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So I'm at the SERVES conference in Wenatchee (I do not in any way guarantee that spelling.) I took a seminar in ethics and decision-making, and I really loved it. In fact, I've loved every class and seminar I've had to do with ethics. It is possible that people interested in teaching about ethics are uniformly fascinating people. It is also possible that I just find ethics fascinating. The presenter was really good though. He kept people involved and going without any props or anything. Lori, who took the same seminar at a different time, agreed that he was really engaging and everyone would have been willing to stay late if he had wanted to run over time.

I'm also doing a talent show at the Conference, which strikes me as a mistake now that I realize I'm surrounded by people with actual, you know, talents. But anyways, I'm doing a story-telling thing about what AmeriCorps means to me.

If you hear of something really cool, I would be happy to go to Central America or Europe next year. It just seems like it would be really nice to go to a completely new continent and I just don't find Africa quite as interesting as Asia for whatever reason.

Speaking of which, a high-school student came up to our apartment the other day because she's writing a report on FGM as a rite of passage, and I was really kindof upset that I couldn't think of any resources for her to look for. I mean, I have info, I've studied this stuff. But I still just can't think of anything to direct her to. It's really annoying.

By the way, I brought my cell but forgot my charger so I have no battery and thus no working phone til Friday.
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I think I want to find a job or program for a couple of months in the spring in southeast Asia. Laos sounds interesting.

So twice a week I take 5-6 5th graders into the Learning Center to have them do a typing program. This is rather boring, so I've started going through the program myself. This is the first post I've ever typed without looking at the keyboard once, and while I'm still making a number of mistakes, I'm not really that much slower than I was when I had to watch my hands. So Yay for finally figuring out/fully memorizing the keyboard. Wouldn't my middle school typing teacher be so proud? (Seriously, I barely remember that class and I can't even remember if the teacher was male or female.)

Cut for whining. )
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I got new tires! A pain and a half, but they're there. Also a PS3 which is infinitely more exciting.

So I wrote my first lesson plan this weekend. I mean I used someone else's idea for a lesson, but I wrote out the official plan to be filed and all. I swear, it didn't take long, but working out the differences between "overview", "purpose,' and "objectives" was just annoying. And the thought of having to go through and figure out which ELARs it fits (Sharlotte's doing that now) just about gives me fits. The thought of having to do this for everything I do everyday is almost enough to make me swear of teaching. But then I remind myself that paperwork is a universal evil.

I was abruptly reminded today just how far north I am. It reached 65 or 70 this afternoon. And one of my third graders was saying at recess that he didn't want to race because it was too hot! It was so weird.

In some bad news, two of my coworkers were at the bar and they were invited to an after party. They went there, thought some of the boys looked a little young, but they weren't entirely sober at that point... it ended up that it was a highschool party some kid threw without his parents permission. Their jobs are in danger, and the girl who works at the highschool has been suspended. Really, even if she's not fired, I can't imagine she'll have an easy time working at that high school again.

So that's my life right now. I hope everything is going well for you.
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Finally updated my pictures, from November to now. Page 1 is the newest, 12 the oldest. Because I'm sure that's impossible to figure out on your own. Also, why do I have to come up with sarcastic on my own? It's totally a common mood!


Feb. 17th, 2007 10:29 pm
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Just saw terabithia & decided to try mobile posting. The preview was definitely bad. The movie was better. It had the kind of magic realism that calvin and hobbes had. Mostly it was true to the book, although something about the feel was off. It felt too abrupt or something. Still, i liked it. Also maybe cried a little.
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So today the 4th grade teacher I work with told me how she had had a 'talk' with one of her students at last night's elementary school basketball game. Our school's team was playing against the closest school and one of the kids on that team used to go to our school but transfered mid-year. So this kid was cheering on his former class-mate and saying Way to go, etc. And the teacher got mad. She talked to him partly because when she told him to stop he stuck his tongue out at her, but also because "You do not root against your home team! I know its hard, I go to my nieces and nephews games and you want them to do well, but you don't root against your team. That's just not OK."

And then some of my 3rd graders found a porn magazine on the playground.
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In 2007, quiresti resolves to...
Buy new sagas.
Overcome my secret fear of stars.
Drink four glasses of ps2 every day.
Keep my magic clean.
Go to the trees every month.
Admit my true feelings to kobelladonna.

Get your own New Year's Resolutions:
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So this movie my teacher recommended to me--The Last of the Dogmen--it broke me. My suspension of disbelief may never recover.

At first, well, it was just a little fun to mock. Chessy story, bad dialogue, cute dog, horribly horribly wrong narration. (A hint to aspiring screen writers--as a general rule you should not insert random narration about characters until after you introduce them.) You know, hidden tribe of Cheyenne living in the Rockies only to be found by an alcoholic bounty hunter and a desperate (to be laid) archaeologist, it has some possibilities.

And then there was the chase scene wherein police cars completely failed to blockade the horse's route (ohmigod, no one told us those things could jump!)which was fun.

But then the sheriff got up his posse to chase into the mountains after the rogue bounty hunter who just held up the pharmacy for some penicillin for the dying son of the war cheif. And what does the narrator say? The sheriff (who was the bounty hunter's father-in-law) was chasing him because he hated him for the death of his daughter. Not because he committed a crime or anything. No, it was because "he just couldn't stand for Lewis to have some peace." Because nothing says "I've found peace and wholeness of spirit" like armed robbery.

So that left me with some issues. I would like some to confirm this theory for me--holding the ancient dynamite the Cheyenne took of some poor lost white guy, "Dynamite. It's like wine--it only gets better with age." I would also like someone to explain to me how shooting an arrow into a pile of dynamite sets off a massive explosion. I obviously do not know as much about explosives as I should.

On the other hand, I also went to the theter and saw Deju Vu with Denzel Washington. I really liked that, even if they did cop out on the ending a bit.

Also, does anyone want a story for Christmas? Any particular fairy tales they'd like retold or short plot bunnies they want taken care of?
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The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West is possibly the most awesome thing ever.

Just saying.
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Right, so I have a real address for my photos now. It will update sporadically. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mharussell/

As you should (I hope)see, I did spend a day doing flood clean-up after our massive amounts of flooding. Some people spent all last week at it, but I had some stuff I promised to help with at school and half day or no, I didn't want to take too much time out of the classroom.

So, I'm not sure what else to say about what is going on. It's my roommate Kim's birthday. Alex is making porkchops and the Jens and Nicki made a layer cake. The Jen's also decorated the apartment with banners and balloons last night (they woke us up pretty late because they got a wee bit drunk before starting, but that's part of the fun, right?).

I continue to love my school, my class, and my teachers even through some minor frustrations and those days when I just don't feel entirely competant--those days often seem to coincide with the days when kids burst into tears as soon as I ask them a question. Even so, there is much love and happy times. I realy like this job and I like who I'm working with. What more could one ask for? (Except sex. Sex would be nice.)

I had a rehearsal for the Christmas play tonight. I have a very, very short part, but it's kind of fun. I had forgotten how much I really do enjoy being in plays.
Have I mentioned that Alex "borrowed" the unused sound equipment from the highschool afterschool program and fills our apartment with some very cool music? It's awesome.

Mostly, I do not feel homesick. Washington is different, but not entirely out of the range of my experiences. And since I am planning on going home eventually, I don't know. I just don't usually feel homesick as long as I'm busy. However, today I was abruptly reminded that I am not home. In a fit of curiousity, I got lunch at the Cody Cafe and ordered a chili burger. Ahaha. The chili instead of chile was important. It was a burger smothered in beans and chili sauce. Umm, wow, new experience. Good, but yeegods do I suddenly miss New Mexico so much!

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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So, it's really hard not to take it personally when a 4th grader whose been a lot of trouble and who has said he doesn't want to work with me suddenly is working with someone else in the time I usually have with him.
On the other hand, there are a couple other kids who seem to actually like me, so that makes me feel better.

I gave one of the teachers (the one who's doing combined 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) Mom's kid book (The Humpback Fluteplayer) and she's apparently going to read it to her class. At least, so I hear from one of my afterschool kids (I think in possessive terms way too often, my school, my teachers, my kids, my 4th graders...). I kinda wish I could be in the class when she does that.

Also, I now own SET. I'm so nerdily happy.
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I really hate it when I write something brilliant and informative to post and then I accidently delete it all. Seriously. But I'm trying to recreate it.

So, I've taken 5 classes so far here at SERVES, the Washington Service Corp conference. A couple were so-so (informative, but not entertaining or even particalarly attention-getting). A couple were by a professional speaker who talks to corporations (and volunteers) about emotional intelligence and that sort of stuff. He was really funny, and had a few things to say. One was by a school counciller/educational researcher guy--he has an organization that's called something along the lines of Kidsfirst. The program was about Bullies. I (he) use the capital B because these are not just kids who sometimes bully other kids because they have a bad day or no social skills or something. No, Bullies are the 6% of kids in school who have a high need for power and control coupled with very low empathy for other beings. They have average to above-average self esteem and do not necessarily have problems at home. They do not feel remorse for their actions. It wasn't just that Bullies enjoy what they do, but that they're really good at hiding it from adults. Sound a little like sociopaths? Yeah. That's deliberate. It's interesting, because it's just a very different view than you usually get. I mean, he had the research and some beleivable anecdotes. It's just very new to me. He some advice about trying to get through to these kids, consequences that involve trying to teach empathy or at least appropriate social behavior, but his bottom line was to try and protect the other kids. He also had advice to give victims, which included the standard Stand Tall, Make Eye Contact, Be Firm, but also included Avoid the Bully and Own the Insults ("You're stupid." "Yeah, I kind of am." Seriously, where do you go from there?). It was really thought-provoking.

The ocean and beach out here is beautiful. It really is. I've only been out twice, because today it started raining around 11:30 am and it hasn't stopped since. I was out this morning, where I ran into Samara again and watched her draw patterns in the sand with her foot. I need to figure out how to start a conversation over e-mail with her that is not totally stilted, because she seems cool. I was also out on the beach last evening, to watch the sun set. I had a very enjoyable time standing out in the freezing surf and reading Robert Service to the waves. I had just gotten out of a seminar that was all about dropping your "image" and being who you really are in the moment--it had some Zen qualities to it--and in that moment I felt an intense desire to read Robert Service in a theater-pitched voice to the waves, while being dramatic with my tone and body. It was incredibly awesome.

So, possibly this is something I should have realized sooner, but I've finally figured out my deal with poetry. I love poetry, I do, but for me it is an intensely oral experience. I cannot enjoy, or even really fully comprehend, poetry when I read it silently. I have to verbalize it.

Alex, Abbey, Megan and I went out tonight to watch The Departed. Can I just say, I would have gone into the movie in a completely different frame of mind had I known it was based on a Korean film? By the end, I felt like laughing hysterically, which was not exactly the most appropriate reaction. I mean, it worked for me, but I may have been freaking the others out a little.

I'm trying to find a mechanic to go to--the car is occasionally making a weird noise, though not all the time--but it's kind of hard. I asked for recommendations, and someone said "Don't go to the guy in Morton, go to the guy in Glenoma, he's really honest." And someone else agreed with that. But then Kim called him for her own car and he told her that an estimate cost $50-100 and that that money could not then be applied to the repairs. It was just for the estimate. And that seems really expensive for something that might not even be a real problem.

Also, I have this kid I'm working with. And I think he may be learning-disabled. And I talked to the teacher. And (check out how I put my sentences together after writing Halloween stories with 2-4th graders), the teacher thinks he may be learning-disabled too. But apparently she can't recommend him for testing (even just to his parents) because if she did the school would have to pay for it and apparently they can't. And I don't know what to do with that. I mean, I talked to my supervisor whose advice was just to watch the situation and keep talking to the teacher, but seriously. I don't know what to do with that.

Also, I'm in charge of the PS2 at the "Make the Grade Party" for the junior high Halloween evening. Can I just say, I am really amused at how owning a PS2 has automatically made me the expert on fixing/running the thing? Twice I've been called down to the Teen Center to fix it, and both times it was just that wires weren't plugged in right/completely. I mean, these people are more than smart enough to figure this out themselves. Just, somehow, because I'm here they don't. It really reminds me of when my mom gets frustrated with her computer and calls me over three times because she doesn't get this "double-clicking thing". I mean, she uses the computer a lot. She uses it just fine when I'm gone. I find it really hard to believe she never double-clicks on things. Ah, but I love her anyways.

So there's my last week.
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So, what have I been doing?

I've been settling into working at the school. Seriously, elementary students are so sweet. Not just in the coming up for hugs sort of way, but in the doing what they're told by authority figures sort of way. Now, if only I could convince myself I'm an authority figure. It would make convincing them so much easier.

When I first looked at my schedule, it seemed I would mostly be working on reading with a small group of students, and that is pretty much true. But I'm also spending some time pulling kids out just to finish up any work they need to finish up, or pulling out the kid in fifth grade who can't read and reading his science homework to him. And there's the half hour of math class, most of which is spend with the same kids over and over. I swear, there's this one kid who sometimes I think she only asks for help for the attention, and sometimes I'm convinced that she really and truly has no idea how to add one digit numbers well (she's a third grader). Thursday they played Math Basketball. The teacher divided them into teams, then had each kid come up individually. He had flashcards (11-1= __; 14-6=__) and if they got the answer in five seconds he let them take a shot at the small hoop with the nerf(ish) basketball. It was awesome.

The kids at the Teen Center still intimidate me. Most of them are in junior high, so it's not a size thing, and most of them know they're supposed to listen to me and even if it's by the skin of my teeth and the boon of being able to hide behind the computer, I am holding on to my authority status. The problem is I really have no idea how to connect with them or even how to play with them. I just kindof wander around trying to figure out what to do, where other people pull out origami books or play pool. It's kind of sad.

Fridays are meetings, which are kind of stupid but also kind of helpful. Damn I hate it when that happens. And one of the kids I love working with, who, of all things, enjoys reading even though its hard for him, is moving. Wah.

But I like my job. I really do. I'm starting to think that this may be something I could do and even enjoy. It's really interesting to be see the problems some of the teachers have too. I mean, a couple of teachers send kids out into the hall with nothing to do, which I hate, but then I realize that it really is so hard to keep control of a class with 23 kids, especially when some of them are too bored to listen and some can't keep up with the material, and so on and so on.

My roommate has made it his personal mission to find an alcoholic drink that I actually like. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this yet. Mostly I think I'm amused.

So, I'm exhausted, and a little lonely with no one who really knows me or cares personally about me around, but I'm also settling in and doing some good stuff.
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So, I've had no internet for a while. Technically, I still don't have internet, but I'm staffing the computer room in the Teen Center which means I get to use theirs. Mostly this means I'm hiding from actual interaction by signing teens onto the comps and PS2 and occasionally walking by to checj what sites they're on, which activity, can I say, kind of creeps me out.

So, I have 11 team-mates, all of whom still seem pretty cool, after a whole two weeks. I have an apartment with Kim and Alex. It's half a block or something from my school, which is awesome, plus it's pretty big. The rent's pretty cheap, but it doesn't come with utilities. Or furniture. I miss furniture.

My school is nice in that it is small and most of the teachers seem pretty happy to have me and have some idea of what to do with me. On the other hand, the school is pretty heavily into bribery. And I get the idea behind it, that people--even or especially kids--respond better to rewards than punishments. But in a couple cases I've seen the system veering towards payment rather than reward. Like, in this 2nd grade classroom, where kids are reading and if you think they're doing good you give them a Husky Buck (which is a school thing where they have a marketplace every once in a while--it reminds me of those arcades where certain games give out tickets that you can use to buy prizes). The system has degenerated to the point that the 2nd graders expect to be "paid" everytime they read to an adult. It just really seems that they're losing any responsibility for self-motivation.

Times up. I'll say more later, I hope.
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So someone, a very cool someone, has translated my Cinderella fic A Perfect Queen into Italian. Yay!

Also, there is, apparently, a "Minnesota contingent" going to Washington. I am amused.

Then again, it seems I now have dandruff on my chest, which is seriously uncool.

My life is boring. Except for the parts in Italian.
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On Friday, Silver City got two inches of rain in one hour. And it rained most of the day (though not quite at those levels). It kind of felt like an appropriate atmosphere to say goodbye to Moon; I miss him a lot.

It was also kind of a welcome distraction. This will only mean something to people from Silver who have been to Silver, but the Big Ditch flooded to amazing proportions. This, as my Dad pointed out, was how the Big Ditch was carved from street level to the deep, deep arroyo it is. So let's see how this insert image thing works out.
Pictures )
Then we spent the weekend out in Gila, where we saw numerous birds including a great horned owl, as well as a very large muskrat swimming in the middle of the pond. Seriously, we thought it was a beaver until I got a look at the tail.

The Gila is pretty gorgeous out there right now.
Picture )
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Moon died today.
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In my head, I just compared anthropologists and aid-workers to vampires. We can't go into a home (country) without an invitation, and if it's rescinded we better clear out fast or we're dust.

I blame fanfic. It rots the mind.

This past weekend, I went out to visit Jean and Elizabeth Simon. Gene is 90 and Elizabeth is 80 something, but they're still going strong, running their farm and being a strong part of the community. In fact, Gene was appointed to the New Mexico Ranch and Farm Heritage Museum thing, and he was joking that now he has to live to be at least 92, to take care of all that. They are the sweetest couple--it's like having an extra set of grandparents. Elizabeth had to write down all of the details of my graduation and Americorp set-up so that she could put it in the Quaker newsletter, and she has all these pictures of the birthday parties I had out there, and the times my school went out there to show the kids what a farm was like. And Gene gave us a bunch of eggs, because he doesn't have "enough time to worry about you eating store eggs." And of course, there was a lot of political talk (they're both very anti-Bush) and we were fed cake (Mom's birthday is today) and English tea, and sent home with roses and peacock feathers. Possibly for the first time I've been there, I did not get a ride in Gene's amazingly well-running 1943 jeep, but, hey, cake and ice cream and watching the baby turkeys running around was enough.
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So, the only thing weirder than having a conversation with my 12 year old cousin about ISPs (seriously, why do people assume I know this stuff? I mean, I vaguely knew in this case, but really.) which is interrupted at least three times by her telling me she misses me (which is cute, but, um, I'm still a little freaked out by this whole kid liking me thing. I keep expecting her to grow up and realize I'm a dork. Evidence: this post)--back to the point, the only thing weirder is her passing over how I could maybe be a mod on her new message board site before running off to wash her hair with lice shampoo.

How do I nicely tell her that while she is cute and adorable and I do love her, I have very little interest in hanging around a site full of 12 year old girls? I mean, I barely ever even get on LJ where I am surrounded by eloquent and amusing people who I read for enjoyment.

In other news, my cat Moon managed to lose a quarter of his body weight in a week and now, having been diagnosed with an infection and given a two week supply of antibioticsm he is refusing to eat, mostly, as far as anyone can tell, because he's decided that he liked the prescription diet at the vet's better than what he's been eating for the last nine years.

And Caitlin's in Jamaica! Yay!
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