Sunday, April 30, 2006

Rain Delays Suck

...especially since it means I'll miss the end of the race tomorrow while I'm dealing with hyperactive 11-year-olds. Fun. : (

It's 'Dega, Baby!!

But first, some background.

Dale Earnhardt drove a black Goodwrench Chevy for years and years in NASCAR. He was nicknamed The Intimidator because no one liked to see that black number 3 in their rearview mirror.

On February 18, 2001, Dale Earnhardt crashed the famous black number 3 at Daytona. Sadly, he did not get out of the car. His entire legacy shifted onto the young shoulders of his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Junior has grown up admirably, and has managed his responsibilities well. He is his own man, his own driver, but many fans agree he is a man his father would be so very proud of.

On Thursday evening, Dale Earnhardt was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. His family, friends and former teammates were all there to celebrate his career, and apparently it was an emotional ceremony. His company, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, unveiled plans earlier in the week to honor his induction by running all of their cars with special paint schemes this weekend--black.

Junior's normally red Budweiser Chevy is black this weekend, in honor of his late Dad. He runs today at his best track--Talledega (nicknamed Talle-dale-ga). Junior is the second-winningest driver at Talledega. Who's number one? You guessed it, Dale Earnhardt. So it is fitting that Junior will run this great special paint scheme at 'Dega today.

Yesterday, Junior's teammate Martin Truex Jr. one the Busch Series race on what would have been Dale Earnhardt's 55th birthday. He, too, ran a special black paint scheme, and it was an emotional, lovely win for Martin, DEI and the fans.

So fasten your seatbelts, strap on your helmet, and hang on--it's going to be a great ride today, and I'm crossing my fingers that we'll see a black number 8 in Victory Lane this afternoon.


P.S. Happy Birthday Elliott Sadler!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

10:20 a.m. Saturday

Pages: 11 (One title page, 9 pages of B.S., and one page--almost full--of sources cited).

Final word count: 3,544 (this, of course, does not include title page or sources cited page).

Level of relief for author: Profound.

Plans for rest of day: The three S's: shower, shop, scrapbook.

Friday, April 28, 2006

One Thousand, Eight Hundred, Seventy-Six Words

And that is all in one evening (about 4 hours). I will certainly finish this baby (which Heather called my "treatise on pedagogy," making me giggle) by tomorrow. I figure if I start at about 8:00 in the morning, I can be finished by noon.

In the meantime, I think it's time for bed. ; )


That's 1,452. As in words.

Here is my assignment, should I choose to accept it:

Final Examination
Choose either Option 1 or Option 2

Option One: Students completing a minimum 1500 word final examination essay, have the opportunity to earn a maximum score of 10, AND A "B" GRADE.

Option Two: Students completing a minimum 3500 word final examination essay, have the opportunity to earn a maximum score of 23 AND AN "A" GRADE.

Final Examination Question: Reflecting on the required readings, write a reflective essay on Science and Mathematics Education for today and tomorrow for the students you are/will teach. Always having the California Math and Science Standards in mind, consider how you will set up your classroom to teach science and mathematics, what types of materials you will use, and how you will assess each student's development in these two critical areas.

The Final Examination Essay is due and is to be submitted via the view/complete link below not later than midnight, Saturday of Week 4.

Of course, I have no choice but to accept it, as I really want to pass this class and move on to getting my multiple subject credential. Oh, and I'm going for the A, of course.

So here I am, at 9:15 on Friday night. Other 27-year-old gals might be out dancing and partying. I am sitting here in my pajamas, with Harry Wong's "How to be an Effective Teacher: The First Days of School" and Carolyn Evertson's (et al) "Classroom Management For Elementary Teachers" open in front of me, and several windows open on my computer so I can get quotes from various class readings we had this month.

It's not a hard assignment really (I can just hear all the "Yeah, right...not hard my ass, Megs..." out there, but really, it isn't). It just takes a good knowledge of fancy-schmancy educational jargon, like:

1. "Prior knowledge"
2. "Building blocks"
3. "Content Standards"
4. "State Framework"
5. "Instructional Materials"
6. "Instructional Strategies"
7. "Assessment Strategies"
8. "Limited English Proficiency" (LEP)

...and so on.

Take all these fancy terms and mix them up with quotes from the reading and my own opinions and interpretations, and voila! You've got a paper. Believe me, these assignments are much easier now that I've actually been in the classroom than they were five years ago when I was working towards my music credential.

Just a little snippet of something I've written (these are my own words):

Of course, in any subject, textbooks are an important instructional material. Often this is the one resource that is used in every lesson. It is important, then, to make sure that the class text fulfills certain criteria as laid out by the State Science Framework. These criteria are listed for science resources; however, they can and should be applied to instructional materials in all subject areas.

Hey, I never said I was Shakespeare...


Little Miss Hope It's Finished Soon (Better Stop Wasting Time)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Love This Little Guy

Watch him for a minute--he moonwalks! It always makes me laugh.

Pardon me while I vent my frustration. My kids are driving me bananas.

I stumbled into school today with a stuffy head and a tired body (fitful sleeping due to major allergies) and it seemed that, while a bit silly, my kids were at least going to be something like normal today.

They completed their starter activity (a word find) while I took role. Nothing new there. We sang our warmups (a Native American song, a West African song, an Aboriginal song and a song from Trinidad). Everything was fine.

Then, like any other day, I said, "Okay--please take out Singabahambayo and stand up." At this point, I walked a few steps to the CD player to get the backing track going. About 5 or 6 kids left the risers to bombard me with questions. While I was telling them to please sit down and raise their hands--BOOM! Two kids are duking it out in the middle of my classroom. Remember Brian of the chair-throwing incident? He and Kenny were going at each other. It started with Brian trying to take something from Kenny, and Kenny kicking him HARD in the shins.

My first thought was, "Oh, shit."

My second thought was, "Why me??"

My third thought was, "I should separate them."

My fourth thought was, "I am not taking an elbow to the face for anyone."

These thoughts all occured in rapid succession, in the space of about one second. Then I took action. If you've never seen me truly pissed off, it's not a pretty thing.

"BRIAN! GO OVER THERE!!" (Pointing to one side of the room).

"KENNY! GO OVER THERE!!" (Pointing to other side of the room).


They may be goofy 11-year-olds but they're not stupid. They did what I told them to do at this point. The rest of the class looked almost frightened. I'm pretty sure I had steam coming out of my ears.

I stepped into my little office to call for assistance and within a minute, Ms. Dean was in my room to take the little shits away. Kenny, a habitual crybaby, was bawling and rubbing his head. I had ZERO sympathy.

I took a moment to yell at the rest of the class for failing to remember that one of my classroom expectations all freakin' year has been "Stay in your assigned spot." Then we sang Singabahambayo, finally.

After class, I was due at the high school for an afternoon sub job. I stopped by the middle school office to find Ms. Dean in her office with Brian. I poked my head in to give her my version of what happened, and she informed me that according to Kenny and Brian, neither one started it. So tomorrow I'll be talking to choir kids to see what they saw.

Then Ms. Dean dropped the best piece of information: "Apparently, Jessica threw an eraser at Brian. It bounced off of him and rolled to the middle of the room. Kenny got up to get it, thinking it was a freebee. Ben got up to take it back from Kenny."

I gaped at her, then turned to gape at Brian, then turned back to Ms. Dean. "You mean that whole drama was about an ERASER?!?!"

She confirmed this and agreed with my complete disgust. We agreed that both boys will be doing an assignment about expectations and appropriate behavior. Brian, who has had behavior problems before and was out of my class for almost a month in March, is on his last chance. If he doesn't shape up, if there's even ONE complaint out of my mouth about his conduct in choir, he'll be spending fourth period with the custodian, scraping gum, picking up litter, washing walls, etc. I also suggested he could help clean up at the high school, as they have lunch during 4th period.

After this, I rushed over to the high school and readied myself for a two-hour block period of social studies. Turns out, the teacher had left a movie choise for them: Indiana Jones or Walk the Line. They voted for Walk the Line, a few kids helped me set up the computer and projector to play the DVD, and we all settled in to watch.

I love Walk the Line--great movie--but the BEST part of my afternoon was definitely the quiet. Only one kid asked to go to the bathroom. The only talking were a few comments from the kids about the movie, but they weren't rude, disparaging, or stupid. Normally, 10 minute before the bell, the kids would be grabbing their stuff and crowding around the door, but every kid in that classroom stayed in their seats with their eyes glued to the screen until the bell rang.


Anyway, tomorrow morning I'll come up with some really tedious assignment for Kenny and Brian, and I'll have a little chat with Jessica about throwing things in my classroom. At least it'll be Friday.

Ahh, Spring: Part 2 (Well, that explains it)

Found this very interesting article about allergies on Yahoo this morning. Seems I'm not the only one feeling worse than usual this year.

And check out the top 10 worst cities. I'm moving to one of them soon. Yikes!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ahh, Spring

Cue the is springtime in the Pacific Northwest.

With spring comes...well, rain. April showers and all that. We had a glorious weekend of sunny weather, and Monday and Tuesday followed suit. But, as happens all the time in this part of the world, so near the ocean, the weather changed in a blink and today it has been downright blah. Gray skies, mist, frizzy hair...

But--it is still spring, and with spring comes young love. Right, everyone with me: "Awwwwwwwwwwww..."

I peeled myself out of bed at 5:30 this morning to sub for the high school Video Production teacher. I've subbed for him before and it's always an easy gig. They work on projects, I sit at his desk twiddling my thumbs and keeping my To Do list up-to-date.

Anyway, today, I even got some cheap entertainment! A young couple chatting at their table...and then fighting...and then breaking up.

I'm not laughing at them, I'm really not. I went through my own adolescent angst and I know that the feelings they have at this age are intense and dramatic. But listening to them bicker was a bit amusing...I just kept thinking, "Give this girl Glamour and Cosmo, and she'll never argue like this again."

I'm sure they'll get back together and break up and get back together and break up many more times before they grow up and move on. The circle of life and all that.

So even with the rain, and the young love gone awry, it is still springtime. And with spring comes...


I like procedures in my classroom. Procedure is what got me through a year at St. Peter's. But procedure doesn't seem to work well with 47 11-year-olds. They still don't pass their music folders in in the right order--Gah! And you would think, after knowing me since September, that Brian (same Brian who was crying during the lockdown) would know by now that throwing a chair is unacceptable.

But throw a chair he did, while he was helping his group put chairs away. I have room on the risers for 36 kids, so the rest of them sit on chairs. Anyway, I looked over at Brian just in time to see him toss a chair, attempting to put it on the stack.

"BRIAN!! Come here!!"


"Just come here! Stay."

When all the kids left, I took a deep breath and turned to him and said in my low, growling, I'm-a-meanie voice, "I. Don't. Ever. Want. To. See. You. Throw. Anything. In. My. Classroom. You. Know. Better. Especially. A. CHAIR!!!!"

"I was--"

"No. You threw it."

"But I was--"

"Throwing it."

"You never listen!! Just listen to me!"

"No, Brian. I. Saw. You. Throw. The. Chair. Unacceptable!"

I then proceeded to explain--and demonstrate--to Brian that there is a substantial difference between placing a chair on the stack and throwing a chair on the stack.

"See? My hands don't leave the chair until the chair is actually placed on the stack."

By now Brian was looking really peeved at being treated like a moron, but honestly! Until he can learn a bit of impulse control (an ongoing problem with him), I'm goint to have to.

His excuse for throwing the chair? You're gonna love this.









"I was just trying to make it fun."

"Brian! It's not supposed to be fun! It's stacking chairs, for heaven's sake! There's no fun about it! And you don't need to make it fun!" I'm pretty sure my eyes were bulging by now.

Still, it is springtime. And with spring comes...hayfever.

Ahh, yes, Spring has sprung, in all her glory. Pass the Claritin, please.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Interviews, Adoptions and New Houses

Job Interview

I intervied (on the phone) this morning for a job in Manteca, CA. The first thing people always ask is, "how did it go?" I have no idea. : P I can never tell, and prefer not to dwell on it too much.

Still, I do think I am getting better at "selling myself" to interview panels. It takes practice to brag yourself up to potential employers.

The job itself is right up my alley: One class a day of high school choir and elementary/middle school band, choir, orchestra and classroom music. A little bit of everything, in a huge age range. However, I'm not sure I want to be in Manteca.

Guess I'll cross that bridge when (and if--no guarantee they'll hire me) I get to it.


I've "adopted" a Marine, so to speak. A friend at a message board pointed out this wonderful site a couple of months ago, and I decided to sign up. Politics aside, I truly believe that the men and women of the United States Armed Forces need support while they are in the Middle East. I applied, spoke to a lady on the phone a couple of weeks ago, and finally, last night, got the information on my soldier. I can't (and won't) say much about him except that his name is David, he's my age, and he's going to get massive ammounts of mail from me. I sent off a card first thing this morning and went to Hallmark this afternoon to buy a few more.

AdoptaPlatoon encourages pen pals to write weekly, even though we may not hear back from our service member. Obviously, he's got a job to do, and not a lot of free time to write to some stranger. Though I'd love to hear from him and know a bit more about him, I got involved in this to give support, and perhaps brighten a soldier's day when mail call comes around.

Mom and I are already getting a care package put together (Ritz cracker sandwiches, Starburst, microwave popcorn--it's on the list of items you can send, so I'm assuming they have microwave access--and some other things). I figure he can use what he wants and share stuff he doesn't need with his buddies.

I'm really excited about this. According to Dad (who knows from first-hand experience), mail call is something all soldiers look forward to. And the morale can get a bit low for guys who don't get much mail.

New House

Yep, Mom and Dad's weekend trip to California was quite fruitful. They bought a house (I'm serious--put in the offer, got a counter, accepted, signed the papers) in Lincoln.

I'll stay with them for anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, then I'm out on my own. I'm really going to have my own place again. I love Mom and Dad, but I am ready to have my own apartment's been 5 years.

So that's the news here. Lots of excitement today!



Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rosie the Predatory Tiger? I Think Not

It's a car, people, a car. It is metal and fiberglass and it is inanimate. Let's just get that one thing straight right from the start.

And clutter anywhere in my life sucks out my life there's nothing new there. But if you're into Feng Shui, you might like to read about how you can use it in your vehicle.

Oops, hold on, Rosie the Protege is trying to beat the door down and attack me.

Ahhh, Amore!

Hey, I'm for true love--no matter what form it comes in.

Nothing to Declare

Uh...what makes people think they can get through Customs with human remains? Good God, I would declare a Tic Tac, I'm so freakin' paranoid about getting back into my home country.

Okay, okay, there was that one time I brought back all those Beanie Babies from England, but I didn't sell any of them, and it's not my fault I had to buy a boatload of them just to get one Britannia Bear (that I still have, by the way).

But come on, what's worse--Beanie Babies or a human head?

Oh, Good Grief

Okay, in some countries, this would really be a punishment, but my first thought on reading this headline was, "Boy, detention sure must be crowded these days."

Can you imagine what kids in the States would think of this punishment? I can just hear the boys, in that adolescent-speak they use: "Ohhhh yeah, I'm not doing anymore homework for the rest of the year!!!"

It's Not Impulse, it's Therapy

My shoe addiction, that is. And believe me, I don't buy every cute pair of shoes I see. For example, I never did buy that one absolutely stunningly sassy pair at Mervyn's because...well, they're just not practical for anything in my life. Dammit.

Apparently, I am alright in terms of my ability to make decisions. Others are not so lucky.

The fact that anyone is doing any kind of scientific survey on shopaholics, however, leaves me boggled.

Don't Worry, Read a Book and Learn How to Be Happy

I, personally, find that any of the following work just as well for me:

1. New shoes.
2. Cuddling a warm kitty.
3. Snoopy.
4. Cocktail hour with a good friend.
5. Singing.
6. Laughing.

Still, teaching people how to be happy can't be a bad thing. Especially in high school.

Right...enough World Wide Weird headlines for today. I have work to do!



Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday Night's Alright

Don't give us none of your aggravation
We had it with your discipline
Saturday night's alright for fighting
Get a little action in

From "Saturday Night's Alright (For Figting)
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

Yes, Saturday night is alright...for pink pajamas and a chocolate milkshake. The wildest experience I had this evening was watching NASCAR. And you know what? That's a good thing.

I'm glad to report that I am well recovered from the trauma of Thursday. Friday was an interesting day in Sixth Grade Choir...I told my class, "I'm still mad about your behavior yesterday. I didn't want to come to work today, I'm so mad." I got a lot of wide-eyed stares, and there was definitely a subdued atmosphere in the choir room. They're just not used to Miss Cooper being pissed off at them. Frustrated, yes. Pissed off, not so much.

I also spent about 10 minutes going over the importance of emergency drills--both real and practice. I told them the number one reason I was so angry with them was that they prevented me from doing my job in that situation: keeping them safe. I think most of them understood why I was angry. Between "the talk" and the fact that I had a stack of about 40 pink slips in front of me the whole period, they stayed pretty quiet.

After choir, I subbed for a math teacher for two periods. After school, I was talking to another teacher in the office, when Ms. Dean of Students walked by and overheard me telling of my Great Lockdown Adventure. She interjected, "I think you had the most stressful situation in the whole school yesterday." I just laughed.

Anyway, once I was free from my duties at school, I drove down to Silverdale to spend some time at Barnes and Noble--always a pick-me-up. Then I came home and relaxed.

Today I have gotten some stuff done. I cleaned my room and bathroom, after a three-week hiatus, which is unheard of from me. Then I did Litterbox Duty (Mom and Dad are in California, so I'm in charge of cleaning up after three piggy little cats) and a bit of sweeping. Then I busied myself in the kitchen, trying a new idea I had a day or two ago. I cooked some red bell pepper, onion, zuchini, and portabella mushrooms in a tiny bit of olive oil and minced garlic. Then I stuffed the veggie mix into miniature pita bread pockets and topped each one with a pinch of asiago cheese. I heated them in the oven for about 10 minutes and...YUMMMM. Delicious! I sat around with a plate of those and a trashy romance novel until it was time for the race to start.

So that's been my Saturday. Some light chores and a lot of relaxing. Tomorrow I'll finish some coursework for an online class I'm taking and do some more relaxing. Oh, and finish the small mountain of laundry that needs to be done so that I have stuff to wear this week.

In other news...Mom and Dad found a house! They're pretty excited. They are going to put an offer in on a house in a Del Webb development in Lincoln. Our house here in PL is all but sold (will be finalized in mid-May) and we plan to move back to California in June, once my contract at the school is finished.

As for my living arrangements, I'll cross that bridge when I get a job. I had a good chat with my master teacher from my student teaching days on Thursday, and he's a good connection to have. He reassured me that the job process will start getting busier in May and June, so I needn't worry too much right now.

But worry I's just my nature.

In the meantime, I have a trashy romance novel to read and three sweet kitties to cuddle with. Buenos noches, mis amigos!



Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sixth Grade Choir + School Lockdown =

Blender, margarita mix, cheap-ass tequila, taquitos, sour cream, and two frosted sugar cookies.

Yeah...we had a lockdown today. About two minutes before I was going to dismiss my little darlings (that was written with a lot of sarcasm, they are not darling in the least), an announcement came over the intercom.


It did not help any. My kids did not shut up. I missed the announcement.

Okay, now Miss Cooper is pissed. I mean, royally pissed. Enter Ms. Dean of Students, the recently-appointed person in charge of discipline issues at the middle school. She let me know of the lockdown, and brought back three students who had been in the office: one because he wasn't feeling well, and the other two because they're buttheads.

Anyway, I was really pissed to know that I had missed a freakin' lockdown announcement because I have some little buttheads who don't care that they are flunking choir.

I might add, that before any of the lockdown drama, I had sent FOUR kids out of my room, two to the office, two to the band teacher, because of behavior. The first two left when I realized they were having a water fight. The other two left when I saw them running around behind the risers when I turned back from putting our backing CD in.

So no, it just wasn't one of our better days.

Anyway, the lockdown began at about 12:25, I guess. Class lets out at 12:28. I'm normally driving home by 12:45.

Today, I spent almost 50 extra minutes in my choir room with forty-six sixth grade students. It was hell. I'm still traumatized. I'm not kidding (see above photo--do you think I eat like that every day? Well, I don't).

We started off on a really good note when Mrs. Aide (who is there to support a special needs student and to support me to a certain extent as well) got in front of my class and started screaming at them. I rarely find a teaching situation that I don't know how to redirect. I stood there not knowing what to do. I can't just tell her to back off (in front of the kids) but I can't just let her scream at them, either. I (rather lamely) said, "It's okay, I got it from here!" with a big, fake smile plastered on my face, and took over the lecturing--sans screaming.

Two minutes later, I was re-taking the attendance, and Mrs. Aide walked up to me and handed me an invitation to her upcoming Pampered Chef party. I wanted to scream at her.

What followed were 50 minutes of chaos and pandemoneum that I never want to repeat. Just a sampling, by the numbers...

1 - The number of sane, rational adults in the room (I don't count Mrs. Aide).

2 - Number of students who ended up in tears after 50 minutes locked into my room. One was Candy*, a little gal who apparently gets claustrophobic, or something. I don't know exactly what brought on the panic attack, but I could not send her to the office. Then there was Brian, who had been sent to the office early on in the lesson because of a massive headache. He's not the type of kid who normally complains about feeling poorly, so when he told me he had a headache, I let him go to the office. Ms. Dean had to bring him back at the beginning of the lockdown, and he had to suffer in my room. He ended up shut in my office, bawling, because he felt so awful. Watching Candy and Brian, I wanted to cry. There was absolutely nothing I could do for them.

*Not real names

2 - Number of kids who pretended to cry and asked me, "Are we going to die?!?"

3 - Number of children who offered Candy and Brian bottles of soda and water out of their backpacks, bless them. They're off my shit list.

4 - Number of times I rolled my eyes when asked if anyone would be allowed to pee in the garbage can if it became necessary.

7 - Number of times I tried to get the kids to sing.

10 - Number of pink slips (referrals) I'm filling out based on deplorable behavior.

50 - Number of minutes past the end of 4th period that I was locked in my room with my choir (I'm so putting that on my substitute timesheet).

347 - Number of times I was asked why Mrs. Aide was taping paper on the windows ("Because we're supposed to." "Why?" "I don't know. Go sit down.").

582 - Number of times I was asked "how long is this going to go on?!?!?!" in whiny tones.

593 - Number of times I had to explain that I have absolutely no way of knowing how long it will last.

791 (give or take a few) - Number of complaints I got about how stupid this lockdown is.

1,427 - Number of times I wanted to scream, cry, hit something in one 50-minute span.

I had one nice yell at the kids, letting them know how angry I was that I missed an announcement because they wouldn't be quiet, followed by, "I'd better not miss the next announcement out of that intercom."

Finally, at 1:15 (a time I'd normally be at home, in my comfies, brewing a pot of tea), they announced that we were unlockdowned. I promptly sent Brian and Candy to the office, and tried to calm the chaos in my room. We were told to dismiss at 1:18, and it was with a huge sigh of relief that I did so when the minute hand hit 18 minutes.

The elementary music teacher came to my room to get his CD player and all I could do was laugh like an idiot.

I made my way up to the office, to find it busy in there. Candy was sitting at a table, clutching a bottle of water and sobbing. I stopped to see about her and Mrs. Secretary told me that there'd been a bit of panicking going on. I poked my head into the sick room to wish Brian a speedy recovery. He'd calmed down but still looked miserable.

Mrs. Secretary was running around, Mrs. Dean and Mrs. Principal were locked in Mrs. Principal's office, and three Jefferson County Sheriffs were locked in the conference room with a student. There were four sheriff cars parked outside. I told Mrs. Secretary, "I'm going to have a good, stiff margarita tonight." She laughed and replied, "I'm having a Baileys."

So I stopped at the liquor store and the QFC on the way home. And now I am locked in the house with a teensy bit of a tequila buzz and much better outlook on the world.

My afternoon (so far) by the numbers:

1 - Number of phone calls from former supervisors (from my student teaching days--returning a call I'd made for the sake of networking).

1 - Margarita consumed

2 - Number of frosted sugar cookies I allowed myself to indulge in.

3 - Number of friendly faces greeting me (gotta love the furries).

4 - Number of hours I'll spend watching the Anne of Green Gables DVD that finally arrived from Amazon. I haven't seen it in ages, and absolutely love it.

6 - Number of pillows I propped myself up on in bed to start watching Anne of Green Gables while sipping my margarita and munching on taquitos and frosted sugar cookies.

10 - Number of taquitos I ate (lots of veggies for dinner).

20 - Number of times I have thanked God that tomorrow is Friday.

Fly Away Home?

Only in California...which, mind you, I can say, as I am willingly and by choice returning to the Golden State in a few months.

A woman is building her new dream home. Out of a 747. Hey, kudos to her for recycling. But with as much time as I've spent in 747s in recent years, I'm not sure I'd want to live in one, even dismantled.

I think it would be awesome to make a home out of an old Washington State Ferry, myself. Hey, they come equipped with a kitchen...

"I Pledge Allegiance" or Terrible Indegestion?

Decide for yourself:

Isn't the heart a little bit higher in the body than that?

Happy Birthday, Lizzie!

Tomorrow is the 80th birthday of Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain. The Seattle Times published some important facts about her reign, and some "then and now" pictures:

I have a fondness for dear old Lizzie. She has a lot of pluck.

Maybe it's the Leiderhosen?

But boy, maybe a trip to Austria isn't a bad idea...

TomKitten's First Friend?

I mean, the poor kid's going to get a lot of teasing about her father's Couch Aerobics program, so why not give her a playmate that won't judge? Just be careful not to take it in the bathtub.

Ooohh, Bet He's in the Dog House Now

Another example of the differences between men and women.

I think I've found my new source for news: the World Wide Wierd page at The Australian. Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Get a job, you...slob!

Yeah, that's what I'm telling myself these days. Well, I'm not really calling myself a slob (I'm actually quite tidy) but I am starting to get hyperactive about applying for jobs.

I am happy to report that I have a phone interview a week from today with Manteca. Yes, yes, they are 60 miles south of Sacramento. But hey, beggars can't be choosers, and until I start getting more interviews, I'm a beggar.

I will get a job. I will get a job. I will get a job.

In other job news, a big, huge CONGRATULATIONS to Heather, who interviewed for a job yesterday morning, found out it was hers at 6:00 last night, and reported for duty at 9:00 this morning. How's that for prompt service? Almost makes up for those jobs you interview for that never call back...

I'm also very, very pleased to note that finally, FINALLY, the Tomkitten has been born. Now, can we please shut up about Weirdo and the Brainwashed and step away from the tabloids? I'm sorry, but all that Couch Aerobics really ruined Top Gun for me. I fear that if I watch it, I'll start picturing Maverick and Iceman eating placenta and jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. Really, Tom...I could hate you for ruining the shirtless volleyball scene.


Let's hope that the press leaves them alone now--they're higher on the We-Don't-Care-O-Meter than J-Lo and Ben Affleck ever got.

(But click here for a relationship timeline for Tom and Katie anyway.)

In other randomness, I've discovered a new workout--the rowing machine. I'm using it as sort of a weight training for my back and arms. That thing rocks! Add 150 reps on that to 50 minutes on the elliptical and some major stretching and strength conditioning, and you've got a well-worked out girl. Who promptly came home and pigged out because it had been about 8 hours since her last meal...we need to work on that (but hey, part of that pig-out was a large salad with lots of greens).

On that note, I'm tired. It is bedtime. I have a busy day tomorrow--yelling at 6th graders, getting my hair done, working out...and applying for jobs.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hey, It’s Okay…

I spent 75 minutes on the elliptical trainer tonight (yay me!!), reading Entertainment Weekly and much of Cosmo, too. I like to save my magazine reading for the elliptical--it makes the time go much faster and it's a way to get my trashy-magazine reading out of the way.

Anyway, as I drove home from the gym, I was thinking of a monthly feature in Glamour (my absolute favorite magazine), where they tell the reader "It's okay..." to do various things. I thought of this because I was indulging one of my own guilty pleasures...I had just cranked up the volume on my radio because a Barry Manilow song was playing.

Anyway, the Little Pink Lightbulb appeared over my head. You know what this means! Meg's got an idea for a Little Pink Blog update.

So here it is...

I Admit It! And It's Okay...

1. That I crank up the radio and cease the station-surfing when Barry Manilow is singing "Mandy." The real treat, however, is "Copa Cabana."

2. That I like (some) cheesy pop music and light rock, even though it goes against Statute 417B in the "You Have a Degree in Music" Handbook.

3. That I will never pack away that old, old Snoopy doll that has been around the world with me (the one that reminds me of my late Grandma Bean).

4. That I have a map of England on my bedroom wall, and I sometimes longingly gaze at Essex County and miss it like mad.

5. That I once had a massive crush on a married man. It's not like we did anything, and I had absolutely zero expectations of him, aside from light flirting and a nice friendship that really meant a lot to me.

6. That I sometimes look at my students and think, "Oh, God, please get me out of here!" We all have our days, and believe me, 11-year-olds are not easy creatures to be around every day.

7. That I can't do my lesson plans for the week until my room and bathroom are clean.

8. That I plan my Sundays around NASCAR. And that I feel slightly bereft when there's no race (like this weekend).

9. That I believe new shoes will solve my problems. Okay, they won't finish my classwork, they won't do the laundry, but damn, they make me feel good about the world.

10. That I read romance novels. I also read "serious" stuff, but when I want to relax, I do love my stupid romance novels (within reason--I don't love "bodice rippers," just a good love story with good characterization).

11. That one of the first things I bought upon my arrival in England in 2004 was a really huggable teddy bear. Hey, you move 6,000 miles away from your friends and family, and then tell me that you don't need something to hug!

12. That I have one-sided but very satisfying conversations with my cat. I don't care what anyone says, I know that she understands every word. I'm the stupid one who doesn't understand Meow.

13. That I haven't played my clarinet in ages...I'll find time again, and get back into it. For now, I've got enough music to keep me happy with my piano, singing, and teaching.

14. That I'm still a few steps behind technology. It took a long time for me to catch up to the Cellular Revolution, and you still won't see the phone glued to my ear all the time.

15. That instead of St. Tropaz or some exotic place, I'd rather book my next trip to London.

16. That I get a teensy bit scared when I'm alone at my parents' house at night. It's way too big for one person, and who knows what is lurking in the forest behind our house.

17. That I have a fascination and love for public transport (BritRail, Washington State Ferries). Hey, any time I don't have to drive is a good time.

18. That I still occasionally brag about that Scottish bloke I pulled in Edinburgh--in 1999.

19. That I cry when I'm really, really pissed off. No one will ever be able to tell me I'm locking it all inside, that's for sure!

20. That I just spent 30 minutes of my Friday night writing this blog update. ; )



Thursday, April 13, 2006

Identity Crisis

One of my sixth grad students came into my room at lunch today, eating ice cream. I remarked that she and her friends eat horribly and she said, "Nuh-uh!! This is the first time I've had chocolate in a month, 'cause I've been on a diet. I'm fat."

She is not fat.

I told her this, in no uncertain terms, and reminded her that extreme dieting while she's still growing is bad for her. Apparently, her parents have been saying the same thing. She'll believe it...eventually.

Anyway, her worries about her body got me thinking--and laughing--about something funny that happened yesterday.

I logged into myspace yesterday to check for messages, and I had a new friend request. Wondering if it was some long-lost compadre from high school or uni, I eagerly opened it up. It was a random guy I've never heard of, 20 years old, and a model. He had over 1,000 friends, mostly girls who could pass for Playboy Bunnies.

I just laughed that this guy is requesting to be "friends" with anyone and everyone, and promptly clicked, "deny."

A little while later, I had another request. I opened it up to find a guy who's friends list is filled with girls who are more like me--not so skinny, big-busted, with plenty of junk in the trunk, etc.

Now I was really laughing. Two completely different guys with different preferences in women, both requesting little old me to be their "friend." The guy with lots of big-girl friends had also written me a message, telling me I'm beautiful and I should be a model. Oh, and he's married.

My response, after laughing at the irony of it all? "Deny."

I'll just be friends with people who aren't all about adding as many cute girls as they can to their friends list!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

LPB Times Reports

Molly the Mouser

Well, this is horrible. I hope they can tempt the little kitty out soon, and that she lives her remaining lives with minimal adventure.

Makes me shudder, being so in love with my own little Furring Purry...the one who doesn't know how good she's got it.

Oops, I Dropped My Kid

Okay, papparazzi, listen up: Leave Brit-brit and K-Fed alone. None of us really care anymore, anyway. But really, I'm actually starting to feel sorry for the poor girl--show me a kid who hasn't had a trip to the ER before they're two and I'll show you a kid who's parents keep it in a bubble.

The whole driving-away-with-four-month-old-baby-on-lap incident was, of course, stupid. But the press must be having a really, really slow day when it has to rush to confirm every little detail about the child welfare agents visiting Britney's home.

If it had been international news everytime I got hurt as a child, I would have been locked in a padded cell. I'm not kidding. If you haven't heard about all my childhood injuries, here's the short list:

1. Head-first dive into a brick fireplace (age: 18 months). Apparently it was lots of fun for Dad to hold me down while they X-rayed my head.

2. Broken finger on account of slamming it into a sliding glass door (age: 2).

3. Broken leg--requiring surgery and hospital stay--on account of freak shopping cart accident--you really don't want to know (age: 3).

4. Drinking plant water that had recently been treated with plant food (toddler years).

5. Electrocuting myself by sticking brass candlesticks in the outlets (toddler years).

6. Broken wrist on account of falling off the triangle bars (thanks a lot, Mrs. Olmo, for making me do them when I was terrified of the damn things) in PE class (age: 11).

And that's the short list. Anyway, my point here is that accidents happen, and yes, the authorities check (rightly so), but really, poor Britney is probably terrified about her child's head and hardly needs the press reporting all the details.

Okay, This is Just Amazing

Apparently, geologists have found some fossilized earthworm feces from 500 million years ago.

Now, that is amazing. Absolutely stunning. I told my parents about this headline, and the only reply Dad could come up with was a stunned-sounding, "No shit?!"

Terfelt described the find as "unique."

Why I Could Never Hide From the Police

I, too, would be captured when the clean underwear ran out. Hell, I'd probably turn myself in before they could find me. I just really hate dirty clothes.

And that's all for today--it really is a slow news day. Guess I'll go read all the juicy details about Britney...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Beautifully Chaotic

That's my goth name. I think it suits me. ; )

In the midst of doing some lesson plans on Hawaiian music a couple of weeks ago, I found a Hawaiian name dictionary. I looked up all of my students' names and made up a list to share with them. They loved it.

Now we've moved on to Native American music (are you seeing the theme of the next concert yet?) and I was hoping to find a name generator for that. No luck, really, but I did find a page that gives you your goth name. And, though I have no interest in anything goth, I actually rather liked what it came up with for me.

Of course, it doesn't stop there. I have many personas, it seems, ready to be named.

As a pirate, I am "Tripod" Lindsey Scarr. Aaargh!

As a porn star, I am Sweatee Spankalot.

My androgenous Orc name is Zagbr├║g the Devastator.

My girlie Hobbit name is Angelica Whitfoot from Pincup.

My Elven name is Alcthondiel.

My Outlaw Biker name is Bitch (of the Galloping Goats MC).

My Ya Ya name is Queen Runs-with-the-Bulls.

Should I find myself with a boyfriend anytime soon, he should endeavor to adress me by the pet name Sweetums Hot-Baby Nuts.

My Rocker name is Aretha Sabbath.

My Pro Wrestler title shall be MC Cowgirl.

Apparently, my name in Japanese is Meganu.

Should I move to the North Pole, I will take the name Sunny Fluffy-Paws (hey, I'm almost short enough to be an elf).

If you really want to be mean to me, call me Crater-Fingered Turdpoacher.

My name in Egyptian Hieroglyphs:

I might start a bluegrass band one of these days. According to one site, I should call it Dusty Desert Billies.

Your Clueless name is: Mandy Cruise! Like, WOW!!

My dragon name is Lady Fodoca the Hunted.

Apparently, behind my back, my colleagues call me Bubbles.

I prefer Princess Soprano, but if they insist...*sigh* Call me: Princess Lucinda Antonia. (It does, after all, beat that childhood nickname of Princess Foo Foo).

Another site has me as the fairy princess Melisande O'Goodness.

If I develop a sudden passion for nuts, my squirrel name is Scratchy Fluffycheeks.

La la la la la la!
La la la la laaaaa! My Smurf name is Fictitious Smurf.

In the world of Captain Underpants, I am Fluffy Bubblebiscuits.

Oh my God! Remember Transformers? Well, if I were in that show, I'd be Siderider (if I find a Voltron name generator...oh, the bliss).

How about DJ B-Side?

Watch out Britney and comes Kristi Elektra--and she can actually sing.

My Arapahoe name: Yawning Turtle

I'll melt your heart with my soulful crooning...just call me Ella Forgotthewords.

LOL...not sure what to say about this one: The Viceroy, Her Excellent Highness, Queen Megan. The Belligerent Queller of London.

J.K. Rowling might call me Olive Broomfleet.

My Romeo, in Shakespeare's day, would have climbed to my balcony and called me Miranda Capulet.

Your French Name is:

Jacqueline Aube

This link insists on calling me Pinky Gigglebuns.

If I watch too much NASCAR, you might have to start refering to me as Melinda Jean.

And, should I move back to England, very proper English name will be Margaret Butcher.

Right. I'm having way too much fun with this, which means I don't have a life. : P And it's past my bedtime, anyway.

(Oh, and please, just call me Meg).


Beautifully Chaotic

Friday, April 07, 2006

Victoria, Part Four: Thursday...Coming Home

I hung around the hotel until check out time at 11:00, watchng TV and using the internet kiosk. At 11:00, I drove down to the ferry terminal (I hadn't so much as touched my car since Monday, though I did check on her from my hotel room window every night and every morning). I left my car there and had 3 hours to wander after buying my ticket for the return journey.

First order of business: Return to the English Sweet Shop. I bought four more boxes of Jaffa Cakes. I'm not kidding. I consumed one box of my original two while in Victoria, so I now have five dozen Jaffa Cakes, which I will selfishly horde for the next month or so. I'm still debating whether or not to give Mom and Dad each one cake (hey, I bought them a box of maple shortbread cookies--they can be happy with that).

So I wandered for a few hours with a bag full of Jaffa Cakes, which could be clearly seen through the plastic. If anyone wondered why I had a boatload of Jaffa Cakes in my bag, well, I don't care. I've been craving those things for months, since the four-box supply that Kathy and Derek sent me were depleted.

Some pics I took while wandering around with my Jaffa Cakes:

More vendors--the flowers behind them spell out "Welcome to Victoria":

A spray-paint artist. I've seen this before in London, and it's really fun to watch (even though the art itself isn't really to my taste). Plus, this guy was kinda cute underneath the face mask and headphones.

More signs:

A street artist painting the Empress (her finished painting was quite good):

Finally it was time to get back to my car. At 2:30, the Customs agents came by to check passports and drivers licenses and ask the standard questions:

1. Do you have any tobacco, firearms or agricultural products?
2. Where do you live?
3. How much money did you spend on things to bring back?

I love Customs. It's a gigantic pain in the keister, but it also cracks me up. When I came back from England last year, the Customs agent at SeaTac asked me if I brought back any livestock. If I let my smartass tendencies get the better of me, I would have replied, "Oh crap! I left Bessie in the ladie's room!! Be right back..."

But I actually want a problem-free entry back into my own country, so I'm always super polite to Customs agents.

When it was time to board I was one of the first cars on (the advantage to getting there really early). This also meant I'd be one of the first people off, through Customs on the American end, and on the highway headed home.

I was quite tired by now. I spent the first 20 minutes of the journey taking some pictures (Thursday was cooler and overcast).

A floating neighborhood (must be such a hardship to be able to sit on your patio, right on the harbour):

Downtown Victoria (there's that pink building again):

Last chance to fill up the gas tank before leaving Victoria Harbour and entering the Straight of Juan de Fuca:

I was getting quite cold, so I went downstairs and inside to the cafeteria. I had a snack and read my book (a new one, as I'd finished the Da Vinci Code and now was moving on to Meg Cabot's "Size 12 is Not Fat"). Before long, it was time to go back to the car deck and wait while they turned the Coho around and backed her thang up to the dock.

I breezed through Customs after answering the following:

1. Where do you live? (I'm suddenly paranoid that all these customs agents are going to show up at my front door wanting dinner).
2. Why were you in Victoria?
3. What did you do there? ("Uh, the usual...Butchart Gardens, tea at the Empress").
4. Did you have fun? ("It was fabulous!!")

He smiled, said, "Goodbye!" and waved me through. A little over an hour later, I was pulling into the driveway, happy to be home.

That's the thing about travel. I love seeing new places and going on adventures, but there is no place like home. There is nothing like your own familiar shower, with just enough water pressure. And there is certainly nothing like your own bed, with dips in the mattress exactly where you want them and the pillows arranged just so. I slept so very well last night!

I had a lovely time. I definitely reccommend Victoria to anyone and everyone. There is a lot to see and do, the weather is lovely most of the time, and the people are without a doubt the friendliest I've encountered in my travels--even friendlier than the Italians, who are charmers.

The great news is I get to go back in May--granted it's only for a day, and I'll be helping supervise about 80 eleven-year-olds, but it will be a fun trip. We're taking them to the Royal B.C. Museum, which is really, really well-done. One of the best natural history musuems in the world.

Well, hope you've enjoyed my pictures!



Victoria, Part Three: Wednesday

Wednesday was another beautiful day. Today, instead of jeans, t-shirt and blazer, I went a little more dressy, in lavender slacks, a white shell and an adorable white jacket I just bought. It has 3/4 sleeves and ties together in the front. And new white flats (adorable!!). But I digress...

I set off a little later than on Tuesday. I'd seen most of the major attractions I wanted to see, so Wednesday morning was for getting the more interesting pictures and touring the little take-'em-or-leave-'em museums.

As you may or may not be aware, I love funny/strange/meaningful/interesting/silly signs. Any kind of sign, really, as long as it either makes me laugh, or has some kind of meaningful quality to me. One of the first things I found on Wednesday morning:

My kind of place. : )

I was wandering along the harbour again, and I saw the Coho leaving Victoria (this is the ferry I took). As you can see, she dwarves everything else in the harbour.

On Tuesday, I took a picture of a pink building and a cherry blossom tree. Here's the same tree, different angle:

Random shot of the Canadian flag:

I decided to call Mom and Dad on my cell phone (I kept in touch with them every day, to let them know I was safe, happy, healthy, and to brag to them that Victoria is beautiful). After we hung up, I took a picutre of the spot I had called them from, so that later I could tell them, "See? I wasn't lying when I told you I was standing somewhere gorgeous!"

The tulips you can make out in the pic above:

Victoria Visitor's Centre (another English spelling):

Some more of the Empress garden:

Artists, musicians and vendors setting up along the harbour to make some money from the tourists:

A lovely shot of the Legislative building:

A Mountie Moose:

I actually made it a bit of a quest to find myself a Canada souvenir with a moose on it. This isn't so hard, really, as every store you walk into has stuff with moose, bears, orcas, etc. on it. But I didn't want anything gaudy, and I hardly need or want anything knick-knacky (God knows I have enough Snoopy stuff to dust already), so it was actually quite hard to find an appropriate moose souvenir for myself. I thought about getting a mug or something useful, but I have a lot of mugs already. I eventually found a great Christmas shop, and I bought myself a moose Christmas ornament that says "Canada" on it. Something I can use each year, but that won't sit around collecting dust. Perfect!

My new boyfriend, Melvin the Mountie:

When I started off from the hotel, it was actually quite late in the morning. I had a 2:15 reservation at the Empress, and while I didn't mind wandering a bit, I didn't want to get too dirty or sweaty. I decided to check out Miniature World, as I've always gotten a kick out of dollhouses and such. That took maybe 20 minutes. So I checked out the Undersea Gardens, even staying for the dive show, in which a diver shows all of us the native sea life of Victoria, including crabs, several fish, and an octopus. That was interesting, though just the slightest bit creepy, as the aquarium is what its name implies--it's underwater.

When I left this, I checked the time on my phone. Gah! Still a couple hours off from tea time. So I went to the wax musuem. It was cute, but definitely has nothing on Madame Tussaud's in London in terms of quantity or quality. Still, it was another way to pass some time.

Finally, it was time to head to the Empress. I used one of the public restrooms (all wallpapered and fancy) to touch up my makeup and brush my hair (it gets so tangled with the slightest breeze) and window shopped a bit. The Empress has designer shops for its guests and the public to use. Then I went to the tea room.


I desperately wanted to pull out my camera and stand there and gawp for a bit, but I do love to feign sophistication in these situations. So I just followed the lady to my table and started taking mental notes of everything. Here's what I came up with in the first few minutes:

1. That's not canned music--there's a tuxedoed gentleman playing a grand piano in the middle of the room.
2. They pull your chair out for you and put the napkin on your lap.
3. The Inner Harbour is even more beautiful when you're sttting on a plump chair in a gorgeous dining room, being treated like royalty.

Here's a picture of the dining room, courtesy of Google:

My server came over very quickly to start me off with a bowl of fresh strawberries covered in a rich cream, and to ask which kind of tea I'd like. I ordered the Empress Tea Blend, which is exclusive to the hotel. Then I started taking dainty bites of my strawberries, hoping like mad that I wouldn't drop on on my white top and white jacket (I didn't, miracle of miracles).

While I waited for my tea, I noticed the ladies at the table next to mine unabashedly taking pictures of their food. So, when mine came, I somewhat unabashedly did the same (without flash, of course!).

The sandwich on the right is a curried chicken sandwich. I also had tomato and lettuce, cucumber, and a lovely carrot and ginger sandwich. On the second tier is the scone, strawberry preserves and clotted cream. The preserves were a brand I am familiar with from England. It's made in Essex, which made me smile. The top tier housed the desserts, which were sinful. There was a Belgian chocolate truffle, a lemon tart, a custard tart with fresh fruit on top, a shortbread cookie, and a chocolate eclair.

I ate every last crumb, and drank that whole pot of tea. And then my server brought me more tea. And I drank a couple cups more.

Did you know that tea, in addition to having caffiene in it, is a natural diuretic?

I ended up staying a little over an hour, watching the people outside and relishing every bite and every sip. I asked the server if the Empress Blend Tea is available in the tea shop and she replied, "Yes, but we'll give you a complimentary box when you go today." Yep, you get treated like royalty, fed like royalty, and a free box of tea. Lovely!

Still, I visited the tea shop. I bought a book of tea recipes that also includes the history of High Tea. According to the menu at the Empress, the tradition we practice today was started by the Duchess of Bedford, early in Victoria's reign. She complained of a "sinking feeling" in the afternoons and thus started having tea, sandwiches and pastries in the afternoon. Pretty soon it caught on with her friends, and boom! A trend was born. One that hasn't gone away.

After tea, I went straight back to my hotel. I was so full! I had planned on the tea being my afternoon and evening meal, and now all I wanted was to change into my comfy (baggy) jeans and hoodie. No more sophistication and adorable shoes. Nope. I was ready for my comfies and a good book.

I found an internet kiosk in the hotel coffee shop, so many of you heard from me when I sent out an email and posted a bulletin at Myspace. After a few minutes reading all of my emails, I retired to a small sitting room off the lobby, and settled into a comfy chair with The Da Vinci Code. I spent a couple of hours reading before racing back to my room for...the natural outcome of drinking way too much tea in one afternoon.

I stuck pretty close to my room the rest of the evening. With all of the walking I'd been doing, it was nice to relax with my book. I also flipped the TV on to watch "You Are What You Eat" (fabulous British show) and give myself a mini-facial.

Then I climbed into bed with my book. And I didn't fall asleep for a long time. First because I was reaching the end of the story (even though I'd read it before, the plot twists still surprised me and I couldn't put it down), and also because...well, I wasn't at all tired. Too much caffiene in my system.

Anyway, it was a long, long time before I fell asleep. And it was early when I popped awake and lay there thinking, "God, no!" I had a lot of "hurry up and wait" time on Thursday.

To be continued...