Thursday, March 7, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night...

Actually, it wasn't stormy at all. It was dark and calm as I drove home from a friend's house. The specifics leading up to that point will be spared from here, just know that I was in a bad spot. I was angry and frustrated and couldn't seem to find an answer anywhere for what was bothering me.

You see, I was in a mood where everything was annoying me. The radio station was playing the same song as always. I flipped the station and it was more of the same. Again and again, there was nothing to listen to so I turned the radio off completely. All I had was the nagging whirr of rubber along the road.

Journey back a few months. I was in my classroom, laying out materials for the next day, when a good friend came into the room and invited me to an upcoming performance. A choir group from Africa was visiting her church and she thought I might enjoy it. I still remember the thought that ran through my mind. "I have no reason not to". So I said I would go along.

The performance was great. There was an incredible amount of talent in the young singers and the dancing was wonderful. As the evening was drawing to a close, the pastor of the hosting church asked if anyone was new or visiting for the first time. Unabashedly, I raised my hand. I didn't really think about it. I just did it. Afterwards I was given a CD as a welcome gift, which I thanked them for and then it sat in the car...for months.

It was at this point when my story begins to unfold in a spiritual way that I never would have foreseen. I suppose I should apologize that if there was a weekend in July 2012 where you couldn't find God, it's because he was with an intense intervention.

The whirring of the tires was getting to me so and I recognized that sitting in the seat beside me was that same CD...waiting. I slid it in and it allowed it to play automatically, expecting...well, not really knowing what to expect.

The same pastor came through the speakers and began to weave a message that seemed written for me.
"Now is your testimony."
"Stop regretting the past and worrying about the future and live your testimony now."

I was consumed by the message and as soon as I arrived home, I texted the same friend who had invited me and told her I would like to go to church with her the following morning. That Sunday I truly became a Christian.

Looking back on my story, it was perfectly poignant that, God (in CD form) was riding along in the passenger seat all that time.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Rats 104 - Socialites

Okay. So enough about why rats aren't so bad, lets get to the good stuff.

Reach into a cage that houses a hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, mouse, or gerbil and you get one of two reactions every time.

1) It sleeps soundly and does't notice until you startle it awake, which leads directly to;
2) Complete and utter panic as it desperately attempts to evade you.

A rat on the other hand waits for you. The rat sees you enter the room and goes straight for his front door, stands up on his hind legs and waits for you to visit.

You see rats are social by nature and if you rear a pup, there will be a strong trust for humans. Like dogs or cats, a rat that gets plenty of positive attention will be a great friend. Maybe he won't fetch the newspaper, but he will still show his love in other ways.

I've had seven rats. I had 6 females over a few years and I adopted a male rat. Without fail, each of those rats had grown huge attachments to me and treated me kindly. They came to the cage door to be picked up - not to escape, they were relaxed while being held, and they groomed me. Yes, every single one of them would check my eyebrows and beard until they were satisfied that I was OK.

That's the sort of connection you can have with rats. They want to be part of a group and you just won't get that from many other rodents.

Children who can be taught how to care for small animals will enjoy this same friendship and learn valuable lessons respecting a pet. Rats are rewarding pets that deserve a loving home and will thank you in their own special way...not by sleeping all day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rats 103 - Guest Blogger: Will Shakespeare Asks, "What's in a name?"

I like to think I'm pretty good with words but I really don't think I hold a candle to this guy. Please welcome William Shakespeare to Twist Of Liam as he adds his two pence. 

Sayeth Kitty:
Romeo Rat, Romeo Rat, wherefore art thou Romeo Rat?
Deny thy father genus species and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love understanding,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet Rat-hating Cat.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague Rodent.
What's Montague Vermin? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo Rat would, were he not Romeo Rat call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo Rat, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Later sayeth Rat:
By a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I it written, I would tear the word.

~~ W Shakespeare

So, there you have it. Shakespeare himself has been trying for ages to explain how rats simply got shortchanged in the PR department. You just can't say "Rat" and make it sound nice. "Rodent" and "vermin" don't sound much better, either. Have you ever tried to use either of these as a compliment? or a nickname for your spouse? 

What if we just started calling them something friendly and familiar... like"giggles"? Who wouldn't want a furry little giggle in their classroom???

{This is the third entry in this series. 
If you are curious or want to know what you missed, start here.}

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rats 102 - First Things First

Talk about rats and each time, without fail,
Somebody somewhere will mention the tail.
"It's so gross and disgusting," they all seem to say,
But let's try to see it a different way.

Their tail is so awesome, to do what it does,
Keeping their balance on wires up above.
It's brilliant and amazing, that long skinny tail,
It steadies them steady on the narrowest trail.

To see it in action is a fabulous sight,
with expert precision it shifts left and shifts right.
Just crossing a rope can be quite a big challenge,
But thanks to the tail, the rat keeps his balance.

Its a matter of needs and its needs are quite plain,
If it falls from above it will feel all sorts of pain.
Its comes down to a science called Rotational Inertia,
So stop worrying about it. The tail ain't gonna hurt ya.

"But, Liam, just look! It just isn't fair!
Why does that tail have to look naked and bare?"
A very good question and thanks for being so patient,
It's the simple little science of Thermoregulation.

When the rats getting too warm, the tail cools it down,
It helps it stay cozy the whole year round.
Blood vessels expand when it's getting too hot
That's Vasodilation. Is that cool or what?!

Vasoconstriction is the opposite way.
The tail keeps the heat from escaping away.
Blood vessels get smaller and trap in the heat.
It's a clever little trick that just can't be beat.

So next time someone tells you how gross their tails are,
You're armed with the knowledge to be a rat-star,
to stand on your soapbox and passionately wail,

~ Liam

To finish, here's a thought. As teachers, we urge our students to look beyond the flesh and to see others for who they really are...

Rats 101 - A Plea for Petdom

Hello, all you open minded people!
I can call you that because you've caught on that I am writing about rats and you are still reading. That's  a big step when you bring these furry little fellas into a conversation.

So you must be in one of three camps.

In Camp A, they're saying "yeah, I know, rats make great pets." They are following along, nodding their heads, and in total agreement.

Camp B says "alright, let's hear what you got ain't gonna happen!"

Then there's Camp C. Camp C looks like this: Skin crawling. Heebie jeebies. Shuddering with disgust. Appalled by the fact that they are still reading this, Camp C juuust can't stop. They're the ones that watch Fear Factor through their fingers pretending to cover their eyes. You guys are funny.

I suppose, technically, there's a Camp D ... but they already left.

That's why I brought it up. I'm taking it upon myself to advocate for these remarkable rodents because not many will.

Because, you see, a teacher at my school, let's call him... Don :),  is talking about getting a pet and I've heard this conversation before. It goes like this:

"I'm going to get a class pet," says teacher.
"Ah, great! You should get a rat!" Say I.
"Ew! No! That's disgusting! Why would you say that? Yulchk!!"

To which, there is no real return.

But there are SO many good reasons to have a pet rat instead of other animals. Some reasons are simply positive attributes of Rattus rattus while others are the drawbacks of other animals.

So over the next few posts, I will be exploring and illustrating why a rat might just find his way into your classroom - invited even!

Afterwards, I will explore a few tips and bits of advice about keeping and caring for rats.

In the meantime, what camp are you in?

Do you see a place for a little rat in your learning space or is there a definite line that has been drawn between rodents and students? Let me know! It'll be like a survey!

Hope you stick around! You too, 'Don'.

<:3 )~~

No Dons were harmed in the making of this post. Great care was taken to ensure all Dons were treated with the utmost care and respect. For more information on how Dons were involved in this post, please, use your imagination.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flipped Classroom Revisited

Back a ways, I said I was going to try this think called the Flipped Classroom. I got everything all plotted out and started recording and, presto, complete and utter failure. It left a bad taste in my mouth about the whole process and I ended up whimpering back to traditional teaching approaches.

Well, I'm back. I floated around Pinterest for a while (I'm sure NONE of you know what Pinterest is) and came across this one:

There's a really great graphic on it that just isn't loading onto my page so you will have to check it out.

So here we go again. I'm going to have a think about how I can make this work for my kids and then make another attempt. If you hear any whimpering, you can probably guess how it went...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

All Clean (sort of)

I did it! It all started with a gentle nudge over Skype that I should shave the beard ("You need to trim back the beard, Bushman" is kinda how it sounded). I knew she was right and before you know it, one thing led to another and all sorts of changes occurred. The beard was shaved, a squirrel and two well-fed pigeons were rendered homeless, and even Twist of Liam ended up getting a spruce up as well! Not bad for a day and a half. By the way, if anyone is looking for a squirrel or well-fed pigeons, let me know.

The design was getting tired and, when I looked at all the fancy fonts and images you are all using from I-don't-know-where, I have to admit I felt just a weeeee bit jealous. Okay, a LOT jealous. So what's a guy to do? This is what a guy is to do:

1. Don't ask anyone for help. That is imperative. To do so would surely only make things go faster, smoother, and all-round better.
2. Fiddle delicately with swatches and fonts. Eenie, meenie, minie, not that one. (by the way, does anyone actually know how to spell minie?)
3. Tinker around with what vague idea comes to his mind. "Yep it will be green and lave a lime. Let's do it."
4. Pretend not to see what time it is and how long he has spent on that vague idea.
5. Close his eyes, cross his fingers, hope for the best, and brace for impact. Hit "save".

...6. Tell everyone about it because I did it! Err, I mean HE did it! Way to go Generic Male Example Guy!

So with the new design, I rethought  the description that was along the top and I think the rewrite is a lot more inline with what has been and will continuing to happen on this site. No, not the extended unexplained absences, silly. The general commentary and reflection, sprinkled with neat-o ideas for anyone who hasn't thought of it already.

I hope you like it. It's a bit less "in your face" and a bit ne sais quoi. The words that come to my mind sound like I'm promoting a summer beverage.

Fresh, cool, clean, and inviting. Just pour yourself a glass, add vodka, and you have the perfect summer cocktail! Or enjoy it without the alcohol - totally your decision (but most of you ARE on holidays now... and the rest of us could probably use a drink...).

Hope you enjoy the new design and I didn't just lose all my readers!

BY THE WAY, A while back a gentleman commented on my site about the design. If he ever revisits this site, I hope he approves. 
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