Monthly Archives: May 2007

I’ve Lassoed this Pony


I figure I’ll post while I can.  This is Dora poking as much as she can out into unclaimed territory.

Tonight there were fifteen more dead in Iraq.

Night before last, it was eighteen dead.

Only the government knows how many injured.

Dora lives.


These sunflower plants live.

People die in Iraq. 

People like this  comfort themselves with pretty pictures and worry over one child’s answer to one question. 

 It’s almost disheartening.  But for the fact that I talk with real people from real countries daily . . .



At least I’m trying.  I’m putting the frustrating experience with Symantec and Norton behind me for the moment (I don’t know how I will reverse the stupid changes I just made AGAIN to my computer) and focusing on HAPPY THOUGHTS.

Let’s see . . . classes today were ok.  My first group really liked the interactive assessment for their current reading chapter on evolution.  They have to choose one of the first four topics, read the assigned information and then summarize it.  There were a few problems at first, but by half way through the class, they all wanted to come back to the computer lab to finish it.  Too bad!  Tomorrow they will have a practice test, so they will have to finish on their own time.  One of my Russian students offered to help me buy the internet security software he used to sell for about $10 US — after tonight, I think I will take him up on the offer.

My grammar class is moving along at a faster pace than usual.  The Tagik girl is the only one who puts her head on the desk in slumber, but I think it’s not because of me.  We are plowing throught chapters at an amazing pace.  I was happy to see today that they already know (books closed) quite a bit about the topic covered in the next two chapters.  It’s quite difficult to cover all of the required material with an average class.  This one is turning out to be that jewel of a class — they keep up and push forward — except for the sleepyheads — but even they do ok on tests.

My writing class is a disaster.  There is a division — some took writing last time, some didn’t — so it’s as if I have two different groups in the same class.  The ones who took writing last time have finished their book.  The ones who didn’t, bought it new.  They are evenly divided.  Added on top of that, their grammar teacher lost it early on in the semester and was frantically covering points without explaining anything.  It came to a head, and I volunteered to help her teach that group grammar.  CRAP.  (Why did I do that?  So a big group of students wouldn’t complain about a teacher — as they were threatening to do.  Would any of my colleagues do that for me?  HELL NO.  I still get blamed for leaving doors unlocked when I wasn’t even in the building . . .)  I asked the students who had taken writing before to choose a new topic.  Of course, one didn’t.  He turned in a near perfect essay the day after I assigned it.  That was the first essay.   What could I do?  With the second essay, he did the same thing.  When I pointed out that I couldn’t do that myself — given that we both work and have responsibilitites, it is nearly impossible to turn in a near perfect essay — his response was to pout.  BAAWAHH.   Then two in a row claimed that they had given me papers and I had not returned them.  Wait. Wait.  That’s an easy ploy.  The first kept claiming that he had given me the paper.  Well, yes he had.  I HAD GIVEN IT BACK TO HIM MARKED UP IN RED.  After repeated denials, he found the paper and started his corrections.  No apology.  But that’s ok.  Then within seconds, another student claimed he had given me his take home test.  I went all the way to my office to check.  When I came back, he showed me the paper.  He had had it all along, of course.  Since I am on probation, either of them could go and complain to my boss — who believes her sources only and not me — and I could lose my job.  None care about that but me.

Oh yeah, happy stuff.  I had lunch today with cats and one of his classmates.  It was great.  We went to Hungry International.  Neither of them had eaten hummus before, but they loved it!   (YaY!)  It was fun eating and talking.  Then we went down the street to a coffee shop to meet another frined (positive vibes for the chica :).  We talked about all sorts of things.  It was invigorating and very fun.  They all reminded me of one of the reasons I started writing this blog.  I am very lucky to meet such exceptional people.  I am so lucky to have the job I do because I get to meet the most interesting people from all over the planet.  If I ever lost my job, I don’t know what I would do.  The richness of life that they give me is irreplaceable.  If I couldn’t interact with people like cats and our friends, I would simply crawl into a hole and stay there.

 Put another way, I am privileadged to meet, for the most part, the most adventuous people on the planet.  I know and appreciate that. 

CATS!!!!!  I will miss you.  Please stay in touch.   (See you Monday?)

I gave this web address to someone I saw today — if you stop by — just pick a name and cats and I will know, but no one else will . . . comment and let us know about you and that little girl we almost know.

 In the end, I’m happy. 

When was the last time . . .

you saw a commercial about premium gasoline blends from any gas company?  In thinking about all the varying explanations we hear about the price of gasoline, I couldn’t recall the last time I saw a commercial about anything other than gas companies *greening*.  A related thought — a week or so ago, one of the explanations I heard was that despite record high gas prices, the volume of gas Americans were buying had increased.  I wonder if that increase was actually in all blends or just in regular unleaded.  Now the price has come down a bit here in Houston and the explanation was that things had settled down in Nigeria and that refining plants had come back online.

I wish my computer could talk to me and tell me why it is unhappy.  I have been struggling with this little machine since last Friday.  Neither of us is happy at this point, but at least I have been able to get online this evening.  Hopefully I’ll be able to solve its problems tomorrow at work.  Then I will be able to get back to regularly posting.  We’ll see.


That’s what I shouted as my keys went down the toilet.  Literally.  I flushed my keys down the toilet today.  Like a child.  There were a couple of other women in the restroom and they shouted back to me from their respective stalls (I imagine little bubbles in a cartoon), “Are you ok?”  CRAP.  I just flushed my keys down the toilet.  Gross but true, I actually tried to catch them before they were washed into the city sewage system, with no luck.  I splashed an unknown water mixture on my dress in the process.

I ran up stairs to see if the physical plant types could catch them, but sadly, no.  My keys, my roommate’s car keys and my MOM’S HOUSE KEY are all probably clogging up some stinky drain somewhere in the bowels of the city.  At some point my mom is going to ask me to go feed the dog or rabbits or something and I’m going to have to tell her that I don’t have her key anymore.  Perfect. 

I called my roomy, and he had taken the day off, so he could come pick me up, so I could shower and change.  While I was waiting, I borrowed my boss’ key to get into my office and closed the door.  A few minutes later, the secretary came knocking and said, “You have ____’s key.”  DUH.  I told her that I was waiting for my roomy to call me when he was on Main Street, so I could go out and stand on the corner in my stinky dress, and if I took the key back to my boss, I wouldn’t be able to get back into my office to answer my phone and that I wasn’t planning on going into anyone else’s office because I had on a STINKY DRESS.  I probably frightened her again by pointing out her stupidity.

My roomy picked me up and as we drove to the house politely stated that I didn’t stink.  He also assured me that it was lucky for me that he had taken the day off.  At that point, I noted that I didn’t feel particularly lucky since I HAD FLUSHED MY KEYS DOWN A TOILET.  I showered and changed and he took me back to work.  I went to my boss’ office to check in and she proceeded to tell me that I was lucky to have a spare set of keys.  I told her what I had told my roomy:  I don’t really feel lucky right now because I FLUSHED MY KEYS DOWN A TOILET.

Later this evening, my roomy’s gfriend called.  Help! she said, I locked my keys in my house.  Pfffft.  At least they DIDN’T GO DOWN A TOILET.

My Local Radio Hunch

I think Michael Berry wants to move his radio show away from political talk.  The last two mornings he or his sub (my favorite Chris Baker) have moved away from the immigration debate.  Baker even used his time on the air to complain about a dog law, not immigration. 

My thinking on this is Berry — who lambasted local politicians while being one — and Baker are adapting to their audience.  They still want people like me to listen — but they also want to appeal to people who just like to call in on puff topics.  You watch, local radio types will stop being mouthpieces for the Bush administration and will change into superficial commenters on light weight topics.  Isn’t that something blogs could do?  I miss the news on KTRH.  Having Rush on their airwaves makes it clear — KTRH is NOT where I go for weather news — it might interfere with Rush’s points — despite the disclaimer.

 Update:  Both Michael Berry and Chris Baker talked about the same topic today. The fix is in.  Clear Channel only wants AM radio users to hear certain topics.  Will Salem chime in?  Doubtful, since all of their talkers are national.  They will just keep talking about Rosie.  Zzzzzzzz.

My Friend

This evening I let the girlies out into the front yard around 6:30.  They had been out in the yard together for a couple of hours when I decided to check on them.  They were chasing each other around the yard, running under bushes and continuing to define the infinity pattern that Dora had started alone through the yard.  Now it is both of them running chasing each other — sometimes Dora is the chaser, sometimes Tammy is the chaser.  I checked on them later to find each pup on a different step on the porch.

To whom do I owe this happy play between my two puppy girls?  Let’s just call her AM.  I know she reads this little blog at times, and while I haven’t heard from her — I want her to know that every time I see my puppy girls playing together, every time they both share the bed with me, I have her to thank.  She’s the one who encouraged me to bring them together.  Early on, I had kept the two pups separated because Dora attacked Tammy.  AM insisted that they had to come together and be companions.  She was right.

AM was also a great champion of feral kittens.  She fed them, trapped them and got them fixed, worried over them, and supported me in caring for the little OKs I have now.  I wasn’t always helpful.  She found a kitten and called me once and I wasn’t there for her.  I only bought a trap just before she left Houston.  We could have done a lot with it I think.  But now she’s not here.

I don’t know if she knows how much she is missed.  Daily — and that’s no exaggeration — students hound me about where she is.  For most of two weeks I have said simply that she is not here.  Late this past week I told them I don’t know.  BECAUSE I DON’T.  Not that I would say shit to anyone, but it would be nice to hear from her.  HINT.  It would be nice to say that she is ok, thank you very much.  HINT.  It would be nice to know that the person who is sorely missed might say BOO.  HINT.

AM, if you read this, please drop a line.  You can be anyone you want.  The only students who know about this blog are cats and Terrie.  You know both of them are cool — otherwise I wouldn’t have told them.  AM, just drop us a line.  Let us– and that includes Roberto and B (you remember them, yes? from the AlGorething) know.  We simply worry.  Worry.  We want to know that you are ok.  I sent you an email from bizibacsoon at earthlink dot net.  Maybe it is in your junk mail?

Even if you don’t catch this or decide not to respond, I want to tell you that I miss you. 

Points Post . . .

if my ISP and McAfee can stop fighting with each other long enough to let me do this.  What a pain.  Unless I get this straightened out, I won’t be able to do any links.

Immigration:  All I’ve heard is a bunch of nitpicking about things actually relating to the immigrants themselves.  What I haven’t heard in the last couple of days is anything at all relating to employers.  Chris Baker, Hegh Hewitt, Red State, Michelle Malkin, the usual suspects, are all in complete outrage mode.  Zzzzzzzzz.  I’ve always thought that immigration relates to the countries invovled and whether or not that immigration benefited both.  It does, wrt each country.  It also comes up as an issue when the conservative types in the U.S. feel threatened or powerless.  The military operation in Iraq has been less than glorious, to say the least.  (There were 14 more tonight on the News Hours — but that is a different point . . .)  So, since the 12%ers feel weak — the frustration with Iraq — they attack those among us with the least power — the easiest prey.  They demonize them — calling them criminals.  They harp on the actions of a few and generalize that behavior/attitude to the whole — a few stomp around the pond in front of city hall, marchers carried Mexican flags, so they must want the U.S. to be Mexico.  They purposefully over-simplify the entire situation — build a wall — that will stop them — even though walls haven’t stopped immigration anywhere — walls have only led to deaths.  (Two of my students documented this in their research papers.)

Something I didn’t know:  Tonight on NOW, there was a report about a bike shop — but not an ordinary one — in the 3rd ward.  They draw kids into fixing bikes when there is nothing else to do.  I think I will take the two old bikes my sister dumped on me and that I haven’t found time to fix over there. 

The Connection — when it is not Red, White and Blue — is place for true religious wingnutery on display.  I’m taping it now, and did the other Friday that it was on.  I should do some sort of transcription of the most egregious statements.  (Context!  I know, but still.  With Jerry Falwell, the excuses have been — take his words in context!!!!!!!!! )  Interesting show as always.  But it steers toward religious types talking about sex far too often.  Now it’s over.

The Green Spot is coming up.  Then Bill Moyers.  I will be distracted.

Work — I had my performance appraisal on Wednesday.  I am difficult to work with.  I am intimidating.  I am accussed of doing things I didn’t do/couldn’t have done.  I still frighten the secretary — maybe it is because she is a racist and I point it out to her. . . .  I get accused of doing things that I didn’t do again and again.  This causes me to drink in excess (not the only reason) and fret about my employment — since one wrong move could land me unemployed.   The whole process is now via the internets and so, input gets cut off.  I’m pushing the limit this year.  Not because I wanted to, i’t what was given to me.

In other work news — I difussed a potential problem/complaint for another teacher yesterday.  Will I get credit for it?  No. Nope. Never.  Now if it comes back and bites me in the ass, I will be assessed with all of the blame — to be continued. 

Back to Immigration — John Cornyn — Texas Senator up for his first re-election, was for the bill before he was against it.  Perfect Republican.   Wait, he thought about it.  Wait.  Wait. Wait, he gave a complicated answer.  Wait.  It’s complicated.  Remind you of anything?  

Farmers Branch Voting Results

So the ordinance passed.  It’s still wrong, and it doesn’t change anything as far as the lawsuits are concerned.  I’m disheartened, but I still think that this can all turn out for the best.

Today’s Vote

There’s an election today.  Here in Houston, we’re choosing who will replace Shelley Sekula Gibbs.  She’s the city council person who got elected to the U.S. House in Tom DeLay’s old seat for 6 weeks by Republicans last fall.   This election cost the city 2 million.  (Remember when Chris Baker belly-ached about the city spending 100K to help immigrants with their papers?  Crickets on this election caused by his party.)  Speaking of Chris Baker, it seems that Clear Channel/KTRH has been playing favorites.  Nixon, a former cop turned lawyer (he states that he is Chris Baker’s law enforcement analyst — I vote that Jason should hold that position — oh wait he WORKS for a living), is the only person ever mentioned on KTRH as running for the spot.  I listen to  1070 AM as well.  Nothing about this election from Chuck Tiller, who supposedly is in Houston.  Who knows with that station.  Mike Gallagher, who had joined the bandwagon of Farmers Branch seems to have ADD, since he has said nothing about the Farmers Branch issue in months.  A reasonable person might think that if Gallagher cared so much last fall, he might care now, too.  But no, he’s off to attach himself to the latest rightwing talking point.  (Let’s see — Greenburg, Kansas will rebuild itself, contrasting NOLA.  Wingers equate the two cities FOREVER.)

I voted for Melissa Noriega.  I checked her out, as well as the others running, which includes this ding-dong Goldberg, trying to make Houston look like a hick city.  When I went to vote at 2:30, 28 people had voted by 1:30 in my precinct.  It reminded me of when I lived in Midtown — before there were so many condos and patio homes — when so few people lived in that area and I was the 12th or 14th voter.

I’m so lazy that I will add links later.  Also, Dora is worrying me.

First Week of Classes

Things have been ok.  First day activities went well enough.  I had over-prepared — it was all very fluid — but we made adjustments.  I had intended for each level to have its picture taken in front of the mural in the academic building, but so few students got from the classroom floor to the auditorium, we decided to take the pics there.  I had a cool jumble game all ready to go to entertain the rest while having their pics taken, but I didn’t use it.  The “Flag Ceremony” as we call it had a couple of hiccups.  It consists of me randomly choosing the flags of different countries represented by our student population, and then the students coming on the stage and talking about their country.  The guy from Turkey, who had given everyone such a hard time last term, got up and started yapping about what he doesn’t like about Houston.  Given that he had never mastered the idea of staying on topic in my writing class the previous term, I wasn’t surprised.

What I didn’t witness was the full reaction of our Iraqi newly credentialed citizen of the U.S. and Texas’ reaction.  Let me explain.  We have a student — he’s been in and out of our program — from Iraq.  He’s gotten his citizenship after a very long wait.  As he said when I pulled the Iraqi, U.S. and Texas flag in the ceremony (before the Turk got up), he is from Iraq, he is now a U.S. citizen and a Texan by choice.  He loves being here — in Houston, Texas.  (For the record, he hates the war in Iraq, has been against it for the entire time I have known him — since 2003 — and went back for the first time in many years — after having been in a prison camp — just this past year.  He still has family there.)

Well, our newest Texan took offense to the Turk’s negative words about Houston and dragged him up to our director’s office to apologize for his remarks.  The kicker?  My boss (the director) didn’t take the opportunity to explain to the Turk (who won the lottery to be a U.S. citizen) that what he had said was inappropriate or even possibly insulting to those who feel pride in our city and state.  She in fact took the other route, and told him he could continue to insult everyone, just as he had done the previous term.  However, I think my new Texan friend has taught the Turk a lesson.  Only the course of this current term will tell.

But on to other possible problems 🙂  I have a Russian in my upper level reading class.  He is typical of the Russian (males) I have dealt with before in Latvia and here.  He wants to challenge me on every point.  Unfortunately for him, he’s not new for me, and his classmates know me from a previous level before he was a student.  Towards the end of class on Tuesday, he chose to make his move.  While discussing the formation of the solar system, he tried to argue that fussion only means the combination of atoms.  I looked at the students who trust me and not him and at once they all backed me up.  Today as a follow up, he tried the “in Russian” excuse, but two of the students who know me are Russian speakers and were in agreement today when I told him that we are not learning Russian, nor are we in Russia.

It makes all the difference in a class when the students have learned from your instruction and trust you.  Two of my students from last term, a group I don’t teach this term, caught me in the hall today and moaned about the fact that I am not teaching them this term.  I told them that they know where my office is and I will always be there to help them.  They were ok with that.