Jabberwocky for 2004 March

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: Terrorism: "The low-technology violence of the weak is such an abomination that there are no limits on the high-technology violence of the strong which can be deployed against it." --John V. Whitbeck

[Comments] (1) : slog, slog, slog. I am slowly, very slowly, making a dent in this pile of genealogy. I get about three pages a day done. That's pretty slow. But today I fixed a very big problem, so it's getting there. In my list of alphabetical surnames, I am down to Coney.

I also pulled a lot of weeds. The snails are out for the spring, so I need to get some nice poison for their last meal.

[Comments] (2) : Yesterday, Grandma and Pat and I took Rachel to lunch at the Olive Garden for her birthday. Joel came too, and sat in his high chair looking around like a good little boy. He was so adorable! Shannon came for a little while and watched us eat; we had a nice visit.

Everyone but Rachel had the soup and salad. This was the first time I had Olive Garden's minestrone, and I thought it was wonderful. I looked up the copycat recipe on the internet, but I thought the recipe was for a something slightly different than what we ate. Maybe different Olive Garden chefs do it differently. The only OG I have ever eaten at besides ours is the one in Dallas where we ate before Alyson and Dave's wedding.

P.S. Rachel had the chicken parmasiana.

I'm sure pigs just flew. Grandpa has switched his allegiance to the Democrats. He actually threw a fund-raising appeal from George Bush into the trash while we were there.

[Comments] (3) : The battery in my alarm clock apparently died in the night. I woke up too late to be on time for church, and with a slight fever and sore throat, so I just went back to bed after feeding Sadie. I must have been really out of it because Sadie's activity didn't bother me until about 11 a.m. Then I got up and made eggplant pasta for Rachel and ate some. It feels like it's going to stay down--a first this weekend.

Rachel is gone now, leaving the household very, very quiet. I think I probably need to do lots of genealogy to make up for being a slacker on church attendance.

[Comments] (4) : Terry Pratchett has a new book out. It's about a girl who runs away from home to become a soldier. I thought about getting it but Rachel checked and said it's only in hardback $25.00. If I were a writer like Terry Pratchett I would publish directly into paperback.

[Comments] (2) : We had a discussion in my 8 a.m. class this morning. The unit in the reader is about language and its power to build or destroy. The writing assignment is about the place of perjorative words in our lives--nigger, bitch, queer, etc. One of the articles we read was a defense of profanity written by a student in Iowa or somewhere. He argues that profanity is a "real" way to talk, and people should be genuine, and those who don't like it can... well you know.

I was extremely surprised at the number of students who think it's OK to use rude language when they are with their friends, who call their friends by rude names, and who behave coarsely. Their argument is that when they are with friends, "it is real" and "safe" and they don't have to be polite.

Huh. I'm glad they feel they have to be civil in the classroom. I tried to talk to them about how friendship is precious and our friends deserve our best, not our worst, but apparently they don't have those values.

[Comments] (1) : Two issues of Smithsonian have come in the mail. I didn't know where they came from. At first I thought Ruth Davis got another of those buy one get one gift subscription free deals, because a couple of years back she gave me a year of Smithsonian. But she says no. Then I thought maybe I ordered it with my Delta Airlines frequent flyer miles that were expiring. I'm not sure what magazines I ordered, but This Old House has been coming.

However, today I got a statement from Smithsonian. Big deal special offer, limited time only. I suspect that they sent the two magazines so I would get used to it and then they sent a bill thinking it would get paid automatically. Pretty sneaky of them.

No, I'm not going to subscribe.

[Comments] (1) : Today I sent an email to Carol Cunningham and told her I don't think I can teach two classes in summer school. It's just going to be too hard, even if for only six weeks. So I am just going to teach the morning one. This bothers me a little bit because that second class was my trip to Italy, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to go to Italy anyway. I can't go off to Europe hooked up to this IV like this. Perhaps summer after next I can go on my dinosaur trip in the car. Or maybe even this summer if I figure out how to do it between summer school and going to Utah for Aunt Jeuney's anniversary and Call Family Reunion.

: Evil. Evilness. This morning I forgot to bring a bottle of water, so I tried to buy one from the vending machine. First it wouldn't take my dollar. Then it wouldn't take my quarter. Then it ate them both and did not dispense a water bottle. Then it sat there sullenly and wouldn't give back my money either.

I went to a different building and tried another machine. It wouldn't even suck my dollar in. Later in the morning, a student asked if he could go buy himself some water and I told him he could if he could get some for me. I gave him $1.25--a dollar and a quarter. He was gone just forever, and when he returned he reported that he had had to go to the snack machine and change the dollar for quarters and then he had had to hit the water vending machine. Eventually the water bottle came out.

The water here on the east side of town has toxic waste in it, which you can taste if you drink out of the drinking fountain. This vending machine issue is a serious one.

: Celebrate! I have just now made it through the C surnames of my genealogy. Whew! What a milestone! This momentous event occurred on page 206 of the printout.

I have a theory, which I hope is correct, that C is one of the more common letters for surnames to begin with, and so I've really made progress. As I said, I hope. It is true, at least, that all the Calls fall into the C category, and there sure were a lot of them!

[Comments] (1) : Today I actually planted the rest of the daffodil bulbs that have been sitting on my porch since September. I thought maybe I would have to throw them out, but they told me at White Forest Nursery they would grow. Probably not this year but next.

I worked really hard in the yard until I was absolutely exhausted and had to give up because my muscles were shaking. I thought I'd been out there a long time, but when I came back it, it turned out I was only working an hour. Oh well. If I can just faithfully do an hour every day maybe things will improve around here.

I spent the rest of the afternoon on genealogy. I got through the Davenports and the Davises, both of which were a real mess with a lot of broken links. Sometimes the PAF program doesn't want to make a link, no matter how many times you tell it to. Could it be the dearly departed don't want to be linked and they are messing it up?

[Comments] (4) : Sumana is bringing her parents to meet me on Sunday. I went to the store to lay in provisions because I wanted to make them a quiche. Spinach and mushroom, with Swiss cheese-- but the Swiss cheese I bought doesn't have holes in it, what's up with that?

I splurged on fresh blueberries to go in fruit salad, and I am freezing guava nectar into ice cubes to float in the orange juice. It's going to be yummers.

I'm going to try my hand at making a boeuf bourginiognefor lunch tomorrow when Leonard arrives. I'll have to start it tonight. Reading the recipe, it's a lot bigger deal than I thought it would be.

: When I was working in the garden I found a nest of little pearls buried in a shallow depression under a California poppy. Whose are they? I don't know--snail? scorpion? little snake? I haven't the foggiest, but I figured it was a pretty good bet that it was not someone I want in my flowerbeds, so I killed them. I felt like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

: Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday Dear Rachel! Happy Birthday to you!

[Comments] (1) : So Martha Stewart lied about her stock sale. What else has she lied about? Did she lie about high count cotton sheets? Did she lie to us about homemade blackberry ink? How about the antique mason jars made into lanterns with candles and sand? Is that not true?

Now, creme brulee, I know that one is a lie.

[Comments] (1) : I hadn't seen Xochitl in four days, and I was really beginning to worry, but this evening I spotted her two houses away. I gave her a lecture about where she belongs. I think she's avoiding the home front because of the dybbuk that has come to live in our house. There is no safety anymore.

If she would just get in a couple of good swipes with her little needleclaws I bet that would solve the problem, but she runs away.

: Leonard and I went to see Secret Window. Oooooooohhh that handsome Johnny! We liked the movie, but did not find it as tense and scary as a Hitchcock. Leonard thinks it is similar to a Stephen King novel, not the one the movie is based upon but another one. I have never read a Stephen King novel myself.

[Comments] (2) : Today before church I fed Leonard quiche and fruit salad. I made the quiche with leftover asparagus from lunch yesterday, and it is YUMMY! Then he and I started sorting away in the garage--going through, getting rid of lots of stuff. His old stuff. Some of the things he wanted to get rid of I made him save, like his Cabbage Patch astronaut doll. There was a lot of stuff he actually could sell on Ebay if he wanted to.

We found his Halley's Comet matchbox car. I think Halley's Comet has to be one of the high points of my life. I love comets. My grandfather got to see Halley's Comet twice--once when he was a teenager and once when he was a very old man. I celebrated the second time with him.

I tripped over the manger in the garage and made a huge gash on my leg. I thought I just had a little nick on the shin, but upon further investigation there is a big gushable hole on my knee. By the time I noticed it, it has pretty much settled down, and is now going about its work of turning purple.

[Comments] (1) : Metacognition, as Explained By Tonks: "I know I'm not all that bright, but I'm friendly. What is so all-fired great about having a great big brain anyhow? All that mouse-hunting and philosophy and Oedipus Complexes and all that.... it's better to have a tabula rasa and nap in the sunshine.

[Comments] (2) : The quote on the today's sheet of my Afterthoughts notepad says, "Earth... one million one hundred thousand animal species living in harmony... and one species stark raving out of control." I wonder how true that really is? I'll agree that homo sapiens [what an idiotic species name!] is pushing the limit, but might there not be other species doing so as well? Mosquitoes, perhaps. Viruses, definitely.

[Comments] (5) : What I want to know is, has the United States sent anybody to Spain for a condolence visit? I've been combing the news for days and have found no mention of such a gesture. According to the White House Website, on Friday, President Bush did give a little speech to the Spanish embassy and press corps, and he laid a wreath and floated the Spanish flag, which was very nice, but I think someone should go over there.

Neither have I read news reports of American rescue workers going to help. I'm very sure they must be, and the press is not covering their efforts. Can it be we are so inured to these constant attacks that the media is beginning to treat tragedy with a big yawn? We must not forget that even if disasters happen far away, someone somewhere has lost family members.

[Comments] (1) : Talking about patriotism in class today. I'm one of the people who hung out a flag after the September 11 attacks, but later when the flag got skuzzy and old, I took it down and gave it to Andy Smith to have the Boy Scouts dispose of it. I never got another flag, and now my bracket is malfunctioning. I wonder what this really means? I do love my country, but why do I only fly the flag when everyone else does and then let it go?

OTOH, I am not guilty of flying a Winnie-the-Pooh flag.

I pulled a lot of weeds this afternoon and sprayed a lot of Roundup, but I am not optimistic that I'll ever catch up with them. The weed misery this year is partly due to being sick LAST spring and letting them go to seed. Hope I can keep it under control.

[Comments] (3) : Tonight I am making corned beef for the missionaries and the Ledbetter family. I put two briskets in the crock pot last night so there would be plenty because the Ledbetter kids are growing and probably eat a lot nowadays. Then, our elders got replaced by sister missionaries--WHOOSH! I found this out late last night, and I began to think I'd have too much food.

But why should I be worried about that? Perhaps the sister missionaries eat a lot also. Prhaps it's a stereotype that they should only have a very small portion of food. I'm constantly amazed at how often I find myself tripping up on preconceived assumptions.

: Little Ethan Ledbetter loves rocks. He started by finding my trilobite on the coffee table and noticing it's like the one I gave to him. From there, he began to explore, and he picked up each rock and looked at it very carefully. When he had seen every rock on the coffee table, he started on the bookshelf. He was especially fascinated by the jar of cave pearls.

Not only did he want to see and feel each rock, but he wanted to know its name and habitat. He replaced them each so very gently. What a kid!

[Comments] (1) : I had quite the time today trying to find something green to wear for St. Pat's. I don't understand it--I have green sheets, my living room is painted green-- why don't I have any green clothes? I finally found a moss green t-shirt, and when I got to work Kim Nickell said she was in the same situation. She was wearing lime. Oh, well, we were "green". I think this just goes to prove that I'm not at all Irish.

So on St. Andrew's Day, should I wear my nightgown, since that is the only tartan thing I have?

: It's a gorgeous day. I'm going to go visit Ernestine Boonstoppel, to make sure she is okay, and then I need to work in the yard. Anne sent me a bunch of amaryllis bulbs (for my Christmas present!) so they will need to go in the ground. Some of them are trying to overachieve right now inside their plastic wrappers. They probably won't do much this year, but next summer, wow.

I'm also trying to figure out logistics for a trip to the temple to get cards made for Larry and Uncle Carl. Also Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Richard, but their cards don't have to be ready the first week of April like the other ones. The YM are going to the temple during spring break, so I want to send Larry's and Carl's names.

Dogs are funny creatures. No matter what rawhide chew it is, the other dog wants it. Then, when the prize is gained, suddenly the abandoned chewie is attractive again.

[Comments] (1) : For Sumana: Whatever you do, don't get Dirty Story mixed up with Scary Movie. But let me know when Dirty Story comes to SF and I'll come up and see it with you.

[Comments] (2) : Kristen put this in my comment section, and my answer is very long, so just skip it if you aren't interested in education. (Nancy, I'd love for you to weigh in with your opinion! Several of my readers are products of the Texas education system.)

Frances: This is not controversial or meant to be, just a question. I was wondering how you feel about the situation going on in the news regarding the 3rd graders being held back b/c they can't pass the test with basic reading and math skills. You being a teacher who deals with the kids that were never taught and just passed through the school system, I would like to know how you feel about this issue. Thanks

I think the current method of just passing kids along has got to stop. At some point, these students are going to find out that they can't just slide by, and unfortunately, that usually happens in the business world. If kids know they have to pass a test, they work hard and do pass it. If they know the test isn't going to matter, they shine it on. The San Francisco Chronicle reported a Canadian study which indicated that students of whom expectations were higher performed better. Well duh.

The problem in implementing this--as we have found with California's STARS test--is that the tests are not aligned with the curriculum, so students are being tested on things they have not been taught. The two have to work together to be successful.

The current procedure in early elementary school is for everyone to be creative and have a wonderful time. They celebrate every holiday, cutting out construction paper shapes, and they do big projects like making pigs out of Clorox bottles. This has got to come to an end to make time for more math and phonics. I think third grade is just about right to give such a test.

Teachers will probably fight this. You'd be surprised how many teachers don't have basic reading and math skills. They'd rather make pigs out of Clorox bottles and Easter baskets out of milk jugs. (I'm the first to admit, there is nobody more fun to go play with that 25 second graders.) There is a test called the PRAXIS--used to be called the National Teachers' Exam. It tests general knowledge, and someone who passes it is considered knowledgeable enough to teach all subjects in a self-contained classroom. In California, if you pass the exam, you can get a multiple-subject credential with it. (You still have to do all the other credential stuff, but the curriculum part is done if you pass the test.) I took this test because I had applied for a job at the prison, and those are self-contained classrooms. A girl I knew from grad school took the test with me. Before the test, we were talking to the other people who were there, and most of them had failed it before, some of them several times. One lady had taken the test eight times and she was planning to go to San Jose the next weekend to take it again! All these people could do was moan about how hard it was.

At the lunch break, I met my friend and said "Am I missing something? This test is a joke." We agreed that it was probably one of those tests that you think you are going to ace it and then it turns out you missed the point entirely and you are a dismal failure. Oh well, we thought. Well, I got my results and I was in the 99th percentile--without having studied, taken a refresher course, or even (forgive me!) prayed. During my five years teaching for the elementary district, I met a lot of people who had been unable to pass the test but they are still teaching on emergency credentials, and occasionally trying to pass because there is such a shortage of people with a valid credential.

The high school district was worse. Those people want to spend zip time on basic skills, which they believe should have been learned in elementary school (as they should have!) and they only want to teach their subject matter. Plus, a high school teacher has a couple hundred students a year. There is not time and manpower enough to remediate everyone by that point. Kids have got to get the basics down before puberty, because once they hit middle school everyone is just going for six years of survival.

And that is why I have a job. Some of my students are thirty years old and not able to read at a third grade level. Recently in the news, the University of California and the California State University systems announced that they would no longer accept students who were unprepared to work at university level in reading and math. Guess where those students are going to go? Job security for me.

: What a day. I drove to Los Angeles to take a disk of names to put into the temple, and also to buy myself a new white temple dress since my old one is about six sizes too big. The saleslady told me not to "reject" any just because of how they look on the hanger--you have to see them on. I sorted through and chose two with front buttons, which I figured would be needed to accomodate my IV tubes. Then she talked me into trying a r-e-e-l-l-y-u-g-l-y dress with a zipper down the front, too.

I ended up buying the ugly one because it was about 400% easier to get into, with the tubes and so forth. It doesn't look as ugly on me, it's easy to get in and out of, it was short enough that it wouldn't need hemming, and it was half the price of the others (the final selling point!)

Then I went to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the LA temple Visitors Center. I don't know why I was naive enough to think I was really going to see Dead Sea Scrolls--of course any museum isn't going to send something so valuable and fragile trotting around the country for exhibit. The "scrolls" were copies printed onto Naugahyde. (I guess that sounds worse than it really was, but actually it is kind of sorry.) Many of the other items in the exhibit were things recycled from the Masada exhibit the BYU Museum put on a few years back--all of them reproductions except a Roman sword that wasn't labled as a copy but I'd be very surprised if it were a real one because it's in too good a shape. I didn't learn one thing I didn't already know. I am grateful that I got to see a real Dead Sea Scroll in the British Museum, so that I don't have to pass my life never having seen one.

Then into the temple to get cards made for my names, and their computer wouldn't take the data from my disk. So, huffing and puffing, back to the LA Family History Center where it took a very long time to get everything straightned out. Grrrr. Then back to the temple to make cards, and finally it took. By then I was too exhausted to do any of the work.

I picked up Rachel and took her to lunch at our family's traditional spot, Earth, Wind & Flour in Santa Monica.

Karen Olson was there at the temple doing a little receptionist job, which she says she is doing one Friday a month now on a volunteer basis. Her assignment appeared to be to sit in a chair by the exit and read an Ensign magazine, but she did bust me for having a cell phone in the temple.

[Comments] (2) : I am heartbroken and abandoned. Xochitl has moved next door and adopted Lurine. I went over to get her and to talk with Lurine, but Xochitl wouldn't come home with me. Not that Lurine is not a nice lady--she is a wonderful person and she has a gigantic desert tortoise and another cat. But my Xochitl!

[Comments] (1) : I am trying to find parents for Giovanni D'Angelo, born 1514 in Italy, who at some point moved to England and became George Denslow. Now I ask you, how can we keep track of our ancestors if they pull tricks like that?

[Comments] (3) : Mirrors do lie. I think it probably has something to do with loose molecules and glass being a liquid that slowly warps. The mirror in the dressing room where I tried on my new white temple dress made me look fat (and shorter than I am.) It is a fat mirror. On the other hand, there was one in our apartment at Montighetto in Provo that was a stretchy mirror. It made me look taller and thinner. One of my roommates took a picture of me standing in front of it in a bikini. My reflection looks fabulous, but the real me shows telltale chunks of cellulite. That's when I started thinking about mirrors.

One of the cleverest uses of a mirror is in Secret Window, where the protagonist is approaching the mirror and his reflection is walking away from him, so we see the guy's back walking away from the camera and also walking away in the mirror. It turns the trope of mirror on end.

More mirror thoughts: Gretel knows there is a dog in the bathroom mirror. Every so often she has to stand up at the sink to look to see if the dog is still there.

I hate the mirror in the Nations' dining room. It is huge--wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and it gives me the creeps to see myself sit and eat.

: Audrey II has sprouted in my front yard. I don't know what variety she is, or where she came from, and if I didn't know better I would say Colorado blue spruce. Now, however, it occurs to me that she might be a tumbleweed, so I am now going out to pull her up by the roots. If it is a tumbleweed, she will want.....blood.

[Comments] (2) : Is it Spring Break yet?

: Today when I got to work, the news was waiting that Robert Knowlton's wife had died. She's been on a waiting list for a liver transplant for several years, and I guess she just ran out of time. Robert has a lot of friends at work, and they are taking up a collection to help him with her final expenses. I donated $20.

Robert was a student of mine many, many years ago when he first came back to school. It was the semester I did the California story project, in which I asked students to write the story about how they and/or their family came to California. Robert's story was fascinating. He had been working in the oilfields in Wyoming and lost his job. They were flat broke, but they heard there were oil jobs in California, so Robert, his wife, and all their little boys went out and stood on I-15 with their thumbs up. They were picked up by a club of Hell's Angeles who were returning to California from the annual Harley rally in Sturges, South Dakota. Robert and the kids each rode to San Diego behind a biker, and one of the bikes had a sidecar so his wife got to ride in that. They came here with only the clothes on their backs.

Now Robert works for the college, and his boys are no longer small, but he still has that sunny personality. I am very sad for him.

[Comments] (5) : These things happened yesterday:

A student came to class stoned.

I arrived at the E surnames in my genealogy checklist.

Kim Cornett called very sick, and Gretel and I went to take her some Terry Pratchett books to read.

These things are happening today:

I made crostini and mozarella bruschetta and shrimp spread.

I am going to Hillary's soon to see the new puppy.

Sherrie Lewis and I are going to go visit Jill Langley.

That's the best I can do, as far as excitement in life goes.

: I am in the middle of trying to straighten out the English royalty in my genealogy. There are a gazillion people linked wrong. I don't know who did the inputting, or maybe there is a bug in the program.

: I went to Lowe's tonight and bought 80 feet of sprinkler pipe and some spring bulbs and some furnace filters and some eggplant plants. I don't like to go to Lowe's, but a discount coupon came in the mail for Leonard, and he gave me permission to use it for this house. The only reason I can think of that Lowe's would possibly send a coupon to Leonard at this address is they bought some kind of mailing list from the post office that caught the period when Leonard's mail was forwarded here while he was in Arkansas. I find that concept quite disturbing.

[Comments] (1) : Fuzzmuffin. Sadie really needs to go to the beauty parlor. Or does she? I don't know anything about this stuff, but why and when did the tradition of trimming certain breeds of dog in a certain way begin? There must have been some original purpose. Sadie is a cute little dustbunnie with her hair. I think she'll probably want to be trimmed soon because the weather is warming up--not as big a problem in her ancestral Germany!

Aunt Jeuney -- always the renegade -- used to have Madchen be fuzzy for years on end. And I can never remember her poodle, Shelly, being clipped poodle style. Do the dog clipping police ever come after a person for that? Cute little fuzziedooble.

[Comments] (2) : Last night I was writing something interesting and philosophical and my computer threw its diggers in the creek and I lost it. Today, can't remember what it was. Philosophy is so ephemeral!

I was sick today. Stayed home in bed all day, asleep most of the time. Still feel rotten but MUST go to work tomorrow. Fortunately it's the last day before spring break. I think being sick is really a pain.

: I have survived to Spring Break, but I had to bring home a stack of papers to grade. It seems like my life nowadays is mostly just survival, and this is not at all fun.

In checking my genealogy, I have made it to Ingeborg Finnsdatter, Queen of Scotland, born 1021. Would be nice if all ancestors back that far were checked, but of course I'm doing them alphabetically, not chronologically.

The summer clothes I ordered from Land's End got returned to the company. They said I sent them back for a credit. HELLOOOOO? I never even saw the package. They are being nice about it though.

Well, dogs are wanting to go to bed so I guess I will too.

Jabberwocky for 2004 March

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.