Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ultra Nerd Alert

This "music video" is actually a really good description of both philosophies. I guess you're an ultra nerd if you actually understand every line. :( At least the music is kinda catchy. Props to Russ Roberts for helping to make it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unions

As I continue my new-found commitment to keeping a daily journal, I find my need to share the details of my life with the Interwebs drastically diminished. But I will keep you abreast of all the interesting things that happen to us.

*I tried to make this funnier/more interesting, but I'm not really sure how to do this. Feel free to insert your own jokes.

Today's interesting thing is brought to you by the high school where I work. To begin, I belong (against my will) to the Educational Support Professionals union here. This includes people like me who interact with students but don't teach, secretaries, HR personnel, etc. There is also a teachers' union to which (I assume, based on my own experience) all the regular certificated teachers belong. This week is finals week for the students, and teachers and teachers' aides get Friday off. All the grading that goes on in Utah after the quarter ends is done at the end of the day for about 90 minutes Monday through Thursday of finals week. This having Friday off makes sense because there are no students in classes. Strangely, support staff are "required" to work this day according to the union contracts. Also strangely, the administration and school board can opt to let support staff off this day, and they have done this for years. And this makes sense, as there are no students in the building.

I got an email from the support staff president yesterday with the following:
"The [union] acknowledges that any such days are entirely voluntary on the part of the Board and that they create no practice or precedent requiring their repetition in the future”.

This means that you should not assume that Friday, January 29, 2010 is a non-attendance day for Support Staff. I am waiting on a response from the Administration and unless we hear other wise, please assume that it is a regular working day. Also, please note that there is not an agreement regarding the time frame for advanced notice or response. The Board/Administration does not have to relieve us from our work based on past practice.

And can I tell you how much my fellow study hall supervisors are nearly up in arms? "They're gonna hear about this at the contract meeting this month!" says one. One woman got a call from another at 7 am today saying that based on the above email, we won't be getting that day off. So my room compadre decided to go check out what other people (a little closer to the action) are saying. It sounds like it's just an administration that wants to remind a union that it's in charge. Most likely, we'll get the day off (remember, no kids here!) and everything will be just fine.

What's strange is this mentality of both the administration and union members that one has power over another. Aren't we trying to do the same thing: help kids learn stuff? Our goals should not be this misaligned. What's frustrating too is that union contracts are so specific as to be harmful to their members, meaning that in this example, union members are required to work so many days per year and so many hours per day. This takes out any flexibility, especially where one job in the union (say, mine) is totally different than another job (say, main office secretary). It might be wise to have a couple of secretaries on the job doing printouts, mailings, and answering calls, even when school is not in session. It is foolish to have someone like me, whose job is dealing directly with students, to be here during that same time.

Then I find myself slipping into that union mentality of "it's not my job; you can't make me." Frightening. That's when I go read something by Thomas Sowell about free markets, and my heartrate slows and I breathe a little easier.

Update 1/26: I got another email yesterday afternoon announcing that we would, in fact, have the day off on Friday. I'm pretty sure it was just a power play by someone in the administration reminding support staff of their lowly stature. I just hope they don't think we're going to be all grateful and groveling about a scheduled day off.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hidden Empire

Orson Scott Card's Hidden Empire quote 1 (perhaps the only?):

"That's what so many people didn't understand about life. The real world is the one within the walls of homes; the outside world, of careers and politics and money and fame, that was the fake world, where nothing lasted, and things were real only to the extent they harmed or helped people inside their homes."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Quotable Best of Web

Oh how I love the clever yet hilarious Best of Web Today:

"A Source Who Would Have Had Good Reason to Stay Anonymous
The New York Times reports from earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti:

Many business owners have not opened their doors for fear of mobs ransacking their operations and stealing their merchandise. Those fears were stoked by pockets of looting in downtown commercial areas in recent days.
"I have 450 employees who I would like to get working again, but I'm afraid of being attacked when word on the street gets out that we have water,"; said Roger Parisot, 48, an owner of Sotresa, a company in the Portail Leogâne district that sells purified water in small plastic pouches.

Mr. Parisot had better hope no one in Port-au-Prince reads the New York Times."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shades of Grey Book Review

From my review at Goodreads.com:

Jasper Fforde's work is just fun to read. There are such wonderful allusions, funny moments, ridiculous names, Amusing Capitalizations, and most of all, extra-dry British wit, usually in the form of dialogue. This was one of my favorite exchanges.

Turquoise: "Good fellow. I've got you down for Boundary Patrol first thing tomorrow, lightning watch on Saturday, anti-drowning supervision Mondays and Wednesdays and a turn teaching the juniors--this afternoon in fact. Can you do that?"

Eddie: "I've not much experience of teaching, sir."

Turquoise: "I shouldn't worry--there isn't much left to teach. Talk to them about the different sorts of chairs or something. By the way, top marks on the Rusty Hill expedition. If you enjoyed laughing in the face of death, you might like to have a crack at High Saffron (a nearby abandoned town). One hundred merits (money), and all you have to do is take a look."

Eddie: "I understand there's a one hundred percent fatality rate?"

Turquoise: "True. But up until the moment of death there was a one hundred percent survival rate. Really, I shouldn't let anything as meaningless as statistics put you off."

Wasn't that great? And it's chock-full of silliness as well as seriousness.

It's been hundreds of years after the Something That Happened (no one knows what exactly), and humans have organized themselves according to the amount of color they can see. Eddie Russett is a Red who has been sent, along with his father, to the town of East Carmine. Eddie has been reprimanded for his ideas on improving the queue, a gross offense. There, he meets a colorful (literally, there's some Reds, a Yellow, a friendly Green, an alluring and evil Purple, and a lovely Grey named Jane, who has the most delightful nose) cast of characters who teach him about his temporary home and their odd interpretations and enforcement of the Rules. (Rule 1.1.19.02.006: Team sports are mandatory in order to build character. Character is there to give purpose to team sports.)

But there's more going on in East Carmine than Eddie first realizes, and it has something to do with Jane, who threatens to kill him if he ever mentions her nose.

There will be two more books, according the the back page, and I'm very excited for them. Of course I'm also excited for more Thursday Next novels and the next Jack Spratt Nursery Crimes tale. I'm only bummed I finished it at lunch and now don't have anything to read the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

See No Evil

I was clearly preoccupied with organizing my substitute folder yesterday afternoon. Apparently, a girl in my 9th period class crawled all the way across the long side of the room without my noticing. I'm pretty sure she won ten bucks out of it. Maybe I should work on that whole paying-attention-to-my-classes thing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quick Link

Celeste passed me on a link from purevolume that I thought I'd share. Young the Giant (formerly the Jakes) has quite a bit of music available for free downloads. Good ol mellow indie rock. The "purevolume sessions" that are available for download are acoustic versions of each song.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Waffles are Delish

I made the best multigrain waffles on Saturday morning. Delish.com showed a bunch of healthy breakfasts, and these waffles were the first I tried. I like them because they're simple, I had all the ingredients on hand, and they're more filling than regular white flour waffles. Oh, and they're great the next day, too!
(The picture is the one from delish.com because my camera was at home and I'm at school bored out of my gourd)

Ingredients
  • 2 c. buttermilk (or 2 c. milk + 2 T. vinegar)
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 c.whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. toasted wheat germ, or cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 2 t. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mix buttermilk and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ (or cornmeal), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Stir eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla into the oat mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  4. Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Spoon in enough batter to cover three-fourths of the surface (about 2/3 cup for an 8-by-8-inch waffle iron). Cook until waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.
Notes:
Make sure to spray the waffle iron enough; if you don't you'll have lots of thin half-waffles, which aren't nearly as good.
I forgot to lightly beat the eggs before adding. Mixing is much easier if your eggs are pre-beaten.
The cinnamon adds some great flavor. I was skeptical, but it turned out great.
I used cornmeal, as I didn't have wheat germ. This gives a pleasant crunchy texture.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Line

I'm a sucker for a great one-liner.

From Jonah Goldberg's piece on JWR today:
Because to use the word "sterile" in its usual context in a sentence with "airports" — those belching Petri dishes of bathroom effluence and unidentifiable noisome miasma — would be a grotesque abrogation of journalistic trust."

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Merry Little Christmas

Jake and I left for Utah on December 17, thereby avoiding the last day of high school madness before Christmas break. Upon coming back today, there was only one referral (but the other teacher said the sub was super lax and had trouble with a lot of the classes). After a terrifying cab ride--we nearly died several times--a long flight, and a long drive from Vegas in the wee hours of the morning, it was an especial joy to wake up after 9 am in my parents' basement and realize I wasn't in 3rd period, which was, incidentally, the period during which the student was written up.

We had a blast spending time with family and a few friends during the ensuing two weeks. We met Celeste's new squeeze, played some intense games of Settlers, Puerto Rico, and Blokus 3D, attempted to learn Pinochle (Jake did far better than I), participated in the annual Miller Mary & Joseph dinner, elegantly portrayed a donkey and an angel in the Miller nativity pageant (coming soon to YouTube), watched the Angela Lansbury version of Sweeney Todd (Jake will never let a straight razor anywhere near him now), ate great food, played with the nieces and nephews, saw Invictus and Sherlock Holmes, received far too many wonderful gifts, and generally enjoyed our time in Utah.

My brother is now engaged to the fabulous Aly. Jake and I met her last year and instantly loved her. When they broke up for two days in August, the entire family was in mourning. Luckily, they realized how miserable they were without each other and made it stick. The wedding date is still TBD, but I'm planning on being back in Utah for a few days in March. My mom, my aunt, Aly, and I went bridesmaid dress shopping the week after Christmas. I am happy to report that Aly has great taste in clothing. I am in love with my dress! Aly is an awesome addition to our family.

We received some wonderful gifts including, a rug for our living room, jeans for Jake, music, movies, gift cards, chocolate, books, a double boiler, a mortar & pestle, a vegetable steamer, sweaters, and even a toothbrush each. We have such wonderful families! We were spoiled rotten.

We arrived back in Chicago on New Year's Day. My favorite part of the flight was when we had to circle for a bit and ended up flying right over the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. I guess we can opt out of that particular bit of tourist fun now. The bus was on time so we didn't have to stand out in the cold too long, our car was where we left it, our home was warm and safe, and I had put clean sheets on the bed before we left. As much as I love and miss my family, there was something comforting knowing we had come back to our own strange little home.

Saturday night we watched "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," which was apparently a remake. This new version with Michael Douglas received a whopping 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. There was a reason we hadn't heard of this movie before. Ugh.

We both went back to school this morning. Jake has all new classes and worked his schedule so that two of his classes are over in five weeks instead of ten, giving him more time for job hunting and interviewing later in the quarter. As for me, today has not been as bad as I anticipated (knock on wood). 3rd period was far more quiet than I have EVER seen them. I don't know what happened to them, and I don't want to know; I'll just count it as a huge blessing and be very grateful. Now if only my remaining three classes can be that awesome...