Friday, September 28, 2007

Midland Learning Teams

A video of a partial teacher improvement day at Midland High School.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The car with more travel than miles

Our car is officially on the truck!

It was picked up at my mother-in-law's house Tuesday evening. It usually takes 5 days, and to be safe, they tell us 7-10 days. We will have the car soon!! Possibly by the end of the month.

I was thinking about it--that car has travelled farther than the mileage will ever indicate. It was barged from Seattle to Anchorage and then flown to Nome. Now it was barged all the way back from Nome to Seattle, and then put on a truck all the way to Central Illinois. That means, roughly, it has travelled an estimated 6,000 miles or more that will never show on its odometer.

That is one well travelled car.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Banned Books Week

2007 Banned Books Week: Ahoy! Treasure Your Freedom to Read and Get Hooked on a Banned Book

Midland High School is celebrating Banned Books Week this year. I mean, we are going all out and celebrating it. We are pushing the banned books list. We are telling kids to read and then read some more.

I started by telling them the fact that Harry Potter books have been challenged in 25 schools in 17 states, and they are aghast at the situation. Good. They should be aghast.

Celebrate the freedom to read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Star Wars Potato Heads

Princess Leia tater in hologram form. Came with Artoo-Potatoo.

Spudtrooper potato head.

Mini Darth Tater potato head keychain.

Artoo-Potatoo potato head.

Darth Tater, the one who started it all.
I know these are basically Amy's Potato Heads, but I love 'em too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Found Poetry in notes

(Reprinted word for word, mistakes and all, from a note found on the floor. Only the names have been edited out with ****:)

This school is boring. I still like D****. Its really cool to C him sober he's a lot more...different! I dn't know what it is about him that makes me like him I just do. I want to go to that psychic some time. I woner what she'll say. I wish there was a person out there that can give me all the answers I'm looking for. N*** is not my type. He's not good either. I'm goin to stop liking him so much cuz it ruins friendships. So therefore I can also be single and have fun. I feel like a slut when I like more than 1 guy. I wish A***** was here so I could talk to her about this. She'd B able to tell me what do. I wish I had a lot of money so I can get the shit I want to get. I can't wait till Elendorf. It's gonna B so much fun! I kan't wait till the Superbowl either! Go Bears! I promised myself I wouldn't let a guy make me cry but me and my sis were tlking and she got me thinking about Cocksuckin Asshole Retarded Fucking Liar. And go fuking figure! I cried. I won't do it again I'm not goin to be soft anymore. I'm going to B a bitch. There's only a couple ppl who won't hate me for it because they know what I went threw. I hate him w/ a passion! My arm hurts so I'm going to quit for a while.....I really don't want my dad to put Carl in prison so I hope he signs the title....

Another one:

Ashley sweetheart I know your not inpregnated ;)

Found Poetry in notes

Hey Ashleigh,whats up
Nuttin U?
Yea! how is life?
Where's your blue purse?
In my locker
Can I borrow this weekend
I have to empty it
Do you want it Monday and use it for the week
No. this weekend
how I am I getting it to U I have 2 go 2 Iowa Tonight
NM Monday
I might see Travo 2
my cuz

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marcel Marceau dies at 84

Marcel Marceau is dead at age 84.

Mimes everywhere are observing a moment of silence. (--Amy came up with this one!)

More Toys

The Darth Vader 500th figure special edition. This is the cool one where his helmet goes up and down with a switch, showcasing that itty bitty five seconds of screen time where we saw Darth Vader's head/brain/whatever-it-was. Those five seconds really fueled our imaginations.

Vintage R5-D4, 1978.

Treebeard, from The Lord of the Rings. Even though this one is actually Amy's figure, I really dig him too. (And then that is my William Shakespeare figure in the package behind him.)

Vintage Darth Vader, 1977. Boy, I wish I had the lightsaber to complete this one. I'm just happy it still has its cape intact.

I don't know who this guy is, but he is copyright Kenner 1997.


Vintage Princess Leia in Hoth outfit.

Vintage C-3P0 from 1977 collection.

XEVOZ figure, monk warrior.

Vintage 1977 figures, Stormtrooper and Death Star Commander.

XEVOZ dragon. I love this one.

I have most of my toys up on shelves in our living room. I love toys. Some of them showcase an aspect of my childhood. Some of them are just darn cool.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Morgan's 13th

Morgan turned 13 years old today. Both her grandmas showed up to celebrate. Grandma Lindsey came in from Washington and Grandma Cathy, along with Aunties Heather and Sarah with Hannah and Alex, all went out to lunch at T.G.T.Friday's. Then some of us went home for cake!

Unfortunately, she did not blow out all the candles. She will have to gain greater strength in her lungs for next year!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Real Reason to Go To Nome?

My grandmother clipped this article from her paper recently.

"Day and night, drunks can be seen staggering along Front Street, slumped against buildings, and passed out near the tourist shops or along the seawall on the Bering Sea. Police cart off the worst of them to dry out at the hospital, where the emergency room often has as many as eight drunks at a time vying for beds.

Some never make it out of Nome alive. They drink themselves to death or pass out in the below-zero cold, where they can count themselves lucky if they merely lose some fingers or a limb to frostbite. Many simply vanish, presumably swallowed by the icy waters of Norton Sound.

'The level of alcoholism is intense,' said Greg Smith, who runs the Norton Sound Health Corp.'s outpatient substance abuse program. 'The most dangerous pattern of drinking is binge drinking and it is firmly entrenched here.'"

Actually, this article unfortunately places the town in a very negative light. It is like talking about Chicago and still referencing the Capone gangster problem, or talking about Seattle and saying it still rains all the time (it's a different, light rain, and not all the time, as any Seattle-ite knows the truth).

Yes, it happens, but it is a small amount of the population. Very small. If the author (or AP) would actually check their facts, I bet they would find drunks on the bar streets of their own town. I betcha. It's harder to hide in the small town of Nome.

And then this guy referenced here: "Newman Savetilik comes to Nome to quench his thirst for whiskey. Savetilik, 50, lives in the village of Shaktoolik, 130 miles from Nome.
'When I come to Nome I got alcohol problems,' he said with eyes half-shut. 'I'm not like that in Shaktoolik.'"
Umm, first of all, that is a bad example. It sounds like he can't handle himself when he visits Nome, like some people go crazy at Vegas. The town of Nome does not stand at the airport with bottles of booze and hand them out. This guy does it to himself.

Yet the article makes it sound like it is all of Nome. Not only is it unfair to Nome, it is unfair to native Alaskans.

Just another reason to use critical thinking and reading skills when reading any and all media.

And another thing: "American Indians and Alaska Natives have a 550 percent higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than nonnative Americans, a disparity blamed in part on inadequate health care." I would just like to say that almost all of the "American Indians and Alaska Natives" receive FREE health care at Norton Sound Regional Hospital. True, there is no tank to dry them out, which needs to change. But when this article does not reference who is BLAMING in that statement, I wonder what the hell is going on.

If this is professional journalism, with unattributed blanket statements, I worry about news media.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I saw this commercial last night and haven't laughed so hard at a commercial in a long long time. I think it is brilliant--it completely does its job, almost subliminally, and you have to be quick to get the little jokes.

But at the end, when the truck is "dumping a load of bricks," it truly brings an intelligence to potty humor. I will buy All-Bran because of this!

Gas Mileage

Funny thing happened on the way to work this morning...

I was listening to an old Jack Benny program from April 1933 and it was a time they were collaborating with Chevrolet and giving away thirty cars. That's a big deal. To enter, you apparently had to explain why you liked Chevrolet so much.

"A lot of entries spoke of how ECONOMICAL a Chevrolet was, getting 20, 22, 24, sometimes even more, miles to the gallon."

What the hey? So in seventy years they have not improved the gas mileage of cars? Maybe, they've gotten a bit better on some models, but we still talk about cars getting 20 or so mpg.

Computers have gotten faster and better. Everything technical has gotten faster, better, and more economical. But cars still get the same gas mileage? Or is that the limit? Was it truly perfected to start with?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Shakespeare the 17th Century Milli Vanilli?

USA Today published an article from AP about the reopening of the debate of the authorship of the plays attributed to Shakespeare.

"Acclaimed actor Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, the former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London, unveiled a "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt" on the authorship of Shakespeare's work Saturday, following the final matinee of I am Shakespeare, a play investigating the bard's identity, in Chichester, southern England."

The part that floors me is that my favorite actor of all time, Derek Jacobi, is part of the cadre. With his in depth knowledge of several plays, many from the perspective of multiple characters (like both Hamlet and Claudius is different adaptations of Hamlet), he actually probably knows what he is talking about.

"I subscribe to the group theory. I don't think anybody could do it on their own," Jacobi said. "I think the leading light was probably de Vere, as I agree that an author writes about his own experiences, his own life and personalities."

Is it possible that Billy, as I affectionately call him, doesn't exist as we think? Is it possible that one of the main reasons I entered the field of English is the seventeenth century equivalent to Milli Vanilli?

"The declaration names 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Sir John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin."
Orson Welles also shocks me. But it also makes a bit of sense. Couldn't Shakespeare be one guy? Does that limit artistic genius? Why can Mozart write symphonies at the age of 4 but Shakespeare couldn't write these things? Could Billy not encompass more than his own meager experiences, life, and personalities? What does this mean to us all?

It's official

Officially, the car is under my mother-in-law's direct supervision. It's in her hands.

It will be put on a moving truck by the end of the week and shipped to Illinois


Monday, September 17, 2007

Eragon audiobook

I never would have gotten through Eragon in novel form. I just finished it the other day as an audiobook, listening to it during my commute. I borrowed it from the library.

I had started the novel a year or so ago. After 70 pages of nothing really happening, I just never picked it up again. I would never have gotten through all the slow bits just reading it. I may be getting used to the audio format.

However, I liked Eragon. The world seemed familiar, like every other fantasy novel. But the new twist with the Dragon Riders was interesting. Also, I kind of liked the whole quest, especially his training a la Luke Skywalker. Many elements seem borrowed or transfixed from other stories, but they are tied together well. The climax was good--a big bang with enough left over for other books.

Now I have to get the audiobook of the sequel, Eldest.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend at Mom's part three

Mallory, Grandma Shirley, Grandpa Don, and Jacob. Mallory and Jacob are my cousins. Jacob is a senior. I teach seniors--I am getting old!

Sarah and Brian.

Hannah, my goddaughter.


Weekend at Mom's part two

My Uncle Dan had a cake to celebrate the completion of his Masters Degree.

There's Heather next to Grandpa Don standing up. Grandma Shirley sitting, and Sarah there too. My Aunt Rose is in the corner.

Alex got into the cake.

Morgan hamming it up for the camera.

Weekend at Mom's

These are pictures of the kids at my mom's today. My grandmother and grandfather were up from Florida and we were able to see them. Pics of Madison, Hannah, Alex, and my ugly mug.


My great grandfather, Sidney Dawes.

Dad had a picture fixed. This is what it looked like originally:

And this is what it looks like touched up:

My great grandfather. I do remember him vaguely from when I was a kid. Vaguely. Of course, not at that age in the pictures. I think the photos Dad always had around the house made me remember him more.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Conan the Invincible

Why do I read all of these crap novels? Why do I still read more little paperback fiction than any other piece of literature other than comics? I have a Masters Degree in English, for Pete's Sake!

Because they are fine escapist fare. I just finished Conan the Invincible by Robert Jordan, and I liked it fine.

No, I am not going to say it is the epitome of great literature. But it worked. I wanted a sword and sorcery tale that wasn't necessarily as deep as The Lord of the Rings. I tried a few months ago to read a Terry Goodkind novel, but after five chapters and five different protagonists and points of view, I was done.

Conan. Got into trouble. Met a couple of beautiful damsels. Beat the sorcerer. Nothing better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Watchmen movie

Now that they found the "right" director, 300's director,

"Filming has begun on Watchmen in Vancouver. Billy Crudup, in blueface, filmed a flashback scene of Doctor Manhattan meeting John F. Kennedy. Look alike actors were on hand to play JFK, Jackie, and JFK Jr. " (From the Atomic Comics newsletter, 11 September 2007)

This is amazing to me because, with the richness of Watchmen, I believe that more comic books and graphic novels will become treasure troves for the cinema. It all started with Sin City and then 300. Comic book movies can look good. They need not be campy and playful, but deep and dark at times. Tim Burton tried to capture that with the 1989 Batman, but truthfully, that movie does not stand up after repeated viewings. And with the success that was Batman Begins, we can see true superheroes hopefully, now that the technology exists to make them look good, not like Burt Ward and Adam West "scaling" the buildings in that Batman TV show.

And if they could just come up with a good script for Superman, he would be the king of adventure again. The studio should root through the best of the Superman comics, capturing the best stories, or even combining them, for the best movie(s). I couldn't understand why the screenplay and story idea were by writers I had never even heard of. There is a gold mine of excellent Superman stories out there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Origin of BUTCHER

Butcher; Boucher (French); Beccaio (old Italian)
These terms date from the thirteenth century as a term denoting the person who prepared and cut up any kind of meat. Previously it meant a specialist in goat's meat (see bucolic), often salted because it was tough--this fact indicates how low the consumption of beef had been in the Middle Ages. Previously the French word maiselier, masselier or macellier, from the Italian macellaio--a term which never entered into English--was used for the person who slaughtered and cut up creatures of any species as required, and who often kept a kind of tavern. Around the thirteenth century, as the term boucher was starting to be used in the more general sense, the term maiselier came to mean only "innkeeper."

Incidentally did you know that, in French, the original occupation of the boucher seems to have been the slaying of he-goats. An old French ordinance states that the bocher “shall not cast the blood of goats in public ways, nor slaughter the goats in the streets.”


A great quote from Mark Twain:

"It's no wonder truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."

Football pool!

I am in a football pool at work (which isn't for money, just bragging rights) where you just pick the winners each week. I went 10-6 for opening weekend. Not bad.

But then I figured it out that another teacher just picked all home teams--straight home teams--and went 10-6 as well.

Home field advantage. It is amazing how, statistically, the home team wins more than 60% of the time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Still more Sandwich Fair

Grandma, Madison, and Morgan with the Fair's chicken man--"Poultry in motion!"

"Yee-haw!" Madison and her pony ride.

Smell that barbecue!

More pony ride.

Madison feeding one of the highlander cows, which we mistakenly called a buffalo, at the petting zoo.

Even more Sandwich Fair

Morgan and Madison on the spinning tea cup ride.

Madison viewing one of the sheep pens.

Folk singer on stage, performing local songs and stories.

Madison petting a goat.


More Sandwich Fair

The Stilt Man!

Madison on a kiddie boat ride!

Crowd shot.

Morgan riding the ferris wheel.

Just one of the nauseating rides available. Even Morgan wouldn't go on this one.