Thursday, September 28, 2006

So it's not just a clever name?

My elderly, conservative grandmother was quite upset last night when Jerry Springer * made it through another week on Dancing with the Stars. (Due to her religious convictions, I am quite sure that she probably sees Jerry as the devil incarnate.)

"People are just voting for him because he's a celebrity," Grandma huffed to Mom last night.


"Um, Mom?" my mother slowly began. "They're ALL celebrities. That's why it's called Dancing with the STARS."

"Oh, you know what I mean," Grandma said. "People are just voting for him because he's on TV." Then, just before hanging up, Grandma added with a heavy sigh, "Well, I'll try to get some sleep tonight."

(*I have to say, I actually think he's incredibly endearing and funny on this show. His comments are hysterical, and the whole reason he's doing this show is so he can learn to dance for his daughter's upcoming wedding.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Creepy crawlies

Last week, one of the teachers was out sick due to an allergic reaction. He'd had to go the ER in the middle of the night because (I later found out) a bite on his arm had started to affect him pretty severely. Friday after work, several of us Michigan teachers gathered for an impromptu "support group" meeting, and J. (the teacher in question) showed his battle scar (i.e., the bite site, which still looked pretty scary) and recounted his adventures.

APPARENTLY, the doctors say, he had been bitten/stung IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT--


by either a BLACK WIDOW SPIDER or

(it gets worse)


Like hurricanes and earthquakes weren't bad enough.

Fred and John, this was NOT on the "Come live in Florida" website.
Viva Las Vegas

We are leaving tomorrow for Vegas! John's parents arrive this afternoon so we can show them around a little before we leave. Our flight isn't actually until Wednesday, but we're staying in a hotel by the airport Tuesday night so we don't have to get up so damn early.

Our friends, Greg and Chrissy, are celebrating their 10th anniversary by renewing their vows out there, and have invited us to come with them. It's gonna be GREAT! Except I'm already dreading the weather. 91-95 during the day, 70's at night. And don't give me that bullshit about it being a "dry heat" so it doesn't feel that hot. Last time we were there was in the middle of July and it was 110. It felt like 150, I don't care what the humidity was or was not :-)

I've got a shitload of stuff to do before we leave tomorrow afternoon, so I may be MIA until we get back on Saturday. I will definitely post about it next Sunday or Monday. You all have a great week and weekend!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The first week of school (all over again)

We recently "redid" the middle school in two major ways. First, we "leveled" the kids (grouping them by ability level), so our classes were now completely different (as far as who is in which class). In some cases this was a good thing (we were able to separate some kids who shouldn't be together, and it put all of our more advanced--and generally better-behaved kids--into one class. The flip side of this, of course, is that all the lower students (who are also more likely to be the "problem-behavior" kids) are all in the same class, as well. (Remember me telling you about the one class who was giving me some problems, the class I had to lay the smack down on? Well, at least before, roughly half the class were "good," well-behaved kids. Now we've taken the worst-behaved kids from both 7th grade classes and stuck them all together. Yes, FANTASTIC idea.)

Second, we completely overhauled the schedule, making room for an entire extra period--for most kids, this is a reading intervention class. Guess who's teaching the lowest-level reading group for all of middle school (6th AND 7th; we combined grades for this particular period)? Yup. The brand-new teacher. Again, FABULOUS idea.

Anyway, since both the classes and the schedule have changed, this past week was basically like the first week of school all over again. In a sense, that was good for me--it allowed me to go back and "redo" some of my "learning experiences" from the first few weeks of class. It also let me come in strong (and stay that way) in my new Class From Hell (as we affectionally call it). And so far, so good--that's not to say that the kids have been perfect or that my classroom management is exemplary--far from it. However, when the principal came in for an "impromptu observation" during the CFH yesterday, they were all 1) in their seats 2) quiet and 3) participating in the class discussion.

It was my most successful, exciting and proud moment so far this year.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This made me laugh

A whole plethora of nieces and nephews are having birthdays this month. Tyler, who is just turning four, recently received his birthday check. I got this email from Katey (his mom, my sister):

We took him to pick something out on his birthday and he [comes] home and goes, "I left my money at the store!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hubba hubba

I LOVE this season's Dancing with the Stars. It's got a very entertaining, mixed casts of dancers (everyone from Jerry Springer, who's surprisingly loveable and charming, to Emmitt Smith to Vivica A. Fox). And if that's not enough for you, I have just two more words:

Mario Lopez.

And his hips.

HOLY HELL, ladies. If you missed it last night, watch it next week and you'll see what I'm talking about. Tuesday is guaranteed to become your new favorite night of the week.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scientists say Florida earthquake rare
By PHIL DAVIS, Associated Press Writer

TAMPA, Fla. - Floridians can go back to worrying about hurricanes. Scientists said Sunday's magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rattled windows from southwest Florida to Louisiana is rare — the largest earthquake in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in 30 years. A seismic jolt powerful enough to do damage or unleash a tsunami on the U.S. Gulf Coast is unlikely.

Hurricanes are always going to be a bigger threat than earthquakes in Florida," said Eugene Schweig, a Memphis, Tenn.-based geologist who specializes in East Coast earthquakes.

But that doesn't mean the Sunshine State can count on shake-free living. And damage is possible.

"Earthquakes are possible anywhere and Florida is no exception," Schweig said. "There is always the possibility of an earthquake in the place you don't expect it."

Some south Mississippi residents reported feeling the quake Sunday.

Florida is an unlikely spot for an earthquake because it is far from the boundaries of the massive tectonic plates that make up the earth's crust. California, on the other hand, is perched atop the intersection of the Pacific and North American plates. On Monday alone, scientists had recorded 23 earthquakes in California by 4 p.m. None were strong enough to be noticed by residents.

"People in Florida haven't awakened and found themselves in the same boat as people in Los Angeles," said Jeffrey Park, a professor of geology and geophysics at Yale University. "But the potential for another earthquake in the area is real. The risk is much less significant, but we can't ignore it."

Only one earthquake has caused notable damage in Florida. In January 1879, St. Augustine residents reported heavy shaking that knocked plaster off the walls.

A November 1952 temblor prompted a resident of Quincy to report the shaking "interfered with the writing of a parking ticket," the USGS said.

A 1991 University of Florida study reported seismic activity strong enough to be felt on land in 1978 when tremors strong enough to rattle windows were reported in Polk County.

Sunday's temblor was a rare "midplate" earthquake where pent up energy from faraway plate collisions is released in random spots. There is no way to tell where the earthquake will strike. Scientists are intrigued by Sunday's temblor because the USGS recorded a magnitude 5.2 earthquake in the same spot on Feb. 10.

Neither earthquake caused damage, primarily because the epicenter was so far from land. Park said more damaging earthquakes closer to shore are possible.

He was not surprised the USGS received reports Sunday of weak shaking from as far away as Winston Salem, N.C., more than 760 miles from the epicenter of the quake. He said energy travels more efficiently in tectonic plates far from friction areas.

The epicenter of Sunday's earthquake was about 260 miles southwest of Tampa, about 18 miles beneath the Gulf of Mexico. As of Monday afternoon, the agency had received more than 5,500 reports of shaking, mostly from Florida's panhandle and west coast.

The reports noted the intensity of the shaking was "light." No major damage was reported. Many people didn't even notice it.

The earthquake was not powerful enough to trigger a tsunami. But Park said that doesn't mean Gulf Coast residents can ignore the threat.

"If there were a massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake, I'd advise people to get off the beach," Park said. "You'd probably still be safe in Disney World."

Monday, September 11, 2006

All shook up

We had an earthquake yesterday.

This isn't nearly as dramatic as it sounds. It was very minor; I didn't even KNOW we'd had one until I heard it on the news this morning. Still, I don't get out much, so it was definitely note-worthy.

As you were.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Models Flunk BMI, Get Spain Fashion Boot

By DANIEL WOOLLS, Associated Press Writer

MADRID, Spain - Spain's top fashion show has turned away a slew of models on grounds they are too skinny _ an unprecedented swipe at body images blamed for encouraging eating disorders among young people.

Organizers of the pageant, known as the Pasarela Cibeles, used a mathematical formula to calculate the models' body mass index _ a measure of their weight in relation to their height _ and 30 percent of the women flunked, said the Association of Fashion Designers of Spain.
The association said Friday it wanted models at the show running from Sept. 18-22 to project "an image of beauty and health" and shun a gaunt, emaciated look.

The decision was made as part of a voluntary agreement with the Madrid regional government, said Jesus del Pozo, a designer who is part of the association, said Thursday.

Last year's show, also called Madrid Fashion Week, drew protests from medical associations and women's advocacy groups because some of the models were positively bone-thin.

This time the Madrid regional government decided to intervene and pressure organizers to hire fuller-figured women as role models for young girls obsessed with being thin and prone to starving themselves into sickness, said Concha Guerra, deputy finance minister of the regional administration.

Fashion shows, Guerra said, "are mirrors for many young women."
Del Pozo said this was the first time skinny models have been snubbed at a major international fashion show.

Ryan Brown, director of marketing and public relations in North America for the Elite modeling agency in New York City, agreed. "It is very unprecedented," said Brown, who has nothing to do with the Spanish show.

He welcomed the decision saying "I think it is great to promote health."

Madrid's show, which features mainly Spanish designers, is not as prestigious as catwalks in Paris or Milan but "it is not at the bottom of the pile," he said.

The impact of rejecting skinny women would have been greater at those other glitzier venues. Still, he said, "I am sure the industry is taking note."

The body mass index is a tool for doctors who study obesity. It is calculated by dividing weight in pounds by height in inches squared, and multiplying that total by 703.

If the resulting number is between 18.5 and 24.9, the person's weight is normal. Below 18.5 they are underweight. In the case of the Madrid show, organizers rejected women with indices under 18.

Brown of the Elite agency said fashion shows reflect the tastes of clothing designers, who for now prefer the Kate Moss look as opposed to the curvier dimensions of models such as Cindy Crawford in years past.

"They don't want voluptuous girls any more," he said. "It would be nice if fashion got back to that."


Friday, September 08, 2006


After being reminded by one of my MOM'S COWORKERS that I am neglecting my blogging duties, I figured I'd better get a post up here. I can't alienate my loyal readers, after all (yes, all 2 of them).

It's September and, in most parts of the country, that means fall is coming. I will say this: during all 29 years of my Michigan living, I bitched and moaned about the weather (especially winter, of course). But if Michigan does one thing right, it's fall. And I'm really going to miss that here. It's just now hitting me, I think, as we approach mid-month and the weather here is hotter than ever. I'm starting to think of what will be happening back home in the next 4-8 weeks: leaves changing colors, the smell of burning leaves, the chill in the air at football games (like I ever WENT to football games, but just go with me here), and those requisite trips to apple orchards and pumpkin patches, to name a few. Last fall, Anna and I went to an apple orchard, PICKED OUR OWN APPLES (people look at me like I've grown a second head when I mention it here) and then went home and made apple crisp (and for a girl who can't cook, I hit that one out of the ballpark, I must say). I can't make apple crisp from freshly-picked apples here. Oooh, and don't even get me STARTED on apple cider and cider donuts. I suppose I could go pick coconuts and make a lovely cream pie or something, but it just doesn't seem the same.

So that's what I'm thinking about as we approach fall and I'm sitting here sweltering in the heat. (In what crazy world is SEPTEMBER once of the hottest months of the year?!) Just this morning, I went to CVS and saw all the fall accoutrements (MAJOR props to me for using such a fancy word--at **8 am**, no less): the decorations (pumpkins, orange/brown foliage), scented candles (pumpkin, apple), cute little towels with "fall scenes" on them, etc. When I get paid again, I'm going to buy them OUT.

For those of you in the midwest: yes, winters suck. Yes, it gets cold as hell. Yes, that shitty weather sometimes lasts well into April or even May sometimes. But you all have one HELL of a fall.

Enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Woo hoo!

I'm now officially a Florida teacher; my license came yesterday in the mail.