Thursday, December 18, 2014

The last episode of Serial

I had this episode sitting on the iPod in my purse for a full five hours before I listened to it. I kept thinking that maybe I should just ask Jeremy if he would be offended if I listened to it while we were in the car this afternoon, but thought better of it. So after we got home tonight, I was perfectly happy to tackle those dreaded chores that somehow don't complete themselves while you're putting the kids to bed.

The first season of Serial is over.

First, my reaction to the podcast. I respect Sarah Koenig's ending. I really do. Her final exclamation that we didn't have the facts 15 years ago, and we don't now, and that's all we really want, really resonated with me. I could feel her frustration simmering through the entire episode, and I share it - why is everyone lying? I appreciated the Don From Lenscrafters interview, and one last, possibly record-breaking in its length string of "you know"s from Adnan. We got the obligatory update on the Innocence Project, and a lob from left field about a serial killer. (Sorry, Deirdre, but what "big picture" explains away Jay knowing where the car was?) I was afraid this episode, and thus this entire podcast, would be a meditation on the elusive nature of truth, or that Sarah Koenig's foreshadowing of an "I dunno" ending would come true, but I don't think it did.

Second, my opinion on Adnan's guilt/innocence, because the universe doesn't allow posts like this to be written without the author weighing in. I think Adnan certainly should not have been convicted with the evidence that was presented at trial 15 years ago, not to mention the evidence we have heard since then. But like Sarah Koenig, I can't definitively say that I think he's innocent. I think he probably is. I know Dana said she thinks no one is that unlucky, but we're not talking about just anybody. We're talking about a case that is compelling enough to have its own podcast. The sample is biased. This is a weird case, and therefore it's almost more likely that things for this one guy, Adnan, went horribly, unluckily wrong.

Which, ARGH, sounds like I'm trying to say I DO think he's definitively innocent. I don't. I can't make that leap. There's just...something - a disturbing buoy, we could call it? - that keeps me from 100%. But I'm almost there. I am very, very easily persuaded by those theories that say Jay did it, and framed Adnan later.

How about you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

p and b are hard

Arabic doesn't have a 'p' sound, which often leads to my students saying p instead of b, or b instead of p, or multiple layers of all of the above. I have been called "Pridget" before, because they think it's Bridget, but then they think that maybe they just think it's b but really it's p, so they take a chance and say p instead of b.

This confusion has led to two funny things in my class lately.

1. A student wrote me an email and said he would turn in his homework "as soon as baseball." Whaaa? Wait for it. Now change the b sounds to p sounds and you'll see why he made that mistake.

2. Today I gave a quiz on count/non-count nouns. The students just had to go through a list of nouns and circle whether they were count or non-count. By the way, the distinction is this: with a count noun, you can say "a [noun]" or use the plural form - flowers, coins, necklaces. With a non-count noun, you can't - foliage, change, jewelry.

Anyway, I marked the quizzes as they handed them in, and one student was completely befuddled that he got "poetry" wrong - he had marked it as count when it is actually non-count. A different student was still working on the quiz, so this confused student and I had a hushed conversation about why he was wrong. The conversation just wasn't going anywhere - he couldn't seem to grasp how "poetry" could not take on "a poetry" and "poetries."

Finally, after class when all the quizzes were collected and we could speak in normal tones, I realized all at once that he had been saying b instead of p (and in his British accent) and thought the word was "battery." Which IS a count noun. Anyway, we had a good laugh and it was a relief to know that he wasn't so baffled after all. Just confused about p and b.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jeremy in Japan

Did I ever mention that Jeremy got to go to a conference in Japan in November of last year? Well, he did. Sterling was only about five weeks old at the time and I was still working on my thesis so sometimes I'm not sure it wasn't actually some kind of sleep deprivation-induced hallucination. But I just looked through some old emails, and it did happen.

I was a student in Kyoto during the summer of 2000, and Jeremy's conference in 2013 was not too far away in (I think) Osaka. Altogether, he was gone for about a week, and about two days of that time he spent in Kyoto. He stayed in the same guesthouse I did as an 18-year-old in 2000. He met up with my host family and my two host sisters took him around town. He ate a bunch of Japanese food I miss, saw some sights, and sent me pictures of Japanese lunchboxes because he knows I have a serious weakness for a well-formed bento box.

When he came home, my host family had loaded him up with gifts and goodies for me and the kids. What amazed me the most was that they sent me many of my favorite snacks. That's right - they remembered my favorite snacks from 13 years ago. I was moved to tears, both for the kindness/generosity factor and the pure nostalgia factor. Also the delicious factor.

I didn't serve a mission for my church, and although I'm not at all equating a secular, language/culture-based study abroad program with a mission, it is the only kind of experience in that vein (young, on my own, abroad) that I have. My memories of that time are so precious. So to have Jeremy go to that place and see those things and eat that food and meet those people was a beautiful thing for me. Of course, I only wish I could have done all those things with him!

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12th, outsourced

Stephen Colbert as Hobbit characters. (And yes, I know Sarah Koenig was on The Colbert Report and as soon as I figure my way around Hulu's anti-VPN thing, I will watch it.) [HT Jeremy]

America's malls in 1989. I love these photographs because they are not of anything extraordinary. Just everyday life.

Life on an organic farm in Sharjah.

Last week when we got home from camping, I was dying to take a nap but Sterling had already taken his in the car. So I lay down on the floor and "took a nap" but it looked more like this.

Here is a beautiful video of AUS - the place where we live and work!

10 reasons our universe might be virtual reality. My mind broke from reading this article. [HT Kathy]

For the language/writing nerd, I bring you: the periodic table of figures of speech. If I ever teach writing, I am buying a poster of this to put on the wall. [HT Matt]

Spiderman in Cairo.

Ceausescu's children - a great read about the legacy of Romanian orphans. [HT Liz]

(Against) Mommy, the martyr. This is one of the reasons why I like my kids to see me go to work, or even come with me to work sometimes. [HT Heather]

In Serial news, there was this tweet from Sesame Street, which I thought could not be beat. But then someone replied with this tweet about who really killed Hae. YOU GUYS. It has the cell phone and everything!

This guy carves beautiful designs in underground caves. Lovely. [HT Kathy]

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My other job

What does it say about me that I am in danger of loving my on-the-side job (accompanist) more than my actual, I-have-an-MA-for-this job? I don't know, but it's true. I love music. I love accompanying. I make mistakes sometimes, and I get a little wistful being surrounded by people with lovely voices when I can't make my own do much of anything, but I love being there with these musicians and talking about music, trying out music, singing/playing a piece this way and that, seeing what works.

Our concert is next week, so we were in the throes of rehearsal all this week. In addition, there was a master class tonight. I accompanied six students. Between those students and the concert, I have eleven pieces on my plate right now. And when I'm playing at the university, I get to use their fancy grand pianos. I've always been kind of meh about grand pianos. I mean, I get that they're nicer and everything, but I am really quite happy with our digital piano and couldn't be bothered with pining for anything grander.

Until now. There is so much power in a grand piano, and I really notice it now that I'm playing on one regularly. Sigh.

The solo voice students I'm accompanying come to my house to practice. It's so nice to not have to arrange for a babysitter, and I love that the kids get to hear them sing, and see Mom at work. In fact, one or the other of the girls often comes with me to choir practice. I'm teaching them how to be my page-turners, and I think they'll be ready for the concert next week.

Oh yeah, yesterday one of the voice students I hadn't met before showed up at my door to practice a song. She looked a little familiar, and I told her so. She made some comment about how she works on campus and maybe I'd seen her there, blah blah blah. But just before she left, I realized who she was - the woman who was proposed to in the video I blogged about a few weeks ago! So basically I'm famous now, too.

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