53 Brentwood Blog

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...?!


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