Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2018

An open letter of resignation from an Oklahoma teacher

It's a confusing April morning in Oklahoma.


I have a cup of coffee and I'm looking outside my front window at my azaleas...which are covered in snow. Earlier this morning we had an earthquake. My wife is helping my son with his homework, even though he hasn't been in school all week, and he won't be there Monday either.

April, blooming flowers, snow, my son actually doing homework, earthquakes...and those aren't the weirdest thing to happen this past week.

This week I watched through various social media platforms and news outlets as my fellow educators, students, apologists, sympathizers, and according to Mary Fallin, ANTIFA, stormed Oklahoma City and the Capitol to rally for education funding. Awestruck, I saw them fill the Capitol building every day, I saw them spell out messages with their bodies for aerial photographs, and I saw some of the funniest and most grammatically-correct protest signs I've ever had the privilege of looking at.



 I wasn't there.

On Monday, I watched our children as my wife joined with her school on the Capitol lawn. On Tuesday, one of our kids had an appointment that my wife and I had to be present for. My school decided at zero hour to not participate in the full-fledged walk out, so for the rest of the week I had to be in class. I wasn't happy about it.

That said, I'm not unhappy about it anymore. I decided instead to take action. I've resigned.

I've resigned myself to the thought that most of the people in this state (most of the media included) think that this entire thing is about a pay raise. I've spent the whole week telling people I want my raise to go to my classroom, to no avail. In an effort to combat this, I looked at my wife and said, "I'm going to spend all of my raise after taxes on stuff for my room, just to prove a point." I felt noble. I was proud, standing before my wife having made what I considered to be an incredibly magnanimous gesture. But alas, my beautiful, lovely, and always taciturn wife brought me back down to earth: "Travis, no one cares about you."

I'm still seeing news stories and Facebook posts about how greedy teachers are. Our own governor thinks we all just want new cars. We can't win. We're either greedy, or we stop the fight now and we never cared about the student funding, so we're selfish. As Bobby Hill says:


I've resigned myself to the knowledge that even with this "generous raise," Oklahoma will still be near the bottom of the barrel in teacher pay, and because the money from the bills in question is going to general funds, in a couple of years the legislature can appropriate the revenue to whatever they want, leaving already crumbling districts to figure out how to pay for those raises.

I've resigned myself to the realization that the leaders of this great state don't care at all about public education, and their end goal is clearly consolidation at best, and vouchers at worst. This means my tiny school district in Okay, Oklahoma - the school I graduated from and now teach at - might not be long for this world unless something changes.


So I've resigned. What else could I do?

One of the biggest battles as a teacher in my district is convincing my students they're capable of being heard. A more perfect example could not have been constructed than in a conversation that took place in my classroom this past week.

Student: "Why aren't we participating in the teacher walk out?"
Me: "Well..."
Another Student: "We're just Okay. We're too small. We can't make a difference."
Me: *rage intensifies*


I think that may have been what broke me, and so I just went ahead and resigned again.

I've resigned myself to educating not just my students, but those of you who think teachers aren't fighting for your students. To educating those of you who think teachers just want a raise. To educating those of you who feel like just because your taxes went up, that gives you a right to blame my fellow educators and I, instead of the state government you keep voting into office just because you're pro-life and those stinkin' Democrats kill babies. You can be a Christian Democrat you narrow-minded Pharisee simpleton.



I've resigned myself to being nicer to those who don't share my views. And yes, that means starting right now, after the Pharisee simpleton line. Every journey has a beginning, and mine might as well be the space between these two paragraphs. I love you, even if you're an idiot (okay, now). There are ways to have reasonable discourse on volatile issues, and I have to take responsibility for my part in that. Part of the problem is social media - every issue is polarizing, and if you don't take a clear stance on an issue, you're often overlooked. Being overlooked is the worst thing that can happen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other digital outlet. Fear of being overlooked can cause people to say emphatic things, even if they don't entirely believe them.

I'm resigned to investing in G, in H, in H. In L, J, B, D, J, C, A, A, A, E, T, and M. In R, J, T, L, L, J, R, T, T, T, A, N, A, B, and S. Investing in H, S, C, T, T, C, S, R, and R. In A and Z. In K, K, B, K, K, S, C, S, and S. In S, J, B, D, K, K, A, T, K, C, and S. Investing in M, K, N, K, M, K, S, A, E, S, C, L, R, and B. All of these young people depend on me to teach them about English, sure, but more importantly, they depend on me to help them become the kind of people this state can be proud of. They depend on me to protect them. I am their tutelary.


I won't be at the Capitol next week. I'll be in my classroom, helping administer state tests and trying to convince young men and women that yes, they absolutely can make a difference, and yes, their voices can be heard. I'll be showing them pictures of your signs and videos of your congregations. You can have the stage, and I'll take my broken classroom podium. Together we'll scream the same message. "You are powerful. You are capable. You are cared about."

To the Oklahoma Legislators who are currently supporting us, thank you. We are in your debt, and I personally would love for you to visit my classroom when it's over. It's an open invitation. Come and let my students and I thank you personally.

To the ones telling educators to get back in our classrooms and teach: There's a point in every dystopian novel where the hero(ine) meets those in power. If you could read anything other than bills penned in oil instead of ink, you'd know how they end.


Okay, okay, starting now. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

On not being allowed to fail


Image credit

Many of you know (all too well, I'm sorry, well, actually I'm not, it's amazing) about my transformation over the last nine months. You know about Chris at Reform Strength and Conditioning, and you know that if you don't think you have the money for it, you really do, you're just spending it on things that make you fatter. 

I've bumped my workouts to four a week, and I'm making huge strides in the gym right now. I have never in my life been stronger than I am now, even in high school. Weight loss has plateaued, if only because I still have struggles with food addictions that I'm doing my best to break (I will NOT eat candy before bed, I will NOT eat chips before bed, I will NOT eat an entire double quarter pounder and three Filet 'O Fishes before bed). 

I got my first four week plan from Chris the other day, and I started in on it after asking him a bajillion questions he promptly answered even after he'd already provided video instructions (love you). 

The first week, I felt good after I finished my decline dumbbell presses, but I didn't feel like I challenged myself. I decided to challenge myself the second week, and I felt even better, even though I didn't complete four sets with the same weight. 

So I set a goal. Use the 45s for all four sets. 

I GET A BREAK ON WEEK FOUR THANK YOU BABY JESUS

When I looked at the app today, I saw what I wrote last week, grabbed the 45s from the rack and leaned back on the bench. I put the weight up twelve times, felt a wobble at the end, but dropped them with a sense of satisfaction. Round two went much the same. 

Before I started round three, a buddy of mine walked in with his mom. I like this guy, as far as that goes. He's one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and smile while he was doing it. He sat down, asked me how I was, told me he was through with his workout, and started looking at his phone. 

I threw the weight up. Once, twice, three...ten times. The tenth one got me, I'm not going to lie to you folks. Serious wobble, and a dip at the top that almost resulted in a 45-pound weight coming down to rearrange my overall gorgeous facial construction. 



I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, and then a face above me. 

"How many more?"

"Two." 

"Do it." 

I lowered the weights, then got them halfway back up. A slap against my elbows and the weights were at the top. Lowered, another slap, at the top. Set three was in the books. 

"Thanks," I said. 

"No problem." 

A couple minutes later I was ready to start round four. Having needed a spot the last set, and not wanting to bother anyone this set, I walked over to the rack and I picked up two 40-pound dumbbells. 

I got to my bench, got ready to sit down, and I looked up. He was looking at me. 

"You've got 45s in you." 

I opened my mouth.

"Travis. You've got 45s in you." 

I set down the 40s and picked up the 45s. I knew I didn't have them in me, heck, I would wind up having them inside my brain by six reps. 

I laid down on the bench, opened my eyes, and this guy was there. 

He let me get through eight reps on my own. I couldn't believe I got that many, to be honest. The ninth rep though, wasn't happening. 

A slap. Nine happened. 

A push. Ten happened. 

"Squeeze it at the top." 

Another slap, another push. Eleven happened. 

"C'mon. One more. Do it." 

His hands never left my elbows, and I think it was more him than me, but twelve happened. I threw the weights across the room (dropped them pathetically), and opened my eyes. He was gone, sitting back down, going through his phone. 

It didn't hit me until the drive home. 

I wasn't allowed to do less than I was capable of, and I wasn't allowed to fail.

I'll add this. I had tuna for lunch. I spit when I exhale. When my head is lower than my feet, my face turns a sort of odd purplish-red color, kind of like a grape about to go bad. 

I was not easy to help. It didn't matter. I wasn't allowed to fail. 

As a teacher, I come across all sorts of kids. Some kids don't want to try, some want to try but don't have the means, and some are completely capable with school work, but are socially awkward. 

What if I didn't allow my kids to fail? 

Some of them aren't pretty. Some of them might have had tuna for lunch, and some might not have showered for a week. Some might spit when they talk, and some might not talk at all. 

Some are not easy to help. It doesn't matter. They shouldn't be allowed to fail. 

What if, as educators, we began to look through the lens of this guy at the gym? What if we took the too cool to try kids, the socially inept, the nose pickers, and we didn't let them fail? What if we carried this attitude through an entire school day. An entire month, a year? 

"Hey kid, put the 40s down. You've got 45s in you. Yes you do. Two more. One more. Finish this." 

It might be unrealistic. Some don't want the help yet, some don't want it at all. However, we owe it to them to try. We live in a world that encourages trophies for participation, results that happen overnight, and exerting as little effort as is required to reach the goal. 

Hand 'em the 45s. Push them. Don't let them fail. 

And Zac, thank you. You did more than just help me lift weight in the air. You didn't let me fail. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#OklaEd chat questions for March 12

Photo credit
Well, someone somewhere messed up and gave me the keys to the pound sign Oklahoma Education (#OklaEd) chat on Sunday night.

My topic? How to help students succeed with "real life" English Language Arts (ELA) skills. I have a bee in my bonnet about prepping students for the workforce, and not just for the state tests they have to take. If that means they get through my class without knowing what a gerund is, but they can send their boss an email with the correct homophones in place, I feel like I've done my job.

I was asked to preview the questions in a blog, so here they are. I will give you my answers on Sunday evening, and I very much look forward to hearing yours as well.

Thank you, educators of Oklahoma, for what you do for our kids.

  1. Introduce yourself. Have you ever gotten a work email with spelling/grammar mistakes? How did you react?
  2. What ELA skills do you find yourself using the most at your job(s)? 
  3. What ELA skills do you think our students need to learn before they graduate? 
  4. How are you helping teach those skills to your students while staying inside your subject area? 
  5. How are you effectively demonstrating those skills to your students? 
  6. Do you use writing as a punishment (essays, sentences, words, lines, etc.)?
  7. How can you specifically alter your lessons next school year to teach some of these “real life” ELA skills? 
  8. Do you show your writing to your classes? Do you write in real time on SmartBoards, etc.? 
  9. Do you think it’s important for your students to see you make “real-world” writing mistakes (as long as you correct them)?
  10. Do you have a policy/reward system in place for when a student catches a typo/grammar mistake you’ve made? 
Have a great rest of the week, and I'll see you on Sunday!

Follow me on the Twitter here: @tstyles77

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My response to your vote on Oklahoma State Question 779

That's the tweet that finally sparked this, just to let everyone know. I've been meaning to post this since November 10, but I've just never gotten around to it, and hearing those words come out of my wife's mouth this evening, it finally consumed me.

Earlier this year, in October, I was asked to guest blog on a site called Blue Cereal Education, an education blog based here in Oklahoma. I wrote this post. In it, I told everyone that no matter what Oklahomans voted on State Question 779, I'd be fine, and I'd show up the next day at work with a smile on my face.

I lied.

As I stayed up later and later on November 8, it became very clear that Oklahomans had made their voices very clear on a tax increase...no matter how good of a cause it was for. I fumed, and then I fumed more, and finally I went to bed entirely too late, incensed at you people for checking no instead of yes.

I googled the rate of pay for teachers in Arkansas, then Florida, and Kansas before finally my own words drifted through my head.

"I'll die here or retire here." 

So much for that, right?

So on that Thursday, November 10, we had a blood drive at my school. As a teacher, I find it crucial to take time out of my day to give blood, ostensibly extending my planning period by two hours and helping me avoid the after-lunch rush of freshmen.

I'm kidding.

But I did decide to donate, and things went swimmingly. Another teacher so graciously covered my ninth grade class, but not before snapping a picture of me and another student...a student who I love more than I'd care to admit, who is part of a family who I've known my entire thirty-four years of life.

Here's the pic.

Obviously a real intense moment, a moment full of caring and love. 
The teacher who was covering my class (who is a math teacher)—instead of just sitting them down and boring them to tears for an hour—took matters into her own hands and threw the picture up on the SmartBoard, then had them write a short essay describing what was happening in the scene (still think we should step it up, Fallin?).

I walked back into her classroom towards the end of the period, and the entire class looked up from their projects and began to laugh. I glanced up at the SmartBoard and put two and two together, and I smiled. The other teacher began to tell me what was happening, and had all the students gather their work and hand it to me. What followed was one of the best moments of my short eighteen-month teaching career.

Sometimes, I feel like I am blessed with moments of happiness so pure, so distilled, that they're meant never to be forgotten. Moments where you smile, you laugh, you cry, and then laugh again as you're wiping tears and snot all over your face just so you can see what you're consuming.

So as I was wiping tears and snot all over my face, I read the following gems. Now listen up: I know the spelling is atrocious, and I know the grammar is bad. We're working on it. As much as I'd like to be an actual miracle worker, I'm not, but I'm a damn fine teacher, and we're working on it. So judge or judge not, but as the great Ricky from Sunnyvale would say: "Make my words," if you make a comment about the spelling or grammar, I will scour your Facebook feed with all that I am and will bring your every error to light. These are my kids. Enjoy this like I did.

Her story is done, y'all. 
Me being in birth was a popular theme, maybe I should work on my blood giving pose? 
For the record, you could wax my legs smooth and not notice any difference. I am not a hairy guy. 
If this kid only knew how many times I've looked like this because I've eaten something that isn't good for me.
Hey, my reputation went down the drain when I publicly admitted to crying over your stories. 
MR. SLOAT IS SO AMAZING, YES MORE OF THIS PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
Again with the leg waxing, is this a natural position for leg waxing? 
I died a noble death, much like the late Albus Dumbledore. Harry Potter reference achieved. 
I can't figure out if I want to hug this kid or accidentally punch her in the neck. MR. SLOAT OUT.
Well, I mean, doesn't everyone poop like this? Just me? Let's just forget this one. 
*crickets* mmmmm Nacho Day. 
There were so many more, one actually said it looked like I'd just heard all the Destiny servers went down (I brayed like a donkey), a few more about waxing, a few more about pooping, a bunch more about giving birth, and then a few solid hundred about how noble and brave I looked (just kidding they were about pooping). 

If you're a student, you keep reading. Everyone else get out of here after this paragraph. This is my response to you voting whatever you did on SQ779, and I'm through talking about that now. I understand your reasoning, and I'm sorry for lying to you, but "make my words," it was a small stumble along a long and loyal path that will end with my death or retirement from Okay Public Schools. I don't blame you. Now go. Young person, keep reading. 

Thank you. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your day to make me laugh, and to make me feel loved (YOU LOVE ME I'M TELLING ALL YOUR FRIENDS). You gave me a moment I will remember for the rest of my life, and a story I'll tell future students, some of which might even be your kids. Thank you. You are amazing, you are a gifted writer, you are a great human being, and these stories will stay in a box for me to pull out and remind myself just how much I love this job. You did that. You are responsible for my continued happiness. Thank you. 

Now do your dang research paper. I'll see you Monday, and we'll act like this never happened. 

Love you. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A big reminder about small-town kindness


This week has been nuts, right?

Tragedy stacked on senseless tragedy, and every single time I open Facebook or Twitter, I've been bombarded with what I'm supposed to think or do in the wake of these events.

This is not a post about how bad of a week it's been for our nation. This is a post about how my hometown just keeps coming through in a pinch.

"Travis, if you talk about Okay one more time, we're quitting. It can't be that great." 

Well, it is. And let me tell you why I got shown that again on Tuesday.

First order of business on Tuesday morning was a doctors appointment. I seem to have picked up a bit of the swimmer's ear in Florida, and I have decided that since diet and exercise are not things I want to try, I'd ask the doctor for prescription methamphetamine and appetite suppressants to keep me from eating until October.

When I walked in, I saw a familiar face, a good family friend who happens to be a nurse at my doc's office. She's very active in Okay, she's at most city council meetings, she's a volunteer firefighter, and she married into a family a love and respect a lot.

She took my blood pressure, and I joked about how the walk from the lobby to the exam room was all uphill and that's why my pulse was 500, and then the conversation turned a shade more serious.

You see, she worked a fatality accident earlier this week. You might have seen the story on the local news, but a pickup rolled over and pinned a guy who wound up dying. Alcohol was involved, and the whole thing was a mess. I'd call it a tragedy on a lesser scale, but that kind of depends on who you ask.

I told this young woman that there is no way I could do what she does. I cannot comfort the dying, I cannot work with injured and scared people. I've often said that a writer can take the coward's way out in that regard - I can just step back and ask questions after everyone is taken care of. Don't get me wrong, the real journalists out there know what I just said is false. But I never considered myself to be a real journalist, just a writer.

She looked at me and laughed, and said that she can do all her job requires except speaking to the families. Something her husband is good at, she said. I mentioned that it was funny how God pairs us up in life, and more laughter followed. Then she said something I'll never forget.

"This girl, Travis, she stuck with me. I don't know what it was. I prayed with her as she was getting in the ambulance, and since then I've added her as a friend on Facebook."

I think we all assume that emergency personnel have to create a distance between themselves and their jobs. They see so much, that it helps to have the dissonance there, otherwise they can easily be overwhelmed. I can understand that. Doctors, nurses, volunteer firefighter, EMS personnel, and law enforcement all have to deal with the worst. I find no fault in their removal from attachment.

But this young woman, this young woman from Okay, Oklahoma, went above and beyond what her job required of her that night. It wasn't loading another injured body into an emergency vehicle, it was a held hand, a prayer, and a conscious effort to follow up. That struck me.

I'm positive that emergency personnel make that kind of personal connection every day. But it makes me extraordinarily happy to know that we have that kind of person working in Okay.

As I left the doctor's office, I went to my new favorite place in Muskogee, the QuikTrip. Walking in, I saw a student of mine, a future student of mine, and their father picking out soft drinks. I stopped by to say hello, and asked them how their summer was going, and jokingly told them they better be ready to write when they walk into my classroom in a couple of months. It was a great conversation.

Then I saw another Okay alum putting the lids on her drink as well as her daughter's. As we met in line to pay for our items, I looked at the future student and asked, "When do I get you?"

Mom spoke up. "Two years," she said. "And you better still be there."

I gave her what has become my standard rhetoric when my loyalty to that town has been called into question.

"I'll die there, or I'll retire there."

She laughed, and as the cashier rang up her items, she looked at him and said, "Oh, and I'll get his too."

I was floored. The sheer kindness of such a simple gesture left me stammering out, "You don't need to do that," and she laughed and told me to be quiet. I thanked her and left, smiling the entire way to my truck, out of the parking lot, and dang near the whole way home.

Okay, Oklahoma. The school that's now infamous for the gun signs, and recently famous for the best state basketball run ever seen in the school's history. The town that raised my brothers and I, the cemetery where my father is buried. The town people can't wait to burn and leave. The home of the Mustangs and the church I found God in. The town that pops up on your iFunny app from time to time.

The town I love, and the people I love.

And I can't wait to invest the rest of my life there.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahomans.


I love Oklahoma.

I've been to both coasts, New York City and San Diego, Texas, Kansas, and a few other states. Each one has their thing, their own special and unique appeal (except Arizona, Lord I can't stand Arizona, but that's another blog), but Oklahoma is Home.

I capitalized home because it's more than a place. It's like capitalizing Nature or Romance or all those other words that people in the 1800s capitalized because they embodied so much more than a lower case first letter could handle.

Oklahoma is my Home.

The people are genuinely friendly, albeit terrible drivers. We'll talk to you even if we don't know you. We mispronounce, misspell, and misuse words. We drop the letter "g" off any word that ends with it. We make do with what we have, talk about what we'd do with things we don't, and work hard to provide for what we need.

And, just like living in other states, living in Oklahoma comes with a risk, the largest being adverse weather. Those who live here can attest to the weather being sunny one moment, and causing you to search for shelter the next. I've worn shorts and a coat on the same day, and not on purpose.

On Monday we faced a tragedy. Although multiple tornadoes ripped through the state, one in particular stood out; the one that devastated Moore, killing numerous people, leveling an elementary school, and causing billions of dollars worth of damage to the city, and unspeakable damage to the lives of those affected.

I scrolled lazily through my Facebook news feed on Monday evening, seeing all the condolences, well-wishes, and prayers sent up for those involved. Then, somewhere in the midst of all the grief, little flashes of hope tore through.

A lady found her dog while being interviewed.

Someone organized a volunteer group to drive to Moore and help those in need.

Someone opened their apartment complex, and the University of Oklahoma opened their housing for displaced families.

Matt Kemp pledged to donate $1,000 for every home run he hits to relief efforts. Later on Tuesday, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder gave $1 million to the efforts.

As a matter of fact, just now, while typing this, I got a phone call from our local school in Fort Gibson saying the student council is accepting donations to donate to the Red Cross.

At every corner it seemed as though a new spot to donate popped up, clothes, food, money, anything people could give, and eventually emergency workers had to stop people from coming into Moore. The outpouring of love and kindness overwhelmed the need.

Let me be clear. What we faced was not equivalent to what happened in Boston. It was not the same as what happened to Sandy Hook Elementary, and it really wasn't on par with what happened in Joplin last year, because our weather forecasters did one heck of job warning us of what was coming.

But it was still tragic. People lost their lives, their family members, and their possessions. They sent their children to school that morning, only to have them never return. In the blink of an eye, everything and everyone they loved was taken from them.

So. Where was God?

Why didn't God stop this? He could have, right?

The answer is yes, yes He most certainly could have. I distinctly remember a time in the Bible where Jesus stepped up on a boat and spoke to a storm, calming it instantly. So where was he Monday afternoon?

The answer isn't an easy one to stomach, especially for those who don't believe in Him. He was there. He was there and He was in control the entire time, because not one thing happens on this big ball of mud and water without Him being aware and in control of it.

Listen. God allows bad things to happen. He allows tragedy. I don't claim to know why, and you won't ever catch me saying I do. However, I know one thing for sure. God is still in control, He loves me, He loves you, and He is the ultimate source of comfort in times such as these.

That said, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and the victims of this most recent tragedy. Lord knows I don't have much money, but I do have a little bit of free time, and in the coming weeks there is a good chance I'll try to head down that way and help them clean up. But in the meantime, y'all are in every prayer I say, and you've been in every prayer I've heard, including the circle our group of pick-up basketball players gathered into today before the game.

As for Oklahoma, well, we'll recover. Homes will be rebuilt, memories will be shared, and resolve layered with resiliency. Loved ones will be honored, and the shower of kindness and giving will continue. And next year, even moving forward into this year, we'll see the storm clouds roll in and we'll worry. We'll run for shelter and hope everything we love isn't taken from us. And if it is, we'll pick ourselves up, dust off what's left, and soldier on.

That's why Oklahoma is my Home.

That's why I love Oklahoma.

Carry on. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Siri, Suri, Serri, or Sue Ray?

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was the first time my father ever corrected my grammar.

Me: "I'm going to take a bath, but I have to go get a wershrag first."
Dad: "Son, it's wash rag, not wershrag."
Me: "Yes sir."

As I've grown older in this wonderful state of mine, I have realized that I was not alone in the mispronunciation of the bath time cleaning cloth. In fact, day in and day out, I hear it called a "wershrag." I must admit that I sometimes revert to my natural ways and pronounce it in the way that surely has my father rolling over in his grave.

But it doesn't stop there.

You see, in Oklahoma, it seems as if we'll throw the "er" sound in just about everything. It doesn't matter what vowel or vowel cluster we substitute it for, if it can be done then we do it.

Take for instance, the state beer of Oklahoma.

State Question: "Are the mountains blue yet?" 
I personally detest the stuff, but there is no getting around it. If there is a party anywhere to be had, someone will ask you if you want one of these things. Only, they won't ask you if you want a Coors Light. They'll ask you for something you've never heard of...if you aren't from around here.

That apostrophe isn't a typo. It's an "assumed grammatical error." Normal stuff he're. 
Cerrs Light. The beer endorsed by the 1990's Chicago Bulls three-point legend Steve Kerr. You know, the white guy.

Kinmancare (previously known as "Kid Funk") heard me pronounce it like that one day, and he took time out of his day to correct me. 

KC: "Travis, that's retarded. You're retarded."
Me: "Well, I know it's not very good." 
KC: "No, I mean, how do you say door?"
Me: "Umm...derr?"
KC: "Very funny. You see my point?" 

And I did. I saw his point. And from that day on, I have pronounced the name of the beer properly. 

So thanks to two different people in my life, I now have a a finer grasp of the English language, as well as the ability to pronounce vowels like they should sound, instead of throwing "errs" all up in my syntax. 

I will now return the favor to all y'all fellow Okies out there. 

It has come to my attention that many of you have no idea how to pronounce the name of the leading lady of the smart phone industry. 

*Post Break*

Image source

I typed "Siri" into Google and brought up images. Then I thought, "You know what would be great? If I pretended that I thought Siri was this hot chick buried in the phone." So I googled "Hot Siri." The picture directly above is the first result. 

I'll understand if you need a minute.

*Post Resume*

I'm talking of course, about Siri, the remarkable, snarky, and slightly condescending personal assistant built into the iPhone 4s and 5. 

I have had countless friends and family members in the last few days pick up my phone and say:

"So does this have Serri on it?" 

"Dude, do you like Serri?" 

"I wish my phone had the Serri." 

"Serri! Tell me where the closest Hobby Lobby is!"*

The more I think about it, the more I realize this might be a teensy bit racist. 
I am at a breaking point. I must take a stand and let my voice ring out over the plains, mountains, and lakes of the great Sooner State and proclaim the message:

"IT'S SIRI, NOT SERRI, AND NOT SURI!"

That last one is Tom Cruise's daughter for cripe's sake! While I wouldn't put it past her having an iPhone, I certainly think there would have been a lawsuit had both Apple and Tom both named their babies "Suri."

We're one fatal intonation away from calling the poor woman "Sue Ray."  From there, it'll become "Suerae," and then "Soirée." The next thing you know, no one will know if you're planning on asking your iPhone a question or if you're going out for a nice cup of frozen fruit flavored water.

I'm absolutely certain that Google would have a legitimate lawsuit here. 
To settle this matter once and for all, I decided to go straight to the horse's mouth, as it were, and ask Siri herself the question of the day.

There you have it. The consummate answer.  
So, fellow Oklahomans - and more specifically members of my Sunday School class - I ask you to change your ways. Let us not soil the memory of Steve Jobs by mispronouncing the name of his favorite daughter. Join me in consistently practicing your individual vowel sounds as they were meant to be spoken. 

Together we can get through this. It is our duty as state in this blessed union called 'Merica. In fact, I'm almost positive I heard it mentioned in a "Red Dirt Ready" commercial. 

"I'm Morgan Freeman, and people have always loved the sound of my voice." 
Your move, Oklahoma. Don't let the terrorists win.
* This was said by my wife on Saturday. It really hit close to home that we aren't Red Dirt Ready.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Disturbing News About Carrie Underwood.

***WARNING***

Today's blog may disturb you. I will manage to firmly prove once and for all that a certain country music star is probably both a witch and a terrorist. If finding out that country music stars are both witches and terrorists is something that is likely to disturb you, please close this page. 

I am not a superstitious man. 



When I woke up this morning, I had a thought run through my head, and it demanded to be examined, studied, and investigated to it's fullest extent, knowing that I had a duty to you, the reader, and to my country.

As most of you know, it has been quite dry in Oklahoma. Dry, hot, and humid. In fact, I haven't been able to step outside and NOT start sweating since early May. By the time I get done walking anywhere, it looks as though I've run a marathon. Being heavyset, people often know that I haven't run a marathon and that I'm just fat and out of shape. To those people, I say this: round is a shape. Suck it.

I don't know how many of my readers are familiar with country music star Carrie Underwood. If you've lived in Oklahoma for longer than ten minutes or you've ever watched American Idol, you'll know her as the winner of that show in 2005, catapulting her from anonymity to superstardom virtually overnight.

I have no opinion on Ms. Underwood's music. Some of it is catchy and fun, and other times it can be about Jesus driving your car for you. But lately, radio has been playing a song of hers called "Blown Away."



The tune is, as I mentioned, catchy and fun, and the song is about a young lady who watches her mean father die in a tornado while he's passed out drunk and she's in the fraidy-hole. Sort of a "what goes around comes around" story. At least she's not slashing anyone's tires, right?

This album was released on May 1st, 2012.

It just so happens that I have a a rainfall summary from the Oklahoma Climatological Survey that runs from May 3, 2012 to today's date. This picture illustrates the amount of rain we've had in Oklahoma compared to a "normal" year. The only reason I quoted up "normal" is because as an Oklahoman, I realize we've had exactly six "normal" years since statehood.

This shows it's been dryer than 
As you can see, it's bad. Terribly dry. Crops have suffered, lawns have suffered, and small, pale, Irish children like my poor niece cannot walk outside without having to be pumped full of fluids and slathered with sunscreen first. I've personally lost more skin to peeling this summer than I lost to bicycle crashes in the early nineties.

If you listened to the song in the video earlier, or you've heard it on the radio, you know that the lyrics feature the quote: "There's not enough rain in Oklahoma, to wash the sins out of this house." 

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

"There's not enough rain in Oklahoma."

Folks, hopefully I don't have to spell this out any clearer for you, but I will. The album came out on May 1st. Since May 3rd, we've had a near record lack of rain fall. In fact, the average has been almost seven inches below normal. Are you understanding? 

Carrie Underwood is a witch.

She has obviously released this album and this song as a curse on the state of Oklahoma. As long as radio stations keep playing it, the drought will last, and Oklahoma will eventually dry up and become the next Arizona. Only it won't be a dry heat. It will be a "Travis doesn't get off the couch because anytime he moves he ruins clothes with his copious sweat" kind of heat. 

Seen here at an awards performance in full witch garb, admitting that I'm right. 

If I can be proved wrong on this, let me know. I'm pretty sure the science behind it is 100% real, and so it can't be wrong. I suppose the final word would be to see if she weighs more than a duck.

The next and final charge I will level at Carrie is a bit more circumstantial, but it might appeal to the conspiracy theorist in all of you like it did to me. 

While perusing the data for my expert scientific research and eventual proof of Carrie witchcrafting Oklahoma a drought, I came across a startling revelation. Take a look at a screenshot of the survey. 


Looks normal, eh? 
Wrong. Look again.

This gives me the goosebumps, y'all. 
Is Carrie Underwood a terrorist as well as a witch? Did she have a hand in 9/11? I'll leave that up to Governor Jessie Ventura and the Supreme Court to decide. But after singing songs about destroying vehicles and watching people die in tornados, let's just say I have a heavy suspicion. 

I'm just laying the facts out for you people. Take them and run. And I didn't even have time to mention what she did to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. 



*All charges leveled against Carrie in this blog are of course based on nothing but pure scientific research, but at the same time, I am not actually accusing her of being a witch or a terrorist. I'm adding this for legal reasons, which really seems as though I have a grand opinion of myself, thinking she might actually see this. Carrie, if you read this, I love you. Marry me.