Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Update on the Kids

No new birds to report on today, so I'll give a chickadee report.

Andrew is doing well in Ethiopia. He was recently struggling with some roadblocks, and though they haven't been resolved entirely, he has found new freedom in finding ways to solve the problems, so that is encouraging him to carry on. He said they are looking at new office space, and he recently interviewed someone who will work for him. He is still selling baseball and U2 tickets on ebay like a crazy man, and I'm mailing them out for him, like an even crazier woman.

Rachel continues to like her 2nd grade class. It is so nice to see her really enjoying her student teaching. She is starting to prepare for the two weeks where she will be in charge of the entire class by herself. She also sent me email today saying she really liked the CD I bought for her for Easter, Casting Crowns . My favorite song on it is "The Voice of Truth."

I had a nice chat with David tonight. He took half a day off work and visited with some of the Taylor band who were in town on spring tour. He got to see a couple of the people he went to Ireland with. He also said he bought an espresso machine off of eBay, so now he doesn't have to pay $3 a cup at Starbucks.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Crow Posted by Hello

Crows are not beautiful and they don't come to my feeder very often, but one was there today.

Does anyone want to live next to me? Our neighbors have decided to move to Kansas and asked if we know anyone who wants to buy a house. It is an older house, but the neighbors are great :-)

Gary goes to San Francisco on Thursday morning and returns Saturday night, then leaves Sunday for New Mexico and returns Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Easter Dinner Posted by Hello

Easter was a blessed day, starting with the Easter Song by the 2nd Chapter of Acts, followed by a good church service where the pastor baptized his own teenaged daughter, followed by a nice dinner with friends. My first time to make lamb and it turned out OK.

It was nice having Rachel home again. She flew both ways and was delayed both flights, but we chalk it up to her education in how life works.

Her first week in 2nd grade went really well. We need to keep praying for her during this time of student teaching.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

We don't have to work today. That is nice, but I have a big thing due at noon on Monday, so I'll probably be sorry I didn't work today. Last year on Good Friday, I went to see The Passion of the Christ. When we got home, I learned that my grandmother had passed away. I still miss her.

This morining I washed the van. Mostly to get the bird doodoo off of it. But I didn't wash the roof. I couldn't reach it and the birds will just mess it up again soon anyway. I also washed our comforter so I can pack it away for the summer. It was still covered with cat hair when it came out of the washing machine, but at least it was clean cat hair.

Gary somehow got to thinking about his old baseball cards today, so I dug those out for him. He has a 1963 Mickey Mantle. And a bunch of others. I suppose one day Andrew will get these.

Rachel called me yesterday with a burst of grand talk about how she had just found direction for her life and she knew what job she wanted to immediately apply for. This came after a discussion with her supervising teacher about what being a school teacher is really like and what Rachel's strengths and weaknesses are. It was good to hear her taking initiative. Then several hours later she called sounding overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do it.

David called yesterday while working on his taxes. I think this is the first time he's had to do them himself and he was finding it harder than expected, due to the odd way he gets paid from NIH. Speaking of taxes, we just got our refund. Yay! Now there is enough money for Rachel's antepenultimate college payment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ethnologue: the book

Ethnologue Posted by Hello

We've been waiting for this day for a while now; the 15th edition of the Ethnologue - Languages of the World was unveiled today. We had a little ceremony where everyone whose name was on the credits' page was given their own copy. Gary's title in this effort is Executive Editor. That means he didn't do the nit-picking work of gathering the data about the languages of the world, but he did have the Herculean task of getting all those people to work together to end up with a professional product. And his job isn't over yet; in a couple weeks I hope to have another blog entry called Ethnologue: the website.

Here are some of the facts in and about the Ethnologue:
  • The book weighs nearly 5 pounds, has 1272 pages, and is hard-bound.
  • It is printed on acid-free, thin yet opaque paper.
  • It includes 208 color language maps.
  • It is an encyclopedic reference volume cataloguing all of the world's 6,912 known languages.
  • It includes population estimates for each of those language groups.
  • It gives alternate names and dialect names.
  • It gives information about multilingualism, availability of literature, geographic and other information about each language.
  • It includes statistical summaries by world area, language size, and language family.
  • It gives a genetic classification of each language (that is, how it is related to other language).
And here are some things that the Ethnologue isn't:
  • perfect - although more than 50,000 updates and corrections have been made since the 14th edition, the editors have no illusion that it is complete nor entirely correct. In the informative introduction there are instructions on how to send in corrections.
  • finished - The total number of languages is 103 more than in the 14th edition. This is not because 103 languages have just been found, but rather had been previously considered dialects of another language. Language is constantly changing, so the Ethnologue will continue to catalogue those changes.
  • a one-man job - As you might imagine, this massive amount of detail has been collected from many, many sources and it has taken the work of many people to organize, verify, and present the data.
One more item of note: The Ethnologue is the first major publication to make use of ISO/DIS 639-3 -- the new, comprehensive draft international standard for three-letter identifiers. The previous standard had about 400; now it has 7000 so every language in the word can be identified uniquely.

This big, fat book costs about $80. Mostly it will be linguists and academic libraries buying the book because SIL International puts the whole thing for free on the web. The website for the 15th edition is coming soon.

Thank the Lord with us for this reference volume that will be used by missionaries of many stripes, as well as academics.

Gary with his copy Posted by Hello

Monday, March 21, 2005

Off to a Good Start

Rachel started her second rotation of student teaching this morning, 2nd grade a Bethany Public School. And an early start it was, at 7:30am. At our staff meeting this morning we prayed for Rachel, that she would get off to a good start in her new student teaching assignment. I thank the Lord for answering these prayers, as evidenced by this email which I just received from her a few minutes ago:

Hi Mom,
I am extremely exhausted, and because of that I won't write much. My teacher let me out really late, so I practically had to go straight from school to class, so I haven't had a break since 6:30 this morning.
I think I am going to REALLY like this class and really find that I'll be able to succeed. The kids are WONDERFUL, and my teacher is so helpful. The kids are so well behaved except that one kid who is SED. And actually, he was really good today which was really neat to see his social progress. Anyways, I think that is all I have to say for now. One kid said, "Mrs. Simons, I think you'll make a really good teacher" to me and I hardly did anything today! So that is encouraging.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bradford Pear

Bradford Pear blossoms Posted by Hello

Our neighborhood has several Bradford Pear trees in it. They are a showy white for just a few days, then the leaves quickly replace the blossoms. When fully leafed out, these trees have the classical "lollipop" shape. I'm not sure why they are called "Pear" trees, because I don't think there is any fruit involved.

The wildflowers are starting to show their faces. I'm going to have to start blogging about them.

Bradford Pear tree Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

World Almanac

World Almanac Posted by Hello

The Ethnologue still is in hiding, but this book has recently been published and it contains some Ethnologue data. The World Almanac contacted us get the latest and greatest information on the languages of the world that have 2 million or more speakers.

Inside Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Doctor, Doctor!

David phoned today with some really good news. Not only has he been accepted into the Ph.D./M.D. program at Baylor College of Medicine (also known as the Medical Scientist Training Program), he has been granted all tuition paid, health insurance, and $23,000 per year stipend for the entire program. Just think--in a mere 6 or 7 years, he will be Dr. Dr. Simons.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse Posted by Hello

I know, this really isn't a very good photo. But it is hard to get these skittish birds to hold still long enough for me to make a good shot.

Rumor has it that a few advance copies of theEthnologue have arrived on campus, but are being kept under wraps until a formal unveiling in another week. Soon we get to see the results of all that editing. I'll be sure to blog about that when it happens.

It is nice having Rachel home for spring break. She worked at the Center yesterday and today to complete some required community service hours for one of her classes. She has a couple little papers to write, but no big assignments due like past spring breaks, which is nice. Today she made cheese broccoli soup which tasted pretty good.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Bethany Police station Posted by Hello

I drove up to Oklahoma City yesterday to pick Rachel up for her last spring break! Wow, she's been doing this for five years, and soon she will graduate, Lord willing. As soon as she finished her last class, we drove to the police station where she got fingerprinted--the next step in a long list of things she has to do to get her teaching license. Using the two sets of fingerprints, a criminal background search will be done by both the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. At her expense, of course.

Mug shot Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

Happy 21st Birthday, David

Happy Birthday, David Posted by Hello

We are celebrating David's birthday tonight. Only problem, David isn't here to celebrate with us. But that didn't stop us from going to Baskin and Robbins and buying this ice cream cake. David, we're sorry we can't have you here with us.

But I know he's not exactly missing us tonight. He is spending the weekend in Houston being wined and dined by the Baylor College of Medicine. He was picked up at the airport by a limo (wow, this is just like prom!) then taken to a nice hotel. During the day today he interviewed with seven faculty members about how he might fit into medical research in their MD/PhD program (otherwise known as a Medical Scientist Training Program. He has been officially accepted into both the PhD and the MD programs, and the interviews this weekend will determine how much funding he will get (the difference between "you pay them" and "they pay you").

Speaking of wining, David told me on the phone this afternoon that someone figured out it was his birthday today, and his 21st birthday at that. The group sang to him and then he said 7 or 8 people offered to buy him a drink tonight, now that he's 21. He said he might try something if it had lots of sugar and fruit in it, because he thought wine smelled like cat pee. I told him, "Now just because you're 21 doesn't mean you have to give in to peer pressure." He replied, "Mom, if I were giving in to peer pressure, I would have tried something a long time ago."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Red bud Posted by Hello

Dallas really isn't all that beautiful of a place to live. In fact, some would say it is downright ugly. And I'd agree, if it weren't that we have the best springs here. I love the wildflowers, which are just barely starting now. I'm going to see if my camera will take good wildflower photos, maybe better than my bird photos.

Today's photo isn't a wildflower, it is a budding tree and it is gorgeous. We have two or three along our street, slightly different colors.

Red Bud tree Posted by Hello

Any other news for the day? Not much. Rachel called today with worries about how she was going to make it to the police station--she is wanted for fingerprinting. (That's just the next step toward getting her teaching license. After that comes the FBI background check.)

I also baked homemade cookies tonight so I could send them to David who turns 21 this weekend. But I made a double batch so there will be some for Rachel and her friends this weekend when she comes home for spring break.

Speaking of David, he has a big interview this weekend to see if he can get into the Ph.D. part of the Ph.D/M.D. program at Baylor. It is the difference between "you pay them" and "they pay you." Please pray for him.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Mind of a 5 Year Old

I'm happy to report that Rachel ended her student teaching in Kindergarten on a positive note. I enjoyed hearing her stories the last six weeks of the funny things that happened to her, most of which had nothing to do with teaching. Here are some examples:

Rachel: I got some nice gifts from my students when I finished student teaching.
Me: What did you get?
Rachel: An apron that is decorated with a cloth flower pot and flower petals which are the thumbprint of all the students.
Me: Cool.
Rachel: Yes it is. But I'll never use it. I'll just hang it on the wall for decoration.
Me: What else?
Rachel: A really ugly charm bracelet with school-themed charms. I'll never wear it, I'll just put it on the wall for decoration.
Me: What else?
Rachel: Kids' books. I'll use those.

Rachel: Mom, today one of the little boys unzipped the dress of one of the little girls.
Me, rather shocked: Whoa! What did you do?
Rachel: Well, I zipped it back up, of course.

Rachel: Today one of the kids hit me, and it really hurt.
Me: Did you hit him back?
Rachel: Of course not, do you want me to be arrested for child abuse?

Rachel: Today I got graded on how well I dressed for teaching.
Me: How did you do?
Rachel: Well, the teacher liked my new suit, but she said she couldn't give me full credit.
Me: Why's that?
Rachel: When I squated down to help a student the top of my underwear showed. I should have worn bikinis.

Rachel: But that's not as bad as what happened to this other student teacher.
Me: What's that?
Rachel: She leaned over a student and the kid asked her why her lungs were falling out.

Friday, March 04, 2005

We All Survived

Early this morning I heard a thud on the sliding glass door in the kitchen. One of my feathered friends was trying to get into my house and knocked himself silly. At first I thought he had killed himself, since he lay there on the deck with his head bent funny and not moving. In two or three minutes he stood up, and ten minutes later, flew away when I opened the door. I was glad he survived, so I didn't have to perform an avian mercy killing.

Speaking of birds, the blue parakeet was around quite a bit this afternoon again.

I'm still not completely over the cold or flu that got me this week, but I'll survive. I've not gone walking since I got sick.

David called to say that he donated blood for the first time today. Then he promptly fainted when it was over. But the nice nurses clucked over him and gave him food and OJ, so he survived.

Today was Rachel's last day as a student teacher in Kindergarten. I hope she calls me this weekend to tell me that she survived. She has next week of professional seminar, then spring break. On March 21 she starts her 2nd grade rotation. It will be nice to have her home for spring break. She will be graduating in no time. In fact, today I booked a hotel for us to stay in when we go to OKC for her graduation on May 14.