So I'm at the Advanced Placement Institute in Bellevue, Washington. The conference is excellent. There has to be about one thousand teachers here, learning all the in's and out's of Advanced Placement in every subject you can think of. The school is perched on a small hill in the forest and looks beautiful. Everything looks pristine, clean cut, and the students that are working at the institute are genuinely interested on doing things right. The school might only house 800 kids, but the classrooms are collegesque and technically up-to-date. Seriously, this is the model that every academic institution should follow.
And yes, the curriculum is also great. I'm feeling much more confident, even excited, about teaching the AP Comparative Government class next year. The subject matter is fun and interesting, the test looks very passable, and hell, in what other class can you actually watch Prime Minister's Questions because it is necessary? The instructor is outstanding. She's a teacher that looks at us as colleagues, but at the same time mentors us in the potential successes of Comparative Government. She gets us excited about textbooks for God's sake!
Of course, the question of evening entertainment comes up whenever you head to a conference. Monday night was the Seattle/Boston baseball game. Tuesday night found me wandering around the streets of downtown Belleuve looking for dinner and cocktails. I found dinner at Chipotle Grill (surprisingly yummy), but my quest for booze was a pain in the ass. I was dying for a margarita and finally found a Safeway about 10 blocks from my motel. I wandered the store and found beer, mixers, and wine, but no hard alcohol. I asked a checker about the horrid lack of adult beverages and was promptly told that you must by hard booze at a Liquor Store. They are not sold at grocery stores. This created an extra five block hike to the liquor store, and then the walk back to the motel room.
And it was 80 degrees and damn humid. What the hell??? This is Seattle for crying out loud! Will the humidity stop following me!?!?!?
On Wednesday night I decided to use two free movies passes that I had acquired. I walked from the school to a local theater and watched back-to-back; Ocean's 13, and the new Die Hard. Both were the perfect films for the day. They were fun and had a nice, lite action feel. Die Hard was actually entertaining, and Bruce Willis still does an excellent John McClain. No, the film isn't nearly as good as the original, but it is entertaining. Oh, and don't listen to Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He states that this Die Hard is "the best in the series", which is a gross overstatement on the quality of the movie. You're telling me that Timothy Olyphant is a better villain than Alan Rickman from the original movie? Please. And notice to Mick; the plane in the movie is not an F-16. In fact, we don't have a damn plane in our arsenal that can hover around freeway mazes while trying to pick off a semi-trailer. Get a grip.
Today I was invited by some of my teacher friends for a little roady, and we went east on I-90 to Snoqualmie Falls.
These are the falls. They are really impressive in the shear power and volume of water. Surrounding the falls are the beautiful Northwestern style rain forest, which were humid, again. This made the hike down to the bottom and back a royal pain in the ass, as my body does not do well in the sticky weather.
Afterwards, we headed to a local watering hole to down a couple of cold drinks, watch the NBA draft, and do some overall bullshitting. There was Jeff from California, Greg from Phoenix, and Randy and Mike, both Canadians who were teaching at schools in China. The conversation was never, ever boring. I wish we had done it earlier.
Ah well. Two more nights left and then I'm headed back to the homestead.