Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Yeah! Yeah! Hooray! It's a snow day! I'm going back to bed.

Little Stories

Just two little stories because really not much is going on worth writing about.
Still a Geek Calling the Radio Station
Two weekends ago I was driving and listening to the radio station. This most amazing song came on. Fantastic guitar, very metal, but oh, such skill evident in the playing. The song definitely had two parts--the first half, which included the singing, and the second part, which was a classic metal anthem with lots of fantastic electric guitar. Very Metallica, but the voice wasn't gravelly enough. The song was long--I reached my destination and sat in my car for another minute listening to it end. Of course they didn't say what it was. I got home later and popped up MusicMatch to listen to samples of the latest Metallica disc, but it wasn't the same. I hopped around listening to other metal bands, but they didn't match either.
Zoom forward a week. Saturday night I'm out driving again, and here comes the song again. And again, it is a truly great song. And again, it is played without identification. I absolutely had to find out what the song was. So when I got home I raced to the computer and found the station's website, but there was not any kind of "recently played" list. There was no way to chat with the DJ. I hunted through the pages of the site until, really little, I found what might be a phone number--and it was. And after describing the song to the DJ (which really makes one feel like one is a geek still in junior high) I found out that it was Metallica, in fact, it was 1984 Metallica, Fade to Black. So now I have downloaded my beautiful song and I can listen to it whenever I want, like, for instance, right now.
Weather Report
The first winter storm came through. Nothing makes a teacher happier than the prospect of snow. A lot of teachers wouldn't openly admit this - as though telling the truth were unprofessional - but I do. I love a snow day. I love an excuse to stay in the house sipping hot chocolate and watching movies, and I love having a bonus day to catch up on the correcting. So Sunday night as the weather reports were all about the incoming storm, my eyes were glued to the TV for updates.
One update, though, really left me giggling. The oh-so-serious talking head weatherman guy was pointing at his map, which showed the state divided into bands according to the heaviness of the snow that was going to fall, and each little band was labeled with something like rain/sleet/snow or 1-3", but on the band that represented the most snowfall, the label was FALLS LIKE LARD. Think about that one a second. I don't know how lard would fall, but I do think it would fall more heavily than even the heaviest snow. I was in stitches. I called my dad to tell him about it, so yesterday he left me phone messages like "CNN is reporting a storm in your area, but they didn't say anything about larding." The thing is, the weatherman must have realized how dumb it looked, because the next time he came on the label was changed to HEAVY BAND? Hooray for local television.
The snow was enough to close school an hour early yesterday. I'm hoping for full closure today, but I fear that the best I'll get is a delayed opening. The precipitation was too light too early last night. I was cruising around until about 8:00 getting bills in the mail and really, the roads were perfectly safe. It's currently 30 degrees. So maybe things have frozen up a bit, but I am resigned to getting ready for school like normal today. Bummer.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walk the Line

Well, hooray, hooray, I went to see a movie.
And it was fantastic.
You know Joaquin Phoenix is going to be good. The enjoyment came from Reese Witherspoon's fantastic performance. I'm so tired of her as cute and fluff and this role let her get beyond that and into the realm of a real character.
Anyway, enough has been written on it. I do hope that Oscar nominations come around for them, and for the writing as well. And a few more: director, costumes, maybe best picture. I did like the film.
And since I'm on the topic of movies, here's what else is on my mind:
The new Harry Potter film was just what it promised to be: an action flick. Choppy beginning, scary monsters, good pull-you-in with the Ball, tears shed at the end. I also loved the bit with Moaning Myrtle.
Spanglish came on HBO this month. I missed it in the theaters but I simply LOVED it, and the DVD arrived from Amazon today. (HBO didn't replay it often enough for me.)
And last but not least, finally in February The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventù) is coming to DVD. I saw a review of it on CNN.com forever ago--it's seriously been at least a year. I saved the review to my desktop so I wouldn't forget to keep checking up on it. Of course, it came nowhere near here in the theaters, but here's the review and you can see for yourself how good it sounds. I can't wait to get my hands on it:
'The Best of Youth'

Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum

Were "The Best of Youth" to air on national television, as it did in its original incarnation in Italy two years ago, I can assure you that everyone would be talking about it for weeks.

As it is, I can promise you this: Every lucky moviegoer who commits to the six hours this magnificent Italian drama requires -- ingestible in two discrete three-hour installments -- won't be able to stop thinking about gentle, empathetic Nicola Carati (Luigi Lo Cascio) and his broodier, more tempestuous sibling, Matteo (Alessio Boni), the two brothers whose lives come to embody nearly four decades of modern Italian history in one grandly engrossing experience.

Have I convinced you yet to invest the time? "La Meglio Gioventù," as director Marco Tullio Giordana calls his prizewinning narrative masterpiece, begins in Rome, in 1966, when the Carati boys -- two of four children born into a middle-class family -- are just launching their adult lives. Nicola wants to become a doctor (to which end a kindly professor urges the young man to move away because "Italy is a dying, useless country"); Matteo has more longings -- he's a passionate reader of books -- and fewer plans.

Nicola identifies with liberalism and enlightenment; Matteo becomes a soldier, then a cop. And as the lives and fortunes of the Carati clan wax and wane, expand and intertwine, their intimate struggles, joys, and accommodations reflect the rhythms of societal life on a larger scale: The 1966 Florence floods, Italy's 1982 World Cup championship, the terrorism of the Red Brigades, and the violence of Mafia murders share equal, gracefully apportioned weight with personal history. (The geography shifts too, from Rome to Florence to Turin to Palermo to the Tuscan countryside, with a magical stop in Norway.)

Like a great novel from a more expansive bygone age, "The Best of Youth" is full of big thoughts; like a great soap opera, it's also full of sharp plot turns, vibrant characters, and great talk. It is, in short, the best of cinema.

EW Grade: A

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Little Dubbi

Amilynne and I were on the phone last weekend and she started play-cheering for wilderness areas that are lost to human development. So I started to call her Little Dubbi. Here is a picture:
Isn't that a lot of fun?

So we were talking this weekend (she didn't see the picture until I finally got the kinks worked out on Friday) and she said "What's that on my head?" and I said "It's a cowboy hat." Come now. It's not beautiful, but even our brother the scientist recognized it as a cowboy hat. Amilynne is refusing to use her immagination. "Oh. I thought it was a squirrel or something." Then she asks, "Where are the ground squirrels?" "Obviously, they are on your head, Amilynne." "Oh."
And the conversation turned to other things, like eggnog. At home, we always cut eggnog with sprite or ginger ale or something, and as I have gotten older, I have decided that I do not like this. Too wierd, the bubbles and the dairy product all together. So I say to Amilynne, "I don't like my eggnog cut with pop." Amilynne explodes with laughter. "Pop! You said pop!!!" Yes, I exposed my roots there.
So Amilynne agreed that I could post the picture of Little Dubbi if I would also admit that I say "pop." Usually I say soda now. But yes, pop comes out of my mouth from time to time. Or out of my nose if someone makes me laugh while I'm drinking it.
Enough said. Just please call Amilynne "Little Dubbi" the next time you see her.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paperless Voting

I went to the polls today and to my dismay they have replaced the old dinosaur lever pulling machines with fancy new computerized voting systems--only they're the paperless kind, and I just can't say how much I don't like that. Not very much at all. I firmly believe that there should be a paper trail in case there is any suspicion (or knowledge) of an electronic failure. But just because some idiots in Florida who don't know how to punch a paper ballot made a careful recount necessary, the trend now seems to be to eliminate the possibility of such a recount by creating a paperless system.
I don't trust it. I don't trust it because as much as we depend on computers, we all know that they fail from time to time. For example, as important as is the state-mandated testing in schools, when that testing takes place on a computer, there is generally some kind of glitch that makes it difficult. And as important as that is, elections are immeasurably more so.
Big brother is taking over, and I find myself with misgivings.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Failed Experiment

I really prefer Daylight Savings time to normal time. I would rather see the sun later than earlier. So last week when normal time took back over, I rebelled and stayed on Daylight Savings. Everything was so much nicer. I got to go to work at 8:00 instead of at 7:00. At first, I got so much more done in the mornings! But the week wore on, and Thursday morning I found myself getting up at 6:30 (daylight savings), which was not early anymore. Friday as well. So yesterday I gave in and changed the clocks, defeat admitted.

I was telling my dad about this last night and he told my how my grandmother hated daylight savings because it meant the heat of the day would hit earlier, making her miserable while working in her garden. So I see that there could be some resistance toward my plan of keeping Daylight Savings time permanently. My suggestion would be that since Daylight Savings is not practiced in Arizona, non-practicers could flock there. Another suggestion would be that of carefully choosing which side of the time zone to live in. The closer one lives to the western edge of one's time zone, the later the sun will rise.

My deal is, if the government thinks that daylight savings would save us on energy until November, why don't they think it would work into and beyond November? Can't we just say "Hey, we're a daylight savings country (except Arizona)!"? Better yet, we could just move Arizona to Pacific time and be a daylight savings country all around.

Stop looking at me funny. I really think I'm on to something.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Word to the Wise

Swiss Miss Chocolate Sensation is the hot chocolate of the year. In a not-too-big mug, 2 packets, mixed with a bit of half & half and some flavor syrup (black cherry & almond or raspberry) and filled with water hot from the teakettle, and suddenly I'm looking forward to a chilly winter. This cocoa mix is actually chocolatey. So nice.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Just Because I Could

So I was roaming the Halloween aisle at the store and what did I see? Pumpkin Peeps. Knowing that there were still some Easter Bunnies floating around at home, I did what anyone should do, and brought the pumpkins home for a war.

In no time flat, the pumpkins had the bunny surrounded. And into the microwave they went.

Scary! Looks like everyone has fainted for loss of...well, not blood....

But the stale Easter Bunny can stand back up in one piece--those fresh pumpkins were too oozy to make a last stand. So bunny went into the trash, and pumpkins went into s'mores. Not a bad ending to this little match, I must say.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Go West!

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To anyone who doesn't understand why my heart resides in the West, I submit this picture of the north end of Cache Valley--Red Rock Pass in Idaho. I just got the last of my pictures from this summer back, and this was among my favorites. See how the clouds trail off into the distance. See the varied colors of green against the foothills. See more mountains off in the center distance. This is beauty and freedom. You should see it in person.
And Amilynne is cute too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Problem Won't Go Away

This morning I woke up at 4:30. The people above me were taking a shower and there was some serious water coming down on the plastic over the hole in the ceiling. So much water that when they stopped, I decided to take a lightning shower before someone else got in and the water gushed. Good thing. Five minutes after I got out of the shower, one corner of the plastic came free, and a great gushing of water poured into my tub. How disgusting if I had been in there when it happened. How disgusting anyway.

So I waited until I was about to leave for work and called it in to maintenance. I think I woke the maintenance person up. He didn't sound happy to hear from me. I explained that I was pretty sure there was a leak related to the tub/shower above me because the dripping got so much worse when they were in the shower.

I got home this afternoon around 5:30. There was a note in the door saying that some plumbing and re-caulking had been done upstairs, but I came in to find that there is still a hole in the ceiling and there was a mess of ceiling particles in the tub, along with some footprints from a work boot. I flipped. Not only was the ceiling not fixed, a mess got left behind for me to clean up again.

I called the management office.

After telling the whole story to the girl who answered the phone, she said that they have ordered in sheetrock to fix the ceiling, but it's not in yet, and she offered, "well, I can send maintenance in to clean it up tomorrow." No good. No good at all. How am I supposed to get ready for work in the morning if I wait for maintenance to clean it up? No, I told her that I want a discount on my rent this month for my inconvenience. She told me I would have to speak with the manager, who (of course) was on the phone. I said I would hold. Every three or four minutes the girl would be back, acting surprised that I was still on the line. After more than ten minutes, she took my number, promising to pass the message on. Well, I did not receive a phone call. I am irritated beyond belief.

They think I am being terrible, but at work today the other teachers said, "You haven't called the health department yet?" I figure I am a fairly patient person. I just don't like being taken advantage of. Like what's this about ordering in sheetrock. Can't they just run to Home Depot? Are you telling me that there is not one piece of sheetrock to be had in this whole town?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

New Shower Curtain

Well, today I purchased a new shower curtain for myself. You see, the ceiling above my shower had been looking suspiciously as though water damage were happening, and I called maintenance to have it looked at, but it wasn't a big enough problem to send someone until the ceiling fell into the tub and ripped up my shower curtain. The ceiling fell Friday evening, and at 10:00 p.m., after diagnosing the problem as the people above me do not use a shower curtain and they let water pool on the floor, maintenance said they would be back Saturday to fix it. Saturday afternoon. And then there was the whole mess to be cleaned up--moldy dust, bits of drywall, etc. etc. etc. CHE SCHIFEZZA!!!! You ask me, the freaks who live above me should have been down here sanitizing my bathroom and purchasing a new shower curtain for me (and one for themselves as well). It's not really even fixed yet--they have hung plastic under the hole and will fix it sometime next week. The disturbing part is that water is dripping onto the plastic. Not tons of water, just little drips, and I do still suspect that the problem lies in the plumbing as much as with the non-shower-curtain-using-fools. But I could be wrong, I could just be underestimating the damage a fool can do. At any rate, I get to look forward to cleaning the bathroom again after they come in and fix the hole. I should charge the apartment complex for my time.
As you can see, I'm posting this at 3:15 a.m. This is because it was after one when I finally felt like attacking the mess. That is probably due to a lot of factors, but the real one is that I am a night owl and I do better after one than at any other time of the day. Deciding to take a job that requires me to arrive at 7:15 really went against my nature. My retirement goal is to never see 7:15 again. In the middle of the night, my energy and creativity pick up, and I can get a lot done. Anyway. I digress. Or I'm done. Enough complaining. I've got homework to do.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Junior is the Cutest Baby

Look at his stand-straight-up hair and long little fingers! Look at his big big eyes! I am the proudest auntie. We'll keep him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

LOST is driving me crazy!!!**

**I should probably expound on the topic, but anyone who is following the show knows exactly what I mean, and anyone who is not following the show just wouldn't understand anyway.

Call Me Auntie

Junior was born this morning at about 11:00 a.m. EDT. Healthy, with some dark brown hair*. Hooray! Hooray! Kiddo and the Wifey are doing fine as well. So all my students were greeted this afternoon with the conversation starter "Io sono una zia!"
I can't wait to see the whole family at Christmas! 59 days and counting.
*note, added at 10:58 p.m.: The Kiddo reportedly told Amilynne that Junior's hair sticks straight up. Which is wonderful, because it was a year before the Kiddo's hair would stay down. Good to see some traits passed on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I am an absolute geek, but bears are my favorite animals, so when I bumped into the PandaCam from the National Zoo I was hooked. There is a new baby panda that was named Tai Shan in a ceremony yesterday, but really, if you're lucky, you'll get to see mom attack some bamboo. (Tai Shan just sleeps a lot.)
Bears are fun! Bears are cool!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

With all the bad news that has been filling every second of every day, some good news was finally reported on CNN.com--Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orelans is ready to reopen Wednesday morning at 6 am. Hooray! Who doesn't love a beignet?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Cell Phone Middle Ages

Once upon a time you could get a Nokia 5160 or something like that -- anyway, you know the phone I'm talking about -- the ancient one that resembles a small brick. Well, I had dropped mine a few too many times and it wasn't working so well. Big deal, you say, you can now get a real phone with a camera or iTunes or something on it. Except that if I change phones, I will get kicked off of my plan and have to pay much more for less monthly service. I subscribe to a company that was part of AT&T Wireless, which of course was gobbled up by Cingular, and they really just want you to pay too much for limited minutes. Right now I have unlimited minutes, and I want it to stay that way. To do so, I have to keep my phone working, because if I change phones I have to change to a Cingular plan (or switch companies).

So last night I was picking up the new Franz Ferdinand disc at Best Buy and Lo and Behold there was a battery for my phone on clearance for $8. I bought two. I intend to ride this unlimited phone wave as long as I can. I got the battery attached to the phone, and it doesn't jiggle off in mid-conversation, and it doesn't die so much in mid-conversation, hooray hooray hooray. It appears that my fabulous phone plan is mine for a little while longer.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Green Grapes and Cheese

I got the most fantastic green grapes at Food Lion yesterday. They aren't too sweet, they are perfectly firm, and they're seedless. And although red grapes are usually prettier and therefore yummier in my book (I probably wouldn't have a clue in a blind taste test), these are as good as any red grapes. Green grapes remind me of my grandma because when I was five and my brother was in the hospital with some leg problem, I spent a lot of time shuttling the two hours between our house and hers, and she liked green grapes in the car. Now that I think about it, I don't really know if she liked green grapes in particular--she probably just felt that they were pretty mess-proof with a five-year-old granddaughter riding along. (She was shocked a couple of years ago when I told her that I associate green grapes with her.)

Anyway, last night the fantastic green grapes were paired with two new cheeses and some genoa salami. On my way home from the class I take on Monday nights, I pass this market that's just little and cute, and last week I decided I would finally pop in and see what was inside. There was a cheese counter inside! And a cool proprieter who really loves cheese and wants to have the world try some. I tried some stilton with mango and ginger there (yummy) and bought some Torta Novara. It is a layered creamy cheese that melts like butter on warm bread with a pesto-ish mixture in between. Right up my alley.

(Once upon a time I actually went to Novara for a very brief part of an afternoon--I saw the church there--it had pictures of skeletons giving birth--kinda way out. Too bad the photos of inside the church did not turn out.)

The second cheese of the evening was 6 month aged manchego cheese from la Mancha. (I am I, Don Quixote!) It was very sharp, and it was actually really very good with the salami.

I am so sad to see the days grow shorter and winter approaching! A dearth of fantastic green grapes is inevitable. At least cheese is year-round.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Warhol Lets Go

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This blog needed some color! Thank heavens for the new surrealism show at the Wadsworth Atheneum. It prompted the good folks there to give us, the masses, the opportunity to create our own surrealist canvases. To have some fun of your own, click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Science is cool!

Princeton's online art show of images from science. I say wow.

Harp Plucking

Last night I was watching the New York Philharmonic on PBS--a great concert of Chopin and Mahler (even if the special pianist for Chopin felt he had to make creepy faces of staged ecstasy and art into the camera). Anyway, it came time for Mahler, Symphony No. 1 (Titan) and the music was beautiful and I was watching when I saw the harpist and realized that I had never plucked a harp.
I called dad to comment on that one. He told me that he had commented at grandma J's funeral that he figured the second thing she did upon her arrival in heaven was sign up for harp lessons.
So today I bumped into the harp teacher at school and asked her if I could pluck a harp. (I almost didn't--what an idiotic request! Sort of like really wanting to drum the tympani.) She asked jokingly if she could charge me for the lesson. Anyway, we chatted for a while, then she showed me how the red strings are Cs and the black strings are Fs and how the pedals do the sharps and flats (I hadn't even realized that harps have pedals--the four-limb coordination it takes to play one must rival that needed to fly a helicopter), and how to snap my fingers in and hold my elbow up. Then she told me to relax before I strummed a C cord. Ta-daa! So I plucked a harp today. Checkmark in the box.
A note on Mahler--on my 20th birthday I got up early and with a friend lugged my boombox to the top of the fire tower near where I was working--he couldn't believe I had never listened to Mahler. We brought Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) and it was simply brilliant. Since then, I have found that I also very much love Symphony No. 5.
As far as Chopin goes, I love the second movement of piano concerto number 2. The first time I heard it was in a humanities survey class (what a fantastic time! I also fell in love with Brunelleschi's dome that semester--) and it brought me to tears. What a geek I am.
And since I'm writing about classical music I guess I had better go all the way and just say that very little can compare with Smetana's Moldau. I can put that on, lay down, and be at perfect peace with myself and the world. It also imparts the feeling of my soul freeing itself and flying straightway out of my chest to live a very charmed life different from my own. Fantastic.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lost in Translation

note: 20 April 2014:
Apparently the attribution of this poem to Pablo Neruda is false.  According to a 2008 article in la Repubblica, an Italian senator quoted it in session, and this brought the president of Neruda's Italian publisher to make a statement that this poem is not his.  It is apparently by Martha Medeiros, a Brazilian writer.  Due to this fact, I have edited my original post to replace her name where I had mistakenly credited Neruda.  My apologies to all, and my thanks to Dario Sorgato for having described the error.

I was just translating a poem for Amilynne. It's one that I have had my third year students memorize and it is fantastic-- Chi muore (Ode alla vita) by Pablo Neruda Martha Medeiros. I found this poem online, and the title of this post links to it in Italian. I have found about a zillion variations, but I like this one, and the site seems just as likely to house the right version as any. I have also looked for it in Spanish and in English, but I have been unable to find either, and since I have not found it in Spanish I wonder if it really is originally an Italian poem. Who knows.
Which really puts me in the mood to watch Il Postino.
Anyway, here is my translation to English for your enjoyment:

He who dies (Ode to life)
Pablo Neruda Martha Medeiros

Slowly dies he who becomes a slave to habit,
repeating the same journey every day,
he who doesn’t change his march, he who doesn’t risk
and change the color of his clothes, he who doesn’t speak to he whom he doesn’t know.

Slowly dies he who makes of the television his guru,
Slowly he who avoids a passion dies, he who prefers
black on white and dots on is rather than a togetherness of emotions
exactly those that make the eyes shine,
those that make the heart beat
before error and feeling.

Slowly dies he who doesn’t overturn the table,
he who is unhappy in his work,

he who doesn’t risk certainty for uncertainty
to follow a dream,
he who doesn’t permit himself at least one time in his life
to flee sensible counsels.

Slowly dies he who doesn’t travel, he who doesn’t read,
he who doesn’t listen to music,

he who doesn’t find grace in himself.
Slowly he who destroys his own love dies,
he who doesn’t allow himself to be helped.
Slowly he who passes his days lamenting
about his own misfortune or the incessant rain dies.

Slowly dies he who abandons a project
before beginning it,
he who doesn’t ask questions about topics he doesn’t know,
he who doesn’t answer when he is asked something that he knows.

Let’s avoid death by small doses,
remembering always that being alive
requires a much larger effort
than the simple act of breathing.

Only burning patience will bring
within reach a splendid happiness.

Basil under attack--One gets away

I was out watering the garden today and found two caterpillars in the basil. This upset me. Rosemary and basil are the two reasons for the garden--the rest is just superfluous and exists to greenify the patio. I immediately put the gloves on and got the scissors, but this time one of the caterpillars figured out that he was headed for the canal and jumped. I got him back on the leaf I was carrying, but as I was walking he fell off and is now in hiding somewhere in the lawn. I looked, but I couldn't find him anywhere. The neighbors must think I am absolutely nuts.
Anyway, the first time it fell, I tried to pick it up with a gloved hand and let me just say that all that fluff makes these critters really hard to catch. It was like trying to pick up silk threads that are magneted to the ground. What a defense. I really would like these little guys if they would just stop eating my plants. But they won't, so I will just continue escorting them to the canal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The tension is back. Season 2 of Lost premiered tonight. So much going on! And I just wanted to scream at about a thousand different moments. So much fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Emmy Rant

All right, I know I have done lots of little posts tonight, but here is one more. The Emmys are on, and I just have a couple of things to say:
1. If Lost doesn't win, I will never watch another awards show. Ok, maybe I still will, but Lost had just better win.
2. I hate Kenneth Branagh. He is the world's worst actor. He was nominated for playing FDR. Does anyone really believe he played FDR, or did he just play Kenneth Branagh playing FDR? I wouldn't know, I wouldn't watch him, but I could venture a guess. Ugg. I don't know why anyone would nominate him for anything. He makes my spine shudder and my gag reflexes jump. And now as I'm typing, the show he was in won for best made for TV movie. Uck. Uck. Everything else about it had better have been fantastic, because Branagh is NOT.

Three More Caterpillars.

THREE MORE CATERPILLARS. I can't believe how many the mint attracted. To be honest, I'm glad they're in the mint and not in something else. Actually, now they have joined their friends in the canal. At any rate, I will have to check the plants again tomorrow. I hope I have adequately eradicated them.
On a sad note, Amilynne went with a friend tonight to a free production of Richard III. The whole thing was kind of scary because it was free--would it be good? Richard III is one of the best plays--Amilynne and I have both seen it (different seasons) at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and it is the play we agree was the best. Anyway, I got a call a few minutes ago and the free production tonight was so bad that 3/4 of the audience (including Amilynne and friend) left at intermission. How disappointing.
I would love to make a trip for the Utah Shakespeare Festival! What a fantastic event. And in such a beautiful area. I think I'll daydream about southern Utah for a while now.

Amilynne Weighs In

Amilynne called today to say that her favorite tracks on Odditorium are "Holding Me Up" and "Easy." Must be a good album if everyone has a different favorite.

In other news, gigantic fuzzy wuzzy caterpillars have found my garden. I found one yesterday on the underside of a laurel leaf--it was so fuzzy that at first I thought I had found a super fuzzy mold of some kind. Anyway, I snipped off the leaf and walked down to the canal behind my house and threw it down there. (The canal is dry for the most part.) Today I just came in from throwing four more down there--one from the sage and three from the peppermint. Vicious little creatures, but I hate killing them honestly because they are orange striped fuzzy like the tail of a big orange cat, so I throw them down in the canal, which I will probably regret because they are sure to find the plants growing there and next year I'll have a zillion fuzzy caterpillars in the garden. It's so interesting to watch them walk along the stalks of the leaves I'm carrying them on, though--their feet are like little paddles and they just wrap all around the stem to find the next juicy bit of herb to gnaw on. What a nuisance.


The kids weren't very happy taking the insomnia quizzes I wrote. Apparently I am more wicked mean in the middle of the night than I am during the day. I say a little pain is good for them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Night of Insomnia

It's approaching 1 a.m., and although I recognize that this is not late for a lot of people, it spells doom for me on a Tuesday night. I'm not even halfway through the school week yet, but here I am, unable to sleep. Someday I'll spend the summer keeping teacher hours so I don't have to train myself to sleep early once the school year arrives (NOT!). This is seriously one of the worst aspects of my job--I am a night owl, so I need a job where I can arrive at 11 or noon and leave around 8 p.m. Teaching high school is not that job.

And so here I am, nightowling it. Writing lesson plans and quizzes and worksheets. Wow I'm creative at night!

On the plus side, I am also listening to the new disc from The Dandy Warhols, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars. Such a mellow, smooth groove for the most part. This is one band I don't mind hearing just jam for a while. The album was released today, but it is also available for streaming at
http://www.warlordsofmars.com/. I super dig tracks 4, 8, and 11. I talked to Amilynne tonight, and she confirmed that the release made today a very good day. There is one spot, though, that completely freaked me out. Here it is so late at night, and at one point there is a voice just talking--and it sounds very outside of the song, so when it happened I completely jumped because it was like someone was in the house. Yikes! One good thing is that the horns are back in at least one song. It's such a good sound--I'm not usually one for horns, but here they totally work. (They also work in Johnny Cash's verson of Ring of Fire, of course.)
Well, there is more work to do and more music to which to groove. Which is good, but insomnia sucks all the same, if for no other reason than that I will be paying for this tomorrow. Ugg.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Maps are really very cool. I have spent hours looking at them and dreaming of being anywhere but where I am! Map toys, therefore, are also way cool. Like the Google map application that the title of this post links to. It answers the question, "If I were to dig a hole through the middle of the earth, where would I end up?" I'll just say that you'd have to be in Chile to hit the middle of China, and that if you're going to dig from the continental U.S., you'd better take some swimming lessons first.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I finished two more this week:

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Gregory Maguire)--fun fun fun, with a twist in the narration at the end. It's Cinderella (of course) set in 16th century Haarlem. Central to the story is the change in painting that occurred there at this time, and a Medici queen is thrown in at the end. That is important, of course, because I was a Medici in my last life.

Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)--If there is one author to whom I really need to pay more attention, it is Vonnegut. Cat's Cradle was a trip! Scientifically founded, with fantastic brain exercises that make absurdity seem perfectly sane. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Need more.

School and a Refugee

I don't know what happened but I just have to say how happy I am with my first year class that is currently assembled. We learned new words today and they all took notes. Without being terribly prodded. I asked for volunteers to do a short dialogue in front of the class and students volunteered. It was fantastic. I asked them what we had learned today and they all knew. I put them into groups to throw little balls around and count and no one tried to attack someone else with a ball. This is great! I am a happy teacher. Not to mention the wonderful students who are doing the advanced classes with me. It's fun to be back.

In other news, Thomas picked his teenage brother up at the bus station yesterday. He's here to attend school for a while. I think it will be fun to have him here--he's a great kid. At the very least, his arrival probably signals the start of some excitement around here. It's so sad, though, to think of how many families are having to send their kids away because of the hurricane. And some would call them the lucky ones because it means that the family still has some reason to stay in the region and that they have a place where they can send their kids.

So a toast to a new year. Cin cin.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Thoughts

In the French Quarter, Labor Day Weekend 2001. Posted by Picasa

I took the picture four years ago when I went with friends to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the Best Roadtrip Ever. We were hooked up with great accommodations, enjoyed the city, went out to the beach, and just had a fabulous time.
Things have definitely changed there this week. It's been a bit anxious, as we've been waiting for news from Thomas's family about the state of things in Mississippi. They evacuated north before the storm, and he just got word today that his parents' and his brothers' houses are still standing. His parents and one brother had water up to the 2nd floor in their houses, but their whole family is alive, and that's the main thing to be thankful for, since people in their area did lose their lives. Apparently the whole area is littered with seaweed and jellyfish too. What an image that brings to mind.
It seems so trivial to even mention that I am sad to see so much destruction in the area. I'm sure my mind isn't really wrapped around the losses at all. All I can do is just hope for a miracle for those who are down there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Catching Up: Summer Books & Stuff

Of course, even though I've been on vacation, I've had my nose stuck in a book for a good part of it. Here's what I've found:
Mirror Mirror, by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. I enjoyed this very very much (last summer I enjoyed Wicked very very much--I think I wouldn't mind seeing the musical). At any rate, Mirror Mirror is absolutely fantastic because we meet a somewhat fictionalized Lucrezia Borgia, and because Italian Borgia politics are mixed in throughout. Also because Maguire is on top of his game creating a fantastic origin for the dwarves (all 8 of them). A fun, light read.
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Once again, Renaissance Italy comes into play--this time as an object of study. The book is a tight little mystery, almost suspenseful, with some good plot twists. Once again, a fun, light read--one that really left me wanting to go to Italy.
Nine Horses and Sailing Alone Around the Room, poetry by Billy Collins. I don't know that there is another poet like Billy Collins. He makes my soul fly and crash land in the same line. I smile and laugh and gasp, and my eyes grow big as saucers, and I read a poem over again (and even again) before moving on to the next one. I want to shout his poetry from the tops of mountains. Wow wow wow wow wow.
Dreams of My Russian Summers, by Andrei Makine, translated by Geoffrey Strachan. This book, set mostly in the Soviet Union, contains an intriguing look at the power of language and the effects of multilingualism. The protagonist's summers spent with his French grandmother on the Siberian tundra contrast starkly with his school years in a Russian city. It's a coming-of-age tale (and I admit to loving those), pitting realism and idealism against each other (of course)--I won't say outright which -ism wins, (but it is a Russian author writing a French novel).
Speaking of Russian writers, I admit I've been trying to get through Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov since spring. What a foul book. He should have just called it Perverted Pedophile and left it at that. Amilynne says I must read it before reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, but yuck! I don't know why they would want to read that book anywhere, much less in Tehran.
I must also comment on one disc: Absolution by Muse. Let me just say that if High Mass and Rock were wed, it would be this album. Fantastic.

Friday, August 19, 2005

100 Best Foods

While in Texas, my friends and I came up with a list of the 100 best foods, plus overflow. Since then, I have edited the list in order to bring to you the top 100. My apologies to any friend whose favorite food I have stricken from the list--please feel free to comment and put it back.

The foods are listed in no particular order.

homemade ravioli (spinach/pork/ricotta or pumpkin), fresh fresh fresh juicy small fruits (berries, cherries, plums, mandarin oranges) (especially the first strawberry of spring with cream), finest darkest chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, Don Pablo's chocolate volcano cake, big fat bacon cheeseburgers, saag paneer, pad thai, the basil noodle dish at Bangkok City, medium rare steak, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled pork chops, grilled corn on the cob, corn from the cornman in Oak Cliff, spinach, 4-cheese risotto, polenta with cinghiale (wild boar) sauce, meatloaf sandwiches, hot dogs at the ballpark, hot fudge sundaes, pesto on fresh noodles, butterkase cheese, parmigiano reggiano, vento d'estate cheese, shrimp scampi, crab legs w/drawn butter, hot fresh crusty bread, steamed broccoli, siopao filled with bbq pork, baklava, Alabama sausage, gelato (lemon and yogurt or chocolate/hazlenut), nutella, gooey brownies, Blue Bell homemade vanilla bean ice cream, rainbow sherbet, big honkin' humungous black olives, funnel cake, popcorn at the movies with extra butter, homemade grape or strawberry jam, tuna/tomato/fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, chicken or lamb cooked with fresh rosemary, nachos, chopped brisket or pulled pork BBQ, homemade carmels, lemon truffles, lasagna, orange chicken, brown stew, dreamsicles/fudgesicles, grilled asparagus, gnocchi with red pepper sauce, grits/cream of wheat/germade, tortillas at Tia's Tex Mex w/butter or queso, chocolate cake at Macaroni Grill, sushi, Junior Mint cheesecake, chili relleno, homemade tamales, eggplant, pfo, homemade macaroni & cheese, beignets (especially at Cafe du Monde), Navajo tacos, glogg (the "o" should have a slash through it, but I couldn't find the code to make it), Norwegian waffles with jam and gjetost cheese, jarlsberg cheese, limonata, fajitas, focaccia di Recco, homemade chili, homemade clam chowder, homemade fudge, Indian curry, dutch oven potatoes, BLT, horchata, churrascaria, tom gai, buffalo wings, hot chocolate, cornbread, reuben sandwich, swiss cheese, pizza, crawfish, dirty rice, Philly cheesesteak, havarti with dill, gourmandise with walnut paste, grand bull sandwich, carne asada, waffles that Dad makes when I come home, shrimp po' boy sandwiches, banana splits, hummus and pita, flan, homemade lemon merengue pie that has been sitting in the fridge for a day or so until the lemon juice seeps out of the pudding and into the crust, mango sticky rice, white or yellow cake with icing, apples in caramel, and Italian sodas.
Eat your heart out.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

All in One Day

Things you get to read about in this posting:
Waking Up in the Mountains
Coming Home to Amilynne
Peterson Johnson, Silversmith Extraordinaire
Doober the Dirtbike Architect
Part I: Waking Up in the Mountains
Today I woke up and walked out on the most wonderful view: Mount Moran in the Teton Range. Wow. We camped there for four days and we really could have stayed twice that long before even wishing the tiniest bit to come home. I'm becoming Dad: more pictures of the Tetons in my photo album than I have of family and friends. They are just so beautiful, the way they change in every light and from every point of view. Grand Teton National Park is really my favorite place on Earth.
I must add quickly that Dad almost got into big trouble yesterday. We took the boat across Jenny Lake and I hiked up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, but before I left, Dad said "Be careful. There is one place where you will think you have arrived at Inspiration Point, but it's fake. You have to keep going until you see that the trail turns into Cascade Canyon." So up I hiked, and it was all pretty and everything, and I got to the place where I was sure that it was Inspiration Point, but I was curious about the canyon so I decided to hike in just a little. WOW. Cascade Canyon is so lush and wonderful, just a high mountain paradise. I went for a while, but knowing that Dad was waiting for me below, I reluctantly turned around. When I got back down to Dad, I told him that he was in trouble, because he hiked up there with the Kiddo and not with me. How could he take anyone but me up there? I'm the one who should see it! At any rate, I know where I am headed next summer. Let me also say that I would really love to take a glacier-fed lake home with me. After a long day on my feet teaching, I figure that wading in a glacier-fed lake would feel just as nice as it did after my walk up the canyon. I wonder how much it would take to ship that across the country.
Also, quickly I must add that the other night, Dad and I went to Bar J for dinner. It's a rollicking good time with great steaks and cowboy singing. We didn't get back to the campsite until after midnight. and what did we find at the campsite when we returned? Another car in our parking space. Squatters. We quickly found a flashlight, then Dad went down to the campsite, but saw no sign that they were there, so he came back up to the parking, and there were people asleep in the car. He knocked on the window with the flashlight, policeman style. "What are you doing in our campsite?" "This is your campsite?" "Yes. Get out of here now." My dad is so cool. Anyway, the guy finds his way back into the driver's seat and they went away. Too bad it was a rental car (Enterprise sticker on the back) but if I'll tell you my eyes were peeled for a blue minivan with Colorado plates for the rest of the trip. But I digress.
Part II: Coming Home to Amilynne
The reason leaving the Tetons was all right: Amilynne was waiting back at home. Hooray! The best weeks of the year are the ones spent with Amilynne and Dad. Dad called ahead and told her (jokingly) to make lunch, so she greeted us at the door with an assortment of sandwiches: ham, turkey, and PB&J--with strawberries. Amilynne has been busily cleaning out the parts of the house where we have tended to leave things behind in "storage," and she found what had to have been the very best toy ever. For just a couple of years, Fisher Price made the Woodsies, a family of little squirrels (which we now just call "woodsies") that squeak. The company's stupidest move was discontinuing them. Anyway, not knowing that Amilynne had been so busy excavating the basement, I picked up a squeaking squirrel for her in the Tetons. It is Godzilla-sized compared to the classic Woodsies, but they're all so cute together anyway.
Part III: Peterson Johnson, Silversmith Extraordinaire
After cleaning up from camping, Dad, Amilynne, and I took off for the Sho-Ban festival. Amilynne and I took money for jewelrey. Dad took money to feed us Indian tacos after we spent all of our money. So much jewelrey, and so pretty, but we were really looking for something that just stands out and there was a silversmith there who came to this festival for the first time this year. His name is Peterson Johnson, and his work, though still traditional, has a lightness to it that so many others just don't have. His signature style is flowers and leaves, and Amilynne and I just died. Completely. There was no way to choose what to get because it was all so beautiful across the board. There was not any "well, I like these things but those things aren't done well." No. All of it blew us away. We applauded Mr. Johnson and gushed over the pieces in an embarrassing manner. Amilynne chose a ring with an amber stone, and I got a pendant with turquoise. We floated away. The most incredible piece, really, but so far out of our league, was a squash blossom necklace. Amilynne and I have both always said that we would someday like to get squash blossom necklaces, but Mr. Johnson's squash blossom necklaces are so much more beautiful than any others we have seen. Simply breathtaking. Words cannot describe. Please see a sample of his work here.
Part IV: Doober the Dirtbike Architect
We got back in town after dark. Driving along downtown, we came to a right-hand turn, and on the corner was this guy sitting on a bike. I waited for him to see if he was going to cross the street, but he gave no indication of desiring to do so until I started forward. Then he lurched into the street. "What a Doober!" exclaimed Amilynne, and Doober he was. He had several tubes of something in his arms, and the bike he was riding would have fit a 10-year old kid. So rather than pedal, he tottered to and fro pushing himself along with his feet, weaving back and forth in what seemed a drunken reel. Doober finally got out of my lane (and into oncoming traffic), and as we drove away, Amilynne and I began to wonder aloud what he had been doing with all those tubes. "It was like blueprints!" - "Doober the Architect!" - "Doober the Dirtbike Architect!!!" - and by the next light we were laughing so hard that it's a good thing the light was red so I could re-compose myself for driving. So rediculous. Amilynne has graciously drawn a picture that I will scan and add when my vacation is over. It's actually an extremely accurate depiction.
So that's life as it stands at the moment. What a big, wonderful day. I wonder if I wouldn't just die of wonder if every day were like this one. But that's enough posting for now, because Amilynne and I have mischief to make. Or something. Have we outgrown mischief? I hope not. Although Amilynne's suggestion of TPing the neighbor's house just doesn't seem like the right kind of trouble to make...

As promised, Amilynne's illustration. (posted Aug 28) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


So many things to write about:
The Breeze
I am sitting next to an open window, and the most wonderful breeze is coming in to make things cool. No humidity, no heat, just a wonderful, cool breeze coming in through the window. This is heaven.
Must Hate Must Love Dogs
Of course since I am home and there is a film with the word dog in the title, off we went to see it. What an inane, cliche-driven, poorly written, mind-numbing, had-to-get-up-in-the-middle-to-re-butter-the-popcorn movie. With a cheesy horrid soundtrack. After the Kiddo leaned over to gesture to me that maybe going out for a smoke would be a good idea, I leaned back and promised him the soundtrack for Christmas. Thank heavens for Diet Coke and 3 Musketeers so my mind could be removed from the screen for brief moments. I give that film zero stars. Of all the films I haven't seen, that was not the one to watch.
We are leaving in about 6 hours to go camping! What a nice time I plan to have, in a wonderful piney forest in my mountains. Don't make me ever leave, please.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fantastic Things to Love About Texas

Since the time has come to leave Texas again, I thought I would pinpoint some of the things that keep me coming back:
  • Most importantly, of course, my FANTASTIC, FABULOUS friends. No one could be blessed to know better people.
  • Chopped brisket BBQ.
  • The beauty of Texas hill country.
  • Watching King of the Hill and knowing you're here in the thick of it.
  • Restaraunts, restaraunts, restaraunts.
  • Bangkok City.
  • TexMex.
  • Grocery stores with fun imported cheeses.
  • Humidity low enough that you can take a walk outside even when the temperature is above 90.
  • My good friends.
  • The store in the Valley View Mall where I buy cheap little white gold earrings, and where they always act like they are giving you a great deal even though you know you're probably getting their actual regular price.
  • U-turns under the freeways for turning yourself around on the access roads. Brilliant.
  • Lots of movie theaters with stadium seating.
  • Six Flags over Texas.
  • The mix of cultures you meet as you move through town.
  • Gelato.
  • Still being able to give fairly reliable directions, even though I haven't lived here for a while.
  • My friends. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm not much of a mountain goat.

Today a trip to Dinosaur Park proved that nothing really ever changes much at all. Less than five minutes into the water, and after having been thoroughly mocked by my dear friends who remember (all too well) my prior spills, I passed off my camera (it's too dangerous for me to hold it), slid on the slime, and flew face-first onto a nice big rock. Cue the uproarious laughter. For you see, my dear, dear friends had just been deciding whether to place bets on just how thoroughly I would fall--waist deep (not a chance), neck deep, head deep--and the one with money on head deep would have made a whole lot of money, except that odds were less than 1:1.1, so hey, a lot of money would have had to have been riding on it.

The maddening thing is that I always fall. Always. ALWAYS. My record is perfect. You would think that I would learn a tiny bit of balance, but no, the ground is a supermagnet and I'm a chunk of iron.

The reward for falling? Chopped brisket BBQ in Glen Rose. YUM. And suddenly it's all worth it, and I'm ready to go flop face-down in the creek again. Hooray for Texas!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Rex Kwan Do in German

I love to surf blogs. But please imagine with me just a moment as I describe my shock at just how small the world really is. I'm clicking along on the "next blog" button, and suddenly a scene from Napoleon Dynamite is staring at me and the words all around are in German. There is no way that should happen. Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in and around Preston, Idaho, where my dad grew up. No place on earth could be so insignificant and remote. No film on earth could be more of an insider's joke about Preston, and yet it's funny, and it resonates, and somebody in a real city in Germany found a picture of it to put on his blog (click the title of this post for the link).
Preston has been living it up since Napoleon came out. People actually come to see the stage he danced on at the high school, and my dad said that there was some kind of gathering there sanctioned by the city a few weeks ago. I don't know why anyone would want to set foot in Preston unless they were going to visit their grandmother. It's just not a place to go.
The Idaho legislature even passed a resolution commending the makers of the film. Here's the link: http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/HCR029.html If I didn't have even less respect for the way our national legislature wastes time in Washington, I might think that Idaho legislators had nothing to do. I would really, really laugh, except that the film really gave people from Idaho something to rally around -- something more recognizable than spudnuts and more germaine to the state than nuclear power.
And do you see the orange pillow sitting behind Napoleon in the picture? I swear that that pillow belonged to my grandma at one point. It used to sit on her couch. I have a theory about how it migrated from her couch through a series of yard sales and secondhand stores until it landed in Napoleon's room. You don't have to believe it (my dad doesn't), but I tell you, it's hers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A portent of things to come...

Here I am with an open book collapsed on my head a long long time ago. If I had a dollar for every time this has happened...
Thanks to mom for scanning the pic.
Hooray for summer vacation!!!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Summer Books

My schoolwork is suffering because I haven't been able to tear myself away from some good reads this summer. After all, in my eyes reading is the main purpose for summer. Why go outside to brave scorching heat and stifling humidity when the air conditioner is on inside and there are books on the shelf that I haven't gotten to yet? Why pick up a required book that I have to write a paper on when there is a novel on the shelf that I haven't gotten to yet? And why take classes, if not to fill the shelves with books to be read that colleagues recommend? The latest such book arrived today: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine. The postman stuffed it into my tiny mailbox along with the usual smattering of credit card offers. That stressed me out a bit because I envisioned a crumpled, bent book as I tore the envelope off, but happily it survived and it is sitting here tempting me greatly.

Yesterday I got no work done becuase I had to finish Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. I had started it on the recumbent bike Monday--the only way I'll exercise is with interesting reading material in hand--and had managed to limit myself to a chapter a day until yesterday, Wednesday, when it gripped me and declared that I should do no more work until I had consumed it. I did this gladly. Today I read my assigned reading on the bike. Not as much fun, but there are acts for which one must perform rites of cleansing and retribution. I've got about 18 more pages of it, and then I get to write a paper and a journal on it (yippee--ha!) The class ends Saturday, though, and then I can devote myself more fully to my reading.

I've been thinking, though, that I'm in a pickle: I don't know what I'll take with me to read on vacation. I will be gone a very long time, and I don't want to carry that many books with me. I thought about taking the Chronicles of Narnia, which I bought in a one-book edition at the beginning of the summer, but I've already read two of the books this summer so that would mean hauling around two books I have no intention of reading. I will probably take The Name of the Rose with me, although that will cause me to be the butt of more than one joke from my dad and my sister, because I've been reading it for three summers now (in Italian.) Two months ago, Amilynne thought she would read it (in English), but she found it poorly written and boring and refused to continue. I was appalled that she would find it boring becuase I have been fascinated by it, even if I've been reading it very slowly. We argued until one of us decided to blame the translator. Anything to keep the peace.

Well, the assigned book calls, not as loudly as the unassigned ones do, but since the paper is due Saturday I must face priorities.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And by the way,

I didn't go read book 5 before digging into Harry Potter 6. And I'm having an awful time getting back into my homework now. I really just want to spend the rest of the summer reading novels. (Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake is calling...) Much more fun than trying to report on whether or not it's ethical to have schools.

Mosquito in the House

Several days ago I let a mosquito in the house while watering the plants. (The plants, by the way, are gorgeous. I have a red rose blooming right now, which is a relief because for a while there, I thought I had over-pruned the bushes.) At any rate, the mosquito is driving me insane. It just bit my finger, and it has already knawed up my arms. One would think it would be dead by now, but I have special ever-live blood that mosquitos love and thrive upon. Which is ironic because I don't have blood, I have dark chocolate running through my veins. Maybe the mosquitos love the flavonoids. Or something. Time to get out of the house.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Yes, the Big Geek in the corner is me.

Well, Harry Potter released tonight. Party across the nation! Except that I decided to stay home because I am having way too much fun writing a paper for my ethics class. The fun is trying to articulate ideas that I can barely get my mind around, especially since the paper is about using linguistics as a narrative that justifies school. It's based on The End of Education by Neil Postman, which was a fantastic read. At any rate, Harry Potter will have to wait until after class tomorrow.

The conundrum is this: do I go back and re-read book 5 before starting the new one? I honestly don't think I've read it since it came out, although there is the possibility that I have (the last one came out so long ago). If I do, I will end up toting gigantic book 6 with me on vacation, and really, lugging big books around the airport isn't that fun. But do I remember enough of book 5? Maybe if I just read the ending I can finish book 6 before flying out....

Monday, July 04, 2005

Dang it ALL!!!!

I am such an idiot! I spent this weekend suffering through a book on educational theory for my ethics class. The book is all about how we should completely revamp education and make the primary goal be to create caring, decent people. AAAAACK!!! The author is a pretty severe feminist who obviously feels that it is society's job to raise the children. She wants the schools to teach all aspects of human life, from fixing toasters to spirituality. I would literally have to put the book down and make loud noises to drown out her self-assured posturing. I have to say that if I were a parent, the LAST thing I would want would be for schools to teach my child a caring-based curriculum! Certainly schools need to be staffed with caring professionals, but parents have a responsibility to raise caring and moral children, and I certainly don't think that the schools have the right to mess with the spirituality practices I would teach my children.

Anyway. I read all that, and then looked at the syllabus so I could start working on the paper associated with it. Oops. I didn't have to read the whole book, only chapters 1-5 and 11-12. And (hooray) no paper.

I guess I should consult the syllabus from now on before I start working. I used to have a pretty good mind for this stuff, but maybe not so much anymore.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Hee heee heeeee. I found the perfect personality quiz for me. What kind of poetry are you? And yes, although I wouldn't have dared predict, here I am:

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.

What Poetry Form Are You?

How fantastic--Dante has seeped into my subconscious.

On a scarier note, I think I just heard what I would describe as a gunshot. I consider my computer room the safest in the house because it has no windows and there is brick between me and the outside, so I'll just stay here a moment until I feel like moving about again. This time of year, I guess you never know if it's fireworks or what, but this was really loud and considering where I live I think the gunshot is a real possibility. Or maybe it was just a celebratory "hooray for freedom" gunshot like you imagine in a rowdy party in Mexico. But I doubt it.

Anyway, poetry is a happier topic. Amilynne went to see Billy Collins do a reading and ever since, she has been calling me to read Billy Collins poetry to me. Some Billy Collins poetry can be found by clicking on the title of this posting. One of my favorites is called "Consolation" and it makes me very happy to be spending my summer taking two graduate courses. Also, Amilynne and I spend a lot of time fighting over "Litany" and who gets to be the moon in the trees.

I do hope the hotlinks work. I am experimenting, as HTML editing is not something I'm particularly skilled with.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Regretfully Moving Onward

Well, last night I was kindly reminded that it has been quite some time since my last posting. Things have been busy with school getting out, blah blah blah, but to tell the truth, the real reason I have hesitated to write anythng is this: I LOVE having that cool image of Dante at the top of the page, and I know that by writing this I am sending him down the line to eventually end up only on an archive page, and that makes me sad. So in one way, my continued blogging makes me feel like a traitor against Dante, who has beeen my benefactor by inspiring both my study of Italian and the many college papers I have tied to his poem. And we know that traitors against benefactors end up in the lowest circle of Hell, being chewed up in one of Satan's three mouths. Move over, Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. I'm coming in.

Monday, May 30, 2005

An Explanation of the Cosmic Landscape

Dante, from the Cathedral in Florence. Posted by Hello

I am a conscientious objector to Moby Dick. After reading "Billy Budd" (about 120 pages) and almost dying of the most intense boredom I've ever experienced, I swore off Melville forever, and decided expressly to avoid his big fish tale (about 700 pages). When I was assigned to read Moby Dick in my American Humanities class in college, I didn't. The fact that I still did just fine in the class only reinforced my resolve.
Now Amilynne, in a bout of guilt over being an English major and not having read the beastly book, is about halfway through it. And she has decided that I cannot get out of Purgatory until I follow suit.
Time in Heaven, you see, is spent enjoying the Heavenly Lecture Series--fascinating symposia on the most interesting topics that help the heavenly make sense of being. And Amilynne and I both really, really, really want to go. Amilynne, though, by her own admission, will have to sneak in if she wants any part of it. And that won't be easy, because she would have to shake Johnny Cash, her personal guide through Hell. So if she can't get in, the plan is that I'll sneak in a tape recorder and slip the bootleg copies to her under the Pearly Gates. Amilynne and Johnny Cash can then spend the rest of their time cruising around the River Styx with David Bowie in his boat. Which makes me a little jealous.
Tonight, though, Amilynne threw me out of Heaven and consigned me to an eternity in Purgatory. She has decided that reading Moby Dick is my pennance for something or other, and although I adamently insist that this punishment does not fit my crimes, she says that the day will come when Virgil is begging me to read it so I'll be off his hands and can join Beatrice and Dante in Paradise. Here's the problem: how can I possibly read Moby Dick? I am a conscientious objector! Should I read it, I would be forsworn, guilty of lying, and could no longer enter Heaven anyway!
Amilynne figures that she is being merciful. Reading Moby Dick, she says, beats the alternative: a neverending dinner party with the Shelleys (Percy and Mary) and William "Billy" Blake in the newly-opened Cavern of Hell, just below where Satan sits encased in ice chewing on Judas et. al. It's no use, though--I just can't do it. I just can't read Moby Dick.
So I guess now Amilynne and I are both looking for someone who will slip us bootleg copies of the Heavenly Lecture Series that we can enjoy in our own eternal realms. Because if I have to sit at the top of Mount Purgatory with nothing but Melville for entertainment, I might as well just go down to Hell, stop in for appetizers, and then go find a cozy tree to climb into with the other suicides.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Boy Rocks!; or XP Service Pack 2 Sucks

Boy rocks! Boy is the bomb! Boy saved my computer from the evil grips of XP Service Pack 2! Thanks, Boy! What a great brother you are!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Apparently my elation at having my life back was premature. Today in talking with one of the math teachers at my school, I found out that ABC plans to rebroadcast Lost, first episode onward, starting June 1. Hooray! So much for my freedom, but this is much better than waiting for the DVDs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Whew! I can have my life back!

Well, bring on the boring summer TV. Lost had its season finale tonight, 24 happened two nights ago, and Desperate Housewives is of course over--There's nothing else to watch until fall, and that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Drawtoy on zefrank.com

So after Revenge of the Sith last night, this is what I found myself drawing on the computer today. Posted by Hello
Kind of a Muppet Sith Lord--one whom Yoda could dispatch in one fell swoop. The fun thing about it is that on the original drawing, the blue squares that make up the light saber move--it's very much alive. Unfortunately that doesn't translate here.
I did like the movie so very much. I've finally decided--I want to be a Jedi when I grow up.
Find the drawtoy on www.zefrank.com (or find the direct link by clicking on the title of this post). And may the Force be with you.


I can't keep up with inflation. I went out to get gifts for my honor society students who are graduating. I wanted to get something also as a thank-you to the one who has been my student aide this year and who has really been a big help. So in considering what would be a little fun and Italian cultural, I went to look for a pasta roller. Last check, they cost between $18 and $20, even at Williams Sonoma. So off I went to pick one up, except in the last year or two they have jumped from $18-20 to $50. I was in complete shock. I was too shocked to look at the motor next to it and see if its price had also jumped, and they don't sell that online. But let me show you what I'm seeing: it's not only a price jump from $18-20 to $50, it's that now you also have to pay an extra $30 for the spaghetti attachment that used to be included for free. www.williamssonoma.com, search "Imperia"
Now with all due respect, they have apparently re-designed one aspect of the machine, adding a tray that slides down into the main roller. This may make it easier for one person to operate the machine alone, but I don't think it's any reason to effectively quadruple the price.

The crazy thing is that Sur La Table has the machine for $60, but they have brought the price of the motor down from the $80 I paid to $70.
www.surlatable.com, search "Atlas" for the machine and "Imperia" for the motor.

The new pricing makes no sense at all. There is no way that the value of a pasta machine has quadrupled in two years. I will blame the rich people who want to claim fresh pasta as their own, in spite of the fact that pasta has its origins in Italy with the poor.

So to everyone who has a pasta machine, treat it like gold, becuase its value is increasing as though it were made of the shiny stuff.

Saturday, May 14, 2005



Amilynne is graduating from college today. With Distinction and a star by her name in the program. She's brilliant, and she rocks. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Please, Please Pinch Me

I just woke up sobbing from the dumbest dream, a nightmare of epic proportion. NOTHING in this dream was based on fact except that it was about me giving a test to my second year class. Which, in a matter of fact, I actually am doing first thing tomorrow morning. Well, in this dream, it wasn't even the right class--one of the students had been switched out--and I had just distributed the test and sat down when a principal came in to observe. Now this was not a real principal. It was this young blonde thing in her twenties, all cute and critical. And suddenly the kids were rambunctious, talking and trying to get me to give them the answers and pulling out CD players to listen to. And the principal calls me back to tell me all of the things I'm doing wrong--her worry is that the kids take the class to casually, that it's too structured like hanging out, etc. etc. And I tried to defend myself, and she kept telling me what I was doing wrong, and finally I just yelled at her. I called her a nasty name and asked her why on earth she had chosen to come in and do my formal assessment right in the middle of SOLs, since I've been tied up in those for the past month, and no, right now I'm not the best teacher I could be, I can barely breathe I've got so much to do. Well, if I wasn't going to be fired for being a bad teacher, I figured I would be after that. She pulled a ladder up to a switch high up on the wall (that doesn't exist in reality) and played with something, then handed me my copy of the evaluation and left. I started to look at the evaluation. It was all about how cute my outfit was that day, and how if she had crayons she would draw a picture....At this point I woke up sobbing.
Then I came out to the computer and the screensaver was up--the screensaver I loaded to run in Italian--and it was running Spanish and French and German instead--I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.
Maybe it' s a good thing I don't have much time for sleep these days if dreams like that are what's going to happen.