Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend of Odd

Weather gets crazy in Nebraska. After living in Colorado and Texas, where the weather is pretty predictable, Nebraska has taken this many years to get used to. So when Saturday morning was gorgeous, I should have expected it to not last. Silly me. We wandered to the park, knowing that it was the ideal temperature (in the high 50s--good hoodie weather). Unfortunately, as soon as we got there, clouds rolled in and the wind decided it wanted to put on a show for us. Leaves leaped into our faces and the wind chilled us. Within 20 minutes, we threw the idea out and went back to my place. Sad. I was hoping for a quality fall afternoon, but no luck.

Watched Star Trek again on Saturday night. Tis so good. Which leads me to the next odd thing this weekend--New Moon. I know that it surprised everybody, but how does a vampire romance outsell The Dark Knight on its first day? I'm still in shock.

Sunday was a crazy day in which my mind was bent on putting things in the place. I didn't want to grade or do anything work related, but house projects were on my mind. So I moved a bed around, some shelves, did some laundry (but was so gracious to leave some for my wife to do), and finished off the leave sin my front yard.

The day was interrupted for a church meeting that went well, but was one of those that leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

Thanksgiving's coming. Three days of work. Praise be.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yes, Your Pregnancy.

My wife and I started Lamaze classes on Sunday. There were a couple of nice things about this as well as a sprinkling of irritations. I trudged in with a mindset of, "How long do we have to be here?" But the mood lightened considerably.

First of all, my science classes growing up were no good. As the instructor went through the anatomy of everything going on, I was actually interested. The instructor said multiple times that this was the dry part of the class, but I was plenty interested (and my imagination made a lot of jokes that I could never say in class). Moreover, I was struck by the miracle God sets in motion when all this fetal activity gets rolling.

Another breath of fresh air was the instructor's acknowledgment that the couples present were either one among a group of pregnant friends, or they were loner parents, traversing the parental landscape solo. I have a lot of friends, and most of them are married. I was surprised, however, that after my wife got preg-nified, that none followed suit. This mindset is probably because of my mother. "Once one of you gets pregnant, then everybody will be." Mom was wrong. It doesn't bother that none of our friends are getting knocked up, but there is a bizarre feeling when I realize that what my wife and I are going through, none of our friends will relate. It was nice to be in a place where bulbous bellies and blank-faced husbands gathered to prepared for the fetus festival.

Downsides included watching birth videos. The first I had ever seen were in college, after which I told my wife (then my girlfriend) that if she were to have my child, I would accompany her only if I had a blindfold on. Though I've matured a smidge, I could really deal without. I fear what else we may be watching in the weeks to come.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Tech

Yesterday, I took a trip down to the district office and picked up a brand new Mac Book. (Squeal!) Ever since, I've not wanted to leave along. I'm like Lennie taking puppies away from the mother, so hopefully I won't accidentally kill it. But I'm so thrilled. My last comp was a piece to be sure. It was slower than a herd of turtles wading through a peanut butter pond. It couldn't support half the stuff I had on it. But now, the world is my burrito. I have every new gadget, widget, and whatever else I need to flood the world with zaniness and, hopefully, a little insight. I'm really excited that I can create podcasts now if I want, and next week, I just might do that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

People Who Can't Shut Up

Seven weeks. A student of mine spent seven weeks on one story, and he never completed it. One reason is that he didn't focus for any whole class period. The other is that he would not stop. As a writing teacher, my main focus with my students is on efficiency and effectiveness. Say what you need to say, say it clearly, say it well. Typically, students can't write more than 40 words on any given topic or event, but this fine gent is on the extreme opposite. In any given story, he clicks through his phone to ensure that every text message related to his story is accounted for. Every minute is spoken of, not in any great detail, but there it is, taking up space on the page. For this week, I told the student, "You're starting a new story. It can't go over 500 words." Because most student feign a heart attack at 500 words, I didn't expect today's comment.

"What if I go over 500 words?"

"Then we'll cut it down to 500."

The paper was at 800. "I'm kind of done, but I need to go back and add all the dialogue and stuff."

He keeps trying to add more into the story. It's about his weekend at NabrasKon, and I instructed him to write about one event. Just one. "What about one on Friday, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday?"

No. I don't need it. Even I, in all of my nerdy glory (I thought of grade points as experience points yesterday), don't need to read about your weekend that much. Focus on the small things. Make them interesting. Make them effective. Make them efficient. I conference with him on Friday. I'll be sharpening the knife.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So Far, I Like It

After day one of new class tactics, I think I will really enjoy it. For Comp, time flies by, and I have a scheduled time to yell at people when they don't turn things in. The only downside I'm seeing is that I have to stay organized and know what I'm going to say for each student before our conferences. So far, this hasn't been an issue. Today, I actually worked ahead (wasn't planning on that), and I had some dead parts in our conversation. I had a student ask me if I wanted her to come back after I knew what I wanted to say.

In General English, life was great for me. My co-teacher has volunteered to take the half of the class that never wants to do anything. My half isn't great, but they are a quiet bunch and mostly want to at least have something to do.

My biggest fear right now is taking a day off. For Gen English, it won't be bad, but I don't want to miss a day of conferences ever. So I guess I'll keep plugging along and hope that nothing unexpected shows up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Trying New Things

This week, I'm starting something new with my classes. This seems to happen every year. I'll start the year, things will go pretty well, but I'll find that something is missing, and I go into trying something different.

In composition, the name of the game is conferences. I've split my classes into five equal groups, one group for each day of the week. Each day I'll meet with the people in that day's respective group. Each student will receive feedback specific to their work ethic and ability. Overall, I hope that this cuts down my grade time because I actually talk to each student every week.

In general English, I'm splitting the class into two. One side is made of students who have decided to move ahead and read on their own--basically, those who want to learn. And the other section are those that couldn't give two farts for education. With a co-teacher, one that hopefully shows up on time, we will trade off with the groups and work with them at different paces. This is not going to be as easy as composition, but will hopefully be more beneficial to those who want to learn something.

I didn't sleep too well last night, so I'm pretty tired. I may fall dead tonight..then rise from the dead to live again tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Heading for the Weekend

It's getting closer. I can almost taste it. Though this weekend will be like so many before it and load me up with a lot of things to do, I welcome it anyway. I preach tomorrow and still need to pull my sermon together. On Sunday, I'll have plenty o' grading to do. But aside from that, no real plans. Wife has a baby shower on Sunday, and I should probably rake up the million and a half leaves in our back yard. In my spare time, if I'm not totally exhausted, I'll write.

My writing has been fun, but I didn't get a chance to do any last night at all. Instead I went and saw Where the Wild Thing Are. If you haven't seen it yet, go. For me, there were so many levels to connect with. There were the childhood remembrances, but I've heard a lot of people talk of that. What thrilled me were the creatures. It makes me sad that so few creatures are created anymore. With the rise of CGI, the beauty and art form has suffered, and with the talent of the Jim Henson company, I could cry that they don't have more opportunities to demonstrate their magic.

Anyhow, I must do work stuff again (lame).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Feel Alive Again

Even though I love Ray Bradbury and the earthy ideas that may lead back to a better way of life, I love my computer. For the last three weeks, I've been without laptop, and it has driven me a bit batty. My blog has suffered horribly, I haven't graded as much, and writing seems like a hassle because I'm stuck at home. But all of that is behind me now. Super-awesome friend of mine told me yesterday that she has a "spare." The story is something along the lines of, "I got one through the district, lost it, thought it was stolen, got a new one, old one showed up. New one was better than old one, so I have the original just hanging around."

Now it hangs around with me. Though there are elements that haven't been updated in at least two years, I'm thrilled to be plugged into that nebulous, electrified web.

Wrote more for NaNoWriMo last night. I'm having some fun with it and keep getting more ideas to play with. Tis good to write again even if I am way behind my goal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back to School and NaNoWriMo

Well, school started back yesterday, and I'm glad it did. It was really nice to have something to distract my brain from the weirdness that plagued it last week. However, I was reminded that there are some really brainless people out there. We are filling out forms for the PLAN test (pre-ACT) for my 10th graders. Part of the forms ask for students to identify whether or not the are affiliated with a religion. I've never see so many confused people. "I don't know what to put down." I would ask what church they went to and they would look at me and say, "I have no idea." I know that I wasn't always too observant growing up. But some of these kids go to church every week, and they have no idea what church they go to. Sad.

Even though I told myself I didn't have time, I signed up for NaNoWriMo again. We'll see how it goes. I stated on my idea and feel weird writing so much about vampires, werewolves, and zombies. It's not my usual style or interest, but if things work the way I hope, it could be pretty cool. Well, gotta go. Peace, home-fries.