Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Why not? We've come this far...

I've decided that I want the cold weather to stick around for at least two more days... just so I can say it's 20 below zero in April. I mean, if it's going to be that cold, what's a few more days?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Happy... January?

It's 10 below zero right now.

No further commentary necessary.

Although... the walk in to school this morning DID serve as a refreshing wake-up.

Monday, March 28, 2005

So, Um

It's the day after Easter.

Nothing says "Happy Easter" like fresh knee-deep snowdrifts, huh?

But hey, we're getting more sunlight... that's a very, very good thing.

March 28, 2005 Sun Rise Sun Set

Actual Time 7:21 AM AKST 8:19 PM AKST
Civil Twilight 6:39 AM AKST 9:01 PM AKST

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Allow me to wax bitchy for a minute...

Why did President Bush wait four days to make a statement of sympathy for the victims and their families of the Red Lake school shooting? If memory serves, Clinton made such a statement within HOURS of a very similar shooting in Littleton, CO. Now, I'm not Bill Clinton's biggest fan, but sheesh. It took Bush four days to put together a five-minute phone call to the Red Lake Band's chairman, and five days to put together a public statement.

Far be it from me to cry racial foul when none exists, but the victims and perpetrators in Columbine were White, the victims and perpetrators in Red Lake were (all? mostly?) Native American. So, either Bush is a phenomenal idiot and just didn't see that a public statement of sympthy was probably in order, or he's a racist bastard, even if it is in the most clueless sense of the word.


And on a much more positive note... You may remember a while ago I mentioned some of our junior high students won the AK state Native Science Fair and were going on to nationals. Well, we got a call at home this morning form nationals in New Mexico... our students took second place! Their project, which compared heat loss in a traditional Yup'ik sod home and a modern insulated frame home, was way cool... and a well-executed exercise in the scientific method.

Anyway, they are awesome. There should be a link in the local newspaper next week... I'll post it and force you to read it. ;-)

excuse me while my head explodes

So. How's my week been?

I'm in the midst of testing all of our LEP (Limited English Proficiency) students. In dealing with the K-6 students, I have to test each of them on oral comprehension and production (known in the normal human world as listening and speaking), then administer a reading/writing test. here's the catch... nearly ALL of the students at our school are LEP. That's over 100 students that I have to test. There's only one version of the test, so I have to ask the same inane questions about the same inane pictures over and over and over and over and over and over and over... only to have my (educated, but not No Child Left Behind-sanctioned) infomal evaluation of a given student's language level affirmed. Well, there have been a few surprises, but for the most part, I can predict what level they'll test at. I know that having consistency in testing is important, but didn't they consider Teacher Sanity Levels at ALL while designing these tests?!

It sucks.

See, what I like about teaching is that it provides consistency and structure (which I need in my life) but it's not monotonous (which would drive me insane). Testing has thrown both of those out the window... I'm no longer operating on my normal schedule AND I'm having to do very tedious, repetitive, somewhat mindless work.

Next week, our students take their Big Scary State Test. Then we get the results and find out that (SURPRISE!) our students didn't score as well as someone thousands of miles away says they should. Must be my fault. Never mind that a given student may have scored better than next year... if he's still below an acceptable level, we clearly haven't done a good job. Sure he was two years behind grade level last year and now he's only one year behind, but dammit, what's wrong with our school?

All hail Standardized Testing!

Monday, March 21, 2005


Made it safe and sound (no travel delays in EITHER DIRECTION this time; the gods were smiling down on me) to the village. School started uneventfully if a little late (late start today due to weather) and I'm trying my best to get myself and my students settled back into academic life after a week of fishing, hunting, and playing (for them) and drinking, eating and playing (for me).

Anyway, for those of you who know me personally, and would have cause to call me, and attempted to do so yesterday, you may have noticed that our phone is a big piece of crap. It doesn't work when it's windy (something's wrong with our line outside), and it was windy as a mothaf***a yesterday. The phone rang a bunch of times, but I couldn't even tell who was on the other end. So if it was you... sorry! Hopefully the wind will die down (it seems a little better today) and it will again be functional. If not, call me at school.

So... vacation recap: Therese and Pasha and their housemates are AWESOME! I cannot stress this enough. They rock. San Francisco is a kickass town and I want to go back again and be able to stay longer. So much to see, so little time. Monterey is also cool. Very interesting town, population-wise... bunch of college students (international and domestic), bunch of military folks, bunch of retirees. St Patrick's day is a great holiday because it's really just all about the drinking.

Going from the village to California was a little (ok, a lot) surreal. I mean, they have wineries and sushi restaurants and all that stuff. Scary multi-lane highways. People I haven't seen before. All sorts of stuff that is perfectly normal for the rest of the country but completely outside the realm of my everyday experience.

It was fun, and I'd love to go back... but it's good to be back.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm Shocked

So I got sent to purgatory... I thought FOR SURE I'd get sent to Limbo at least.

I feel like I'm not living life to the fullest if I'm not eligible for at least the first level of Dante's Inferno

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Extreme
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A tough decision

Tomorrow, I will face an important decision.

Should I loaf about or just lounge around?

Vacation is rough.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hello From California!

I arrived safely (and ON TIME!) last night at 7pm Western. We spent the night in San Francisco last night... hit a couple bars, saw some live cuban music, went to the bathroom in a flush toilet...

And now we're off to wander around San Francisco!

Friday, March 11, 2005


For us unattached, non-sport-playing, non-against-leg-shaving-as-a-general-rule women, we eventually reach a moment at which we must bite the bullet and de-fuzz. In many cases, such as mine, it arises out of simple desire. I'm perfectly aware that I do not need to shave. I am just fine with my leg hair. We're friends, even. Thus the whole not shaving through the dark months and not caring who sees me in my shorts. After a while, I kind of started to like the fuzz. Besides, we have body hair to regulate body temperature, and I live in freakin Alaska. A little fuzz is more than appropriate, sez I.

Yesterday, though, I shaved. I'm going to Cali-freakin-fornia, and it just seemed like as good a time as any. And for some sick, twisted reason, I got to thinking... let's say Aliens were studying our planet and practices. They might see this First Shaving After A Very Long Time might appear to be a seasonal riual of some sort. How might their anthropological notes on the matter look?

You women out there know the ritual. First, you make sure you have PLENTY of time and a fresh razor blade. Maybe put on some music, although I didn't go this route. Announce to those around that you are going to perform the ritual ("Hey Roomie, I'm going to shave my legs!"). Now, this is not generally a public ritual, although there are no strict rules prohibiting it. Generally, however, the practitioner secludes herself in the ritual chamber ("bathroom"). At this point, the specific rites can vary. Many women choose to disrobe entirely and completely immerse in water (a "bath"), or stand under a spray of water (a "shower"). Others choose to only partially undress and only bathe the legs.

Thus begins the First Shaving Of The Legs After A Very Long Time. The shaving process, while fairly routine during the summer months, can present the woman with some difficulty the first time around. The shaving implement (A "razor") has to be cleansed ("rinsed") repeatedly to keep it in good working order.

After the ritual, the woman emerges from the ritual chamber refreshed and ready to face a season of short- and skirt-wearing. She may now announce to all that she has shaved, and allow others to "feel how smooth they are." Subsequent summer shavings are far less formal and time-consuming, but the woman my perform the First Shaving Of The Legs After A Very Long Time whenever she feels it is appropriate.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

So... like...

I'll be heading out to California in two days. Therese and Pasha have vodka waiting for me.

This is going to kick ass.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Recommendation

If you're looking for a movie to make you think (minus flashy musical score and gripping action scenes and blah blah blah), rent Rabbit Proof Fence.

Basically... three Australian Aboriginal girls were taken from their homes and put into a "school" far from their homes. But those damn heathen girls for some reason (please please please read the sarcasm I tried to write in there) didn't like the idea of being taken away from their parents. Anyway, long story short, they walked across the Australian bush, evading capture.

Like I said, it's not a Hollywood-style movie during which you can turn your brain off and be passively entertained. Frankly, it's not that exciting a movie if you're expecting an action-filled chase across the wilds of Australia. Most of it is just the three girls... walking, getting food, figuring out whether they can trust people along the way. But somewhere in the middle of the movie, you find yourself invested in their story and their wellbeing. You want them to make it home. The girls they had play the parts are not professional actresses; they're just Aboriginal kids they found who could act. As a result, the performances aren't polished, but they're heartfelt... you can tell these girls grew up hearing stories like this from parents/grandparents and that they know exactly what they're talking about.

See it if you think it's your thing.

Enough about that. I need to get back to work.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


End-of-quarter is here again. Teachers, you know what I mean.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


It's Saturday and we have to work. It's also pretty nice out (clear and not too cold, a little wind but not too bad), which makes it all the more painful to be here working on grades and planning for next year...


Planning for how to better serve my students next year is much more exciting than entering grades into a computer system that likes to shut down on a whim. Guess which one I'm doing first?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Visitors From Another Pay Grade

District Office and State Department of Education folks are visiting today...

Funny how the everyday act of teaching becomes more stressful under the watchful (but overall very friendly) eyes of the superiors...