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March 2007 Archives

March 2, 2007


  Cutting the longish hair that drew attention away from my fat head
+ Eating Irish breakfasts, drinking countless beers and walking less while on vacation
  Trying to grow out my "beard" so I look less chubby, though I'm sure my facial hair has surrendered due to genes, lack of hormones or historical influence by current location

I hate that most of you have no trouble cultivating your man hair in a day or so but my "fortnight o'clock shadow" taunts me. All I want is to maintain a stubbly JT look. I'm giving this thing one more week then I kill it and hope the return to my former diet TsCOB.

March 4, 2007

Eclipse and the Tooth Mouse

I read about the lunar eclipse a few days ago and got pretty excited for it. The last eclipse I saw was November 8th, 2003 on the drive from Grand Rapids to E. Lansing to see Junior Senior. It was fun following it as we drove, but being where we were, we didn't get to see the whole thing. I think Europe gets a better view almost always.

So last night at a party in Toulouse I asked people if they'd like to join me in looking for the moon and everyone said no. I walked around for 20 minutes by myself trying to find the moon. I walked to the St. Sernin church where more of the sky was visible and saw nothing. I thought it may have been closer to the horizon and walked back a bit disappointed. When I was just around the corner from the party I saw people in this pedestrian zone all stopped and looking behind me. I turned around and saw the beginning of the eclipse before clouds covered it.

I hurried back and told people what I saw. They weren't that interested but one of the roommates said, "Oh, you can probably see it from the balcony in my room." Out on his balcony the clouds were gone and it was very visible. Everyone crowded out there and I pretended to know what happens during an eclipse and why and explained why it gets red, etc. I was hoping it'd be a bit bigger, but it was still pretty nice. I was pretty full of myself and kept whining, "So now you're interested in the eclipse." That discussion led to aurora borealis, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the bell that comes from Rome and eventually how in France they don't have a Tooth Fairy, but a Tooth Mouse. Cute/gross.

March 6, 2007

Chimpanzee that


· Little kids with huge backpacks
· Stepping on each grate and metallic thing in sidewalk that makes a noise
· The possibility that I'll be doing this
· MONKEYS!!!!!!

March 11, 2007

There's no wrong way to eat an orange

(In other citric news: The guy who runs the lemonparty site emailed me to get the video I captured from 30 Rock.)

March 13, 2007

They have a plan

After having Battlestar Galactica dreams two nights in a row (the one I just awoke from being a particularly disturbing one where I taunted two Cylons though I was sympathetic to them in-dream [and am as well irl]), I think it's clear that the next discussion topic with my students will focus on sentient robots. Doing a cursory search for -robots esl discussion- I couldn't find much. I may have to innovate here...

· What would you use a robot for?
· What rights should robots have?
· If robots didn't feel pain, would you hunt them for pleasure?
· If you fell in love with a robot and wanted to marry it, how would you tell your parents?
· Would a band comprised entirely of robots be awesome and precise or boring and without heart?
· How would you feel about watching a sporting event between two robot teams?
· If robots sent their children to school, should there be a separate, but equal class for robots?
· If you lived your life as a human, but found out you were a robot on your 18th birthday what would you say?

(whoa, South Korea is putting together a robot ethics charter, like now)

March 15, 2007

Sexin' up the Ides of March

On my walk to the school today I heard some loud moans, shrieks and wailing on my street. As I got closer they grew louder and it was clear that they were coming from a second floor apartment with a window open. Passersby on the other side of the street had the same looks on their faces as I did. I heard no other voice or arguing so it didn't seem like a fight. The moans weren't like anything I'd really heard before, but it just might mean I've never heard a woman enjoy sex that much.

March 16, 2007

French kids' letters to God/Americans

This morning I acted as babysitter in a class of 30 13 yo's (I'm saying yo instead of year-old, and it sounds best when pluralized) with internet access. I walked around so they'd close out of their Internet Explorer windows of whatever they weren't supposed to be looking at. There was a bit of "English teaching" involved, in that I had to help translate/correct their emails to a class in Massachusetts (they always think it's Massa-chaussettes [chaussette, being sock in French]). They wrote half in English, half in French (sometimes they switched mid-sentence, though it was supposed to be two separate letters in a letter) and I had to help with the glaringly obvious mistakes but the others go. It was so hard! There were, of course, many gems...

· "I don't like video games or les menteurs" (menteurs=liars, at least this kid's honest about what he doesn't like)
· "I like play on computer. I like Guild Wars. My record for long play is 15 hours." (I've got you beat kid, but I'm not exactly bragging about it)
· "I have 13 years", "I 13", or "I am 13 years hold" (Either they forget verbs, use French construction, or for some reason add an "h" to 'old' and other words*)
· "I like chocolate and my grandmother"
· The shortest kid in class was describing himself: "I am brown hair, with blue eyes and I am very tall"
· "I am very strong because that is important"
· One kid ended his mail with "Goodbye Melina" and it just seemed very romantic to me: like a note a soldier would write to his wife before going to war.
· These kids were constantly making fun of the American kids' bad French (and it was bad). I made an announcement to them that their English was just as bad as the Americans' French and they should lay off. They, being French, didn't care and proceeded to mock my French pronunciation.

*During my tutoring session on Thursday I worked with a student who had trouble with these words:
eat/heat (eat also sounds like the way they'd say "hit")

Her problem is common, though. These kids often add h's when most of the time they don't pronounce them where they should appear. I re-wrote them as:
eat=it (the way they say "it" and "little" is kind of cute)

It helped, but not much. I told her of my friend Laure at GVSU back in '01 who told me how she was so "angry" she needed to "hit" something. Later she told me she was no longer "angry" because she "hate" something. I giggled as I told the story, the student was no amused.

March 20, 2007

Worst birthday

I was just thinking about this birthday party back in 9th grade. It was for one girl and all our friends were at the clubhouse of the trailer park of Friend #2, who was seriously dating another good male friend of mine. It may have been a joint birthday party, I don't remember. Friend #1 enjoyed N*SYNC a lot, as a guilty pleasure but way beyond that. A group of us guys choreographed a dance to... "Tearin' Up My Heart" maybe? Wait, maybe it was Backstreet Boys. "I Want It That Way" perhaps. We copied a move from the video where they're spinning chairs, stand up on them and then push them over and step down- pretty cool.

I remember performing it and I kind of 'choreographed' it, and I counted out "1 2 3 4" because one person was off. I was such a jerk for a minute. Anyway, she loved it and it was a great party. 9th grade was a fun time for our social group- we were kind of at our peak in a way (it was before I started dating someone for a long time).

Later that night, though, Friend #2's mom came in and mentioned someone important to her just had a miscarriage. Most awkward end of party ever. I threw a bunch of Josta and Doritos in my bag and we got the hell out of there.

March 26, 2007

I kept saying in broken French "I am Jaws of James Bond. I bite!"

Ben visited last week. We walked around, had a fine meal (that he prepared), visited friends in Toulouse and drank with friends in Montauban.

He came in Wednesday morning and we had eight hours before we met up with some other English assistants for a going-away drink for Bronwyn. So, we saw everything in Toulouse and watched '300'. We stopped at a grocery store and gorged ourselves on cheese and baguettes during our walk, though we were tempted by ass steak and ass kebab.

The next day we saw everything in Montauban. And drank with friends at our favorite Flemish bar. After two 'girafes' of beer Ben and I were getting a bit silly. He was amusedly annoyed by the couple in the corner behind us making out and suggested we fight the guy. I kept telling him no but eventually agreed. "Alright, if I can bite through this glass, I'll fight the guy."

There were no glass shards in my mouth or bleeding. Just a defeated glass. I weaseled out of the fight and we went on to another bar for just one drink. At the time I claimed it was an accident to the fed-up girls, but I broke the beer glass at the second bar, owned by the giant Russian rugby player, on purpose. Again, no cuts. I did have chapped lips all weekend, though.

March 30, 2007

Huh ha. Lettusu purei Meisaju Gemu

I had an entire class today and wasn't prepared for it. I was expecting to discuss robots with one half, but instead had to improvise. Being so close to vacation they didn't care and weren't very helpful. Eventually I decided we'd play telephone. I got them in a circle and described the rules. "Oh, c'est téléphone arabe!" Arab telephone is what they call it here. According to the French wiki entry this is in reference to the fact that 'mouth to ear' [I think this is also considered talking or basic verbal communication] is supposed to be one of the more widely used means of communication for Arab people. Those gossipy Arabs!

From this article I also found that the 'telephone game' is really called 'Chinese Whispers' in English according to the list of names for the game around the world. (Also of note: the name in Chinese, according to the French page, is "untranslatable". Or is it just anti-French?)

The English wiki entry did confirm this 'Chinese Whispers' nonsense. “The sinophobic name points to the centuries-old tradition in Europe of representing spoken Chinese as an incomprehensible and unpronounceable combination of sounds.” The discussion page does have a lively talk about whether or not the name is offensive. What I find bizarre is that England (UK, AUS, NZ) and France are the only countries to give this game a name that disparages a group of people. OED also told me that 'Russian Scandal' is another, older name for the game. Is it just me or is "Russian", like "English", "French" and "German", for example, just not as offensive as "Chinese" or "Arab"? Weird.

The list of names that other countries use on the English page does actually give the Chinese version of 'telephone' a translatable name: 'pass wrong with wrong'.

The sentences and results I had with the students:

· I want to go swimming but there is no water
I want to swim but there is no water
· My sister killed the teacher
My sister killed my father
· When I went to the store I bought a monkey
I go to the store to buy money

Today was my last day of work before vacation. I leave for Morocco on Monday. I'll find out how gossipy they are. Be back in two weeks...

About March 2007

This page contains all entries posted to spacebase in March 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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