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Invertebrate with dreams of stardom

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That which taketh away, giveth. [Mar. 8th, 2006|06:18 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |melancholymelancholy]

It must be a February thing; I just seem to ignore blogs in February.  Life got busy again this time around, but I do miss keeping the e-diary.  Hi to those it amuses. :)

Sunday was traumatic.  Kelli and I were winding down from a stressful weekend, full of misunderstandings, hostility and realization that each of us could stand to keep the other one in better mind when making offhand comments easy to take the wrong way.  She had gone upstairs to watch some TV, I think I was playing NetHack.  Outside, there was a sickening skrutch-thump, an agonized pair of yips, and then a chorus of barking from the neighbour's dogs.

This doesn't get prettier, so ignore freely.Collapse )

Sable caught up to us as we reconvened, looking for all the world like we knew something she did not.  "I'm so sorry, Sable," I said to her, offering her one of the cookies, which she took, then looked up at me as if there was something more.  We opened the fence, which was closed, and lured her inside.  The orange dog from earlier barked at us but kept its distance, and we saw the similarly black sibling of the fallen puppy darting around, too wary of us to come into the fence by way of where we were standing.  Kelli stayed in the kennel, holding her Maglight in case the dogs got aggressive, as I went out to coax the skittish pup into the enclosure.  Not a minute later, the puppy was in the enclosure, but not by getting past me. 

"Kelli, she's in.. not sure how she did that, but she got in."  We closed the gate, then went towards the back right corner, where the fence abutted Carl's shed.  As we shone our flashlights up and down, we saw the end of the fence laying coiled over on itself, and a single nail pegged into the shed to presumably hold the entire fence on.  In essence, he did a piss poor job finishing the fence, and one of his dogs lay dead because of the negligence.

So, at 11 some odd at night, the drizzle finally stopped, we hammered some more nails into our neighbour's shed.  Sable, who had gotten out while we went to get nails and a hammer, stood near me while we were working, then looked alarmed that she was outside the fence while the other dogs were inside.  I lead her in to the enclosure, closed the gate, then went to light Kelli's task as she wrapped up the patch job.  We passed by the dogs, looking at us with familiarity, and told them we were very sorry as we went inside our house.

I penned Carl a note, explaining what had happened and what was done, stressing that the repair job would not last, but hopefully would keep the dogs safe for the night.  Then we went to bed, or attempted it, anyway; neither of us slept well that night.  I woke up at 6 the next morning, unwilling to attempt sleep any longer, and went to the kitchen for some tea.  There, Sable stared out towards the front of Carl's house, and although she could not see where her puppy lay because the house obstructed it, she clearly was watching for something.  Sometime in the morning, somebody removed the body and drove away, although I don't know if it was actually Carl or not.  Nor have we heard from him, although I'm sure he's been back home by now. 

As a post script to the story, I found a dead rabbit in my yard, in fairly intact shape, on Tuesday morning.  As I hoisted it up on a shovel to bury it near the dead skunk and cat (but not Pokie) I've found so far this year, my eyes couldn't help but wander over to a nondescript patch of pavement in front of Carl's driveway.  Poor little guy.
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The waiting is the hardest part [Feb. 6th, 2006|07:02 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Tags|, , , ]
[Infection status |restlessrestless]

So my sister, Vrgrrl bought me Sea Monkeys for Christmas, sort of a gag gift, but sort of not, as I kept Sea Monkeys for an entire year in high school, when they were bought for me as 100% a gag gift. I made weekly reports about my Sea Monkeys to John, who by the end of the year was thoroughly sick of hearing about them.

John, if you're out there, I want you to know that all is forgiven. I also don't believe Sea Monkeys purposefully dance to Tchiakovsky anymore.

So, I did what any self respecting cat owner would do in this situation - I took the Sea Monkey aquarium to work. I'm no dummy. I introduced the concept to my neighboring "pod" mate, M-J, who had never heard of Sea Monkeys, being from South Korea (she was also generally amazed by the idea that eggs, thoroughly dried, could somehow come alive). I carefully measured out 12 oz of filtered water, added the water purifier, and dumped the whole thing carefully into the aquarium, not losing a drop. Then I read the instructions, where it asked me to wash out the aquarium repeatedly in hot water a few times before doing that.

Ah, who cares, Sea Monkeys like dioxins.

So now I'm awaiting Artemia genesis. I gotta wait a day for this crap? That's the biggest deal killer right there with Sea Monkeys; kids get all whooped up about the notion of having phyllobranch pets, and the very first instruction reads, "You can't have them until tomorrow." Almost as bad as waiting 6-8 weeks for something to be delivered, but almost worse because you have them right there in your hands, and can't.. add.. the.. eggs.

So, vaguely put out by my Sea Monkeys need for appropriate water conditions, I'm working on my other stuff. Still, I keep looking over my bookshelf ledge, wondering if it's time yet to add the eggs..
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My gums are mighty ticked [Jan. 25th, 2006|03:12 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |soresore]

A few hours after visiting the dentist, I'm finally brave enough to attempt eating - nothing al dente however - leftover squash/carrot/ginger soup (which came out lousy on account of the squash being meh) and tortilla chips soaked into it.

The hygeinist was very apologetic as she dug deep, but there's nothing settling about seeing in her protective visor a nice puddle of blood in your mouth.  Teeth are way more complicated than they should be; I'm even fastidious about my teeth and I still get the scraping of a life time.

I presume this is typical of dentist visits; it has been my experience that I get 99.99% of benefit from visiting the hygienist; the dentist flounces in, pokes my teeth, says "They look healthy, you should buy this service" and leaves, having really offered nothing of interest to me.  I asked about my front left incisor, which has eroded down a bit, and he basically said, "yeah, nothing can be done for it.  But you should get Invisilign, here's a promotional video clip and a brouchure.  Bye now."  I asked Amanda, my hygienist about it, and she explained that it was $4k, not covered by insurance (which works, because I have no dental or eye coverage). 

The annoying thing is that my teeth are largely neat and orderly.  I have two lower incisors that, truthfully, bug me a little bit, but they don't show when I smile.  Had the dentist asked, "Say, I notice that your lower teeth there are overlapping, do you want to do something about that," I might have been more willing to entertain suggestions.  Getting "Yeah, nuts to your interest, here, buy this service" as an appraisal of my oral health ain't selling me on jack.

Do consider wowing your hygienist on savvy terms like "pre-molar."  Mine was a lot more chatty about my dental information after I offered that I knew my way around mammalian dentition.
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Jeff Corwin's a dumbass [Jan. 19th, 2006|09:54 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |crappycrappy]

I posted over here about this, but I just wanted it to be said, for the record, that Jeff Corwin is dumb and annoying.

In the project classroom today, the kids watched a Jeff Corwin Experience so that they could understand how you could tell a story while also presenting science information, in preparation for them serving as a "tour guide" for a nature site about their own chosen habitats (which is a convoluted way to get them to learn the importance of scientific representation, but we're getting to that).  So, there I sat, watching in increasing annoyance as Corwin gushed about how the Galapagos islands were "bringing Darwin's theories to life" while prancing about in his embarassing shorts and made kissy faces at marine iguanas.

His science is bad, I'm arguing that he's presenting Lamarckian evolution (i.e., animals "choose" to evolve), he only showed 2 invertebrates the entire show, and even the fifth graders in the audience weren't exactly rolling in the aisles over his failed-child-actor mugging for the camera.  Additionally, his nipples were poking out of his skin tight banana lycra shirt, which is disturbing on so many levels I can't imagine.

So many good research projects could have been funded with all the money wasted on sending this jackass to the Galapagos.
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Tremble world, I am reborn! [Jan. 13th, 2006|02:35 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |busybusy]
[In my ears |Radiohead - Paranoid Android]

When I am king, you will be the first against the wall
With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all

- Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"

One of the finest ways of learning something is to teach it. I have spent the last week racking my brain trying to decide what it would be important to teach to teachers, as my assistanceship has progressed from simply being the field observer on student teachers to doing that AND teaching them all I know.

Problem is, I have never taught anything other than college students. I do have fairly hefty college teaching experience (6.5 years), so I do consider myself capable of teaching, but there are simply things I don't know how to do, like, say, teach physics to 7th graders. So I'm learning through osmosis, copious reading, and, frankly, by sheer accident.

Despite any nervousness on my part, I am a fairly wily teacher, and I've always been at my best provoking metacognition and dysequilibium. In laymens terms, I baffle students with a paradox and force them to rethink their assumptions. I'm very spoiled by working with college students, who can awaken to this relatively quickly, after 12 years of state-mandated mental slumber in standardized classes; they're simply ready for any excuse to rebel against further programming, and I allow no such opportunity to pass by unpunished.

I got in a few nice "gotchas" yesterday. I started class with my two student teachers, by doing nothing more than being social with them. We know each other from last semester's work, so small talk was easy enough to do. What I had done, however, was create on the board an objectives list of what we would accomplish. I had also written "Please fill out your index card" with instructions as to what was to go on them, and left index cards prominently in their first day handout packets. At some annointed time, D. took the initiative to fill in the card, and R. followed suit seconds afterwards. After a minute or so, they were done and looked up at me.
"Why did you do that?" I asked.
"Because it was on the board," D replied.
"I did it because I saw D doing it, R admitted.
"Ok, so you looked for normative classroom behavior. D looked around for cues from the classroom for what to do. But I didn't do anything yet. What made me in charge to give you instructions?"
I got a few mixed answers, that since I had written on the board, there were tasks to do, that from where I was sitting in relation to the students I was the teacher, that I was the first in the room. All of these I replied to fairly neutrally, saying that yes, I had gotten there first, but I didn't indicate where students should sit, and I didn't do anything at all since people had entered. Similarly, R and I had a huge spray of papers around us, so there were no obvious trappings as to who actually bore responsibility.

"So there was information available to you all as you came into the classroom. There's also norms to classrooms, things that you're trained to look for. I didn't have to do anything, really, because what I created gave you enough information to figure out what was going on," I said, with a lot of growing confidence -- it's been a few years since I've taught, but it's a muscle resistant to disuse. I wrapped up the "hook" activity by explaining to my students that I had not even introduced myself yet. "One of my tricks that I've been opening class with for a number of years is this:"

I wrote on the board "You are the most important person in this class."
"Why would I say that?"
"Because," D said, who is always the first to respond, "we're the students, and it's our job to learn."
"R, your thoughts?"
"It puts the power in the students."
"Exactly. There's no way I can know that you're learning. I can assess products of learning, but there's no way I can get inside of you and tell for sure."
We had a great discussion on lesson planning that followed, including ripping a pre-generated concept mapping activity I gleaned off of the web a new one. When, at the end of class I admitted that I had violated my own description of the importance of review, both R and D agreed that we had done a thorough job on the topic. I was happy enough with that; if they say they've learned, that's good enough for me.

Today, I have been captain productive. Nothing like a little messing with minds to spark a flurry of activity.
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Sweet, monkey Jesus, tax payers pay for this? [Jan. 9th, 2006|08:36 am]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Tags|, , , ]
[Infection status |annoyedannoyed]

I'm not procrastinating, I'm doing research, honest. 

While looking for inquiry activities to encourage my student teachers to, well, run inquiry activities instead of cookbooking, I happened upon this link: NSF Scrub Club.  It's about a super powered group of pre-teens that.. uh.. turn into stuff you wash your hands with.

Seriously, form of a paper towel. 

Naturally, they included insultingly obvious racial stereotypes in there; Hot Shot the hot water faucet is Latino, Scrubs the nail brush is African American, Taki the clock (it's "time" to wash, her names sounds like "tock" even though it translates to "octopus") is asian of some neutral variety.  There's no explanation on how they got their powers, or why, upon realizing that instead of heat vision or metal skeletons, the gods sought to curse them with turning into soap dispensers and sinks, they didn't simply kill themselves.  I would have at least strongly considered that my turning into a roll of paper towels would be evidence of a cruel and capricious universe.

When you make cartoons intended for children, please consider that your audience has FAR better things to watch than this. 
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After 31 years, I still learn tricks from mom and dad [Jan. 6th, 2006|06:04 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |rejuvenatedrejuvenated]
[In my ears |04 super mario rpg beware the forest's mushrooms - Beware the Forest's Mushrooms]

Nothing important really, but it makes me glad to have them around. I need to be in better habit of keeping them in my life; one day they'll not be there for me.

From Mom: The trick to making a two crust pie is letting the "cover" pie shell thaw and sag all over the "bottom" pie. I had some leftover mulberry preserves that Kelli wasn't interested in (it was starting to crystallize), but that, plus a cup of pitted cherries and some corn starch make for some good pie. Dad, captain clueless, wasn't aware of any of the steps of pie making, so I got to tease him about his never cooking anything anyway, so how would he know about pie making. Mom was pleased, and I think she even ate some, despite not really liking dessert.

From Dad: Shoe polishing 101! He had never taught me how to do it, and now that I own sensible loafers, it was high time. He even polished them while explaining how horrid the Air Force Academy was about stupid shit like shoes. A spit polish is what it implies it is; you don't necessarily have to drool on your shoes, but the real pros keep the tin's lid stocked with water that they dip a soft cloth into to really rub in the polish. If you really want to be a champ, set fire to the shoe polish and pour the molten compound onto the shoe to make a seal. Then use the brush, gently, to buff the shine, followed by the vellum cloth. I was *so* doing this wrong. Fun additional fact: Shoe polish is a carcinogen, so wear gloves!

I didn't get to do everything my parents really needed done (I found their long-lost mincemeat, which was a plus), but I got to be helpful; cleaning, organizing, repairing things that were broken or simply neglected. Hell, I saved my folks a $100 electrician's bill by repairing the garage door button myself, which was a trivial bit of work to install a $1.50 intermittant switch.

I guess I'm handling the transition from needy kid, to petulant teen, to needy college student, to independant adult who still likes doing things for parents, nicely. I suppose one day I'll graduate to "formerly independant adult who is saddled by their obnoxious parents," but for the meanwhile, I get to make a difference in their lives, and they get to show off things that every young adult needs to know. Like, well, pies and shoes, mostly.

It was bonding to me, dammit.

(Big thanks to bluemeg and cindrax for hosting me on my grand visit; I was so busy playing video games and enjoying their company, I never finished my travelogue.)
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More icon fun? Mais oui! [Dec. 27th, 2005|10:56 am]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Infection status |creativecreative]

Instead of doing any actual work today, I thought I'd expand on my LJ icons! Seeing as how even us cheapskate free accounts get 3 more icons, a little web searching and a little photoshopping (is there a verb for using The Gimp? Gimping?) netted me a fun cartoon tapeworm from Rocko's Modern Life. Nicest of all, it's an interlaced .GIF, and background free. Lo and behold, there's room for playful digital manipulation in them thar icons!

I might get tired of the Tapeworm vs. Godzilla - any suggestions for targets of platyhelminthine aggression will be cheerfully considered.
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Mincemeat from the Pantry of Time [Dec. 26th, 2005|10:53 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Tags|, , , ]
[Infection status |hungryhungry]

My parents own a temporal rift. In the past, the kitchen pantry at my folks' house has delivered historical relics, spoiled and swollen cans of diet food from diets that no longer exist, horse medication dated from before my birth, and oozing jars of what can only be described as "organic gruel."

Behold: Mincemeat... from the pantry of time!

Notice the sell by date: January. 1985. That's 21 year old mincemeat, by the way. Also notice the manufacturer, Borden? I.e., the glue makers? Oh, sure, the website glosses over this fact, but this decomposed pie stuffing is made by the same people who make Elmer's Glue. Coincidence?

Little known fact about mincemeat: It has beef and beef tallow in it. Is that why its called "mincemeat?"
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Odd holiday wildlife [Dec. 23rd, 2005|09:04 pm]
Invertebrate with dreams of stardom
[Tags|, , ]
[Infection status |chipperchipper]
[In my ears |My dad, blathering at me about drywalling for no reason]

Stage 2 of the Holiday Travelganza goes well. I returned from Virginia Beach, having seen 3 of my Fraternity Brothers, Rob's wife Leigh-Anne, and their son Joey. All were doing well, and if not for them having obligations, we could have hung out more. I did get a chance to play Starship of Catan with Brian, and I enjoyed it -- it's a lot like their wildly fun Settlers of Catan in terms of strategy, but lacking the sheer tedium of Space Farers of Catan. Plus, its a two player game, so I can play it with Kelli. If ever there's a game worth spending time playing, it's a Catan game; I love those.

Life at home is.. well, it's unpredictable. Largely dull, but there is opportunity for novelty now and again. I have, today, seen a kinkajou, a great blue heron, and a demon cat.

The kinkajou was somebody's pet - my dad's a veterinarian, and occassionally gets odd critters in addition to dogs and cats; previously this cute little critter had its canines blunted so when it got bitey, it did less damage. Currently, it appears to be suffering from seizures (and, IMHO, a poor diet; kinkajou need occassional meat) and potential diabetes. Its owner helped "Booger Bear" get gassed down for a blood draw, and didn't mind me snapping a few pictures and chatting about kinkajou.

The heron was an also ran. I noticed a rib cage on Mt. Vernon Parkway, and mentioned, "Hey, that might be an intact deer!" to my dad. So, we grabbed 2 spades and a construction garbage bag to check it out. Annoyingly, it was a perfectly intact corpse, far more rotted than the one I dragged into the weeds... but the head had been removed. See, I'm not the only skull poacher out there. The odd part was, it was a very small deer, probably just a yearling doe, so whoever poached the head got a really pathetic trophy head. Ribs were intact, but beyond a cheap halloween prop, I don't have a lot of interest in ribs. So, in defeat, we returned home, and noticed a magnificent heron sitting by the neighborhood pond. Ran home, got camera, drove out and shot these from the car (so love my Minolta's zoom).

The demon cat is the incredibly cute, but pathetically named "Purry." She's actually incredibly sweet, and loves chewing on me when we roughouse, which I certainly encourage. The flash really lit up her eyes when she was sitting next to my dad, and if it was my cat, it'd so be an LJ icon.

Pictures belowCollapse )
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