corner were adapted from the original PowerPoint. This means that the ones without a star make up the original Prezi.

 

AND THEN… If you don’t notice, apart from the book excerpts, it rhymes! Isn’t that delicious?

 

AND THEN…FIN

 

AND THEN…@JarrettLWilson

 

Fun with Acronyms vol. 1

I’ve spent my career in education. The world of education is festooned with Acronyms. As a result, I’ve developed an Acute Compulsion to Rearrange Objects into Names to Yield More Significance. You might say I’m an acronymphomaniac, even though I’m a dude. Moving on, I’m no longer in education, but my obsession with acronyms lives on. In this series, I’m going to provide the words that, in my mind, describe three establishments of our culture – Apple, Walmart and Starbucks. That said, this post is not meant to disparage the fine products of the three corporate icons I’m about to “acronymize” (except Apple. Having an iPhone is sorta like having an awesome phone (read: an Android), but it comes with an Apple rep who slaps your wrist ever time you even think about purchasing content not authorized by Apple, and if you manage to get outside content on your iPhone, the rep laughs derisively, chiding, “Fool! iOS doesn’t support [insert content name]”).
Naturally, I have to begin with Apple now – Apple stands for “Average Products Presumably on the Leading Edge”
I’ll admit that iOS is a very user friendly, intuitive operating system. It’s just that Apple polices it the way a jealous, overbearing boyfriend would look after a girlfriend – no communication with unapproved parties, can’t go anywhere without his permission (if you do, you’ll pay for it), and he only makes a change after you scream in his ear and threaten to break up with him (I was an iPhone user until the disappointment of the iPhone 5, so I broke it off with “him”).
Listen, iPhone is like the marijuana of smartphones; that is to say, it’s a gateway smartphone. At first, it was great – then I needed more. So I jailbroke it, a lot. A jailbroken idevice will take you “higher”, if you will, but I just knew there was more.
A quick note about jailbreaking 4+ years ago. Jailbreaking allowed an iuser to do many things that Apple would brag about adding a few years later – stuff like WiFi sync and turning the status bar into a connection and notification hub – stuff Android had been doing for years – hence the acronym.
Anyway, if a plain ol’ iPhone is Mary Jane, then a jailbroken iPhone is cocaine and an Android is the big H.
The point of that analogy is, if you’re going to do drugs, go big or go home (of course, you’ll want to go home after you go big, you might be a little disoriented).
Next, let’s talk about that titan of “Great Value” (the food might not taste very good, but it was a great value). I speak, of course, of Walmart. I don’t want to put too much in this post; I was explaining to my daughter, a rabid YouTuber and budding video artist that most viewers/readers are turned off by content that’s too long. That being my philosophy, I’ll stop here and continue next week.
Adios People, Please Like this Entry!
FIN
@JarrettLWilson

SSI & Medicaid Straight Dope

Recall my earlier post concerning the ABLE program. Twas from researching this program that the truth about SSI and Medicaid really slapped me in the face. What is that truth? Quite simply, to get accepted into these programs, you have to be poor. To continue to receive benefits from these programs, you have to stay poor. There is no allowance for monthly expenses or the degree to which you’re disabled. The bottom line is $2,000 – if you’ve more (including assets, etc.), so sorry. If you’ve less, you’re in so long as you don’t cross that $2,000 line.
I’ve since looked into this matter more, and have labored to produce, for your viewing and listening pleasure, a blog post with moving pictures and sound featuring me, Jarrett L Wilson, giving you, the Internet, the straight dope on SSI and Medicaid. Let’s start the show…

SPEND IT –
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_n_12?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A510136%2Ck%3Ahome+decor&keywords=home+decor&ie=UTF8&qid=1453588189&rnid=2941120011
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_n_is_pantry_0?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahome+decor%2Cp_n_is_pantry%3A8417613011&keywords=home+decor&ie=UTF8&qid=1453588273&rnid=8410679011

ABLE –
http://www.ndss.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Agenda/Creating-an-Economic-Future-for-Individuals-with-Down-Syndrome/Achieving-a-Better-of-Life-Experience-ABLE-Act/

Pooled Trust –
http://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/estate-elder/b/estate-elder-blog/archive/2011/10/21/what-is-a-pooled-trust-and-when-should-you-use-one.aspx
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/using-pooled-special-needs-trusts-when-you-have-too-many-assets-medicaid.html
http://www.americanbar.org/publications/bifocal/vol_34/issue_5_june2013/pooled_trusts.html

SNT –
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/rpte_ereport/te_lewis.authcheckdam.pdf
http://specialneedsanswers.com/what-is-a-first-party-special-needs-trust-and-when-is-it-useful-13264

LOTTERY –
http://www.txlottery.org/export/sites/lottery/index.html
https://www.random.org/

 

 

 

 

Presenting – My…Presentation

I used to work at a middle school.

I’ve was employed there in some fashion for a number of years.

My first two years I taught 8th grade US history and coached boys’ athletics. The next year I taught 8th grade English and coached girls’ athletics.

At the end of that school year some blood vessels in my brain leaked like so much kiddie pool left to rot in the sun.

I taught 8th grade English for half of the next two school years. I came back the next school year as the assistant librarian and have filled that role for four years.

Assuming my math is correct (2+1+.5+.5+4), I’ve been working there for 21,554 years – this raises a few questions.

Firstly, I’m only 32 years old. Secondly, the school has only been there for 40ish years. Let’s round that figure down to eight school years.

I did so enjoy working with students. Thing is, I’m was’t like any of the other teachers/professionals in the school.

When I returned to teaching after the hemorrhage, I created a PowerPoint presentation about my condition to show to my class to prepare them for my uniqueness.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to the new seventh graders. I modified the presentation to fit my condition today. I thought I’d share it with you, the internet –

1

This is the title slide – note that it has the title written (in English, no less!) on it.

2

This slide is for a handout. The students were given the same graphic, but with blanks. In essence, they started with an empty brain and ended with a full one (symbolic, no?)

3

In the same fashion as the previous slide, the students filled in the blanks on the same graphic.

4

This slide is a pictorial representation (pictoriational?) of the functions of each lobe. For instance, the temporal lobe (orange) controls the instinct to swat things away from your ear (actually, that represents hearing), and the frontal lobe controls the confusion that comes from staring at gibberish on a sign post (actually, that represents planning).

5

Now we get to my contribution – you see, the seventh grade reading classes at the school where I work are covering non-fiction. They are reading Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson – the brain surgeon that removed half of a girl’s brain. One of the teachers is a friend of mine and asked me to present my experience as a primer. The image in the slide is my brain (isn’t it beautiful?). The white dot in the middle is my cavernoma isn’t it (or rather, wasn’t it) ugly?

6

Not much to say about this slide that isn’t in the slide. I’ll just add that the symptoms listed are enough to get you a 20 minute helicopter ride.

7

Much like the image in the “My Brain Issues” slide – the head pictured is my head. My head is perfectly round and my brain has many different colors. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jarrett, there weren’t no color in the other image and your head ain’t perfectly round.”

I’ve a twofold reply to this comment. First of all, I was joking – that’s not my head. Secondly, you need to work on your grammar. Moving on, this one has info about the surgery. That fact weighed heavily in my decision to title the slide “The Surgery 9/2009.”

8

A few summers ago I went on a tour of a Nair factory – this happened to be the day that Gillette planned to sabotage the Nair factory. They set explosives…I’m tired of this explanation. It started off with promise, but now I hate it!

Truthfully, a few summers ago I wanted to see the scar, so I shaved my head.

9

This slide is linked to a file with moving pictures and sound! This “video” is about *drumroll* neuro-plasticity! A fancy term denoting the brain’s ability to form new connections.

10

This is a visual representation of how your brain thinks. For instance, you see a donut with your occipital lobe. That info shoots to your frontal lobe and activates your happy gland. Your happy gland shoots a message to your parietal lobe “GO GET THAT F’N DONUT!” Someone gets it before you can, so your temporal lobe tells you to break out your megaphone and shout obscenities at this person and threaten to call the police. This guy grabs a nearby napkin dispenser and wangs you in the Temple…

11

…That blow to the Temple gives you a TBI. Your brain rewires itself and finds an alternate route to your happy gland.

12

I included this slide to give the students an explanation as to why I sometimes shake when I speak and why I walk with a limp and hike up my left arm like so much Bob Dole. It also helps explain the little girl in the moving picture mentioned earlier. It also gave me a chance to…

Treating Hypertonicity with Pic

…mention the painful treatments. One thing I’ve learned from working in a middle school is that, as much as the kids want to be treated as adults, they still love to hear about people getting poked with needles and meeting a real life cyborg.

13

I like to pepper in some humor here and there to make sure the kids are awake. When this slide appears, it’s accompanied by a very loud, obnoxious laugh.

15

I don’t really do any of these anymore, but I mention it because I did it for so long, and it drives home the point that I’ve had a long road.

16

In my mind, all of these will someday be replaced with “Painfully normal”. For purposes of this presentation, it gives the students an idea of what to expect when they see me.

17

It can be difficult to work around young people with my disabilities. Instead of hiding or pretending that I’m no different, I encourage the students to come talk to me if they have a question. I want to think that I’m an ambassador for the disabled. Hopefully, these students will apply what I’ve tried to teach them to others with disabilities.

I included the last bullet because I’ve had some students speak very loudly and very slowly to me. You see, they have to tell me their student ID number to check out a book. In previous years, a student or two would speak to me as if I was unable to type and listen at the same time.

18

I’m a pretty smart dude and I can be pretty creative, but I didn’t discover any of this and I didn’t make this sh*t up.

If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that Keystone Light is super cheap and tastes like weedkiller. If there’s a second thing I learned in college, it’s that plagiarism is bad (I remember a syllabus that said there’s a special place in hell for those that plagiarize).

We try to instill that fear into the students, so I model the proper citing of sources.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Finding Direction (literally and figuratively)

Please excuse my recent absence from contributing to this blog. You see, this entry is the 129th post to this blog and 1+2+9=12. The 12th letter is L. L is the Roman numeral for 50, therefore I had to wait 50 days (give or take) to post again.

Truthfully, I’ve had a lull in my desire to write. My muse has been elusive (emusive?), but I still like to put words together in a meaningful fashion.

How am I to proceed without inspiration? If inspiration won’t come to me, I’ll go to it and force it to do my bidding. I will be inspired by the word itself. By that I mean that I’ll think of a topic relevant to my recent goings on that starts with ‘I’ and stew (mmm…stew) on that topic until I can’t stew (mmm…stew) no mo’.

After that, I’ll move on to ‘N’ and wax eloquently. After ‘N’ comes ‘S’, and so on in that fashion until I’m I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.

That said, I’ll begin with ‘I’. I’m reluctant to discuss this, for fear that something will happen to spite this trend, but this being a blog about my brain, I have to report that there is nothing to report. In other words, the trouble spot in my head has been INACTIVE. This is due in no small part to the brainstem cavernoma resection performed by Dr. Jonathan White almost five years ago (read more HERE and HERE).

Fortunately, I only had one cavernoma (more info about this little evil thing HERE and HERE). There are people out there with more than a few of these dastardly raspberries in their heads. There’s a faint possibility that mine will grow back, that’s why I’m happy to report that nothing is going on.

Inactive is the exact opposite of my NON-STOP attitude toward recovery. My advice to anyone faced with a major life change is to go go go. Things are different now yes, but when you stop, you let the life change beat you (Jarrett ain’t gonna get beat so easily).

For instance, even though I still try to talk myself out of going EVERY time, I go to the gym and work out/therapize myself at last twice a week. I wake up super early to prepare for work. Sleeping has become a necessary evil. I don’t enjoy it like I used to; I only do it because my body tells me to. If I could live without sleep, I would. Also, my daughter never stops, so I have to keep moving to keep up with her (more about her later).

On the topic of movement and direction, I’ll move to ‘S’ and tell you about the anomaly of SOUTHWEST. A while back, I had to replace the battery in my car. Being without juice for a brief period, the compass in my car reset. After not calibrating it for a few weeks, the car did it itself. I’m not sure if the car was playing a joke on me, I live near a magnetic anomaly or my car just doesn’t understand that there are four directions, but no matter which way I drove, I was going southwest.

Therefore, I’d leave for work in the morning going southwest. I’d turn left and head southwest for two miles. Then I’d turn right and drive southwest for about three miles…I think you get the point.

In essence, if you were to ask my car for directions, they might go something like this – “start out by going southwest, after you get to the third stoplight, turn and go southwest until you get to an overpass, then do a U-turn and drive southwest for half a mile and you’ll see the donut shop to your right (southwest).

Ok, this is fun, one more – the GPS on my phone and my car discuss directions. My phone says, “head north for about two miles. Then you’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head east for three miles, at the second stoplight go north. Go straight through next light, then turn left and park by the north gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car would repeat these directions back, “head southwest for about two miles. Then I’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head southwest for three miles, at the second stoplight go southwest. Go southwest through next light, then turn left and park by the southwest gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car has since expanded its horizons and embraced all four directions. During that time though, giving directions was easy. “How do I get to X?” I’d chuckle and say, “Just go southwest, silly!”

This entry is getting overlong. Therefore, ‘P’ will stand for PATIENCE. You see, you’ll have to patiently await the rest of the list. I will continue to be INSPIRED on my next entry (a few weeks).

Until then, stay busy and head southwest, unless you need to go southwest.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

“Emotions” pt. 2(ish)

This is the next part in my controversial “emotions” series. I can’t call it part two because I’m going to discuss two emotions. Why not call it parts two and three you ask?

I can’t call it that because that name is boring. A better name that I’ve in this moment conceived is “part threwo”, which is a combination of the words two and three. Combining numbers two and three, gives us five; I’ll go with that – “Emotions, pt. 5”

You see, in this installment – in what can only be explained as blue flaming overachievement – I’m going to talk about TWO emotions that I have felt recently.

The first emotion can be summed up with the following picture –

Jarrett = A sad panda
Jarrett = A sad panda

Don’t be fooled by the smiley face. About a month ago, ice raineth from the sky such that my car door got frozen shut.

Being as tough as I am, I tugged and tugged until the door came off. I managed to get the door back on, but the handle stuck out. That part about ripping the door off and putting it back on is a lie.

Furthermore, I can only assume that this is unrelated to the door handle and speculate that it has to do with Satan, Cher or some other foul beast – my car keeps dying. Here is a little poem to describe the situation –

Oh car, I exited the highway, then you died

I pulled into a parking space at home, them you quit

Then, you stalled out in the Petco parking lot, dammit

Up to now you’ve been such a dependable ride.

You got me to McKinney,

Then you decided not to run.

Being stuck in the middle of the road isn’t fun.

I had to have a wrecker drive 30 miles to get me.

The cost to fix you has been high.

More than that, it’s been a big pain in the ass!

Oh car, why does your fuel pump stop pumping gas?

Please please please get better before I cry!

The mechanic can’t determine where the problem lies;

The Buick service dept. seems bumfuzzled too,

Here’s what I’ve decided to do –

Rent a car from Enterprise.

This should give the mechanic time to fix you,

And while he does, I don’t have to be without transportation

Calling for rides is a real agitation

With any luck, you’ll be back on the road in a few.

This broken car business has been quite an ordeal – I don’t wish to comment on it any further.

Instead, I’ll turn to happy business. I know I’ve already covered that “emotion”, so I’ll take it one step further and describe it more fullyer.

A few months ago, I told you about a PRESENTATION I gave to the seventh reading classes at the school where I work. The reading teachers had the kids make flyers as if I was coming to speak.

That's right! An entire wall at the school is all about me!
That’s right! An entire wall at the school is all about me!

Close up of my wall #2

Creative kids, no?
Creative kids, no?

To be the object of an entire grades’ learning is quite a privilege; I felt very important. I don’t know if there’s a name for this “emotion” (or if it can even be called that). Whatever the case, I propose to call this “emotion” improrteged, or perhaps primporileged. Either way, I was greatly honored to be a vehicle to help transport young minds to learning.

That wraps it up for the 23rd (threword)/5th/2nd  installment of my revolutionary “emotions” series.

Toodles!

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

SiLiMes #13 – The Aching Bookcase

As always, *= a student’s name

If you could send * to pick up his reserved book, that would be great. You see, I’m holding up far too many books and my shelf is about to break (I’ve had that shelf since it was a baby, I don’t know how much “shelf life” it has left…ha ha, library humor). The hold will last until FRIDAY 12/2, but he may certainly come earlier.

Achingly,
A bookcase

SiLiMes #12 – “HOLDysburg Address”

I don’t care to go back and look right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this before. However, this is MY blog and I (imagine that I yelled that, it’s already capped) want to post it again NOW!

Oh yeah, SiLiMes = Silly Library Message.

Again, *= A student’s name.

Four score and seven years ago (or thereabouts), * put a hold on a book in the *School Name* Library.
Now it is my esteemed pleasure to inform you that that book, so conceived and so dedicated, is ready to be checked out. We are met on a great landscape called the Internet. We have come to the portion of this message where I tell you that s/he has until TUESDAY 10/25 to pick up this volume. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.