Thursday, July 28, 2005

The end of my career?

Today's lunch at the faculty club was Chinese themed, complete with fortune cookies. I quote my fortune:

Financial hardship in your life is coming to an end. Enjoy!

So apparently I won't be teaching this year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

More adventures from teaching camp

The teaching history workshop continues to have its pluses and minuses. A giant minus would be Mr. Bigmouth. You all know Mr. Bigmouth. He thinks everything he has to say is important and completely dominates all conversation. Talks loud. Voices opinions and ideas that are outrageous and a sometimes offensive. The worst part about having Mr. Bigmouth in class (and let's face it, there's ALWAYS a Mr. Bigmouth) is that no one else gets to participate. I mean, sure, I could raise my hand and say something, but after he blabs on for twenty minutes I'm just ready for the professor to move on.

On a more positive/humorous note:

Today we discovered that the $15 "copy and print" cards are really just I.D. cards with money added to them (as most colleges today have). So, that means we can use these cards to buy iced coffee at the coffee shop and snacks at the vending machine. SCORE!

Today after lunch we were enjoying our iced coffees and talking. Then, we realized it was time to go. We had a 1:00 meeting in the library with the state archives. Now, let me back up a little to say that yesterday we also had a 1:00 meeting with a librarian who took 15 minutes to get started while we sat there staring at computers he had deliberately frozen so that we could not use. So, we were a little bitter. We decided we weren't finished talking and we could afford to be a little late to our meeting. After all, six of us were sitting there and there are only eight in the class. So we took our sweet time and headed to the library at 1:02. (Teachers are such nerds! We consider ourselves rebels by being five minutes late!)

Well, low and beyond, when we all strolled into our meeting guess who was there...Not just anyone. The STATE ARCHIVIST. And the workshop director. They did not look happy. We didn't realize this was an important meeting. We will not be late again. But we will still buy iced coffee. Who makes 1500 copies in a two week period?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Give up?

No guesses, eh?? I thought this would be easy. I think you were imagining it as a puzzle of some sort, and it wasn't really.

The phrases listed in my last post are all subject lines for spam emails. More specifically, they are all subject lines for emails trying to sell me Viagra or other similar drugs. They raise some questions:

1. Where in the world do they come up with those lines? I know they are just trying to get around spam blockers, but they require a lot of creativity.

2. Who is buying this stuff???! Someone out there MUST respond to telemarketers and spammers or they wouldn't continue to solicit in these ways. I don't know a single person who has ever bought something as a result of a telemarketer or spam email. If you are one of them, please stop.

In other news, I started my second workshop of the season. This one is paid for by a Department of Ed. grant. Your tax dollars at work! It serves three purposes. One is to help us improve our content knowledge. This is done through the teaching of a local professor. Second is to help us integrate that knowledge into practical classroom exercises. This is facilitated through a "master teacher." There is also a third component of primary source research in which we are to research a topic and then write up a detailed (6 or so pages) lesson plan with extensive background knowledge provided. This is the part I am least excited about, probably because it requires the most work. (Hey, it's summer. I'm allowed to be lazy.)

The first day wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. The presence of a master teacher makes sure things don't get too "pie in the sky." Also it is a very small group. There are only teachers in the high school group.

The best part is that we get paid! We receive a $1,000 stipend, a $15 copy and print card for the library, and free lunch every day for the two weeks at the faculty dining club. Not bad eh? To be honest, if it weren't for the thousand dollars I probably wouldn't be doing it -- not because I don't think professional development is important, but because the focus is on post-1945 U.S. History and that is my strongest area. I really need to be spending these two weeks on pre-Civil War history, but oh well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A little game

For those of you getting lazy this summer, here's a game I've made up. How are the following "phrases" related?

Do talk it dottle
With count as rand
was comb the forbearing mawkish
As talk be preservation
My draw on nonce
He write it reform
He type of physic
As borrow on saturation caravan
This 1 2 call
*New clue* NotaCheapImitation

1. Since I've made this game up, you might find it stupid. You might find it exceptionally easy or hard. Too bad.
2. First one to post the correct response in the comments wins.
3. You don't actually win anything.
4. Readers directly related to Abigail are not allowed to play. This only concerns one person.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

What is wrong with this picture?

Today I saw one of my fellow teachers. The dh and I had gone to Chili's for lunch after church. She wasn't eating though. She was waiting tables. The worst part is that the Chili's is on the same street as our school and there are students in there all the time. How do you nullify what little credibility you have in the classroom in less than an hour? Depend on them for tips.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

That's great, but...

So, Margaret Spellings and co. are jumping up and down because test scores went up. That's great. Really. But at what expense? Did the report say anything about:

1. Music?
2. Art?
3. Creativity?
4. Teacher morale?
5. Teacher turnover?
6. Children's health?

It makes me nuts!

EdWonk has been talking about the need for tort reform and stupid lawsuits. I'm guessing lawsuits are what's behind all the new allergy labeling on foods. I think it's probably a good thing that some products are being labeled. I mean, I'm sure there are some foods you wouldn't guess that have wheat or nuts, or whatever. And it can't really hurt the food companies to print one more piece of information on the label. But, I think things are going a little far now. Have you noticed that when you buy nuts the label says "warning. this package may contain nuts or was produced in a factory that handles nuts." Shocking! If you don't believe me, go to your pantry or nearby grocery store and look. I'll wait.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Admitting the truth

I mentioned in my book meme that I am a fan of Sarah Vowell. What I've never had the courage to say, up to this point, is that I am also a fan of (cough cough) Jimmy Carter. Actually, he's my favorite president. Please don't make fun of me. I have my reasons. The main reason I like Carter is that he tried to do what was right, even if it wasn't successful. This is an ideal lost on most Americans today.

Anyway, Vowell has an op-ed in today's New York Times that suggests Bush should use one of Carter's techniques. She goes back to Carter's wildly UNpopular "malaise" speech and suggests that honesty would be refreshing at this point. It's a funny article, but I agree with it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Christmas in July!

Well, obviously no one wants to read about my spiritual problems. I don't blame you. (If you do, well keep scrolling down, but don't say I didn't warn you.)

So, I thought I'd try out blogger's new images program. I'm going to try to post a couple of pictures. Unfortunately, the picture of my innertube bruise didn't come out all that well. I know you're disappointed. Instead, I thought we could all use a bit of winter during the hot summer days. These are pictures from this past Christmas when Houston had its first White Christmas EVER. This is my parents' house and their hibiscus.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Religion Quiz

I took this religion quiz a while back and am just getting around to posting it. I wish it was this simple. I wish I could take a quiz and it would tell me what I really think. Hey maybe God could grade it for us. At the end it could say "Congratulations! You've been saved!" or "Uh oh! Better go study some more!"

I haven't been in a great place spiritually for awhile. Sometimes I think it's getting better but really I think during those times I'm just too busy to notice. It always gets worse during the summer when I have time to think. I was telling the dh, too, that what is so discouraging about it is that when I have little break downs, I don't feel like I come out of it stronger. I just sink lower and lower. I wonder some day when I'll lose complete grasp and end up with no faith at all. The past few weeks I've been feeling a little more hopeful probably in thanks to some books I've been reading by authors who feel similarly.

A little bit of history before we get on to the results of the quiz. My church background resembles that of a military brat. We started out in the Presbyterian church, but left when I was about 6. Because I was small and my parents really didn't talk to me about things, I thought that we left the church because sometimes the toilets weren't flushed in the ladies room. Honest to God. It's a long story how I got to that conclusion but the real reason we left is because they got a female pastor and because my mom was in charge of the shut-in visitation group and found out that two of the people she sent out on visits were having an affair with one another and my mom was the only one that didn't know.

We headed over to the Methodist church, not really because of any doctrinal issues but because they had a new church and lots of my parents' friends were there. Then we switched Methodist churches when I was in junior high because I wanted to go to the church where all of my school friends went.

I was pretty active there. By then my mom had become pretty jaded and they dropped me off at church before they went to play golf. Then, in high school, I got a serious boyfriend. Serious. And he informed me that I was, in fact, going to Hell because I went to a denominational church. So, after some serious arguments with the parents (and honestly, a lot of independent Bible studying on my part -- especially for a high schooler) I ended up at a southern, conservative, Church of Christ.

This was one of those churches where only the people that think exactly like you go to Heaven. For a high schooler, it's so tempting because everything is complete black and white. There is good and evil, Heaven and Hell, and if you just read the Bible it's clear which is which. If you're confused it's because you're letting your own feelings get in the way and you don't really want to know the truth.

I broke up with my boyfriend, went to college, and found another southern conservative Church of Christ. That's where I met the dh. But one of the reasons we were attracted to each other was because we were both so frustrated with the church situation.

Now, we still go to a Church of Christ, but it isn't anything like the ones we went to before. It's only the same nominally, which is enough to keep dh's family happy. We were so excited when we found this church because we were leaving all the legalism behind. But we picked up a new host of problems and that's when I began getting really frustrated. Churches as a whole, are bound to disappoint because they are made up of people and people are going to disappoint you. Additionally, I've discovered I really don't like preaching. I don't like the idea that someone is the expert and they're going to tell me what they think I need to hear. What do they know about my situation? This is especially true in churches like our's where only men can do the preaching. The preaching in our churches is usually about 45 minutes, which is way too long. My theory is that the reason the sermons are so long is that the preachers are all men and they've never had to sit through an entire service wondering if they started their period!

Hmmm. Wasn't this going to be a short history? Obviously, I had a lot of venting to do. As you can see, I have no real point. This post doesn't know where it's going because I don't know where I'm going. So, I'll just move on and leave you with my quiz results, which were suprisingly accurate. I don't know how it came up with a result, though, because I marked "I don't know" on about 1/3 of them it seems. Sigh.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Modern Liberal


Reformed Evangelical


Classical Liberal




Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What is this thing we call summer?

We all know teachers don't really get the summers off. First of all, we're not even paid. It's more like a forced 2 month lay-off. Secondly, we all end up doing other things. I had the AP workshop in June and then later this month I will start a two week class as part of a Department of Ed. grant program. I at least get paid for that.

In between those professional development opportunities, I do have some time to myself. The question is what to do with it. I'm wondering if any other teachers out there that feel the way I do. The way I see it, there are two ways of looking at summer vacation:

1. Try to get as much preparation for next school year done so that the year isn't quite so stressful. (Especially tempting since I am teaching a new course next year.)

2. Accept that no matter what you do, the school year is stressful. That's just the way teaching is. So, take two months to debrief, exhale, and try not to start the school year already burned out. You're not getting paid anyway!

At the beginning of the summer, I was definitely going with option 1. I planned out a schedule of what units I wanted to plan during each week and then promised myself I would stick to it even if I had to work nights and weekends. Now, I'm headed towards number 2. I'm feeling more like I should spend a few hours every day reading something that deals with the subject matter and then release myself to knitting, reading fiction, and shopping. I have several day trips I would like to make with friends or the dh and this is possibly our last summer in this area since dh is finishing up the dissertation. Why not take advantage of it?

Any of you fellow teachers have encouragement or admonitions? (Or non-teachers for that matter. What would YOU do if you had the summers "off"?)

UPDATE: Both posthipchick and Ms. Frizzle have posted recently about their summer schedules. It seems like I should find the balance between #1 and #2, but I have a little trouble. When I'm working, I wish I was playing and when I'm playing, I worry I should be working.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'm back!

We had a great time! I suspect that some year we won't -- that there will be an uncomfortable confrontation, or just a general "burn out" of going to the same place year after year, but that never happens. We had a blast and spent just long enough there that it felt good to come home. I think it is time for the vacation to end when everyone starts getting hurt. I had a blister from my flip flops (the only pair of shoes I wore the entire time) and a giant bruise on my leg from an inner-tube valve. I took pictures of the bruise for you. Watch for it soon. The dh got a rash from an unidentified plant on the golf course. Dad bruised his toes against one of the ride's walls. And we are all water-logged. In sum, it felt great to be there and great to come home.

The one image I will remember from this year's trip is my 8+ months pregnant sister in her pink maternity swimsuit, big floppy hat, floating lazily in the lagoon. She could only come for the day and couldn't ride any of the rides but insisted "I just want to get my butt in the water. I'm so hot!"

There was also some serious watergun activity. There always is, but this year was more than ever. There were alliances, spies, double agents, crying 5 year olds, mothers rolling on the grass during fireworks. One of my students has a shirt that says "It's only funny till someone gets hurt. Then it's hiliarious." This is the stuff summer is made of!