Friday, February 24, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.  I had a whole post planned out in my head yesterday and never found time to write it.  It was going to be called "Hips Don't Lie, but Glutes are Deceptive Motherf&*#ers."  

2.  Said post was going to be about the fact that, on my left side, I am physically unable to go from a runner's lunge to anjaneyasana (high lunge).  I thought it was due to a problem with my hips, but thanks to an amazing Yoga I class with Padma yesterday I think I've figured out that a weak left gluteus medius is to blame.  

3.  I packed breakfast and lunch for myself--and actually at them--this whole week.  This is a big deal to me.

4.  I am not sure my marriage and/or sanity (what little of it I have, at least) are going to survive this basement renovation.

5.  I think that the things my students notice are funny--like the fact that I'm wearing green chucks, but I've never worn them to school before.

Check out my sweet kicks.
 6.  February is always an incredibly busy month for me at school.  It's been even crazier than usual this year, with taking the GRE, applying for grad school, playing in two concerts, teaching my first two "real" yoga classes, and renovating the basement.  And yet, I don't feel particularly stressed.

7.  I will be SUPER happy after my period of insanity ends as of March 3.

8.  I'm stupidly excited to see "The Hunger Games" with my girls in March.  We're going to wear matching t-shirts.  It's going to be... dare I say it... epic. 

9.  Duff Man realized this week that if I take yoga classes when we go on vacation, I can write parts of the trip off as a business expense.  This means I'm "allowed"--and even encouraged--to do yoga on vacation.  WIN.

10.  I felt like a badass teacher for two reasons this week:  a) I made my 7th/8th graders do a (group) score study.  b) I re-read my concert/cadet band the story of one of the pieces they're playing and associated each part of the story with the music.  I almost cried while I was reading it--and they're really starting to express the music.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Monday! The Weekend in Reverse

"Today I'm going to kick your ass, you're going to thank me, then you're going to go on with the rest of your day."  

That's how the instructor of the Prana Flow class I took this morning at Flow Yoga in DC opened class.  I have to say, I dug it.  It was my first time at Flow, and I really enjoyed the class--very flowy, with a good amount of differentiation and LOTS of sweat.  

What bothered me, though, were a few of the yogis around me who... how shall I say this... have a different view of studio etiquette than that to which I am accustomed.  (How's that for PC?)  TWO other yogis came into the studio and warmed up with iPods and headphones and listened to music while they warmed up before class.  Seriously, who does that?  The studio has always been an electronics-free zone for me and it seemed very bizarre that a) you'd WANT to bring canned music in with you and b) that it would be allowed.  Weird.  A third yogi was chewing gum, which the instructor realized about halfway through the class--so she made her spit it out so she didn't choke on it.  

Rewinding back to Sunday at my home studio, I started the morning off with my favorite Yin/Yoga II class combo.  After an excellent at the studio, I went home and did a LOT of laundry while Duff Man hammered and sanded and cussed and generally clanged around in the basement.  I ended the evening with an after dinner treat of wine, ice cream, and The Bodyguard on Amazon Prime.  Pretty excellent.

...and rewinding more...

Saturday morning heralded the debut of Yoga III at the studio.  I was really excited to take class, but my left hip was being really cranky (that's another post in itself), so I ended up being really frustrated.  The class was good, but my own personal physical and mental roadblocks made it less enjoyable than it should have been.  Boo.  I assisted class afterwards.

Saturday night, Duff Man & I went to Chima Brazilian Steakhouse with our friends, Dan & Shrinkadink Ninja, to celebrate Dan Ninja's 30th birthday.  The meat-fest was good, although our primary server was pretty smarmy and definitely not deserving of the built-in gratuity.  Ah well.  

Afterwards, we headed back to the Ninja's house so the boys could taste test whiskey.  I was afraid that the evening wasn't going to end well, but the boys showed restraint and maturity, except for whoever let out a massive fart and didn't own up to it.  Shrinkadink's carefully light pours didn't hurt anything either.  Duff Man & I stayed for a while and headed hope pretty late.

Despite his name, Remy isn't old enough to drink.
Finally,  back on Friday night Duff Man & I ran a few errands and went out to eat some Pho for dinner.  We found it hilarious that they gave us different sets of flatware.

I'll let you guess which set they gave to Duff Man and which one they gave to me.
On our way out, we stopped by to take a photo of a different restaurant in the same shopping center.  

I'll bet it ain't easy to being the Ho King.  

All of that to say that I had a great weekend filled with friends, good food, and yoga.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend too!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.  Surefire way to kick my ass in Core Yoga: Put me at the front next to the instructor and tell them that I'll be teaching a core class on Monday.  I still hurt from Wednesday. 

2.  When I log into MindBodyOnline as a staff member, my main page shows a bar graph of client visits by month for the last three years.  Being obsessed with numbers as I am, I keep peeking to see if we're going to beat last year's numbers.  It shouldn't be a problem :)

3.  I am SO effing over the "What my _____ think I ____ " meme.

4.  I have an exciting weekend of catching up on errands planned.  I'm actually kind of excited--I really need to clean, send out a few packages, and hopefully cook up some fun stuff.

5.  I loved Dave Grohl's acceptance speech from the Grammy's last weekend.  I showed it to a few of my classes on Monday morning.

6.  I have a love/hate relationship with February snow.  If it snows, I either need a full day on Tuesday or for school to be closed.  A delay just won't do.

7.  The work to finish our basement begins on Monday.  I'm excited, but not looking forward to the construction noise on my day off.

8.  I have had zero willpower when it comes to healthy eating in the last month.

9.  I am in love with the salad I ate for lunch for three days this week: chopped romaine, baby spinach, tomatoes, English cucumber, avocado, grilled chicken, and homemade ranch dressing.  Yum!

10.  I'm going to teach TWO yoga classes next week! AAAAAHHHH!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How [Not?] To Study for the GRE

A couple of folks have asked me about my GRE preparations, so I figured I'd write my thoughts down while it's fresh in my mind.

Now, keep in mind that I've always been a pretty decent standardized test taker and there was only about a week between the time I signed up for the test and my actual test date.

Test Prep Materials - What I Used

Because I didn't have a huge amount of prep time and because the testing format changed this year, I purchased two books: The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test by ETS and Cliffs Notes' Math Review for Standardized Tests--recommended by an Amazon reviewer who didn't think very highly of the Quantitative Analysis explanations in the ETS book.  

Study Process

I spent a few days working out of the Cliffs Notes book: I took the four "Diagnostic Tests," then checked the answers.  Each answer has the page number for the section explaining the concept written right next to it--super convenient!  I skipped around a lot, only reviewing the sections for which I got the questions wrong.

I went through the practice questions in the GRE book so I could try and figure out what to expect in the Verbal Reasoning section and to practice some more math questions.  I figured there wasn't a lot I could do to prepare for the Analytical Writing section anyway, although reading the sample prompt and sample essays at each possible score level (1-6) was pretty informative and gave me an idea of what kind of response I needed to provide for each section.

The last thing I studied was a concept I learned in my Critical Thinking class from my first semester in my freshman year of college: Toulmin's Model of Argumentation.  It provided a great framework through which I could argue a point myself, and also a way for me to attack someone else's argument--the two tasks required of you in the "Analyze an Issue" and "Analyze an Argument" sections of the Analytical Writing test.

On the day of the test, I used the PowerPrep II software (which came with my book and is also available free from the ETS website) to take the computerized practice test--or, at least portions of it.  I looked at the prompts for the Analytical Writing test, went through the first math section and two verbal reasoning sections.  I'd been doing well enough that I skipped the second math section. 

Test Evaluation

I have not yet received my official test results, so I'll have to update my post later.  

As planned, I used Toulmin's Model to create both of my writing samples.  I think I did well on the "Analyze an Issue" section, but I think I totally rocked the "Analyze and Argument" prompt.  We'll see how that goes.

I did much better than I had expected on the Verbal Reasoning section.  My unofficial raw score unofficially put me in the 93rd percentile according to the chart on the ETS website.  Pretty sweet.  

And then there's the Quantitative Reasoning section.  You know, the funny thing is that I have ALWAYS done better on the math section of my tests than my verbal section (not that I was ever bad at either one.)  I really, REALLY wish I had gone through the second QR section on the practice test.  The questions were harder and I simply didn't manage my time effectively.  By the last few questions, I just clicked on answers (you get credit for right answers but don't lose credit for wrong ones.)  The especially frustrating part was that I had to pass through questions where I knew how to do the math, I just didn't have time.  My score wasn't bad by any means--the unofficial score is unofficially in the 84th percentile--but it should have been much higher.  Oh well.  I'm not going into science or math anyway.

Reflection on Study Process 

It was helpful to have the Verbal Reasoning sample questions and the complete sample tests, but the explanations were NOT helpful at all.  

The Verbal Reasoning explanations looked something like this:

"This question requires the reader to determine what can be inferred from the passage about its author's view of the interpretation of novels. Choice A may seem attractive because in the passage the author says that Wuthering Heights has heterogeneous elements that resist inclusion in a unifying interpretive scheme. Choice A is incorrect, however, because the author does not indicate that the unification of different elements is to be avoided in interpretation generally. By contrast, the author's parenthetical statement about rigidity does present a general warning against inflexibility of interpretation, and it is this that supports Choice B."

They basically should have written "Well, dumbass, if your vocabulary was better this question wouldn't really be that hard at all!"  The "reasoning" also reminded me of the Battle of Wits from "The Princess Bride."

Most of the information from the Official Guide to the GRE book is available for free on the ETS website.  While the book is easily portable, you can just go to the ETS GRE Test Preparation Page and get the information there.  There are two full-length practice tests (one paper-based, one computer-based) on the website and the PowerPrep II testing software.  I would definitely recommend tinkering around with the computer-based test so you get a feel for the layout, the formatting (single answer vs. multiple answer questions), and how to use the on screen calculator.  

Aside from the Official Guide, I would highly recommend the Cliff's Notes book and definitely the Toulmin Model of Argumentation as study tools.  

I hope that my experience with the new GRE has been helpful to you.  If you have any specific questions, leave a comment and I'll be happy to answer them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday: Post Valentine's Day Highs

Call it a "Hallmark holiday" if you want, but I like Valentine's Day.

Duff Man sent me some beautiful flowers at work.

He also had a sweet card and chocolate (nom!) waiting for me at home.

I got him a card and some chocolate as well.
This is clearly me doing a head stand.
And this... well, this is clearly from me too.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Friday Facts: Crazy Busy Happy Life Edition

1.  This weekend, I get to play on the stage at the new performing arts center at my alma mater.  I'm so excited!  (Even better is that one of my best girls is coming to see it too!  And Duff Man, of course.)

2.  I didn't check Facebook at all yesterday.  My Twitter feed on my phone showed I hadn't looked at it since Tuesday.

3.  I had some great post-rehearsal dinner conversation last night.  And it solidified my feelings that getting an admin degree is the right course for me.

4.  Because of yesterday's conversation, I've been listening to David Maslanka today.  (Currently on Symphony No. 4.)

5.  I have had a ridiculous amount of stuff on my plate this week--this  month, really--and I wouldn't have it any other way.

6.  As if I haven't had enough on my plate, I get to teach my first TWO yoga classes to real, paying clients later this month!  (I'll be subbing twice in the same week.)    

7.  I don't feel like I have the right to call myself a yoga teacher any more than someone who has just graduated college has the right to call themselves a teacher.  You become a teacher only with experience--which I don't have just yet.

8.  There's a blog I read who, while the person is very nice and well-intentioned, sometimes posts inaccurate information and I really want to send her a message to let her know.  But I also (for once) don't want to be an ass.

9.  This week has been kinda crappy and stressful, but it hasn't actually felt that way.

10.  I have the option of taking the GRE earlier than I had scheduled today, but I'm opting to go to yoga and study more first.  I like making plans and sticking to them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Get Knocked Down... But I Get Up Again.

Today, everything fell apart.

I asked for custodians to help me move a TON of equipment in my room because my classroom is going to be torn up for water damage remediation.  Yeah, I know.  Anyway, none of them showed at the scheduled time so I had my smallest class of students help me move everything.  There was a lot of stuff.  And a lot of dust.  

I had a meeting... but then it was cancelled... but then my sub showed up, so I went over to the Ed Center to do some work anyway.

Then I worked my first "real" shift at the desk at the yoga studio.


The lights in the main studio wouldn't turn on.
So I tripped the circuit breaker.
Which made the internet not work.
And the sound system didn't work.
But then climbed up on a chair and reset the router and the modem and I fixed the internet.
Then plugged in the earphone jack and figured out the right setting on the sound doohickey and I fixed the sound system.

Then I called Padma and walked from one end of the room to the other alternately flipping light switches... and I made the lights work again.

Then I ate a cupcake.

Things fell apart, but I didn't and things turned out pretty okay.

Oh, and I averaged 92% on my GRE Quantitative Analysis review questions.  Boo-yah.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.  Writing a C.V. is more stressful and intimidating than it really should be.

2.  No one ever needs to calculate standard deviation by hand.  Ever.

3.  I derive sick pleasure from sloooooooowwwwwlllllyyyyy peeling Biore pore strips off of my nose.

4.  My GPA has gotten higher with every subsequent diploma/degree from high school to Master's.

5.  One of my favorite colleagues and I went out to Subway AND Baskin Robbins today in order to do some "field research" using a fundraiser coupon book I'm testing out.  Then I ordered pizza for dinner.   Makes me awfully glad I've taken so many yoga classes this week.

6.  Duff Man has been watching "The Dresden Files" on Netflix.  It's awful.  Don't waste your time.  (He picked it because he read the books.)

7.  I haven't read a book for fun in a long time.  I really need some brain candy, but I don't have the time right now.

8.  We finally have a plan to finish the basement.  It involves punching holes in our house.  This pleases me.

9.  I like my steak cooked rare.  Like, "scare the cow with a match" rare.  Mmmm... bloody beef.

10.  This is what I'm going to be up to this weekend.  How about you?

Dear Blogger: Why do you do this to me?  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together (aka: Three Things Thursday)

It may not always seem like it to Duff Man, but I'm a planner.  I need a clear idea of the big picture--and then the lists and checkboxes that will get us from Point A to Point B.  The checkboxes don't always look neat--in fact, my life is pretty messy sometimes--but I always have a clear picture of the end result in my head, and I know that the messy in-between is just part of the process.

Earlier this week, my eye was twitching for two days straight.  I honestly think that the biggest factor was stress and a lack of clarity in several areas of my life.  It's funny the difference that a few days makes; I've ironed out some big issues and suddenly the eye twitches have magically gone away!

Three Eye-Twitching Things Thursday:

1)  Yoga was stressing me out.  Not the actual practice (which I am thrilled to be able to do!), but the fact that I wasn't really sure of my place in the community.  I'm not a teacher, but I've got a key to the studio... I'd used all my classes up but wasn't sure whether I needed to buy a pass or not.  The one thing that was my salvation from myself had become seriously stressful--and I think that was a HUGE part of my twitch.  Fortunately, I've had some clarity on that front and all is well once more.  

2)  Duff Man had demo'd the basement without any real plan of how to put it all back together.  Okay, that's not entirely true.  His idea of plan was "well, it's easy.  You go from the outside in... plumbing, electrical, walls, etc..."  My idea of a plan is "We will hire A company to perform B task for $C.  Then Duff Man will complete task D with the aid of E.  We will then bring in F company to perform G task..." You get the idea.  Anyway, we got a few quotes from contractors and finally have a much firmer idea of what we're going to do with the basement--which makes both Duff Man and I happy (even if it makes our checkbook cry.)

3) Here's the big one.  I've been contemplating going back to school (again) for a while now.  I'd like to work towards a certification in Educational Administration & Supervision.  Because I already have a Master's degree, all I really need to do is complete 24 credits of coursework--but that would be silly because I could move another pay lane at 30 credits.  I've been debating the merits of two programs (one which would give me the certification and a second master's; the other which would give me the certification and a "specialist" degree--a degree which is higher than a Master's but lower than a Doctorate.)  I really wanted to do the latter, but thought it would be too expensive.  As luck would have it, the program I want to do appears to be the more affordable program--so in the midst of all of my district festival preparations, I'll also be taking the GRE and applying to grad school.  Again.  

It's a seriously good thing that the yoga studio can by my place of solace again.  I'm gonna need it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Rowdy-versary!

Two years ago today, Duff Man & I  went to the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League, a no-kill shelter about an hour away from where we live, to meet a dog.  We were looking at getting a companion for our German short-haired pointer, Millie, since we had just put my childhood lab-boxer-dane mix, Dingo, to sleep at a ripe old age of 16.  

Millie & Dingo
We'd been browsing online when we came across "Slinky."  He was an emaciated charcoal grey greyhound-lab (?) mix who was tied up and left outside the shelter in the middle of the night two months earlier.   These were the photos of him that were posted on the shelter's website.  

This was his description: 

2 year old neutered male, 60 pounds. Some dogs come to RAWL and they are named and some dogs come to RAWL and they name themselves. Slinky picked his name by spending the first few weeks sadly slinking towards us. His named stayed the same but the meaning has changed. Now he is more like the toy. He is long and lean with a lot of spring in his ribs. Slinky wants to be loved and doted. His former life is slowly going in the past for him. He is now happy and playful and instead of slinking towards you he is happy to sit by you and enjoy affection.There isn't a person old or young that Slinky doesn't want to say hi to. Slinky loves other dogs, and to play ball.

Like most GSPs, Millie is high energy, VERY friendly, and extremely affectionate.  She's a great running dog, so we hoped that Slinky the Greyhound mix would be a good pair.

We loved Slinky as soon as we met him.  He got along very well with Millie.  The shelter said that we could take him home that same day--and so we did.

Now, Duff Man had already decided that he reeeeeeeealllllllyyyyyy wanted a dog named Rowdy.  And even though Slinky wasn't very rowdy, he didn't know his name anyway... so Slinky became Rowdy.

The day after we brought him home, we gave Slinky/Rowdy a bath... and it turns out that he wasn't really grey, he was black!  Then, later on, he stole and ate (with a little help from his new partner-in-crime) an entire loaf of Panera bread.  

And after a couple of months of fattening up... it turns out that we don't think he's a Greyhound mix after all.  He's more likely weimaraner/lab... but we'll probably never know for sure.

He also turned out to be a terrible runner.  He's much slower than Millie and is much more interested in chasing squirrels and birds.  

Antoine Dogson. Fur real.

He wasn't what we expected, but none of that matters.  We love our Rowdy and he loves us, and our lives wouldn't be the same without him.

Happy Rowdy-versary, puppy!