Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plans, etc.

So I met yesterday with my new DC at Foothill to go over some general school/course information, and I got a better idea of what I'll be doing next year:

English I Honors (9th grade):
  1. Great Expectations
  2. Romeo and Juliet
  3. The Importance of Being Earnest
  4. Of Mice and Men
  5. The Odyssey
  6. Tom Sawyer
assorted grammar/vocab/writing stuff

American Lit (11th grade):

Chronological everything, from early Native American oral tradition to contemporary poetry. I flipped through the textbook, and I'm not liking some of the stuff they picked from authors I usually like. There's no "Rip Van Winkle" or "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" for Irving, a single essay from Melville (hello?! Where's "Bartelby"? Or "Benito Cereno"?), nothing good from Hawthorne (I'll just have to find "Young Goodman Brown" or "Rappacini's Daughter".)--basically, it reads like an anthology of B-sides from famous American authors. They should call the textbook What They Also Wrote because very little of it is the best, famousest stuff. And really, this is high school. They can just read the famous stuff for a while longer.

On the upside, lots of my paperwork, such as drafting semester exams and course syllabi, is pretty much done. Woot.

Now I can start getting some really good thinking done.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back-to-Work APM

Yes, I took the day off, too. And I had a sub today so I could go to another meeting and tell some other teachers at a SCARY-looking elementary school all about this thing I do to help monitor student progress. And APM today is so lame, you might think I'm still taking the day off.

Whatever. In two weeks, I don't have to work any more, and I think I'm already done in my head. (What that does mean is that I'll be checking in here a little more often.)

So while I was cleaning out the closet over the weekend, I found some cute shoes that, at one time, were rather redundant, but, not wanting to get rid of them, I put away in a box. It's been a tragic few weeks in the shoe department, what with several casualties due to age, wear, and crushing discomfort, and it was a pleasant surprise to find the square-toed, light tan Mary Janes, since I have absolutely no other summery shoes except plastic Walgreen's flip-flops. Anyway, I wore them today, and now have matching dime-sized blisters on my heels. Ick.


In a surprising departure from Girly Shoe Land, today's APM deals not with cute-but-painful shoes, but instead with blisters. Tell me about the most awkward blister you ever got, where it was, and how you got it.

Here's mine:

I was working at a Habit for Humanity house, assembling the kitchen cabinets from cheap particleboard kits. All I had was hand tools, and the pilot holes drilled in the pieces were all but worthless. After an hour of struggling, sweating, and muttering curses under my breath (I was, after all, representing my chapter of Amnesty International), I looked down at the palm of my hand, where I had been press-twisting on the screwdriver so hard, I had not only formed but already torn off a half-dollar-sized blister right in the center. There wasn't even any way to bandage it, so it stung constantly for a week, and got all stiff so I could barely write or eat with my right hand.

Plus, it was embarrassing, and there was no way after that they were going to let me play with the power tools.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Eponymous Legislation

Frustrated watching the Dems and Republicans wrangle over war funding bills? Dreading the threat of yet another presidential veto? Does the endless debate over proposed illegal immigration reforms make you want to throw up your hands, let an undocumented worker take over your job, and move away to another country? Do daily updates on congressional "progress" make you think you could do things better? Today's APM asks you to prove it.

First, check out this list of eponymous laws. It should give you some ideas, as well as a better sense of what "eponymous" means than just hearing me say it over and over.

Then, draft your own law about how the world really works. (Don't know what to call it? That's where eponymity comes in!) Be as clever or as technical as you wish; just remember that, given the choice between wit and correctness, most people prefer wit (Erin's law).

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Great Day

My perfect ordinary day would, naturally, be a day of summer vacation. As much as I may enjoy my job as a teacher of highly-intelligent, motivated kids, and my camaraderie with supportive staff, administration, and parents, summer vacation is still what I live for. I wake up at about six. Tyson is asleep next to me, and he's actually sleeping well. We live in a turn-of-the-century farmhouse in Idaho or Montana. Even though it is June, I need a jacket to go outside and feed all the animals. We have two sheep, two goats, two llamas, and three horses. Then I feed the cats, and saddle up my horse and we go take the dogs for a run. The air is cool and swollen with humidity. There will be thunderstorms later this afternoon. I go back to the house and make coffee, then go to my studio/office to work on my charcoal portrait I am working on. Or my comics. Or my writing. Or maybe I have some raku pots to fire or something.

At about ten, Tyson has made breakfast: oat-nut pancakes and scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. Nick crawls out of bed when he smells the pancakes. We eat breakfast at a table in the middle of the kitchen, with sunlight and the morning breeze coming in through the windows. (My kitchen is awesome, by the way. I still haven't decided whether to get the marble countertops or the custom-finished concrete, but the 6-burner stove has more BTUs than you can shake a stick at!)

After breakfast, the three of us take our bikes and climbing gear and ride out into the BLM land that sits at the back of our property. Three miles in, there is a granite/sandstone/basalt canyon with a tiny trout creek in it. I can lead a 5.10 and top-rope a 5.11b. I am wiry and strong, and I don't drop things or run into stationary objects anymore.

We eat apples and sandwiches before heading back to the house. Nick goes off to do teenager stuff with friends (just not sex/drugs/crime, we hope), leaving me and Tyson alone for the night. It's about three in the afternoon, and there's work to be done before it rains later. We spend an hour or so working in the yard, me tending the vegetables while Tyson lays paving stones or builds me a trellis or something manly and shirt-offy. We want to build an outdoor living area with a fire pit and everything, but right now we just have a cheap resin dining set and a veggie patch.

Inky black clouds blow in by five-thirty, and it pours--complete with lightening and thunder--for about an hour, tops. The sky clears with about an hour of light left before sunset. I bake bread or make something fabulous for dinner (tapas?), when our friends are coming over.

We eat dinner outside on the patio and there are no mosquitoes, just fireflies (maybe we have to import them from Iowa or something). My food is great, and then we watch movies or play a game in the living room. Maybe if the moon is out we take a moonlight paddle on the lake just down the street.

Our friends go home, and we have loud sex because there's nobody around to hear it, then we take showers in the huge glass-and-tile bathroom (renovated, of course). By then, we're so worn out just from the effort of having such a perfect life that we're just exhausted. We throw ourselves into the 500-count percale sheets and fall asleep.

Audience Participation Monday

You are getting sleepy.....

You close your eyes and begin to imagine....

Listen only to the calming sound of my voice (you'll have to imagine it; my lungs are still full of yellow gunk from last week)....

Regress into the tucked-away recesses of your mind....

Today's APM is a take-home assignment (if you wish, just visit the comments section and leave a link) asking you to do some positive visualization.

I know, I know, you're wondering what sort of crystal-magic, drippy-hippy, new-age, pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo this is. But I seriously read it in another book--not a Deepak Chopra book, either. I am not making this one up.

Here's what I want you to do: Close your eyes. Then imagine the best...

Wait, wait, wait. Open your eyes again. You need to read the rest of the directions. Then you can close them.

After you close your eyes, reach ahead into the future. Go on a little mental time-travel trip, and imagine a perfect day, one that you would want to do again, and again, and again. Like if you got stuck in that movie Groundhog Day, which day would you not mind so much having to relive over and over. Start in the morning and continue all the way to the evening and describe this perfect day. The only caveat is that it has to be a normal day--no winning the lottery or getting deified or anything like that.

Because I expect many people to have a lot to say, you may write your response on your own blog and post a link on the participants section for us to follow. I will put mine in a separate post.

Everybody clear? Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sub Plans for Tuesday, 5/8

Dear Guest Blogger! Thank you for taking over my blog today while I am ill! You are appreciated.

Some general things you should know about our day:

1. Beginning the day: We usually start with some banter and news-sharing. Remember to let all participants have a turn!

2. Seatwork: All participants are expected to do their own work. Whispering voices are tolerated so long as volume remains low and all talking is assignment-related. If participants cannot follow these rules, they can complete their posts in silence for the remainder of the period.

3. Ending the day: Just before the end of the post, remind participants of key details of the assignment, asking if anyone needs clarification. Remind them that their assignment is due no later than next Monday, but that it may be completed early.

4. Attendance: Please make a note of any participants who are absent or tardy this week.

5. Discipline: You should not have any discipline problems, but should something unexpected arise, there are Take-Home Detentions and an assortment of referrals on my desk. You may also send any unruly participants to these other blogs.

Today's Assignment:

Weird Internet Stuff

1. Using the Internet, participants will locate and link to any webpage, gadget, or site of interest to them.

2. Participants will be able to (PWBAT) use the a href= protocol to create hyperlinks in their responses.

3. Finally, participants will examine links posted by others and generate well-reasoned, thoughtful critiques using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Please collect all assignments and leave for me upon my return.

Thank you! Have a great day!

E. Downey