Thursday, June 29, 2006

Movie Review:The Incredibles

I'm not gonna lie. I love movies. If I could afford it, I'd go to the movies every week; and if I could spare the time, I'd rent videos every day. As such, I thought I should do a movie review every once in a while.

Today's review is on the Disney-Pixar film, The Incredibles. I waited along time to see this movie, with high anticipation. This much-acclaimed movie came highly reccommended to me by everyone I spoke to. Everyone, that is, except the seven-year-old son of my co-worker, Cody. His reasoning was: It's boring. This surprised me. A movie about a family of super heroes... boring? Perhaps this child simlpy has a high thresh hold of excitement, I thought as I popped it into my DVD player. A half hour later I got up to get a popsicle; I was bored.

As I sat through 180 minutes of my life that I can never get back, I couldn't believe that I was watching a movie that had been marketed mainly to children. I don't mean to say that children's movies should have no adult elements in them. Parents' need to be entertained too! Shrek, for example, was entertaining for both children and parents, and the parental entertainment for the most part went unnoticed by the kids' innocent minds (if you don't believe me, go back and watch some of the Muppets movies that you liked as a kid... chances are you'll think to yourself "wow, I didn't get these jokes when I was a kid!") However, The Incredibles wasn't a movie that simply placed adult humor within a kid-friendly plot. The layout and theme of the movie was.. to put it in Cody's words: boring. The first ten minutes was "super" cool. Super heroes fighting bad guys left and right. The superhero characters were clever and, for the most part, unique. The villians they chased, and their techniques- while cheesey- made me laugh. I also liked the concept of showing the difficulties superheroes have in their pursuits.

After the first ten minutes, however, the mood of the movie changed drastically. For the next hour or so, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible argue and discuss their way through a plotline that is over most kids' heads. There was a lot of banter that even I tended to tune out, and it took a lot for me not to turn the DVD off.

There were a few moments when I got a good laugh, but overall the movie wasn't a real winner in my book. The animation wasn't up to par with other Pixar animations, and the plot took a long time to develop, and when it did it didn't develop into much. Unfortunately I have to give The Incredibles a big pttttt.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

can't move

ouch! I'm definitely feeling the burn today... and my left arm is all bruised up already. I guess it's back to wearing long sleeves for a while! I get to go back today; yay! (that was a bit of sarcasm) I suppose I'll get used to it again.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"My blood hurts!"

I've officially committed my life back to the dojo. If you don't see me for a while, don't take offense to it; I'm just getting my ass kicked back into shape. I have a year to catch up on, and it's becoming more and more clear how not-so-easy it is going to be. Apparantly, I'm not the only one who has some catching up to do. A year's leave of absence, and I was still at the head of the class. It makes me wonder what everyone else has been doing!!! (slackers!) I can't believe how harsh sensei was today- 75 push ups and 60 sit ups.. and let me say, I forgot how much of a shock the body absorbs when it get slammed on the mats... ouch! I can already feel my ab and chest muscles starting to tense up. I doubt I'll be able to move tomorrow!

I've already gotten roped into assisting the kids' class tomorrow. I wouldn't mind, except the driving + gas. I will have to drive out there for work, then back to Kent to finish my psych lab work, then again back out to the falls for this class. At least it will be an extra bit of exercise, and maybe I'll be able to work my kata afterwards.

And I'm going to need all of the exercise I can get this week and next, to keep my mind off of things. It's getting harder and harder to be with the babies when I know in the back of my mind that it was a year ago exactly that I lost mine. There are two that are the same age as the twins, and I can barely bring myself to hold them- and then only when I need to. I love them very much, but it hurts too much to be with them right now. In the morning, I am going to ask my boss if I can be in a different room, besides the nursury, for the next couple of weeks. Not just for me, but also to be fair to the babies I'm supposed to be caring for. I wish they would just keep me in my infant 2 room (with the one year olds) but they say I'm needed in the nursury. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Hunting of the Snark

This is from Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark". Lewis Carroll is one of my favorite authors, and I don't think people are exposed to enough of his work. You can Google this and find free versions all over the net :)

"We have sailed many months,
we have sailed many weeks,
(Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

"We have sailed many weeks,
we have sailed many days,
(Seven days to the week I allow),
But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,
We have never beheld till now!

"Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.

"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

"The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun.

"The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes--
A sentiment open to doubt.

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.

"For, although common
Snarks do no manner of harm
,Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums--"

The Bellman broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I went to the dojo today. I've been wondering why I didn't go back at all in the past year. While it's true that money was short and I couldn't afford training, I wonder why I never called to let them know how things were going or stopped in to visit. Why in the world would I have let these people, who are like my family, out of my life for so long? I think part of it was because I was embarrassed. I didn't want to walk in and explain why I suddenly wasn't prego anymore. I realize now that it was a stupid reason; if anything I needed to go and tell them. I needed their support most of all. They were happy to see me, and it was great to chat with everyone. So much has happened in everyone's lives.

I start training again on Monday. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also pretty nervous. I know that I'm severely out of practice. I can't even remember simple kata (choreographed movements- it's what you see people doing alone in movies). I'm also out of shape. I haven't been to the gym in months. I have the feeling that these next couple of weeks are going to be sore for me! I'm probably going to be spending the weekend brushing up on my "skills".

Monday, June 19, 2006

A lot of people have asked me to post some pictures on my blog. I would love to. But for some reason doesn't like photobucket users so until I find some other way around this (which I will. no fears!) you will have to go to my photobucket album (click here) to see photos. I haven't updated it in a while since I lost nearly all my recent pictures in the great formatting incident of 2006 (*shudder*) but what's there is there, and I'll get more up soon. I'll have famous pirate pictures up sometime this week, I think so watch for those especially (they're genius).

Why I hate the Stanley Cup (and more!)

Really the only television show that I watch religiously is Law and Order. Any other show, I don't care if I miss. The last few weeks I've been reduced to CSI and other mediocre programs that rely on gorey shots of corpses rather than good plots to drive the interest of the mystery. bleh... hockey stinks and needs to be moved to a timeslot that doesn't interfere with the best TV show ever made (okay, maybe second- I Love Lucy is definitely the best).

I didn't have to worry about Stanley Cup, or Law and Order this weekend though, because it was the All Balboa Weekend in Cleveland!!! I have a lot of non-dancing friends who look at this and might be asking the question "What the hell is a Balboa and what the hell does it eat???" No fears,balboa is a dance! Click here to learn more about it. It has a super cool history (or as the swedish would say, it has a sugar top history.. I learned that this weekend!) but as far as dances go, it isn't one of my favorites. I like it slightly more than foxtrot, but much less than tango.. that should give you an idea of how much I like it if you know my dance patterns and habits (and if you don't, then you don't know me well enough to be reading my blog! Get outta here!) Despite it's low rankings in the heierachy of dance priorities, the weekend was a blast and I am so glad I went. I met people from all over the world, learned the eccentric art of contact juggling (which isn't as dirty as it sounds), and had a lot of fun dancing! And to top it all off, I got a free tee-shirt for being the tee-shirt whore of Get Hep... ok, maybe I was the tee-shirt pimp since I was selling them. I had a lot of ego-boosting dances; I like to think that I'm a superb follower, but it feels great to have a half dozen leaders tell me so in the same night. Maybe they were just being nice, but dancers aren't usually *nice* when it comes to things like that.... they're nice when it comes to "Oh nice dress" or "I love what you did to your hair" but to get a "You're such a great dancer!" compliment is a task, and it made me feel SO good about myself. I'm not really very good at anything else, besides understanding kids, and that's my career, so it's good to know that there's a hobby that I'm better than mediocre at.

Speaking of hobbies, on Wed. I am going to be stopping by my old dojo to re-enroll in karate. Karate was such a huge part of my life, and when Ian left me it was my family from the dojo that picked up the pieces. I am realizing that I made a big mistake in leaving them, and now that I work right down the street from them again, it will be pretty easy to get back into it. For those of you who don't know, I have my brown belt in Shotokan and Judo, and was scheduled to go through black belt testing this past February. Yeah, little Jessie Ullinger kicks ass. I also taught the pre-school classes, assisted sensei with the children's classes, and acted as a guidance counselor for the girls in the teenage class. I stood ringside for most of the kids' sparring competitions as well, which took a lot of time and travelling. I don't think I'll be that involved, since I don't really have that much time, but I definitely want to get back into training!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Still searching

As my babies slept peacefully at naptime today, after I cleaned the classroom and finished the paperwork for the day, I settled into the rocking chair with my newest copy of Scientific American Mind- the SA magazine for psychology. No, we're not really supposed to read magazines during nap, but my work was finished, and it's no worse than what other teachers do with their free time during nap! While I was browsing a particular article of interest, about mimicking and how it helps humans learn empathy as well as language and motor skills, I realized that I still have to com up with a research proposal for my friends at the University of Calgary! In this task, I am completely stumped. All I know is that I want to study language and how we learned it. My original proposal was to do a longitudinal study (one where the subjects come back to the lab for several expirimental runs over long periods of time) on infants learning sign language. There are several products on the market now making great claims about the advantages to teaching infants sign language. "Baby signs" is the biggest, and most profitable, trends in child care and parenting. Boxes of various systems claim in big letters "give your child a headstart in language, math, and social skills!" pretty bold claims for a technique that has had very little research.

My personal experience is that baby signs slightly reduces the frustration of pre-verbal communication. It reduced the number of biting incidents significantly in my classroom two years ago. And the children who were exposed to baby signs early in infancy did seem to have a head start in social and verbal skills (although I have yet to see evidence of enhanced math skills!) However, the scientist in me cannot proclaim that these advancements came from the miracle of baby signs- it could have been a number of things! My research proposal was to put the baby signs to the test. I proposed that expecting mothers and fathers , about 7 months along, come in for an hour training session on how to use baby signs effectively, and a review session shortly after the infants are born. A control group would just come in for a regular parenting class. Then I'd send surveys concerning the child's developmental growth. Sounds simple, right? WRONG. The problem here is subject numbers and subject retention. Also, because I would have little to no control over a LOT of factors, I still wouldn't be able to say much about baby signs. I think this would be a great probing expiriment, to spur new research on the matter, but the greatest problem would be how to get enough pregnant mothers to come in for that initial class, and then stick with it for the entire two years?! Needless to say, that got a big fat XXX from my advisor.

And now I'm stuck for what to study. I'd like to stick to the baby signs, but not sure of a better way to go about it. This is probably why there has only been one other study done on the subject, and that was 24 years ago! Since it's so prominant, and because people are spending a LOT of money on this, I'd like to test it out in a lab! If anyone has any bright ideas, fling them my way!

Other topics I am thinking about: bilingual children and social development (code switching etc), literacy and public school curriculum (how language is used/taught in the classroom), and socio-economic class effect on standardized tests (why it occurs and what can be done about it... besides what I think should be done about it cuz it won't ever happen)

In other news: I blew bubbles today, and got paid for it. This job is so much better than the pizza shop. (even when the free pizza is taken into consideration!)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

And the Beat Goes On

I was thrown up on four times today. Three of those times it was breast milk... Then I saw Dr. Phil take out a muppet... then I came to the amazing realization that the letter X is the most useless letter ever thought of. I'm boycotting the letter X from this moment forward; there really is no need for it to egzist Except I'll still use it in scrabble when it is worth ten points (I supose I should say "eksept" if I'm going ot do this properly...)

In a bit less frivolous discussion, I noticed today that the media has turned its attention away from the evils that middle-eastern islamic violence has commited against americans, and is now focusing on the evils that middle-eastern islam has commited against their own people. This sympathy that is being played off of the "save them from themselves" attitude is a little disturbing to me. I have little regard for individuals who take precious human life. I am not giving sympathy to al-Zarqawi, nor do I in anyway support or condone the movement he led. Yet, I do have to stop and ask myself if the evils that western christians have committed against nations of islam are not just as bad as the evils that we are supposedly “saving” them from. Yes, al-Zarqawi has committed horrendous acts of terrorism. Yes, he has murdered the innocent while fighting for a cause that we, in the west, can never hope to understand. Yes, he was a tyrant who acted without mercy (I say "without mercy" to mean that he favored the ideology he was fighting for above human life.) However, isn't Mr. W (Bush) committing acts of terrorism by allowing- ordering- our troops to raid civilian houses and town squares; open fire on "insurgents" in villages with children witnessing their fathers being murdered and mothers being raped? Isn't Mr. W murdering the innocent when he sends death showers of bombs to Baghdad?? He calls those who fight back "insurgents" so that we don't recognize the fact that these are innocent people fighting for their way of life, and so that we don't recognize the fact that we are in actuality fighting in a civil war. Mr. W has just as many innocent lives on his hands as al-Zarqawi. And he has murdered these innocent people while fighting for a cause that they, in the east, can never hope to understand. Mr. W is also fighting “without mercy”. He doesn't care how many Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, Israelites, and even Americans, die for him to prove that his way is the only way. His fight for his christian ideology far surpasses his regard for human life. Yes, our government is not a far cry away from Al Qaeda. One tyrant taking out another tyrant is not revolution.

I would also like to point out that the top search hits on netscape today were: 1. Megamillions 2.Ann Coulter 3. Paris Hilton 4. Jessica Simpson 5. World Cup.... anyone else find this sad? One of the biggest moments in history, and people are more concerned about money and pop-culture. But then again, was it Caligula who said: "Give them bread and give them spectacle."? Someone once asked me in an ethics class, during a debate over the necessity of a period of anarchy "If modern government is so evil, then why do people accept it without questioning it? Why is there not constant revolution?" For fear of running too far astray from the thread of thought which I was on, I will give my simple answer and save the complex one for another post. To be blunt, people don't care. As long as they have their material wants met and have ample distractions provided by the entertainment that makes up their "culture", they don't care. They may flip on the telly to the news every now and again, and they may complain, but they don't really care, and the news is really just another form of entertainment, another distraction, created by the media. Today's top searches dig that point right home. That is why we have not reached revolution, and that is why we have not been able to see the importance of the period of anarchy before utopia. Revolution takes much more than a few series of terrorism commited by tyranical governments. Particularly when these acts of terrorism occur on the other side of the globe.

I've talked way too much for one post. More to come on the topic when the inspiration overtakes me!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


this is a poem that I always look at when I feel low about life. I've really needed it lately!

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantmentit
is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe;
no less than the trees and the stars
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with
God,whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

~~Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.~~

Monday, June 05, 2006

Going Back to Old Beginnings

It isn't an every day occurance that I find myself in the position to earn a living from something that I'm both good at and enjoy.Such a position is, in fact, one of the rarest things that brings happiness. Daffodils are plentiful; friends are around the corner; but to be able to wake up in the morning and know that I am doing what I love- that is a fleeting experience that deserves to be siezed with all the passion I can muster.

This week, I am returning to nursury school teaching job, after taking a two year break. I am working with the infants again; specializing in infants 9-24 months. Two years ago, I was the lead teacher for this age group, but I left to find a job more fitting of my busy school schedule. It's pretty strange going into my classroom and not being in charge anymore, and I'm trying not to take too many liberties so as not to butt heads with the other teachers. I think I may have cleaned a bit too much for Miss Halle's comfort. Other than that, I've never seemed to fall back into a routine as naturally. I felt as though I had never left- I felt as though I belonged there in the same way that trees belong in a forest. It was a wonderful self-satisfactory feeling.

I admit, it isn't the perfect job. The pay isn't that great (but it's enough), and add to that the crying, the constant upheaval, the unhappy parents who have outrageous requests, the stinky diapers (and all the messes that come along), tantrums, hitting kicking screaming and biting, the workload that's taken home and finished off the clock... So why is it that I love this job? It's the sound of babies laughing, the hugs and sloppy slobbery baby kisses; it's building a block tower as tall as myself so that we can knock it down and build it again; it's being able to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" as many times as I want to, and dancing to The Wiggles as silly as possible, without being commited to an institution; it's seeing a baby roll over, sit up, take a step- for the very first time; it's getting covered in finger paints because we had too much fun at art; it's evenings and weekends off regular 9-5 (ish) almost grown up job schedule; it's the smiles, the sunshine, and the rainy day puddle-fun.

I just hope this optimism lasts...

In the beginning, I created a blog.
And I saw that it was good

So I finally did it. Why, I'll never know. Perhaps I feel the need to express myself in new ways; perhaps my curiosity for this technological age we live in has gotten the best of me; maybe I'm so self absorbed that I truly believe that people like yourself have nothing better to do than to read my ramblings... but mostly I think it's because I am bored. Yes, I finally did it. I have a blog. I still won't drink starbucks, though!