Monday, April 30, 2018

Time to be Random

Link up with Stacy!
It's state assessment time in Texas.  Oh, joy! (sarcasm)  Do you know who actually writes these tests?  Do you oppose or support letting parents decide whether their child opts out of a state math or reading test?  Did you know the tests are required by federal law?  Do you oppose or support using state testing results as part of a student's graduation plan? And do you have any idea how many of your tax dollars support state assessments?
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Teachers are working harder and harder when it should be the students working harder.  If a student doesn't pass a state test, who works harder to help them pass?  We do! The teachers!  We work our rears off before, during, and after school (all year long) trying to make lessons relevant and fun.  We want our students to succeed. Why aren't the students working harder, too?  Okay.  Rant over.

New topic:  Books.  I just finished reading The Alienist.  It seemed to take forever!  Not because it was bad, but it was long.  And written with a higher-than- normal vocabulary.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I do and I don't want to watch the series now.  I do because I really liked the characters and the story line, and I'm interested in watching what they do.  I don't because I have a vision of the characters in my head, and the show may not live up to that vision.  Oh, the dilemma!

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I've just started watching a series on Netflix called Mindhunter.  I didn't care for the first episode or two because the acting was so bad.  It either grew on me or the actors got better (haha) because it's interesting how the FBI began profiling and catching serial killers.  Macabre? Maybe.  But entertaining, too.

But before I go, let's laugh!

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I don't know why, but this one cracked me up so much!
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Have a great week!

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1)The Alienist by Caleb Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although it was a page-turner, this book took me a while to read. First, it is almost 500 pages long, and even though it was written in 1994, the story takes place in 1896. The author, Caleb Carr, uses some archaic expressions and a higher-than-average vocabulary making it feel as though it was actually written at the turn of the century.

The main character is Dr. Laszlow Kreizler, an alienist, which is what we now call a psychologist. He studies criminal behavior and uses methods and practices that were considered questionable by mainstream police standards of the time.

There is a sadistic killer on the loose in New York City. Someone is murdering young boy-whores and dismembering and denigrating the corpses. Dr. Kreizler calls his friend, crime reporter John Schuyler Moore, to the scene of a grisly crime, and there begins their efforts to nab the killer. With the encouragement of then police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, Sara Howard is added to the team. She is a character likely based on the first female detective. Also included are two new police detectives brought in by Roosevelt to combat corruption on the police force, Lucius and Marcus Isaacson.  They bring some innovative techniques to the team that works together at 808 Broadway. Rounding out the motley crew are Stevie Taggert, a street-kid rescued by Kreizler, Cyrus Montrose, an African-American who becomes Kreizler's personal assistant, and Mary Palmer, a patient turned housekeeper turned love interest.

Kreizler's methods involve studying the victims, their lifestyles, and their habits, then determining what kind of person could have committed the crimes. He is profiling the criminal before profiling was an accepted practice. He, along with his team, take the reader on an adventure so full of twists and turns, with a mystery so complex, that the reader is unlikely to solve the mystery before the characters do.

Besides appearances from Teddy Roosevelt, there is also an appearance by J. P. Morgan as well as mentions of landmarks such as Bellevue Hospital that create an authentic setting. Caleb Carr creates dynamic characters that make the book seem more like nonfiction than the historical fiction it actually is. The plot is unpredictable, so the reader is in for some surprises along this bumpy ride.

I recommend this book for readers who, like me, have not seen the Netflix series The Alienist. Read the book first. You'll be glad you did.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

TV Shows of My Childhood

When I was very little, we only had a few TV channels:  ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and two UHF channels that didn't even have names.  After the late show, about midnight, nothing was on TV but either static or a picture of the American flag.  They always played the Star Spangled Banner before they went off the air.  There was NO 24 hour TV!  And no remote control!

Do you remember waking up on Saturday morning, ready to watch cartoons?  They weren't on 24/7.  They weren't even in Prime Time until The Flintstones debuted.  I'm feeling nostalgic, so I'm looking back on the TV shows I grew up with.  I hope you liked some of them, too.

The Brady Bunch - 1969-1974 - A man with three sons marries a woman with three daughters.  Add the housekeeper to a newly blended family, and you had some crazy misadventures!  This is also where I first saw Davy Jones and the Monkees.

The Munsters - 1964-1966 - Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie, and strange cousin Marilyn.  Frankenstein is married to a vampire whose father lives in the basement, and their son is a werewolf.  Marilyn is the unusual one (read - not a creepy monster).  The Munsters was already in reruns by the time I was really old enough to watch them, but I sure thought the telephone booth coffin was freaky!
Plus, I liked Pat Priest as Marilyn, not the other girl.

The Pink Panther Show (cartoon) - 1969 - I'm surprised this was only one year.  I loved it.  It was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon.  This pink cartoon cat was groovy!  He didn't have any time for Inspector Clouseau, Sargent Deaux Deaux, the Aardvark, or any number of annoying gadgets.  They tried resurrecting the series in the 70's, but it bombed.

The Andy Griffith Show - 1960-1968 - I watched this in reruns, too since I wasn't even born until '65.  I think one reason I loved this show is my daddy loved it, too.  Andy Griffith still reminds me of my dad every time I see him or hear something about him.  Or Mayberry (Thanks, Rascall Flatts)  Who can resist Sherriff Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, and especially Deputy Barney Fife.  They had lots of laughs, and there were simpler, more wholesome laughs.

The Beverly Hillbillies - 1962-1971 - Hillbillies inherit millions of dollars when oil is found on their land, so they move to Beverly Hills.  Their mansion has a cement pond, a "fancy eatin' table" (billiards table), and you can probably find Granny in the kitchen making her roomatiz medicine or cooking up some delicious possum.  Jed Clampett, Elly May, Granny, Jethro, the Drysdales, and Miss Jane sure got in a lot of trouble!  And it was so much fun!

The Flintstones - 1960-1966 - Another cartoon I saw only in re-runs!  This was probably my absolute favorite!  I loved all the "gadgets" they used to wash dishes, take showers, send messages, and power their cars during the Stone Age.  Lovable Fred, Wife Wilma, and pet Dino palled around with Barney and Betty Rubble.  They finally had children, Pebbles and Bam-Bam.  This was a great Hanna-Barbera cartoon!

The Jetsons - 1962-1963 - No, I wasn't born yet, so yes, re-runs again.  While the lack of technology made the Flintstones funny, the abundant technology made the Jestons more fun.  I can still sing the theme song as many of you probably can, too.  George Jetson and his family, Jane, Judy, Elroy, pet Astro, and Rosie the Robot were great characters always getting into trouble.  The Jetsons made me think that we would have flying cars by the year 2000!

Gilligan's Island - 1964-1967 - This is another theme song I can sing word-for-word still.  I think back on this show and realize how NOT politically correct it would be in this day and age, but it sure was funny then!  I think my favorite characters were Gilligan and Mary Ann.  But I liked them all:  The Skipper, the Professor, Ginger, and Mr. and Mrs. Howell.  I think I liked the episodes where they were putting on some kind of show best, especially the Hamlet episode.  I always wondered how they were able to make all of those gadgets and some of that food with only the items that were on the island.

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Mister Roger's Neighborhood - 1968-2001 - Can you believe there were 31 seasons of Mister Rogers?  Fred Rogers came across as the kindest, gentlest man, and he was so sincere.  I don't think he was acting at all.  I believe that was his true persona.  My favorite segment of each show started with the trolley taking us to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with its puppet characters.  I supposed I liked Daniel Tiger the best.  I also liked when a "neighbor" would visit.
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Heckle and Jeckle - 1956-1971- These two smart-alecs were one of the cartoons I looked forward to on Saturday morning.  Did I mention they are magpies?  I supposed this cartoon also would not be politically correct in this day and age, but I enjoyed it.

The Huckleberry Hound Show - 1958-1961 - I watched this one in reruns, too.  I especially liked my blue-furred Southern friend Huckleberry, but I also liked Pixie, Dixie, and Mr. Jinks.  The format of this show was a little different than other cartoons.  You never knew if Huckleberry was going to be a detective, a scientist, a soldier, or even a policeman.

Bewitched - 1964-1972 - I always wished I could wrinkle my nose like Samantha and make some magic happen.  I loved this show, even after they changed Darrens.  I thought Tabitha was adorable, and I think everyone was a little scared of Endora.  My favorites were the neighbors, Abner and Gladys Kravitz.  She sure had a lot of "sick headaches."  I especially liked the episodes were Elizabeth Montgomery also played Serena.  And when Paul Lynde appeared, what a treat!

Hazel - 1961-1966 - Played by Shirley Booth (and yes, I watched in re-runs), Hazel was the maid and housekeeper in the Baxter household where she kept things ship-shape.  Hazel ran the show, and she always solved everyone's problem.  I always wanted to have a housekeeper like her!

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Monday, April 23, 2018

It's So Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.

Ever since I was a kid, people have called me fat.  Not all people, but quite a few.  So I ask you, does this little girl look fat to you?

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Keep in mind, these pictures were taken in the early 70's.  I was probably 7 years old.

Now, I did get a little pooch in my belly as I got older, but even with the pooch in my belly, I was slightly over 100 pounds in tenth grade, and I was told I was fat, not just by the dance team instructor, but by my mom... and boys.  Fat, fat, fat.

Forty years later, I actually have become a little too pudgy, okay a lot, so I have been exploring options to get my weight back down some, and I have finally decided to try the Keto diet.  I have co-workers who have had success with it, and they referred me to a website called DietDoctor.  I've always said that I couldn't live without coke, bread, and potatoes, but I'm giving it a shot.  Today is day 2.  If nothing else, hopefully it will help me break my sugar habit.  I'll let you know how it goes.
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Last week I was trying to help my son with college-level economics homework.  Formulas (gosh, no, math) and stuff I never had to study.  GDP. interest rates, nominal rates, velocity, aggregate...
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Geez.  You'd think I would have learned everything a person needs know from general adulting (inflation, interest rates, investing, etc.).  Nope. This is what  should have been going on in my head, but instead, it just went over it!

And now, for some fun.

Have you ever had fajitas?  Tex-Mex fajitas done right sure are tasty!  I'd give a lot for some yummy fajitas, but this poor fella really had a problem. Over a period of 9 years, 53 year old G. Escamilla stole 1.2 million dollars in fajitas.  Those must have been extra tasty!  He had been using county money to buy fajitas and reselling them.  He had his own little business going.  A delivery made during his absence from work at the Cameron County Juvenile center is what did him in.  Needless to say, he was fired.  He also gets to live in prison for 50 years.

What do you think of these?
That's all for now!

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

Famous Last WordsFamous Last Words by Katie Alender
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I almost abandoned this book when I first started it. I put it down for a couple of months after reading the first 3 or 4 chapters. I picked it back up at the urging of one of my students. I was worried about it being too scary because it is about a haunted house. And it was a little eerie.  Hauntings and ghosts usually aren't my cup of tea, but I got past that because the story was good.

Understanding the main character was difficult in the beginning. Her name is Willa, a high school student, and she has just moved in to an infamous Hollywood home with her mother and step-father.  She doesn't make friends easily, but one person she does have a connection with is Wyatt who is obsessed with the Hollywood Killer that is stalking women in Los Angeles.  Meanwhile, Willa thinks her home is haunted.  She sees and hears things that no one else does including a strange person in the mirror where her own reflection should be.

This story is a mixture of murder, mystery, and Hollywood history.  The ending will surprise you!   I figured out the mystery only shortly before it was made obvious. Clever story line, if just a little unrealistic.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Basketball Playoffs are Here!

It's basketball playoff season! I'm resurrecting some older fun facts and adding some new ones.

1.  This has to be the best play of this season:  Cleanup in Aisle 3!

 2. Shaquille O'Neal has several rap songs. It's kinda funny. This one is from 1993.  I imagine Shaq would like to forget it!

 3. The shortest person to play in the NBA was Mugsy Bogues who was only 5' 3" tall. The Washington Bullets selected him as the 12th overall pick in 1987. He played in the NBA for 14 years.  Here he is pictured with Tracy McGrady.
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 4.. Pau Gasol, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs, went to medical school in Barcelona, but left when he was drafted into the NBA.  Brawn and Brains!  Brother Marc plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.  Youngest brother Adria played at UCLA but has returned to Spain to play there.
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 5. The American Basketball League, which began in 1976, was known for the flashy 3-point shots. The ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, but the 3-point shot wasn't used in the NBA until 1979.

 6.The NBA is truly a global sport.  There is at least one player from every team who is considered an international player.  Thirty-three different countries are represented by 62 players.  Utah and Philadelphia have the most with 7 players each from various parts of our world

7. Did you know that jump balls used to be after EVERY BASKET? I can't imagine that!

 8. LeBron James has not lost a first round series in almost six years playing for Miami and Cleveland. This "might" be the year they break that streak since their first round series with the Pacers is 1-1 so far.  You never know!
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9. Elvin Hayes never won an MVP award despite the fact that "he played in 12 consecutive All-Star games, won a championship and averaged 20 points per game or more in 10 of his 16 NBA seasons" (Bleacher Report) He played for the University of Houston before the NBA, then the San Diego/Houston Rockets, the Baltimore Bullets, and again for Houston.

 10. Charles Barkley was cut from both his freshman and sophomore basketball teams. He did, however, play his junior and senior years.
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11. Teams who win game 1 of their playoff series have won the series 79% of the time since the 1983-84 season.

12. Providence, Rhode Island once had a team. They were called the Steamrollers. They only lasted 3 seasons, and their overall record was abysmal: 46-122.

13. Malice in the Palace - Some call this the scariest (or most embarrassing) moment in NBA history. It took place on November 19, 2004 between the Pistons and the Pacers. Take a look.

Most information in this post came from Bleacher Report and FoxSports.
P. S. I really can't stand those GEICO commercials with the talking basketball! Just sayin'!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy today.

Here's a bit of bizarre news:

Last week, when a woman passed away in Oklahoma City, her obituary led police to track down her son who had escaped from prison in 1981 after serving only 19 months of a nine year sentence for distribution of drugs.  They tracked him right here to Houston where he lived under an assumed name.  Fingerprints confirmed they had their man.

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This is how I have been feeling about work lately.  It is never-ending!  Literally!  And I'm tired!
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I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up.  I used to play school all the time.  All the things I loved then... no longer exist!  And all of the changes lead to even more work for teachers.  Personal learning plans for all students, eliminating the grading scale completely - no numerical grades, workshop approach in reading (no novels), and the list goes on.  I am opposed to these ideas, yet I am not at a point where I can retire yet.  Starting over in another school district is not appealing, either.

Now time for something fun.

This is probably what my cat thinks:

How 'bout this?

 Why aren’t koalas actual bears?

The don’t meet the koalafications.
See you next week!

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