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What They Don’t Know….

picture of Oz Venn diagram

One of the interesting facets of having completed 36 years of teaching is the observable differences between today's students and those that I taught at the beginning of my career. There's no difference, of course, in IQ — my current students are every bit as bright as those I taught "back in the last millennium," as I love to say when referring to my younger years. One thing I do notice, though, is that what today's students know and don't know is vastly different from what my former students knew and didn't know.

I try to stay current on some aspects of today's pop culture so that I know what my students and others are talking about. I'm not always successful in that endeavor, though — there's just so much to keep up with and so little time! It's quite a balancing act trying to keep up on (dreary) current events and to dabble in several of the many avenues of social networking as well as trying to do as much reading as possible on French Literature from the Middle Ages in preparation for my course lectures. Talk about having one's feet planted in two different worlds!

During one of our many interesting lunch room discussions last school year, a colleague mentioned something he had read online. One professor in a community college contends that he has found only one thing with which his students, who vary greatly in age and background, all seem to be familiar. Here's that portion of the article:

One of the things I try to do on the first night of English 102 is relate the literary techniques we will study to novels that the students have already read. I try to find books familiar to everyone. This has so far proven impossible. My students don't read much, as a rule, and though I think of them monolithically, they don't really share a culture. To Kill a Mockingbird? Nope. (And I thought everyone had read that!) Animal Farm? No. If they have read it, they don't remember it. The Outsiders? The Chocolate War? No and no. Charlotte's Web? You'd think so, but no. So then I expand the exercise to general works of narrative art, meaning movies, but that doesn't work much better. Oddly, there are no movies that they all have seen—well, except for one. They've all seen The Wizard of Oz.

The preceding quotation is from an article in The Atlantic online called "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower" by Professor X (really)

I'm not sure that we could justify applying his findings to all college students in America, but I've made enough allusions to things in the Wizard of Oz in my classes to know that most of my students always seem to catch them. When we learn the French -re verbs, I enjoy presenting one that's not in our book — fondre. I demonstrate its meaning by writhing, sinking down towards the floor, and saying "Je fonds" in a high-pitched voice. Most of my students catch on right away that I'm saying "I'm melting" and imitating the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz. I guess that that would lend some credence to Professor X's statement.
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Even More Funny Signs

picture of dog warning sign

In a recent comment, a reader asked me where the old pre-blog archives are now. When my computer and domain were hacked back in April and I had to rebuild the whole ivman.com domain (including my blog and my wife's blog) twice in a relatively short period, the second time I opted not to rebuild the old archived iv's and funny pictures. Instead I am trying to incorporate them slowly into my blog. Therefore, the "funny pix" link in the tag cloud in the sidebar takes you to the posts to my blog with funny pictures in them, not to the old archives.

That said, I'll tell you that today's post of funny signs is made up of new signs that have come my way as well as several signs from the old archives. I hope you get some stress relief from the laughs these may give you.

Even without being able to read Chinese, you could probably figure out what the sign up above was warning about. Here are a couple more signs with writing in other languages on them.

This one would make me keep looking up!

picture of tropical warning sign

I'm assuming that this next one is referring to underwater sandbars...?

picture of beach warning sign

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Random Funny Pictures

People often ask me where I get the things I post on my blog. I reply that my readers send me the best stuff and that I also run across some great things as I click around online. Pictures go into a "tickler" folder on my computer. Sometimes I spot several pictures in that folder that are thematic — like my post on the Mona Lisa after I noticed quite a few different versions of the painting in that folder. I often have some pictures that are funny, but they're just kind of random and I don't know when I could ever share them, other than in a post like today's.

One source of pictures along certain themes is Google Images. Sometimes I have a picture that's not very clear and can find a nicer version of it on Google Images. Other times I use Google to fill in holes or simply to find a neat picture to use at the beginning of my blog posts. Here's a picture of how the first Google searches were done.

picture of Google postcard

Google has come so far from its early days!

Most people know about Foosball, even if they've never played it themselves. Here's a traditional Foosball game.

picture of Foosball game

In France Foosball is called "baby-foot" (basically pronounced Bobby-foot). One French designer has taken it one step further though.... Last month I read that a Parisian store called Colette had a game called Barbie-Foot in their show window. You could buy the game for only 10,000 euros!

picture of Barbie-Foot

picture of Barbie-Foot

I guess if you collect Barbie dolls, that could be a valuable addition to any collection.

I have often wondered how women walk in high heels. I ran across a picture of a pair of spike heels that might cause even the most intrepid woman to think twice.

picture of spike heels

Does it ever seem as if whatever transportation you are using is going at a snail's pace. Here's a picture of something potentially slower yet.

picture of slow transport

With cooler weather around the corner, some people start to struggle with chapped lips. Here's a new product available that might be just what you need.

picture of lip balm

I have never been further west than the St. Louis, Missouri area, and there are many places out west that I would love to see. For some reason, I have no strong desire whatsoever to see Mount Rushmore — there's just so much natural beauty out west to waste time going to a place like that.

picture of Mount Rushmore

This week, though, I received a picture by e-mail that makes me want to go to Mount Rushmore to see it from the other side. (The Far Side maybe? :-) For sure, it's neither the Canadian side nor the Wyoming side! Read comments to discover why I have added that....)

picture of Mount Rushmore from the other side

Hope you got a much-needed laugh or two from this post. I look forward to receiving and finding more funny pictures in the days ahead.


"Personal holiness not political dominion is what changes people." - Phil Johnson

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Have a great weekend ... unless, of course, you have other plans.

No Child Left Behind Football

picture of bill signing

This evening, in honor of presidents past and present trying to influence education and of Ted Kennedy, the one who "shepherded" the "bipartisan" No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) through the Senate, I am posting a parody, author unknown. What I'm posting below has made the rounds often by e-mail and on forums and blogs, but it just seemed to be crying out to become a permanent part of my blog archives at this time in our nation's history and here at the beginning of football season.

I read online the transcript of Obama's speech today to school children. I think it's probably vastly different from what he had planned to say before so many parents expressed their concerns about his agenda in doing this speech. He said some very good things that leave me wondering, based on his policies, if he actually believes much of what he said.

picture of banging head on a brick wall

Our son Mark and his wife Katie are teachers in the public school system where they have to deal with the repercussions of NCLB and governmental demands almost on a daily basis and face the frustration of having to spend so much time on peripherals that they often don't have adequate time to do the course preparations they would like to or cover the material that they need to.

If the demands of NCLB were placed on the game of football, here's what it would look like.

No Child Left Behind Football

picture of football goal

1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time, even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!

3. Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like football.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will be kept only in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game. This will create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals.

If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind.


I know that there are probably as many proponents of NCLB as there are detractors. Do any of you readers have any personal insights to add? Any thoughts on Obama's talk with our nation's school children today?


"The repetition of small efforts will accomplish more than the occasional use of great talents." - Charles H. Spurgeon

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Everybody repeat after me... "We are all individuals."

A Saturday not like All the Rest

(This will also be a blog post not like all the rest....) A couple of Saturdays ago, before my teacherly duties began, Becka and I planned to go to the mountains for the day. But alas, I woke up during the night with a bug and instead spent the day in bed sleeping (and losing 3 pounds). :-( Yesterday we were finally able to get away, but not before doing several jobs we really wanted to do — washing the car and cleaning the garage. Becka has a post about our day also, called A day in the mountains. Reading both posts will give you a more complete picture of our day.

picture of crossing sign

When I first went out yesterday morning to go to Krispy Kreme to pick up and bring home "hot ones" for our breakfast, I discovered that we ought to find, buy, and put up a sign similar to the one on the right. Apparently when we pulled in or out of the driveway on Friday, one of us ran over a toad. Although I took a picture of it, I'll spare you having to see its flat little body.

After breakfast, while Becka vacuumed out the car and washed it, I attacked the garage. Even though we don't have a sign warning about toads crossing our driveway, we do have a sign in the garage, beside the door into our kitchen, warning guests about something they'll find in our house.

picture of cat sign

Our cat Adelaide is crazy, but she's not at all dangerous. It was just a fun sign we found many years ago at the Mast General Store, and guests have gotten a laugh from the sign through the years.

picture of black widow spider

I frequently spray the perimeter of the garage because a number of bugs and spiders make their way in from outdoors. Therefore, as I cleaned, I found quite a few dead beetles and other less identifiable, dried-up, dead insects and spiders. As I swept out the garage, I had to kill two black widow spiders and I destroyed their egg sacks! This is not the first time we have found and killed black widow spiders in our garage. I've put a picture on the right of a black widow spider. They (and also the toads) live in the stone drainage ditch that runs the length of the back of our lot. Here a couple of pictures of the ditch whose maintenance seems to be my part-time job.

picture of ditch

picture of ditch

In the bushes on the right in the second picture above, I found a writing spider (also known as an Orb Web Spinner — thanks, Joe). Here's a picture I snapped of it. It's just huge — from tip to tip of its legs is about two inches!

picture of writing spider

After our cleaning tasks were over, we left for lunch in Travelers Rest. Right across the street from the café where we had lunch sits Leopard Forest Coffee, a place I've been wanting to visit. So we checked it out while we were that close. Here's a picture of Leopard Forest Coffee.

picture of Leopard Forest

After lunch and a stop to buy apples near Hendersonville, NC, we headed up to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Becka shared a few pictures of what we saw, but here a several others. Everywhere you look, it's gorgeous. A few fall colors were already visible.

picture of Blue Ridge Parkway

picture of Blue Ridge Parkway

We saw what we think are mountain laurels with berries. Maybe one of you botanists can confirm if that's what this is. (Added March 29, 2010 — A plant-loving young man told me that the tree is probably mountain ash, not mountain laurel.)

picture of mountain laurel berries

We got off the Parkway at Highway 276 to head down the mountains towards Brevard, NC. We stopped to visit the Cradle of Forestry. Becka has some description and pictures of what we saw there in her post, but I'm going to show you the cool car we saw in the parking lot.

picture of MG

picture of MG

We hadn't planned enough time to do everything available at the Cradle of Forestry. We did the 1 mile hike and saw the buildings that had been part of the Biltmore Forest School — first official school for forestry in America. However, we didn't have time to take the 1.3 mile hike to see the other interesting stuff, including this steam locomotive.

picture of steam locomotive

We'll just have to do it all when we go there next with a grandchild or two in tow.

If you missed my post last year about our trip to that area, it tells some of the other great things to see and do there.

Have any of you tried out any of the places we love in Western North Carolina? I'd enjoy hearing about your impressions of them. Happy Labor Day! In honor of the holiday, we'll be laboring.


"In an age that idolizes novelty, we must not despise history." - Eric Newton

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Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?