Sunday, March 29, 2015

Home stretch



Lately I've been reading The Sunday New York Times almost a week late - sometimes even the following Sunday morning. I very much enjoy it when I do. Even though the headlines may be old news, the quality of the reporting can't be found elsewhere. But with Slice of Life going on, my morning routine has altered.

During the week, I'll post something I wrote the night the before or at least have an inkling of what I'll compose before I have to get ready for school. Perhaps the ticking clock compels creativity. Weekend mornings are another matter. Without school you'd think writing a post would be easier, but that's not the case. What happens in school frequently serves as topics for posts. I also try to jam as much as I can in a weekend as if the twenty-four hours in a day were really forty-eight. For some that would involve loads of sporting events or parties. For me, planning, grading, and if I'm lucky, a really good book instead.

On the agenda for today are some writing to respond to, two letters to compose, student slices to read, and at least one email to send. Oh, and laundry, grocery shopping, and some phone calls. Though the house is fuzzy, it can wait until Wednesday when Spring Break finally begins. As for a good book, I'm reading All The Light We Cannot See. Hopefully, there'll be more of that today. My goddaughter spent the night, so I'm off to make a hearty breakfast before church.

Next Sunday I'll read The Times while its news is still new. At least that's the plan.



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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Another kind of Friday Night Fun



Last Friday night you may recall my friends and I discovered Bitmoji. This week featured a different kind of Friday fun - face to face interaction. The girls that I mentor and my goddaughter were over for a night of pizza, debate over Team Gale or Team Peeta, and catching up.

Dinner conversation featured the strange behavior of substitute teachers, the sometimes stranger behavior of their real teachers, the complications baby teeth can wreck with braces, and of course, the virtues of Hawaiian pizza. After we finished watching the video, we dissected the behavior of its characters and lamented that the final installment wouldn't come out until November.

Coincidentally, as the movie began I received a robo-call from the school district, warning parents about an app called Flinch that allows users to video-chat with people from around the world but that may also hijack some of their personal information. There was no danger of that happening while we were spending time together.

However, I read recently that people who spent more time texting actually feel lonelier than people who actually talk to their friends. To hep stave this off as well as to help tweens and teens develop better social skills, Skypre classroom is partnering with O, The Oprah magazine to launch the Just Say Hello Project. It's worth looking into.


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Friday, March 27, 2015

Guiltless Pleasure

We have parent conferences this week. Arranged these into half-hour long blocks, students in our mentor groups co-conduct these talks. Though some students would rather not be a part of this, generally they are a very pleasant chance to discuss strengths and weaknesses. A benefit of our schedule is that it allows for drop-in parents too. 

One stopped by to ask for more editing help for his son. A former student, now parent, stopped by to reminisce. Another wanted to thank me for all of the help with her daughter's writing. And yet another dropped this off.


She said that when she saw it, she immediately thought of me. When we met earlier in the year, we ended our meeting by swapping the names of books to read. While I think the nutrients ascribed to books are clever, I'm even happier that no calories are tabulated for books.


But all of this love comes at a cost as our conferences continued into the  evening. Might have to drink some Tolstoy full of coffee to get through Friday. Happy weekend!


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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Care to play along?


" The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and yet within our reach is joy. Take joy." - Fra Giovanni

Here's another snippet I found in my writer's notebook:

"The air always feels cleaner after a storm," Sadie mused.The rhythm of her rocking chair joined the chorus of crickets. "I feel lighter too, like after we finished paying off the combine. Jake and I danced on this very porch to celebrate. 'Course that's a lifetime ago. Him gone now over seven years, and the fields waiting for a developer to snatch'em up. Nothing to be done about it.

"Tonight, though, I just want to remember the feel of his check against mine, Glenn Miller on the radio, and joy."

*****************

I can't recall the impetus for this. Feel free in the comments to speculate on this character, her unseen listener, and this world view.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Serendipty



I was rummaging around last night, hunting for some notes from a class I'd taken many, many years ago. While I didn't find what I was looking for, I did stumble across two things. One, a sketch of a long dead but much loved dog that I'd mislaid several years back. The other, a draft of a poem in a writer's notebook about birthday meals.

Here's the poem:

Rare

Bobby had pastrami,
John hot dogs,
Deborah chicken.
Make mine
Roast beef.

Once a year
each chose
his signature meal,
never varying.

No restaurant meal
or elaborate cake.
A break from the
instant dinners of the week
marked the occasion as
special enough
- that and some Duncan Hines.

We didn't want or
need
more than that.

How times have changed.




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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

You've Got a Voice for Radio


Yesterday, I heard a segment on All Things Considered about a company that promises to analyze a voice recording and make predictions about its owner's suitability as an employee. The CEO of Jobaline, Luis Salazar, believes that computer algorithms can detect our unique vocal "fingerprint", including our overall energy level as well as perceived trustworthiness.

This technology has screened thousands of potential employees for hourly wages for everything from janitorial work to cancer center helplines. At the end of the segment, the reporter, Aarti Shahani, asks for volunteers to submit their voices to NPR to be screened for a follow-up report. (The link above tells you how.) I sent one in to see what Jobaline's computer would say about me and my suitability to be a teacher. There's no guarantee the producers will pick me, but I thought I'd give it a whirl.

The worst that could happen, given the current state of my sinuses, is that I come back suited to sell Mucinex.

Stay tuned.


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Monday, March 23, 2015

Squirrely



My husband, attempting to do a bit of work, asked, "Where are all of my pens?"

I had a few of his  as well as many of my own. There are probably a dozen or so in my bookbag, and I just bought a few more the other day for filling in parent conference forms. When I was a kid, beyond notebooks, my parents gave little thought to school supplies. Everyone, including them, was always scrounging around for something to write with. The solution was obvious, yet they never took it for reasons passing understanding. We all have our idiosyncrasies.

I'm just as irrational about milk. We have to have it in the house and not just in the face of an impending snow storm. There's a gallon of it in the fridge right now for just the two of us. I don't drink a lot of it nor does my husband, but I like knowing that it is there. Its presence means I'm ready for nuclear holocaust - well, that and the ready supply of toilet paper and paper towels I have squirreled away.

Maybe Costco exists for people like me.


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