Though there are a several messes going on, one situation was particularly sad. Our school is an online/alternative school. We take the students that don’t have any other options. really, we take anyone who wants to be here, but the focus is on the ones who struggle in traditional settings.

there are a lot of schools who have problem students who need to have a place to go. In Colorado, schools get paid based on how many students they have on October 1. So we have a lot of “educators” who want to “help” the students by sending them to our program, but only after they get paid for it. Unfortunately, the students will be the ones that will lose out, unless we can get some alternative funding.

the other interesting thing that we run into is that most online schools basically grab the money and run. we have had such a hard time recruiting students because of how they other so-called educators messed it up.

not too surprising. everyone else tries to grab as much government money as they can, why not “educators?”

as a side note, we had some interesting things come up in our situation with our district. we have been working through it, but we are current 2 weeks late on paychecks. it is funny to see how the employees who were the most vocal in supporting what we are doing were the ones to attempt to sue us when it was a day late. At least we don’t have to trim down payroll since most of the worthless people left of their own volition. And if I am going to be doing their work anyway, I would much rather be aware of it going in rather than finding out about it last minute when it is going to affect me adversely.

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It is sometimes hard to see what God’s plan is. Being a Biblical counselor and somewhat theologian (meaning that I have studied many topics, especially while in school, but tend to only study them to the point of my own satisfaction, typically just past the point of practical application), I know that discovering God’s plan is quite simple. Look to the Bible for the clear cut issues, then take the general principles and apply them to the situation. Once that is done, you are free to choose what you want. The goal is still to honor God. There are always some choices that will honor God more than others, so try to make the best choices. once it is past the first two levels, they are all good choices (since they honor God), but there are good, better, and best. It may be hard to determine which is which. Once you get into this realm, you then look for wise, Godly counsel, compare the options, and basically see which looks like the best option, and then go with it.

But sometimes there are other situations that are not quite so . . . leisurely. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to go through the final details exhaustively. You know it is not sinful and that it honors God, so it is an acceptable choice. Based upon everything you have done up to this point, it is right along where you are heading. It lines up with your “calling” per sea (I have a hard time with the “calling” issue. I think it is over-spiritualized from a scant bit of narrative text, but that is another discussion. I do think that some people are suited to some things better than others, and some people are even so suited to certain things that it is unimaginable to do anything else.). it isn’t exactly what you want, but close enough. all of the major factors are there, including ones that you did not see coming together at the same time and place in that way, which makes it even better.

What makes it even more interesting is that it came together out of nowhere after basically giving up on it from your own power and giving it to God. After years of slowly shifting to try to work it out through your own strength, you finally get back to where you need to be, and hand it over to where it belongs. Within a few hours, I received a rather interesting call from a pastor. It was for a church plant that was attempting to be multi-cultural (both types of churches I always wanted to be involved with). He was specifically looking for a youth pastor, but also was wanting to find someone to do counseling. Since I do both, it was a great fit. He offered me the job right there on the phone. Granted, it would not be payed yet, but it would guarantee a job at an alternative school they were starting. I would probably have been interested in doing that part alone. About a month later, we went to a meeting of the potential team. I was introduced as the “Family Life Pastor,” in charge of everything from children to youth and counseling (though a few more things have been added since). I was thinking “I don’t think I said ‘yes’ yet . . . ”

A few months and a couple false starts and a near-entire staff change later, the school is starting up. Now we are struggling with a school district not doing what they said that they would. A lot of it is up in the air, but should be sorted out today or Monday. Aside from that, my wife was going to be a teacher with the school, but the district said no. Then she was going to work a different position for the year, but then we had problems with the insurance.

the past few months have been an interesting ride

Here in Colorado, they have started replacing some of the left turn lane lights with a slightly different setup. now instead of having 5 bulbs, they only have 4 in a single line. Instead of having a solid green for “you can turn when it is clear” they now have a yellow arrow that flashes.

I uncertain as to whether this was for economical or awareness issues (since flashing yellow says “caution” better than a solid green), but it has been amusing to see the effect.

After a testing period in a few cities (such as Pueblo), these lights have been migrating into the bigger cities, such as Springs, Denver, and Aurora. the funny thing is that they have been here for several months, but people still often come up and get really confused. No one seems to understand. There is one by our school, and I have several times followed the same person through this light and they will just sit there totally oblivious to what is going one. A slight “courtesy honk” does not seem to make a difference. The lights don’t even stay lit for close to a “watch out for the red” length of time. When it comes for the red, the yellow is significantly longer than the flashing.

What makes this amusing is that these lights been in Pueblo for over a year now. Most people picked up how they worked in about a week or two. Growing up in Pueblo and having parents who still live there, I can solidly attest that the average person in Pueblo is far below average most everywhere (Except perhaps the South. And a toss-up with the East. Far below average in Colorado, at least.).

I did a drive test for a student of a superpower a while back. The kid set a new record for my tests from there by only missing two points and no traffic law violations, as well as no dangerous actions! (21, 3, and 1 are failing) Missing 2 is amazing for anyone (5-10 is normal for this route), but the superpower students are generally in the range of 10-15 points, 2-4 laws, and occasionally 1 dangerous action (DAs are very rare). I had one once that was more like 22, 7, and 1 (they failed it 4 different times on the same test). (NOTE – I don’t pick on superpower students, or anyone else for that matter. the test is very objective. Way to easy and many times people who are dangerous drivers still pass, but still objective).

Props.

When I was younger, I used to think of myself as someone who was weird, which I enjoyed. Then, in college, I had a friend who clarified it as being more “quirky,” which I think was a valid characterization. Although I enjoy things like sci-fi and video games, I still function in society. I don’t (regularly) have people avoid me for no apparent reason. I don’t sit in a chair and rock back and forth for no reason.

Some of the quirks are fairly random and somewhat comical:

I hate socks, but I can’t wear shoes without socks, so I usually wear sandals whenever safe (and high-quality ones at that: Chacos, usually Z2s). I have even worn sandals with a suit on occasions (though that was slightly to tweak some brittle people – another quirk/character flaw: I sometimes do things just to see how people respond. Sometimes it is for spiritual reasons, but usually just my entertainment). If I have to wear shoes, I will usually opt for hiking boots, although recently my boots fell apart to the point of no return, so it has been other shoes 😦

I hate to spend very much money on clothing and will basically only shop sales. The only time I buy clothes that cost more than 50% of the original price is if I HAVE to have it 9like work related). I have been using the same pair of jeans for motorcycling since I was in middle school (yes, I was chunky then too). But my camping gear must be top notch and I spend way more money there than I should, especially backpacks.

If I have a bad experience with a product or store one time, it is very likely that I will no longer give them my business, even if it was a fluke or the company has since improved. The bigger factor is usually not as much what happens, but how the company handles it (ie – Magnavox, Motorola, Wal-Green’s, Hyundai, ATT, Sprint).

I love people, but they drive me crazy sometimes. I need an evening or afternoon of personal space about once a week to keep from getting edgy. Even from my wife (I am really blessed that she puts up with me, which will be even more apparent as you continue reading).

When I read, I don’t always read the words or sentences in order, sometimes even 2 or 3 lines at a time, but they come together in the proper order in my mind. I end up being a very fast reader, although it often appears I am dyslexic when reading aloud. This, combined with the fact that I can remember concepts better than words, is likely why I have problems remembering vocabulary in other languages (even though I am a bit erudite in English), but once I have it down, I can usually read it relatively easily, though not always precisely.

If I am learning something new, I would prefer to read or converse about it. I can barely stand watching a video or listening to a lecture. I think it may be because I can neither speed it up or interact with it. I think this is why I am better at doing interactive teaching/discussion rather than preaching/lecture and why I tend to be on the brief side, unless I have interaction. This is also why I tend to take a lot of notes when I think it is something worthwhile. I have gotten better at it, but I used to view something in writing as being solid and reliable, but something spoken as being indefinite.

The worst set of quirks that I have involves sleep. This is the area that drives me nuts, and my wife as well, since she can generally fall to sleep in about 10 minutes basically anywhere, anytime:

I sleep much better in Colorado than anywhere else, probably due to the lack of humidity and thin air. I generally sleep better in the mountains than the plains, even if it is on the ground.

Regardless of when exactly the sun goes down, I get very tired from about 30 minutes before and until about 30 after the sun goes down. I then get a second wind. This is less severe in the summer and/or if I am able to watch the sunset against the mountains.

If I am woken up unexpectedly, I generally snap awake in about 3-5 seconds and can function normally for a few minutes. If I can fall back asleep in 5 minutes or less, there is a good chance I won’t even notice, but if I stay awake my functioning will be diminished but I will not be able to fall back asleep for several hours. Unless some actually has happened, in which case my adrenaline is usually pumping. I think I developed this when working at camp, particularly from dealing with bears consistently, and from being an RA and dealing with morons consistently.

About once every 1-3 weeks, I have a night were I cannot sleep hardly at all (as little as an hour or two), but am able to get up and function normally the following day. Sometimes I am a bit extra tired the next night, but usually not.

I cannot sleep in the car or during the daytime unless I am completely exhausted. I was done with naps when I was two. While I was in college or working at camp was the only time I could ever take naps, and that was because I was busy about 16 hours a day and rarely got more that 5 hours of sleep. It was more likely that I would make it through the week and then sleep 10-12 hours on my day off to catch up.

I normally go to bed around midnight and wake up around 7, though it can range an hour either way on either end. If I try to go to bed any earlier, unless I am completely exhausted to the point I am about to fall over, I will wake up in 1-3 hours and not be able to fall asleep again till about 5am regardless of how tired I am. I generally can only catch up on sleep by sleeping in, not by going to bed early. The cool thing is that I can typically wake up early for a trip, etc. without to much of a problem or needing extra sleep later, provided I am not already exhausted.

I have a fairly set procedure that I have to follow in order to fall asleep and stay asleep all (or even most of the) night:
First, I have to take a shower within 3-4 hours of going to sleep, closer is better (but not too close). I cannot sleep if I feel dirty.

I then have to relax without really thinking much for 30 minutes or more (sometimes an hour or two), generally by watching tv (which started when I was in HS). If I go too long, I sometimes end up not being able to fall asleep. Sitcoms or mild sci-fi (like Star trek) tend to work best. If I read something, I tend to get way too into it and then stay up really late.

After relaxing, I can go to bed, but the blankets must be neat and crisp, the room must be very dark and quiet, otherwise it drives me crazy and I end up not being able to fall asleep. Once I get past the tv stage, if I do anything to mentally involved, I will be up all night. Talking, loud noise, deep thinking, really anything.

If something messes up this process, then I will become wide awake and not fall asleep again till 3-5am, regardless of what I try, even though I am usually completely exhausted. The most successful way is to start the process again (shower, tv, etc), but I generally avoid it at first since it means investing at least an hour, maybe two (takes more relaxing the second time around). Even then, it will sometimes not help. I will be watching tv about to crash, go back to bed and be wide awake.

Because of this ridiculousness, I am usually up an hour or so later than my wife, which happens to help me fall asleep better (since she likes to talk and then fall asleep, which gets my brain going again).

Aside from all of this, I have to be careful to not eat, drink caffeine, play sports or be very active, or even have meetings within a couple of hours of going to bed since my brain/body will be going to much in order to go to sleep. Even having a church event that is done around 9 will throw me off.

The worst part about all of this is that I understand better than anyone how ridiculous and obnoxious all of this is, but I have not yet been able to change it (the second worst part is that as the more tired I am, the more grumpy I am and the harder it is to fall asleep). Maybe “weird” is a better term. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife who puts up with my crazies and tries to help out in anyway she can, even though it frustrates her as much as me.

Being a driving instructor is an interesting career. Aside from the variety of humorous experiences (see the confessions of a driving instructor blog for some examples, though much there is serious), it is also humorous to see how the various driving schools compete with each other, sometimes even in very cutthroat ways, even including ones that compromise the best interests of their students. Here are a few interesting categories where many fit (NOTE – I am not attempting to mock any particular school, but create a few fictitious companies based upon some characteristics I have observed):

the small school living in the 60s – This is the local school that is very friendly, but tends to do things in ways that are a bit dated. most likely, they will have a slightly older car with cheesy decals and hold classes at a school, church, or similar location. They likely don’t have an actual office, but are working off of a “newfangled cellular phone” and bash “those online programs which won’t give you any insurance discounts or actually fulfill any state requirements” (which I find comical, since my school qualifies for a discount with every insurance company in the state as well as more companies nationwide than any other school.

the new desperate school – This is the guy that offers really low prices on lessons, free pickups anywhere in the city and has availability that is just shy of 24-7. He does not have classroom curriculum himself, but has a contract with an online program that is both overpriced and likely one of the ones that is a knock-off of one of the quality, groundbreaking programs like ours. This school is probably ran out of the basement of someone who was once a semi-successful instructor in another state and either wanted to start their own school, or had one that was lost in a divorce. Likely did not realize how much more serious the requirements were here than back home.

the school-based program – No high schools in Colorado (and hardly any nationwide) have their own programs anymore, but there are a few driving schools that work only based upon their relationships with certain schools and districts. They do have the convenience of being easily accessible, but they tend to really not be all that successful overall since they are really limited to the school year and the school’s facilities. The biggest problem they have is that their advertising is generally just in the school and they only have a few instructors balancing all classroom and driving lessons.

the over rated DE school – The only people in the USA who still use VHS tapes. Unfortunately, they can’t make anymore since the machine broke, so now in addition to charging 3-4 times what they should, they also require a deposit in case you decide to keep the tapes. They likely claim that they fulfill all of the requirements for getting a license, sometimes even to the point of denying that 6 hours of lessons are required for some students. That tactic consistently ends up shooting them in the foot since people have to go to other schools for lessons, which is only discovered when the student tries to get their license

the solid, long term school – These guys have been around for a while. They set up a system in the early 90s when private driving schools started and have not really adjusted their methods since then, although their material has stayed up to date. They likely have structured their classroom portion in a way that is a balance of complication and convenience (several full Saturdays, multiple offerings of shorter classes that can be completed in nearly any order, etc.). They have been around long enough that they offer classes in several smaller cities, probably through local schools. Several of these schools regularly trade instructors back and forth. Sometimes several smaller schools have combined throughout the years to create a bigger, better school.

the guys who can’t quite get it – This school has gone through several owners and incarnations. The name may have been changed as the owners change, sometimes even just a letter or two (doubling a consonant or changing a vowel) so that they are still recognized as the old school, but different enough to “not have the same problems as that other company.” The cars are still the same (though probably have different decals), some of the instructors are still the same, and although they may make it a while, it will probably fail again. Or at least get close until someone else buys it.

the “superpower” – These are the guys that EVERYONE is talking about. All the cool teenagers go there. It was started by a guy who used to be an unsuccessful professional surfer/snowboarder/motocross rider/race car driver who is from a “cool” state. This is the place that really hypes up what they do. The website is constantly updated with the best streaming videos of testimonials from students talking about how what they learned helped them stay out of a really bad wreck in really cool technical-sounding terms (which they made up). They drive brightly painted sports cars and Jeeps with awesome decals all over the place. Their office is located on a road course, which is where they bring in the parents to watch their kids on the skid pad. A portion of the required classroom time is spent in the car “observing other drivers” while on lessons which is ironic (and illegal), since all of the classroom is required to be completed before getting a permit. 6 hours of lessons is sold as being 12-18, even though most of that is spent goofing around with other students or texting in the back seat, making the driver nervous. The certificate includes “observations” and “road course/skid pad,” even though neither is required nor recognized by the state or insurance (btw, the kid has been observing mom and dad for 15 years; they aren’t going to get good habits just by watching another awkward teen mess up for a few hours). The goal of lessons is not really to learn how to drive, but to complete more on the checklist than the other students. They advertise the fact that they think they are better than everyone else – even the name of this place attests to that fact (as with what my wife says about salons – if you like your hair, steer clear of places that have words like “super,” “great,” “power,” “quality,” or “hot” in the title).

The instructors are a totally different story. They are really more salesmen than instructors, since the spend most of their time on the phone pestering people to buy their program (they don’t give prices, but only “consultations” during which they “asses the needs of you student,” and generally come up with outrageous prices, but since it is the most expensive, parents think it is “the best”). Their hygiene leaves some to be desired and they take a lot of breaks, smoking what you can only hope are cigarettes, in full view of the students. Somehow, 100% of the driving tests that they give are passes (even though the rate when their students go to another school to test is more like 60%, and those are just barely passes. The DMV has about a 50% rate, and that is because they have so many people who fail into the double-digits. Once someone fails 4x they are required to only test at the DMV. And to get lessons before they can get another permit.). All of the rich parents want to send their kids here. When shopping for classes, all parents ask other schools how they compare to the superpower. It doesn’t matter that it is all hype or ill-prepares they student for actual driving, you have to keep up with the neighbors that go to the “good” school district.

the guys that try too hard – These guys are likely a solid, long-term school that is a bit over-stretched. They started out small, but somehow developed a very good program that is either better or more accessible/affordable than the other guys. They have helped some of the other guys get started and have tried to get everyone to work together at some time or another. Driver’s ed isn’t viewed as a job, but a calling. If another school closes, they volunteer to take on their students for free. They set up endowments to help inner-city students. These guys try to change laws to improve driver safety, especially among teens. Failure is more common than success with marketing and creative options, but since they have developed a solid customer base, they are still in the game. Instructor quality and character is of utmost importance, but since the pay is low, they are always looking for new instructors; the only ones who have been around more than a year or two are usually close friends or family. The owner works more hours than is physically possible and therefore has a frequent-flier card for the ER. Schools and other entities (including government) approach this school to have their experts help them structure their programs/laws. They don’t always broadcast what all they have accomplished, even though they are a bit prideful about it and will bring it up at many opportunities. Even though they provide one of the best educations available, the biggest problem they have is that they are stretched so thin, both logistically and financially, that they often have problems taking care of their current students.

The sad part is that most schools want to do well, but they are so stuck on their way of doing it that they can’t seem to work together. There are more than enough students to max out all of the driving schools, but too many are focused more on $$ and beating the other guhys than helping drivers make it past their teens.

My wife currently works for a cell phone company, and one of the people on her team put together some research on the new I-Phone so they could see what the competition would be.

Here is the part we found entertaining:

Environmental requirements

* Operating temperature: 32° to 95° F

* Nonoperating temperature: -4° to 113° F

* Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing

* Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet

How are they planning on selling any of those out here? You can only use it in the spring and fall, unless you catch a bad break and you get a freak warm or cold day. Hopefully you can turn it off in time. And don’t try to use the handy GPS when you go hiking – probably get lost. Maybe even break your phone?

Do they send it with a thermometer, altimeter, and hygrometer so you can make sure you won’t break the delicate flower?

Maybe I should check with some of the sheeple that bought one already . . . . Reminds me of a Simpson’s epsisode.