The ever-present-in-my-back-pocket Notebook of Niftiness (NON) becomes something of a Rubbermaid tub throughout the year; while many of the ideas and tidbits make their way into a post on either this blog or into a full-fledged poem for my poetry blog, some just languish there, out of sight, out of mind, but safe in the tub for future use. Or not. Many will never see the light of day again.
Some the notes in NON are tantalizing tidbits to build upon, some are merely interesting quotations I ran across during the year. Some were shorthand notes that made little sense days, weeks or even hours after I jotted them down. Some were interesting or amusing at the time I jotted them down, not so much after-the-fact. Some of the hasty chicken scratches I can’t even read.
Sometimes NON is more than an acronym.
Time to empty the tub. Or at least, rummage through it.
Why do I continue to get mental images of Wyle E. Coyote and the word ‘ACME’?
Prime Misconception of the Year 2012: So with all the hubbub about the end-of-the-world via the Mayan calendar, even though it was well documented that the Mayans failed to account for leap years and Monday holidays, many people were still fixated on the prognostication skills of a vanished culture that couldn’t even foresee their own demise.
The real reason the Mayan calendar ended with December 2012? Impractical design. Made of chiseled stone and measuring three feet or more in diameter, the damn things kept ripping the nails out of the Mayans adobe garage walls before the calendars crashed to the floor in pieces.
That, and the sacrificial virgin pin-up pictures weren’t much to look at.
My 1st Prediction for 2013: Having moved to New Orleans nearly five years ago, I have become well acquainted with hurricanes, having had to evacuate for one twice in that fifty-some month span – including this past August for Isaac. The naming of hurricanes is curious. Something called the World Meteorological Organization (think ’10 o’clock news weather guessers in super hero tights’) have come up with the list since 1953, only adding male names in 1979. There are six lists that continue to rotate. The lists only change when there is a hurricane that is so devastating, the name is retired and another hurricane name replaces it. Interestingly, 2013 seems to have a decidedly more ethnic flavor; Fernand, Humberto, Ingrid, Lorenzo, Olga and Pablo standing out.
My bookie is standing by to take your sucker bets.
In addition to the new state testing procedure were are now in year two of teaching toward, this year we also began the implementation of the new national Common Core Curriculum (don’t get me started). Oh, and this year our district is also adding mandatory ACT testing and the associated…uhm, teaching? It’s less ‘teaching to the test’ and more teaching ‘which test is which, again’?
Conclusion? Twian’s faith was grossly misplaced.
Year End News Item #2: Twenty percent of Americans who admit to making New Year’s resolutions say that ‘spending less time on Facebook’ was one of their main decrees to self. The Facebook proclamation came in third after ‘quitting smoking’ and ‘losing weight’.
As long as ‘reading blogs’ stays in the single-digits as a resolution, I’m jiggy with the whole ‘resolve to give stuff up’ approach. Good luck with that Facebook thing, by the way.
Things come in threes…
Early last fall, I wrote in this space about a sophomore who wrote an essay commenting on her sister’s positive attitude, and the inspiration the sister provides all of her younger siblings. She lauded, in worthy prose, her sister’s ‘self of steam.’
Discussing her paper with her, I was met with a puzzled look as I tried to explain that what she meant was her sister had a lot of ‘self-esteem’ – even going so far as to having her look up ‘esteem’ in the dictionary. She paused, looked at her paper, looked up at me standing over her and said, distinctly, and with a definitely-correcting-me tone of voice: “Yeah, it’s her SELF. OF. STEAM, Mr. Lucker…how good she feels about herself”!
The young woman’s ‘self-of-steam’ stayed that way in the final draft.
Toward the end of the semester, we had some more writing to do that focused on sense-of-self and self-awareness. Sure enough, ‘self-of-steam’ once again reared its pesky head…not only with the girl who originally coined the phrase, but in the papers of two other classmates as well.
This episode reminded me of my first teaching gig a few years back. On a district social studies test, much to the amusement of our social studies teacher, three of my homeroom fifth graders used the same, oh-so-unique answer on a question about the effect that iron tools had on the new world: “When they got iron tools in the new world, people didn’t have to take their clothes to the dry cleaners no more”. Much as with my current sophomore, they could not be swayed that their answer was not perfectly logical and correct.
Maybe they could all get together to use some self-of-steam to press their uniform pants.
A final thought: School cafeteria food raises the intriguing question, “Haute cuisine or hot food?” If you answered neither, you are correct.