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As American as Apple Pie – Grand Rapids LipDub May 28, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Food for Thought, Music.
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My husband forwarded to me a link to Indiewire, an independent film site, with the message, “You’ve GOT to watch this!” (Click the Indiewire link to watch the Grand Rapids LipDub.)

After Newsweek listed Grand Rapids, Michigan as one of America’s 10 “Dying Cities,” independent filmmaker Scott Erickson decided to showcase his hometown in a one-take, 10-minute video to the tune of Don McLean’s iconic song American Pie.

When I told my brother, who lives in Michigan, about the video, his initial response was, “It can’t be Grand Rapids-that’s one of our favorite places to go. Are you sure they weren’t talking about Detroit?” He informed me that Grand Rapids is GR to Michiganders.

Maybe it’s because I can vividly recall the dingy bar I was standing in drinking 3.2% beer when I first heard the song American Pie, but I dare say, I got a little misty eyed watching this video.

At a time when funding for the arts is being cut from our schools, I’ve become all the more convinced that it is the arts that elevate our spirits while also bringing people together.

Psst! If it’s been awhile since you’ve heard the song, you, like me, will be trying to decipher the lyrics. But, it’s already been done for you on Understanding American Pie. The site takes you through the song verse by verse. Whoa! I think it gave me flashbacks.

I rate this video GR, for GREAT.  Enjoy!

DSM-5 to Ignore Narcissists – Part 3 May 22, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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How could you not love an article that begins with a psychiatrist lamenting, “Where are we going to put the narcissists?”

Psychiatric Diagnoses Get a Rethinking appeared in the Los Angeles Times today. It’s a very interesting read. It seems that psychiatrists, sipping drinks from coconut shells at the American Psychiatric Association’s five-day conference, have been duking it out over the proposed changes to the DSM-V due out in 2013.

Dr. Allen Frances, chairman of the DSM -IV Task Force (sounds so military, almost special-opish!) and one of the most vocal critics of proposed changes pointed out that many advances in brain imaging and molecular biology have given professional insight into the workings of the brain, but there is still much to learn (before throwing out the baby with the bathwater). The bold type is my take on this whole mess.

If you go to DSM5.org, you’ll find the suggested changes listed. The American Psychiatric Association has opened up the changes for public comments. I put in my two cents during the first public comment session last year. The second public session began this month and runs through June 15th. Speak now or forever hold your peace!

I’ve been following the proposed changes in my blog posts DSM-V to Ignore Narcissists? and DSM-V to Ignore Narcissists?-Part 2

Raincheck on the Rapture May 21, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Uncategorized.
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OMG! It's not safe to go outside! Besides, I look better in low lighting.

Just when I’d RSVP’d for a little post-Rapture looting, it looks like I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Dang! I’d so looked forward to not having to get ready for Open House or ever having to clean my own house again. (Not that I ever did.)

Last December I wrote a post Surviving Christmas and the Zombie Apocalypse. Not to say I told you so, but  - now the Center for Disaster Control (CDC) is sounding the clarion call and offering advice on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. Click HERE to view. I was but the canary in the coal mine in warning the public of this impending threat.

Okay, maybe I’m just feeling a little on edge since becoming Facebook friends with my high school. There’s been what appears to be a virtual zombie walk of the undead looking for me – oh, wait a minute, those would be my former classmates! OMG! Could that mean that I’ve aged too? The horror!

I did get that Swiss Army Knife for Christmas (Ironically, it was the “Climber” model), but I’m beginning to think I need to beef up my survival kit with a little Botox as well.

History Wax Museum – Till Death Do Us Part May 17, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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Last Friday, I found myself having a chat with Henry VIII about annulment vs. divorce, while JFK, Frida Kahlo, and Emiliano Zapata waited impatiently to talk to me. Yes, the History Wax Museum project is consuming my life.

This year, all four third grade classes at my school are doing this project which requires students to research a famous person’s life, then write a narrative speech in the first person which they must memorize and perform at Open House. The finished History Wax Museum is quite impressive. Students stand frozen in their costumes with a tri-fold board serving as a backdrop. There’s a red paper “button” on the floor that visitors step on to activate the character. To my knowledge, only one performer has thrown up in three years – and it was not on a visitor. That’s what I’d call Good Odds.

I’m afraid I’m a Johnny Come Lately to the GATE scene. (For you civilians that’s Gifted and Talented Education.) Yes, this year for the first time I have a cluster of GATE students. And this year for the first time, I’m expected to shepherd my students through this godawful project. I suppose when there were 20 students to a class, this project was doable, but with 28 warm bodies wall-to-wall in my classroom, it’s become unmanagable.

Students were to pick someone dead. Michael Jackson is a no no as all students want to do is wear a glove and do the Thriller dance.  But some teachers caved, so this year Yoko Ono will be making an appearance. Another teacher asked, “What’s she famous for?  Breaking up the Beatles?” I’m still wondering how a third grader in 2011 knows about Yoko Ono.

Students were to find two to three resources and do their research at home. They’re to do the writing at school to make sure good ole Mom and Dad don’t stick their finger in the pudding.

Last week, I waded through reams of paper that students had downloaded off the Internet, most of which was written for adults. One of the the questions was, “Where was your character born?” One girl answered, “A hospital.” I should have recognized that answer for what it was – the canary in the coal mine that had fallen from its perch. It’s been only downhill from there.

I have to remind myself that it’s not my students’ fault. Most were born in 2001. They have no concept of history. When I met with a student today, she’d written that her character, who was active in the Mexican Revolution was arrested and sent to a convenience store. “That would be a convent,” I reminded her. Even then, she didn’t have a clue.

Galileo is stressing about his costume, though he has yet to put a word on paper for his speech. “You know,” he said with utmost sincerity, “I wanted to be a monk, but my father didn’t want me to go to monk school.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Alien abduction makes more sense to these kids than half of the stuff they’re reading off of Wikipedia.

Which brings me to Henry VIII. One of my big Hispanic boys chose this character to research. As I skimmed over how Henry was “licentious,” I had to paraphrase for my student. “Wow, you were a real ladies man!” I said. He cracked a smile. He now has the “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” ditty down. Today he was bragging to another boy about all of his wives. I felt the need to take the wind out of his sails, so I reminded him that in his later years he had an oozing sore that didn’t heal and that was a real turn off for the ladies. Boy, that did the trick!

My Henry, unlike the real Henry VIII, comes from a family of meager means. When I asked how he planned to pull of this costume, he looked downright stricken. So in a moment of weakness, I ordered a black velveteen Tudor flat cap off the Internet. I know I’ll be able to use it again someday. The boy mentioned he’d need a feather for the hat. I think we need to scout the area outside the lunchroom where the pigeons roost.

Last Friday a teacher new to third grade announced History Wax Museum would be off her radar next year. I asked what she planned to do instead. “I have one word,” she said wiggling her hips, “Zoomba!”  I don’t even know what Zoomba is, but I’m in. But, can I wear my Tudor flat cap?

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