Thursday, May 31, 2007


I’m at work, and there is a student talking to me non-stop right now about how he has been attacked by all kinds of bugs. Even horse flies. Yeah.

Did anyone watch the season finale of Shear Genius? It sure came and went with little fanfare. I kind of liked it. But I’m totally excited for Kathy Griffin’s show to come on again. Matt and I saw her live show. It was my first standup show, and it was so funny. There were these oldies sitting next to us who were not at all enjoying the raunchy gay humor. I didn’t like the theater it was at, though, because I am very particular about where I sit. When I bought the tickets, I swore we were on an aisle in the center. But it turned out that the only aisles at this place were on the ends of the very looooong rows, so I was stuck in the middle of the balcony. What if there was a fire? How would I get out in a timely fashion? So half of the show was spent having minor panic attacks.

I just saw that Weird Al Yankavic is playing at a theater near my house. I’m trying to decide if that would be fun. Alas, it is on the evening of the New Teacher Retreat, and I am on the New Teacher Retreat Committee. So no Weird Al for me. Speaking of Weird Al, I think we should have a discussion about the best Weird Al parodies of all time. My personal favorite is “Fat,” the parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” That video is beyond hysterical. OMG. I’m laughing out loud as I write this at work. It is parody perfection. So come on. What are your Weird Al faves?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Blog Poll!

I was checking my stats page, and it seems like people are checking my blog more often than I thought (which means I should really be updating it more often). If ya feel like it, please take this handy poll so I can get a sense of how often people check the blog. Hopefully it'll kick me in the butt to update it more. And if this works, I can make more polls!

How often do you check my blog?
Every day
two to three times a week
once a week
once a month
this is my first time
Free polls from

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Cicadas are Here!

There was a time in my life that I was terrified of bugs. I particularly had a thing for earwigs. Actually, I still have a thing for earwigs. I don’t care that they don’t pinch or crawl in your ears; they’re gross, they come out of nowhere, and they need to DIE. I do not, however, feel that way about the cicadas. We in Northern Illinois have the good fortune of welcoming the seventeen-year cicadas every, well, seventeen years. I work in a town with many, many old trees, which is where the cicadas are at their best. For only a short amount of time (about a month), the cicadas come out of the ground, crawl up a tree, lose their little bodies, grow red eyes and wings, mate, then die! I don’t know if I got that in exactly the right order, but it doesn’t matter (to me. I’m sure some people care. Like cicada scientists). Not that I want to roll around in a pile of them, but I’m not really all that afraid of the cicadas. It’s quite magical that they are here. I love to go outside at lunch and see the cicada shells everywhere. It’s so cool how some shells, although empty, stick to the trees. I took a bunch of pictures to share. While I was taking the pictures, an eighth grade boy who was outside yelled, “Ms. Halpern! What are you doing?” And I said, “Taking pictures of the cicadas!” And then another boy said, while coughing, “Loser.” Awww. Then he said he was kidding. So the two boys came over, and boy number one threw a cicada at the second, loser-calling boy and he screamed like a little girl. Justice.

These are all of the cicada shells on the ground.
These are the empty shells stuck to the tree.
A happy, living cicada!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Julie Halpern's Day Off. While Working.

On Thursday I went on a field trip. I have always loved field trips (which I write about in GET WELL SOON), and I feel very lucky to still be able to go on them as an adult. The best part is most field trips go into Chicago, and now that I live in the burbs, but Matt still works in the city, we don't go into the city as often as I like (Matt's commute is insane, so he'd rather not have to do it on the weekends). But with field trips, I get a free ride into the city, plus free admission into wherever we go (as a chaperon, ya know?). So this week's trip was with forty seventh graders to the top of the Sears Tower, then onto something I'll tell you a little more about in a minute, and then on a walking tour of the Loop. The bus ride took over an hour. It's such a joke that it takes me an hour to drive to work in the morning, and then I had to sit on a bus for another hour. My life is slipping away! Anyway, the Sears Tower was fun. A couple of the boys (I think they're all pretty much 13 years-old) were afraid about their ears popping in the elevator, so I gave them gum. It was wonderful to be at the top of the Sears Tower. I don't think I have ever done that. I'm not one of those people, though, who's like, "I live in the city, but I never do any of the tourist stuff." I have totally done the tourist stuff - walking tours, boat tours, crazy museums, etc. I love Chicago, and I love to go to museums and things. For some reason, though, I had never been to the top of the Sears Tower. It was a perfect day- sunny, clear, a little chilly. We could see in every direction perfectly! I was a little choked up.
The next part of the day was visiting one of the student's mom's office. I don't quite understand what the mom's job was, but she showed us Burnham's original plan for the city of Chicago. Then she showed us the the videos that the company made (again, I'm not quite sure what the company does) to convince the International Olympic Committee why the 2016 Olympics should be in Chicago. One of them can be found here. The coolest video was a computer animated reproduction (pre-production?) of where each Olympic event would take place, narrated in a thick Chicago accent by Mayor Daley. It was so cool! I had my reservations about the Olympics being in Chicago before this, but it kind of sold me. I guess I'm kind of a sucka, but whatever. It was so neat to see the city transformed. It had a little feel going back to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, which I'm very into.
In the final part of the field trip, each teacher was given a group of six students to walk around the Loop with. We had several buildings that we had to see and write about. I had the information packet, so I was like an architectural tour guide. It was was so fun! My group was very nice. I took them to the Chicago Correctional Center, which I have always been fascinated with (since my first architectural tour in junior high) because, well, it's a jail, but it has five inch-wide windows to give it a funky, computer-ish look from the outside, but little visibility and no possibility for escape from the inside. It was fun to freak the kids out a little.
At the end, we were running a little late (as was everyone), but I had told the kids that our last stop before we got back to the Thompson Center for the bus was to go to Marshall Fields on State Street (Macy's, you can suck it) to go the jumbo candy place in the basement. As we were down there buying candy, I realized we were already supposed to be at the bus. But the candy counter people were so slow! So then I made the kids run with me the several blocks through the busy sidewalks of Chicago to the bus, all the while me yelling, "I don't want them to get mad at me! I don't want to be that irresponsible late teacher!" And the kids were yelling, "If you get fired, Ms. Halpern, I'll have my mom call the school to get you out of it!" The punchline: when we got to the Thompson Center, all of the other groups were inside AT A CANDY STORE. And no one noticed we were late.
I had such a wonderful day. Being in my favorite city in the world, being with my favorite age group of people in the world, looking at architecture and candy. I hope I get to live a million more days like this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To the Left

I'm in an eating mood. Must be the rain. I can't seem to get myself to go to the gym more than once a week. I'm pretending I'm going to make up for it in the summer, but we'll see. I'm so tired all of the time during the school year. Whatever. My clothes fit. I still look cute. Enough. I'm not really a fan, but Lily Allen had an interesting thing about being of normal weight and the pressures. I respect her for that. As long as she doesn't go and get all buff. I hate that. It's like when famous people who once had curly hair straighten their hair (Felicity! How could you? I meant Keri Russel. Who played Felicity on the TV show Felicity. Not Felicity Huffman. BTW- I am not checking to see if any of my spellings of famous people are correct. Anyway, she's a traitor).

Did anyone watch "The Game" last night? Didn't think so. Well, it all came to a head where the stupid boyfriend slept with someone else and hid girl found out. It sucked. That he did that, not that she found out. And then they played that Beyonce song I absolutely LOVE. I don't even know what it's called. I shall look now. It's called "Irreplaceable." I know, stupid title. It's about her catching some dude cheating and then kicking him out by letting him know he IS replaceable. For some reason I LOVE this song! I saw her sing it on some international music award, and she looked beautiful, all natural and casual. I'm not really for or against most of her songs , but I think I may actually pay for a download of this one. Right now. Ooh. I just watched the video on Yahoo music, and it's really good. She looks so pretty, and at the end she is backed by an all-female band. Very cool. "To the left. To the left..."

Idol top three on tonight. Yawn.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hair Do

I’m getting a haircut today! I absolutely love getting haircuts. I’ve been seeing the same hairdresser for ten years. Her name is Laura, and we’re about the same age. She works at a funky salon in a mall that is an hour away from my house, but it’s worth it. She started cutting my hair when it was REALLY short. Now I’m in a growing out phase. I don’t know how long I want it to get. I haven’t had it this long in a while. I will never let it get to my high school waist-length stage. I think that’s pretty boring. And the longer my hair gets, the less curly it is. On days I get my hair cut, I have her straighten it. It’s all soft and shiny. But then it starts to poke me in the eyes. And then I put it in a ponytail, but my hair is fine and so the ponytail always slips out. But when I finally wash it, it looks so cute and curly and bouncy. I love haircuts! I wish I could get an all day haircut, where she just keeps combing my hair and parting it. I also like having people put eye shadow on me. Hooray for a trip to the mall!

Smell Ya Later

I love a TV gimmick. The last time I bought a TV Guide was for the Medium 3-D episode (which was pretty scary). This week I bought one for the My Name is Earl smelly episode. I don’t even like the show, really. I do like some of the characters, particularly Joy and Crabman. But I’m not thrilled with the Jason Lee Scientology connection, nor how he looks pissed whenever he doesn’t win an award. Does he really think he’s that good? He’s not bad, but he’s really just OK in my book. And I’m sick of looking at his moustache. Does he have to have that thing for the duration of the show? Don’t get me started on Randy. He repulses me. He is so stupid and drooly. I really don’t believe that someone could be as stupid as his character. Now, am I supposed to believe he’s realistic, seeing as he’s on a sitcom and all? Probably not. But he’s such a doof, it’s not even fun to watch. For me at least. But I still bought the TV Guide. They got me. The problem was then I had to watch a super-sized episode of the show. Did anyone else have the smelly things? It was annoying. You had to “rub” the smells in order to release the scent, and then your finger stunk. It wasn’t very fun or interesting. But TV Guide got my money.

Does anyone watch Workout on Bravo? I couldn’t believe that Doug died. They built it up in a dramatic way in the previews, like something bad was going to happen, but I didn’t want to think… And then the day before the show aired I saw an ad where the announcer said the trainers were dealing with “Doug’s passing.” I wonder if they changed the ads because it wasn’t OK to build reality show drama about a real death. Sad.

And for our final TV show review, how about “Thank God You’re Here.” It’s not bad. They usually have good people on. But what is the deal with Dave Foley? He’s a long way from the Kids in the Hall. It doesn’t even look like him anymore. His forced smile while he watches the contestants hurts me. He’s probably laughing all the way to the bank.