Friday, April 30, 2010

Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin

I found out from Page Turners that April is Autism Awareness Month, and their challenge was to, "Read and Review a book...dealing with ASD or learning disabilities or by an author who has been diagnosed." This gave me a great excuse to pull "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior" out of my to-be-read pile, which deals with ASD and is written by an author who has been diagnosed, Temple Grandin.

I really liked getting inside Temple's brain through her writing. She definitely has a fascinating and unique mind. I think it's cool that she took what could have been an obstacle and turned it into a career. Thanks to her and her autistic brain, McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC use humane slaughtering practices on the animals we eat.

Overall I didn't learn as much about autism from this book as I thought I would since it was probably 90% about animal brains and 10% about autistic brains. Still I found some very interesting factoids about animals that I had to read aloud to Corey because I knew he'd think about them all day at work. One was, "A Chihuahua never advances past the wolf puppy equivalent of twenty days of age..." which startled me because Corey always says Captain Skippyjon Jones is like a permanent puppy.

And because I used to have goats I liked reading these 3 sentences and learning a new phrase to describe them: Locomotor play is the pretend chasing and jumping-and-spinning play a young animal does when it's alone. (If you want to see locomotor play, watch a goat. They are the biggest jumpers and spinners ever.)

The final bit of information I had to share with Corey was that there is evidence to suggest that dogs and people coevolved! You should read the book if you want to find out what scientists discovered in dog brains and people brains from 10,000 years ago. Corey says he may want to skim through the book now too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Avett Brothers rock!

Last night my friend Stephanie and I went to see The Avett Brothers, which are a folk/rock band. The first time we heard of them was when they opened for Dave Matthews last year and we've been fans ever since. Last night they got to headline!
We decided to meet beforehand for dinner and drinks. As we walked around Historic Downtown Mesa, I was surprised to come across this American Gothic sculpture. It was a little weird to see it in 3-D and giant-size at that.

After dinner we went to a bar for some drinks. We saw a guy that looks like Andy from The Office. Stephanie was excited to see they served absinthe since she's writing about an absinthe expert in her book and she had never tried it. It's not the best taste but it makes you feel good.

We got to Ikeda Theater and discovered being in the third row meant we could almost touch the stage!

Truth and Salvage Co. opened and I was a little nervous from the name that they would be a Christian band. But their first song was about reefer which gave me much relief. I really dug their music and joked to Stephanie that maybe next year we'd see them headline somewhere.

The Avett Brothers are super talented and musical! Not only can they sing, but they each played at least 3 different instruments during the show. Here's Seth on keyboard:

Here's Scott (he's got a big voice) strumming the guitar:

Now Scott on banjo and Seth on guitar:

The hottie bass player is Bob Crawford, not a brother:

The cellist is Joe Kwon. He played the cello like a madman and was blurry in real life too:

They played for 2 hours and did "I and Love and You" for the encore. And don't worry. Just like every other concert I've been too there was that token guy who has to prove intensely that he's the number one fan there.

As we filed out we saw Andy again. We also overheard a girl telling others how she's the only one of her friends who knows who The Avett Brothers are and she can't believe she's the only one who knows The Avett Brothers songs. But she kept mispronouncing their name so Stephanie and I had a good giggle about that. (It's long A, not short a).

It was probably one of the best concerts I've been too. If you haven't heard their music you can check out my favorite video of theirs here:

They did not sing St. Joseph's at the concert though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy(ish) Earth Day!

I did my annual trashing of the classroom today but it didn't quite go as well as last year, due to the spring-breakless-non-functioning-brains of my students.
First when they got back in the class someone screamed at the top of their lungs. The kids started frantically scooping up the crumpled papers (good) but then one of them started cramming them in the garbage can (bad). Then two boys started chasing, battering, and wrestling each other over a catalog (worse), and another boy started ransacking the class library (get me out of here).
They did better when we picked up trash off the playground. Some of my students from last year happened to be out there and helped out too (much better).

1 more day until spring break...wish me luck.

P.S. Hello Spring is by Cathy Nichols.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm exhausted.

Did you know we haven't had spring break yet? It's not until next week. And it's the worst idea ever to have spring break in the middle of the quarter because the kids' brains are full and the teachers are dying of exhaustion. But nobody asked for my opinion. Now it's all cloudy and I just want to go to bed but instead I'm going to clean Strega Nona's cage and grade papers. 2 more days...

If you live in Arizona, please vote yes on Prop 100 May 18th. Teachers need your pennies.

P.S. Cold Hands Warm Heart is by Emily Martin.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

3 Books I Should Love, But Actually Hate

This week Lost in Books would like to know what books I didn't like, perhaps so other people can avoid them too. Here they are in random order:

1. "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - I can't quite pinpoint what made me dislike this book so much. It bored me: probably because there was too much description. I also hated how it ended.

2. "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I didn't like the main character and couldn't understand why she wouldn't just out the priest that knocked her up. Boring. (I recently learned that Louisa May Alcott was friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne. I much prefer "Little Women"!)

3. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert - I can't understand why people love this book so much. The author divorces her husband and gets to check out of life for a year to travel and deal with it. Wow, I feel so bad for you. Stop whining. Luckily a lot of my friends hated this book too, so we get to trash it together.

P.S. I did not take that picture and I don't know who did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

3 Book Covers That Fall Flat

This week Lost in Books wanted to know about book covers that we shouldn't judge a book by. The first one that came to mind for me was from "52 Scrapbooking Challenges" by Elsie Flannigan. I follow her blog and she always posts the cutest pictures of herself. But on her cover she looks straight up dorky. What happened?

The picture on the right is from her blog. See how cute she usually is?!

The next 2 book covers that I chose are just examples of my least favorite kind of book cover: the movie tie-in. Left side = movie tie-in. Right side = much cuter version

Here's the exception though:
Doesn't get scarier than that!

I wish I could remember the titles of a trilogy I read in high school about a girl name Christie. The covers were so awful and distracting that I cut out pictures from magazines and taped new covers over them. I had a lot more free time back then.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Arcadia Falls

I feel so lucky to continue to get Early Reviewer books through LibraryThing. Usually they are books I would probably never go out and buy on my own, and then almost always wind up going above my expectations.

"Arcadia Falls" is my seventh Early Reviewer. Not only is it a clever mystery, but it's a mystery wrapped in an enigma! This story had me guessing all the way to the end, despite the author's clever use of foreshadowing. The details were what really made this book enjoyable to me: paganism, lesbian love affairs, fairy tales, and bohemianism appealed to my liberal sensibilities. I would definitely read another book by Carol Goodman.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This is our friend Obi.

Some cats wish they were dogs; some dogs wish they were bunnies.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

my little joke

I learned my lesson from last year. This morning I told my class that April Fools' Day is tomorrow, and that's why we have it off...sparing myself 6 hours of the worst April Fools' jokes you've ever heard. My friend from the class next door had the idea. I told my class right before we went home that today is actually April Fools' Day, and they laughed. Then I was bombarded with, "There's a mouse over there! April Fools! You're wearing a skirt! April Fools! Someone's in our garden! April Fools!" for the next 5 minutes.

Google's joke actually got me for a whole minute or so. There's nowhere to go but up after, "You're wearing a skirt!"

P.S. "Today is what day?" is from Comesmart.