Friday, May 7, 2010

meerkats, cartoons, and ants, oh my!

What from my recent exploits shall I regale you with this week?

In I-Love-Teaching-English news:
I wrote an exercise on the board and was occupying myself as the students worked (or as more likely the case, did not work) on it. We're studying future tense, which is very easy, so I made the exercise more interesting by using more complicated subjects (i.e. a sentence with the subjects “The first week of May” instead of a sentence with “I/he/she/they”). One of the sentences had the subject “My friends and I” so I could gauge whether or not they can make the jump from that to “we” or if they would conjugate the verb with 'I'. The students upfront were arguing over whether it should be “My friends and I AM going to play” or “My friends and I ARE going to play.” It went a little something like this: “Should it be 'am' or 'are'?” “'Am.' 'I am,' of course.” “No, I think it might be 'are' because it's plural.” “No, there's no way it could be are, 'I are' sounds wrong.” “In French it would be 'mes amis et moi sont' sont (are) because it's plural”... I was so proud! I stopped their discussion and brought the issue to the whole class for a vote. It was almost completely 50/50 on the controversial am/are issue, as if they had voted down party lines. They were yelling at each other across the classroom, and the debate was getting highly heated. The last time I've seen a discussion about grammar so intense was during my 400 level grammar class where most of the students were at the grad level. I announced that the correct answer is “are” and they reacted very strongly: the ones who were right were all “in your face!” and the ones who were wrong looked as if I had offended their mothers. Then someone asked if I could be “My friends and ME are going to play” which I hoped they would. What a fantastic question! I love that class!
Here are the vocabulary questions that stumped me this week (not that I don't know the words, but that I don't know how to explain them in mutually understood words): soothsayer, clairvoyance, placebo (and a bunch of other words found in a pharmaceutical ad), insurmountable (which I explained as really really hard/impossible), incapability (which took a while to break down).

In weird phenomenon news:
I woke up around 4:30 Wednesday morning (as everyone in EST was enjoying Tuesday night's new Lost) and saw a strange mass on my wall as I turned over in bed. (You might be wondering how I would be able to see anything on my wall at 4:30 in the morning... well, sometimes I sleep with the light on. I have my reasons.) At first it looked like a big patch of black mold that had inexplicably appeared overnight, but as my eyes focused and I looked closely, I realized that it was ants. Thousands of ants, about two feet from where I was in bed. With a rational understanding that they can do no harm to me, I laid there and watched them. Most of them weren't moving. They were more closely packed together in some areas than others, and the whole patch of them covered about a 2 square foot area. Upon further surveillance of their territory, I realized that this was just one small weird part of a huge weirdness. At the top of my wall, where the wall meets the ceiling, there were thousands and thousands more. It looked like the wall was moving in waves. They were all dutifully making their way up into the ceiling, acting on a divine calling that I couldn't possibly comprehend. I watched things play out from the perceived safety of my mosquito net shielded bed. My alarm went off at 5, and I used my customary 20 minutes of hitting sleep to continue my private Nat Geo ant special. By the time I had to get up for school, the waves of ants marching into the ceiling had completed their journey as far as I could see it, and the patch of stationary ants that I first spotted was slowly marching off to join the party. When I returned from class about 3 hours later, all irregular ant activity had subsided, and I have not witnessed such a migration since. After a few days reflection on this event, I have no more insight than I did at the time.

In sharing my knowledge of America news:
My mom sent me a post card from the San Diego zoo which featured a group of adorable meerkats. When I went to the post office to collect my mail, the post office woman (who I am convinced is an idiot-- she always tries to give me other peoples' mail, in addition to other incidents of questionable intelligence) was looking at the post card very curiously. She gave it to me and asked if the animals eat people. Assuming this was another of her lapses in normal human intelligence, I assumed she meant to be asking if people eat meerkats. I immediately called Kinsey to tell her about how dumb the post office lady is (a recurring conversation we have, on both our post offices' parts). Later, my friend came over and saw the post card on my table and asked the same question. After clarifying that she was indeed asking if meerkats eat people, I asked her why she would ask that. She explained that it was because they were sitting on their butts with their legs in front of them (like people) and were fat and full and looked like they were (what best translates to) “good at eating”... why these observations would lead her to think that their pudgy bellies were full of humans, I don't know. In both her and the post office lady's defense, there is no size reference in the picture.

In things that annoy me news:
My neighbor children (if you've sent me mail, I've probably written to you about these annoying brats who pound my metal door like a drum and walk into my house, pick up my stuff, and walk out without ever speaking to me, all in full view of their parents who don't find this behavior worthy of comment) watch this cartoon all the time. The same cartoon, over and over. It's so loud I can hear it. Sometimes they watch it more than once in a day. I'm so familiar with it that I know when they're about to transition into a song and can hum along. Maybe I should buy them a new movie?

1 comment:

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