Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not Poho. . .Pake!

If you ask my family, they will tell you that I am very pake in many ways. I hate paying full price for anything. When I shop, I go straight for the back of the store where the sales and clearance items are. The only thing better than not having to shop is getting something at 70% off. I love to go to Vegas, but I never gamble. Putting $100 into a penny poker machine is just poho (wasteful). I could have bought groceries with that money. I live right in town, but I carefully plot out my errands so that I don't go back and forth or cross my own driving path. That would be a waste of gas. At the supermarket, I write my list according to row so that I don't have to go back and forth in the aisles because my time is money. If I forget something, too bad, make do without.
However, there are certain things that I think are worth paying extra for: freezer strength Ziploc bags, Bocca meatless burgers, 0-point tortillas, Kleenex with lotion and double ply Charmin toilet paper.
In fact, there is one time of the year when my pake self is not ashamed to throw money away - New Years. I save Christmas money just to head over to Pinky's in Papaikou, Bro's and Pacific Fireworks, KTA and Longs to buy as many fireworks for as little money, and then watch my boys burn through them, make bombs, hold them in their hands for as long as possible and set off a string every half hour until my husband makes his grand finale, multiple string, multiple fountain concoction timed to the midnight countdown. Even if we no longer live next to psycho nurse who monitors our every fireworks indiscretion and shoots water at my kids, we are by habit legal practitioners, so we don't buy aerials (although we know where to get them), and we only pop within the legal hours of 9pm on New Year's eve to 1 am on New Year's Day. That basically means popping fireworks becomes a chore because I don't want to store them, so no matter how much we buy, we have to pop them within the 4 hours. So I have to sign out now. I've got some sparklers to light.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rant on Chocolate

Originally uploaded by cathy.ikeda
I've been doing pretty good on my Weight Watchers journey, but I'm being undermined by Christmas chocolates like these gourmet dark chocolate confections in their own little cubicle, packed in bubble wrap and designed like jewels.
Some people are alcoholics, drug addicts, shopoholics. . . I'm a chocoholic. I shouldn't eat any. Cold turkey is the only way for me to survive. Like all addicts, having even one leads to another, leads to another (you get the picture). So this Christmas, the chocolate fudge, led to the truffles, led to the chocolate chip cookies, led to the hot cocoa, and the Buster bars at Dairy Queen. Help!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hau'oli Kalikimaka

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tea Obsession

Originally uploaded by cathy.ikeda
I absolutely hate water. Mostly because, well, it just tastes like. . .water. But in WW (weight watchers), part of the program, and my weekly challenge to myself, is to drink water. . . LOTS of it per day (6 - 8 cups). Most people can drink that amount in the morning, but I could last on that amount for the whole week. My body is used to being dehydrated. It's my training method for survival in case of nuclear disaster and the water supplies are contaminated. They say that humans will die within several days without water, but my finely honed, water-starved body can last for months.
Anyway, since I have to drink "water," I drink lots of tea (one cup equals 1/2 cup of water because of the caffeine). This is my latest tea obsession flavor and I drink lots of it because the stuff I tend to like usually is seasonal or on its way out. This vanilla caramel truffle comes in these cool pyramid shaped loose tea bags and they smell heavenly, like caramels. I put about half a packet of Splenda and yummy! It's like drinking tea and candy.
The only down side of this is that the pyramid bags are loosely woven so that the black tea tends to come out of it (just the dust), so the box needs to be stored in a quart ziploc. When you get it at the store, it's wrapped in plastic and you see the tea dust on the outside. It looks like termite droppings or something, which is not appealing for consumers, which is why I believe my tea will most likely be discontinued. But for now, it's usually on sale at Safeway (probably owing to the unappealing nature of the tea spilling out). They do have other flavors of tea spilling out boxes like mandarin orange with real mandarin orange pieces in the tea bags, but the vanilla caramel is the one to try before it goes away.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quieting the Evil Fudge Monsters

Hubby made two kinds of fudge this year. One tastes like a homemade PB Reece's cup and this one is a chocolate fudge with chopped pistachio nuts. This shouldn't be a problem since we did say that we wanted to make gifts this year so we made corned beef and yam lau lau, mini chocolate and cream cheese truffles, candied walnuts and pecans, and those dreaded fudge monsters.

The problem with making all these goodies is that eventually, we run out of people to give these gifts to, so now I'm stuck with two pans of fudge in my freezer. What's more appalling is that not only are they precut into nice little pieces, but they keep calling me! I'm trying to keep busy so I don't think about it. AAGGH!

Anyone want some fudge?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Twilight Hype

I have not talked to too many teen girls in school who have not seen the Twilight movie. Even my high school son saw the movie with his girlfriend and she was watching it for the second time. She is reading the books, however, and he is adamantly NOT.

Do movies like this help to encourage reading? I must admit that I have a list of students that are waiting for my Twilight series and they include both girls and guys. But after Twilight, like the Harry Potter books, the books tend to grow in size. These books with their black covers have been mistaken for Bibles. They are not light reading. I finished four of them in a week, but I didn't sleep much. Still, if kids are reading, it's a good sign, even if I REFUSE to pay $9.50 to watch the movie, I do like that it gets kids to read.

My true test of a book's worth is whether or not it gets stolen from my classroom. New Moon has already been stolen from my classroom. Other books that were stolen in the past: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Saturday Night at Pahala Theatre by Lois Ann Yamanaka, Tattoo by Chris McKinney and my original hard cover of Twilight that I purchased in 2005 when it was sitting on my book shelf and collecting dust until last year. I think for three years I had only 2 girls read it, and once the fourth one was about to be published, it became a hot commodity. Love the power of author sites like Stephanie Meyer.comas well as fan sites, author tours and big bookstore hoopla.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Are Novels a Necessity in School?

One of the latests posts on the ASCD In Service blog talked about the possible death of the the novel in the secondary classroom.

I remember in high school I actually took a novel class where the teacher gave us a speed reading test in the beginning of the semester, and based on that we were given a number of pages that we had to read per week. When we finished a novel, we had to have a conference with him and maybe write a paper. During class, we all faced each other in rows and. . . read. I think my number was 250 pages per week, on top of my other work from all my other classes, so I ended up reading a lot of trash novels and none of the heavier classics on my "to read before I die" list because I needed to make my pages with minimal brain strain. In my other senior English class, I took short story and poetry, so not too much reading in that one either. I must say, I did not get very far on my list before I got to college and decided to major in chemistry.

I did not stay with chemistry and ended up graduating as an English major, but besides my Russian lit. class, I didn't read any novels. I read a lot of excerpts in Norton Anthologies and I read plays and poems. When I started teaching English, it was no longer considered best practice to have English electives courses so we taught pretty much from the textbook (more excerpts, short stories and plays). We covered maybe one or two novels a year, except for my AP classes who did six at the most. My all time favorite American lit. books to fall back on as a teacher were: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Joy Luck Club, Of Mice and Men (or Grapes of Wrath) and Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Laura Hamilton, of the RAND Corporation, addressed this idea that teachers are no longer using novels at a November 20 forum on standardized assessments hosted by the Center on Education Policy. According to Hamilton, more and more teachers are assigning short passages to their students to read because this is how reading is tested on most assessments under NCLB. Instead of assigning novels to students and having them write essays on what they read, educators are having the students read short passages and answer multiple-choice questions or, in essence, teaching to the test.
The pressures associated with achieving high assessment scores may have put some of these educators in a position where they see no need to incorporate novels into their curriculum. But if students only read short passages, then that is what they will become accustomed to, and some may not even comprehend why it is important to read a full-length book.

Are novels assigned less frequently than in the past in your school system? How do you think assigning short passages instead of full-length novels will affect students, and do you think assessments have killed the novel in the classroom? If novels are no longer assigned in the classroom, which of the "canonical" novels will you mourn for?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fiddle as Rome Burns

The gondoliers in Venice are eating breakfast as the city floods, and as I go through the pictures on the photo essay site, I'm always struck by the resiliency of people to just keep keeping on. I think journalism is not just about highlighting the plight of others, I think it's also a way to rile people up, to get them off their bottoms and take action, but really, with the immediacy and visual and aural stimulation of the instant news, I feel more numb than horrified, scared or even motivated to do anything. Living on an island, I've always had that dream that the oceans are so high that we live on the tops of sky scrapers, and the majority of the buildings are under the water. We have to work our way up in order to get to see sunlight, or risk living in the murky grey, green and black of the ocean. So when my husband told me that Venice was flooded last night, I thought of people hanging out on the tops of buildings, jumping off of ledges to get on the boats. Instead, there are pictures full of tourists, walking in the water, some with rubber boots, some without, but still going about their business. After all, they're in Venice! We humans are an interesting lot. We won't ponder the environmental implications - or the power of signs as much as build taller buildings, stronger retaining walls, and higher docks.