Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Celebrations

I really love Easter: Spring is around the corner (theoretically it's already begun, but the first few days of spring it snowed and has been generally cold and uncooperative), flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and I develop the false hope that I can wear my sandals again (if it ever stops being so cold).

Last weekend was Palm Sunday, which marked the beginning of kicks off Holy Week; Ed and I went to the Vigil on Saturday, and to the Communal Penance Service on Sunday afternoon. Because of a teaching conflict I wasn't able to go to Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, but I was able to stop by for Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and was able to go to the Solemn Ceremonies for Good Friday as well.

The Exposition of the
Blessed Sacrament
was held in the Day Chapel.
We went to the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil at our church last night, so there was no Mass for us this morning, so we can relax and enjoy a lazy, quiet Easter Sunday. (The Easter Vigil really is beautiful, especially because of the candlelight.)

Forsooth, the Easter Bunny
made an appearance!
At the moment, I'm relaxing; I'll be cooking roast duck for dinner, with the following in varying stages of ready-to-go:
I was going to make Panettone bread and butter pudding but I'd found a really cute Easter fondant cake, so that and cookies will be dessert.

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    In The News

    Some interesting reads encountered online recently:

    I wonder if it will always be "precedent shattering" every time a new Pope choose a name that hadn't been chosen before. At some point, there had been an Urban I, John Paul I, John I, Benedict I, etc.; why were those choices not considered precedent shattering? (Is there a rule that says no one can choose to be Peter II?)
    ____________________________________________

    From "Is There Anything Wrong With Being Over 50 and Pregnant?", Nancy London, co-author of Our Bodies, Ourselves and author of Hot Flashes, Warm Bottles, believes:
    that biology is destiny and that a woman who delays childbearing for decades because she has other priorities isn't living in reality...To toss that out the window and say, 'Hey, that's not for me,' and then at 50 to say, 'Oops, forgot to have a baby' - something is not processed in our thinking...And if you meet the love of your life at 50 and the desire to start a family sets in? You can try to adopt. Or 'maybe what you do together...is grieve for your loss and find another way to serve the planet.'"
    And later in the same article:
    No matter how a child is procured, whether through technology or adoption, her 50-year-old parents have likely gone through some kind of hell - paperwork, blood tests, questionnaires, waiting, visa applications, mood swings, marital discord, and recalibration of expectations - to have her. These are the most wanted of children. And their parents, some would argue, can give them something that the youngest and the prettiest don't have: the wisdom of age and an abiding sense that life is a precious gift not to be wasted.
    There's a biological reason to have children when one is younger, but I also consider London's statements when it comes to women - and men - who badly want children and haven't had the opportunity. (Adoption isn't mentioned often enough as a viable alternative.) I believe author correct in that many of the arguments made against older parents are the result of ageism. Perhaps not having biological children is one thing, but that doesn't eliminate adoption as a good way to satisfy the urge of raising a child.
    ____________________________________________

    Apparently the Catholic traditionalists are in an uproar over the elevation of Pope Francis, who has proceeded to break with tradition in several unforgivable ways, most recently by washing the feet of two girls, an Italian Catholic and a Serbian Muslim. (I had not known that the "church's liturgical law holds that only men can participate in the rite" because the original 12 apostles were all men, nor had I known that "priests and bishops have routinely petitioned for exemptions to include women, but the law is clear." Yet Francis, being the church's chief lawmaker, in theory can do what he'd like in these regards.)

    From the apparent start, things looked bad for the traditionalists, when Francis emerged without the mozzetta, received the cardinals' pledges of obedience not from a chair on a pedestal, but, rather, standing; and calling for an intensified dialogue with Islam, "a gesture that rubs traditionalists the wrong way because they view such a heavy focus on interfaith dialogue as a sign of religious relativism."

    I continue to find it disheartening that brute force continues to be viewed as a legitimate means of persuasion and conversion, instead of taking into account the culturally-based development of religion.

    Friday, March 29, 2013

    Scattered Families

    I'm always a little sad that whatever kids Ed and I have will never be surrounded by a large family, since everyone is so scattered. Justin and I were lucky when we were growing up; both sets of grandparents lived within a 30 minute drive. We had them for a long time: Two of my grandparents died almost exactly a year apart, when I was in high school; the other two died six weeks apart when I was in my early 30s.

    But my father is an only child, and my mother is older than her sister and brother (by nine and 13 years, respectively); my mother married relatively young, and my aunt and uncle were around 30 - the result being that I'm 16 years older than my oldest first cousin, who's now 21. I have two more 19-year-old first cousins now, who were born a month apart: One just graduated from college, and her brother is currently enrolled in college as well.

    Because we're all in such different stages of life, my family is scattered: Justin and Cheng are in California (having moved there more than 15 years ago in Justin's case, and an indeterminate number of years for Cheng, who came to San Francisco for grad school); my retired parents are in eastern Pennsylvania, where they've lived for decades; my aunts and uncles live in upstate New York and Virginia due to doctoral studies and careers; my cousins live in Boston or Los Angeles (because of college), and upstate New York. Extended family live in Pennsylvania and Ireland. We're all at different stages in our lives, with folks not being able to travel for holidays because of jobs and the financial cost of traveling - and the time it takes to travel longer distances.

    Ed's family is just as scattered: His father lives in Massachusetts; he has cousins and aunts (and an uncle) who live in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, and Greece.

    We're hardly centrally located, because there is no centrality.

    I was thinking of this earlier this morning while at my tutoring gig, when a (young) tutor asked if I was going to be seeing my family this weekend. There's the assumption that of course I would be celebrating Easter (which I am), but there's a persistent assumption, especially by younger folks who are LDS, who have never lived anywhere else, and who are surrounded by their large family, and the assumption that if I don't have a large family, that I must of course be surrounded by my family.

    But, of  course, when I was still in high school and in my early 20s, I assumed the same thing, because I had been surrounded by a large family well; I grew up with large Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with seemingly dozens of my father's aunts and uncles and cousins around. Those older relatives have died by now; my dad wasn't especially good, or interested, at keeping in touch with cousins who tended to be a bit on the boozy side anyway. And those cousins, who are around my father's age, have their own families with which to spend their holidays. But I still miss being part of a large family that gathers for the holidays - that is able to gather for the holidays.

    Folks here tend to travel less, traveling internationally less, and tend not to move out of Utah as much. Utah is nothing if not insular, both geographically and culturally. It leads to seeing your family, but also at the expense of having different experiences, although living elsewhere, for whatever the reason, can come at the expense of spending every single holiday with one's family. One is not necessarily better, and one doesn't always have the choice.

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Frustratingly Bad Arguments

    Clearly one is not going to agree with everyone else about everything; regardless of how much you might love another person, ideologies rarely match up completely. But many of the anti-gay-marriage arguments really strike me as ridiculous and shallow.
    • "Marriage should be defined as that which is between one man and one woman because that's what the Bible says it should be." This definition works for one fragment of the population, but most of the world does not follow the Bible, and maintaining that everyone should follow the beliefs of a minority is idiotic. (Besides which, there is more than one translation of the Bible; whose is correct, yours or mine?) And how much do we want the cultural norms and mores of an ancient Middle Eastern culture dictating modern day lifestyles if people are going to be oppressed and not granted equal rights?
    • "It'll lead to plural marriage and bestiality!" Ahh, but these can be construed as separate issues, "marriage" being between two and only two consenting adults at a time.
    • "Well, I know a lot of gay people, and most of them are really immature because they came out late, and haven't matured within their sexuality." Alas, one can't use one's personal definition of maturity to prohibit two people from marrying, otherwise we'd all know many, many straight people who shouldn't have gotten married for that same reason. One also can't - or shouldn't, at any rate - use personal experience to prohibit one segment of the population from doing something because a singular person has had negative experiences with an even smaller segment of the population.
    • "They can't have biological children!" Most of them can, just not with each other "the old-fashioned way"; a gay or lesbian couple would need outside help (if you will). Many straight people who marry cannot have children due to infertility, yet we don't prohibit them from marrying. And not everyone who marries should have children, anyway.

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Feminism

    I hate the term "feminism." To me, it's come to mean that you need to keep your name after you're married, that you should automatically want to work full time after you have children, that you should want to put your career first - that no matter what choice you make, it's not nearly equal enough to what men do or otherwise what you should be doing.

    Before FaceBook deleted a discussion thread I was having with a former classmate, I had linked to an blog post in which the author ranted about man-bashing. I thought it was pretty spot on, but my former classmate thought it incredibly anti-feminist. She and I had some back-and-forth, my argument being that I can't stand the term "feminism" anymore because no matter how one defines it, it's considered wrong or dated. My classmate opined, for reasons that I can no longer remember that such blog posts were anti-feminist, yet she then went on to argue that at least one definition of feminism is that women be given a safe place to argue what they'd like. There was a bit of incongruity there: If you rant about something on your blog about a certain behavior of a subset of women, that's anti-feminist, but it's feminist if we give women a safe place. On a personal blog, the blogger can write what he or she likes.

    Feminism is about personal choice. I'd like to see a term that applies to men as well, though. "Feminism" smacks of exclusion.

    I'm more interested in seeing wider acceptance of more behaviors: If women change their last names, they're not being feminist; if they don't change their last names, they're not committing to the marriage. Men get the reverse of this thinking: If they change their names, there's a backlash as well.

    And then I came across this comment, which I think sums up the situation perfectly:

    "Let me preface this next link by saying that I am, like, SO fucking over “feminists” who can’t stop bitching and moaning about how sad it makes them when other women take their husband’s names. As feminists they applaud a woman’s right to make personal choices, but then belittle or, worse, condemn whatever choices they think aren’t feminist enough (like changing their name, converting to their husband’s religion, quitting their jobs to be stay-at-home mothers, formula-feeding their babies, enjoying rom-coms)? Whatever. I’m a feminist and I not only support a woman’s right to personal choice, I applaud choices that differ my own." At the end of the quotation, which had led to this mini-rant, was a link to "Why should married women change their names? Let men change theirs," which went on to argue that one's name is one's identity, that the reasons women give for changing their names after marrying don't make much sense.

    Let's not argue, then, that the reasons for not changing one's name after marriage are as equally invalid: whether or not a woman changes her name, her name is still a man's last name, either her father's, or her grandfather's, or even her great-grandfather's. The identity is still tied to a man's.

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Las Vegas Photographic Evidence

    For my birthday this past February, Ed bought me a 4GB MinoFlip HD, which holds about an hour of video. It's a cute little thing - I had a previous iteration, slightly larger, that wasn't HD - and I'd had my eye on an updated version for our impending trip to Iceland. (I did have two digital cameras that I donated a few months ago; I hadn't used them in years; my iPhone 4S takes really good pictures.) While I didn't take a lot of video footage last weekend, I did take some, and put it together in a short little video.

     

    I took some pictures with said iPhone last weekend when Mom and I were in Las Vegas. (I wish I could embed the photo album but Google is being wonky and keeps redirecting me from Picasa to GooglePlus, which doesn't yet allow me to embed photo albums.)

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Judging "Bad" Student Writers

    Periodically I hear my colleagues bemoan the state of incoming freshmen student writers, how "bad" (or worse) the incoming students' skill sets are. This attitude frustrates me. This dismissive attitude towards incoming students shows a certain amount of arrogance and selective memory loss. Most of us were not brilliant writers when we got to college for the first time. I certainly wasn't. We got better with a lot of practice.

    I can't believe it goes without saying that of course new students' writing isn't going to be as good as ours, as English or writing (or, generally speaking, language) teachers. We have at least one degree in English (or a closely related degree, such as rhetoric, or the language that the professional teachers), possibly even multiple advanced degrees in that field.

    Perhaps many of us were stronger writers to begin with; at the very least, we may have had a stronger interest in writing and developing our talents. But even more importantly, at this stage in our lives, having completed at least one degree in English or writing, we have had the opportunity to write a lot more than the incoming freshmen have at this point in their lives - just beginning college. Our students are starting out; why this keeps getting forgotten or ignored is beyond me. We've been doing it longer. We have had more practice. Expecting our incoming students to have the same skill set as we do is unreasonable.

    I'm also pretty sure that for those of us whose strengths and interests were in English, literature, and writing were quite weak in other areas. I had to take algebra a number of times at various colleges, and I'm sure that there are teachers at the college level who would complain that my skill set was not "basic."

    I find the definition of "basic" to be extraordinarily subjective. I have no background in physics (I've never taken a class); I took chemistry twice, and I don't recall if I ever took a biology class, although I have taken both a cultural anthropology and a physical anthropology class. I never made it past geometry, and as mentioned earlier in this post, I've taken algebra multiple times, although I'm quite good at mental math and arithmetic. Does this mean I don't have basic math and science skills? How much should I know before I'm truly well-rounded and have a basic understanding of math and science? And who gets to decide what's considered basic, especially if now as an adult I have no reason to use them? One could argue that writing is a more "basic" skill because one is more likely to need writing in one's day to day activities, in one's job, than advanced trigonometry. Yet we have to start somewhere, and expecting students whose previous experience was lacking - or years in the past - to have "basic" knowledge defeats the purpose of continuing education.

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    4Cs 2013: Saturday

    I tried to go to three sessions today, but I was partly stymied.

    I did go to "The Multi-Media Classroom," in which Mary Fakler and Joan Perisse of SUNY New Paltz  spoke about the ways they collaborated and incorporated new and emerging technologies into their composition classrooms while using multimedia approaches to writing at both New Paltz and Marist College.

    I attempted to attend "Narratives at Work and in School Settings to Teach Writing and Critical Thinking," but the the chair got upset several times at the prospect of anyone closing the door; because I couldn't hear over the noise in the hallway, I left after a few minutes.

    I made another session afterwards, though: "The Impact of Social Class on Basic Writing Pedagogy," where I heard William Thelin, from the University of Akron, discuss basic writing and the forgotten middle class. Because of time constraints, though (Mom and I were planning on exploring the environs and didn't want to leave things too late), I was unable to hear Dawn Lombardi, also from the University of Akron, or Shelley DeBlasis from New Mexico State University at Carlsbad speak, which I would have liked to have done.

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    4Cs 2013: Friday

    I got into town late Thursday, too late to take part in any sessions (or hit up registration, for that matter, to pick up my conference programs), so Friday was my first day of the conference. I had some grand plans that involved hitting up five sessions, but like many grand plans, that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped.

    Registration opened at 8 a.m., just as the first sessions of the day were starting. I got the hanging neck thing for my badge, but apparently there were no more conference programs because of a run of late registrations, so I had to do without, which was rather annoying. And because registration opened right when the first sessions were starting, I missed the first 10 minutes or so of the first session I'd planned to attend ("Only Connect: Strategies for Engaging Reluctant, Under-prepared, and Inattentive Writers"). I hate missing opening remarks, because I don't know who's talking about what, so I left after about 20 minutes.

    I did make it to "Toward a Sustainable Curriculum: Teaching FYC [First Year Composition] at the Community College Level with a Focus on Food Politics Consumption, and the Environment to Promote Critical Literacy," which was led by faculty of College of the Redwoods. Lesley Manousas spoke of using semiotic analysis of fast food culture to promote critical literacy; Robyn Roberson questioned what environment had to do with food; and Shannon Monder discussed how to nurture critical literacy by exploring the rhetoric of food politics and food security.

    The next session didn't happen - no one showed up - so I hung out and relaxed in my hotel room for a couple hours to recover from a late night / early morning. I made it to "Sustainability, Food Justice, and Biocentric Rhetoric," although Anne Rosenthal of Oglethorpe University hadn't been able to make it, which was unfortunate - she was scheduled to speak about cultural rhetorics and the politics of food justice movements, which was my primary motivation of going to that session. However, Lonni Pearce of the University of Colorado at Boulder spoke about the rhetorics of sustainability and the politics of time, and Brian Cope of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania elaborated on his ideas of biocentric rhetoric.

    And finally, I went to a very interesting session on Digital Literacy, in which Leslie Mackey of Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne discussed her experiences in defining design literacy and establishing textual meaning through spatial manipulation; Pearce Durst from the University of Montevallo explained his work with digital composition; and Leslie Bradshaw from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst had analyzed the digital subjectivities of successful food bloggers (which I found really interesting).

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Student Excuses

    I have some pretty tough course policies. I don't accept late papers. I don't accept papers more than five minutes late. I don't even accept e-mailed papers. There are reasons for this, developed over the course of a few semesters' worth of teaching.

    I've learned that if I don't require students to hand in their papers within the first five minutes, I'll get a good portion of the class wandering in up until the very end of class, all of whom had problems with traffic or printing or their grandmothers dying (for the 12th time) or a medical emergency or their goldfish running away to Mexico.

    Or they have car or work or other scheduling issues that make them miss class; and/or they have printing issues and can they e-mail-me-their-paper-as-soon-as-they-get-home-which-is-by-noon (and which is almost invariably hours later than that because of unforeseen circumstances)?

    Or I have students who email me their papers either after class has begun, and often enough several hours after the class has ended, because [insert excuse here].

    I eliminate all these excuses and tell the students that their papers are due within the first five minutes of class; that I don't accept emailed papers or papers due after the first few minutes of class.

    We talk about these policies several times before the first paper is due, and my policies always catches some students unaware. I also reiterate, though, that if there is an actual problem, when is the time to tell me about it? (And a few students will say, "Beforehand.")

    So far I've had one student email me her paper at 8:33 a.m. She'd worked late and didn't get up in time, lives an hour away, and hoped I would accept her paper. I said that unfortunately I could not accept her paper via email; it was against course policy. And despite a follow-up request, I couldn't accept her paper should she arrive by the end of class, nor do I offer extra credit. Two students meandered in 10 minutes late, and one student didn't show up at all, although to be fair he did email me late last night to ask a question about citations. (He consistently arrives 30-45 minutes late.)

    At our last class, I assigned the next big writing project; today we're meeting in computer labs with a librarian, who would talk about databases and research methods. By having my students' first paper due today, I guaranteed that most of them would show up with their papers - on time. It was always a problem getting even most of the regularly attending students to show up.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Interesting Reads

    We have a lot of books sitting here at home; I was always a heavy reader, and since Ed and I got together, he's become more of a reader himself. Yet a few months ago I realized I had acquired stacks of books, some of which I bought or were given to me years ago, that I haven't read; so I've been slowly working my way through them. "Slowly" is the operative word; some of them I get through more quickly than others, depending on time or interest or the depth of the subject matter (some books are just have lighter subject matter than others).

    A number of years ago, for either Christmas or a birthday, ex-boyfriend Chris gave me a copy of one of The Best American Nonrequired Reading books, a collection of short fiction and nonfiction published annually since 2002. I wasn't entirely sure of it, but it turned out to be one of the best books I've ever gotten. I wish I remembered in which particular book he gave me - I believe it was the most recent year published at the time, but I simply don't remember how long ago this was. In the meantime I've bought each year's version, and I find them to be consistently excellent. Some of pieces are more interesting than others, as it always the case, but I don't feel compelled to read a work if it just doesn't appeal, although most of them do. In the intervening years, the collections have included items such as "Best American Fax," "Best American Lawsuits" (always good for a laugh; some of them are ridiculous), "Best American WiFi Names," and "Best American Poems Written in Response to Arizona State Bill 1070," as well as longer (comparatively speaking) works of fiction and nonfiction. Each year a new person of interest introduces the work; in past years, introductions have been written by Stephen King, David Sedaris, and Judy Blume. I started with the 2002 edition, and I recently started the 2011 edition; the 2012 edition is the most recent. They're light, fun reads, and since most of the works are short (although some run 30-50 pages long), they're good reading during a busy day if I need a short break.

    (The particular Best American series happens to be edited by Dave Eggers, who wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; founded McSweeney's (which publishes some really amazing books and magazines, including one of my absolute favorites, Lucky Peach, which is, of course, all about food writing); and co-founded 826National, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center that started in San Francisco as 826Valencia, and now has centers in Boston; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Michigan; New York City; and Seattle. Each has a unique storefront - the center in New York, which is actually in Brooklyn, is the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.)

    Come to think of it, Chris might have given me an a book from The Best American Short Stories series. I do love short stories; they're my favorite genre, simply because the stories need to grab you right away, and leave you with the punchline. I haven't started on this series yet, which also begin in 2002; the 2012 edition is the most recent.

    There are other variants of the series, each with a different editor, that I might check out when I've got my library a bit more under control: The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Essays, and The Best American Travel Writing are particularly appealing.

    Perhaps an upcoming blog post will list all the books that are on my "to read after the Best American series." In the meantime, I've been reading magazines as well; we have subscriptions to Smithsonian, National Geographic, Scientific American MindScientific American, Lucky Peach (I don't let Ed get his mitts on this one), and, on my Kindle, I've been reading The New Yorker (the only weekly I'm reading) and the BBC History Magazine.

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

    Post-Marital Postal Salutations

    Recently, on several different occasions, I talked to a few different folks who had been married much longer than I - 30 years or more - and who were convinced that addressing packages or letters to "Mr. and Mrs. [Husband's First Name only] Last Name" was the "correct and proper" thing to do.

    I don't know where they got their information, but I wish folks would recognize that styles and preferences change. I don't know if there are any hard and fast rules about what you're "supposed" to do, but I'm pretty sure the preference is up to the person whose name has been voluntarily changed - especially in the intervening decades when it was assumed that women would change their last name upon getting married.

    Of course, it's not always possible to know said preference. Last Christmas Ed and I got a Christmas letter addressed to Ed Szetela and Michelle Solomon; the folks who'd sent us this letter were friends of Ed's parents, whom I've never seen before, and possibly won't see them again, or for a very long time. It's impossible to know if a woman will change her name after marriage without asking her.

    It's true that I was eager to change my last name to my husband's after we got married; it was a chance to create a new identify of my own. I love my parents and my family a lot, but at least in name, I want to be associated first with my husband and our family.

    However, I did not change my name to "Edward," so addressing a letter to "Mr. and Mrs. Edward Szetela" seems to imply that I've also changed my name to Edward, which I have not done (yet). Edward is a very nice name, but I plan on keeping "Michelle" until such time as there's a good reason to change it.

    What it comes down to is the need to get with the times. "Mr. and Mrs. Only-Husband's-First-Name-and-Last-Name" is no longer the style. Or, dare I say, the preference of anyone I know who's been married within the past 10 years.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Vegetable Seeds & Fruit Trees

    On the first of each month, I peruse the ChildFund Gift Catalog to try to find a small way in which I can help those who need it. I'm trying to be a bit more financially conservative these days, but I was still able to find ways to contribute:

    • Vegetable Seeds Where the Need is Greatest ($74): Radishes, cabbages, beets, cucumbers, cauliflower, spinach, and peppers. Vegetables like these form the foundation of nutrition for children around the world...and they are especially needed in the impoverished neighborhoods served by ChildFund. Families in Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia,  Guinea, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia have requested vegetable gardens. The vitamin-rich produce contributes to a healthy diet and improves the family's income because they can sell the surplus at the local market.
    • Three Fruit Trees Where the Need is Greatest ($25 - I donated two sets of fruit trees): Fruits like orange, lemon, guava, peach, papaya, avocado, mango, coconut, and banana form the foundation of nutrition for children around the world...and they are especially needed in the impoverished neighborhoods served by ChildFund. Families in Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia,  Guinea, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia have requested fruit trees. The vitamin-rich produce contributes to a healthy diet and improves the family's income because they can sell the surplus at the local market.

    An Educational Warning

    I listened to a group of disingenuous people whose own self-interests guide their policies rather than the interests of children. I listened to a cabal of people who sit on national education committees that will have a profound impact on classroom teaching practices. And I heard nothing of value.

    Today I have listened to people who are not teachers, have never worked in a classroom, and have never taught a single student tell me how to teach.

    One of my pet peeves is hearing, from folks who have never taught a class, done a degree in education,  have children in school, or even have an immediate family member who's a teacher talk to them about the challenges they face, talk about everything that teachers are doing wrong and how they're singularly responsible for the failure of national education.

    I've been on a plane many times, both domestically and internationally. Perhaps I should tell the FAA everything they're doing wrong and why.


    I've been in restaurants many times. Perhaps I should tell the server how her boss is running the business badly.


    I've even been in a court room (just the once, for traffic school). Perhaps I should tell lawyers why they're inscrutable and immoral and what's wrong with the legal system.


    Unless you're actually ensconced in a particular field, you simply cannot know everything that's involved. This is not to say that one can't see some of the things that are wrong, but to presume that it's as simple as requiring more teacher training, or higher pay, or eliminating tenure, or or or or or...well, those responses don't address all the minutiae that teachers face. And telling us how to do our job that we've trained for and worked hard at, that you have absolutely no knowledge of, is condescending and dismissive. 

    My Future Self

    February has been a difficult month in terms of weight loss. I stayed either close to the same weight, or even gained a pound or two. In the grand scheme of things, a few pounds is fine, although I'd rather be losing weight than gaining it. The issue was that I let myself slide; I stopped being as mindful as I had been in the past several months. "I'll have just a few squares or pieces of chocolate; I can stop after that" - I felt like an alcoholic on the verge of relapsing. I simply can't have "just a few" or a single serving; I can't get myself to stop. So once again it's back to simply no chocolate or other sweets; it'll be a bumpy week or two, but once I move past that stage I'll be happier in the long run.

    I was reading the most recent issue of Scientific American Mind earlier this week, and in reading "Time-Warping Temptations," a quote gave me pause and caused me to rethink some of my dieting-and-exercising thinking:

    "'When you evoke people's moral obligation to take care of a future self who is dependent on them, in the same way we take care of our children and elderly parents, they make better choices.'...To enlist this effect when you are about to give in to a costly temptation, think of the long-term damage you will be doing to that trusting person under your care who happens to be your future self" (Freedman 49).*

    I realized that I need to start thinking about the long-term damage I could be doing to myself by not taking care of myself now. A serving or even two of chocolate now and again isn't detrimental, but until I get to the point where I don't down multiple chocolate bars, I can't touch the stuff. In not taking care of myself, I could be making things harder on Ed and our future children; I don't want something that may happen to be something I could have done to avoid such a problem. I want to be able to travel and do interesting other things once Ed and I retire, but if I've lost a leg because of diabetes, or worse, that might not happen.

    * Freedman, David H. "Time-Warping Temptations."  Scientific American Mind March/April 2013: 45-49. Print.