He vs She – books

He: “What do you think of the book I gave you to read?”
She: “I’m enjoying it except for the distractingly misogynist attitudes of the author.”

Wrong answer – He: “What misogyny?”
Right answer – He: “I’m glad you like it.”

movie trailers

Thanks to a successful marketing campaign that had my two youngest asking DAILY if they could go, we went to see Big Hero 6. It’s a cute movie, but I would have preferred to wait and buy the Blu-ray. Feast, the short before Big Hero 6 is absolutely wonderful. Go see Feast. Before Big Hero 6 and Feast, there were trailers for upcoming movies.

Spare Parts – A robotics team version of the ‘teacher rescuing high school students’ trope. Wait until your local robotics team is hosting a screening as a fundraiser.

Paddington – Paddington looks like Stuart Little with better effects and no Dr. House. Wait until it gets to Netflix.

Minions – Toilet humor with a classic rock soundtrack. Buy the soundtrack. See the movie on Netflix.

Penguins of Madagascar – See above.

Inside Out – Gave me Nick Jr flashbacks. Netflix.

Tomorrowland – I am cautiously optimistic about this film, but I’ll decide when they release more than the tiny blips of film with George Clooney’s voiceover that we’ve been seeing for months.

Annie – Go see this at the theatre and sing no matter what you think your voice sounds like to others. Then, prepare yourself for all the viral videos of children singing and dancing to the soundtrack.

Fun sized

SuperTween has always been petite. She wasn’t a preemie. She has no serious health issues. She simply never made it above the 10 percentile on height. Every year at her checkup, I asked if she needed to visit a specialist about her height. Every year, they pondered her chart for a millisecond before telling me that they wouldn’t give me a referral unless she dropped to zero on the average height chart.

Over the years, she met and exceeded her developmental milestones. After she began middle school, she developed curves and her maturity increased exponentially. At the same time, SuperTween’s brother who is three years younger than her, caught up to her on height.

At her checkup this summer, it finally happened. She dropped off the height chart. I asked about a specialist. They said that puberty is the cut-off point for most of the treatments used to help with growth problems. While in my heart I know that I would have been hard pressed to agree to the risks of growth hormones for a few inches of height, I am sad that SuperTween was never given that choice to make.

I worry that her height will interfere with her ability to drive a car and have romantic relationships. I worry about her being trampled in high school hallways. I worry about her being teased and bullied. I wore a full back brace in 7th and 8th grade. I know how adolescent ignorance can sting and scar.

At the same time, I know that SuperTween is stronger than I was at that age. She is stubborn and determined. She holds her own in a house full of loud and rowdy brothers. I can easily see her shouting commands as a coxswain. Is there a musical rowing league? SuperTween’s singing voice is as loud as it is lovely. She would be amazing.

She already is amazing.

Knoxville Interstate vs Knoxville streets

Q: “Why do you try so hard to avoid the Interstate? There are no traffic lights to slow you down and it’s more direct than zig-zagging all over neighborhoods.”

A: Knoxville Interstate drivers take it as a personal affront if someone merges in front of them and they aggressively try to avoid allowing anyone to switch lanes. Knoxville Interstates are dominated by the selfish and rude drivers.

Knoxville drivers on the streets will sit at a four way stop for a million years while they wave for the other drivers to go first. Knoxville drivers on the streets will cause a traffic jam stopping to let opposite direction drivers turn left in front of them. Unless they are driving a Humvee or a similarly oversized vehicle, Knoxville streets are filled with mostly polite and thoughtful drivers.

Students before politics

I’m weary of people being dismissed from participating in discussions and decisions about education if they don’t have subjectively determined bona fides. Education shouldn’t matter only to people with underage children. Interest in education should not be limited to the school closest your home. Education determines the quality of life now and in the future for the entire community. Education is the one thing that should matter to everyone.

If a school outside of my community wanted to add something special for their students, I would never try to prevent them from having it because my community doesn’t have it. I would certainly watch their program to see which parts of it could be successful in my community.

If we have to wait until all the existing problems in all of our schools are gone before we attempt to make progress or evolve educationally, we will never grow and all students will suffer. Hear me clearly on this: Teachers are being treated horribly and students spend too much time on test prep. Unfortunately, Knoxville’s educational environment is in danger of being divided into pro and anti specific people instead of unanimously pro students. Teachers and students are doing the best they can while higher ups natter, but we are rapidly approach the kind of dysfunctional impasse that makes for good late night comedian fodder and bad everything else.

Knoxville people love to insist that every community in our little city has different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The same is true of our schools. Rubber stamped, identical schools don’t allow each school to evolve into what is best for their students. One High School in the Knoxville community has an IB program. Other High Schools in this community have things that are unique to their school. Extremely unique school programs occur in schools that allow out of zone students to transfer schools. The success of these various programs is positively impacted when students begin High School prepared for them. The next logical step for IB is expansion to the middle school. I’m not going to repeat the data contained in this PowerPoint explaining Middle School IB or this PowerPoint with statistical data about the Middle School with overwhelming teacher approval of an IB partnership.

What I will say is that BMS was the first school to allow my child with Autism to be mainstreamed. BMS is the school that inspired one of my children to love art and another to love music. When BMS was declared a “failing school” because of the test scores of students living in poverty and students with disabilities, BMS shifted everything to focus on intense intervention in areas where students scored lowest. Every student benefitted from those changes. With an IB program, BMS hopes that they can do even more to lift students who need support the most, but also add ladders for the students ready to climb even higher.

There are so many families from the wealthier parts of the BMS school zone who put their students in private school to avoid BMS that it would take more than 50 out of zone transfers to impact the staffing needs at BMS. The teachers want to implement IB and the students need every opportunity possible. Let them demonstrate that BMS is not ‘that school’ with ‘those students’ that need to be avoided. Give them a chance to show what they can do when they are supported and encouraged. Vote yes on the Middle School IB Partnership.

nerd life

She: “They updated the software on censored! They added censored and censored!”
He: “Let me see. Oooooh, sweet.”
She: “I want to take a picture of this screen.”
He: “No pictures. Violates the NDA.”
She: “Don’t they want people talking about the improvements?”
He: “Not with other people.”
She: “Don’t they want social media noise?”
He: “Nope. NDA.”
She: “I’m going to search online and see if anyone is talking about it.”
He: “You do that.”
She: “You go tell them that your wife wants to talk about it.”
He: “No.”
She: “Well, I’m going to blog about the much improved interface with new features.”
He: “As long as you don’t violate the NDA.”
She: “No problem.”

Hacky Cat

Several months ago, Westley found a hacky sack and played it to death. He tossed it in the air, dribbled it across the floors, rubbed his face on it and purred loudly while he carried it around like a lovey. He also played fetch with it. He demanded hours and hours of fetch the hacky sack. It was a very sad day when he punctured the bag so much that all of the filling spilled and a sad little pouch of fabric was all that remained of the beloved hacky sack.

The filling turned out to be tiny bits of plastic that looked like an intestinal blockage waiting to happen. So, I bought two nice new hacky sacks and deliberately killed those balls. First, I stabbed a hole in them.

Next, I removed all the plastic beads.

This was followed by a brief game of chase with the cat who had been silently stalking my work and decided to rescue one of the balls that I was abusing.

The next step was to fill the empty pouch with a plastic grocery bag.

Finally, I stitched up the opening. I used undivided cross stitch thread and it looks like a mess, but the cat doesn’t mind it.

This is the only picture I have of Westley with one of his hacky sacks that isn’t a complete blur. He is a very happy cat.