Cool Nickname (8/31/2009): The Sleepy Hollow High School Headless Horsemen

August 30, 2009

SleepyHollowHSlogoSchool: Sleepy Hollow High School

Town: Sleepy Hollow, New York

Colors: Red and Black

Don’t Believe it?:

Around 1819, one of America’s first great authors, Washington Irving, published his collection, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. One of the short stories in that collection was his most famous work, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow … the story of a geeky, superstitious school teacher who is most likely scared away from dating the town beauty by the local tough guy, who disguises himself as the horrifying ghost of a Hessian soldier from the Revolution. There were certainly ghost stories before Washington Irving penned his book, but the Horseman is likely the one that has survived the longest in the American consciousness.

When it comes to intimidating opponents, there are likely few mascots that can strike fear quite like the beheaded ghost of an angry German mercenary mounted on some galloping warhorse. One of the news briefs I read told that they actually dress a student as the horseman who gallops in front of the football team as they take the field. That’s pretty awesome! Three cheers to a school that not only honors a great American literary tradition, but likely scares every kid under eight in the stadium.


The annual student survey

August 27, 2009

There are not many things I do today that I did in my first year of teaching, but one thing that has remained an annual tradition is my student survey. It is hardly unique, as many teachers use one, but I like to anonymously provide results to some of the questions.

As always, they are presented as I got them. I tend to select the more unique answers.

Who is your hero, and why is that person your hero?
The most popular answers to this question have never changed: mom, dad, or some other relative. The next most popular answer has also never changed (sadly): none.

*My cusin, He made it threw collage, has a great job, and a awesome girl. He has a great life.
*Ellen Degenerous because even though she is a lesbian and a lot of people didn’t like that she still got married to a woman.
*My mother because she is a strong, Independent, friendly and a fighting woman.
*My Mom because she came to America with nothing and now is known in the Polish community.
*My sister. Even though she is REALLY mean to me sometimes, she shows me the right way to go, she is very smart and is my Ro-model.
*My cousin because he was an amazing person and we were close when he passed away at the age of 24 from leukimia.
*My grandma is my hero because she was widowed at only 30 and still raised her 7 kids by herself. She’s taken care of me ever since I was little.
*My heros are the policemen. The risk theur lives to protect people.
*I honestly don’t have a hero. I thought I did but they let me down.

What activities do you participate in or what job do you currently work at?
*As a member of the varsity cheerleading squad, I am helping to form a special ed cheerleading squad to cheer at the football games this year.
*I work as an autopsy assistant at the county coroner’s office. (I called, and sure enough, that is what this young lady does).

What have been some big moments in your life?
*When my nephew was born.
*Adopting my sister.
*Earning my black belt.
*My dad passing away when I was 4.
*When I first got on pointe (able to stand on the tips of my toes in ballet)
*When I became a Christian.
*When my siblings were born and when my dad passed away this summer.
*My brothers graduation from officer training camp for the marines and when one of my best friends died.

Favorite movie?
The most popular answer this year were “The Notebook”, “Hangover”, and “Twilight”.
Invariably, this is always some movie that came out this last summer or two … but occasionally you get something older:
*Good Will Hunting
*Saving Private Ryan
*American Psycho
*The Nightmare Before Christmas (this one almost always comes up about once a year no matter how old …. there just seem to be certain kids that really like this film!
*The Karate Kid
*The Manchurian Candidate
*Fight Club
*A League of their own
*The Patriot
*Anything by Tarentino
*Ferris Buellers Day Off (again, it always comes up once, but very few years go by when it isn’t mentioned)
*Field of Dreams
*Dazed and Confused
*The Goonies

What are the most important qualities of a good teacher?
*They got to be chill
*treats all students fairly
*just be cool with me and I’ll show respect forever.
*Not to get mad and punish because of small things
*Good at explaining
*Has fun while teaching
*to give help when you need it
*doesn’t give a lot of homework
*can teach
*someone who listens and understands
*laid back
*not super paranoid
*understanding about problems that interfer homework
*talks about stuff other than just the subject.
*understanding teenage students and how to communicate with them.
*not boring
*they need to be exciting!
*good public speaker
*relates to students
*talk slowly and review thuroughly before tests and quizzes
*teachers that actually TEACH and don’t just give you huge packets and expect you to figure out the material on your own.
*ALWAYS available for help
*ability to adapt
*not super serious
*takes their job seriously
*doesn’t take their job too seriously (honestly, turned in consecutively from three students in different parts of the room!)
*likes their topic
*most of all, to give lots of extra credit

What talents do you have?
*I can fly (with my pilot’s license)
*annoying teachers
*making people feel awkward
*I can speak 4 languages
*I am extremely organized

Dad update …

August 25, 2009

My dad returned from his month long rehab at the VA hospital. He returned home to life without a job, and two of his three kids no longer speaking to him. To say the least, it wasn’t long before his depression was triggered again, and he started drinking … again.

This time, however, he acknowledged that the depression may be the cause of this, and opted to enter the hospital to accept treatment for his depression (with the added bonus of not being able to drink while he is there). There is no timeline on his release.

Cool Nickname (8/24/09): The Lemon Bay High School Manta Rays

August 23, 2009


School: Lemon Bay High School

Town: Englewood, Florida

Colors: Orange and Blue

Don’t Believe it?:

Let’s face it: manta rays are pretty darn cool! Rays in general are cool; relatives of sharks with their weird flat bodies, and despite looking like something out of a Dali painting, they are harmless (OK, almost completely harmless). Manta rays are the giants of the ray family, but despite their up to 25 foot “wingspans”, they are curious, without being threatening. Overall, not a bad name to give to your teams … maybe not so threatening, but incredibly cool!

Cetaceans and tort law

August 19, 2009,brookfield-zoo-lawsuit-dolphin-081909.article

A woman is suing Brookfield Zoo (just outside of Chicago) after she slipped and fell after a performance by the zoo’s trained dolphins.

I quote:

In a suit filed this week in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Allecyn Edwards, claims she slipped and injured herself, blaming zoo keepers who “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands, making the floor wet and slippery.”

She is asking for US$50,000. Amazing that one would go to a dolphin show, be warned that the first three rows will likely get wet (which they always warn about), and that people would get wet, and then after seeing the water on the floor chose to walk through it.

Cool Nickname (8/17/09): The Watersmeet Township Nimrods

August 17, 2009


School:  Watersmeet Township High School

Town:  Watersmeet, Michigan

Colors: Blue & gold

Don’t Believe it?:

The school (for good reason, perhaps) dedicates an entire page to the proud history of the Nimrods.  Biblically, Nimrod was a great hunter and leader (the site explains.  So, on the one hand, there is some logic to this.  The site goes on to list two definitions of the word “Nimrod”, one the biblical allusion, and the other descended from that to be a generic word for hunter, which in Michigan I guess works …. lots of hunting in the woods of Michigan.

BUT ….

If you know you have a name that (in the current usage) is a little off kilter, and you need to explain to folks why this is such a great idea, there should be a little alarm going off explaining that you might have done better to just call your teams the “Hunters” and get it over with.

A little research seems to explain the discrepancy.  The school chose the name in 1904, but the prevailing use of the term to refer to an idiot didn’t come about until at least the 1930s or later.

Nonetheless, I guess a community has to have a lot of chutzpah to stick with this name after the change in meaning.  A salute to a community with some guts to stand up to a lot of jokes from the opposing sidelines.

Film Review: District 9

August 16, 2009

It has not been a great summer for films, and this is the first one I have been too in a long time.  I probably have spoilers in here. I’ll try to keep them at a minimum but read no further if you want the surprise intact.

The film takes place in contemporary times …. and we are informed that 28 years earlier, a large alien spacecraft descended and continues to hover over Johannesburg, South Africa.  After weeks of nothing, a human team cuts into the ship and discovers thousands of alien arthropods in a malnourished condition.  The aliens are disembarked and brought into a makeshift refugee camp.  To say the least, the aliens quickly started acting like malnourished, impoverished, refugees, and quickly wore out their welcome.  Their refugee camp had become a slum, and the were confined there.  That slum is called District 9.  [I wonder why?]

The South African government turned over the running of District 9 to a private organization called MNU.  MNU takes care of the aliens, provides security, etc.  They are also a large weapons manufacturer.  The aliens do have advanced weapons, but humans cannot operate them because they require alien DNA to operate.

The film opens with the MNU preparing to give the aliens 24 hours notice that they are about to be evicted and moved to District 10, a new camp about 200 km from Johannesburg, so that the good human citizens can feel safe.  We are introduced to a rather enthusiastic but mousy chap in charge of the eviction (which, as his MNU executive father-in-law explains, has nothing to do with nepotism).  The aliens are resentful, and with a few killed, and the rest bullied, they are submitting.

However, in the messiness of the eviction notification, our protagonist is exposed to an alien liquid, which begins mutating him into one of them.  Not such a big deal, until MNU realizes that since he now has alien DNA in his body, he can operate the advanced weaponry they so desperately want.  Thus sets off conflict of the rest of the film.

People of my generation of some familiarity with the horrors of South Africa’s former apartheid government, and anyone from my generation or older pretty much figures out that this film greatly parallels some of those horrors (dehumanization, second class citizenry, forced living in slums, forced relocation … for openers).  In that sense, it is a straight forward allegory for the era of apartheid.

However, I could not help but think a little about the fact that many of the workers and soldiers involved with MNU were Black South Africans, and it made me wonder if there was also a message being sent about how quickly one can go from being “oppressed” to being part of the “oppression”.  How quickly did the puritans and others escaping Europe become oppressors of Native Americans?  Depending on your view point, how long did it take for Arabs under British domination to target Jews/how long did it take for Jews escaping Europe to target Arabs?  How long did it take for an oppressed German people in the wake of WWI to become supportive of oppression?  There are countless historic examples, and I wonder if that wasn’t something of the message.  Even the film’s protagonist goes from respected office worker working for the MNU to being hunted among the decrepit aliens.  Maybe there is something of the opposite message to:  The oppressor can just as quickly become the oppressed … a point perhaps driven home as one option at the end of the film.

The film does not really have a happy ending.  It does offer some possibilities for the future, which I suppose a good allegory will do.

This is not a film for the youngins.  There are parts of the human-alien transformation that must have been inspired by the make up work in David Cronenberg’s 1986 version of The Fly.  While it is not what I would characterize as an action film, there is some fighting that takes place, and its not always pretty.  I wouldn’t call it a perfect film, but it is a breath of fresh air to see a good sci fi film about something that is told from a non-American perspective.