Wednesday, May 31, 2006

That's It...

...I'm addicted.

How did I live without an iPod until now?

It's So CUTE!!

Okay, men who read my blog, go ahead and sigh, groan, and tell me that the iPod Nano isn't "cute." Get it out of your system...

But it so is!! I bought the 4GB iPod Nano (in white) today, and I'm just setting it all up now. I also bought a turqouise case for it and a $15 iTunes Music Card. I'm going to have to limit my spending on iTunes so that I don't go big-time broke buying songs. Even at ninety-nine cents a pop, I could rack up a huge bill.

Anyway, it's adorable, I'm excited to play with it, and you all should be applauding me for catching up to technology.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Go Megan, Go Megan!!

I've just downloaded iTunes, and I am going to buy an iPod in a few days. This is surprisingly easy (even a techno-phobe like myself can figure it out!) and I'm currently pulling a bunch of songs off of different CDs and downloading them to iTunes. It's great because I can now get rid of about 40-50 CDs that I only bought for one or two songs.

It's enough to make Little Miss Neat-Freak cry tears of joy.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Glorious Remembrance

Today is Memorial Day; a day to remember those who have fallen in their pursuit to keep our country free. Whatever you think of the war, the president, or American politics, I hope you agree that today is not about political boundaries, but about honoring the men and women who gave their lives so that we could enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So while we celebrate a day off from work, let's also remember the purpose of the holiday. It's the least we can do.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I've a Whale of a Tale to Tell...

We went whale watching today, off of the San Juan Islands of Washington. These islands are quite close to Vancouver Island (home of the lovely city of Victoria), but the main difference is that the large Vancouver Island belongs to Canada, while the San Juans belong to the United States.

It was fabulous! It was an all-day tour, stopping for a bit in the incorporated town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. In the afternoon, we caught up with a local pod, L-Pod, a group of 26 orcas who live in this part of the world pretty much year-round.

I took lots of pictures, but I have a couple of disclaimers:

1. The sky was not so dark as these pictures look. I must have accidentally turned the flash off. It was overcast, but not as bad as it looks here.

2. Orcas move quickly and the Strait of Juan de Fuca is pretty much just like open sea--in other words, bumpy. Therefore, I don't have many pictures of actual orcas, just the local scenery.

Without further ado, my pictures:

We arrived in Port Townsend shortly after 8:00 this morning. Here is the shop:

The harbor area of Port Townsend:

The boat:

Point Wilson Lighthouse:

San Juan Island (for which the network of islands is named)

Entering Friday Harbor (only incorporated town in the islands):

The harbor:

Where we had lunch:

The town:


Going back to the boat:

"Here, orca, orca!!"

Dramatic Landscape:

Okay, we saw a LOT of whales, but they're quick--so I got ONE picture of a dorsal fin, but we actually saw many, many dorsal fins, and FOUR breaches. Awesome!! So yes, that little black triangle in the middle of this pic is a dorsal fin:

Two brown pelicans, apparently rare in these waters:

And that is pretty much it. We had a lovely day, and the tour was very well-done. Now we're all tired (all three of us are battling colds right now). I'm getting ready to hit the sack and get some rest, myself.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blow Dry? No Fly.

I figured the sad update about Barbaro needed to be scrolled down...Speaking of Barbaro, he's looking good, though there is, of course, still worry about infection and other ailments. Still, his fighting spirit is showing, and it's lovely to read the positive updates about this magnificent horse.

So what's up in my world? Let's see...


But when you feel so powerless
What are you gonna do?
So say what you want.

Nelly Furtado, Powerless

Last week, Dad received a letter from Puget Power, stating that parts of PL would be under a planned power outtage on the 25th (today). The letter specifically stated, "between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM."

We all got up early this mornign to ensure that we were showered and fed before the planned outtage. I spent some time on the computer, making up some work for my kids for tomorrow. At 8:15, I went into my bathroom to do my makeup and blow dry my hair. I had swiped the eyeliner across my right eye one time when.


Out went the power.


Dad: "They did."

Dad got on the cell phone and called Puget Power. He asked why our power was out. He was told, "Oh, this is part of a planned power outtage, so we can put up a new pole."

"Yes, I'm aware of that, but they said 9:00. It's 8:15...tell me, do your guys on the line wear watches?"

Needless to say, we weren't happy Puget Power customers. After the February fiasco that left us without power for three days, can you blame us?

Fortunately, it's back on now (which is why I'm blogging in the first place).

Megan and the Wild and True, Absolutely Hectic, Crazy Day

I don't know who had the bright idea to schedule the sixth grade Canadian Trading Post (more on that in a bit), the assembly for student government elections, and the choir concert all on the same day, but so it is.

I set off for school at about 8:45 (with soggy head and makeup that had been applied in a dark, windowless bathroom). When I got there, I spent about an hour poking around the Trading Post. Then, the rest of my time at school looked like this:

10:28-10:58 4th period (choir)
11:00-11:30 Lunch
11:30-12:08 Assembly
12:08-12:28 4th period (choir)--so the kids could vote.

Crazy? Yes, yes it was.

So What is This "Canadian Trading Post," Anyway?

The 6th grade curriculum for WA has the kids learning about Central and South America and Canada in social studies. In the fall, the 6th grade students had a "marcado" (Market Day), in which they set up stalls and sold products and foods of Central and South America. I missed that one, and so I was determined to see what they did for Trading Post.

They've been learning about Canada a lot these last few months (hence the field trip to Victoria), and today, they sold items relating to Canada. Some kids brought in hot plates and made bannock bread. Some kids sold homemade shortbread cookies. There was smoked salmon, crafts, and a few enterprising kids brought their band instruments and took requests for songs.

Everyone uses fake money to "buy" different products. One of the sixth grade teachers shoved a large handful of $10 bills at me when I got there so I could buy, as well. The kids themselves all have a chance to leave their booths to shop, and the money they have is money they've earned through good behavior in their classes.

It was a lot of fun, even if it did induce some big-time sugar highs in the kids later.

Okay, Here It Comes:

The official announcement: I have a job!!

I interviewed for a high school choir position in Antioch, CA on Friday. Fifteen minutes into the interview, the principal says, "Wow. You sound like the person I want to hire."

She decided to check my references, and she called to offer me the position on Tuesday.

It is really a plum job: full-time high school choir, in a large school (3,500 total enrollment). The job is not a "fixer-upper," but rather, taking over for an established program (after St. Peter's and the current gig, I really need this!). There is a HUGE Visual and Performing Arts department, complete with art, drama, stagecraft, dance, band, orchestra and choral music.

So it looks like I'll be the choir teacher at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, CA.

And yes, I am excited. This is a big step for me, and I am ready to take it.

New Digs Coming Soon!

So it looks like I'll be living in Antioch. I'm
told it's a nice community, and I am now starting to research apartments. The best news is that I'm not too far away from Sacramento and my friends (50-60 miles), and I'm perfect distance from San Francisco, my 2nd-favorite city on the planet.

I could probably catch the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in a nearby community and take that straight into San Francisco when the urge strikes.

A Whale of a Tale

We're going whale watching on Saturday! There's a tour out of Port Townsend that leaves at 9:00 in the morning. We'll go out looking for orcas, with a stop in the San Juan Islands at Friday Harbor. We'll get back to PT at 5:00. It should be a great day out, and the parents and I are really looking forward to it.

White Shoes

I can finally wear my white shoes without questioning myself as of Monday. Yes, folks, it is Memorial Day, in case you'd forgotten. A three-day weekend! I can hardly wait. Add to this that half of my choir will be on a field trip next've got a happy girl.

781 Miles of Girl Talk

Mom and Dad are leaving WA a day or two before me to return to California. I have a contract to finish up on June 16, so I'll stay and drive down that weekend. They're going to take all three cats with them.

There's a possibility that Ms. Heather might fly to Seattle, meet up with me for a diva-fun evening in that lovely city, and make the drive to California with me so I have company. I'm hoping this happens, because really, we'd need about 800 miles to catch up on all the news properly (email is good, but there is nothing like face-to-face). I figure 781 miles (according to Google maps) is a good start.

Don't You Do Re Me, Kid!

I have to sign off now. My choir has a concert tonight, and I need to get dolled up. Put on my war paint (at least I have light now!) and wrestle some pantyhose on. Tomorrow I have an all-day sub gig, but then, it's all about the three-day weekend...



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good God

Mom and I watched the Preakness today, hoping that Barbaro would win it. He didn't.

His jockey, Edgar Prado, pulled him up shortly after the start, as Barbaro tried to keep his right rear leg from hitting the ground. It tentatively looks like a career-ending but not life-threatening injury.

I watched with tears on my face as he was put in the equine ambulance, and as Prado tearfully hugged Barbaro's assistant trainer. I watched the replay of the reaction of Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz, as he dashed out of the stands and left his tearful wife standing there staring in horror.

Such a horrible thing to see.

I love watching horse racing, but always in the back of my mind is the knowledge that horses get hurt. Is it cruel? I don't know. These horses are bred to run--and Barbaro had to be held very tightly to keep from running after the rest of the field as Prado struggled to stop him. The desire to race is there, even when they have been hurt.


Barbaro is being taken to Pennsylvania for surgery. There is a lot of concern that the blod flow to his leg has been impeded. If this is the case, it is very much life-threatening. He has two breaks in his leg, one above the ankle, one below.

I sincerely hope they are able to save him and that he can have a nice life as a stud horse. He's such a beautiful animal.

Welcome Home

Yesterday, I came home from work, and, as usual when no other humans are at home, I wandered around talking to the cats. Before I went upstairs, I had to put some lunch dishes I brought home from work in the dishwasher, and check the front porch for a delivery I'm expecting from Amazon, and do a few other little things.

Then I climbed the stairs to my room so I could change into my comfies. This is what I was greeted with:

I just thought that was a lovely thing to come home to.

Now my only worry today is how to spend the next few hours. I think I'll scrapbook. At 2:00, I'm going to watch the Preakness (Go, go, Barbaro!!) and at 4:00, the NASCAR race.

Tomorrow the parents and I are going to see "The Da Vinci Code." Panned by critics? Yes. We don't care, we still want to see it.

Gotta love the weekend...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It Goes Without Saying...

...yet it was was quite inappropriate for Kandace (name changed to protect the, um, innocent) to call me a bitch in choir rehearsal today.

First, let me state one thing: I don't take it personally. I actually find it kind of funny, because did she honestly think she'd get away with calling a teacher a bitch?? Kids! They just don't think. That's why I'm there--to teach them to use their heads. Yeah, that lump two feet above their butt.

On a funny note, I told one of the other sixth grade teachers about it and he laughed and said, "Well, she once called me a faggot. Hey, we're special...we should start a club!"

Anyway, Kandace is one of those students that has a lot of problems. The first, and biggest, is that her parents have taught her to be an angry, self-serving snot who has learned that there are no consequences at home for bad behavior at school and that she is entitled to do whatever she likes. I had to write her up earlier this week when she left my room without permission (truancy) because, "I HAVE A SUNBURN AND IT HURTS!!!!!"

Another problem she faces is that she is on the fringes of the "in crowd" at CMS. One day she is in with the Queen Bee (and don't get me started on her...), the next, the Queen Bee is siccing all of her minions on Kandace. I'm not a psychologist, but I could almost write a book about the low, low self-esteem of these girls and how it is going to have long-lasting repercussions on their lives.

So yes, Kandace is a very stressed-out little girl. I can sympathize, but it does not excuse her for being such a snot. Every teacher who deals with her agrees that she is unpleasant, whiny, and unmotivated (she has a slight learning disability and has decided that this is her get-out-of-schoolwork-free pass for the rest of her education). The elementary music teacher booted her out of his class last year. She is constantly coming up with an ache, pain, cramp, twitch or major illness to get out of class. This week alone she has had the above-mentioned sunburn (the office would not be able to do anything for it, and it would have stopped hurting if she hadn't been pressing her hands all over herself in the first place), a bout of nausea (I told her to take the trash can back to her seat and whaddaya know, 5 minutes later, she was miraculously cured) and today's desperate need to pee.

What happened today?

I have a certain bathroom procedure in my class. As I monitor student behavior, I mark on the seating plan with little dots (red = bad, green = good). Once a student has a red mark (this can be for refusing to sing, being rude to me or other students, talking when not supposed to, etc.), they will not be dismissed to use the bathroom when I let people go. The way I put it is, "You waste my time, I'll waste yours." Also, I only start letting them go halfway through my class, as they have lunch right before.

For the record, my boss and fellow teachers back me up on this.

Anyway, Kandace had her hand raised to go to the bathroom for much of the rehearsal, as well as two or three red dots on her name on the seating chart. I reminded the class that I would only call on kids who were behaving and participating. Well, this steamed her. Finally, with about 15 minutes to go in the lesson, she marched up to me (out of seat without permission), got right in front of me, waved her hand (two fingers for "I need to go to the bathroom") in my face and yelled, "Can't you see this?!?!? I have to go REALLY BAD."

"Sit down, Kandace."

"I have to go!!"

"Sit down, Kandace."

She turned around and stomped to her seat, and muttered, "bitch..." as she did so.

So Kandace got a referral...and starting today, any referrals a student gets mean no dance on June 2nd. I left a message with her dad, and if previous contacts I and others have made are any indication, he won't call back. The vicious circle that is Kandace's education at CMS will continue to spiral down.

And that, my friends, is the saddest part of this story.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Watch Out for the Beavers

Random notes from my life in the last week or so.

With Apologies to Canada

Apologies go out to Canada, British Columbia, and the city of Victoria in particular, for having the sixth grade class of my school inflicted on them last week.

Actually, the kids were pretty good, and Miss Cooper didn't have to do anything, really, except shop with one co-teacher, have Greek food for lunch with another, and stock up on Jaffa Cakes and an adorable Big Ben-shaped teapot.

We had glorious weather, the kids all seemed to have a great time, and no one got left, injured, etc.

Of course, I had my worries, when, 5 minutes into the bus ride to Port Angeles, one of the two nastiest girls in sixth grade said, "Miss Cooper...Kelly has to go to the bathroom. REAL bad."

I was about to cry, thinking it was going to be a long, long hour to PA because Kelly (as ever, not a real name) is the biggest whiner and brat on the planet. I turned around and said, "I'm sorry ladies, there is nothing I can do. You're just going to have to wait." "How long?" "An hour."

I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of whining and bitching from them. They took it in their stride (a first!!). I got as far away as I could from them the rest of the day and that was that.

What Beavers?

On Sunday (Mother's Day), the parents and I drove down to the sub base in Kitsap because Mom and I had a hankering for low, low military prices and no sales tax. And navy men.

Anyway, it's about a 20-minute ride, so we got talking about driving in this part of the world, and the wildlife hazards that crop up. I once had to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting a suicidal raccoon, and Mom has had to slam to a stop to avoid hitting a deer.

I mentioned how I feel better driving on Beaver Valley Road, as I haven't encountered any suicidal wildlife there yet. Mom said, "They're there, though--you just watch out when you drive."

Dad said something in agreement and then I piped up, "Yeah...gotta watch out for the beavers!" (There are no beavers on Beaver Valley Road).

Mom's mouth fell open, and then she burst out laughing and shouting, "Oh my God! She's just like him! She's just like her dad!!"

"Happy Mother's Day, Mom, you gave birth to your husband in female form."

Dad just laughed the whole time. I suppose you had to be there, but we found it pretty funny.

It Wasn't Me!!

I was driving on the highway today, and I pulled into the left lane to get around a very slow pickup truck. Suddenly (I mean he came right out of nowhere), there was a State Patrol officer on my tail, lights flashing, siren wailing. My first thought was, "Oh, shit!!" My second thought was, "Heeeyyy, I'm goin' the speed limit here!" So I pulled into the right lane, fully expecting the officer to pull behind me, but instead, he raced by and I never saw him again.


It took a while for me to stop shaking.

No Use Crying Over the Mess

Mom and Dad left this morning for a few nights in Victoria. As ever, I, the dutiful daughter, am left to watch the house and make sure the kindergatos don't burn it down.

At about 9:00 this evening, I was happily watching TV when I heard a huge CRASH!! of breaking glass from downstairs.


I put on my moccasins and turned on the hall lights to peer over the bannister. Sure enough, there was a candle holder, which had previously been perched on the bannister, shattered on the floor. So I found myself downstairs, sweeping and vaccuming an area from the front door to the living room, while shooing two very curious kittens away from the mess. Don't want them cutting their paws or anything.

So I did a thorough sweep and vaccuum of a large area, and cleaned up some Millie barf I found (nice).

Then I came upstairs and moved the two glass planters that were sitting next to the candle holder to a safer place.

Band of Brothers Obsession

For the last week or so, I've been watching my 6-disc Band of Brothers set a lot. I go through phases with movies and books, and as of the last week, I'm in the midsts of a strong "WWII Paratroopers" obsession.

In all seriousness, I just love those guys, especially Major Richard Winters, who is, without a doubt, a true American hero. Also on my list of heroes from the Greatest Generation is C. Carwood Lipton.

Anyway, I've been watching a lot of that, including the special documentary on disc 6. If you haven't seen this wonderful mini-series, you should.

Job Update

I have two phone interviews this week; one tomorrow for an elementary choir position and one on Friday for a high school choir position. Wish me luck! I'm applying for everything in the Sacramento and surrounding areas. With any luck, I'll find something soon. A lot of districts have been interested in interviewing me, but not all of them have been willing to do a phone interview.

Sorry, No, You're Not My Friends

I made the official announcement today to my kids that I am leaving WA next month and returning to California. I gave the standard explanation: want to be near my parents and my friends, etc. I told them that most of my closest friends are in California. One of them said, "What about us?"

I had to gently explain to them that while I (in my way, even with all of the bitching I do about them) love them all, I need my adult friends in my life.

Little Miss Techno-phobe is Movin' On Up

I'm gonna get an iPod! I think. I'm still in research phase, but I'm really leaning towards buying one so that I can get rid of about 30-40 CDs that I bought for one song and now never listen to because it's too much trouble.

I'll still keep the majority of my 200+ CD collection; I just want to lighten it up a bit. An iPod can help me do that. I have a big check coming this month (lots of sub hours) and I might just splurge on the 2GB iPod at Target for $199.99.

I still have some research to do, though.

Speaking of That Big Paycheck...

If I seemed a bit quiet last week (aside from that Women's Issues rant), it's because I had full-day sub jobs on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Friday I was in Victoria all day. It's been a bit busy here, which is good, I suppose.

This week has been a bit later, except for two days in a row of shopping. My favorite Old Navy jeans are wearing thin--Gah! That means new jeans, which is never a fun shopping prospect. Especially since the Old Navy in Silverdale/East Bremerton sucks and doesn't have a lot of jeans right now. Double Gah!

That was yesterday's adventure. Today I drove to Silverdale again to run to Target, then I felt like driving south a bit and seeing the big Navy ships at Bremerton. While I was at it, I decided I wanted to see Port Orchard. Drove there, promptly got lost, and found my way back out without incident.

So now I've seen Port Orchard, WA. It wasn't too exciting, or anything.

Forty Bucks!!

I spent nearly $40 on a tank of gas today. I was getting really low (I have a 12.5 gallon tank; today it took 12 gallons of gas...) and stopped to fill it up.

Forty dollars later, I had a full tank, and a dismayed look on my face. In 12 years of driving, I have NEVER spent $40 on gas. Thank God for cars with good fuel economy!! (No SUVs for Meg).

Wild and Wooly

Bella and Duchess are "tooting." That's the word Mom and I use for "going stark raving mad, running all over the house, being noisy."

It's 10:30 at night and I won't sleep until they've gotten it out of their system. Might as well blog and listen to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. They'll wear themselves out soon enough, and come in to cuddle with me and make me sweat because they're like little hot water bottles.

They just tore past me, down the stairs, and I can hear their feet scuttling on the wood floors. Is it a full moon or something?

And that's about all on my end. School finishes one month from today, and I'll be heading back to California a day or two later.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Women's Issues

In honor of a certain "friend" of mine (one who isn't really a friend, but rather a necessary evil that descends on me once a month), I am posting a blog about issues pertaining to women and women's rights today. If you didn't really want to know that my foul-weather friend is visiting...tough. : P

I'll start with the article I read at the gym today that absolutely made my blood boil. According to this article in Glamour magazine, America's religious right is crusading in a major way to end discussions about birth control, emergency contraception, and women's sexual health.

Some of this I already knew, but reading about the zealots who are promoting false information about abortion (causes a higher risk of breast cancer??) and condoms (ineffective--stay abstinent??), I wanted to scream right then and there.

In the past couple of years, I have had one friend tell me I'm liberal (like its a bad thing) and my parents wondering aloud what they did wrong to make me vote a certain way. Let me tell you, people. I'm sick and tired of the "morally superior" of this country acting like sex is an evil act. If that makes me "liberal," well, so be it (I still maintain that I'm about as middle-of-the-road moderate as a person can get).

If we are not careful, this country is going to go backwards, back to a time of back-alley abortions and no Pill. Is that what we want for our daughters?

Now, on to the next thing that pisses me off to no end: Abstinence-only sex education. Yes, let's refuse to teach kids how to use a condom, and let them all get infected by horrible diseases. I hope these people are ready to be young grandparents, or nursing their children through HIV/AIDS, because most of the kids who make a promise of abstinence until marriage don't make it.

Take your average 16-year-old. Even when raised in a Christian home, a child who made a promise to remain abstinent until marriage is not immune to hormonal impulses, peer pressure, and the feelings of love/lust that convince every teenager that "this is the real deal."

Studies are showing that more than half of the kids who make these promises break them within a year.

And if all they've had is abstinence-only education, I fear for their health, and their futures, because "pulling out" doesn't work.

And we are finding out, also the hard way, that abstinence-only education isn't working.

I have been teaching just long enough to know that telling kids that sex outside of marriage is "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects" is tantamount to handing them a loaded revolver and hoping they don't pull the trigger.

In other words, it's about the biggest pile of educational bullshit I've ever run across.

I really worry about my rights if this trend continues.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lucky Number Eight

The number 8 horse in today's Kentucky Derby was Barbaro...and he won.

Car number 8 in tonight's NASCAR race was driven, as usual, by one Dale Earnhardt Jr. And he won!!!

That's right--my boy won it, and in nail-biting, pedal-to-the-medal fashion. He had a great car all evening, but it wasn't the most dominant car. However, it doesn't really matter who leads the most laps in a race--only who leads the last lap. And that was Junebug tonight--with rookie Denny Hamlin charging on his tail. But Hamlin didn't have enough to get around Junior, and my boy charged across the finish line for his first win since last July.

Not to mention, it's the first time I've watched Junior win since 2004. His last win came while I was still in England.

So this has been a really fun day for me, sports-wise. To quote Darrel Waltrip, one of the race announcers:

Bring it home, Junebug!!!

Go, Go, Barbaro!!

Mom and I just watched the Kentucky Derby, and it was fabulous!

I, being a not-by-the-numbers-but-rather-by-the-heart kind of gal, rooted for Brother Derek and Barbaro. You see, their people had some interesting stories to tell.

Brother Derek's trainer was paralyzed from the waist down two years ago in a motorcross crash. His jockey was seriously injured in a race just 16 days later. The two men are friends, and today, brought a great horse to Churchill Downs.

Barbaro's trainer Michael Matz was on a plane 17 years ago, which crashed in Sioux Falls. He saved three young children from the wreckage, and they were there today to cheer for him and his horse.

We know, of course, that it was Barbaro's day to shine. When his jockey let him go, he sailed far ahead of the field, winning the race by seven lengths.

Congratulations to Barbaro and his of the 2006 Kentucky Derby!

"That's right. I won.