Tuesday, September 30, 2008

got sun?

We're watching a NOVA on harnessing the sun. What I wouldn't give for $25k, give or take, to invest in photovoltaics for our southern exposure roof. Probably not the best time to try to get a bank loan, however...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday nightlife

So tonight I got in a discussion with my friend about the current state of education. There are a lot of things on which we disagree, but it was a great conversation nonetheless. I enjoy that kind of conversation-- one with passion and feeling behind it. She is a great elementary teacher and I have no doubt that all the kids who pass through her room are better for it. It was certainly a much more engaging evening than if we'd just watched Runway reruns all night... although, to be honest, I'd have enjoyed that, too. But definitely not as much. Intelligent conversation beats mindless video every time...

Friday, September 26, 2008

don't you forget about me

So I covered Friday DT for a friend tonight-- my plans canceled as hers ramped up to include interviews. I asked for the list of players and was shocked at some of the names that appeared-- three kids who probably haven't even had a regular DT in all their years of school. Turns out it was a joke went bad that landed them in a 2.5 hour Friday afternoon session, and there is no doubt that the real punishment was just being there, in that room, with the other kids who'd done other kinds of wrong. I mean, they probably would have spent at least that much time working on homework over the weekend, so that wasn't a big deal at all. At one point, as I was talking to another kid about what he was doing potentially landing him in another Friday, one poor girl broke out laughing and put her head on the table-- and the "oh my heavens, I can't believe this is happening to me" look was unmistakable. Twenty years from now I would not be surprised to learn this was a monumental moment in their development. I hope it turns out to be, because otherwise it was just an afternoon spent with John Bender and Claire Standish.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

democracy is not pretty

We went to a special town meeting tonight.... and they were certainly accurate in naming it 'special'! Six articles, approximately 50 people, a new, not very good moderator, and the same question asked a bazillion times over again got us out of there in two and a half hours. It was brutal. It was ugly. People left mad. But out of the 1000? 500? registered voters in town (I really have no idea how many voters we have) 5o of us showed up and made some decisions. At one point our speaking selectman said something about "the great turnout" and I almost jumped out of my chair. Are you even kidding me? That's minimally 1 in 10 represented, probably closer to 1 in 20. If I was giving it a grade we'd be thrilled to get a 10-- which is definitely failing! What is it going to take to get Americans to just go vote? Getting rid of town meeting certainly helps-- 300 voted in the referendum last summer. But even that was a low turnout. How do I convince my government students that voting is where the power lies? Yes, it's inconvenient but it is part of our job. Just do it. Suck it up, buttercup. Whatever works for you, but stand up and be counted!

(How long will it take me to calm down tonight? I'm betting I'll be full on exhausted by Friday...)

Monday, September 22, 2008


Let me say right off the bat that I love my job and truly enjoy coming to work. I had a good day today-- I think we actually did some creative stuff (especially when I look back on what I was left with when I first took the job 4 years ago) that enhanced the kids understanding of the subject matter. Not bad for a Monday, no? Add to that kids coming to school when sick because they don't want to disappoint me by being accused of skipping (I sent one home because he really was too sick to be here, the other was able to suck it up and get through the day) and my vocational life is looking good.

My life as a parent.... well, not so much. I've got a kid afraid to go to one of the specials, and a parent meeting in the morning to figure it all out. Contrary to the public face I put on, I do not enjoy being "that mom" always complaining about the way things are going. Unfortunately, things are not going well and people need to know. Said child deserves to go to specials and not be afraid of why they'll be yelled at today-- especially in our "anti-bullying" environment.

I want to love my school system, but right now I just can't. Don't worry, we're not yarding them tomorrow or anything. It's certainly better than most alternatives, and is far from the worst one around, but this stuff is just getting old. At least we get free parking spaces and don't have to worry about William Inspections. It's all about perspective, I guess.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

put me in Coach

I coached my first soccer game ever today. The deck was stacked against us from the time we left home: I knew we had only 13 kids on our team and The Enemy would have at least 16, but probably more like 18. The Enemy is a team that I can't stand in HS track-- they have a snooty-ness about them that makes me nuts, and, unsurprisingly, they teach that in their pee-wee leagues. I am not the type of parent/fan that usually blames our loss on the other teams' behavior, and I certainly don't today either (we were totally out played out there) but they were full of cheap, dirty plays. Add a Homer ref, and, well, you get the picture. We lost 8-0. We only had about 2 real opportunities; it just so happens that the second was Boy's, with about 2 minutes to play. He received a pass in their territory without being off sides, and pushed it beyond the defenders. He was outside of the 18, but closing fast. Someone pushed him from behind, and he went sprawling. It was blatant, and obvious, and wrong.

The good news is I think our team played out of their heads. No one complained about having few subs, and everyone was good about coming in and out and helping each other. Some of them really got the idea of passing to the open spaces and looking for support. We still need to work on not crossing the ball into the middle and some of us need to work on not criticizing our team mates, but they really stepped up and did their best. I'm proud of them. They also learned about being the Bigger Person and not giving in to cheap shots. I have no doubt that in 5 years the girls HS team will be The Team to Beat. Those girls are awesome players and quality kids. It will be loads of fun watching them get to that point.

While I may not be a great coach, I'd step in and do it again. I had a lot of fun.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I love trash!

So I got us an offer to pick up trash behind the skate park today. A few of my kids need to log their community service hours, and it was a nice, sunny, warm September Friday, so what do you think we did? We gathered 2 bags of trash and a bag of bottles. A nice couple was sitting in their front lawn and thanked us as we went by. We came back to the cooked apple crisp we had made out of the apples we picked Wed. All in all, a very satisfying teacher afternoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


We went to see james last night, and even though I am EXHAUSTED today, it was a great show. I'm too old now to stand on a cement floor in a club with hundreds of other fans until 11:30 PM on a work night, so if this was the last show of this type we attend, it was a good one to end on. They played a great mix of old and new (they came on to Laid, which totally set the tone of the night). I could link you all sorts of great songs, but if you're interested, go to youtube and watch 'em. I love them. So does Boy and Girly and WB. We have such hip kids.

Their new album is awesome, which we've talked about before. Waterfall has probably the most relevant message to my life of any of my current favorite songs. It's chorus asks "How much junk in my life do I really need?" Want less. Great goal. I'm trying. Not there yet. Maybe never will be, but it's a great goal, no?

Off to bed. (And I'm not even lying. I'm too old for this nonsense, even if it's fun.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

when I'm 64

So it was certainly an interesting family weekend. After the Phone Call from my uncle on Friday, I talked to my mom. She and my flying biker brother* were heading off on an overnight hike this weekend and would be stopping in on Sunday. My dad was set to ferry them from where they came out back to the car. Now, without knowing my parents, you wouldn't automatically know that said ferry vehicle is a motor home. My dad loves that thing. He drives it everywhere he can. Coming up to watch Boy shoot arrows in Auburn? Drive the RV. A soccer game? A car would be too small and confining. Were we going to be home Saturday night, because if so, dad would like to come sleep in the driveway. We were, and he did. Girly slept out with him (Boy decided that 2 single camper beds was 1 to few-- no wonder he's earned a scholarship already!). He arrived around 5, took us to dinner, went to bed around 8, and left before 9. They did come visit as promised, and my brother gave the kids cash, just because he can.

After all this, I find myself seriously pondering what form of craziness will I embody after I turn 60?

*My brother went flying off a mountain bike trail this summer, leaving him with some broken vertebra, strained wrists, and other random injuries. Since he didn't like the medical instructions to lay low, he pretends they don't exist. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of the two of them heading off to tackle one of the hardest stretches of the AT at this point in time, but it was useless to even suggest they rethink the mission. Luckily my fears were not justified.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

I don't know why, but I'm really captivated by Cold War history. I'm fascinated by the willingness of normally sane people to suddenly stop thinking for themselves. Someday I'll treat you all to my Cuban Missile Crisis expertise, but that is another post for another day. I have not (yet) proved my mastery of the Rosenberg trial, but that is about to change.

So it turns out that Ethel Rosenberg did not get her day in court. She spent a bunch of time in a courtroom, but no one actually cared what she had to say in her own defense. Morton Sobell, a fellow defendant, admitted this week that he believed that while she knew her husband was a spy, she was not involved. Pretty high price to pay for making a bad choice in husbands.

Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, was involved in spying for the Ruskies. He stole documents about the atom bombs and gave them to Julius Rosenberg, who in turn gave them to the Russians. Greenglass, in an attempt to protect his wife and children, told prosecutors that Ethel typed the documents first, although the reports were of handwritten documents. Greenglass went to jail, but his sister was executed. Go figure.

This trial encouraged Joseph McCarthy, which brings me to the point of my rant: blind following of an idea, that in the light of day, turns out not to make so much sense. Was America really in the midst of a Red Scare? I'm sure, coming out of the Korean War, it made a lot more sense than it does today. I mean, really, how can some jewish housewife be such a threat to society that she needs to be executed? Sadly, though, we haven't really learned from our past. Substitute "Middle Eastern Terrorists" for "communist Russian spy" and there we are again. We have enacted all sorts of laws infringing on civil rights in the name of protecting America.

Today we're not afraid of the Ruskies... or are we? Recent events have me wondering if we're all just happier with an obvious enemy. I mean, we had plenty of opportunity to have a common enemy during the Cold War, right? You're either for Democracy and The American Way or you're a Commie Pinko Fag. Simple. Effective. Unless you're not actually a Commie Pinko Fag, but someone accused of being one, or someone who is friends with one, or just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, in the worst case, you end up like poor Ethel, vindicated 55 years too late.

Friday, September 12, 2008

holy *bleeping* moly!

Now, this is one of these times where you may not believe that I sensed this occurrence, but I did. I didn't know exactly what was happening, but when the emails bounced back from my uncle as undeliverable, I knew there was a deal brewing. I thought about calling, but then figured he'd email when he got his new address. Right church, wrong pew. He called me tonight, from LAX, getting ready to move to Europe! Yes, this is the same uncle I went to see in August because his health isn't the best. He decided that instead of waiting around to die, he was going to live his life. And what he really wants to do is live in the south of France, speaking the language until he thinks the language. (I remember Haikey telling me she started thinking in Spanish, even when she was speaking English, and that was a cool development.) He has no idea when he'll be back. No idea where he'll live, or how long it will take to get settled and reconnected to the world. He's in the air now.

It's like a movie script-- an indy one at that. Dying uncle, suddenly summarizes his life into 10 boxes, donates his furniture to consignment shops, sells his beloved car ("I'd have sold my child first, if I'd had a child"), and hops a plane to the unknown. I'm so impressed with his courage, so awed by his raging against the dying of the light. I have maybe spent 2 months with this man over my life span, but he has influenced me nonetheless. He always sent us Christmas presents and birthday money, and would write back to my dutifully sent thank-yous. He was this cool uncle living across the country who never had kids (I eventually learned why) but loved hearing from me anyway. He moved in with my grandparents and took care of them because he could, and someone should. He worked in the San Fransisco hospital that identified AIDS, worked as the volunteer coordinator for sexually abused kids (usually poor and Mexican) and adults with AIDS. He believes in being who he is without making a big deal about it. When my students talk about queers ruining their lives, I think of my uncle and try to help them realize they're people first, and what's it matter what they do in private. I have a lot of respect for my uncle, and this situation is no different. He's going out on his terms, speaking the language he wants to speak. I'm lucky to have had his influence on my life: instead of it being across the country, now it's across an ocean. We can do that.

I am so thankful I knew to go see him this August, even though I didn't know why. I hope I get to see him again... who knows, maybe next summer the family will take a trip overseas...

the morton's salt of commentary


I guess it really does make sense... and proves the point WB has been making all month, which is McCain has effectively killed his best argument against Obama by picking Pallin.

So ha!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

dancing with myself

Actually, that's not true-- at least not tonight. Dance is back, along with all my friends. There is a group of us--a core of eight-- who've met once a week during the school year for the last 8ish years to tap away our troubles and laugh our way through the winter. Fellow RVBer Katie joined us last year, and I'm thrilled she's come back to our crazy world! A few others mix in and out depending on the year and their schedules. I believe we started tonight as a group of 12, which is as many advanced dancers as we've ever had. It might not be the song we stick with BUT I LOVE THIS DANCE. I cannot say it more emphatically. It is hard, it is going to be a challenge, but man, is it going to be fun. I'm already tapping in the shower, waiting for the tea water to heat up, reviewing the steps I just learned a few short hours ago. Dance nights rock my world!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I think it fits the Rules

So my makeover has taken on entirely insane proportions. Not only have my children decided I should look "cuter", but my friends have jumped in as well. While at a conference this summer with some work friends, we went shopping. My school's social worker peer pressured me into buying this dress... I thought it wasn't terribly flattering on me, but she insisted WB would love her for making me buy it. Since it was something like $10 I gave in... and wore it this weekend for a friend's wedding. I felt a bit exposed in it, but looking at this picture I guess I don't look that bad! The kicker to all this is the number of teachers and students around school who have noticed I've changed my wardrobe, and commented positively. My only worry now is winter-- I'm not sure I can go a day without a turtleneck and sweater!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

writing out loud!

There is something about a sharpie marker that just makes me happy. I don't know what it is, especially since they are not scrapbooking appropriate. Once they started making them in colors, well, my little heart skips a beat every time I walk by a new package. Lucky for me Mardens had a shipment in. Now, every time I open my desk I am greeted with a giggle-inspiring sight. In honor of the event, I wrote my name on all the sharpies with my favorite colored sharpie. Yes, I am settling into my new classroom in style!

with a nod to Amity

I was recently alerted my baby sis is blogging again. Seems a good time for some link love!

http://krazykaroline.blogspot.com/ It is my sister's voice, no doubt about it. Makes me feel like I'm sitting next to her instead of being across the continent.

http://alwayssomeonecooler.blogspot.com/ My loyal RVBers know this one, but the link is for the newbie on the block.