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Weird Wedding Bells April 28, 2013

Filed under: humor,inspiration,life,Uncategorized,weddings — peachyteachy @ 8:06 pm
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Someone near and dear to me is getting married!  I am quite delighted; I have known this young man from the age of two tender months.  His fiancee is fabulous and  special, and there is no question that they are a match.

Weddings, however, can be so daunting, and so often can cost roughly the same price as a small house in the right flat housing market town.  That wall becomes even tougher to climb when one of the wannabe spouses has just shipped to the opposite coast to begin specialized training in the armed forces.  Cupid, at this point,  is on the verge of a meltdown.

Enter the miracle of the double proxy wedding!  This is the process by which two individuals may be legally joined in holy matrimony—in absentia.  At the tear-jerking event, two professional proxies stand (or, more accurately sit) in for the betrothed pair.  This is only legal in one state, that shall remain nameless.  Suffice it to say that there is no speed limit there, and that the sky above is frequently characterized as “big.”  Or, you could do some detective work and  link to the New York Times article above.

Upon learning of this unorthodox plan, and after I had wiped away the tears of mirth, I was overcome by questions.  Why are these professional proxies necessary?  Had these supremely gifted wedding planners overlooked the obvious alternative of having stuffed animals do the job?  I am reasonably certain that Care Bears would settle for a rainbow sticker in exchange for their troubles, as opposed to the fifty bucks a pop raked in by the pros described in the NYTimes article.  How does that want ad read, anyway?  What are the pre-reqs?  “Community theater experience preferred.” I’m guessing they could land this one without a bachelor’s degree. . .

The pretend bride and groom did mention having had to read sappy vows ONLY ONCE during their tenure as professional proxy bride and groom.   This may be the reason for the no Care Bear approach.  Also for this reason,  I am officially and  STRONGLY urging this dear couple to write the most embarrassingly romantic and sexually explicit vows that those $50/per ceremony have ever been asked to read! Come on, let’s get our money’s worth and keep these pro-proxies on their toes! Things must get a bit monotonous out there in that large and sparsely inhabited state.

Another thing: can we just acknowledge once and for all that the term “Proxy Groom” sounds like nothing so much as the inspired brand name of some sort of colonic hygiene device approved by the Proctologists of America?

At this point, I am just waiting by the mailbox for my Save the Date card, so I can book my flight to Big Sky Country.


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Survival sans Food Processor and Deep Fryer April 25, 2013


How can it be? How can someone who bloggingly refers to baking on at least a bi-monthly basis not own a food processor OR a deep fryer? I have asked myself that same question over the years, more times than I care to admit.  Usually this question arises directly following the gift-giving  holidays, when I come to terms with the perpetual reality of not having received a food processor. Again. Many couples receive food processors as wedding gifts, right? I got a “Footprints in the Sand” wall clock.  So you see how it is. (Just so you know, clock gifter, that one ended in a divorce, so. . .)

That’s cool, I tell myself.  Processed food is frowned upon.  Paleo dieters certainly can’t employ a food processor in their pursuit of pre-historic living.  Tell them that, will you? Tell them, while I mortar and pest the hell out of my fresh pesto, in preparation for my upcoming woolly mammoth hunt.

As for the deep fryer, that would definitely be a deep-sixed item in my house.  I understand that many wedding gifts meet a similar fate.  Do they still have the Fry Daddy (by Presto), and the Fry Baby (by Presto)? I don’t think that the Fry Mommy ever made the cut.  Fry Mommy would never let them eat all of that fried crap anyway. Fry Mommy doesn’t bow to Presto, either. She’s more of an Abracadabra kind of girl.  She’d be sneaking the shredded zucchini into every frittie-fried thing she would turn out.  You know it’s true.

The way I imagine it, there are so many lonely wedding food processors out there, languishing on the shelf, like unloved Velveteen Rabbits, waiting for just one new, special, forever home in my kitchen.

Preferably a Cuisinart.

I will pay the shipping.


Goodbye, Richie Havens April 22, 2013

Filed under: music — peachyteachy @ 8:50 pm
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In the early 90’s, I saw Richie Havens in a small community college auditorium.  I was in the second row, and it was one of the most amazing, powerful musical experiences of my life.  Crazy amazing guitar. Huge spirit.

The news of his passing hits me harder than it should.  But it is what it is.  Just listen.


My Little Pony: Life Lessons April 21, 2013

“I think you’ve taken your assertiveness training too far, Fluttershy! You can’t go around being mean to everypony!” The formerly too-nice Fluttershy had begun to terrorize somepony  in Equestria on a daily basis. Friendship is magic, after all, and so it was intervention time.

There’s a reason that My Little Pony is such a cult classic, like Plato and Aristotle.

Before now, I hadn’t considered the fact that this could be a factor for those meanies that come across my path in many forms:  they’ve just taken their assertiveness training too far! Clearly, assertiveness training is a free course, accompanied by free snacks, held in some church basement, or, possibly, basketball court in the neighborhood of our fun-loving elementary school.

In a fascinating turn, it would appear that another stratum of my little slice of human interactors has ALSO gone a little hog wild with the assertiveness training!  While the youngsters practice their pec-to-pec assertiveness bump (derived from years of study in the wild of the assertive mountain goat), the folks at the top of the food chain are correcting the errors in their too-nice ways, sporting their newfound skills of belittling and blaming those over whom they reign.  Nopony’s staging an intervention for these folks, though, which can be problematic if you’re an underling in the organization.  Note that the underlings have not been offered assertiveness training as quality professional development.  That would defeat the purpose of underlings.

Can’t we just all be Bronies and get along?


“My Little Pony” is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc., the same company that brings you G.I. Joe Retaliation Snake Eyes Ninja Chucks.


Lettuce Pray April 18, 2013

Filed under: education,humor,teaching,Uncategorized — peachyteachy @ 8:30 pm
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A pre-Common Core blood bath testing reflection. . .


This is a lettuce garden that is growing in my home.  It lives in a Clementine box.  I love the lettuce garden, but I don’t expect it to be able to read graphs or do 3-digit by 3-digit multiplication, even if I taught it in every way possible, many, many times. I do, on the other hand, expect my classroom students to have more success than salad greens would.

The good news is that, in our urban “failing” school (that’s the affectionate nickname folks like to call it), a few of my students show evidence of these kinds of skills that I have been diligently teaching for months.  But the majority seem to suffer from the “Men In Black” syndrome.  One of my astute colleagues detected this phenomenon as we noticed some of the appalling responses to math questions on the state tests.  It was as if, she noticed, they…

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Earth Day, Schmearth Day April 17, 2013

Oh, had you been laboring under the impression that elementary school children in the U.S. of A. are learning all about how to “go green,” creating elaborate action plans and raising copious funds  for the saving of the Costa Rican rain forest, or at the very least for picking up some trash at their schools?

That is freaking ADORABLE!

Because, no.

That was when I was a kid.  That ship has sailed. Far, far away across the ocean sea.

For many of our would-be Greenpeace Rainbow warriors, Earth day will be spent in pursuit of the coveted “College and Career Readiness,” in the form of more tests.

I apologize to those of you who are tired of hearing about it. I assure you, I am tireder than you are. And my students have pretty much decided that they are not interested in becoming “College and Career Ready,” if it has any connection whatsoever to the grueling experience of taking day after day of test after test that makes them feel like utter failures. If the goal is to cement urban kids’ plans for an early dropout date, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I heard a rumor that, in one room, a proctor suggested  to the teacher, in a whisper, that it would be funny if the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building.  The rumor goes that the teacher replied that it would be funnier if the school burned down. Right then and there.

That’s probably inappropriate.  I should confront that teacher, huh? Maybe turn them in to the branch of state government called Exam Security Team, which is modeled after Hitler’s gestapo, but with a lower fitness level and none of the swagger.

I’m off to consult my ethics manual!

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My Boss, the Bubble Sheet April 16, 2013

Filed under: education,humor,life,school,teaching — peachyteachy @ 5:50 pm
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There was a period of time today when my classroom and its inhabitants were quiet and trying super hard to do their best on the first session of their state exams.  Multiple choice. No one had a meltdown (until later), and even the ones who I thought might not try—they really, truly did try.  

As I slowly paced around the room, taking care to speak only of procedural matters (“This bubble is not filled in.”) for fear of invalidating our school’s test scores and putting all of our careers in peril, I read the passages (which seemed endless to ME) and questions that my students were attempting to answer.

Make no mistake—like many teachers, I am blessed with a proclivity toward test-taking. I am just lucky; I have excelled at standardized tests my whole life.  Please believe me when I tell you that I am not a teacher who is skating by intellectually.  I haven’t tricked anyone into erroneously believing that I was intelligent enough to teach a curriculum placed before me.  I probably walk the tightrope of being an obnoxious intellectual more than I like to admit. Because, really, who cares that I know the Latin name for that flower?

Still, the following is true: I cannot tell you with any certainty that, had I sat down to tackle this test, given the same time period allotted these ten- and eleven-year-olds, I would have been able to a) complete it, or, b) attained a passing score.  Forgive me for the annoying use of lettering there.

This test was constructed with many plausible distractors for most questions. A typical guide for construction of distractors states something like this:

“Do not do write complex distractors that require high level logical thinking. You are testing the question posed in the stem, not the student’s logical reasoning ability.” Pedagogue Solutions

This is not suggesting that we avoid high level logical thinking; just that we are clear in tests about what we want students to do.  Critical thinkers tend to be at a disadvantage with such questions, simply because they can find arguments to support both possibilities.

I cannot think of one individual I know, of any age,  who would sit down with this test and feel confident that they had chosen the correct answers intended by the test-makers.  And I know some freaking brilliant people.

One might construe this as a teensy bit problematic.  A LOT of people are alarmingly willing to drink the school reform Kool-Aid these days. High standards! That sounds great!

It’s my opinion that adults of many occupations (especially parents, policymakers and school reformers) should have to take the tests before they sign off on the millions  that finance them. Just for kicks, you know.

All that aside, I also found it personally problematic that I had to shut down kids’ questions about what happened in Boston, because we had to begin in exactly 4.6 minutes, and we never made it back around to that discussion. As soon as the test was over, my class was required, by the laws of physics, to return to their usual loud, angry, paper-launching selves.  Otherwise, they would have all turned into pumpkins.

Five more testing sessions.  Go team!

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Fired Up for State Testing! April 10, 2013

Each and every day for the four weeks leading up to THE TEST, I hand out practice test books.

Each and every time I hand out the booklets, at least three students say, “Is this a test?” Then I push the button on the continuous loop that says the following, “No, sweetheart.  This booklet, like all of the twenty three booklets that I have handed to you, is just for practice.  So that we can look at it together, and practice our skills so that we can do our very best on the actual test.”

Attempting to make this task “engaging”—letting kids work in partners or small groups, or placing  small candies on their tongues for every four-minute period during which they remain on-task—slightly less than successful, as my students quickly break down into pencil larceny vigilantes, ready to take justice into their own hands, until they realize that their pencils are  in their pockets or under their papers.  Then they get even more pissed off in the face of the embarassment, and commence cussing at anyone who looks at them.  “What are YOU looking at? ShutupI’llpunchyouintheface!” Yes. It is one word.

After we complete the exactly nine hours of testing in the next two weeks, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting a “Burn the Test Prep Booklets” event on the playground.  I have found no prohibitive language in my contract, nor in the Code of Conduct of the district (which is, by the way, a rare document and very tough to find. Presumably, there was either an earlier bonfire event, or students and families used them as a stopgap method during the toilet paper shortage back in November 2012.  Times, they be tough).

I think it’s a go! We can roast marshmallows and hot dogs and, with any luck, attract some emergency vehicles that will act as a de facto field trip, since those frivolities are frowned upon and require a professional grant writer in order to procure their funding.

My posted learning objective for Bonfire Day will read as follows:

*We will explore the combustive properties of gently used test-prep booklets.

*We will not write a five-paragraph essay including an introduction, three paragraphs of textual evidence to support our answers, and a conclusion.  

*We will write goodbye notes to our soon-to-be-dismissed teacher.



I’m Conflicted About Quinoa April 4, 2013

Filed under: food,humor,politics — peachyteachy @ 10:22 am
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[Cara flower image]

Just when you think you’ve found a superfood and have created a quinoa board on Pinterest (those people are obsessed with quinoa), you find out that there is, after all, a dark side to the craze.

Yup, the New York Times reports that the native folks, who have traditionally consumed quinoa as a staple of their diets, are finding quinoa cost-prohibitive due to its popularity with first-world health nuts.  It would seem that poorer children in Bolivia are beginning to prefer noodles and white flour based stuff to the traditional grain, simply because it has become so expensive.

Of course, some are profiting from the quinoa boom, including native farmers.  But now I’m wondering about the effect upon crop diversity.

What’s a girl to do?  Buy US organically grown quinoa? Buy imported quinoa to support agriculture in a third world country? Shrug the shoulders and say, “This is why I don’t eat superfoods?!”

I am going to go out on a limb and make a pledge not to use quinoa in my seed-based art projects.  There.  I am a virtuous global citizen.




Abusing My Readers with Outlawed Topics April 2, 2013

Filed under: blogging,humor — peachyteachy @ 3:34 pm
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Why do I get email from WebMD? Whose brilliant idea was that? Apparently, it was that of the same person who reads those emails late at night, when browsing WebMD is tantamount to watching “Friday the 13th”—except I would NEVER subject myself to that craziness!

As an email hoarder with an ever-expanding-capacity inbox containing over 16,000 unread emails, the urgency of cleaning up the thing really doesn’t hold much sway.  Let’s just sweep up all those emails from Pizza Hut.  There! Only 15, 996! It’s just silly. So, screw it.  Sorting through the piles of physical, paper mail seems a much more worthwhile, if lightly nauseating, task.

Oh, hell. I have exceeded the 100-word limit for writing about email.  The shame! I will stop.  Someone whose post I read in Freshly Pressed recently decreed (or implied a decree) that such topic-ry was redundant, dull, and borderline abusive to one’s poor, poor readers.  It rests somewhere between excerpts from one’s spam folder and Dear Universe posts.

In my quest to achieve the endurance record of longest running never-pressed blog (fresh or otherwise), you may know that I have waded in the no-no waters before. I have ignored  The Funny Rules and practiced abysmal Twitter.  I don’t tag nearly as thoroughly as some of my fellow bloggers.

I am left begging for forgiveness, and promising that I will not ever describe the loss of the umbilical cord of either of my children.  Mostly because I have forgotten.



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