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Archive for November, 2011

Blogpile: Alive and Kicking

Posted in Blogs, Website, Wombats on November 29, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

I admit that I have been remiss in describing the day to day goings on with things relating to the KPBSD website. Rest assured there are a great many happenings daily. I spend a good deal of my day updating information on the site. This can be old forms being replaced by new, new events, news stories, even school lunch menu changes. Big changes don’t happen every day, but there are some exciting ones in the works. I’ll try not to give too much away, but I’ve been working with the Communications Department and the IT Department to implement a new change on the front page. This item will feature the reason that any of us working for the KPBSD are here; the students. Without them, none of this would exist. This is a tribute, in a way, to why we’re here. Another major change is a migration from our individual school websites from a remote server to our own servers. This last month has seen me create nearly 50 new websites using WordPress technology. My test school platform Awesome High School (WOMBAT POWER!) has been working very well to get administrators, secretaries and others up to scratch on posting events and information to their new blog site. A list of schools that have already made the jump, and a whack of other interesting blogs from around the District, can be found on the KPBSD Blog Directory (AKA “Blogpile” by popular vote thanks to the Teeming Millions). So, good things are happening, and more goodness is on the way.



Posted in Sports on November 29, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

I seem to have a knack for changing horses midstream. Yet this has little to do with equestrian pursuits. This has more to do with my proclivity for jumping between activities before mastering or even achieving any semblance of proficiency. This is like taking the Buccaneer Approach to Language Learning. For instance, going to Mexico and speaking nothing but Spanish. The danger here is forgetting your English before learning Spanish. Trapping you in some sort of weird language netherworld. Long story short(ish), this is happening to me in my skiing pursuits.

On Thursday of last week, I was tempted by the Dark Side. As you may know, I’m attempting to learn to cross-country ski. The style of skiing I am learning is called skate skiing. Supposedly, it’s faster than traditional skiing, which is also called classic, Nordic, or when I can’t thing of the previous two terms; Fentoozling. To beat the language analogy to death, I resisted trying to learn both simultaneously as I was worried that it might be like learning Spanish for a couple of weeks, then trying to learn Swahili at the same time. Eventually, I thought I at least needed to give it a go. Taking advantage of the Master Ski Program Thursday classic lesson, I strapped on a pair of borrowed classic skis and tried my luck.

Huge difference. The learning curve for classic skiing was far easier for me. Mind you, my technique wasn’t pretty, but I was able to clomp about and propel myself forward reasonably well. This stems from the idea that classic skiing is pretty much running with skis on your feet. Oh, and the EPIC HILL BOUNDING described previously translated very well. The use of poles, too, in classic skiing seemed far more straightforward to me. I have built up very strong core and stomach muscles from months of laughing at myself trying to learn to ski. This made the crunching motion of double poling fast and easy. With brilliant early results, I was quickly enamored with the Dark Side. After two days of classic skiing, I timed myself on the Beaver Trail. I had done this with skate skiing, as it is the very hill that Coach Kjell witnessed my spectacular falls. It’s pretty much straight downhill then straight uphill. Twice before I had timed myself on skate skis and consistently finished around the six minutes mark. This was after three weeks of skate skiing. On the second day of classic, I finished in six minutes. As fast as the supposedly faster skating. The next night I finished in five. So, either I’m terrible skate skier, or a supernaturally gifted classic skier. Obviously the latter is the case, right? RIGHT? Anyway, I need to improve my technique on both methods, but especially skating.

See you on the trails, I’ll be the one Fentoozling.


“I am half full.”
– Self-aware cup who happens to be an optimist.

Posted in Thought of the Day on November 22, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

Week in, week out. Week up, Mike down.

Posted in Sports on November 16, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

So, yesterday marked one week of cross country skiing for me, and I haven’t yet crossed any countries. Not even a small one, like Malta. It’s remaining resolute despite these setbacks that separates the strong-willed from the rank-and-file.

“How is the skiing going, anyway?” you might ask. It’s going pretty well, despite some inconsistencies. Thanks for asking.

Thursday’s lesson saw more very basic drills on learning to skate without poles. Some more advanced members of the group were learning to pole, but I felt far more comfortable in the Kiddie Pool (which is what I call the area between the Wax Shed and the Storage Shed – a relatively flat and featureless expanse for beginners, such as myself) without poles but with water wings.

Saturday morning found me at a Core Conditioning class, where instructors Kjell and Mike put us through the paces. I love this kind of thing, so I was happy to work hard with kettle bells, Bosu balls, and partner exercises. I’ll note that the more indoor an activity, the greater my likelihood to excel at it.

Then came the skiing, which is decidedly an outdoor activity. The wind was up, which deterred some from attending the Saturday practice, but the best part was that we had three coaches for only five students. So back to the Kiddie Pool we plunged, pole-less. One wonderful aspect of having a coach ski right behind you is they are then able to yell helpful corrections on everything you’re doing wrong. In my case, this was a more-or-less neverending stream of instruction.

“Lean forward more! Stay low! Commit! Pirouette! Glide! Save the drama for yo’ momma! Watch out for that tree! Plié! Plié!

Actually, I’m not exactly sure what they were saying, but some of it was with a Norwegian accent, which made it awesome. I am proud to report that I was able to achieve unheard-of speeds, like literally millions of nanometers per hour. Amazing.

By the end of Saturday’s practice, I felt like I was just starting to get the hang of it, or rather, I would have brief glimpses of how to do it right. I was excited for Sunday.

Sunday did not work as I had envisioned. Without the helpful stream of shouted consciousness from multiple coaches, I frustrated myself for a half hour in the Kiddie Pool. Nothing was working right. My feet kept slipping, I couldn’t get a good rhythm, and my pliés were abysmal. Demoralized, I spotted Bill Holt, who had loaned me the lovely blue skis that refused to go for me. He asked how it was going. I told him.

“Try rolling your ankles inward on your unweighted leg before you push off.”

With that bit of advice, something clicked. It was more than just my kneecaps this time. A night and day performance difference. This not only alleviated my propensity to use my lower leg flexors to lift the skis, which made my shins hurt so bad that I feared they would stop speaking to me, but also forced me to fully commit to shifting my weight over the gliding ski. So, once again, Bill managed to save my bacon. Why I keep toting pork products around with me, I’ll never know. Never should have bought all that stock in Spam. With a new surge of confidence, I moseyed around the Kiddie Pool and even ventured into the previously forbidden Soccer Field, where I felt exactly like Pele. Well, frozen Pele with sticks on his feet. I even managed another after-work ski session on Monday, and didn’t backslide back to zero, but rather retained at least some of my previously-gained skills.

I was ready for Tuesday, where single digit temperatures and howling winds did their best to diminish my enthusiasm, but I remained steadfast. I felt confident on the Kiddie Pool and even the Soccer Field. I was ready for anything.

Except the trails, which was exactly where we went. Ostensibly, this was to get us out of the wind, but I believe Coach Kjell had more nefarious reasons. Namely, to watch me fall at high speeds. He was not to be disappointed.

After a fairly pedestrian poleless warmup, we gathered around our fearless leader, whereupon he suddenly launched himself off of a cliff. Well, it wasn’t quite a cliff, but instead a rather, nay, devastatingly steep hill. For some reason, my self-preservation instincts abandoned me, and I pointed my skis toward him. Gravity did gravity’s thing, and I found myself hurling after him. He kept yelling unhelpful advice.

“Step turn! Don’t snowplow! Remember to plié!”

It turns out that snowplowing has nothing to do with snow removal, which is good, since I only have a snowblower. It has to do with turning at great velocities. By stepping and pushing into the turn, you theoretically maintain control and speed. I tried. As I stepped, my ski kept going in an angle different than my intended direction and my other ski. This situation quickly became untenable. I will spare you details about my grim reunion with the planet, but will let you know that not only did I have snow forcefully inserted into most all of my clothing, I also managed to pack my glasses perfectly full of snow. This impairs vision somewhat, for future reference.

Sufficiently humbled, I limped my way up the remaining hills, only to have to do it again and again. Whereas before I was uncoordinated to the point of being unable to actually achieve exercise, the Tuesday Hill Deathmarch proved otherwise. Exercise was found in abundance. Everywhere you looked, really. From windmilling wildly out of control on the downhill sections, to horrific grunting on the uphill segments, it was Exercise Achievement: Unlocked.

So, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. I still fall spectacularly, sometime mystifying those around me, as I’ll be going along great and then suddenly I’ll crumple like I’ve had an invisible piano dropped on me.

But the main thing is that I’m having heaps of fun, I’m getting exercise, and I’m learning something new.

I just need to focus on my pliés.


A view of the cosmos from flat on my back

Posted in Sports on November 9, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

“Hey Mike, what did you get up to yesterday?”

“Oh, not much. Worked, then went skiing.”

“Oh, you ski?”


– Imagined dialogue if someone asked me, “Hey Mike, what did you get up to yesterday?”

So, yes. ‘Tis true. I went skiing. For the first. Time. EVER.

At least I tried. I’m not sure if I actually accomplished any skiing, but I flailed like a grand mal seizure victim for a good two hours, which is excellent cardio, just so you know. Anyway, it turns out that cross country skate skiing is intrinsically difficult. Almost ludicrously so, especially for an uncoordinated person like me.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. This happened last night, too, and when I got ahead of myself, no amount of flailing would counteract my quick descent from being more or less perpendicular to the planet’s surface.

“How did you get skis, Mike?” You might ask. You might also ask what color said skis are. I’ll get to that.

It turns out that the Word on the Street is that I’m trying to learn to ski this winter. It also turns out that School Board Member and Master of the Tsalteshi Trails Mr. Bill Holt has an ear for such things. When he learned of my enthusiasm for all things ski and my then-skiless circumstances, he swept in to rectify the situation.

“So, he let you borrow a pair of skis?” You might ask. He did not.

HE LET ME USE THREE PAIRS. He recommended that I don’t try them all at once. Which is sensible, as I have a limited number of appendages to enski.

So, with temperatures hovering around a balmy 7 degrees Farenheit, I arrived at the trails with one of the pairs of skis. They were blue, thanks for asking. Rather like my hands, initially. However, we must never underestimate the energy consumption required to flail spectacularly. And flail spectacularly I did. Others there “learning” with me must have thought I had mistakenly dropped a cattle prod down my trousers, such was the extent of my gyrations. All I was doing was attempting to stay upright. To this end I was not very successful.

I fell. A lot. The most impressive wipeout ended with my headlamp being jettisoned forcefully from my person. I did give this moment pause to consider the Universe. Particularly Jupiter’s spatial relation to the Moon. A lovely thing to consider as I ran a checklist of Body Parts That Were Undamaged From the Fall.

While considering my version of Newton’s First Law of Motion, “A Mike on his back tends to stay on his back,” the situation was made more ego-damaging by my work colleague Jordan, who screeched around the course like an Olympian, stopping ever-so-often to complain about how “out of shape” he was before rocketing around the snow at absurdly unfair velocities.

At least I know it’s possible. On that topic, I’m thinking of trying another pair of skis. It just so happens that one of the other pairs of skis are pink. Not just pink. Very pink. Henceforth, they will be known as:


But I’m not quite ready for them yet. I think I’ll need a few more lessons on how to flail less and ski more before I can rock the PBo’Js.

If you see me on the trails, please do not call the paramedics, I flail naturally. Feel free to join me. From my prone vantage point, Jupiter is just lovely.


Looks like I picked the perfect day to kick my addiction to licking metal objects.

Posted in Thought of the Day on November 8, 2011 by Webmaster Mike


Posted in Sports on November 4, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

So, with sufficient snowfall and Official Day Two of Master Ski Training, you’d think conditions would have been perfect for my first day of skiing.

You’d be wrong. But only because I don’t yet have skis. Nearly everyone else in the class did, though, so while they slid around on Skyview’s soccer field, I was able to enjoy what can only be described as EPIC HILL BOUNDING.

We started by learning basic ski-type strides, with cool names like V-1 and V-2 and V-2 Alternate. I thought at first it was called “V-2 ULTIMATE” which sounds like a World War II German rocket, but Alternate will have to suffice for now. The names correspond to the amount of steps between each poling motion.

After some coordination difficulties early on, the V-2 had successfully launched and I achieved Low-Earth Orbit.

At least, I felt like I did. Running with sharp sticks in my hands was exactly as fun as it sounds. All that matador training in Mexico finally came in handy.

So, next on my to-do list is to acquire some skate skis. Heading to Los Anchorage on Saturday to make that happen.

In the interim, I’ll be working on V-2 ULTIMATE stride, so if you see me in the hallway with poles in my hands, it would be wise to move aside.


Pro Tip: Never mistake a glue stick for lip balm when reaching into your desk.

Posted in Thought of the Day on November 3, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

Also: Never underestimate how pleasing this is to your colleagues.

Blowing Dogs Off Chains.

Posted in Sports on November 2, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

Well, THAT was a weather event.

And as luck would have it, it was simultaneous to my initiation into all things ski. Naturally, the Universe conspired against me to prevent me from skiing. With winds gusting up to 60 knots (!) a good number of my colleagues that I invited to the Master Ski Program opted not to go. They should have read the fine print of our verbal contract… Specifically, the No Backsies Clause.

I managed to make it, but lamentably, the organizer changed the practice from outside at Skyview High School to an indoor location. And here I was hoping to try out my new tasseled hat, which I’m sure would look particularly dashing flapping about in the breeze. We did some stretching and some various resistance exercises. Lots of core work, which I understand is good for cross-country skiing.

So, based on that one successful workout, I am guessing I’m a Master Skier now.

Now all I need is some snow and skis.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be outside.

I’ll be the one in the tasseled hat.