Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road Trip!

Tomorrow night (well, the wee hours of Saturday, actually) we leave for the happiest place on earth. I don't agree with that moniker, because there are about a zillion other places that make me happier. I remember being disillusioned with Disneyland way back when I was 6 or 7, because even though it was really fun to go to, we still had to walk in the heat and I didn't get all the souveniers I asked for and there were long lines. (Plus I was never that fond of pink, and princesses, etc. My favorite area of the park was always Adventureland, and I would dream about taking a vacation to a real tropical forest instead of just the Tiki Room. Although I did love the Tiki Room song). Anyway- I am looking forward to this weekend, though, because it will be spent with good friends (who are also very fun people). My baby brother may even join us for the day! And a couple of those good friends dearly love Disneyland, so it will be fun watching them have such a good time.
How do you feel about Disneyland? Why do you like it, or tolerate it, or loathe it (or anything on that spectrum)?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh Dear....

Hey, look at me! Two posts in one day! I guess the fact that there are only 4 more days of school is giving me energy. :-)
So, I told this funny story to HH the other day, and he wants to post it on his blog too. It's that good (or sad, depending on how you look at it). A couple weeks ago in my 6th hour class, we were discussing the Cold War. (My 6th hour is filled with chatterboxes, because it's the end of the day, and some rather airheaded kids. That may sound mean, but you'll see what I'm talking about.) So, we were talking about Russia and how it's no longer communist, and the kids asked me what other countries are still communist. So we talked about Cuba, and China, and changing forms of communism. Some of the kids know that I've been to China (I have a map on the wall marking the places I've been), and they started asking me questions. Then the conversation turned to the Chinese language (no, not part of the lesson plan, but there was like 7 minutes left in the day and we all just wanted to get to the end of it). I told them how complicated Chinese is, and how there are over 3000 common characters to memorize, etc. Then students wanted to know how different languages got started, so I told them that languages change over time as groups live apart from each other (no Tower of Babel can be mentioned). So one girl in the second row raises her hand... 'Mrs. Petry, I don't get it!' 'What don't you get, Student X?" I asked. (Now Student X has a history of coming out with 'blonde' questions. Sometimes I think she just pretends dumb to get attention, and sometimes I'm not sure...) Anyway, she replied. "I just don't get it. If Chinese is so complicated, why did they stop using English and switch to that?"
Sigh. No, Student X, English is not the original language of the human race. You might be proud to be an American, but there are some things in this world actually didn't start with us. Shocker.

Immigration Arguments

The immigration debate continues to build in the US, especially here in Arizona where the border is long, mostly unguarded, and busy with illegal immigrants crossing. The new immigration bill put forward by Congress last week seems like a hopeful step, but I wouldn't be surprised if it meets the fate of most other compromise bills- opposed by each side because it doesn't give either side enough of what it wants. I hope the parties can see the wisdom in compromising, given that the alternative is continuing to do nothing, but sometimes wisdom seems to be lacking in Washington DC...
Something that bothers me, though, is the amount of hostility I hear from many people, including Christians, towards illegal immigrants. My 8th grade students (who have never been known to think of facts when an opinion of their parents will do) hardly have to hear a mention of illegal immigrants before their righteous (and sometimes racist) indignation boils over. Back in April, we had just finished viewing a video about some people in East Germany who built their own hot air balloon to escape communism and get to West Germany. The kids seemed very sympathetic to the family- 'they were so brave', etc. But when I asked them if this made them feel differently about the immigration debate in Arizona, they instantly switched their position. 'Lazy, taking jobs from Americans', etc. (And of course the kids thought of these things all on their own, because 8th graders LOVE to sit around discussing social policy in their free time :-) But anyway, it's a symptom of a much greater mood in the country. And I've heard many adults hold a very black-and-white position too: 1. People are breaking the law to immigrate. 2. Lawbreakers should be punished.
Now, both those points are true, I admit. However, I can't help but feel that the blame is being grossly misplaced in this situation. Maybe it's my empathetic nature (wanting to take care of sick kittens and all that), but I truly think that people's anger should be directed much less at the immigrants and more at the Mexican government and NAFTA trading partners that continue to make conditions ripe for immigration. There's a mental analogy that I keep thinking of lately:
Two pastures of sheep, side by side, separated by an (old and broken) fence. On one side, the grass is green and lush, the water trough is sparkling, there are shady trees, and the sheep are content and fat (maybe a little too fat). The little lambs gambol about happily, not a care in the world. On the other side, the grass is scrubby and patchy, the wind stirs up dust that clogs the sheeps' eyes, the water trough has mold in it, and the sun is hot and dry. The little lambs are skinny and coughing and hardly have energy to play. Now there is a gate between these two pastures, but there's a sign on it that says only one out of 100 sheep in pasture 2 will be chosen to go to pasture 1 (though a rich sheep can pay off the gatekeeper too). There's a law that says no other sheep in pasture 2 can go over to pasture 1.
So it seems to me, as I think of that scene, that there should be anger at the shepherds who care for the sheep. There should be anger at the land-management company. There should be anger at the groundskeepers. There should be calls for change and reform in all those areas. But, I think, there should be a great deal more sympathy and understanding for those poor sheep. I know what I would do if I was in pasture 2.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy birthday, brother!

Even with me as a big sister, my brother has made it to the ripe old age of 24. He's got the battle scars to show it, too! And he still actually likes me, I think... imagine that. :-)
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


So today was Career Day at school, and I had a guest speaker assigned to my classroom. It was a retired school principal, who talked about her years in education as well as her waitressing during college and such. She also talked about what she remembered of the 1960s- Kennedy, Vietnam, etc, since that's what we've been studying lately.

Most of my classes were good, but my good ol' 2nd hour (well, the handful of louts that are in that class) managed to ask her two memorable questions:

1. Have you ever worked at Hooters?
2. Did you do LSD during the hippie era?

Great, guys. Just the thing to make your teacher proud. >:-(

(She's taught middle school before, though, so it didn't phase her very much!)