Friday, December 31, 2004

The Pit of Despair...

...or, possibly, desperation.

I've taken to reading some online newsgroups again, now that I have an account that actually subscribes to a fair number of them.

So, whilst browsing alt.startrek.creative, having exhausted all the worthwhile conversation on, I did a...well...a scary thing.

I first found alt.startrek.creative when I ventured online during my freshman year of college, during the Debate About Debating About Debating About Debating About Slash.

This is not what is scary.

What is scary is that I found an Enterprise story.

What's more scary is that I read it.

What's even more scary is that I {tries to hang head and hide at the same time} liked it.

It was cute.

It was a Trip/T'Pol story...and she even sounded halfway Vulcan.

Real Vulcan, I mean -- not the caricatures that they became on Enterprise, though Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have helped some.

But all that aside, the fact remains that I found, read, and enjoyed an Enterprise story.

To quote from, I think, Babylon 5 fandom of my freshman year of college, as long as I'm being nostalgic...

Ye gods and little fishes....

(Happy New Year, by the way.)

Yeah, I'm Babbly and Random Today

For lack of anything else, I'm watching a history channel biography of Eva Braun -- which would normally be fascinating (I have a probably unhealthy fascination with World War II), except that I've seen it about 10 times, not the least of which was the second half of it earlier tonight.

But I did notice two things -- one part of the score sounded suspiciously like the instrumental part of a Disney song that I don't remember now (I'm sure I'll think of it later); and the second sounded like part of the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey -- in the part with the ape men, but not "Thus Spake Zarathustra."

By the way -- that movie makes a lot more sense if you've read the book first, and I may just pop it in the DVD player now.

Of course, after seeing The Peacekeeper Wars, I will never again view the hotel room in the same way again (that is, without seeing Harvey on the bed :-p).

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Whatever you think of (the whole independent bookstore vs. you-can-buy-it-all-here thing), this is cool.

When I checked yahoo news a while ago, the death toll was at 117,000. I just looked again and it was 119,000.

One hundred and nineteen thousand people.

I think it registers more when you write it out in words -- when it's numbers, it's more abstract.

If you really don't like amazon, I'm sure the Red Cross will take donations directly -- in fact, I know they do, because I did so after September 11th, and again after hurricane Frances.

Having lived through the Northridge earthquake, a mere 6.7 that knocked out power in the San Fernando Valley for a week, I can't imagine what it's doing to islands without the infrastructure to handle even that, let alone the tsunami that followed....

Of course

Naturally, one would think to look in one's pillowcases for one's cell phone.


Oh -- and the call was a wrong number....


So, my cell phone is buzzing a reminder (probably a voice mail) at me about every two minutes.

The problem is, that while I can hear said vibrating, and while I can feel said vibrating...

...I can't find the flippin' thing anywhere.

And, I don't even know the number, 'cause it's a new cell phone, so I can't call myself to follow the rings to the phone.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


A totally random comment, utterly unrelated to the more serious post below.

Angel and Cordelia were just totally cute together.

If you don't know who either of those are, you don't care. If you do, and you disagree...sorry. If you do, and you agree...yay!


Yahoo! News - Tsunami Death Toll Soars Past 77,000

Yahoo! News - Tsunami Death Toll Soars Past 77,000

I've been watching this progress on the Internet -- haven't been watching the news because Patrick still has an earthquake phobia (as in, he won't even say the word) -- and I felt compelled to comment.

But now that I've started the blog entry -- I'm not sure there are words for this.

I'm not sure anyone can truly conceive of seventy-seven thousand life stories ending. I'm not sure, really, that you can make that number mean anything other than a-freaking-lot-of-people. Except that these were men, women, children...people who had hopes, dreams, memories, good and bad times, plans for the future -- everything you and I have. They might have been different plans for the future; in some cases, they might have been simpler memories....

But there you have it.

They were people -- that I had never met only because of a trick of geography, or of birth, that caused me to be born here and they to be born there.

Meanwhile, I try to conceptualize the sheer number of lives that have been lost this week, and I remember a simple quote: "The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own; you are he."

Even that doesn't do the sheer number of lives lost justice, and I really don't think there are words....

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rain Storms

Those of you who know me know that I love driving. One of the hardest things to get used to after injuring my ankle was how hard it was to drive, since I have no vehicles that have functioning cruise controls.

Yesterday, my mom, brother, and I drove up to the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, to have lunch in their coffee shop (my mom and dad used to go there every year for their anniversary, except for the year I inconveniently was born, quite early, 3 days before their anniversary, and until several years after I was born, likely due to my dad opening his alarm business).

In any event, I volunteered to drive part of the way back because I know my way around Santa Barbara better and wanted to stop at the huge Borders there (Merry Christmas to me!). Well, we hit the north end of the storm on the way back; we'd stopped in Santa Maria for gas, and it wasn't until I got off the freeway at Carrillo in SB that I was even able to open the soda I bought -- not because of the rain, but because of the wind...yikes.

In other news -- there's a video of Julia Ecklar's (well, written by Leslie Fish, but sung most famously by Julia Ecklar) "Hope Eyrie!" Written to commemorate the Apollo moon landing, the song is a gorgeous tribute to the feeling of wonder that folks, especially the scientifically inclined, must have felt, knowing that human feet had, for the first time in all of recorded history, set foot on the rock and soil of another planet.

(It's more than thirty years later, and we can't even get a flippin' shuttle off the ground, which is sad....) Not that I don't feel for the families of the crew of Challenger and Columbia, but they're not the first to have died to explore space -- and certainly not the first to have died in the pursuit of exploration.

Wow, that got philosophic...sorry.

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Sunday, December 26, 2004


So, I'm about a third of the way through one of my new books, The Timeships by Stephen Baxter. Very, very good. I'm loving it so far.

Also, I preordered the next Harry Potter book. Hopefully, they'll do the same thing and ship it so it arrives the day it gets to bookstores, like they did with The Order of the Phoenix.

I've been having domain name issues, so I used my webspace that comes with my DSL service to put up a bare bones version of my site -- just the stories and wallpapers. I have a new Lord of the Rings one called "The Bravest Thing." It's my favorite graphic I've done so far. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Well, we're back from Christmas at my cousins'. It was fun, and the dinner (prime rib!) was very yummy. We made creamed corn using Alton Brown's recipe, and it was really, really good, too. :-)

I got lots of books, and a few DVDs, including Flight of the Navigator, an 80s Disney sci-fi film, The Princess Bride, The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, and the first season of Punky Brewster.

Patrick really liked his gifts, especially the monorail poster. After we went to my cousins', we went to visit my grandma and grandpa -- grandma was doing pretty well today, though grandpa wasn't in the best of moods.

So, Patrick and I are back at my place for a DVD night, and maybe some after Christmas shopping (we both got money from our grandparents) tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Raven, et. al.

Who would have though that Homer Simpson would work so well as the main character in Poe's "The Raven."

But honestly -- Homer's perfect to play the mood-swinginess of the main character. And only Homer could truly shriek when the poem says:

'Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
'Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'

Personally, my favorite is how he delivers that last line -- "Take thy beak from out my heart, and take the form from off my DOOR!"

By the way -- speaking of popular poems -- Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman" (Loreena McKennitt does a beautiful-but-missing-three-key-stanzas rendition of it on her album The Book of Secrets) would make a great story....

She also does a great (okay, gorgeous) rendition of Tennyson's "The Lady of Shallott" (summarized brilliantly by a high school English teacher of mine thusly: "This girl was cursed and could never look outside her tower directly. Then she saw Sir Lancelot in her mirror and fell in love with him, and wanted to look at him, even though it would kill her. So she did. When he saw her, he said, "Well, she's pretty. Hope she rests in peace," and goes about his life.")

Now if only she would, you know, release a new CD someday....

Oh -- and more trivia...Anne Shirley reads from and/or performs both poems through the course of the first two Canadian-produced movies Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea.

Finally...I try to avoid being political on this blog, though I have strong political feelings. But if you have 99c, please consider downloading "Lullabye for a Weary World" on Julia Ecklar's CD Divine Intervention. I can't figure out how to make iTunes Music Store links work (okay, I probably could, but it's late, I'm tired, and I'm lazy), but just search "Divine Intervention" and you'll find it. Or, you can buy the CD here.

In an odd way, I view it as a holiday song, particularly in troubled times. In a hopefully less-than-odd way, think of it as a New Year's wish.

She's very protective of her lyrics being posted, but here's a brief excerpt:

"I wonder how my world can live with all the hate she harbors
Sleep, my weary world
. . .
I wish the power to stop it all could rest within my hands
I've seen her people dying for such bold and bloody causes
. . .
While the rising tide of history just ebbs and flows again
Make me a cradle to rock my weary world
Make me a gentle voice to soothe her when she weeps
. . .
I wish that I could soothe away her jagged shards of hatred
. . .
If her fighting will not stop, then I'll hold her that much closer
And sing my lullabye above the noise and pain of war
. . .
Make me a lullabye so sweet and fine
That I can sing my weary world to sleep."

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, belated Happy Hannukah and Peaceful Ramadan to all, in case I can't post before the 25th.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Writing Blues

So...I really want to write a monologue for a character following an episode of a certain TV show. (I am not saying specifics 'cause (a) most of my friends who read this don't read fan fiction anyway and (b) I'll jinx it, I'm sure.)

The problem is, I can't get the character's voice right. Usually, I can -- but here, it's just not working. I worked out the psychology, what's going on -- and I can't even get the tone of pained bewilderment right....

Aah well....

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Return of the King

In case I haven't said it before, Sam is the true hero of the story.

So there. ;-p

Too Much Private School

So, they played this on The West Wing tonight ("Hallelujah").

I had the same problem when it was in Shrek.

Maybe it's too much private school -- or, rather, too many religion classes while in private school -- but I just have to point out that while much of the story fits David (seeing "her" bathing on the roof, etc.), the part about cutting hair was Samson and Delilah.

That shouldn't bug me that much.

But it does.

Go figure.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Happy Nerd

My Return of the King Extended Edition (finally) came today!

I caved and ordered the gift set (complete with Minas Tirith statue) because it included an extra DVD of the Lord of the Rings symphony that Howard Shore arranged with music from all of the movies. :-) My only complaint is that the footage didn't show nearly enough of the movement that includes the Rohan music, my personal favorite part of the score.

Okay, so it's tied with the music from the prologue of Fellowship, especially the bit that plays right as "The Lord of the Rings" comes up on the screen, but still.

Other than that -- yay! :-)

Time Stamps and Stuff

It really was "way late" when I posted the previous, but because I started it at whatever it says, it kept the original time stamp.

Anyway, the funny story for today. About a week and a half ago, my trusty blue fan I've had since my senior year of college broke. The post snapped right clean off at the base. I was able to duct tape it together, mostly, and can coax it upright, mostly, as long as I don't so much as breathe on it.

So I looked around froogle and found a nifty fan that's height-adjustable (one of the drawbacks of trusty ol' blue) and has two sets of blades -- large ones for when it's hot and I need to move air around, and a smaller one to direct air flow, for when I sleep at night ('cause y'all know that I can't sleep without a fan to provide white noise -- that started my freshman year of college when I tried to drown out the what's-her-name's morning hour-long shower, complete with "If It Makes You Happy" on repeat).

It was supposed to show up within 3 days. That was about 10 days ago.

I was willing to cut them some slack because of holiday mail, but I finally emailed their customer service over the weekend.

It was accidentally shipped to the billing address (here) rather than to my mom's, where they could have just left it on the porch. But because I wasn't expecting a package, I haven't gotten my mail every day, so I missed the "you have a package" notice. The poor people in the office....

But the good news is...I have a fan. :-)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Mucho drama

I know, I know...another extended absence. I'm a horrible blogger....

Actually, no -- it's just that I tend to go into hibernate mode when stressed, and the class I've got this year is going to give me gray hair. (Well, just R., mostly, but when you add to that the fact that my grandmother's emphysema is getting way worse, the fact that I've managed to get all the normal first-year-teacher illnesses in this, my second year, the fact that...oh, whatever -- it's not important, and I don't want to go into POK mobile mode.)

A brief summary of where we stand now, though. Grandma has pneumonia (not a good thing with very bad emphysema) but an excellent heart, which is the usual cause of death associated with emphysema -- so the chances are she'll be around but miserable for quite some time. Meanwhile, I have laryngitis and possible walking pneumonia myself, so I'm not allowed within 5 miles of grandma. And other stuff I can't think of right now.

Again, to avoid POK mobile mode...some cool stuff has happened the last few months:

* Thanks to Leo, I found Weak Knees and added a hard drive to my TiVo, which now has 248 hours of storage. I love it.

* I got fed up with Earthlink DSL being down more than it was up, and signed up for DSL Extreme, also thanks to Leo.

* I bought the original Star Wars DVDs, and Harry Potter 3 (neither of which I've watched yet, but that's what Christmas vacation is for).

* I forced myself to make time to read every day, and discovered two new "hard" sci-fi (meaning more science than fantasy, like Arthur C. Clarke -- and, yes, for those of you about to make comments, I know that's a simplistic way to describe it) authors I like a lot: Stephen Baxter and Greg Bear. Greg Bear's book Eon is a lot like Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. Not long after I read it, I was going through an old box of my dad's books -- and what do you think was at the top? His obviously well-read copy of Eon. And then, tonight, I discovered that Greg Bear wrote Corona, the first Star Trek book I ever read, at the ripe old age of 7. Cool, huh?

* I found an ankle brace that enables me to actually walk for more than about an hour at a time. I still have a long way to go to get it back to pre-bad-sprain stage (don't worry, I., I still love you, even if you did trip me). I don't think I'll be able to do Disney World if we really go this summer without renting a scooter every other day or so (it's much more spread out there, with much more walking) but for every day stuff around town I only have problems if I have to stand still for a long time.

* Thanks to Kevin Rose from the old The Screensavers, I discovered BitTorrent, a unique file-sharing thing. Instead of d/ling a file from beginning to end, you grab whatever pieces are available and it puts them back together in order, which makes things much faster. I was able to d/l this season's episodes of Enterprise and thanks to several freeware intermediary steps was able to get them into iMovie and iDVD -- so even though Dish Network no longer gets UPN, I can still see Enterprise, which is finally redeeming itself a little, no doubt thanks in large part to people like Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who have been writing ST books for a long time and actually know what they're talking about.

So, there's more cool things, but it's way late and even though I have nothing in particular to do tomorrow, I should go to bed. Hasta.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

D'oh! DVD: Farscape - The Complete Fourth Season (1999)

Murphy's Law strikes again -- why didn't I see this when I was at Best Buy with my mom on Wednesday and in a spending mood?

Oh, wait.

I need black ink for my printer.

Gosh darn it. ;-)

Murphy's Law

I've learned something about myself the last couple of weeks. When I get stressed, nervous, or upset, I hide...withdraw.

(This is a POK-mobile post, so probably no one should read this anyway...)

It's not been a fun few weeks. It all started the weekend Connie was supposed to call me and arrange to meet for dinner -- I totally forgot I was expecting the call, then thought of it that night, and realized I had no earthly idea where my cell phone was. Once I found it, I found that somehow a master password or something, which I never set, got messed up, and I can't get past the locked SIM card.

Meanwhile, my grandmother was told that because of the advanced stage of her emphysema, so much of her lung tissue is damaged that exposure to any respiratory-related illness (colds, flu, etc.) could be fatal. Actually contracting them would almost certainly be fatal.

Oh -- and she's smoking again.

So now, everytime I get the fluttery feeling I had the night my dad died (and my great-aunt, grandmother, and grandfather), I get nervous. Despite watching sci-fi, I'm not really one for the mystical stuff, but this, I believe in. It's happened too many times now...somehow I know when a relative is dying.

Let's class is a disaster. The kids I had last year are doing okay, but none of the others have any clue what to do in a classroom. Most of them are doing a little better, but one kid, R., is driving me bananas, and I can't figure him out. This is very frustrating.

To add to that, one of my students is probably moving, and because she's assigned to P. as one-to-one support, one of my aides in the morning will be gone in the near future. Meanwhile, this person (who has a personality like my grandma's) is obsessing about random things, which I get to hear about for 6 1/2 hours a day.

Then, beginning about a week and a half ago, my jaw started to hurt. The wisdom teeth -- which were supposed to finally hold my teeth in place so my retainer wouldn't be necessary -- I was promised are finally coming in, but there doesn't appear to be room after all. Now, I have a major dentist phobia (not good, 'cause bad gums run in the family, but so far, I've been lucky in the teeth/cavity department), so I haven't yet convinced myself to call a dentist for what will probably be oral surgery to remove at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

And then, after my weekly Monday Carl's Jr. date with Patrick, I woke up so dizzy I felt like I was on a merry go round on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean. Yep, folks, I had food poisoning.

One bright spot is the new 1st-3rd special day class teacher, Jenn, who has made it her mission to drag me to a teachers' happy hour gathering on Fridays, and finally succeeded Friday -- though I only had a virgin margarita. She's almost exactly my age, and we get along really well together, so I hope she stays more than one year.

Maybe forcing me to do that is what finally got me to write this. I knew that as soon as I did, I'be be...well, for lack of a better word...interacting with the wide world again. Maybe it's a sign that things are going to turn around.

Or, maybe I'm just a little maudlin tonight 'cause it's 7:30, there's nothing good on TV, I ran out of labels and ink to do anything useful for school, I don't want it to be Monday tomorrow, and my mouth hurts. :-(

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I Have Been Pushed Over the Edge


It's "would have," people. Would have...could have...should have....

There is no such thing as could of. Or would of. Or should of. Or...had to of.

Would have.

Say it with me. Would have. Should have. Could have. Must have.

(Or, the acceptable slangy Farscape variant: could'a, would'a, should'a. :-)) Note, however, that the contraction includes the "a" from the word "have" -- nary a hint of the word "of."

Must have.

Could have.

Would have.

Should have.


Friday, September 10, 2004

My Little Energizer Bunnies

All I can say is yikes.

The morning went absolutely fantastic -- which should have been my first sign.

But somewhere between lunch and...well, recess after lunch, my calm 11 students (even S. had stopped hitting himself by that point) all went berzerk. The best way I can describe it is that they were like little energizer bunnies on fast forward.

I'm so exhausted I can't sleep. Seriously. I'm absolutely exhausted, and even though I'm trying to drift off, I can't. :-(

Here's to boring TV.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Second Day

Good grief, I'm going to crash and burn on Friday. More later.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Erm? (Puzzled Noise)

Okay, so what looked like a browser hiccup wasn't.

Then, what looked like a blogger hiccup wasn't.

You will find my post about the first day below my posts saying I couldn't post about the first day.



I'm so tired, I don't even care... ;-)


Either blogger or firefox ate my post.

I will recreate it later. Right now, I am zoning...I don't think I'll get much work done tonight -- but that's okay, I guess, 'cause most of the work I needed to modify is still in the kids' work folders at school. :-(

First Day

Oh, no.

(That was in a Phoebe voice, by the way.)

Blogger ate my post.

I will recreate it later. I'm right now trying to talk myself into doing work, but I think I'll celebrate a day finished and vegetate, then work all night tomorrow (well, not all night...).

First Day


I would say it was a crazy day, but I think I just got spoiled by the progress I'd seen in my class last year. When I remember the first day of last year, with I. throwing everything she could get her hands on, G. hiding in the bottom shelf of a bookcase, and the aides looking at me like I was speaking Greek when I wanted the kid to work.

Today, all the kids -- not just mine from last year, but J., R., and the kids from the primary class (which didn't really do all that much academic work last year) were at their desks working for the first hour or so of the day...then they started needing breaks at different times, and it got kind of...hectic.

I can see right away that I've got my work cut out for me -- it's very much a different group of kids this year...different vibes, different challenges -- but I think we'll be okay. We start DARE and science next week, so I'll have some kids in and out for mainstreaming, and I plan to set up a "student exchange program" during silent reading times....

I think the hardest part will be that because of budget cuts, they are changing some aide hours, and I swear I spent 3 hours of today hearing M.E. stress that because they took away 1 hour of M's time, they would "take it" from her and give it to M. Oy.

But I think the best kid-related thing that happened today was one of the following two things:
  1. E. not wanting to do math until I found these plastic stretchy lizard toys, and had the lizard count the coins. All of a sudden, she could count to 13 -- almost 15, but she got a little hazy around there. So I bought a few more packs at WalMart tonight...maybe she'll do more math for frogs. ;-)
  2. S. didn't come on the bus today. He's the one that hits his head until his head and/or knuckles are bloody. Anyway, they didn't have his bus "harness," a special seatbelt contraption, so they said they'd bring him. Well, 9:30 came around -- no S. 10:00 came around -- no S. So I called his group home...and the response I got was "oh, I saw him downstairs...I was wondering what he was doing here!" Very confidence-inspiring. Then the lady told me he'd been hitting his head, so they let him stay home. Now, this kid hits himself all the time...whether he likes stuff or not...and I'm thinking, Now, there's a great thing to teach the kid -- I hit myself and can stay home. But C.-the-Magic-Behavior-Intervention-Specialist, who had asked me to call her if S. didn't come in, scoffed and said, "I'll call 'em." S. was there 20 minutes later. The cool thing? He did 2 pages of work and didn't hit himself all day! :-)
So, I think we need a couple of days to get everything worked out. We shall see.

Oh -- and to top off the day, A.'s aunt wasn't there when the bus dropped her off, and her mom didn't get there to pick her up for an hour and a half. :-(

Monday, September 06, 2004


A few days ago, I thought I had most everything ready. Tonight, after making the classroom rules ("We help each other," "work first, then take a break," and "we respect each other") and homework folders, and realizing half the class needs more work modified, I've come to the conclusion that I could have started getting ready during summer school and still wouldn't be.

Oh well.

We'll survive. Can't be worse than last year, when I tried to (gasp) read a poem to the class, then assigned a math assessment (to see where everyone was), and had the aides looking at me like I was speaking Greek.

Google Trick

I used to spend lots of time browsing, a very large lyrics database. Got me through loads of nights of MathLab tutoring, until someone sued for copyright infringement (this was before napster, which I think took the focus off of lyrics and onto the songs themselves).

In any event, it got pulled offline, and though there are lots of sites out there that you can find with google, you can almost always find the lyrics to a song by typing this string into a google search:

lyrics "name of song" artist

Be sure to put the name of the song in quotes so it looks for that particular string. If the artist's name is 2 words (Jann Arden vs. Evanescence) put the whole name in quotes as well. The word "lyrics" seals the deal.

For instance, to look up the lyrics to, say, "Hurt," as sung by Johnny Cash, you'd type:

lyrics "Hurt" "Johnny Cash"

And to search for the lyrics to "My Immortal" by Evanescence (a great song to Farscape's "The Chosen," for any Farscape fans -- particulary John/Aeryn, though that should be obvious by the episode), you would lose the quotes around the name and type:

lyrics "My Immortal" Evanescence

Finally, if you ever know a bit of the words but not the artist, often you can find that by typing:

lyrics "phrase from lyrics" ("name of song" optional)

For instance, at the school, we have a flag ceremony every Thursday morning and often sing "God Bless the USA." (Only the fact that it's Simi Valley, a relatively conservative area, has saved them from someone commenting on this choice, I think.) I searched the lyrics once to send home for the kids to practice but didn't know the artist, so I searched:

lyrics "tomorrow all the things were gone"

Have fun. :-)

Sunday, September 05, 2004


I have the worst craving for toast, but have no butter. :-(

Took forever, but all the copies I made today are sorted, stapled, and have kids' initials on 'em ('cause not all kids get all work), ready for preparation and modification, where needed, manana.

Don't forget to check out photos of my classroom. The link is below.

Nighty night.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Arranging the Classroom

Originally uploaded by spoowriter.
I put up a gallery of my newly-almost-ready classroom here. I was at Sycamore quite a long time today, putting the finishing touches on the room, but what took the longest was the copier, which suddenly decided to be a snail. (Sigh)

But, all I have to do now is make the kids' word books, portfolios, write a "how the classroom works letter" and get some work ready for Tuesday.

It'll be a weird week. Our behavior specialist (who I took a class from that I didn't even need 'cause she's fun to listen to) is gonna be by because one of my new guys, S., has some extremely self-injurious behaviors (he hits himself on the head until his head and knuckles are bloody); the OTs and speech therapists will be by to make a schedule -- ditto with the APE guy. So it won't be a normal week anyway.

I'm far less freaked out than last year, unlike the new primary SDC teacher, Jenn, who has never had a classroom herself, and although she's worked with adults with severe disabilities, her credential is in mild to moderate disabilities.

So, here's to a good year. Hope you enjoy the pictures. I work hard to make the room look as similar as possible to any other classroom. I feel that's very important, because it starts everything off with an...aura, so to speak...of age-appropriateness.

I just lost my train of thought there. More later, maybe.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Banned Books Week

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–20001

From the American Library Association. Bold means I've read it. Italics means I've heard of it but not read it..

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz -- my 3rd/4th grade teacher read these to us all the time...we loved them.
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
-- didn't like either of these, but had to read them for school.
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson -- another one my 3rd/4th grade teacher read us.
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry -- this is a fabulous book
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Dieby Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel -- well, I've read the first one...the others were too weird for me.
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane -- this is a riveting, fascinating story about living under apartheid that I found in my middle school library.
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
-- I wasn't really fond of the book as a whole, but the beginning part that describes the "decanting" of children and the conditioning process is fascinating.
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl -- another 3rd/4th grade one
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
-- I'm not a huge fan of Toni Morrison, but this was the best of the ones of hers I've read
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford -- if you can count it as reading...
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett -- I think I read this one once
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell -- does reading it Patrick count?
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney -- haven't read this one, but I read a number of hers
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

You know, my elementary school teachers read many of these to me, and others, I found wandering the library at school, which was small enough that I stumbled upon things I wouldn't have found elsewhere.

Do I think 5 year olds should read Cujo? No, of course not. But should a 15 year old read Cujo? Why the heck not? It they wanna have nightmares, let 'em.

Be involved with your kids...know what they're reading -- and you decide something is not appropriate, fine. But don't assume that what is inappropriate for your child is inappropriate for another. It might just be the book that inspires them to write the next "great American novel," to use a fairly cliched phrase.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Testing, Testing

Patrick at the Coke Store
Originally uploaded by spoowriter.
Just testing out the blogging part of flickr, which is a Mac-compatible almost-as-good-as-Picasa-and-Hello. Miscellany is below. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

Miscellaneous Musings

I think all this classroom-arranging has been bad for my ankle. It really hurts tonight, and my ice pack is still at my mom's house. :-(

On the other hand, all I have to do, really, is the bulletin boards and rearrange the desks, then make photocopies of the first week's work. My goal from now on is to be a week ahead in work -- that is, I'll have week 2's done over this weekend, so I can photocopy it and modify it on our early-out Thursdays.

That'll probably only last a couple of weeks, but it's a nice thought.

On the third hand, I think I'll get along great with the new primary SDC teacher - whose name is also "Jennifer." There are now 4 of us at Sycamore, and 3 of us teach special education, in one form or another. This is her first year teaching, and her credential is mild/moderate, not moderate/severe, so she's kind of freaking out right now.

I spent a lot of time today going through kids' IEPs with her, and showing her how I have my classroom set up. I tried really hard to walk the line of "give useful advice" without the "this is what Dana did" trap. I spent the first 6 weeks or so of last year constantly being told "Kate did this" or "Teacher Peter did that" ("Teacher Peter?" For 5th graders? Really?) or "What's-her-name-who-was-pregnant did that." Drove me nuts.

I told Jenn to tell me if I was doing that too much, but I'm not sure if she really would....

On the...fourth?...hand, the principal was insistent that Lauri (the preschool teacher) and I explain to Christina and Jenn how to get the kids off the bus.

Um, I'm sorry, but if they can't figure out how to get a group of kids off the bus and to the right classroom...we have much bigger problems here, people.

I don't know...Suzanne stresses about weird things, in my opinion. Last year, one of the first things she said after she hired me was, "Make sure you put up bulletin boards and stuff because the parents want their kids' room to look like everyone else's."

First off, after I went all over in my interview about how I worked in inclusive environments, and how important age appropriateness is to me, and how I was going to give homework because that's part of everyone else's school experience...what on earth did she think I was gonna do? Put up bars on the windows and "Warning: Special Education Students Here" on the door??

I'll have to post pictures of my classroom. I think it's a fairly nice compromise between looking very typical and having to respect the needs of my students by providing quiet cool down corners, a couple of individual work places, and a little corner for speech, OT, etc.

See? Toldja it was miscellaneous.

By the way -- thought of the night -- "The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own; you are he." -- Diane Duane.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


If anyone who wants a gmail account hasn't received an invite, check out The Screensavers' Kevin Rose's website.

I'll miss Pat, and I already missed Leo, but I'm looking forward to giving the new Screensavers a try anyway.

By the must be the night for weird grammatical images. I just read something about a character being the one to...ahem..."bare" a baby....

Interesting Image

"Feint" basically means taking mock swing at someone. I believe it's a fencing term, as well.

Either way, it presents interesting images, when you read how it was used here.

However, it's worth noting that if someone feinted at me with a sword, I'd be faint of heart too. :-)

Manual Dexterity

I am the least coordinated person on earth.

And yet, I have tasked myself with creating triangular name labels for the kids' desks, because the ones that can't yet read their names weren't looking at the taped down ones last year anyway. These new ones are triangular and velcroed, to make it easy to move kids around without having to peel off old name tags.

However, this involves making a 1.5" table in word, putting the kid's name in, color-coding it by grade level, printing, cutting, and then (the manual dexterity part) folding along the lines on the table and gluing the extra flap from the top margin to the rest of the triangle in order to fill it with old phone book paper.

This is not easy. Worth it, rather than having to create new name tags every time I want to move kids' seats, but not easy.

Just thought I'd whine a bit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Let there be light

Aha! I have light! Well, in 4 of the 5 bulbs -- since I wasn't sure I had the right bulb, and they came in packs of 4, I decided not to buy 8 bulbs I might not potentially need.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Sci Fi Fandom

I've only ever been to one sci-fi convention, and that was mostly at the behest of my friend Caryn. I've never been overly interested in a celebrity's private life, or even in meeting them in person, because what I'm attracted to is most often the character, especially a well-developed one.

That's one of the cool things about DVD commentaries. You get to hear all of the insights an actor has about a particular episode; you get to hear the interesting vignettes (like Claudia Black, who does just about the best commentaries I've ever heard - funny, thoughtful, and knowledgeable - filming one of the first episodes of Farscape, getting her finger smashed, and sitting in a tree telling herself that she can't cry 'cause Aeryn's a tough chick and wouldn't cry either); you get to hear about the actor's choices and reasons they played a certain scene a certain way, etc.

Those are the questions that, if asked, might draw me to a convention.

But what I saw all those years ago in LA was a lot of people with reality issues. That is, they'd ask the actor questions that should be directed towards the character -- a rather difficult proposition. I don't get the dressing-in-costumes thing, but honestly, that didn't bother me as much as the inane questions.

But there have been a couple of moments over the years that I've read about that I wish I could have seen. The tribute to Kevin Smith (the actor from New Zealand, not the American director) a few years ago, after he died from a head wound, for one. I'd hope there would have been one at some point at some sci-fi convention for Jonathan Brandis, who played Lucas on SeaQuest and committed suicide sometime in this last year.

And this weekend, the entire living cast of the original Star Trek, along with a few other cool people like Neil Armstrong, gathered to pay tribute to James Doohan, attending his last convention because he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Did you know you have to pay to get a star on the Walk of Fame? I read a few years ago that one of James Doohan's sons was leading a campaign on the net to get contributions for one, because James Doohan refused to pay for one, not wanting to "pat himself on the back" as his son says on the website.

He's getting one tomorrow.

And for one of the first times, I wish I'd gone to the convention, and that I was a fangirl nerd enough to head on over to Hollywood tomorrow.

I started watching Star Trek when I was 5. My dad set me in front of "The Trouble with Tribbles," and there you have it. That's a little bitter sweet today, since Scotty played a large part in that particular episode.

I guess this is a little tribute of my own to him. Wish I had some technical journals to I can do is my Macworld and PC World magazines.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Light Odyssey

Once upon a time, I bought a cheap halogen lamp for my dorm at CLU. At some point, Stacey acquired one too, and then somehow I inherited both of them (maybe the "I don't want to make any more moving trips to Lompoc" phase?), as I was moving home after we graduated.

Those lamps have served well. One burned out a month or two ago, and I kept forgetting to take the bulb to Lowe's to get a new one. Well, I finally did, and it turns out the bulb was fine -- it was the lamp that died.

The second still lights (when you jiggle the switch, which is supposed to turn) but the bottom has been crossthreaded or something, and it won't stand up straight unless I tie it to the bedframe with an ace bandage.

So when the second's bulb finally burned out, I browsed around one night and found this nifty one that was supposedly available at my local WalMart. Well, yesterday, I went to 3, and none had it. Finally found it tonight, assembled it, and found out that the bulbs I bought are the wrong size.

Oh well. One more night with just the laptop and the TV to light the room isn't so bad.

Ad Choices

You know, call me crazy, but I'm not sure the audience that watches the Sci-Fi Channel would be the ideal place to advertise The Passion of the Christ. I know it was a mega-hit and all that...but...the Sci-Fi Channel...really? I'm really not sure that it would be your target audience, but I think I've seen 6 ads just in watching Friday's Atlantis.


But I'll think it's weird until I see a preview for, oh, say, Stargate: Atlantis on...the Game Show Network. ;-)

(Incidentally, about Atlantis. Okay. Can be funny. Last week's was very good. I'm more impressed than I was with SG-1's first season, if only because they haven't renamed anyone important. I don't know why renaming Sha'uri (Daniel's wife's name in the movie) to Sha're bugged me so much, but it did. Anyhow.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Farscape Miniseries (Spoilers)

Text below is in black to preserve spoilers...not that anyone I know who reads this would care. ;-)

By the way -- in case it's not immediately obvious, use your mouse to select the text and you'll be able to see it.

I'm probably only thinking of this because I've been catching up on the 3rd season on Sci-Fi, but my first thought on seeing the page in iTunes with the trialer was -- "Gosh, this John will have a scar on his temple like twin-Talyn-John."

Okay, spoilers are done. :-)

Gee, I Know More Than Tech Support

Good grief, that was unenlightening.

Keep in mind that everything was cut-and-pasted from tech support web pages on Earthlink, which I already read.

A summary:
  • "Try power cycling the modem." (Uh, done that about 500 times; tried a different modem, just to see if it was the modem. It's not.)
  • "Is it near any type of interference?" (Um, no, it's not -- and, besides, it was in the exact same place, in the exact same configuration when it was working. But just to be sure -- it's on the floor in the middle of my room, with a new Ethernet cable just to be sure.)
  • "Try putting it in bridged mode." (Oh, golly gee, it was, which is what I thought was the problem, so it's not now, but I'll put it back in bridged mode if you would like, and try connecting via the software.)
  • "We're sorry, we're experiencing technical difficulties in your area." (Uh, yeah, lady, except that according to Earthlink's website, the schedule downtime isn't until 2 AM tomorrow, and I've been having this problem for weeks.)
  • "Is there anything else we can help you with?" (Um...else...doesn't the definition of "else" mean that you have helped me with something? Let's reveiw here. Contacted tech support 'cause I had no DSL connection. I still have no DSL connection. Gee, I'd love for you to help me with something else.)
You know, when this happened once before, I spoke with a nice, helpful guy who understood that I do, in fact, know what I'm talking about, escalated the case for me right away, did some magic on his end, and voila.

Maybe he works Saturdays. :-(


I have the worst hiccoughs right now. Just thought I'd share.

By the way -- Earthlink will still troubleshoot for you if you have a home network. They just don't support home networks unless you spend $10 more a month, so you have to remove the network component between the CPU and the DSL modem...not that it's doing much good.

We're gonna try again, using my laptop to chat over dialup with them. I don't know why this is bugging me so much all of a's been down for a few weeks. I guess I just want my money's worth.


I've just about had it. If they can't fix the bleeping DSL line this time (last time, I got the supremely unhelpful "we don't support home networks that aren't our own, sorry" response, and nothing more even once I removed the DSL modem from the network and hooked it straight up to my desktop) I may just switch providers. My earthlink address is overloaded anyway, since I only get 20 hours free dial-up with my (noncommunicative) DSL account, and therefore can't spend hours pulling the spam off the server.

Except...then I have to figure out what to do with all the graphics I've put my email address on as a signature.


Speaking of technical matters, though -- the warranty on my TiVo is almost out, so I'm in the process of taping what I want to save and dumping what I don't want, so I can either work up my courage to mod it myself, or send it somewhere that will add a larger hard drive to it. I've been waiting, since either action (since it opens the case) voids the warranty. But once the warranty runs out, and there's no warranty to void (cue evil laughter here).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Darn it

So, I was being industrious and making the first week's vocabulary work for my class (school starts after Labor Day), and the stupid power strip for my computer conked out just as I was trying to find a diplomatic way of saying "quit saying C. can't do the homework and just have him do something" as though it were aimed at all the kids.

All last year, the folks with whom C. lives kept saying "C. can't do this homework" and I kept sending home worksheets that were exactly the same to prove he could. We even discussed it at his IEP. Oh well. I'm sure I can come up with it again....

Sunday, August 22, 2004


I just saw a guy riding a motorcycle wearing a Superman costume.

Odd Music Choices

Pray tell me why NBC's Olympic coverage recap (namely, the one after the women's 10m platform diving semifinal) is playing the theme to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in the background?

Are we trying to connect the Olympics to Mel Gibson? Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? Cancelling Christmas? Cutting peoples' hearts out with spoons (because it's dull, and will hurt more, of course)? Using bad English accents, when we remember to use one at all?


Or, in all seriousness, it could be All-Purpose-Dramatic-Music-Cue-Number-2, a la many movies that have not yet had their scores finalized using the theme from Stargate (the movie, not the TV show) in their previews.

More later.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Prophecy Fulfilled

See, didn't I tell y'all that eventually I'd get bad about posting regularly?

The truth is, that was the last night on our vacation that I had Internet access, and when I got back home, it was right into teaching summer school. That experience, I'll say, culminating in me doing my bone-headed-est thing ever, (namely, tripping over a kid's ankle, and whacking my ankle-bone on the it didn't break, I'll never, ever know) especially given that the student involved is not the one that takes off running 10 times a day. In fact, the student in question had been having her best 5 weeks ever....

So, now that I've bungled my right ankle to match the left one that I injured in the same way years ago, I am now struggling to build up the stamina needed to drive again. See, I lost most of my strength and a good portion of my range of motion, which makes driving...challenging.

Anyhow, I've got a couple of weeks now until I go back to teaching (gulp), and I've been trying to rest up and get my bleeping DSL to work. I had absolutely no problems with earthlink dial-up (and am in fact using it now) but the DSL has given me nothing but fits. I'm about ready to ditch it, except that I hate the notion of having to send everyone I know a new email address again.

TiVo's a cool thing for watching the Olympics, I have to say. I got my mom one for her birthday, and it's full of equestrian stuff, while mine has been grabbing all the diving and gymnastics.

Speaking of -- I usually don't watch men's gymnastics, but someone mentioned the incredible comeback of tonight, so I decided to watch it. Hoo boy -- the winner's reaction was so cool (just in case someone doesn't know who it is, I won't name him) -- he thought he had, if he was lucky, gotten bronze, and when one of the coaches called him "Olympic champion," he shook his head 'no.'

Anyway, cool.

And, kudos to the Romanian women's team yesterday. They did great, and really deserved to win. I was sad to see that the one gymnast from 2000 (the one who was disqualified from the all-around for taking Sudafed, of all things) wasn't there, especially with Svetlana Khorkina still around (major attitude change from that one, huh?) -- I would have loved to see how she did this time around.

Oh -- one other item of note. My mom and Patrick adopted a dog...a big white thing named Ice. He's 2 1/2, right smack dab in the doggie version of the teenage years, so I've been helping to train him. He's a good dog, eager to please, but (thanks in no part to the German shepherd in him (the shelter said he was a shepherd-samoyed mix, but we think he's got some Akita in there too)) he can have a mind of his own, and needs to know who's boss.

My domain has been up-and-down lately, but when it's working, I'll post some links to pictures, both of our trip, and of Ice.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thunder and Lightning

So, we checked out of the hotel in Hershey and drove to Williamsport, PA, home of the world series of little league baseball. It *poured* a few times, especially on the way to lunch. There's thunder now, and a severe weather alert for the night. This airport has free wireless, so I'm sitting in bed typing this now. Most of our stuff is still in the car 'cause it was raining so hard.

We met my grandma's sister, Jean, her son and his wife, and my grandma's late brother's sister, and had lunch with them at the PA version of Sizzler's. Tonight we'll be calling my great-grandma (Grammy) to make plans for tomorrow. After that, it's off to Bethlehem via Hershey and visiting my dad's cousin and his family.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

And I Thought Burbank Was Confusing....

Yahoo! Maps


Good thing we're going there during the day. :-)

Had my day-before-my-birthday lunch at the Hotel Hershey today. Yum!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

SpooWriter's a Geek

Cassini-Huygens Home

Very cool.

Now, if we can only perfect an anti-aging thingie so there are actually affordable commercial, public spaceflights available before I'm 115 years old, I'll be a happy nerd....

Renting Cars

So, the flight went fairly well. This was the first time we had to get our actual luggage screened, and in fact the first time we flew since the TSA took over airport security. Not too big a deal -- okay, so it was one more line, but it wasn't too bad. We checked in electronically, changed our seats so we were all together, and got on our nonstop flight. Not too bad.

Then we tried to rent a car.

Now, I had a reservation. All they had to do was get my driver's liscense, see my credit card, and find the appropriate car.

Except that they had 3 associated working. For the first 30 minutes, two were trying to appease a lady who looked strangely like my 3rd/4th grade teacher, who did NOT want a small car. Eesh. Then the other lady was just flummoxed by the woman who had reserved her car with a credit card but wanted to pay cash. There were 4 people in line in front of me. It took 1 hour and 15 minutes. So then we try to drive to our hotel near Hershey...except the Yahoo gave us the most random, icky, two-lane-highway-in-the-middle-of-nowhere directions you had ever saw. The guy at the front desk just kinda shook his head when we showed him.

So...after getting in at 5:00 Eastern time, we arrived at our hotel at 10:30 Eastern time. It took 5 and a half hours to rent a car, eat a fast dinner at Sbarro's, and travel 80 miles. time, Hertz, eh?

Monday, June 14, 2004


So, my grandmother finally caved and got a wheelchair. She has emphysema (but still smokes, while at the same time insisting she knows she shouldn't, but also insists that nicotine isn't addictive) and hasn't been able to walk hardly at all lately. I think my cousin's graduation from middle school finally did it. We just spent some time over there...she's not doing great, so Patrick's very worried.

The annoying thing is that now they will probably gripe about the people that aren't accomodating enough, even though not six months ago they would have said...well, the opposite.

Honestly, I don't get the big deal. Maybe it's because I teach a population of kids that includes lots of kids who use wheelchairs, but really, it's just another way to get from here to there. Yeah, it can be inconvenient...but so can not having a car....

In other news, I'm almost totally packed for PA mom and Patrick are not, but oh well... I know at least one of the hotels offers free high-speed Internet (we stayed there's funeral, I think, 'cause it was cold out and Grandma's was in June) so I'll be in touch.

Beginnings and Endings

Abstract, no? I'm never, in a million years, going to be creative enough to come up with titles for all of my posts...just ask anyone who kept in touch with me via email in college.

So, I officially moved to Blogger. I figured it was time, since my Xanga account was coming due, and Blogger is free.

My first year of teaching is officially done...when people say it's the hardest year of your life, they're not kidding. What they don't mention, I don't think, is that it's hard in a different way for everybody. Me, I'm fine with a group of kids. Put me with kids to teach, and I know what to do. It's the gosh-darned paperwork, for one -- or organization in general -- or possibly the supervising of aides. I survived, but it was a near thing a few times....

The sad thing is, the exact stuff I struggled with isn't even an issue in other districts. Our speech therapist came from Escondido, and the secretaries schedule IEPs and just tell everyone, teachers included, when to come. All you have to do is write the actual IEP -- which, by the way, I'm apparently pretty good at. So there, certain unnamed CSUN teachers who pick apart every goal and objective with a fine-toothed comb.

If I sound bitter, I'm really not. Things could have been a lot worse. I'm not a huge believer in fate, but I do believe that people end up where they're supposed to be, and when they're supposed to be, and it turns out that the aides at Santa Su (where I student taught) practically staged a revolt over there this year, 'cause the person they got to replace the teacher (who happens to be doing the same program at CSUN at me, which they aides don't know, and who didn't mind confirming a few suspicions I had over that whole mess) actually (gasp) wanted to teach the kids. I don't know about some people....

I'm busy getting ready to leave Wednesday for Pennsylvania. Patrick got to go to his first concert last night, if you don't count Raffi, although it was with our mom. He saw Kenny Chesney, his new favorite country singer (which is funny, 'cause he typically gravitates towards people with very raw emotion (Johnny Cash's "Hurt," for instance, or most of Melissa Etheridge's album Skin, as well as her song about 9/11 "Tuesday Morning"), who was playing with Rascal Flats (?) and Uncle Cracker. I, on the other hand, crashed in the hotel room 'cause the last day of school was Thursday and Friday was teacher checkout day.

Anyway, we leave Tuesday morning for PA, to do some visiting and some sight seeing. I get to have a birthday lunch at the restaurant at the Hershey Factory. :-) It's going to be pretty hectic, but there's quite a few members of my mom's side of the family who are getting kinda on the old side (like, say, her grandmother, who is 94 and still walks 12 blocks a day -- she had to cut it down this year from 18). Plus, my mom's aunt, who has Alzheimer's Disease and is not doing so well.

Speaking of, working in Simi Valley this last week was an interesting experience. I don't really remember much, positive or negative, about Ronald Reagan, except that my friend Amie went to school with one of his granddaughters, that my grandmother was very bitter that the Iran-Contra hearings preempted As the World Turns, and watching the Challenger explode live on satellite because I was home sick. Politics aside, like most other people, I think I felt more for Nancy Reagan this week than I did for him. For President Reagan, I would imagine that death was probably a release (I felt this way about my great-grandma)'s sad, but in a way, it's better. But Mrs. Reagan clearly had a very deep bond with him, and I think will probably either pass away herself quite soon (as my grandfather did after my grandma died) or will get into campaigning against Alzheimers and breathe new life into herself.

Let's see...what else before I pack my laptop? Oh, yeah...saw Harry Potter last week. It was a very good movie, not the least of which because the kids seem to have learned to act. ;-) Seriously, though, The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the books so far, so it figures that I liked the movie.

Got new glasses the other week. Turns out I have astigmatism, which LensCrafters over corrected for on my last I spent much of last weekend adjusting and not trying not to be busy. Patrick and my mom got some too but we had to send Patrick's back because they forgot the transitions coating. We're hoping they come in Monday so he can have them on the trip.

I think that's about it for now...enjoy the minimalist, easy-on-the-eyes template!