Friday, April 20, 2012

Fonetic Spelling **Update**

I've discussed what is irony and the karma of my life. The ultimate irony and karma?  Having taught in English all day in Mexico and I am now teaching in Spanish all day in Iowa.  Don't get me wrong. I am not 100% fluent in Spanish.  I never will be. How many high school English teachers are there in the USA who were born and raised in Mexico?  If I tried to teach Spanish in Mexico or even in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas along the border, I would be laughed out of the classroom.  But this is Iowa.  I've got second year students that are still saying, "Yo poo-edo ir al bann-yo?"

I used to be an excellent speller.  I am a past winner of the Grant Elementary Spelling Bee Competition. I was the kid every one wanted to sit next to during spelling exam day. I could throw together a paper in college without looking in the dictionary. I went to college in the B.C. years - before computers. And now?  I am constantly using the internet to look up words. Why now?  Is my brain becoming atrophied jelly?  I blame Spanish.  Here's some recent goof-ups.

Responsable - suppose to be responsible, folks, with an I but in Spanish it is spelled with an A.  And now apparently I think it should be the same way in English.

Pijamas - suppose to be pajamas, or pyjamas if you're bloody English, Australian, or a New Zealander kiwi like my buddy Tim who also can't spell words like color, theater, or organize either.  (hee, hee, just yanking your chain, Mr. R)

Camara - suppose to be camera.

Ocasion - should be occasion but in Spanish the word ocasion has an accent over the last o.

I shouldn't feel too bad. On a recent test, about 15% of my students misspelled their vocabulary word "farmacia" as "pharmacia".   The beauty of Spanish is that every letter and vowel is pronounced the same way.  No silent g's as in NIGHT or GNOME. No two ways to pronounce a word like READ.  And definitely there are no words with a PH that make an F sound in Spanish.  Why can't English be this simple?  I am doing the best I can changing the spelling of English words into a simpler form, one at a time, but I need your help in my new cause. I propose we all start spelling words as they sound.

Oh, wait. We're already doing that in our text messages.  Talk 2 U L8R.

**Update** Today's English word misspelled - Profesional. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Garage Sale Customer Appreciation

We had a garage sale on Good Friday.  My sister had a fully equipped kitchen and a house full of furniture and so do I. We don't need two crock pots, 2 sets of measuring cups, and we definitely do not need two hand mixers. I priced things to sell, not keep.

I sold an old Dell computer with a monitor and speakers. I had it plugged into a power strip with a heavy duty and expensive extension cord to prove it works. They guy who bought it wanted to know if extension cord and power strip come with the computer.  Um, no. Here is what I really wanted to say. Yeah, right, and shall I supply the electricity for you too?  

An older lady wanted to know if the television worked so I plugged it in and turned it on.  "There's no picture, only snow," she complained. "That's because it isn't hooked up to an antenna or cable," I explained.  She looked at me like I was explaining the theory of relativity.

Then there was the guy who told me that $50 was too much for a corner curio cabinet.  So would you like me to pay you for hauling it away?

And my favorite?  The woman who asked me if I could deliver the refrigerator that I was selling for practically nothing. It works. It is old. I just want to get it out of the garage and we don't need it.  No, problem. I'll just hoist it up to the roof of my minivan or put it on wheels and drag it behind my car. 

I seriously doubt these people could understand sarcasm so I kept my mouth shut.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Practicum: A Guided Course In Giving Back Change

I want to be a waitress in a restaurant if I could be the server for my oldest nephew Andrew.  A recent math assignment he completed was how much a 15% tip would be on at $26.00 bill.  He calculated the tip would be $39.00 and didn't recognize that his answer was more than the bill. Today we had a garage sale and he couldn't give change when given two twenties for a $29.50 purchase.

Many people today can not make change. I blame today's cash registers which do just about everything for the cashier including, in some cases, dispensing the change.  I remember my grandmother working at the Benner Tea grocery store ringing up purchases on the old cash register where the numbers popped up at the top. The machine didn't tell her how much change to give back the customer. I remember Grandma counting back the coins and bills to each customer.  Today most cashiers just throw the money back to you in a wad uncounted. Today I tried to teach Andrew how to count back change.

"Start with $29.50, the amount of the purchase," I told him.  "Then give change up to the next whole dollar amount. How much money to get to $30?"

With a puzzled look, Andrew replies, "I don't get it."

"How much money do you need to add to $29.50 to get $30?" I asked again.

"I don't know. A dollar?" guess Andrew.

Slightly exasperated I spit back, "That would be $30.50."

"That doesn't make sense. I am suppose to give $30.00 in change back?" Andrew asked.

"NO! You are suppose to count up to the $40 she gave you starting with $29.50 purchase. Two quarters make it $30.00.  Then another $10 will add to $40.  That makes $10.50 the amount you owe the customer."

I get a tentative, "Uhmmm, O.K."  We practiced this a few more times throughout the day.  I would like to say he got the light bulb in the skull moment, but I am sure we'll have to go over it again. I'd like to think he won't be one of those part-time McDonald's kids handing me a wad of cash without counting it back to me. Time will tell.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tapeworm's Lover

The name Miss Daisy Dog sounds refined and proper, but dogs are dogs and they eat disgusting things found on the ground or in the cat litter. So while diligently picking up her poo on a recent walk (this ain't Mexico where crap can be left where it may land), I discovered the tapeworm.  Off to the vet with a sample and was quoted "321" for meds.  Wasn't quite sure how to interpret that. $3.21 or $321?  Having been out of the country for a while, I have no grasp on the reality of vet cost except knowing it is a lot more expensive in the states. The United States of America, not the States United of Mexico. FYI, it was $3.21.

The tapeworm brought back a memory of one of my 5th graders from two years ago in Reynosa. We were reading a story about Jane Goodall, who believes that all animals have a place in the world and should be respected.  I just finished reading a Goodall quote about how she concedes that some animals are hard to love, like the tapeworm, when Omar piped in with, "Yeah, except maybe to the tapeworm's lover."  It went over most of the student's heads or maybe some didn't hear Omar say it. But I did. I stopped in mid sentence and just gave Omar the quizzical teacher's look.  You know the look. One eyebrow raised with piercing eyes. Omar flashed a million dollar smile back and I lost it.  I laughed so hard, I had teary eyes. Thanks, Omar, for the great memory.