Archive for March, 2013

h1

Editors Response to: What do Teachers Make?

29/03/2013

Okay, Thursday.  Time to post up the article from Jay.  What was this weeks one about?  Oh, yeah… It was the one about how standardized tests are ruining public education and that teachers are underpaid and under appreciated.  I like this article.  Let me just check the video so I can be sure to put in any warnings that might need to be there because Jay said there was some language in this one.

*watches video*

/cries

Dammit Jay!  What have you done to me??

Many of you will not know that when I choose back to school I thought I wanted to be an educator.  I like being around people and I like helping those people to learn a new skill and to advance and feel like they are accomplishing things.  After taking a class where I had to be in a classroom and observe I decided that teaching was largely an uphill battle that was not something I could seem myself doing on a daily basis.  So I backed out.  Call me a coward or a chicken or any other word you choose and you would be correct.

I changed my major to Mass Communication for two reasons.  One, I was already doing the Swoodilypooper Gazette and had started DFTBA News and things were going well.  And with that I found a love in being able to craft stories both factual and fictional to help people to learn about other things in the world so that they could grow their view beyond the place they grew up.  Two, as mentioned before, I chickened out.

So thank you Jay for making me question my life choices.  No, really.  Thank you for bringing to light something that is over looked a lot in our society because without education and educator specifically I feel we go down hill quickly as society.

Peeta

h1

What do Teachers Make?

28/03/2013

Warning: Some mildly offensive language and gestures in this video

I’ve been fortunate enough to be around people who are educators my entire life. When I was in grade school, my grandmother volunteered at my school, helping with classes and helping kids gain a passion for reading that she’d instilled in me at an early age. My mother is a Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Champlain College in Dublin, and she always stressed how important it was for me to get an education and to constantly ask questions. Today, one of my best friends, Jennifer, is a high school English teacher, and I’ve seen how much heart and soul she puts into helping each and every one of her students, year in and year out.

Up front and honest, I’m a liberal; bleeding heart, some would say. About as far left as you can lean without jumping out of line…so I tend to side with teachers unions and educators on issues. Here in Florida, we have a standardized test called the FCAT, which in the past has been used to take funding from schools where scores on the highly criticized test were lower than the accepted levels. In all of our school districts, despite students being enrolled in different levels or courses, teachers are directed to instead cover FCAT skills – so, rather than an AP English student focusing in on the subtleties of Shakespeare’s sonnets, they are instead forced to relearn things like basic sentence structure and word definitions. To say these tests are disliked by teachers would be an understatement.

I’ve never quite understood the vilifying of public educators, yet some seem to think that just because a group is unionized – like teachers tend to be – they’re evil.  So rather than hearing teachers out on their requests for a better wage – in Florida, for example, teachers average median salary is good for 44th in the nation, according to teacherportal.com – some legislators and voters would rather suggest, in no uncertain terms, that teachers are being greedy, that they should be happy with what they get. That a teachers time is spent in the classroom…and as such, the $ 45,732 that a Florida educator brings home in a year is somehow good pay for the seven hours a day they have to work. Oh! And it’s only nine months out of the year, they should feel fortunate that they get paid that much.

Except…it’s not seven hours a day. A Florida high school teacher’s day begins at six in the morning. They work, in an underfunded environment, struggling every second of every day to help kids become better rounded, more valuable members of society. The school day ends at 2:30 in the afternoon, sure, but their job? They’ve just hit the half way point. Many teachers are involved in intramural and extracurricular activities after hours. They have to go home and grade papers. They’re constantly evaluating educational materials and their syllabus to ensure that the hard work, sweat, and tears they put into each and every one of their students is impactful and meaningful.

I’m thankful for all the educators in my life. But, in particular, I’m thankful for Mrs. Anne Ragland. Anne (she HATED when I called her that!) is the reason you’re reading my words today. She taught me so much about writing, and built in me such a love of books and newspapers that I will never, ever be able to thank her enough. Everyone has one of those teachers that truly impact their lives in an amazing, positive way, and Anne was it for me. I can look back and remember exactly when that moment was, too. We were tasked with doing a report for our English Literature class, and we had to write about a classic British author. I was hemming and hawing between Shakespeare and Chaucer, but what I really wanted to do was write about Tolkien. So, rather than ask permission, I just did it. That was the first time I’d ever earned an A from Anne, and the feedback was simple – she said it was nice to finally see me write about something I loved. That one sentence changed my life.

Definitely Beautiful. Definitely Beautiful. Definitely. Beautiful.

~Jay Malone

h1

Songs on a Sunday – S2:S04

24/03/2013

It is hard to put words to a song that is this great.   Andrew & Andrew out of Canada team up and create an amazing cover.  Some may have never heard the original song that was released in 2000 by a created band called O’Town.  Even if you have never heard the original (which apparently hit #1 in Canada?) it is well worth listening to this song!

Please enjoy (:

h1

Admit it…

21/03/2013

Admit it. You’re not like them. You’re not even close.

I’m not. Despite outward appearances of conformity – wife, son, dog, car – I’m most certainly not like them. I’m a mess of ideas, psychosis, neurotic thoughts, and fears, all candy coated with a care free, devil-may-care attitude and deep love of his family and friends.

You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes.

The worst experience of my professional life was spent wearing dress clothes in an office, just to fit in. I was scolded, ridiculed, and fired because I had tattoos, ideas, and thoughts on how best I worked. Our department director once had me called into my manager’s office because I once stood up and the back of my shirt had come untucked from my pants.

But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences.

I turned 34 this week. And leading up to my birthday, I secretly hoped that I’d get a card from the people at work – everyone else got one, so it was a reasonable expectation.

I got no card. I sat, by myself, for 75% of my day, feeling as if I’d done something wrong.

For every time you say club passwords like:

‘Have a nice day’

Or ‘Hope dinner turns out great!’

and

‘Weather’s awful today, eh?’

Or ‘What’s your workout routine, now?’

You yearn inside to say forbidden things like:

‘Tell me something that makes you cry’

Or ‘When was the last time you truly felt inspired to create something?’

or

‘What do you think deja vu is for?’

Or ‘Have you ever just…shut down? Turned off your life for a day and let go of who you are, so you can feel like a new person that next morning, even though you’re in your own skin?’

Face it; you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator, and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work, are thinking the same thing?

Sure, or the mailman, or your apartments repairman. When was the last time you legitimately talked to your Barista at Starbucks or Bigby and asked them where they wanted to go that morning, if they didn’t have to be at work? What would they be doing if there were nothing – no job, no life, and no family tying them down? When did you last get to know someone you can so very easily take for granted?

Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger?

When I finally let my guard down and got to know people that I put a shell up against, I found so much more that enriched my life. I met a friend who likes to skydive and eat chocolate cookies. A colleague who rescues cats, because she believes that animals deserve as much a chance as a human does, and dedicates all of her free time to saving the lives of animals because, in her soul, it’s what she’s on this earth to do. And a dear friend who, despite the fact that I shut her out completely when we first met, is someone who challenges me to be better, and whom I count closer and more accepting of me than some members of my family.

Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle.

And every piece of that puzzle makes you a more complete you.

Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence.

But they can be shut out by carelessness and fickle differences.

Trust your instincts.

And even if your instincts are wrong, don’t give up on them.

Do the unexpected.

Leap before you look.

Find the others.

Because the others are who will help enrich your life. DFTBA.

Timothy Leary

-Jay Malone

h1

Missing Information

19/03/2013

edwardspoonhands:

maxistentialist:

New York Times:

The 62 senators on the top represent about one-fourth of the people in the United States.

So do the 6 on the bottom.

Overrepresentation in the Senate is among the reasons why the smallest states (and their local governments) received more federal aid per capita in 2010.

Montana is, like, one of the top ten most over-represented states in America and most of us supposedly “Hate Government.”

Peeta

And this information would suck a lot if the Senate was the ONLY branch of congress that we had.  Lucky for those who live in the larger states they have the House of Representatives that  balance out the Senate.

And if you want to talk about government size let us talk about actual representation numbers.  When the Constitution as we know it was written the average US Representative was the voice of approximately 30,000 US citizens compared to the approximately 700,000+ US citizens.  By these numbers, if anything, the US House of Representatives is currently too small in size and should be approximately 22 times bigger if we wanted to get back to “original numbers”.

Oddly enough all of this draws back to a bigger issue of misrepresentation of facts.  I don’t blame Hank Green for this post because all he is doing is reblogging the New York Times.  I do blame the New York Times though because this is supposed to be their business.  It is not that the information is wrong it is that the information is represented in a vacuum.  This gives the NYT a scape goat by pointing at their article and getting to day “We didn’t do anything wrong because our facts are technically correct”.  I am here to say they did do something wrong AND they are actively increasing world suck.  This is not some hidden variable either.  Everybody who has even had a basic American government class knows there is another branch of Congress that was set up to have a different representation model of the Senate (this would be the House of Representatives).   News outlets should be in business to report facts and not further any agenda.  Even largely opinion based organizations like ours or editorials in hard news organizations should strive to be factual when they are giving their opinion.  It is how you validate it.

Peeta

h1

StarKid + Darren Criss = Epic Win

18/03/2013

tehblogofsophie:

“Our rehearsal time kept getting cut down more and more. And we only had Darren for an hour before the show… We never saw Darren actually reading the lines, the only thing we had time to do with Darren was walk him through and tell him where to stand in every part, so Darren did a great job! We kept on lying to people, pretty much, we kept on saying “Oh it’s just gonna be a reading. It’s just gonna be a reading, don’t worry guys…” The more and more we were like “We’re never gonna actually get to do this show,” so we were like “This is our last shot, this is the last time we’re gonna have some of this people, it’s the last time we’re gonna be able to get Darren.” So we just kept on making it bigger and bigger without telling anybody. Darren thought he was just going to be sitting, reading, until the day of. He got there and we said “Alright, Darren, here’s your costume back. We’ve gotta draw that scar on your head. You’re gonna stand here and here.” And he was like “You guys. You stinkers. I knew you were gonna do this.””

— Nick Lang [Source] (via darrencriss-news)

Nick Lang [Source] (via darrencriss-news)

They had Darren Criss for a hour??? A HOUR??!?!  I have done theatre before and most shows practice for a minimum of a week before getting to the point that show was at and they had a hour???   Darren Criss is a fucking beast!!

The entire production team of Starkid worked nothing short of a miracle in having a show that looked even remotely polished.  FRAK!  If I had the money I would do whatever it took to hire Starkid to do everything.  They are amazing!  Wow!

h1

A Very Potter Senior Year

16/03/2013

StarKidPotter is a YouTube channel started with a tease of a fan made musical about the Harry Potter books approximately 3 years ago.  What started out as a very small production company paying tribute to a great series of books quickly turned into the quintessential fan service of the Harry Potter universe.   I don’t want to dismiss lots of other projects that are in place celebrating the HP world but few things capture the essence of the universe better.

First I recommend that you watch the three musicals

After you have watched them a stand alone story starts to take shape where the characters are the same but not.  The relationships have a very similar feel to what you remember form the books.  Its hard to describe how something can be the same but different all at the same time.

In what is nearly the perfect capstone to a trilogy AVPSY not only tackles the end of Harry Potter but also the end of a lot of things in our lives.  Rather its the end of a favorite series, or era in your life such as High School or College.  There are a few things that are questionable in the musical such an interaction between Hermione and Gilderoy Lockhart that seen very over the top.  Considering that this is rendition is little more than “week one” rehearsals with scripts still in hand I feel confident that things would be tightened up and return to their more subtle ways.  During this show you see the return of most of the cast favorites with a lot of fan service.  Even the folks at StarKid admit that the only real reason they put this up on YouTube was because the fans wanted it.  Taking into consideration with everything it is I would give this a 8/10 in terms of overall show; and an 11/10 as the perfect end to a fan series.

I would also want to take a moment to tip my hat to the production team and acting team over at StarKid.  As somebody who spent almost 5 years in theatre you form a special connection with every show, but to do a show like this that really isn’t complete except in its three parts it takes a lot of guts.  I am amazed at their professionalism and ability to perform under these circumstances.  Anybody who has ever or who will ever have the ability to work with StarKid Prodcutions should consider themselves very lucky.   I have seen every single one of their productions that they have put on YouTube and there is not a single one of them that isn’t worth watching.

Please check out ALL of the productions over at the StarKidPotter YouTube channel and be amazed.

Peeta

PS – Stay tuned for their new show Twisted.