Saturday, May 31, 2014

This New Trash Can is Kind of Making Me Feel Inadequate

For the last several years, all of the waste management customers in the area get three barrels - one for green/garden waste, one for recycling, and one for all other trash.  This separation of trash has lessened the amount of regular trash most people have.  So when the company started advertising their new, smaller bins last year I was intrigued.  But at the time they were unavailable in my area.  More recently though I have started to see more and more small ones while out on walks.  Over spring break I called the waste management company and this time was able to order a replacement. It took quite awhile to get the new bin, but it finally arrived this past week.  On trash day the big blue one was switched out with this little one.  It looks identical just about half a size smaller.
 With the exception of the green waste bin that fills up occasionally, I've never once filled up one of these barrels let alone all three of them.  So saving a little money on a smaller bin for trash makes good sense.
I don't know, I might feel better about it if the other two bins were also reduced in size, but instead the little blue barrel sits there, taunting me, so teeny tiny looking ridiculous next to the other two.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Vista

The super hero /adventure/fantasy is not really my movie genre of choice, but I do like the X-men.  A few years ago I was home sick during an X-Men marathon on TV.  Partly due to boredom and partly due to Hugh Jackman I caught myself up on the first three movies.  Since, I've excitedly waited for each new film in the series to release at the theater.  This past weekend,  X-Men: Days of Future Past came out.  The movie choices over the last couple of months have been lousy, so I was even more excited for its release..I like a night out at the movies!

We wanted to have dinner at Masa in Echo Park so wanted a theater nearby.  Normally the theater at the LA Live complex is where we'd go when in the area.  It's a giant theater with all sorts of choices.  It is, however a pain to go there - very busy and expensive to park.  Instead, we decided upon the Vista Theater in Los Feliz, just a few blocks from Masa.  It shows only one movie at a time, as opposed to the multiplexes that are everywhere.  And it just so happened to be showing the new Xmen.  It's such a great theater, so yay!

The Vista was opened in the 1920s (OLD for us) as Bard's Hollywood Theater.  First, it was a feature film house, in the 70s it showed gay porn, and then in the 80s it did revivals and independents.
It was remodeled in 2002.  The 800+ seating was reduced to 400+ by removing every other row - the leg room is phenomenal.  Now it's back to showing feature films with occasional revivals.

The Vista Theater is darling and sits on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

The Egyptian stylizing was preserved in the remodel.  Plus there are hand and foot prints out front reminiscent of Grauman's Chinese.  Oh!  And the tickets, before 6:00 PM are only $6.50.  What?!?!  Even after 6:00 they're only $9.00.  That's less than a matinee showing at any of the large theaters.


The manager, who has been there for years, greets moviegoers in costume.  Wolverine welcomed us after we bought our tickets.  

The theater is HUGE.  It was a warm day so every single one of those 400 seats was sold.

The movie started about 10 minutes late, I'm assuming just trying to get everyone who bought a ticket in and seated.  But once the movie started, there were two quick old-school refreshment reminders and one preview before the movie got underway.  At most of the cineplexes you watch commercials the entire time waiting for the movie to start and then sit through about 30 minutes of previews before it begins.

X-Men Future Days of Past, was a fun movie.  Over two hours of action/adventure.  The films are very creative.  The effects have come A Long Way since the Vista was first opened.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Telling Time Without a Clock

This year, teaching my kids how to tell time has been quite a challenge.  Teaching this group of kids anything this year has been challenging, but telling time is usually a skill that is picked up rather quickly.  That has not yet been the case.  The "Time" unit is usually a couple of weeks in length.  The kids come into 2nd grade with a basic understanding of the hands on the clock and telling time to the hour.  With that background, delving into telling time to five minutes is a natural progression.  This year's group (the entire grade level in fact) didn't come in quite as proficient in the prerequisite skills. We could see that the skills had been taught last year because a handful had it and another handful had it with some holes.  After the two weeks were up, we gave an assessment and the results were less than stellar.  A round of reteach (grouping by instructional needs) was decided upon, and we spent another two weeks on that skill.  Again we assessed, and while we had more kids score proficient that time around, we still had many who weren't - far more than the norm.

In the midst of the "Time" unit, Parent/Teacher conferences were scheduled, and based on the results of the assessments, we mentioned the struggle with telling time as necessary and recommended some practice at home as well.  During one such meeting, a set of parents mentioned their lack of a traditional clock in the family home.  They had cell phones, and digital clocks on the oven, microwave, TV, DVD player, etc. but not one analog clock in the house...not even a watch.

When the power went out and then came back on last weekend, I ran around the house resetting clocks (the ones that weren't automatically set by satellite), and you know what?  I don't have an analog clock anywhere in my house either.  I do wear a watch with hands, but other than that not a one.  It got me thinking about this group of kids and why telling time has been so difficult for them.  It's very likely these kids are growing up in a house that doesn't have an analog clock, and since most clocks we see out-and-about are digital, school may be the ONLY place they see one.

Telling time to 5 minutes on an analog clock is a Common Core standard in 2nd grade (and used to be  with the CA State Standards as well before the shift), and I've always taught it with's a life skill so very important.  But now I'm wondering if it is in fact a life skill anymore when school is the only place they will have to use it.  Telling time on an analog clock is barely relevant to them anymore.

I'm having a hard time rationalizing why we would need to teach it anymore, but also having a hard time rationalizing not teaching because for all the previous generations of kids it was necessary.  Is it a hindrance to not know how when they rarely, if ever, see an analog clock?  It reminds me some about learning to drive.  When I was learning to drive, every adult told me how important it was to know how to drive a stick/manual shift car - a life skill of sorts.  But I didn't know anyone who had one, so I never learned.  Since getting my license a hundred years ago I have been faced with needing to know how to drive a stick maybe a total of 2 times - once in a designated driver situation and once when needing to borrow a car.  Both a bit inconvenient, but not life altering.

On the other hand, I still wish I had learned.  So maybe it is important they learn to tell time, even if it's only at school...just in case.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This and That

Today was the first day in about 3 weeks in which I didn't feel like my head was going to explode.  Between EVERYTHING being in bloom, the wind, and this past week's fires, my allergies have been in overdrive.  Although from the neck down I felt completely fine, not being able to breathe through the nose kind of wiped me out, and these have been three of my least productive weeks probably ever.

Speaking of fires, I heard this week that "Fire Season" was 70 days longer this past year.  With 7 days of temperatures over 100 so far this spring and 9 wildfires raging in San Diego this week alone, we're probably in for another record breaking year.

Last night the power went out for about 3 hours.  Even though I already had an inkling, during that period of time I realized how addicted to reliant I am on my wifi and electrical devices.  I couldn't even read the book I'm in the middle of because the battery on the iPad died and I couldn't charge it.  I ended up reading a two month old issue of Vanity Fair sitting on the coffee table until it got too dark to read.  I still subscribe to a couple of magazines, but never take the time to read them anymore.  Once the sun went down, I fretted a bit about what I would do.  Thankfully after just a few minutes of fretting, everything kicked back on (including the air conditioning - did I mention it was over a hundred degrees this week?) which put me out of my "what it was like in 1850" misery.

I saw this video today and it made me laugh.  They sure are sleepy...
Happy (almost) Monday!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.  I am not a car aficionado nor am I a fan of sports/muscle cars, but there's a little place in my heart for the Mustang.  My first memories of riding in a car take place in a Mustang.  My mom bought a 68 California Special, 5 years before I was born, and that car schlepped us around most of my childhood.
In the mid-eighties, it was on its last leg, and rather than put any time or money into it my parents sold it and moved on to their next car.  Hindsight being 20-20, we all sure wish they had kept it.  Only 4100 of the '68 Special were made and they are quite rare and valuable these days.  Every-so-often I'll see a restored one on the road.  They sure clean up well and make for a nice looking car.
A few years later, a new Mustang arrived in the family.  After getting my license at 16 and not having my own car to drive, I saved and saved and saved and at 17 (with some parent help) bought a used Mustang convertible.  It wasn't the old school version from the 60s or even 70s, but the new body type of the late 80s.
I LOVED this car.  A convertible would never be my car of choice now, but in high school and college that car was a good time.
I was driving behind a brand new Mustang on the drive home from school today.
While it has some similarities to the old-school version, they've updated it tons.  It's not really my type, but it is a nice looking car.

You're bound to see a Mustang (or multiple) anytime you're on the road here in California.  I don't know about the rest of the country, but here it's kind of icon and has been for most of that 50 years.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Plant Husbandry

A couple of weeks ago I received this Calla Lily as a gift from one of my students.  Whenever I get a plant for a gift, I'm always very appreciative but also feel a sense of dread because I'm most likely going to kill it.  I like plants, especially ones with flowers, but I'm terrible with them.
Anyhow, I brought this lily home wondering what the heck I was going to do with it...I don't ever know what to do with them.  So I set it on the sink.  Funnily enough, in the exact same location of a plant I was given to take home from a funeral a few weeks back.  The spot was empty because that plant had, in fact, died.  I gave it a drink of water and every few days since tell it how surprised I am it's still alive.
While I was cleaning up the kitchen after cooking this evening I realized that it's been two weeks and my Calla Lilly is looking good!  It hasn't been droopy, or dry, or yellow, or let's face it, dead at all.
 Lilies have not ever been a favorite of mine.  They do remind me a bit of funerals.  These however are quite pretty, colorful.  I didn't know they came in colors other than white.   I have even found two new flowers - one pinkish-white and one deep red.
I feel like maybe I should take the decorative paper off or plant it into something other than the plastic container it's in.  But, at this point it is probably best to just let things be and not get too arrogant over my success.
I did read that the look of death is imminent with this type of plant, no matter what.  I'm glad I learned that because I'd probably chalk it up to my ineptitude and get rid of when it starts to yellow.  I might even try to save the root system and replant in my front yard next year.  We shall see.