Friday, May 30, 2008

Renewing my Teaching Certificate

My Utah teaching certificate expires the end of June.  I don't foresee ever teaching full time again, but I'd like to keep my options open and maybe substitute when I need a fix. The application was easy for me because I just stopped teaching two years ago, did a long-term sub job for a colleague's maternity leave, and had lots of inservice hours.  

I had a lovely visit with my last principal, who signed my paperwork. Then came the surprising part--the state didn't want my paperwork.  I guess that is not terribly unusual for professional licenses, but it seems.....risky.  What if I hadn't actually done the things I said I did?  I guess last time I renewed I was actively teaching and my principal kept the paperwork.  Now, I'm supposed to maintain the records in case someone asks to see them.  What's the likelihood of that?  Are there spot checks?  Is it possible that someone is actually teaching without meeting the renewal requirements?  

I am one of the first to admit that inservices, classes, even substituting do not make a good teacher.  It's lots more complex than that.  I guess I'll just have to assume that the system works and we are all conscientious and trustworthy.  Sheesh, that's tough for an old skeptic like me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grammar issues

I'm back to venting about grammar today.  A story headline in the newspaper admonished us to "Eat Healthy."  Is that like eat broccoli or eat blueberries?  Where does one buy "Healthy"?  I will definitely go and get some to eat.  

This seems sadly related to the failed slogan promoted by Utah a few years ago when signs reminded people to "Drive Safe."  I wondered if I was in trouble because I was driving a Chevy.  I have a safe, but it's not drivable.  Oh, maybe it's like Drive Careful, or Drive Smart, or Drive Fast (oops, probably not that one), maybe Drive Slow (people will honk at you), or even Drive Stupid.  Hey, that makes me think that we can Drive Silly, Drive Crazy, or even Drive Orange.  

Okay, I'll stop.  Some people will say that it doesn't matter as long as people get the message.  I guess that's true as long as those same people don't ever need to be able to communicate accurately with others who speak English. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Memoir in Six Words?

Okay, Musings tagged me so I'll play...

Rules:  Write a title for your memoir using only six words.
              Link to person who tagged you.
              Tag five other people.

Sounds easy, until you try to condense your life into six words.  I don't know 5 other bloggers to tag.  I'll do my best.

LEARNING HAPPENS, CONTENT IS WHAT MATTERS  (serious, philosophical title)

LOOK OUT, THE TEACHER IS COMING (realistic, heard-everywhere title)

You knew I couldn't manage just one.

Now I tag the ever enthusiastic teacher mama, and star-struck geography queen always a teacher, always a survivor.

 I'm relatively new to the blogosphere so my links are limited but growing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I'm hitchhiking on someone's wireless network, so "thanks whoever you are."  In a small town, Internet connections are hard to come by so I'm grateful to whoever is responsible for this one.

Memorial Day is a big holiday in small cities and Parowan is a good example.  Families come from near and far to honor their dead.  My own father passed away just over a year ago, so my family gathered at one of the most beautiful cemeteries ever.  Fortunately, we laugh a lot more than we cry and my dad would be happy about that. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sorry, no video

Sorry, I couldn't get my video to upload.  I've tried several times, been to the help page, still can't make it work.  I did read that Google had some problems with uploading video, but they thought they had fixed it two days ago.  But, another post on their message board was from someone else who had tried yesterday and failed.  

I'll keep working; it's something to see.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roma Traffic

I learned that there are two basic rules for traffic in Rome, Italy.

#1 If there are any rules, no one bothers with them.
#2 Because of #1, it's every man (or woman) for himself.

I have never seen anything so crazy, but I met a woman who told me that El Salvador was worse (partly because of the road conditions) and a man who said India was even more dangerous. Pardon me, but I'm not planning to drive in either place; Rome was adequate to scare the socks off me.

While we were there, we took a hop on and off bus tour around the city.  As we were coming back to the beginning of the tour, I took a short video from the upper deck of the bus. The pace is slower than normal, because of the confluence of traffic, but I think you'll get the idea.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things I missed while in Italy

I know I could be unusual (okay, okay I'm probably just odd), but while in Italy I really missed a tall glass of cold milk.  I guess Italians get their calcium from cheese, but I'm not a wine drinker and my kidneys rebel if I have too much carbonation, so I was left with water.  Now I like water, but I missed ice, and with the current value of the dollar, even water was expensive!  I couldn't help comparing having to order a liter of water (for 3 to 5 euros) in an Italian cafe to just asking for a glass of water in a U.S. restaurant.

As much as I enjoyed the food in Italy, I gained a greater appreciation for the melting pot that is America. I'm spoiled by the fact that within 15 minutes of my home I can have food from multiple countries (maybe not technically authentic, but good nonetheless).  And, if I want, I can have a tall, cold glass of milk.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home

After about 17 hours in airplanes, swollen ankles and feet, stiff back, and sleep deprivation, we made it back to Utah. Funny how good it feels to be home, even after a vacation you've looked forward to for years. I don't think I'll ever be one of those adventurous souls who can take off for a month at a time.

Italy was fascinating, full of amazing architecture, stunning art, and intriguing history. We tried to see a lot in a short time, and did our best to absorb everything. I'm not going to write about the sites; others do that so much better. However, I did notice a thing or two that surprised me.

#1 There were groups of children almost everywhere we went. Italy must have lots of learning excursions. We smiled at the 8 to 11 year-olds, but avoided as much as possible the much rowdier groups of teenagers.

#2 Italians should try an good old American stand-up shower. Those hand-held things in partly partitioned, narrow bathtubs leave lots to be desired.

#3 The best thing about having so many McDonald's around is their bathrooms. We ran into lots of other people happy for the same reason.

#4 Graffiti doesn't seem to be a concern; it's everywhere on everything, and we didn't ever see where anyone had tried to remove or cover it up. Maybe Italy will be able to boast of the great tag art collection in the future.

There were a few things this Utah farm girl missed while away. I'll write about some of them later. For now, Ciao.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shared history

A group of my former colleagues get together once a month to check in with each other's lives and laugh.  I'm retired and free, one is retired but still working with kids in a slightly different venue (she's younger than I am), one younger colleague has moved into district administration, one really young one quit to take care of her son, and one started late and is still in the trenches.

We compare families, remember working together, discuss the current educational systems and hopes for the future, and laugh a lot.  We were an awesome team, worked hard and helped our students accomplish many terrific things.  We miss seeing each other every day.  This is our solution; I hope it continues for a long time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Teaching used to be fun

When I started teaching, I didn't know what I was doing.  Fortunately, I had fabulous people to work with, and they helped me learn what college didn't teach.  I learned stuff every year after that.  

By the time I had taught for 20 years, I was pretty good.  The last two or three years were probably the best.  By that time I had seen programs come and go, could recognize bulls*** when I heard it, and knew the kinds of things that really worked with kids.

But, as I was reminiscing with friends, we agreed that it used to be more fun.  We had more freedom to explore, more autonomy, less tedious paperwork, and much less stress about standardized tests.  And I know that the students are not learning more now--maybe just different stuff.  I miss the relaxed attitude that learning could be fun, not just challenging.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hello from Italia!

I had a couple of posts set up for while I was gone, but this evening we are staying in a hotel that has  WiFi so I can write from Rimini.

We flew into Milan, took a bus to the train station, stored our bags, and headed on the metro for a beautiful cathedral--Duomo.  Enormous stained glass windows, amazing marble pillars, and, of course, the requisite street cons who pretend to give you something then ask for money.

Back to the train station, retrieve bags, and head for Lugano, Switzerland.  It's an interesting and beautiful city where people seem to speak Italian, German, and English.  The hotel was very expensive but sort of like a Super Eight, except without a shower (only a tub).  I'm learning a lot about the differences between the US and other parts of the world.

When we tried to go the next morning, we were told there was a train strike and only a few were running.  We waited and managed to wrestle our luggage on a packed train bound for Verona and Venice.  

If I have another day with a hotel that has WiFi, I'll post an update on our travels.  Now, we're hungry and I need to charge my computer's battery.  I've had lots of catching up to do. 

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cool shoes

One of my first posts was about these expensive new MBT shoes I was trying.  They were supposed to be better for your joints, tone the muscles of your legs (etc.), and improve posture.  I don't know about my joints, but my leg muscles did feel them for a while.  What I do know is that I have loved them!  I can walk and walk without my feet hurting.

So, I coughed up the cash and bought a pair of MBT sandals especially for my trip to Italy.  I never believed that I would spend more than $200 for one pair of shoes--much less two pair, but they are so nice to my feet.  And if your feet hurt, everything hurts.

They do take practice to walk in, and it's impossible to stand flat-footed, but I've definitely adapted.  I hope they last a long time, I can't justify buying a new pair of these every few months.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Favorite authors-Dick Francis

A number of years ago (probably more than I think) a friend and colleague got me to read a book by Dick Francis.  It was good, but at the time I wasn't that impressed.  

Now that I have lots of time to read, I have found his books more consistently intriguing and dependably excellent than almost any other author I've found.  His stories are always in some way connected to the horse racing and steeple chasing in Great Britain, but the protagonists vary greatly.  One may be a jockey, a blood-stock agent, a newspaper reporter, an owner of a wine store, a restaurant owner, a private investigator, a person who arranges for horse transport in airplanes, whatever.  My favorite thing about all these protagonists is that they are smart.  I have always hated figuring something out before the main character; I lose all respect.  It doesn't happen with this author.  Even if you've never spent time around horses, the stories will catch you.  

Mary, you were right to be a fan.  Now I watch for new ones too.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


My post yesterday about phrases that hurt my ears was because of grammatical errors.  I thought it was interesting that one of my fellow retired teacher bloggers had a different take.  Her irritation was with a kind of response given to a standard phrase.  Not really because of grammar, but because of tone or meaning.

When I mentioned this to my sister (also a retired teacher/administrator), she didn't understand why this response would be bothersome.  

Language (much like beauty and eyes) is in the ears of the listener.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hurts my ears

Some things people say just hurt my ears.  I guess it is my own fault for paying attention.

I was in a small store today, and a couple walked in.  The store employee said the standard, "Hello, how are you?"

The reply was "Doing good, how about yourself?"  

Any of you who know me, or have read my blog occasionally, know that "doing good" bothers me as a response to "how are you?"  "How about yourself" is just icing on the faulty language cake.  

I know geographical areas have speaking quirks.  Is that one as widespread as it seems to be, or is it mostly Utah?  I have heard it several times and it always bothers me.  

Breathe, in and out, in and out......

More new words for our vocabulary

I heard another new word for our ever-increasing vocabulary.  

Great Harvest wants us to "organify" our world.  Obviously (I guess) it's changing the adjective "organic" to a verb.  Heaven knows we are proficient these days at verbing nouns.  My post on February 7 was about some of the most common.  I suppose it is logical to assume adjectives will follow.  

Hey, maybe I can start some.  I'll think about it.  It would help if I were youngified, my brain is pretty set in its ways.