Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ethno-religiositic confusification

It was the same class as apple blaster. I'm telling you, this class keeps me on my toes as far as incredible quotes. I'm having my sixth grade students do a project on a musical performer of their choice. I have instructed them to ask me if they are questioning the appropriateness of either their performer or their listening example. The following conversation took place today:

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sally: Mr. Cater, can I do (song title here) by Barlow Girl?
Me: Isn't Barlow girl a Christian band? (giving her a "why would you even ask me that" look)
Sally: well yeah, (she said as she kinda trailed off) they are Christianic... I just didn't know if there were any Hispanics in here that might have a problem with it.


Woah. I was floored. What did she mean? First of all, I'm not one to hide my Christianic-ness in my classroom. I'm not openly evangelical, but if it comes up, I don't shy away from it. Second... hispanics? Did she mean Atheists or does she think Hispanics are anti-Christianic? The world may never know. I just sat and laughed as her voice trailed off and she walked away.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Is the world ending?

Numbers. Scary numbers.

A) the Dow Jones dropped 778 points today. It was the worst single day point loss ever. It was worse than the day after Sept. 11, 2001. I don't really know much about this whole financial crisis, but that sounds bad. They say money makes the world go 'round. What happens when there's a money crisis? Does the world stop?

2) Perhaps an even more frightening number: 2. That's The University of Alabama's Associated Press Top 25 football rank. What the devil? I had physics class with Alabama's starting quarterback. That fact does nothing to change the intensity with which I dislike Alabama. I guess I'll look on the bright side. The higher they climb, the more upsetting it will be when we beat them.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Burning out his fuse up there alone

As long as we've been human, we've wanted to fly. We've dreamed about it, attempted it, failed at it. I'm not talking about flying in airplanes. I'm talking about one man, flying. There's a game on Facebook called "Jetman". Stay within the floor and the ceiling, avoid the middle barriers for as long as possible, and get a higher score than Lee. That's how the game works.

It's not a game anymore. Yves Rossy has become the Jet man. As I flipped through the channels tonight, I stumbled on Flight of the Jet Man on National Geographic. It quickly became the coolest thing I'd seen all day. Rossy built a carbon fiber wing equipped with four kerosene powered jet engines. He controls throttle, and the rest is up to his own body movements. Watch the video and see for yourself. It's incredible. I'm so jealous. On Natgeo, he flew across the English Channel in fifteen minutes! They also call him Fusion Man- man fused with a jet. I think that name sounds way more badass than Jetman (maybe because Jetman makes me think of the dumb little game). Take a moment to let this sink in. Sure, it's a huge accomplishment for him personally. But it's also a HUGE accomplishment for humankind! We've all seen the goofy old videos of the crazy contraptions people have built to try to fly. They all end the same way: the pilot does a faceplant in the dirt while years of his hard work caves in on itself like a toothpick bridge. This guy actually did it. Too bad we can't elect HIM president! Fusion Man '08! What's that? He needs to be at a debate in Nashville next week? No problem, he'll fly there... by himself!

Fly Fusion Man, fly!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Least of These

Tonight was Burger Night. You knew that, I know you knew that. Because I went to my school's football game at 5:30, we had to push BN back to 7:00. This puts us in the thick of Burger Night primetime. When I arrived, I went straight to the men's room just to wash my hands (ever get that feeling that you just NEED to wash your hands?) On my way out, I saw Sarah. She commented that "Of course you're here, It's burger night!" She was saying this because she knew I always go to Burger Night because she reads this blog, just like you. This made me realize that I haven't reported on Burger Night in a while. You may find tonight's results shocking, I sure did.

Let's say you've got a basket full of peaches. They are all beautiful, ripe, succulent peaches. I mean, they look good. You begin to sort through them and find that they are all of a very high quality. You decide to line them up according to their quality. Here's the conundrum: the one at the end of the line is the least appetizing peach of them all. Keep in mind, they are ALL great peaches, but this one is the least. Does being the least good peach mean that it's the worst peach? If so, then tonight was the worst burger night in burger night history. That sounds so harsh, but understand that it was still a burger night and still a great thing, it was just the least good of all the great things.

We arrived at 7:00. We got our food at 8:45! We've never had to wait that long for a) a table and b) our food. Maybe tonight was an "off" night. Then, we were seated at the worst table in the restaurant. And this time I don't mean worst in the sense of "least good". It was horrible. It was a high top, smashed in the corner of the elevated section of the restaurant, directly in the path of the arctic blast coming from the AC. We quickly asked to be reseated. They politely obliged and we were moved... to another high top. Then there was the wait.

Still, a great, cost effective meal. It was, however, just the least good burger night ever.


In other news, I created another line to the popular Alanis Morissette song "Ironic".

A traffic jam when you're already late 
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It's paying fifty dollars for an Auburn v. Tennesse ticket
And then your mom leaves you a message on your voicemail
saying she'll give you hers for free.

And isn't it ironic?

Don't you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Presto Change-O

White days (the days I teach sixth graders all day) always bring about interesting and humorous quotes from the mouths of my students. There are usually two or three memorable quotes in each class, but due to my terrible memory, I can hardly ever recall them. There was one in fourth period today though that struck me.

A male student got up from his seat to go sharpen his pencil. This is nothing unusual. He usually finds things to do around the classroom to amuse himself (get a drink of water, sharpen his pencil, go to the bathroom, etc.) He finished honing his writing utensil and began returning to his seat. Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks. A look of utter perplexity covered his face as he looked down at his own torso, grasping at his clothing. "What!? I SWORE I put on a black shirt today!" He was wearing a red striped shirt. This was fourth period, roughly 1:15 p.m. Assuming he got dressed this morning at 6:15 a.m., we can estimate that he has been wearing said red shirt four seven hours. Yet at that moment, he was completely convinced that he had indeed put on a black shirt. This is but a glimpse into the scattered mind of a middle school boy. Then, with a shrug of the shoulders and a "eh, oh well" the bumfuzzlement left him as swiftly as it had come.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Simply Smashing

Remember the Atom Smasher (or apple blaster)? After all the hype, all the impressive statistics, it's broken. Buzzkill. Part of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is broken. In order to fix it, they must thaw that section out from its NEAR 0 DEGREES KELVIN in order to work on it. It'll be down for two months. Lame.

In other news, how about that Auburn game? Wow. That was what football should be! Yeah, we lost and that sucks, but it was a great game. I was impressed with the changes we've made on offense. Franklin coached from the box instead of the field. We went under center a few times. I still would've liked to see Kodi Burns at least take a snap or two. I'm not saying completely take Todd out, but I think putting Burns in for a play at a critical time would have whipped the crowd into a frenzy and given Auburn the boost they needed as they got tired toward the end of the game.

War Eagle.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Apple A Day

There are two kinds of people in this world. Mac lovers, and Mac haters. But, regardless of your persuasion, I think we all can agree that Apple, Inc. is doing some things right! Their stock is huge (I'm assuming.... that hypothesis is really not based on any research or fact), their products are selling like crazy, and they make a really bad ass cell phone. But is it too much? Apple just released the new iPod nano. Wait... I thought they released a new nano less than a year ago! Now there's a new one!? Now, it's long been a fact in the tech world that as soon as you buy something, it starts to become obsolete, but this is crazy. Imagine the joy of someone getting their first ipod nano... then less than a year later their shiny, expensive new ipod is now the "old one". That sucks! Apple times these things perfectly to keep their sales going. About every couple of months they release a "new" something: the new ipod, the new iphone, the new macbook, the new igottahavethatthing. So, what do you think? Is Apple just using their marketing genius to stay on the cutting edge of a market they practically own, or are they taking customers for a ride? Don't get me wrong, I love all my Apple gear, but sometimes I wonder...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fab 5

It's time I introduce you to four of the most awesome people in my life. They are four people that I became very close friends with during my last couple years of college. We had every class together. We suffered together. We rejoiced together. They are Amy, Amanda, Krista, and Eron. Together, we became known as the Fab Five. During internships, we had dinner together once a week to catch up, vent, and just hang out since we didn't see each other in class anymore. We once pulled an all nighter together in the music building. Yeah, that night ended with us running barefoot races down the hallway and me being in a horrible mood going to Waffle House before class in the morning.

Now, we are teaching. We are slightly scattered, but we stay in touch through email. Here's the coolest part of the Fab Five. I was having dinner with Amy last night and we realized that, with our powers combined, the Fab Five teaches every kind of student that could possibly be taught! Amy teaches kindergarteners, Amanda teaches elementary, I teach middle school, Eron teaches high school, and Krista is teaching college kids as a GTA in Georgia! We are a vast, sweeping, music-educational force to be reckoned with! Guard your children, the Fab Five just might educate them... musically!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Did you feel the air outside today? Ok, I guess I'm just talking to inhabitants of the Southern United States of America. Reid, I'm not sure about the weather in Morocco. D and MC, I'm not sure about the weather AROUND THE WHOLE FREAKIN WORLD. Anyways, for those of us here in the good ole south, the weather was a delightfully cool seventy-something. When I got up this morning to let Jenny out, it was actually a little chilly. Know this: I love cold weather. I know, I know, don't get your hopes up just yet. Next week it will be forty million degrees again. Then we'll have another cooler spell, then another boiler maker. However, you can't stop me from getting excited. It makes football season feel that much better.

It got me thinking though (what doesn't get me thinking, really). I contemplated human complacency. I'll love cold weather for the first month or so. Then, I'll be begging for warmth. What's up with that? Why do we get "used to" things so quickly? I wish I could always remember what it feels like to melt with 90,000 other fans while watching an Auburn football game. Sure, I'll remember melting, but I won't remember what it FELT like to melt. If I could, I would always appreciate the cold weather. Does that make any sense? I digress.

Shake the dust off of your fall decorations. Dad, get out the Steelers Christmas wreath. Its finally fall (even if only for a week).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Good Weekend

It was a good weekend. I went to the Auburn High football game on Friday night. I haven't been to a high school football game since high school. It was a great game, and Auburn came out on top of Enterprise. Saturday I woke up early (for a Saturday) and rekindled an old flame: with my bike. It's a yellow Trek 4900. I've had it since senior year of high school. It got me to and from every class in college and around the seventeen mile loop at Oak Mountain several times. It was even stolen and recovered freshman year! It has been neglected since I finished college. I pumped up the tires, cleaned up the chain, and hit the road yesterday. With my ankle still in limbo, I felt like this was a great way for me to get some exercise without all the impact of running.

Then, the game. What. The. Hell. That might have been the most painful four quarters of Auburn football I've ever had to sit through. Enough about that. A win's a win, no matter how dumb.

Sunday- a day of rest indeed.

Go Steelers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Same Class, New Sass

It was the same class as apple blaster. The "Bellringer" question for today was: "Could a robot compose or perform music better than a human?" One girl answered, "No. Robots don't have good taste in music." The smart kid, the one I asked about the atom smasher turned around to her and said under his breath, "They don't have ANY taste at all!"

I love how I use the word "robot" and these kids answer like they know everything about robots. I'm not even sure what a robot is. Here were some other answers:

No, not if their batteries ran out.
Yes, they are programmed to be perfect.
No, because techno stinks.

And my favorite- No, because music comes from the heart, and robots don't have a heart.

stupid robots.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blasting Forth in Three Part Harmony!

I didn't know what I was doing last year. My "choir" students didn't actually sign up for choir. They weren't singers. This year is a whole new ball game. I've got eighty seven kids in seventh grade choir, and they signed up for it too! Madness.

Today we began rehearsing one of the pieces I have picked out for the Fall concert (Thursday, November 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Lakeview Baptist Church). It's a Kirby Shaw arrangement of the popular spiritual "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" (or, as some of my fourth period kids sang it, "Joshua fit the battle of Cherry Coke"). And, for the first time ever, we sang three parts. This would've been crazy talk last year. We were doing good to bumble through two parts (with awkwardly voiced guys- and rightly so- there was not a part for them). Today, in first period, we sang three parts! I was on cloud nine afterward. It not only was a first for them, it was a first for me! I've never had a choir sing three parts before. Even my church choir (God love 'em) couldn't sing three parts. This shows great promise for this choir and this year. I just can't wait until our next combined rehearsal when I can hear the whole choir, eighty seven strong!

I love my job.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


For my one-hundredth post, I'd like to get back to the basics. I named this blog the musing teacher because I'm a teacher and this is a great outlet for some of the more humorous things I encounter as such. So, here goes.

Today the long awaited "atom smasher" was finally tested. This is a 17 mile long tunnel, 14 years and billions of dollars in the making. Scientists sent the first particle clockwise in this tunnel last night. We are on the brink of possibly knowing more about the atom, or blowing up the earth, whichever comes first. Get this though: it can send a particle around the 17 MILE loop as fast as 11,000 times PER SECOND. Science.

So, I have a student that is really smart. He's mentioned Stephen Hawking before. I asked him in front of the whole class if he had heard of the recent successful test of the "atom smasher". This caused an uproar in my classroom. One girl said, "there is a ten percent chance that everyone on earth will die today, and a thirty percent chance that everyone on earth will die tomorrow." I quickly squelched that rumor. However, the class was now loud and boisterous, shouting out their opinions on the "atom smasher". In the second row sat a rather rotund student with glasses. I watched as he sat, eyes glazed during the classwide debate. Several moments later, he clued in and realized he was behind on what everyone was talking about.

"What's an APPLE BLASTER?" he asked.

I immediately pictured scientists in white lab coats cheering the successful launch of the long awaited apple blaster.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blown Cover

I'm no expert, but there are a few things a band must consider if they want to play a cover of a popular song. The song should have some time behind it. When the cover is played, it should make people say "Oh yeah, remember that song?" Second, the covering band should have something new to contribute to the song. The point of doing a cover song is for the band to play a classic song, but give it their own flavor. Otherwise, there is no point in covering it, people will just want to listen to the original.

So why in the WORLD did Bowling for Soup do a cover of "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne? My friend Katie makes Christmas compilation CDs every year. They are pretty awesome. She has given me the last several years of Christmas CDs. The one she most recently gave me is from 2006 and has "Stacy's Mom" by Bowling for Soup on it!? I listened. I frowned. The original is awesome. This one offered nothing different, nothing better, nothing period. Fountains of Wayne released the song in 2004, the Bowling for Soup version was on a 2006 CD. What the heck? That's like U2 doing a cover of "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay. It just came out! And, it was fine before, thank you. Whatever, just thought it was weird.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I just finished C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. In it, the main character enters a form of heaven and encounters angels as well as newcomers in need of conversion. At one point, he witnesses an interchange between a large angelic figure and a visitor from the Grey Town. The "ghost", as those who have come from the town are called, has perched on his shoulder a large red lizard. This lizard whispers into the ghost's ear, keeping him hypnotized into thinking that he needs the lizard. The angel approaches the man and asks if he may kill the lizard. The ghost makes excuses, stumbles over his words, and tries to change the subject. "May I kill it?" asks the angel, his hand hovering over the lizard, almost burning it. After much debate, the ghost finally consents. The lizard makes a last feable attempt to survive but is silenced as the angel closes his grasp around the reptile and throws it to the ground. The narrator then witnesses the transformation of both the ghost and the lizard. The ghost becomes bright and takes the shape of a man. The lizard returns to life and slowly transforms into a shining horse. The man mounts the horse and the two of them ride into the high countries, the mountains.

I am the ghost. My red lizard has been whispering into my ear for quite some time. I've been discontent with church. I rarely attend. Whenever I do attend, I spend the whole service picking apart every element of the church, the music, the service that I can; convincing myself that it's not a good service (as if I somehow have the authority to make that judgement). My lizard whispers, keeping me in a cloud of cynicism and discontent. The result is separation: from worship, from Christian community, from God Himself.

My lizard was killed this morning. I wish I could say that a glorious transformation a la C.S. Lewis took place, but it didn't. Rather, a change in my heart took place. No, it wasn't an alter call or a tear jerking moment. It was a slow realization of several things. I wasn't picking things apart. I wasn't judging the church or its people. I wasn't doing the things, or rather thinking the thoughts that have dominated my mind and heart in recent months.

I went to Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. I worshipped. I met some new people and saw some old friends. I listened to the Word. I had an open mind. I could feel the thoughts creeping in: "look at that huge sound board, it must have cost 50,000 dollars!" but as soon as the thoughts had been thunk, they were gone. I didn't dwell on them. I feel like the Lord purposefully redirected my mind, refocused my spirit. Who am I to say anything negative about this church, its worship, or its people?

Rather than stacking up the negatives and trying to find the church with the fewest things I dont' like, I'm going to look for the church with the most things I do like. I've been going about it backwards. This church had a lot of good things going for it, as do many churches. I want to find them. I want to experience the good things, not waste my time tallying shortcomings.

Dear church,

I apologize for being an idiot. I'm sorry I've been so judgemental. Just as no human is perfect, no church is perfect. Therein lies the beauty of Christ's love right? I will be different. I am different. It is right and good to see other Christians in worship of our God. I'm sorry I've been in the way. We cool?

Dear God,

Thank you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Will Worship for Food

I've been thinking lately about worship, specifically about worship leaders. As a former worship leader, I've got a unique perspective on the whole thing. The modern trend in worship is for churches or campus ministries to have super-hip, rock n' roll, high definition worship bands. At the front of that worship band is the rock star of religious revelee, the worship leader. I'm blessed to have many Christian friends that are quite in tune with the latest in worship music. I tend to lag behind in keeping up with the most recent worship music. My hey day of worship music was in high school. Those were the songs that resonated with me the most. Even when I led worship for Campus Crusade for Christ, we tended to play older songs. So, sometimes I'll hear my friends talk about the new Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, or Steve Fee album. Then there are the CDs and DVDs that follow the Woodstock of generation Y worship: the Passion conferences. Locally, Auburn students flock to Encounter on Thursday nights. Here is where I tend to take issue with the whole worship thing. My big question is this: Should worship leaders make money for leading worship? Some churches and campus ministries sell CDs of their worship bands. Now, I have no idea where that money goes and for all I know it goes to a discretionary fund to help families in need. All I'm saying is that if someone chooses to lead other Christians in worship, should they make an income from that? My outlook on it was an acknowledgement that the Lord has blessed me with musical abilities, a desire to share those abilities in a worship setting, and a desire to somehow attempt to bring Him glory. He led me to Campus Crusade and I led worship for a year there. I wanted no glory or recognition. We weren't on a stage. In fact, we were at the lowest point of the auditorium classroom in which we convened. For whatever reason, I just don't like when worship bands; bands meant simply to lead others in glorifying the Lord, are put on a pedestal. Were it up to me, worship bands would play behind a curtain. Worshippers would only be able to hear the music being played by the band.

"But these popular worship leaders write their own songs." That is a valid argument. Still, if their intent is to lead worship with these songs, I just don't think they should make money from that. "How will they make a living though?" Again, a great question and one to which I don't have the answer. I don't have answers to any of these questions. I'm simply letting you in on what's been brewing in my brain lately. All thoughts are welcome.

Monday, September 1, 2008

She Walks In Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow'd to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impair'd the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

by Lord Byron


Man, that's just good.