Friday, May 4, 2012

School's Out for Summer!

It's been awhile, hasn't it. There's been quite a lot going on.

  • Finished all of my school stuff for this semester yesterday.
  • I'm placed, with 99% certainty, for student teaching next spring. 
  • While I haven't been doing much on the photography front, due to my good camera being broken, I have finally learned to knit. My long experience with crochet and other fiber arts has made it so that I was extremely confident and fearless, so I've already made my first socks and my first lace. Before work today I'm going to get the needles I need to start my first garment. 

  • I'm also working on designing a pattern for a crocheted shawl, or maybe two. We'll see. I've got an idea floating around in my head that I've started working out. 
  • We've also got a possible very large life change approaching. I'm not going into details until we know for sure, but I'm super super excited.
  • I still hate my boss, and we're trying to get the budget to where I can quit when school starts again in the fall, but we'll see. Some of it's going to depend on the aforementioned life changes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Backyard Birding

More for my own records than as a real blog, but it might be interesting to others.

We've got several feeders in the backyard, and the birds are already out in force, including some that I hadn't seen before.

There's a pair of cardinals, though I see her actually at the feeders far more than him.

We've also got two woodpeckers. There's the red-headed woodpecker that we had last year, but this year there is also a downy woodpecker, which I had never seen before. 

There's also mourning doves, and I saw the first robin today. The ever present group of titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches.  This year we've got the attention of a small flock of song sparrows  and what I'm fairly certain was a female goldfinch. 

I suspect that given time to just go out and relax and explore, I could get into this whole birdwatching thing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

School Projects

Yesterday, the 9th of February, I saw blooming snowdrops. In Muncie. This weather is well and truly confused. 

It's been awhile since I could truly say that I was excited for a semester of school, but I think this one has the potential to be an awesome one. I'm not sure if I talked about it here or not, but I had the math teacher from hell last semester. One of those situations where a teacher doesn't realize that half (or more) of your class failing means it's you and not them.

Anyhow, I went into this semester knowing that I had two Profs that I like- on the head of my department for English the other a guy I would happily call the best teacher I've ever had. As it turns out, I like the other two as well although I really don't like the lab director for my geology class. I'm loving the geology class- I find it fascinating to study how the world works; everything is so much more amazing when you know the what and the why. Art history is rather boring, but it's not nearly the workload everyone had made it sound like.

My other two classes are both education major specific. One of them is my practicum course for the ESL portion. I'm working with two little boys this semester. J is a native Spanish speaker and is in 1st grade and M is a native Arabic speaker who is in 2nd grade. Both of them can speak very well, especially when it comes to socializing with their peers. M can't read at all, and J doesn't do well. I'm going to be evaluating J tomorrow morning to see exactly where he's at. M is getting some pretty intense phonics help from someone else- my goal is to help him with math word problems. That's going to be an interesting challenge. I've got some ideas and we'll have to see how they go.

The other part of that class is a class wide professional development project. Our plan is to make a survival guide website and document for general education teachers who have ESL students in their classroom. If it's not your area of concentration there's a very good chance no one has ever told you how to deal with the special issues these kids have when it comes to school. We hope to set up a workshop, or at least visit some classes, to present it once it's done.

My final class is my night class and it's diversity in education. Thankfully, unlike most diversity classes this one is not just focusing on race and income. It's covering everything from sexual orientation, to language, religion, and physical disabilities. We're currently in groups working on an iMovie looking at a certain problem in a chosen area and ways for teachers to help deal with it. I got a group together for language, specifically in regards to testing. 10% of kids in Indiana speak a language other than English at home. That's a low number; the national average is 22%. ISTEP, Indiana's standardized test, is only offered in English. 10% of kids at an immediate disadvantage, when their graduation, their teachers' salaries, and their schools' very existence depends on those scores. It's a huge problem.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year

I've never really been big on New Year's resolutions- seems like far too often they are forgotten about by the end of February and besides, if you want to make a positive change in your life why wait for some arbitrary date to start?

That said, I do have a couple of artsy goals for this year.

1. One of the guys over at deviantArt talked me into doing a 365 photography project. My gallery for that is here and you all should totally do one too.

2. I am going to learn to knit. I was supposed to do that the last quarter of last year, and a big project that was more important came up. (More on that when it's finished).

3. I am going to get my fiber stash completely organized and photographed and uploaded on Ravelry so I know what I've got. And I am going to get rid of stuff I know I'll never use. This goes with my general goal of cleaning out our closets and fighting our packrat tendencies (one down, five to go).

4. I am going to find and finish and/or frog all of my random WIP pieces that are laying around in all sorts of odd locations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Singing the song of angry men

(yeah, it’s another one of those current events/political ones)

I don’t hide the fact that I’m an atheist. I can be quite militant about it, though I try to keep that in check, as I know plenty of perfectly lovely religious people who are not, in fact, stupid and bigoted. I’ve never seen the point in not being open about it; quite frankly my opinion tends along the lines that those that have a problem with it are just proving my point about the harm done by religion.  What I’m not always so open about is politics. Oh, sure, a five-minute conversation will tell you that I’m pretty liberal, but I tend to hesitate with actual labels. Largely because the actual label tends to cause some pretty negative kneejerk reactions. I am, at heart, a communist.

Yeah, that tends to get people’s attention, and not often the sort of attention you want.

However, I am also a misanthrope. The misanthropy makes me believe that human nature is not yet, perhaps not ever, at a place where communism can work on a large scale. There’s just too much greed and selfishness in humans, and there’s no telling if it’s innate or learned behavior. Both, I suspect. Regardless, while we can find small indigenous populations that do seem to have their communist utopia, it’s yet to work on any sort of large scale. I would argue that is, at least in part, due to the fact we’ve yet to see it evolve naturally. The communism of the Soviet Union was forced. It was a forced revolution by idealists (or they at least started that way) who didn’t think about the consequences of bringing that system to a group of people who weren’t ready for it yet.

But now…

Clearly, the capitalist system we are currently under isn’t working. The rich are getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer and more numerous. And people are starting not only to notice, but also to protest. I look at the Occupy Movements around the country and I have to wonder if we’re not seeing what could be the start of the closest thing to a Communist Revolution as Marx saw it as is possible in a post industrial society. I don’t think it’s going to go all the way to full on communism, and I’m not sure I would want it to (see above and the human nature stuff) but I do think—hope—that we might see an end to the unregulated capitalism. An end to a system where it is legal and ok for companies to lay off employees for economic reasons or to take government handouts but still give their executives huge bonuses. And end to a system where corporate welfare is good, but helping out people is bad because people are just lazy when they need help. 

Then again, it might peter out and die long before then. But I hope not. Things are going to be worse.  With luck and perseverance it’s just getting worse on the way to getting better.  We are already witnessing brutal police attacks on unarmed protestors. So far, no one has died.  I question how much longer we’re going to be able to say that. When it happens (because I do think it is a when, rather than an if) all hell is going to break loose. It’s a terrifying thought to entertain, what might happen from this.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Musings

I have always considered nature to be a balm for the soul. I suppose that's why I took advantage of my first day off from both school and work in over a month to go out to a local nature preserve. I've seen almost no one else here and on some level I think that's a good thing. Te average person has become completely disconnected from nature, even when they're in someplace like this. They're racing through, talking, yelling even, just wanting to get it over with so that they can say they've done it and move on.

They're too loud to notice the rustling of the snake or the chipmunk in the leaves by their feet. They're moving too quickly to notice the row of mushrooms the size of small boulders.

And they've no time to stop and watch the squirrel eating a nut. They don't know enough to be able to tell at a glance which part of the leaf strewn ground is a part of the trail. No time is taken to just sit and listen to the sound of the wind in the trees and to really just be a part of where you're at.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Work, School, and Goals

I must say that I am happier with work now. I no longer have to describe myself as a cashier, but rather as an assistant manager. It helps reconcile the age and level of education with the position.

School is keeping me more than a little busy. My children's lit class (which I do enjoy, but still) has an immense amount of work, and I've got two practicums on top of that. Which means I have to do that whole dressing like a teacher thing almost every day. This is difficult because I don't have a lot of teacher appropriate clothes right now and am not eager to rush out and buy more because....

22.6 lbs down. It's not going as fast as I would like, though hopefully that will make it more sustainable, but it's still progress. And hey, I'm even sharing the real numbers.

I have lost 3 inches of my waist, 3 1/2 off my bust, 4 off each thigh, and have gone from a 38HH to a 36H. My weight goal involves losing 40 more pounds, but more important is keeping it off.