Monthly Archives: April 2012

Blah, blah, blah…

In the past, I have commented on people who are non-stop talkers.  I saw this card recently and laughed.

Advertisements

Not feelin’ the love

As we finished up our final CCD class of the year last week, I was reminded of a quote from one of our US senators on the state of education in the US.

“The biggest problem with education in this country is a bad case of PDD – Parental Deficit Disorder.”

He wasn’t talking about our 5th grade religion classes, but it seemed to fit our situation.

As I whined a couple of weeks ago, we are never quite sure how much of an effect we are actually having on our students. And we know the children don’t really appreciate our efforts. Heck, they would much prefer to be home watching TV or out playing with their friends. So would I at their age. (Or even at my current age!)

However, my co-teacher, Mrs. R, and I are a little disappointed in the lack of  participation and/or acknowledgment by the parents, for whom we give up 26 Wednesday nights to teach their children.

–We have 25 sets of parents who we have repeatedly invited to sit-in on an occasional class to see what we are teaching their children. So far not a single parent has taken us up on the invitation. We could be teaching their children straight from the Book of Mormon, and they would probably never pick up on it. (Not that there is anything wrong with the Book of Mormon, if you are an LDS, but we’re Catholic.)

–I maintain a second blog that I update weekly so parents can see what we are teaching and discussing. Of 25 sets of parents, my blog count averages around four to six hits a week.

–At the final pick-up last week, one, but only one, parent came up to Mrs. R and me and said, “Hey, I want to thank you for all you have done this year. You’ve been here every week teaching this group, and I want you to know my husband and I appreciate it.” One other student brought us a “thank you card.” We weren’t expecting a ticker-tape parade, but a few more “thanks for teaching my son/daughter” would have been nice.

Of course, we don’t teach the class for the parents or for recognition. We do it because we think it is an important job that someone needs to do. All the same, some acknowledgment from the parents would have been appreciated.

That’s enough of my whining. I’m on religious education vacation until September.

One good movie and one very bad one

After our expedition to the shot clinic on Saturday, it was really too late in the day to accomplish anything useful, so Mrs. Poolman and I watched two movies. One, at the theater, was really good. The other, a DVD rental, may make the list of the worst movies of 2012 (or maybe it was released in 2011.)

Mrs. P has been wanting to see “The Hunger Games” since it was released several weeks ago. She had read the three-part trilogy by Suzanne Collins and encouraged me to do the same. Although “young adult fiction” is not my normal reading material, I enjoyed all three books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay)  The trilogy is considered “young adult fiction,” which simply means the characters are teenagers and there is no sex involved. There were plenty of scenes in the books where, had the books been aimed at an adult readership, there would have been some hot and heavy action. In The Hunger Game Trilogy, the teens just snuggle together and go to sleep.

I will admit that, by the third book, the main character, Catniss’s, teen-aged self-involvement and indecision were starting to become annoying, but even with that, the books are good and I recommend them strongly.

And that brings us to the movie, which we saw Saturday afternoon. The movie follows the book almost exactly. Obviously, there is some condensation of material, but the characters and the plot development follows the book very well. Nearly everything in the movie matched the visual image I had when reading the book. The teen characters were very good. The adults, especially Woodie Harrelson as Catniss’s drunken mentor and Donald Sutherland as the evil President Snow, were terrific.

“The Hunger Games” is one of the few movies that is as good in its form as the book is in its.  It’s worth the price of admission and popcorn.

We watched “The Hunger Games” at a late afternoon showing. When we got home, we rented “The Three Musketeers.” We went from one extreme to the other. This movie was as bad as “The Hunger Games” was good. The main reason we rented it was because we liked the earlier treatments of the story – even the 1993 version with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry and Rebecca De Mornay, but especially the 1971 version with Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, Michael York, Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston and Raquel Welch.

This latest incarnation is more of an absurd fantasy. It makes no effort at all to follow the book or to produce a film that even vaguely reflects early 17th century France.  One of the musketeers is introduced writing “tickets” for horses that dump on the street. The big break with reality came with the introduction of some kind of airship that was essentially a naval warship of the period lifted aloft by a blimp-like balloon.  There two of them and at one point they had a big aerial combat scene with the two airships trading broadsides with each other.

The bottom line is the filmmakers took a pretty good story and turned it into a farce.

Not only is The Three Musketeers is not worth the $2 rental fee; it’s not worth the two hours of your life to watch it. Ugh.

Who let the cat out of the bag?

Mrs. Poolman and I had a busy weekend. Sunday was all yard work, but Saturday involved a grueling trip to a “shot clinic” and two movies, one very good, the other very bad.

We started off with a trip across town to a shot clinic for our menagerie of pets – two dogs, Casey the Lab and Sammy the Mutt. We also included the two cats, Sid and Penny.

Even with the two of us, it was a lot like work. The shot clinic was very popular so we had about a 45 minute wait. The two dogs were totally excited to have the chance to be in the same place with so many other people and pets. The cats were less so.

We really didn’t want to put both cats in the one carrier that is large tough to hold them both. When loaded with 30 pounds of feline, it’s awkward and heavy. So instead, we put Sid into a relatively small cat carrier and Mrs. Poolman borrowed an idea from my brother-in-law for a way to transport Penny – a mesh, drawstring laundry bag. It really worked. Penny was not happy about the whole idea of being carried around, transported in a car and getting her shots. But with the mesh bag she could see out and was reasonably well behaved.

There is a cat in there.

"All right. Enough with the fun. I'm outta here!"

It was a good plan. If you have cats you need to transport, keep it in mind.

Infant to 12 in under three minutes

I have some posts stacked up in the back of my brain for when I have the time to sit down and actually write something. In the meanwhile, I ran across this video featured on Huffington Post. A Dutch filmmaker, Frans Hofmeester,  has been shooting clips of his daughter since she was an infant and produced this time lapse. Very cool!

If

When I was around 18 years old, I ran across the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It really rang a bell for me and it has stuck with me ever since. At times, certain lines seemed to sum up whatever difficulty I was facing at the time. From the very first line —

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”

“…If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…”

“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…”

A few days ago, I ran across this video, which is an interesting interpretation of one of my favorite poems.

Good news and bad news

Our CCD director, Pamela, had some good and bad news for me on Wednesday evening. Apparently I have been working from an old schedule of classes and thought we still had two more class session remaining. I was wrong. We had class on Wednesday, but then our next class on April 18 will be the final class of the year. That means that this week’s class was really the last one that we would realy be able to teach anything.

Last year, I would have done a “happy dance” up and down the hallways, but this year,  I was actually a little disappointed.

First, I really like this class of 5th graders. They have their moments, but they are generally fun to teach. They are energetic and have good attitudes. We have some interesting discussions.

The second reason for my disappointment was that I had scheduled a two class-session to cover the Ten Commandments. This subject was not actually in our curriculum in the new texts we began using this year. However, it was such an interesting topic and generated so much discussion in past years, I decided to include it anyway.

Among the questions that usually come up are good meat for discussion like:

–The first commandment warns us to not worship false gods. Here in the 21st century, what are some of the false gods that some people worship? (ie: money, celebrities, fame, drugs, alcohol, etc.)

–What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Does “Oh, my God!” count?

–Why do Catholics celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday?

–What are Catholics’ obligation to honor the Sabbath?

–Why do most Protestant religions count the commandments different than Catholics?

–Why would God make it a commandment to honor your parents?

–Regarding the commandment “Thou shall not kill”, what about war, self defense, accidents, negligence, mental illness, etc?

–What is adultery? Does it also apply to boyfriends and girlfriends?

–What does it mean to “bear false witness? Does it mean any lie? What about gossip or rumors?

–Who are the “neighbors” it refers to?

–What does “covet” mean? What is the difference between admiring something that your friend owns, and coveting it?

And so on. Anytime I can get the kids to maybe think of something they haven’t considered before, I hope I’m having some impact.

So on Wednesday, we had a pretty interesting class, but there was the pressure of getting through all ten of the commandments in the roughly 50 minutes we had to work with. Before next year, I’ll learn how to read a calendar.