22 February 2008

The most angry, and at the same time wonderful, day of school

I stopped really watching the weather years ago. I mostly rely on a look out the window and the occasional call to the weather hot line. So imagine my surprise when I awoke yesterday around 4:30 to hear a really loud car crash outside the building. I simply thought people must have been drunk. Then when I really woke up at 6, I saw a sheet of ice outside on the roads. Since it was 6 already, I angrily started getting ready for work since the school would have already called me if we were off.

Made it to school safely with only one slippage, close to the school I almost hit a lady as I tried to turn right. She looked at me like she wanted it to happen. Perhaps she thought in my old Carolla that I had some money to pay for her even junkier car.

All day there was an air of animosity in the school. At lunch we discussed how the librarian had heard the Central Office folk say that we would never be dismissed early, that we were going to stay in school until the end of the business day.

Even more anger brewing.

I let my kids make calls home, some on the cell phones they are not supposed to be using, to have their parents excuse them from school. I even made a call to my mother in hopes that she would do the same. She asked me to repeat myself, then proceeded to laugh for a full minute over the phone. I kept telling her that it was not funny, that I was serious, that I should be able to go home if the kids are able to go home with a mother's call. I asked her if she loved me, and if so she would do this for me.

She said love had nothing to do with it. That she wished me a safe ride home, but would not clog the school lines with a useless call.

Fortunately, I did not have to be angry with her for long, because after another student made the call to her mother, the mother called back saying that school would be dismissed early and that the child would not need to be excused.

Shock. Excitement. There was suddenly a party in the hallway as the child ran to let everyone know. I double-checked the school e-mail to make sure, and there was the message. With the confirmation, there was even more screaming and jumping in the hallway. Later found out that it may not have been the school's generosity, or care for our safety, but rather the cops who called and said they had to let everyone go.

Either way, I taught nothing the last hour and a half of school. In fact we played some Discovery Channel games on the SmartBoard. Man v. Wild, Life or Death, Mummy Maker. It was good times. Especially knowing that I would be leaving and not have to see the kids in my, previously, already angered state.

That was the first good happening of the day.

Next one came while I was sitting on the couch later that night. Had just finished watching Lost, which I am already addicted to after only two episodes. Checked the local news channels on tv and online to see if school for the next day had been called. No such luck. So I began making sub plans -- there was no way I was going to risk my life in the morning when there is a winter weather warning until 6 pm on Friday and the weather is only expected to get worse while at school on Friday.

I'm making the sub plans, creating a pretty cool graphic organizer to help the AP kids.

Suddenly, a phone call. Number of the school on the caller ID. I let out a yelp - this could be the call.

And it was. No more sub plans. No more waking up early on a Friday to warm and scrape the car. No driving trying to avoid swerving cars early in the morning. No trying to teach classes half full of kids since the rest stayed home due to the weather.

Sorry to all of you who have to work today...


20 February 2008

I can't help being a history/music dork

I love history. I love obscurity.

This video is all of those things. The Mesopotamians, by They Might Be Giants.

I'm a history teacher. I can't help occasionally being a bit dorky about history. At least it is not some bones or a lecture on the origins of classical, matronly aprons.

Guess I won't eat worms

When Osaki was small, he had us all watching PBS television shows. One of them, forgive me, for blocking out from my memory the title of the show, had a song that I actually thought was funny for kids to be singing.

Nobody likes me, every body hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms. First one was slimy, second one was grimy. Third and fourth came up.

I guess the lesson of the song was that worms should not be ingested, even if you feel as though the world has turned against you.

I guess people in Hong Kong didn't get PBS, or the message that worms can be harmful. I always thought the idea of having some type of worm in my digestive system eating away at my innards was disgusting. I mean, they can eat, and eat, and eat, and never really ever stop. What would that mean for your insides? They would be gone and you would never see it coming until the worms ate their way back out of your body.

If you want to lose weight, do it the simpler ways. Change your diet. Exercise. Adopt/have about 7 kids then reenroll in a university to obtain two concurrent degrees while still working your full time job and trying to make sure those children are ok and getting to their innumerable extracurricular activities. You could also have some type of gastrointestinal bypass surgery.

But please, unless you are composting or working in a garden, stay away from worms and worm eggs.

18 February 2008

Are you kidding me?

What year is it? What country do we live in?

Last week a woman was told that she could not referee a boys basketball game because she is a woman and could not be put in a position of authority over boys.


I guess this whole Academy will not be voting for Clinton. And they must be like the people on last week's Wife Swap who believe women should only be in charge of cooking and cleaning the house.

Nippin' Out

I am really done with the cold weather. It has been the most sporadic ever, with it snowing 6 inches one day and, literally, 75 in two days. There have been more days of freezing temperatures than I can remember ever happening. We have had record highs and record lows -- probably sometimes in the same week.

But the biggest thing that has me tired of the cold is a situation that happened the other day.

I was walking toward a man and told him that I was really a bit chilly. So rather than asking me if the heat was working, if he could offer me some hot cocoa, if he could offer me a jacket, if he could even offer me a big-ol' hug, what does he do?

He immediately darts his eyes to my nipple region.

No joke. And he kept those eyes there for some time. It was like my saying I was cold was an excuse for him to use his scientific skills to check if my body really was cold. My engorged nipples would be the evidence he needed.

Fortunately, I had chosen a lightly padded bra that day, though I'm not sure it made any difference.

Unfortunately, the cold does not seem to be wanting to go away. What did that ground hog predict?

15 February 2008

Extra-ordinary... to the point of boredom

I am sitting here. Stomach full from a lunch where I was able to eat outside this facility (much like a normal person).

I am bored. I am supposed to be working on these competencies I should have completed. I am too tired. The faculty got reamed this morning for not all being on time. I missed it all since I arrived after that little speech. Sent an email trying to clarify why we have to be here so early when the actual meat of the day does not start until 45 minutes after they want us to arrive.

I received no response.

My eyes were drooping -- dozing. I had those mini-dreams where you blink and you have a dream that is full length even though you are actually asleep for a split second.

I need to get out of here.

I need the three day weekend to begin. I need for it to not be winter any more so that I do not freeze when I step outside. I need.... rest. Good sleep and a good break from the ordinary.


14 February 2008

Doctors without orders

I have always enjoyed doctor-ish scenes. I loved when I had extended cable and had Discovery Health Channel. They showed full surgeries and did not censor blood or guts or gore. I love Dr. 90210 and seeing the augmentation procedures they do there. I also love emergency room shows like when they have guys who have had 18" power screw drivers embedded in their heads. Nothing grosses me out. I can eat, and enjoy whatever while viewing it all. I find it all educational and entertaining.

My love for all things surgical is one reason why it is awesome to have siblings who are in medical school. Not only can I hear stories of people who name their children Ewuznme, or of people who leave chunks of corn in their child's teeth for months, or of random letters people send to them after finding them on some list serve, I can also hear medically informative things.

It is amazing how science has answers to some questions, but people really don't head the advice.

Take pregnancy for example. In medical school the students learn that a woman should only gain about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. That they only need to eat an additional 200 calories during the first and second trimester, and 300-350 additional calories during the last trimester. That is really not a lot of food. That could be an additional candy bar if you like junk food, or two oranges if you are healthy during the first trimester. All this made me excited, perhaps in my vanity, about being pregnant and not becoming huge.

But, amazingly, many of the doctors pregnant sis is encountering are not heeding what they have learned. They are constantly telling her that she is not eating enough, that she is not big enough, etc.

It really makes me question the medical profession. Seriously. I understand that they have a lot to learn and understand, but when you are in a ob-gyn rotation, shouldn't you understand at least the BASICS, and be able to give the patients the correct information. When kid sisters were in their ob-gyn rotations they said the doctors would not tell the patients that they do not need to be "eating for two". It's like they rely on their great grandmother's oral tradition instead of listening to science.

It also makes me wonder what else they don't know, or what else they are telling people incorrectly, or not correcting people on.

There is so much out there for them to know, and if they can't tell a woman the basics of not eating too much food when they are pregnant, there must be so much more.

I will have to rely on my intelligent, studious sisters and father for information. Or, perhaps, go to medical school, or study the information on my own so I can question and correct my doctors when I am examined or counseled.

13 February 2008

Summarizing my eye twitch

Since morning I have had one of those headaches. Almost as harsh as the ones I had when I thought I was dying and actually went to the hospital.

Most classes went well today. But there were the classes that really got to me. And not in a good way. Some students, even with prompting, prodding, guiding, and modeling, still cannot seem to summarize or find the large, overarching idea in text. And hearing these students go through page by page, section by section, minute detail by minute detail is really not enjoyable. I even interrupted several times to ask questions about the big ideas, to interject the main ideas, to help them understand how to summarize the big ideas.


But all for nothing. They seemed to not even be listening to me. One of them, after I finished asking about the big ideas, the main points, to SUMMARIZE, said "Ok, back to what I was saying." He proceeded to go page by page through the 5 chapters of the text.

Now I have an after school meeting to look forward to.

With a head still aching and an eye beginning to twitch.

12 February 2008

Daily pains

It is always the little things that really annoy me. Though at the time, they seem pretty big. Today, it is the teacher making (literally) 9 packets of 16 pages for almost 100 students on the copier. During my only prep where I get to prepare for the next day. Why must he do that to me? I won't stay any later than I need to, and I really would prefer to sleep in tomorrow.

Then there is the lady at my parents' church who cannot sing, but feels the need to sing really, really, really loud. She is more tone deaf than any person I have ever encountered. More out of key than any person I have ever seen on the best/worst of American Idol. It was so bad that it was really distracting. All I could think about during the songs was her singing. Whether she was able to tell that she was singing so off, whether she was doing it on purpose to cause a distraction from the words and music, whether I should step into the aisle, walk to the front and request that no songs be played or sung on days when she is in attendance.

It was that bad. It really pained me.

08 February 2008


I have written more today and yesterday than in a long while.

An amendment on No Child Left Behind -- I spoke with the guidance councelor, since I am all about getting the facts. He went through the list and said that a lot of the guys are on the bubble, but only because they need to pass their classes this semester in order to graduate. There are others who are for sure not graduating. But the numbers are not as bad as the students I spoke with earlier today. There should be more than 50% of the class graduating, and more than four boys.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And it's Friday.

No child left behind

More good news today:
* Only half of the senior class is likely to graduate
* Only 4 out of about 15 or so black boys are likely to graduate

What in the world is going on? Why is it that in 2008 it is still seen as uncool for a black person to be good at school? Why is smartness seen as being or acting white? Why are the females here so intent on messing with these boys who are not shooting for anything? There is one fool who this is his second time around as a senior, and he is still not going to graduate.

Perhaps it is tied to the culture we live in -- rather the culture they observe on television and in movies. The people they see making videos or the people they see on reality television who make it big by doing not much of anything besides sleeping with a huge variety of people in a really short amount of time.

I'm not blaming hip hop. I am blaming ignorant children. Ones who do not understand the value of education or the concept of hard work to achieve something. Anything.

How depressing. What a day. What a city.


I spoke with some people who have lived in Kirkwood before. One man lived there for 12 years. And said that even then, people were fucking with Cookie.

He lived in Meacham Park. Which is an area where the city of Kirkwood tries to limit the African American people to. The area is the same one where most of the new businesses (super huge Target, Sams, etc) have been built. Meaning that most of the homes of these African Americans have been destroyed. Homes where these people lived for long periods of time.

The man I spoke with (white guy) said that there is a "plantation mentality" going on in Kirkwood where the white people think they can squeeze out the black people and make them leave their city.

Cookie was trying to run a construction business. He would store materials in his yard since he could not afford to store them in some type of warehouse. He also parked his truck or van on the street. There the city would put tickets on the vehicle regularly. They also gave him tickets for having the materials in his yard.

But how do you expect a man to make a living if he can't afford to do business the way the rich people in the area do business? If he is trying to make a living the hard way since his family has not given him a ton of money and he is probably not given loans as easily as his white counterparts? If he does not have friends who can go in on a project with him with their "spare" money? How is he supposed to make a living if he is constantly having to pay off tickets or try and find a way to store his materials for his work?


It all drives me crazy. And I didn't live it.

He did.

And he constantly, for at least 12 years, has been trying to right the situation. He has tried to get people to stop tearing down neighborhood homes at the detriment of the people he knows, for the benefit of rich people in the area, or rich people controlling nation-wide franchises.

I hate that he did this. I hate that people died. I hate that he felt so betrayed and ignored that he felt this was the only solution. I hate that people are so out for themselves that they couldn't even fathom trying to listen to the man and help him out a little -- give him a little slack and let him do business from home. I hate that people ALL OVER THIS NATION are continuously trying to move African American people further and further from where they are -- further and further into nothingness. It is happening all over this city. It is happening just down the street from where I live, just across the street from where I live, just behind where I live. I am surrounded by it. I am disgusted by it. I am vehemently against all of it.

You cannot continuously ignore, mentally torture, displace, destroy the lives of, and fuck with people and not expect them to react in a way that you would not like; a way that will harm people.

People being interviewed on the news all say that they have known the situation with Cookie for a long time. Why have they done nothing to help him do what he was trying to do? Why have they continued to move people out of their neighborhoods? It has been a long time of people not addressing issues in ways that would resolve them. And I'm not just talking about Kirkwood. Conflict management people. Seriously. You have to deal with problems and not let people be shit on constantly.

Please understand that I am not condoning his actions. I am really and truly upset that it came to this. I know people from the area and know that they must be going through some tough times having lost people they know and have been around for ages. This city is a bunch of small towns -- people are connected in so many ways. I know that there were parents, siblings, spouses in that building. And it really hurts.

I just want people to recognize that all people are people. That they all deserve a chance. A fair chance.

Can that really ever happen in this nation?

I honestly do not know.

07 February 2008

Another "shocker"

There was a shooting this evening around 7pm in Kirkwood. Nice, fancy, white-bred Kirkwood. Home of the kidnapper of the two kids a while back. Now home of a man who went outside an Imo's and killed a cop, then proceeded into the city council meeting and killed 6 more people and injured one other.

Check the St. Louis news, and I have already seen it on the cover page of Yahoo!.

I really am looking forward to hearing more information about the "disgruntled man". He is a person with melanin in his skin. He is said to have come to the meetings on several, repeated occasions trying to get some sort of zoning issues resolved as well as to address his civil rights.
All people are saying right now is that the people in the town knew of him, that he was known to constantly be sharing his greivances, that he had made threats prior to this day.

From the news I've heard so far, his family has said that the city was basically giving him tickets and trying to get him to not run a business out of his home -- in a nutshell.

Fortunately, I have not heard him being addressed as "a black man went into the city council and killed people." Have only heard race brought up once, and that was by a interviewee who said something like this may be about groups, but I don't know.

I don't know the whole story, but I can say that people need to listen to people's problems. People need to find out how to help people feel welcome in their neighborhoods. People need to not take threats lightly.

People need to not think that their neighborhood is beyond metal detectors just because it is "a nice neighborhood" where "things like this don't happen" where you "used to be able to walk from one side of [plug in city] to the other without fear".

Since it is a black man killing in a predominantly white area, be ready to hear stories of the need for people to have guns in their neighborhoods for protection.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims -- both the the ones shot by Cookie, and Cookie's family, as well. If you have seen local news, you can see that it touches many people's lives; several anchors are from the area and knew the people involved.

06 February 2008

The state of voting today/yesterday

All day yesterday kids and teacher’s came up to me in the hall asking if I had voted, who I was voting for, when I was going to vote. Sometimes I enjoy talking about politics with people. This year has been a good year for debate and discussion since it is in the forefront of so many people’s minds. Statistics are clear that this year has seen the largest ratings for debates, likely because people want to hear more from the candidates and less from the news reporters who put their own spin on subjects.

I love that people are actually caring about the government and the future of this nation.

But, I also love when people look into issues and learn what people really believe.

Young people in the school, typically, do not do any sort of research on candidates. This can be seen even as little as 5 years old. Little kids say they support so-and-so just because they have heard their parents spew their views on that person. Older kids are the same way. They tend to like a candidate because a celebrity, a teacher, a friend, a parent likes that person. Or it could be the opposite.

Most people in this country do not look into the character and the issues that a candidate supports.

I don’t want to influence a student to like someone without looking into issues. I don’t even like discussing the candidates with a student unless they have done some searching on their own and have a solid reason for why they are backing a person running for office.

I know it is my job to help influence students, but I don’t want to do it by making up their minds about candidates for them. I want to influence them by having them learn to make decisions on their own, based on sound evidence.

Also, this whole voting thing kind of sucks. I feel as though I have to vote for certain people just because they are the front runners even though the people who have my wants and needs in mind are on the ballot. A man like Kucinich is really more of a person that EVERYONE should be voting for. But because he does not have the money or the public backing, no one is listing to him. No one is paying attention to the issues and concerns that he is bringing up – issues and concerns that affect all people in this country. Questions about how the country will work, solutions as to how to make sure that all people benefit from living here, solutions to make the environment better, and more.

But I can’t vote for him.

I have to chose the second best choice in order to make sure that the third best choice does not get the party nomination.

The whole process sucks.

But yeah for people caring.

If you are voting without knowing the issues check out these sites (thanks to KBOs link to Jaelithe)

* Electoral Compass
* Candidate Match Game

02 February 2008

Phil saw his shadow

Never really understood the idea of Ground Hog's Day.

What the hell. Who decided that a stupid, ugly little animal could predict weather?

And is it really predicting anything? From what I remember, if he sees his shadow, there are 6 more weeks of winter. And if he doesn't see his shadow, then spring will start in 6 weeks.

Someone help me understand the difference.

KBO went with some friends to see Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania. There are some big festivities involved. The partying sounds like fun, but I cannot support the whole idea of this day.

And if we are relying on a hog, why is the date for the start of spring always marked ahead of time on the calendar?

I cannot fully understand how it all could have even started. Seriously.

Who got together during the winter, sat around their home-brewed moonshine and decided that to figure out the weather and know when they could start to plant their seeds in the ground all they had to do was find this animal in his den and see if he saw his shadow when he popped out of the whole early on the morning of February 2nd? And why would they pick that day? And why that animal?

Maybe they were on more than moonshine. Opiates, perhaps.

A future (and present) leader

Some days I am really discouraged by high school aged people. They just don't seem to have a focus, or a care about anything.

Thursday at school, though, I experienced a glimmer of hope that really brightened my day.

Thursday was "I'm so hood" Day. Even when I first heard of the name for that day, I was appalled and confused. What the hell does that mean? And what does that say we are trying to promote among the students? Why do we constantly tell them to pull their pants up and not show us their grimy underwear every day, and yet suddenly allow them to dress in that manner with no repercussions? Why do we perpetuate a stereotype of black people and suddenly allow all the races to feed into, and satirize that stereotype? A stereotype that for some is not seen as such, but as the truth. Why is it ok for them to have a "I'm so hood" day, but it is considered offensive to have a black-face day, or a mammy day?

Lots of questions. Lots of animosity. Lots of just feeling sick to my stomach from the moment I walked into school at 7:15.

I talked with a few students about the whole day and what it meant to them. One of them was truly offended. And the fact that he was so appalled really touched me and helped me to understand him and appreciate him more. I've worked with him through track and in class since he was a freshman, yet never got the impression that he cared about anything like this. Granted, he never wears his clothes too big, and throughout the end of last year and all of this year, he has been carrying himself differently, but it was still awesome to hear him voice his concerns.

We talked. I let him vent. Then I explained how I felt about it all. How it is all something continually perpetuated in the society in which we live.

I saw him questioning people about how they were dressed that day. I loved it. Hopefully he will continue to spread his messages to the other youth he encounters.

I look forward to more intelligent conversations with this person and with other young people at the school.