taylweaver: (Default)
So I started my summer Spanish class yesterday. My other class, on language assessment (related to ESL), began on Monday and I am really enjoying it.

My Spanish class? Not so much. How bad is it that I can sit there in class and explain how I know she is a bad teacher? I mean, she is friendly and well-meaning, and helpful in providing vocabulary and structure when students want to give individualized answers to questions in the text.

But then she deals with grammar.

Maybe it is the linguistics major inside me. Maybe I just can't stand it when a teacher gives an inaccurate description of why a certain grammar structure works the way it does. Like when she was explaining the Arabic influence on a certain Spanish construction:

"Me gusta el gato" is the equivalent of "I like the cat." It really translates to, "the cat pleases me." Word by word:
"me pleases the cat."

She was trying to explain why it is backwards, and she said it is because Arabic is written right to left.

I was so frustrated! It is a different grammar system - nothing to do with which direction they write!

Plus, other people are having such issues following the grammar stuff. I am not, because of many factors:
a) early experience with two very different grammar systems - English and Hebrew - leaves me more open to learning new grammars
b) I did learn some French - even if I have forgotten most of it
c) my linguistics background
d) I am just good at learning grammars
But other people don't have that, and they are struggling.

Anyway, it is frustrating.

That having been said, there is one convenient thing about the class:
We miss two instructional days to visit a museum and a restaurant on our own.
Next Tuesday, I will be going to a museum. (Lemme know if you want to come. I am thinking Museo del Barrio.)
The Tuesday after that, I will not be going to a restaurant.

Instead, I will be at home, relieved that I only have half a day of classes on a fast day. :)
So that is a very good thing.

As for the restaurant, well, I am going to try to find a kosher one that sells cuisine from a Spanish-speaking country (I am open to suggestions) and, barring that, I will just write up something about Jewish Sephardi foods instead. (which she said is okay. As I said, she is nice.)

As for the sunset part, well, twice a year, the sunset aligns with the east-west blocks in the city. Which, as we know, are not actually east and west. Anyway, it happens on May 28th and July 12th. (I am not crazy. I looked it up today on a website.) And today was sunny and gorgeous. And digital cameras are convenient because I could look at the viewscreen instead of the sun, and thus not hurt my eyes.

Anyway, I got some pictures.
taylweaver: (Default)
It seems to me that there are a variety of ways to atone for sins. A very Jewish way to do that is repentance: you acknowledge your sin, you try to fix it (I think), you apologize, and you try very hard not to do it again.

A less Jewish way to atone for sins is what I think would be called penance - maybe I am using the wrong word, but this would be the idea of giving yourself some sort of consequences/punishment for the sin you did. (Along with the acknowleding the sin part, of course).

Well, what I did yesterday was a bit more like the latter. In my apartment, I am not so good about keeping my stuff out of the public spaces. I am not so good about doing my weekly cleaning job. People pick up the slack for me often.

I should try to work on that (repentance) - but it is hard! I do work on it... really... but not with much success.

So, instead, I cleaned the fridge. It took an hour and a half. And was desperately needed. And we were going to split it up among all of us, but really, there was no way to take out the bottom shelf without getting the top ones out of the way. So I did all of it. Took an hour and a half. But it needed it, my apartment mates deserved it, and I felt good when it was done.

Now, I just need to work on the actual problem: my own mess...


In other news, I saw an entire flock of Monarch butterflies yesterday. Twice. Something I have never seen before in my life. And here I am, in the middle of a major city...

I eat lunch in a community garden near one of my schools. They were all over this flower bush with purple flowers. Every time the wind stirred the bush, they'd all fly up and change places.

And then I got to see them again at the end of the day. That school has the class where I work with two students. The class has been doing a unit on moths and butterflies, because they caught a moth in the classroom. Well, the assistant teacher saw the butterflies on her own lunch break, and caught one. At the end of the day, the students let it go. And saw all the other butterflies. Very cool.
taylweaver: (Default)
Ah, summer in Manhattan...

Ordinarily, getting tickets to Shakespeare in the Park means either waiting in line from about 7 or 8 in the morning for the free ones - especially if it's a weekend - or paying $100 for the convenience of not waiting. (Technically, a donation...)

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] mbarr and I walked up to the box office around 1:30 (they give out the tickets starting at 1:00) and asked for four - and thus we went to see Macbeth.

It's amazing what a little rain can do...

My favorite part? Watching the cast/crew break out the squeegees for some synchronized water herding after the half hour rain delay that, in addition to threatening the sound system (outdoor theater, for those of you outside NYC - hence the "in the park" part) also managed to soak the stage.

In general, though, the play was good. They did some very surreal stuff, especially at the end, with the way they did the various death scenes.

And we even had seats toward the front - though way off to the side...

And then tonight, another free event. Even overcast skies look good from the Great Lawn of Central Park - especially when they manage not to rain a single drop on the sea of people below - and the skyline looks cool from there when it is foggy. The fireworks at the end looked cool too.

Oh, and of course, the musical numbers were also good - the ones we could hear, anyway - but somehow it didn't matter that I missed half the words. The casual hanging-out-on-a-picnic-blanket-at-dusk-in-the-park atmosphere made me not really care if I was too busy chatting to catch the words, or if I just couldn't hear it.

All in all, I would just like to reiterate, the summer can be a wonderful time in Manhattan.
taylweaver: (Default)
Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer for a wonderful (free!) evening yesterday. Three of us went to a concert at the Cooper-Hewitt design museum thanks to the time and money [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer put into buying Time Out NY and looking through it for ideas for stuff to do last night. We never did make it to museums during the day... (that had been our first plan) but this means my room is also a little cleaner.

Anyway, at the Cooper-Hewitt, they have an exhibit related to Israeli design. After the concert, we got to take a peak at part of the exhibit, even though the rest of the museum was closed. The general idea of the exhibit (not followed by all of the designers) seems to have been to take one useful thing and turn it into another useful thing.For example, the lamps made from plastic tubing - the spots that were shaved down let the light through - and they looked cool too. And many different kinds of chairs. One that was held together by strips of cloth (easily dismantled), one made from melted plastic straws, and one from a sliced up plastic trash can - we liked that one.

But the funniest one there had to be the tiffany lamp (their words, not mine) made from milk jugs. Why? Because not only was the date stamp still there, and not only was it in Hebrew, it also said (in Hebrew, but I don't know how to put Hebrew in my LJ) "kosher for Passover." We all had a good laugh over that one. Did someone drink a little too much milk over Pesach? Or get bored over their Pesach vacation? It was funny.

At some point, I'd like to see the rest of the exhibit - I am curious what we missed.

This museum was, for me, a highlight of the free museum night last June (what do they call that night? I forget) when they had the extreme textile exhibit. It was all about using textiles and textile techniques (such as knitting, weaving and even crocheting) to create new and useful things that might not ordinarily be made that way - like buildings. Well, here, again, was an interesting exhibit. I am really starting to like and appreciate this museum. It makes you think about possibilities.

Oh, and since I haven't posted for a while, some things I didn't get to comment on:

The teaching is a bit better (ask me if you want to here more - I won't say more in a public post). Of course, it helps that I now have this week off...

And last Sunday's snowstorm: the worst part was, it was a Sunday. So we didn't miss any school. But a bunch of us did go to Central Park, including [livejournal.com profile] wildblueyonder2 and [livejournal.com profile] nuqotw. There were seven of us in all. Afterward, I heard that this was the most snow that fell in Central Park in one day - close to 27 inches. Well, since we went late in the afternoon, we must have been standing in most of it - that's two feet of snow, plus a bit. It didn't feel at all unusual, though. Maybe because this stuff tends to accumulate. Getting one blast and then having it melt without any more falling is not the way things generally go. So it didn't feel so unusual, but the powdery nature of it made it easy to walk in - and an interesting challenge to make snowballs from. we had to really press the snow between our hands. Afterward, [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer suggested we should have breathed on it. Leave it to the engineer to have a different solution.

Anyway, so that was fun.

Today, I am going to see the dentist. Not fun, per se, but I am hoping he won't find anything to worry about.

So that's my update.
taylweaver: (Default)
So this past Thursday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. It is also a fast day.

The fasting part went fine for me - it was the headache I woke up with in the morning that caused all the problems - it stayed with me all day, though it varied in its intensity.

It was not a particularly meaningful Yom Kippur as Yom Kippur's go for me (yes, I know, it should probably be pluralized as Yemei Kippur, but I am anglicizing the pluralization), partly due to the cantor we had, who did not know our tunes, and partly due to the weather. The liturgy has the potential to be so powerful with its combination of poetry and starkness. There is one prayer in particular that, if done properly, can bring a congregation to tears - or at least get everyone thinking and focused on the power of God and the idea of judgement. But that doesn't work when the tune so jarringly different than what you are used to. For those of you more familiar with the liturgy, you know that I am referring to the Unetane Tokef prayer.

For those of you not familiar with the liturgy, this particular prayer is at the heart of high holiday services. It describes God as a shepherd, counting his flock of sheep one by one as they pass before him and deciding the fate of each one. Then it goes on to list many of those fates: who will be born and who will die, who will die at their time and who will die before their time. Then it lists all sorts of ways people can die: "who by fire and who by water," and so on. I am forgetting the order off the top of my head, but it lists famine and thirst, earthquakes and plagues, and then more human-caused deaths like stoning. Point being, it keeps asking: who will die this way, and who will die that way. When led by the right person, those words can be so powerful. In my head, I can still hear the voice of the rabbi who usually leads high holiday services where my family goes - but alas, he was unavailable this year, so we had that other cantor.

So yeah, not such a meaningful year.

The weather also messed with things a bit. On Wednesday, as I traveled between my two schools in the middle of the morning, carrying not only my two school bags - one on each shoulder until I find the time to finally buy a backpack - but also a bag with my stuff to take home for Yom Kippur, I got rather soaked. Umbrellas don't do much when it's raining so hard that the water is bouncing up from the puddles on the pavement, when some paths are covered with a uniform layer of water that splashes up onto my ankles and into my sneakers with each new step I take. True, the top half of me stayed dry, but as I walked the five blocks or so from the subway to the school, my sneakers went from dry, to just a bit damp, to damp enough inside to wet my socks, to positively swampy. Even worse, my bags got wet - both outside and inside - so that even the extra pair of socks I carry with me - for precisely such occasions - was no longer dry when I pulled it out. Not to mention, dry socks + wet sneakers = wet socks. So my feet had to suffer through that for five hours.

It was a rather impressive rain - the kind that can soak you in the two seconds it takes to get from the covered subway platform onto the subway train itself - because this is all above-ground and outdoors where I work. The kind that is blown in at you by the air that is forced aside as the subway train pulls in. The kind that leaks in the window on the subway train and drips on the seats. The kind that turns streets to rivers - the puddles at the corners of the street were so big that I had to make detours to cross each street - and even then, the flow of water on the sides of the street was as wide as the parked cars on either side. I did a lot of jumping.

And then the weather continued into Thursday. Which meant that I had to bend the rules of Yom Kippur a bit - they say no leather shoes - but when I only have one pair of non-leather shoes, and they are by no means waterproof, there is no way I am going to risk getting them soaked on the way to the synagogue just so I can sit there for hours with wet feet. So I wore my (still damp) sneakers for the walk, and changed when I got there.

So that was my Yom Kippur.

Shabbat was sunnier - at last. It was nice to finally see a blue sky. We hadn't had one for over a week.
taylweaver: (Default)
Last night, I was walking home from a break-fast meal at [livejournal.com profile] mysticengineer's apartment and I was able to experience first-hand a thunderstorm so intense that even the sidewalks were flooded. My skirt was soaked up past my knees by the tiem I got home, but it was so amazing to see - the water flowing swiftly past the edge of the sidewalk as I searched in vain for stepping stones before giving in to the sodden socks. And the lightning flashed so often, I couldn't match each burst of light with any one crack or rumble of thunder.

Good thing it happened on the way home from dinner, though, and not on the way there...

I realize I have not posted in over a week. Closer to two weeks, really.

Life has been busy. The roommate hunt continues, but I am a bit less stressed out about it. There are possibilities. At least the apartment hunt is long over.

Meanwhile, summer school has ended - at last, a brief vacation. And today, all I got done was laundry.

As for the end of school, I felt like I finished up pretty well - at least with some of my classes. The fifth graders got to have a debate about railroads in social studies, and then in writing, I hung up the final drafts of all of their descriptive paragraphs, like a museum, and students walked around and commented on each other's writing. They really enjoyed it, I think - and I enjoyed seeing them do it. The fourth graders did one last probability activity in math. The older kids, well, the high school students had to write another essay - we did not finish up well. But the eighth graders shared their creative writing. So that went okay.

And I got to see a drama performance in the afternoon. Of course, I was not impressed. I got nearly as much out of them in my weekly Friday activity with them - the fourth graders performed for the second graders on Friday, and all enjoyed it. But in the school performance, it was stuff they had been practicing four days a week - and it was anything but polished. Oh well.

And then a good weekend - I gave the d'var Torah in shul. It was apparently precisely 15 minutes long, but I enjoyed speaking, and I hope that everyone there enjoyed listening. I spoke from an outline, so I can't post it here without putting in a lot of work.

Then the fast of Tisha B'av (The ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the day the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed - twice.). Mostly, it was okay - except for the migraine. But a certain friend talked me into taking Advil - not that this involved much convincing - and I eventually felt better. I also got in a whole lot of Jewish learning and a really strange dream in which a girl was standing by the doorway to a balcony, only there was no balcony - only a ladder going down to an internal courtyard surrounded by the other sides of the brick building. She was really enjoying standing there at the edge of the doorway, and seemed to feel perfectly safe there.

And that about sums it up.

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