September 29, 2008

TAMP: Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone

Worth the wait? Probably not, but I’ll try anyway. To my 3.59 faithful readers, sorry it’s been a while. I wish I had some legitimate reason to excuse my absence from “those aren’t my pants,” but sadly the truth is I haven’t had any real inspiration recently, so here I go again…on my own…along the only road I’ve ever known…etc, etc…(Is there a legitimate thought that can’t be seconded by a kick-a$$ power ballad? I didn’t think so.) Since I don’t have a real thematic presentation for this entry (and I will try for one in the future), your stuck with more random thoughts and observations:

As I may have mentioned before, my job is a little odd, and full of interesting sights and smells. This week I’ve been working in Booking, where I kindly usher Weld’s fugitives of justice from the warm embrace of their arresting officer to the crushing reality of life with a criminal record, a frightening booking photo, and a bad night in a room cell 1. Cell 1 regularly houses 15 inmates and when my mad human Tetris skills are at work has been known to house 21-28. Stacking alleged offenders like cordwood has its disadvantages, most notably the smell – as one can only imagine – but this is not the smell that struck me the most this week.

As I was taking one of my breaks in the staff lounge this week, I was hit with a familiar and not unpleasant smell that one doesn’t normally associate with the men’s room at work. In my umpteenth trip, my brain had finally cataloged the smell and alerted my consciousness to what it was – the scent of fresh baked French bread. In some sort of Star Trekian vortex or Stargate-like worm hole, the men’s restroom in the officer’s lounge at the county lock-up smells like a Parisian patisserie (bakery for you simpletons out there).

In the past week I’ve booked in a grandmother, an active deputy sheriff (from another county), and almost got to book in a few nuns, which is a story for another day, but nothing I saw, read, observed, or experienced had the gross juxtaposition of a latrine mixed with the odor of a crusty and delicious conveyance of meat and cheese. Well, with that work done, I think I’ll go the bathroom and make myself a sandwich.

September 26, 2008


PETA's newest idea--incredibly wacky, as sexist as their fur ads, and a bit funny. It also makes me want a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

September 25, 2008

A Lurking Conservative

I haven't been blogging much, because I've been engaged in ready an incredibly lengthy debate on one of the general forums on Ravelry. It started out with the question from a European confused about the positive response toward Sarah Palin. It has turned into an intense, somewhat acrimonious debate concerning McCain vs. Obama.

Yesterday afternoon, I had sometime to throw up a few mild ideas that were moderately well received. Reading it this afternoon (I had over five hundred posts to catch up on), I realized that only one conservative woman was posting her ideas, and she was being debated by about twelve more liberal women. It was interesting to read--I lurked, but chickened out of really getting involved. I was a bit shocked to read this vitriol from women who love to knit, but apparently I've picked up a habit not quite in keeping with my more conservative self.

Should I have spoken up? Shouldn't we all just agree to disagree? Is the election invading any of your "comfort" spots?

September 23, 2008

Is it 11-5 yet?

My students are eagerly awaiting the end of the election season. As they can't vote, they are mostly indifferent to the process, and they are REALLY tired of all the political ads. I feel their pain.

I have to admit to some election fatigue myself, but as November 4th creeps up on us, I realized I hadn't checked out the candidates' education policies. If you care about education as well, please check out each candidate's ideas before you make your choice. Keep in mind, though, that the total American mindset toward education may need a change. The Quite Cool educational policy would involve changing our entire way of schooling, and perhaps moving away from a liberal arts education for every student. Harry Potter didn't take English I-IV. Maybe we should only give students a liberal arts education through grade six, and then allow them to make a choice about their future education.

Anyway, I have many more thoughts, but I also have some grading to do, so without further ado:

Barack Obama's Education Policy

John McCain's Education Platform

September 22, 2008

The Power

I just did bus duty. Which, in high school, means I stood in the middle of the road holding a small stop sign, so that all the buses could quickly swing left. Yep, I stopped a long line of high school upperclassmen in their tracks, with one simple sign. I'm still a little trembly from the adrenaline rush.

September 20, 2008

Letting Go of Guilt

A phrase one hears a lot in the blogosphere is "guilty pleasures." People regularly list various things they like under the heading of guilty pleasures. Why the guilt, I wonder? I suspect it's because of one's self image. People develop an attitude and perspective, and when they like something outside of that image, they feel shame and guilt.

Life's too short for guilty pleasures. I think if you like something, you should enjoy liking it. Any guilt or shame is built on what other people think of you, and that shouldn't be a concern. If a person really likes the new New Kids On the Block singles, they should just enjoy the music. No shame or guilt at all.

September 19, 2008

Avast, Me Hearties!

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! By thunder, it's time to have some fun, or, shiver me timbers, I'll keelhaul the lot of you! Savvy?

To help you celebrate, here's some pirate vocabulary.
The above picture is my new t-shirt for today--and I encouraged all my students to wear their skull & crossbones apparel.

September 18, 2008

When this ol' election starts getting you down

Well, I have to admit, this election has people just about too much for me to bear. I am relatively new to presidential politics, but I don't know if I've ever seen so much hate in an election. Real, deep hatred for both sides--and as I'm not a hateful person, it sort've drives me wild.

So, it was with great excitement that I found some humor in the election today: some wonderful person has created the Sarah Palin baby name generator. You see, Sarah's kids are named Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. Not your normal, everyday names. Wonder what your name might have been had your parents had Sarah's creative gift? Head over, and check out your name.

If you do go, please comment with your name--I want to see what other people get! Thanks much, Crutch Camp Palin

Edited to Add: more Palin humor! (If you like Monty Python, you should get this!

September 17, 2008

Cheating on Tests

Not the students, me. If you are a teacher, you know where I'm coming from here: tests are hard to write. (Have I written about this before? It's a bit sad that I can't remember. Hmm.) Let me clarify--multiple-choice tests are hard to write. Essay tests are easy. I bet you can guess which is easier to grade though. (It's the multiple-choice tests.)

So, I have a test coming up. We've just finished The Most Dangerous Game, a thrilling short story by Richard Connell, and we're finally ready to test. Just a short test--it was a short story--so I'm cheating. I'm not carefully writing my own perfect test. I'm heading down to the copy room to run off the book test.

Most teachers don't have any qualms about this, but I do. Sometimes the materials we get that go with our textbooks are loads of help, but about 89% of the time, they are rubbish. The exact sort of rubbish, I imagine, that the testing folks want our kids to write. I like to create my own materials, not just blindly copy what the good textbook folks want me to.

But this time, I'm copying. I've been so stressed and overwhelmed that all I want to do is run off a few copies and relax. I don't have the time amidst all my other duties to write a focused and challenging test. (You might be noting that I have found time to blog.) So, here I go, off to the copier. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Do you have any fond test memories? I miss blue books, and wish I could use that with my Honors kids. Do they still use blue books in college? Sigh. Probably not. It's probably all digital.

September 16, 2008

It's True!

I'm currently working on my three toughest projects--no pictures, yet--and treasuring any time I can find to knit! I'm working on my first sock--I'm just about turn the heel--and I've started my first lace projects, a hat and a scarf. It's good times, although, now I need a week off to work on my projects.

Drumroll Please

A new blog has joined my list of blogs I obsessively check--and this one's family!

That's right, Sista Cool has started her own blog!

September 15, 2008

A Moment of Silence

When I first moved to Greeley, there were no Starbucks places. There was a delightful bagel shop that served great coffee. Now, there are (pause while I add them up) at least eight Starbucks locations in Greeley, CO.

I can't lie, I've had a Starbucks on occasion. My favorite coffee place in town, though, was Dazbog, where I could enjoy a delicious sugar-free peanut butter latte. Mama Cool loved to get a cinnamon-coconut latte when she visited. I had a long-running Bible study that always met there. Dazbog closed this summer.

My knitting group has been meeting at Red Roasters, a locally owned coffee shop, that seemed to have a good crowd and a lot of buzz. I just heard from a fellow knitter that it closed down. Where do we meet now, we wonder? We've considered a lot of local places, but not a Starbucks.

Most mornings, my car pool stops for coffee at the Human Bean, a great, friendly drive-thru shop, with no place to stop in and gab while sipping an addictive Cafe Mocha.

So, today, I ask for a moment of Silence for all the Coolest coffee shops in Greeley, slowly consumed by a monster of, dare I say it, Moby Dick proportions.

September 12, 2008

Di & Sarah

The Bottom of the Ticket

I heard an interesting discussion this morning on NPR about the boost that John McCain is getting from adding Sarah Palin to the ticket. They discussed how people rarely vote based on the bottom of the ticket, but that Sarah Palin may be an exception. I've already written about the vice-presidential choice, and how little we know about vice-presidents, so that's undoubtedly true. People were voting for Ike, not Adlai Stevenson, and for FDR, not Harry Truman. I imagine there might be a change this year, with a few people voting for Sarah Palin, not John McCain, this time around.

To be honest, I've voted the bottom of the ticket twice in my limited presidential voting career--I was more excited about having a VP from Wyoming (Dick Cheney) than I was about George W. Bush. When you're the smallest state (population-wise), it's pretty cool to have the VP hail from your state. I imagine some Alaskans will understand where I 'm coming from at this point. Thinking about this led me to an interesting observation--Republicans, in the last few elections, have chosen VP candidates from states with very few electoral votes to offer, states that typically don't figure in D.C. political power polls.

So, I'm offering a few Alaska/Wyoming parallels this morning:
Population: WY 515,004 (#50)
AK 670,053 (#47)
Size: WY 97,809 square miles (#10)
AK 591,004 square miles (#1)
Electoral Votes: WY 3
AK 3
Citizens w/College Degrees: WY 22%
AK 25%
Registered Democrats: WY 59,000
AK 53,000 These are rough numbers, data difficult to find.
Top Google News Story: WY Fallen Wyoming serviceman honored in Iraq
AK Palin and Gibson re-enact 'High Noon' in Alaska

I could have added a lot more, but I think we begin to see a pattern--small states in population, large in size, with similar numbers across the board--and I have to admit, I think it's pretty cool that the Republicans will choose candidates from our "not nationally important" states.

September 11, 2008

A Clean Desk

A simple pleasure today--after four weeks, I finally managed to clean off my desk. Perhaps because, after four weeks, I finally had a planning period all to myself. Oh, sure, there's still stuff on my desk, but it's the stuff I want there, organized, neat, tidy.

Life is good. Has anything simple filled you with joy and accomplishment recently? I hope so.

September 09, 2008

Evil Amanda

You might not know this, but I am a die-hard Indianapolis Colts fan. "Wait!" you shout, "You live in Colorado! Aren't you supposed to root for the Broncos?"

"A-ha!" I reply, "I was born and raised in Wyoming, so aside from my beloved University of Wyoming Cowboys, I'm a free agent."

So, the Colts. I love 'em dearly, the whole organization, and a part of me would move to Indianapolis just to be around like-minded fans. I have the jersey of a Colts player who shares my last name that my dear brotha-in-law The Coach gave me. I grew so angry at the start of their Super Bowl that I had to go sit in another room to cool off. (Devin Hester ran back the opening kick-off for a TD, if you've forgotten.) I managed to come back and enjoy the victory, however.

Anyway, the Colties (as I call 'em), had a bit a bad start against those Bears yesterday, but I feel confident Peyton will get his groove back and we'll be stormin' through the AFC again.

And then, yesterday, the best news for a Colts fan--Tom Brady is out for the season. A gleeful Evil Amanda pumped her fist in joy at the computer screen. I'm predicting it now, especially based on the Chargers start, Colts Super Bowl XLIII champs!

September 08, 2008

A Yarn Metaphor

I spent nine hours this weekend untangling a skein of yarn. While trying to wind it into a nice ball, so I start a beautiful wavy scarf, my Estes Park Wool Market purchase of Plain & Fancy sport weight yarn in a Primary colorway tangled. Tangled badly. Tangled into so many hopeless knots that Mr. Cool told me to just toss it.

"We'll buy more yarn," he said. When I protested that this was special, he suggested I just wait until next year's Wool Market. I stared blankly. Plainly, he does not know the inherent stubbornness of the women in my family. So, nine hours of carefully picking out knots, threading the growing balls of yarn through loops, and wailing at the sheer mangled tangles, I have two nicely wound balls and a scarf started. Four of those hours involved me staying up past midnight on a Friday, picking trance like through the knots.

There's a metaphor in all this--perhaps that I won't settle for a tangled life, perhaps that I am simply too stubborn. I could make a metaphor about Jesus gently picking through the knots in our lives to leave us clean and smooth. Maybe I could focus on the irony of untangling yarn only to carefully tangle it back up through the process of knitting.

An ancient form of meditation involved labyrinths, and this yarn became to me a maze, a way of breaking down all worries and struggles into following a single thread through each loop and knot.

Hmm--this might be a bit too philosophical, but I had to get something more than balls of yarn out of my weekend.

September 06, 2008

Why I Can't Be Vice-President

And no, it's not just because I'm not old enough. I have only been out of the country once in my life. I've never been to Mexico or Canada--my passport has only one stamp, from England almost six years ago. I do know a few people who have travelled enough to possibly qualify--Hannah, Abby, Jen, and Sista Cool all have a quite a few stamps in the ol' passport.

Why do I bring this up? One of the attacks on Sarah Palin has been that she hasn't travelled enough, that she first got her passport and left the U.S. in 2007, to visit the Alaskan National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. So what? Not many of us have the resources and time to travel the world. Besides, she lived in Alaska, a place most people have pretty high on their travel lists. I think the media needs to wake up a bit--for Americans, travel has always been a bit of an elite proposition. We live in a big, fantastic country, but it's all one country. A person could visit all fifty states, an impressive feat, and apparently not have travelled enough. Perhaps this criticism stings because I haven't travelled nearly enough in my life. My chances aren't very high to travel around the world any more, unless Mr. Cool finally wins the lottery, and I would hate to think that if my latent political ambitions spring forth, I could be derided for not travelling enough.

Well, enough Election 2008 ranting for today. Check out this nice piece in Newsweek from a liberal woman who still likes Sarah Palin.

September 04, 2008

The Queen Bee

Well, I'm ready for fall! I have hats that need a-wearin'.

I've just finished my Queen Bee hat, and my sense of accomplishment is pretty big. I first saw this pattern a year ago, when I was still teaching myself to knit, and I wanted to make it. I tried even, with cheaper wool, but I had no idea what I was doing, and it has since been frogged. This time, I got it right.

Pattern: The Buzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Yarn: Goldenrod Lamb's Pride Worsted, from the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, NE
Buttons: lovely wooden bees from My Sister Knits in Ft. Collins
Modifications: I shortened it up a bit, so the top isn't quite as bee-hivey. It's a bit tricky to photograph, but if you ever see it in person, it looks like a beehive!

A close-up of the bee buttons--I saw the buttons at My Sister Knits and instantly thought of this hat. I then rushed around the store looking for the perfect golden honey yarn, and found this. It was wonderful to work with, and I am very happy with this hat. It's a nice, loose, cover the curls hat. Where's that first freeze?

September 03, 2008

Star Wars & Feminism

I have wanted to blog more, desperately full of things to write about feminism, Sarah Palin, elections, teaching--but I am left with nothing but a vague weariness when I leave school.

My school is desperately trying to improve, with new schedules, new teacher demands, new rules and regulations--and I am exhausted every day. I simply do not have the energy to do much more than come home and read or knit.

And I have been reading--Mama Cool also gifted me with Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet, one of her Crosswicks journals, full of L'Engle insight; for my knitting anniversary I purchased a historical tale of Knitting in America, and I've been learning just what and how they knit in the past. The incredibly tiny gauge and needles and L'Engle's wisdom and honesty are blowing my mind.

And I have been knitting--I've finished my Queen Bee hat, so it's just waiting for buttons; I'm knitting in circles on my plain socks, and I tried to wind up my Plain & Fancy yarn for a lovely scarf last night, but tangles ensued.

So, I'll leave you with a Star Wars feminist thought: as I watched A New Hope last night (Han Shot First!), I realized that to Obi-Wan and Yoda, Leia was more important. Think about it--she was much more protected, having been adopted, sent to a completely foreign to Darth planet, and having no name connection to him. Meanwhile, Luke's last name was Skywalker, and he was hanging around Tatooine with Darth's step-brother. Maybe this is interesting, or maybe when watching a movie for the billionth time you lose all sense of reality. (This also happens to me when I read Romeo and Juliet.)

So, can America handle a regular gal as VP? Can you be a conservative and a feminist at the same time? Have you ever read and loved a L'Engle book? Is Leia more important to the rebellion?

September 02, 2008

A New Friend

I had a birthday last week, turning 29 with cards, gifts, calls from friends and family, and visits. It was fun--I always love my birthday, feeling like it's my own personal National Holiday. My friends and family know and love me very much, so I always receive fabulous cards and gifts. This year, my lovely Mama Cool surprised me with a new friend to share my morning with--and I just had to share it with the blog. Please come visit, and you can share a pot of tea with me and my friend.

September 01, 2008

An Anniversary

Approximately one year ago, I took a gift of yarn and needles from Sista Cool, a book called Knitting for Dummies and started knitting. That above is my very first bit of knitted fabric. There are errors, holes, the size changes, the cast on is wonky, the cast off quite neat, and the experience of creation a mix of pleasure and pain. As I look back on my life, I realize that knitting is just about the only thing I've ever taught myself. My parents taught me to drive, my mother to bake, cook, and clean, Mrs. Seifert taught me the art of the piano, and UNC, on some level, taught me to teach.

I remember strongly the experience of teaching myself--holding the needles awkwardly, bending over the open book while sitting cross-legged on my bed--getting more and more frustrated while staring at the directions and pictures. I sought more help--printing off an online tutorial and purchasing Debbie Stoller's Stitch & Bitch: A Knitter's Handbook. This last book turned the tide--suddenly, the knit stitch made sense, and I was off.

I've joked in the months since that knitting saved my life, which is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Knitting has led to me to my own form of creation, a way to keep my hands moving, something to write about, research, and learn. Knitting has also led me to new friends and a very pleasurable new ritual--meeting every Saturday morning to drink coffee and knit in fellowship. Even Mr. Cool is happy and impressed that I've stuck with this--and it's fun to have a hobby that comes near in cost to his shooting and carpentry.

So, I think I'll consider this my one-year anniversary with knitting. Since the one-year anniversary is paper, I think I'll buy a new knitting book to celebrate.