Monthly Archives: August 2007

Incoming!

New students took their placement test today.  We actually had to give it in two different classrooms because we couldn’t get one big enough for all of them.  (sweet!)

I don’t know if I can remember all of the countries they are from, even though I had to make signs for the first day activities that include the “three interesting things about your country” thing that we do. 

One is from the Ivory Coast, or officially, Côte d’Ivoire.  The first student I taught from there always sticks in my mind because after our tutorial, (I worked at Berlitz then and it was a private one-on-one class) I went out to my truck to leave and heard about the Murrah Building bombing.  It’s odd the way we make connections, ain’t it?

The Turk invasion has returned, but only one flowery scarf with pins.  The rest are male math teachers.  I’m thinking that Turkey doesn’t have any male math teachers anymore.  They are all in Houston.  I’ll teach the one secular Turk this term (as I have for the last two), and so that should balance out any weirdness from the country Turks.

Since we now have an agent there, we’re getting lots more mainland Chinese.  This is the one that I really have to force myself to be open-minded about.  I’ve been burned more than once by mainlanders and this new crop of students don’t take their studies very seriously.  What’s that stereotype?  I haven’t seen evidence of it, that’s for sure.

Kazakhstan has made another strong showing.  It’s a fairly large country and the mix, given years of Russification, is very interesting. 

Then there’s the Angola-Brazil thing happening, too.  I find it very interesting.  I recruited in Brazil in 2001 (another story — it was October and I was the only one in our department willing to get on an airplane).  One of our highest achieving students was from Angola.  I still see her around at times.

Speaking of which, new terms always bring back former students.  Yesterday, a former student from Morocco brought a relative to register.  It was good seeing him.  He’s one of the few Moroccans that have gone through our program with no problems.  Another student, from Pakistan came by — he’s one of my favs.  He started out very young and a bit of a problem, but I worked with him through our program, and he visited me after he was an academic student regularly.  He has now graduated and has a job in another state.  He’s the example I use of a model student; more particularly a model Muslim student.  He did his school work and was faithful to his religion, without making a big deal out of it.  During his first semester as an academic student, he would stop by my office with his friend from Lebanon (another stellar student and good example) to say hello just before going to prayers down the street.  He knows I care about him and his success.  He promised to be careful travelling.  I hope some stupid American doesn’t mess with him.

We’ve also got some Latin Americans.  Guatamala and Colombia spring to mind, oh, and Venezuela.  They are mostly easy for me; I identify with them and they understand that.

And speaking of identifying — only one from Japan.  Cats!!!!  Shout out to you.  (I need to write, I know.)

PW morans finally peter out (don’t you people have anything better to do? sheesh)

UPDATE!!!

Like a swarm (it’s like having roaches or fleas), they come and look at the “About” page looking for?  Hell if I know.  It’s not as if they’ll get more info from my little blog than they did at Jeffy’s.  None can comment or won’t.  I don’t care. 

Jeffy was wrong to post my personal information in his comments, but hey, he’s known for doing such things or leaving them up.  He doesn’t seem to care about what’s right or wrong — just getting his kicks.  That’s fine.

At any rate, it looks like Jeffy has held up another shiny thing and all of his 3 to 4 commenters and his sybil-like personalities are finally occupied.

At least I have a job — and try as Jeffy might (or any of the other ding-dongs) — he’s not going to impact my employment.  Should he try, he’ll just be brushed off as the blithering idiot that he is.  See, here’s the thing — Jeffy could publish my work info because I work.  Even if I wanted to retaliate, what would I point to?  That public toilet of a blog he maintains?  And that would prove what?  He runs a public toilet?  So?

Update:  And even after I post this, yet another moran clicks and looks at the ‘About’ page.  Brick.

Update 2:  Baaawaahaa

Update 3:  I spoke too soon.

Tom DeLay on the Today Show

The video is at MSNBC.  (Direct link to video) First off, I really dislike having to see ‘Houston’ under DeLay’s mug — even if it’s only for part of the 6+ minute segment.

Matt Lauer started out by referring to Foley, Abramoff, Vitter and Craig.  He asked DeLay if vitter and Craig were just tow bad apples (out of 49) Republican Senators or is there a problem with the GOP.  He then asks, “Can any of the damage be reversed?”  DeLay immediately gets his panties in a wad and yammering about Mollohan, Jefferson, Frank and Gerry Studds (my personal favorite, since DeLay got not one, but two things wrong {lies?}– but who cares!?!?!  It’s Tom DeLay).  During DeLay’s tyraid, Lauer tried to cut in and poor Tom pout and whined about not getting to talk. He ended up talking about Democrats for almost a minute.  (Yes, I timed it.)

Lauer moved the interview on to Larry Craig specifically, but DeLay didn’t want to talk about that.  He did say that, “It’s unfortunate that people rush to judgment.”  He finally stated, “It takes us off our message.  I’ll grant you that.  It takes us off the fact that we’re winning in the war in Iraq (really?), that the President is going to stop the Democrats from raising taxes (what?) and increasing spending (picks self up off floor), that we desperately need border security (uh-huh) in this country.”

Lauer kept pushing, bring in the title of DeLay’s 66 cent book, and DeLay stated something to the effect that, “If you’re not guilty, you should fight.”  (Like he did? mmmk) Lauer interjected that Craig had pled guilty.  DeLay: errrrummmeerrrrummm but but but he says he made the wrong decision!!!!!!

Whe DeLay gets REALLY frustrated he whines, “You asked me to come on and talk about GOP and politics.” DUH.

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Links Re: Iran

The News Hour with Jim Lehrer had a clip of Bush’s speech to the American Legion today on its broadcast tonight.  There’s also a clip of it here at Think Progress

And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Given that Israel is the only nuclear power in the region, I question the use of the word holocaust.  But maybe that’s just me.

That remark leads to this report at Raw Story.  It’s about a discussion paper written by a couple of Brits.  It’s long, but worth the read.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order.

The article and the paper it discusses include the possibility that that UK would be involved and that Brown could easily get a vote for such an action in Parliament.

 Ahmadinejad was in the news today, too, stating:

The political power of the occupiers (of Iraq) is being destroyed rapidly and very soon we will be witnessing a great power vacuum in the region.

We, with the help of regional friends and the Iraqi nation, are ready to fill this void.

The Times quotes Sarkozy about bombing Iran.  Perhaps the two Brits should have looked into that as well.   All of these men seemed determined to fight each other.  Why not just put them all in some sort of UFC competition and let them hurt each other instead of all of the rest of us.

And more — the BBC is reporting that the U.S. has taken Iranians who were in Baghdad  into custody.

Video footage showed soldiers leading a group of men, blindfolded and handcuffed, out of the hotel in central Baghdad.

In January, five Iranians – who the US say are linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and were training militants in Iraq – were captured in the northern city of Irbil.

The five remain in US custody.

A Perfect Circle, eMOTIVe, track 10 —  Counting Bodies Like Sheep

Busy Day

I woke up late, but hey, I’m on vacation.

I listened to the radio most of the day.  Joe Pags at KTRH ***warning — at the momment this sicko has pics and links on his “blog” that you probably don’t want to see*****is a seriously overbearing yahoo.  He insults his callers if they even present a little disagreement with him.  Today his topic was the law that makes two-time sex offenders eligible for the death penalty.  Ok, yes this is Texas and we do have laws on the books that if in the commission of a felony someone is murdered, one can receive the death penalty even if not the murderer.  It is my understanding that the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant cannot receive the death penalty if no death occurred.

One young man who called in was a youth minister and articulately argued against Joe Pags’ point.  (If it’s KTRH, you are guaranteed that the host is a ‘kill them all’ raging maniac.)  Pags went straight for the personal.  You could hear a child in the background on the callers line, and Pags demanded to know the child’s age.  I stopped what I was doing — hoping hoping that the caller would tell Pags that it was none of his business.  The caller hesitated, but in the end told him.  Big mistake.  Pags laid into him and by the time he was done, and from there on out, Pags discredited the caller as a bad parent.

Next up, Rush’s sub — some guy from Cali — yammering for hours about Alberto Gonzales.  I had read a tip on Think Progress earlier and gotten a call from R this morning about it (and other things), so I knew it would be a topic.  KTRH broadcast Bush and Gonzales and bonus Michael Vick pressers. (Local news it advertising a piece about Gonzales’ “hot job prospects” here in Houston.  Great.  Wingnut welfare.)

At 2, I switched over to MAN-TALK to listen to Baker and Hunt — possibly the most inept show on the airwaves.  Baker keeps blaming the problems on the idea that this is a new station — it’s not — just a new couple of hours programming that he and Michael Berry can’t seem to do right.  Why do I listen?  To mock Baker, to see if Cynthia Hunt will improve, and to laugh (at them, not with them.)  Today’s topic was Michael Vick and Baker’s same old same old argument: “but what about the football d00ds who impregnate women?   They are just as bad or worse!”  He also regularly insults Hunt and she never gets in a good dig at him in return.  She tried last week by saying the Baker is too fat to have a “hot young wife.”  I am so very tempted to email her the Lexus/Nexus article about Baker getting liposuction a few years back.

The Astros news conference came on.  Garner and Purpura are out.  I’m glad.  Houston baseball has been crap for the last couple of years.  At least it was the Rangers in that record setting 30 run game and Barry Bonds didn’t hit that homer here or against Houston pitching — minimal silver lining. ***Added — Cecil Cooper moves up from bench coach to interim manager.   This seems promising.***

I switched back over to KTRH for Baker’s solo show.  It was a lame version of sports talk.  Finally it was time for the real news.

When I got on the intertubes, I caught up with the whirling news of yet another “values” Republican get busy in a public restroom.  I ran into Kathleen on a comment thread, trying to be funny (I guess) with her and another commenter trying to tie the Republican perv to a Edwards.  I think that called attempted deflection.

Lest one thinks that I spent the day on my ass, wrong one would be.  Yesterday I bought a beautiful new vacuum cleaner at Sears.  It’s a Eureka Optima.  It’s a fantastic machine — the power!  — the attachments! — the easy of cleaning! — why didn’t I buy this years ago?!?!?!?  The four-footed ones HATE it; Cisco is trying to recruit it to his side — to use it against Tam, I suspect.  I rearranged the living room and the Optima ate all the dust bunnies.  Great Value.  I love Sears.

Links in a bit, I want to watch the news.

I’m so distracted, links will have to wait.

Local news DID NOT report on Gonzales’ future employers.

Lucy’s Coming to Houston

Actually, she’s probably already here, but the exhibit will open at the Houston Museum of Natural Science this Friday.  Tickets are $20 or $12 depending on your group.  I’m extremely excited about having the opportunity to see this incredibly important fossil.  This is Lucy’s first trip out of Ethiopia, and Houston is the first stop on the the tour.  I’ve got to tip my hat to the folks at HMNS.   I can’t think of a comparable event in another discipline.  The Ethiopians have held this treasure so close for so many years, it is truly monumental that they trust HMNS and others so much.

Lucy was discovered in 1974 in the Hadar area in Ethiopia by Don Johanson’s group.  Her remains are the prime specimen of the group Australopithecus afarensis, dated between 3.9 and 2.9 mya, and are still the most complete of any found.  Along with the fossil footprints (dated 3.5 mya) discovered in Laetoli in Kenya, and the additional fossil finds at Hadar, Lucy is the earliest mark of bipedalism and for the gradual transition of primates from the trees to land mammals.

While my focus was in primatology for my undergrad degree, and I switched to education for my master’s, I still keep up with paleontology and actually teach the subject to my upper level ESL students via reading.  Whether I teach that particular class or not, I hope to organize a group of students to visit the exhibit this next session.

The Houston Chronicle has an interviewwith HMNS Director Joel Bartsch.

A little background from MSNBC.

Local Ecosystem Back in Balance

. . . with a brief scare this afternoon.

All ok’s

This is from yesterday evening.  Early this afternoon there was some trouble.  Dora alerted and I looked out front to see a guy in the driveway.  I let her and Tam out and went to the side door.  There was a woman and a puppy there.  The woman said their dog was under my house.  CRAP.  I said she’s probably after my kittens.  I went in the backyard and saw her — a pit bull — through a small space between the deck and the house where the hot tub used to be.  CRAP.  The three of us kept calling her, trying to get her to come to a side of the house where we could catch her.  The outside kittens were nowhere to be seen.   Coupon Kitty, on the other hand, came running.  Stupid cat.  The woman was explaining to me how her dog had gotten out and how the dog had just had a litter and they had “gotten rid of most of them.”  I told her that with the new laws they had better be careful, relating that I didn’t know if Dora would bite anyone or not, but she had the potential, so I make sure she stays in the yard.  The woman said that her dog was a “sweetie and she would never bite anyone.”   I told her that didn’t matter, her dog could get blamed and she would lose her dog and get a ticket.

The pit finally came out on the driveway side of the house where I was calling, with the puppy bouncing around me.  I called to the woman and the man — one was in the front, the other in the back — the woman got there first.  The pit took that stance that I know so well from my interactions with another pit, with the puppy.  While the puppy was maybe 6 to 8 months and looked like a shepherd/pincer mix, he was still a pup.  I told the woman to put her chain — and yeah, they had a regular old rusted chain, not a leash — on that dog now and called the puppy to me.  The man came out of the backyard and as they left, I told them there was a cat (CK) under the truck.  The dog strained to get him and CK hissed.  Stupid cat.  As they went down the street, the puppy followed them.

As I started to call the OK’s, Macy ran out from the garage and went straight to the corner of the house where I had first seen the pit.  I had put Dora and Tammy back in the house before the pit came out and I was fairly sure that nothing had happened to the kittens — Dora would have gone nuts — but I was still worried.  I kept calling — going from the driveway to the backyard to the garage.  One by one they trickled out — Rowdy, then Macy again, later Braveheart, and much later Junebug — who may have missed the whole episode (she’s got a fairly large range).

In general, I don’t worry much about Junebug and Braveheart.  They are fast and spend the majority of their time on roofs or the 10′ fence with a flat 4″ top between my yard and my Mike’s yard.  (He’s my neighbor on the driveway side.)  After today, I feel a bit better about Macy’s ability to stay safe.  I was relieved to see him come out of the garage.  Since I don’t know where Rowdy went, I am a bit more worried.  I’m thinking that she must climb up into an open space under the house, particularly since Macy went straight to that place.  My hope is that when Macy and Rowdy get bigger, they will learn to climb from Braveheart and Junebug.  It is their best way to escape the dogs — some pack dogs — that roam the neighborhood.

I finally got an ok shot of the inside kittehs!  Well sort of.

IK

It’s almost impossible to get enough light to take an inside pic with my camera and the flash washes it all out.  I opened the blinds and at least Caroline and Stumpy cooperated.  Cisco was busy licking his butt.  These are my overlords.  They run my life.  They direct my actions and obstruct when they think I am going in the wrong direction.  They smother me in the wee hours of the morning.  I work solely to bring them kitteh food.  It is how the world should be . . . at least in these walls.

For a bucket kitteh pic, must go to other blog.