Monday, June 29, 2009

Birthday 09

Thanks to all the kind people who remembered me on my recent birthday. I am one lucky girl to have such thoughtful friends and family. M, in particular, outdid himself (you would not believe how talented he is with a carrot cake!) The Nieces also played a special part in that they brought me a light-up birthday crown, multi-colored birthday star necklaces, a big pink "birthday girl" button, and a coconut drink holder for my birthday beverages. They dressed me in all my finery, and then they proceeded to chase me around the yard with silly string. Now that is a birthday.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oregon Wildlife

Over just one day in the Oregon countryside, we saw these animals:

A brindle-brown fox trotting through a new-cut field of hay.

A tall, thin jack rabbit with loooong ears and legs racing through a stand of fir trees (it reminded me of Hester from The Golden Compass).

Coil upon coil of garter snake sitting on a warm patch of brick. He lifted his head and glared at us as we came close (pic to come later).

A small herd of deer munching grass on the side of the road.

About ten million cows.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

College Anniversary

This month marks the tenth anniversary of my graduation from undergrad. I absolutely cannot believe that much time has passed since I wore the silly gown and followed my departmental placard across the commons. My impression of campus is still completely fresh in my mind, and I think I could go back and find any classroom in any of those old buildings. I definitely feel nostalgia for those years since college was one of the most satisfying times in my life.

No, I didn't spend it partying (I turned 21 two weeks AFTER graduation) it was the actual learning that was so much fun. Yes, yes, I know that sounds depressingly teachery of me, but it is the simple truth. I loved that time at the end of every term when the new schedule of classes would come out. I would run down to the bookstore to pick up a copy on the first day they were available. Paging through those smudgy, newsprint listings was nothing short of thrilling. What should I take next term? There was never enough time for it all. Granted, I may be romanticizing things just a teeny bit. After all, hours of homework every night is not something I can pretend to miss.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blood Sacrifice

Recently, I was visiting the doctor (no, not for a pre-natal visit!) when she mentioned that she would like me to stop by the lab for a blood test. This was no surprise since doctors find my blood to be quite fascinating, and I never seem to have an appointment without some quality time in the phlebotomist’s chair. I dutifully submitted to the blood-letting, and then went on my merry way.

Three weeks passed, and I noticed that I didn't get any test results. I logged in to my online health records, and there was no test listed there either. Finally, I called the doctor's office, and the assistant answered the phone:

Me: Hi I'm calling about my test results?

Her: Okay, let me pull up your file...

Me: It was on X date, and I stopped in for a blood draw after the appointment

Her: Hmm, I don't see it here. What were they testing?

Me: I'm not sure (yeah I know I suck for not asking), she just asked me to have the blood drawn, and I thought I would know when the results came.

Her: Oh it was one of those tests.

Me: ???

Her: That test was just for the doctor.

Me: What does that mean? It was my blood.

Her: Yeah, but she was just checking something, but it's not like an official test.

Me: But it's my blood!

Her: Yeah, but you don't need to worry because she was just checking on one little thing. Everything's just fine, so no need to worry. It just wasn't an "official" test.

Me: Gah!

What the heck is all this? How do they decide what's an "official" test and which ones are "just for the doctor?" Don't most people assume they will get results when they have a test? I guess not. No wonder people get so frustrated at the high-handedness of the medical establishment. Next time I'm asking really clear questions about what the tests are, and when I can expect the results.

Monday, June 22, 2009

May 19th vs June 19th

May 19th

6am ------- get ready for work
7am ------- arrive at school, scarf oatmeal, review daily plan
Period 1 --- language arts class
Period 2 --- social studies class
Period 3 --- prep time (plan, make copies, mark papers, answer email, etc)
Period 4 --- study skills class
Lunch ----- scarf food, mark papers, answer email
Period 5 --- advanced language arts class
Period 6 --- advanced social studies class
After school --- various meetings and planning tasks

June 19th

6am ------- sleep
7am ------- sleep
Period 1 --- sleep
Period 2 --- drink tea, read paper, go to gym
Period 3 --- gym, shower, read book
Period 4 --- clean house, watch tv
Lunch ----- linger over soup and salad while reading book
Period 5 --- read book
Period 6 --- go for walk in sunshine
After school --- read book

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

At Last

Praise the lord and pass the margaritas! The 2008/2009 school year is now a thing of the past! Yes, yes, I know, I don't actually have much use for God or tequila, but it's the thought that counts. Suffice it to say that I am VERY excited about the summer. It could not have come a moment too soon because this school year, while politically much more peaceful than last, was kind of tough on the student end of things. I think I will celebrate by going out to lunch, taking a nap, and spending tomorrow reading some "penny dreadful" novel from cover to cover. Ahhh life is good.

Google Art

Be sure to check out google today. I love the different kind of art they do to celebrate various days and events. Somebody there must be a big music fan.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Kindness of Children

Sometimes we "old" (hey compared to them!) people have sort of a dim view of America's youth. To some, they seem shallow, spoiled, and just plain annoying. That all may be true of some teens, but I am here to say that the other kind exists as well. I know this may be a shocker, but there are teenagers out there who are smart, dedicated, courteous, and kind. What's my proof? Well, I could quote stats about volunteerism, school attendance, or psychological surveys, but I think a more concrete example may be found in my classroom.

Not long ago, I was away for a family wedding. When I got back, the kids greeted me with their usual enthusiasm (they have a lot) and then we got back to the business of running a classroom. One kid asked for a ruler, so I went back to my desk and opened the ruler drawer. Just then, all the kids jumped up from their desks and crowded around. I knew something was up, and sure enough, there was a wrapped package sitting in the drawer. This turned out to be a brand new music player.

It seems the kids remembered a conversation we had about music. They asked me what kind of IPOD I had, and I told them that I didn't have a fancy music player. I thought nothing of it at the time, but the kids remembered. They organized, campaigned while in other classes, and collected enough money to buy a Zune. One kid even had the task of asking my favorite color.

Now I know many people may miss the point in this story. This may sound like an example of over-privileged kids buying favor with their teacher, but that is really not what happened there. These kids were already doing great in terms of grades, and they really had no reason to offer any kind of bribe. They did this out of the kindness of their hearts, and that, not the tech toy, is what made such an impression on me.

P.S. Lest you worry about my professional morals, I did check with the Big Boss, and he said it was okay to keep the gift.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Down with Modern Symphonic Music!

The Ades piece we heard last night reaffirmed my belief that, unlike cheese, the younger a classical piece is the MORE it is likely to stink. Yes, yes, I know this may make me sound like a philistine, but that's just been my experience over the years. I understand that composers need the chance to continue musical innovation, and it would be a tragedy to music if new work stopped and we just listened to Beethoven for the rest of eternity. I also know that Beethoven and others were considered avant-garde in their times as well.

All of that does not change the fact that the bulk of this modern music is just not fun for listening. "Ha!" you might say "but you already admitted to being a musical dumbo! All the cool people enjoy this stuff! Why should idiots like you dictate what gets played?!" Weeeelll that may be true, but the announcements the conductor made before the Ades music began made it clear that he expected a lot of the audience to dislike what they heard. Go ahead modern fans, comment away. I am not alone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kids Email the Darndest Things

Recently, I was out of my classroom for a day due to a team meeting. This late in the school year, I was pretty nervous about leaving my students. They tend to get a little antsy when they have a sub, and that combined with summer fever was a dangerous proposition. However, I couldn't skip the meeting, so I wrote my sub plans and hoped for the best. That night, when I checked my work mail from home, I found this email:

Hi Mrs. Totheworld

I just wanted to check that you got my note? I put a note on your desk to explain things. I just wanted to say that I'm really really sorry and I just don't know how that could have happened.



This kind of cryptic note used to have me tearing my hair and rushing back to work to see how bad it might have been. After several years of this, however, I have a much more Zen approach to these issues. I calmly wait until the next day, review the situation carefully, and THEN turn red, jump up and down, and threatened to throw students to the lions.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Final Crunch

I have a dozen or so drafts in my blogging lineup that represent ideas for posts. However, I find myself with very little time to write these days. The end is nigh (about a week and a half) and so many tasks have come to call. From the tall to the small, there is lots of organizing, sorting, finalizing, grading, lifting, hefting, and other fun verbs involved. If only I were more organized as a blogger, I might have an impressive list of pending posts, but I'm not, so I don't. Oh well. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I am thrilled! THRILLED! by the wonderful warm spring we've been having. The last few weeks have been largely sunny skies and nice temperatures, and most of the time that is a very good thing. Maybe I will actually manage to grow some tomatoes to ripeness this year. However, in regards to school, warm sunny days can be a drag.

Today, when I arrived in my classroom, it was already 74 degrees. Now that really isn't such a bad indoor temp, but when you consider that no computers were on, the sun wasn't fully risen, and there were no hot humans in the room, it really becomes quite an impressive number. By 9am this morning, it was 82. With the largest class yet to come, we are up to 84 degrees and counting. The only upside to the increased temps is that their naughty behavior actually peaks and begins to come down the closer you get to 90 degrees. Of course, teaching a class full of limp noodles isn't exactly a picnic, but it may be preferable to having them bouncing off the walls. Think cool thoughts for me.