My students in my youngest EB1-M cohort drew this picture. It started out during the break time, when I often let them play with markers on the whiteboard, but I was so impressed with their idea, we turned it into an impromptu class project. Emma and Michelle did most of the actual drawing, but the other students made comments, and there were repeated "edits" until each student was satisfied with their portrait.
I just stood there like a blockhead. Go figure.
I really like it. But I wonder about the all-seeing alligator above. What's that about?
I used to live about a block from Lake Calhoun, in Minneapolis. I associate my time living there with my huge (or anti-huge?) weight-loss project, in 2006-2007. I lost almost 60 pounds that year – and mostly, I kept it off, losing another bit after coming to Korea, and then a lot when I had cancer, and then gaining some of that last bit back. I've been pretty stable at 80 kilos since the bounceback from the cancer.
Part of that process was my daily jogging. I would go out and run around the lake. I made a fixed habit of it. So you could say that I lost my pounds to the lake. And anyway, I have strong associative memories of the lake, my time living there, those daily runs, and the feeling of taking control back of my life.
I recently learned that there has been a movement to rename the lake. I think that's maybe a good idea – it's named for that famous, pre-Civil War justifier of slavery. This has now started the approval process.
The new name is Bde Maka Ska ("White Earth Lake"). I think this is a wonderful new name. Having studied the Dakota language (if only a little bit), I was pleased to recognize two of the three words in this name. It's especially nice in the city of Bdeota (which is, afterall, Minneapolis' Dakota name, and means simply "Place of Lakes").
Most countries in the world frequently rename things, and I think it's generally interesting, if sometimes overly trendy to whatever is currently going on politically in a place. But this change I can support unequivocally.
Here is a picture I took in 2009, during a brief visit to the old neighborhood, retracing my jogging route around the lake.
I don't know what it is about me and water problems when I first wake up. There was the event, last year, when I flooded my apartment by making the mistake of trying to do my dishes while not yet fully awake. And this morning, well, I made a much smaller but rather odd flood.
I got up, and the first thing I do, with my perpetually dry mouth (lacking the salivary capacity that normal mouths have), is get some water to drink. I pulled down a clean glass tumbler from my cabinet, put some water in it, and went over to my desk. And I didn't notice, the glass was leaking. A lot.
It emptied itself like an incontinent automaton at my desk, and I didn't notice until it had finished its task. I was puzzled how the water had escaped my glass and appeared on my desk and was now waterfalling into my lap.
It took me another run, after wiping up the flood with a towel and refilling my glass, to figure out what was going on. My glass had a remarkable hole in the bottom. I have no idea how that happened. Possibly the last time I washed it, and I just didn't notice until now.
A poem is like a conversation where
you hurl your words out slow and there's no end.
This is my new poem-numbering scheme. I decided I wanted the numbers to reflect the total number since I started this poem-a-day effort. So it is the sum of Nonnets + Englynion + Quatrains + Random Poems – [poems written before I started the daily challenge but got included in the earlier counts]. There may be some inaccuracy because some of the quatrains got counted as multiple quatrains despite being single “poems.” Not that all this really matters. I just… decided I wanted to do it like this, moving forward.
Last night in my PM1-M cohort CC class (cloze listening of pop songs), I felt like I was living in some kind of Lord of the Flies rendition of hagwon life.
You see, this one boy, Eric, was opening a packet of snack ramen. The kids eat the dried ramen noodles dry, sort like potato chips, with the flavor packets opened and sprinkled over the broken up noodles. What they do is they open the packet enough to get out the flavor packet, which they extract and add into the noodle package. Then they hold the noodle package closed and mash up the noodles inside, so they're all tiny fragments and the flavor granules are distributed. It's like do-it-yourself Doritos, maybe.
So Eric had done this work. And then he tore open his now mashed up and flavored pack of dried noodles eagerly, with a plan to eat his snack. Normally I'm pretty tolerant of kids eating snacks in my class, despite an official rule against it, because I know the whole business of attending night class for elementary age students means sometimes they are hungry and haven't eaten since an after-school snack or something.
The other boys (the cohort is currently all boys, just by luck of the draw) were eyeing his snack jealously and hungrily. Unfortunately, Eric opened his packet too aggressively. The noodle fragments, stained orange by the spicy flavor granules, flew all over the room, landing on desks, chairs, floor, and even in Eric's hair. The boy sat with a stunned and despondant look on his face.
But the worst was when the other boys, seeing their chance, swooped in and began grabbing up all the scattered noodle fragments. They didn't seem to care that the bits were on the floor, chairs and desks. They ate them. In less than a minute, most of the bits were gone. Even the ones in Eric's hair. While Eric still just sat, looking stunned.
I said, "Really? Really? You guys are eating off the floor? It's like a pack of dogs!"
In fact, I wasn't that scandalized – I could barely contain my laughing. But given my in loco parentis role (more loco than parentis, perhaps), I felt obligated to be upset by the performance.
Anyway, we got it cleaned up. It took up about half the class time, though. I guess the boys were not annoyed by this.
Quite unrelatedly, what I'm listening to right now.
Sticks & Big2, "Waar Wacht Je Op?!" Don't ask me why. I just listen to weird things, sometimes. Why not a little bit of Dutch hiphop?
[Intro: Sticks] Waar wacht je op? Waar wacht je op? Waar wacht je op? Sticky Steez!
[Intro: Big2] Hé Sticks, go get 'em!
[Verse 1: Sticks] Je krijgt deez nuts, Dries van Noten Breek het open, pistachenoten Een piece of mind en een piece van mij Voor de fun en fuck de police d'r bij Nou als ik niet beweeg, breng ik niets te weeg En wat zijn mijn woorden waard als ik ze niet meer weeg? Ik deel mijn lief en leed, en het gaat fucking flex Maar men ziet liever leed en beef-dvd's Ik ga next-level, van rap battles naar HMH Ga aan de kant Jett Rebel en Chef's Special En Kensington en Go Back To The Zoo En hoe lauwer de beat, hoe gekker je doet Ambitie maakt dat ik move met m'n shit Ambitie maakt dat jij grooved op die shit 'T is hard werken om je vrijheid te behouden Maar de up-side: het kan allemaal van jou zijn Nou waar wacht je op?
[Chorus: Sticks & Big2] Get loose met je poes, als ik dit niet doe zijn we helemaal floes (Waar wacht je op?) En iedereen doet mee, met de Sticky Steez en de Biggie 2 (Waar wacht je op?) Geen plan, gewoon gaan, de leeuw laat je echt niet in zijn hempie staan (Waar wacht je op?) En de beat goes on (Lachen toch?) En de beat goes, on (Waar wacht je op?) Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou… Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou… Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
[Verse 2: Sticks] Nou als het moet, bos ik op bam bam ritmes Chaka Demus & en de Pliers in een 5-0-1 levi's Met een witte Air Max, met een pipi' achter mijn oor Geeft niks, het is the latest greatest Nadenken is de vijand van vrijheid Check deze Twan, volgens mij zijn we highlights Daar moest je bij zijn, anderen willen dat me zijn maar zijn te klein als Royce da 5'9 Voor de clubs ben ik te nuchter, lever de track af, breek de tent af Zoek rust midden in de drukte Heel het leven is een trip beter stap je in (Waar wacht je op?) Record wat, breng het uit de dag erop Deel de hele taart uit, zet er slagroom op Er is genoeg voor ieder, er is genoeg voor ieder Waar wacht je op?
[Chorus: Sticks & Big2] Get loose met je poes, als ik dit niet doe zijn we helemaal floes (Waar wacht je op?) En iedereen doet mee, met de Sticky Steez en de Biggie 2 (Waar wacht je op?) Geen plan, gewoon gaan, de leeuw laat je echt niet in zijn hempie staan (Waar wacht je op?) En de beat goes on (Lachen toch?) En de beat goes, on (Waar wacht je op?) Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou… Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou…
My second grade student Michelle, who seems to be some kind of cartoonist prodigy, drew this character on my whiteboard the other day. She told me it was the Alligary. Now we have another student, who's English name is Gary. And frankly, in its minimalistic way, this drawing is an excellent caricature: the bowl-shaped haircut, the disgruntaled half-frown. I certainly would have recognized it as being him, if she'd only hinted that it was a student in our class.
That's how I was feeling last night. It's Thanksgiving in the US, but it's just a regular day of work, here. And it was a particularly awful day at work.
I was feeling incompetent as a teacher, and yet also frustrated with idiotic parents who complain about what I like to hope are good, research-supported teaching methods.
It was one of those fortunately rare days when I walk home daydreaming about quitting my job. I used to suffer that a lot. When I worked in those computer jobs, I literally spent every day daydreaming such things. In general, I stick with this teaching thing because I don't suffer those kinds of days so often.
So last night, I was thinking, "No thanks…"
This morning, there was a dusting of snow in my neighborhood. You can kind of see it on Jeongbal Hill, in the background, and on the trees in front of the maternity hospital in the foreground.
and she was sitting there, like happy,
and, like, not a care in the world,
and she goes, like, "whatever,"
and she holds her hand out,
and she's smiling, too,
and I agree,
and, well, see,
A Capella Science, "Evo-Devo (Despacito Biology Parody)." This song is truly awesome. It's evolutionary biology. It's poetry. It's music. It's all in a package, like the miracle of life, itself. For the prototype of which this song is a "parody," see here.
EVO-DEVO Huxley B. Mac. Oh Carroll, Carroll Gould, Stephen Jay yeah D-D-D-D-Davidson and Peter
See One cell divide and decide on a thousand fates Did you ever figure how they know? B. Mac. We Are built of modules combined in a planned out way Each new piece must be told where to go Oh
Now there's a science helping us to understand How our cells encode this architectural plan Signalling each other with genetic tools oh Oh yeah
Wow Phenotype the interface for mouse and man Genotype the files and the subprograms What then are the switches, circuit boards and boot code?
Evo-Devo Looking at the logic in the ways that we grow Every gene directed by a signal key code Proteins that can activate, enhance or veto Evo-Devo Signals are controlled by other genes that signal Calculating in a network labyrinthal Where the heart and liver and the hands and feet go
Signal mapping tells each region what it ought to be yo With circuits so deeply built upon They're older than the Paleo The Paleozoic Era baby In a crucial pathway changes tend to get torpedoed Where they go calamity goes As this cyclopic sheep knows..
See down they cascade like a domino Like you and I drosophila The path that makes us optical Was laid a long long time ago Back before we blew up the cambrian like a bomb bomb Now my eye protein can make you see out of your bom bom And Hedgehog and its relatives like Indian and Sonic Set up set up in a gradient on segments embryonic Split forebrains and asymmetric parts depend upon it Flipping on genetic switches and logic From devo to evo Adult and embryo Mostly don't evolve in the genes of the genome Safer the mutation aimed at regulation Keep the building blocks and swap their activation From devo to evo Parts have alter egos Homologs evolved from repeats in the schema Switch a couple bases in the proper places You'll be watching flies grow legs out of their faces oh yeah
Evo-Devo Stick around for Modern Synthesis the sequel Only by combining can a new theory grow Evolution and development amigos Evo-Devo Signals trigger patterns of complexity so Switching up the switches of a signalling node Gives a modular and simple way to evolve
Look at how our spinal segments generate a neat row Built on a molecular clock One cycle, one vertebra One vertebra one vertebra baby Speeding up its rate is snakes' developmental cheat code That and where a lizard's feet grow They turn off distal aminos
Evo-Devo This is how we go from single cells to people Every generation and in life primeval Life in variations endless and beautiful
From devo to evo Larva to mosquito Patterns are resolved as the signals proceed yo Map out a gene with a glow tag Kill it with a morpholino Short oligo morpholino baby
From devo to evo Voyage of the Beagle Body plans evolve when proteins steer the genome In this manner life's beauty grows Aesthetica in vivo
I don't have much to say. Recently we started our Christmas-themed role-play with my youngest, lowest-level cohort. It might seem early, but with only one 45 minute practice period per week, it's really not too early.
So we are learning some Christmas songs. And I drew this on the whiteboard. We were drawing reindeer characters from the story. I added my own.