Sunday, August 22, 2010

Comments & Review: No Impact Man

Last week I finished reading Colin Beavan's No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process, and I've been meaning to post about it since I started the book.

I appreciated his honesty in recognizing (in hindsight) that his demand that his fashionista wife not wear fur was perhaps hypocritical since he "managed to exempt, back then, [his] leather shoes from [his] concern that humanity puts vanity before kindness to animals" (4).  I, too, struggle with the day to day choices that put my convenience before the needs of my planet and our future.  I can totally get behind Beavan's fear of being a "do-nothing liberal" (4).

I did not appreciate how often his project involved his wife giving up something that she was clearly quite attached to when he didn't really give a rat's patoot.  When he blew his nose with a paper towel first thing, I wanted to shove that paper towel UP his nose.  Or other orifice.

The quandary that the book presents can be summed up when Bevan quotes then-candidate Obama as saying, "Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective" (Beavan 219--I can't find the original article, but here is HuffPost's coverage of the comment).

Yes, real change does rely on collective effort, but any collective is made up of individuals, and I believe in what Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  It is disheartening to learn that a man whose personal legend is built on community organizing seemed to dismiss the "little person's" contribution.

As a read, this wasn't the best book I've ever read, and it's not the best I've read about decreasing environmental impact.  A lot of things that he seemed to be learning for the first time I've known for a long time, but I am almost 20 years younger than he is, and in theory we've been getting better educated about such things.  I was also involved involved in an organized kids' action group for environmental awareness when I was young, so I'm probably a little better informed than people my age.  I wanted less statistics and more human story, but I am a story-geek, so that makes sense.

I can totally get behind Beavan's continued blogging:, and I'm looking forward to checking out the documentary on his year.

I have more to say on this, but I've run out of steam tonight.  Maybe another post later.

Monday, August 16, 2010

LOLCatz 4 life!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm Lovin' It...and it's calorie free!

Epiphany in Baltimore had a double-dip of goodness in his post about teaching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
  • The professional deliciousness of the kids coming in with understanding and openness:
 "Hands shot up. They wanted to talk about it. 
'At first I was confused by this boy, but when he started explaining his behavorial problems I got it more.' 
'I liked it but got confused when he went off and started talking about things that didn't seem to fit, like ice cream.' 
'Christopher was such a visual learner and drew stuff out but I didn't like that and it confused me. I liked the book overall though.'"
  • The kind of deliciousness I can steal for my classroom:
"I created an 8-page handout about all the summer reading, including a couple of passages from the novel for which students had to text-mark for the IB Learner Profile."
Hells to the yeah, Epiphany!  Love that idea!  Yoink!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Post With Little Social Value

So, here's the thing.  I'm very judgmental.  I know this is not an attractive trait, and believe me when I say I am trying to minimize it.  The minimization always leaves me with questions, though: what if I just don't say it aloud...what if it's figure skating/The Bachelor/my high school reunion...what if the person is sloppy drunk...what if I'm bored at the mall/a restaurant/the grocery store....  As you can see, I'm just not always a really nice person, and sometimes it leaks out a right now.
Today I added a few rules to my personal toolbox:
  • Wearing a wet washcloth on one's head makes one look like a jackass, especially when said washcloth was clearly stolen from one's mother's pink wedding towel set.
  • I know it is eight-hundred-bazillionty degrees outside.  Believe me, I know.  Add the humidity, and we're up to a heat index of eighty-five-hundred-bazillionty.  However, this does not excuse grown men from wearing shirts in public.  Especially when riding a bicycle.  Especially when that bicycle seat drags down one's sagging pants and his visible underoos...which reveals one's ass crack to the sun and EVERYONE ELSE (on another note, that's got to be a nasty place for a burn!).
  • Even if one still has a flat tummy when one is over 60 (or younger, depending on exactly how unkind the years have been), regardless of gender, one should not expose the area below the belly in the neighborhood of their waistband when one is not at the beach.  Yucky.  Actually, I take the caveat back: not one should wear pants in such a way that this area is visible.
  • There is something weird about wearing a halter top when one's hair is grey.  I don't know why, but them's the rules.
  • Men should not wear capri pants.
Now I shall breathe out and continue with my day.  As you were.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Are you kidding me right now?

Ms. Cornelius, over at A Shrewdness of Apes. sums up a union issue in Milwaukee pretty well by titling the post "This is dumb." According to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Online story,
The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association has filed a civil suit claiming that MPS' exclusion of Viagra and other drugs that treat erectile dysfunction from its health insurance plans constitutes sexual discrimination against male employees.
The union now seeks a review of that decision by a Milwaukee County circuit court judge.
"This is an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members," said Kristin Collett, spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association.

As far as I'm concerned, not only does this show a lack of focus on priorities, as Ms. Cornelius mentions, but a grave waste of union and taxpayer money, as well as public good will.  Teachers around the country are fighting for fair wages and health insurance coverage while these yahoos are fighting for the right of their male members to get an inorganic hard-on.  SERIOUSLY?  Never mind that Viagra is not a medical necessity.  Never mind that this is clearly not an issue of equal rights for all members, since it leaves out all the women--the estrogen replacement therapies mentioned are the kind that keep women's brains from getting eaten by the menopause, I think.  What gets to me is that bullshit like this is a media dream, and that BULLSHIT LIKE THIS IS THE REASON PEOPLE DON'T SUPPORT UNIONS!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bring on the Healing!

Today I watched Oprah for the first time in a long time, and the show was about the effects of compulsive hoarding on a family.  It made me think about how much is hidden behind what we see when we interact with people.  I don't know whether the kids in front of me had breakfast, has clean clothes, doesn't get smacked around or called an idiot at home.  So frequently, I learn about heartbreaking circumstances in a kid's life when the term is done with.  Of course I work to know kids, and make community, and know them, but most of the kids who I need to know about hide themselves best.

Web Juiciness

Yesterday Tom at Stop Trying To Inspire Me wrote about the British government's proposed cut in arts funding.  From Ars gratia artis:
If you read the comments on the WaPo article, you'll see quite a number of people who think the arts are useless or that NPR is propaganda and should be shut down anyway (I don't think that, because NPR is hopelessly boring and if that's propaganda, it's shitty propaganda).  There's also one person who declared that Shakespeare was a "commercial" artist and didn't need funding ... completely ignoring the Queen and King's patronage aspect of his career.

Bringing this all down to education, we're all quite aware that arts education is notoriously one of the first things cut in a budget crisis.  It's seen as "frivilous" by the more "practical" people in a community who don't want their tax dollars going to waste and think that they send their kids to school to read and learn math and science and take tests, not paint pretty pictures, but never see the correlation between being creative and doing well in other subjects.
Aside from the crack about NPR, which tells me Tom's local affiliate must be crappy, or he only listened once, Tom is pointing out the biggest problem, or perhaps a symptom of the biggest problem in education: schools are being set up to push kids through with a focus on "the basics," which are apparently reading and math, since that's what the kids are being tested on.  Forget the whole student, the whole person, who we are trying to prepare for an unknown future.
I hate this bullshit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Everyone needs a little reminder....

Dr. Rebecca Branstetter, who blogs on Notes from the School Psychologist, gave some excellent advice over the weekend in the first of a series on the things we've heard but never seem to remember, Did You See The Memo About...Interventions?  I love this advice coming at the beginning of the school year, when I know I am so excited about buying new pens and learning the kids names that sometimes I forget things that I've known since I was a wee new teacher, like documentation of interventions.
"I know the referrals come from a place of caring for the student and wanting to see progress. But let’s not be surprised when students have no intervention and do not progress. Friends, it’s not that your school psychologist doesn’t want to test the student for a disability, it’s that s/he doesn’t have any evidence that the problem can’t be remediated with a decent targeted intervention."
Filing this one in the little brain card-catalog drawer named "Durr, MIKD, Remember to Keep Your Head In the Game" (Isn't it weird that a diginative like me still has a card-catalog up there?  Probably left over from when I used to lovingly pat the one at the public library when I was little.).