Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Midnight In Paris

Yesterday the roads were uncharacteristically empty in this area where people seem to live in their cars normally. The yoga class was quite empty too. But when R and I went to the movies to see Woody Allen's new film, there were lines all around the parking lot to see the film, which is in a very limited release here, showing in only two theaters in the wider region that I know of. It was rather like being at Disneyland, where the lines wind around and around in nightmare spirals, and take hours to diminish. It took about an hour for us to get into the theater, and we obviously didn't make the show we had originally come for.
The film was charming. Allen is at his best when he is making love letters to great cities, and though the films of his I like the best also have a warm heart for their characters, who are memorable and funny (think Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan, and Annie Hall!), and this film didn't really have that to the same degree, the casting was spot on and the story intriguing and perceptive. I will always think of Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrian Brody as Dali! What genius! The guy who played Hemingway was also amazing, and the detail of the private investigator stuck in the past, being pursued by the king's men, eager to chop off his head, was vintage Allen. It certainly made my day.
I recommend the film to you, as a good way to start off the summer, and a welcome alternative to summer sequelitus.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day, and a Good Beginning To Summer!

The day has dawned appropriately for the first day of the summer season, with bright sunshine, though it seems quite cool. I am glad of that, since our windows have still not been repaired, and we cannot easily open them. We have no air conditioning, and I hope that that will work okay, since we are not really in a good position to buy that system now. For now, the ceiling fans and the shades and the screen doors we have put in downstairs ought to help!
Here's wishing you a relaxing, summery day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What I Should Have Learned From Yoga

Just returned from a yoga class with a sub, a young guy who was a good teacher, though there were a few things lacking. For the most part, he is quite good though. He is the student of a yoga teacher I had a workshop with perhaps 6 months ago. She teaches up in the Valley, and is one of the founders of the Iyengar Institute. She was extremely helpful to me, spotting my hip problem and beginning to work on it immediately.
I realized this morning that what Bob always says is very true, not only for yoga, but for life in general. If one acts out of fear, to keep something from happening that one fears will occur, that thing will almost surely happen. Bob always says this when we are in back bends, draped over the backless folding chair backwards with our chests wide open, supremely vulnerable, if we choose to view it this way. If we grab at the folding chair's seat to prevent the chair from folding up on us, it will fold up, pinching the arms in a supremely uncomfortable grip. I have done this, one too many times now. This is what I believe happened to me at the college.

Rain in May

It has apparently been raining for some time, perhaps all night. For those of you without detailed knowledge of weather in these parts, that is very unusual this time of year, where rain is a winter sort of thing. But it is Sunday, a good morning to sleep in, and I did just that. Being rather deaf, I didn't hear the soothing patter of rain on the roof or the windows. But the gray skies probably helped. I hope for the sake of those who planned to barbeque this holiday weekend that it clears up.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wonderful Shabbat Service

Last night was the annual anniversary service. On this Friday evening in May, every year, the synagogue celebrates all married couples' anniversaries. It just so happens that our actual anniversary, May 30, falls very close to the date of this service... sometimes exactly on it. This is our 35th anniversary. Were you there Marly? I don't remember you being there, in the rose garden at Hollins.
In any case, it was really wonderful to sit with everyone in the sanctuary, singing together, and to have Richard sitting beside me, however unwillingly. He came so we could go up to the bima, the stage in the synagogue, together when the anniversaries were being honored.
The rabbi gave a really interesting service about Jewish weddings and the contracts used to formalize them--ketubas, using the English pluralization because I'm unsure of the Hebrew one for this word. And he talked about the figures for intermarriage in Judaism. When R and I got married, we couldn't have a Jewish wedding because no rabbi would do such a ceremony. Now over 50% of all Jewish couples married have a non-Jewish partner in them, though for some it is a 2nd or 3rd marriage. We also were forbidden (by my parents) to ask any of my side of the family to the wedding because my parents didn't want grandmom to find out I was marrying a non-Jew. They said they wouldn't come if I told any of my cousins on my father's side. I told the ones on my mother's side because they didn't care, but they couldn't come because they all lived abroad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Belated Apology

I want to apologize to the student who wrote the piece of fiction that won second prize in the contest I helped to judge. Actually, I didn't take part in the judging of fiction, which is too bad because the fiction was so accomplished and impressive, including the work of the student who sent the comment.
It was one of those comments that the blogger eats, when one tries to post them. Sorry, again.

Sunny Friday

I have resolved today that although I will soon start my last class at the college, I will also make an effort to keep tabs on other writers, via their blogs, to glimpse a tiny corner of what life is for other people. It helps me to remember that if I stare at the wall and feel forlorn, it's not because the wall is all there is; it's because I stubbornly refuse to lift my eyes and look out the window at everything else.
Undoubtedly, my personal failings, which have caused me to fall over my own shoelaces so many times in my life, will continue to trip me up, but aside from those few, though significant, incidents, there will be others in which I atone for those failings and move on; isn't that all any of us can do?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dream of the Week

In my interrupted sleep of the past weeks, I seem to have the same fragments of dreams over and over again, which wake me and ruin my sleep. Last night though, I had a different dream, about my parents.
The anniversary of their deaths is coming close, and will happen next week. But because their burial was delayed, the day of yartzeit, lighting the little candles in remembrance of their passing, will be delayed as well, falling on days a few weeks after the actual event. I don't know how it is decided when the yartzeit is actually held, to tell the truth. I will have to look it up.
In the dream, my parents had gone on living in a board and care, without my knowing it or paying for it. My father had taken charge of the money, and was doling it out. The house where they were living was at the beach. I'm not really sure which beach it was though. They were cared for tenderly, by Filipino caregivers, as in life, but not any of the ones I knew. And they were about to move to another beach house, where they would live with other disabled people. In the dream, I was helping them pack their boxes, and it was amazing; I could almost smell my mother's perfume, though she never wore any actually. In the dream she did. And my father's after-shave. It was not a sad dream, though it made me think of them and decide to go get stones from the beach to put on their graves, which I have not visited since the day of my mother's funeral. I didn't really find the sort of uniform stones I wanted to. Of course, one can't predict what the sea will throw up on the sand. There weren't that many stones at all, so I had to be satisfied with what I found.

Back To Square One

When I was a teenager or even a preteen, my friend Ilene's mom always used to say that I was a drama queen, always getting myself into impossible scrapes just so I could feel something extreme. I think she was exactly right, and I don't think that I ever stopped doing that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Preparing The Class

I have never taught the film Pan's Labyrinth before. In fact, at the time I decided to teach it this summer, I had only seen it once, and been impressed by its richness and mixture of lyricism and horror. So this past weekend and continuing into this week, I began to study the film, watching it twice thus far, with difficulty, since the technology of this new television set, with its HDMI and multiple remotes presents a number of difficulties for someone who gives up in the face of technological snags rather quickly. But I persevered, and was pleased to find that the film rewards study. Tomorrow I will watch it again, and with any luck, make up the study questions and perhaps the prompt. Or maybe that will take yet another watching.
The order of the class is another question. Usually, I save for last a text that has been written about enough that I can find two essays with something interesting to say about it. Usually, the film is smack in the middle of the class because it takes up the most time and presents difficulties of its own since students have not studied or even thought about film critically before, for the most part. It takes a while to get into.
But this time there is a problem, since the only text about which things of value have really been written of the three I am teaching is the film. There is extremely little written about Butler's story "Bloodchild" that I have found useful or appropriate to give to students, maybe one essay and an interview with Butler. I could do that. It would probably be the best thing to do, but there are two excellent short essays about the film, each presenting a very different angle on the text, and they would be useful in a paper. Since the class is only eight weeks long, I might be sorry if I do that though. The story is short, and it will not take that long to discuss. Perhaps there have been more worthy essays written about it since I last taught it a couple of years ago. I will check.

Changes Are Always a Challenge

Now that I have to change things so radically, finding a new place to work and possibly new sorts of work to do, I am not looking forward to it. I will take my bit of rest, even though fall is the best time to get an academic job. I need to recharge, to rethink things. I needed a rest long ago, to tell the truth.
I am grateful that I get a chance to think things through, and hope that it all comes to something. If nothing else, I'll get some more writing done, work on the collection of non-fiction essays, write critical essays on the stuff I've been teaching all these years. I'm seldom idle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still Here

That old crackpot and his tribe in New Zealand must be disappointed that the world has not ended. Despite some minor volcanic eruptions in Iceland and an earthquake or two, a solar explosion, everything goes blessedly on, I am thankful to say. This gives all of us another chance to do better, to go on being what and who we are.
On that note, yesterday I attended a fun event. A friend from yoga, Holly Mosier, had a book party for her new diet and exercise book. She is an amazing person with perhaps the strongest will I have ever seen, transforming herself and her family into fitness mavens nearly overnight, and she has managed to do it while still being kind and to all appearances humble, a rare feat.
I am sure you will be seeing her book around and will see her as well on television interview shows and in magazines. She is intelligent, articulate, by profession a lawyer, originally, and beautiful to look at. She has crafted this book meticulously, and I am certain it will be successful. Good luck to her! She has made her own luck, I think. It's a lesson to me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Odd Web Stuff

It always disturbs me when I push on a link in my blogger Dashboard, only to be told that a titled page in someone else's blog linked to my own does not exist. I feel the same small thrill of existential panic I once did as a child when I would sit with my Viewmaster looking at the plains of Africa and suddenly, between shots of lions and giraffes on the veldt, a startling field of nothingness would loom, obliterating the world.
For those of you who do not know what a Viewmaster is, since I don't think they still exist in these days of high technology, they were a low tech way for children of my generation to watch little film strips and stories. The machine was a little eyepiece, with double windows for the eyes where a disk lined on the edges with tiny thumbnail photos would project in stereo for the two eyes an image. We even had a Viewmaster projector when I was very young, where one could project the pictures on a blank wall. Mine exploded in a spectacular shower of gears and burning plastic when I was about 5. I remember that and the room size ironing machine at which my mother used to iron sheets and table cloths while I hid beneath the folds of fabric, pretending to be in a cave.

End of the World

Supposedly, the world will end today at 6:00 PM. The millenial minister who has been spreading this news on billboards and street corners far and wide has proclaimed similar such news before, like the many before him who hunger for the end of days, dissatisfied with the beautiful world their own God has given them, with its elephants and sunsets and hillsides embroidered in green and gold. It is just that the end of a story is so much more satisfying than the middle, and that is why Scheherizadh was spared, just so she might eventually reach the end, except for her eternal and mythical feminine wisdom, which is composed of the art of unraveling and addition--witness also Penelope and her weaving, the power of the powerless to undo what they have done.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The prospect of job-seeking, as always, shakes me. That has always been something that stirs my most secret fears and insecurities. And, as always, not knowing inspires my most dire imaginings. I need to quell them and truly not care. There will always be something I can do. I need to remind myself of this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reading at UCI

Like piano music, excellent writing can play on every key of the emotions, from the deepest and darkest to the middle range and the bright notes of the upper register, where most like to linger. Last night's reading by Michelle Latolais stayed mostly on the dark end, exploring depression and loss as well as obsessive trauma. So virtuosic was the exploration, however, that it opened sealed caverns of those emotions to our sight that have hitherto remained unknown. Every detail was embroidered with inventive metaphor and expressed with intense honesty and accuracy.
It is rare that prose writers consider the value of every word as much as Latolais has here, even when we would rather look away, when she would probably look away as well. The reading felt intimate as few do, perhaps, as she said, because it was on her home ground, done for a room full of people who had long known her so well and followed her work, her life. But readers of her books feel the same connection, even if they do not know her at all. It is woven into the words so lovingly chosen, so deservedly praised.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

High School Reunion

On Sunday, a member of the synagogue who, strangely, turned out to have gone to high school with me and indeed graduated at the same time (the graduating class was about 1500 people!) asked me if I planned to go to the 40th reunion. The thought of it was repulsive. I hated that place so much when I was there. I didn't like much of anyone around me. Those were the days when I was spending lunch periods taking furtive bites of a sandwich in a toilet stall because every time I actually went to the lunch room I got my ass thrown down the stairs by a massive bully. This went on for the entire year, with everyone, security guards included, watching, and my parents not wanting to hear me "carry tales."
I tried desperately to transfer to an alternative high school since my grades weren't good enough to go to the "good school," Girls' High, because of a learning disability in math (undiagnosed and unaided).
I would never want to go back there, not the least because it is an awful area, though I could go stay with my friend Linda. I wouldn't want to drive there. It would remind me too much of my early years of driving with my father, where he would yell at me while I was driving on the turnpike and stomp on my feet.
I can safely say that I would not enjoy anything about going to such a reunion and it certainly wouldn't be something I would pay lots of money to do, especially now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Almost done with the semester

I just now met with my cheery early morning class and had a bit of a breakfast feast. I brought my homemade banana empanadas, which were not as good after being frozen as when I first baked them, orange juice, and cinnamon rolls. The students brought everything they promised to bring, and all but one I expected showed up. I collected the MW class's papers yesterday,but haven't really gotten a good start on them. I guess I need to go grade!
My friends at choir want me to put out applications for ESL jobs, but I really don't want to do them or feel qualified to do them either. In fact, I want to take fall off and go on unemployment, unless something really good comes through at UCI or Chapman. In the spring, I probably have at least one class, and I can get some tutoring or online writing of some kind in if I want to. The only thing is I don't know how to do contracting work without getting cheated, as I used to, and also, I'm not sure what to charge. If anyone has any ideas about this, let me know.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Three Days of Rain, Play at SCR

I wanted also to say a bit about the play we saw last night, Three Days of Rain. I have been very happy with the plays this year at SCR, and this one may have been the strongest yet.
It was a very self-consciously literary philosophical piece on the relationship between the generations, family relationships, and emotional entanglements. Though it had this very serious freight to carry, it was also an extremely funny play, cast phenomenally well by a cast so gifted that, as R said at the end of the play, though there were just 3 actors playing 6 characters (3 in one generation and their parents in the previous generation), it seemed as though 6 actors should emerge from the wings at the end of the play, so distinct were the characters and personalities of these 6 characters. One almost did not recognize them, though they were played by the same people. An accent here, clothing, glasses, and posture made all the different, and one forgot she was watching the same three actors play two different characters. It was a tribute to those people's ability.
I very much recommend that you go to see the play if you have a chance.

Big Sunday

Today was a huge volunteer day at our synagogue and many other religious and community institutions. I spend the morning at the synagogue giving out free tee-shirts to all the volunteers, who were doing things like preparing sandwiches for the shelter, playing poker and majong (sp?) for charity, cleaning and repairing donated children's books, doing crafts, and eating baked goods on sale to raise money for hunger. There was live music, and it was a jolly sort of occasion. It was a balm to my worried soul.
Last night R and I celebrated our anniversary early by going to the final play in the SCR series. I didn't buy tickets for next year's series because I am worried about money, not knowing when or if I will get a decent schedule of classes or something else to replace them ever again, or at least for the foreseeable future.
It may be that I really need a rest anyhow, and will emerge from this changed and charged, renewed even. I hope so. And I hope I have the opportunity to get back into the classroom and teach again. I love doing it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Visit with a Dead Aunt

Another dream. It really wasn't disturbing, rather sweet. R and I in this dream went to pick up an aunt of mine one sun drenched day. We met her in front of a building where she was supposed to live, not at her door, which I thought was odd. She was dressed in an odd sort of batik blue and white dress with matching hat and white shoes, though sometimes she turned barefoot, and her dress and hat became white. We wandered around though she was very very old, doing odd feats of climbing in and out of windows, as she chatted to us, and said that we should have visited long ago. R never met her.
In life I never liked her very much. She was very judgmental and didn't approve of me. I wasn't as she would have liked, but I had the feeling that there was nothing I could have done to change that. It was my mother she really didn't approve of, who was very different from this aunt. The aunt was a tough, pioneer type woman who worked as a teacher, while my mother was supposed to be very delicate and never really worked at anything outside the home. In truth, my mother turned out to be quite tough and resilient, even if she would have denied it.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Though I know that the college has discontinued my employment, beginning in fall semester, I will be very much a presence on campus this summer. That is good because it means some money will be coming in. However, it will be difficult to deal with emotionally because I will be spending so many hours on campus, seeing everyone I have known for so long, and this will probably be the last time I will see most of them and will be working with the students at the college.
I actually feel the students at the college are very good to work with because despite their frequent poor preparation and the fact that they drop in large numbers and don't do their work, they don't whine like the students I have had in some other places or seem to think they are entitled in quite the same way. And they are grateful when you spend extra time working with them and helping them, unlike some other students I have worked with. And they feel they will need the skills I am teaching them for upper-division classes.
Some actually come back and tell me how much what I taught them helped them at UC or CS or even in getting in those schools or winning scholarships, partly with the essays they could write because of what they learned in my class.
That is very gratifying, and if I end up not teaching anymore and instead tutoring individuals or doing ghostwriting or some such thing, I will miss it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More changes in store

Life changes. I've been around long enough to realize this. Sometimes those changes are frightening, and one such change is coming up for me.
I just learned I won't be getting any classes for the fall at the college. I am not sure, to tell the truth, that I will get anymore classes there at all. Of course, I have no particular reason to think this. Just paranoia, I guess. But with the budget at the community colleges the way it is, it would not be surprising if the large number of part-time instructors will have to be cut down drastically, and most likely, the colleges will get rid of the most senior and thus most expensive instructors (like me) first.
So I began to think about what I will do. On one hand, I really need a break. I'll be teaching lots of hours all summer long. This would be an excellent opportunity to write and to travel, though I can't spend too much since I don't know when or if I'll get a steady job again. But I put in applications at UCI and Chapman, as well as suggesting at CSU that I be considered to teach lower division humanities courses as well as upper-division comp.
I hope that some of this pays off. People seem responsive thus far, but there are no jobs for the fall, or even for the spring in most places.
I hope that I can get a reading at Chapman since the head of the MFA program there contacted me, having been forwarded a copy of my vita by the head of the comp program to whom I sent it.
I suppose I've learned enough by this time to know that from day to day, nearly anything can happen. I just need to keep an eye out for opportunities, and not let fear paralyze me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I hadn't realized how spoiled living in Irvine had made me, since there are so many good Asian restaurants, particularly Chinese ones, catering to a mostly-Asian group of customers. I became used to very specialized, regional menus, with bilingual menus, quite often. Even whole malls like the one that used to be two blocks from our house with nothing but Asian restaurants--Japanese, Chinese bbq, Chinese delis, noodles, boba joints, an herbalist, and a Chinese market. And that was just one mall of this kind--there were more, one in fact just across the street, and one about a mile and half down the road, three times the size, with a parking lot that was always full, even in the middle of the day, and lines outside the Chinese bakery that went around the block.
Here, the next town over, it's another world, more like the one I grew up in back in Philly. Yes, there are ethnic restaurants--a couple of pretty good Persian places, sushi, a pizzeria that sells quite credible Peruvian empanadas, and an Afghani hole-in-the-wall that I enjoy. But this evening we went to our first local Chinese restaurant, and though it was pretty good, it really can't live up to the standards I developed living in Irvine, where there are no utensils but chopsticks unless you ask for them, and even then, you might never get them (I never asked, but my son always did).
It looked like those chop suey joints I grew up with, before Chinese food took off here in the States, and though the menu was much much more developed than that, the noodles were slicked with grease and very light on vegetables. The soup was mediocre. The steamed dumplings didn't spurt soup upon the first bite the way they were supposed to. And this is the best that this part of the county has to offer, by all accounts. I'm sure we'll go there again. It wasn't bad. But most likely, the next time I want Chinese food, I'll just head back up to Irvine to my old haunts.

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there. It feels odd to be thinking about this day without having my mother around, even if in the last 5 years at least, she was barely half there and didn't know this day from another. I miss her, while recognizing that having her here would be purely for me, that there was little in it for her.
My son doesn't believe in celebrating or even recognizing birthdays, Mother's Day, and the like. He forgets that while he may not see the point in them, others do not feel the same. I hope that one day soon he has a girlfriend who puts him straight on this subject. He is a good kid, but that's one annoying thing about him. Now watch him show up with a dozen long-stemmed roses! He's done it before, while protesting all the while that these days mean nothing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good dinner!

Yesterday I bought some flash frozen sole at the Farmer's Market in Laguna Hills, behind Sears. I love to go there, not the least because it reminds me so much of my dad, who dearly loved the place. But it is hard to decide what to do with the fish I buy there. Today I picked up a sauce at Sprouts, a Polynesian variety, and swirled into it a driblet of sweet chile sauce, along with strips of ginger and chopped garlic, white beech mushrooms, stirfried with the fish chunks, looking like little toad stools, baby bok choy, and chopped scallions. It was very tasty, zesty and sweet, unlike yesterday's misbegotten mess of a dinner I cooked up. I just don't do pasta well, sad to say.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Couple Of Weeks of Torture Ahead?

The last couple weeks of the semester will be tough. I have drafts coming in Tuesday and also completed papers on Thursday. The drafts must be turned around in two days, after which I'll be getting a set of drafts from the other section and finished papers from the third. I can't waste a minute getting them graded and back to the writers.
So I am trying to stay calm and get rested this weekend. I am afraid these will be awful essays. Causal argument is complex, and I have my doubts how well these students understand it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


For the last few years I have thought in a back-of-my-head, not quite serious way about becoming a vegetarian. I love food, and to me, food means variety, and the idea of eating brown rice and tofu or vegetables or a salad every day is dreary and boring, so I never quite have done this, becoming a vegetarian, though I buy cookbooks hopefully, and go eat at the latest vegan joint, with my teacher Denise prompting me every once in a while that true yogis don't eat meat, don't do violence to other creatures (what about to vegetables, I wondered? Don't we have to pull them screaming up by the roots? Don't we have to weed and hoe, murdering countless microbes and plants we think of as weeds, and insects we know as pests?) I am not fated to be a Jainist, allowing insects to swarm over my body, to suck my blood, unhindered. Uh Uh. I don't think so.
But this week, without really planning it out, I have eaten for most of my meals vegan or at least vegetarian foods only. For example, there was vegan sausage for breakfast with eggwhite omelet. And yesterday for dinner there was butternut squash ravioli (with no cheese of course; I hate the stuff!) and bruscetta. And there was that Thai stirfry earlier in the week, composed of Asian vegetables and a packaged sauce. And my hysteria of last weekend, which had reached a pitch as I obsessively graded essays that I thought I would not survive, dissolved entirely. Of course, I had finished the essays, and there were to be a few days reprieve before the next batch. And next week I will get three sets of papers, and the whole thing will start over again. But for the moment, bathed in the cross breeze that blew up between two screen doors and the ceiling fan's steady rowing of the air, I felt genuinely happy, and utterly calm.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marly's new Book--The Throne of Psyche

I am now engrossed in reading Marly's new collection of poetry, published by Mercer University Press, The Throne of Psyche, at least for the 15 or so minutes per day I have free.
It is a the kind of thing that she does so well--lyric poetry in sequences spoken from the perspective of characters, in this case, mythological figures (at least for the title section of the book).Though I got the book a few days ago, I have only just begun reading it because I am besieged by student papers and emails that keep me hopping from morning till late at night.
This is only one of 7 publications Marly has just this year, and it amazes me that she is an endless fount of beautiful writing, from this collection to her blog. I don't know how she manages, like a geyser, to keep on producing so effortlessly when I am getting hives and losing sleep just over the little bit, comparatively, that I do! It impresses me, and I wish I could buy some of that energy and apply it topically like Bengay, perhaps, for my aching psyche.
In any case, I recommend this book to you, as it is beautiful both as a collection of poems and as a bibliophile's delight, with its gorgeous cover art. I will try to get a shot of it from the Internet to put here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cekebration of a Death?

Today began with enormous headlines, in the largest font I have ever seen, announcing the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Although he was undoubtedly a cynical, evil person, using religion as the justification of his own agenda and taking advantage of others' ignorance to fuel his own concerns, I remembered on reading of people dancing and singing in the streets, of rallying stocks, of general hoopla from a nation traumatized by 9-11 the passage from the Haggadah, the book used at the Passover Seder, where God tells his angels not to celebrate the death of the Pharoah and his armies because, after all, these were God's creatures too.
If we value human life, however we hate someone, should we really view that person's life as more dispensable, less valuable? We had little choice but to attempt to capture or otherwise cancel out his influence, and I would not have it otherwise than that, but to celebrate his death is a little too much, I think, to celebrate anyone's death.
Though I am inconsistent, being a meat-eater, and without a twinge swat flies and step on insect intruders in my domain, a human being is a human being, and life being what it is, it should be an occasion for at least a bit of thought when someone is killed, even an evil person. So I guess, as usual, I am raining on people's parade by not being jubilant. That's okay.

Squeeze Through The Gate

It is the next to last week of school at the college. I have to grade 2 sets of papers yet, and am only half way through the current set. I am seeing many things I'd like to change the next time I teach this course, though I'm not going to be doing this particular syllabus again for a while, or perhaps at all.
The definition essay has been a very difficult thing for all three of my sections. A number of students have not written it at all, which really cut severely into their grades. It felt to me as though I was trying very hard to explain the paper in the clearest way possible, and a number of students did seem to get it. They got very high grades on their papers, much higher than their past papers. The others either did not do the paper at all, or did very poorly, much more so than previous papers.
I need to find another way to explain that paper, or change the way I teach it altogether, clearly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Cat Catches Up On the Action

One nice result of having big windows in this house is that the cats are much more aware of what is going on outside, and since we are right across from the pool and live in a complex where almost everyone but us has dogs, the cats have lots to look at all the time. This has had positive effects on their behavior and physical condition. Whistler is still obsessed with food, still insists on eating in the middle of the night, but he has lost a lot of weight between having the goings-on outside to think of and the stairs to run up. He also has a favorite spot: the washing machine. He especially likes to sit on the dryer when it is running. I guess it's cozy.
Shadow has been much better about going in her box, except for a couple of obvious accidents, where she didn't quite make it to the box. The tile and laminate floors have made a huge difference, and they keep the house cool on hot days. Of course, in winter, the house seems colder because of them, but it isn't bad. The sun coming through the windows helps a lot. This place would be a natural for solar, but I am sure that even if we could afford it, the HOA wouldn't allow it.