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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!  As has become tradition (I know, because I almost didn't do it this year, but my wife insisted) -- I've written up a somewhat tongue-in-cheek review of the year we complete tonight.

Enjoy, and everyone please stay safe tonight!


We rang in the new year with a barn-burning games night.  Many jokes were told, many drinks were quaffed, many words were slurred.  Baby New Year, AKA Hurricane Andrew, made sure we were up bright and early to enjoy New Year’s Day.

Midway through the month, Andrew enjoyed his first snow day with Mommy.  Of course, this was a Texas snow day, so it was really just a sheet of ice for Andrew to sit on.  DISD did not cancel school.

Determined to stick to this year’s resolution, I went to the gym the first 30 days of January, exercised my tail off, and lost 120 pounds.  On January 31st, I put it all back on – plus 25 lbs – in a Crisco 
eating contest.


On the 21st, I turned the big 4-0.  This did not feel much different from the big 3-9 or even the big 3-5, but at least my voice didn’t wildly modulate like it did on the big 1-6.

This seemed to be the month for new teeth, as Drew’s started coming in left and right (well, up and down).  On the first of February, he had 2 teeth.  By the 28th, he had at least 76.

I decided to dive into the business of crowdfunding a movie.  I’m pleased to say I raised a whopping $3.22 and am only $5,999,996.78 away from making Zero Shark Thirty a reality for the Syfy channel.


For the first time ever, I heard back from the good folks at Jeopardy.  They emailed to say I had passed the online test, and they wanted to meet me for an in-person audition.  Over Spring Break, in San Antonio, I sat with about 20 other people and tried to impress.  I knew I didn’t stand out as much as the guy in the Strawberry Shortcake outfit, but I left feeling very good about my chances.

One set of college basketball tournament semi-final games was held in Arlington, so Dad and I went.  Our seats were about half a mile from the court, but I’m sure the players could still hear us cheering and yelling, “Go, Duke!”  On a side note, Duke was not one of the teams playing in Arlington.

The Catholic Church underwent the process of choosing a new Pope, and March Massness officially began.  I thought my overall pick of Urban IX was solid going into the Sweet Sistene, but he faltered in the Evangelical Eight, and after the Faithful Four, Francis had it pretty well in the bag.


Wanting to take Drew for walks around the neighborhood, but not liking toy wagons or strollers, Tamara got him a miniature car with a pull-handle.  Our son took to it immediately, and thus began the twice-daily car walks.  And thus began the major tantrums on days without at least two car walks.

A Canadian group called Podium Publishing put out an audio book edition of Learn Me Good, and my footprint in the entertainment world grew just a smidge.  For every copy sold, I get a nickel and a coupon for 3 cents off Labatt Blue.

Just for fun, I decided to claim 2,542 dependents on my tax return this month.  About a week after April 15, two unsmiling gents in dark suits and darker glasses showed up at my front door, rapped me on the forehead, and said, “Don’t do that again!”


On the 7th of the month, our little boy turned 1 year old.  He really started walking independently about 2 weeks earlier, so I put together a video montage called One Walking Moment, showing Drew’s progression from infant to toddler, all set to the yearly highlight reel song from the NCAA tournament.  So far, Luther Vandross has not sued.

Tamara and Drew began taking a sign language class, and I learned a few signs second-hand.  It’s amazing how the signs for milk, doggie, and diaper change are exactly the same.

I heard that a lot of money could be made selling cookies door to door, so I grabbed a clipboard and a rolly cart and walked up and down my street.  I don’t know if my neighbors were more disturbed by my lack of cookies or by the inadequate fit of my lime green toga, but the police had me speak with some very friendly doctors before releasing me.


In the first week of June, the school year ended, and so did my tenure with the Dallas Independent School District.  No more pencils, no more books, no more complete idiocy from incompetent leadership!

This was the month that Drew’s mealtime habits made the transition into extreme sport.  Other parents might look at his actions and wonder if something was wrong with the child, but I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s testing his throwing range and accuracy as well as experimenting to see what other parts of his head will take food into the digestive system.

Just to cross it off my bucket list, but against Tamara’s advice, I gave time travel a whirl.  I’m sorry to admit I may be inadvertently responsible for “What Does the Fox Say?”  On the other hand, Whipped Cream flavored vodka!  So you’re welcome, universe!


On July 2nd, Tamara and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  We left Andrew in the care of his godfather, and we spent the evening in lovely Tyler, Texas.  Come to find out, someone was in a pranking mood on the anniversary gift page of Wikipedia, so Tamara wound up getting a lovely pleather jacket.

Late in the month, we hit the road with my side of the family for a week’s stay in Destin, Florida.  We had good weather, great waves, and mild sunburns by the end of the week.  Drew learned a very important life lesson – never eat yellow sand.

Fueled by a long-repressed passion for sculpting, I finally gave in to my creative side and began sculpting Wax What-Ifs ™.  Tiny but detailed blobs of paraffin depict Michelle Pfeiffer as a harried bus driver, Michael Jackson as a Wal-Mart greeter, and Snooki as a tolerable human being.


The new school year began, and I found myself in a new district, at a new school, with new colleagues and new students.  On the downside, it’s a 45-60 minute commute to work.  On the upside, the district’s theme is superheroes, and I was asked to dress as Batman for the convocation.  Win.

One week before school began, I received a call from Jeopardy inviting me to participate in the Teachers Tournament.  My new students seemed very impressed when I told them, but also confused by my teaching style of explaining everything in the form of a question.

After seeing Miley Cyrus do her thing on the Video Music Awards, I decided to try my hand (and my butt) at twerking.  I woke up 26 hours later in the Emergency Room with 3 bruised ribs, a shattered kneecap, and a sprained taint.


Tamara became a consultant with an online jewelry company called Chloe and Isabel.  She enjoys it quite a bit, and from all accounts, Chloe is an absolute sweetheart, though Isabel can be quite the hard-drinking, rageaholic biz-nitch.

Not even a year and a half old yet, Andrew began the road towards his PhD, attending Mother’s Day Out preschool one day a week.  He looked so very proud walking around the house with his new backpack and lunchbox.  The first day brought lots of tears, none of them from Andrew.

Watching some old reruns of The Six Million Dollar Man inspired me to make some cybernetic/bionic upgrades to my own body.  So far, all I’ve done is strapped a tiny flashlight to my forehead, but I’ll go ahead and unveil my new moniker – The Buck Fifty Man.


2013 was my year to choose Halloween costumes, so Drew was Yoda, and I carried him around on my shoulders as Luke Skywalker.  Since Mommy knows nothing about Star Wars – or how to take turns – Drew also got a Mad Hatter costume to go with her Alice in Wonderland.  Next year, we’ll just combine the two, and he can be the Jedi Master Hatter.

Right before Halloween, I flew out to Hollywood to be on Jeopardy.  Incredibly, Weird Al Yankovic – Mr. “I Lost on Jeopardy” himself – was on my flight, and that proved to be a good omen.  The next three weeks were tough, as my students tried their hardest to learn whether I had won or not while trying their best not to learn any math I taught them.

Christmas lights and decorations seemed to go up even earlier than ever this year in our area.  Not to be outdone, we flooded our front yard with Valentine’s Day signs and memorabilia.  In addition, I wrote several articles for the local papers decrying the War on St. Patrick’s Day.


My Jeopardy tournament episodes finally aired, and I no longer had to keep the results secret.  I won, I got $100,000, and Alex Trebek is deathly afraid of cinnamon.  Nearly all of the prize money went towards paying off my bookie for some ill-advised but costly youth badminton wagers.
We spent Thanksgiving down south with Tamara’s parents, and Andrew once again entertained us all by acting like a turkey.  Before we came home, we had our family pictures taken down by the river.  It seemed to be a popular day for shooting – not just pictures – because we heard lots of nearby rifle fire the whole time.

At the request of some neighbors, we watched over their pet pig and pet turtle.  Just for fun from a genetics point of view, I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if we crossed the pig and the turtle.  The result:  dead pig and turtle.


Tamara flew to New York for a jewelry party over the first weekend in December, and that weekend we had a major ice storm here in the Dallas area.  Drew and I stayed warm at my parents’ house while schools were closed, but Tamara had to fight to get home as flights were canceled.  She finally hitched a cross-country ride with a van full of wandering bobsled/piccolo/guacamole enthusiasts.

To get him in the holiday spirit, Tamara took Drew to see multiple Santas over the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Drew’s reaction varied from uninterested to pissed off.  On Christmas Day itself, Drew seemed much more interested in Daddy’s iPhone than in his own brand new presents.

To close out the year, I splurged with a bit of my newfound Jeopardy money and bought myself a new car.  I was looking for either a time-traveling Delorean or a flying George Jetson-like space car, but I wound up settling for a new Toyota Corolla.  I’m confident that with a few minor upgrades, I’ll have it flying and time jumping within a few weeks.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cards, anyone?

The short and funny story is...

A couple of my girls asked me yesterday if I would teach them how to play poker.

The story with a little bit of context is...

Because it was so cold outside, we had inside recess, and it was my day to host it in my room.  So I had about 75 kids crammed into my classroom, all of them playing with the available materials -- dominoes, flash cards, bingo games, puzzles, and of course, playing cards.

As I was walking around, I noticed two girls playing go fish, and I saw that one of the girls had an Ace, a King, a Queen, and a Jack.  I commented that she had a really good poker hand, and both girls looked at me quizically.  I then saw the other girl had three 4s and two 3s, so I told her that she had one of the highest poker hands there was!

A few minutes later (enough time for me to have forgotten our conversation), those two girls came up and asked me to teach them how to play poker. 

I declined, saying their parents might not be too happy if the math teacher was showing them how to gamble...