Monday, September 22, 2008

My continued green quest

In checking out old Green as a Thistle posts, I came upon a few finds for clothes:

Better World Shopper has a list of the most environmentally and socially responsible large companies (not just for clothes, either!):

It's based on "Data...collected over the past 20 years from a wide range of nonprofit sources on the social and environmental responsibility of more than 1000 companies", according to the site. I'll have to peruse the site more thoroughly when I have time. I'd never heard of some of these companies, but I just got a long sleeved t-shirt from Maggie's Organics, on sale. They don't have a ton of choices, but it saved me from going to Old Navy, where I'd planned to get said shirt. I'd like to buy more locally made clothing, too, and we have some great secondhand places around here that I'll have to check out. American Apparel has some good things, too. Will I give up my Ann Taylor Loft? Probably not yet, if I'm being honest, but I'll try to make more conscious purchases. Baby steps.

p.s. Sam's Club may be hard to avoid, too....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day

It's a real day. It even has an official website.

We did have kids dress up for this day. Not a lot, but the history club also held a special meeting. I'm sure it involved students going, "Arrrr!" and "Gar!" (a la Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball) a lot.

Here's one of my favorite pictures from the actual Flickr Talk Like a Pirate Day photostream:

Notice the dog is blowing a raspberry? Other fun pictures include an entire pirate family and an office guy named "Maaaaaaaark", of course.

DH's birthday is this weekend: Dinner out and the Bills game on Sunday. Perfect.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our Little Pup's Growing Up



I swear it is the same dog! It's Penny! We got her adult Wheaten cut, and they had to take more off than usual because she was just covered in knots, which, frankly, is part of the reason why we got the cut in the first place. She's still her sweet self, but I admit I called T and blurted out, "She looks weird!" I just have to get used to it, and it will grow out a bit. We're also looking at doggie daycare at least once a week because 1) she needs supervised socialization, and 2) the dogs at the neighborhood Evening Get-Together seem to look at her as a Live Moving Chew Toy, and we'd rather not make her afraid of other dogs. PetSmart has one that we'll check out; not sure others exist around here that DH can easily drop her at on his way to work. We'll check it all out carefully, don't you worry. (Papa, S. herself told me to do this, so I trust her advice. Everyone else, S. is a dog expert who ran a dog daycare herself and now does private training in Atlanta. She knows what she's talking about.)

I am sure we will still get crazy poses on the couch with new, chic Penny. And yes, I will post them.

P.S. How cool is it that I teach a class where we get to watch snippets of Shaun of the Dead?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Of Shoes and Schedules and Teacher Things

I'm not sure what to write about today; I just wanted to let you know I'm still here. Just finished the first week of school and it's kind of nice to get back into the swing of things, although my daily schedule has me running all over the third floor from place to place to the point that I think that, to go along with my prior post, I will pull out the lovely Earth shoes (got 'em crazy on sale) and my Dansko clogs a lot more than I did last year.

The students' first assignment had them telling me what they considered as "good" teacher qualities and writing about their favorite teacher and why they liked that person. I found it quite eye-opening that so many of them appreciated a teacher who struck the balance between work and play: They wanted a teacher who could make the class interesting and fun, but they also appreciated a teacher who made them work hard and made it clear when they had to buckle down. Now, of course I had kids who wanted no homework and more movies, but the majority seemed to value a teacher who really made them an entertaining way. Many also like group work, which is kind of how they grew up learning in grade school. Why not? Don't you often have to work with others in your job? Collaborate and all that? It makes sense to me. So now I have more of a direction to go in, plus practically all of them got 100% simply by doing the assignment, so they start off feeling good. Will I fulfill all of their expectations? Probably not all of them, but I agreed with a lot of what they said, so I think we'll be ok.

Most of this week will involve intense scheduling: T and I both have very full autumn schedules, he with work and coaching, I with teaching, my book group, and choir, so we plan to sit down every Sunday, sketch out a few meals, exercise time, and "us" time. His birthday's this weekend, so that will be fun, but it also means I don't have a lot of the weekend to lesson plan. Sister M., if you want to help with the calendar, please do. (M. is great at this, so I gave her access to my Google calendar. So far she's added her wedding date. Seriously, she's been so helpful!) This whole organization thingie all seems terribly adult to me, really. Is this how it works when you actually know what's happening ahead of time but keep the flexibility to know that life throws in a curve ball whenever it feels the need?

So on that note I'm off to input grades and figure out lesson plans for Brit Lit, because my kids are waaaay too bright for the lesson plans the previous teacher used, so I have to make new ones. Thank God for the Internet. Have a good week and don't trust the media. That's my two cents on politics; commenting on the presidential race would merit a separate post.

Happy...third week of September and happy birthday, M.!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I surrounded myself with a swirl of Back-to-School Mode, which for a teacher includes getting used to the schedule again, making seating charts, sweating my way through the first two days (no AC!), reassuring freshmen that it-will-not-always-feel-this-way, and keeping my own head above water. Pant, gasp. I think I can make it. Just call me the Little Engine, 'cause I'm chugging along here, doing my best to get up the hill of September, which other teachers will sympathize with especially.

While I prefer to write only obliquely about my job, I will tell you all a few things:

- My freshman homeroom seems awesome and eager. They've got all sorts of ideas for our homeroom banner which incorporate the Olympics and them (they're the class of 2012. I KNOW! WHAT?!) going for the gold. I love it.

- I have a student with the same name as a famous TV show child character. I won't mention the show but I will mention that "it's a story..." and someone on that particular show is in a long-term, going-nowhere relationship with a butcher. Why his parents did this to him, I don't know. I managed not to chuckle. I'm sure this boy is very nice.

- Several kids wrote that their favorite part of English was "movies". Sigh.

- I may have to reconsider wearing heels because I walk around so much from class to class. Haven't decided yet if this will give me better calves or podiatrist bills.

- Our football team rocks, both high school and NFL.

- The Crock Pot also rules, unquestionably.

- I think I came up with a fairly cool assignment, if I do say so myself, that leads into To Kill a Mockingbird:
  • Explain racism to a first-grader using pretty much any method you want (dialogue, how-to book, simple explanation), keeping in mind that you're talking to a kid about pretty heavy stuff.
I didn't word it quite that way, but I think it'll get them going on their writing and being creative, and it will link into the beginning of TKAM pretty well, yes? It's my attempt to combine teaching them writing, creativity, and actual learning at the same time.

My schedule this fall's pretty crammed, so I'll update as often as possible. I can't really do this at school, so be patient with me, please! I know I'll need it as a release, so you'll still hear from me; don't you fret. Have a great week, you groovy people.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Whew! (quick update)

So sorry; I've been busy with getting last-minute lesson plans together and my brother got married this past weekend, so I haven't had a lot of computer time. More work and family time, and enjoy-my-last-days-out-of-school time.

I will post the wedding pictures ASAP. It was a lot of fun and the ceremony included my brother giving his new wife's young (7?) daughter a ring of her own right after he put one on his bride. So sweet. Lots of dancing, lots of sisterliness, good times.

Minor tragedy: As I spent the weekend at my mom's, we came home Monday to find my luxurious tomato plants once again ravaged by persistent deer combined with poor deer netting. They look so sad and barren, although the lower-growing tomatoes survived. I admit it--I burst into tears and then realized (thank you, DH) that as my first year doing this, I would figure a few things out. Thus we've repositioned the netting and put down more dried blood. Back off, Bambi.

I heard an interesting bit on NPR today that has to do with the Bechdel Rule of TV and movies: A cartoonist, she created one that had a woman saying to her friend, "I'll only watch a movie if it has

1. At least two female characters, who ...
2. talk to each other about...
3. something besides a man.

It then went on to point out major shows (Sex and the City, Grey's Anatomy, and even my new fave, The Closer) that do not do this at all. It comes down to who's writing it. The point was that people like to watch shows that mirror actual culture or else they feel disconnected from it. For example, very few shows exist with "fully realized" African American characters. The article then asked people to make up their own rules. One included something I've mentioned before: The commenter won't watch shows with men who act like complete idiots and have no involvement in their kids' lives. I'd add the henpecked, sassy wife--it's straight out of The Honeymooners. We're not in black and white anymore; can't we update the trends here? If I made up a rule, it would run something like this: In a TV show primarily about teens, there will be

1. no central theme having to do with sex or heavy flirting/petting
2. parents who look more than ten years older than their children
3. a setting somewhere other than Pots-of-Money, CA

What about you?

P.S. We will miss you, Don LaFontaine (aka The Voice of just about every promo you've seen in the last 25 years "In a world...")! Here's something to remember you by, even if it's from Geico: