Friday, February 27, 2009

If you ever wanted to be an astronaut watch this.

"On August 16, 1960 USAF Colonel Joe Kittinger made a jump in aid of space research for NASA. Launching himself from the Excelsior III balloon at 102,800 feet (3 times the height a commercial jet travels at), he fell reaching the speed of sound before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet (5,500 m). He set records for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (14 min) and fastest speed by a man through the atmosphere unaided by a vehicle. His fall lasted 4 minutes and 36 seconds - the length of this film. The song is by Alphaspin ( "

Monday, February 23, 2009

Overheard in class today re: The Statue of Liberty

"That's the lady. She was the boss but she died."

Thank you chengan8oo of the Frenetic Pen Project for loaning me your Statue of Liberty pirate style.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

favorite days

My favorite days are days when Corey and I are together.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Charles should feel like family now.

I seem to usually get birthday cards, birthday packages, and birthday wishes out late, so Charles Darwin can now call himself an honorary member of my family. Happy belated 200th birthday, Charles.

On the morning of his birthday I listened to a compelling story about him on NPR on my way to work. I wanted to listen to the end so badly that I stayed in my car in the parking lot at school to hear it, risking entering a meeting late. I was on time anyway, and by the way, it was the worst meeting ever. Now looking back I should have just stayed in Carmione and skipped the meeting completely.

What I wanted to know was if the woman telling the story was pimping a Darwin biography because I wanted more! She wasn't officially pimping, I suppose. The title of the book is never mentioned on the NPR website. I used my sleuthing skills and figured it out anyway. Yay!

So you should listen to the story too. It's only 7 minutes and 46 seconds long.

Also, has anyone read a good Darwin biography you would like to recommend to me?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm a winner!

How lucky am I? I just found out I won these from Carolyn Gavin at
I see much list making and journaling in my future!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I love doughnuts.

Last night Corey told me he had a surprise for me. I immediately broke him down and he told me he got me my favorite kind of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. That would be the old fashioned cake kind with sugar glazed all over. I had one on my way to work this morning. It was so good. My whole day was good I think because I had it.

My friends got me this Doughnut Girl print for my birthday because I love doughnuts so much, and I love Emily Martin of the black apple. It's in our kitchen. Where the doughnuts live until I eat them. Mmm.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Barfighter by Ivan G. Goldman

In December I was selected to be an Early Reviewer on LibraryThing, which means I got a free advanced copy of a book I chose in exchange for a 25+ word review of it. I was giddy when I got the message because there are usually about 1000 people requesting a book, and there are, say, only 15 copies of it. So I never thought I would get one!

I requested this book because I enjoy the sport of boxing. When we first moved to Phoenix I trained to be an amateur boxing official. I wanted to be a referee, but first you have to be a judge. Once I started learning about judging I decided I would like that more than being a referee. But once I became a teacher I didn't have enough time to continue, and that was the end of the pursuit of being a boxing judge...for now. But I still like to watch boxing. Last year my favorite fight was Pacquiao vs. Marquez in March. Pacquiao won in a split decision. I watched the fight again in December and I still couldn't say for sure who won.


At first I had trouble getting into this book. Some of the character descriptions seem to be centered around racial and socio-economic stereotypes. The book begins in 1984, so maybe the writer was trying to capture the mindset of people at the time? Also the timeline of the story at the beginning is a little confusing. Putting aside the Vietnam flashbacks sprinkled in, the first chapter takes place in May 1984, then the third chapter goes back to February 1984, and the rest of the book comes after May 1984. In my opinion it should have just been put in order because the May 84 chapter is the weakest and there's no clear reason why it's out of order.

However, it is clear that Ivan G. Goldman knows boxing. His descriptions of boxing matches made me feel I was sitting there watching each punch. A few of the matches were a quick paragraph summary, and since the fights were the best parts I wished he had described them fully. People who love boxing will like the behind-the-scenes look into the dirty world of the sport that's not just a game, and they will like this book.

This book also counts for the What's In a Name Challenge. It's my book with a "profession" in its title.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Last month I read "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami. I was inspired to pick it out because of a group I found on LibraryThing called Reading Globally. Each month they challenge you to read a book by an author from a different country and in January that country was Japan. This book is also on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I thought it would be fun to join this group because most of my students are immigrants and refugees. I've had students from China, Somalia, Kenya, Burundi, Mexico, Iraq and America. I've also had a Native American student. I thought this could be another way to learn about their cultures, or maybe I could just recommend good books to them when they get older. I have never had a student from Japan, but my dad was stationed there during the Vietnam War.

I can't say that I learned too much about Japan from this book. I was surprised at how much the characters in the story liked to eat eel. Luckily no one ate whale! The story centers around a 15 year old boy who runs away from home so he can be himself. Another part of the story is about an old man who is mentally retarded but can talk to cats.

I really liked that it had this magical element to it. There were things that wouldn't happen in real life (or do they?!) which really made this book unique and fun to read.

It also had many riddles which I expected to be answered at the end and wrapped up neatly with a bow. Too bad for me -- there weren't any answers and I was left to my own devices.

I marked several pages because of lines I liked. One of my favorite passages was this:
I'd never imagined that trees could be so weird and unearthly. I mean, the only plants I've ever really seen or touched till now are the city kind--neatly trimmed and cared-for bushes and trees. But the ones here--the ones living here--are totally different. They have a physical power, their breath grazing any humans who might chance by, their gaze zeroing in on the intruder like they've spotted their prey. Like they have some dark, prehistroric, magical powers. Like deep-sea creatures rule the ocean depths, in the forest trees reign supreme. If it wanted to, the forest could reject me--or swallow me up whole. A healthy amount of fear and respect might be a good idea.

My favorite quote about life: There's only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes.

So thank you Reading Globally for getting me to try a new author. I will definitely read more books by Haruki Murakami. In February the challenge is a little different because you can pick a book from a continent instead of a country, and that continent is Africa. Yes, it's a continent Sarah. So since I DO have many African students in my class (most from Somalia) I am excited. I'm going to read "The White Giraffe" by Lauren St. John. She grew up in Zimbabwe. Which is a country.

This book also completes my Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge, as it is about One (or more) Person's Travel Experience.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Funny but Scary

This week we have been studying teeth in my class. Yesterday we made mouths using mini-marshmallows as teeth. The kids were really pumped when they found out not only would we be using marshmallows for teeth, but they would also get a few more as a treat when they finished. Nothing says dental health like a sugar snack.

One little girl became extremely excited and declared, "When I grow up I'm going to marry a marshmallow and then I'm going to eat him!"

Thank you Krista Huot for letting me borrow Red Riding Hood.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

She was totally serious.

This morning in class I pulled a small group of students to read with me.

"The cow said, 'The gate is hot.'"

Me: R-, what did the cow say?

R: (pauses) Moo.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ratatouille pretended she was a groundhog today.

The relationship between animals and children has always fascinated me. I've had a few pets in my life that have taken a liking to children more than others, and I wish I understood it better. I once had a horse that tried to buck everyone off her, but if you put a little kid on her back she plodded around like an old plow horse. Ratatouille is one of those animals.

Today my class and I took Ratatouille outside to see if we could see her shadow. Ratatouille is the best guinea pig for an activity like this because kids are her favorite. When kids reach in the cage to pet the piggies, Strega Nona runs inside the house and hides but Ratatouille soaks up the loving. Normally timid, she sat proudly in my arms this morning as I held her in the sunshine for the kids to observe her shadow. When we were done everyone got to pet her of course, and she held her head up high like a beauty queen. What a great pig.

So if you ask Ratatouille there will be 6 more weeks of winter.

In the picture above she is in the classroom cage waiting for some first grade loving.