Friday, October 10, 2008

Editorial: Language is Flawed

That's right people. Language is flawed. There are lots and lots of people who talk about this, it's not just me. Siddhartha mentions it too. He says Chapter 12, "Govinda," he explains how "words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish" (117). Not only Siddhartha, but even the French philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure philosophized on lanugages inability to truly convey "aboslute" meaning. And it's true: when you think of the word chair, what do you picture?
I bet most all of you pictured different chairs: a sofa, a nice cozy recliner, a desk, a fancy dining room table chair, a lawn chair, etc, etc. That's why language is flawed. Because even the word chair creates a different image in the mind of the reader. So now what?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #5: The Atlantic

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from an artilce in The Atlantic entitled "Word Fugitives."

2. Passage: Now Michael McWatters, of New York City, writes, “I use a computer for the better part of my waking life, and I’ve noticed that certain repetitive keyboard tasks are making their way into my noncomputer life. For example, I recently knocked a jar off the counter, and a little voice inside yelped, Command-Z! (the keyboard shortcut for Undo). Ditto for the time I accidentally ripped a page in a book. A friend mentioned that she recently lost her keys and thought, Command-F (Find). There should be a term for this confusion, as it’s only going to become more common.”

3. Name: The author uses a declaration, that I find hilarious!

4. Evaluate: As the author postulates on how sometimes language falls short in some instances, the author creates a great deal of humor with the verbs that are used and the inclusion of a declaration. The phrase: "a little voice inside yelped, Command-Z!" is carefully crafted to create a humorous effect. The verb "yelped" is so descriptive and works really well. Then having the phrase that was yelped come directly after, "Command-Z," emphasizes this phrase and magically creates humor for me!

5. Imitate: As I wandered down the street, I noticed piles and piles of leaves. I knew I shouldn't, but a little voice inside me urged, "Jump!" It was inevitable now. I felt my legs bending and springing into the pile of crunchy fall leaves.

6. Using it: Well, this one is hard because I need to somehow become witty. But the idea of using descriptive verbs and then putting short emphatic statements after them could be used to create humorous and dramatic effects. I will have to practice this one!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things To Do...

1. Grade, Grade, Grade.
2. Enter grades.
3. Plan next term
4. Re-read books and stories for next term
5. Pick up my car
6. Study for the GRE
7. Continue writing my paper on my Integration Model Research
8. Pleasure Reading
9. Eat dinner somewhere in there
10. Get ready for bed.
11. Sleep
12. Get up, ready, dressed
13. Get to school
14. Make copies
14. is that two number 14s?
15. Teach, Teach, Teach
16. Plan, Plan, Plan

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #4: The New York Times

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from an article in The New York Times entitled "Full of Doubts, U.S. Shoppers Cut Spending."

2. Passage: "Recent figures from companies, and interviews across the country, show that automobile sales are plummeting, airline traffic is dropping, restaurant chains are struggling to fill tables, customers are sparse in stores."

3. Name it: The author uses a descriptive list to explain what is happening in the economy.

4. Evaluate: This list is unique for several reasons. First it uses commas, but it doesn't use "and" as a final word to show the list is ending. This keeps from emphasizing one item on the list more than others. Also, I love that the author uses some great descriptive words to keep the list short, but very descriptive. Words like "plummeting," "struggling," and "sparse" all work to give continually vivid descriptions of what is happening in the economy without sounding redundant and also being more specific to the specific aspect of the economy they are describing. Automobile sales plummet, restaurants struggle to fill tables, customers are sparse. These words add a lot of value to the description while keeping it short and to the point.

5. When you're a teacher life comes at you like a freight train: papers need grading, lessons need planning, assignments need to be created, copies need to be made.

6. Using It: When I use a list I can use very descriptive words to make sure that each word describes the item on the list well, but also keeps my writing from being too repetitive.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

White Rabbit

Yesterday was White Rabbit. So, what does that mean? Well White Rabbit is the first day of each month. The tradition goes that you try and say "White Rabbit" to everyone you know before they can say it to you. If you are successful, then you will have a lucky month. Simple and fun tradition.

Here's some more information on the history of the tradition!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Go Cougars!

Here is our tribute to the Cougs, currently ranked numero 7! WooHoo!

Let's Go Cougars!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #3: The Kiterunner

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from The Kiterunner. I just started reading it and already I'm hooked!

2. Passage: "It was an odd thing to see the stone-faced Ali happy, or sad, because only his slanted brown eyes glinted with a smile or welled with sorrow. People say that eyes are windows to the soul. Never was that more true than with Ali, who could only reveal himself through his eyes" (8).

3. Name: The author is using a cliche' to explain how this character, Ali, expresses his emotion.

4. Evaluate: Although I do like this description, I think that using a cliche' isn't always a very effective way to describe things. To really determine this effect works or not I will have to read further into the story to better understand Ali's character. But as of now, this cliche' doesn't work for me. It makes Ali's character seem somewhat trite, rather than the deep character that I believe the author intends him to be. I suppose I will see as I read. Maybe I'll change my mind.

5. Everyone raved about the girls hair. It was golden like honey and as soft as silk. Everywhere she went people couldn't stop stroking her head.

6. Using it: Well in this case, I want to avoid using cliche's when describing important, deep characters. I think that it makes the characters seem more superficial.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't Look!

Now you'll read this for sure, right? Because if you really don't want someone to look, you never say "Don't Look!" This was a fact of life that was learned in the 7th grade locker room. Anytime anyone said those magic words, everyone's heads whipped around to see what someone didn't want them to see.

Today I was reminded of the "don't look" concept. Except for me, today was one of those days that I just wish I hadn't looked in the mirror. Then I would be oblivious to the fact that I really do look terrible. Obviously not looking wouldn't change the fact that I still look exhausted and messy, but at least I wouldn't know quite how exhausted and messy I look. Oh Naivety! What a glorious thing. But I looked and now am no longer naive to the utter disarray of my appearance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So Tired, So Funny; So Tired, So Dead

Recently it has come to my attention that hilarity comes after 1:00 AM. That is the deadline. After that minute hand clicks past that invisible barrier of time and space and the hilarity begins. It's inevitable.

Two hours of sleep pass....

The new day begins. The day is long. And now it is not so funny. I am dead. Dead tired. Was the hilarity worth it? Yes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Politics. Sometimes politics are confusing. Right now I am trying to figure out what my views really are. The problem: I don't always have enough knowleged to have an educated opinion. With this whole financial crisis. I don't know enough about economics to know the long-term effects of bailing out or letting be. Which is better? I don't know. Sometimes I feel like we have to know EVERYTHING in order to know anything. Confusing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slightly Frustrated

Want to yell and scream, but that won't do no good
Want to cry and whine, but know I never should

What else can there be to ease the tension out of me?
What else can be done to make this feeling come undone?


Run, Run, Run.

Run away, and there I'll stay.
Hiding out from all this doubt.
Maybe I'll come back again,
but right now, I don't know when.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How I Read

The other day when we read Siddhartha Chapter 4 one passage really struck me: "When anyone reads anything which he wishes to study, he does not despise the letters and punctuation marks, and call them illusion, chance and worthless shells, but he reads them, he studies them and loves them, letter by letter" (32). When I read this passage it hit me. This passage perfectly describes how I read. I am not a fast reader. I never have been and I probably never will be. I know lots of strategies to speed up my reading, but I don't like using them. When I read I like to feel each word, clause, sentence. I like each word to fill my mouth, to fully feel each aspect of the punctuation. That's what makes reading enjoyable. So, I suppose when I'm reading a text book I can use all those speed-up strategies where you read phrases and use your finger as a pacer, but not when I read prose. Nope. Because in prose each individual word deserves attention.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Awesome

Yesterday, when I looked at our class blog, I noticed that it read: "Scribbles & Specks Rocks." This was becasue the link shows the title of the blog: Scribbles and Specks, and also the title of the post: which happened to be "Rocks." I kind of liked how the two phrases fit together. So today I decided to title this post "Is Awesome." So that on my other sites the new update will say: "Scribbles & Specks Is Awesome." Words can be so much fun, no?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


If you squeeze a rock in your hand, who get's hurt? That's right. You do. I like this parable, although I have to admit that sometimes it comes back to bite me too. But it's true. Anger, grudges, resentment, etc. can hurt lots of people, but the person they hurt most is the person who is angry, carries the grudge, or is resentful. It's like they keep squeezing that rock. The rock never crumbles. But as I have learned from a book I'm reading Touching Spirit Bear, anger cannot be forgotten. This is true too. I guess we have to learn how to channel our anger.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reading Like a Writer #2: Caramelo

1. Notice a Passage: This passage comes from Sandra Cisneros' novel Caramelo (yes, this is the book I read for my outside reading assignment).

2. Passage: "I feel like I'm soaked with sadness. Anyone comes near me, or just brushes me with their eyes, I know I'll just fall apart. Like a book left in the rain" (389).

3. Name: In this passage Cisneros uses great imagery and a simile to express the despair of the narrator.

4. Evaluate: I love the imagery of being "soaked with sadness." It makes the reader feel heavy, like when you jump in a pool with all of your clothes on. Then the simile Cisneros uses when she compares her sadness to "like a book left in the rain" really emphasizes the imagery of "soaked with sadness." The book soaked book would be heavy and dripping, but it would also fall apart. This simile and imagery work really well together to show us the grief of the narrator.

5. Darkness consumes me. People come in and turn on the light and I can't see a thing. Like I've been swallowed whole in the cavity of a whale.

6. Using It: I could pair my similes with explicit imagery to make them stand out more and to help show my readers the emotions in my writing, rather than just telling them what things felt like. The imagery and simile help the writing show us the picture and help us feel what the narrator feels.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blueberry Picking

As you know from the previous post, I was in the great state of Washington this past weekend. And while I was there, I picked blueberries. Picking blueberries. Now, that was relaxing. I liked it a lot. Maybe that sounds weird. Picking blueberries made me think about how sometimes mindless labor-type tasks are so rejuvenating. Pick and talk. Talk and pick. Mindless work needs to be done. Sometimes I actually like doing it. I always like doing it if I have a group of friends or family members with whom to do it. Then it's like a long, rejuvenating break from life. You know, kind of like "A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way." Thanks, Mary Poppins. So, I figure I did pick my share of blueberries. I probably picked a little more than I ate the day before. And yes, they were scrum-didilie-umptous!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Loony Limerick Friday

"Seattle Here I come,"
Said Liz Thack on the run
And she flew through the doors
And triumphant she roars:
"Now it's time for some fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!"

The week is now done;
the next, yet has begun.
I'll fly through time and space
to a new, dazzling place.
But then: home again, I must come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too Much Talking

Today I did way too much talking. Talk, talk, talk. Gibber, jabber, smat. I definitely did more talking than I wanted to.

I want to listen. Hear the thunderous sound of silence. quiet. mute.

Tomorrow I will go on talk, talk, talking. I will gibber, jabber, smat some more. And I will talk more than I want to.

The next day I will listen. I will listen, and then I will hear.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lost in Translation

So, in class we are reading Siddhartha. In chapter 1 (well of my translation) there is a beautiful passage with amazing verbs: "Dreams came to him and restless thoughts. They flowed into him from the water of the river, glittered from the night stars, melted out of the rays of the sum. Dreams came and a restless mind, rising in the smoke of the offerings, wafting from the verses of the Rigveda, seeping into him from the teachings of the old brahmins" (5). Beautiful no? flowed, glittered, melted, rising, wafting, seeping. Great verbs. Well, it was quite a shock when I went to show my students this passage and in the school's copy it was not even close the the same. The asthetic beauty was gone. But no fear, I read them the passage from my copy and we talked about translation differences and which passage we liked better and why. Yet, isn't it sad that such beautiful prose could be lost in translation? This reemphasized to me the importance of reading a good translation. Does anyone know a good translation of Anna Karenina?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Day

Today was a good day. I didn't feel as rushed between classes--granted I still haven't eaten lunch--but it was better. It just flowed. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that we are studying the calming and go-with-the-flow religion of Buddhism. Maybe. Could be. But I'm glad that today flowed better. It has been hard for me to find the flow of B days. Moving around each class does not contribute to a nice flow. Maybe flow is on the horizon. I hope so. And I'm sure my students do too. Flow on the Horizon. I like that. I think I should use that in a poem or something. Maybe a personal essay. hmm... I'll have to come back to that one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Survival Mode

One month at a time.
One week at a time.
One day at a time.
One hour at a time.
One minute at a time.
minute by minute;
hour by hour;
day by day;
week by week;
month by month;

Friday, September 5, 2008


Feet Ache
Short on Time

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Missing Thailand

Today I miss my second home. I miss the rice fields that stretch for miles. Green in the summer; Golden in the fall. Well, winter here. As cheesy as it sounds, part of my heart will always be in Thailand. I love all of the smells that wander through the air: curry, fruit, rain, spice. The smells make each street come alive. The sounds too. Vendors pushing carts along the edge of the street tinkling bells, poking horns, or calling out their goods and services; hoping someone will consume.
Thailand. Even within one country it seems like it could be three or four. The chaos and crowds of Bangkok--the city that never sleeps. The laid-back ease of the Isaan, where daily naps on the job are almost mandatory. The small-town melting pot feel to the North, where hundreds of hill tribes and cultures combine to make a whole.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading Like A Writer

Remember, five (5) of your writer's notebook entries must evaluate another author's writing.
To read like a writer follow these easy steps:
(1) While you are reading notice passages that jump out at you, or that you just like
(2) Re-read those passages and look at what the author is doing--why did the passage strike you? Is it the words, the imagery, the punctuation? What's going on?
(3) Determine what the author is doing--give the effect a name
(4) Evaluate the effect. Does it work? Why or why not?
(5) When/How will you use (or avoid) this same technique in your writing?

I will demonstrate.

1. This passage comes from the novel Night by Elie Wiesel, it is an autobiographical novel about Wiesel's experience in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

2. Passage:
"The bread, the soup--those were my entire life. I was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach" (52).

3. Name: Wiesel is using dashes, colons, and fragments to create certain effects.

4. Evaluate: This passage has a great use of punctuation. When Wiesel places the dash between the phrases "The bread, the soup" and "those were my entire life" he emphasizes the importance of each phrase in relation to each other. The dash creates an important pause. It forces the reader to stop and think about what is on both sides. Then Wiesel goes on with the complete sentence: "I was nothing but a body." This sentence is emphasized because it is followed by a fragment (or an incomplete sentence). The fragment "Perhaps even less: a famished stomach" emphasizes the complete sentence that comes before, but it is also emphasized. This double emphasis is an amazing technique. Wiesel is able to make his readers consider each phrase. Within the fragment, Wiesel uses a colon. The colon has a similar effect to the dash in that it makes the reader pause and think about the phrases on both sides and how they relate to each other. And because this sentence is a fragment the reader must not only consider how the phrases on both sides of the colon relate to each other, but to the complete sentence that comes before them. Wow. Now this is powerful prose.

5. Imitation:
The game, the crowd--those were my entire life. I was the best. Perhaps even more: top notch, a star.

Using it: I can use dashes and colons when I have two related ideas and I want to place an emphasis on both of them. I could also use fragments when I want to keep a point short and help my reader tie it back to the sentence before. Yay for colons, dashes, and fragments!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Let's talk about titles. I thought I might elaborate on the title of this blog. Maybe it's self explanatory, maybe it's not. But here goes my explanation. Even though this is electronic media, I want you to think of these entries as scribbles like I was scribbling down thoughts in a writer's notebook. Rather than scribbling, I am typing. Furiously typing. Specks, well because in all of these scribbles there just might be some speck of truth, some nugget of wisdom, some gem of good writing. They will most likely be only specks however. Specks amidst a mass of static insanity. But Scribbles & Specks, here we go.

Friday, August 29, 2008

History in the Making

Fascinating. Did you hear about John McCain's VP candidate? This election will be monumental. Either an African American will be President or a woman will be Vice President. History in the making people. As Obama says, "change." Well change is coming, and it is coming quick, no matter which party wins this race.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You Make Me Laugh!

Today in class we talked about writing. Remember? Of course I like writing--otherwise I wouldn't be an English teacher. But that doesn't mean that writing is easy or always fun either. Many of my students mentioned how they use writing as an escape. Me too. Somehow writing lets me release stress or other intense emotions that somehow become too intense. As part of class today my students were required to complete the following statement: "To me writing is like..." The purpose was for them to create a simile about their feelings toward writing. There were some great ones. One student wrote that writing is like a tootsie pop. At first it's hard, but as you continue it gets softer. Another student mentioned that writing is like getting punched in the face. There were so many brilliant similes. I should have written them down so I could remember them. It's a good thing I'm the teacher and that my students will have to turn in this assignment, then I'll be able to read all of the responses again. Excellent.

Oh. I almost forgot to write about the title of this blog. This blog is entitled "You Make Me Laugh!" because of another assignment we did today. After the students finished writing a simile to express their attitude about writing, they started making a collage to find pictures to show how they feel about writing. This is where things got especially funny. One student found a picture of a flag burning and connected it with the word evil. Another student found a picture of tortured Muslim woman. I get the hint: you don't like writing. I mentioned in my post yesterday, you'll still have to do things that you don't like or that you think are lame. It's just part of the game called life. Sorry. But thanks for making me laugh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'll do it too.

I have asked my students (well actually I will assign my students next week) to start a writer's notebook. I can hear it now: "This is lame, Ms. Thackeray. Why do we have to do this?" I know, I know. They will most assuredly think the assignment is lame. But sometimes "lame" things are good for us. Students, just trust me on this one. As someone who is quite a bit older and dare I say wiser--well more experienced--than you, I do have some hindsight in the matter of doing "lame" things. I have done my fair share of "lame" things in my life and I'm sure that they haven't ended yet either. And I have learned that many times the things I thought were so "lame" that I wanted to die rather than do, actually weren't that lame when I looked back on them, and besides not being as lame as I originally deemed them to be, they even became helpful.

"Well, Ms. Thackeray," you say, "Now you're just babbling." This is true. I know I'm babbling--but guess what?!? That is the purpose of this assignment: you get to babble and haver all you want--to your heart's content even. Really, I'm doing you a favor ;-] That's right, you should be saying "Thank you Ms. Thackeray, you are giving us the opportunity of a lifetime. You're the best English teacher ever." That is what I want to hear! That is what I want to live up to. And that's why I will do your assignment with you. I am even posting mine online--publishing for all to see, now that's pressure.