Monday, April 28, 2008

Say a little prayer

Tuesday night is our school roller skating party. Yes, it's true. After being foiled from an earlier attempt at skating by my Easter flu, I'm finally getting a chance to bust out my Brittney Spears skates and skate with "my kids."

They don't believe that Miss K. can skate. I keep telling them that I've been skating since before they were born. I kept the fact that I've actually GONE skating once since junior high to myself.

Expect a full report on Tuesday evening. If you don't hear from me, I am probably in a full-body cast.

FRED'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One last "X"-ism for the week

He's really been on a roll the last few days!

Yesterday, while we were discussing science-related careers, we talked about cartographers (map-makers). X. raised his hand and asked, "Do you have to live in China to be a cartographer?"

As I always do when X. asks such a question, I quickly replayed the last few moments in my mind, wondering what I may have said that could have led to such a language- or cultural-based misunderstanding/miscommmunication. I came up with nothing.

"No, X.," I finally answered. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, whenever you look at the label for something, it always say, 'Made in China,' 'Made in China,' 'Made in China,' " he said. "So I just thought that maps were made there too."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Read it now, thank me later

Yes, that's right. The headline actually uses the phrase "penis theft panic".

This is the best article EVER.

(And the body of the article uses the phrase "penis snatcher." Renee, that's my new name for you.);_ylt=AoF_Qr3CegtIJll7bmlSuTMuQE4F
Don't mess with the bull or you'll get the horns

My normal angels have been little f*@*#&#'s since we returned from last week's Spring Break. Yes, I know that they're just coming off of a vacation and we're in the final stretch to summer--hell, teachers get the itch, too--but we still have 6 weeks to go and all the talking, shouting out, fucking around, etc. is NOT going to happen. I've worked too hard this year to establish control to give it up now.

So finally today, after the 4th day in a row of upteenth warnings, checks, etc., I was so irritated that I kept them in from recess for a class detention. I told them that 30 minutes of silence would just about make up for all the minutes *I* lost in class this week due to their talking, interruptions, etc. I made them clear off their desks and sit there--doing absolutely nothing. (Even doing homework would have been too much of a "reward"--#1 it would make the time go by faster for them and 2) "Homework is for home. You're on MY TIME now.") I sat down at my desk--in complete, blissful silence. "Boring, huh?" I rhetorically asked after a few minutes. I may even have chuckled a bit.

And at the 10 minute mark, I had a brilliant idea.

I casually asked the silent, bored-silly students, "You don't mind if I listen to music, do you?" They, of course, were all, "Yes! Please!!", thinking that it wouldn't be as torturous if they at least had music to listen to. So I went to the Yahoo radio stations, found a good one, and hit play.

It was the Big Band/Swing channel.

And fate was smiling down on me, because they played the DORKIEST songs in the world. (One, my personal favorite, was actually called "Dippy Doodle." Loving her man made her "crazy in the noodle.") After 7 minutes, the kids were just MISERABLE, covering their ears, grimacing and wincing. One kid actually pleaded with me to turn it OFF. "We'd rather sit here in silence!!" he begged.

"Sorry, guys," I said. "I work better with music."

Grinning to myself, I worked diligently for the next 23 minutes. (Frankly, the music was so bad that I was almost punishing myself, too--but seeing their abject misery totally made it worthwhile.)

"I expect this behavior to change tomorrow morning," I said at exactly the 30-minute mark.

Teachers are evil, yes. But at least we're creative about it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Say what?

I've talked about X. before. He's my ESOL student and he's just adorable. He came from Guatamala; he's only been here for 2 years but he really speaks English pretty well, considering.

However, every now and then I do have to explain certain words and concepts. He didn't know the word "glove," for example (and living in Guatamala and then Florida, why would he?). Every now and then, as I'm teaching, he'll raise his hand and say, "What is a _______?" I sometimes take for granted that he'll know what, to me, are "basic" English words. And he often has a hard time with what we call "academic vocabulary"--science-specific words, for example. But it's all a completely normal part of the learning process (as I'm learning in my Masters classes).

I needed to give you some backstory so that you can fully appreciate this moment in class today.

Our school is having a "Jump Rope for Life" charity event, where the kids get sponsors and (duh) jump rope to raise money for the American Heart Association. I was explaining that they get pledges from their sponsors, collect money, etc. The kids had a lot of questions about how this worked. They kept asking me what we're "selling." Finally, X. raised his hand and asked another clarifying question. This time, however, he almost knocked me on my ass.

"Miss Krzys, is this obligatory?" he innocently asked.

"X.!!!!" I exclaimed. "WHERE did you learn that word??!" I have NEVER heard a student, of any age, use that word. Hell, I don't think I've ever heard an ADULT use it, let alone a kid who just came to this country last year.

Anyway, at the emphaticness of my response, X. gasped, opened his eyes really wide and clapped his hands over his mouth. "Oh no," he said. "Was that a bad word?!"

I laughed. "No, sweetie," I reassured him. "I'm just amazed and impressed that you know that word at all. It's a VERY fancy word, especially for 5th grade. Where did you learn it?"

He looked at me, grinned, shrugged his shoulders and said, "From TV."

Who said television wasn't educational?

So we finally watched The Prestige last night. This was Shawn's Netflix pic about two rival magicians. (The "prestige", incidentally, refers to the final part of a magician's trick, the "wow" moment. Sound intersting? Yeah, not to me either.)

Let's just put it this way. After the big, climatic ending, as the final credits rolled, we sat in silence for a minute. Then I turned to him and, very succintly, summarized my feelings on the movie:


Then, to clarify, I added: "What the fuck just happened?"

He sat there for a minute, formulating his thoughtful, insightful, explanation.

"I have no fucking idea," he finally answered.

So there you have it. Yes, there were parts of the movie that were cool, interesting, attention-holding, dramatic, etc. Due to a tragedy early in the movie, they basically hated each other, and spent their whole careers not just stealing each other's tricks to ruin their rival's shows, but, as it escalated, to trying to take each's lives. It was an interesting premise. However, we should have known we were in trouble when we had to stop and replay the movie from the beginning about 3 minutes in--because we were already lost.

He said he'd try to get online today to the message boards and find some kind of explanation or summary of the ending--because so many things happened that we were absolutely clueless.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good night nurse

I had an appointment with my BP doc yesterday. Two things were slightly bothering me: a) the fact that my lithium was making me get up and pee every 2 hours during the night, EVERY night, since I started it in July (due to the water retention. That water retention is also the reason for this blasted 10-15 lb weight gain) and b) for the last 3 nights or so specifically, I had been sleeping very little--a total of a couple hours, period, each night. She thought that my lack of sleep plus the disruption to my schedule (Spring Break) could be putting me into a slight "up" episode. Nothing major yet, she said, but we need to get you sleeping again--for a variety of reasons, obviously. So she prescriped me a special (as I found out today whilst doing research) BP-related sleeping pill, designed to help with the manic phases.

"But Jen," she warned me as I was leaving. "Start with half a pill, especially on a school night. They're pretty strong."

P'shaw. I'm my mother's daughter, byyaaatch. I can handle a little sleeping pill.

So last night, I stood in the kitchen and took my first Seroquel. Then I started walking towards my room.

As far as I can tell, I fell asleep somewhere near the dryer. Pure momentum propelled the last 20 feet to my room.

This was 9 pm. At 6:30 this morning, my alarm went off--and I knew I was in trouble. It was like swimming underwater. I was moving in slow motion. I tried to "shake it off" so I could get up and get ready but it just wasn't happening. I knew I had to call in--but first I had to literally practice stringing together a couple of comprehensive sentences. It's like I suddenly went stupid, like my brain had totally stopped working. After about 15 minutes, I finally called in and, despite all my practice, ended up muttering something akin to "Me no work today." Then I went back to bed. It's now 2:45.

On the plus side, I slept straight through the night for the first time in YEARS. It was glorious. I now feel pretty damn rested.

But next time, I'm only taking half (unless it's the weekend).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to train your man

Today, Rachel (my 10-year-old Little Sister through BBBS) took me to her favorite neighborhood BBQ joint (and by "took me," I mean that I drove and paid. She played the important role of asking for a table for 2). After eating, I complemented her on her choice (it WAS pretty good), at which point she suggested that maybe I could take my boyfriend there sometime.

"Oh, I don't know," I teased her. "I don't know if he's been good enough for me to take him out."

She was quiet for a moment. "Well," she suggested. "You can do what my teacher does and make him a chart."

I just DIED, because of course I knew what type of chart she was referring to. It's a behavior modification/positive reinforcement chart.

"Really?" I finally asked, once I had stopped laughing. "How would that work?"

"Well, you make a chart," she explained, "and every time he does something good, like clean his room or buy you a present, you give him a sticker. And then when he gets enough stickers, you can take him to Sonny's. But if he ISN'T good," she adds ominously, "NO STICKER AT ALL."

"Ah," I said. "How many stickers are we going for?"

"Like 10."

"Hmmm," I answered, feigning deep thought and consideration. "But what kind of stickers would I use?"

"Butterflies," she immediately replied. "And then you tell him [and here she adopts a very commanding, no-nonsense tone], 'Boyfriend, if you want to go out to eat, you better be good and get 10 stickers. Or no barbeque for you.' "

I, of course, am hysterical again. But I have to say, I think she's onto something. In fact, I dare say that this just may become the new Rules.

Ladies, feel free to adopt and modify in your own relationships, as needed.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

This video will probably be more appreciated by cat owners/lovers, but it's so damn funny that I'm recommending it to everyone. It's a very dry look at cat ownership. I laughed out loud throughout the whole thing. The disclaimer should say it all:

"None of the cats, humans, or engineers were mistreated in the making of this film. They were however, slightly annoyed."

It's about 6 minutes but so worth it. Enjoy!

An Engineer s Guide to Cats @ Yahoo! Video

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Going green?

Confession time: how eco-friendly are you? I have to say that until recently (ie, today), I wasn't doing a whole lot to save the environment. I wasn't recycling anything, I'd let water run as I brushed my teeth, I was using plastic bags at the grocery store, I drank bottled water after bottled water, I didn't give two shits about the emissions from my car, etc. And don't even get me STARTED on organic food.

Then last week in class, we were doing a unit on the earth and renewable vs nonrenewable resources. We also talked about what we could do to help conserve our natural resources. Since Earth Day would be two days after we got back from Spring Break, I hit on the idea to have the kids create Earth Day posters. At the top, they had to write "For Earth Day, I will...." and then make their personal pledge or promise. How would THEY help the Earth and conserve/protect our natural resources? And, because my students are smooth-talking little b*stards, I agreed to make one, too. After all, lead by example, right?

So after a lot of thinking, I'm going to start recycling at home. Nothing major, but I'm going to get two bins today, one for paper and one for plastic (I don't know about pop cans yet--after all, I'm also very lazy, and I don't think our garbage area outside HAS a recepticle for aluminum....and I don't particularly want to go traipsing all over Fort Myers with my old soda cans. Remember, we don't get paid for them here the way you Yanks do). Anyway, I figure that's a good enough start.

So that leads me here. Am I a late bloomer? Have you all been doing this already? Do you recycle at home? At work? (I'm sorry to say that my school does NOT recycle.....and frankly, I'll be damned if I suggest it, because at our school, if you bring it up, you HEAD it up, and that's a major project.) Do you still (gasp!) drink bottled water or do you refill the same container over and over? Do you bring those dorky (no offense) canvas bags to the grocery store? Do you only use products that are organic or all-natural? How far do you go?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Score 1 for Shawn

Finding Neverland (his debut Netflix choice) was actually INCREDIBLY good. In fact, it's one of my new favorite movies.

Go rent it if you haven't already seen it. (Stock up on Kleenex, though. Seriously, it's actually quite chick-flicky, especially at the end.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yes, *I* am our children's future

Today, I spent 30 minutes trying to get my hair dryer to start working again. (I went to use it this morning and it suddenly wasn't working.) I examined the plug, plugged it back in and out again a few times, hit the red circuit breaker button, left it alone for about 10 minutes then tried it again, turned the lights on and off (why, I'm not sure)--I tried EVERYTHING. I was SO frustrated.

Then I realized that I was holding the hair dryer--but it was my flat iron that was plugged in.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Battle of the 'flix

Shawn and I recently took a huge step in our relationship.

I gave him the login info to my Netflix account so that he could have a say in what we watch. (I was feeling generous. After all, I watch a majority of the movies with him.) So this account is, for all purposes, a "joint" account. We can both add, delete and rearrange the movies in the queue (or, for those not familiar with Netflix, the movies on your list, which they send in the order you have them listed).

I logged in tonight and, sure enough, I'm already seeing the difference in our movie preferences. Now, some of my movies were still in their original spots--Walk Tall: The Dewey Cox Story. And others, such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, had actually been moved UP. Awww, I thought. We are SO compatible.

Then I started noticing other changes to my queue (I'm sorry, "our" queue). For example: Dan in Real Life was originally near the top of my list. Here's the synopsis of DRL: "Advice columnist and widowed father of three Dan Burns (Steve Carell) has met someone new. Marie (Juliette Binoche) is beautiful, she's smart -- and she just so happens to be the girlfriend of Dan's brother Mitch (Dane Cook). With a publicly recognized moral compass, Dan finds himself torn between reaching for happiness and keeping the peace in his family."

Sample review: "It tells a funny and emotional story without any of the sentimental shorthand found in most romantic comedies."

Sounds good, right??

It has since been replaced with The Prestige. Or, should I say, "At the dawn of the 20th century, rival magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are desperate to reveal each other's secrets. Obsessed by the escalating competition, the two illusionists begin to perform increasingly risky tricks -- which soon turn deadly."

Sample review? "It's quite a movie -- atmospheric, obsessive, almost satanic."

And there, my friends, is the difference between the sexes.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The First New Kids on the Block Photo in 15 Years...

...was just posted in a Yahoo story, and I'll be damned if they don't look the same as they did back in the day. Eerily so.

They'll be on the Today show on Friday discussing "rumors" of a reunion tour. Please. If they WEREN'T doing it, would they be releasing publicity shots? (Renee, can you watch or tape it and report back?) =-)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Banking update

So I have my card closed, my paperwork filled out and everything resolved. As it turns out, I WAS one of the victims of this:

Hackers have accessed credit and debit card numbers from Sweetbay grocery stores by breaking into the Hannaford computer network.
The hackers had access to 1.6 million card numbers from Sweetbay customers in Florida.
So far there've been fewer than 2,000 cases of attempted credit card fraud reported to the company.

A Sweetbay spokesperson said anyone who shopped there between December and March 8 should check their bank accounts carefully.

Sweetbay said no other personal information, such as names or addresses, were stolen.

Sweetbay is working with police to find out who hacked the system.

The intrusion affected Hannaford stores in New England and New York State and Sweetbay stores in Florida.

The data was illegally accessed from Hannaford's computer systems during the card authorization transmission process, according to a press release

As for me personally, over $400 in transactions were attempted. And Fifth Third stopped it so quickly (I found out today that it was caught so quickly in large part because a lot of their customers WERE victims in this scam so they were specifically looking for this type of activity on the account) that, thank God, the money was never actually deducted from my account. The damage, including the actual money and the resulting fees, could have been ugly. But I had virtually no fallout, other than some inconvenience of lack of access to my account, changing my card number, a trip to the bank and some signatures.

So...everything is, for all intents and purposes, back to normal. I have a temporary card while I wait for my new one. And as one commenter said, I'm staying away from Sweetbay. =-)