Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Five Things English Teachers Are Tired Of Hearing

When this academic year commences in June, I will have completed twelve years of being identified as an English Language Arts teacher. Having such experience under my metaphorical belt has led to the creation of the following list.*

Thus, here are five things that English teachers hear too often outside of the classroom. Literally.

5. "Will you proofread this?" We don't mind proofreading (and we will gladly do it for most of our friends, family, and colleagues). But we certainly don't live for the moment when just anyone places their ever-so-important-must-be-turned-in-ASAP document in our hands. There are people who get paid to do that job. They are called editors.

4. "You're an English teacher. How do you spell [insert word here]?" This is a classic example of someone confusing two different skill sets. Our abilities to write a haiku in less than ten seconds, to find errors in a student's MLA formatted paper from a mile away, and to analyze the end of Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby ad nauseum have absolutely no forbearance on our [in]ability to spell.

3. "So what do students in [insert secondary grade level] read?" Really? You want us to recite everything that our students are assigned to read? No you don't. How about we just skip our response and let you tell us how much you love To Kill a Mockingbird and how it changed your life? Or let you tell us how so very much you hate Shakespeare and Holden Caulfield and Ethan Frome and [SPOILER ALERT] the fact that The Grapes of Wrath is depressing? Or let you complain that your tenth grade English teacher made you (gasp) write actual poetry? Because we all know that is what you really want to discuss. Right?

2. "I don't read," and/or "I'm not really an 'English person'." Ummmmm. Wait. What? You don't have an affinity for the language that we speak here in America? So you're giving yourself a free pass to fail at the extremely important and relevant life skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening? Cool. You are exactly the kind of person that we never want to be near. Thank you for letting us know. Please delete your social media accounts.

1. "What's your favorite Germanic text?" Well, let us see... Do David Hasselhoff's songs count? Because those are pure poetry.

*Of course the wonderfully brilliant teachers in my English Language Arts Department were consulted on this list. I wanted to make sure that I was in the ballpark and not in the parking lot. Yes, that's another metaphor for you "non-English people."

Friday, May 15, 2015


Editor's Note: This review is relevant to those living in or traveling to/through Athens, Georgia; despite the fact that I have no idea when I shall return, I could not let Preserve (1660 W. Broad Street, 30606) go unrecognized on The Steel Trap

Preserve is as quaint as it is quirky; it is sort of a diner of sorts; and it is hipster in the most tangible, yet tolerable form. I loved it. My visit was for brunch* (served until 3 p.m.), and I was in the company of PSB and MAB.

A "less is more" operation with about a dozen indoor tables and counter seats (along with outdoor seating, weather permitting), Preserve takes reservations, and I highly suggest doing so. Natural light floods the interior, the service is friendly, and the food is prepared with such care and thoughtfulness that we could taste it.

Chicken & Waffles ($12, fried chicken breast, Belgian waffle, mango butter, honey-cardamom syrup) and Shells & Cheese ($3.5, pasta, cream, cheese)  
Egg Sandwiches ($9 each, fried egg, Dutch Gouda, bacon jam, torta bun)

Some brief notes on the food:

  • I ordered the Chicken & Waffles without whipped cream, which proved to be a solid decision. The chicken was crispy and just greasy enough to satisfy my tastebuds; the syrup and mango butter were an appropriate amount of sweet to balance out the savory. 
  • The Shells & Cheese was a total indulgence... one of those dishes that would have been licked clean had we not been in public. 
  • MAB and PSB ordered the Egg Sandwich. They have two words for y'all: bacon jam! 

We suggest chasing these delicious menu items with some craft drinks like the Mint Sweet Tea ($2.25), Sparkling Limeade ($2.95)  or the Handmade Lemonade ($2.95).

So... who's up for a trip to Athens so that I can try the other menu items?

(3.5 stars, 3.5/4)

Preserve on Urbanspoon

*a meal that is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekend activities

Monday, May 11, 2015


Here are eleven thoughts and ideas for the eleventh day of May...

  1. There might not be anything more irritating than standing in the TSA security line with no way to escape from listening to a group of women discussing their first world problems. Putting in headphones would prevent me from hearing what the TSA dudes are announcing, so that wasn't an option; asking them to refrain from being their miserable selves would be awkward too. Is this a first world problem in itself? Probably. But come on. I am just trying to move slowly forward without becoming homicidal unpleasant. I don't want to hear how you stood in line at Target for more time than it took you to do your actual shopping. Or how there are no "good" Targets near you. Or how your mother-in-law is worried about you leaving her son and grandchildren on your trip with the girls. Or how you aren't sure if you are wearing your yellow shirt for the marathon or your black shirt. Or how you didn't have time to vacuum seal/pack your clothing, and your suitcase is bigger than you wanted it to be. 
  2. Speaking of the airport, the Andy Warhol paintings that are in terminal D are really beautiful. While I love all of his infamous pop art material, there's a softer side to his work that goes unnoticed. 
  3. Pittsburgh needs Entourage Clothing & Gifts. Why should the Southern university towns be the only ones to enjoy such a great shop? 
  4. Homemade Pineapple Moonshine. Lawd have mercy. 
  5. Revenge ended. I am indifferent. Not that I didn't enjoy the series finale or the series itself, because I did. But I am indifferent to it ending. That's all. Would I be thrilled with a Nolan Ross spin-off? Hell yes! 
  6. McDonald's brought back the Hamburglar. Really? Please tell me that Grimace is next. 
  7. I believe that I have perfected my fro-yo order: vanilla fro-yo, a few gummy worms, a few Swedish Fish, and marshmallow creme OR vanilla fro-yo, almonds, Butterfinger pieces, and butterscotch sauce. 
  8. If you haven't eaten the wings at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza yet, you should put it on your to-do list. They are unlike any wings that I've ever tried. 
  9. So, so, SO many of these women/girls/ladies wearing crop tops/half shirts/bralettes are not aesthetically pleasing. I'm all for feeling comfortable in one's own skin but let's not forget that just because it's available in one's size, doesn't mean that one should wear it!  
  10. MAB's graduation from the University of Georgia was fantastic, and I am thrilled that she's moving to Orlando to work at the Disney Institute. But, this means that I need someone to move to Atlanta in the near future so that I have an excuse to go back and visit. I love that city and surrounding area... and have loved it since my first trip there in 2000. 
  11. Memorial Day is two weeks from today? WHAT!?!? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dear Puppy

Dear Puppy,

Today you are three years old. Today you are still the sweetest, most perfect dog in my life. Today I am writing to you to express a few simple sentiments. If you could read, I am confident that you would appreciate what I am about to say...

I want to thank you for being my faithful sidekick. It hasn't been easy this year; every single day I have asked you to take a leap of faith in my ability to survive. You did. And there you are, ready to play, ready to cuddle, and ready to make me smile or just to lay quietly (and knowingly) next to me on my hardest of days. In addition, I want to commend you on adjusting so well to our new home and our new schedule. I have been able to accomplish nearly everything that I needed to do; your resiliency has been a significant factor in that. Lastly, I just want to encourage you to remain as you are for as long as you can. You are a good boy... 9.2 lbs. of hilarity and entertainment. You are family.

I love you Castro Mojito. Happy 3rd Birthday!

Your "Mommy" (HGB)

Friday, May 1, 2015


Goodness! Here we are in May. This month's calendar feels like it's filled already; albeit, this isn't bad because I am really looking forward (and have been looking forward) to all of the events.

Anyway, as I reflect on April and look forward to May, here are a few things that must be mentioned (in no particular order):
  • My stress-induced eczema isn't that at all. After my biopsy, it has been determined that I have a fungal infection called dermataphytosis. Now I have a topical cream, shampoo, and pills. 
  • Castro Mojito turns three years old! Our little party on Monday will be the event of the month! 
  • All things Pittsburgh Marathon!* No, I am not running. But to quote Principal McGee in Grease, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!" In other words, I will be cheering from the sidelines on the North Side. 
  • I went to the opening of Täkō. And I have to make a point of making a reservation so that I can get back as quickly as possible. Here is my review: "The Last Supper?"
  • MAB graduates on May 8th from the University of Georgia with a Masters of Education in College Student Affairs Administration! Who's excited for a quick trip to ATL and Athens, GA? Why me of course! Time together with my immediate family is always a blessing. I am hoping for a sublime meal at Last Resort Grill; a smoothie from Planet Smoothie; and a Big Buford, fries, and a shake from Checkers.
  • My cousin SAB turns thirty-two... not sure if she wanted reminded of that. JRT turns thirty-four... not sure if she wanted reminded of that. 
  • The Main Event! Yes, that's NKOTB, TLC, and Nelly in one concert! I am going with my cousin JEG in Detroit... the last time we saw NKOTB with each other was in 2008, so I am really thrilled to have another chance to go with her. My drive to Detroit will be one big sing-a-long in order to prepare myself!  
  • The Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater ceremony is at the end of the month. I have been involved with this program since 2002, and I never miss it! I know that it's trite to say that the Gene Kelly Awards changed my life, but it did, which is why I continue to volunteer for the CLO and contribute to its success in any way that I can. 
  • The end of track & field season is nigh, the school year is winding down, and my summer job(s) and vacation are being planned.
  • Mother's Day. This year, I ask that people on facebook are respectful of and kind toward people who have recently lost their mothers. I cannot fathom how difficult this day might be, and social media seems to exacerbate the imminent despair and sadness. 
  • The 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis is on May 30th this, moving from the South Side to the North Side. Of course I will be there with my faithful companion, Mojito. 
As I have always said when ending one of these posts, thank you for reading and continuing to read The Steel Trap. April was another successful month regarding our number of hits; we surpassed 263K hits overall and progress remains consistent (and organic)! That's right. I don't buy popularity. We are still in the top 5 on urbanspoon (#3 to be exact)! As always, thank you for "liking" The Steel Trap on facebook, following @The_Steel_Trap on Twitter and @The_Steel_Trap on Instagram. Lastly, if anyone has anything that they would like me to cover, or a restaurant for me to review, please send me a message. I am always open to suggestions (you can take SAA's lead because she calls me with them at least once a week)!

Helloooo May!

*Which by the way, is a blog post just waiting to happen... I mean, why is it trendy to run a marathon? When did this happen? How is self-inflicted torture trendy? I get the people who do it for the love of running. But everyone else? REALLY?!?!?!