Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grown Up Survey

(Got this one from Amy Ells.)

The "Grown Up" Survey
(Meant to be completed by those out of high school)

Tired of all of those surveys made up by high school kids?
'Have you ever kissed someone?'
'Missed someone?'
'Told someone you loved them?'
'Drank alcohol?'
Here are 50 questions for the people who are a little more "mature"...

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
The car lease

2. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
Boston Pizza

3. Last time you puked from drinking?
Never happened

5. Name of your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Ecker

6. What do you really want to be doing right now?

7. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Several things came up, but after each fad had passed I went back to wanting to be a teacher.

8. How many colleges did you attend?
One college and one university...oh, plus a 3 week course at Jerusalem University College in Israel

9. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
It matches the brown pants I'm wearing, which I chose 'cuz my non-faded jeans are dirty and I didn't want to wear faded jeans to today's conference.

10. Gas prices?
Filled up yesterday at 102.5 :P

12. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
No thought...just an unconscious hitting of the snooze button

13. Last thought before going to sleep last night?
Likely something to do with upcoming due dates and get-togethers

14. Favorite style of underwear?
Anything I don't notice I have on...I've worn comfortable and uncomfortable pairs of just about every style.

15. Favorite style of underwear for the opposite sex?
Silk boxers.

16. What errand/chore do you despise?
Anything smelly (litter box, moldy food disposal/dish cleaning, garbage/green bin, and anything involving bleach, which my nose is quite sensitive to) and vacuuming

17. If you didn't have to work, would you volunteer?
Yes...and then I'd probably put so much of myself in that that I'd still be exhausted.

18. Get up early or sleep in?
Sleep in, though it does make me feel like I've wasted productive time.

19. What is your favorite cartoon character?

20. Favorite NON sexual thing to do at night with a girl/guy?
Cuddle and have a conversation, maybe watching TV and drinking Martin's awesome hot chocolate...or play World of Warcraft on our his-and-hers computers as we do a quest together.

21. Have you found real love yet
I've been married 6 years, I guess I'd better say yes ;)

22. When did you first start feeling old?
When I was a substitute teacher in my church's toddlers room and realized that all of them had been born since I'd started attending that church...I think I was 20 at the time

23. Favorite 80's movie?

24. Your favorite lunch meat?

25. What do you get every time you go into Sam's Club? Or Walmart?
A Cadbury Thins chocolate bar (mint chip, if they have it)

26. Beach or lake?

27. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

28. How many people do you stalk on Facebook?
I like Amy's answer: "define stalk..." I think if my friends change something about their profile, they *want* other people to notice...

29. Favorite guilty pleasure?
Anything involving chocolate.

30. Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
Nothing comes to step aerobics DVD? My favourite movies are all pretty innocent :P.

31. What's your drink?
I assume this is the usual alcohol question...I had a really good strawberry-kiwi Zinfandel at a family gathering one year. Generally some variety of sweet wine, a cooler or something fruity like a hard cider. I don't drink all that often, however.

32. Cowboys or Indians?
I don't get this question. I appreciate the culture of the Native Peoples much more than that of the cowboys...

33. Cops or Robbers?

34. Who from high school would you like to run into?
*Shrug* I'm open to running into just about anyone from there. Might be nice to see Mr. Carper again.

35. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
Probably 680 News for a traffic report...I generally have on a CD or my iPod.

36. Norm or Cliff?

37. The Cosby Show or the Simpsons?
The Cosby Show

39. Do you like the person who sits directly across from you at work?
I guess this would be the person whose desk is across from my practicum host teacher's...sure, I get along with him

40. If you could get away with it, who would you kill?
No one, really. There have been times this year when I've thought the stress was enough that I wouldn't have minded if someone decided to end my life, but not really.

41. What famous person(s) would you like to have dinner with?
How about a famous chef just *make* me dinner :)...I can't think of anyone I'd like to have dinner with that I can actually see a conversation going well with. I'm trying to think of someone famous who comes across as very "normal," but I'm drawing a blank.

42. What famous person would you like to sleep with?
I can think of people who are attractive, but no one I'd want to sleep with.

43. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose?
No, but I have had to put an end to fires through various other means (only one in our house that I can think of--a stovetop grease fire that was Martin's fault and that I quickly put baking soda on before he could put the water on it that he was going to)

44. Last book you read for real?
The last non-textbook book that I finished was The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (book 2 in the Wheel of Time series).

45. Do you have a teddy bear?
Yes, but the only one that sleeps with me is Martin.

46. Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?
The kitchen and living room? Nothing exciting :P.

47. Somewhere in California you've never been and would like to go?
Never been to the state...something involving the coast, palm trees, Los Angeles, visiting some friends who moved there, and a side trip to Disney. California is not on my list of travel priorities, but who knows.

48. Do you go to church?
Yes, pretty much every week, though I have to miss most of the service between a third and a half of the year due to teaching Sunday school

49. At this point in your life would you rather start a new career or a new relationship?
Career...since I am just finishing school and should be just starting my first career soon!

50. Just how OLD are you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Almost there...

So here's what's happening in my program for the next little while:
- Tomorrow I have class, though it'll be more like a work period once Wayne and I and some other people do our presentations and only the intermediate-senior teacher candidates will be there (since the junior-intermediate people will be on a field trip).
- Thursday I have a mandatory conference to attend (but it's at York, which is nice; no having to commute to a hotel or other campus this time).
- Friday I am on practicum...and I remain on practicum until Friday, May 18.
- Monday, May 21 is Victoria Day (though it is also the due date to electronically submit one of our assignments).
- Tuesday, May 22 the people in my program have a field trip to mulch and measure trees (and maybe plant some, too; there seems to be confusion on this point).
- Wednesday, May 23 we have a "portfolio fair" where we present our professional growth portfolios to our course directors and some visitors for evaluation. This is the last official day of our program, and indeed of the MST program in general (since York is scrapping it, at least for now)...
- the afternoon and evening of Thursday, May 24, most of us MSTers are going to get together and PARTY.

We're almost there. We still have lots of assignments and planning and marking and job applications and such to worry about, but the end is in sight. Since today was our last formal class together, lots of pictures were taken, a potluck was held (complete with entertainment from some of our classmates and dances and dance lessons of several cultures), presents were given to our course directors, and the atmosphere was fairly jolly. Everyone is already talking about how sad we will all be to leave each other; some real bonding has happened in our group, and we've already mentioned now and then that at least some of us actually miss being with the group when the weekends and practicum blocks come (must be those of us who sat in the blue groups during orientation ;)). Hopefully, though, we are moving on to bigger and better things. Hopefully we will all find ourselves at schools where the staff get along just as well as we've gotten along in MST. If not, well...let's keep in touch, MSTers. Prep and marking and such may keep us busy in our first year, but there's always time for Facebook.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MST's poetry slam

So...this is one of those entries where I more or less recall an event that happened, more as a reference for myself than for the entertainment of others, really. There is a little poetry scattered throughout, though, so feel free to skip around, check out the links, etc. if you like that kind of stuff.

Yesterday the intermediate/senior teacher candidates in my program had a guest speaker come in to talk about poetry in math/science/technology education. Being a big fan of poetry myself, I enjoyed the session and found it relaxing, but I do feel somewhat inclined to agree with others who wondered why that session was part of our program (which we paid good tuition money for), especially as I don't think the speaker really did connect the poetry well with the math/science/technology. Putting that aside, however, I always enjoy the opportunity to revel in the poetic for a bit; I don't usually think of using the little free time I have to do so, and given the workload my program is currently under (Atlas has nothing on us), it was refreshing to be pretty much forced to take this curricular time out from more pressing concerns and enjoy the flow of words for a bit.

Our speaker first read three poems to us. One of them has become one of my favourites..."Did I Miss Anything" by Canadian poet Tom Wayman. (The others were an excerpt from Dr. Seuss' On Beyond Zebra as well as Love After Love by Derek Walcott.)

Our speaker took us through a number of exercises. In the first, we were asked to think individually of 3 things we would take on a trip, and then each table was to come up with a consensus on 2 items we would take as a table. My table ended up taking underwear and music, despite one member's insistence that it would be more fun without the former. A reading followed of The Choice by Wayland Young, which describes a very peculiar trip taken by one particular man. We were then asked to decide as a table what one thing we would take if we had gone on that trip. Apparently music is very important to the people who were at my table, as we finally decided that's what we would take, claiming that it would get us through anything.

Another exercise was the "I am from..." poem, where we were given a series of prompt questions to be answered in the poem (which he tried to modify from its usual structure to apply more to us MST folks). I am not sure what I think of this exercise, at least in its MST naturally more or less end up with a list, which I didn't find very poetic, although you are supposed to rework it until it sounds poetic (which I felt I was unable to do). Here is what I ended up with (that one mathematical bit isn't supposed to look as big as it does, but this is the only way the bit with the smallest font appears legibly):
I am from E=mc2.
Are we ready to carry on?
I am from my emergent model of education.
I am from Mrs. Gorrie, grades 2 and 3.
I am from Tim Horton's.
I am from
...and the conservation of energy.

By the way, I double-dog-dare y'all to find the limit given in that poem, if it exists. It's question 36 in Varberg, Purcell and Rigdon (8th ed.) section 2.8, but VPR only gives the solutions to odd-numbered questions and even the solutions manual won't help you :P.

We were also asked to create a lie poem--something along the lines of, "I will not die, but I will turn into a rocketship and..." The speaker mentioned that some lie poems end up being very personal, that people sometimes cry when they read them aloud, etc. Yeah, lemme just say that though my eyes are good and dry, and I think it makes me angry rather than sad, there is no way I am sharing my lie poem here; as much as I would love to show it off ('cuz it's not half bad), no one who might actually understand it is allowed to read it. Some poetry is meant solely for the poet.

Our final exercise was to create something I have never tried before: found poetry. Each table was given a place to look for words and phrases we wanted to use and turn them into a poem. My table was to look for words and phrases on signs and bulletin boards around the building. We didn't use nearly all of the fragments we gathered, but after considerable editing we ended up with something like this, to the best of my awful memory:
Slackers wanted for joint program!
Limited engagement avec your belle-soeurs!
Remember to cover breathing passages;
There is no in and out exit.
Last time this year!
Actually, I am certain that I am missing at least one line, as I know we had the word "ethoi" in there, too. (Seriously, we found "ethoi" on a bulletin board posting...I think it had to do with the subject of a conference or speaker session. On a completely unrelated note, I just found out now that 1. "ethoi" probably is not the correct way of pluralizing ethos, and 2. "ethos" means something completely different than what I thought it did when we wrote our poem.)

That's all the poetry we did in class, though we did watch a film about the use of "notebook letters" throughout a school year by a teacher in Japan that was kinda neat (and a tear-jerker, at that). Hmm, actually, I think he might have read something to us as a closing as well, but I don't remember.

This is where the poetry ended for some of the people in my program, but I couldn't let it go at that. In the class that we were to have after lunch, each person was supposed to do a very short presentation (in whatever format we wanted--we were asked to be creative) about the model of education each of us has put together in our individual minds and think we will carry into the classes we will teach in September. I had thrown together a pretty boring Maslow's-hierarchy-type pyramid drawing, but I completely abandoned that and wrote the poem below to present instead. I was not the only person to present a poem, but of course my own poem means the most to me of all the poems that were presented :). With this I will close.
i come to your class
trembling a little
for i don't yet know what kind of class this will be.
which teacher will you be to me?
maybe you will be [name removed],
who taught me who knows what
but was always glad to see me.
maybe you will be [name removed]
who wished i were not in the line of sight
between himself
and those who knew the chain rule before the first day of class.

i come to your class
wondering what kind of ground i will tread
will you set for me a level path?
will you make sure i can crawl before you ask me to walk?
or will you beckon me from the sky to fly to you?

i come to your class
wondering what kind of face i will see
will you see the intelligence in my eyes?
will you see the green things growing through
the concepts you have presented to me
with your many words?
will your face match mine,
though we may stand in contrast
to the untrained eye?

i come to your class
i see that you love all the ideas the government wants you to teach me
and that you want me to love them, too
will you and i get there?
will you take the time to work through
all the filters between me and thee?

i am sure there is a safari of science
to explore, adventure through
and wrestle with
beyond these doors,
but i need you first to help me up the stairs
and turn the key in the door

i come to your class
a wick
and a small clay pot of oil
will you be the one to light the spark?
or will you carelessly knock me over
and ruin the lamp forever?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Easter Monday = spanking day?

I kid you not, this comes directly from Wikipedia (see the "Central Europe" section of the Easter article -

In the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, males throw water at females and spank them with a special handmade whip called pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak). The pomlázka/korbáč consists of eight, twelve or even twenty-four withies (willow rods), is usually from half a metre to two metres long and decorated with coloured ribbons at the end. It must be mentioned that spanking normally is not painfull or intended to cause suffering. A legend says that females should be spanked in order to keep their health and beauty during whole next year. An additional purpose can be for males to exhibit their attraction to females; unvisited females can even feel offended. Traditionally, the spanked female gives a coloured egg and sometimes a small amount of money to the male as a sign of her thanks. In some regions the females can get revenge in the afternoon or the following day when they can pour a bucket of cold water on any male. The habit slightly varies across Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A similar tradition existed in Poland (where it is called Dyngus Day), but it is now little more than an all-day water fight.

In Hungary (where it is called Ducking Monday), perfume or perfumed water is often sprinkled in exchange for an Easter egg.

I wonder how accurate this is? I always get worried when a source contains spelling and grammatical errors (what exactly is "painfull"?). In any case, I am glad that Easter Monday is not "an all-day water fight" here...that would be mighty cold.

Easter weekend

(Warning: spiritual post ahead. You are free to stop reading now if that is going to be a problem.)

Here we are, at the Easter long weekend again. I remember once telling a friend that there are a number of times in the year when I make new resolutions and decide to change for the better...the start of a new school year, New Year's Day (which is just Jan. 1 for me, though if I were of one of several cultures that officially recognize a different day as the start of the new year I'm sure I'd make resolutions then, too), my birthday, anytime a new semester/term starts, when the sun starts to come out again after a long grey winter and my energy levels start to pick up again...and Easter. I remember her response was something like, "Easter? Come on. Now you're going too far." *Shrug*...hey, for me, it's true. Easter is when Christians remember Christ's atoning death on our behalf and His subsequent resurrection. When you believe that someone experienced a very brutal and painful execution (let alone the beatings, scourging and ridicule that were part of the package) on your behalf to provide you with a gift that you believe you are completely unworthy of, and when that someone is someone you have grown to love, taking time out of your life to think on that is a humbling experience. I know the joke is that nominal Christians are C&E Christians, showing up at church only at Christmas and Easter...the two happy Christian holidays. I remember my theology professor suggesting that even a lot of Good Friday services aren't left focusing solely on Good Friday, but rush ahead to celebrate Easter, which in his view was because a lot of Christians are uncomfortable with the sorrow of the occasion and had to hurry up and get to the happy ending (he said this to my class as he invited us to a tenebrae service, which definitely cannot be accused of doing this). To me, though, Good Friday is the most important service of the year. It is Good Friday that provided the sacrifice I needed to happen if I was to have hope. It is the pain of Good Friday that speaks to me the most of God's love for us. It is Good Friday that challenges me by reminding me of what Christ did on my behalf and asking me if my daily actions reflect any gratitude through service and taking the time to further develop my relationship with Him. To me, to not remember Good Friday would be like a slap in the face of the one who suffered for me. No, I am okay with including remembrance of sorrow and suffering in my devotional life. I am okay with having my walk challenged from time to time. I fully believe that I need these things. I guess the question is, what am I going to do about it this year? (By the way, I am not ignorant of the debates about whether Easter has pagan roots or is too commercial and whether Christians should even celebrate it; all I will say is that for now I am of the opinion that we can, and that the same goes for Christmas.)

Oh, I should clear up the confusion I caused Miriam earlier today. I suggested that it is actually quite appropriate that it has snowed today and will snow all Easter weekend. I was making a reference in my head to verses like Psalm 51:7 and Isaiah 1:18, although I thought there were similar references in the New Testament that would have been more appropriate for this weekend that I was apparently making up. People who look at Easter as a day of yellow chicks and baby bunnies and chocolate and part of the beginning of spring may be disappointed by the snow, but it is helping me to think of Easter in a different way. That's not to say I won't be glad to see the snow leave, however.

Have a good long weekend, everyone!

Edit: P.S.: here is a link to a Good Friday analogy I think I like:

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Public service announcement: my summer starts later than you think.

Hi, all,

I've had a number of requests to get together with friends in the past "x" number of days. I will save you all the trouble now and tell you that crunch time has officially started at school for me now and I am going to have to put my exciting social life on hold to deal with it. I know, I know, I was at a concert this past Saturday...I made an exception in that case, and crunch time hadn't hit me between the eyes in the same way at the point that I agreed to attend the concert as it has since then. Anyway, I think my last day of classes is May 24 (sometime that week, anyway), and by that point I will be seriously in need of some chill time with y'all.

So, yeah, don't assume that just because school is done for most university people partway through April (or whenever their last exam is) means that I am free...I am not. I am dealing with a unit plan assignment, "learning task 2" (for which my partner and I are going to create a diary/scrapbook for a fictitious teacher as he/she grows in pedagogical understanding), a field trip assignment (for which my partner and I are going to check out the forensics lab downtown - so cool), a group presentation on a chapter in a book I don't want to read, a professional growth portfolio, my practicum binders, several sets of readings and the required responses, two final papers (one of which is going to require me to set up an interview with some teenagers on their use of computer-mediated communication and the Internet and the other of which requires me to do a presentation and summary), finding myself a job for next year, attending a couple PD activities to give my résumé a bit more punch, marking and planning lessons for practicum. It's not that I don't love y'all, but socializing is going to have to be given a much lower priority for the time being :P. That being said, I do still have to have to eat, which is how I justify attending the get-together some people from my program are going to have at Blueberry Hill at lunch today :).

Seeing as I won't be seeing some of you for a while, feel free to drop me a have my e-mail and Facebook location :).