Something New

I think I will try something new and make an occasional post featuring some of the music I listen to.  This will mostly feature Christian artists as it is pretty much what I listen to these days, though who knows?  I might post something retro to my life.  Of course what I post depends on what youtube has to offer- current music seems to be abundant, but older stuff, and probably certain genres, can be hard to come by.  All videos have been posted by other people and may be pulled by youtube at any time.

I think I will start with a Christian artist that has stood out to me in contemporary Christian music: Chris Tomlin.

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I probably should put an Amazon link here to appease any industry readers in case you would like to purchase some of this fine music 😀 : Chris Tomlin

No sleeping in for me

Whenever I have had a subbing day this year it has almost always been a result of getting up early and hitting the web. Last night I was able to secure a job in 6th grade a little after 10 which didn’t have a start time until almost 8:30, meaning I could sleep in, at least a little bit. Okay, knowing about the snow meant I should be up about 20 minutes earlier to get shoveling out of the way. Still, I could get up about an hour later than usual. Of course you know something was bound to happen, and happen it did at about 4AM. That’s when I was jarred out of my sleep by what I thought then was the neighbors slamming the door. It took me about a half hour to get back to sleep. I was worried because it didn’t sound like a door slamming, but what else could it be.  Well, eventually I did get up at about 6:45 and didn’t worry about it all day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite early enough as there was more snow than I would have hoped waiting to be shoveled, making me a little bit late.  At least I still arrived before the kids.


Yesterday I subbed for music at one of hometown district’s middle schools- I actually got a call for it about five minutes before the alarm was set to go off.  Very uneventful.  We watched videos in all classes.  At least I got to see Blue Man Group, a group I had never heard before though I of course knew about them.  Other class videos included Stomp and The Wizard of Oz.  Today I was excited because I was subbing in an elementary school, and what that usually means is getting to teach instead of just babysit.  Well, not so much.  The plans didn’t include videos, but they did include a test, lots of reading and working on their own, and skit performances for social studies, in which they are studying Greek Mythology- a topic I really enjoyed myself when I was in 6th grade.  Well, there was a spelling game too, and at least that was interactive.  I also worked in a short math review not on the plans before they started working on their assignment, and at least one other subject, vocabulary, was more interactive as well.  Additionally, I worked in some word puzzles which I like to do in elementary classes.  Definitely a more productive day for me than yesterday, overall.


So back to what woke me up.  On one of the forums I read someone who I know lives around here made a post humorously telling California to keep the earthquakes to themselves.  Say what?  I read his post then had to go to my newspaper website to see just what he was talking about.  Sure enough, there was a 3.5 magnitude earthquake a short distance from us.  An earthquake.  In Illinois.  At 3:59AM.  That’s right, not a slamming door.  Well, I guess if our tornadoes can be exported to other areas, I shouldn’t be surprised when earthquakes are imported to our relatively-geologically-stable part of the country.  Here’s a link to the story (click the title), and a short excerpt:

Small earthquake wakes up northern Illinois

To some, it sounded like a train derailing, a snowplow taking out a car, a plane crash, a sonic boom.

To dogs, it was clearly something to panic about.

But the U.S. Geological Survey said what woke people well before dawn Wednesday was a mild, 3.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was about three miles beneath a farm field a short distance south of Pingree Grove, near Route 20 and Switzer Road in western Kane County.

It started rumbling at 3:59 a.m. Wednesday and lasted just seven seconds.

A taste of India

Sa- a deer, a female deer
Re- a drop of golden sun
Ga- a name I call myself
Ma- a long, long way to run
Pa- a needle pulling thread
Dha- a note to follow pa
Ni- a drink with jam and bread

Hmm.  Something doesn’t seem quite right there.  On Friday, I, along with the 6th grade body of the school I was at, got a little lesson in playing the sitar.  A college student who used to attend that middle school came in to give a demonstration.  The teacher I subbed for had “concert” written on the schedule, but it really wasn’t a concert though he did play a couple of short tunes.  I hestitate to use the word “song” here, because apparently classical Indian songs are over 15 minutes long, but what he played for us were tunes about half a minute in length.  The reason?  He is just a sitar student himself, but that was good enough to bring him in for a demonstration for students who are in the middle of learning different world cultures in social studies.  As far as being a student, in fact, he told us that it takes about 20 years before one can be considered a good enough sitar player to play professionally in India, and another ten before one can teach.  Wow.

He started off with a little lesson on musical notation.  Remember the song above?  Well, the form of musical notation he has learned for Indian music involves a musical scale similar to that referenced to in the Solfège technique, from which we get the syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti.  For Indian music, the syllables used are sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni.  The music also doesn’t use the staff Western musicians are familiar with.  Instead, they use |, ^, and -.  These symbols tell them how to pluck the playing string (the one of 17 strings used most of the time) and a letter above the symbol tells them which note- the first letter of the aforementioned syllables.  A dot above or below the letter. if present, tells the octave.   The sitar is capable of playing three octaves.

Along with the lesson, he played a little bit of a CD which included a type of percussion instrument that typically accompanies the sitar and is capable of 30 different sounds on two drums.  I forget what he said the name of this instrument is.  Again, he also played a little bit himself.  During one of the class periods, a teacher, my former junior high band teacher in fact, came in halfway through with his “Beatles” class (seems the one school with its African drumming course- see post archives from about a couple months ago- isn’t the only one to have such specialized music classes 😮 ) and asked Bob (the sitar player- what do you mean you thought he was Indian? 😛 ) to play some bits from the few Beatles songs featuring George Harrison on the sitar (Youtube link).  He wasn’t very proficient on this though as his studies were primarily Indian music.

All in all it was a very interesting lesson I thought, even though I learned it five times. 😛  This turned out to be a far better day than the day before.  I was definitely pleased that I did not get that second day in that ELL class.

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Has it really been that long?

Well, it’s been awhile since my last work-related post.  I finally got season 4 of The Office from my library and have been watching it.  For those who don’t remember back that far 😛 , Ryan, who was the temp at the Scranton, PA office is now Michael’s boss, and is trying to make many changes to the company to bring it more up to date with the times.  Oh, and he is making Michael’s life miserable.  I watched the first five episodes so far, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the first few were 40+ minutes.  I thought at first these were two-part episodes combined into one, but apparently they are actually extended versions of the original episodes.  There are supposed to be five of them out of the fourteen episodes on the DVD set and I saw four of them.  The fifth episode was the normal 20+ minute length.  I am guessing the season finale will be the fifth extended episode.

Anyway, on to work.  Today was a difficult day with a pleasant ending.  I substituted for 3rd-grade ELL at the school that made the local paper a few months ago for its supersized 3rd grade classes with 30+ students per class.  As far as that went, I prepared myself for it.  It turned out to have 24 students- 23 after today as it was one student’s last day.  For some reason that student is transferring to another school in the same district.  To any who didn’t catch it, this was an ELL class, which I’m guessing is why the class was a normal size.  I bring up ELL because while I prepared myself for a supersized class, I forgot to prepare myself for ELL kids.  Fortunately most of them understood English to a point, and there was an assistant who spent most of the day in the class to translate when there were difficulties in understanding.  However, the behavior in a few of the kids was just off the wall.  As I have mentioned in the past, ELL kids can be challenging when it comes to behavior, and these kids were no exception.  Again, I think this is due to us being to soft in this country as compared to other countries like Mexico.  And I especially am more easygoing than other teachers.  I would like to think I have gained better management habits, but I know I am still kind of a soft teacher, at least when I am in a good mood.

In the end, I did make sure to point out the kids I had a problem with in the note to the teacher, so something will happen I’m sure.  So what was the pleasant end?  Well, a 4th-grader from my church is apparently a student at that school.  As I was lining up the kids for dismissal, he spotted me.  A few years ago I had a student who showed some major excitement when he recognized me when I subbed in his class, with a very excited, “Hey! I know you!!”  Well, that boy’s record for excitement was just broken today by this other boy.   He shouted to everyone who could hear, “Hey, you go to my church!!” which was repeated a few times, once to his teacher.  When I failed to come up with his name right away, he happily offered it, not disappointed at all like a few others I have run into.  I should remind you that I am not that great with names at all and this year I lead a fifth-grade small group so he isn’t in it.  Tomorrow night I will make sure to give him some extra attention.

This week I was was in middle school only one, which was just an okay day in Spanish, with two 8th grade, two 7th grade, one 6th grade, and a 7th/8th combined class (which I thought kind of strange for a Spanish class).  The other days were strictly elementary.  The music class was a highlight of my week.  Normally these can be difficult classes behaviorally, but it was a rather pleasant day.  The teacher left plans that were clearly meant for the Friday before break with some of the classes having a Christmas-y theme, but since that turned into a snow day she apparently thought it would be just fine for the day after break.  Three of the classes watched part of the Nutcracker while coloring Nutcracker pictures.  It was in one of these classes I ran into a rare occurance- an Albino.  Okay, that term was politically incorrect.  I guess I should say he was albinistic.  I joked with him having hair blonder than mine was at his age (I had very light blond hair once- it has since become almost gray.  Yes I have some grey hairs now, but most of it is still blond when looked at closely.  It was pointed out to me that he had a vision problem which is often an effect of the condition and when I looked at his eyes a certain way I noticed some red which I think may also be common, though seeing red in pupils apparently is not.

Well, time to head back to Scranton, PA- I only have a week on this DVD set.  Later!

EDIT: Whoops, forgot the title!

O Holy Night

As many go to bed tonight awaiting a certain jolly old gift-giver to pay them a visit when fast asleep, it pays to remember the gift given to us from above that bears no comparison to the trinkets we give each other.  Praise God for His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, for lowering Himself to live as one of us and die an unjust death as atonement for the sins of all who put their faith in Him.

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The rest of these are just for fun.  Watch them, search for more on Youtube, but most important of all please watch the above video before leaving this blog.

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Getting a Rush

I am not a huge movie buff.  Sure, I enjoy movies, but it is not my primary form of entertainment and a good 80% or more of movies I read about in the paper are just a big yippee in my book.  That said, every once in a while a gem comes out that almost requires me to buy the DVD, er- if I actually bought DVDs (let’s just say I’m chea-, um… frugal and leave it at that 😛 ).  The movie I’m referring to is titled August Rush.  Released in 2007, it stars Freddie Highmore (Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland) as a Evan Taylor, a musical super-prodigy who seemingly puts ordinary prodigies like Mozart to shame.  Any instrument he picked up in this movie he was able to play just a short time later.  He never saw musical notation before, yet started writing music while the girl who brought him in at one point was at school.  Wait- why wasn’t Evan at school?  Well, this is a key point of the story.  He is a runaway orphan.  Only he shouldn’t be an orphan.  Conceived in a one night affair between two musicians (Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) his father never knew about him and his mother, through the machinations of her wealthy father, though he died at birth.  Evan ran away to find his mother, who he believed he could find through the music he could hear in his mind.  Not unlike a certain Charles Dickens tale, he finds himself in the big city of New York and meets a child street musician who eventually takes him in to meet the Fagin of this movie, Robin Williams as the Wizard, who quickly latches on to Evan as a means to make money once he becomes aware of Evan’s talent at playing the guitar in a .

Continuing the Oliver Twist Theme Evan soon finds himself under another roof, and a bed that clearly makes another connection to our 19th century story with a sign above it that says “God is Love.”  Here his composing talent is now discovered by a minister who wastes no time getting him into Julliard where Evan composes a symphony.  However, remember what happens to poor Oliver after he gets himself away from Fagin’s gang?  Well, Evan is found by the Wizard, who claims to be Evan’s father and promptly removes him Julliard, though the symphony he composed is still set to be played in Central Park (I think that’s the park).

What about his parents?  Well, neither of them found happiness and in fact quit their music shortly after their fling.  Twelve years later they find themselves in separate parts of the country, neither place New York where Evan is.  Meyers’s character gets an urge to find his lost love again, and after finding her phone number but not being able to get a hold of her, and going to her home where she is nowhere to be found, he tries New York since that’s where they first met.  And where is she?  Come on now, just one guess.  That’s right, she went to New York too, but for a far more logical reason.  Her dad finally ‘fessed up to what he did and she is searching for her child who of course had already run away.  By the end of the movie it turned out Evan was right- through music, his music, he found his mother.  Or rather, she found him.  And she in turn was found by her ex at the same time.  He must have been shocked to find out that he had a son (who he coincidentally had met just a short time earlier- see picture above- as he was playing with his guitar, having no idea just who he was talking to).

I guess I enjoyed this movie so much in part because of the ties to Oliver!, which was at one time my favorite musical.  Plus, it deals with music which I understand, having been a musician of sorts since 5th grade.  The road to their eventual but clearly obvious meeting kept me glued to the screen as well.  The plotline was a little ridiculous at times- I mean, his gift is really a bit over the top, and neither the preacher nor the staff at Julliard called the police or child services after discovering him which would realistically set them up on some sort of criminal charges- but then they do call this movie an urban fairy tale so a little unrealism is expected.  If you enjoy music, Oliver Twist, or stories of separated people finding each other, see this movie.  If you don’t, then see it anyway.  🙂


I have been doing a lot of catching up on TV shows lately.  This has eaten into my available time to write in this blog.  That, and my interest is sort of lagging right now.  I now have several DVDs I checked out of the library in addition to several hours of TV shows I still haven’t watched.  I also checked out Mario Kart DD for my Gamecube.  With all of this expect my posting to continue to be like this for a while.

As for work, my week had some interesting moments.  I subbed for 7th grade science on Monday.  Not a lot going on there.  Six classes of handing out books then letting them do an assignment out of them.  Mostly good classes.  Tuesday I subbed for 6th grade math, staying on the analytical/logical side of the brain.  This teacher had math classes at three different levels, two classes of each.  All were similar in going over homework, my answering questions, and the starting the next section.  Some actual teaching!  I will have two days of 6th grade math at another school at the end of next week.  I saw a former student from 4th/5th grade ministry on Monday at science, and I hope to see one next week who just started this year at the school I will be at.

Wednesday I found myself in the elementary school right next to the middle school I will be doing math at next week.  The level was third grade.  The day started out with the smell of electrical fire near the classroom, though there was no fire as far as I could tell.  This turned out to be sort of an interesting day.  This is the only school I know to have a vocabulary special- a teacher comes in to teach vocabulary- and they had that in the morning.  Now, music, gym, and art are standards, and I’ve also subbed for an elementary social studies teacher.  There was a Japanese special at another school, but this is the first school where I’ve encountered a vocabulary special, though not the first classroom I subbed in where they had this special.  A couple of months ago I had five days in second grade at this school, and some of those classes had vocabulary as well.  Moving on, they had MAP testing, so that killed another 45 minutes or so.  It ended early so we played Sparkle using their spelling lists before finishing the morning with a language arts lesson.  After lunch they had a “holiday store.”  This is similar to a book fair, but instead of books the students could buy cheap gifts.  The rest of the day was typical with reading groups, math, and science.  Nothing interesting like labs, just book-work for the most part.

Thursday and Friday were both music days.  Friday I subbed for an elementary music teacher.  These are always potluck days as to which grades I will get.  It turned out I would get two classes each of kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades.  Almost all with different lessons of course.  1st and 2nd played music insrument bingo, 5th did a science tie-in lesson about bones using an old black spiritual song about Ezekiel and the dry bones, which turned out to be a review lesson since they had already done it before.  Oops?  We just made a little competition of it.  Kindergarten had the only real new lesson.  They learned about the difference between a lullaby and a march- fast vs. slow, loud vs. soft.

My other music day, Thursday, was actually a very odd class for middle school.  There are schools that have divided up the year for certain classes into quarters, fifths, and sixths.  This school has the year divided for a set of classes into, get this, eighths.  That’s right- each class is just four weeks long, and for 7th grade at least (8th grade actually has this class for a full quarter) this was one of those classes.  That’s not the most unusual aspect of this class.  That would go to the focus of the class- African drumming.  I have not heard before of this sort of specialization in middle school.  College, maybe high school, but not middle school.  Anyway, the classroom of course was filled with drums, mostly more modern renditions of African drums, but also a few more traditional models.  Also, bells and rattles.  These three instruments make up African music (at least Ghana, the country in Africa the video focused on) I learned from the video.  Yes, with this sort of specialization comes the usually correct assumption that the sub will have no idea how to teach it, so the video is the standard staple of the sub for this sort of class.  Unfortunately the video was only 20 minutes, leaving me to fill in the rest of the time.  So, we went of the sheet they filled out and then I let them play silent ball for the rest of the time.

Well, that’s my week in review.  We will see what the future of this blog holds.  I am toying with the idea of starting another blog at some point where I will attempt to write a story a little bit at a time.  Maybe write a choose-your-own-adventure like I brought up in Taylhis’s blog 🙂 .  For now, just an idea.  We’ll see if it goes anywhere.