Ms. Evil Octopus Goes on a Field Trip, K’naan, and Biking to Work

K'naan, Troubadour (****) [2009] – Rapper K'naan was born in Somalia. Right before the war broke out his family immigrated to New York and then Toronto.  His album is full of upbeat hopeful rap and hip-hop songs about the immigrant experience, with plenty of realistically sad details and a touch of bravado about what a badass he is for coming from Africa. Favorite Songs: T.I.A. (This is Africa), Fatima, Wavin' Flag, Take A Minute.

My Life:
Ms. Evil Octopus Goes on a Field Trip – I made an exception to my Friday-only subbing rule to help out a teacher in need and subbed for 3 days for the class that calls me Ms. Evil Octopus.  On the second day we went on a field trip with lots of helpful moms (but sadly no dads).  The Thanksgiving program at Woodland Manor had fun hands-on activities for the kids to do, the kids were great, and we had sunny warm weather. My favorite part was what happened when I introduced myself to each mom:

Mom: Hi, I'm Sarah's mom.
Me: Wonderful to meet you. I'm Ms. Eureka.

Mom: [Looks strangely disappointed after hearing my name.] Oh.  Ms. Eureka?

Me: But the kids like to call me Ms. Evil Octopus.  It's just a fun joke we have going on.

Mom: [Perks up.] Yes, Sarah told me this!  She said you're really funny.

Heehee. I guess even moms like silly jokes.

What I Learned About Biking to Work – For the past two years I've wanted to bike to my sub jobs.  This week I finally got my act together and biked to work for all three days.  Yay!  Here's what  I learned:

1. Biking makes me feel good all day.

2.  I need a change of clothes for the top of my body but not the bottom.

3. Fully inflated tires make the ride a lot easier, so does a range of gears.

4.  It was good to have the daughterling's bike as a backup bike at home for when I discovered a flat tire  right before I needed to leave home.

5. The bike ride home is the best and made me feel less tired after work than if I drove.

6.  Being a super slow biker is okay.  Just getting out there is what counts.

December 11 – 17, 2010: In Brief

Young Adult Fiction:
Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins (****) [2010] – This is one of those addictively good books you might accidently stay up all night reading.  Seventeen-year-old Anna Oliphant has lived her entire happy life in Atlanta, Georgia until her father decides on a whim that she should spend her last year of high school at an American boarding school in Paris. 

While Anna would love to visit Paris, she hadn’t planned on leaving her best friend, possible boyfriend, and entire life to live in a country where she doesn’t even speak the language. Meredith, the girl next door, hears Anna crying in her room on her first night of boarding school and offers sympathy, hot chocolate, and an invitation into her group of friends. One of Meredith’s friends turns out to be the boy every girl in the school has a crush on.  Though St. Clair has charisma, great hair, and a British accent, Anna warns herself not to fall for him and instead to just be his friend.

Anna’s a likable character.  Her life in Paris is both realistically charming and difficult at the same time, as is her friendship with St. Clair. [For ages 12 and up.  I read the eBook on Nook for Droid Phone.]

Life Highlights:
"Mrs. Evil Octopus" and Other Names I Should Totally Consider Using –  I subbed this past Friday and Monday for a delightful first grade class.  Their teacher found out she needed surgery unexpectedly a week before.  So by Friday, when I arrived, they were mighty tired of subs.

I commiserated with them about how hard it is having a parade of substitute teachers when all they wanted was their own teacher back.  Then I noted that it must be especially hard for them today because I was sure they were looking at me and noticed that secretly I was an evil octopus.  Having an evil octopus for a sub is sooo annoying.  They perked right up when I said this.

Apparently first graders are pro-evil octopus.  Who knew?  I had a fun two days being their teacher.  I especially got a kick out of the students who raised their hands and said, "Mrs. Evil Octopus, can you explain this problem to me?" 

May 2009: In Brief

Dialog of the Month:
From the show Dollhouse, when FBI Agent Ballard and an environmental consultant are breaking into the Dollhouse.

Consultant: They told me this was going to be the new Eden.
Agent Ballard: Eden wasn’t a prison.
Consultant: Are you kidding me?  Even the apples were monitored!

Allergy Miracles
– Most Mays, my head feels like it’s being ripped apart by hellhounds, my joints are achy, and I feel poisoned.  Most Mays, I have searing ear pain and can barely manage to read a book, let alone write anything.

This May… I was healthy!!!! Whoo-hoo!  It was wonderful.  I’m still taking tons of allergy meds and doing saltwater rinsings, but the allergy shots finally tipped me over into the healthy side.  Yay!

Fiction Books Finished:
The Graveyard Book
, (***), by Neil Gaiman- An appealing middle grade book about a boy raised in a graveyard.
Two for the Dough, (***), by Janet Evanovich-  The second book in the fun Stephanie Plum series about a Jersey gal who takes on bounty hunting.

Non-Fiction Books Finished:
 The Tipping Point (***), by Malcolm Gladwell

Star Trek (***) – Kirk and Spock are a lot sexier, Uhura actually gets to do things, and the action scenes have the same fun cheesy music as the show.  It’s still more sexist than a lot of current sci-fi and the silly all-or-nothing logic-versus-emotion debate still rages on between the characters. But the movie manages to balance the old with the new, so there’s more fun without undoing anything sacred for older fans.

TV- Top 5 Favorites of the Month  (In A,B,C Order)
The Big Band Theory finale-  Bazinga!  If you haven’t seen this show, I’d recommend it for fun summer viewing.  It consistently makes me laugh.

The Castle finale

The Dollhouse finale

The Fringe finale- was my favorite finale of the spring season.  The reveals gave me new insight into the characters and the whole first season.  Now I can’t wait to see what they do with season two.

The Supernatural finale- had the biggest cliffhanger of the spring season.  The last couple episodes dragged for me, and honestly, a lot of the action in the finale consisted of furious cell phone dialing.  Still, the last few scenes between Dean and Castiel and then Dean and Sam were what I’ve been waiting for.  Now I’m eager to see what they’re going to do in season five.

Sub Jobs:
1/2 day – media center teacher
1/2 day – media center teacher
1/2 day – media center teacher
1/2 day- 2nd grade teacher at another school
1 day – 2nd grade in Ms. S’s class
1 day- 2nd grade in Ms. D’s class
4 days – media center teacher: Lots of roaming the halls, collecting books on my cart, checking them in, and shelving them. I also taught lessons on fables, how magazines are different than books, and how to use the computer dictionary.  My favorite part was getting to wear my t-shirt that said, "So Many Books, So Little Time."

September 2008: Inbrief

Dialog of the Month (From Dr. Horrible):

Penny: Well, I’ve gotten turned down from plenty of jobs, even fired a few times.

Billy: I can’t imagine anybody firing you.

Penny: Neither could I. Now I can visualize it really well.



1.       School started, writing time began, and I’m actually writing! Yay!

2.       I’m finally feeling healthy enough to socialize with and email friends. Excellent.


Fiction Books Finished:

*** ½ Size Fourteen is Not Fat Either, by Meg Cabot- The second Heather Wells chick-lit mystery is even more fun to read than the first, although grislier.


Non-Fiction Books Finished:

None- I’m still trying to read way too many non-fiction books at once.



None- too much good TV available right now


TV Enjoyed:

**** Supernatural, current season – mighty interesting season arc so far.

**** The Big Bang Theory, current season- hilarious season premiere. I love Sheldon.


*** ½ Skins (BBC America)- is sort of like an R-rated British version of Degrassi that co-stars the young actor from About a Boy.  He’s all nicely grown up now though.  It’s a blend of far-fetched plot lines, realistic—yet super dysfunctional– plot lines, and natural teen dialog (compared to the glossy American teen shows).  I’m totally sucked in by it.

*** ½ Mad Men, current season

*** Fringe, new show

*** True Blood (HBO), new show

*** X-Files, season 1 on DVD- dubbed in French with English subtitles


Sub Jobs:

1 day- second grade class

1 day- kindergarten class

1 day- as the art teacher in a different school than I usually sub at. It was fun to teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders again.