Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fallen Angels

Last night I finished Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers. I didn't actually choose this book to read; a parent had complained about it after his son brought it home, due to the bad language in the book.

Well, it's true that this book is filled with four-letter words, but it is also incredibly real, convincing, and touching. It's a story of Vietnam, and the language comes from the mouths of young soldiers, driven alternately by bravado and fear.

Some quotes from the book:

"We spent another day lying around. It seemed to be what the war was about. Hours of boredom, seconds of terror."

"I was glad to see her, but I couldn't talk to her. The words didn't have the right proportion somehow. There was this feeling that everything I was going to say was either too loud or too strange for a world in which people did normal things."

"'You think I should tell my little brother about how things are over here?'
'You ain't told him yet?'
'I keep trying to, but I can't get it out right. You know, I don't want him to think about it like you do when you go to the movies.'
'You gotta tell him it's just the way things are in the movies,' Lobel called out from across the aisle. 'You tell people what this is really like, and who's going to come to the next war? They'll have all the announcements out and everything, and nobody'll show up.'"

Just because this book is realistic, of course, doesn't mean that a seventh grader needs to read it. There's more to this book than the language that could be overwhelming or upsetting for a young child; the violence is graphic and horrible. And I know this isn't very politically correct, but I do believe in a parent's right to have input in what a child reads, particularly when the child is this young. But I don't think this book should be removed from the library. Many of my male students want to read books about war and fighting, and frankly I'd rather they read something thoughtful like this book than something that glorifies killing and dehumanizes the enemy.

I suppose a parent who sends a child to a Christian school might have an expectation that all books from the library will be "safe"; I don't think that's possible, though. Part of the problem here is that the same library serves sixth through twelfth grade, and that's a huge age range. There's no way that every book in the library can be appropriate for every kid.

So what do you think?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Meals Eaten

I always enjoy reading the overviews and "best of" lists published this time of year. Here's a particularly delicious one: BBC reporters reflect on some of the most interesting meals they've eaten.

Read about it here.

Books Read

Lots of bloggers are posting lists of all the books they read in 2006. I don't know all of them. A lot, though.

A few years ago I kept a list of all the books I read in a single year. It came to 105. I started doing it again the next year, and filled about a page, and then the list abruptly ends. There's not a date written there, but I can tell it was right at the start of a pregnancy - that point where I lose interest in everything for about three months. And then I never resumed the habit. (I still read, of course. Even when I lose interest in everything, I keep reading. I just didn't write the books down.)

So maybe I'll try it again this year. It is nice to have a record.

But here are some books I read this year, along with links to my review, or a quote I posted, or just a mention of the book:
Sixpence House.
Running the Road to ABC.
In the Middle and Naming the World.
Gathering Blue and The Giver.
Acts of Faith. (OK, I didn't read this one this year - I read it last year. But it's still good.)
Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups. (I talked about that one again here.)
A couple of books of Naomi Shihab Nye's poetry.
How Writers Grow: A Guide for Middle School Teachers.
Twilight and New Moon.
Seedfolks, though I don't name it in the post. This is a great book and one I highly recommend. (Here's a link to that one on Amazon.)
What You Know by Heart.
Gods of Noonday.
Reading Lolita in Tehran. (Again, not one I read this year - it's been a couple of years. Just a belated posting of the review.)
A whole bunch of kids' books, plus The Temple of Music and Home Life.
Here I wrote about summer reading and my students' reaction to it. Here I opined about reading aloud to my students. And here I wrote about my students reading to younger children.
Here's some of what George W. Bush read.
My Reading Profile.

This is a very misleading list of books. For one thing, it looks as though teacher books form a much higher percentage of my reading than they actually do. For another, I just plain didn't blog about the majority of the books I read. I'll try to do better in 2007.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Finding New Blogs

Well, new to me, anyway.

Today I found this one, and specifically these posts, which brought tears to my eyes.

Some more I found and am putting on my list to explore further: Semicolon, Writing and Living, Spain Dad.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reading Binge

Some of the books I read to my son today:

Possum Come a-Knockin', by Nancy van Laan
Cookie Soup and Other Good-Night Stories, by Michaela Muntean
What Moms Can't Do, by Douglas Wood
If You Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Happy Hedgehog, by Marcus Pfister
The Berenstain Bears' New Baby, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Hot Dog, by Molly Coxe
Nicholas Bentley Stoningpot III, by Ann McGovern
Pigs, Pigs, Pigs! by Leslea Newman
Blue's Travel Game
Lucille's Snowsuit, by Kathryn Lasky
Arthur Meets the President, by Marc Brown
Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, by A. A. Milne
Dizzy's Bird Watch, by Alison Inches

As for my own reading, I finished a book I got for my birthday almost a year ago (finally worked through the pile), The Temple of Music, by Jonathan Lowy, and started Home Life, by Suzanne Fox, for about the fifth time.


I went to school today. I managed to stay away for a week, and today I just stopped in briefly to get a book. While I was there I noticed that the teacher across the hall has put up a new bulletin board. It's about snow.

It seems we can't resist pretending it's winter, even if we live in a tropical place. My son has had a thorough introduction in school to cold and winter, so much so that he complained on Christmas Day because it didn't snow. This from a child who was born here and has never spent Christmas anywhere else.

I can understand the longing for seasons, but honestly I almost never experience it myself. Sure, falling leaves are beautiful, and so is snow, and yes, you do appreciate spring more when you've made it through a long, gloomy winter. But I'm quite happy to look at pictures of those things. Probably that's partly because I grew up in the tropics and only a relatively small part of my life has been spent with four seasons.

It doesn't bother me that so many of us organize our lives around the seasons, and teach our children about what they are like. After all, most of them will spend at least some of their future in places where seasons change. And I guess it's all part of their education.

Nevertheless, I do find myself looking for things to read with my kids that are more about their reality. It makes me sad that so many of them write Christmas poems about snow, as though it's not possible to write one about hibiscus blossoms and dust. (Some of them have lived snowy Christmases, but many of them have never seen snow at all.) I did find a poem this year about Christmas in New Zealand. Christmas at the beach - now there is an excellent idea!

In general, I'd love for my students to write more about what they observe rather than what they see on TV. I'd like them to see Tecwil as a place to be from and be proud of, rather than thinking of it in terms of what's lacking - no malls, no McDonald's. No winter.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Photos

Take a look at the Christmas photos from Paris, London, and Sydney, Australia. (I wanted to show you a Christmas beach photo from a DP blog, but though I looked and looked I couldn't find one - the Sydney one is from the 26th, but close enough.)

Here are some from the BBC.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Have you read the story about the "true meaning" of the Twelve Days of Christmas? I had read it before, and when it was shared at a Christmas event that I attended the other day, I thought I had some vague memory of reading that it wasn't true. So I headed over to, that ever-useful place to check out myths and urban legends and unlikely emails.

So here's what Snopes has to say.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Someone on an email list was asking about this book, and I dug around for my review that I wrote just over two years ago for the subscription library I belong to. As long as I was sending it to that list, I decided to post it here as well.

Reading Reading Lolita in Tehran in Tecwil

Part political memoir, part literary criticism, Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran is a wonderful book. It celebrates the joy and usefulness of reading, and the unexpected pleasures of reading a book in a wildly different context from the one in which it was written. Nafisi, now a professor at Johns Hopkins, taught English literature in Tehran, first at several universities and later in her own home after she was fired for refusing to wear the veil. She mixes her observations about life in Iran under increasingly rigid and absurd conditions with commentary on the novels she reads and teaches.

Sometimes her reading is escape - in a particularly vivid scene, she reads through bombings during the Iran-Iraq War. Often the books contrast with or comment on Iranian reality. About Lolita, Nafisi notes, "this child, had she lived in the Islamic Republic, would have been long ripe for marriage to men older than Humbert." She points out that Jane Austen and Henry James both lived during wartime, and chose different ways of dealing with that - or not - in their writing. When some of Nafisi's students find Fitzgerald offensive to Islam, she stages a mock trial of The Great Gatsby.

The book touches on many issues. Censorship, obviously. Turning life into stories and how that helps us survive; the image of Scheherazade is particularly appropriate. How you decide whether, or when, to leave a country you love. Even the definition of home - is it rooted, or is it portable? I doubt I am the only library member who finds many of these topics highly relevant.

I will be paying this book the ultimate compliment: buying my own copy!

Colors of Christmas

It's a multicolored Christmas this year.

You can have a blue Christmas, a green Christmas, or possibly a traditional white Christmas.

According to the DHS, it's a yellow Christmas in the United States, unless you're flying, in which case it's definitely an orange Christmas. (Here's their press release.) If you're in Indonesia, there are extra security warnings connected with the season.

Enter any color at all in combination with "Christmas" on Google and you'll get a gazillion hits. This is mainly because you can now buy Christmas ornaments in any color at all. If you can imagine it, it's out there for sale on the internet.

Here in Tecwil, it will be an ordinary beautiful tropical day. Most people don't do anything different on Christmas day itself, and there will be merchants selling vegetables out on the street just like always. Christmas Eve is the time when people stay out late - sometimes all night - and make a lot of noise with firecrackers. I love being here for Christmas, largely because it really is a religious festival here and not an excuse to spend vast sums of money. You're either celebrating Christ's birth or you're having a regular day.

And the colors - well, not white, definitely. There are the red poinsettias, not indoors as house plants but outdoors as trees. There is the glorious blue sky. Sometimes there's a little extra electricity lighting up the night.

Have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are and whatever color it is.

Friday, December 22, 2006

End-of-year News Quiz

I got the highest score yet - 9/12! Go on, see if you can beat me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gods of Noonday

For my book club, I recently read Gods of Noonday: A White Girl's African Life, by Elaine Orr. We had a good discussion about it, and I highly recommend the book to anybody who is interested in the effects our childhood has on us, especially a childhood as an "alien." Orr grew up as a missionary kid in Nigeria, but as an adult she left that part of her behind. When she became seriously ill, she began to reconnect with her past.

Parts of this book were almost too painful for me to read, since Orr's mission compound experiences in some ways are so similar to my own. I identified with her deep desire to be African, mixed with her awareness that she wasn't and never would be. And yet she finds herself meeting Nigerians in North Carolina and having them claim her as one of them. I'm happy for Orr! This is something that doesn't happen to me too often. Probably mostly because I've just about quit identifying myself by the country where I grew up when I meet others from there. Sometimes I am welcomed with open arms when I do, but most of the time I just get suspicion. No, you aren't from there. How could you be? You're white!

Part of my problem is a linguistic one; though I grew up in an African country, I don't speak any African languages except the colonial ones, English and French. (Well, and a few words of the most rudimentary Kiswahili imaginable.) All education was in English, and my parents were always involved in education. Everyone always spoke English to me. It's hard to be identified with a country whose language(s) you don't speak. And now I see the same thing happening to my own children, growing up monolingual in a trilingual society. Orr doesn't go into how much of the local language she spoke as a child. She says several times that much of what she knows about Nigeria she learned while doing research for her book.

I underlined many parts of Orr's book.

"I want the Nigerian sisters and brothers I was not allowed to have."

She quotes a description of one of the towns where she grew up from a guidebook; the town is "horrible in every way." Orr admits that the details of the description are accurate but responds: "None of this was horrible. Or if it was, I beg to be required to endure such horror again."

Talking of the people who came and went during her childhood, Orr remarks, "Few explanations were given except, in a general, unspoken way, God's will. It was not until I came to live in the U.S. many years later that I realized it isn't necessarily normal to lose people as easily as the pebbles one puts in one's pocket and forgets to retrieve before the wash."

Describing missionary housing, Orr uses a wonderful image: "No house was ever actually owned by a missionary. We moved in and out of these great shells like hermit crabs." Later she describes her parents' decorating, which involved, in part, cutting out pictures from National Geographic to adorn the walls. She says, "My parents had the capacity to take something you might think of as temporary and recycled and make it into something elegant and privileged."

Regarding a mouse being killed by her father, she writes, "I simply didn't think we could afford any more casualties."

Perhaps my favorite part is where Orr describes returning to the United States and her impressions of her "home." Everything looks new to her, and clean, and without a past; "certainly," she says, "the furnishings had never been packed into drums and crates to bounce around in the back of a lorry."

And there are many more sections in my copy that I marked up; it's just begging to be talked about, and I wish all of my readers had been there at the book club.

We spent a lot of time discussing the part of the book where Orr writes of being at boarding school during the Biafran War. She appears to criticize her parents and other adults for keeping the children too isolated from what was going on around them. As parents here in Tecwil, we face a similar dilemma. How much do we shield our children from the situation and how much do we expose them to it? We don't want them to be frightened. Many of my students at school appear to me to know too much about what's going on, and to be perpetually on edge, waiting for the phone call to tell them that something is wrong with their family, that someone's been kidnapped or robbed.

Read the book; it's beautiful. And let me know what you think.

Iraqi Bloggers

The BBC links today to several Iraqi bloggers.

98th Carnival of Education

Take a look at the the 98th Carnival of Education over at The Median Sib.

More on Electricity

NPR had a piece this morning about how all this light is perhaps overrated. Sure, easy for them to say.

And as for our electricity, it was mysteriously fixed. I don't know how, but last night at 7 PM when the power came on, ours came on too. It's a Christmas miracle! Not only that, but we got at least five hours. I woke up at midnight and it was still on when I went back to sleep. I don't know when it went off.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


If you read yesterday's post, no doubt you were impressed by my serenity even when surrounded by small boys hitting each other with bright pink plastic flamingos. "Wow," you probably thought, "this woman is unflappable! What does it take to upset her?"

I'm sure you really didn't think that. But in case you're wondering what does upset me, I'll tell you. It doesn't take much. Last night I had an experience which never fails to frustrate and annoy me. The power came on in our neighborhood, but not at our house. The streetlight across the street glowed cheerily in our window, but our water pump didn't come on. We had no electricity.

Any illusions I might have of being a person of any depth is always instantly dispelled by these moments. Immediately I freak out. No power? What? Two hours a day, and we're not getting it?

Right away I tried to call the electric company. When I picked up the phone, it sounded normal, but when I dialed I got a recording that said the phone company had switched our phone off for non-payment.

Non-payment? I freaked out further. Just last week we paid a phone bill with an alarming number of zeros on it. Those weren't US dollars, but still. It was a big number. And we have a receipt to prove it!

I've gone on and on in this blog about utilities and the lack thereof. In April, I mentioned not eating toast due to hardly ever having electricity at breakfast time. In May, I posted this article about electricity in Delhi, and compared the situation in Tecwil. In June, while we were in the States, the electric company came and cut us off, in spite of our having paid in advance. I also exulted about being able to do laundry all the time in the States because the power's always on, and mentioned, too, that during during World Cup time we always get plenty of electricity. In July I commiserated with people around the United States whose power was out. And earlier this month, I ranted on at length about utilities in general.

You get the picture. Electricity is something I think about a lot. And I don't think about it nearly as much as I used to. When we first moved to Tecwil, I used to keep a calendar of how many hours we got every day. But I'm trying to be a less obsessive person, so I stopped doing that.

In the scheme of things, it's very much not a big deal that my power is disconnected. We have a generator which we fill with gas at $4 per gallon. We really will be OK. Even the telephone is not the end of the world. But still, it irritates me.

When I was in high school, we had a dorm mother who used to try to cheer us up by making us feel guilty about people in the world who were less fortunate. I remember a speech she made once about Vietnamese boat people (the boat people who were in the news at the time) and how they were crammed in non-seaworthy boats and facing hardship and misery, and here we were, selfish, spoiled kids with plenty to eat and...well, I pretty much tuned out at that point. I don't find that method works too well to cheer me up. Because then, not only do I feel frustrated about whatever is going wrong, but I also feel guilty for being so selfish and spoiled.

So here's what I try to do instead. First I gripe a little bit. No, this isn't as bad as what many other people are going through today, but yes, it does annoy me and I don't know that it does anybody any good for me to pretend otherwise. I try to keep my complaining to just a few people, like my long-suffering husband and, well, whoever is reading this. Then I try to deal with it and move on with life. For whatever reason, this is what I'm dealing with today. No doubt God can use it for good. He can make me more patient and less focused on what I don't have. Less selfish and spoiled.

At least I hope so. And I hope He does it quickly, so that we can get the lights back on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm It!

I got tagged by Dr. Bacchus. I'm supposed to tell you five things you don't know about me. If you don't know something, there's probably a good reason. Either it's just really not that interesting, or I don't want to tell you, or...well, I'm sure there are other reasons too. So...

Well, for one, I'm Time Magazine's Person of the Year! (Oh, wait, so are you. Never mind.)

Here goes.

1) My elbows are double-jointed. Yes, I am a freak.

2) One of my students (when I was teaching college) once wrote "homegirl chillin" on an evaluation of me. I didn't know what it meant. I found out that it was a compliment.

3) I have had dengue fever but not malaria.

4) I still have my tonsils, my adenoids, my appendix, my gallbladder, and my wisdom teeth.

5) I am sitting in a room where several small boys are fighting each other with plastic flamingos. And yet, I am calm and serene.

So, Dr. B, are there any of those you didn't know? Besides the last one?

I'm not going to tag anybody. But if you, Reader and fellow Person of the Year, feel like sharing obscure things about yourself, please do. Either in the comments or on your own blog. And if it's on your own blog, let me know about it so I can read and learn. Thank you.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pointless Trivia

The Queen of England has never used a computer.

And here are 99 other things that the BBC didn't know this time last year.

Blogging is SO 2006

Blogging will peak next year, according to this article. There are already 200 million blogs that aren't being updated any more. And it's not hard to be considered an "active" blog - that just means updating at least once every three months.

Congratulations! YOU are Time Magazine's Person of the Year!

I know, it's overwhelming, isn't it? You're probably looking for a way to express your appreciation for this honor, or at least a place to post your acceptance speech. Look no further.

Go here to say what you think.

(My favorite comment so far: "This is going to look great on my CV!")

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Theme Song

Graycie was asked to name a theme song for her classroom and here's what she came up with.

Yep, that's about right.

Last Day of School

Our Christmas vacation started a little early. Tecwil is back in the news, and, as usual, it's not for anything good. School was supposed to end next week, but the last few days have been cancelled.

The last day was not much fun for teachers, though the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Take the regular baseline squirreliness that we deal with every day and add excitement over the 7th and 8th grade Christmas party and liberal doses of fear and panic due to the local news, mixed with rumors, and you have a bunch of unmanageable kids. Oh, and let's not forget that it was also picture day.

I got to accompany the 8th graders to their photo opportunity. The boys headed directly to the designated room as soon as the call came, but the girls all rushed to the bathroom. One had forgotten her comb, which was an emergency, but she was able to do something about it. I'm not sure where she got a comb, but she showed up looking very groomed.

The girls sought beauty, but the boys sought fierceness. Apparently the goal was to look as dangerous as possible. You wanted to peer out of the yearbook with an expression that said, "Watch out for me. I'm about to go for you with a knife." But what I love about middle schoolers is that just beneath that scary exterior is a little kid. So it just took one little comment to make them giggle and produce beautiful smiles from the scowls.

The new touch on picture day is that it's done with a digital camera now, so the kids rush over to the photographer and check out the results immediately. It's a matter of huge importance that this be a good picture. Most seemed fairly satisfied, or at least satisfied enough that they didn't demand a retake.

When we got back to the classroom we just had a few minutes left, so I put on some Christmas music and the kids danced around the room. One gallant young man, apparently imagining that due to my advanced age I have a history of ballroom dancing, kept offering to dance with me. Little does he know of my evangelical childhood where dancing was forbidden, thus rendering me recreationally challenged in my adulthood. I told him I didn't know how to dance. He offered to teach me, but I declined.

After school we had our party, the culmination of the Secret Santa week. The kids got a chance to guess who had been giving them surprises - or not - the whole week. Practically everyone knew the answer, but a few had to guess several times. After all the gifts were opened (quite a few to be sneered over), we had some snacks and then the kids rushed off, eager to be home early to avoid trouble in the streets.

"Merry Christmas," I told them as they left, and then added, "Stay safe. See you in January."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pointless Conversation

"X, will you please stop talking?"
"Why are you picking on me?"
"Every time I look at you, you're talking! Let's try it this way: you do what I ask you, and stop talking and listen, and then I'll stop picking on you."
"So you admit you're picking on me!"

It Happened to Me, Too

In this post, Ms. Cornelius linked to a recent news story and took bets on how long it would take her students to bring it up. I smiled when I read this a few days ago, but didn't really think it would happen in my classroom. My students don't usually talk about the news except when it's from Tecwil - then they talk about it a lot, sharing all the rumors they have heard.

Well, yesterday one of my seventh grade boys raised his hand and told the whole tale, to much hilarity. Flatulence stories they know about, apparently.

Hmm, maybe I should do a whole thematic unit on flatulence - clearly it's a subject they are interested in. But all I can think of to read is The BFG!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


On NPR this morning there was a great piece on eggnog, and specifically how terrible the storebought stuff is. You can read about it and listen to it here.

I have a very uneducated palate and like the storebought stuff just fine. Every year we buy a little, spending a fortune, since of course it is imported. I've also never had the kind with whisky in it. Last year at a party I had home-made eggnog for the first time, but it was made by a Baptist missionary - no whisky. I am aware enough to realize that it was far superior to the ersatz kind from the supermarket, but I am also enough of a savage that I went right back to my old ways. Yum, bring on the fake eggnog!

I did like one part of the story - Andrea asked whether it was true that eggnog was invented to preserve eggs and cream, and the eggnog expert to whom she was talking said, well, actually, he thought it was more a case of, "Let's do something fun with this stuff before it rots." This is a distinction anyone who has lived without much refrigeration to speak of, like myself, will appreciate. (Not any more - thank God for solar fridges and for the people who gave us the money to buy ours!)

How Much Do You Know About Youth?

Once again, I got an embarrassing score on a BBC quiz. I got 3/10, which makes me a "Grandad."

So you try it. How much do YOU know about youth?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What Kind of a Reader Am I?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

For some reason this didn't post exactly right, and you can't see the bar graph which shows exactly where I fall on the scale for each type of reader. Since I am sure you are dying to know, I am part obsessive-compulsive bookworm, part literate good citizen, and part book snob.

And I have to admit that I cheated on this question:

6. Which set of books have you read ALL of?
a) Bridges of Madison Country, The Da Vinci Code, The Name of the Rose, and at least two Harry Potter books
b) Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby
c) War and Peace, Silas Marner, Madame Bovary, The Age of Innocence, To the Lighthouse
d) Carrie, The Stand, and a couple other books in high school that I don't remember.

Actually, none of those are true of me. I've read The Da Vinci Code, ALL the Harry Potter books, Huckleberry Finn, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary, and the Age of Innocence. So I went with b), since it seemed closest.

My real Reader Profile is that I live in a place without public libraries and I have a need to be reading something at all times, so I've read some things I probably wouldn't have if I had had more choice. (Not that the books on the above list fit that description. For one thing, I read six of them before I ever moved here. I read The Da Vinci Code because I was curious about all the hoopla, and I genuinely like Harry Potter.) I think the "obsessive-compulsive bookworm" category is, in fact, the most accurate.

(And speaking of obsessive-compulsive, I logged back on to Blogger for no other reason than to put a hyphen in "obsessive-compulsive." That is all you need to know.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You'll HATE this book

This is an interesting idea. Are you tired of Amazon telling you what you'll like, based on the other books you've looked at? Well, this site will tell you what you're not likely to enjoy, based on titles you enter.

An example posted on the main page: if you liked Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, you're not going to like Confessions of a Shopaholic. And you know, that's probably true.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

From Apocalypse to Bedtime Stories

Most of what I've read by Elizabeth Kolbert has been pretty depressing. She writes gloomy articles for the New Yorker about global warming and the state of the earth. So I was surprised to find her article about children's books. She brings her own dark sensibility to this subject, too. I thoroughly enjoyed her look at this year's picture books, as well as a few comments on old favorites.

Travel Warnings

Here's an article about the State Department's travel warnings by Steve Hendrix of the Washington Post.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


We got four hours of electricity last night. It came on at about 8:20 and went off at about 12:30.

You may think I'm complaining, but I'm not. I'm rejoicing! This is more electricity than we've had at one time in weeks! Our recent average is about two hours out of every forty-eight. So much for Christmas lights.

And wait! There's more! Yesterday, we got an hour during the day, too - from two to three in the afternoon. That's FIVE hours in ONE day!

In the midst of my euphoria, however, allow me to whine for a moment.

Not only do we pay electric bills, we also have to buy and maintain alternate power systems - basically, we're responsible for generating our own power most of the time.

Not only do we pay a phone bill, but we have to have cellphones because when it's raining a lot, our landline doesn't work. And before every call, we have to listen to a little recording in two languages about how they are about to disconnect our phone. And yes, we are fully paid up.

Not only do we pay a water bill, we also collect every drop God sends us from the sky, because God sends a lot more than the water company. The water company, whose name includes the word "potable," which is a nice little joke, sends us water once or twice a week. God sends it every night in some seasons!

You're not supposed to have to think about your utilities - you're just supposed to pay your bills and then get your service. Right? Not in Tecwil.

But last night we got four hours! I'm happy!

Boat People

Why would people leave a place they love to take a dangerous trip to somewhere new and strange where they aren't all that welcome?

Well, here are some answers to that question.

Did I Miss Anything?

Great poem at Se Hace Camino Al Andar.