Friday, June 30, 2006


I have no idea who this guy is. But pay attention to his hand.

At dinner the other night my husband said something I didn't get. A pause. "Sarcasm," he explained, holding both hands like this.

"Are you flashing gang signs?"

"No, HTML."

I don't know which of us is geekier.

the hobgoblin of little minds

UWL recently wrote: "I am terrified of raising a child in this environment. I know that's something parents have always dealt with, but I have no idea how to handle this. I don't want my son to grow up with negative feelings about his country, but I don't want him to be patriotic about a nation that is doing little more than harm to its people. How on earth do we reconcile this?"

Nothing wrong with a little inconsistency. It's been said before and will be said again: the highest form of patriotism is honest criticism. As for kids, the world's a mess, true, but you bring a new person into it to celebrate life and hopefully so that you and your children can help make the world a better place.

Speaking of little minds, I visited a Montessori school today. BP says everyone should sit in on a grand jury proceeding, I say go to a preschool. First there's the cute factor. Any kid in pigtails makes me smile. Then there's the curiosity. It's refreshing to see a group of kids genuinely interested in exploring the world around them. Not a bad way to spend the morning.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

state terrorism

Can we win the war on terror? At what cost? Can we do it without resorting to state terrorism?

    I learned this morning that threatening the 7-year-old and 9-year-old children of a confirmed terrorist doesn't work.

Not to belittle the question, I really don't know how the United States can "win" the war on terror without compromising human rights. The basis of terrorism is exaggerating the differences in power to force the state to take drastic actions (e.g. assassinations, torture, stomping on individual privacy, etc.), thus creating a climate of fear and forcing support for the terrorist's claims.

I'm following the escalation of violence again in Gaza. It will take some very talented diplomats to resolve this quickly and peacefully.

An aside: Reuters news has a pull-down menu entitled "Choose a crisis." There are approximately forty topics listed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

this is the end

All my students showed up last Friday for a pizza party. Remember, my students have so many truancies from this year and years past that they all have court records. It was the first day I ever filled out attendance when no one was absent. I checked it twice.

Several people volunteered to bring things, and it truly shocked me when every single one of them followed through. Even Alejandro brought napkins. You have no idea what a huge accomplishment that is. Anyway, it was a great shindig. The kids went all out--not just bringing ice cream, but a huge tub of Neopolitan; not just bringing soda, but root beer for floats and three other 2-liters of assorted sugary flavors; not just 3 bags of chips, but calling home so their moms could drop by an extra bag of hot Cheetos; you get the idea. It was fun.

Although Friday really felt like the last day, today was my last day teaching. Eighth graders are all moving up to high school even though many of them are nowhere near grade level in all subjects. You can only hold a sixteen-year-old with remedial skills back in middle school so long before he turns into a bad influence, a thug, and a dropout. Every once in a while, social promotion makes sense. I'm much more encouraged by the progress some of them have made. Whether emotionally or academically, these kids have grown up a lot. I'm lucky to have a job where I get to see such huge results in very human and profound examples.

Especially given the shooting last week and the drive-by from a few weeks ago, the suicide in early spring and the sudden fatal illness from Christmas vacation, despair hangs thick in the air. It is remarkable to see how resilient these kids are and to triumph in our own tenacity as teachers and administrators. I'm heartened by the positive attitude on campus today. Our staff party rife with silly awards reminded me that I work with talented, dedicated, passionate, and compassionate colleagues. I even walked home with a silly award and a bag of chocolates.

To quote Farmer Hoggett: That'll do.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


What exactly defines a weed? The things that are growing in my yard more rapidly than the things that aren't? If only the "aggressive ground cover" was half as thriving. Certainly weeds aren't the ugly plants because some have beautiful purple blossoms. And it's not just the stuff lying close to the ground. We are leaving our backyard to its natural desert state for just a few more weeks. In one corner is a weed that must be taller than my daughter. I shudder to think how deep its roots must be. At some point I'll post a photo.

p.s. This is not a metaphor. I really am talking about plants.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Police and district custodial staff were hosing down blood spattered across the pavement around our school when I drove into the parking lot this morning.

The shooting occurred last night at 8:30 on the school basketball courts. An 11-year-old was killed from a .22 bullet in his back. His older brother, a quiet, decent kid and one of my former students, was shot in the arm. A custodian heard five shots and quickly ushered the kids into the building, not knowing if the shooter was still around or not. The wounded boy was carried into our staff lounge by a sixth-grader who hoisted him on his shoulders. The custodian called school police, and an ambulence arrived in minutes. Meanwhile the older brother had taken off running when he himself was shot, trailing blood all over the school grounds. He got about a block away before realizing his little brother wasn't with him, so he turned around and sprinted back. I can't imagine the fear, the courage, the horror he experienced.

Senseless violence. It's getting to all of us.

Apparently it was not gang-related, though it could have been. The suspect is an outside 16-year-old from out of town. He accosted a group of a half-dozen kids on the courts and asked where they were from. The boys said, "nowhere," and next thing they knew he was shooting at them. From nowhere.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

all baby all the time

Last ultrasound today: all looks good. He's about 5 1/2 pounds and comfortably sucking away on the back of his hand.

My greatest obstacle lately has been trying to avoid talking only about the baby. My poor husband is constantly listening to "ah, there's a kick" or "look at how big I am" or "can you believe it's only __ days away!" He's excited too, but I think it's a little repetitive to hang out with me right now. I've forgotten how to converse without mentioning my belly. So my goal for Wednesday is to not talk about the baby. Maybe that's weird, but I feel like it's a good idea to remember how to be just me for a bit. Hmmm.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

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Friday, June 16, 2006

the right man

You know you've married the right man when you give him a box of Godiva assorted chocolates for father's day, and he says they taste best shared.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

knock knock

...or just barge right in, if you're the police. The Supreme Court decided that knocking, announcing their arrival, and waiting a reasonable time of 15-20 seconds was a mere technicality and shouldn't render evidence impermissible as long as police officers have a warrant. Oh wait, they don't need a warrant either in some cases.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

very small wonders

I learned about favicons and tool tips today.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Despite my laryngitis, I had a fun-filled weekend.

Saturday we spontaneously decided to be tourists. With John coming in a month (?!), we won't have many road trip opportunities left in the near future.

So we drove out to Santa Barbara--much more beautiful than the old TV show I vaguely remember from my childhood. We found rockstar parking near a nice coffee shop downtown. I walked under the most architecturally beautiful underpass I've ever seen. If I'd had a camera, I would have taken these photos. Except that we opted out of the sea lion boat tour. Laura is still weirded out by sand--touching it, walking on it, and especially getting it in her shoes.

After a quick bite of fish and chips on the wharf, we stopped by the Mission. Local schools had decorated the front drive with amazing chalk art. Although the link above has some nice pictures, it's missing the serene courtyard garden and the mossy palm tree cemetery. Considering we spent $12 total on our trip, this was definitely worth $8.

Today we discovered that the park closest to our house is hidden behind a daycare and a horse-field. I know there's probably a more appropriate name for the area of dirt where horses go to prance around, but I don't know what that is.

The park consists of the horse stuff, a soccer field, a small open field, a playground set for kids in elementary school and daredevil toddlers, something with lots of small posts that I couldn't figure out, and an area that was being used today as a competitive RC car racetrack complete with many impressive jumps.

We hung out in the soccer field, taking turns to see who could make the glider take the biggest nosedive. It's a beautiful little toy with purple and orange flames. We'll be lucky if it lasts through the summer. Then the little one wandered over to the edge of the racetrack to watch the cars up-close through the chain link fence. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to the Indy 500. Given the circumstances, I can't imagine a trip to Indianapolis could be any more fun.

Friday, June 09, 2006

on ballet

I believe in the importance of learning about the world around me. As a kid I didn't get why my parents were interested in the news every night, but as an adult I see how a man dying in Iraq can affect my country and my life.

I even believe in the importance of "soft" news--why it's good to hear stories about novels or art for the sake of edification. But sitting in traffic the other day and listening to a three-minute segment about the inner squabbles in the Bolshoi Ballet, I felt my mind wander. Maybe it would be an ok story at 9:10 p.m., but not at 4:48.

However, when the story of two men reconstructing the Bellagio fountains with Diet Coke and Mentos came on, I didn't bother questioning its newsworthiness (clearly there is none). Melissa Block interviewed the choreographers in white lab coats and goggles, and I just enjoyed making the leap over the fine line between news and entertainment.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Like going to the doctor just for the lollipop, I dropped off my ballot for the primary election and got a sticker to take home to the little one. We live in a mail-in district; no polling places are located nearby, so we get to fill out absentee ballots. Though you would think this was easier, it's not so convenient for one who procrastinates. It means I fill it out Tuesday night while searching archived editorial endorsements online and rush to the not-so-nearest polling place to drop it off before the deadline. I guess it's the equivalent of a take-home test.

Actually, my daughter did take a trip to the doctor today, too, but no lollipop. Unpleasant yellow gunk is oozing from her eyes, so we're told no school for her until Monday. Somehow it always works out that just before an upcoming break I have to use my sick days. Oh well, that's why they exist.

At the end of today, I took a look at my smeared black shirt and came to the realization that the creators behind the green-sliming monsters in Ghostbusters probably had kids.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Our tiny town with big growing pains held a parade today to kick off the summer. With the one marching band that played a bit out of step and out of tune, our two fire engines, and four princesses advertising car dealers and landscaping companies, I was not quite as impressed as our daughter. Honestly the best showing came from "El Mariachi," with its enthusiastic guitar and trumpet players and kids handing out menus of the local Mexican restaurant. All said and done, I'm glad we went.

Friday, June 02, 2006

core values

I can't quite decide how to respond to the announcement that U.S. servicemen and women will receive "Core Values Training" as a result of the ongoing investigation into the atrocities at Haditha.

1. I'm not against core values; I just wonder if they're something that can be taught in a slideshow presentation.

2. What makes this training different from the education members of the military are supposed to receive at boot camp and just before deployment?

3. I worry that the Haditha incident is not just a lapse of judgment on the part of a few individuals but an indication that something has gone terribly wrong far up the chain of command. Between the coverup, the grueling conditions of multiple tours-of-duty, and the mixed rationale for being in Iraq that has turned into nation-building, I wonder if that training is something a few people in D.C. might benefit from.