Thursday, September 25, 2014

Birthdays Aren't So Bad...

This has been a simply fab birthday, so far!

I'm not much for birthdays, really; the older I get...well, I actually had to do the math today to double check how old I am today and to my pleasure discovered I'm a year younger than I thought.

That was good news.


Since there's no rule about NOT having to work on your birthday, I went to work.  I'm having a good semester and my kids are working hard, doing everything I ask of them, and doing it without complaint.  What more can I ask?

When my first block found out it was my birthday today they were at first a little irritated that I hadn't told them; as we transitioned into our last activity of the morning I noticed Timmothy was out of his seat and walking around to other groups with his paper in hand.  Ever diligent, I directed him to sit back down and he complied.  Then (head-smack!) I figured out what he was up to.

They'd made me a card!

My heart melted.  And Timmothy forgot to sign it!  So he made me a bookmark that noted "This was Timmothy's idea!" and he drew a picture of a Jolly Rancher.    Well, I just love it.

My daughter sent me these gorgeous flowers:

And my 22-year old son, for the first time ever, went out to a store and bought me a gift and two cards (one from the cats!).

I cried.

Steve and I will go out to dinner tomorrow with friends and so the festivities will continue for another day.  I'm looking forward to that!

Birthdays aren't so bad, really!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grande Vente Wrong

Please don't try to justify this by showing me all the times any other president didn't do a snappy salute:

This is just insulting.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Writing

I was searching for something online last week and came across this Atlantic interview with author Stephen King.  It's been nagging at my subconscious ever since.

I've been frustrated lately because I can't find the time I need to write.  You see, I have a real job -- one that pays the bills and one that requires lots of time and energy.

And Stephen King cuts to the root of my dilemma:

Lahey: You paint a pretty bleak picture of teachers as professional writers. Teaching is, after all, a “consumptive profession,” as a friend of mine puts it, and it can be a real challenge to find the juice for our own creative endeavors after a day at school. Do you still feel that teaching full time while pursuing the writing life is a doomed proposition? 
King: Many writers have to teach in order to put bread on the table. But I have no doubt teaching sucks away the creative juices and slows production. “Doomed proposition” is too strong, but it’s hard, Jessica. Even when you have the time, it’s hard to find the old N-R-G.

I am reminded of Harper Lee and her wonderful friends who gave her a year's salary so she could take a break from her job and concentrate on her novel.  And she wasn't even a teacher; she was a clerk at an airline counter at the time.

But he is correct.

I love teaching; I truly do.  But in all honesty, to be a good teacher you have to re-dedicate yourself to it every single year.  I've never been one of those teachers that can use the same lesson plans every single year.  Yes, I teach the same short stories, usually.  I may add or subtract from the repertoire but basically I'm covering the same stories.  But I can never do them the same way.  It changes with the group.  It also changes with your own experience and training; I went to Pre-AP training this summer which was absolutely great, but it totally changed how I teach my classes.  I'm re-writing every single lesson plan once again.  (It seems to be working, by the way -- my students have much, much higher grades and are much more engaged than in the previous sixteen years which makes me wonder why such training isn't part of the teacher education curriculum in the first place, but that's another blog for another day.)

At any rate, my writing project isn't moving at the brisk clip that I might wish.  I wake up on Saturday or Sunday and for a brief moment am full of inspiration; I'm composing sentences, paragraphs, chapters in my head!  It's rolling fluidly and beautifully just the way I want to tell it!

But then I have to do the laundry and vacuum the carpet, run to the store, dust the furniture and pick up the dry cleaning.  Then it's time to plan supper, and well, heck, it's already 2 or 3 o'clock and the inspiration is gone.

How do real writers do this?

Must I wait until I retire to write this book?  I can certainly do research for the next seven years -- there's plenty of research to be done.  That doesn't really take any creativity or inspiration, so I'm really good at the research part.

I want to be able to drop everything and run down to NOLA and sit in the Tulane archives for a couple of weeks.  (A hotel for two weeks?!  Ha!  Yeah, that's not happening.)

I want to sit in the archives in Natchitoches at NSU for days on end until I've read every single thing that could possibly pertain to my book.  Will they let me pitch a tent and a sleeping bag in the back room?  Doubtful.

But, oh, I really want days of uninterrupted silence where I can put it all my research together and tell the story.

It will come.  I know I have to be patient.  I need to learn to enjoy the journey and to take my time so that I get it right.

But I do wish I knew how to burn the candle at both ends, teaching all day and writing all night.  What's the secret?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Natural

I stand corrected; I said last week that Obama has no cajones, but I was wrong.  He's got to have some huge stones to say this:
"Part of this job is also the theater of it," Obama said, adding that "it's not something that always comes naturally to me. " 

Legal Insurrection nailed it:

Nope, he's not into theater or stagecraft at all:

Remember, he's not interested in photo ops.

Nope, he's got no sense of theater whatsoever,  All those doctors rushed right over to the Rose Garden in their lab coats, right?

Good grief.

He's so delusional it's just dangerous.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Steven Sotloff: Reaction Around the Web

ISIL takes another one.

This just depresses me no end.

This should not have happened.

They've got more hostages so you can expect this sort of thing from now on -- at least until we get a president with the cajones to do something about it.

And 9/11 is coming.

Reaction around the web:

Aaron Goldstein:
There's not much I can say at this moment other than to ask a single question. How many more Americans does ISIS have to behead before President Obama develops a strategy on ISIS? 
Independent Journal Review:
As ISIS still has Americans in its blood-stained hands and are willing to butcher more innocents in the name of its perverted cause, the world can no longer turn a blind eye. Whether or not the Commander-in-Chief leaves these terrorists alone, it is high time to form a strategy to defeat them.
Andrew Rosenthal:
Clearly, ISIS intends to go on kidnapping and murdering people and displaying the bloodshed to the world, and the United States is going to have to take an active, leadership role in the civilized world’s response. 
 The Twitchy Team:
Following reports that American journalist Steven Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki held a press conference … and promptly confirmed that the Obama administration is made up of spineless clowns:
Sister Toldjah:
At the end of the video of Sotloff’s beheading, ISIS shows another captive, Briton David Cawthorne Haines. The implication is clear: unless the US stops its airstrikes, Mr. Haines will be slaughtered like James Foley and Mr. Sotloff.
Fox News:
Congressional lawmakers urged the Obama administration to crank up the offensive against the Islamic State after another video surfaced purporting to show the graphic execution of an American journalist.
On Friday, Obama said it was too soon to discuss what steps the U.S. would take against the militant group inside Syria. On how to deal with the group in Syria -- where it was born and has a haven, mostly in the city of Raqqa -- the President said: "We don't have a strategy yet."

It's all terrible.

And so while Obama figures out his "strategy," presumably on the golf course, other hostages wait their turn.

Would this be an inappropriate time to ask, "What would Reagan do?"  Because, I mean, I can't see Ronald Reagan, or even George W. Bush for that matter, picking up his clubs and going to the green.  That's what Obama did after the Foley murder, so why would this be different?

This is coming to America next, people.  It's here.  The time to develop a strategy is long overdue.

The jihadists are just taunting us now; it's a shame we don't have a leader up to the task.



Serious question: How many dead Americans does it take to create a casus belli against a terrorist group? Certainly no more than 3,000, per 9/11. Hezbollah killed many more Marines in the 1983 barracks bombing than ISIS has killed journalists, although I suppose you can draw a distinction there between acts of war between military (or paramilitary) forces and outright murder of civilian combatants. Then again, the murder of Daniel Pearl wouldn’t have triggered an AUMF against Al Qaeda had 9/11 not preceded it. If a new AUMF is coming against ISIS, it’ll be because of the strategic terrorist threat the group poses to Americans domestically, not because of what it did to Sotloff and James Foley — although those murders, being so barbaric, will do wonders to build American resolve in smashing these degenerates to pieces.

More at Memeorandum.