Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Duck, dodge and weave

These last two weeks have been really something.  Yes, I've been battling the Ex.  I'm convinced he's just NOT a nice man.  Anyone who can lie and keep lying even though he's been busted and humiliated just isn't right in the head in my book.  Anyhow, I battled a week of depression and so forth just to get through it.  I'm feeling better now, thank goodness.  The reason I got through it so well was school.  It's really my saving grace right now.

Pulled down a few more A's.  Grateful for those.  But I do have to say, my Comp II teacher is a rock star.  I'm serious...the guy is an outright rock star when it comes to teaching.  I've been taking mental notes on how to guide discussions from the guy.  He takes hip and young and applies it with a suave touch to make things so fun to participate in.  He's stylish and he speaks TO you not AT you, he's making every step of the way through that class immensely enjoyable.  It's challenging yet fun.  When I get my own classroom, that's what I always want my classes to be like.  He's not a Robin Williams kind of instructor like I am, but he takes the outlandish and makes it cool.  I find that he's really different one-on-one than he is in the classroom.  He always seems so mad in class, but then when you talk to him in his office, he's sweet.  I can understand that completely though, you NEVER want to seem like a buddy or a pal to college students, you have to have that rigorous, "I'm the professor and the authority, you are the student" kind of structure so that your authority is never undermined.

Lots of laughter going on in the class though.  My favorite is the young sorority gal who wants to be a brain surgeon when she finishes school.  *Note to self*  Be afraid, be very afraid if I ever need brain surgery and this girl is at the helm with the scalpel in her hand.

My real favorite though is a young freshman, not but 18 years old.  She loves the Beatles like a 5 year old loves Cotton Candy...brilliant young woman, I am getting a real kick out of watching her progress.  She's such a bright star in a dark world, let's hope she can keep that brightness as she goes through life.  Gods, I hope nothing ever taints her. 

But really, the Comp II class is turning out like I wanted it's something I'm really enjoying.  I'm getting to write...although this week I was asked for one page and gave two...but the subject matter was SO very juicy, I couldn't help myself.  I mean this was some sexy stuff!  Ok, let's set it up:

I got a read/summarize argument/respond assignment for Dave Hickey's "A Home in the Neon".  Oh gods, how I would love to give you a link to it so you can read it, but I couldn't find one.  So let's just summarize...Dave Hickey says in the article that basically when people from outside Las Vegas look at us, all they see is the glitz and glamour, they don't get what it's like to live here.  Take for example, the most common one, that people say, "Las Vegas?  People actually LIVE there?", and you just want to smack them and go, "well, where the hell do you think all the people who work in the casinos live?  Los Angeles?  You think we bus them in every day? DUH!  There are only over a million people living here!  Smack!  Smack!  Smack!"  I hate it when people think Vegas is just a town filled with the casinos, there is a hell of a lot more here than that!  But, I Hickey says in the article that people misconstrue what it's like to live here, that they live in such boresville all the time that when they come to Vegas it's all excitement and so forth because let's face it, it's a 24 hour town.  Hungry?  You can find a beer and a steak 24 hours a day, anything you feel like eating, you can find somewhere in the city at some ungodly hour of the evening.  To someone who doesn't live here, that's exotic and WOW!  To us, it's normal. 

Hickey goes on to talk about what culture is.  He talks about how "Easterners" look at Vegas with a dismissive eye and have the audacity to think we live in a culture-less society.  Ugh, give me a break.  Vegas has a culture all of it's own.  We might not get all dressed up to go to the opera, but we have a small symphony, we've got museums, they're not the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Smithsonian but we have them, hell we've even got the freaking ballet (cringe).  We DO have culture in Vegas.  It's just hard to find and it's not typical of what you'd find in a big city like New York, Boston, Washington DC or Los Angeles.  It's not huge, but it's there.  Let's just say this, snotty, babbity, uppity, head-up-their-ass outsiders look at us and say with a snotty accent, "Vegas has no class" when they don't know what the hell they're talking about and to which I throw up a hand and waggle my middle finger in their face...   But, here I go again on another tangent...let's stick to the goods...  Sufficed to say, Vegas is unorthodox compared to the other big cities back east.  Our culture is different, but they're too snotty to see it that way.  (Closed minded jag-offs. grrrrrr.)

The asshole wrote me recently and told me "when the only tool you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail"'s one for ya that I KNOW you'll love as much as I do...

WITNESS...the asshole getting torn a new one thanks to John L. Smith at the Las Vegas Review Journal.  Thanks John!  You made my day!  Now you know what it feels like to be married to him!

Go ahead, enjoy it with me.  I found this a few weeks back, I even posted it on my facebook so that all of my friends could revel in my freedom with me.

Here is EXACTLY the point Hickey made in his article published back in 1995, that's 14 years ago folks, that some snobby-ass Easterner (as Hickey puts it) is judging something he knows nothing about and fails to see that Vegas is a unique brand of cat, that it was never intended to be like any other city in the country.  My ex has lived in Vegas for roughly 7 years, roughly half the time I have, and there he is being the hammer and the whole world looks like a nail.  Newsflash asshole!  You're not in Montreal anymore!  How's the view of the world as a hammer!  Looks like a nail to you, doesn't it?  I've said it time and time again, "SOME PEOPLE JUST DON'T GET IT".

The people who live here really don't have a huge interest in museums and such, they're busy living their lives, but what's worse is that a good majority of what those snobby-ass Easterners bill as "culture" is housed in over-priced exhibits!  They want $16 to go to the aquarium, $16 to go to the museum, $75 for a yearly pass to an overblown sustainability exhibit that has really little to do with the history of Southern Nevada!  John Smith was right in his article!  People want culture in Las Vegas, but it is NOT readily available to John and Jane Q. Taxpayer!  It's all over-priced tourist attractions!

In every classroom I've ever graced, I've known one thing, you've got to make the content you're teaching applicable to EVERYONE.  Not just the high-IQ or wealthy ones, but to the ones on the ground working their way up.  Humans want to be educated, curiosity is a base human instinct.  People don't want to be talked down to, they want an environment of equality, so that anyone can step up to the plate and get the nutritional value out of what they're seeing.

For some jackass to come along and say, "You have no culture and no class, and to look at anything and ask questions as to it's validity is mindless", dude, why don't you pack up your snobbery and hop a plane back to wherever it is you came from and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

I hate it when people talk down to me.  Just because I was raised in Texas and live in Vegas does by no stretch of the imagination mean I'm stupid.  I could care less about museums, symphonies and what-all.  I've lived in Vegas long enough that it's my hometown, and I doubt I'll ever leave.  I go to Spago, I have lots of friends, I'm an icon in 2 online worlds, I teach, I have a pretty damn good life.  So for some babbity, snot-nosed, pretentious asshole to even try to make me feel dumb or like I have no class, oh lordy, they better re-assess the situation and think about who they're talking to, because none of that crap is going to go over well.

It's like I always say, "No amount of money or education in the world will ever buy class.  People are born with class, you either have it, or you don't."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Article published about me on!

Yay!  My love of trivia pays off!

15 Minutes of Fame: Pre-Raid Trivia pumps up enthusiasm, strats

I thought that was pretty cool.  It simply started with me writing in to one of their columnists about "It's a guy's World of Warcraft" about how guys think they dominate the game and how that made me kinda mad because most guys in WoW believe that girls are either casters or healers, but NEVER a tank, more to the point, they're the ones that think we should be bringing them beer while they play.  That kind of mentality is enough to make me grind my teeth.

In World of Warcraft (WoW for short), it's mainly male dominated.  To have a girl tank is like inadvertantly finding a pearl in an oyster you harvested to eat. It's pretty rare.

I started out as a "Girl Tank", much like Lori Petty's character in the movie "Tank Girl", all attitude and muscle. A "tank" is the person in the group that taunts the attention of the monster you're attacking onto themselves and acts as a shield that absorbs all the damage so that the other people in the group can do their job, which is to either heal the group of players that you're with or to do damage to the monster you're trying to kill. Pretty simple right?  Well, there are some guys who don't think that it's possible to be a girl and be a tank. Sad, sad, sad. Again, "the human race never fails to disappoint me".

So, I wrote a brief e-mail to the female columnist about her article, talking about my time as a girl tank and they wrote back and wanted to interview me for a piece on Tank Girls.  But, as all things in life change, so had I, I had changed guilds (a guild is a group of players who according to the official World of Warcraft website: A guild is a group of players that join together for companionship, adventure, economic gain and more).

After changing guilds, I changed jobs. I became a damage dealer and a healer. I wasn't a tank anymore. So, I told them about what I was doing, which was helping out my guildmates by running a trivia game that would enable them to learn strategy in a fun way. The folks at wrote me back a couple of months later, followed up with me, sent over some interview questions, asked for some photos and poof!  One article on little ol' me. I really didn't intend it to be something that went "hey look at me..." it was really about "Hey! Look at the fantastic people I share a hobby with!"

Anyhow, enjoy the article.

It reminds me that I'm doing just what my friend Janet (who died of Juvinile Arthritis about 5 years ago) always told me to do:
"Whenever you meet someone, greet them with a smile on your face and love in your heart."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Been slacking on my blog...

Ok, I've been totally slacking in writing about my experiences at school.  There's a really good reason for it...I'VE BEEN STUDYING!!!

My Nevada School Law class didn't meet this week due to Labor Day, but I missed out on telling y'all about the class the week before!

We have 2 professors team teaching NV School Law, Doc McC and Doc H.  Now Doc H is new to teaching NV School Law because her specialty, I gathered, was in a higher form of the Academic Ethics field.  Nonetheless, I like Doc H.  Now if you recall, on my first day in NV School Law, I thought that she was the really pretty TA...nooooo, she's got her own thing going on and she's a highly competent professor!

Standing in front of the class, she did the bravest thing I've ever seen a teacher do, she admitted that it was her first time to teach the course.  Wow, talk about putting your life in someone else's hands!  That was so brave!  But, she came out like a champ.  Her lecture included Schoolhouse Rock!  Now anyone who uses Schoolhouse Rock is aces in my book because that really takes the time to bring the subject matter to the students in a unique way.  I LOVED Schoolhouse Rock as a kid.  "Interjections" was my favorite ("YOW!  It's no fair giving a guy a shot down there!!!")  Doc H showed:

The Preamble:


How a Bill becomes a Law:

They're both so cute and they do address what we are covering as far as the Federal Government goes...we're more concerned about the state constitutions (because the Constitution does not make any provision for education, they leave it for the states to deal with individually).

Anyhow, Doc H did a great job on our lesson for the day, and she gave us homework to find out who our School Board Representative was, it was hell and high water trying to it figure out from the Clark County School District website!  They only give the district name for each school board representative on the site, you have to actually dig to find what district you live in...for a website about school stuff, ooh, that's a big faux pas, because things like finding what district you live in should be easily accessible, you shouldn't HAVE to dig for it.  But, I finally found the map, figured out I live in District E and my representative happens to be Terri Janison, wife of the local weatherman on channel 3.  Well, I'll say this, at least she knows what to wear to work every day because her husband will tell her how hot or cold it'll be!  Also, she's the president of the board of trustees.  Good on ya Terri!  Girl power in action!

So my homework for that class is done, all I have to do now is sit down and read 40 pages...*sigh* Making School Law sexy and something you want to read is like trying to hug a's gonna be painful.

Now on to Comp II.  I like Doc T, he's totally rockin!  But, I had to write a summary of Malcolm Gladwell's argument in the article "Something Borrowed" from the New Yorker.  Now I've been a passive reader for a long time.  I just soak up the content, get what the writer has to say and move on.  The catch with the assignment I had to do is that after 20 years of passive reading, I have to re-train myself to be an active reader, to question things and come up with my own interpretation of the argument presented.  It's something I learned today from Doc T, "When you read, it's not about the story the article tells, but rather what Gladwell is trying to say with the examples he's giving".  Much less to say, on Monday, I shut down all of the technology in the apartment, sat down and read the article, then tried to explain in my paper what I got out of it.  Ok, PAINFUL.  Simply because I'm not thinking in critical terms, I'm being a very hum-drum passive reader.  At first, when I read the article, I just saw circles.  I sat back going "What the hell is he saying?  He got robbed, he accused the woman, then he comes back, figures out it's a compliment, now he wants to apologize because he contributed to the ruin of a playwright?  I don't get it.  What's the point of him trying to shove the manure back into the horse?  What is permissible borrowing?"

When we went over the article in class before we turned our papers in, I sat there looking at my paper thinking to myself, "EPIC FAIL, I missed the point."  Gods, 3 weeks into school and I'm an epic fail.  I went home and just resigned myself to "Next time, I'll do better.  Gotta re-train the ol' brain."  Then, there was the "I'm to old for this shit" thing wanting to rear it's ugly head;  I squashed that thought quickly...NO, I'm not too old to learn, I need to be challenging myself, this gets me out of the coma I've been in for the last 7 years.  Go beyond your comfort zone...tackle it, understand it, embrace it.  I looked up at the ceiling and yelled at myself, saying, "Come on, Sher, you've been passive for the last 7 years!  You can do better!  Get into it, sink your teeth in, tear out a hunk of the academic flesh and chew on it!  Get the nutritional value out of what you're reading, don't just sit back and say "Ok, read that, what's the point?"  No bonehead husband around anymore to explain it to you!  Get it together girl!  Get active!"

I got my paper back today...I got an A.  How in hell I pulled that one off, I'll never know.  But, I guess I got something out of it in a critical sense, but I'm hard on myself because I need to actually dig deeper into what I'm reading.  To really suck the marrow out of it and let it become a part of my soul.  I think that's what is meant by Critical really challenge it in your own mind and let it provoke questions and feelings about the topic.

Much less to say, I can do better.  It is a really good example of how I need to shrug off more of my passivity. The son-of-a-bitch really did a number on me to make me this passive...and now, I'm pissed and I'll be coming at Academic Arguements with a whole new vigor (at least I hope so)!

Thanks Doc T!  You're helping in ways you don't even know!

Anyhow, got another article to read and summarize for class on Tuesday and I've got 2-3 pages I need to write for my Research Proposal for my 7-10 page research paper...ok and Doc T says that's short.  *Gasp!   Whimper!*  NO! I shan't let it intimidate me!  I am a wordsmith! I am a purveyor of wisdom (cynicism and wit too)!  I will conquer the 7-10 pages!  That's right blank pages!  I'm talking to you!  I will overcome!  Now what the hell am I gonna put on you?!?!?

I started out with this notion that a hardcore athiest like me can go out and rip the idea of Creationism being taught in public schools to shreds.  Ok I'm dense, there are already laws on the books that prohibit it, yet some states are still fighting the fact.  How the hell am I gonna tackle that!?  It's against the law already!  It's an argument that's already been won!  Shit!!!!  What am I gonna do?!?  How do you take some backwater hillbilly who still believes the bible as fact and wants their child to learn that a deity created them and convince them that their child needs to know the evolutionary theory?  That the fact that they want "Intelligent Design" taught as a science when there is no substantive proof to be had!  No part of the scientific method has ever conclusively proven there is a god!  But still, in the case of  Mr. Hillbilly...they're not gonna budge!  I come from a world that thinks like that.  My father, the king of "take the bible and just believe.  Don't question, just believe."  To me that's a great example of Dawkins' "Flat-earthism", I mean, how are you going to take someone who believes in nothing but what they've read in a book that they think a deity wrote and turn them on to the viewpoint of questioning the very thing that they believe with all their heart?  Man evolved!!!

I like to think of evolution in terms of a pair of "Rabbit Nikes".  Let's think about a caveman for a second, here's a visual to help out...

Well, on second thought, let's not...because all of the pictures I found on cavemen or neanderthals...well, the pictures all have everyone's "whatevers" hanging out and, no, I'm just not gonna go there.  No pictures of some caveman's willow on my blog!

Anyhow...but that does illustrate my point quite the bit...let's imagine our very nude caveman walking along.  He gets a sharp rock in the foot.  Now in today's society, we're liable to hop up and down like a jackrabbit hollering about the pain!  To Mr. Caveman...well, that's normal.  One more rock in the, he reaches down and pulls the rock from his foot and keeps going.  Now, let's switch to a different caveman, same situation, he gets a sharp rock in the foot, but this time he figures he's about had enough of his only means of transportation constantly being hurt by things on the ground that he steps on.  So, he sees a rabbit...he's hungry, so he figures, "Hey!  Food!"  (I'll leave out the quip that the rabbit was probably the first rendition of "Fast Food"...go ahead groan, it's ok.) He chases down the rabbit, kills it, skins it and has a really good lunch...BUT then he looks at the leftovers...bones, fur (if he's not eaten them in the process)...all sorts of, he looks at the cut in his foot, looks at the fur, feels how soft it is and figures out that "Hey, that fur could be protecting my foot!"   So he takes the skin, wraps it around his foot, uses the remaining bones to fasten the fur together so it'll stay on his foot, then gets up and walks on, not worrying about rocks on the ground anymore...our friend the caveman invents the first "shoe" of sorts, a "Rabbit Nike".  Now, let's put the shoeless caveman next to the guy with the Rabbit Nike's on, is the caveman with the "Rabbit Nike's" going to be able to go a further distance when he walks?  Odds are he will.  Odds are that he's got better survival skills than our caveman who just pulled the rock out of his foot and moved on.

Think about it, you're a caveman, if you hurt your feet, how are you supposed to hunt and gather when you can't walk?  Now I'll concede that the caveman foot of pre-historic times probably had the sole of a Doc Marten because their bare feet were their only mode of transportation, so the skin of the foot was probably extremely calloused and made to survive a sharp rock or two.  But now we've got the guy with the Rabbit Nike's on...he invented something that he probably put on his girl, then on his children.  What happens to the feet of that family?  Odds are, they got softer, because there was not a lot of damage being done to them, the damage was absorbed by the fur and skins that encased their feet.  They got to walk farther in inclement weather, (snow, ice) and survived a lot better.  That is a great case of evolution.  The next generations of the family of the Rabbit Nike inventor brought about a change in their feet, the foot takes less damage, hence less calloused, softer feet, plus with the insulation, they probably got sick much less, leading to the dominance of the Rabbit Nike wearing caveman.  That passes down through the generations, changing the foot over the millenia to what we see today when we look down at our feet to get out of bed, all because some bright caveman was sick and tired of getting a sharp rock in the sole of his foot and used his lunch to protect them.  Now I'm using a male pronoun for the caveman, but it could have easily been a cavewoman who invented the shoe.

But I wouldn't be me without having the Rabbit Nike wearing caveman trying to convince his fellow cavemen the benefits of wearing Rabbit Nike's.  The birth of the first salesman..."You like fur?  You like no rock or thorn in foot?  You like to run fast to catch mammoth for big meal or run away faster when big cat tries to eat you?  Shoe made from Rabbit.  Rabbit fast.  You be faster wearing Rabbit Nike."  I'm sorry, I had to do it, it was too funny to pass up.

The Intelligent Design guys would probably rebutt saying , "God gave man the blueprint for the shoe."  *sigh* *rolleyes* As the old saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention".  Look at the doors you open and close, how did the doorknobs and the hinges get there?  Someone had to work it out!  Someone had to think outside the box and figure out a way to make things work so a door opened and closed easily and there was a way to keep the door closed when you wanted it shut!  Now, we take doorknobs and hinges for granted, but that's some person's great thought there!  We evolved to make fancier door knobs, fancier we can lock our doors and know we're safe!   A deity did not show up and teach us that, we figured it out!

But, how do you convince Mr. Hillbilly that little Susie and Jimmy Hillbilly needs to understand that a god had nothing to do with how we came to be?

Anyhow, I'm still working out what to write for my research's not going to be easy.

Have a great weekend everyone!