Illicit Materials at School

I've had some great first-year-teacher experiences. Like the first day of class when I wrote on the dry erase board with an unlabeled permanent marker. Rebecca and I are noticing that the kids are really falling apart lately when it comes to knowing what is inappropriate to bring to school. My multimedia class is putting together a composite project that will be a promotional movie poster of the class. It will feature each of them dressed in superhero gear, looking tough. Photoshop it all together, put it on a slick background, add a WordArt title, A+ for everyone. Unless you bring a real gun to school for the photoshoot. All I could say was, "What the... What is that? Give it to me. This is REAL. What the hell are you thinking? Now I have to walk over to the dean's office packing heat." Of course we reviewed the other options he had: ask permission first, take the picture at home, or bring a fake plastic gun. Discipline was easy: his mother worked at the school. Administration informed her that in the States her son would've been expelled. The Kindergarten Principal recently sent home a note to all parents for a similar problem. Rebecca has been dealing with many Kindergartners bringing makeup to school, hiding it in their bags, and sloppily applying it to each other during recess. Detection of this offense is relatively straightforward.

Technical Support in Education

Most teachers are fairly tech savvy. I know education doesn't have a reputation for being on the bleeding edge or anything, but most teachers are expected to use technology fairly regularly, and integrate some technology basics in their curriculum. That being said, I feel that there's a certain rare stupidity that runs just a little deeper and truer; one that can slip through the cracks in education (and other demographics of course, such as chefs, janitorial engineers, and Alaskans). Evidence is mounting, but perhaps the most telling is an anecdote (or vignette, as we call them in educational research) born just yesterday. The pre-primary area has a closet lab with two computers. An educator was using both computers simultaneously. When approached about the availability of a computer, the teacher responded, "I need to use both because I need to type something while I use the web to search on the other". In the tech department, we've decided to downgrade her system to DOS, then install Win3.11 in a month when she's ready for the new "multitasking" capabilities of Windows.

Cilmbed a Volcano

We climbed an active volcano this weekend called Pacaya, summit elevation 2,552 m (8367 ft). For reference, Guatemala City and Pacaya base camp are both at about 5000 ft. If you come down to visit and are in decent shape, this is a must-do. The most recent major eruption occured in early 2000, a violent explosion with a tephra-bearing plume reaching 8-km altitude. Three lava flows continuined through March 2000. The climb is safe because the activity is relatively predictable and infrequent. Pacaya is only 18 miles south of Guatemala City. The approach hike takes about 80 minutes with several vistas. Pacaya6.jpg Right before the main cone, there's a basin where people have moved large volcanic rocks to spell words. You can see a few people in the basin here rearranging letters; not exactly an accepted ecotourism practice. Pacaya5.jpg When you emerge into the clearing and see the main debris-avalanche cone for the first time, it seems like a near impossible hike. The camera doesn't really capture it, but the ascent is actually about 40 degrees (pretty steep for inexperienced hikers). The cone is made of loose skeet, and footing is very difficult. It really is 3 steps forward, slide 1 step back, and takes about 40 minutes. Pacaya.jpg At the top there is a large crater, about 300 feet across. This is us on the rim. Pacaya2.jpg Imagine panning slightly more right, and you can see one of the two main visible vents, this one in the wall of the crater. Both vents are very audibly "breathing" smoke, and the lava creates the red glow in the sulpheric fog. Pacaya3.jpg Pan further right, looking at the center of the crater, and you see the other vent - a smaller cone within the crater. We spent about 30 minutes up top and actually did see one red-hot rock be expelled from the cone, as well as some ash. Not pictured, there are small ground vents surrounding the crater every 20 feet or so. They are a few inches wide and expell little puffs of warm gas that you can feel with your hand. The ground itself is warm. Pacaya4.jpg We took a video of the inner cone breathing, as well as the best part: sliding down the loose skeet - it feels like walking on the moon, really fun. Link: Pacaya.wmv, 18 sec, 280 KB

Jaeschke Wedding in Ecuador

A few weeks ago we attended the wedding of ex-roommate/Deloitte friends Paul and Denise in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where D-Nice grew up. Beautiful couple, beautiful country, beautiful wedding. Had a lot of fun with Evan, Kristen, Matt, Gordo, and Jim. Connecting through Panama City, we found this fine store in the airport. Don't like your kid? Trade the brat. This man barters in children. Look, even the M&M is scared. ecuador.jpg We've found that Latin American countries have looser standards for nudity in public advertising ecuador2.jpg Evan and I didn't just cut a rug at the reception (which started at 9 PM and went until 5 AM) - we cut out rug strips and whipped the DJ nasty, tripped the light fantastic, hooved the shuffle bug - dance moves that haven't even been invented yet. ecuador3.jpgecuador4.jpg Climb the 444 stairs, and you're rewarded with these views of Guayaquil ecuador6.jpgecuador7.jpg

Our Apartment

Mostly for my Mom's edification... I present our home away from home(s) p.s Jeff made me include the pictures of the shoes. The Kitchen - small but mighty ourplace.jpgourplace.jpg Living Room/Dinning Room - world's most uncomfortable furniture ourplace.jpgourplace12.jpg Guest Room/Junkyard ourplace.jpgourplace.jpg Master Bedroom ourplace.jpgourplace.jpg The shared closet. Yes, I have a bit of an addiction. Jeff would like to point out the contrast. ourplace.jpgourplace.jpg Master Bath ourplace14.jpg

I Have a Maid

This blows my mind: Rebecca and I pay $12 every week to have a trustworthy woman spend 4 hours cleaning up after us. She does all our dishes, cleans the kitchen, and cooks for us. She cleans, folds, and puts away my laundry. She washes the bathrooms, mops the floors, organizes our messes we leave out, and sometimes even redecorates the place. Rebecca and I really get a kick out of this. We have the little Guatemalan maid that is an aspiring interior decorator. We never asked her to trim the fringe off the rug or move the furniture around. I LOVE THIS!!! - yet it feels somehow wrong that I should have all this for $6. Overall, the arguments for hiring her are much stonger: Doing it oursleves would deny her some business she gladly wants. We recommend her to others. Rebecca's maid last year was $10/weekly visit, so giving our new one $12 is generous. Besides being highly recommended as trustworthy, she once found Q100 ($12 - her entirely weekly fee) in my pocket doing my laundry, and left it out with a note. I love her.

CHICAGO GUATEMALA Cheap Airfare!

Found this from American Airlines: "The Chicago Fare Sale is in full swing. Right now, you'll find reduced rates from Chicago to some of our most popular destinations around the globe. To take advantage of these fares, book now through October 22, 2004, and travel anytime from October 20, 2004, to February 28, 2005."
From: To: Round-trip Fare*
Chicago O'Hare, IL (ORD) Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA) $348
Right now we are planning on being back in the US from Saturday, December 11th to Thursday, December 30th. The week directly before and after would be excellent times to visit because school is not in session.The direct flight from Chicago is a 4 hour flight. Email me if you'd like to set up a time to visit.

For Jeremy and Bobbie

Last week we received a package that should serve as a reminder to all of us. This is the tragic story of a little boy named Jose Fernando Montegolla. Uncommon for a child of privledge, JoFer loved to fish at the pond. Not every child has a butler so faithful as Mostaza El Fiel. Most days after school JoFer and Mostaza would trek the trail bar to Mount Galleta, their favorite fishing spot. One day a ferocious goldfish named Pescado yanked young JoFer's line so hard that he fell in, gusher'd his head on the rocks, and was devoured by goldfish; which is a terrible, if improbable, way to die. Mostaza never forgave himself for not watching JoFer more carefully. Every day he returns to the spot where JoFer loved to fish and meditates on the memory of his young friend, who visits as a spirit. Thank you Jer and Bobbie for your thoughtful note and the care package :) See The Tragedy (popup window)

When is it your fault?

In teaching, when is it your fault? If one student has a horrible day, what could you have done to prevent that? If the entire class has a bad day, is it you or them? What if you thought the material was engaging but they were distracted? What if you KNOW it was engaging because your other section loced it and did really well? I don't know how I feel on whole. Part of me is personally invested. I'm sick, I had a bad day where I had to assign extra homework for an entire section, and it felt bad. Part of me wants to handle it in the business manner, passionate but easy-going, rarely letting work interfere with heart.