Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Evening with Ira

Last night my mom and I went to hear Ira Glass speak again, this time at at the Wharton Center on the campus of Michigan State. Bruce and I bought the tickets the instant I heard he would be there because Bruce missed him when my mom and I went to see him at Borders in Ann Arbor. Then Bruce found out that he had to work at WDIV because there was a Pistons game. So of course I called my Mom to see if she wanted to spend another evening with Ira Glass, she said yes. I feel bad that Bruce had to miss him again, but I was glad to have my mom's company.

This is the third time I have gone to see Ira Glass speak, each time I have enjoyed it. Some things about the talk have remained consistent. He always takes times to talk to journalism students. He tells them about "the gap." It's the space between their taste and their actual abilities. I have used this in my classes with my students, and with myself. The other thing he stresses that practice makes perfect (ok maybe not perfect but better.) He says that the only way to get better is by setting goals and deadlines and creating things. I always leave these lectures with hundreds of ideas of things I want to create, now I just need to set deadlines to create them.

He also spoke of the power of narrative. He said that all our English teachers fail us with the dreaded "topic sentence." Yes, he claims, and I agree that good storytelling is often doomed by the driving need to have a topic sentence. We are all taught to write with a "topic sentence" or "thesis sentence" and then follow it up with supporting facts. I wonder if that is why I got a bad grade in 9th grad honors English, my inability to use the topic sentence effectively.

I agree that stories are powerful. I know that is why I listen to his radio show, "This American Life." It's an hour of great story telling. I left his lecture empowered and excited about creating something new. As I approach a new step in my life - 30 years-old - I sometimes think that there aren't many forks left in the road and I am headed in the direction I am headed in for the rest of my life (which wouldn't be that bad.) But then I married this guy named Bruce, who is a dreamer and it has rubbed off on me a little and I wonder, will there be a day when I will work for a show like this American Life - telling stories. Or maybe I will be featured on the show because of my blog writing. So when I left last night I was re-energized thinking there are still great things ahead for me creatively. Maybe a book, maybe I will write for a magazine, maybe I will be an intern at "this American Life." Who knows?

After the lecture (which was 2 hours) we meet my dad at the Okemos Denny's for a quick bite to eat. It was nice hanging out with my parents on a Saturday night in East Lansing. Next week that time I will be in Prague hanging out with Bruce, Meghan & Karyn.

In other news I didn't die at the Flushing Township run, however, I didn't break any land speed records. I average about 9:55 miles. I wasn't last in my age group, which is always positive. We even ran into my Aunt Val. We had fun. Tony and Robert finished in about 2 hours. Way to go guys a half-marathon is a big accomplishment. Next running event for the club is the marathon in Traverse City: Bruce, Karyn and I plan on running the 10k, Robert and Tony will run the full marathon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

So when I got an email from the 7:11 club about reuniting to run a race on March 29th, I thought sure why not. March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. The average high is in the low 50's. Well tomorrow morning - the Flushing 5k will be brisk at best. At race start (9am) the "real feel" temperature will be a chilly 17 degrees.

I am not promising any land speed records, though I am sure I will try to run fast to get to warmth. I am still recovering from my run in with the flu last weekend. Bruce and Karyn will be running the 5k with me, Tony and Robert will be doing the 1/2 marathon.

In other news we are one week out from Spring Break 2008. Bruce, Karyn, Meghan and I will be heading to Europe for a quick 10 day trip. Starting in Prague - then working with students on a film in Bratislava, Slovakia and returning home from Vienna. I am excited about the trip - the only drag is that the dollar sucks right now - so that makes the trip more expensive. But you only live once and I am hoping to win the Mega Millions - so cross your fingers.

Also breaking news, I will be attending my first George Michael concert with his biggest fan, Olive this summer in Chicago. Olive's fandom trumps anyone I know, including me. Yes, even after winning the "G. Love's Biggest Fan" contest, I am no match for her devotion. So clearly you can see why I am so excited. Also I do appreciate George and I have never been to a George concert.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Batman Max

Bruce and I gave Max a Batman costume for his third birthday and as you can see by this video it was a hit. My niece and nephew never cease to make me laugh - there's something great about being 3 years-old.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shop Green with a Red Bag

So Target and Meijer had adopted new reusable shopping bags (made of recycled material) that you can buy at the store for 99 cents. (However they aren't pushing them very hard and the clerks look thoroughly annoyed when you use them.) I know many of you have probably been bringing your own canvas bags to the grocery store for years. But I have joined in and the coolest thing, well the thing I like the most, is the bags from Target can fold up into the size of a small envelope which will fit in most any sized purse. And the other day when I was at the mall at Jcrew (buying my new flip flops on sale for summer of 2008) the guy went to put them in a bag and I was like, oh I don't need a bag and then I whipped out my handy bag from Target from my purse and off I went - saving the planet with my new flip flops.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Illustrator Icon Project

So this week in my classroom we are working with Adobe Illustrator. It is probably the most challenging program for most of my students to learn.

When they are finished with the book, I have them create an icon from themselves, by tracing a picture. This being the first year I did the project I had no examples, so I had to attempt to create one myself. The problem is that I am not an artist (I avoided art at high school because well lets just say the teacher was known for rescuing road kill and bringing it in to class - mainly possums which are not my cup of tea.)

So here's the what I created.... first here is the photo that I used to trace. This is actually my favorite photo of me that Bruce took while we were in Arkansas for a week long training. This night we went to the President Clinton Library to take some photos.

Now here is my illustrated version of it. I am not claiming it's great, but to be honest it was my second attempt. I am honest with my students that I am not an artist. So frankly, I don't think it's that bad... hence it's my new profile picture.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Who knew? I was completely unaware that the Super Nacho family lived in Almont.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Christian Wins!!!

I was at the MACUL conference the last two days so I was not able to watch the finale of Project Runway on Wednesday. However, when I got home today, I quickly plopped down in front of TiVo and pulled up Project Runway. The very fierce Christian Siriano won. He is a 21 year-old designer and I loved, loved, loved him this season. Why? Well he was very cocky and arrogant but in the most lovable way. How can someone be cocky in a lovable way - well he is very talented so he was cocky but his stuff totally stood out. And lovable in the way that anyone could be that describe every major aspect of life as fierce.

As for the finale - they did play out this model snafu in the previews a lot, but it really didn't seem like a huge ordeal in the show. I must admit despite the fashion show and the last five minutes of the show - it wasn't really that exciting of a finale. But I'm not the producer. The other contestants had very nice collections - I didn't hate any of them, but Christian just stands out as a designer.

I actually really enjoyed this season of PR. To me it was the friendliest season by far, despite Christian's sassy quips - there really was no blood shed. And I think the group was a very talented bunch. And the challenges were fun and amusing - especially the prom challenge. Where it looked like Christian might have faced an early demise because he had the diva high school designer - that wanted the ugliest dress known to man. I questioned the judges thinking a little on the order the designers were eliminated. Like why was Kevin eliminated for having one bad design (and yes it was bad) but Ricky's was just as bad and he had had weeks of bad designs prior to this challenge. But I am no Michael Kors or Nina Garcia - so I can complain but I have no say.

On another note - I was gone for two days from my classroom and my afternoon students reminded me why I love teaching. Here are two emails I received:

Email #1
Oh I miss you! it's gonna be a long weekend, by Monday it will be like 4 days since we've seen you! Hope you are having fun!

Email #2
where have you been??????? I miss you tons. you only said that you were going to be gone for one day how could you just forget to let us know that you had to go out of town lol???????

Now I did tell them I was going to be gone for two days - but remember these are high schoolers and on a good day they catch about 85% of what I have to say. You might say they are trying to suck up - well it worked - I guess. Because it made me smile. It makes me look forward to Monday.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When You're Done with Winter...
... but Mother Nature isn't.

So tonight the weatherman is predicting more snow - so Monday we had a high in the 50's and tonight they are predicting snow. Not an inch of snow, but many inches. I am done with winter.

Another reason was me landing on my butt after falling on ice. I am now icing down my shoulder which is throbbing in pain.

However I just looked at and noticed the the winter storm warning has been canceled - though all my students were hoping for another snow day. I actually would prefer no snow and school.

I was going to work on my paper - but do to my injury I am taking a small break with America's Next Top Model. The biggest news this week is Twiggy is gone. Our new judge is Paulina Porizkova, who I must admit I don't know who she is, but I am sure I will grow to love her like Twiggy. Well maybe not because who doesn't love Twiggy.

This week's shocker was the barbie doll girl who up and left during judging. Her name was Kim and well she didn't love the fashion thing. It was very anti-climatic. Despite the early departure of Kim they still had an elimination. Atalya was the first to be eliminated. It's the beginning of the season so it's hard to miss the girls when they leave. The good news is this week - it's make over time. Also I heard other breaking news - the CW has renewed America's Next Top Model for another season, so after this cycle there will be more.