Saturday, April 05, 2008

It's the Simple Things

I'm a math nerd.  I love math.  I think it's fun to sit down with a difficult problem and puzzle it through until I find the solution.

Of course, I'm also very likely to finish a whole calculus problem and divide wrong in the last step.  I've been doing that since junior high, when math first got interesting.

So it should come as no surprise that I fail at simple things like measuring my own waist and hips.

Y'see, I have a very difficult time finding pants that fit for reasons not really related to overall size.  I have a long waist and short legs (inherited from my dad) and my hips are wider than my waist.

Every once in a while, I find a brand that fits well.  For a while, it was K-Mart's Route 66 line, but the material in those tended to irritate the skin on my stomach.  Then, WalMart had a line of Smart something or other that had an extra layer of soft material inside the waistband, which was nice.  Of course, to get the waist and hips to fit, those pants were too long by several inches.

Then I discovered Catherine's, and their main store brand, which fit very well.  Except, of course, that to fit my hips, the waist was rather big.

So, after a pair that I had bought at an outlet store tore (likely due to a flaw in the fabric or from being a display pair and having the fabric wear out in the sun) when I got an email with a coupon, I decided to try their Right Fit line, which supposedly tailors their pants, so to speak, to fit three different body types.

Plus, they come in petite lengths, which you wouldn't think someone who's pushing 5'7" would need, but...yeah.

Anyway, not having an actual sewing type tape measure, I used a piece of string and then measured it against a non-flexible construction-type tape measure.  I did hips and waist (I do, indeed, wear a "blue") and inseam (yup, petite it is).  I took care to pull the string relatively tight, but as I prefer my clothes loose, I didn't pull it...tight-tight.


What could go wrong, right?  I measured every possible measurement.

Well, apparently, I fail at measuring.  I was at least a size too big, and probably 2 sizes too big.  So, I'll take them back and downsize.

On the plus side, I got a very pretty t-shirt (Patrick wanted me to get this one but I'd have had to try it on -- it could either look really good or really bad) and a pretty white blouse with pink pin stripes.  Both have reasonable sleeves.

(Sleeves are a sore point with me, especially right now, as the current trend seems to be miniscule length sleeves.  

I have pretty serious sensory issues -- in that area, and sleeves have to reach a certain point on my upper arm before I am comfortable...too short, and I am pulling at them and adjusting them constantly all day.

For the record, my ideal sleeve length would be more or less what you'd get wearing a traditional polo shirt.

I must add, however, that one of the suggestions in the article linked to above about tactile defensiveness -- namely, that the first step in a desensitization campaign should be to give your child massages with lotion -- illustrates without meaning to an important point on the subject.

Kids (and adults) with sensory issues are not all the same.  I find lotion -- all lotion -- absolutely disgusting.  It's all I can do to tolerate hand sanitizer -- and that only because it evaporates quickly -- and aloe -- 'cause my skin is naturally dry.  Now, desensitization campaigns can be good, but don't believe everything you read on the Internet.  If that had been step one with me, I'd have run screaming for the hills.

Well, no, I wouldn't....  You just didn't do that kind of thing in my family.  But I'd have been deeply, abjectly, horribly miserable and probably worse off than when my biggest clothes issues were that my socks were too tight and my sleeves too short.)

Ahem.  That was a long parenthetical.  Sorry 'bout that, but I figure that since I'm an adult who can actually explain what some aspects of sensory integration problems feel like, those who are interested in such things might benefit from the description.

By the way, in the second article, I just discovered this absolutely profound thought (I am absolutely not being sarcastic here):  "in the case of the person who just clipped their nails, the discomfort comes because the nerves that have been sheltered are now exposed making the person acutely aware of sensations he does not ordinarily feel."

Oh.  My.  God.  That's me -- I keep my nails short now (years of piano playing and typing) so I'm probably desensitized to it some, but even now after I clip my fingernails, things just feel...wrong...for a while.  The same was true of losing teeth, hair cuts...anything that changed the sensations I'd managed to become accustomed to.

How's about that?  Learn something new every day.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Dream Deferred

Note:  I have been composing this in my head all day.  Whether that will translate to a good blog post or not, I have no idea.

When I was seven, we went to Walt Disney World for the first time and, though I was too young to really enjoy World Showcase, we (of course) visited every one, and every attraction.

We also bought the "soundtrack," which I listened to often after that, as a way -- I think -- to remember the trip itself (I often visually 'flash' to where I first heard a song when I hear it again).

On that song was "Golden Dreams," from the American Pavilion.  Amidst the lyrics, there are audio clips of important moments in American history.

(Interestingly enough, there are no recreations -- anything that happened before video is shown with Ken Burns-ified photos and dramatic readings are used before audio clips.)

In any event, among them are the usual suspects, including "the Eagle has landed" and JFK's "ask not" speech.

And, of course, this:  "I have a dream this afternoon . . . that the brotherhood of man will become a reality in this day . . . [a]nd with this faith."

I was seven.  I had no idea who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, nor did I have any real understanding of racism, the Civil Rights movement, nor even, really, what he was saying, except that something about the conviction in his voice told me he wanted a Good Thing.

I am in many ways a stereotypical white Valley why would those words resonate so deeply with me?

Well...I'm a stereotypical white girl except...

...except that I'm semi-fluent in Spanish (and reactions to that are always funny)


...except that out of all the American poetry I've ever read, it was Langston Hughes that I ended up going out and buying (I much prefer English poetry) -- it's Langston Hughes that I borrowed from for the title of this post.

I'm sure other people have posted reflections on King's life and his dream, but I thought I'd share a slightly different perspective.

In his famous I Have a Dream speech, King referred to wishing for a future of equality of Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Gentiles -- but the primary focus of his work was Civil Rights.  That is, removing the systematic barriers placed in front of African Americans throughout society.

Or, as Angel, my sixth grade angel, said, "He wanted...the have the same school."

Being the stereotypical white girl, there are no people of color in my family (that we know about, at any rate).

But there are people with disabilities (cognitive and, more recently, physical), people of Jewish heritage, people who have converted to Judaism (one of these days, when go for Hanukkah, I will remember more than the first two lines of the candle lighting prayer), and people that are gay.

And I would suggest that for the majority of the groups listed above, King's dream of equality is a long way off.

How often do you hear people casually tossing about the word r*tard?  How often do you hear people using the f word (not the verb)?  Think of the 2000 presidential campaign, and how much hand-writing there was about the fact that Mr. Lieberman was Jewish.  How much incredulity there was that he -- gasp -- walked to Temple on Saturdays.

How often do you see someone using a wheelchair and immediately assume they are less capable than someone who does not?  I've seen that myself with Patrick at Disney World -- where he is treated with near universal respect at Disneyland (people speaking directly to him, etc.), that was very much not the case at Disney World when he was using his wheelchair.

This is not the place for a political rant, really, so I'm not going to get into my rant about gay marriage (other than to say that allowing the civil contract aspect of marriage as far as the government is concerned should absolutely be legal and denying two people a marriage license because they are both the same gender is sexual discrimination).

But the fact of the matter is that there is still a lot of discrimination and institutionalized inequality in America.  And while it's fine -- and necessary -- to take time on anniversaries like today to ponder race relations in America, it's just as necessary to, at some point, examine other areas of inequality as well.

King talked about his children going to school with other children.

I'm fortunate to teach at a school in a district where mainstreaming, if not inclusion, is the norm, and inclusion is not all that rare either -- but that's far from the case elsewhere.

Infinite diversity, in infinite combinations, as Spock would say.

Anniversaries like today prompt us to consider one kind of diversity, but I'd like to argue that we consider, that we reflect on, all diversity.

It's trite, but people often say that life would be boring if we were all the same.  But, you know, trite sayings become trite and cliched because they're true.  Of course, trite sayings become trite because we stop actually thinking about what they mean and just accept them as truisms.

Today's a day to remember Dr. King's dream, and to reflect on what we can do to make it come true.

In college, I took a class called the Holocaust in Literature and Film.  The class itself was fascinating, but one of the assignments was to write a paper on any aspect of the Holocaust.

I chose to write about the killing (euphemistically called the euthanasia) of people with disabilities in Germany.  Something like 98% of Germans with disabilities were killed.

The closing paragraph opened with a variation of the following: "The Holocaust was, to be certain, a Jewish tragedy, but it was not only a Jewish tragedy.  It is important to make sure that all victims of the Nazis are remembered and honored."

The professor took great exception to that notion.  She was fine with the paper, but she wanted the euthanasia aspect separated from the Shoah (I'm nitpicking linguistically here, but the idea was that the Holocaust itself, as an idea, encompassed only the killing of Jews, which is why I used the Hebrew term for the latter).

It was the only time in my school career that I refused to make a change in a paper requested by a professor, and I was graded down for it.

So it should come as no surprise that even on the anniversary of Dr. King's death, I choose to focus on broader areas of tolerance and equality.

Infinite diversity, in infinite combinations.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Some Progress

Okay, so, I still can't get Lore to connect to my network attached storage, but I managed to get both Boardmaker working well enough to get homework done for next week.  Writing with Symbols is still iffy, as it's making me re-import a bunch of graphics, so the "This Day in History" part of journals is just not going to get done (I'm squinting at a 24" monitor...this means it's time to stop) until the weekend, nor are the questions for the next two chapters of Matilda (the text itself is done, but the questions aren't).

But, really, it's not bad, given that I had to start from scratch over the weekend and re-install Windows.

Also, 4th Grade Teacher VS talked to Other 4th Grade Teacher KC, and found out KC is struggling with having a 2-year-old and a newborn, so good thoughts sent her way would be useful.

4th Grade Teacher KC is a very, very nice person, who is responsible for both 4th Grade Teacher VS and 5th Grade Teacher EW actually liking me.  She insisted (rather, dragged me by the hair, more or less) that I come along with them on their weekly Starbuck's run (I drink neither coffee nor tea).  Before that, VS and EW were...polite but a bit disinterested and incredulous.

Yesterday, I ran into VS in the parking lot after school, and she thanked me again for translating one of her conferences, and mentioned that it must be very hard.  I mentioned (without thinking that it probably sounded like fishing -- but you know me and social skills) that the ladies in the office had once talked about me getting a stipend for it.

And she said she'd plead my case during the leadership meetings.

Which, you know, probably won't happen, 'cause she'll have forgotten by then -- but that she volunteered was very nice indeed.

Meanwhile, Bulldozer slugged Aide J today, but according to Aide S, she had...ahem..."earned it."

Superhero has been edging closer and closer to meltdown-land as the week has gone on.  I anticipate drama tomorrow.  Which, of course, is when Psychologist JW is coming to observe Mr. Voice to begin working on his tri.

And, I learned something today.  We had an assembly this morning during morning journal time, which is when 3rd Grader P has been visiting, so he came with us to the assembly.  Nothing terrible happened, but note to myself: Keep PH and Bart (just came up with the nickname...he has a Simpsons backpack and, now that I think about it, reminds me of Bart) away from each other at assemblies...or, you know, most of the day.


Oh, and, 3rd Grade Teacher RE said she's considering sending her son to me for his sixth grade year.  He's a cool kid, but she strikes me as a Scary Parent.  We shall see...she talked about it for fourth grade this year and ended up changing her mind -- which is good, 'cause his drama would have been too much for us.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More On Lore

Great...I kept thinking that Lore used to sing a song, and when I googled it, I remembered right away that he did sing (it starts at 1:30) as he entered the room in "Brothers"...but now I have it stuck in my head.

(I'd much rather have Miles singing "The Minstrel Boy" stuck in my head, but, alas, it does not work that way.)


(I now own two vocal and one instrumental version of "The Minstrel Boy," by the way, but the phrase "warrior bard" always makes me think of Gabrielle.)

VMWare Fusion has a 30 day trial.  I am already in love with not rebooting.  I still can't figure out how to get access to the network attached storage, though -- which is crucial, because the word processor is on the Data side, and you can't access the Lore side while Windows is running without doing lots of dragging and copying, which is redundant and ridiculous.

However, barring anything else, it'll work.

There's something surreal about a Windows shut down screen with my Leopard wallpaper in the background.

Not bad.  Just...surreal.

Now, having violated my rule by nearly 2 hours, and getting nothing out of it except the agenda book stuff...I'm giving up for the night.

(Also...the result of all that googling was getting Data's darned life forms song stuck even more in my head than the other one.)

I scanning for life forms.

(Be afraid.  Be very afraid.)

Life forms...

(C'mon blogger, upload the screenshot.)

You tiny little life forms...

(I had to try to say "fluency" and "stamina" today, in Spanish, in regards to reading.  During the first conference, when my vocabulary is always rusty.)

You precious little life forms...

(I need to borrow someone else's Boardmaker disk...mine has a hairline crack that was never a problem before, but it's not letting me use these nifty (free!) tools that let me virtually mount Writing With Symbols and still have a free CD drive.)

Where are you...?

(Am I the only one who thought it was sexist that the saucer didn't plow into a planet until Deanna took the helm?)

It's official.  My brain has imploded.  I am now wondering if the emotion chip made it so Data could whistle too, and for the life of me, I can't remember.  Googling has not 
helped, and I now have Data's poem stuck in my head instead.

Felix catus, your taxonomic nomenclature
Connotes an endothermic quadruped,
Carnivorous by nature
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance
(Something something) a true and valued friend.

Trust me...I am as disturbed as anyone else that I remembered that much, as accurately as I did.

Living Up to His Name

For the life of me, I cannot get Lore to connect to my network attached storage...which is where I moved the school stuff so that the Windows programs (Boardmaker, Writing With Symbols) could do their thing, while the Mac programs (NeoOffice, Pages) could also do their thing.

Le sigh.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Good Karma

Please send good karma Amie's way.  That is all.

Actually, it's not.  For those of you who aren't Amie, just so you know, she's not a "cyberfriend."  I've known her since the first grade (err...I was in first grade with her brother before they skipped him and she was in kindergarten but whatever), and though we've drifted in and out of contact over the years...

...well...we've been friends since the first grade.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

The Old and the New

Who needs an external hard drive enclosure when you remember that your account is two arrows down and can log in without a monitor?

Add to that being able to browse your own network well enough to get an internal IP address for the old desktop without a monitor to ask it what its IP address is.

Add to that remembering that to log into a shared windows drive you have to use smb://ipaddress.

Et voila.

Now to write the scary IEP, while pretending I don't have a migraine.

(And while pretending that Program Specialist and Former Teacher RR didn't outright say CAPA would be harder again this year, because apparently "correlating with standards" no longer means teaching age appropriate topics at skill appropriate levels, and I should be teaching kids to sort leaves by type.  As in...toothed, compound, and something else.  Because we couldn't take the general, "Oh, fifth graders learn about plants" and go for, "What do plants need to live?"  Oh, no, we have to go straight to types of leaves.

Also...I've had kids go to fifth grade science.  They do not learn this anyway.  Eesh.)