Saturday, June 09, 2007

Revisionist History

Archaeologists unearthing the remains of George Washington's presidential home have discovered a hidden passageway used by his nine slaves, raising questions about whether the ruins should be incorporated into a new exhibit at the site.
Whether the ruins should be incorporated?

Pardon me while the amateur historian in me has a small meltdown.

I have serious problems with the notion that we should ignore that George Washington had slaves.

He had slaves. At the time, many wealthy people did.

And -- get this -- the government condoned it!

The freaking Continental Congress -- our revered Founding Fathers -- could only agree to the constitution when they decided that a slave counted as three fifths of a person.

I understand the fact that people want to get all nostalgic and patriotic. I've seen the real Liberty Bell; it's an amazing feeling to be next to something with such history.

But the fact of the matter is, history is rarely uncomplicated, black-and-white, or pretty.

Trying to ignore the uncomfortable parts just aren't right.

And, honestly, to me, this seems a little...hypocritical.

If archaeologists had found, say, a previously-unknown tunnel leading to the Reichstag dating from World War II used by, say, Jewish slave labor, you can bet that it would be viewed as an important historical site -- whether it made the German people uncomfortable or not.

Why not use the passage as a way to encourage visitors to ponder the true nature of early American society; to ponder the fact that they chafed under external control (and wanted to be free) from Britain; to wonder how people who championed individual rights could hold slaves.

To ponder the inherent complications and contradictions that are American life?

Apologies if this is less than coherent (see above re: small meltdown).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On a Semi-Related Note

Okay, related only in that Patrick is the real Disney fanatic of the family....

I used to love the submarines. I have very visceral sensory memories of running my hands along the metal railing in the queue line, along with the distinctive smell of chlorine and metal. I remember what it was like to descend those spiral stairs into the submarine, which was always this big pit of darkness if you rode in the day and your eyes weren't dark-adapted. I remember the metal smell (different in some indescribable way from the metal queue rails) in the submarine itself, and the way my chin never quite reached the porthole in a comfortable way to see out. I remember the brush of air (which, of course, also smelled a bit metallic) on my face from the little a/c vent in each porthole (this was one reason it was a good daytime attraction).

I remember the voiceover saying, "Dive! Dive! Dive!" I remember hitting the bubbles that I saw in the lagoon suddenly making you feel like you really were diving deep between the ocean. I remember the narration speaking of undersea volcanoes and the voice saying, "Ease her back up to 80 fathoms."

My memories of Disneyland in the late 80s and early 90s are very much like that -- fragmentary and eclectic. Partly I think that was because it was before we had annual passes and only went once or twice a year. There are some snatches of words ("To go, press your foot down on the pedal. To stop, take your foot off the pedal. For your own safety, and the safety of other drivers, please do not bump the car in front of you or stop your car in the middle of the track" is courtesy of God-knows-how-many-hours of standing in line for Autopia with Patrick), some of sights (the atom mobiles going into the giant telescope and looking at the models coming out small and even though I knew they were models, it never stopped me from feeling shrunken myself) -- though not a lot of those, surprisingly -- and even some smells (Autopia exhaust, for one thing, but also the strange air conditioning smell in the Tron room on the PeopleMover) and touches (the handrail of the stairs up to the rockets under my mittens; it was always the last thing we did and was often cold).

Many of those attractions are still there: Autopia (though in a new spot), Pirates, Haunted House, Patrick's beloved monorail.

But many are gone, too (and many of those, victims of a several attempts at updating Tomorrowland): America Sings, Adventure Through Inner Space (what I called the Shrinking Machine), the Circle Vision movies, the Skyway (a.k.a. the Sky Ride, where I unknowingly saw the first person I'd ever met who had cerebral palsy, my beloved People Mover, the Motor Boat cruise.

For years, the sub lagoon sat there empty, waiting for something to be done with it. To my admittedly nostalgic eyes, it looked lonely -- as lonely as the empty People Mover track still waiting for its guests to return.

Will the rethemed Finding Nemo subs be as edutaining as its namesake was?

To be honest, I don't care. I was there a few weeks ago taking pictures, and managed to catch a shot with a submarine gliding around the lagoon and a monorail heading into Tomorrowland on top of it.

And for a moment, even with the seagulls from Finding Nemo hollering "Mine! Mine! Mine!" at me, I was transported back in time.

In a few months, the monorails will be receiving their new bodies; rumors are they will look more like the classic monorails.

But for that instant, I was 12 or 13 years old, watching the monorail bring people in from the Disneyland Hotel (which used to be across the street, not across Downtown Disney).

The first Annual Pass preview day was today, and of course one of the lucky folks to win posted a video of the ride. I've clicked on it twice and can't bring myself to watch least the first time, I want to try to immerse myeslf in that magic again, and really believe that I'm diving...diving...diving.

A Gentle I-Told-You-So

(But first, please send good wishes to a pregnant friend of mine, whose blood work -- which we hope was a fluke -- revealed a potential problem for which she has to have an ultrasound tomorrow.)

That said....

Patrick has always been lucky to be in good health. He was not born with any of the common complications related to Down syndrome; his heart was healthy, his bowel was not obstructed, etc. He did have a weak sucking reflex and was not able to be breast fed, but he required no surgery or any extraordinary intervention other than an IV (in his head!). His hearing was (and is) fine; he was only mildly delayed in gross motor activities.

He has poor eyesight, but so do I, so did our dad, so does our mom, so did all of my grandparents and at least one great-grandmother.

In other words, that's genetic, but it ain't that extra chromosome.

About three years ago, he started having odd 'attacks.' We'd be somewhere he really enjoys when he'd start feeling tired, lightheaded, etc. His forehead would break out in sweat but his arms would be ice cold. They started first in summer, so we put it down to dehydration, because his breath had a dehydration smell that I will never forget (see above, re: couldn't nurse). Food and/or drink would help, usually.

At the same time, he started sleeping a lot, and started to have trouble sleeping lying down due to snoring/congestion and what sounds an awful lot like sleep apnea. His skin got so dry that even with daily applications of cornhusker's lotion, his knuckles and wrists have a permanently dirty appearance due to the cracked/dry skin that attracts dust.

He also started getting constipated quite regularly. Granted, he was always the feast or famine type (if you'll pardon the TMI) but we went from mostly dinners and snacks to no food for a week and will-feed-300-guests-feasts.

If that makes sense. To put it less delicately, he went from difficult but fairly regular bowel movements interspersed with ocassional loose stools to exclusively either days with no BMs to hours of diarrhea.

And he put on, suddenly, quite a bit of weight. This was while still in school, still taking PE, and getting much more physical activity than he does now. The whole family is heavy, and while he always had a "spaghetti tummy" (as a child) and a "pizza stomach" as he got older, he was never terribly overweight.

I looked up some stuff on the Internet and ultimately (as an amateur) decided that he's probably hypoglycemic or had hypothyroidism, which is apparently very common among folks with Down syndrome.

My mom had just (finally) gotten insurance, so I suggested at least blood tests. Hypothyroidism is fairly easily treated, and covered all of the above symptoms.

But, for whatever reason, the blood tests didn't get done.

Since we made our plans to go to Disney World firm six months ago, I've been nagging for him to go to the doctor so that we can officially get him a Guest Assistance Card requesting that he not have to stand in line outside (due to the above mentioned dehydration issues).

He finally went last week. The doctor ordered blood tests. He took the blood tests yesterday. He goes back to the doctor next week.

But today the pharmacy called my mom and said that he has a prescription pending (it will be there tomorrow) for thyroid medication.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


  1. South Park is doing a parody of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century right now, complete with the actual theme music. I am now fighting the urge to (1) splurge and finally buy the DVD set (for Buck Rogers, not South Park), which has been on my wish list since it came out and (2) look up Buck Rogers fic on the Internet, except that I was a Buck/Wilma 'shipper and that probably doesn't exist.
  2. I finished journals and agenda book stuff, but only got a couple Little House chapters done.
  3. I got a Macworld magazine today and discovered that they make portable DVD players that you can dock your video iPod with (so as to acquire a larger screen). Nifty.
  4. There was a new Good Eats tonight about milk. I now have "I AM LACTOSE MAN!!!!" stuck in my head.
  5. I majorly, majorly, majorly broke my "school work only until 8:00" rule.
  6. I want an iPhone! (Stop it with the commercials, people! I have to save for Disney World!)


Well, that went okay. Certainly it was shorter than most of my IEPs...but they brought both A. and her brother M.

Meanwhile, I ordered the sixth graders' graduation presents; they should be here Tuesday. I just need to get A. something for her 'graduation' from my program to another one. Also meanwhile, I am finishing up the chapters I missed switchifying for Little House on the Prairie. My goal tonight is to finish those up and make journals and agenda book stuff for next week.

Over the weekend, I plan to start on the book we're doing for summer school (American History Through Poetry, I think is the title) and make journals for summer school. I still have to figure out something to do in the way of agenda books since ours stop the week after school is over. Then, the last thing I need to do is chop up a video file of Little House and switchify that as a whole-book review. I'm planning on burning a CD of those and sending them home with the kids (the program comes with a free player).

Packing for summer school should be easier this year; I'm going to bring their various folders, our bag of fidgets, and a few easy-to-transport games, and that should be it aside from basics like crayons, scotch tape ('cause E. + glue = big mess), and a few books.

Then I actually get a few days off before summer school starts....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

1 More Box

One more box, and the IEP is written.

It's not my most stellar IEP, though most people who have attended my IEPs think even my not-so-well-written ones are good (helps that I'm a fairly good writer, I suppose)...but this one fought me at every turn.

Are You Tone Deaf?

Via Kristina's blog, a neat test to determine if you are tone deaf.

I love to sing. If I do it near my students, E. covers my mouth and says "good job." (In other words, "shut up.")

For what it's worth, I scored:

64% correct, which is the 12th percentile, and considered "low normal."

(Edited to add the actual link inside the post. I am brain dead.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Possibly TMI

One of the things about having a classroom full of girls (unusual for a special day class) and female aides is that you all end up...hormonal...together.

I should have known this was coming when J. was...hormonal...last week. E. was complaining of her stomach all day and squeezing our vibrating puppy (kind of like this but shaped like a stuffed puppy -- and it seems to no longer exist anywhere on the Internet.

I am now hiding in my dark room trying to convince myself to go get something for my migraine. :-(


Just when I thought fandom couldn't suprise me any more, I read this.

I like those commercials too, and I've become more and more of an Apple fangirl since I bought my first iBook (in order to be able to run iTunes; there were no iPods yet, but it came in handy 6 months later!), but...


Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Want One

Oh, I'm in deep geek lust.

I want one!


While nowhere near as momentous an occasion as Cat finishing her computer class, I am currently typing the last chapter of Little House on the Prairie into Writing With Symbols.

One thing I've noticed re-reading this book as I've done it with my class is the deeply loving relationship that existed between Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Though the book is written through a child's eyes, it's very apparent, both through actions (e.g. Pa's buying Ma some calico to make a dress) and through descriptions (the way Laura describes Ma's reaction to the gift).

Of course, as an aide in my classroom said, she'd have to love the guy to follow him across open wilderness...without getting a 'convenient' divorce by leaving him for hostile Native Americans! :-)

By the way -- I've not seen Memoirs of a Geisha, but Charmax has made an absolutely breathtaking vid for the movie. (The link is to an imeem stream; I recommend going to her site and downloading the actual thing).