Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my mood

Oh, daaaaaaang.

It's already happened. I stopped writing. In an attempt to avoid an excuses post, I will instead talk about my recent, awful mood.

I have not done any sort of physical activity in the past six weeks.

I have only seen friend-type people once in the past 18 days. The one time I did see them, it was it a celebratory setting and those situations offer very little one-on-one discussion time, at least not much of the intimate kind that one needs.

This, actually, has recently gotten me thinking about friendship and what it all means. A lot. Bordering on constantly.

Anyhow. The no working out and the no friends have made me a grumpy gus, which of course makes me not want to work out or see anyone.

That's been my face all week. It's my Really, guys? Really? face and, if you've met me even once, you've seen it. If you know me well, you're very familiar with it, although it's probably not directed at you most times. It's always directed at them. Those other people.

At work, that's all they've been getting from me.

This, believe it or not, is not a complaint session. This is my promise to snap out of it because I'm beginning to irritate myself.

Tomorrow, I'm a new woman. No more snapping. No more looks. No more making people feel like idiots (even if they are).

The goal for tomorrow may not be happiness, but I will, at the very least, be pleasant.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Morning Thus Far

Oh nooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

That's my windshield. It done got jacked up on the way to work.

Is that crack smiling? Mocking me?

What hit me is a complete mystery. The same thing hit in two different spots, which is not possible.


Mom suggested it might have been bullets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling."

--Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Waiting for "Superman"

When his mother told him that Superman wasn't real, education reformer Geoffrey Canada didn't cry because he wasn't real like Santa Claus wasn't real. He cried because "there was no one coming with enough power to save us."

In education, we've been waiting for someone to save us. We been waiting for someone with more power than we have to make things better. Not only has this waiting been unrealistic and lazy. It's also become dangerous.

Teachers and administrators have become complacent. Most parents don't realize how badly the system is failing their kids. And the kids are falling further behind every year.

The United States is ranked last or near last in Reading, Science, and Math in comparison to other developed countries. On the other hand, we're ranked first in confidence in these skills. Kids feel that they're doing well, while they're failing miserably. Their parents might have the same level of confidence in what their children are accomplishing. It's going to be difficult to start a revolution if the people getting an education don't think we have anything to fix.

So, where do we start? What can be done?

There are folks far wiser and more experienced than I dealing with the answers to those questions. All I have to offer are examples from my very limited time as a public school teacher.

One problem that is addressed at length in the film is the idea of tenure. Once you have it, it's pretty near impossible to take it away from you.

I worked with a third grade teacher who said she didn't waste time teaching writing to her students because they'd just end up working at the gas station when they grew up. They wouldn't need to know how to write there.

She has tenure, which means she has a job for life, if she wants it. Which means she's going to be teaching our kids until she retires. It's not just that she's going to be depriving those students of writing skills. She is sending the message to approximately 900 children that they shouldn't shoot too high because they'll be living their parents' lives anyway.

Yet I was denied tenure because one person *cough*AudreyHoward*cough* didn't think I had "enough of a relationship" with my students. This coming from a woman who visibly, physically withdrew when a student came near her.

Enough of my  personal stuff. A little lingering bitterness there.

Honestly, though, with tenure you get the same compensation for being an excellent teacher, a mediocre teacher, or a godawful teacher. Why be excellent when your contract entitles you to the same pay regardless of your quality? What sort of effort will the majority of teachers be willing to put in with this kind of system? I think most of us would bust our asses the first couple of years, but after witnessing coworkers doing the bare minimum and receiving the same pay as us? Maybe a select few would continue to put their all in, while the rest of us would fall in line with the crappy teachers.

What does this mean for our kids?

Another problem I saw in my time teaching is the inability to determine what makes a good teacher and what makes a good school, which is also briefly addressed in the film. We know what to teach, but we don't really understand how to teach it meaningfully. There are teachers who are just naturally good; I know quite a few. Yet there are also teachers who could be great, if only they were given the support and time to develop and the skills necessary to become exceptional.

There are problems here, but there are also solutions.

The first step to change is to realize there's a problem. Parents needs to be informed. Teachers need to remain hopeful. It's also imperative that the community knows what's going on. Even if you don't have kids, the current state of our educational system is going to affect you. What do you think happens to the kids who don't receive a quality education ten or twenty years down the line? Your tax money is going to be involved one way or another.

I've always loved Henry Ford's quote about teamwork and it applies here.

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

So, team, it's time we come together.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cooking Club!

So, I had the brilliant idea to get together with a few friends once a month so that we could cook a themed meal and eat, drink, talk, and laugh together.

We had our first meeting this week and it was a huge success! The food was delicious and we all had a blast.

It all started with me grating the onions, tearing up, and taking a picture to capture the tears, which did no capturing at all.

Our October theme was Fall and I was in charge of the meatballs. I chose a Kofta Kebab recipe and adapted it a bit. I decided to go with mini meatballs instead of kebabs.

This here is the meat I used: half ground lamb and half ground turkey.

  Here we have the spices all ready to go: grated onion, garlic paste, ground coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne, and ground ginger.

Spices & meats!

My giant claw fixing to mix the ingredients together.

Meatballs, precooking.

Beautiful arrangement of cucumber salad ingredients that the camera couldn't ignore.

Rachel was the queen of a lovely kabocha squash curry.

Kate fashioned these ridiculously delectable caramel apples with coconut & baby chocolate chips.

The drink of the night: Chaitini!

Kate can handle her liquor. No doubt.

The finished product. Cucumber & feta salad, Kofta meatballs, and kabocha squash with a Chaitini on the side. A perfect blend of fall flavors.

 Thoughts for our next meeting:

*Rachel is a genius and thought to print up her recipes for us, but I am not & didn't. Maybe next month, we make up a little menu/recipe booklet.

*Um...where is Natalie?! I have no pictures of her except for her legs in the meatball photo. Although I suppose I only have Rachel's arm in one picture. Also, none of me. We need to put someone on photo duty. I'm sure the girls have some pictures I could borrow to fill in the holes.

*On the same note, we need a photo of us sitting down to eat. A conclusion picture!

All in all, I'm beyond happy that we were all willing and able to get together for this. An amazing time with an amazing group of ladies.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here We Go Again!

For realsies, this time it's going to stick and here are the reasons:

1. I'm reading a lot more, so I'll be inspired to write a lot more, right?

2. I got a great pep talk ass-kicking yesterday that was not intended for me, but made me feel hopeful and inspired about my own writing (http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2010/09/ten-important-things-ive-learned-about-blogging/)

3. I finally (finally!) realized I'm writing for myself. Just me, no one else. That's beyond freeing.

That's pretty much it. It's simple, but this time I will be blogging regularly. At least once a day, even if it's just a picture of my feet. But I promise there won't be too many of those. No more than five a month.

Happy reading!