Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just goes to show...

The student I previously referred to has a very good reason as to why her parents had become incommunicado... The mother is in jail. Thankfully, I was following my second rule for today's teachers so I have nothing to feel guilty about. I wonder how many teachers in my past even gave it a second thought if one of us came to school tired and withdrawn or teary-eyed. We may not have endured quite as many instances of ill-fortune or been victims of poverty like these kids, but we all had our pain we bore to school each day.

I remember how embarrassed I was at the other Arabs in my classes who were from the same Arab country as I am from... What ignorant buffoons they often were... Not doing homework, failing tests, speaking with disrespect to their teachers. I had had enough when one of my "countrymen" was alseep as we read Julius Caesar in the 9th grade and I thought "typical, I bet he'll get a full scholarship to university and a kiss on the ass as he leaves for his business class flight". Turns out his mother and sister had just died in a car crash recently and he was unable to sleep at home for days since it happened. Actually, he was a lazy-ass student too, and he did get a full scholarship, and the metaphorical kiss on the ass, but it was a high price for him to pay in terms of karma. He was a fun guy. I can easily imagine him sniffing various illegal substances off the faultlessly perfect backsides of high class call girls. He was that kind of guy :) I hope he's behaving himself and enjoying less dangerous pleasure in life.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Give me liberty or give me heels

I don't think I'm a bra-burning femi-nazi... Really. I focus on crimes made against any human, it just so happens that the target of a lot of individual and collective aggression seems to be made towards those with ovaries... But anyway, the topic for today is true sexual freedom. Is it really freedom or is it a cry for attention and yet another reason men think we're all stupid sluts?

Exhibit A: Pole dancing classes. It is a sassy medium to express your sexual liberation or is just feeding the belief that every good wife should be a chef in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom? Are women really doing it for themselves or desperately trying to fulfill the pubescent fantasies of their male partners? I guess that's down to the individual. Don't try to give me that "oh but it tones you up and it's great exercize" because you could go for a swim and do that. However, if you're doing this for your health AND you have a kinky night scheduled in the bedroom, fine. But be honest with yourself... Why would you want to do this? Who is it really for?

I struggle with this because I'm certainly all for the exploration of self and having fun in the bedroom, but I don't exactly see men scrambling for classes on how to be sexier for their partners! I think that, rather than letting women take on the sole responsibility of spicing things up, men should take Full Monty classes or do whatever it is their partners find sexy. Maybe we need a few more of THESE! "Tell you what, honey, I'll learn to twirl my tassles in two directions if you learn to treat me like a lady! Um. Yeah."

I think I only resent the concept of it being a one-sided deal. If it's mutual, I wholeheartedly encourage sexual exploration. Share and share alike. And THAT's why the Penthouse magazines are mine too. :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm prime rib, baby!

"Australia's most senior Muslim cleric has suggested that women who do not wear headscarves are to blame for sexual assaults, comparing them to uncovered pieces of meat. "

Sadly a universal belief that extends into all cultures one way or another. I remember the mortifying story of the nine year old who was kidnapped from her back garden in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates who was raped by her captor and dumped back on her property after the ordeal was over. The man was caught and the judge decided that seeing as she was wearing a see-through dress, he couldn't rightly punish the man.

To the perverts (who are unlikely to be reading this, but here I go anyway): I'm sorry if you have the willpower of a kid in a sweet shop, I'm sorry if you're sick in your twisted little mind, and I'm sorry if you wife left you for another woman or your mother beat you with a broom handle and stuck you in a closet, but the violence ends with YOU.

All this violence against women in children in the news every day is enough to make me puke like a millionaire model... And those are just the stories that even make it to the news. God knows that's just the tip of this hideous iceberg. I tried so hard not to turn this blog into a soap box situation, but MAN these people push me onto it.

I'd like to say that my attention was diverted to this article by my dear husband who doesn't abuse me... Unless I ask him to. ;)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tips for today's teachers

On a serious note... Here are the best tips I have to give to those in the education field.

1. Be consistent. I can not stress this enough. If you say you're going to do something, you better make damn sure you do because otherwise the kids go ballistic on you. For some of them, you are the only constant, regular thing in their lives and you have high expectations to live up to.

2. Be Fair. If have set consequences for the breaking of specific rules, plan to follow them but always give the students a brief opportunity to explain themselves at the appropriate time or place (ie. after everyone else is quietly working on something or just before the class is over. You don't want to punish a kid who slept through class then find out he didn't sleep last night because daddy was beating mommy again).

3. Establish routines. The kids should know exactly what to do on days that you are absent. They should be telling the sub exactly what happens each day of the week.

4. Don't be afraid to be firm. The kids will lose all respect for you if your priority is to be their "friend". You CAN be firm without being cruel.

5. Always take a brief moment to take notice of something. "Hey Johnny, you were really quiet today, are you doing okay?" "Hey Susie, you did far better with the hand-raising today, I'm really proud" "Hey Bob, I like the new haircut". No matter how bad the kid, if you pick up on the tiniest positive thing, they will ALWAYS say "thank you" and view you differently. Don't make a big performance out of it, just a passing comment.

6. Document as much as possible. If you offered help, the kid refused, then failed the test, then you get an angry parent calling you, it sounds so sweet to say "well, Mrs. McScarylady, I offered to go through the whole study guide with him on the 23rd but he told me to get stuffed." Oh the delight!

7. Have a variety of assignments and assessments. Some kids respond well to multiple choice, some to creative presentations. Give them the opportunity to succeed in whatever way they can. If possible, give them the choice between different types of assignments so they can utilize their strengths and individual learning styles or types of expression. Also force some variety once in a while so they can explore different methods and maybe find new strengths.

8. Talk to the trees. By that, I mean the guardians. They can be invaluable with helping stamp out discipline issues in bad apples, giving insights, and also preventing the kind of calls mentioned in number 6. Also, please call giving enough time for the parent to help make a change in their child's performance BEFORE grades are set. The call should be a means of prevention and not an opportunity to whine about things that can't be changed because it's too late.

If I think of more quick notes of advice, I'll make further posts. Feel free to add your own comments/suggestions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hey, aren't you...?

I suddenly remembered something that happened to me while I was in college. I was in line to pay for my lunch and the cashier caught my eye. Was he Arab? His skin wasn't very dark, but his hair was, and his eyebrows were thick and his nose prominent. He gave me the same look of silent analysis.
"Excuse me, are you..?" "Do you mind if I ask..?"
"You first."
"Are you Jewish?"
"No... Funny, I was about to ask you if you were Arab! Just goes to show, huh?"
"Yeah! Hey, nice to meet you..."
"Nice to meet you too."

An armistice in a cafeteria. I always knew a place of eating was the right environment for peace.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A moment to remember.

I went through my contacts in my hotmail account and found the information for a friend who died over a year ago. It was like looking at a moment frozen in time... A memory written in bytes. I'll keep it. Who knows, I may find another dirty joke to pass on to him... :)

You Know You're an Arab Woman When...

Here are a few weird circumstances Arab women often find themselves in. I wish I were making some of this stuff up: You know you're an Arab woman when...

You get a marriage proposal from an Arab guy you JUST met. Perhaps he misread the way you passed him the spare bottle of ketchup in the fast food joint.

Arab men talk to you like you're a retarded three year old. They make it worse by smiling when they do it. It's amazing how they find the time to do this in between calls to their mothers...

You may finally be allowed to spend the night at a female friend's house at the age of 23, a few years after your 12 year brother has spent his third vacation in Amsterdam with his friends. (okay, I exaggerated with the ages, but the truth lies in the sentiment)

Arab hospitality is second to none. You can drop by someone's house and they'll offer you tea and snacks before they finally get around to telling you someone is in the next room in labor and they really must get going to the hospital (absolutely true story, I shit you not).

You have the sexiest underwear on under your jeans and long sleeve blouse. And abaya. And no one gets to see them.

Your friends mothers yell at you if you haven't talked to them in a while. They also compete with you when it comes to fashion... And they usually win. Don't worry, you'll eventually take their place.

You've heard someone pronounce "comfortable" as "con-fort-ibbel" or say it that way yourself.

You've forgotten how many cousins you've got.

You rarely keep your real hair color as is.

Your perfume is nothing compared to that of your male counterparts.

Your "nickname" given to you by older Arab women is often much longer than your real name.

Look at the amount of luggage you travel with. Tell me that doesn't look like you're running away for good.

You say"no" by tutting and jerking your head upwards.

You have heard, or said the words, "open the light".

In a bizarre Freudian twist, your mother calls you "mommy". Didn't happen in my case, but to enough of my friends I noticed a pattern.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sometimes I want to punch the tree.

Every year, the teachers of a special ed. student meet with the parent/guardian/distant relative/bookie/dealer to discuss the child's progress in his or her individual goals. I like to invite the student in question to the meeting because who likes to be talked about behind his back? Once in a while, the parent is tempted to turn the whole meeting into a discussion of last week's incident of little Johnny, little Susie, the blender, and the disillusioned frog. Recently, I conducted such a meeting in which the parents decided to dust off their soap boxes and complain how their son will NEVER meet any of these goals, so what's the point in drawing up these papers every year? The father then went on to say that his son is "borderline mentally retarded". To add to his son's embarrassment, he actually started that sentence with "as I've told you before", so not only has he said his son is almost retarded, but he's said it more than once. This, coming from the man whose clueless expression and bone-crunching handshake brought to mind images from "Of Mice and Men".
I was pleased that I didn't recall the parallel someone made between the father and Hank from "King of the Hill".
So the entire meeting was a bitching session, but I got them to sign it and walk out before the end of the period, so the victory was mine.
I was so relieved at their departure that I forgot to offer to show them the way out.
Too bad he didn't lose his way.
"Duh, which way did he go, George, which way did he go?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

War on Terror... The Board Game!

Ever wondered what you could get little Timmy for Christmas or Grandpa Ed for his birthday? Why not consider War on Terror, the board game? "You're either with them or against them... Or sometimes you're both!" It includes a balaclava (ski mask), an axis of evil spinner, suicide bombings and oil trade! A charming exercise of free speech in a box! Thankfully, not living under a dictatorship, the creators of the game will not be dragged from their beds in the middle of the night and shot! Yay!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Power

Teaching in an urban school, we all learn the power of "calling home". The huge drug-dealing, foul-mouthed youth before you can be turned into quivering mass with the threat of bringing momma up to speed on his shenanigans. In dealing with a particularly difficult young lady this year, I made full use of her mother's cell phone number to let her know how her daughter was talking back to teachers, running out of classrooms, skipping and so on. The principal had had enough and called the mother to schedule a meeting. On the day of the meeting, the mother didn't show up. We called her cell phone. Disconnected. Her husband's cell. Disconnected. Home phone number. Disconnected. To be honest, I was impressed at the speed and dedication it took to disconnect all three lines in the space of a couple of days for the sake of avoidance of responsibilities. Say it with me, people... Apple... Tree.

Don't burst my bubble.

While I'm thinking about the fantastic parents I come in contact with through my line of work, I must devote a moment to another fine example. She had given her son one of those Speak N Spell knock offs that tests words on the fourth grade level in the hopes of improving his spelling. An admirable purchase. I used to have the original Speak N Spell and often wondered why they chose a man who either had an unfortunate speech impediment or had the microphone in his left nostril while recording, but I digress...
"Sometimes I like to play with that thing...!" She announced and we can all grin at the realization that, once in a while, we all like to tap into our inner child and play with bubbles and the like.
"And sometimes, I WHOOP that thing!"
Bubbles burst. Apple... Tree.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Darwin's Sad Duty

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching one of the largest, most charming liars I've ever known. She had a smile that could have melted the heart of Joseph Stalin on a bad mustache day, and was a cronic liar, a theif, and avoider of most things academic. She would make any excuse as to why she couldn't write anything down each day, from a very obviously hastily wrapped "bandage" (scrap of some rag) on her hand to being unable to work because she was crying about all her dead brothers and sisters. This disturbed me and so I called a meeting with the rest of her teachers and her mother.
The mother was just as generous of size (apple... tree) and I felt grateful I didn't teach in a kindergarten school because she would have had to park herelf in one of those tiny chairs barely able to accommodate one ass-cheek of an emaciated model. When I brought up the student's story about her deceased siblings, the mother's reaction surprised me. Instead of a furrowed brow and a frown on her lips, her response was reminicent of a person reminded of the time Uncle Marty embarrassed everyone at the wedding with the story about the sheep but everyone thought it was funny afterwards.
"Oh she always knows when I'm pregnant because every time I am and we go get McDonalds (bingo) the smell makes me sick and when we go back again and it doesn't make me sick, she knows the baby's gone."
As I was leading her back to the front door, I mustered up every diplomatic cell in my body.
"Have you considered using some form of contraception?"
"Yeah, I had my tubes tied years ago..."
"But it didn't work after a while."
"I guess they came untied!" she chortled.
"I guess so."

Only then did it occur to me that someone wanted to sleep with this woman more than once. I shuddered.
"Ooh, there's a breeze."

Apple... Tree.

Teachers utter familiar phrases so frequently that we can often abbreviate them and still know what we're talking about. "Apple... Tree" is how my colleagues and I refer to the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" phenomenon that we see with parents and their spawn whom we educate. We always love the parents who are able to show up for open houses and conferences, but sometimes it only make things worse... When told her son would be tested on his knowledge of all the states East of the Mississippi, one well-intentioned parent nodded sagely, looking at the map given to her, and then asked "Which are those?"
I was thoroughly impressed with the subtlety and speed of which the teacher made eye contact with me before he gestured to the map which states those were.
It may have been more embarrassing than calling in the parent of a girl who dresses like she may get picked up by Hugh Grant at any moment, only to see the mother show up in a mini-skirt, fish-net stockings, and heels to give drag queens a run for their money.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Feel free... When I tell you to, dammit.

Oct. 9- Some audience members jeered as Barbra Streisand performed a Bush-bashing sketch alongside an impersonator of the Commander and Chief (Steve Bridges) in her NYC concert. The heckling came to an abrupt halt when the veteran diva retorted "Shut the f*ck up! Shut up if you can't take a joke!". Later on in the evening, she delivered a speech highlighting tolerance. It must be nice to be omnipotent and infallible.

"Stop, or I shall say 'stop' again!"

With North Korea's lastest exploration of nuclear weaponry, the world's response is every bit as explosive.The UN has talked very seriously about imposing sanctions that North Korea feels won't affect them. China, Japan, and the US has had intense discussions in which they condemn North Korea's actions. The rest of the world has been abuzz with the news. At the thunder of all these voices, Kim Jong Il responded by plugging up his ears and singing very loudly (but with a voice of unmatched beauty, no doubt). This angered the UN who in turn is reported to be planning a party in which they won't invite the Adonis-like miniature leader, and in fact will invite everyone else in the world except him. They may even raise their voices at the next global conference. A spokesperson shared "If he won't listen, we'll shout EVEN louder and then he'll REALLY regret it." The rest of the world holds its breath in anticipation of the UN's actions and is slowly turning blue...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Real life rocks part 1

Once in a while, I'm reminded of how amazing real life can be, giving fictional writers a run for their money. Being a special educator I get to hear loads of great stories, and the first I'm going to share is of a kid whose teachers started to notice that his brand new sneakers were getting more and more worn and marked. This wouldn't be abnormal for his friends, but this young man was in a wheelchair and has never walked a day in his life. When questioned, all he would do is smile (especially given the fact that he couldn't speak), so his teachers figured it wasn't anything to be worried about. It turns out, a peer of his kept forgetting to bring appropriate shoes for gym class and saw an ideal opportunity... A thankfully innocent reason. It would have sucked if he'd used them in a messy crime, leaving footprints in his wake...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Assault is never funny, except when...

If you ever thought the Smurf's were innocent of social misconduct, you may want to check this out. I guess his name is Shifty Smurf.

Probing medical study

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation News (BBC), Francis Fesmire, Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan and Arie Oliven have discovered a quick fix for the hiccups... Their paper is bluntly entitled: The Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.
I can see how that would distract one from a bad case of the hiccups. I just want to know who volunteered for the study.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Think Pink

I'm not referring to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'm referring to Sony's proposal to release pink PlayStations in an attempt to attract younger female gamers. Yes, a pink PlayStation is exactly what I want to use when fragging your sorry @$$.

A new breed of alarm

I love cheesy ads on the radio. On my drive to work each morning, I hear about a new alarm system that includes a two-way voice so some guy with an announcer voice can check up on you if the alarm is tripped. The female client in the advert apologizes to the disembodied voice and says she set the alarm off by mistake while getting her shopping. The voice says "That's okay" and asks for her ID number.
In my mind, she fumbles for the code too long and suddenly she's disintegrated ala Duck Dodgers and her bag of groceries falls to the floor in a fizz of smoke and ashes. Now THAT would be an alarm system to inspire confidence.

Blogs away!

Right. Here we go. I'm blogging. I had really hoped I wouldn't start doing this. I don't even write in my diary anymore, for God's sake. Is it narcissitic to think anyone would be remotely interested in my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything? I suppose there's always an audience for someone out there. If I've gained one or two, welcome. I'll update the look once I've learned how.

Let's start with this. I'm Arab, female, and no I don't dress like a "ninja". Nor did I ever intentionally walk a few paces behind a man unless I was surruptitiously checking out his assets. Not that I make a habit of that... Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the well-rounded aspects of a person, but I've been far too ditracted recently to notice. I'm Arab and I've got the bushy eyebrows to prove it. I've got the feel of sand at my fingertips, the beat of the tabla in my hips, and an uncontrolable urge to eat Indian food at any opportunity. Okay, the last one isn't entirely Arab, but Arabs do like a nice Indian dish for the most part. I have an insatiable appetite for learning. And chocolate. Feel free to feed me both. I salivate equally at the thought of a good book or a Milky Way. Anyway, my point is that this blog has one goal... To propogate learning. Mine and maybe yours.People have fought and died for the right to learn, to rise above their station, to expand the horizons of the opportunities that lay before them... And all of that leads to this blog! What an anti-climax... :)