Even though the dentist assured me yesterday that yes, my Dad would be able to drive again this morning, he was still too woozy to drive. I suspect that there is a genetic quirk in my family that makes us oversensitive to painkillers and anaesthetics. When I was younger, I would get high on sore throat tablets and a single Aspirin would knock me out for up to 12 hours, though my tolerance for painkillers has increased ever since I had to take them daily for almost two months because of an inflamed ischiatic nerve. I still don’t take Aspirins when I’m driving in the next few hours, though. And indeed, this sensitivity is a big reason why I never experimented with drugs – because I knew that I likely would react more strongly than advertised.
My Dad hardly ever takes medication either, and since he still couldn’t drive, I had to get up two hours early to take him to his follow-up appointment and then I had to rush to school for my afternoon class. I had fifth-graders today, and while they are very cute and well behaved, they are also highly energetic and want to be constantly entertained.
The subject in fifth grade English class right now is prepositions and so we played, “Find the Star Wars characters.” It used to be that when I had to teach prepositions, I would improvise with classroom materials and hide pencils, rulers and the like. “Where is the pen? – The pen is under the table.” Eventually, I decided that using toy figurines would be much more fun.
Now I used to collect toy figurines (still do, in fact, though I am a lot pickier these days) and I have two hundred of them or so. The problem just is that most of my toy figurines are twenty to thirty years old and that the characters depicted don’t necessarily have any meaning for today’s kids. In the end, the choice was between my Simpsons figurines (small and easy to lose, but still sold and therefore replaceable) and Star Wars toys. Though I never used the Kenner action figures, because most of mine are over thirty years old by now and valuable, even if I never left them in their packaging. Instead, I used some PVC figurines made by a company called Comics Spain to tie in with the Ewoks and Droids cartoons of the 1980s (It’s probably very geeky to even know that those exist). These figurines may well be rarer than the Kenner action figures, but they’re difficult to destroy for any but the most determined kid. Interestingly, there is a whole blog devoted to the Star Wars figurines made by Comics Spain.
Anyway, the game is easy. I present the figurines (C-3PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca) to the class and ask them to identify the characters. Then I tell the kids that the characters have to hide from Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers (“But he’s dead”, a kid informed me today), place them in various locations around the classroom and ask the kids where they are (“R2-D2 is behind the blackboard.” – “Chewbacca is in the sink”) Afterwards, the kids get to hide the figurines themselves. It’s a lot of fun and the kids learn the prepositions. Afterwards, the figurines soak in a solution of water and dish washing agent for a few minutes and go back on the shelf.
That’s it for today. I have a post up at Pegasus Pulp, discussing the recent Amazon announcements and their implications. In case you have been living under a rock (or driving family members to dentist appointments or playing Star Wars hide and seek with fifth graders like myself), Amazon not just announced the new Amazon Tablet a.k.a. Kindle Fire that has been speculated about for a while now, but also significantly reduced the price of its regular Kindle model and an upgraded touchscreen Kindle to under 100 US-dollars.
Among other things, this is very good news for authors, because all those people who buy new Kindles will also need something to read.
If you have bought one and are looking for something to read, why not consider one of my books. They’re inexpensive and quite good, if I dare say so myself.