Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh, Poop

I just wrote my first interesting post in months. It was on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his belief in spiritualism. I wrote it in Notepad, then cut and pasted it into Blogger. I always save my posts, always, but I guess it's early today and I forgot this time. When I went to publish the post, Blogger told me that I needed to add a tag somewhere ... but it had also cut out most of my post. What was about five paragraphs had been cut down to three sentences. About three seconds before, I'd closed Notepad--without saving the file.

So y'all are going to have to wait a little longer for something culturally interesting here. Sorry!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Handwriting Analysis

I found the link for this handwriting test over at The Upward Call. I can't resist a fun online test, so I took it. Here are my results:

This first "analysis" relates to my loopy y's.

Waterfall exaggerates about everything that has a physical nature. Although she may not intend to deceive or mislead, she blows things way out of proportion because that is the way she views them. She will be a good story teller. This exaggeration relates to all areas of her material world. Waterfall allows many people into her life because she is accepting and trusting. She is sometimes called gullible by her friends. That only really means that she trusts too many people. Waterfall has a vivid imagination.

Waterfall has a healthy imagination and displays a fair amount of trust. She lets new people into her circle of friends. She uses her imagination to understand new ideas, things, and people.

OK, so yes, I do exaggerate a lot. That's a good, creative thing to do, right? :)

This next one has to do with how I cross my t's.

One way Waterfall punishes herself is self directed sarcasm. She is a very sarcastic person. Often this sarcasm and "sharp tongued" behavior is directed at herself.

Heh ... moi? Sarcastic?

Now for the part that makes me sound like I need a therapist, or lots more drugs:

Waterfall's true self-image is unreasonably low. Someone once told Waterfall that she wasn't a great and beautiful person, and she believed them. Waterfall also has a fear that she might fail if she takes large risks. Therefore she resists setting her goals too high, risking failure. She doesn't have the internal confidence that frees her to take risks and chance failure. Waterfall is capable of accomplishing much more than she is presently achieving. All this relates to her self-esteem. Waterfall's self-concept is artificially low. Waterfall will stay in a bad situation much too long... why? Because she is afraid that if she makes a change, it might get worse. It is hard for Waterfall to plan too far into the future. She kind of takes things on a day to day basis. She may tell you her dreams but she is living in today, with a fear of making a change. No matter how loud she speaks, look at her actions. This is perhaps the biggest single barrier to happiness people not believing in and loving themselves. Waterfall is an example of someone living with a low self-image, because their innate self-confidence was broken.

Mabye that was true when I was ... well, not so long ago ... but I'm much better now! :)

In this next analysis, I sound smart and good again.

In reference to Waterfall's mental abilities, she has a very investigating and creating mind. She investigates projects rapidly because she is curious about many things. She gets involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but she soon must slow down and look at all the angles. She probably gets too many things going at once. When Waterfall slows down, then she becomes more creative than before. Since it takes time to be creative, she must slow down to do it. She then decides what projects she has time to finish. Thus she finishes at a slower pace than when she started the project. She has the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. Her mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. She can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. Waterfall can then switch into her low gear. When she is in the slower mode, she can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. She is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

"Climb mental mountains." I like that! Now, for my diplomatic abilities ...

Diplomacy is one of Waterfall's best attributes. She has the ability to say what others want to hear. She can have tact with others. She has the ability to state things in such a way as to not offend someone else. Waterfall can disagree without being disagreeable.

Actually, my diplomacy is one of those things that always get high marks in performance reviews at jobs. Now, for more of my neuroses:

Waterfall is not facing something going on in her life today. She is deceiving herself about it. Often, Waterfall's opinion of herself is different than those around her. This trait gives Waterfall the ability to deny anything that does not agree with her "truth." This trait is not always something negative. It is only a defense mechanism allowing Waterfall not to face some reality in her life at this time.

Now, for my sensitivity ...

Waterfall is sensitive to criticism about her ideas and philosophies. She will sometimes worry what people will think if she tells them what she believes in. This doesn't mean she won't talk, or that she feels ashamed. It merely means she is sensitive to what others think, regarding her beliefs.

... and my bipolar overly emotional nature ...

Waterfall is a very emotional person with a broad range of emotions from the highest highs to the lowest lows. She feels emotional situations very strongly. She'll flash to the very peaks of elation, sweeping everything before her. Then, for some reason unknown to herself, she will burn out emotionally. These mood swings can be very disturbing to her. Sometimes, she feels that she can no longer produce anything. But, after given some time alone to "recharge her emotional batteries", she will spring back into action. Because Waterfall feels situations intensely, she relates easily to others' problems. If she is not careful, when she comes into contact with someone who is in a depressed frame of mind, she will also suffer the same emotions and change moods.

(Actually, that last sentence is quite true ...)

Waterfall reacts impulsively, without much thought before hand. She may plan everything in detail before she even begins, then do it completely different when the time comes to carry it through. Waterfall has a strong need for affection. She thrives on touching and being touched. Waterfall desires being told that she is loved, every day. She enjoys being the center of attention. She loves attention, sometimes she even retells stories that got her attention earlier. Waterfall has the possibility of being a actor or natural born salesperson, simply because she relates so well to other people. She likes expressing how she feels, what she is doing, and what she plans to do. She is a people person. She will work most efficiently in a people orientated job as opposed to a job working alone on an assembly line (that would drive her insane.)

No! No! I am not a people person! And I hate the word "orientated"!! And is there anyone who would rather work alone on an assembly line?

People that write their letters in an average height and average size are moderate in their ability to interact socially. According to the data input, Waterfall doesn't write too large or too small, indicating a balanced ability to be social and interact with others.

So I ended on a relatively healthy note. Whew!

That Magical Classroom in the Sky ...

Well folks, it's not gonna happen next weekend. My classroom, I mean. It's been pushed back again. Maybe I'll get to move in over the Thanksgiving holidays.

I do have a bit of good news, though ... I got my first cell phone this weekend. I've never had my own cell phone before.

I also started a private blog for whining and complaining. I've been doing a lot of that lately, which is why it's been so quiet on this blog. :)

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Snow Day!

It's our first snow day, only there's no snow!

There was a water problem at the school today, so they sent everyone home. Good thing, because I didn't fall asleep until 4:30 this morning. If only I had known ... I could have stayed in bed!

I'm happy as a clam, though. All the teachers are. We're all pretty exhausted and could use a snow day like this one.

I, for one, am going to get my oil changed, go to the library, work on my schedule, and wash our ever-growing pile of laundry. Then I'm going to sit on the couch and read for a few hours. The crock-pot is on, and Hubster brought a bunch of wood up yesterday for a few days' worth of snuggling in front of the fireplace. Life is good.

I love snowless snow days!

The Latest Classroom Prediction

I was supposed to be able to move into my new classroom on Saturday, but--surprise!--it's been pushed back a week. It'll definitely be next weekend. They promise.

That's fine with me. It's one more week of carring my one-ton bag and having nowhere to work, but I'll be able to spend this Saturday shopping for cool classroom stuff at the teacher supply store in Asheville.

I'm getting a cell phone this weekend, too. That way, I will no longer have to have parent-teacher telephone conferences on the student phone in the noisy, not-very-private main office.

Life is looking up. Now, if only I could sleep at night!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Writing, Macbeth, and a Manic Crash

It's amazing, the things I've written since becoming a high-school teacher. I just wrote a really good (if I may say so myself) "unofficial guide" for writing a critical analysis of a poem. I mixed a bit of what I've found in books, a bit of what I found online, and a bit of my own experience-based knowledge, and wrote it. My English Lit students have to write a critical analysis of either a Shakespeare sonnet or one of Macbeth's early soliloquies (their choice), but their writing experience is limited. Hence the unofficial guide, which we'll go over (for the first of many times) in class tomorrow.

Speaking of Macbeth, I am experiencing the play on a whole 'nother level now that I'm reading it as a teacher. Sure, I knew Lady Macbeth was evil when I read it the first dozen times, but I've never been so struck by her evil as I am during this reading. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my fellow readers--the students, some of whom are brand-new to Shakespeare--are reading Macbeth for the first time.

I'm very tired today. Remember that manic high I started on the other day? Well, it all came crashing down today. I'm not sure how I made it through the afternoon. Lots of prayer, I guess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sojourner Update

Everyone's favorite Plaquemaniac Baptist preacher, Sojourner, is doing missionary work for several weeks in India, and he just updated his blog today. I'm so glad he's able to update while he's there. Check it out here.

A Spam Haiku for Today

Oh tin of pink meat
I ponder what you may be:
Snout or ear or feet?

The best ones are here.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Music Rejuvenation

Why is it that, as exhausted as I am, an evening with George literally infuses me with more energy than I can handle? Poetry doesn't do this. Exercise doesn't do this. Music does this.

Some might say it's because I'm manic, and that George tends to hit the "manic switch" in my brain. I think it's something simpler than that. Clearly, George is so happy that I finally visited him, so his pure pianistic joy is now overflowing into every cell of my body. That's it.

I played Bach. Sigh. I can rest now.

More happy piano pics are here.

Favorite Pundit Mentions Macbeth

When I was in Cubicle Land and glued to the internet all day, I was a bit of an NR (National Review) junkie. My favorite feature there is Jay Nordlinger's "Impromptus"--an informally written collection of bits and pieces of news and comment (with links to his music reviews thrown in here and there).

Since I took up teaching, I haven't visited NR as often as usual, but I did visit it today in preparation for a composition lesson.

Much to my delight, there was a new "Impromptus" column up. To conclude his brief points on the Ruth Miers nomination and upcoming hearings, Jay writes, "I imagine, up above, that some of you thought of Macbeth: 'If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly.'"

And would you believe, we're reading that very line today in class? How cool is that?

Once again, Mr. Nordlinger proves himself worthy of being my favorite pundit.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Do I have any running readers here? I'm thinking of taking up running. I've tired of the elliptical machine, the bike, and the stairmaster; I can do an hard-core hour on any of them without breaking a sweat. Really. So I'm thinking of taking up treadmill-running for my indoor aerobic activity of choice for the winter.

I went to my health club yesterday (such a luxury on my private-school teacher salary!) and did an hour of walking and running, with approximately 20 minutes devoted to running. Today I did the same thing, only with 30 minutes of running.

I'm not getting tired the way I expected I would. After all, running is hard work! I guess I just need to keep increasing the running intervals, but at the same time I don't want to injure myself. Physically, my body is definitely not used to this motion!

Several months ago, I mentioned to a trainer that I was bored with my workout, particularly the aerobic aspect. He said the best thing for me to do would be (1) to go on another long-distance hike, or (2) to train for a marathon, or at least a half-marathon.

I'm thinking about a half-marathon, since another long-distance hike is a months and months away.

I'd be glad to hear any advice from any of my readers who are into long-distance running and have trained for such long-distance races.

Friday, October 21, 2005



NOUN: 1. A very noisy place. 2. Wild uproar; noise.

Today we reviewed our vocabulary words in my ninth-grade English class. One of those words was "pandemonium."

I said, "Class, I'm now going to demonstrate an instance of pandemonium."

Then I tossed about 15 pieces of chocolate at them, all at once.

Pandemonium immediately ensued. :-)

A Good Friday

Fridays are usually my least favorite days at school. For one thing, I'm exhausted by the time Friday rolls around. For another, my schedule is weird and stressful on Fridays: Because of a snafu in the schedules, Friday chapel falls during the same time slot as my afternoon English Lit class. The kids can't miss chapel, of course, so on Fridays we have what I've dubbed "Literary Lunch." We meet during the lunch period--the only time that everyone had free. The students bring their food to class and eat while I teach.

It's rather distracting to me as a teacher, and it's frustrating because "Literary Lunch," thanks to the short lunch period, is a good 15 minutes shorter than the usual class would be. Add to that the fact that students sometimes get stuck in line for lunch and can't always show up on time ... and that I have to let them leave a little early so they can put their trays up before going to their next class ... well, you get the picture.

Oh, and since I'm teaching, lunch--as in the eating of food--just doesn't happen for me on Fridays.

So you can see why I dislike Fridays.

Today wasn't so bad, though. Oh, we had the usual class-at-lightning-speed "Literary Lunch," where students read their Macbeth parts between bites of food. Frustrating. But the rest of it was good.

For one thing, my morning English Lit class was missing a few students, and the remaining students were more talkative (in a good way) and enthusiastic than I think I've ever seen them in this usually sleepy class. There's a group dynamic thing going on in that class, clearly, and it really helped to see how the present students were so much livelier than when the whole class is there.

My science girls were wonderful as always. I even hugged one of them, I was so excited about her Powerpoint presentation on Watson and Crick.

Composition went well, too. It was Day 2 of a short creative writing activity in which students work on their "Where I Am From" poems. I teach the class in the classroom of a teacher named Alyssa, and Alyssa sometimes sits at her desk and works while I teach, since it's her planning period. She "joined" the creative writing class yesterday, and she sat in the circle with us and read her "Where I Am From" poem to us today. It was a great poem, and she said she really enjoyed writing it! One other student had actually written a poem for today (they were only required to make notes so they could work on their poems in class today), and she read hers, too. It was good! As soon as it's available online, I'll let y'all know!

I love teaching creative writing (I say after Day 2 of my creative-writing-teaching career!). Since it's a composition class (read: expository essays like what they'll have in freshman composition in college), I really can't focus on creative writing ... but I've decided to pepper it liberally with creative writing projects for the rest of the year. Composition is lots of fun, but talk and practice of parallelism, coordinating conjunctions, topic sentences, paragraph coherence, and transitions can cause a class to get a little dry.

Plus, these kids need to learn to write with greater skill, and creative writing is a great way to teach it. I just need to be careful when it comes to grading; the last thing I want to do is turn someone off to creative writing (or even creativity) by telling them their comma usage needs work.

Ninth grade was fun, too. We did vocabulary and talked about one of my favorite short stories, James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." That class could fill a whole blog post, so I think I'll wait and write one a little later on this weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Happiest Teacher Alive!

It looks like (crossing fingers) I'll be able to (praying hard) move into my new (thinking, "please, please, please!") classroom over Halloween weekend. If this happens, I will become the Happiest Teacher Alive.

Can you imagine it? My own classroom? No longer will I have to live out of a one-ton tote bag, hang out in the main office, have "planning period" on the bug-collection display table, or drag a gazillion books and supplies back and forth to school every day.

No longer will I have to rush from borrowed classroom to borrowed classroom. No longer will I have to waste precious time writing assignments on the board (I'll be able to do that in my own classroom before classes start in the morning) and collecting and handing back homework (I'll have special boxes for students to drop off and retrieve their work). No longer will I have to go from the computer lab (where we have science) to the cafeteria (where we have lab) halfway through class. No longer will I have no place to go when I need a bit of privacy. Woo hoo!

No longer will I run the risk of forgetting Something Important at home and having to go back home to get it after arriving at school (which is 20 minutes from home).

No longer will I be up till midnight every night, because I'll be able to do my lesson planning on my school computer in my own classroom after school.

Did I mention that, with my own classroom, I'm going to get my own computer? I'll be able to, like, store files of tests and worksheets and print them out at school! And if I find a typo in an assignment (and oh, how my students love it when Waterfall commits a typo!), I can, like, fix it in Word and print it out again.

I know. It's unbelievable. And it will remain unbelievable until I actually, really, truly have my own in-the-cement-blocks classroom.

Oh, happiness. Oh, joy. I may even get a white board. Of my very own.

Now all I need to get is a cell phone, and I won't have to use the very non-private student phone in the office anymore! Yay!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blogging from School

I just stuffed a bunch of cardboard-paper ribosomes and amino acids, along with several paper chains of DNA, mRNA, and tRNA, into my school mailbox in the main office. It looks like there was a paper explosion in there.

Have I mentioned that I love being a teacher?

Yet Another School-Related Post

Day 1 of Macbeth went well. I think I get high on discussing Shakespeare. I feel sorry for my composition class, which meets immediately after English Lit. I'm distracted for the first ten minutes of class because my mind is so completely soaked in Macbeth.

Wanna know what else I did yesterday?

In Life Science, I taught DNA replication. I don't know, it just seems so cool that I get to be the one to introduce kids to thymine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine (and don't forget uracil!) for the first time. Such an honor!

In composition, we discussed paragraph unity and a paragraph-building technique called downshifting, in which you move from very general sentence "levels" to very specific ones. Downshifting helps you to keep your focus on the topic sentence of a paragraph and helps ensure that every sentence in your entire paragraph is related to the topic sentence. I've been on an "Avoid Paragraph Sprawl" kick lately in that class.

In English 9, we discussed count and noncount nouns and I assigned a book report. Sounds boring, but it wasn't too bad. I really like my ninth graders, even if they are a bit rowdy. Some of them are hysterically funny, and I enjoy teaching them.

Today, I'm teaching RNA transcription; Act 1, Scene 2 of Macbeth; and characterization in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." In composition we're doing peer editing, and then on Thursday we're going to take a little break from essays and play with some poetry. I'm having the class work on individual "Where I Am From" poems. Aren't ya jealous? Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Today's Lesson

I can barely contain my excitement.

We start reading Macbeth today!!

We'll begin at the beginning: Act 1, Scene 1, with the three witches.

I'm so happy. I hope they like Macbeth. Even if they don't, I'm still happy. Why? Because I'm reading Shakespeare and not software documentation drafts for a living!

Here's today's reading selection. Imagine it being read in the witchiest voices you can think of! And imagine lots of thunder and lightning! And stick an imaginary exclamation point at the end of that last line!

[A heath]

Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches

1. Witch When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2. Witch. When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.
3. Witch. That will be ere the set of sun.
1. Witch. Where the place?
2. Witch. Upon the heath.
3. Witch. There to meet with Macbeth.
1. Witch. I come, Graymalkin!
[2. Witch.] Paddock calls:—Anon!
All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Great Pumpkins!

Go visit Amy's blog to see her cool jack-o-lanterns for this year. I love the one with the goofy face the best!

My Kids Don't Stink. I Promise.

I guess this woman really wanted to get fired. Not only did she blog from a school computer about personal matters (okay, her sexual exploits), but she referred to her students as "stinky kids." Unbelievable.

The only exploits you'll find here, folks, are of an asexual nature and involve socks and silly amoeba cartoons. Move on, now.

Hat tip: Education Wonks

Amoebas and Fission

In our continuing romp through the wonderful world of asexual reproduction, we'll be talking about amoebas and fission today in my seventh-grade Life Science class.

I wonder, what is it about amoebas that makes them so ... amusing? In Dead Poets Society, when Robin Williams asks a student, "Are you a man or an amoeba?" I just laugh uproariously. Is it just me, or are amoebas really kind of funny, in their own way?

Enjoy the cartoon! (Even though it should probably say, "My parent split up when I was very young ...") (Heh ... yep, that was an instance of uproarious laughter, that "heh" ...)

Puncture Wound

Last night, while "playing" with my cat (though he had a weird idea of "playing"), I sustained a puncture wound to the knuckle of my right index finger. I thought nothing of it, since I always have a scratch or two on me from "playing."

But today, my finger is swollen, stiff, and painful. I can barely type, much less play the piano or hold a tennis racket (two things I'm supposed to do today).

I wonder if it's swollen because the (somewhat deep) puncture is right in the knuckle, or if it's infected. If I'm still in major pain after another day or two, I guess I'll go see the doctor.

Ah, what a nice way to start the week! (My freshmen would tell you that this sentence is an example of verbal irony.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Tar Heel Tavern is Up

This week's Tar Heel Tavern is up at Mister Sugar's. Go read about t-shirts!

Little-Known Facts about Waterfall

I've been tagged by Amy to write down facts about myself that few people know ... but, to be honest, I can't think of much that I haven't already told you, dear readers. The few things that I haven't told you are typically pretty morbid and depressing. So I'll try to think of non-morbid, non-depressing things to tell you. Please forgive the fact that they're very random and not all that interesting.

1. I used to have a really good serve in volleyball. In high school, we played several games where I just went to the serving line and served 15 aces in a row. I was never a great athlete, but I made up for it with my killer serve.

2. I once learned from a friend that she had been sexually abused by a family member, so I told my mom (even though my friend made me swear to tell no one). My mom told her mom, my friend had to get counseling, and major problems erupted in that family. I don't know if that friend ever forgave me. I haven't seen her in many years.

3. I decided to become a smoker when I was 13 or 14. The day after I "started smoking," I learned that my grandmother had been diagnosed with smoking-related cancer. I figured God was trying to tell me something, so I "quit smoking" immediately. So ended my brief smoking career!

4. My first concert was John Denver in 1976 or 1977, and my second was Rick Springfield in 1982.

5. I'm not just an introvert, but I'm also painfully shy in social situations.

So, who wants to be tagged? Paula? Erin? Dulciana?

T-Shirt Tyme

For this week's Tarheel Tavern, North Carolina bloggers were asked to tell about their favorite t-shirts.

I don't know if I have any favorite t-shirts these days, but I thought I'd share two of 'em with you. For whatever reason, these two have survived wardrobe-purging events and have avoided the family's annual trip to Goodwill.

This is probably my oldest t-shirt. I bought it in the summer of 1988 on a family vacation to Vancouver. I had just graduated from high school and was gearing up for my first (and what would be my only) semester at Tulane University. When I bought this t-shirt, I told myself, "This is it. I'm wearing this t-shirt on my first day of college."

Even though this t-shirt is over 15 years old, I still get compliments on it every time I wear it.

Now, I got this t-shirt at some little tie-dye booth in the French Quarter (actually the French Market) in New Orleans. It was May Term 1989, and I was taking a course titled "History of Jazz in New Orleans." When I signed up for the course, I thought it was about the History of New Orleans Jazz, to be taught at my college, which is located in Virginia. No ... the course was "History of Jazz" ... IN New Orleans. So I got to spend four wonderful weeks living in uptown New Orleans while taking a course in jazz. We were required to attend all seven days of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. What a tough class! :)

Anyway, I bought this t-shirt one weekend while hanging out in the French Quarter during that time. It's been a favorite t-shirt of mine for many years, even though I'm not much of a hippie-peacenik type anymore. It's another t-shirt that often gets compliments, though it's getting pretty threadbare and may end up on the family Goodwill trip in another year or two.

So, readers ... even if you're not from North Carolina, I'd love to know what your favorite t-shirts are. Please let me know in the comments, or better yet, post something about it on your own blog!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bistro at Biltmore

My brother just moved from Seattle to my neck of the woods, and he's working at The Bistro over at the Biltmore Winery in Asheville.

If you live in Asheville and happen to eat at the Bistro, be sure and give your compliments to the Ghentry the Chef Line Cook.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Carnival of Education

This week's Carnival of Education is up at Jenny D.'s blog. Lots of interesting stuff there!

Fun with Mitosis

Yes, kiddies, Waterfall can make even asexual reproduction fun. All you need is the internet.

We started the "Genes and Mitosis" unit of science today. Last night, as I looked at the material, I remembered learning about mitosis when I was in seventh grade. I hated it. I didn't understand it. The day we covered mitosis was one of the few boring classes I remember ever having with Mr. Marvin.

So I needed to do something. I needed to make mitosis interesting.

I found this lesson plan online and decided to give it a shot. Basically, it involves using some cord and several pairs of socks to "enact" mitosis. Here's the beginning of anaphase, for example:

I have five students in my class, so I used five pairs of socks. I lectured on mitosis, and while they didn't seem as confused as I'd been in seventh grade, they still weren't entirely comfortable with the new concepts.

Then we did the "sock lab." And it was as if I could see the lightbulbs going on in their little minds. "Ohhhhh, now I get it ...!"

What a great exercise. I showed it to one of the other science teachers, and she's going to use it, too.

I'm just glad I could make mitosis as painless as possible for my students.

We finished the lab up early, so we went to the piano and played fun songs for a few minutes until the bell rang.

I love being a teacher.

A Just-for-the-Heck-of-It Ramble

My birthmom wanted me to post so she'd having something more to read in her daily surf of bloggery. She's now back online, for good, after being evacuated from Kenner, Louisiana, and then coming home to find her whole world in dissolution. (Her apartment was spared, but the emotional impact of being back in the New Orleans area was devastating.)

So she's living somewhere else now, somewhere much closer to me (yay!), and is back visiting the blogosphere again. So I'll post something--even though I haven't much to say this morning.

There's a lot I want to write, but much of it is of a personal nature. That never stopped me before, but I am a bit "higher-profile" than I was when in Cubicle Land. People I work with know my blog address. Even some of my students may have it--which probably means that most of my students have it. So, even though I'm pretty much an open book with most folks, a part of me resists writing "innermost thoughts" the way I might have a year ago. If I'm frustrated about school, I'm reluctant to write too much about it; I don't want to bad-mouth the school in public, particularly when I know that my frustration is only temporary. I don't want to share too much of myself because I like the "distance" of wearing the teacher hat.

"Waterfall," you're thinking, "This has never been a 'true confessions' blog. Why don't you post something about Bach or piano?"

I guess my arts/music postings have slowed down because my internet-time has gone from eight hours a day to maybe a half-hour a day ... and that half-hour is broken into six or seven four- or five-minute blocks. There is just no time to collect information, download a picture, and wrap everything up into a neat little post.

I need to find more time. I like the fact that some people have listed me as an "arts" blog in their blogrolls. This definitely hasn't been an arts blog lately. It's turned into an education blog. That's not a bad thing, but it is a bad thing that piano and music have been on the back burner of my life ever since school began.

I haven't quit playing piano, though my practice-time has seen an acute decrease. I'm playing a couple of times a week for the latchkey kids and am enjoying that immensely. Yesterday, one little third-grader ran up to me when I was in the hall and dragged me to the piano so she could play "Yankee Doodle" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for me--two songs that she had learned by ear. I showed her how to hold her fingers curved and gave her a suggestion on fingering. Then we played that horrid favorite of all children, the "Heart and Soul" duet.

Ack. I just re-read that last paragraph and thought to myself, "How the mighty have fallen!" I need to get back to my regular, serious practices. Playing duets with kids is fun, and it's definitely fulfilling, but there is no substitute for playing a difficult classical piece well after months of dedicated practice.

What a ramble. It's 6:34 a.m., which means it's time for me to get my shower and get ready for school. I think it's going to be a good day, even though I'm currently very frustrated about school-related things. This, too, shall pass ... so I won't go into the details of my frustration here.

Later, y'all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I Love This Guy

Today in class we read Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, also known as "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." I remember the first time I ever read it ... I think. I believe it was in Mrs. Edwards' ninth-grade class at Episcopal. I remember thinking it was funny, not snobby or high falutin as I expected Shakespeare to be.

When I first told the class that we were going to read Shakespeare, they groaned. Groaned, I say! I believe they moaned, too. There was some gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair.

They were even less enthusiastic when I said we would be reading sonnets. This saddened me. I mean, this is Shakespeare. Shakespeare is wonderful. It is a travesty that so many high-school students end up with such a bad taste in their mouth for all things Shakespeare.

I don't want my students to hate Shakespeare. So I'm hoping my love for Shakespeare will be a positive thing. I'm no expert in Shakespeare, but I'm no ignoramus either when it comes to the Bard. So maybe my knowledge and enthusiasm will help to discourage teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling.

Today, after we read and analyzed Sonnet 130, I looked up to see a couple of students grinning. "Did you like that one?" I asked, and they nodded.

They liked it! Hey, Mikey!

And then, as class was ending, another student said he was looking forward to writing his sonnet, that he thought it would be fun.

A sonnet! Fun! Yes! He gets it!

I'm very happy today. The Shakespeare-hatred seems to be decreasing ever so slightly in this English Literature class. I hope they will continue to learn that, if you just read Shakespeare and become even a little bit accustomed to the 16th-century "speech," you simply can't help but love old Will.

Oh ... here's the sonnet we read today.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What We're Reading

Diane at A Circle of Quiet has begun posting her long-awaited list of what her readers are reading. Unfortunately, all I'm reading these days are essays and quizzes. But Diane's list has already given me some ideas for what I'll read over the Christmas holidays!

Tar Heel Tavern #33 is Up!

Check out this week's Tar Heel Tavern at Nothing Could Be Better. This week's theme is "Special Days." I've had special days, but I completely forgot to submit something (again). Maybe next week!

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Wifey Was the Only Smart One

We went to West Virginia this weekend to go whitewater rafting on the Gauley River, which has a bunch of Class-4 and Class-5 rapids.

It was in the low 50s and drizzly cold. I am a cold-weather wimp. I let everyone else go whitewater rafting. While they froze their tushes off (and had a wonderful time, they said), I went to the library a couple of visitor-center museums and a few little shops. Read books and wrote stuff--my favorite weekend activity. :)

I know. I'm supposed to be an outdoor-adventure lover. And I am. I just didn't see the point in being cold and wet for 8+ hours when I could come back in the summer and whitewater raft when it's 90 degrees outside.

I heard the Hubster talking on the phone to a friend this evening after we got home. He was telling his friend about how cold and rough it was (he'd fallen from the boat three times and thought he was going to drown once) and how "Wifey was the only smart one. She didn't go."

Hee hee. That Hubster sure knows what he's talking about. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2005

I Love Uncle Shelby

And now, for a bit of Scouting humor from the late, great Shel Silverstein ...

True Art or Fake?

Reflections in d minor points us to the True Art or Fake? quiz and many others. I was kinda proud o' myself, a-gettin' a 92% on the art quiz an' all.

Today Was So Good

In Life Science, I managed to explain cellular respiration, both aerobic and anaerobic, without confusing anyone. And I have them working on a song to help them to remember the steps.

In English Lit, I managed to explain sonnets without jumping up and down and squealing, "Yippeeeee, we're reading Shaaaakespeeeare!!"

In composition, we talked about parallelism. I love parallelism. And at least one of my students said she has learned to love semicolons. A convert!

In Fundamentals of Lit, I told my Christian-school students that comma splices and fused sentences were the eighth and ninth deadly sins, respectively.

And Waterfall said, "Thou shalt not fuse thy independent clauses!"

School was good today. On Tuesday, I had to go home early because I was overwhelmed and couldn't stop crying. Wednesday was a little better but still not great. Thursday (today) rocked.

I felt like the perfect little English teacher.

Life is good!

Wednesday, October 5, 2005


I'm so happy! We finally get to read some Shakespeare tomorrow!! Yee-ha! I'm so happy!

Today I asked my seniors if any of them knew what a sonnet was, and none of them knew. Woo hoo! I get to be the teacher who introduces them to sonnets!

They will love Shakespeare, because I love Shakespeare!

So, here's one of the sonnets we're going to read tomorrow. It'll be an exercise in learning how to scan, learning how to identify iambic pentameter, and learning how to determine rhyme scheme--as well as an exercise in learning how to actually figure out what the heck a 16th-century sonnet's saying.

Sonnet 19

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

Hee hee! This is thrilling! I get to introduce people to Shakespeare's sonnets! I get to share with them this great tradition of English literature, a poetic style that many students have moaned and groaned about because it's "too boring" or "too hard" or "a waste of time."

I hope my students don't moan and groan. Today, as we read a short poem by Queen Elizabeth I, someone asked why it was written in such a weird, contrived style. I replied without thinking, "Well, that's all part of the fun!"

Hee hee.

I'm a happy girlie. Even though I'm stressed out of my mind. :)

Playmates and Prejudice

What happens when you show kindergarteners a picture of a white child and a picture of a black child, then ask them to choose one of them for a playmate? Get on the Bus tells of a recent study that did just this, and the results were not what the teachers expected.

I can't say I'm really surprised at the results. Isn't it human nature to lean toward the familiar in our experience? Is it necessarily a bad thing if you merely select the "friend color" that you're used to seeing every day?

Hat Tip: The Carnival of Education at Education Wonks

Saturday, October 1, 2005

I Love My Students! I Love Literature!

I tutored a student today who is having trouble in one of my English classes. Her mom insisted on paying me, even though I originally had not intended to charge anything.

Sure, it's nice to have a few extra dollars ... but there is just no substitute for the joy I get from helping a student to gain a richer understanding of literature. That is the honest truth--not just me trying to sound sappy.

We read through "The Cask of Amontillado," by Edgar Allan Poe. I've probably read that story 30 or 40 times in my lifetime. Yet, as my student read aloud and I thought about the words and we discussed each paragraph, I gained new insights and thought to myself, "You dork! That would have been such a great thing to share with the class!"

Only thing is, they had their test Friday and we're moving on to Jack London's "To Build a Fire" on Monday.

Yay! I love "To Build a Fire"! I'm going to have them share their personal "outdoor adventure stories" on Monday. Maybe I'll share my own "To Cross (or not) a Stream during a Flash Flood." Here's an exerpt for your reading pleasure:

I stepped onto a rock in the creek. So far, so good. I took another step ... the next moment, I was rushing down the creek, going under, coming back up, and going under again. As I gasped for breath, I knew my chances for survival were low if I didn't catch hold of a branch, soon. I let go of my tent so I could have both arms free, and I grabbed with all my might at a thick tree root. It held! The pack was weighing me down, and I couldn't get it off my shoulders. I had forgotten to undo the sternum strap, a realization that had actually hit me as I'd begun flying down the river. I hauled myself out of the water, pack and all, thankful to be alive.

Moments later, I realized that I no longer had a tent. One tent stake remained in my pocket. And my glasses were somewhere in the creek.

I took a deep breath. My trip was over, and I knew that. But I had more pressing concerns than that. It was getting darker, colder, and the wind was kicking up. The weather channel's website had forecast temperatures in the 30s and rain all night long. I was soaking wet, and so was my pack. I had no shelter. If I didn't do something soon, hypothermia would become a real threat.

Poor Benjamin Czarnota

Lately it seems that a lot of folks have been Googling an opera singer from Indiana University named Benjamin Czarnota, and it leads them to my site. This is because he played the Count in Brevard Music Center's summer 2004 performance of The Marriage of Figaro, which I wrote about on my blog.

I made a comment in that post about Czarnota's effectiveness in the role. See, the guy who played Figaro was a big, good-lookin' guy, and Czarnota's count was small and slight, with slicked-back hair (if I remember right). The Count, who is trying to seduce Figaro's bride-to-be, is supposed to be a despicable character, and Czarnota's character looked the part.

In the blog post, I didn't describe him very nicely. I said Czarnota made the count look like a little weenie of a man. I meant it as a compliment (how often do opera singers actually "look the part," anyway?), but now people are Googling this poor guy and reading that some stupid blogger girl thinks he looks like a little weenie of a man. That's not how I meant it, I promise!

It's amazing, the things that come back to haunt you in the blogosphere.

Practicing Pact ... Sorry, Folks

Just wanted to let everyone know, I really haven't been keeping up with the practicing pact of late. It definitely has to do with how little time I have to (1) practice, (2) blog, and (3) check out the blogs of my musician friends. If When my schedule eases up a bit, I'll return to my old practice--both of posting minutes and of practicing!

Blogging Elsewhere

Hi, Strangers! I've been blogging with my friend Anh over at Then a Gentle Whisper . Check it out!