Friday, April 18, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

Primary teacher M has a staff member in her class, Aide A, that has the unfortunate tendency to cause people to get in trouble.  M has a system similar to mine (which, for the record, I stole from 4th Grade Teacher KC) where the kids are on color-coded sections of a chart and earn things for staying at the top.  Many kids, when they work with Aide A, end up having to change their card.

In my class, Sleeping Beauty and Angel are the only kids who have never had to change their card.  Or, rather, until today.

When she first started at our school last year, I commented that Sleeping Beauty could dig her heels in deeper than her little body would reach (she is of quite short stature; if it weren't that her facial features have matured to make her look like a very small sixth-grader, she'd look like a 2nd grader).

She's a bright, very happy, generally willing student, though she requires a lot of prompting to work -- especially in the mornings (she is not a morning person, hence the nickname).

So, we're doing News-2-You today.  I have a very small group due to Superhero having a mostly good day but being five seconds away from losing it, Mr. Voice having a difficult day, and PH  being about three seconds away from losing it.

Aide T put a few kids on the computer, and rotated with the rest.  M, Angel, and Sleeping Beauty were with Aide J.


"Find 'baseball.'"

I heard that phrase probably a hundred and fifty times.  No encouragement, no 'let me show you the first one' no checking for understanding (which, to be fair, should not have been necessary), no nothing.

Brick wall, meet immovable force.

(Sleeping Beauty is, in fact, partly responsible for this because she was, of course, the immovable force.)

Eventually, Aide J took Sleeping Beauty's green card.

Except that Sleeping Beauty used to be known for planting herself in one spot and not budging.

Aide Mrs. B and Aide S had both come at that point.  Aide S stayed out of it (I think because she knew if she said anything, Sleeping Beauty would go right to it).  Aide Mrs. B tried to get Sleeping Beauty to walk over to her green cards, but when Sleeping Beauty plants her feet, she is going nowhere until she wants to.

Given that it's almost lunch time, I ask somebody to keep an eye on Superhero, who has simmered down quite nicely, and take Sleeping Beauty aside, telling everybody that I am going to explain to her in Spanish.

"What happened?" I asked (in Spanish).

"No se...trabajar," she said.  (I don't know work -- either 'I don't know how to work' or 'I don't know what happened with my work.')

Her lower lip is trembling.

"Are you sad?"

"Si, triste, trabajar," she says.  (Yes, sad, work.)

"You have to take off your green card, but you can earn it back if you listen at lunch."  (Like she wouldn't....)  "Should we walk together to take it off?"

She nods, but balks when I try to take her hand.  "Juntas?" I remind her ("together?").  She walks over and takes it off, and goes to put her jacket in her backpack.  She walks over to get in line and buries herself in Aide S's side.

So here's the problem, and it's come up with Teach M and her Aide A as well.  I couldn't just say, "Never mind, Sleeping Beauty can keep her green card."  And, in fact, Sleeping Beauty was partly at fault.

But here's the other thing.  A freaking adult -- with three teenaged and pre-teen daughters -- started it.  Poor Sleeping Beauty.  :-(

Meanwhile, both Bulldozer and The Boss (girl J) were way into everybody's business today.  Sooner or later, they're going to get in the face of the wrong kid, and they're gonna get smacked.

And -- speaking, of course, not at the teacher who would have to discipline both parties to this -- they would so freaking deserve it.  Le sigh.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Watch Your Language

I've talked about the R-word before, but read this anyway.

(Also?  The practice scripting in the car?  I totally do that.)

Pet Peeves

Language evolves; I know that.  So I know that what I am about to be grumpy about may be completely wrong five or ten years from now, but please indulge me.

Everyone is all of a sudden up in arms about Microsoft forcing computer manufacturers to stop selling computers with Windows XP pre-installed.  Vista has been out since...what...last Novemberish?

Believe it or not, I'm with Microsoft on this one -- and that from the person that just bought a fresh copy of Windows XP for Lore.


Computer companies have limited resources.   Yes, even Microsoft.  There are only so many geeks who can write operating system code.  So when you work to develop a new OS, sooner or later, you have to shift your resources away from the old OS.


When you have lots of people chatting about computer things, you hear some interesting stuff, and it reminded me of a few pet peeves of mine.

1.  Downloading is taking something "down" (from a network) TO your computer.  The image is that the Internet is in the wires and the air floating above you and you are taking it out of the sky and putting it down onto your computer.

So, you download movies from iTunes to your computer.

You do NOT -- NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT -- download a program from a CD.  You install (see #3) a program from a CD.

2.  Uploading is when you take something from your computer and put it UP into that imaginary network in the sky.

So, you upload your video to blogger.

You do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT upload a program to your computer from a CD (or ever, that I can think of).

3.  The following are all acceptable variants for putting software on your computer to use: install, load, putting XYZ on my computer.

Downloading software is NOT making it usable.  Downloading software is simply taking the file from the Internet and putting it on your computer.  Installing software is when you make it usable on your computer.

4.  You do not have "an iTunes."  It is a playlist or a library.  "Hallelujah" is in three or four playlists and is in my iTunes library.  It is NOT "in my iTunes."

5.  Windows XP is the operating system.  It is the stuff that is running on your computer ALL THE TIME.  Office XP/2004/etc. is an office suite.  It's a group of programs you use.  THE TWO ARE NOT THE SAME.

And finally...

6.  It drives me absolutely frelling bat**it insane when people say "I used my Word" or "I used my Works" or "I used my Outlook."  Yeah, you bought it...but you just don't say it that way. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Testosterone and Pollen

Mix the two above, add in a dose of constipation, and possibly dad issues (the quote is "Dad go away" which either means "Dad, go away!" (I'm mad at Dad) or "Dad went away" (I miss dad)), and you have a not-very-happy Superhero.

Add in a double-dose of Zyrtec (one at 11:00 last night and another after waiting for the buses proved too much) for me, and you have one exhausted teacher.

Oh, yeah, and the middle school teachers from SMS came to observe Angel and Sleeping Beauty today....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Okay, I admit it -- I used to be a big fan of Mariah Carey, until her third I sold out and watched all of American Idol tonight to see what would happen, and -- quality of singing aside -- something struck me.

I knew every single song, which means that everybody sang songs from her first albums -- including (yay me) one of my absolute favorites of hers (from her first album), "Vanishing."

But what does it say about her career that everybody chose her early songs?  I know she's released albums since Music Box.

(Googling has revealed that one of the songs was from the album that succeeded Music Box, Daydream.  My bad.)

But still...Daydream was 1995.  13 years ago.

No one could think of a Mariah Carey song they wanted to sing that was less than 13 years old?  Yikes.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

When I was about twelve, I rode my bike to our local Hughes Market for something.

(Hughes, sadly, is no more, but the same people founded How's, which was the only place other than Gelsons where you could buy Patrick's mandarin orange yogurt -- until they stopped making it, but I digress.)

As I was locking my bike up, a...voter registration guy (surely, there's a name for that, and I'm just having a retrieval problem, right?) stopped me and asked me if I was registered to vote.

Being 12, and not so much with the social skills, I have no idea what I said, but I remember being a bit flummoxed.

I only mention that because it provides a lovely contrast for what happened today.

Aide S is six months or so younger than Patrick, and has been working at our school since Novemberish of the year after she graduated high school.  Despite some rough patches here and there (like the beginning of the year, when she forgot what "attention-seeking  behavior" was) she has matured nicely and is someone I can really count on.

I mention this to put what I am going to say next into context.

Aide S used to go to the school where I teach.  Her name is on a mural painted on the side of the building where 4th Grade Teacher KC's room is.  Her sister's name is painted on the mural on the side of our wall.

So imagine my surprise when I was examining the school's all-students portrait thingie.  This is a picture that shows, from preschool to sixth grade, all of the students.  I was, of course, looking for my kiddos.  Somehow, I found the sixth graders first (Superhero and Sleeping Beauty were right next to each other because their names just fit that way alphabetically but it made it easier to find them for someone who can't see the trees for the forest -- there is a word for that, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is) and was working my way backwards.

Elastigirl...check.  Mr. Voice wasn't here yet.  Check.  Ms. Walking Exposed Nerve, check and check.

I'm working my way back into the fourth graders, when I stop.

There, amidst the other fourth graders, was Aide S's face.

I haven't stopped chuckling since.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good Ol' Science

Apparently, Southern California will have a big earthquake someday!

Gee, thanks, scientists.  I live maybe 20 miles from the interchange they keep rebuilding in exactly the same way after the every-20-years-or-so earthquakes knock it down.

And I bet the people who did this study got a huge grant for it.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

What a Difference Some Levels Make

Soooo, just like the other day, when I made my histogram discovery, I've been going through old photos and re-rating them in iPhoto '08.

And I've been correcting some of the ones I'd deemed uncorrectable in iPhoto '06.  While iPhoto '06 did have some rudimentary levels correction and some hack and slash brightness/contrast (I know better than to use those), so any images that needed real work needed the work to be done in Photoshop.

I do have Photoshop (CS), which means I can't fix some of the lens distortion in buildings (that came in CS2), but obviously its color correction abilities far surpassed iPhoto '06.

'08 still does not have curves, but it has a highlight/shadows correction, much more responsive levels sliders (that could be the much more powerful CPU, too, to be honest) and better color correction.

The result is that some images that I thought were beyond fixing are actually looking...okay.  Many of the skies are still blown-out messes (to correct them enough with the highlight/shadows command would make the rest of the image look ridiculous) but a lot of the dusk and early evening shots are looking much better, and, obviously, tweaking the black levels of the pictures shot with the point and shoot (versus the Rebel) makes them look much better.

At some point, when I'm done, I'll take down the Picasa Album as it exists now and re-upload the newly-minted 5 star images.  (There are so many 4 star ones now, it'd break the account if I uploaded them.)