31 December 2007

Do Your Part...

"I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington. I'm asking you to believe in yours." - Barack Obama

Quit being apathetic, scared, nervous, shy, disillusioned, indifferent, irresponsible, lazy, or whatever your reason is for not caucusing on the 3rd if you are an Iowa resident. You live in the number one state when it comes to choosing our next presidential candidate. In what other situation can you say that our state has the first and most influential say in our entire nation about anything? You don't have to be a political wonk or a governmental policy expert to show your support. Pick a candidate on their platform, their ideals, their experience, their name or their tie.

Another Reason I Side with Barack...

"What would you say is the most painful and character-building experience of your life that puts you in an important position to make important decisions of life and death and the well-being of our country?"

After a brief pause, Obama talked about his childhood:

"I would say the fact that I grew up without a father in the home. What that meant was, I had to learn very early on to figure out what was important and what wasn't and exercise my own judgment, in some ways to raise myself. I mean, my mother was wonderful, and was a foundation of love for me. But as a young man growing up, I didn't have a lot of role models, and I made a lot of mistakes. But I learned to figure out that there were certain values that were important to me, that I had to be true to. Nobody was going to force me to be honest. Nobody was going to force me to work hard. Nobody was going to force me to have drive and ambition. Nobody was going to force me to have empathy for other people. But if I really thought those values were important, then I had to live them out...That's why it's so important for me now, both as a United States senator, as presidential candidate, but also as a father and a husband to wake up every morning and ask myself am I living up to those values that I say I think are important. Because if I'm not, I shouldn't be president."

Best High Schools

I picked up the recent issue of U.S. News & World Report after my attention was grabbed by its "America's Best High Schools" cover story. I've looked at the list that Newsweek puts together each year and I have not been impressed. They base their list entirely on the ratio of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes offered per number of students. That has always seemed like a very narrow-minded view of what a 'best' high school should be. What about those high schools that do an excellent job of raising the achievement level of their students, but don't have enough demand (or aptitude) to justify offering a slew of AP courses? Anyways, it turns out U.S. News was thinking the same thing, so they have came up with their own list for the first time. The are using a different, three-tiered evaluation which in their words "measured how each school's students performed on state tests, adjusting for student circumstances. We next evaluated how well each school's disadvantaged students did. Finally, we looked at whether the school was successful in providing college-level coursework" if you need more detail than that you can read more about here. Unfortunately, eleven states and the District of Columbia were not included due to failure to provide adequate information. (Nebraska is one of them). One of the parts of the article that I enjoyed the most was this piece on "What Matters Most in Measuring".
As far as familiar names on the Gold, Silver or Bronze lists, Nishna Valley, South Page and Oakland all made the bronze list. The usual suspects in Chicago made the top of the list, Northside College Prep, Payton, Young and Lincoln Park all were Gold medal schools.
I haven't had a chance to read the pieces on the Boston MATCH school or the school in Texas, but they look very interesting. I like reading about the unique and varied strategies some of the top schools in disadvantaged areas use to help their students reach amazing heights.

30 December 2007

Once

So I watched the Irish movie "Once" over break and totally loved it. And after reading up more on the actors in the movie and how they've became a couple in real-life as well, I loved it even more. The soundtrack is great as well. On the "Once" website you can watch a little video where Glen talks about the history behind his battered & worn guitar. This clip from the Today show is touching, both on the woman's kindness and Glen's gratitude.

28 December 2007

2007 Book List

OK, so another delicious list for you to feast on:

1. When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear by Peter Hellman
Remarkable Stories of Christians Who Saved Jews from the Holocaust.
Five accounts of true selfless heroism.

2. Maus: My Father Bleeds History, Here My Troubles Began by Art Spielgelman
My first ever graphic novel and it was amazing. There is so much written into the illustrations. The incredible Pulitzer Prize winning story of the father relating his WWII & Auschwitz experience as well as the relationship between the father and the son.
3. To End a War by Richard Holbrooke
One of my Bosnian themed readings over the summer. A great inside look at the difficulties & dynamics of international diplomacy.
4. The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin (audiobook)
My Life in the Kitchen.
This was such a fun autobiography to listen to. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Chicago with homebase.

5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
One of only two pieces of fiction on my list, and another Pulitzer Prize winner. This was very enjoyable. I watched it on a recommendation from Connie and after watching "The Namesake", which was based on another one of her books.
6. Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Unis
Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty.
A great documentation of how small ideas can have massive impact.

7. Augusta, Gone by Martha Tod Dudman
Whew. This is a rough one. I was riveted reading this mom's story of the endless battle with her daughter.
8. Paddy on the Hardwood by Rus Bradburd
A journey in Irish Hoops.
This was a very fun story of a coach who ends up coaching a semi-pro team in Ireland and his challenges in getting things going as well as his own exploits in learning to play the fiddle.
9. Redemption by Leon Uris
The sequel to "Trinity". It was good, but it spent a lot of time retelling the storyline from "Trinity". Still very fun.
10. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time.
Pretty incredible, the devotion, determination and single-mindedness of this guy. And I was able to see him speak too!

11. Witness to Genocide by Roy Gutman
The First Inside Account of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia
Pulitzer Prize winning documenting that help break the news of the atrocities in Bosnia.

12. Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic
A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo
It's so interesting to read a young teen's account of extraordinary circumstances. Not as spellbinding as Anne Frank's Diary, but still very good.

13. Heat by Bill Buford
An Amateur's Adventure as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany.
Lots of fun and I learned some things too! A great look at the dynamic of a kitchen and also lots of interesting stuff about Italy, Italian food, pasta-making, Mario Batali, and butchers.

14. The Freedom Writers' Diary by Erin Gruwell
How a Teacher and 150 Teens used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.
A good motivator and 'feel-good' teaching story. Some very exciting, original, powerful lesson/teaching ideas. We read it in our advisory/home room when I was student teaching.
15. Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
Another one read aloud to homeroom. The movie is very good, but there is SO much more in the book!

I also had a couple fun re-reads of some of my favorites, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Leon Uris' Trinity.
I only got halfway through The Worldly Philosophers, but I'd like to get back to it at some point. And I've started four different books right now and they all are great!

26 December 2007

Devotional Candles


My family has a fondness for these devotional candles discussed in this NY Times article. (the $1-$2 ones, not the $12-$15 ones). And as I got to thinking about it, these are the only candles I buy!

25 December 2007

Cell Warfare

NY Times has an interesting article about (unwanted) technology in the classroom. Even the name rubs me the wrong way, "Teacher vs. Technology." The professor's plan to smash the first cell phone that rang in his class was definitely original and clear.
My thoughts are...I don't have problems with students doing a quick check of messages or even sending one quick message. Texting is simply part of that generation's socializing and communication. The students that actually want to do well in the class or that might contribute to discussion are the ones that also know to keep their cell usage to a manageable minimum. The ones that don't are usually the same ones that wouldn't be participating much anyways.
My favorite part of the article is the part where it, rightly, states that part of the problem might be unengaging, boring lessons. Notice that the professor's reply talks about the 'subject matter' being relatively boring, not his lessons or his teaching. :)

"Naturally, there will be many students and no small number of high-tech and progressive-ed apologists ready to lay the blame on boring lessons. One of the great condemnations in education jargon these days, after all, is the “teacher-centered lesson.”

"I’m so tired of that excuse. The idea that subject matter is boring is truly relative. Boring as opposed to what? Buying shoes on eBay? The fact is, we’re not here to entertain. We’re here to stimulate the life of the mind. Education requires contemplation. It requires critical thinking.""

I read this post on the Fischbowl blog and thought she did a good job of touching on a lot of the same concerns & feelings regarding this issue that I have. It's a good blog that I check periodically.

Bottled Water Tax

Chicago is imposing a five cent per bottle on water. The Trib speculates on possible economic impact of bottled-water lovers driving to the 'burbs to stock up and avoid paying the extra $1.20 per case. I don't see the economic sense of that decision when gasoline tops $3 per gallon in Chicago and a trip to the 'burbs would probably take an hour of driving. Even if you buy your water three cases at a time, your savings would still only equal 1 gallon of gas. And then you have the whole ecological argument for encouraging consumers to drink more tap water. The article states that 17 million barrels of oil are used in the creation of all those bottles and I was skeptical of the 23 percent figure that the article says gets recycled.
I say, "Way to go, Chicago!" and the suburb communities should follow suit. Better grab your Nalgene!

24 December 2007

Blog 3.0

As I get ready to celebrate three years of blogging, I am also rolling out the annual make-over of my blog for the new year. I switched to a new template for the first time (it's actually only a different version of the Minima template) which has a darker background color than I've ever had before. I usually favor a white or just off-white background, but this 'Ochre' caught my eye and I thought it'd be a nice change. I also am planning on using photo images as part of my header this year. The images will probably change often, maybe with the seasons, maybe whenever I get a chance. Other than that, it mostly is some color changes and a few font changes. No change in the main font used for posts; I am partial to this one that I've been using since the beginning. Let me know if you have any problems or comments with the new colors or anything. Happy holidays!

22 December 2007

Top Albums & Songs of 2007

It is a wonderful time of year. No, not because of the holidays but because of all the year-end 'best of' lists! I love music and I love lists, so it is a delightful merger. I won't bore you with links to all the different lists I've been scouring over the past week or two. Instead I will only direct you to two of my main sources of music information. NPR: All Songs Considered and Rolling Stone. The links should show you their top CD's of the year lists, NPR offers 25, as voted on by their listeners (me included, my picks came in at 24, 23, 15, 11 and 8!) and Rolling Stone gives their 50 best. I downloaded the NPR podcast of their countdown so I could listen to that on my way home. There is also a list of the top 100 singles from Rolling Stone and iTunes also have a good list of their most downloaded singles of the year.
So, here's what I would call my top CD's of the year:
  1. M.I.A. - Kala
    • I love this CD. There's only one track I don't care for. The sounds are so global, the lyrics so worldly, economic, political and socially aware. The artist is gorgeous. I didn't think it would be possible to match how much I loved her first CD, "Arular", but she did it!
    • Favorite tracks: Paper Planes, $20, Jimmy, Boyz, Come Around, The Turn
  2. Tegan & Sara - The Con
    • Again, I wasn't sure if, after all the anticipation, that this CD could live up to how much I love their last CD, "So Jealous." I don't think this one has the two or three songs that really stand out like "So Jealous" did, but this one might actually be a better body of work.
    • Favorite tracks: The Con, Like O Like H, Back in Your Head, Hop a Plane
  3. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
    • I actually like this one better than "Chutes Too Narrow". I can put it on and not have a bad moment of listening until it starts to repeat. So mellow & lush and great lyrics too.
    • Favorite tracks: Phantom Limb, Red Rabbits, Turn On Me, Sea Legs
  4. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
    • Yes, I was drawn to her by 'Rehab' but after listening to the rest of this album, I'm not sure that is even the best track! This girl has had her share of personal challenges this year too, but you've got to enjoy this CD as great work, regardless.
    • Favorite tracks: Tears Dry On Their Own, You Know I'm No Good, Rehab
  5. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
    • Another young Brit female chanteuse that I got introduced to this year. A good counter to Winehouse's bluesy, soulful songs, Lily Allen is bright, fun and upbeat. I love her style too, couture dresses matched with Nike trainers. Very nice.
    • Favorite tracks: LDN, Smile, Knock 'Em Out
  6. Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
    • Here's one that didn't quite fill the big shoes of its previous CD's success. I listened to "Songs About Jane" pretty much non-stop when I was in Chicago. There are some very good ones on this new CD, but overall the album didn't connect with me like the last one.
    • Favorite tracks: Wake-up Call, Not Falling Apart, Nothing Lasts Forever
  7. White Stripes - Icky Thump
    • There was no way this one could match "Get Behind Me Satan". I voted that one as my top CD two years ago. This one just didn't have the non-stop quality like 'Satan'.
    • Favorite tracks: Rag & Bone, Icky Thump, Conquest
I'm only listing seven because that's all that I felt that I really gave the entire album a good listen. Some other ones that I enjoyed but just need to explore more...Miranda Lambert, Dropkick Murphy's, Bright Eyes, The Kooks, Kanye West.

Instead of compiling a whole list of top singles, I'll just add these to the ones listed above:
  • Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphy's
  • Low - Flo Rida
  • Music is My Hot, Hot Sex - CSS
  • Snape vs. Snape - Ministry of Magic
  • Umbrella - Rihianna & Jay Z
  • Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
  • Stronger - Kanye West
  • Cupid's Chokehold - Gym Class Heros
  • Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's
  • Crank That - Soulja Boy
  • Gunpowder & Lead - Miranda Lambert

21 December 2007

Blogger Play

Just a note to direct attention to a new link that I added to my sidebar. Blogger Play. It is a perpetual slideshow of photos that have been posted to blogs. I checked it out a month or two ago and liked it, but then I kinda forgot about it. I saw it again today and watched it for a while. I love it. It appeals to the people-watching/voyeur part of me that loves to see how other people live. Be sure to turn on the 'show info' option in the bottom-right corner to see the captions for each picture. So if you are bored or just looking for a look into what other people are doing (or at least posting pictures about), stop on by for a while.

Insurer to be Charged with Manslaughter?

Not a great story to read during the holiday season, but stories involving health insurance companies and their handling of claims always interests me. This one sounds similar to "The Rainmaker", except for the added twist that in this instance, Cigna reversed their denial but too late to save the teenagers life. Say a prayer for the family, and let's hope the insurance company gets hit with some massive punitive damages.

20 December 2007

I Made It

Christmas break has arrived.

I sat there and enjoyed the glow of relief and happiness yesterday after school got out. There were a few points in there when I wasn't sure if I'd make it to break or not, but here I am! It was a fun and productive day yesterday. It was a day to work on making up missing assignments and the kids did a good job with it. I had one girl, who I've been pestering about her missing work (she hadn't turned much in at all) walk in to class and hand me eleven chapters worth of work. I was shocked and thrilled. I told her that was a great present for me. I know many teachers don't allow late work and would have given up on that girl by this point, but whatever...it's my first year. I'm learning what works for me. And we're encourage to 'not let them fail', and to continually dog them and fight for them, so I figure that's what I'm doing. Oh, and I got a plate of homemade cookies, some homemade jam and a little bag of chocolates. I love the holidays!

18 December 2007

32 years later...Let's improve our cars!

Senate and House have passed legislation to require automakers to raise the average MPG of their fleet of cars, trucks and SUV's to 35 mpg. Unfortunately the bill gives them until 2020 to meet the new requirement. Incredibly the mpg level has not be changed for 32 years. How's that for a testament to the power of the auto & gas lobbyists! There were also items in the bill outlining increases in the production of ethanol and also energy mandates for appliances.
I'll have to look into this one more when I get a minute.

Drug Testing in High School

Marian Catholic high school in Chicago is voting on implementing mandatory drug tests for all students. The yearly tests would use a hair follicle and would test for marijuana, ecstasy, coke, PCP, but interestingly, not steroids. They would cost $50 per student and would show any use in the last three months or so. The article mentions a couple other private schools in the area that have already started the program.
They mention that they don't have a big drug problem and I'm left wondering, if your drug problem isn't pervasive and very harmful, isn't there a better use of those thousands of dollars? I agree that it is important for us to guide our students (as much as we can) to make good choices about drugs and alcohol, but when I thought about my school doing this, I know that we could spend the necessary $65,000 in more productive ways.
My favorite line, "A student who fails two tests in a school year would be asked to withdraw from the school..." and enroll in public school. :)

16 December 2007

Students meet Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman was in Des Moines this weekend as part of the public library's AVID program. (The same program that brought Greg Mortenson to talk about "Three Cups of Tea") I was definitely looking forward to hear him speak. I had received a copy of his highly-regarded textbook at the AP seminar I attended this summer and I've flipped through his most recent book that he was here to discuss, " The Conscience of a Liberal". His credentials are impressive to say the least, professor at Princeton, prior teaching gigs at MIT, Berkley, Stanford, Yale and the London School of Economics. Clark Medal winner, adviser in Reagan's administration (that's right, Reagan!), and biweekly NY Times columnist ( The Washington Weekly called him "the most important political columnist in America"). The Economist magazine has called him the most celebrated economics of his time. So I tried to drum up some excitement for the event when I told all my classes about it this week. I also put out the powerful lure of late-in-the-semester extra credit. Considering that the last time I had told my students about an event I had three take me up on it, I was not expecting anything different this time. Adding to that, it was on a Saturday afternoon and the same day as our winter formal dance, so some of the girls had already regretfully told me they had appointments to get their hair done at that time (OK, most weren't too regretful.) Students behavior will always surprise you, though. And by the end of the talk, I had nineteen names written down, all of which came over to say hi, or at least made sure I saw them so they would get the extra credit. One student told me he had walked there (it was cold and snowing), and he quickly followed that with, "We're the youngest people here by 40 years!"
Mr. Krugman delivered a good talk lasting just under an hour (thank goodness, since I had told my students that he wouldn't talk more than an hour). He talked a lot about some negative trends he sees in our country and government, focusing a lot on the need for universal health care and the growing inequality of wealth. I was happy that he mentioned a lot of the topics we've covered this semester in my classroom, hopefully the students caught some of that. I also said I would give additional extra credit if they asked a question during the Q&A session. I had three students get called on to ask their questions and I was happy to see that all three stood up, spoke up and delivered their question well. While they weren't deep economic questions ("Are you going to write another book?" "What was your motivation to write your book?" and "Among the Democratic candidates, who do you think has the best health care plan?") I think they were just fine and I was proud of them. There were enough people asking about the housing crisis, Bernanke's actions and the value of the dollar. I think he probably enjoyed a little variety in the questions. Each of them, after asking their question, turned and made eye contact with me & I flashed them each a thumbs-up.
Another teacher from my school down there, one that I really admire and respect and she came up to me afterwards and very excitedly asked how many students I had down there. After I told her, she said, "Aren't you just so thrilled?" I couldn't keep the smile off my face and I replied, "Yep! It's probably the best moment of my first semester."

15 December 2007

Declaration of War


Round three of middleson vs the mice has begun. I began aware of an added presence in our apartment a week or so ago and, as usual, I did not harbor any ill-will until last night. I saw that one of my bags of granola had been compromised and I was not pleased. I am a firm believer in everyone pulling their own weight. I've been able to put together a pretty firm idea of their traffic pattern since I often see them as I'm sitting and doing work. My stationary pose must fool them. So, this morning I picked up a set of traps and they are now locked loaded, two with peanut butter and two with cheese. I went exclusively with the standard trap, after the debacle we had last year. Maybe I should've used scotcheroo's since they were so successful two years ago. Now we wait, and listen for the crack...

14 December 2007

8th Homocide This Year

Eighth homicide this year.
That is one way to view it. And that's how we usually process this type of news story. This type of things seems to just keep coming...Virginia Tech in April, Las Vegas on Tuesday, LSU yesterday. But there's so much more to it, as I'm sure there is to the previous seven homicides here. What if the victim is the same age as all your students? What about if some of your students had known the victim since childhood (What's that even mean? They don't seem that far from childhood right now!) What do you say to that? They don't teach grief/tragedy counseling in education classes. I need to work on handling these situations better, doing more, helping more.

Why am I Looking Forward to Winter Break?

I'm looking forward to waking up without the first thought in my head being, "How soon can I get to school because I've got things I need to do before first period?" which is quickly followed by, "What should I do if my lesson ends with ten minutes left in the period?" and "How many copies do I need to make before class?" I'm looking forward to sitting in silence or maybe some soft music and reading...for fun! Our hallways (and sometimes classrooms) are a constant high volume barrage on eardrums and nerves alike. Silence is so soothing after that. I can't wait to not hear strings of inappropriate and vulgar comments, spoken without a care who is listening. To have a few weeks where, when I see someone with a cell phone or an iPod or a hat, I don't have to approach them to put it away/take it off (while still using a friendly tone of voice). No one asking "Did I miss anything yesterday?" "Can I make up that test?" "What's my grade?" "Can I go to the bathroom/get a drink/go to my locker/get my book/borrow a pen?" And finally, not having to say the words "Shhh" or "Quiet".
Besides all that, I'm looking forward to sleeping in (well, at least til 7:30 or 8), seeing family, cooking, enjoying wonderful food and treats, shopping, taking pictures, listening to music, checking out some movies on Christmas Day, seeing high school friends, going to Christmas mass.

11 December 2007

Amaryllis In Need


Some of you may remember the difficulties, and ensuing enjoyment I got out of the amaryllis homebase got me last year. This year, I received a white one and it was making great progress. There was one area of concern, though, and that was that the plant, despite having grown a good foot and a half or so, had not put out a main shoot. It was only leaves. So that was a bit curious. And then I came into the kitchen this morning and saw that the leaves had just flopped over. They just kinda gave up. So I had to resort to taping up my plant for the second year in a row. It turns out that the amaryllis that homebase was growing was pulling the same sort of tricks and she has exchanged it for a new one. Hopefully mine will step up, otherwise it might be getting exchanged over Christmas as well!

Snow Day...

..."School's closed & I can't wait." I love that song by Jimmy Fallon and it is perfect for today. I woke up at 6:15 and tried to listen to the traffic outside to get an idea of the conditions. I was seriously hoping for a snow day. It just sounded like it was very wet. So I peaked out the window and the streets just looked very wet, but no accumulation of snow. Very much bummed out, I checked online to see, just in case. Amazingly there were 149 cancellations on KCCI's website (that number is now up to 274). So conditions must be worse than they appeared. So I bounded back into bed for another hour or so of shut-eye and then an hour of laying in bed and reading. What a way to start the day!
I've never been one to let a snow day or early out restrict my travel plans; in high school when we got out early due to snow or ice, we always took that to mean we should head to Shen and get movies and food. So, in keeping with that tradition, I'm off to seek out some food and some groceries.

10 December 2007

Black Teachers / White Teachers

stoppable sent me the link to an interesting article, "Understand?" by Nicholas Kristof, several weeks ago, which I read and put on the 'I need to blog about this' list. I'm just now getting around to sharing on it. The article is from a NY Times blog, authored by a Chicago Public Schools teacher. The post focuses on whether there are certain positives in having black teachers instructing in schools where a majority of students are also black. Now, the blog merely presents one teachers findings from having his students expound on the issue and some of the teachers' views he shares seem a little biased (saying they are "just building their resume for when they can go teach at some rich school in the suburbs.") He does present some valid points, that I recognize and understand. After finishing his article, it is good to remember that he points out that half of his students didn't think the race of their teacher mattered, and half of them did. I would be interested in seeing how those two groups fell in terms of achievement level.
He has some other interesting posts if you care to check out his other blogs or his photography website.

09 December 2007

Hawks Upset Cyclones on the Mat

Iowa's wrestlers notched a nice upset of Iowa State, who was previously ranked number one in the nation. The Hawkeyes took a 20-13 win back to Iowa City with them. To make this even more impressive, the Hawkeyes were without Mark Perry. Lastly, a promising sign of this to come is that there was only 1 senior and 1 junior in the lineup today!

07 December 2007

Schiano Sticking with Rutgers

Yet another reason to cheer for the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (that nickname is another one!), their coach has turned down Michigan's overtures and has announced he is staying at Rutgers. He turned down Miami last year and now Michigan, so the guy has had some pretty tempting offers. He stated at press conference, "I have a job to do here in New Jersey and I will stay here and keep chopping." (No, actually, I made that last part up.) :)

Infamy Day

Sixty years have passed since the bewilderment of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I stumbled on to this article from the NY Daily News. I thought it was interesting & wanted to share.

04 December 2007

Campaign Digging

The dirt diggers have reached a new level. Check out this press release from Hillary's camp. It looks like you had better keep in mind all those papers you wrote in kindergarten before making any statements about your intents and beliefs now as a 41 year old. People have been jumping all over it today. I love John Edwards' response to all the silliness, "I want to confess to all of you right now," he told his audience, "in third grade, I wanted to be two things: I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman." Better to disclose it now, than pay for it later!

Bus Fleet Felled

This is taking a senior prank more than a little too far. 60-70 tires punctured, a little spray paint, costing around $20,000 in damages. Classes had to be cancelled due to an inoperable bus fleet since the school has over half of its students using the bus system. Nothing like adding some criminal charges to the memories of your senior year.

Sneak Attack!

stoppable had planned a fun little Monday night trip out last night to transport a suit, a slide projector and an air bubble out here (how's that for a mix of items!) So I was getting things around and cleaning up the kitchen since we were planning on cooking dinner. When he knocked & I opened the door, I was very happily surprised to find all three kids with him as well (and all still in school uniforms)! I had checked in with him several times as he drove over here and they must've been very quiet because I never heard a peep. It was a very fun little evening together. stoppable, caboose and brig went to the grocery store while NTW and I played chess and emily munched chips. I was challenged to 5 games of chess over the few hours they were here! We had a good time putting together some yummy tuna casserole, perfect for a chilly evening. It was a very fun enjoyable night and many thanks to all those that made the drive and made it possible!

02 December 2007

Maus


As forecasted, we got hit by a bit of an ice storm on Saturday. Since it was Educator Discount day at Barnes & Noble, I was not to be deterred, so I thawed and scraped the sheet of ice off my car, and slowly made my way to the mall. I was very glad I did because once I got there, the place was practically empty, which never happens on a weekend. I browsed around and collected a stack of books and then took a seat in the cafe, accompanied by a cinnamon scone and a chai. One of the books I picked up was "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" by Art Spiegelman. I had seen this book before and thought it looked very interesting. It is a graphic novel that tells the story of the author's father, the build up to WWII, the Nazi occupation of Poland, and surviving Auschwitz. A substory that gets told is the relationship between the father & the son, as the son is having the story retold to him. I don't read graphic novels, but this one was very good. It won a Pulitizer Prize in 1992. The black & white drawings are interesting and provide an added richness & depth to the storyline. The Jews are drawn as mice, the Nazis are cats, Poles as pigs, and Americans as dogs. I read the entire first volume (My Father Bleeds History) in about an hour and now I can't wait to go get the other volume (And Here My Troubles Began) from the library. And if you are a teacher you can check out this site for teaching tips and discussion questions.