Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No More Humping Dinosaurs

As I think I've mentioned, my new school is the oldest school in the school district and the oldest school in town.  About 40 years ago, several murals were painting on the inside walls of the main building.  The murals depict scientific, historical, literary, and social studies content as well as some cultural references for that time.  They are bright and some are cute and cartoonish.  They have been a trademark of sorts for the school.

When I started working there last summer, a few of the murals had been painted over and bulletin boards were placed on top of them to display student work.  At first, I felt a little bad that this part of the school's history had been covered up, but in reality displaying student work is very important for the culture of the school and several murals remained - it was like a happy medium.

Throughout any school year, some decisions on how to use funds are brought to the grade level team for discussion and input.  The murals were brought up this year, in fact it's been an ongoing discussion over the past few years.  There are mixed emotions about their fate.  Because of their age, they have been deteriorating and not looking up to par.  Some of the staff wanted them restored while the rest of the staff has been indifferent.  All the options were researched and presented to us this year.  Restoring the murals turned out to be quite cost prohibitive for a public school, while the cost of painting over and installing bulletins boards was more manageable.  Our team had a discussion during one of our team meetings midway through the year.  Most of the team agreed that bulletin boards were the smarter direction due to cost as there are always things we need that take priority over restoring the murals.  Since I haven't been involved in the past discussions, I didn't feel right voting but playing devil's advocate, I mentioned I was feeling nostalgic and might be sad if they were painted over.  There was some understanding, but the two teachers on the team who have been there for a few years shared a few examples of how the murals may not be the most appropriate for school.  They pointed out that in the paintings Huck Finn smoked, a few characters carried guns, and best of all...the dinosaurs in the prehistoric section were "doing it"!

Since arriving at my new school I've run around campus like a chicken with my head cut off so hadn't taken the time to really look at the murals when I walked through the halls.  After our meeting, I made an effort to do so.  On my walk from the cafeteria to the office I noticed the cigarette and the guns as well as a Eurocentric cultural diversity with stereotypes section - the Dutch girl and boy with wooden shoes, the Irish leprechaun, a kilted Scots boy, etc. - which was kind of funny being that our school is now about 80% Latino.  On our way to the science lab, I walked the class past the prehistoric mural and, sure enough, the dinosaurs look like they're humping (or at least what we think dinosaurs would look like humping).  Actually, it's just a really bad example of foreshortening or perspective.  I don't think the artist's intent was to paint fornicating dinosaurs, but still it was pretty funny.  On the other hand, maybe it was the intent.

Today I popped into my classroom for a few hours to get my furniture set up.  As I walked to the office to check in, I was surprised to see ALL the murals were painted over this summer.  Even though the hallways look very clean and bright without the murals, it is a little sad that part of the school's history has been removed. From now on, every time I walk by the science lab I'm going to giggle thinking about the humping dinosaurs.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Return of Carlos Danger

A couple of years ago Anthony Weiner’s political career looked to be all but over with a sexting scandal.  In addition to sending explicit texts to college students while being a married congressman, when the news came out about it he lied.  After numerous women came forward, he finally admitted to having taken and sent the photos and eventually resigned from politics.

This spring however, Weiner dipped his foot back into the political pool by entering the New York City mayoral race.  Some, even from his own party, didn’t think he should run, but he has been polling well.  That is until this week.  It seems that Weiner is back at it again.  Even after claiming to be a changed man, he has continued his sexual messaging via Facebook under his porn star screen name Carlos Danger (the best part of the story, in my opinion). 

Again, there is an outcry that he stepped down from the mayoral race.  So far, he has refused to do so saying this is old news and his wife has forgiven him. 

My mind is blown by this.  Beyond this behavior while married – I’m not married to him, beyond him sending explicit pictures of himself – to each his own, beyond him having lied about it in the first place – of course he did, I just can’t understand how this seemingly smart man can be so incredibly stupid to do this very private thing AGAIN in such a public way.  I mentioned this last time, but it’s worth mentioning again…When you are communicating in this particular way electronically (via phone, tablet, or computer) is it really possible to keep it private.  After the news came out in 2011, you’d think this guy would stop or, if he just couldn’t help himself, to at least know to keep it off line. 

While many see scandals in one’s personal life as the end of a public personality’s career, I’ve always viewed it as none of my business.  I don’t necessarily think that poor judgment at home means poor judgment in the workplace.  Heck, we’ve all done stupid things personally that don’t bleed into our work life.  But for this one, I’m kind of on the fence.  Part of me thinks that this needs to remain a private matter for him and his wife, and it doesn’t necessarily make him unsuitable for mayor.  On the other hand, there’s something about being deceitful and kind of yucky, to be honest, on multiple occasions that makes me feel like maybe he’s lost his chance to be mayor. 

If Weiner stays in the race, it’ll be interesting to see what side of the fence the people of NYC end up on.


Friday, July 26, 2013


A couple of weeks ago while finishing getting ready to go out, I couldn’t find one of the sandals I had planned to wear.  I was running a bit behind so quickly looked in a few obvious places (under the bed, in the back of the closet, in the car) but the missing shoe wasn’t found.  I changed up the outfit and didn’t think too much about it until this week.

Last night while getting ready to take Rigby out for a walk, I made the mistake of saying, “Ready to go for walk?” before I was actually ready to go.  Rigby LOVES to go on walks.  Just saying those words causes her to become a ball of howling energy and excitement.  She went a little crazy while I was changing clothes and ran up and down the stairs a few times wondering why I had said those words when we hadn’t left the house yet.  During one of her passes through the bedroom I was getting my socks and sneakers on, and in the blink of an eye one of my sneakers went running down the stairs.  I called her a few times, hoping she’d bring it back, but in her excitement she ran back up the stairs without it.  I finished what I could in the bedroom and then hopped down the stairs to find my other shoe. 

I walked from room to room looking for my sneaker.  Rigby dragged her leash out and bounced up and down hardly able to stand it.  I hadn’t spent any length of time in the living room in a week or two so hadn’t realized what had been happening.  I walked to her bed in the back corner of the room and sitting on it was my sneaker along with the missing sandal, two socks, a paintbrush, and a half-eaten tube of Chapstick.  That little stinker has been stealing and hoarding my things for a couple of weeks.  Every time I think she’s turned into a grown up dog she proves that she’s still just a naughty puppy – cute but rotten.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Nine Circles of Hell

This month’s book club book is Inferno by Dan Brown.  It’s not the “typical” book club type of book, but it’s a good summer read.  I’ve read a few other Brown books – The DaVinci Code (of course), Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol.  I didn’t really care for The Lost Symbol, but the other two were fun and, so far, I am enjoying Inferno

Inferno takes place in Florence, Italy and revolves around Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, more specifically Inferno.  Since I’m not yet finished with it, I’ll save my review (if I do one) for a later time.  However, I had some thoughts as I’ve been reading.  A few pages into the book, Sandro Botticelli’s painting “Map of Hell” was mentioned.  I looked up the painting online as a point of reference while reading.  My initial search didn’t bring me to the painting, but rather an art message board thread about the painting.  I curiously read through the first few posts, and was taken back a bit about the scathing reviews of Brown’s book.  Poor writing and silly story lines were the most common complaints.  The posts, however, were not critical essays or particularly well written themselves.  Instead, they sounded like pretentious rants, almost shaming anyone who actually dared to read and/or enjoy it.  Granted, Brown’s books may not be considered great literature, but I can’t understand the utter disgust some of these posters had for the book and the fact that people read and enjoy them.  Still, as a New York Time’s best seller regardless of critics, Brown’s probably laughing all the way to the bank.

While enrolled in a Humanities class during my junior year of high school, we studied Dante’s Divine Comedy.  There are very few actual lessons or units of study I remember from my high school days, but this one I do remember.  While reading each part of the poem, the teacher had us create our own modern day version of the allegory.  After our poem was written, I believe it was then acted out on camera and presented, along with the poem as a final project.  I have forgotten most of what WE wrote (other than possibly New Kids on the Block fans playing some role in the depths), but the work that we did made this 14th-Century work more relevant and comprehensible to 20th-Century high school kids. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Beach Break

Some friends and I rented a beach house in Oxnard for a 4-day mini break. 

It was probably the most laid back, relaxing trip I have ever had – lots of chatting, lots of sun, lots of walking, lots of reading, lots of board games, and lots of beautiful weather. 

Our house was actually a beach shack built in the 1920s and slated to be torn down in 2009.  The current owners bought it, renovated it, and now use it as a rental.  It is a kick on the outside and just beautiful inside.  A lot of the house’s original fixtures (windows, frames, etc) have been used for the decor.

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One of the original bunks.  It was like sleeping in a fort.  I think it reminded Rigby of a giant dog bed.
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stuff 005 stuff 006 stuff 007 The loft had two more bunks and a gorgeous view.
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Hollywood Beach was right across the street, and we couldn’t have had more beautiful weather. 

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We brought cards and Mexican Train with us, and the house had Clue and Scrabble.  It was a game-filled vacation.  The round kitchen table was a perfect game table.
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The Hollywood Beach neighborhood is so clean and beautiful.  I enjoyed the scenery while out walking.

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We took a quick trip into downtown Ventura for some window shopping.  stuff 1
San Buenaventura Mission sure looked pretty against the cloudless blue sky.
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The best part about the whole trip…

stuff 079  The temperature didn’t go above 70.  I really wanted to stay until winter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

And On to Another Generation

Kristen was 10 and I was 6 when we met riding horses a hundred years ago.  The two of us spent many hours a day taking care of our horses, training, going to horseshows, and working at Red Lobster together (to pay for said horseshows) creating a life-long friendship both at and away from the barn.  When each of us graduated from high school and headed for college our horses were sold and our tack and equipment were given away or boxed up and stored hoping for use at a later time.

Much to Kristen’s chagrin, her 9-year-old daughter Emily caught the horse bug about a year ago.  A friend of hers took a weekly lesson at a nearby barn and brought her along.  That’s all it took, Em’s hooked.  Although she’s still just taking a lesson or two a week and everything she needs is provided by the barn, she’s beginning to want horsey-things of her own. 

Kristen and I met up a couple of weeks ago and she told me about some of the things she had recently bought.  We reminisced about how pricey riding clothes and tack are, sounding more and more like our parents complaining about how much riding costs.  Kristen had given all of her equipment away several years ago and now wished she hadn’t done so.  Emily desired a saddle of her own, but mom couldn’t justify spending the money when she’s still only riding a  of days each week.  “I still have all of my stuff,” I told her.  Kristen’s eyes widened, “You still have your saddle?”  I nodded.  I told her they could come take a look and take what they wanted.

I cleaned out and organized my garage one day last week and pulled out the boxes and bags in the corner of the garage.

stuff 252I knew my saddle and boots had been saved, but I found things I was surprised about too.  I saved my helmet and gloves, crops and spurs, a bridle and four bits, two horse blankets, and a couple of buckets.  What I found most fun in those buckets though was an apron full of my braiding equipment for when I used to braid manes and tails on the local horseshow circuit.  What possessed me to keep it all this time (other than maybe wanting to take advantage of the $30-$40 payment I used to get per horse), I have no idea.  But it gave us a good laugh this afternoon when we went through it all with Emily.

stuff 251 When I first went through everything, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and not so sure I wanted to give it all away quite yet.  But realistically, right now riding isn’t something I have time or money for, so I can’t think of a better person to have it…a little girl who LOVES to ride.
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A saddle of her very own!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


After leaving Lisbon (and stopping in Fátima), Porto was our next stop and home for about a week.

The São Bento train station is a beautiful station. 
The atrium’s tile work is something to see and shows the history of transportation in Portugal.   Stuff 418  
The earthquake that virtually destroyed Lisbon in the 1700s did hit Porto so, architecturally, it is a much older city.  Most of it being built with granite, Porto is also a darker city than Lisbon where Limestone was the main building material.  In the pouring down rain, it’s even darker.
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Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral) – built in the 12th Century.
Capela Das Almas – a small chapel at the end of a block full of shops.

The church I most liked the look of is Igreja de Santo Ildefonso.  The tile work is just amazing.

Porto not only sits on the Atlantic Ocean but also the mouth of the Douro River.  This photo shows where the ocean and river meet. 

Just about every time we left the room to check out Porto, it poured down rain.  While visiting Gaia (across the river from Porto) we had about 5 minutes of sun. 

Gaia is also home to blocks and blocks of Port wine houses.  We tried a few glasses.