Tuesday, February 22, 2005

We have a spelling champion in our midst!

Nicole, her husband, and I went to the Williamsburg Spelling Bee last night - and her husband placed third! He got a free sandwich (don't scoff; these sandwiches are GOOD). The Bee was freakin' hilarious. Everyone heckled everyone else from the audience; the announcers heckled back from the stage. It was a big crowd, about 16 entrants. Nicole and I gave it our best shot but a combination of bad luck and better spellers knocked us out. I can't even remember the third word that I spelled wrong - definitely not one anyone had ever heard before. But before that I'd misspelled "accruement," the lesson being: trust your instincts. I saw that first "e" clearly in my mind but didn't believe it was there. D'oh. My unit on birds paid off when I got "altricial."

The only thing that annoyed me slightly about the evening is that about half-a-dozen words used in last night's bee had also been used the first night I went there. I waited until the whole thing was over and then politely pointed it out to one of the announcers, and, well, she didn't seem to care. She said she checks them off - but you just don't forget "vexillary"...

It turns out that there is another bee in Brooklyn.

*****

I have now put so much time into TurboTax that the Disneyland effect has kicked in. Despite the fact that I could have filed by hand several times over, the investment in doing it this way is so great that I cannot possibly give up and pick up paper forms. I'm about 2/3 through the process, and darn it, I'm going to finish this project today, even if it means no yoga!

*****

And speaking of yoga... so far neither early morning sun salutations nor 9:30 basics has happened. I did make it to a community class at 2:30 yesterday, though. I forgot how hard it is to get out of bed when the whole day stretches ahead of you.

*****

Oh! I almost forgot to finish the story. After the bee, Nicole was like, "This is just a suggestion, but do you think the Strand would be open now?" Ohmigosh, another bookstore tourist! The Strand was one of the first places I tracked down when I got to New York, just like City Lights is a place I visit whenever I'm in San Francisco. You see, when I was a freshman in college, I came home and worked in a bookstore - The Bookstore - for the summer. It was possibly the best job I ever had: non-stressful yet meaningful, great co-workers and friendly customers, reasonable hours, generous pay. Matt, who owned the place, flirted shamelessly with the women who came in and joked around with the men. He played jazz and sixties folk on the stereo, very low, and he had an old-fashioned cash register, a new-fangled computer, and a photograph of Czeslaw Milosz (I think) behind the counter. When the business was doing well, we all benefited. Matt talked occasionally about life in New York City, working at the Strand, knowing where to find things in their labyrinthine stacks. I really had no idea what the Strand was or why it was important, but I was left with a distinct impression that to be able to find books there meant that you belonged to some nebulous group of hip and knowledgeable people. (For the record, I go there occasionally, find what I can and ask for help for the rest, and am not particularly hip or knowledgeable).

And after looking to see if they had her husband's book (they didn't), picking up some cookbooks, novels, and canvas Strand bags, we headed to Yaffa Cafe for dessert.

*****

I've been meaning to post this for several days but keep forgetting: the Education Wonks' Carnival of Education has been really interesting. I was skeptical, and I've been proven wrong, in a good way! EdWonk & his co-writers have been around for about six months now, and through them I've found a whole bunch of new education writers - too many to keep up with, actually, so it's nice to have the Carnival once a week to highlight some of the conversations happening around the web.

I also want to give a shout-out to JennyD, who has raised a lot of interesting questions - and helped to make education blogging more of a conversation than a collection of isolated rants.

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