Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Monday morning I woke up at 6:15 AM and for once was quick to get out of bed. What made such miracle happen you ask? a dream, or nightmare, depending how you want to look at it. I had been dreaming that I got a bad grade in my up-coming exam.
Let me give you the story behind it: The grade for the class will be made of 3 exams, one oral presentation and one final paper. The professor told us that he would only take the best two grades we get in the exams, therefore, if we're happy with the grades we get in the first two, we don't have to take the third one. Are you with me so far?
I got a 90% on the first one and so I would like to get at least that this weekend in order to wave the third one.

Back to my dream. I had gotten a 70% and was the only one that had to take the last exam! - I say "had to" because I refuse to get a 70 in grad school- Well, needless to say that I was hitting the books by 6:20 AM...
The funny thing is that one of the main readings we have been doing for this test is about the unfairness of grading, and exams, and any assessment that put pressure on the students - it is called, justifiably so, "Punish by Rewards".

And so why would I be dreaming about it? Am I so gun-ho on proving myself to others? Am I so scared of failure?
This whole psychoanalysis of education thing is driving me crazy (no pun intended), and it's not letting me get my beauty sleep. By the time I'm done with my career I'm going to look like an old, tired hag and cursing the behaviorists for the white hairs and wrinkles I'm getting.

And I refuse to pay a professional to tell me that I worry too much!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Didn't want to go there but...

I've been avoiding the blatant political entries because, well, it might ruffle some feathers. But we're in the midst of an election and politics are all around us.

We've been watching the endless commercials, debates, commentaries from one side or the other and I've got say that I can't see much depth anywhere.
We live in a bipartisan society. As much as some people might say that there are numerous other existing parties, there are only two that seem to be present, or that actually have any saying in what goes. Do I see much difference between them? not really. I prefer one over the other, but really, it's like choosing the lesser of two evils.

The reason I say that is because I find that there aren't any "real" issues being debated. Yes, we hear about gay marriage, and abortion, and the war, and terrorism - and I'm not saying they are not important-; but what about poverty, and lack of health coverage, and the fact that there is a very small, tiny percentage of wealthy people getting wealthier every year at the same time that poverty is increasing? Listen to this: minimum wage has not been raised since 1997! oh, but cost-of-living has not kept stagnant, that I can tell you...
The middle class is being crushed out of existence little by little. Either you are one of the very, very few that are lucky, or you fall into what some western societies consider border-line poor.
Wasn't it almost always the middle classes that led revolutions or major political movements? hmmm...

Carter was criticized (and lost a second term because of it I'm sure) because he decided to first take care of his own dirty laundry before sticking his nose too deep into other people's business.
Well his people needed the attention, and still do, and nothing is really done to address it.
Some people might say that those that voted for the current government are dumb or illiterate or anything you wish. I think that they were touched to the core of their needs, were told what they needed to hear. Were they empty or hypocritical promises? Maybe, but if people went for them, shouldn't we look into why?

Setting people aside and not paying attention to them because they do not have diplomas or seem ignorant to your eyes is a stupid approach. All humans have basic necessities, whether they are food, health, a sense of security (and no, I'm not talking about borders and wars, I'm talking about a personal sense of worth), or faith (yes, although I do not share those beliefs I am aware that they exist and are important aspects of people's lives).
But yet, we are not talking about education, we are not talking about preventive health care, about fairness or any issues that, in the long run, can make this society if not Utopia, at least fair.

We keep seeing that power corrupts, one side or the other, and so what is left? How can we trust representatives that promise us what we need but that once in power only think about what they can have?
We are a political generation - encompassing different ages- without leaders, without models, without examples we want to follow and fully back. Do we have to take baby steps? I believe so. We don't have revolutions or major political movements in our forecast, we are too busy trying to make it day-to-day.
And so baby steps have to be taken, and hope that those steps will eventually lead to a full blown change for future generations, so that they don't have to live in the uncertainty we all live with.
How's that for ruffling feathers...

Never too late to say I'm sorry

I'm too critical, or judgemental some would say, and I admit it: I was quick to have an opinion and I was wrong. Yes, I said it... wrong.
I am referring to my class, remember? As the semester has progressed (granted it's only been what, 3 weeks since that entry?) I now see where the professor is taking us. The readings he put together at first made absolutely no sense, they seemed like a list he made while eating dinner over his kitchen sink; A last minute thought for a class he did not want to teach.
And I wasn't the only one feeling let down by what seemed like a half-ass lecture, more than one of my peers shared my thoughts. But now, we have seen the light, a bit dim and we're not quite at the end of the tunnel, but it's there, like a flickering candle letting us perceive what other mysteries surround us.
The man is actually a genius. I think that I've learned in these past weeks what I never thought would have been possible.
He is nonchalant, not pushy, doesn't expect anything from us, in other words he treats us like adults and not like students... what a breakthrough! I still have the nagging feeling that he's not quite happy with teaching on Saturdays though, but who am I to say.

And so I retract anything I've said about "give me theories and I'll apply them as I see them applicable to the 'real' world". What a bunch of crock, how presumptuous of me.
I've been humbled and have learned my lesson: from now on I'll wait until the end of a semester to criticize ;)

P.S. He's the one that inspired me to buy Emile and The Republic... I've should have known better...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Civic duty?

I registered back in August to serve at the voting polls during the elections. The thought behind it was 1) I wanted to know how it worked, 2) my knowledge of Spanish could be useful 3) well... I actually find the whole process of "electing" interesting, and after living in this country for 21 years I might as well get involved in it one way or another, right?
I cannot vote in the US since I am a resident and not a citizen. How can I be in the polls you ask? as a translator. It is the only position where citizenship is not necessary.
I signed up because I read in the newspaper back then that Spanish speakers were needed, so being the good Samaritan that I am, I answered the call.

I spent a Saturday being "trained". Now, I put it in quotes because I'm still not sure what's going on. Yeah, we listened to a guy explain the whole thing, we were given material and took an open-book exam at the end... could I vote or know how it's done? nope. I will say though that it was the firs time that I got to see the voting machine up-close. That thing is intimidating! There are buttons to push, levers to pull. Seriously, you feel like a technician in front of it. How the hell do people do it so as to not get overwhelmed?

The first elections came and went and I received no notice, so I figured that either I hadn't passed the exam (for-crying-out-loud) or they didn't need a translator (I stuck to that explanation). Those were for the primaries, when each party chooses their representatives... I guess I did learn something... Today I come home and am welcomed by a card stating in big bold letters: NOTICE TO WORK.
So, I have been called to duty, sort of speak. I am to present myself, —right next to the house, phew!— at 5:30 AM and stay put until 9:00 PM, to do what? not sure as of yet, but I get to observe the process of elections from first row.

I've already participated in such a thing: One year, during the French presidential elections, I served as a vote counter. We had to tally the votes that were going to each party the good ol' fashion way, with pen and paper . That was exciting and so I can't wait to be able to compare. I'm not necessarily speaking of the actual deed of voting, no, I'm talking about the people that go and vote. The attitudes of the voters, how they perceive voting, how the teams observing and working the polls are.
It can only be, besides exhausting due to the hours, a learning experience.

I'm sure I'll post something about it, regardless of the results. And so come November I'll be doing my civic duty, but is it a duty even if you're not a citizen? I think so. If you are part of a society in whichever way, you should, at least once, be part of the process. That way you'll be able to really know what you're talking about when you criticize, praise, blame or compliment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


ok, this is driving me crazy. Although I'm very happy about this "no ads" site, getting it together is proving harder than I thought.
So maybe it's the "the little creepers" that are up and running, but seriously, things should be a lot easier. I can't get the damn picture where I want it, I can't post the way I damnwant it. It takes aaaaaaages for things to come up.
I am most definitely considering paying for being able to write what I want, when I want it to be written...
Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

All grown up

"A house without books is a home without soul". I don't know who said that, or if anyone actually did, but I find it one of those absolutes that are so true.

I've always been surrounded by books. Bookshelves were the main entity wherever I lived. What was in them varied: my mother had various interests and so her library reflected that, then when I started living alone it mainly comprised of Spanish books, or anything relating to Spanish literature.
Now? Now I feel all grown-up. I'm starting to create a library that is more than reference books, more than dictionaries and encyclopedias, more than paperbacks of Spanish must-knows and Agatha Christies. I started buying books (yes buying and not picking up other's left overs) that I can't wait to attack. Books that vary in periods and ideologies but all for a definite goal: learn.
My recent purchases: Plato's Republic, Rousseau's Emile, Feire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (thanks Malichan) and Pedagogy of Freedom, and my mentor's Kaleidoscope, a Multicultural Approach for the Primary School Classroom, by Yvonne De Gaetano.
Throughout the summer I read great novels and mysteries, now I'm going for theorists, new and old.

I guess there is such thing as reading maturity. Age influences how you read and what you read. Don't get me wrong, I still go for comics and good ol' fashion mysteries. But I've noticed that a book that is poorly written does not keep my interest.
Is it becoming picky? Or is it that I've read so many bad thing (I confess, I read Barbara Cartland when I was young) that now I'm starting to search for something better?

I will never dream of saying that I'm a good judge of the written world, but it's like wine you know? You either like it or you don't, and little by little you learn to appreciate what you like in it, which doesn't mean that you are a sommelier.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Surfing, blogging and what-nots

The blogging world has opened up a whole new universe of information (or misinformation) as well as just plain funny nonsense for me. As you go through the links of others people's blogs you might discover things that you wouldn't have otherwise.

I came accross such funny nonsense while looking at someone else's page, and although I had already heard of it, I completly forgot how funny it was. Now granted, often it is sad, but unless you plan to spend the rest of your life crying over other people's stupidity, I recommend that you laugh it off and thank your lucky stars that at least you have no one in your immediate surroundings that sounds like that, hopefully.

The site in question is "Overheard in NY". It's postings people put up about things they've overheard either on the street, subway or shops. Many are hilarious, hopefully they won't make you feel like walking around with a club and whacking people over their head. Just laugh it up people, that is the best way to survive.

A couple of examples:

Health Food Fads: 1, Basic Safety: 0

Lady #1: This stuff is really good. It has antidotes in it. It's good for your skin.
Lady #2: You mean ANTIOXIDANTS. An ANTIDOTE is a short story.

--At Barnes & Noble

And You Say the States Aren't All Different Colors?

Blonde: So you mean Alaska's not an island right above Hawaii?
Brunette: How did you graduate college, again?
Blonde: Well, I wasn't a geography major. Gosh!

--At 96th & Madison

And these are real people, not comedians... I think I do need a club...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

1 down 2 to go

Today I took the first exam of my Childhood Development class. Ok, so call me a geek, or nerd or anything you'd like, but a 10 multiple-answers test does not call out "grad-school". Especially if the answers are so obvious that, unless you do not even know the title of the course, you can figure them out.
I expected some heavy-duty theory, or name-throwing going on, but no. It took longer to wait for the train, seriously, than to complete the test. Like Nadir said: "more than $800 for that?". Ok, so not everything should be quantified by money spent; I'll give the professor the benefit of the doubt, maybe his idea of teaching is making you want to actually learn on your own.
And yet there's that whole concept of having someone childless teach me about children's development... I don't know, it sort of looses it's credibility, specially if the professor states as a matter of fact that children are a pain in the ass (he did, just like that), but doesn't have a first hand experience of how much of a pain they can be. Plus, how insightful is it to make such a statement? And is this someone who is training teachers to-be?!
I am thankful to be taking this class now and not when I was more naive. I can take what the professors tell me with a grain of salt and filter the information - Give me theories and I'll apply them as I see them applicable to the "real" world-.

That whole concept of professors being larger than life and godlike figures is no longer in me. They are human beings that have a profession and know more than I do about their specialty, not necessarily about life.

It is somewhat sad though to loose that naivete, we end up having fewer role-models and become a lot more picky about who they are. Maturity comes with age, but so does skepticism. Hopefully being open-minded is also a byproduct of the process...

Friday, October 06, 2006


How do you like the new home? not too shabby if I may say so myself...

Monday, October 02, 2006

One thing or another

Since the summer is gone and soon the drop of temperature will once again be perceived by yours truly as a very personal confrontation, I decided that it was time to hit the garden and harvest all the herbs that were planted. Branches from the thyme, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary (ahhh), tarragon and oregano were trimmed down and brought to the house.
Not knowing exactly what to do with the tons that I cut I gave some away, put some in ice tray cubes for future use, and intend on making some kind of pastes, although I'm not sure how to, so if you have any ideas shoot them this way.
Anyway, as I was cleaning them I became intoxicated by the smells, and of course right at that moment of olfactory nirvana I remembered that I have a test this coming Saturday... talk about a let down.
The class mainly concentrates on psychology and all that comes with it. Don't get me wrong, I respect all sciences, but sometimes psychologists seem like, well, they want to make too much out of things. If a diaper is too tight, is it really that the parent is showing some kind of repressed frustration? how about it's the first time they changed a diaper and had no idea how to do it. Trying to find too many hidden meanings can sometimes be a bit much, at least to my eyes. We (and I include myself) end up wondering why that kid in the subway was picking his nose: he's lacking something? he saw it at home? not enough structure has been imparted? maybe he just has a big snot that is bugging the hell out of him!
There are many instances where some behaviors are reflecting something deeper, but we should admit that sometimes it's just what it seems... wasn't it Freud that said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"?
The smells are wearing down, the hype of herb-picking wearing thin, I'm off to my notes and readings to try and make some sense of this class... and not read anything into it.