Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Too Stressed to Breathe

Sorry folks,

Due to immense and brutal amounts of yearbook stress, deadlines that are already missed and rapidly approaching the "We can't print your book" stage, and general life nastiness, I do not have the time to give you all a proper blogging.

To get an idea of what's going on Chez Orris, tuck the wailing of 300 graduating high school students; the firm voice of a very nice principal who is just concerned; the voices of a dozen teachers who "don't see what the problem is" with submitting four team pictures each, three weeks AFTER publish date, without so much as a team title or member name attached, and a camera that isn't always up to par.

Add a liberal dose of parent teacher interviews (yes, I swear, the teachers hate them more than you do.) and oh yeah, some marking, and then mix liberally with a strong shot of real life.

Did I mention I want to run a 5 km race in a month and a half? Well, I can WALK it right now. I wish I had time. I wish I had about 4 months of total do-nothingness.
Instead...well...I have the best wife in the world, and a blogiverse to rant into.

Thank you for listening, somehow you made it better.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My very own forward

A few years ago, a "helpful" friend named Jim sent me the following fact: You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a spider. He thought perhaps it would help me get over my heebie jeebies about the eight legged nasty lil buggers. Please note, I do not scream, hide, or run. I prefer to let DW get rid of spiders, but am perfectly capable of doing it myself. I even held still while a tarantula walked over me, to prevent a 3 year old from becoming afraid of it. I simply don't like spiders.

After I wrote the response below, I emailed it not only to Jim, but to others. Please feel free to do the same if you find it funny. I don't even care if you don't add my name or website, so long as you do not take credit for it yourself. I rather enjoy the idea that I can make someone else giggle. AND, as a bonus, perhaps those people who keep forwarding ME "funny" things will get the hint when I casually drop that not only have I seen that forward, I wrote it. Hope springs eternal. Enjoy.

FACT: You are more likely to be killed by a Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.

Reasons Spiders are Scarier than Corks:

Even though champagne corks kills hundreds more people every year than poisonous spiders do, people are still more afraid of spiders. The following list covers some of the factors in the lack of cork awareness.

Stealth Factor: Spiders move silently and on their own. Corks make a loud pop noise and must be activated by a human.

Movement Pattern: Spiders will dodge and weave, moving in an unpredictable and therefore frighteningly random pattern. Champagne corks travel in a straight line unless deflected, at which time they follow the standard rules of physics regarding changes of vector and velocity.

Camoflague: Spiders come in many shapes, sizes and colours; champagne corks are standard in size and are only found next to champagne bottles, not next to anything at all.

The Russian Roulette Factor: People may be more careless around spiders because only some of them are poisonous. Thus, in overcompensation, it is safer to treat all spiders as deadly, even though most are not. The steady danger factor with champagne corks adds a sense of security because everyone knows both how to handle them and that all are potentially dangerous.

Legs: Spiders: too many. Champagne corks: none

Scary Movies: In this media driven age, few dangers are left unrepresented. Movies such as Arachnophobia have publicized the dangers of spiders and heightened public awareness. In contrast, the dangerous and lethal champagne cork receives much less press and thus stands in the shadows, waiting to catch the unsuspecting.

Close-ups: Spiders have fangs and drool and, if blown up to human size, would eat us. Champagne corks are dry and, if blown up to human size, would make excellent message boards. Furthermore, while a larger spider moves faster and is more dangerous, an extremely large champagne cork has much greater inertia and presents as much threat as a large boulder.

Free will: Champagne corks are aimed, spiders choose their victims. The idea of being targeted by something with free will makes people feel much more persecuted than being struck with something that was aimed. After all, one can understand and thwart and have revenge upon a human who aims a champagne cork, but a spider goes to its death satisfied, and no true revenge is possible.

I don't know which is worse...

I don't know which is worse, the fact that I'm a nerd, or the fact that I'm thrilled to have scored this high.

I am nerdier than 94% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Monday Morning Update

Good morning, bloggers and blog readers of the world!

It is officially March Break. That is a reason to be happy.

I have finally finished the Baby Blanket. THAT is a reason to be happy.

I also finished a tiny lil stuffed rabbit. THAT is a reason to be happy (and to recharge the camera batteries so that I can take pictures....tomorrow, I promise. He's adorable.)

A pack of blessings lights upon my back! (apologies to poor Will)

Aside from committing myself to speaking to you folks regularly, there are a couple of other things I want to do this week. First of all, I'd like to learn how to scare dust elephants. We have quite the herd rolling around the house, and I'm going to teach them to mosey along this week. My parents and siblings are coming for dinner Saturday night, so I have encouragement there. Perhaps I'll clean the rest of the house too.

Secondly, I'd like to redo the bathroom a little bit. I'm buying a new shower curtain today, but I may also pick up some edging, or paint, or something. DW says she'd rather not sink money into an apartment, but that if it makes me happy and she needs to do nothing, she won't object. Anyone got any ideas? The bathroom's about 6x6 (cramped and tiny), and currently painted glossy white, with a white toilet, white sink, and peachy tub. The countertop is white with browny swirls that I assume are intended to look like marble. I figure I can hide the tub with the curtain. I'm a little concerned about the gianormous crack running along the ceiling, around the non-functional fan, but there's very little I can do about that.

Third, I may...MAY...be learning to spin this week. A lovely lady with the Ottawa Valley Spinners and Weavers guild said she might have time to take on a student this week, and will be getting back to me. Hey, it's March, do you think it's time I broke in the new spinning wheel? Me too.

Fourth, I'd like to walk, at least a little, every day this week. Or do some other exercisey thing. Did I mention I signed up to run a 5km race? No? Hmmm...maybe that's because I was embarrassed to admit it. I started walking/training last week. Wednesday I walked 3.5 km in an hour. Thursday I walked 4km in a little over an hour. Friday I hurt. Saturday I vegged. Sunday I allowed myself to wallow in not-doing-anythingness. I'm thinking perhaps I ought to try skipping the hurting, vegging, and wallowing, and stick with the walking.

Fifth, I'd like to COOK this week. I love cooking, and I'm decent at it, but I never seem to have the time. This week is an excellent break to stock the fridge/freezer with goodies for the stressful "Let's go out for supper instead" nights.

Sixth, I'd like to prepare some RAOKs to send out next week. Not this week, when I have absolutely no cash (yes, I realize that redoing the bathroom costs money...shhhhh), but next week, when I can afford to do so.

Finally, I'd like to get all of my marking done. Yes, I know, it's a pipe dream. Especially since I'm counting assembling yearbook pages as part of marking. But, nonetheless, it's a goal.

You know what I love MOST about goals? Do you? Huh, huh, do you? They give you such a lovely, consistent, quantitative measurement of exactly HOW guilty you should be feeling about goofing off.

You know what I like most about guilt? Ignoring it until it goes away.

Slothfully yours,

Picture 5 - This is my favourite of the five. Why did I need to show you five? Because this was the first major project I've ever undertaken, and I'm five times proud of myself. Besides, I'm rather curious to see how the colours and textures look on my blog proper. Finally, because I have absolutely no idea how to make Hello and BloggerBot post into just one post on Blogger.

Picture 4 - This one shows the texture a smidgen better.

Picture 3...hardly a difference.

Picture 2

Picture one of five subtly different pics of the big bad BORING baby blanket.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Oh dear Lady, let it not be too short!

Whhhheeeee! Cara at earth mother invited me to be part of a webring of Ontario knitters. I feel all happy and warm now.

Well, here I am, 15 lbs lighter. At this point, I swore I'd treat myself to some pampering. Unfortunately, my idea of pampering isn't always fun for me. yes, I realize it's weird.

So.....today I went to get my hair cut. Now, for most women, this might indeed be a treat, but I've been fighting my hair...and my hairdressers....for as long as I can remember. You see, when i was about 10, my mother forced me to get a perm. I had straight hair. I liked straight hair. I wanted long gorgeous silky ankle length straight hair. My mom wanted a short perm. It would be "cute" and "easy to care for" while I was in the hospital for my then upcoming tonsillectomy.

It took a little too well. Does anyone out there remember the 80's poodle perm? Yup, that perm. AND the darling hairdresser sold my mom a "pick" for it, explaining that brushes and combs were passe. My new afro did not suit my milk and freckles skin, green eyes, and mouse brown hair. Not even a little.

It also did not grow out.

Never. My curls are much looser now, mostly because I grew my hair long enough that the weight pulls them out of their astro-boy angled wildness.

As it turns out, I also have the slowest growing hair known to man. Through high school, my hair was in the growing out "awkward" stage. In university, it was finally long enough to tie back.

Today, a very nice lady cut..trimmed...my hair for me. I lost a couple of inches, OK, a number of inches. It used to reach mid back and now it's shoulder length; but I know from past experience that I'll have no idea how much shorter my hair will seem until tomorrow after it's gotten wet. Sneaky lady blew it straight for me. I feel like Daisy Duke right now.

It's fun. I keep tossing my head to watch my hair float lightly around my face. I can run my fingers through it without snagging. AND, may all the gods bless her, the woman actually realized I meant the following:

I have to be able to tie it into a ponytail
I part it in the middle, with a brush, when wet, and never touch it again.
and, most importantly
I don't use "product".

As a side note, is anyone else creeped out by the fact that hairdressers say "product" instead of naming the goop?

Well, I'm off to go indulge in some girly style primping. Since this is a once every few years thing (being girly..for some reason, I never have time, money, or know-how), I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest.

I just pray that it's not too too short tomorrow.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Field Trip Fun

Sorry folks.

No I haven’t fallen off the end of the earth, it just seems that way.

I’m not entirely sure why, either. Possibly because I feel guilty bringing my boring life into print, so I try to wait for exciting bits. Recently, however, reading some other blogs on the RAOK ring, I’ve come to realize that the blogs I love most are the ones where everyday normal life IS the exciting bit. SO, I am endeavouring, for the next month, to blog on a daily basis. I make no promises as to quality, not even knitting content, but blog I shall.

So….what’s happened since last we spoke? OH! I rounded up all of my Grade 9 Drama students and took them to see Holy Body Tattoo at the National Arts Centre. We saw a show called “monumental”. Here is some needed background, for those of you just tuning in. The school at which I teach houses the poorest students in the city. More than half are first generation Canadians or brand new immigrants, generally from Africa and the Middle East. I absolutely adore the school, the staff, and generally everything about the place. We always seem to turn weaknesses into strengths, and this show was no exception.

For most of the students, this was their first time ever seeing live performance. For all but 3, it was their first time to the NAC (a very impressive edifice). For every single one, it was their first time seeing modern dance. Thus some…preparation…seemed necessary. First, I had to explain how very very impressive it was that we had this opportunity. I did this by introducing the idea of a field trip, and then asking my class if, in their estimation, they could behave up to the very high standards require…with some help, of course. They discussed the matter and decided two things. First, that getting out of school for a morning was DEFINITELY worth ten dollars, and that the few who couldn’t afford it might be able to borrow money and pay back slowly. (NB. The school actually covers a few of these kids regularly, but we never mention that in class. The funding is for the “very poor”, so most of our kids, who are merely “poor” don’t qualify.)

Second, that they would indeed like to learn theatre manners, and that the few who didn’t really want to learn would acquiesce if only to get out of school. Fair enough.

So we looked at dance. We looked at communicating without words. We figured out ways that we could communicate using multimedia to add to dance (a projector and a CD player). Then we practiced our “boredom busters”. For those of you not teachers, if you place 20+ young teens into a theatre, out of school, they will talk. Then they will pass notes. Furthermore, they will attempt to do so in a manner that is so pathetically sneaky that it is completely impossible to ignore. I explained this to my class. They disagreed. I pointed out much evidence to support my theory. They finally admitted that I was correct. Then I introduced the boredom busters.

A boredom buster is a mental game that can be played without moving or changing one’s expression. They each came up with several of these, and we practiced them.

The day came. We took the city bus to the theatre. Halfway there, I thought I was going to have a difficulty. One of my less well-behaved boys stood up, followed by his buddy, and both moved towards the front door. As the bus came to a stop, I judged whether I could run along the bus corridor and grab the boys before they took off. I took one step, and then a second, and then stopped sheepishly as my two boys helped a mother carry a stroller onto the bus and stood so that she’d have seating.

Into the theatre we trotted, with nary a second to lose, as the city bus had been late. The NAC had been very kind to us, and given us discounted tickets…but in the highest balcony. On my way up the stairs, I heard the first of my students turn the final corner, look at the theatre and gasp “Miss got us into the penthouse! WOW! Look!” I love these kids.

During the performance, my students were silent. Not “I’m in terror” silent. These kids were entranced. We’d already discussed the fact that dance communicates to your emotions, so figuring it out involves paying attention to how you feel, not what you think.
At no point did any student so much as wriggle, not once during over an hour of very high level modern dance did I have to quell a whisper, or glare. Whoops, I lied. At one point, a student leaned over to me and asked, of the Grade 12 audience below “Don’t they know that when they talk like that, they’re interfering with the communication?”

The bus ride home required us to walk through a shopping mall, at 11:30 am, past the food court, to catch a bus that the kids are familiar with. I didn’t lose one kid. I was so impressed, that I gave them a little leeway. Since we had our class right after lunch, and the bus ride was cutting into their lunch period, I’d give them a ten minute window after the bell, so that they had time to get food and eat. Furthermore, they could, one time only, eat in class as we discussed the show.

When the ball rang, every single kid was at the classroom door, waiting. Moreover, the class discussion was not only interesting, it was insightful. At one point during the show, three pairs are dancing together. One member in each pair falls to the ground, and what follows looks disturbingly like a sexual assault. The first pair has a male crouching over a female who is trying to escape. The second pair is two women in the same position. The last pair has the female on top. One young man’s comment: “When I saw the guy on top of the girl, I wanted to protect her. When I saw the two girls, I wanted to watch, and when I saw the girl on top, I wanted to laugh. Miss, do you think that the dancers were trying to point out how we treat bad things differently depending on who’s involved?”

Altogether a rewarding event.

Tune in tomorrow, when I continue to catch you up on the joy of being me.

PS. That baby blanket? Still not finished. 28 rows left.