Nothing In Particular

I visited an AP camp at another high school this morning. AP students commonly have summer reading assignments, usually consisting of 1 or more novels and some related writing project. AP students commonly do not complete their summer reading assignments. (To be fair, that is not entirely accurate. Many do. Many, however, do not.) To alleviate this common problem, this high school has started a week-long AP camp during the summer. While not required, it provides a structured time for students to come in, get help, and finish their summer assignments before school starts. I think this is a good idea, and perhaps I shall try to implement it next year.

As for my own AP class planning, I am realizing how completely unprepared I am to teach this class. I suppose all AP teachers feel this way at the beginning. There is such a huge volume of information to cover, in addition to the catch-up material some students arrive needing. And to be honest, I am not completely sure that I've ever had formal instruction over all of the material myself. Not that formal instruction is the only, or even the best, way of learning. . .it just makes me feel somewhat at a disadvantage. They start listing different types of essays written for different purposes, and I'm not sure I could explain what each type/purpose is, let alone give examples. Fortunately, they are mostly common-sense and easy-to-figure-out-if-you-just-think-type labels. No doubt this year will prove. . .adventurous.

On an unrelated subject, it is utterly ridiculous how we (or at least, I) make ourselves miserable over things we cannot control and cannot change. How ironic that selfish behavior tends only to make the self (who, of course, is supposed to be the prime beneficiary of said behavior) more miserable and more conscious of its "wrongs" than otherwise. I am ashamed to admit it has taken me 2 days to admit this. To subdue my massively chaotic mental ravings, I finally scrawled them all out in random and spontaneous order. I am not sure what I think about this method of therapy. While writing is unquestionably therapeutic, spewing out childish whining is not much better (if any) in ink than by voice. On the other hand, it is easily recognizable as childish whining when spelled out on paper, and at least no one else has to put up with it.

I believe I should now be getting ready for our trip to the city this weekend. The kitchen needs to be cleaned up, my school paraphenelia (of which there is an over-abundance) straightened, and a suitcase packed if we plan on wearing clean clothes--which we do. In addition to that, I need to make 2 phone calls, pay the bills, balance the budget, and wash a load of clothes. Oh, and I have chicken thawing that must be cooked before we leave. Yes, my afternoon work should keep me busy. Some music will be helpful.


Reading Results

I've finished both the book on the hip-hop generation and the one on home educating. While I definitely recommend the Boyer book to those who are interested in a bit of background philosophy and a few tips on home education (he dislikes the term "homeschool"), I'd recommend the hip-hop book only with a couple grains of salt. The facts are interesting, but the interpretation is decidedly liberal. There is, of course, some truth what she says; there is always a bit of truth on both sides of the fence. Personally, I think it was worth reading to see the dilemma facing young black Americans as many of them see it.


Giant Zucchini and Purple Peppers

Last week, I didn't make it to the Farmer's Market until 10 o'clock. Since they open at 7 and close at 11, the prime produce is mostly gone by 10. However, I still came home with plenty, including peaches and a watermelon. This week, I made the effort and got out of bed at 8. However, I then discovered I had to do a little prep work for lunch if we wanted to eat before 3, so I didn't make it to the Market until 9. They were MORE sold-out than last week at 10!

Although I am disappointed that I didn't make it in time to get any fruit, I did come home with potatoes, tomatoes, fresh garlic, green bell pepper, and, my two prize purchases, a giant zucchini and a dark purple bell pepper. I have seen large zucchini before, but this one might take the cake. (Or bread, as that is what it will be used for. . .) It is almost a foot long and 4-5 inches in diameter at the biggest part. As for the purple bell pepper, I've never seen such a thing. The proprietor assures me they are somewhat sweet; I must confess I'm more excited about the aesthetic value. Imagine the added appeal to stir-fry or baked vegetables with purple thrown in!

Do you think getting up early on Saturday to go buy fresh produce counts as "bringing food from afar"? (Excuse my British punctuation. . .it just makes so much more sense!)


O Realist of the Fantastic!

. . .Joseph Conrad's moniker for H.G. Wells.

I've finished The War of the Worlds. I must confess that I don't particularly like it. . .just not my type of reading, I suppose. Neither do I particularly like his writing style. I'm sure I should be better able to articulate a reason for that statement, but suffice to say I think it redundant and bogged down with theorizing. Thick with social commentary, I'm not quite sure if that or the story is really the main point. Nor am I sure if my previous comment on Wells' theology are correct. The Christian overtones I cited at the end of the movie do indeed come from the book. . .word for word, if my memory serves. Yet he is clearly an evolutionist, both scientifically and socially. I am confused as to whether the process of "survival of the fittest" or the predestination of God saved Earth from the Martians. In truth, I do not particularly care and shall not trouble my head about it any more. I have more interesting things to read, including a book on writing that my aunt sent me today. I really want to start it, but I think I will force myself to finish one other book before I do. . .my progress has lagged this week, with the workshop I've been in for 6 hours every day, and is likely to remain slow next week. Not that I'm complaining, as both workshops are practical, not politically correct doggerel (not a new word, but a new context for me. . .Wells uses it as a "dumb or silly rhyme." Hurrah for ever-expanding vocabulary!).

I believe it is near my bedtime, so farewell to all.


Art Deco Tour

We took a guided tour of downtown Tulsa in my teacher workshop today, looking at all the art deco buildings built with oil money in the teens and 20's. Here's some of what we saw.
A piece of an elevator door in the 320 South Boston building, formerly the National Bank of Tulsa:

The 320 South Boston building as seen from the 15th floor terrace of the Mid-Continental building, formerly the Cosden building, built in 1918 by an oilman, renovated in 1984 (Note the stonework of the Mid-Continental building, seen in the corner):

The top of the Philtower, so named for Waite Phillips, oilman of the famed Phillips oil company:

The tower of what used to be the local grocery store:


[God] is not an insurance agent.

It's a quote from The War of the Worlds. The narrator, who is running from the advancing Martian attack, runs into a curate whose mind has collapsed in response to the mass destruction. The editor's notes comment on Wells' portrayal of the impotency of the clergy as a representation of the outdated institution of religion, etc. The implication is that Wells is decidedly anti-clergy, if not anti-Christian in general. Nevertheless, I like the quote. When the curate bemoans the destruction and repeatedly asks why it has happened, citing such childish remonstrances as the church they just built and the great work they've done in the community, the narrator responds with "He is not an insurance agent."

I watched a sermon last night by a local charismatic pastor. In the course of his sermon, he asserted that Christians are not supposed to "barely get by." Typical prosperity teaching, I found it ironic that this man who, I believe, has a true faith in Christ believes he is insured against poverty (which he defines as "barely getting by;" lacking basic needs, which others consider poverty, is "bondage") because of his faith; meanwhile, this at-best-deist speaker in Wells' novel openly acknowledges the truth that God's rain falls on just and unjust alike.


Summer, Risk, Stir-fry, & Interplanetary War

This day felt like my first actual day of summer. I got up when Kevin did, worked on bills and groceries and bank balances in the morning, fixed lunch so Kevin could come home, read, fixed dinner. . .I fear I shall be a basket case when it comes time to return to school. At least I won't have much time to get used to this. Next week and the week after I have week-long workshops, then I'll begin packing. We're moving into a larger apartment with a patio and balcony area on the weekend of August 5. Then I'll unpack for a week. And by then, I'll only have a day or two before I have to be back at school. Frightening.

I lost a game of Risk to Kevin tonight. It was a lousy game. I'm a horrible dice-roller. Don't ever take me to play Craps. It's very depressing to lose every battle, regardless of one's position as attacker or defender. I even lost the battles I rolled for the neutral territories. Very sad.

I fixed stir-fry for dinner tonight. I really like rice. I've always like rice, but now that we've switched completely to long-grain rice, it's even better. Lately, I've been buying Thai rice. It's supposed to smell like jasmine, and it has a slightly softer texture and a slightly sweeter flavor. We're almost out. . .AGAIN. I think I may as well buy the giant, feed-a-family-of-twelve-size bag, because we go through it pretty fast. I wish I had another canister in my set. Why do they only make canister sets with four canisters? There are more things than just flour and sugar (and whatever else you happen to put in the other two) that should go in cansiters. For one, I have three different types of flour. What am I supposed to do with the other two??? (Actually, at the moment I have four. . .but one of them is not a staple.) Then there's rice, Bisquik, coffee, tea, brown sugar, corn meal. . .the list is endless. I need at least a six-canister set, bare minimum. Perhaps I should just get two of the four-canister sets, but that would take up a lot of space. Of course, if I just stack like sizes, it wouldn't take any more space than it takes now. I wonder if it would look cluttered with canisters standing up over the top of the counter. . . .

We went to see War of the Worlds a couple days ago. It was a bit graphic, but I was surprised with the Christian overtone of the final narration. I started reading the book this week. I don't think it came from there. . .H.G. Wells was an evolutionist and seems to be something of a pessimist about the future of mankind. It was probably a Spielberg addition. Interesting.


In Case You're Wondering. . .

Strawberry jello is NOT a substantially filling food.
Vehicle registration is outrageously expensive in Oklahoma.
There is a baby grasshopper on my driver's side mirror.
I am feeling better, aside from being ravenously hungry and not knowing what to eat.


Considering the busy list of things I had set out to accomplish today before we have company around 12:30, this day is turning out to be a dismal failure. That could have something to do with me getting up at 5:36 and again at 7:10 to vomit.

Currently, I am ravenous and scared to eat. I had some jello about 40 minutes ago, so perhaps I shall try something else soon. I don't feel sick: no fever, no aches, no pains. This is all very confusing.

So, I'm guessing that my lunch plans are now to go out somewhere, because I no longer have time to take a shower, go to the grocery store, and cook lunch. We'll settle for taking a shower and renewing my car tag and driver's license, both of which are expired. That was in the thwarted plan for this morning, too. So was paying bills. I don't know if I'll get there today.

I made prioritized lists and everything. So much for the best-laid plans.


Home Again, Jiggity Jig

After 2 busy weeks away from our little hermitage--err, apartment--it is lovely to be home again. Cozumel was beautiful, the marine life vivid, the sun hot, the experience enjoyable; Florida was refreshing, the family reliably hilarious, the food overabundant, the weather muggy, the scenery gorgeous; but home is home, and it is best. I am going about my laundry and after-vacation cleaning in spurts interrupted by friendly phone conversations, pleasant reading, and the disturbing of Kevin at his new computer game. We have very little food in the house, so meals are a bit of a challenge. Neither of us want to brave the grocery store on Independence Day. Tomorrow will be soon enough, as I did (thankfully) have the foresight (or blind luck) to store 3 different meats in the freezer and a few miscellaneous vegetables in the pantry.

I have just been reading Home Educating with Confidence, by Rick and Marilyn Boyer. There is a hysterically funny and sadly accurate quote I must share:
New hypotheses and fashions are constantly slithering out of the swamps of imagination to sprout wings and go swooping through the swirling winds of mass educational theory.
After 4 years of college and 1 scant year of teaching, I can boldly say I know enough to proclaim it true. It's pitiful how many professional development workshops we have to school us in the latest "research" that will suddenly make our teaching effective. How sad that I can't even hope to be effective now, as I am sure "they" will discover later this year the one element I am now missing.

More later. . .