Friday, March 31, 2006

Please Comment

Please contribute to a debate that is currently raging (okay maybe just simmering). The comment below was posted on Raymond's blog in March. The subject of Raymond's post was his annoyance at stores who do not post their legally required notices such as liquor licenses, freezer licenses, ect. When Raymond notices that someone is not following the rules he likes to make trouble for them. This is one of his hobbies. Many comments were posted in response, and this one stood out to me. Please comment on the comment and let me know what you think of the statement:

"# re: On the alert for expired food-handling licenses Tuesday, March 21, 2006 4:54 PM by Wang-Lo Many anthropoligists believe that the human male most naturally pays attention to larger aggregates and abstractions, while the female is most in touch with practical everyday details. Usually men undertake work such as associating families into tribes and tribes into nations. Organizing the big hunt is manly. Usually women perform the tasks of making and repairing shelter and clothing, gathering and preparing food, and tending the fire. Fixing lunch is womanly. This means that it is usually men who set up things like food handling regulations and a department of health to enforce them. Actually filling out the proper forms or properly posting the latest certificates would fall to some administrative assistant or secretary, usually a woman. So a man would be satisfied that proper health laws were on the books, but a woman would insist that the posted certificates be up to date. In other words, Raymond, you complain like a girl too."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Heather or Erica?

Mark and I used to have this running debate. He called this plant an Erica because that is what they are called in South Africa. I call this plant a Heather because that is what they are called both here and in Scotland. We would go back and forth about this in a good-natured way until one day I made an important discovery. Erica is the latin name of some varieties while Heather is the common name for the whole group of shrubs. Some plant tags even list this one as Heather Erica, so I guess we can safely say that we are both right about this one. Now we have this beautiful Heather Erica growing very harmoniously in our front yard.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Two Cute

Last weekend Mark and I went to a lovely tea party given by a friend of ours. The tea table was a sight to behold, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves very much. Another party guest was the four month-old son of two other friends. He is getting very big and strong, and is quite willing to be passed around to all the big people. He and Mark spent some quality time together admiring socks. They seemed quite happy with one another until hunger got the better of them and the fussing began. Luckily the baby found his mommy and Mark found his tea cup and all was well once again.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tiny Patches of Spring

These little beauties are just coming up outside our front door. I've never been a huge fan of grape hyacinths, but these are just so cute and springy by the door that I can't help liking them. Besides, the previous owners kept both the yards so devoid of flowers that I'm happy to see anything colorful peaking out from the nooks and crannies. The tulips are taking their sweet time, but I have faith that they will bloom some time before summer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lucky Me

Yesterday was another one of those endless ones. Get up early, rush to school, teach all day, go to a meeting at 3:00, go to a class at 5:00, home around 8:00. In short, a long, long day. Add to that the fact that the class is yet another one of those stupid, pointless exercises, and I was none to happy about things.

However, when I opened the door to the house, clouds of delicious scents assailed my nose. Not only did Mark cook, but he made my absolute favorite Indian dish, tomato paneer. Not only did he make tomato paneer, he made lentil dahl and spiced rice as sides. Not only did he make such a delectable dinner, but he made custard with fruit for dessert. All of a sudden I wasn't quite so grumpy anymore.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Why is it that nothing ever is quite as it appears? None of those bits and pieces you hear about history from popular culture ever seem to be even close to true. Why do we feel the need to lie to one another? Real history is usually quite interesting enough without all sorts of embellishments and outright falsehood.

-Most everyone has heard about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, but it turns out they've never had any at all.

-The story about Patrick using a clover leaf to explain the trinity was made up in the 18th century and also never happened.

-There is no evidence that Patrick was ever a Bishop who met with the pope.

-Strangely enough, there is also no evidence for the claim that Patrick made a bargain with god to keep Ireland free and Catholic forever.

-Last but certainly not least, there is a great deal of evidence for the belief that Patrick was not even Irish! Most historians agree that Patrick was actually born in Wales, and that he was the son of a Roman official.

So raise a glass of green beer to a Welsh guy who was nothing more than a really good evangelist.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cherry Blossom Festival

As promised, I went out this weekend and took a few pictures of the cherry blossoms in our neighborhood. We have one tree next to our driveway, and then they also grow up and down the street. They are beautiful, delicately sented, and full of pollen that makes me sneeze. They are so springy that I can't help being delighted by them. The Japanese were definitely on to something.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Every once in a while I run accross this quote and I remember how much I like it. It sort of sums up everything I think about faith and belief:

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your common sense."

The Buddha

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lightning and Snow

Yesterday was certainly about contrasts. Last afternoon I drove home from school admiring the cherry trees that are blossoming up and down our street (I know, I know, I need pictures!). At the same time, a few flurries of snow were falling. That evening I was watching the lightening and listening to the thunder, and there were still a few flakes falling. To me, snow is winter, cherry blossoms are spring, and thunder and lightening are summer (at least around here they usually are). I am confused but it makes for a pretty cool scene out the living room window.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Longest Mile

The book drama continues, and I am trying to figure out what I have learned from this whole experience. The first thing that comes to mind is "don't volunteer to be on book committees" but that seems kind of harsh. The second thing I've been thinking about is how to deal with the other people who argued so strenuously against me. Am I supposed to move on and pretend that nothing happened? I think they did a pretty unfortunate thing, so I have trouble just putting on a happy face when I see them again. Then again, maybe I'm just being childish. Also, what can I do better next time? This is the one I will really have to think about. One requirement is to be better prepared. Since I didn't really know what I was in for this time around, I couldn't foresee many of the problems before they arose. Next time, however, I will be well prepared. My arguments will be honed, my facts will be straight, and I will make certain that I have every weapon at my disposal. All with a cheerful and friendly demeanor of course.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shot Down and Pissed Off

Note: The following is true. I know it will seem like I am slanting things to make myself look good, but I swear I did not make any of this stuff up.
Six Months Ago

Admin (very cheerful and upbeat): Okay Gang (he actually uses that phrase all the time) we need to choose new books for the various grade levels, and it's your job to get us some good ones! I'm breaking you into grade level groups. Here are the goals we are trying to meet in each grade, and here are the options available. Evaluate each option and decide if it meets our goals.

My Grade Level Team: Okay, after looking at all the options we think these two books do the best job of meeting our goals. Book #1 does a great job on this, and book #2 does an okay job.

Admin: Great! Now I see that you think one book does a better job of meeting our goals, but you never can tell until you use it, so go out there and try it with kids! Remember, you and the kids are the ones to make the final decision! (he really does speak in exclamations most of the time)


Admin: Okay Gang (I'm not making him up) now that you've field tested the books you can calculate the average student response.

Us (furrowing our brows and adding numbers furiously): Wow, it looks like both books scored almost exactly the same! Kids really liked both books. In fact, the difference is statistically insignificant. What should we do now?

Me: Maybe we should choose book #1 because it meets the goals we started out with.

Teammate #1: No, we should choose book #2 because it had fun games with it (I'm not making this up).

Me: That game was fun, but it seems like maybe the books is not as good at meeting our goals.

Teammate #2: My kids thought the game was fun AND they liked they video.

Me: That was a good video, but remember how we had the goal about making sure all of our kids would be able to read and understand the book we choose? Book #2 is very complicated in some spots.

Teammate #3: My kids didn't have any trouble understanding book #2. Also, they really liked the game (I swear I'm not making this up!).

Me: That may be true, but you teach a class of highly capable students. This book is supposed to be for everyone, and then we will choose extra stuff for the Plus kids.

Teammate #2: The special education teacher in our school said that her kids really like games.

Me: Did you show her the books?

Teammate #2: No.

Me: I showed the books to my special education team and they said book #2 would be very hard for their kids to read. Did you know that book #2 was written at the 10th grade level?

Teammates: No.

This sort of conversation circles around for a couple more hours as we finish writing up our results.

Admin: Okay Gang! It's time to vote!

Me: I vote for book #1

Them: We vote for book #2

Admin (after we explain our positions): She has some very good points Guys (we are all girls in this group, but who's really paying attention). Have you really discussed her points?

Them: Yes, we think book #2 is good.

Me: What about our goals? What about readability? Ignore the games! Compare the books! (I am getting more frantic and trying REALLY hard not to let it show, but I sort of end in a squeak)

Them: WE WANT BOOK #2!

Admin: Well Guys, it's not up to me. Make sure you put her objections into the report.

Me: Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

Them: Great! Let's write the report!

Me: Squeak!

Them: We picked a fun book!

Me: squeak

Them: The kids will really like the game

Me: ---

Monday, March 06, 2006

Grrrrage Door Openers

On one recent Saturday, Mark and I decided to head down to Nameless Mega-box Store to pick up garage door openers for our house. I assumed when we bought the house that the original openers had died from old age, and the previous owners just removed them. We thought (naive people that we are) we could just buy new openers and install them ourselves (meaning I would stand there and Mark would do the work). After searching through acres of home improvement goods, we finally found the right section, picked out belt-driven models, and took them home. Then we discovered the truth: our house has never had garage door openers because the brilliant, brilliant builder put a beam in the way. This beam precludes any standard variety opener, so our house has probably never had one. We then went back to Nameless Mega-box to return the old openers and ask about alternatives. The man there got quite gleeful telling us about the dangers of all non-traditional openers ("and then, if the spring doesn't catch you in the eye, the door will fall on your head!"), and said that we are basically screwed. Never daunted, Mark called in a garage door specialist who came out to the house. His opnion? We are screwed. The only solution is new tracks and new doors which is a five figure solution to what should be a simple problem. This is quite a bit more than our origianl budget of not much. For the moment we continue to jump out of the car, open the front door, run through the house, open the garage door, jump back in the car, pull into the garage, jump out of the car, close the garage door... Thinking about all this makes me realize that I am a spoiled, spoiled person.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Civil What?

The 7th graders were supposed to take an exam on Ancient China. One of the test questions reads:

Confucius wanted men to take the Civil ________________________ Exam to see who would make a good public official.

The answers from students include:


I don't understand it. We studied the Civil Service Exam in some depth, and most of the kids did quite well on the rest of the test. I guess this is proof that some test-takers never look beyond the first few words of the question. This is right up there with the large group of kids who said that a group of monks will live together in a community called a Montessori.