Monday, February 28, 2005

A Swift Self-Kick in the Pants (Boring Teacher Post)

I've been a bit lazy lately. It's February. February can be a long month. My desk wasn't so much a work station as a storage unit. I could barely work at it. Those who know me know that if my surroundings are messy, I don't function well. Yesterday, I decided I'd had it. I've known for months how I want my classroom set up, but I haven't had the desire to take a full day out of my weekend to do the work.

Yesterday was that day.

My desk is in a new, better place... blocking off the little niche of my room where the filing cabinets, microwave and little fridge are located. My students know that my desk is my space, but now there's no question that the area by the files and food is also my personal space.

It's also nice because I've finally figured my job out, meaning that I can organize my classroom around what I need, not what I think I might maybe need. Sheesh, it only took me six months to figure out and an a 12-hour Sunday of work to get right.

First year teaching is a bitch. Like I said to our dean of students today... I've got a "What I'll do differently next year" list that's really more of an epic novel.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dad

OK, it's not your birthday here yet... a half hour to go.

I won't tell how old you are in this public forum... One day closer to retirement will suffice.

Thanks for everything you've done for me and my sisters over the years! Mom, too, but she'll get her own on her birthday.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ice Fishing

I took a bunch of kids ice fishing today. Ice fishing the old-fashioned way: with sticks that have fishing line tied to them. We were smelt fishing (small fish) and darn if it wasn't fun.

At about noon, a student came to get me. Roomie gave us a ride out to where the fishin's good (and where other people have already drilled holes). On the way, we picked up about four other kids, drove them to their houses to get outfitted in snowpants, etc, and FINALLY got to the ice fishing spot at ten after one.

Let the good times commence. On our walk from the road to the spot, we picked up two more kids. Once we got out there, we found our school secretary already there, along with two students and their dad, and some other folks.

Since we had picked up the two extra kids, we were now short two "iqseks" (sticks for fishing, don't quote me on the spelling). As a result, I only got to fish for about five minutes, but I did bring in two fish, plus the one that got snagged just as I handed my stick to a student... so I count it as three. Three little tiny fish which I gave to a student since it's not worth it to keep smelt unless you've got a bunch to make soup or something.

Good times, good times.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Stomach Flu

Yup, that was fun. I got the one-day stomach flu that's been going around town. No fun, let me tell you. I went to bed feeling fine, then woke up wanting to puke my guts out. Went into work for a little while to do up sub stuff (was TOTALLY not prepared to be sick; it hit that quickly), then headed home to be miserable.

But I'm all better now. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Blahs

It's February, it's time for the February Funk.

How can the shortest month of the year ALWAYS feel like it drags on and on and on and on and on? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

On a more positive note, I'm losing weight. Nothing huge; I'm averaging a pound a week or so, but something's better than nothing, right? Even with my fatty feast at New Teacher Inservice last weekend that included seal, beluga whale, I still lost my pound for the week.

Also on a positive note, the sun was (BARELY) starting to come up when I walked to school yesterday at 7:45. No significant light, but it was something to celebrate. I'm kinda sad that I'm here for the long nights and that I'm not going to be here to enjoy the long days. I do, however, want to come back a week or two early and do some berry picking and maybe gathering of some plants that are supposed to be good for making tea when you're congested. My dad wants to come and go fishing... he can do traditional man stuff and I can do traditional woman stuff. Because I'm SOOOOOOOOO tradtional. ;-)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Check It Out!


My blog translated:

Don't click on this if a few f-bombs scare you. SO GREAT!

Friday, February 18, 2005

So Neglectful

Yes, I've been a bad blogger. BAD SARA! BAD BAD SARA!

Had the most harrowing take-off of my brief bush teaching career. This afternoon, I had to go into Bethel for our last (!) New Teacher Inservice. Waiting at the airport where there were no buildings, I noticed even more than in the village how windy it was. The guy who gave me a ride there (the local agent for that specific airline) said about 40 knots or so. The plane landed, but wasn't able to turn the corner to meet us on the access area (where trucks and cars and stuff pull up to the planes). So we drove out onto the (still gravel) runway.

Got into the plane, which was shaking quite nicely in the wind, mind you. The pilot turned to me and said "We're going to take off going this way, it that all right with you?" He kind of gestured out in front of the plane.

I nodded, mostly out of good midwestern politeness, without really taking the time to think about it. Bush pilots generally know their shit. Only after the engine had started up did I look out the front of the airplane... we only had maybe 1/3 of the runway in front of us. This is not a long, paved, can-land-jets kind of runway to start with, so 1/3 of it is pretty dang short.

I think to myself, he's not going to go that way, I must have misunderstood him. Oh, but I didn't.

So we start moving forward. Now, I know that you're supposed to take off into the wind, but I figured we'd go to the other end of the runway, or at least part of the way down, before turning around and taking off. But noooooooooooooooo. We just went. Straight forward, towards the place where a few orange airport cone thingies marked the place where the runway drops off into the tundra.

I'm usually a fairly relaxed flier and I pride myself on not shrieking or tensing up when we go over big wind bumps, but I'll freely and gladly admit that were I not a compulsive nailbiter, I would have had fingernail marks on my hands from clenching them so tightly. We made it into the air going pretty slow (strong winds are good for that) and climbed basically straight up. I'd never ascended that quickly in a bush plane before.

Maybe I should have said "No, it's not OK if we take off on this little mini-chunk of runway. Turn around and do it proper." But from what the pilot told me after we landed, turning the plane around in that wind would have flipped it over... that's why he didn't make the turn to come over to the loading/unloading area. So had I said no, I would have had a choice to either get off the plane or suck it up and take it like a woman.

Got to Bethel just fine and am now relaxing at the bed-and-breakfast (or what passes for one in Bethel) with a friend from another village. Said friend informed me that calories don't count in Bethel (the stress of being in Bethel makes up for any calories that you take in). I decided that was a wonderful thing and proceeded to order a double bacon pineapple cheeseburger.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I dyed my hair last night. No big deal, nothing wild or crazy, I just wanted to add some red to it. I'm fairly disappointed with the results... you can hardly see a difference. Grr. But it was a good evening's worth of entertainment. Roomie is weathered in another village with our entire jr high basketball team, so I've been having to entertain myself. Monday night: baked bread. Tuesday night: dyed hair. She better get in today or I'll have to resort to cleaning.

150 days until the new Harry Potter book comes out. I have it on pre-order to be sent to my parents' address since I won't be here. How much of a childish geek am I?

I came back from the bilingual conference with a renewed zest for teaching. If only I had had time to lesson plan, this would be an amazing week of educational wonder. Instead it's so-so.

I had beer in Anchorage. Four of them. They were good. If you're ever in Alaska and you like dark beer, try the Alaskan Smoked Porter. You won't regret it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Why I'm not going to sleep on bush planes anymore

We got stuck in Bethel overnight coming back from Anchorage because of bad weather (it was actually a pleasant experience for once since I had people to stay with), and we got out this afternoon after almost four hours of waiting at the airport. As soon as we take off, I doze off. I can't normally sleep on planes or in cars, but for some reason the loud background nose and vibrations of the bush plans put me right to sleep.

Now, before we left had Bethel, the people at the aiport had put up a sign saying that there was a lost snowmachiner somewhere north of Eek who had been missing since last night. I had half thought at the time "Hey, I should keep an eye out, we're heading south and will pass right over Eek." But, like I said, bush planes put me to sleep, scary wind-induced bumps and all.

Anyway, after a while I awake and feel Liz (kindergarten teacher) tugging on the sleeve of the pilot, who is sitting next to me. She points down at the ground, and sure enough, there are two men and a snowmachine (snowmobile) next to a little shack that I think is usually used in the summer for fishing, but I didn't ask. The men had just shot off a flare and were waving their arms.

So anyway, we circled around, dropped down real low, and waved to them. They were waving their gas can... either they ran out of gas or it was just something bright colored to wave, I don't know which. The pilot called on the radio for them to send the State Troopers. We circled around again, tipped our wings back and forth at them, and continued on.

The whole thing made an otherwise routine (and extra slow, we had a 40 knot headwind the whole way, according to the pilot) trip a little more interesting. I couldn't fall back asleep afterwards.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Silly. Bizarre. RiDONKulous.

Saw this link on The One and Only Chickscum's website and just don't get it. Apparently the state of Virginia (or at least one dude in said state) might like to, indeed, employ fashion police. Some legislator introduced a bill that would make it illegal to wear pants with your underwear showing.

I find that particular fashion statement to be fairly useless and impractical, but is it really legislation-worthy? I thought the fact that wearing pants that show your underwear prevents you from being taken seriously in the job market would be enough to eventually sway most people from this ill-advised fashion trend. And even if this is not the case, is this really a good use of a lawmaker's time and energy? Jesucristo, the taxpayers in his state are paying this guy to make real laws, not try to ban fashion trends that annoy people.

In the spirit of Draconican Fashion Police Virginia State Legislator Man, the following is a list of fashion trends that I have decided I do not personally care for. Some of these fashion crimes I have fallen victim to over the years, but I have seen the error of my ways. Hey, if this guy can ban saggy pants because they annoy him, why can't I do the same? I will be submitting a laundry list (pun unintended, but recognized and not deleted) of fashion trends that I expect to be banned by the Alaska state legislature this session. Please call your legistlator and ask that he/she do the same.

Fashion Trends to be Banned Under the So-Called "Sara's Law"

1. Kulats (culats? koo-lats? *shrugs*) or however the hell you spell them. If you want to wear a skirt, wear a skirt. If you want to wear shorts, wear shorts. Splitting the difference is in no one's best interest.

2. Those shirts that have fake vests sewn onto ONLY the front. Sew a fake vest back onto them and they'll be fine. I just don't like the lack of consistency in having a fake vest in front and not in back.

3. Cowboy boots on anyone who doesn't own a single farm animal unless he/she is wearing them as an ironic statement.

4. FUBU on white people.

5. Mullets, unless they are amusing to me personally. Most are just sad, though, so special permission will have to be granted through the state Department of Things That Piss Sara Off.

There are more. Many more. Please see me if you have a question about a specific fashion trend.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Just Gotta Share

I figure since I exposed you guys to the worst of Quinhagak (the massive-by-village-standards dope bust), I'll keep you informed of the good, as well.

A group of junior high students competed in the district's science fair, and won it. The requirements for the project were to combin native knowledge and culture with modern scientific techniques. They won the district contest, and went on to the state competition. They won! Their project was hella-cool, I have to admit. They built a miniature model of a traditional Yup'ik sod home, as well as a miniature model of a frame house (with insulation and everything), then compared heat retention in both houses. The sod house won out, but not by much.

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I'm watching ABC, waiting for the AK news to come on because our students were interviewed, and the show Wife Swap is on. Bear in mind that this is not something I would EVER watch under any other circumstances. Anyway, this one mother is ranting and raving at a lesbian couple, saying that they are immoral and... what was her word... oh right, depraved for allowing themselves to be near her children. Now, I like guys as much as the next straight gal, but to call someone depraved to his/her face?! Just for their sexual preference?! These were the least in-your-face lesbians ever! Sheesh, I know straight girls who are more butch than these women were. There are some nasty people I will just never understand and who, quite frankly, I have no desire to understand. Maybe that makes me closed-minded, I don't know.

Anyway, yay for Quinhagak science fair participants, boo for bigoted scary bible-thumping bitches who couldn't be any less Christian-acting if they tried, and yay again for flush plumbing and bathtubs.

Flush Toilets and a Bath

Ah, the simple pleasures.

Seriously, I've been sniffly, sore-throaty sick all week. I'm still feeling a little under the weather, but MUCH better since I took a nice long, bath with eucalyptis bubble bath. I just went out at lunch to get some bubble bath, but saw that it said "For the Cold Season" on it. It might be (probably is) just a placebo effect, but I really felt a lot better afterwards.

Going to dinner soon with the one non-school person I know in the state of Alaska. Should be fun. I will drink beer. It will be good.

And with that, I'm off!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Bitching and Moaning

Stupid runny nose has settled in my throat and chest.

Stupid weather is being nasty, hope I can get out of the village tomorrow to go to Anchorage.

Stupid water plant is having issues so we've been in "water conservation mode" for the past few days. No laundry, no showering because they couldn't fill our water tanks and we didn't want to run out. I'm showering at the school today.

Stupid stupid stupid stupid.

*Raging bitch mode off*

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I'm About Due for a Honey Bucket Post

The usual warning when it comes to honey bucket posts: if poop and pee talk offends you, stop. Then again, if poop and pee talk really, truly offends you, we probably have little in common... and we know for sure that you're not a primary school teacher.

Let me tell you... you want to stay humble? Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground? For one week, personally dispose of your own wastes.

So my roommate and I were having a very high-minded conversation about race relations and other such lofty things. It was a very intellectually stimulating conversation and I was thinking, "Wow, we really are smart people, Roomie and I." Just then, I realized that tonight was my night on honey bucket dumping duty. So there I was, with my almost-complete masters degree, fresh out of a spirited conversation on race expectations in various parts of the United States, dumping a tied-off plastic bag of pee and anuq out of a ten-gallon pail into a small dumpster already containing a few of my neighbors' tied-off bags in the freezing darkness. Talk about a return to the real world.

It does serve as a reminder that people are, in the end, nothing but big poop machines.