The Point of Marking Up a Book

Here’s the average English Curriculum of a student, from kindergarten to high school, in order: learn to stop writing in books that aren’t yours, learn to read, learn to read without pauses, learn to talk about what you read, learn to read with pauses, learn to write in books that aren’t yours.  Huh.  Seems like we’ve come full circle by high school, doesn’t it?  Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if they had stopped teaching us in kindergarten, leaving us to scribble in our 12-page level 1 novels.  Certainly, I would have kept mColorful Sticky Notesyself occupied (do you realize just how many pictures you could draw in a book as dense as “A Tale of Two Cities”?).

Alas, this was not the case (but if you vote for me, I promise that I will chang-oh, sorry, slipped into campaign mode again.  That’s what happens if you’re addicted to C-span, I guess).  So, accordingly, in high school we are now being forced to ‘mark-up’ our books.  This is a fancy term for ‘now-we-can-finally-use-all-7-sticky-note-colors’, but that made students too excited (so they changed it).

Apparently, the idea is that for us to truly understand a text, to the point where we could easily recite it on our deathbeds (and by easily, I don’t mean propping yourself on your arm with a fair amount of strength and having open and focused eyes.  I mean last breath, eyes closed, as they cover you with a sheet.  From under the covers, the teachers want to be able to hear you clearly enunciate those iambic pentameter lines) we have to mark symbols and themes (I’ll pause here so you can re-read the part outside the parentheses and see that, yes, that was all one sentence).  The thinking is that, as students frantically rush to remove the 100+ sticky notes from all ten class novels the night before the school library closes for the summer (to avoid the outrageous fees climbing into the upper single digits) pages will be ripped.  Then, when the student tapes the page back together, they will be forced to focus on the text, lining up the top and bottom halves of the letters.  According to science, this should burn the words Guy with memorized textinto our memory.

Because this tearing and taping is where the true value comes from, the actual symbols and themes teachers ask students to follow can be chosen at random without negative side effects.  While there are many ways to do this, the usual teachers’ favorite is searching for a four or more syllable word and then translating that into French.

When dealing with marking a text, one cannot avoid using sticky notes (unless they own their novel, which means that they will have to have a peer rip the pages to get any value from it).  This is why marking a text has turned into what many people feel other holidays have: an excuse for companies to sell more products (like New Years.  You think that, in the Middle Ages, people celebrated it so extravagantly, with streamers and noise-makers? Of course not.  Since they didn’t have widely available calendars, or plumbing, for that matter, New Years was everybody’s birthday, and it went something like this: “Happy New Year, Grog.” “Yeah, sure, Ivan, another year passed of my 13-year life expectancy.  You think we can get them to lower the driving age?”).Dartboard

I mean, who makes up 98.6% of the sticky note market? Teens do (or maybe not.  I might have gotten my statistics mixed up with my average body temperature again).  Adults don’t need sticky notes to learn things, because they get junk mail to rip up.  Therefore, it is teens that need these sticky notes, and, accordingly, Post-it has placed all of its commercials on television programs teens are likely to watch.  But, sadly, being a company that makes glue and paper, the sticky-note companies have fallen behind present times.  They need to realize that teenagers don’t watch TV anymore; instead, they spend all of their time searching the aisles of Office Max and Office Depot for those cool blue and green sticky notes that another person at their table had.

There are so many varieties of sticky notes (and of teens) that the old, wise saying about how you could judge somebody based on the way they tie their ears in knot/bow (or maybe it was shoelaces) can be applied to books.  A color for each symbol: control freak. Using all three sides of a book (top, bottom, and side): disorganized.  Randomly and sloppily Different Book Examplesplacing sticky-notes in the wrong places: normal.

I’d love to talk more about this subject, but, if you’ll excuse me, I just found out my school library is closing tomorrow, I’m all out of tape, and I need to fully concentrate on applying just the right amount of tree-sap.

The Problems and Uses of Trust Falls

Trust FallingDepending on who you are, you may or may not know what a trust fall is.  Basically, the idea is that if you fall on someone and they catch you, you can trust them.  This springs from the philosophy that everyone is a scheming, backstabbing monster, and people having over-interpreted the idea of Social Darwinism.  Often, one trust fall spurs another, because teenagers are mindless followers who think that falling on people is a brilliant idea.  To the onlooker, however, it appears that plague has struck.  I mean, imagine it.

You are walking down a high school hallway, and then-whoosh-the person to your left just went down.  Whoosh-person on the right.  Whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh.  You’re the only one standing, frantically trying not to breath the contaminated air or come in contact with the collapsing teenagers. That is why trust falls are the leading cause of insanity in adults who infrequently visit high school hallways.

Also, injuries from dropped trust-fallees are rising; last year alone I would estimate that 5,468 people visited the emergency room from this, based off of a survey I conducted in 1732.  This is absolutely horrible; just think of how crowded the ER waiting rooms must be.  If that isn’t bad enough, I should mention that the teen years are the stage in your life when your brain is wired wrong (but Ed from the radio will fix that, and he gives free estimates, too!), so if you were dropped the first time, and, somehow, weren’t injured, it is likely that you thought it would be a good idea to fall until somebody caught you.

Worse is the fact that trust falls have led to a decrease in trustworthy people.  Often, the trustworthy person is crushed to death when trying to catch the fallee, due to rising obesity problems.

You could prevent trust falls, if you wanted.  All you need are some strong magnets, so people repel each other.  However, this can lead to problems when shaking hands, high-fiving, and fist-pound-explode-backhand-slap-intertwine-two-fingers-jump-spin-clap-slap-slap-pounding.

How does this apply to your life?  Simple.  Next time you see your lawyer, accountant, or elected official, fall on them.  If they drop you, well, I’d suggest buying a tinfoil hat and a set of oven mitts.  The end is near.

Quiz: How Long could You Survive without Gum in High School?

Just a chart with gumYou know what it is. You see it at the store. You need it to survive. What is it? In case, somehow, you haven’t already figured it out, it’s gum. Just how long could you survive without it in high school? Take this quiz, hit submit, and find out.

Readers: this is the first quiz of this blog. Please comment and let me know whether or not you like it, and if you’d like to see more. This is not going to become a quiz-only blog, but a quiz now and then might provide a nice break in-between regular posts.

1. What are your eating habits?
I only eat what I manage to catch with my bare hands in the wilderness.
I eat three meals a day.
I eat five meals a day.
I never stop eating.
Dude, eating is overrated.
2. How does your breath usually smell?
I can’t smell my breath.
I am told that it smells like a garbage dump on a hot August afternoon during a skunk fight.
It doesn’t really matter, because my eating habits keep people away.
I am told that I have “dog breath.”
3. If you saw/smelled someone next to you with gum, what would happen?
I would ignore it.
I would imagine how luscious and refreshing the gum must taste.
I can’t smell; my nose was bitten off by a dog that thought I had stolen its breath.
I would jump up and tear the gum from between their teeth.
4. What is the average sugar % of your blood?
23% (I observe Halloween every day)
12% (I ate kid’s cereal for breakfast this morning)
4% (A cookie a day keeps the doctor away)
0.002% (One of my parents is a dentist)
5. How much do you value physical appearance?
It’s not what’s outside that matters; it’s what’s inside that counts. Unless you are bleeding, in which case your insides are on your outsides and the line gets blurry.
My clothes budget is larger than the federal debt.
Not much. Unless I am leaving the house.
Not at all. People scream when they see me walking down the street.
6. Which would you rather put in your mouth?
Rubber.
A pencil eraser.
Mysterious chemically bonded substances.
Paper
Organic fruit.
7. When was the last time you had gum?
Within the last hour.
I’m chewing some right now.
Within the last week.
Within the last month.
August 12th, 2008.

An Update for My Readers

Amazing, talented, and totally awesome readers: Guess what? Both Ted and I were interviewed by KauaiMark on his blog, Just a Substitute Teacher…. I highly recommend you check out the interview, because, knowing us, it has quite a few jokes mixed in (and I’m sure you’d like to know what my grades are). Also, I have added a survey to the sidebar, asking which types of posts you’d like to see more of, so, if you have a strong opinion (or even if you don’t, and you just like clicking buttons), please answer that question.