Tuesday, June 2, 2015

No Marijuana Brownies for Me, but I Did Manage a Little Fun in School

what I never experienced; perhaps I'll visit Colorado someday

I've shared some of my own dirty laundry here. I've admitted to throwing a complete fit and waking up an entire neighborhood just after 5:00 a.m. when my father crept into may room and gave me a flu immunization against my consent. I think I even shared about the time a friend and I, when we knew a particular teacher was to be absent for a day, substituted fake lesson plans for the ones the teacher wrote. In our fake lesson plans, we instructed the substitute to go over the test that would be given the following  day in detail. (The teacher stupidly always had the test read a few days later and kept it clipped to the back cover of his grade book. The test didn't have the answers, but we could find the answers easily enough as long as we knew exactly what would be on the test.) We then switched back the fake plans with the real ones actual teacher so that no mention of having reviewed the test wuld make it into the substitute's report of how the day went.at the end of the day, and wrote a fake note ]

I also shared about the time one of my classes  orchestrated an "earthquake" in an upstairs building so shaky that it was condemned two years later because it did not meet earthquake standards and making it so have been cost-prohibitive. Of course the teacher tried to consult a website to determine the epicenter and magnitude, but someone had unhooked the server to the wing, We got away with it for several hours, and even then, no one got any actual blame; we all claimed to have felt the tremors and to have reacted the way we had been taught to react since kindergarten earthquake drills. It was the school's own stupid fault for holding classes in a rickety, non-retrofitted building.

The single most insidious thing in which I was ever involved, however, was the time we sped up the clocks so that each minute was only forty-five seconds long. Cutting any more than fifteen seconds from each hour would have been too obvious. There was  heavy debate in favor of keeping the cut to twelve seconds per hour as opposed to fifteen, but in the end, we decided if it was worth taking the risk in the first place, we needed to shave off  enough class time to actually make it worth our while. If we had been caught, the penalty would have been roughly the same had we simply carved ten seconds out of the school day, so we may as well make it worth the trouble. 

The school was in the process of switching to a new computer system that involved transitioning from analogue to digital timing, and access to rooms containing the hard- and software controlling the system were easier to access because workers were frequently in and out of the control room and closets in each wing. 

The key to our success was finding the perfect day. The perfect day turned out to be the afternoon that the district administrators would all be in attendance at a budget meeting forty miles or so into the hills. The guideline given to the flunkies left in charge of the school was that the head honchos were not to be distracted by anything short of mass murder or terrorism. 

Because the district's key administrators were out of the district, the entire maintenance staff seemed coincidentally to have disappeared as well. this included the temporary techies charged with upgrading our system. I'm not certain what might have happened had the school cafeteria served contaminated tuna casserole and had there been a gigantic barf-a-thon all over the campus among all those foolish enough ever to eat anything prepared by the school cafeteria, as there would have been absolutely no one to sprinkle that chemical that smells worse than the barf itself all over the campus hot spots. To the best of my knowledge, virtually every custodian or maintenance person in the district was firmly planted on a stool at  a bar about two miles away from the nearest campus and well off the beaten path so they wouldn't likely be discovered.

In theory, we could have sped the clocks up the first thing in the morning to a rate twice that of actual chronological time, but such would have been too obvious when the final bell for the day rang well before high noon. Furthermore, the teachers and flunkies were mostly in possession of watches and cell phones with the time noted.  Nothing quite so blatant would likely succeed. 

Instead, the circuitry was wired to speed up at 12:43  -- two minuted before the end of the lunch period.  Our school was on block scheduling, which allowed for only one class period after lunch before the school day would end. It was an added plus for me personally  that the course that  that would be cut short for me was U.S. Government. I'm not a subversive sort of person or otherwise a hater of the U.S. government. I just not particularly a fan of instructional strategy involving one hour and thirty-five minutes of pure, unadulterated, unaccompanied-by-visuals-of-any-sort lecturing, followed by a ten-minute quiz, and wrapped up with a fifteen-minute description of the night's homework assignment.  This class was so positively mind-numbing that students actually looked forward to the days on which there were tests. Any break at all in the monotony, even if it involved answering  three essay questions with a minimum of three pages for each essay. A fire, earthquake, or other disaster drill (anything but a lockdown drill , anyway -- that happened during this class was akin to having died and gone to directly heaven, totally bypassing any purgatory or lower terrestrial or telestial kingdoms. Hence, the idea of escaping from this class thirty minutes and thirty seconds early was almost as good as we all assumed a snow day would have been. We lived in a city where it supposedly most recently snowed in 1961.

My part in the plot was easy. I merely had to complain to the vice-principal left in charge of the campus for roughly five minutes about  the pizza cart lady who always let her daughter and her daughter's friends crowd in front of students who had been ahead of them in line.  I had no qualms about making the complaint, as it was the absolute truth, and it was a maddening situation for those students who were not friends of the lady's daughters who actually wanted pizza and were forced to wait ten to fifteen minutes longer than they should have each day to make their purchases. I personally hated the pizza the school served (I won't say which chain provided it, but it positively sucked) and, as such, was not affected by the inequality in service, but many students were. As an honor student who avoided administrators as most people avoided head lice, my words had the ring of credibility. Once I approached the man to begin my complaint, I was immediately joined by at least fifteen students echoing my complaints, none of whom had anything whatsoever to do with the plot to alter the rate of the school clock system. Then the administrator walked over to the pizza cart and was able to observe what I had described and what the others were complaining about for himself. I like to think I provided a small service to the school community by voicing my complaint, as the pizza cart lady was reportedly demoted to a burrito cart on the other side of campus that was not nearly so impacted.  

In any event, the administrator was so occupied with listening to both sides of the great pizza distribution war that someone probably could have broken into every vending machine on the campus and robbed the machines of their contents and cash without being detected. Making a small adjustment to an obsolete and impossibly-easy-to-alter time system could have been done by the average mechanical ADHD kindergartner - the type who takes his parents' headlights from their cars and takes apart their computers when the parents aren't paying attention.

Steve -- the guy who gave me the infamous nickname of Anorexis in an eight-grade English debate but who had since been forgiven,  took a wrench and a pair of pliers and sped up the clocks so that each second as represented by the clock was actually only three quarters of a second. The adjustment was so simple that he had time to disable the intra-campus intercom. This was just an added measure of insurance in the event that teachers wanted to call each other to discuss thee fact that their watches were not in sync with the school clocks. He also flipped a switch that caused heavy interference with cell reception. The bell rang, and we all returned to class.  One hour, twenty-nine minutes, and thirty seconds later, the dismissal bell rang, and we were free for the day just over  half an hour earlier than we normally would have been.

It seems like a lot of trouble to have gone to simply to get out of half an hour of class, but I can't recall ever savoring any thirty minutes and thirty seconds as I did those minutes on that memorable day.  

If anyone ever suspected me as having anything in the least to do with the time discrepancy, I never heard about it. My guess is that the administrator left in charge was so embarrassed that he kept his mouth shut and the higher-ups never heard a word about the clocks being manipulated. as soon as the inebriated techies and maintenance people were located, they probably quickly and quietly fixed everything..

Others around here led far more adventurous adolescences than I, since I had the the female form of Kim Jong Un as a mother, and she worked as an upper level administrator in my district's central office, a mere intercom call from my campus. I didn't dare bring a cookie with marijuana in it to school or anything half as bold as what most of you have done. Share your stories.

a system very comparable to the one Steve manipulated to gve us the extra time off


  1. I'm afraid I've led a pretty straight-laced life in comparison to yours. Although I am planning a visit to Amsterdam for my birthday this month, so maybe I will be able to write about eating a space cake.

  2. I'd love to hear about it. I'd also love to visit Amsterdam.

  3. I do not have anything as good as your stories. In Philadelphia the sale of fireworks was illegal. A guy brought some back from South Carolina and I bought some from him. I was then selling them, especially firecrackers, at elementary school. A few students were even selling them for me (at a slightly higher price) including my little brother. Our grandfather became rich from a wholesale fruit and produce business.

    I forgot to say something in your last post. I talked about your father calling you delusional. Has he ever called you unreasonable? Has anyone called you unreasonable?

    George Bernard Shaw (a writer) wrote "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

    Note you mentioned about writing something about President JFK soon. He was only paid $1 a year for being president. His very rich father was supposed to have started his empire based on the sale of alcohol during prohibition.

    1. I don't think really anyone disputes anymore that Joseph P.Kennedy made his fortune in alcohol sales during the prohibition.

    2. Years ago I met this woman that I liked and became good friends with her. She lived 2 hours away from me. I did a search for her name on the internet and all I could find was the oldest daughter of the mayor of Boston. She was the most eligible bachelorette in Boston at that time. She married Joseph Kennedy (Rose Fitzgerald). JFK's middle name was his mother's maiden name.

      Joseph Kennedy's father (by the same name) owned three saloons and a whisky import house, and eventually had major interests in coal and banking.

      I have been doing yoga since age 12. The Rose Fitzgerald that I knew married a guy that had been doing yoga since age 12. They now own a yoga studio in New Jersey called Synthesis Yoga.

    3. I have a legal question for you, Alexis, that involves the above and the title of this post. When prohibition was over, were all the people in prison for drinking alcohol released?

      If The U.S. government makes a federal law making marijuana legal, will all the people in jail for using it and possessing it be let out of prison?

    4. My attorney aunt told me there was no mass exoneration and the majority of those incarcerated for violations related to the prohibition served out their sentences.

      She believes that the treatment may differ a bit with regard to marijuana, prrimarily because of the issue of prison overcrowding. Unless the supreme court exonerates those found guilty of marijuana-related crimes, however, she believes the conservative states would be less likely than others to allow a mass exodus. She also thinks those having been found guilty of major trafficking won't get any substantial reduction in sentences, although she concedes she really doesn't know. We know that the standard is that one is held to what was law at the time the crime or non-crime was committed, but it stands to reason that when those guilty of vehicular manslaughter are getting out substantially before their sentence dates have expired, those having been found guilty of crimes that are later determined not to be crimes would be among the first released to alleviate prison overcrowding.

    5. I just saw that possessing marijuana was decriminalized in Maryland. It is no longer a criminal offense but it is a civil offense and you get fined for it. "This measure will prevent tens of thousands of Marylanders from facing life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a less harmful substance than alcohol."

  4. Since my uncle was a PhD in chemistry, that is what I wanted to do when I got older (Later I was a chemist for the U.S. federal government). When I was selling the fireworks I became interested in pyrotechnics (making of fireworks).

    I learned that if you take a string and soak it in a solution of saltpeter (potassium nitrate)(the main ingredient in gunpowder) it became a fuse. So I would connect a longer fuse to the firecracker and use the length to time it so it would go off like 5 minutes later.

    1. Chuck, i just lost a lengthy posgt which I'll try to duplicate when I have time.

    2. Thanks! I am sorry that you lost the post. I hope to be able to see it soon. Your post above definitely encompassed more than what I thought of. I remember in Philadelphia, that before they could put one into prison they would have to let someone else out that had done a less worse crime.

      The housing of criminals, I hear, cost taxpayers $50,000 per year per criminal. I remember you had an article about Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He has been in the news since he is being charged with contempt of court since a judge told him to do things and he ignored them. Right now he is trying to get a judge removed from this case.

      People around here (Arizona) know that he makes up his own laws. But he created a prison where the prisoners live in tents. It is very uncomfortable for prisoners but save the taxpayers a lot of money.

  5. That is a truly diabolical scheme that I can in no way match. The only thing close is when our son bought a wireless remote controlled farting device at a joke shop, popped the microphone inside one of the schoolroom ceiling panes, and then activated the remote inside his pants pocket for a little history class background noise. :)

    1. Having engineering geeks as friends does make pulling off innovative pranks much more feasible.

    2. Having engineering geeks as friends does make pulling off innovative pranks much more feasible.