Friday, September 30, 2005

Angels and Demons

Okay, I'm horrible - I cannot seem to make it that far into "People's History of the United States", which has been recommended by a few people. But dammit, the text is tiny and I get distracted by how many pages there are and then I get tired and if there is any extraneous noise, I have to re-read the pages because I can't recall what I just read. So, that book is going to get shelved until I'm on breaks and don't have to concentrate on other things. Conversely, I don't seem to have problems concentrating with the current book I'm reading - "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown. My mom lent to to me and I intend to read all three books (I think that's all there are). So far, it's hard to put down and there are several historical references that have piqued my curiosity, but the most interesting one is that there were apparently ties between the Illuminati and the Free Masons.

The reason this is interesting to me is that, two years ago when I lived in Spokane, I worked at the Masonic Temple there in the non-profit Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders. Basically, it was a place that provided free speech and language therapy to children ages 2-7 who did not have accompanying disorders. For anyone who reads this blog, it's a good resource for people to know about because most cities have such a clinic, which is nice for people who can't afford upwards of $800 per month for private speech therapy.

To get back on track, though, I was always irritated when people would ask where I worked and I when I mentioned that I worked in the Masonic Temple, many of them said something like "Ohhhh... did you know they're a cult?". This always made me frown and wonder if there were shady dealings by the very nice elderly men who were the Masons, but I always dismissed any such notions. I know the book is fiction, but it mentiones in the foreword that many historical references mentioned in the book are factual. The book portrays the Free Masons as innocent - that the Illuminati infiltrated similar groups without the group members fully realizing what was happening. I'm not really sure if this is what happened, but so far when I google search "Illuminati + Freemasons", I get some pretty interesting websites that are pretty interesting, to put it mildly. It seems that, over the years, Illuminati was a name that was used for different reasons and that the actual group started to incorporate too many members that it was not "pure" in form like it was when the Illuminati was started. At any rate, I have more reading up to do in this area.

The other thing I found fascinating was that US currency says "In God We Trust", but also has Illuminati symbols and writing (Illuminati was a group that was for the advancement of science and were at odds with people of religion over the origin of man - that is the short explanation), such as the eye above the pyramid. The reason why such inconsistencies appear on our currency, supposedly, is because the phrase "Novus Ordo Seclorum" was translated incorrectly by a man to Theodore Roosevelt as meaning "New Deal". Coincidentally (or not), both men were Freemasons. (Play eerie music at this moment for effect).

Okay, okay - this book is fiction and it's purely for enterainment, but it makes me want to read up on more juicy tidbits that could be historically correct and significant. Honestly, I can see why people were so upset by the series when it first came out. I mean, if this book got people thinking and wondering .... then that leads to (gasp) the seeking of knowledge from other sources.... which could lead to (wince) people being enlightened about parts of world history that were not taught in our high school and college classes. All of this is what many people would hate to have happen because how can you indoctrinate people to all sorts of ideas/mindsets/cults/organized religions if they question what you teach them?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My First Project

This is my first project on my new sewing machine - they will be placemats. I almost finished a placemat, but I didn't get the binding done (the finishing outer edge) because I bought blue for the edge, which I realized would be too much blue. This weekend, I'll be going to the quilting store and getting some sort of white material for the binding.

You should have seen me - I was almost afraid to touch my macine. I gingerly opened the instruction book (which is about 136 pages), took a few glances, said "screw it", and tried it on my own. I hate reading manuals - I am more of a "hands on" learner. Several gray hairs, many many curse words, and one broken sewing machine needle later.... I finally figured out how to run my machine enough to do basic stitches. I now know how to change the needles, change the feet (I even have a walking foot!), load the bobbin, and thread it. I have to admit, it's a pretty nifty machine - I can't wait to learn to do more fancy things with it.

Time to stop sewing for the night - my eyes are crossed, my back hurts, and my hair is frazzled.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No Star for Joo!

At work, there are things I can put up with from my kiddos and then there are things I cannot ignore. I run a reward system in my class - those who follow my expectations get a "star" on their chart. When they get a certain number of stars, they can pick out of the prize box. For those few who either choose not to or cannot follow my rules, they do not get stars. Pretty simple system.

Behaviors that earn stars (as defined by my kiddos): being good, listening, keeping my feet still, 'specting friends (respecting friends), no arguing with speech (that's me). I always ask the kids what they think are good rules for the speech room and they usually give me a pretty detailed list. Some kids just say "being good". When I ask, "Well, what does that mean?", I usually get a blank look and a shrug in return. When that happens, that's when I help out with the rules. Occasionally, I get kiddos who are obnoxious to the point that I find myself creating special and very specific rules such as "Keep fingers out of nose" and "No licking hands and then putting hands on teacher". After the rules comes the discussion about how you can earn a star and what happens if I have to remind you. For older kids, I don't give them reminders, but for younger ones, I allow one or two.

As my years of work increase, there are some things I'm more lenient about. I don't always insist that a student sit in his or her chair. Some kids simply can't work when they're restricted and they usually don't have the luxury of moving around while doing their work in the regular classroom. I'm also okay if kids don't call me by my last name - some of the younger ones I let call me "Jen", which sometimes comes out as "Sen", "Den", or "En". Other things, I've gotten more hardass about - like nose picking, fingers in the mouth, spitting, burping, or passing gas. Any one of those behaviors from ANY student of mine, regardless of age, results in a "no star" for the day. Some people think that's really harsh, but when did the shift happen from teaching children manners to letting them do whatever they wanted without consequences? Isn't being a good communicator also not offending your communication partners? What a concept!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My New Machine

Well, here it is. This is what I've been saving up for (although I didn't have to save for long due to an unexpected cash flow)- the one thing that I got rid of when I was in Washington that I wish I hadn't sold - my sewing machine. I've been sewing since I was 10 - my grandma taught me and the first thing I made was a red set of flannel pajamas. Over the years, I've made some simple things like children's clothings and craft items, but also some more difficult things like my sister's concert dresses (which were semi-formal), and even a wedding gown. Last year, I decided to get into quilting and made my first quilt. The project I was in the middle of when I moved was a set of six placemats, which I will now be able to finish. More details and pictures to come as I get to know my new sewing machine.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Movie Review: 40 Year Old Virgin

I absolutely love The Daily Show crew. Steve Carell is no exception after this movie - even though I didn't see him much as a correspondent on The Daily Show. I was not expecting much from this flick, just a few laughs on a Friday night to go with my margarita buzz from the previous post. I have to say that Virgin was a bit more than I'd hoped for. On my grading system, I'd give it a "B". I've heard of actual 40 year-old virgins being upset by the movie, but I just kind of set that aside. Any group of people could be upset with any number of movies for their content if they don't have the ability to laugh at themselves and the world once in a while. Basic premise of the story is that Carell plays a character named Andy who works in a "Circuit City" type store and is 40 and is, of course, a 40 year-old virgin. All of his "friends" he works with are not and they routinely talk about their conquests and Andy tries to keep up, but his friends quickly find out he's full of shit. So the movie centers around his friends' efforts to "hook him up", even after he's found a lady who he wants to date, and offers commentary and jokes about the sexual aspect of relationships.

Some of my favorite lines included "She's a ho fo' sho" when he was covering for his friend who did speed-dating with him when he was confronted by said friend's pissed-off girlfriend. I just about fell over when he went to the bookstore to pick up the blond girl by asking her a string of questions that mimicked the questions she asked him - one of the last ones being "Do you like to 'do it yourself'?". One of the funniest parts was when he went to get his chest waxed and was cussing a blue streak - even the actress who played the waxer-girl could not keep a straight face.

There were a few moments that were not stellar - like when Andy accompanied his girlfriend's daughter to the Planned Parenthood Clinic to talk about birth control. That was a bit hokey. Also, at the end, the learning curve for good sex seems to have been accelerated which left me saying, "yeah, right". Overall, though, it was worth my time and provided much needed comic relief for a Friday night.

Estoy Aqui!

"I am here", roughly translated from the little Spanish I remember from my college days. Aqui's is the name of the place where I had drinks yesterday after work with my co-workers. I've been there a little over a month and they've gone out a few times and this is the first time I've been invited. Quite a turn-out too - there were about 13 of us. Aqui's makes a mean margarita. Now I'm not a dainty little girl - I can handle a lot, but one margarita just about knocked me over! Thank goodness for the quesadillas and guacamole. It's funny to watch a group of teachers get together. They don't even have to have one drink in them before they become the loudest table in the establishment. People were sharing personal stories and joking about various topics - everyone had a smile on their face. That is until the principal showed up. Someone invited the principal?!? It was interesting how things changed after that point. Two noticeable things happened - people started leaving and it got much quieter. I like my principal - she's a great person.... at work. I usually make it a habit not to fraternize outside of work with my supervisors (a lesson I learned from my days slinging hot dogs and pizza at Costco deli). Considering everything, it was still an enjoyable time and I was happy just to be included.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nintendogs - Part Two

This is the Daschund version of Nintendogs (which is my favorite). This is not the version I have, but the Daschund version comes with these breeds: Daschund, Retriever, Beagle, Pug, Shi-tzu, and Siberian Husky.

These dogs are like what I have now - a Shetland. My big boy is named Zeus and he's a very smart dog (compared to the Chihuahua) and much more even-tempered. I still have the some of the same troubles though, such as Zeus eating garbage on our evening strolls (even if I just fed him) and wanting to be fed and watered every waking minute. I have taught Zeus to "lie", "sit down", "paw" (which is "shake"), "go around" (which is "spin around"), and jump. You have to say the commands differently enough that the pooch can recognize they're different words. So, some dogs get confused if their owner tries to teach them "sit down" and "lie down". My favorite part of the game is when we go on walks and Zeus finds me gifts. The coolest ones we have gotten so far are the spiked collar, the oversized pair of sunglasses, and the Mario hat. I'm just beginning to make money off of the contest prizes from Zeus' performances. I'm saving up for another dog, which is going to be the Daschund. It didn't come with my game, but I received it from another player and I can't wait to see what he or she will be like. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

FPWLA (Pronounced "fip-wi-la")

This stands for "For People Who Love Acronyms". I have had nothing but meetings this week after my regularly scheduled day and I'm getting a bit tired of all the acronyms that are thrown around. Here are some acronyms that have been tossed around with their real meanings and also the meanings I made up in my head to amuse myself during these long meetings:

Real Meaning - Teacher Intervention Learning Team
My Meaning - Tender Ingrates Love Torture

Real Meaning - Student Success Team
My Meaning - Stupendous Shit Throwing

Real Meaning - Individualized Education Plan
My Meaning - Insipid Elephants wear Protection

Real Meaning - Free and Appropriate Public Education
My Meaning - Find All Prepubescent Eels

Real Meaning - Direct Instruction
My Meaning - Donkey Intercourse

Yes, I really do pay attention during meetings, but sometimes a little comic relief is JWIN (Just What I Need).

Monday, September 19, 2005

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

My Mom just went back home yesterday from her visit with me - it was great to see her. I didn't realize how much I missed her until I saw her at the airport. It's not like I see her any less now than when I lived in Seattle, since she lives in Spokane, but it feels different. It's the knowledge that I can't just hop in my car and drive for 4 hours and be back home.

I was pretty impressed with my Mom's ability to get around in a totally unfamiliar place - she had to fend for herself for two days last week while I worked. She has a good sense of directions and does not like to sit around the house. The first day she walked to downtown Sunnyvale and the second day she took the train to Mountainview. She even discovered some shops that I didn't know about that I will definitely be visiting in the near future.

While Mom visited, we were able to do girly stuff, like get pedicures. I have had three in my lifetime and I enjoy it each time. We also went to the Quilts and Textiles Museum in San Jose, which was a bit disappointing for me. There were about 40 or 50 quilts, but there were no exhibits on the history of quilting or modern-day quilting or anything like that. After that, we went to San Francisco and toured Chinatown, the highlight of which was discovering these curious little figurines that were quite pornographic in nature. I'll leave the rest to your imagination! The best thing we did together was just go get coffee and relax and talk - that's what I miss the most. Every girl needs her mom....

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Okay, usually I am the model penny-saver. I don't usually give in to "temptation shopping", instead I think to myself "how much is this purchase compared to a week's worth of groceries?". One night, H and I went to Circuit City and directed me to the Nintendo DS display where they had Nintendogs. I had seen it before, but I was lukewarm about it...until my fated trip to Circuit City. I picked up the stylus, started petting the little puppy on the screen, and that was it - I had to get myself a DS and Nintendogs!

Now I am the proud owner of a DS and the Chihuahua version of Nintendogs. My little puppy is a little female Chihuahua named Lola. She is a bit stubborn and, even though she knows tricks and commands, I can't get her to perform at talent shows (which is a good way to make money). I take her for walks every day and, when there is trash on the ground, she eats it every time! Her last meal was spaghetti and meatballs. Ack!! I am trying to train her for an agility dog show, but when I throw the disk for her to catch, she runs to get it and won't bring it back, even with my stern commands like "Lola, come!" or "Loooolllaaaa.... COME!". The coolest thing is that Lola recognizes my voice because I talk to her through the microphone. She is very excited every time I come in the door and she always wants food and water! Just like a real dog....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bad Influence

Well, it finally happened. I knew it would at some point, but it doesn't make the sting any less painful. My son is not allowed to be around his cousin (who is a year and a half younger) anymore because my aunt and uncle feel that K is "too advanced" for their son. I understand that people have different parenting styles - I've been very liberal with my son in what he has been exposed to. There is not too much he hasn't seen and I would not have it any other way. The way I see it is that if you shelter your child from too much, they will end up being exposed to certain things at some point. At least if it happens around their parents, it's in a controlled environment. Mind you, I'm not so radically liberal to say, "okay son, if you feel like drinking beer, at least do it here at home even though you're not old enough". I'm more conservative when it comes to drugs and alcohol, but I'm liberal when it comes to the media that K has been exposed to. At least that way, we can talk about issues instead of letting them stay hidden. I don't agree with over-exposing children when they are younger - I think that some things should be censored a bit more when they are quite young.

Part of the reason why I'm over-reacting to this situation is because I remember being the "bad seed". When I was in junior high, I had a friend who I'll call Mary. We became very close friends and would spend a weekend night either at my house or hers. What I didn't realize (because I wasn't raised to be very aware of other religions) is that Mary's family was very Catholic. One night when I was sleeping over, Mary's parents took us to go rent a video and they let me pick. Being raised in a very liberal household (with very little restrictions on media), I picked "Breakfast Club". Well, we got into about 10 minutes of the movie before Mary's parents faces turned beet red and the movie was turned off for the night. Not much was ever said to me about the incident, but I went over to Mary's less and less. Eventually, we were not even running in the same circle of friends at all.

I look back now and I kind of shake my head. Am I a bad or dishonorable person now because I was exposed to a lot of things when I was younger? I don't think so. I don't believe that K will turn into a bad person just from being exposed to the things he has, otherwise I would not have raised him in the manner that I have. The only difference between myself and K is that I have learned to hide parts of myself from others so that they only see what I want them to see. K hasn't learned that yet....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My Visit to the Zoo

My visit to San Diego was pretty good - it was my first time there and, of course, we visited the Zoo. Even though I'm not into turtle watching, I thought this guy was pretty interesting. He had a look on my face like "you've got to be kidding me". Can turtles have that look? What are the thoughts that turtles have? Are they ever bothered by how incredibly slow they move?

The pandas were kind of sleepy today, but they looked so cute. It's the first time I've seen a panda (except for on television). Something that is bothersome for me is that they shuffle these pandas around to different zoos. First, it's bad enough to be in a zoo as opposed to your natural habitat, but it would be worse to move around. I know I hate moving - all that packing and cleaning to do!

Okay, now to my favorite part of any zoo visit - the gorillas. This is not the best picture that I took, but I could sit and watch gorillas all day long. I love how playful they are and the expressions on their faces. On our visit, there were about four gorillas - all very active. They chased each other all over the place and some were even hiding along the side of the rocky cliff and would pop their heads up quickly to see if they'd been spotted.

We also visited Balboa Park - I won't bore you with those pictures because they are mostly of flowers. I've been attempting to improve on using my "macro" feature on my digital camera. I must say, though, Balboa Park is the nicest park I've ever been to. It has a ton of museums, flower gardens, a pond with water lilies (I love water lilies), and beautifully architectured buildings. It's also home of the largest organ I've ever seen. No, not the internal kind - the church kind.

Friday, September 09, 2005

No blogging for me this weekend

I'll be in beautiful San Diego this weekend - we will return to regular programming upon my return. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nope, I'm not numb yet

Sometimes when I'm at work, I think I might be going "numb", but recently I've found out that it's not happening yet. When it does happen, then it's definitely time for me to do something different, if I haven't already.

Things that really bother me:

"Johnny is just being lazy": Does a teacher realize what a stereotype this is, especially when she's talking about a kid who's not caucasian? Do they ever take into account what might be happening at home? I'm sorry, but Johnny is not automatically lazy because he doesn't live up to your expectations. Instead of labeling him, can you find a way to encourage him in school so he doesn't hate it by the time he's in third grade?

"I wasn't trained for this": This is just a fancy way of passing the buck. I've heard way too many teachers say this to me and it pisses me off to this day. I wasn't trained on how to not hurt after being hit, kicked, bit, spit on. I wasn't trained on how to comfort a child who's not getting his needs met at home. Being an educator means that you keep on learning new things - to provide for the children who are in your care for most of the waking hours of the day.

"How do I fix him?": Children are not cars - they don't need to be fixed. Children are people and each one comes with their "stuff" - like we all do. To ask about fixing someone implies that there is something defective. To imply that means you do not accept that person for who they are - good and bad.

Things that still tug at my heart:

Seeing a parent cry about their child's disability, hearing the anguish parents feel from all the guilt they heap upon themselves because their child has a disability, seeing a child smile at me when they finally "got it", overhearing a student tell one of their friends that "That's my speech teacher - she's the best!".

Monday, September 05, 2005

Go Speed Racer!

This is speed racer at the go-cart track in Redwood City. Pretty fun stuff - we did five laps on the track and it gave me a good idea of what K will be like when he has a car (which is luckily not for a few years). K is the kind of driver who likes to swerve aggressively and who does not know where the brake pedal is.

This odd statue was by the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I wasn't able to capture the image, but little children were having a great time going up to him and shaking his hand and taking long weeds and sticking them up his nose. Supposedly, he is supposed to be "jittery", which reminds me of myself when I don't have enough caffiene. However, the way his right hand is outstretched reminds me of a guy about to grab himself some boot-ay. I'm not sure which mental picture is better....

I had a great time with K this weekend - he is a fun kid to be around and it seems like he has grown taller each time I see him! K had a very good time visiting, as much as I can tell. He is not a very demonstrative kid, so it's hard for other people to tell if he really is enjoying himself or not. When he gets stressed out (which tends to happen around crowds), it takes a bit for him to decompress and actually relax enough to enjoy his surroundings. The way I can tell that he'll actually miss me is that K took a second glance over his shoulder as he boarded a plane back to Spokane.

/sad sigh

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Big City

The most entertaining part of our visit to San Francisco was watching "Bush Man". K felt compelled to take this picture to honor the man who provided us with endless entertainment over our fish and chips lunch at Joe's Crab Shack (where we had a very nice view of Bush Man's shenanigans). For anyone who is unfamiliar with his tactics, Bush Man sits quietly behind his makeshift shrub and scares unsuspecting passersby by rattling the bushes and growling a gutteral "BOOOOO!". At times, his efforts are foiled by tourists who stand beside him and gawk, thereby alerting others to his intentions. I am ashamed to say that he actually caught me off guard (even though I knew about him already) and he was rewarded with an "Oh shit!".
This is my favorite picture from our visit to Alcatraz. It reminds me of what one of the prisoners said on the audio tour - "you're there behind bars and outside, you see life happening". He talked about seeing a girl come into the office - the first girl he'd seen in over seven years. Apparently, the wardens and prison guards (and their families) had to live somewhere, so they lived on the island along with the prisoners. Of course, they had separate apartments, but still....

This is K outside the Metreon - he loved the Playstation store where you can preview and play upcoming games. This is an actual genuine smile from K after an admonishment from me to "Don't smile - don't you dare smile!".

All in all, a very good, but very exhausting trip to the big city.