Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Favorite Christmas present:

A pair of pajama bottoms from the parents of my sister-in-law. They're a very soft fleece with Tinkerbelle all over them. My nephew helped his (other) grandmother pick them out. How could they not be my favorite?

Favorite Christmas moments:

1. A four-year-old on the Christmas story. I was at my brother's house and my nephew was showing me the Nativity picture he'd made with a sticker set - the Baby Jesus surrounded by Mary and Joseph and Wise Men and Shepards. And bunnies and kitties and puppies. When asked what the little owl he'd put in the rafters was doing, he said, "Looking out for bad guys." Confused, my brother and sister-in-law told him that there weren't any bad guys in the Christmas story. "What about King Herod?" he asked. "Oh," said my sister-in-law. "Right," said my brother.

2. My nephew playing with the old Nativity set at my parents' house Christmas night. At one point, Mary, Joseph, the shepards, the kings, the camels, and cows (all the sheep have long since disappeared) were kicked out to make room for the Batmobile. It was "raining," you see, and the car had to be protected. Jesus got to stay, as did Santa. It's all about priorities, people.

Favorite New Year's Eve moment:

Eating dinner with some friends at a nice restaurant downtown. Getting to see the tail end of the First Night parade going into dinner, and the beginnings of the 6th street celebration on the way home.

Favorite 2006 moment (so far):

How 'bout them Longhorns! The game was all kinds of wonderful.

Sorry for the fuzziness of the photo. The only digital camera I have is my phone.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stupid Questions

"There's no such thing as a stupid question."

I used to believe that. I really did.

Up until a couple of years ago I was a librarian at a fairly large academic library. I told people that all the time with complete sincerity. I'd smile patiently and nod encouragingly while public patrons asked where to find particular types of materials and students asked for help with research assignments.

I loved those teaching moments. Most students were genuinely confused, having a hard time making the connections between sources or understanding how important finding current information was. I enjoyed seeing the lightbulbs go off over their heads when they finally got it. Sure, occasionally you'd get a kid who was positive an answer didn't exist and that the class was being tortured - deliberately - by an instructor who was an idiot. I would listen attentively during the diatribe and ask gently, "Have you checked...?" The looks on their little faces when they realized they'd missed a step were always so sweet. Hmmm. Maybe it wasn't the teaching moment I enjoyed in those cases...

All in all, though, I was firmly in the "no stupid questions" camp.

Until this year. Last year I started teaching full time. I have over 100 graduate level students who think they can sit in class, do their email, IM each other and check box scores while I teach. I realize that there are people who can, quite effectively, multi-task that way. They can play solitaire or do a crossword puzzle and still be completely engaged in whatever's going on around them. 99% of students, however, can't. They think they can. But they can't. So they ask questions. Repeatedly. In class. Over email. In person. It makes me want to pull my hair out--or their arms off and beat them about the head and shoulders with their bloody limb. And I probably wouldn't mind the questions nearly so much, if the implication (sometimes expressly stated), when they ask these questions is that I have somehow failed to provide them with the relevant information. Which I have. Repeatedly.

"You said the exam would be blah, blah, blah." "No, I didn't. I said it would be blabbity, blabbity, blabbity." "Oh."

"The syllabus says..." "Let's look at the syllabus, shall we...?" "Oh."


So, I leave you with this - http://www.despair.com/cluelessness.html - before I return to grading papers and the seething cauldron of resentment that seems to be boiling merrily away under the surface.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Movies and Christmas

I love movies. Love. Them. Friday night I went to see Walk the Line. Saturday afternoon was Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Last night was White Christmas. Three very different movies. All classics in their own right, I think.

Best Christmas movies (not in any particular order, except, I guess #1 and #7):

1. It's a Wonderful Life (Makes me cry every single time)
2. A Christmas Story (You'll put your eye out)
3. White Christmas ("We'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go!")
4. Miracle on 34th Street (the old, non-colorized version)
5. Little Women ("Jo, how could you, your one beauty!")
6. Scrooged (I loved Bill Murray in this movie)
7. Elf (Not a Will Farrel fan. At all. But thought he was charming here.)

It was funny to me, watching White Christmas up in the balconey of an old restored theater, listening to people laugh at the cheesiness, and sing along with the songs, and clap at the end of the dance numbers, and know that I wasn't the only one wiping at my eyes when the old general walks into the dining room and sees his troops there to honor him. What is it about a movie like that, for all it's datedness that brings people back year after year after year? Is it Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, crooning a song that brings tears of longing and nostalgia? Is it Danny Kaye with his charm and his smile and his easy way of dancing? I really don't know.

But I know I'll be back again next year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Snow Day

So, we're getting a "snow" day of sorts in this part of Texas. Temperatures below freezing (30 degrees) and the threat of any sort of moisture are enough to bring an entire city pretty much to its knees. We can stand tough during days - heck, weeks - of 100+ degree days. But let an arctic cold front move through the area, and we're helpless.

I kind of love it. I mean, aside from being sent home from work at 2. I love the coziness and the enforced, mostly guilt-free, time to sit on the couch and watch movies and not go anywhere. So, here I sit. With a fat, orange and white cat curled up on the couch behind me snoring in my ear, my computer on my lap, and a movie starting in the DVD player. Do I have things to get done for tomorrow? Papers to comment on? Classes to prepare for? Clothes to wash? Presents to buy? You bet. Will any of that get done tonight? Probably not.

Besides, there's always a chance this storm will last through tomorrow.


Frankly, I have nothing to say at this point. Just that I find trying to come up with usernames and passwords and blognames emotionally and spiritually exhausting. I don't have the patience or the creativity to come up with "good" names, but I feel like I should, and so I freeze.

The pressure has stopped me on more than one occasion from logging on. But, I pushed through. And here I am.