Youthery! Skiery!

As many of you know, I’m prone to at times go to great lengths to try new things. This is likely because by pushing beyond what I’m comfortable with, I’ve allowed myself to grow. That, or a bad home life. At any rate, I have a particular habit of saying yes to things that I am unfamiliar with, such as ballroom dancing, kayak rolling, public speaking, and the like.

When I was taking a wee respite from work to travel and sail in California, a friend who is a coach with the Tsalteshi Trails Youth Ski Program asked if I could cover her group, the Weasels (all youth ski groups are named from existing trails), for a week.

Ostensibly, this is a terrifying request. I was raised an only child, and don’t really spend much time around children. Being rather new to skiing myself, I didn’t have the slightest idea where to begin.

Of course I said yes.

Because of January’s rain and temperatures nearing 50, the trails were not in the best of shape, but recent cooling and exquisite grooming by Tsalteshi’s crew made it very skiable, if fast and icy.

I showed up with my old classic skis, which proved to be a good move, as some in my group, it seems, haven’t grasped some finer ski etiquette like “Don’t ski over other peoples’ skis.”

Because I had no clue what to do with the group of seven Weasels that attended class that night, I promptly rebranded them “The Wombats” and thought I’d try to gauge where they were at skill-wise before we headed out onto the trail system.
We were all basically in a circle and I asked if they knew how to double pole. In response, instead of indicating affirmative verbally, they all poled hard at once, crashing into me and each other. Most of them ended up in one heap. It was hysterical.

So of course I didn’t learn from this, and I kept trying to explain what I wanted them to do before I had them do it. So I’d start by saying, “We are going to go up this hill…” and they’d all start rushing up it, leaving me yelling, “WAIT! STOP! SIT!”

I finally realized I could get their attention by yelling “WOMBATS – ASSEMBLE!” in a Thundercats voice.

I thought (a bit naively, it turns out) we’d do a Moose loop or two (about a mile per loop), then see how much time was left over for games. Wishful thinking – it took OVER the full hour to do one Moose in those conditions. It was absurdly slick, so any hill (even the Angle hill was impassable) was really difficult to get up. I ended up towing most up the last big hill.

The ice on the trails meant that the only skiable area was right down the middle. Of course, most of them had no idea what was good or bad snow, so I had to keep saying things like, “Stay in the sugar!” Or they’d go down a hill, fail to turn, and skid off into the hinterlands. I laughed so hard.

One kid in particular didn’t seem too keen on my Moose lesson plan, as he was apprehensive about being in the woods. Mindful of this, as soon as we started in, he began complaining, to which I responded, “We’re not in the woods – we’re on the trail!” I stuck to my semantics, and he did great the whole time, except for when he couldn’t turn in time and went sailing off into the actual woods. I gave him huge props after. He did wonderfully.

An hour and ten minutes into our hour long lesson, our team of six Wombats looked like they’d survived a war when we finally stumbled out of the woods. I’m sure they all slept well that night.

I ended up subbing a few more times for the Weasel/Wombat group, and begin to even learn their names, instead of calling them by prominent clothing article, i.e. “Orange Poofy” and “Green Hoody.”

I began to see how my love of skiing evolved from the little triumphs at the beginning, to pushing myself physically later. The Wombats were in the beginning stages of skiing, where learning simple things like slowing down and turning were tremendous accomplishments. And I was right there with them, learning and enjoying most every moment.

I had a brilliant time helping the group learn, and feel once again that by doing something outside of my comfort zone, I was able to challenge myself, grow, and learn important lessons; like the best way to get kids’ attentions is to say everything in your best Thundercats voice.

Party like baby wombats…

Thanks, A, for the fun and continued absurdities.

On Planetary Alignment

Once again, it appears the planets have aligned sufficiently for me to continue my blog. Life, as it has a way of doing, has become more intricate and involved, both at work and not. For my days spent at work, things have been going swimmingly. A few inservice days with no kids in school meant that school administrators and secretaries have been upping their efforts on getting their schools’ websites up to scratch. This means a great deal more students enrolled in Awesome High School, and a proud new lot of diploma-having Awesome Wombats, ready to use their skills to make their sites the best they can be.

With a Five-Year Plan looming, KPBSD employees and the Kenai Peninsula community are being asked to give feedback to the Five-Year Plan. Everyone is encouraged to participate – the more meaningful and constructive feedback we can give, the better our District has the potential of becoming. See the front page of the KPBSD website for details. And as a heads up, we’ll be seeing more surveys in the coming weeks. Take them seriously. They will help everyone.

In the wide world of sports, the cross-country ski season is rolling, nay, SHUSSHING along. Sunday’s She Can Ski race was the largest ever, with proceeds benefitting the Leeshore Center and the Tsalteshi Trails Association. Mark it on your calendars for next year – it’s on Superbowl Sunday. Rest assured you’ll be home in time for the game. Speaking of the Superbowl, another close one! Of course I’m talking about the halftime show. Thankfully Madonna or Cee Lo Green had no wardrobe malfunctions, but Cee Lo did come onto the stage dressed as an Idi Amin stunt double. Not sure of the take-home message there.

Lastly, I have decided to curtail my skate skiing in favor of classic skiing, as I want to focus on that for the Tour of Anchorage. I have also decided to do the only classic-only (fentoozling) race available – the 25k. I think this will give me a better estimation of how I compare to “real” skiers. I’m nervous but also very excited. Another reason I decided on the shorter race is that I have to start Phase Two of P90X the following day at 6:00 am, and I think it would be best for everyone if I were, you know, alive and stuff.

On the topic of P90X, we’re cruising through Phase One, and have picked up a few new students. Luckily for you, THERE’S STILL ROOM AVAILABLE! It’s never too late to start exercising and getting into the best shape of your life. Next workout is Wednesday morning, and it’s the ever delightful Legs and Back, with a bonus Ab Ripper X thrown in for fun. You don’t have to do anything fancy, JUST SHOW UP  at 6:00 am Wednesday ready to work hard. We’ll be done and out of there well before work. I promise.

Well, it seems that these planets just keep on moving, so it’s time for me to wrap this up – I’m getting ready for next year, where I plan on being a body double for Cee Lo Green or Idi Amin – whoever needs it most.


Blogpile: Alive and Kicking

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.



Let’s just go ahead and file this under “Everything.”

First off, I haven’t been feeling up-to-scratch, and my weekend was filled mostly with medicine and disconcerting amounts of post-nasal drip. That it came on the heels of a flu shot, which my coworkers swear is the sole cause of my infirmity, is a mere coincidence.

Second, I did attend the Swapmeet for winter gear at Kenai Central HS on Saturday. I did not find skis, as I grossly underestimated the budget necessary for winter activities. That, and a friend who knows about such things insisted that I choose skis and apparel based on color. Wise words from one who knows. I considered a delightful pair of flippers, but decided against them, hoping that they would be better matched with someone who would look better in them than I would.

In help news, Master of All Things Hardware Casey has rededicated himself to his blog, and I have a current battle for blog supremacy with Jordan and his wildly helpful Helpdesk blog.

Speaking of bloggery and website funnery, we’re trying to come up with a name for the KPBSD Blog Server. Something more creative than “KPBSD Blog Server.” Ideas are encouraged. We can’t use Blogosphere, since that term is the collective term for all blogs. See poll at right or leave a comment. We have also created a Directory for some of the existing KPBSD blogs, so if you would like yours included, please let me know.

In wombat-related news, I recently found out that the animal collective term for wombat is a “mob.” The gratification I get from this tidbit of information is beyond understanding. I hope someday to encounter a wombat mob in the wild.

So there we have it. A bit of everything. I’ll thank my flu medications for the cohesion exhibited in this post. At least my nasal passages are happy.


And Now for Something Completely Different…


A bit about wombats and associated wombattery.

I haven’t been working here for two months yet and here I am already blogging about wombats.

But today’s post is not for your average, garden variety wombat. Oh no.

Today I’m all about the AWESOME FIGHTIN’ WOMBATS.

For those of you unfamiliar with my job description, I manage the KPBSD website and associated online content. Part of this content is the District’s 44 schools’ homepages. Currently, the homepages are hosted by a third-party, and are set to expire soon. With that in mind, I have been researching other ways to have school websites with the following desirable attributes:

  • Easy to manage
  • Customizable
  • Affordable
  • Contains references to wombats

As luck would have it, the answer lies in our very own blogosphere. By using easy to learn and use WordPress technology and hosting the content on our own servers here at the District Office, we maintain content control and best of all, the price is right. In that it costs nothing more than everything we already have in place.

“But Mike, how do we become part of such an incredible and groovy system?” You ask.

The answer is Wombats.

Fightin’ Wombats, to be specific.

Awesome Fightin’ Wombats, to be quite specific.

Getting started with your own blog is easy, and if you want to manage and update your school’s blog (which will be the new official school website), that’s super easy, too. To begin, go to:

Awesome High School and enroll. You won’t be sorry.

Be sure to vote in the poll at right regarding the Awesome High School Wombat motto.