Tuesday, August 29, 2006

nothing would make me happier than if they abolished it

The data for the first administrations of the new SAT show that students have posted the lowest average scores since 2002.

Several people interviewed in the New York Times article, mostly College Board officials, insist that the now three-hour-and-forty-five-minute testing time -- not counting all the filling out of personal information before and after -- has no impact on the plummeting scores. According to them, the downward trend in the data is due solely to the lack of students taking the test multiple times (since the new exam format has not been adminstered enough times for most students to have had the time to sit for two or three different test dates).

Having witnessed test-taking in person, though, I would beg to differ, as does the official Kaplan representative:

"Seppy Basili, senior vice president at Kaplan Inc., the education and test preparation company, said the new SAT test undoubtedly affected scores, because students were less familiar with it and because fewer students repeated it. But he said he thought the length played a greater role than the College Board acknowledged."

Yeah, Seppy, you tell 'em. Because I can tell you, from personal experience -- criminy, it's hard enough to sit through proctoring the damn thing without wanting to gouge your brain out of your skull to alleviate the tedium. I can only imagine how much less appealing it is when you have to actually answer the questions.

In a country without a standardized curriculum, there can be no such thing as an accurate standardized test. (For example, this year's ACT scores a record high for all years since 1991, in part because many students jumped ship from the SAT and took the ACT instead.) Testing may keep me employed, but I'm tired of watching bright, personable, capable kids sink under the weight of this monster. Seriously, folks -- when the putative college entrance exam is longer than the GRE or the GMAT and about the same length as the LSAT, something's gotta give.

For once and for all, College Board: Teenagers are not adults, no matter how much they argue to the contrary. Playing to their weaknesses, most notably sitting still for an extended period of time taking a test unlike anything a teacher ever actually sets them in the classroom, is not going to help any college put together its best possible freshman class.

To all my students out there (they don't read this, so I'm safe): Chin up! And to all those College Board loonies: You could make a lot of money hiring me -- or, at least, I could make a lot of money with you hiring me -- to revamp this thing so it actually works. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

my very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas

Nota bene for Stephen Colbert: I am, as you requested, givin' it up for Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who discussed the redefining of planets on the show.

Because, come on -- you gotta figure that your average astrophysicist is not really all that into appearing on a fake-news talk show, much less actually being hilarious while doing so.

In other news, we have a pair of ladybugs who occasionally appear and then disappear from our apartment. One moment they're there, and the next moment -- gone!

It's magic! Good luck!

Or, maybe, gross. I can't decide.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

i should not watch a.m. television

Generally speaking, I don't so much adore Ann Curry and her style of faux-everywoman interaction. She kind of makes me not want to be her friend...

...unless her friends get to raid her shoe closet. Hot damn.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

it never rains but it pays

My husband and I had just reached the conclusion that it would behoove our financial situation if I hied myself to the temp agency and signed up for some data entry jobs -- which I did -- when:

1) I received an over-zealous GRE tutee who wants to meet at least six times before Labor Day;

2) I received an ever more over-zealous LSAT tutee who wants to keep studying with a tutor after his LSAT class ends, up until test day;

3) I received word that the GRE curriculum team is resuming question generation after cutting it off when the news that the GRE was being revamped came down the wires;

4) I received an almost inhuman amount of SAT lesson and test material to review as quickly as is (in)humanly possible.

Cripes. If I were a superstitious person, I would say I should have hied myself to the temp agency long ago -- not for temp work, but because the good karma makes all the other work come out of the...well...woodwork.

Hm. Seems my cranium has reserved my linguistic capacities for usage solely in my role as SAT manuscript editrix. Back to work, I guess!

Monday, August 14, 2006

back to cool season

I believe it's wrong that I'm considering getting a lame office job just so that I can wear work outfits.

Put aside the fact that I loathe cubicle life in general and that such a job probably wouldn't pay me enough to shop for such items -- I'm still lusting after this outfit.

There must be another way, without becoming an embittered overworked desk jockey. I bet I could teach in that, right? Chalk dust be damned, SAT students deserve a well-dressed mentor, even if it costs as much as I get paid per session.

(The ability to justify anything? Priceless.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

and moving on to another contest

Was this week's challenge rigged? Because it seems like each designer ended up with both the model and the fashion icon that could not have been more perfect.

Well, except maybe the last girl pulled from the bag who also couldn't reach the pictures. Kind of sucks to be her (and the leftover designer she got stuck with). But everyone else? Match made in heaven.

I'm channeling my grandfather -- I tell you, it was rigged.

Also Tim Gunn? Is a god. Just sayin'.

ETA: Ep 5? Best episode ever. Adding the models is only brilliance.

it's a "know," not a"think"

I really, really, really want Benji to win So You Think You Can Dance.

To be fair, all the top four are just ridiculously phenomenal -- plus, I think I like the entire top ten better this year. They're not only more talented, but they work really well together as an ensemble. Whether that will serve them well in the cutthroat world of professional dance remains to be seen, but on the show, it's inspiring.

I would be fine with any of them winning. They're all insanely versatile and just generally awesome, and I have to give props to anyone who has that kind of talent and the opportunity to cash in on it, yet remains friendly and supportive of the competition.


Go Benji! Woo!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

small favors

Another notch in the "I'm so glad my sisters-in-law and I are not Bridezillas" list:

Me: "Wait wait wait. What the hell is a Dollar Dance?"

Torie: "It's when you make the bridesmaids hold little bags and people have to pay to dance with the bride and groom. And I didn't list them all. Oops."

Me: "That's the worst thing I've ever heard."

"Oh -- this is the best part -- the bride's younger sister, who is in high school, did not get a summer job this summer because she needed to be available to help the bride with the wedding. The bride is a teacher. She had the summer off. And she lives where she got married. Can you please tell me what is so complicated?!?!"

Me: "I give up. That...is vile. And you win; you're the first person I know who has actually met and been in the wedding of a Bridezilla."

Torie: "Thank you."

Monday, August 07, 2006

love is in the air

If ever I decide to abandon my sanity for a job, I would be a great wedding coordinator.

I served unofficially in that wise this past weekend, when Becky and Chris got married. Admittedly, I do exaggerate; all I really did was put together the emergency bag o' stuff that every bride needs to have around (sewing kit, Band-Aids, safety pins, bobby pins, deodorant, gum, dental floss, a hairbrush, and ibuprofen) and just make myself available to do anything that needed or wanted doing by anyone at any time. I do like to be useful.

Or, as Elizabeth put it: "Once a stage manager..."

Anyway, enough about me. The wedding! The weekend was gorgeous, comprising the three most beautiful days that the state of Maine has seen this calendar year. Becky mentioned that it must be due to her working as a guidance counselor at a Catholic school -- after a year there, she's "got connections." Hee.

The inn was just adorable and lent the event the feeling of a big house party. We took over the whole place, so everything you needed at the last minute was just up the stairs or around the corner. Very handy, particularly when you are running for emergency supplies -- or your husband's license, when the bartender cards him -- in heels.

The guest list spanned genes and generations. So many kids! Trying to get Ryan and Katie, Chris' and now Becky's nephew and niece, to walk down the aisle at the right time was a little tricky, but it ended up being the most heartwrenchingly adorable sight ever. Becky has been "Aunt Becky" since her earliest encounters with Chris' sisters' children, which is just common sense, as you'll know if you're one of the lucky folks who has ever seen Becky interact with children. Kaitlin and Ryan could not wait to be a part of the day when Aunt Becky got to be a princess. Anything to make Aunt Becky's big day a wonderful one. (It seems Katie was rather surprised to hear Uncle Chris would be there, too!)

Then again, I would say there was an inordinate amount of good feeling all around. Sisters, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, college and camp friends -- everyone seemed so genuinely thrilled to see Becky and Chris so happy and taking this step. Plus, well, when is a wedding between two people who are truly in love not a stellar, sentimental affair?

After the hike up the hill from the waterside ceremony, we were met by servers holding little shrimp cocktails with a spicy mango-tomato chutney sauce. I took this as a good sign for dinner, and I was not disappointed. Given the Maine connection, the food spanned the range of seafood from lobster ravioli to smoked salmon to mussels to crab cakes (and then some non-seafood options for the silly folks who don't like seafood -- more crab cakes for me, huzzah!).

Becky and Chris danced their first dance to Rustic Overtones, which fit the tenor of the whole day as being so perfectly in tune with who they are, as individuals and as a couple. The DJ took over after that to get the ball rolling. I should note that when the official pictures come in, there will be a disproportionate number of Jim and me dancing. We did our best to cut up the dance floor, with some support from Christie and Ted and Mikki too. The photographer -- who was phenomenal, actually -- was right there with us. Come to think of it, maybe we should have asked her to dance.

But the fun didn't stop when the official wedding timeline reached its end. After the DJ left and people changed into comfortable casual clothes, Jim and Chris rocked the guitar duets. I'm pretty sure we got a nice mix of Eagles, Weezer, Hendrix, and everything in between. Hotel California was particularly impressive, even if I do say so myself.

And, of course, we all ate an inordinate number of moose- and lobster-shaped chocolate lollipops.

So the food, music, and general mingling were wonderful. Still? The greatest thing about the whole weekend had to be the glow on the newlyweds. They are two unequivocally wonderful people, and I believe their virtues increase exponentially as two become one.

Friday, August 04, 2006

just perfect

Heard on the news just now:

"Saturday looks to be just a dandy of a day!"

Just what Becky and Chris deserve, of course -- a beautiful day for two beautiful people.

Yay wedding!