53 Brentwood Blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

L for nothing

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., O.J.'s lawyer, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles.

From the Washington Post:

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. was born Oct. 2, 1937, in Shreveport, La.; his middle initial stood for nothing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Wine Day

Wine Day is officially May 3rd.

But only in the country of Freedonia that is.

When is the Wine day?

Um, everyday...?

And when is the Wine Day?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Happy Water Day!


Monday, March 21, 2005

First day of Spring.

Open your heart

to Nature,

but don't open your nose

to that mass of microspores in seed plants appearing usually as a fine dust.

(pollen: www.merriam.com)

Friday, March 18, 2005

This post brought to you by the new and improved Neptunian Brain Slug

Insert one on your head today.

Neptunian Brain Slugs will not itch, burn or defecate on you.

You can trust Neptunian Brain Slugs, as they are mass produced on Neptune's moon Naiad, by hardworking men and women controlled by Neptunian Brain Slugs.

Neptonian Brain Slugs are at war with the Futurama Brain Slug Party.

All hail the great Brain Slug Bonanza.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Prince Charles visited New Zealand, where he was met by a woman with the words "GET YOUR COLONIAL SHAME OFF MY BREASTS" written across her bare chest. The Prince smiled.

Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW March 15, 2005.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Can't post comments

No, really, I really can't post any comment to your comment.
Ugh, whatever.

Why you gotta post a comment anyway Mike?
Why can't you just post like normal people, eh?

Tofu hurts.

Alright Mike, thanks for sending me the procedures for pictures, but why so impatient???
I don't have any photos to post right now.

Yes, the expression is Japanese. It refers to fools who manage to hurt themselves by hitting their head on the soft tofu corners.

G, there may be heroes in the school system. But the product of improvement dies as that hero leaves. There is no way to sustain the development (you know, like in nation-building). You can donate an A/C (which we don't have) or photocopy machine (of which we have only one for teachers in a school with 800 students but currently not working) but once it breaks, who's going to fix it? Who's going to replace it? Same with extracurricular clubs. There is no follow-up because there is no good management. But I'm sure they will make sure that there will always be a boys football and basketball teams. It's what they like.

It doesn't exactly make me want to work here. I can deal with lack of resources but when the school and administration don't value the children't education, you are really fighting two battles. Anyone wanna be a teacher?

How to post photos

The Queen Victoria
Originally uploaded by jadedturtle.
Maiko, since you haven't emailed me back or posted any photos, I'll have to tell you how to post photos from flickr on the blog.

Follow this link: How do I post photos to my blog?

Now post some pics, or the Gecko will get you. That meanspirited Gecko is a bad mofo.

Giulio having only taught at 2nd rate colleges I thought you'd understand Maiko's High School experiences more.


Finally some exchange of ideas on this blog!
So Maiko, you are saying that basically what we see in those movies about urban schools is indeed true... that's sad indeed, and must be pretty difficult to really teach something in that environment.
But than again, in those movies there is always the hero who's going to change the situation, renovate the music room, fix the broken toilettes and so on and so forth - but this rarely happens in real life, I guess.

By the way, I love the sentence "Beware as not to hit your head on a tofu as you may hurt yourself."!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Umm, sorry I hit my head.

"Beware as not to hit your head on a tofu as you may hurt yourself."

That is a bizarre sentence.

Just Bizarre.

"Tofu Song" by ex-Girl:

Dad: Take flies away above your head at first.
If you don't wanna hit your head to edge of tofu to die.
Child: Shut up, shut up, shut your mouth!

Must be a Japanese thing.

"So from the gecko, they are set up to fail in the society"

The Gecko?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Well, G
Each person feels different in a situation. Maybe you'd like to be locked up with 20 adolescents for 11 hours with no food, water, or bathroom, and principal yelling at you over the PA, but with no useful information. I, myself, obviously thoroughly enjoyed it and decided to share it with you.

And G, I never asked you to read it. So stop your complaining!

Warning: The following is a long passage about an urban school. One may become extremely bored and may doze off while reading. Beware as not to hit your head on a tofu as you may hurt yourself. There. You've been warned.

We are renting some space at the university now. We're just teaching our Homeroom (which has students that are not necessarily in classes that we teach) basic English and Math. It's amazing what you can teach with so little resource. There is something seriously wrong with this school (and other DC schools). I'm not just talking about this incident because it is already hard to get resource at school anyway. No working copy machine, water fountain, only one student bathroom for the whole school of 800 students, no music program, no heat, not to mention the poor administration and teaching (although some teachers are really good), securities who hang out in the frontlobby while the students freely roam around the hallway during class, and lots of nepotism even to the point of differentiating workload (or no workload).
It's like a movie. Some teachers curse and flip the students off. When the whole school operates like that, it's hard to be hopeful of change!

It's really hard to explain what it is like to be teaching in an urban setting in the US. You really just have to see it for yourself. One friend who visited said, "How do you get any learning in this condition?" Well, you really don't. So from the gecko, they are set up to fail in the society. Pretty sad situation.

Nice story about mercury, Maiko.
But was really true or you just made it up?
I like short stories, but only when they are short. Yours was way too long for me, so I didn't make it to the end of it.
Did it have a good ending?

Jee, for a bit of a mercury spill you write something like a novel. Just because you got stuck with nice kids for a few hours in a classroom.
What should I write - after being stuck for 5 years in a house with you guys ?
A book??

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Fireworks 2004, 2
Originally uploaded by jadedturtle.
Still reading your last post.

Will be back soon.

Maiko: Did you get my email about blogging photos from Flickr?

Cause I sent it to 3 of the 6 email addresses I have for you.

So post a pic already, or at least give us the url of your Flickr account.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What. Is everyone still reading my previous post? because it's so long.
Where is everyone?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mercury is trendy!

AM:"every Wednesday?"

No just past two wednesdays.

"PS Maiko, why you never call ME?"

Mmmm, because I don't like you?
No, sorry I don't know why. I'm a jerk, that's why, I think.
The program that I'm in is stressing me out. Mainly it's the school administrators and grad program staff.

We have had mercury spill twice in the last two weeks, first time everyone was sent outside for 2 hrs then in the audotorium with no food/water/or bathroom for the most part. I had luckily or unluckily gone home during my planning period (it's 3 blocks away) to take care of Casey who was severely sick and couldn't move. The police gave me a hard time going back so I gave up. My co-teacher whom I spoke to on the cell kept saying go home and do something productive. She later made fun of me for trying to get back into hell fire. They were slowly released with teachers leaving around 7:30 PM (the fire bell rang around 10 AM).

THe second week (this past week) we had another one. There's a dispute over whether it was a new one or old one that was missed.

Anyway, this time we had a lock down and we had to stay in our homeroom indefinitely. We were considered to be in the hot zone since the substance location was few feet from our room. We were in there for about 10-11 hours (10AM to 9PM some floors left earlier than others) with no food, no water, no bathroom, or no information from the administration. We had probably two announcements every couple of hours that said "thank you for staying calm, please continue to stay calm", but never anything else about why we were locked up. I mean we figured it was mercury but couldn't they at least give us a status as to why the Hazmats were there along with news reporters and what the situation was with testing people?

Then we got yelled at over the announcement because some people decided to hang a banner from the windows that said "we need food". What happened to free speech. (You think maybe they were supposed to provide us with food and didn't want to be found out??? Not really sure except that it makes them look bad.)

We also got yelled at over the announcement because we let the students out the door to use the bathroom. We were not supposed to "wander" in the hallway so now thanks to us we were going to be there longer. Huh? So given no information what were we supposed to do? We already had one student who peed in a bottle. We didn't have many bottles! And girls are less likely to do so, too. Oh, and we had no heat in our classroom. Well, actually, we haven't had heat for at least four weeks. It's frigging cold in there and some of us did not have a coat with us because we are not "supposed" to wear our jackets inside the building. So those that broke the rules won. (How could you ban wearing a jacket when there's no heat in the room in the winter?) I'm usually moving around so it's ok, but because we were not teaching, it was getting too cold. so I snuck into my lab (after hogging my co-teacher's jacket for so long) to get my stuff when we took the bathroom break. One girl was like "oh, man, this is worse than class. There's no hallway-pass, no bathroom break, or lunch time." I had to laugh at that.

Some classes didn't have the announcement speaker working so they were really clueless. They had to pee in coffepots. So meanwhile, we are given no instruction as to what to do about our bodily needs but get threatened angrily when left to make our own decisions.

Luckily we had a TV in the room so we got our information from the news, but they're not accurate a lot of times. One girl from my class was released early because she was pregnant (well, if it's not good for pregrenant people, it's also not good for us too right? why the hell didn't they move us instead of containing us where the floors are contaminated and mercury particles were floating in the air? No one except the teachers knew that she was pregnant but of course the news said later that two students were released because of pregnancy. Well, hello? Why does the whole world need to know about this? *EVERYONE* was in a lock down, *NO ONE* was allowed to leave, so now we know who they are.

Many people lost their shoes and belongings because they were considered to be contaminated. When asked, they did say they would return it but who knows when. So people had to wear this ridiculous shower cap looking shoes. I mean do you expect people go on the train with it when other people are going on about their usual business? Why couldn't they arrange transportation to those that lived far away? especially after being locked up, they could have arranged to provide us with some water and fruits at the end. and the parents kept calling me even after I left the building (students use my cell to call families).

So the next day, the school is closed but we had our grad class. So we needed a break and all four interns except one decided not to to class thinking that they'd understand. We got several angry emails about:

(1)(from Instructor A)we were supposed to blog our reflections and now especially because we have "additional" time. Well, do we get "additional" time to unwind or recover? Besides, many of us weren't sure because the school is closed and some of us do not have internet connection at home.

(2) (Prof B) no mention of the incident but to use this free time to work on our units,

(3) (Instructor C) angry email from the professor CCing all four of us including dpt head and proj dir, that she demands and explanation as to why we did not show up or why we didn't bother to let her know. and because of us, she had to cancel the class and meet others unofficially during that time(there are other people in the class, why couldn't she just go on!?). She knows that we had this incident because last week and this week she had to look for elsewhere to teach rather at the high school. Ugh! The school sent out a letter explaining that the situation including the side effects. So if we show symptoms of ambigiuous conditions like "fatigue" and "depression", who actually gives a flying bird? No one! Not even our professors who are supposed to be teaching about "social injustice". Gugh! Give me a break!!

So the mercury sitation does not really upset me. Even the students were wonderful. I happened to have origami and folding instructions that I wanted to use in class so some of us played around with it for hours. This ESL kid really go into it. Usually we have no way of communicating because I don't speak Spanish, but we really bonded over the paper art. Fun! Well, it kept me focused.

At first I wanted to go to sleep but you know, being a teacher and all, you really need to be alert to what's going on. They did not whine (except one boy when the girl left early but he later shut up when he saw the news). I don't think they minded that they didn't have to go to class, but that whiney boy was like "ohpp, it's 3:15. Time to go home. Let's go home." Needless to say, the boy did not go home at that time. He mumbled once "man, why are we still hear afterschool, we should not be here." I guess he didn't mind while he was locked up during the class-time, but now that it was time for dismissal, he wanted to get out really badly.

They played music and internet games (it was too slow for emails but worked fine for online games) and drew pictures. Then some boys started playing make-shift football, basketball, etc. Kids are so funny. They were a source of my entertainment.

Some kids were annoyed that some people would want to put others in danger just to have the school out. (Um, the kids who spilled mercury don't *have* to come to school if they don't want to and these culprits probably don't come to school on a regular basis anyway, so why bother? Just don't show up! They may even be failing so it doesn't help them, I'm sure!There are plenty other who do want to do well).

As I said mercury situation does not bother me but the way the authority figure (admin and grad profs) handled it was ... not cool, for the lack of a good word.

M: How do you upload a picture? I signed up with flikr but no idea what to do.

G: Why didn't you take me to Switzerland with you? Is it because I didn't call you...?!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Polar temperatures, Giulio and Lausanne

I moved again.
From The Netherlands to another country which ends in 'land', that is, Switzerland.
The timing for moving was not really the best, since I found myself riding the motorbike, from The Netherlands to Switzerland, through Germany, in freezing cold temperatures. It was snowing even in Spain. But I made it, though at a certain point I couldn't really tell whether my toes were still alive.
Anyway, my old email address should work for a while, otherwise use gambarota@gmail.com (nice gift of my sweet friend Sujata) .
PS Maiko, why you never call ME?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

phone call

every Wednesday?

Phone Call

Maiko called me today.

She said, "Hi its Maiko."

I said, "Michael who?"

In the backgound it sounded like a zoo or a disaster site.

She said, "Its Maiko."

I said, "Hi."

We talked a bit, seems someone is trying to kill Maiko on Wednesdays by spilling Mercury at her place of employment.

Maiko is not daunted though, she knows Mercury when she sees it.

She then had to go, the whole conversation took place in about 90 seconds.