Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

The only blog that you really want to read…or ignore.

Category Archives: School

It’s a beautiful day for Track Practice!

Ah, today is the first day of my daughter’s middle school track practice.  Of course, we live in Seattle and it is raining. Oh boy, nothing like being wet and miserable for track practice.

Our family isn’t much for running. My brother completed at the high school date level but he is the only runner in the family.  I’m always surprised when my kids went out and joined the track team. It’s a no cut sport so they make the team no matter what.

My daughter has stated she doesn’t like to run, however, she is joining the track team as a show of support for her friend. Kudos to her!

The other nice thing she said: we don’t have to go to any of the track meets! Yes!!!!  It is truly an awesome thing to tell your lazy father (little old me) that he isn’t required to go to any track meets. Yippee!

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy a watching my kids compete in their various sports….as long as it is sunny outside and I’m comfortable.  And I don’t mind being in a pleasant indoor, heated arena.  You know, sports like volleyball, swimming, basketball.

With my daughter saying I don’t have to attend her track meets, it really means I don’t have to be out in the rain, in the wind, or in the typical miserable spring weather we have in the Puget Sound area.  It also mean I avoid sitting on an uncomfortable outdoor metal bench and watch my daughter run in the forementioned miserable weather.  Instead, I can sit on my big butt on the couch and watch afternoon talk shows and order a pizza via my smartphone.  Heck, I might even have a hot cocoa and flip on my gas fireplace while I stare out my living room, watching the rain pour or drizzle down.


Thanks again daughter for giving me a get out of track jail free card!  I will truly enjoy staying home and not watching you not run.

Let’s Kill the Leprechaun – Tips for a Successful St. Patrick’s Day!

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Yippee!  It is St. Patrick’s Day, the day second only to Halloween for a day where you can get drunk, dress in a bad costume, and act like a fool!  Well, to be clear….I usually make a fool out of myself on Valentine’s Day and National Hot Tub Day (why isn’t National Hot Tub Day a Federal Holiday yet?).  However, back to the point of this worthless advice blog…St. Patrick’s Day.  In the good old United States of America, we all become Irish on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17).

Lucky for you, I’m part Irish so I can offer my three blog readers and my imaginary stalker Cyndi (who wears sunglasses on the darkest, winter, overcast days) great advice on St. Patrick’s Day.

Tips to be the Best Fake Irish Person You Can Be:

  • Randomly yell “Kill the Leprechaun” when you are out at the bar, drinking with your non-Irish friends.  Wear a green wig…everyone likes people that wear wigs.
  • You can also yell “Kill the Leprechaun” at your child’s school.  Make sure you have singled out that redhead music teacher (no one likes her anyway).
  • Get a Redhead Spouse….just make sure she isn’t the music teacher you just made fun of.
  • Make EVERYTHING green…green…green!…make green pancakes…….make green beer…make green cats….

food-PANCAKESgreengreen-beer-2103313cat-GREEN

  • On St. Patrick’s Day, You should always talk in a stupid “Irish” accent….or a “Scottish” one or an “English” one….no one in America can really can tell the difference anyway.  Just say “Top of the Morning!” to everyone.
  • Wear cheap plastic shamrock necklaces.  Everyone likes it when the “Made In China” necklace breaks, and those stupid beads and shamrocks are all over the floor, making you slip and fall.
  • Wear your green throng underwear (I’m talking to you gentleman readers.  Ladies, you can wear whatever you like).  Heck, ladies you can even enter a St. Patrick’s Day bikini contest!  Nothing puts the “Saint” back into St. Patrick’s Day like a visit to a bar in a bikini!  Click on this link for a Bikini bar video!
  • Drink Irish whiskey…or wine…green beer…or whatever…it doesn’t matter…just be that annoying douche bag who drinks too much.  Kind of like how you are every other day of the year, annoying…and drunk…but really just annoying.
  • Oh, don’t forget to wear something green….like the lettuce you have stuck in your teeth.  Nothing like getting your vegetables and sadness all in one day.

But you know something that rocks on St. Patrick’s Day?  This Lego video!

And if you just need to mellow out…enjoy this video!

You wasted your St. Patrick’s Day reading this blog, but at least you helped me get my readership numbers up.  And be happy that I didn’t make this post into a history lesson.  Leave me a comment or a link to a funny cat video.  Please, and write in an Irish accent…

One more video…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 President’s Day/Mid-Winter Break in Chelan

In the greater Puget Sound area, a fair number of the private and public schools have the President’s Day week off. No one knows for sure why we take a whole week off (considering we just had two weeks off around Christmas and New Year’s Day).   I use to hate having another week off so soon after Christmas, but I have grown to love it over the years.  The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, which makes this week a good break for vacation trips.  Airfare prices arent too bad and it seems only our local schools do the “Mid-Winter” Break.

The past few years, we have gone to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island), California.  This year, my daughter is doing club volleyball and my son is doing a college program during his senior year so a family trip wasn’t going to happen. My son still has classes this week, while my daughter doesn’t.  So no out of town, flyaway trips for us.

This year, we did manage to get away to Lake Chelan.  We traded overcast, rainy skies for snow and gray skies.  The drive over was decent; roads and highways were wet and snow free.


As you can see from the photos, the lake appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared.

Then on a drive up to look at a piece of property, the clouds rolled in and went from blue skies to thick clouds (or fog) conditions.

Uh, the road is somewhere out there.


During the winter, the towns of Chelan and Manson slow down. Some of the businesses are mostly the summer type, catering to the tourist families from the west side of the Cascade mountains and stay open during summer months only.  In the winter, the local wineries and their tasting rooms switch to the Friday-Saturday-Sunday limited hours schedule due to the slowdown in suburban mom traffic.  As an example, a few weeks back when my wife and I came to Chelan, we were the only ones at the Benson Vibeyard/Winery’s tasting room.  A nice quiet afternoon to enjoy the view and a bottle of red wine.

Overall, Chelan and Manson are both great getaway locations.  Lots of wineries, a bowling alley, a few pizza and burger joints await the hardy visitor.  Snowshoe or cross country ski in the morning, do a few wine tastings in the afternoon, head out to dinner, and cap it all off with a night of bowling.  What could be more fun?

Thank You Idiot Parent Dropping off Your Kid at school today; you make my day even more miserable than it already is.

Parent drop offThe last day of school was last Friday and it was the last time I dropped off my spoiled little princess for the school year.  Sure, we should make her walk the half mile to school but we don’t.  We would much rather subject ourselves to the misery of the Student Drop Off Line in the morning.  You would think that after 180 days of dropping off their kids, more parents wouldn’t be complete idiots when it comes to dropping off their kids in front of the school.

Seriously, they have had 180 drop offs.  Can’t they figure this out by now?  But every morning when I drop off my princess, some moron in front of me stops short and plugs up the whole system.  It really isn’t that difficult to figure out that you drive all the way to the end of the semi-circle driveway and then drop off your kid.  You don’t stop at the beginning and let them out.  When you drop them off at the beginning, it stops the whole flow.

See all the free space in front of you?  Use your common sense and move up.  See all the cars behind you WAITING for you to move?   That’s because we aren’t morons and can see that there are other parents that are dropping off their kids too.  We know that we need to move as far up as possible so that the whole system works.  You, on the other hand, are a complete moron who thinks of no one but themselves.

I bet you hate puppies and snowflakes too.

Maybe next year, you can figure out this incredibly easy drop off system.  Until school starts up again in the fall, I bid you a fond farewell.

Dear Graduates: Welcome to the Real World (oh, by the way…it sucks!)

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations on making it through four years of a bad dream called high school. You’ll be glad to know that your life is now beginning a new chapter. It is totally easy from here on out.  It is a world full of responsibilities, disappointments, happiness, failures, success, and misery that await you.  Sound fun, doesn’t it?

I could tell you to follow your heart but if you are anything like me, that would mean you want to hang out with your cat Mr. Whiskers, drinking scotch, while reading a nice novel. Yup, that’s my dream and if I followed it I would probably be living in a tent under the freeway overpass.  But at least I will be following my dream and living the life I was meant to live, right?

Instead you need to think about a few things. (And you thought you were done with thinking…)

Now, you might be on the path to college or you might be headed to a fulfilling career at a fast food restaurant. Whatever path you chose, make sure you are good at what you do. Enjoy it, and do it to the best of your ability so that you do a fantastic job. I’m not saying you should love your job, but you should be good at it. No one likes a half ass employee working for them or a college student in their class that doesn’t care about the course.  Enjoy the work so it doesn’t seem like work.  No one likes the slacker.

Keep in mind, it isn’t entirely possible to follow your heart and chase your dreams.  If you could follow your heart and have some crazy dream of doing nothing (like I do), you wouldn’t get very far.  You have to get out there and make your mark. You have to live life so you can see how futile and depressing it can be. See? Living in your parents’ basement, playing “Call of Duty” on your  xBox isn’t such a bad idea now, is it?

Think of the future: yeah, because it is now.  I would suggest you have your midlife crisis before the age of 30. You don’t want to be do it when you are in your mid to late forties. Rediscovering yourself at that age is sure fire way to end up broken-hearted, downtrodden, and despressed…you know, just like me.

Don’t worry; life won’t go according to your plan. Have a good moral value system and that will be your guide. Life’s path isn’t a straight line; it has ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and challenges to overcome.  Follow the compass and read the map.

I’m hoping you learned something from a bitter old man by reading this. Worthless advice doesn’t write itself, follow that dream and remember “Would you like fries with that?”  

Pajamas in Public…Just Say No!

I recently wrote about my travels to Kauai and how I disliked the airline system.  Upon talking with my FAA friend today, he mentioned that I had totally forgotten to mention how much I hate passengers who wear their pajamas while traveling.  Mind you, it isn’t just airline travel I see this trend happening in.  I also notice it in the grocery stores, at gas stations, and even at my kids’ school (most often parents being the offenders).pajamas in public2.jpg

It floors me to see grown ups wearing Hello Kitty pajamas at 3:20 pm in the afternoon.  For example, I was walking my daughter home with her friends and two adults were putting something in their car wearing their pajama bottoms like khaki slacks.  It is 3:20 in the afternoon and I have to see your Hello Kitty pajamas?  How old are you? Three years old?

Getting back to the air travel pajama problem, I really don’t think that as an adult I need to see your pajamas.  The only acceptable people that are allowed to wear pajamas on an airline flight are children under the age of 5.  If the kids are in Kindergarten, I’ll cut them some slack.  However, first grade and above, you need to put on your “big boy” pants and act respectful.  Heck, the next thing we’ll see is teenagers wearing diapers and pooping their pants on a cross country flight.  How would you like to sit next to that mess on a five hour flight?

So grown up and stop wearing your pajamas around like they are a pair of jeans.  Society made sweatpants so you could wear pajama style clothes in public.  Sweatpants are marginal more acceptable to wear in public.  You really should wear sweatpants when you are working out at the gym or jogging in the park.

Places I don’t want to see you wearing your pajamas:

At my kids’ school

Grocery stores

Gas stations

Post Office

Shopping malls

7-11

Liquor stores

Pizza parlors (really any kind of restaurants)

Again: Grow up, wear some jeans, some khaki slacks, or even a kilt or skirt.  Leave the pajamas at home so I can keep my lunch down.  Just give me one day where I don’t get grossed out by your lack of compassion to my sensitive stomach.pajamas in public

Crazy Teacher Night- Spanish Teacher Introduction

Bueno Dias!  Ya, that’s about it for my knowledge of Spanish.  But for some reason, my son’s Spanish teacher thought she should give her Parent’s Night speech in 80% Spanish and 20% English which equals 100% Annoying!  Now, I admire someone who wants to flaunt their foreign language ability as much as the next guy, however, I would like to understand what the heck you (the teacher) are saying.  Really, when I’m in your classroom (wasting my time), listening to you rambling on in Spanish, I’d like to know what the hell you are saying.  If I wanted to listen to an all Spanish dialogue, I’d flip on one of the many Spanish cable channels. (On a side note, why are the Spanish actresses so hot looking?)

Most of the other parents present,  were just as confused as myself, no doubt thinking that perhaps they were suppose to be fluent in Spanish BEFORE their child took her class.  Maybe they should know spanish so they could understand what she was yelling at us about.  (Why do Spanish teachers always seem like they are yelling?)

I’m was only in her class to see her grading system and how much percentage she allotted to homework points (grade) versus quiz and test points.  However, since most of her speech was in Spanish, I really don’t know what my son will be learning (besides Spanish…I hope).  I’m still not sure how she grades.  Maybe after I become fluent in Spanish, I can ask her.

There was a Question & Answer session at the end of the class period, and it took all my sarcastic willpower to not ask a question in German.  I just want to ask her ANYTHING in German, then when she said she didn’t speech German and didn’t understand, I could say “Exactly. You don’t speak German, I don’t speak Spanish, but we both speak English. Perhaps next time you could speak English and all of us could understand you.”

But I didn’t because I’m trying not to be “that” parent.  You know the parent that the teacher (and everyone else) hates.  And because the teacher hates the parent, the student gets a bad grade and the teacher acts like a jerk to kid.  My poor son has enough problems dealing with me, he doesn’t need a pain in the ass Spanish teacher bugging him as well.

So I bit my tongue and rolled my eyes in a passive aggressive way.  Then I decided to blog about it and express myself so my three followers know how upset I am.  I’m sure Cyndi (my imaginary stalker), my mom, and Mr. Whiskers are equally upset.

Enjoy your Friday! 

 

Oh, I’m sorry, did you say something about how I talk?

I’ve been having problems with certain “words” in my life.  I’m making the effort to eliminate the following words and phrases:

Basically

Actually

Technically

….And something

… And stuff

I think…

I’ll try….

Let’s get into the meat of the situation, we all have phrases that we say that begin to drive us crazy. My least favorite is my habit of saying “and something”. 

For example:

“The battery is very large and something.”  Of course the battery is “and something”.  I feel like a dork every time I say it.  Please, help me stop the use of the “and something”.

And like Yoda says I shouldn’t “try”, I should “do” it.

Instead of me saying “I’ll try to mow the lawn.”

No, instead “I will now the lawn.” (Unless it is raining….who wants to mow the lawn in the rain?).

In an effort to be specific, I’m switching to:

I will….

Don’t forget about “basically”.  I recently started to listen to the radio show “Loveline” again (via podcast) and every time someone says “basically”, they ring a bell. Now, everything time I hear the word “basically”, I hear that bell go off in my head.  I have been conditioned just like Pavlov’s dog; I hear the word “basically” and the bell goes off.  Now where is my treat?

“And stuff”

I use “and stuff” when I’m talking and it is annoying. I wouldn’t write it but I find myself saying “Here comes Clark with the report and stuff.” Really?  That just came out of my mouth?

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to come off as a snobby speaker of the English language. I’m a terrible speaker and mispronounce words all the time (I blame my parents….but who doesn’t blame their parents for all their problems?). I’m focusing on my own poor speech patterns and phrases. For pete’s sake, this blog isn’t about you, ok? These items are things I want to fix about myself. And who says I can’t change (besides my wife and kids?).

One more that I don’t use but I hate:

Honestly and To be honest with you….

“Honestly, I don’t know what you mean that I crashed the car.”

“To be honest with you, I’d never eat the last cookie.”

You weren’t honest before?  I don’t use those word phrases but they drive me crazy when I hear them.

So basically (ding), I’m trying to tell you that I need to work on myself and stuff, so that I think I can become a better person and something.

Actually, that was painful to write and then read.

Have a wonderful day! 

 

Twin Falls State Park Hike – North Bend, WA

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Twin Falls in North Bend….no one fell in so the hike was a success in my book!

The semester ended for our kids this past Monday so the whole school district has to let the kids off for the day. I’m not sure if my kids really go to school for a full five days in a row. What, with all the holidays, late start days, etc. my kids never seem to go to school for a full week.

Wait children….

However, we aren’t here to complain about the state of our education system. Instead we are here to chat about another great little hike here in the Seattle area. It is the Twin Falls Hike off of I-90 in the North Bend area. This is a short hike coming in at only two miles round trip.

Of all the years I have live here, I have never done this hike. With all of this great winter weather we have been having lately, I thought we should take advantage of going on an easy hike during the “off season” of hiking. (Die hard hikers would say there is never an “off season”). From what I have read about this hike, it is a fairly popular hike especially during the summer. Consider it is January and we usually have a bunch of rain, I figured this is as a good time as any to do this hike.

Luckily, I checked the trail report at wta.org and learned that there was a washout on the trail to the Twin Falls. This would stop is if we left from the traditional trailhead off of Exit 34. Good thing I check it out before we started our hike. The Wta.org website is an excellent resource for all hikes in Washington State and I highly recommend checking it out before any hike.

We modified our starting point to the Ollalie State Park parking lot off of Exit 38. You start your hike on the Iron Horse Trail for about half a mile until you come to the spur/trail to the Twin Falls trail. The Iron Horse Trail is an old Burlington Northern railroad bed (now a service road) so the downhill grade is mild for about half a mile. The trail to Twin Falls is clearly marked (from the Iron Horse Trail) and you won’t miss it (unless your face is buried in your phone texting a friend).

After you leave the Iron Horse Trail and use the Twin Falls Trail, you will be going downhill for about 3/4 of a mile. Just remember, you will be going down and that means the way back is uphill.

Easy trail down for my hiking partners and myself. In our hiking band, we had my wife, my daughter, and another Girl Scout (and friend) with us. No one complained about the hike so that means it is a fairly easy one for 12 year old girls and 40 year old parents.

For all you math geeks, the different route brings this hike in at 2.5 miles.

Awesome detailed map of where you will be lost. The best part? You won’t have a clue of where you are at!

Overall, this hike is a good family hike and easy to do. We left the Covington area around 2 pm and we’re back to Covington by 5 pm. That included a stop at McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes (for the girls). Hey, I’m working out so I can win the Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge so I’m skipping that stuff. Well, until I get home…then I pig out and cry into my bowl of chocolate peanut ice cream….

At least Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) cares….

See those two dots? Those would be the kids I’m suppose to be in charge of.

Curriculum Night: How my Child will learn to Become a Mid-Level Management Suck Up

This evening I went to my daughter‘s “curriculum” night at her school. This just happens to be my last one for elementary school. Have you forgotten about curriculum night? Or maybe you are a bad parent and have never attended one before? Basically, the teacher tells you what your child will be learning over the course of the year. In the great State of Washington, goals have changed and the names of the goals have changed. We’ve had WASL goals, we’ve had Iowa tests, we’ve had critical thinking goals, MAPSAT, BS Goals, etc. The acronyms keep rolling out and the goals keep changing but it all comes down to this: we want our kids grow up with a decent brain inside their heads.

I’m all for progress and helping my child become a world thinker who is compassionate and uses critical thinking in their ever changing world of shifting paradigms while at the same time becoming a global citizen that needs to manage her own future. How about that? Is that a “mission statement” or what?

One of the new math concepts is for our students to work on the computer solving problems. Really? The teacher had a sample problem involving pizza and two kids. One kid was named Lucas. All I was thinking while she was showing us the math word problem was that Lucas was a fat pig who shouldn’t be eating 3/8 of the cheese pizza, 4/8 of the pepperoni, and ¼ of another one. That Lucas kid is going to be one fat ass kid with weight and self-esteem issues if he keeps pigging out. Poor Lucas.  Did Lucas think he found the best Seattle pizza?

Welcome back to School!

Welcome back to School!

My other concern was that it was fairly stupid to being solving this math problem on a computer. A good old pencil and paper would be a lot quicker and easier to use. How are they going to do the math on the fly if the computer isn’t there? Hmm? Are the children of today (and tomorrow) going to be able to do math without the use of a pull down menu? Could they mix art and math together and sketch out the problem on paper with a pencil and still figure it out?

Really, all I saw was that our schools were teaching our kids to rely on a computer to create a whole bunch of extra work to solve a simple math word problem. They can make pie graphs, charts, etc. That’s great but it is a simple problem. They don’t need to make a ten page report on it that is a waste of everyone’s time. Are we creating a society of mid-level managers that make reports for the heck of it and to justify their jobs?

“I have that twenty page report on why we shouldn’t eating Twinkles!” Conclusion: Uh, because they are bad for us? Or maybe we should eat them because it helps the fitness industry keep fitness instructors employed?

Over the years, I’ve learned that you need to watch less TV, get off the worthless texting and Instagram, Facebook, social media sites, and read more nonfiction (that was a big one tonight) and classic novels. I would also add you need to get out and experience life. Take the kids to museums, road trips, ferry boat rides, hikes, walks, boat rides, and feel the wind in your face.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the internet as much as you do. All the information at your fingertips, merely a click away…it’s wonderful.

Yet, I’m just as guilty as other parents and their children in letting social media run our lives. I have a hard time disconnecting from my iPhone. I have slowed down my use of social media. I have tried to make a deliberate effort not to check my phone when I’m doing activities with the family. I try to ignore that email buzz on my phone. It is hard. Sometimes I’m good and other times I’m not.

What are your thoughts about using only computers for school work these days? Will it work?

 

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