Thursday, October 28, 2010

a little Halloween celebration

Adam made this pumpkin, which says "Halloween" in katakana (so it reads like "haroeen"). He and his mentee both carved pumpkins and I made some popcorn (for some reason my mom always made popcorn when we carved pumpkins). I melted down some butter and sugar in hopes to make caramel popcorn, but I don't think I got it hot enough and it just got kind of hard. It was still good, just not the kind for popcorn balls (which someday, I will make). We also tried roasting pumpkin seeds, but I'm not a huge fan of them and we just put salt on them.

Speaking of Japanese, I have been studying that language. It is very different from any other language I've studied. The parts I expect to be hard are easy and vice versa (i.e., verbs have a lot of forms but don't really conjugate; nouns have no plurals or other forms; but particles and word order and kind of hard!).

Sometimes freshmen are freshmen

Okay. I teach a first-year writing class, right? My students get to be in a computer classroom 2 days a week out of 3. To teach them MLA format, I decided we could have a competition. They'd divide into groups , I'd give them copies of an article or book with the information they needed, and then each team would write their citation in a google doc which I would project on the screen so everyone could see how they were doing. The first group to get everything perfect would get three points and 2nd and 3rd place would get one point (maybe I should have made 2nd place 2 points, oh well).

The problem with my plan is that I gave everyone the link to access the google doc, and they all appeared as anonymous users. At first I threatened to take away points for sabotage, but then we discovered that I couldn't do that... guess what happened. Yes, someone in the class, which is mostly boys, decided to sabotage other groups by decapitalizing letters, making things into italics, or adding random periods. It seems like a more productive way to cheat would be to copy and paste the winner's citation, but I don't think anyone tried that (too obvious?). Anyway, I was disappointed by my class's lack of maturity. My pleas of "you're too old for this" were ignored. As a solution, we had only one person per group allowed on the document, which worked--it was too hard to both type the citation and sabotage other groups. Okay, whining over.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New backpack and shoes

Okay, okay. I know you were worried about how the new backpack thing would go. I settled on the Jester model from the North Face (it was on sale at the REI outlet for like $30, so yeah). It's this weird orange plaid pattern that matches almost nothing I own. I guess I am okay with that. One thing that drives me crazy is that there are only two pockets - one main one and one semi-large front pocket. I just wish I had another pocket sometimes. That said, the limited number of pockets does cut down on the bulk of the backpack. Even when the backpack is chalk full it appears fairly slender. This is accomplished through forcing the user to use more vertical space. I like that the lining is this rubberish probably waterproof stuff that hasn't started flaking off yet. One great design improvement is with the elastic water-bottle holder mesh things on the sides. There's a little pull tab so you can extend the elastic out without getting your fingers caught in it. And the slot is big enough for my wide-mouthed water bottle (wide-mouthed to accommodate convenient cleaning).

Another product I have been excited about is my new Rocket Dog tennis shoes (no I did not pay $45 for them, I got them on sale too). They're a red and black plaid, and I love that the shape is symmetrical but the colors aren't. The sole, toe, and heel are thick rubber, so I'm hoping they'll be somewhat waterproof (I should waterproof the canvas part). They only breathe a little, so they're pretty warm. The only thing I'm worried about is that they have the same problem as my converses where they chafe my heel spurs a little so I have to wear thicker socks (was that tmi?). Their arch support isn't super but they don't hurt.

Okay, while we're talking about shoes, a month back I got a pair of Sanuk sidewalk surfers, mostly because I checked the reviews on them and people were like "these are amazing." The company claims that they sell shoes that are actually sandals, but don't believe them. Their shoes are actually socially acceptable slippers. I'm not sure how people wear these barefoot, but with some ankle socks they are incredibly comfortable. They're a very light shoe and were perfect for that long end of summer we had. They're rubber-soled too, so you can step in a shallow puddle and not get soaked. I don't really like the frayed look, and I still kind of associate the brand with rich beach bums, but I can't deny that the shoes are incredibly comfortable (despite having no support... I'm beginning to suspect that cheap shoes which make my feet hurt simply support in the wrong places). Anyway, SHOES.

Oh, P.S. It looks like finally got around to posting my profile. I used some primary-lesson-y language, but oh well.