Friday, June 29, 2007

New Feature: "I would like to recommend:"

Ever since I started this whole blogging thing, I have started to pay attention to other blogs. What are they doing? How often do they post? What do they talk about? And I have to tell ya, there is a lot of stuff out there. Some of it really interesting, some of it...well not so much.

I came across a blog recently that I believe is really worth your time. It is called Don to Earth, and it inspired a new feature I will be adding to my blog called: "I would like to recommend". Catchy phrase that. Sigh. I never said I was a member of the Literati folks.

Henceforth, I will on occasion blog about something that has caught my fancy. It could be a film, a book, a restaurant or as happens to be the case today, a blog.

Donald Crowdis, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 24, 1913 is one of the last living survivors of the Halifax Explosion. He was the first host of the popular CBC Television series The Nature of Things and he was Curator, then Director, of the Nova Scotia Museum. After World War II, Crowdis spearheaded an effort which led to the construction of the Halifax Memorial Library. Don was also a member of the executive team that oversaw the establishment of the Ontario Science Centre.

Now in his 90s, one of the worlds oldest bloggers is watching his wife fade away in a nursing home and reflecting back on his life and looking at what lies before him. Don is taking time to share his life and observations with anyone who is willing to read them. He hasn't updated in awhile, but the material he has posted is beautiful, sometimes sad and often poetic.

I recommend :

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If failure is not an option- success is not an achievement.

It is year end for schools, and the push is on for teachers to get all the exams marked and entered in to the reporting system. I missed my friends at work this year, I missed some students, and I missed my paycheck, but I definitely did not miss this.

This is the end game, where you have to put forth all your proof that you did your work this year, and that those three kids you failed (never mind the 5 others you pushed through with a 50) really should not get the credit. And why are so many failing, or so close to failing? Well it is more then just a case of are not putting in the required effort, and no, you can’t always blame the teacher. The real answer is that these kids know they will be pushed through. Why should they struggle with an assignment? Why should they actually study at night? Why should they do their homework? Why should they get extra help? They would be crazy to if they knew there was an easier way. And they do. Believe me they do. They tell me so- and they laugh about it.

I will never understand how an average student can fail a class in our current educational system. There is a ton of remedial help available through Student Services, including peer tutoring programs, after school sessions, make-up assignments and endless second chances given throughout the year to hand in missing or late work. Then there are all the warnings given to the student and the parents: credit endangerment reports, phone calls home, tests sent home to be signed, and mid term reports (We won't get into a discussion now about how a parent might want to check in now and then on their own- you know, at least act the part of a concerned parent. We can't go there because my head might burst into flames and pop off my head). In my opinion, if a student fails to take advantage of all the aforementioned, and cannot show up for class on a consistent basis, prepared and ready to work, than they do not deserve the credit. Ah, but many of these wankers will get the credit anyway. Thanks to the “Failure is not an option approach” to education thrust upon teachers by a government concerned more with public perception then education.

A friend of mine, also a teacher, was discussing this on the weekend. She was teaching when the Literacy Test (Raising the standards for our kids –remember that catchy slogan?) first came out. Back then it was a two day affair, a very comprehensive test. If you did not pass this test (and you had two chances to write it) you did not graduate. Oooh tough love. The first year practically everyone failed. So that year became the “test year”. The next year the test was scaled back a bit- but the failure rate was still too high. So they scaled it back to a single day the following year. Again- too many students were failing. So now the “Literacy Test” is just a half a day long. And the kids don’t even sweat it anymore. Why is that you ask? Well if you don’t pass it after two tries now, you simply take the literacy course- you get your 50% and you are in the clear!

What was that about raising standards again? Yeah right. The only thing that changed was the expectations: the Ministry lowered them until they got the desired result. Enter government, school boards and administrators who will rave about how all that extra attention and hard work is paying off. Just look at how many kids are getting their high school diploma now!

But I wonder the worth of that diploma. After all, what have kids learned?

And what happens when these kids get out into the work force, with a poor work ethic and an inability to demonstrate the most basic skills? Who will get the blame for that?

Why the teachers of course.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How do you define home?

I have made some friends since I moved here, really good people. Mostly I met them through work. These are good people. They make me laugh. They are the kind of people who call you just to say hey. People who will notice your absence, so that should something happen to you the CSIs won’t need to follow the flies to find your location. People that make a life far away from family bearable. Easier.

It is summer time and all my friends are getting ready for their exotic trips. The kind Don and I can never afford: in time (he doesn’t get a lot of time off) or money (don’t get me started on that!). Some are going to Vegas, others to Australia, others to the UK. Don and I will be going home.

When we are asked the question: Going anywhere the summer? Our answer is always home. And that answer confuses some: “You don’t want to go somewhere more exciting? Warm? A cruise?” and it also pisses some people off: “Home, what do you mean home? You have lived here since 1999! Why do you still call Newfoundland home?”

Why indeed.

I guess the answer lies in your definition of home.

For me, home is many things. My husband and son are the center of my sense of home to be sure- and wherever they are so is my home. But there is something more to my understanding of the word: something that has a very esoteric connection to the Island itself.

Home is the place where I can be myself. Where I am surrounded by family. Birch and Evergreens. Blue Spruce. My Poppy’s apple tree. It is time spent swimming in the Falls. Friends from high school. Memories. My room. My Grandparents’s laughter and homemade wine. Dad’s BBQ. The smell of Grandma’s house. The silence. Rock and bramble. The dark, dark nights, where the stars shine out in familiar bright patterns, constellations that mark my place in the universe.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What in the name of all that is holy am I going to make for supper?

The daily dilemma.

You think I would be used to this by now, but I am not.

I have been trying to come up with easy, tasty and healthy (read low sugar and fat) versions of the foods we like. I may as well be looking to create fission in a test tube. Tasty and low fat rarely coincide.

When summer comes it is usually a little easier to do this. BBQ a few chicken tits, throw a salad in a bowl and voila, your done. Except there are two problems this summer:

- if I eat one more piece of chicken I am going to start sprouting feathers.
- our BBQ is toasted. It is rusting out. The propane tank doesn't seem to shut properly, and it is held to the BBQ unit by a thick piece of twine and a prayer. And last night, it ran out of propane.

We will decide this weekend if we can simply get a new tank this year, and get the new BBQ the next (when I am off mat leave and making money again- not this insult euphemistically called Maternity Leave Benefits), or if the whole damn unit has to be laid to rest. Sent to that great Outdoor Picnic in the Sky.

In the meantime, I still have to come up with something to eat. Got any suggestions? Can we come to your house? What are you having? Hey, what have you got there?...oooh that looks gooood....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I would like to proclaim today "National Give Me Money Day".

I have a board on Delphi that I have hosted for years now, they are a great crew of people who I have come to love dearly. Peripheral to my board, there are other boards I frequent. One of them today had an interesting post.

It was a listing that outlined all the special days in June. Cripes, there is a day there for everyone. Apparently every month someone posts a listing of that month’s syllabus of “special days” everything from National Pink Day, Festival Of Popular Delusions Day (Jaysus!) to National Potato day. Riiiiiiiight.

When did we start having a special day for everything?

If any of you have participated in any of the following, please post a detailed comment describing the day. I cannot wait to hear all about it, and I have a psychiatrist for you on speed dial.

And now the month of June:

June 1 is Dare Day, June 2 is National Rocky Road Day, June 3 is Repeat Day, June 4 is Old Maid's Day, June 5 is Festival Of Popular Delusions Day, June 6 is National Applesauce Cake Day, June 7 is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, June 8 is Name Your Poison Day, June 9 is Donald Duck Day, June 10 is National Yo-Yo Day, June 11 is National Hug Holiday and King Kamehameha Day , June 12 is Machine Day, June 13 is National Juggling Day, and Kitchen Klutzes Of America Day, June 14 is Pop Goes The Weasel Day, June 15 is Smile Power Day, June 16 is National Hollerin' Contest Day, June 17 is Watergate Day and Eat Your Vegetables Day, June 18 is International Panic Day, June 19 is World Sauntering Day, June 20 is Ice Cream Soda Day , June 21 is Cuckoo Warning Day, More Info on Cuckoo Warning Day, June 22 is National Chocolate Eclair Day, June 23 is National Pink Day, June 24 is Museum Comes To Life Day, June 25 is Log Cabin Day, June 26 is National Chocolate Pudding Day, June 27 is National Columnists Day , June 28 is Paul Bunyan Day, June 29 is Camera Day, June 30 is Meteor Day...

Apparently we, as a society, have zero control over just how crazy we get.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home Movies

I have been exploring this whole blog thing and I noticed that Bloggers can now upload video we have on Google or You tube, and I thought to myself- I must try this. Hey, there is laundry to be done, but that can wait. Newbie must play with the shiny buttons.

But do I have any video?

It turns out I have some- the cutsie kind. You know the ones you take of your children when they are babies and you still love them.

It got me thinking about all those scratchy home videos we see featured on your average Hollywood “Family Movie”. Remember Chevy Chase all dolled up in woolen hats, fur shawls and tacky broaches, trapped in his attic watching the reels? Did you actually know anyone who had this stuff? I don’t. My family certainly didn’t.

As a matter of fact there aren’t a lot of pictures of us kids past the cute baby stage…Aside from those horrid school photos. Come on, you know the ones. There is a windmill behind you buried in fall leaves, and you have your hands folded oh so naturally on something that can pass for a reasonable facsimile of a log. If you are lucky, you have all your teeth. Unlucky? Well you are missing at least two, there are a few poking out at unnatural angles and you’ve got braces with purple rubber bands. But in our house, even those pictures stop around grade five.

Of course I am not really blaming Mom and Dad for this. I am mostly to blame. When I see a camera I do my best to shrink out of existence. I am not Amish or anything, I just don’t like having my picture taken.

I am trying to get a little better with the whole photo thing ever since Wil was born. And so we have taken over 800 photos since his birth. That is about four times the amount of pictures we have taken since my husband and I started dating in 1991. So there is progress being made here people.

Anyhow back to the blog video of Wil, either learning how to kiss Mommy, or teething (and mommy’s chin is so much nicer on the gums than the nuby she bought him). Anyway, enjoy, and if you got them, dig out your own home videos and pictures. I promise you will smile.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Missing The Rock

Well, I swore I would never do this. Yet here I am.

I never really got the point of this whole "Blog thing", who really wants the read the bland daily minutia of someone else’s every day life? Have I just added another daily chore to my ever expanding list? I don’t remember being given more hours in a day. So why am I here again?

Still not exactly sure.

I think part of me wants to just jump right in because I miss writing. I used to keep a journal, but I got out of that habit when I went to university. I just had too much other stuff to worry about. Then it was off to real life, and well that just beats the heck out of any creative bent you ever had to play with. But aside from the need to start playing with words again, there are other reasons for entering the blogosphere.

I am a Newfoundlander who is living away from the Rock, and I miss home very much. I miss the people, the clean air, the land and the water. I miss my family. It is an ache in my heart. Over the years that dull ache seems to have burned a hole there- a hole that has gotten bigger since my son was born.

It pains me to raise him here in the province that at times seems to lack a soul- a sense of self, of community, far away from friends and family. As he gets older, I won’t be able to simply let him outdoors to play- like I could when I was young. Too many freaks. Not enough green spaces anyway. No, he will be under constant surveillance, he won't be able to give me a kiss (Awww Mom!!) and just run to the park and play. Perhaps I will hook him up to some sort of GPS- ah! we can micro chip him like we did the cat! Bubble boy meets world.

It is hard to raise him alone too. My husband and I have only one family member nearby (Uncle Brendan and his brood) and while we lament the fact we are missing family, they are also missing out on their only great-grandchild, grandchild, and nephew: Wilson (or Iron Wil as we like to call him). They are missing all his firsts, his daily discoveries of the world around him, his smile.

It ain’t fair.

So I guess the other reason why I am here is to reach out and just make the connections I miss so much. Seems that the electronic method is the modus operandi of choice these days. And so I will give it a whirl.

I do not promise to write everyday, my aim for now is to write twice a week….and we will see how it goes from there shall we?