Sunday, February 28, 2010

Problems I Have While Watching Hockey

I do try to keep track of the game. Really, I do. But there are just so many things about hockey that I find distracting.
  • I worry about the refs. How do they avoid getting clobbered, and why oh why are they not wearing pads!?
  • I am constantly delighted with the commentators' vocabulary. Who knew there were so many ways to describe a man hitting something with a stick?
  • One of the NBCcommentators cannot figure out which camera he should be looking into at any given time. I find this just as interesting (if not more so) than the actual game.
  • The puck is so tiny. If they can't make it bigger, they should at least fix it up with some flashing lights so that we can keep track of it better.
  • This sport looks insanely difficult. I mean, I can't even skate straight forward without falling down, and these guys make what they are doing look so fluid and elegant. (Also, I now want to learn to skate backward. Or forward. Or at all.)
  • Does Ryan Miller know how much his hair is sticking out of his helmet?
  • Why is fighting and mouthing off more acceptable in this sport than in other sports?
  • There should be a sport invented that is a mix between hockey and life-sized chess. It would give new meaning to the terms check and check mate.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sharing the Wealth: Win a Copy of Ruthette's Head for Your Very Own (a contest)

Every year LifeTouch photography comes to our school to take portraits for the yearbook. Since part of the deal is that teachers receive complementary photo packages, I have collected more pictures of myself over the years than anyone actually needs.

This year's batch turned out to be especially precious, since I happened to be in the midst of a (failed) attempt to grow out my hair when school pictures rolled around. I am now the proud recipient of an entire photo package featuring a huge toothy grin, medium-level eye pits, and what my sister calls "square hair."

As these treasures are too wonderful for us to hoard, we here at the Little Yellow Apartment have decided to host a competition:

Win a Copy of Ruthette's Head for Your Very Own!"

Participants are encouraged to essay freely on one of the following topics:
1) Her Fearful Symmetry: Ruthette's Attempt to Erode the Myth of Classic Beauty
2) The Proper Care and Feeding of Ruthette
3) Ruthenia: The Rise and Fall of a Global Empire
4) Ruthette Madness: How One Woman's Olympic Commentary Has Changed the Face of Sports Forever
5) The Unknowable Ruthette: The Secret Life of Our Favorite Internet Sensation

Official Submission and Notification Guidelines:
  • Essays will be accepted electronically until midnight (EST) on March 5, 2010. Winners will be announced by noon on March 6, 2010, with the top three essays appearing in this blog.
  • Submissions must be no shorter than six words and no longer than 2,000 double-spaced pages.
  • Submissions must be e-mailed directly to Ruthette's Gmail account. (Comment for more information.)
Top Winners will choose from the following prizes:
  • Signed 8x10 Glossy (1 available)
  • Signed 5x7 Glossy (2 available)
  • 3x5 Glossy (4 available)
  • 2x3 Glossy (9 available)
  • Laminated bookmark (1 available)
  • Square keychain laminates (3 available)
  • Rounded keychain laminates (3 available)
  • Wallet-sized 2010 Calendar laminates (2 available)
DISCLAIMER: Contest Judges do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, shoe size, gender, jumping ability, or coffee-drinking habits. Contest limited to human (and humanoid) persons over the age of 18 and currently residing on planet earth. Contest rules subject to drastic alteration without warning or explanation. By entering contest, participants accept the high possibility that they will be mocked, scorned and/or ridiculed for displaying their prize(s). Void where prohibited.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fashion Parade

As packed as our schedules have been this week, we've missed more of the Olympics than we would have liked. So you can imagine our excitement as we looked forward to an entire evening at home tonight with just our jammies, the Olympic coverage, and a pot of nacho cheese. (Actually, half a pot. After all, it's Thursday.)

But wait... Did you notice the missing element in that list? That's right: nacho chips. Fortunately, we noticed our lack and rushed out right away to buy some chips before the games. I'd already gotten myself cozy for the night and my sister hadn't cleaned up from work yet.

We made quite a pair.

I sported my dad's hand-me-down vintage hoodie (circa 1970), two layers of soft-cotton sleep shirts (all three clashing shades of blue), black loose-legged sweat pants, and my favorite flip-flops over a pair of comfy white socks.

She marched along beside me, brown hair sticking out from under a camouflage baseball hat, a Chick-fil-A uniform polo shirt (leftover from her food service days) liberally flecked with horse hair, and her fawn breeches tucked into a set of knee-length black boots. Spurred, of course. To tie this fabulous ensemble together, she topped it all off with an out sized black windbreaker with the image of a leaping horse peeling off the back.

We're so fierce.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Quite Special Olympics: Just for People Like Me

While eating chips and dip during the Olympics tonight, we came to the determination that there should be something called The Quite Special Olympics just for people like me.

Thus far, the only events we have decided on have been:
1) Eating Cheese Dip Without Getting It On Pants. (I mostly fail at this. Much training needed.)
2) Listening Attentively to Announcers So As to Not Ask Questions Directly Relating to What Was Just Stated Moments Before in Quite Plain Language. (Muahahahaha!)

Other Possible Events:
3) Controlling the Mute Button (or avoiding the responsibility thereof by claiming to be too far away to reach it and then throwing the remote control across the room).
4) Walking Without Falling Down.
5) Stalking Aksel Svindal (the only event in which I hope to medal!).



2/21/10: Ready for My Closeup

Rumors going around about my new hairdo1:
1- I wear a Bumpit.
2- I found a new place to store demerits and red pens.
3- There are squirrels nesting up there.
4- To offset the costs of the school sports program, I am incubating basketballs.
5- I comb hair over the face of my second head.
6- *cue X-Files theme music*
1- Most of these rumors were started by my own homeroom class. (I will neither confirm nor deny whether or not any of them started with me...)

Monday, February 15, 2010


12/13/10: Self-portrait

My twin nieces asked me to draw pictures of everyone in the family, including myself. As you can see, I am a true artist who has missed her calling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Thing about Teaching

1/5/10: Opportunity

Thing thing about teaching is that it's not just teaching.

I'm of the opinion that school's help wanted ads should read something like this:

WANTED: combination counselor, maid, social worker, crisis manager, coach/cheerleader/linebacker, hostage negotiator, drill sergeant, secretary, warden, fairy godmother, private eye, event planner, concert master, plumber/handyman, foster parent, judge, nurse, to take care of children and provide mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social education.

It's not the teaching that gets to me: it's everything else. It's keeping track of who has Asperger's, who is allergic to bees, who is not allowed to have any sugar/gluten/wheat (but will sneak some if nobody is looking, and then the teacher will be held responsible for not paying attention), who is not allowed to hang out with whom (per parent or administrative instruction).

Who's been coming to school with bleary eyes and a runny nose for weeks on end? Are those symptoms of all-night video games and a slight cold, or early warning signs of drug use? Have the parents noticed and do they even care?

Who said what to whom? Is that what was really said? Who is lying and for what reason?

Have the students switched the ink cartridges in their pens so that he black pens write red and the red pens write black, making it easier to cheat while grading homework? Whose homework answers sound suspiciously similar? Have they been cheating, or did they just work on their homework together. Or is it just a coincidence?

How can I show him that kids pick on him mostly because he reacts to it? How can I help them see how much they hurt him? How can I hope to instill good conflict-resolution skills in those who have the exact opposite being reinforced at home?

Fortunately, I have something beyond all of this that bears me up. I know that nothing done for "the least of these" is wasted. I know that despite lack of tangible day-to-day results, the Truth never returns void.

I know that everything in life ties in to my walk of faith. But really, to call it a walk makes it sound like a stroll down a garden path, when really it's more like a marathon.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Girl in the Mirror

How Teaching Makes Me Crazy

It's no secret that this week has not exactly been my best ever.

In the first place, my lips are so chapped that I would not be offended if more people began our conversations by asking about my recent trip to the Sahara. In addition to the chapping, I've just this morning developed a minor fever blister on the inside ridge of my upper lip, low enough to be just out of sight, but in the prime location to throb every time I speak (which in my profession is practically all day. Yet another reason that I am happy to be administering a test right now).

And while we're on the subject of my profession, let me state for the record that although I do love my job (in a general sense) there are days that working with teenagers begins to fray my already delicate psyche. More than one of my students has developed a brand of "logic" so convoluted and mind-boggling that sometimes it's a wonder that when they talk to me, my ears do not suck themselves back into my head on command.

Last night I arrived home from work in full crash mode. I'd had a difficult afternoon, a long wait at the chiropractor, and traffic troubles on the drive home. My plan was to get dinner cooking on the stove and then get my mind off of my day with Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed (which actually turned out to be less relaxing than one might think).

I set the water to boil for pasta, threw some pre-seasoned chicken into a pan, and grabbed a snack out of the pantry. While looking around to locate my book, my eyes scanned the far wall and saw... a woman standing in my living room, clutching a box in her hands!

I jumped back, and so did she! O_0

Then she nearly dropped her Triscuit box, and I realized that I was looking in the full-length dining room mirror.

Perhaps I should have gone to bed right then, but of course I stayed up until nearly midnight.

And then when I did sleep, I dreamed of Walter Sickert.

Spring Break can't come soon enough.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Calm, Straight & Forward

Mission Accomplished

Once or twice a year, my sister and her horse compete in the Twin Rivers Saddle Club Dressage Series. This morning I met up with my sister-in-law, and together we toted her four podlings down to the competition grounds at Sunlight Farms so that they could watch their Aunt perform.

We arrived a few minutes before my sister rode her third (and final) test. There was just enough time for the kids to say hello to horse and rider before they all immediately had to use the restroom.

Getting Acquainted

While children were being ferried back and forth to the port-o-potties, I ran into two students (one current, one former). Then our Parental Unit arrived. Just in time!

After making several rounds in the warm-up arena, my sister went off to the side and sat focusing until her test began.

Getting Ready

During the actual test, I stood up near "A", video taping the ride and, at one point, keeping Podling #4 from running out onto the arena.

Good job, Aunt Beef!

While we waited around for scores and awards, an additional family member of ours showed up. It was a good thing, too, because his children had begun their first melt-downs of the day:

First Meltdown of the Day

Although not in time to see the rides, he was in time to congratulate his sister for her three first-place awards. He also was in time to help her carry her awards and prizes out to the trailer. While she stayed to load up her horse and cart everything back to the stable, we all met up at a local restaurant for a celebratory lunch without her.

Award Winners - 2

A good time was had by all!

(Click for entire set on Flickr).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January 2010: Reading List

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, by John Elder Robison
Reading John Elder Robison's childhood memories feels a lot like peering into the brains of several autistic students that I've worked with over the past few years. (Except I hope that none of my students wind up working for KISS one day. I'm just saying.) 3/5

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni
Patrick Lencioni has a knack for taking a core principle and hammering it home by way of a light narrative. I read this mostly becasue my brother Nathan recommended it and loaned it to me, but now I'm wondering why he thought I in particular would benefit from it. Have filed away the lessons on meetings for future reference in the event that I ever have to lead them on a regular basis. (Classes don't count... Although integrating drama and conflict directly into lessons by mining for them during class discussion is something that I've intrinsically developed over the years.) 3/5

Pride and prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen
Although on the whole, I found the overall concept hilarious in theory, I found it somewhat lacking in execution. The zombie bits felt patched in rather than being part of the unified whole. Despite the detractions, several parts of the story did make me laugh, with Charlotte's storyline being far and away the best part of the new tale. The illustrations, incidentally, were superb. 2.5/5

The Power of Crying Out: When Prayer Becomes Mighty, by Bill Gothard
Good thoughts to chew on. 4/5

The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
I love reading GMH, even though I can't say that I understand everything he's saying. He stretches me, though, and gets me to think, guaranteeing that I will always keep coming back for more. 4/5

Heretic (The Grail Quest, Book 3), by Bernard Cornwell
Maybe I didn't enjoy it because it was the third in a series and I had only read half of another book in the trilogy. Maybe I didn't enjoy it because I needed soft escapism this week, and the story was full of death. Unfortunately, I haven't yet had any luck with Bernard Cornwell despite giving him several chances. 2/5

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell

I think I started this collection a few years ago but must never have finished, because from about the third story onward, I had absolutely no recollection of what happened.

How Gaskell developed these characters so fully in such compact stories is beyond me. Rich and delightful. 4/5

Curse of the Kings, by Victoria Holt

On a certain level, Victora Holt novels are predictable: there will be a young girl (generally an orphan), she will stumble upon some sort of mystery, and she will travel to distant lands - generally an island.

The details vary slightly( for example, this time the distant land in question was Egypt) but what I do appreciate about Victoria Holt is that I can never tell who the "bad guys" are until the very end. And one never knows for certain, either, whether or not everything will come out all right or not. It's that uncertainty that keeps me reading. 4/5

Kilkenny, by Louis L'Amour
This works well enough as a stand-alone, but I think it was the last in a series (trilogy?), of which I only read the first and the last. Wish I had known, but don't regret the read. 3/5