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Nuclear Boy’s Radioactive Poo March 19, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in elementary school, TV/Film.
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5 comments

How to explain a nuclear meltdown to Japanese children?  This 4-minute animated film was shown on Japanese television and likens a meltdown to Nuclear Boy having Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (Think Everybody Poops with translation.) From the looks of it, Nuclear Boy’s stinky poo would even make Godzilla’s eyes water. But he’s faring better than Chernobyl Boy who had an accurate diarrhea attack – in the classroom.

So far Nuclear Boy has just farted, but he’s being monitored by Sniffer-Man who bears more than a passing resemblance to an Easter Island head. There’s also a trio of doctors giving Nuclear Boy his medicine (Sea Water and Boron), but the middle doctor looks eerily like Dr. Jack Kervorkian, which is not very reassuring. Now, the only thing left to protect the Japanese people is… a diaper. And we all know how effective that is.

Dog Bless You! March 13, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Worth Knowing.
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Dog is God spelled backwards – or maybe it’s the other way around. So when I read about Dog Bless You and filmmaker and philanthropist Charles Weingarten’s Facebook challenge to raise funds and send search and rescue dogs to Japan, I was in. Click.

While our recently rescued pit bull pup from the Pasadena Humane Society, Layla, is busy teething on my shoes, there are dogs out there who have a Day Job saving lives. All you have to do is go onto the website and click Like, and you’ve done your good deed for the day.

Speaking of working dogs, I couldn’t sleep the other night and found myself in front of my computer reading, with tears running down my face, about the incredible bond between Scottish soldier Liam Tasker and his dog Theo, who both died the same day in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Tasker’s parents said their son told them he’d found his calling – working with dogs. Theo was cremated and his ashes returned home with his master’s body. The funeral route was lined with people and their dogs.

In this undated image, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker trains with his military working dog, Theo, in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Tasker, who served the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province. Theo, his bomb-sniffing springer spaniel, suffered a fatal seizure hours after Tasker died.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? March 6, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Food for Thought.
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How could I have missed Jimmy Kimmel’s call to make Nov. 17 National UnFriend Day on Facebook?  Oh that’s right, I was in the middle of Parent-Teacher Conferences. That’s two weeks when I’m looking to bring people on board, not cull the herd. But last night after a few glasses of red wine, I started deleting some of my “friends.”

So far no gunshots have been fired at my house, but most of those I “unfriended” (is that the correct nettiquette?) don’t even know where I live. That tells you something right there.

Like many people, I signed onto Facebook early on when it was literally the new kid on the block.  The “friending” began. I wrote about the downside of this in Being Facebook Friends with Stephan Pastis – Rats!

Fast forward four years. It occurred to me that I wouldn’t recognize some of my “friends” on the street. That’s not good. I’d even stooped to hiding others, so I didn’t have to read incessant updates about every aspect of their life. (Jimmy Kimmel provides a great example of this.) Hiding may be a kinder way since the “friend” doesn’t know that you’ve exiled them to Never Again Land, but isn’t honesty usually the best policy? Was that a gunshot I just heard?

Then there were those “friends” who were coerced by some well-intentioned technophile into joining Facebook in the first place. Left to their own devices, they couldn’t figure out how to post their picture or a status update. I think most have forgotten their passwords and haven’t revisited Facebook since I hit the Accept button. They’re in the slow lane on the information highway with their turn signal on – but can’t figure out how to exit. I like to think that by “unfriending” them, I’m just helping speed up the process.

Here’s my new and improved criteria for a mutually beneficial “friendship.”

1)  I would recognize you if I saw you on the street
2)  We’ve shared a significant life experience (Think “trauma bonding”)
3)  You’ve commented on one of my status updates or blog.
4)  You can make me laugh.
5)  We share some DNA, so you are potentially an organ donor.

Actually, my son just informed me that he “unfriends” people almost weekly, and it’s no big deal. It’s not like Mark Zuckerberg shows up at their door with the pink slip. Come to think of it, some of those I planned to “unfriend” weren’t even on my  list of “friends.” Could it be that they “unfriended” me first and I didn’t even notice? Sweet!

Confessions of a Greedy Teacher March 4, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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I’m  sitting on my fat ass eating bonbons as I write this. Er, make that sitting “crisscross applesauce.” You see, as a teacher I’m held to a higher moral standard. That’s why Natalie Munroe, the Philadelphia English teacher, who blogged that her students were “unmotivated” “rude” and “dressed like streetwalkers” was suspended. Okay, she said more than that, but it was all so well written that it’s hard to imagine why so many people got their undies in a bunch. Who’s that elephant sitting in the room?  Oh, that would be The Truth. When I heard she came up with some alternate report card comments, I expected, “Shallow End of the Gene Pool” or “Future fodder for America’s Most Wanted.” But she took the high road. She of little imagination.

Whatever is wrong with society – blame it on those greedy teachers. Yeah, that’s why I drive a five-year-old Honda – the official Teacher Car. Today I actually sprang for a Lean Cuisine (Don’t ever nuke anything that is supposedly “beef”), instead of my usual instant oatmeal with a Coke Zero. You haven’t experienced fine dining till you’ve eaten oatmeal with a spork while waiting to run copies before picking up your class. Throw in a rainy day and that’s proof positive that there is Hell on Earth.

And what’s all this talk this a three-month summer vacation? Last year I got out June 23rd. Though school started again in mid-September (after three unpaid furlough days), teachers were back at school the last week of August setting up their classrooms. Nine blissful weeks off with no pay. That’s as good as it gets.

In an interview with protestors in Madison, Wisconsin, one woman said, “I’m here because although I hated school, I loved my teachers.” I wanted to give her a virtual hug but worried about sexual harassment charges.

Jon Stewart tried to bolster the sagging spirits of beleaguered teachers recently with a pep talk on Camera 3. His hilarious solution to combat those “greedy teachers” who are destroying America can be seen on The Daily Show.com .  (Type Message for Teachers into Search to view Crisis in Dairyland – Message for Teachers from the Feb. 28th show.)

As teachers, we are expected to be all things to all people. I believe our brains should be studied along with those of psychopaths to find out what motivates us to do a job that requires us to move mountains while having our hands tied behind our backs by regulations, paperwork, and No Child Left Behind (or only a few children left behind, and hopefully one of them is not yours).

This morning I read about the 12-year-old who killed his parents in Colorado and wounded his siblings. My first thought was, “Well, who was HIS teacher? String ‘em up!  Who knows how to tie a hangman’s knot?”  But it turned out he was homeschooled. Otherwise there would be yet another teacher with blood or Vis-a-Vis marker stains on their hands.

Another mother was arrested after her dead son was found (still warm) in an oven. Her sister asked that people not rush to judgement because, “She was a great mother.” The key word is “was.” If this poor child hadn’t died, he’d soon be enrolled in a public school near you. And some teacher would be expected to “turn him around” (even though mom’s phone had been disconnected and even though she didn’t show up for a Parent-Teacher Conference that the teacher rescheduled three times for her convenience). What’s wrong with this picture?

I started a list of all the hats that teachers wear during any given day as an homage to Dr. Seuss’ The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, but 500 wasn’t enough.  Besides, wearing all of those hats just increases the likelihood of an outbreak of lice.

Ahhh, just another day in Paradise. Pass me another bonbon, won’t you?

Photo Credit:  To buy a Miracle Worker mug for that teacher in your life, click here.

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