Saturday, July 28, 2012

Burn Notice: Shock Wave

So, I usually wouldn't create an entire post about Burn Notice, but this last episode has me going crazy. If you're not a Burn Notice fan, enjoy the post, even though you may not understand it all. If you haven't seen the episode "Shock Wave" DON'T READ ANY FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE!

Welcome to the first, (and probably last!)

A little background on where the show is:

Last season (5), Burn Notice brought in the greatest villian yet....and that's saying a lot for this show.  He is the last man standing in the organization that not only burned Michael, but he's the last man left since Michael and his friends destroyed the organization piece by piece.  Oh, did I forget to mention that he's out to rebuild the network using any means necessary?  Yeah, bad, bad news.

His name is Anson Fullerton.  Long story short, he posed as a good guy needing help from Michael, framed Fiona for a murder she didn't commit and used his evidence as leverage to blackmail Michael.  End of season 5 Fiona turned herself in to authorities to get Michael out from under Anson's thumb.  She has been in jail and Michael has been doing all he can to find Anson and free Fiona. 

Basically that brings us to this episode.  I could go on and on, but you can read more about it here.  Just scroll down to the season synopsis.

K, so the creators of Burn Notice did something stupid in my opionion:  they told the audience that someone important would be killed during the promo for the episode Shock Wave

After watching this clip, I knew that it wasn't Jesse, Michael, or Pearce.  I also know there's NO WAY they would kill off Sam or Fiona.  So, I figured it was one of two people:  Rebecca, the dirty CIA agent that Anson was also blackmailing, or Nate, Michael's younger brother.

My suspicion was confirmed the moment I started watching the episode:  Michael is finally close to catching Anson, and the CIA won't let Sam, Michael's best friend and former Navy Seal, go with them.  Instead, they let Nate, a CIVILIAN, go with them.  What?!?  I have a hard time believing that any branch of government would let a civilian, like myself, with no training whatsoever, go on a mission to capture a murdering sociopath.  Guess I could be wrong.

The episode continued with Michael and Nate fighting.  Michael has always protected his brother.  When they were young, he protected him from their abusive father.  As an adult, when Nate would get into trouble, Michael would help bail him out.  This fighting continued to set the stage for what was going to happen.  The moment Michael ordered Nate out of the hotel room they were hiding out in, I knew Nate's time was over.  It was just a matter of how it was going to happen.  Was Anson going to find him?  What would he do to Nate? 

Suddenly, Michael calls Nate and asks him to "keep eyes" on Anson.  Apparently he's in the casino that Nate is at, and Michael needs time to get there.  Knowing Nate's character, I knew he was going to butt in...and he did.  Nate managed to sucker punch Anson (the BEST moment of the show, something that all Burn Notice fans have personally wanted to do for a year!), and it looked like Michael was finally going to get the man who had caused so much pain, destroyed so many lives, including Michael's.  However, this is television.  Does anything ever happen the way it should?

Roll the clip:

It's obvious who the real target was....Anson.  Nate was "collateral damage".  Nate's character had gone about as far as he could go.  Last season they tried to give him more of a storyline by having him get married and have a baby, but it felt like more of a "jump the shark" moment since we only saw his wife once, she was odd, and I believe we only saw the baby once. When he returned this season, he was getting a divorce and had fallen back into gambling again. No character growth usually = death of an expendable character. I knew Nate was going to die, but I still cried. Yeah, I'm that kind of dork!

So here's where I have issues with some of the events of this episode:

- Nate would NEVER have been allowed to go on that mission....period.  Sam would've been allowed to go.

- They made it SOOOO obvious who was going to die.  From fighting with Michael to all the dumb things he did on the mission (like ordering pizza, risking being seen by Anson), and then having Nate "keep eyes" on Anson, they practically painted a sign on Nate's face saying, "I'm going to be killed".

- Fiona had been working with the CIA to get out of jail.  I was under the impression that catching Anson meant she would be released.  He was killed.....maybe since he can't do any more harm they decided to completely believe the fact that Fiona had been framed?

- That was a massive hole blown through the wall when Nate and Anson died.  What in the world did that come from?

And my biggest issue with the episode:

MICHAEL DIDN'T GET TO TAKE ANSON DOWN!!!  We've waited a year to watch this awesome villian get what was coming to him, and instead of satisfaction, we now have to wait to find out who killed him!!!  Major disappointment. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

Yes, a Beatles reference.  Get ready, there will probably be more of them.

I've been trying to write this post for over a month, and I am still struggling with it today.  I don't know why, it's just hard.  I wasn't sure if I should just "Let it Be", but I need to get this off my chest.

So, the last few weeks of school were ridiculous.  Between ALL THE DATA the school requires (ya know, since they're a data driven school), the constant unorganization from the administration, and complete chaos going on around me, I was looking forward to summer so much.  My first year of teaching was almost under my belt, and I was so excited to once again start exercising and continue loosing weight.

School was out on Thursday, June 7th.  We had to come back on Friday, the 8th for our grade level district meetings.  We were going to plan out the next year.  Usually there are 7 people in our meeting.  Two for each 3rd grade class, and our Team Leader.  However, that day, there was an extra person in the room.  A lady who had been a Teacher in Training, hoping to acquire a job for the upcoming year.  I thought it was odd that she was there, but went with it.

The next Monday we had to go back to school for our contract resigning/evaluations.  They are an "at will" employer, so you resign each year.  Administration had set the times for us, and when I saw it the week earlier, I found it fishy that I was the last person to have my evaluation.  To be honest, I had this nagging feeling that wouldn't go away.

But let me go back for a moment.  A lady that works there, we'll call her S, decided she didn't like me, and to this day I have no idea why.  Unfortunately, S is the LAST PERSON you want not liking you.  Word is that administration doesn't like her, and has been trying to fire her.  I don't understand why that is something they're TRYING to do.  If it's an "at will" employer they should be able to can her if they like.  However, they keep her because they like how she disciplines the students who cause problems.  She puts the fear of God into them, and I'm not kidding.  She scares me, and I personally don't like how she disciplines, but I never vocalized this.  She's "Mean Mrs. Mustard" to the Beatles "Mean Mr. Mustard"!

One of our after school responsibilities is to teach an extended day class.  I was given those who needed help with their reading fluency.  Probably the most difficult class to do after school because you have to help one student at a time and keep the others reading.

I struggled with this in the beginning of the year, and I went to Administration and asked for tips on how to do it successfully.  No one ever came in to demonstrate and I finally figured out a way that worked for the class and never heard that I was doing anything wrong.

There are also cameras EVERYWHERE at that school.  The only places they can't be found are in the bathrooms....and I'm not kidding.  And Administration will watch each classroom at random to make sure the teacher is doing what they should be doing.  Well, since a teacher can't be 100% AT ALL TIMES, it's inevitable that Admin will catch you at about 80-90%, which happened to me in November.  I was called in and asked the watch the video and discover what I could have done better.  I was devistated, but I watched the video at home, and they were was bad.  After talking again with Admin, I NEVER HEARD ABOUT THIS AGAIN.  We have Academic Coaches that randomly come in during Reading and Math groups to evaluate us, and my evaluations were always great.

So now we're back to Monday.  You can probably guess where this is going, but the story gets better and better.  It was time for my evaluation/resigning when I saw S walk into the office with Admin.  The moment I sat down, I knew exactly what was happening, and I couldn't believe it. 

SAY WHAT?  I couldn't speak.  I was simply trying not to cry.  I was told that after having several demonstrations on how to improve teaching reading fluency (which is an absolute one ever came in to demonstrate), I hadn't improved in that area.  I was also told that my attitude was a problem.  This was brand new to me.  After the discussion in November, no one said another word about it; leaving me to believe I was doing great.  I didn't say a word back to them, I just got up and left.

I had to go talk to the nice lady in HR and turn over my Macintosh (which was the saddest part about being fired...not re-hired, whatever!)  She took my key, and then I realized that I still had personal stuff in what was my room.  She had to follow me to the room, and I suddenly felt like a criminal the way I was being followed around.  I left a lot of teaching stuff there, and later told the other 3rd grade teacher to get her butt in there and take it all for herself! 

I left and broke down into tears.  WHAT IN THE WORLD HAD JUST HAPPENED?  I felt like I was on Survivor and had just been blindsided during a Tribal Council meeting!  Was Jeff Probst (host of Survivor) going to show up and officially take away my fire?

I went to lunch since I didn't feel like going home, and the word began to spread.  I wasn't the only stunned person.  And then I started to get mad....very mad.  Admin knew weeks ago that they weren't going to re-hire me.  Why didn't they talk to me sooner?  I could've been looking for work WEEKS ago while there were still teaching jobs open for the next year.

S SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN THAT MEETING....PERIOD.  I think she was there because she didn't like me and in case I decided to ask questions or get upset she would probably have butt in.  S is not an official part of administration.  Her presence there was to intimidate me, which it ALWAYS has.

I just keep thinking about what I did that made them feel that I wasn't the right fit for their school.  Like I mentioned earlier, all of my academic coach reviews had been fantastic, no one from Admin ever came to talk to me, nothing.  And this school is so big on wanting their teachers and students to succeed.  What a bunch of garbage.  They failed with me BIG TIME.  I wasn't given the opportunity to know that my job was in jeopardy, so how could I have fixed anything?  It also now made sense why there was an extra person at our district meeting; the new lady was going to take my place.  How nice of them.

And if being fired wasn't bad enough, salt was then poured on the wound.  I had called the HR department back to ask about my final check and insurance (yep, I'm no longer insured) when I was asked if I would like the Director (who wasn't the person to officially fire me) to write me a letter of recommendation.  Huh?  Sure, why not.

Then I got the letter.  Here are parts of it:

"I am delighted to write a letter of recommendation for Wendy Toale.  We have been pleased with her job performance and consider her a capable teacher and contributor to our school.........
"Wendy is an excellent classroom manager as well.  her students understand the clear expectations she outlines, and they rise to meet them.  Positive reinforcement is also used in her classroom, and its effect is that her classroom is one where learning is always taking place....
"I consider her an excellent candidate for employment."

Is your jaw hitting the floor the way mine still does when I read this?  It's a great letter, but if you liked me so much, WHY DID YOU JUST FIRE ME?!?  Is it just me, or does this seem like a very hypocritical letter?

This has really shaken me up.  I have lost all confidence in what I spent the past 12 years of my life working so hard to accomplish.  And I've even began doubting if I really want to do this.  Somedays I feel like the guy on the left, other days the guy on the right.

I know that everything happens for a reason, but come on!  The more I thought about it the more I realized that it's OK that I don't work there anymore.  This charter school is a lot of talk, and not a lot of action.  The biggest bummer is that Brandon was going to attend Kindergarten there in the fall, and I wouldn't have to pay daycare anymore because it's full day Kindergarten there.  Well, now we'll have to pay some sort of daycare again.  Oh well.

Needless to say, my summer has sucked.  I have no motivation to exercise and loose weight, and now I'm once again on the hunt for a job.  I'm considering just subbing again.  A LOT LESS STRESS, and work.  I won't have insurance, or get paid through the summer, but I can leave the crap at the school at the end of the day.

I'm also considering writing the Director a nicely written letter about how they could've handled the situation better.  I don't mind being's the way I was fired that chops my hide and makes me want to throw up.

Oh well, what do the Beatles say:   Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on!

I get by with a little help from my friends!


Not a Beatles song, but still fun!