Friday, September 29, 2006

Ugh... They Got Me

Freshmen are the kindergartners of college. Germs galore. I've been fighting off the current plague for the last week, but this time, they got me good.

So welcome back phlegm, welcome back fever, welcome back headaches and sore throat.

All I can say is better this week than next. I'm heading to NYC next Thursday to see how the other half lives. Do not want to be sick while traveling. Been there, done that, no thanks.

I am a lame blogger.

But I am really pathetic right now. You should see my sad, swollen puppydog eyes. Oops. I left out "bloodshot".


Friday, September 22, 2006

Kayak Tips

Purposely tipping the kayak to practice wet exits is hard to do. Huge mental block about leaning over until you flip upside down in the cold water.

Accidentally tipping after you've chickened out and returned to the shallows to fool around with some J-leans and lean turns: remarkably easy.

Unfortunately, if you're leaning back when you flip, you will bash your face on the sand when you reach forward to pull the release on your spray skirt. And then, when you panic because you're under water and just bashed your nose so you kick upwards to push the kayak off, you'll end up with brilliant deep bruises on your legs.

Ask me how I know.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Back in high school when I used to have time to read a book a day, I noticed this a lot more. I would read The Firebrand and then the following week in English class, we'd be reading "Women of Troy". Or I'd pick up the book Jurassic Park and two days later, I'd see a trailer for the movie.

Friday night, Jay and I watched Cannibal: the Musical!. Saturday night we watched the season 5 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which contains a scene that starts with Xander saying "Spedoinkle!" In case you're not familiar with the first movie, this is a catch phrase/word throughout the film. If we hadn't seen Cannibal first, we never would have caught the reference. Funny how things come together like that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Appalled doesn't cover it

So. My students.


I assigned a short essay about the author's reasons for not changing her name when she got married, and offers several reasons why women decide to either keep their last names, take their husband's last name, or find a solution in the middle (hyphenating, merging, etc.) (I'm not including author name or title because I don't want this to turn up in a search...)

The writing part of the assignment was to "state your opinion on whether women should take their husband's names, explain your opinion, and explain why you agree or disagree with the specific points the author makes". So, naturally, most of the students failed to answer the whole question, but that's not what sickened me.

Some examples (typos uncorrected):

"Women should not disrespeck men by refusing to change."

"...talking back to some one who calls you the wrong name is rood and disrespectfull"

"...if a women does not let her husband have the family name she must not be ready for marriage"

"In a way he did adopt her because after he asked for her hand in marriage he takes care of her and gives her a place to live and loves her.

"She is leaving one family and joining another family because your father does give the bride away to the husbands family at the wedding."

"If you correct people it can be rude and leave everyone feeling awkward."

"I think she makes some good points, but she sounds too much like a feminist."

:the sound of kate weeping:

So, according to my students, women should be seen and not heard, other people's comfort is more important than a woman's wishes or individuality, fathers own their daughters, husbands own their wives, women need someone to provide for them at all times, and feminist is a bad word. Brilliant.

In their defense, most of these students come from rural, low-income families, and most of their parents never attended college - in some cases, parents didn't even finish high school. So I'm not dealing with the most worldly people. And they're young - their opinions are more likely to be their parents' opinions than their own right now.

But still.

I actually gagged as I read these papers, and I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't grading on opinion - only on whether the questions were all answered with adequate support.

But still.

What century is this?


Sunday, September 10, 2006


Setting: a few years ago, on some hike or ski in the dark, in the rain, in the mud...

Jay: Wow, this really puts the "A" in Adventure!
Kate: No, it puts the "S" in Suck.

So... let's see... did I mention? No. Well, Labor Day weekend (Sept 1st, to be specific) Jay and I decided to break the bank and buy not just the one, but two kayaks. So I have the Manitou 14 in lime green, and Jay has the Chatham 17 in fire. Gorgeous boats, show up beautifully on the water, which is important when you have to share lakes and reservoirs with motorboats and jetskis.

We also went all out with the accessories, including lightweight Werner paddles - I got the Little Dipper with the small shaft, and Jay got the Camano, Astral lifevests for both of us, gloves for Jay, and coastal spray skirts, not to mention paddling shoes, sponges, dry bags, and a bilge pump.

To justify such extravegance, we've already taken the boats out 4 times - twice in the Adirondacks in New York (Long Lake and another lake I can't remember the name of... Harris, maybe?), and twice in VT/NH - Lake Willoughby and Moore Reservoir. Shortest paddle was about 7 miles, longest about 11. My poor hands! They haven't had this much abuse since I was a gymnast.

Yesterday we got caught in a front that brought not only rain, but thunder and lightning, so we got to spend nearly an hour sitting on shore, waiting for the lightning to GO AWAY. We did have rain gear, but not good rain gear... so it didn't quite put the "S" in Suck, but I wouldn't give it an "A" either. Maybe an "MF" for Mostly fun until it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oops, you lost me

As usual, I've been doing a bit of reading lately. Not all of it good. But that's the problem with trying new authors, I suppose.

Just before we left on vacation, I picked up a book that I thought was by an author I'd read before. (Lisa Gardner - who I really enjoyed) Browsing the shelves in the mystery section, I noted only the "suspense" on the spine and missed the "romantic" part. But in truth, the suspense was pretty low and the romance was the worst kind. This Lisa just about killed me with the melodrama. The heroine ran through every emotion known to man in the first ten pages, sometimes hitting two or three in one paragraph. Gah. When the hero "arched a cynical eyebrow" on page 37, I knew it was only going to get worse. And it did.

I don't mind romantic suspense. I read it by choice fairly frequently. Some people do it well (Holly Lisle comes to mind) with plots that make sense rather than relying on soap opera plot devices, and characters who act like reasonable people instead of moronic stereotypes (the shy, nervous, emotional woman - the self-centered vamp - the trust-impaired man).

I recently read a book by Elizabeth Lowell that I would class as romantic suspense, though the cover just claimed "fiction". I enjoyed her book, as the characters were interesting and entertaining, despite their drift towards stereotype. I mean, wtf does "dangerously male", "extremely male", "so deliciously male" mean? Gag. Puh-lease. Either you got the bits or you don't, generally speaking. (Romantic suspence doesn't usually include transgendered men and women, so I'm not including that in this rant, 'kay?) Pretty much, I figure, if the author describes the characters as male and female, it means they're going to be using their tender bits in an interlocking fashion. And that's another rant entirely.

Moving away from the romantic suspense rant... my current read came from the horror shelf in my local bookstore (which doesn't mean much, as they're a bit confused about genre there). So far, so good, except for one thing that just booted me COMPLETELY out of the story. Lemme 'splain.

Book published in 2002. Main character 26 years old. No mention of special circumstances, so assume college graduation at age 22. Character comments about traveling in Europe post-graduation. I put that travel sometime between 1994-1998, with variance based on possible publication delay. Character makes a comment to this effect: "backpacking through Europe after graduation, and even with picnicking on cheese and bread for lunch, Italy was almost supernaturally expensive." To which I have to say "In what alternate universe?" When I traveled in Europe (8 trips between 1993-1998) Italy was about the only place I COULD afford. Cheap hotels ran between $25-$50/night, with the hostels being slightly cheaper. With a little bit of searching, you could find a four-course meal for $10-15. The open markets allowed for haggling, and some of my nicest and least expensive souvenirs came from Italy. So when this author claims that Italy was super pricy, my bullshit meter snaps on. Because the plot is so interesting and the characters likeable and, more importantly, believable, I'll definitely keep reading, but my suspension of disbelief has taken a hit. This is not a good thing.

Anyone else have this problem, or have any other pet peeves in books you've read? Or am I the only one here who's so picky?