Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Elaine's Rowing, I'm Crowing!

And my reputation is growing!

So I got pulled aside today for a closed-door meeting with my admin (always a little scary!) but what really happened was he told me I am all set to be the program coordinator for those block classes we're doing next year.  He made it sound like I would be essentially an uncompensated argument-settler and work-deligator, which I was happy to be asked to do, even if it didn't have a job title or pay package.  When there's something big that needs to be figured out, I have a lot of trouble with uncertainty where I have no authority to actually do anything about it.  Plus, I'll have someone to back me up when I come across as steamrollering over someone who's not being assertive enough (or just plain has a no-good idea).  Man, am I a controlling bitch or what?

But THEN as I was walking out of his office, my principal stopped me and gave me the same news, except that I would actually be getting a job title (Program Coordinator, with initial capitals) AND a prep buyout if there's money to do it (and there probably would be after count day in October).  What does that mean?  Only an additional 1/7th of my salary!  Well, and the expectation of doing a hell of a lot more work than with the informal title, but being compensated for an extra hour of work a day means I can focus on actually getting it done right rather than trying to cram it in somewhere in between other crap, all the while feeling like I'm done and should be going home.

So anyway, sorry if you have been having a lousy month or something and are continually being subjected to my telling you how great I am, but if that's the case, you've probably stopped reading my blog lately.

Don't worry; soon it will be summer and I will be back to being angsty and restless again and you can stop listening to me brag all the time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh! Other news!

I got my tentative schedule for classes next year, and I am excited!  (The only thing that bums me out is how much bitching everybody else had to do over lunch today about their schedules.  I know I keep threatening, but I may have to stop eating lunch with those people.)  

Anyways, I have 2 double-blocks (twice as many kids for twice as long, with another teacher in the fancy new office room they're outfitting for us) and a section of HONORS American Lit!  Hooray for me!  No more glazed-over expressions while we strain to read in class because I can make them do that at home!  I can just do the fun stuff that comes before or after reading!  

Sorry, Simon and Garfunkel

I'm not going a back to a silent, no-sound-card-having computer again.

Okay, you're all going to comment (well, Deidre will, at least) to tell me how I'm like a billion years behind everybody else who uses the Internets, but I have been listening constantly to Pandora internet radio and whatever algorithm they're using is like magic!  I just told them I want music like the Decemberists, the Mountain Goats, the Old 97s, Kimya Dawson, Vamipre Weekend, and about 4 or 5 others, and BAM! I've got more mellow angsty music than I can shake a stick at.

AND, like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, IT LEARNS!  Okay, so my iPod can do this too, but fuck off, okay?  I can even tell things to go away for a month if it keeps coming on too much.

Anyways, I really am just looking for an excuse to ignore the pile of papers on my table that need to be graded.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New laptop woohoo!

I was minding my own business in the kitchen yesterday, making linguine with clam sauce and hot fudge pudding cake, when Tyson comes in with a NEW LAPTOP for me!

Okay, it's an old IBM ThinkPad his school was tired of using as a doorstop, but it has a working OS (would that be an operating operating system?) and a SOUND CARD, which I have not had in several years now.  It also has some fancy-schmancy docking station so I can pile a whole bunch of peripherals on my desk and not have to mess with reconnecting them when I want to puck up my computer and take it with me.  Finally, despite being a year or so older than my Dell, it is about 3/4 the weight and has a little smaller profile (it still won't fit in a manilla envelope like the MacBook Air, but whatever), so I can actually use it as a mobile computing device rather than just sitting it on my desk and only taking it somewhere when it's really worth it to lug 10 pounds of computer around.

Suffice to say, I am extremely excited about this.  Now I just have to put all my old junk--Quicken files, a bunch of folders of old school things I'm not ready to sort through and delete, my photo albums, etc, back on this system (everything's spread between 2 flash drives, Tyson's desktop, and the laptop in the living room).

Oh, and did I mention I can listen to things now because the sound card isn't melted into slag?  Yaay!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Keep your tools sharp!

This is why I care about punctuation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dinner is Cooking!

Well, it's brining actually.

Tonight I am butterflying and grill-roasting a chicken. I cut out the back (with my new kitchen shears; the old ones weren't quite up to par in the chicken-cutting department) of a 4-pound free range organic hormone-free blah blah blah chicken and it's soaking in salt water to help keep in juicy. When it's done, in about an hour, I'll break the breastbone so it will lay nice and flat on the grill. Then I'll chop up some chilies in adobo sauce until it makes a paste and add minced lime zest and cilantro and smear that all up under the skin. I'll put it on the grill for 15 minutes, smooshing it down with a cookie sheet with bricks on top, then flip it over. Near the end of the cooking time, I'll take a honey-lime glaze and baste the skin.

I am also going to grill up some ears of corn with some of the chili paste, butter, and lime juice.

Finally, I will go to the store and get stuff to make hot fudge pudding cake (even though I made brown sugar cookies yesterday and they are already gone) because I have to get butter anyway.

Can you tell I have been looking forward to this dinner all week?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I suppose I'll weigh in on this one as well...

I remember seeing an activity of this type in one of my education classes in college, and we actually just did an activity similar to this one at our school's staff development day last week, and it seems to be making the rounds, so here we go. Actually, the ones we did had a questionnaire for lower-class and upper-class demarcators as well. Maybe I'll dust them off tomorrow and we can do those together, too. From Chickpea via DBB, here are the results of my "are you privileged" survey. It seems as though the point is to have everybody line up on a sort of "starting line," then take steps forward for each of the things that apply to them. At the end, everybody can look around and see how their class status has helped them get "ahead." I think the reason we didn't do this in my college class was that there were all sorts of steps back, too, like your race, did your parents or grandparents only speak a language other than English, or (no kidding!) did you have a history of incest in your family. Things that apply to me are in yellow.

Your father went to college (at the time, a great way to avoid being drafted!)
Your father finished college
Your mother went to college
Your mother finished college
You have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
You were in the same or higher class than your high school teachers
You had a computer at home (and we finally got the internet about 18 months before I moved out!)
You had your own computer at home (no, but now we have one more computer than we have people in our house, just to make up for it!)
You had more than 50 books at home
You had more than 500 books at home
You were read children’s books by a parent
You ever had lessons of any kind
You had more than two kinds of lessons (two years of harp, 5 of cello, and serious swimming lessons as early as I can remember)
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
You had a credit card with your name on it in high school (no, but I did in college, and I have a great story about accidentally using it to rent porn)
You have less than $5000 in student loans
You have no student loans (oh, man, sometimes I have dreams like this. Then I wake up.)
You went to a private high school
You went to summer camp (a week of Girl Scout Camp every summer in elementary school counts, right?)
You had a private tutor
You have been to Europe (I was an exchange student in high school. I went to Italy for 6 months.)
Your family vacations involved staying at hotels (we only ever had 2 like this, usually "vacations" were trips to visit family)
All of your clothing has been new and bought at the mall (although, to be fair, I could probably have shopped at the mall, but wouldn't be caught dead in anything but ratty secondhand store clothes--it was the 90s)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (although they did co-sign on the most recent one to save me TEN PERCENTAGE POINTS off my interest rate)
There was original art in your house (but they did hang our drawings on the fridge)
You had a phone in your room
You lived in a single family house
Your parents own their own house or apartment (Some of the time)
You had your own room (some of the time)
You participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (didn't need one; thanks to my Texas public education, I am a standardized test-taking machine!)
You had your own cell phone in High School (we only had pagers, and they were only for drug dealers)
You had your own TV in your room in High School
You opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
You have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
You ever went on a cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (although I remember being distinctly aware it was bill-paying day: pretty much the only time I remember seeing my parents drink anything besides beer was when they spread the bills out on the dining room table.)

A second list, also from Chickpea, appears below. It seems to represent some more lower-class indicators than the above.

1. Has anyone close to you ever overdosed on drugs?
2. Did you grow up with married parents? So were everyone else's. There was one kid I hung around with in 6th grade with divorced parents, and it was just kind of sad.
3. Has anyone in your family’s social circle ever been in prison?
4. Has your family ever been foreclosed on?
5. Have your parents ever been bankrupt?
6. Was a family vehicle ever repossessed?
7. Have you seen a dentist in the past year?
8. Did your family have health insurance through an employer?
9. Did your parents use pay-day loans?
10. Did your parents ever get threatening calls from collectors?
11. Have you seen a doctor in the past year? Two years? Three years?
12. Has anyone in your immediate family ever delayed an important medical procedure because they didn’t have the money? (Tyson is just now able to get to a physical therapist for his shoulders that have been causing him to sleep poorly for, I don't know, 15 years now?)
13. Did you ever move in with relatives because of financial problems?
14. Were you ever on reduced or free school lunch?
15. Was one or both parents often unemployed and looking for work?
16. Was your family ever evicted?
17. Did your family often argue about money? (This question will bring in a lot of upper-middle class folk, but lack of conflict over money is a form of privilege, too.)
18. Did your family have to deal with social workers?
19. Are you in ROTC to pay for college? (I did take ROTC in high school to get out of a PE credit!)
20. Did you serve in the military to pay for college?
21. Did you transfer from a community college? (Community college was WAY too lowbrow for me.)
22. Do you have a child?
23. Do you work more than 10 hours a week? 20 hours a week? 30 hours a week?
24. Were your parents able to help you with your homework?

So there you go, guys. Apparently Blogger is shutting down in about ten minutes, so I'll just have to leave it here for now.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wake and Bake

Well, after all that thinking I did yesterday about 420, my curiousity finally got the best of me.

I got up early this morning and made maple-oatmeal scones.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On the radio today, the DJ, looking out for my best interest, I'm sure, pointed out that TOMORROW is the biggest day of the year: April 20th, better known as 420.

As far as I can tell, nobody actually knows where these numbers come from. Some people swear it's some famous stoner's birthday, or the day they died, or the first time they ever smoked pot, or something like that. Others will threaten to harsh your mellow if you don't concede that 420 is some city's drug-related ordinance number. However it came about, everybody on April 20th at precisely 4:20 (PM, although you know it would have to be AM to actually make sense, and don't get me started on how it's not really symbolic of anything when it happens 24 different times that day.) everybody smokes their brains out.

Like stoners need some kind of "holiday" or something to want to get high.

To celebrate that holy day, our local head shop/tattoo parlor is hosting a "bake sale." (Don't get me started on that either--it's basically the tattoo equivalent of McDonalds, and it's called--get this--Diversity. 'Cause that little heart with angel wings you want tattooed above your ass will really set you apart from everybody else.) There will be fun activities like bong-building contests, baked goods, a stringy-hair expo, and slouching on a sofa and saying "whoa."

Oh, and Great Harvest (Christian) Bread Company is the chief sponsor.

What the fuck?!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed"

Man, do I love swearing. The whole idea that four little sounds all strung together in a row suddenly means something terrible--well it's like a Reuben sandwich in reverse: all that normal stuff combines to make something way worse than the sum of its parts. (Whereas, you know, in a Reuben they take a bunch of gross stuff and make a really awesome sandwich. I guess metaphors are substantially less effective if you have to explain them like this.)

Swearing in English is pretty neat. I'm so not the first person to even go here, but I personally like the versatility (and utility!) of fuck. Only really really dull words like get, or go even approach the usefulness of fuck. For the last 500 years, fuck and its variants have been available to describe intercourse, to yell loudly when dropping something on one's foot, and to serve as an intensifier, the linguistic equivalent of MSG.

Along the same lines as a reverse Reuben sandwich are whole phrases that, when put together, suddenly take on all sorts of new meaning. In parts of China, while it's perfectly acceptable to talk about turtles, calling someone a turtle is the worst possible epithet. Apparently the South African Xoxa tribe's equivalent of fucktard translates to "your mother's ears." In Italy, my favorite mild oath was porca vaca or "pig cow." (When highly incensed, porca puttana, or "pig whore" usually did the trick.) Other times, English words used in Australia, England, and the US can have "swear meanings" that others aren't aware of. In his book on language (pictured left), Bill Bryson relates an incident at which, after finishing a polite dinner with a British family, he stands up, places a hand over his stomach, and says, "boy, I'm stuffed," only to discover by his hosts' shocked silence that in England, the only way people are ever stuffed is with cocks. Bet he never made that mistake again.

So the Big 3 in English are arguably fuck, shit, and cunt, and it is actually a little thrilling and exciting to be stringing them all together in this fashion, but it is interesting to note that, insofar as talking about evacuating one's bowels was concerned, shit really was no big deal until about the 1820s. Just before that time, something along the lines of zooterkins was considered much too risque for mixed company.

But I think even better than all these are regionalisms. Out here in Mormon country, you hear "Oh my heck" a lot. Back home, lots of epithets get all mangled together, like goddamn, goddammit, and my personal favorite, sonsabitches. I have seriously walked around the house for days on end muttering sonsabitches to myself just to hear how funny it sounds. I think cockamamie is pretty good, too, even if it doesn't really qualify as a regionalism, unless you consider England a long time ago a region.

Readers: What are your favorite swear words? What do you most giggle at to see in print or hear said out loud? Have you ever been in a misunderstanding involving someone's not realizing the sweariness of a word?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is it bedtime yet?

I am pretty exhausted. Last night, Tyson left for his redeye to Virginia at 11:30, so we spent all last night packing, doing laundry, doing dishes, making cookies (for him to take on the plane and for me to console myself with during "Lonely Single Parent Week"), hemming pants (you know you've arrived when you buy fancy pants and have to hem them yourself), and gathering various electronic equipment. I got home after 10, was at school this morning at 6:15 to have a student make up a test, and stayed after for a meeting that ran until 3:15. Now I'm home, but I still haven't made the phone calls on my to-do list--a doctor's appointment, an ortho appointment to replace the retainer lost this weekend, a call to warranty services to have the heating element in my electric smoker replaced, and a hair appointment for my incredibly two-toned hair. I am just too tired.

Frankly all the "hashing out" at my after school meeting just took it all out of me. Collaboration is a lot of work, especially when I have to try very hard, like I did today, not to have to be the boss of everyone. Sometimes I just really think I have great ideas and everyone else should have them too. Because we're making commitments to team-teach next year, I wrote on my "wish list" today that it would be a good idea to pair me with someone who is cool with following directions and letting me steer the ship, or else someone who will stand up for themselves and be prepared to defend and take charge of their ideas, but my idea of collaboration isn't getting together and saying "well, we could do this....but there's also let's talk about this some more and decide in a few days." I definitely need to know somebody is driving, even if it's not me. And I certainly can't have someone who will go along but do things half-assed because, hey, it's not their idea and they didn't really think it was a good one to begin with and just never said anything.

So I am pretty much done with thinking for the day. I will be watching TV and reading a book tonight, because I am sure as hell not going to be writing the Great Expectations Chapter 4 Reading Quiz that I can just as easily put off until my prep tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dickensian Literary Technique Comics!

An epistrophe is a literary technique that some English professor with too much time on their hands or a doctoral thesis due the next day just made up. It's the opposite of an anaphora, an equally worthless tidbit of information you would need to ace the AP Lit exam, but at no other time in your life. Ever. Except maybe if you go on JEOPARDY! and you get the Literary Criticism category.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Feminism and Religion Smackdown!

"I lost my URL; can I have yours?"

I was playing around with my template today, trying to get everything to appear in a nice three-column format, but something was wrong and I didn't have the patience to learn html today when I was just tooling around to avoid doing real work. Anyways, in the course of backing up and reinstalling my original template, I lost some code somewhere and part of that was my links list, which I hadn't really updated lately anyway so it was no real loss.

So if you want a shout out vis-a-vis my blogroll, let me know and I will hook you up.

Edit: Actually, when I took Windows off my laptop and installed stupid Linux, I forgot to back up my bookmarks, so if you have anything in your "daily read" that you'd recommend, send that along as well.

Comics from Austin, city of liberal hedonism and parrot abuse

Audience Participation Activity!

I have a great activity for everyone. I know you all loved the great comic I made yesterday. What you didn't know (except Tyson) is that it was very, very simple to do. Click here to go to a website where you can make your very own three-panel comic, and tell us what you have been up to lately, something that bothers you, or something like that. For instance, I got an email from a recruiter at an online university saying my employer has available $50,000 in scholarship money for advanced degrees. (Unfortunately, no one showed up to lead the information session at the public library yesterday, but that's another comic for another day.)

What is actually harder than making the comic is getting it to me so I can put it up here. Ideally, make a comic, save it as a .jpg or .bmp file, and send it to me and I will post it here. Alternately, you could save it to flickr or photobucket or something and post a link in the comments section. However, if you send it in, I will post it on the main page and we will get a little comics-gallery thing going on.

So go to! And don't miss the "randomize" button at the top of the comics creator. It is way fun to play with!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

My brain is full.

If you had any news for me today, sorry. I will not be accepting any new information; my brain is full.

I have just had 20 hours of training in adapting a business model for a classroom environment, and I haven't slept the last two nights trying to process all of it. If I was a hard drive, I'd be making that whirring sound that means something important is about to happen.

This whole time, I wasn't sure I was really "getting" it, but today when we started working on implementation steps with our principal, I had several people (including the trainer who came in from Salt Lake and her counterpart here at our school) tell me there was no way I wasn't going to make this happen.

Basically, we're looking at combining three classes--three teachers, three sets of state standards, and 90+ students--and using a business model to let students have choice and individual accountability to accomplish these standards. Our goal is to get out of the lecture-worksheet-test pattern of teaching and give students access to what they need when they need it. It really looks like a lot of work up front, and we put together a binder that's about seven inches thick and must weigh 20 pounds, but I think we have most of what we need.

I don't know how else to describe it without going into tons of details--we had three days to take it all in. But suffice to say I'll be doing as little thinking as possible for the next few hours. I'd take the weekend off, but there's a meeting tomorrow morning about possible scholarships for masters' degrees with the online university Tyson's going to, and then I have to get up to school to make up for the three days I haven't been in my room.

But for the next few hours, I'll be making homemade corned beef and vegetables and Irish soda bread instead of thinking about stuff.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Post For Tyson

Hey, hon, I know you need something to do when you get home today, so here is a post for you to read.

I sat in a little plastic chair today for too many hours at Company training, but I am really looking forward to watching everything work. I am getting a little frustrated not knowing how these things are going to be put in action, but I think everything will settle down.

Ummmm....I wish I hadn't read comics this morning so I'd still have something to do right now because my brain is pretty much fried from training and it needs to absorb silly content, not try to make my own.

OH! Speaking of computer stuff, I got an email today saying my district is offering scholarships for advanced degrees at Walden, so I will go to a meeting on Saturday and see what is what.

So I hope this is what you had in mind, but I am just too wasted to do anymore. If you need me when you get done reading this, I am probably taking a nap.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm Pre-Approved!

I got an email back from the head of the New Teacher Training Cadre informing me that I can interview for the position I applied for, even though I'm short of the requisite 3 years of teaching experience needed. Okay, it's not a huge deal, it really just comes down to three extra Saturdays and a couple of weeknights a year, but I will be training teachers new to CCSD in one of our professional domains....

Okay, that makes it sound mind-numbingly boring, but if you look at it as an opportunity to effect grassroots change in our school district, it is much more exciting. Ask Tyson. He's doing his whole doctoral study on teacher training and retention.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Trite (TM) Weekend

Today I learned how a drain snake works: remove the pipe elbow and jam in the thingie, then turn the other thingie when it gets stuck, then swear and generally telegraph your frustration until a man comes to bail you out. It may be an imperfect system, but now I can do dishes, and we've both fulfilled our gender-normative roles for the day.

I also butterflied and high-roasted a chicken. The inside of a chicken is gross, my oven only heats up to 475 degrees, and my so-called kitchen shears didn't stand up so well to scissoring up a chicken, but it was still very tasty. It turned a very lovely gold color and because I brined it, it was very juicy. I also made sauteed zucchini with nutmeg.

I "paid bills" yesterday by checking my bank balance online then finding a heavy-duty Kitchenaid mixer on sale on Amazon and ordered it. (I am making pizza this week, and watching Alton Brown use his fancy-schmancy dough hook Friday night made me jealous and also ambitious).

I roughed in lesson plans for American Lit for the rest of the year.

I finally figured out the password to set up my email on Tyson's laptop. I am confused and perplexed by the new operating system, and I don't know that I won't just have to write it off for good.

I looked up Masters' degree programs and different state licensure standards. I want to learn about computers, specifically in the area of educational databases, so I'm checking out what it would take to get an MIS (Masters' of Information Systems), a library science degree, or a curriculum and instruction degree that would also complement National Board certification requirements. Right now, they are pretty prohibitively expensive--too much so for immediate consideration.

Tyson and I had a stellar dinner last night at Todd's. I really, really love food, but hate mediocre food. We had a great watermelon salad with cayenne, feta, and toasted pumpkin seeds, and split a great steak.

There is a chicken in my neighbor's juniper tree that showed up in the neighborhood on about Wednesday morning. Nobody knows whose it is or where it came from. I also found out that she is the grandmother of one of my students. Now I'm paranoid when I go out in my pjs to put trash at the curb or get laundry from the dryer.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Proactivity Saves the Day! Woo Hoo!

Tyson's and my dinner date was cancelled tonight, so I came home and started laundry and chores. I am going to watch Battlestar Galactica guilt-free tonight (and not only for watching TV with undone chores! Now I won't have to feel guilty on my date about secretly wanting to be at home watching BSG even though it was dinner with a friend who is about to move to the east coast).


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hooray for Memory!

I just got a 4G memory card for my new phone that is just smaller than a fingernail. My first computer, an old 8088, had 64 KILOBYTES of memory on it. That is just too weird for me to think about sometimes.

So now I can put 1000 songs on my phone.

Instead of 1, which is all that would fit on the phone's internal memory.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008