Saturday, January 27, 2007

I'm not a medblogger, but...

Not knowing some of the sources, I debated posting the following bits but decided that the positive and empathic nature of them was worthwhile. I would gladly have linked to the magazine articles but that option wasn't available so you get as much quotes as I could conveniently type. Sorry about that.

January's issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, a freebie subscription I accepted because of subject matter, was in my mail this past week. One short blurb, under a collection called Updates & Observations, was entitled Intimate Gifts from Depression. This article stated that:
"Psychology researchers at the University of Texas at Austin had hypothesized that women who experienced depression in the past would be 1)more prone to it in the future, 2) more closed about their emotional life, and 3) less likely to experience intimacy than those who hadn't. The results of their research proved those hypotheses wrong. Women with depression in their past were not more prone to depression in the future and, in fact, had slightly greater levels of "self-disclosure" and "marital intimacy" than women who had never experienced depression."

Knowing my friend Susan's feelings about the negative reputation of depression, I felt this might be worth publishing as a bright spot and hopefully a counter measure. Having experienced depression myself, it's nice to know I've grown from it. (g)

A few pages further along was another collection of bits called Connections. It had an article, under the subheading M.D. Trauma, entitled Doctor Mistakes Lead to Loss of Empathy...Which Leads to More Mistakes by Stephen Kiesling. It had a source, The Journal of the American Medical Association, so if you want to read the related study go here. This one talked about the idea that "when doctors make mistakes there are two victims; the patient, who suffers from the mistake, and the doctor, who suffers from the shame and guilt of having made the mistake." According to the article:

"a study of resident physicians at the Mayo Clinic Rochester Internal Medicine Residency suggests that more work needs to be done to take care of the second victim. Why? Because doctors' mistakes can lead to depression, burnout, and loss of empathy with patients - making it more likely that the doctors will make another mistake in the future."

This really struck home. My sister is a doctor, a psychiatrist, and has expressed concern over decisions she must make in her patients' treatments. The things my sister might experience by making a major medical error are: 1) significantly lowered quality of life, 2) higher levels of burnout, and 3) nearly twice the rate of depression compared to doctors reporting no major errors. She could also lose emotional empathy and cognitive empathy, which seems significant to me although those two results were not considered statistically significant. No wonder she works so hard at managing her stress!

For years my sister has meditated, run, practiced yoga, and found time to indulge herself in order to make her life and world a happy place for her. I suspect she found it necessary during her residency simply to survive. I love my sister and would never want any of the things listed to happen to her. I wouldn't want them to happen to my doctor(s) either. As a patient, I build a relationship with my physician and want to believe that he/she cares about me personally and professionally. The personal side of knowing each other supports the trust I have in his/her decisions, which helps us both on the professional side.

I've had a doctor tell me that my trust in him helped me heal better after surgery. This was from a surgery that went wrong. It wasn't his fault that things went south. He had responded to my report of a previous experience (I react to catgut - an old style suture material) and during my surgery he used a newer, lighter suture. It snapped in the middle of an operation to reposition a muscle on an eye that was turning out. The muscle that suture was attached to retracted out of sight behind the eye and I ended up spending 6.5 hours on the table while the team fished behind the eye trying to find the muscle. This was during the late '70s when I was young, in the military, and the doctor was doing his residency. The eye recovered and so did I.

It's a safe bet, that young doctor breathed a huge sigh of relief when he finally found the muscle. If it had been me, I would have cried and buckled at the knees. Somehow I don't think young doctors get much crying time even though they almost certainly need it. So when the study urges training hospitals to make sure their residents are given the help they need to deal with the aftermath of wrong decisions, I'm in favor of it! Furthermore, I hope they move that help beyond the training stage to support all doctors whether they work at a hospital, a clinic, or in private practice. I want my doctors empathetic towards me....and I hope I can be the same in return for their good and thoughtful care. Thank you!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Continuing stories and prayer build

My mother has accepted the challenge of writing a 6-word story. I'm waiting with bated breath to hear what she comes up with. Several of my friends blogs are now freckled with these small gems. This is fun and such a good use of creative energy that I hope it continues to generate short bites about and from my friends for many moons to come. (g) I'll ask my mom if I can publish hers when she has them written.

Genesis class was once again a delight. This time, in part, because we keep being reminded that it is so full of folk tales. Today the words fairy tales were used. Yeah! I love those. So much so that when some of my favorite fantasy authors started researching Grimm's stories and after getting back to the original versions, which are often truly horrific, rewrote them from new perspectives I found a whole study of literature that I was willing to pursue solo. Usually I'm happiest hearing other people lecture on a subject.

The stories covered were Cain & Abel and Noah and the Flood. There's lots of room for commentary in those stories. Lots of symbolism too. On a personal level it is fun to try to imagine why and how God did some of the things claimed in Genesis. But I don't take that mental play serious. Or not often. What I do take serious is that God is able to take these folk stories and teach us something with them. These aren't easy lessons. They take in an entire society and its growth. So it would take far wiser minds than mine to come close to grasping all they imply and whole libraries to explain them. Suffice to say that I had a lot of fun in the class today. I was even able to contribute something to the discussions and maybe the teacher's growth as well. When getting ready to head to church this morning I remembered I had a book called "Types in Genesis" by Edward Jukes. It is a very old book written in old English. I like it for the imagery it has which echoes throughout scripture of God's power in both creation and action. I took it to class with me and the teacher asked to borrow it.

When class closed, we used the prayer build method that the teacher introduced last Sunday. We took from today's discussion to find our images. The prayer images are divided into 3 categories. God is-; We ask for-' and So that-. Today we said that God is almighty, forever, and mysterious. We asked for patience, harmony, and insight; So that we might love him more, hear him better, and see others as he would have us see. The reason I love this prayer build is that it makes the group prayer so relevant and personal. I don't feel that I have it down quite right yet. So I intend to keep on listening closely when she does this again. If I find another small bit that will add to the instructions of how to accomplish such a successful prayer I will add it in.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

News bits

The freeze in south Texas is over and things are getting back to normal. School/work for me started an hour late and the classes for the kids had a bit of a confusing focus. Instead of shortening every class the principal decided to just pick up where we would have been so school started in the middle of 2nd period. The next day was advisory schedule but one team wanted to make up for lost time so they tried to send the kids to their regular classes instead. Wow...mutiny? or a practical approach to the schedule problems caused by the ice? You decide.

On the feel good side, I got to start Thursday by doing Morning Prayer. It turned out that I was the first officiant since Monday morning. Yeah! And the church felt good. I even had time to do a much more thorough service because I had an extra hour to get to work. So I am very happy with that.

My friend, the one with the new home, and I went by his old apartment complex and looked for his cat. We didn't find her but the complex manager said she had been seen around a certain building and he went over there and looked. He left fliers which had his number on them and described the cat as a Torbie. That was an interesting term. Seems she has tortoise coloring but is also more of a Tabbie in that she has very little white thrown in. Her coat actually looks like someone took all the tortoise colorings and just mixed all the colors together and got an almost spiky appearance in the hair. No spots...just totally mixed colors so that the hair color is not even mottled but more of a blend. Back to the locating of the cat, the manager promised that if she saw her again she would grab her and hold her till she could contact my friend. So I have some hope for the cat's survival.

Yesterday one of the teachers had me show the class a movie while she went to an ARD meeting. We watched 8 Below. I'd never seen this movie but was so fascinated with it that I couldn't leave it even though class was over and it was almost time to go home. It is based on a true story and the concern that the owner of the team of sled dogs has for his "left behind" team is truly heart warming. The things the dogs survive is chilling. I definitely need to add this to my DVD collection. I have to admit that I didn't see the tail end of the video but once I knew that the dogs and their owner got reunited I was ok to go clock out. One of the outstanding features, at least for me, is that the movie shows true pack behavior of the animals when they are surviving on their own. This makes it a good teaching tool. My friend who was anxiously waiting for me to give him a lift home teased me about almost crying over the movie. It's true. I did almost cry. And I was thrilled and excited at the end when they got back together. So if you love animal/human interaction stories this is a good one to watch.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A very timid foray...

We so seldom see this much ice in south Texas that the effects of this momentous weather event fascinate me. If this is nothing new to you please feel free to skip reading this post. I won't be offended. Right now the ice is a new toy and I am a child exploring it.

The weather has stopped dripping but not the roofs and trees. The temperature is at 32 and so where it does drizzle we get a little freezing still happening. We are not quite through this yet.

I just had to get out. I made the excuse that I needed to check the mail and put a letter in the post. The walk to the mailboxes looked short enough and I told myself that I'd stop and go back in if the sidewalk was icy. So on went my long coat, my winter leather gloves and the shoes with good traction soles. I grabbed my cell phone in case of mishap and also a cane for support with the idea that if I needed to I could use it to test the ground ahead. I put the letter in my pocket. Then went outside.

The first thing I noticed was that while the sidewalk seemed free of ice the rails along the steps weren't. So the cane was a good idea. Then I went down and took a closer look at my car. Yep, it was covered with the stuff. Underneath there were spaces where some water seemed to be flowing. It was melting from underneath. I could actually chip some of the ice and managed to break off a fair bit of it with my key. This wasn't the greatest of ideas because the ice landed on the ground and made it hazardous. My neighbor's car let forth a swish, crack and the ice from his windshield fell off in one huge piece shattering on the ground. I wondered how long it would take before my own did the same. This ice is about 1/8th of an inch thick and more in places. Then I looked up.

Icicles are hanging from the building roof. I suspect some ice is also on the roof itself. The trees aren't laden though so perhaps the leaves provided some shelter. Walking along towards the mailboxes I see that a neighbor is getting ready to go out. We both agree that it is pretty nasty. I'm doing fine walking down the parking lot. Then I get to the curb and step up on the grass. Big mistake!

The grass is icy and very slick. It isn't solid so there are spots to get around the worst of it on. Against good sense I persevere and make it up a slope of ice covered grass to the mail boxes. I feel really stupid and am mentally berating myself while doing this. Why am I still moving forward? Once I reach the boxes the cement is safe and traction is once again good. I tell myself I will go down the ramp on the other side instead of attempting the grass again. In goes the letter to be mailed. My box only has one envelope in it. All that for just one piece of junk mail? I must be crazy. (g) But the trip has lightened my gloom from being indoors for so long. So I don't feel too bad about being out in this. I make it back down to the pavement with no mishaps thanks to the safe concrete ramp. Why are man made stone surfaces safer than the lawns and plants that God made?

On the way back I notice someone heading out in their car who hasn't done a thorough job of deicing their car. It still has icicles hanging from the rear license plate and bumper. I get back to my car, knock a little more ice off, and head inside. I'm happy. I've been outside, braved the dreaded ice and survived. :-) Inside I get out of my coat and gloves. Warm water from the faucet helps to take the ache out of my hands. I add water to the pot on the stove and am grateful for the steam coming from it.

The picture above is an image of an ice hotel in Quebec, Canada. I understand that staying the night in these buildings made entirely of ice is becoming quite popular. It might be fun to see one. I find it hard to imagine sleeping in one even if the bed, which is made of ice, is covered with furs and designed to keep you warm. Still, the people who live up north have managed to do this for many years and survive. Maybe I should give ice hotels a chance and add staying in one to the list of future vacation possibilities. I think that it will require much research before I can do that with confidence. Has anyone ever stayed in one?

Icebound insanity

A neighbor just went out. I watched him pour a pitcher of hot water over his windshield. Next he started his engine. It took several attempts before it kept running. He then went back in and got another pitcher of hot water. I went in and filled one from my tap. He used both telling me cheerfully that he had no idea why he was headed out. Said that yesterday he had driven with nothing more than a small hole in the ice for visibility. Maybe he is feeling as housebound as I am and just couldn't stand it any longer.

When you are icebound you figure out things to do or go insane. I wonder how our ancestors did it before the days of central heat and TV. I find myself spending most of my time in front of my computer, reading and watching the never ending weather reports which all tell me the same thing....that the roads are unsafe to drive. I wonder what my friend, now ensconced in his new home, is doing. He doesn't have cable or dsl up yet so I am pretty sure he is bored stiff.

Tomorrow I am supposed to be doing morning prayer and going to my first class for the spring semester in the evening. I wonder how long it will take for my windshield to deice in the early morning hour of 6:30. Better set the alarm back half an hour.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

....and still more nasty weather

Three days became four. That was nice, getting to stay home for a 4-day weekend. Now, thank to the freezing rain, the four days have become five. Do I hear six? Can we say make-up days and no lost holidays? I pray that this doesn't last so long that they cancel spring break!

Insufficient layers. Warm pan. Fireplace. Cat!

Six word stories

I've been tagged by Susan to write a 6 word story. She gave some very good examples. Never having had a lot of faith in my imagination this was challenging for me. So I want to say, "Thank you, Susan! It has been a better experience than I thought it would be."

Not being as prolific at this as some are, I managed to write two stories. Here they are.

1. Conspiratorial pets. Absent owner. Spectacles crunched!

2. Opposing gables. Curtains blow. Ghostly romance.

Not having a huge network of readers I am going to see if I can tag someone who isn't writing a blog. There are a couple of teachers at work who might enjoy the challenge.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Three days turns to four

Wow! The weather is so bad down here in San Antonio that most of the schools are closing for tomorrow. That means that I will be staying home. Wednesday is only supposed to have a slight improvement so who knows. Right now a 3-day weekend has turned into 4. Maybe it will go on for another day or two. Thank goodness I stopped by the store earlier today. I bought a whole box of firelogs to see me through the freeze.

In the meantime, I'm glad that the roads and schools are closed. It's safer this way. South Texans don't get enough snow or ice to know how to drive safely in it. It's much better if everyone, including students and parents, stay home. The city may come to a standstill but it could be worse. We could have loss of power, but we probably won't. It hasn't rained enough to cause the limbs of trees to carry a heavy load of ice. And while the Hill Country might have snow, San Antonio probably won't.

I'm still praying for my friend's lost cat. If the roads aren't total ice on the way to the grocery store tomorrow I will stop by and see if she has come back home.

Genesis class & building a prayer

Yesterday's Sunday school class was the second one on Genesis. When the teacher started a week ago she and a co-teacher talked about Education For Ministry (EFM) which is where they got their training. The Episcopal church seems to support this schooling and from all accounts is seems pretty good. I don't know a lot about it but when I am done with my present schooling I may look into it more.

Sunday's lesson covered the first 3 chapters of Genesis which is the creation story. I had fun with that. The teacher talked about there being two creations stories in Genesis. I think there might be three. The reason I think that is because back in the 80's, when I studied Genesis before, some people liked to take the words in the first two sentences and say that there was an entire story possible in the gap between them. The NRS Bible, which is the approved Episcopal version, edited out the potential gap in time. The NIV left it in. The way the play with words goes is that the first sentences declares, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The next sentence starts with the word "Now" which can be taken as either a literary styling or a way of implying that there was a gap between the time that God created the world and the time that the story teller is talking about. Lots of people who like their stories filled with mystery loved that potential gap in time. It gave rise to the idea that perhaps the world had been created, destroyed and now was perhaps being recreated. What fun! So we talked about that a bit in class. Since there isn't a way of discovering whether the writer meant the "Now" as a styling or otherwise we can't really solve this one. Possibly better read people will have an answer to the current view on that question.

Then we talked about the idea of whether Eve or Adam was responsible for man's fall from grace. Remember that Eve was the first to eat the apple? Well you can argue that she was deceived having never heard the instructions of God first hand and that Adam had known full well what he doing and had decided to do it anyways. And we wondered about that. Knowing that you might fall from grace is it possible that Adam just couldn't bear to be apart from Eve? Was that why he did as she asked? We also looked at the decision that Eve made and how she saw the tree of knowledge. It was good for food, attractive to the eye, and it gave knowledge. So she made a God like decision instead of following God's instruction. That too has tons of implications in it. I wish I was better at remembering the things that were said in that classroom. It was intriguing and we all enjoyed the discussions these topics generated.

At the end of the class the teacher asked us what in the creation stories we saw as God...she wanted 3 responses. We gave her creative, sustaining, and breath as in breath of life and creation. Then she asked us what was needed from God in that story or what were his actions, again 3 responses, and we gave her forgiveness, guidance, and connections. Finally she asked what we wanted to take with us from this story and our responses were: do your work, creation restored, and live as you designed us and made us to be. Then she used our responses to make a prayer. In it we named/described God, asked for something and gave it purpose. It went something like this:

Creative, sustaining God, you are our breath of life.
We ask your forgiveness, guidance and connection
To help us do your work, restore your creation, and
Live as you designed us and made us to be.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Everyone of us felt that was a really beautiful way to pray and wanted to take the method home with us. I think we will be watching this teacher closely to determine how to build such a meaningful prayer so that we can enrich our own prayer lives.

Nasty weather

It's cold and wet outside. This isn't normal south Texas weather. We south Texans aren't accustomed to freezing rain. So the roads are kind of empty today and the wind is hurting our ears for lack of earmuffs. I went outside in it twice today to throw out the trash and don't really want to go out in it again. Fate isn't letting me avoid this. A friend has called and asked for help.

He has been moving into his first house this weekend and during the move his cat got out and is loose somewhere on his old apartment complex. It is a large complex and while he has had the cat for a few weeks I don't know if the cat knows her way home. So, I got out my cat carry case, put on extra layers of clothing (windchill is in the 20's) and have food in bowls to shake and see if we can coax her to come out and get taken to her new home. Wish me luck please!

Later...about 2 hours

Well, we didn't find the cat. I looked under every car, around every dumpster and bush and called while he went to the apartment complex office to turn in the keys. I had brought food so we left some in a bowl on the patio in the hopes the cat might survive and find the food. From what my friend tells me this cat has never been further than the bush at the edge of the passage way so it won't know its way home. If you want to pray for the cat please do. My friend thinks it is pretty much a lost cat now because it was very scared when he lost it. I'm not surprised at that but I am distressed. If he had asked, or I had thought to, I'd have offered my carry case to take the animal to its new home in. And the weather is getting colder. I hate this.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Carnival of Hope & My cup runneth over defined

Yay! It's second Friday and Carnival of Hope is up again over at Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good. Please go and read the heart warming and encouraging stories Susan has collected from around the blogosphere.

Second in my thoughts this morning is something my sitemeter is showing me. Like many of you I like to know who visits my page, what they look at and maybe why. So I am glad when site meter shows me the search keywords that get a hit whether the person visits or not. For a while now I've been seeing the words, "my cup runneth over" several times a week. I wrote those words in my second post when talking about my faith coming to completion. Sometimes they are looking for a definition. If that is what people are searching for then I'm wondering if my story explained clearly enough to give them an answer.

If you have a bible in the King James translation then you may have read those words in the famous and timeless 23rd Psalm where David talks about how God has taken care of all his needs and honored him in front of his enemies. Enemies aren't something I'd care to have and don't like to think about, so I try to tell myself that I don't have any. But if growing up with poor self esteem means that your parents and teachers didn't help you see the worth in you, a basic right of every person, then perhaps enemy can have other definitions than terrorist or opposing gang member.

When I found my faith completing, the Holy Spirit entered my heart. All ideas that the bible is someone's inspired writing aside, the act of receiving the Holy Spirit is real and in experiencing it you can know your faith complete and that God does indeed love you beyond all reason. Perhaps that, more than being made king, was what David was talking about. The fact that a poor shepherd boy, who was the youngest and least respected among the sons in his family, was made king and that God had spoken to him in a very special way surely made his heart glow with joy and I'm sure that it did a lot for his self esteem.

Can you prove that you've received the Holy Spirit? No! It's even hard to describe, which is why the phrases in the bible don't tell the whole story. It's talked about in Psalms, in Isaiah and in the New Testament when Jesus receives it. How can you explain that the God of all creation, whom no two people have ever seen in the same way, came, talked to you, and made your heart whole by filing you with something you can't see and touch? The writers of the bible are so good at this and even they couldn't do the job that everyone would like to have done, prove that there is a God and that he cares. That's one of the reasons faith is so important. Faith is the trigger to receiving the Holy Spirit. It wasn't till after I believed that I received it, but it happened the minute I did.

So getting back to my original subject, what does "my cup runneth over" mean? Well, to me it means that I suddenly felt loved by someone with no reservation. God loves me no matter what I have done or how imperfect I am. In fact, in his eyes, I'm not imperfect but exactly the way he made me and he is happy with how I turned out. The love of God was part of the receiving and when it started pouring into my heart I got filled up. But it kept on coming in. God's love kept pouring into my heart till I had no idea what to do with the excess. So I reached out to others. There were two women sitting on either side of me. I grabbed their hands and the love I was receiving passed on to them. Later, they both told me they knew what was happening to me the minute I reached out for their hands. So God's love passes on to others from our actions after we are overfilled.

To me the important thing was that, when I felt loved enough to know that I had worth to someone, I was able to share that love and love others in the way that you can't do unless you first know love of self. Learning that lesson over and over again will be a lifelong endeavor. It is easier to tell than to do. Old lessons die hard, even with God's voice ringing in your ears telling you otherwise. Fortunately, God is more faithful than we are. My cup runneth over!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting enrolled and all that jazz

If you are an undergraduate, enrolling in a graduate level course isn't easy, but it's not impossible if you have decent grades. Thankfully, I do. What you have to do is follow the procedure. In other words, get the paperwork and deliver it to where it needs to go. Be patient and polite. Notify people when something is done and awaiting their attention. This works really well, and the more polite you are the better it works. I got no less than 2 letters each from the professor and the department chair. Don't forget to say, "Thank You!" You'll be remembered for it. Once you have the signatures be patient and keep on with the process. Take the paperwork to the enrollment services office, or whatever variation of that title your university has, and give it to the registration clerk. He/she will then get you enrolled and the professor will be glad to see you in class. That is what happened to me....pretty much.

If you are fortunate, your registration clerk will be a knowledgeable, sympathetic person who will answer questions about your financial aid and other, important to your survival, things while you are there. If you are unfortunate, as I was today, the answers you receive will be informationless and make you feel like they think you are just an idiot who is expected to follow directions instead of thinking and trying to manage your life like the mature and responsible adult you are, or are trying to become. You will be told repeatedly something along the lines of, "It isn't about you." which is what I heard...twice! The letter they show you stating the policy will be a near duplicate of the one the university sent you. They won't be able to tell you when your financial aid questions will be answered nor will they care. You will leave there frustrated and wondering if you made the right decision in not asking for a service comment form and complaining on it about the poor response to your important questions.

All that being said and done, I'm glad to be enrolled and am looking forward to the start of classes. I trust that my financial aid will come through and I won't be hurting for the late registration in this course. This was actually the first time I have been treated so unhelpfully by anyone in the enrollment services department. I hope it isn't a new trend because, in the past, I've had excellent help that went beyond the call of what was required of them. They've escalated paperwork and called in questions to the appropriate person so that I left, not only knowing what I wanted to know but, having any necessary paperwork completed well in advance. Thank you to all the good and helpful people who work in enrollment services.

Now I sit back and wait for classes to week!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sliding backwards on the technology curve

A few years ago I was VERY literate in computers. I could do almost anything I needed to or wanted to with my machine. If I didn't know how to do something, I knew how to milk the help files, look it up on the web to find out, and as a last resort I had geek friends. This was during the pre-XP era. Today I find myself on the back side of the technology curve and feel as if I am sliding backwards down it. Changes in connectivity are happening so fast that I am clueless about how some of them work and which choices are good for what. We have a new version of Windows coming soon and I'm not even totally comfortable with the current version yet. I keep asking myself, "Why?"

Part of my backwards slide is, I think, because I never used Windows NT and some of the things that happen in XP are wrapped around the network structure of that OS. It shouldn't be any surprise to me that if I am not network savvy I am not going to be comfortable with where computers, pdas, cell phones and even game consoles are taking us. And I don't want to be a mere user. I want to know how to check and repair the things I use when they break or malfunction. So I am wondering where I can go to get network literate. I'd gladly read a book on the subject. It might even supersede the stack of spiritual reading I have waiting on my bedside table.

If you haven't realized that I use this blog as a thinking tool then you haven't read me enough. It just occurred to me that I could do a Google search using "networks for dummies" as the keywords and I might actually find a page to teach me about them, or a book to read. So I did and sure enough there are quite a few of them out there. Perhaps reading these and getting caught up technically is a good goal or resolution to set for this year. I certainly don't want to go through life not being up on things. And since my dreams of technology include a cutting edge laptop when I get that teaching job and then setting up a wireless network in my new place I guess it is probably one of the more realistic resolutions of all those I've made over the years.

So, 2007, here I come...ready to get connected...or at least learn how!

Friday, January 05, 2007

School's back in session!

The past 3 days have been a lively return to work.. Classrooms are somewhat thinned as some students didn't show back up yet. Some kids are doing the "crazy back in school" thing and driving the teachers batty. So are some of the coworkers.

My schedule should have been normal and pretty similar to what it was before winter break. Instead for the past 2 days one of my coworkers has been absent so my schedule got rapidly rearranged. Remember my job is taking students to different classes and then sticking around to give them support (keeping them on task, pointing them in the right direction, functioning as a walking, talking dictionary and sometimes textbook). Usually I have 1 or 2 students to help. Small brag here...some students seem to prefer my help and have started asking to sit by me or just move to where I am when the need arises. The past couple of days I have been walking back and forth across classrooms keeping 3 students on task. I should have been wearing my step meter because I think I walked about 2 miles doing the classroom management thing. Happily for me the students who would have moved to sit near me just walked up and asked for help while I was moving between the others. You know what? I actually liked being that busy. I felt productive and on top of things. My adrenalin was up and the students were doing just fine. If that is what teaching is going to be like I am going to find times that I am very happy doing the normal thing of helping students do what they should. Yep! Busy is good!

On the college front, I'm in the process of getting permissions for a required course. Because the program I'm in is a post-baccalaureate undergraduate program all my courses are normally undergraduate too. However, the one course I really need prior to student teaching only has one section at night and fills up so quickly that I've missed registering in it for the past two semesters. So I am trying to get all the signatures needed to allow me to take it at the graduate level. There are 3 people who have to sign this paperwork and so far I am 1 down and 2 to go. Normal registration closes on Sunday and late registration starts next Wednesday. So things are getting kind of tight. If worse comes to worse, I may have to take a couple of hours off to go get the signatures needed...especially since getting the dean's requires me to hand deliver the form. Sigh! Pray for me please!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bits and Pieces...

The duvet set arrived last night. My room is now a nice raspberry red. The comforter is just right for the climate I live in. Cozy and warm but not too much so. So it seems my purchase was a good one.

A friend of mine closed on his first home on Friday. He took me over to see it yesterday after work. Nice house! It will provide a good home for him, and his kids when they visit. He's eager to get moved in and already wants to do things so the place reflect his personality. While discussing this with him and others I learned that Habitat for Humanity has a store where you can buy home fixtures for less than you would pay at most other places. They're called ReStores and we have two here in San Antonio. Now I have to go look! (g)

Yesterday was the first day back at work. The kids were fine. They just had to sit and follow orders when possible. The teachers were getting busy and rethinking lots of strategies as we are headed into TAKS season. TAKS, if you don't know, is the annual "high stakes" tests that every school child has to take to prove that the school is doing its job. Never mind that it doesn't really do this. The teachers still have to teach to it and also teach the student test taking skills.

With the back to work schedule I suddenly have enough to do that when I get home I'm tired and once again want to do nothing but relax and not think hard. When I got so lazy I don't know but I definitely have to do something about the lack of productivity in my after work hours and attitude.

So that's what's new!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cozy Sleep - Bargain Shopping

It just arrived. I unpacked it with my hopes up. Yes it felt lighter than I thought it should. That might be ok. This is south Texas and our winters don't get that cold. What I'm talking about is the down comforter in the picture on the left. That's the image from the web site. The comforter doesn't look quite that fluffy yet. It is puffing up though.

The amount spent on this wasn't huge, so I probably don't get the guarantees that come with those several hundred dollar ones. I don't expect the quality either. But for $29 I think this one is decent. Tomorrow or the next day the duvet cover should come. They were the same price as the comforter. Shipping was free. So for just under $60 I have some warmer sleep ahead of me. (g)

Right now my only serious complaint is the preservative smell the comforter has. That should go with exposure to the air. This is my Christmas present to myself. At this point, I'm reasonably pleased and hope to be more so later. Since we are having temperatures in the mid 30's tonight I shall probably enjoy sleeping under this. Sweet dreams!

Photography links update

There's a rearrangement in the sidebar today. The past few days posts had several photography links among them, so I've gathered them into one section. Then I went web surfing.

For surfing I use Stumble Upon, which is a community/review based surfing network. Its toolbar's been installed in my browser for a couple of years now and I like the way it functions. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of good photography sites out there. One got added to my list...Mute. My favorite images seem to be nature photography. I also love good images of people but not commercial ones. Instead, my preference leans to the style that seems to be a character study. They are harder to find. When I get some I'll post them.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! 2007

It's late. Definitely past midnight! But the wish is sincere. I hope you had a good celebration and are looking forward to a good year.

My evening celebration was a pleasant surprise. When I got the invitation I wasn't sure who I'd see and didn't really know the lady who gave it well. Still I said, "Yes." because she was really nice and managed to make me, a stranger, feel wanted.

What I expected was an evening of needing to follow conversations among people I didn't know well or at all. Instead I arrived and found the house filled with ladies I knew from church and everyone had brought something. It was a total hen gathering. The food was good. So was the conversation which instead of being busy and designed to impress was friendly, sharing and sometimes contemplative. We covered everything from politics to paper dolls. There was a book of the later, for our hostess is a grandmother. One of us came up with the name of the magazine I used to cut them from every month when my grandmother bought it - McCall's.

Did I mention that the food was good? Leave it to women who help hold church gatherings to know how to cook well. I came home with a recipe for a blackeyed pea salad which I will share with my mom. We even had eggnog made from scratch! After dinner was eaten the pets were let into the gathering and we got to cuddle up to two dogs. None of us objected to the animal invasion. Instead we felt like part of the family and thought it appropriate that the pets were there too.

Midnight wasn't noisy with tooting because we were so into our conversation that we missed the turn of the clock. When we did notice, our hostess brought out the party blowers that everyone has tooted since I was a kid and we all had a toast to celebrate the new year.

Then I drove safely home having had nothing alcoholic to drink but having the name of a new drink to look up. One of the ladies talked fondly about something called a Velvet Hammer which is said to contain, brandy, chocolate liqueur, and ice cream topped with nutmeg. Sounds yummy!

At this point it is past 2:00 AM and I have way too much caffeine in my system to go to sleep. Still I am going to take myself to bed and try to finish the book I started this week called Storm Front by Jim Butcher. So Happy New Year all! And to all a Good Night!