Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Update

Whoosh. Exhale. I'm done with my 6 hours worth of official employment for this week. Getting ready for a class, particularly the first one of the semester, always leads to a big buildup of anticipation and high for me. All that adrenaline helps me to do well and be energized during class but takes awhile to dissipate. Now, however, I am almost brain dead so I have no more to add.

Completely unrelated to my work, I'm liking all the political stuff going on with our two illustrious candidates. I read Obama's speech and thought, that's it, I'm switching over and voting for him. This guy is going to be unbeatable. Then I found out about McCain's VP pick and laughed out loud. McCain is smart, all right. He's got some guts going after Hillary's supporters. It's going to be a fun race, more fun than Obama v. Hillary.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

The husband finally got around to pruning the ficus tree next to our driveway after branches got stuck in the car whenever we closed the door.
Notice the relatively nice round shape beforehand
After two hours of cutting, here's the result. The picture actually looks much better than reality.
His comment was,"All trees look funny right after they get pruned."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democrats Unite

How about them DNC speeches? I'm not even a Democrat, and I want to vote for them. Kennedy looked remarkably well for a guy who killed a woman and got away with it. Of course he had to cite John F. Kennedy. You can't have a Democratic Convention without ushering forth the spirit of John Kennedy at least 3 or 4 times. In fact, next time, they're just going to have JFK himself give a speech via old footage on the big screen. That way, the DNC can milk him for all he's worth. I also predict that they will do the same to Teddy, who will be dead by then.

It's amazing how powerful the Kennedy name is. So powerful that intelligent people in California voted for some bodybuilder just because his wife's mother was a Kennedy. If I ever wanted my kids to go into politics, I would officially change their last name to Kennedy. At the very least, we would get some speculation as to their ancestry (everyone knows their philandering ways), which ought to be good enough to get them elected. Of course, I would rather get poked in the eye and scrub a million men's restrooms before I'd let my kids go into politics.

I was very impressed with Michelle Obama's speech. Now here is a classy lady, at least judging from her clothes and speech. Who knows, she may have hidden tattoos and curse like a sailor when no one is around (eg. Hillary Clinton), but I seriously doubt it because some yahoo would have surely posted the footage on YouTube already.

It says a lot about Barack, that he chose her as his wife. I've met a few men who are very intelligent, only to have picked the worst possible woman when it came to one of the biggest if not the biggest decision of their lives. Their brains apparently lapsed (overcome by another anatomy part) and finally recovered after years of unhappiness that ended in divorce.

Take John-John, for example. You have to wonder what he was thinking when he dated SJP (that would be Sarah Jessica Parker for the uncouth) and Madonna. Except if you were a guy, then you naturally thought he was a lucky son of a gun. He did a little better when he married, but still, Carolyn vs. Michelle? A model and Calvin Klein employee vs. a lawyer who worked in healthcare. I'm sure Carolyn was very nice and all, but Michelle transcended normal niceness to serve the public. Carolyn may have been smart in the ways of men, but Michelle is smart in all other ways. It's clear which husband was smarter here.

Here's another example: Donald Trump v. Bill Gates. Just by looking at their wives (and their hair), you can guess which is the smarter guy. This is not to say that guys have to choose either looks or brains, because there's plenty of women out there with both. Like you or your wife, for instance.

In summary, I like Obama for President. This is solely based on who he picked as his wife. Also, the fact that he is better looking than McCain and is not old.

Monday, August 25, 2008

10 Things About the Olympics

Top 10 things I've learned from the Olympics:

10. Beach volleyball is lame. What kind of game requires you to run around with no shoes and only 2 players per team. The only reason it's hyped is because the players are pretty much naked.
9. Bela Karolyi is still creepy.
8. Despite appearances and best efforts, China is still a sad country.
7. The Spanish basketball team are insensitive dolts.
6. USA rules.
5. The gymnastics judges are blind because they think we are.
4. Asians really do look much younger than their counterparts in age.
3. It is possible to not watch a single event, not even the opening ceremonies, and not keel over in death.
2. Swimming produces the best male physique.
1. Gymnastics produces the best male physique for shorter men.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sign of the Times

Last week when I went to the faculty orientation, they passed out this pamphlet called "Campus Emergency Operations." It has the typical information about earthquakes, fires, and first aid. It also has information that I'd never seen before. One page is titled "Handling Suspicious Letters or Packages" and another is "Explosion or Plane Crash." Finally, there's one called "Active Shooter on Campus." Yup, that's what this world has come to.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mommy Was Here

Earlier this week, I took two of the kids out to lunch at Inn-n-Out. We looove the burgers there, even if we have to wait in line for an hour at 3 in the afternoon and have nothing to pair with it except those rubbery fries. So we're just sitting there munching away with everyone else when in walks her. She would be a young, tall, and attractive woman wearing a tank top. Everyone, I mean everyone, stopped to look at her. Some just openly gawked at her. Others, like me, pretended not to stare at her. She wasn't bad looking but it was really those tattoos that covered one entire arm. We're not talking a few tattoos on her arm. The whole thing was colored in some elaborate design that I couldn't really make out in my effort to not stare. Her boyfriend also had a bunch of tattoos but nothing like hers.

The two of them seemed a little uncomfortable with all the attention they were getting, which made no sense to me. If they didn't want to be stared at, they should've worn something with sleeves. I also didn't understand the point of all those tattoos. I would only subject myself to that kind of pain and prejudice to ink something of importance, not just any old random design. I know this one guy who has his friend's name tattooed on because his friend died. I could see myself doing that if I was younger and braver.

As chance would have it, these two tattoo-obsessed people sat right next to us. I don't know why anyone in their right minds would sit next to a table full of little kids when there are other tables available. Maybe that explains all their tattoos. It took awhile for my oldest to notice them, as evidenced by her jaw dropping. I silently signaled her to continue eating and then started distracting my son with all sorts of lame questions. Because if anyone was going to go up to them and say innocent but rude comments, it would be my little boy. He would ask why they drew on their arms, tell them they drew it wrong, offer to draw it correctly, and then come home to draw on himself with a Sharpie. I mentally prepared my excuse: He's just hungry and tired. He's got ADD. He's not my kid. Amazingly, he did not make one comment about their tattoos. Not a single one. Whereupon I touched his forehead to see if he had a temperature.

So I guess it does pay to sit next to kids if you have tattoos and don't want to be gawked at. For sure don't sit close to old people, because these are people who are not used to them and have forgotten all their manners. Especially don't sit next to old Asian ladies who never had decent manners to begin with. I can say this because my mom is Asian. She's actually very polite but it gets lost in translation. For example, "who calling" and "may I ask who's calling please" just doesn't have the same ring.

Where was I? Oh yeah, tattoos. They're everywhere, they're no longer representative of thugs, and they're another modern trend. So how come they still garner so much attention? These are the pointless thoughts in my brain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mommy's Day Out

It's been awhile, I know. It's been really busy, though, getting everything ready for school. Most of it is for me and my new school. There is an unbelievable amount of paperwork involved, including fingerprinting and a TB test. I finished everything in record time, only to be told that it would take a couple of weeks for everything to process. That means two weeks for me to get the keys, copy account, parking permit, and online blackboard access. Meanwhile, school starts in one week.

Last week, I spent one whole day at orientation for new faculty. Here's what it took:

1. Dig out trousers from under sweats
2. Find a blouse with no food stains
Take off ponytail scrunchy and brush hair
4. Change into another outfit
5. Dust off black leather shoes from black of closet.
6. Grab purse, notebook, directions
7. While driving, smear on lipstick (this is all the time I have for makeup, which is okay because college female instructors are - how should I put it - not into beauty regimes)
8. This is the hardest one: Set brain to Super Schmoozing mode and paste on gigantic schmoozing smile.

It was a total waste of time. They went on about all the different events that goes on campus during the year (festivals, etc) and new technology (eg. clickers - little voting machines the students use to answer any test/review questions that pop up during your lecture) instead of answering important stuff like when and where we get our keys, copy accounts, parking permits, and online access. I wasted two hours watching this tech guy clicking on the screen, telling us how to post our grades and hold discussion groups online, when I could have learned that in half the time if only they had given me my password. Still, it was good to just go somewhere besides home and be with adults, even if it was just schmoozing. It's definitely an art, almost a lost art for me. But hey, I'm really good around kids. Actually, just my own kids. Only when they're behaving.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Sudden ADD Expert

Now see, this is why we go to the library so much. Last week, I picked up the only ADHD book they had on the shelf, which is called The A.D.D. Book: New Understandings, New Approaches to Parenting Your Child by William Sears and Lynda Thompson.

This book has completely changed the way I think about ADD, which stands for Attention Deficit Disorder (hyperactivity is not always part of it). Like most other people, I thought of it very negatively, as a disability with no cure, only lifelong drug treatment. I was completely wrong.

First of all, ADDers are not lacking in attention. They actually pay more attention to the things they find interesting. Their attention is all or nothing, so either they're completely obsessed or zoned out with something. They just have very selective attention. Of course, this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Certain famous people are thought to have had ADD, such as Thomas Edison, Mozart, and Winston Churchill. I just read that the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was diagnosed with it as a child; his parents signed him up for swimming to expend his excess energy. Dr. Sears even admits that he could have easily been diagnosed for it. If he had been treated the way kids are treated today, it is doubtful he would have gone on to become a renowned pediatrician, author of 23 books, and father of 8 children. It was the ADD obsessive focus which allowed these people to succeed to the extent they did.

Kids with ADD also tend to be very impulsive, doing things before thinking them through, and easily distracted. Obviously, these are disadvantageous under normal settings. But these qualities also make them very spontaneous and creative. They are known for their original ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.

The authors state that the D should not stand for Disorder but rather Difference. They compare it to a person being left-handed instead of right-handed. Like left-handers, ADDers are a minority and face different challenges. These days, they don't even need to rely on drugs. Behavioral therapy works well for many ADDers, as does a new treatment called neurofeedback, which is like a computer game with EEG sensors. When the sensors detect resting brain waves, the computer game stops. This trains the person to stay focused for extended periods.

The book also goes on about nutrition, how eating a carbohydrate laden lunch causes the brain to relax more (bad for ADD kids in school) while a protein lunch rich in tyrosine will help wake up the brain. Useful stuff to know, even if you don't have ADD. In fact, I plan to tell my 7:00-10:00 pm class, as I don't want them all passing out during my lecture.

My son has all of these tendencies. Whether or not he will be diagnosed with ADD remains to be seen. But I'm okay even if he is. Because he is very creative, focused, energetic and just makes us all pause and smile with the funny things he comes up with. Like everything about ADD, raising him is a mixed blessing. Where there is enormous potential for success, there is also the possibility of catastrophic failure, small it may be.

I'm not to be too worried, though. He's got a caring family who is getting better educated all the time. More importantly, he's got a Father in heaven watching over and protecting him. I can hardly wait to see what neat things my son will accomplish in the future.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

20 years

My calendar entry for tomorrow says "high school reunion." It will be the big 20 year one, so yes, I am 38 for all you math whizzes out there. I was going to go. I thought it would be cool to see how everyone turned out. Every now and then I actually think back to my previous life and wonder where people are. Also, I thought it would be fun to shock people. What? You have 4 kids? You're a stay-at-home mom? You have 4 kids? Plus, I don't think I've aged too badly. My friends are always saying how my hair and clothes look exactly the same, and if that's not evidence then I don't know what is.

A few things changed my mind. First, the husband did not want to go. He said,"I won't know anyone there." Well, duh, we didn't go to the same high school. Then I tried to get the only friend from high school that I still keep in touch with to go with me. She said no because she had a baby 5 months ago and didn't want to show everyone her maternity weight. I just saw her last week, and she looks skinny as always. She claimed that none of her clothes fit, that she would have to go out and buy a brand new outfit plus shoes, and she just didn't want to go through that trouble when she had a fussy baby at home.

Which got me thinking. I don't have a decent outfit or shoes for this thing either, unless cargo pants (handy to stash sippy cups and diapers) and t-shirts are considered semi-formal. Even if I were to go out and buy something, I would be clueless as to what to go with. What would impress old classmates? Newer fashions that make you look like an exhibitionist pregnant woman? Or more conservative stuff that is completely out of date? This is why I always stick with just pants and t-shirts. After pondering about this off and on for an afternoon, I thought, what am I doing wasting so much time on this when I have to do the laundry/dishes/sweeping/everything.

The real clincher was finding out that the price of this reunion was $90 per person. Whereupon I immediately mentally calculated how many dance/piano/art classes could be had for the same amount. It turns out to be over a month's worth of dance classes for both daughters, two weeks of piano lessons, almost an entire soccer season, or almost an entire swimming season. So then the motherhood part of my brain took over and said "no way," especially since I would have had to spend even more on a new outfit.

It's just as well. Spending a whole evening saying the same thing over and over (I have 4 kids. I stay at home with them.) doesn't sound that fun. And the thought of running into my ex doesn't appeal to me. He was such a weirdo back then; it's best not to get in contact with that loser.

The new entry on my calendar for tomorrow says "birthday party." We're going to Chuck E. Cheese for my niece's 4th birthday. Hey, at least I don't have to get dressed up and pay for it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Birth of the Camera Fund

My husband borrowed his co-worker's camera this past weekend. He shamelessly borrows people's stuff, even when the stuff is brand new and expensive. I, on the other hand, would have to be able to do a spit handshake with someone just to borrow a dvd. All I can say is that we strike a good balance.

The first picture is from our point and shoot. The second one is from his friend's Canon EOS 40D. What a difference $1100 makes.

I am so getting this camera. But it might take me awhile, so until then, my husband will continue to borrow his friend's.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Curse Breaks

I have some good news finally. I went in for an interview to teach another biology class. I got it, is that supercool or what?! My interview was with the biology chairperson and the math & science dean, but when I arrived, the dean was still stuck in a meeting. So the chair had to chat with me for half an hour. It was very informal, and he must've been stumped as to what to do with me, because he took me on a tour of their horticulture garden. I am so glad, though. The informal setting took the pressure off, and even though I didn't do so great during the official interview, the chair was already familiar with me. Plus, judging by the way the dean would zone out during our interview, I don't think he's a biology guy, which means the chair probably had the final say. It's amazing how it all worked out. Thank you God!

What's even more amazing is that I just realized that I prepared for the wrong class! I had prepared a sample lecture and multiple choice exam because I thought I was interviewing for the lecture class. I was all ready to give my spiel about mitosis with my powerpoint presentation and everything. Instead, they asked me questions like how I would design a lab curriculum and which labs I liked or disliked. In light of the realization that they were interviewing me for a lab position, I can't believe how inane my answers were. I had to rack my brain just to remember the labs that I've done. I even went on about how certain labs like the enzyme experiment were lame because they never worked, only to find out later that they do that exact lab! Ugh. Meanwhile, I found out a ton about their lecture classes but virtually nothing about the lab classes.

I really, really lucked out. I can't believe it, especially after I realized my blunder. Yeah, God, I got the message: it was You, definitely not me.

So, starting in about 3 weeks, I will be teaching two biology classes, one lecture and one lab, which considering the rest of my schedule, is pretty much the perfect balance. I guess I better start preparing now so that I don't make a doofus mistake like I made today.

The word of this week is supercool. Are Mondays great or what?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Beginning of the End

It's August. Yes, already. August is the yellow light when it comes to summer vacation fun. Except for me it's pretty much a red light since I run yellows. Time to get ready for school, which wouldn't be so bad even with two kids going this year, but one will be mostly homeschooled, which means I have to start ordering books now. I have to look through a gazillion possibilities but only online because libraries and bookstores don't carry them. After days of agonizing over the decision because I am that kind of person, I will finally choose the books, only to find out one month down the road that my daughter hates them. So then I will begin the process all over.

Meanwhile, I am getting ready for my own school. I will be teaching one biology class, and I certainly don't want to appear as clueless as I did the last time I went back to teaching (is this Biology 100?). So I have to start planning now, stuffing all that knowledge back in my head. I don't know if my decreasing brain cells can hold it. Therefore forgive me if I forget your birthday, phone number, or that I was supposed to do something for you.

I'm also getting ready for my younger daughter's speech therapy, by tracking down her records to forward. Also by a long meeting with my experienced friend who says I gotta prepare and come across hard with the people because the school district likes to give the minimum possible help and sometimes not even that. Thanks to having four kids, coming down hard is something I can do very well (see letter to Jerk).

I musn't forget the book-thick stack of papers I have to fill out for my son's ADHD evaluation. The good news is the evaluation is not done yet. The bad news is it's not done yet.

Just to make life more interesting, all the extracurricular stuff starts at the same time. That means soccer and dance registrations. Not to mention Tuesday night and/or Wednesday morning bible studies for the kids.

So what in the world am I doing blogging? Procrastinating, that's what.