Friday, September 30, 2005

More School Antidotes and A Lesson in Sign Language Types

One thing that my college teacher does is different than any of my other teachers. When he uses a sign and a student asks what it means, instead of finger spelling the word, like many do, he will try to get the meaning across by using other signs and using the unknown sign in context. And in the same way, if we want to know the sign for something we have to figure out a different way to get across what sign we are missing without using finger spelling. Though it certainly is more difficult, I think it is great. It accomplishes two things. One, it gives you the meaning of the word without associating a translated English word with it, which may or may not be very close to the actual meaning. And two, it ensures that the sign is the correct one for the context. For instance, if a student asks, “How do you sign G-E-T?” The teacher will respond with the sign that would be used in the context of, “I’m going to get a bag of chips from the cupboard.” Well, what if the student goes out and used that sign in the context of “I just don’t get it!” LOL

When we first started the class, the teacher was commenting on how late the class was and that many of us had worked all day and now we have to sit in a three hour long class that went until 9:30. He signed that at the break maybe we better go get coffee, or candy, or…and he listed several things with caffeine in them. And then he made a motion like injecting drugs! I must say I was rather surprised to see a teacher suggest that.
But then later in class the subject of soda pop came up and he used the same sign. Then I remembered--it is the sign for Coke, the carbonated drink! LOL In fact, the teacher himself said that the first time he saw that sign he laughed and laughed, thinking it was a joke. But that really is the sign!

Sign Languages

Yesterday Shelley asked about Signed English. There are primarily three types of sign languages used in US; American Sign Language (ASL), Signed Exact English (SEE), and Pidgin Signed English (PSE). ASL is what most Deaf people use. It is a complete language of its own, with its own grammar and etiquette. ASL is a very beautiful, expressive language.
Signed Exact English is just that--using your hands to “speak” English. It uses English grammar and is very cumbersome with every word signed and added suffixes, etc. Whereas ASL signs use the meaning of ideas, SEE copies, for example, English homonyms , giving both words the same sign.

Pidgin Signed English is a combination of ASL and SEE. It uses the ASL signs, but closer to an English sentence structure. When using PSE you do not, however, sign every English word--just the important ones. I’ve heard that most hearing people use PSE. I know I do! But I am learning ASL grammar and I am trying to apply it. One thing about PSE, though, is that both users of ASL and SEE can understand it.

So, now you know a little more about sign language! As you can see, all three have good things about them and as an interpreter, I will have to learn some of all of them.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

First Day of College

Well, I had my first college class last night. This semester I am just taking one class (three credits), American Sign Language 103. When I had my proficiency test, I almost got put in ASL 201, but I am so glad I didn’t! I didn’t understand the teacher nearly as well as I would want. I was able to follow, but sometimes just barely. The teacher is really nice and seems very accessible. He is hearing (I know that because he kept complaining about the noise from the little kids playing right outside the classroom--it seems that the day care area must be right next to us!) but he asks for no voice at all inside the classroom.

A friend told me a funny story yesterday. She said the first day of her French class there was a sudden burst of laughter from the class on the other side of the partition. Then deadly silence. A while later there was another burst of laughter. Then deadly silence. Turns out it was a sign language class next to them!

I am carpooling to school with a friend I met in a local community sign language class. It sure is a good thing we allowed lots and lots of time to drive to class, ’cause we took a wrong exit. Three times!! LOL We got to the campus with about twenty minutes to spare, but none of the parking permit centers were open. Then we realized that both of us had forgotten to bring the paper that told what classroom we were in. So we went rushing all around campus, trying to figure out which classroom we should be in. We found the room about three minutes before class, but we still needed a parking permit!! But then, thankfully, someone told us that we didn’t need one until the next week. *sigh of relief*

I asked one of my classmates what had first gotten him interested in sign language. I was prepared to witness a little, since I figured he would ask me the same thing and my answer is, “Well, I don’t remember anything in particular that got me interested. I think it is just something God put in my heart.” So I asked the question and he responded, “Well, I think it is just something God put in my heart.” LOL So I already met another Christian student in my class. And get this--he is a writer!

Once when I asked the teacher a question, he didn’t understand for a minute. Then he realized what I was trying to say, and corrected one of my signs. Turns out that I have been saying “dorm” instead of “Deaf” all this time! What I want to know is, why in the world didn’t someone correct me a long time ago??? LOL

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dizzy Realms of Delight*

For being a Monday, this day sure started out well! As usual on Monday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went for the computer to see the results of last week’s Faith Writers’ writing challenge. This week is inbetween quarters, so there is no new topic. First I checked the Advanced level winners. Wow, wow! All five were familiar names! Though my name was not listed, I was so excited to see my friend, "Dust", listed in third place. Dust is a remarkably good young writer, but his writing is dark and apparently does not usually match what the judges are looking for. All of us on the message board were so excited that he finally made it into the Editor’s Choice with his story, Trapped in the Attic. And so fun to have a bunch of other friends make it this week, too!

Well, then I checked the Editor’s Choice winners. These are the eight highest scoring entries of the week and have nothing to do with the Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced level awards. So it is possible to place in the Editor’s Choice and get published in the book, even if you didn’t place in the level winners. Yay! My name and story, A Day in Our Life, was listed as seventh place!! This is my third win this quarter, so now I’ve achieved my goal--to have one more story in this quarter’s book than I had last quarter! And I finally managed to pull off a story that had a secret in the story-line! :-) I've tried before, but gave up and rewrote them because it didn't work.

As if all that didn’t get me excited enough, I then found an email in my box from the Challenge Coordinator, Deb. They are changing the way the judging works and instead of volunteers (which did have to meet certain requirements), she is carefully picking judges and I was one she picked. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it or not, since I am starting a college class this week, but I was honored to be chosen.

So I’m floating in the air from all that excitement, and I still have the first session of our role playing game to look forward to tonight! *happy sigh*

So, I wish on you as wonderful a day as I am having!

*title taken from a line in Anne of Green Gables

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Inter-Galactic Travels

Some friends and I are setting up a role playing sci-fi game. I wrote a intro and a vague story-line, then we are having each player create their own character. Each Monday night we are gathering in a chat room to "act" out the ad lib story. It is going to be so much fun!! You can check it out at the FW Chat-A-Book page and follow the action there.

The story, Assignment to White Planet 8069, is set in the future, when interplanetary travel is common among the space stations built on many planets. The universe is controlled by the United Universe government and, of course, all religions are outlawed except Universalism, a religion of tolerance that emphasizes the spirit within each person and within each plant and animal.

The UU government suspects that illegal activity is going on in White Planet. A team is put together, Group T19, to go investigate under the guise of doing research to see why the city is doing so well, so they can take that learning to other civilizations. The community in White Planet is nearly self-sufficient and the UU figures that could only be accomplished by using the black market.

Anyway, we need more players, so if that sounds fun then please drop me a note! I think this will be a blast!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Teetering Bees

A few days ago my sister and her three girls, AJ (4), MM (3), and Baby E were over at our house. We have a little plastic teeter-totter that we picked up somewhere, so AJ and MM were playing on it. They are close enough to the same size that AJ just had to push up gently and then shift her weight to come back down--MM didn't have to do anything but hold on and grin. :-)

Well, after a while AJ started going harder and faster and pretty soon she dropped one of her clogs, much to the girls' amusement. She managed to get the shoe back on, but the next time up she lost both shoes! We rushed over to help her get them on before she fell on her noggen trying to look at the shoes while she was still in the air.

But as I bent over to get her shoe, I noticed a yellow-jacket fly out of it! That seemed odd to me, so I looked closer. Right where the seat of the see-saw touched the ground there were about three dead bees. "There must be a nest under that!" We looked and sure enough, there were two holes under each seat leading to the hollow tetter-totter board. Inside we could see the shadow of bees crawling around and a dark mass where the nest was.

Yikes!! We whisked the girls off the toy and hustled them toward the car, ready to shove them in and slam the doors if a hive of bees came swarming angrily out. But, thank God, the bees seemed too confused about their teetering house to be mad and only staggered confusedly around.

It brought back memories of one time when my older sisters and some cousins their age were playing Indians in our large backyard. Some of the kids were sliding down a little hill, when all of a sudden a couple of the boys started yelling and running wildly away. "He got hit by an Indian arrow!" one of the younger boys screamed, almost serious, I think! :-) But then all the kids were surrounded by angry bees. It turns out the "hill" they were sliding down was a bee hive! There were quite a few stings, but nothing more serious and it made for a memorable family gathering! LOL

Friday, September 16, 2005

Day of Prayer

Today President Bush has called for a National Day of Prayer to pray for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. I would love to have you join me in a Christian chat room for a time of prayer at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time (9:00 p.m. Eastern time). Here is the link for the chat room: Cafe Chat

Please join me now in prayer.

Dear Lord, we come before You as a country, hurting from the force of this hurricane. So many are without homes. Many are separated from loved ones. Many are injured. And many have lost those they love. Comfort these people, Lord. Give them Your peace that passes understanding and Your strength. Let each of them feel Your presence, and help them to know that You are here to help.

For those who do not yet know You, bring someone along side them to tell them of You. Open their eyes to Your wonder, and to Your saving grace. Let people come to tell them of the eternal life in heaven that You freely give if we only ask and accept the gift of forgiveness from our sins through Jesus Christ dying on the cross and rising again.

We ask, Lord, that you give each of the relief workers strength and extra energy to aid them in reaching out to the refugees of Katrina. Give the workers and the rulers of our country wisdom as they decide what needs to be done. Let all of us around the world see how we can help. Bring us to the right places and right connections so that we, also, can reach out to help those in need.

We thank You, Lord, that You have done miracles in the midst of this storm. Thank You for the hope You bring. And thank You that we can come before You today as a nation, to lift up our needs and praises, knowing that You hear us and care.

In Jesus Name we pray,

Monday, September 12, 2005

Just made it!

I was hoping I could squeeze in and place in this last week's Faith Writers' writing challenge. And sure enough! Yay! I squeezed in at 8th place, the last. So this is my fifth short story to be published. :-) Here is a link to my story, The Last Line. The topic was Postcard. A special thanks to my FW friends, Red Baron and Dust, for editing help.

I had a fun evening with my mom tonight. We had an errand to run and Dad has basketball on Mondays, so we made a night of it. First we stopped to get our hair cut. I have this little spot among my very straight hair that grows all kinky and curly. The stylist found this exceedingly amusing and kept handing me a mirror so I could see and having the other stylist turn Mom's chair so she could see the kinky part! :-) After that we went to eat at Arby's, then got some frozen custard. Frozen custard is new to our area. Mom and I like it a lot--it is richer and more full than ice cream.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Remembrance

Today is the fourth anniversary of a tragic day in America. It doesn’t seem as though it has been that long. It seems only yesterday I was standing in front of the TV, watching despair, but finding hope in seeing heroes.

Our country came together in those days following the attacks, but more importantly, we prayed together. My plea for America on this anniversary day is that we continue to pray together and strive to put God first in our Nation.

Forgive my bad poetry, but I felt the need to put some of my remembrances down on paper.

The Day I Find a Tear

I stand in my pajamas
This Tuesday towers crumble
I watch as people die
Stand aghast in horror
But I can not even cry

The stories keep on coming
This Tuesday still unceasing
These tales of heroes dear
Courage, strength, and honor
Yet now, still I find no tear

I stand here in the silence
This Wednesday noon time after
I feel so very numb
Can only whisper prayer
And never does weeping come

We gather, candles flicker
This Thursday evening quiet
Our hearts unite so near
Kneel all before our God
Still, I do not feel a tear

They say seven men alive
This Friday in night time late
But then we cry out “why?”
To find it’s all a fake
But still I can not cry

England stands here by our side
This Saturday morning time
Our nation’s anthem hear
At Changing of the Guard
And today I find a tear

© 2005 Amy Michelle Wiley

Somehow the touching tribute that the Queen of England requested on that Saturday after the bombing, when The Star Spangled Banner was played at the changing of the guards, somehow that was when the numbness and heaviness was lifted from my heart just enough to allow tears.

And so I cry today, to have this anniversary fall on a time that once again finds America hurting. But once again shows that we still have heroes.

God Bless America!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I am going to SCREAM!!!

I just spent several hours I didn't have on the colors of this site. When I hit preview it is beautiful--all purple and white and blue. But when I look at the real site it is all the same color! What happened?! Why does the real thing look so different than the preview?!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKK!!!!!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Playing with Colors

Just a warning, I'm going to be playing with the colors in the html of this blog. Since they just say "color #fff" or something equally unintelligible, I am just going to do random things till and see if I can change anything. :-) If any of you know how to make silver, light blue, or purple as back ground colors, let me know what their thml code is! :-)

Of writing and the Hope project

I can’t believe it, I simply can’t believe it!! Any of you who know me, even just a little, know that my biggest struggle in writing is to keep from going way over the maximum word count. Well, the weekly writing contest that I enter has a max of 750 words, so when I heard that The Hope Team is looking for stories that are 1500 to 2000 I was very happy. So I sat down and wrote a story. It was 550 words. *sigh* Well maybe I’ll submit it to the Christian Reader.

So now I am working on another story for Hope Floats. I think this one will be longer. :-) It is the story of my grandfather and his family when they first became missionaries to Mexico. I would cherish your continued prayers as I work on it.

Speaking of The Hope Team--I am now a member of it! I have volunteered to help and right now I am gathering contact information of churches, radio stations, book stores, etc. in east Texas. If any of you know of the name and email and/or fax number of one of these organizations in Texas, send me an email with the info and I will see that they get some information on the project to get Bibles to Katrina victims.

This week’s Faith Writers’ writing challenge topic is “Bon Voyage”. It seems like an odd topic, but I was told that it literally means “good trip”, so I guess it can go pretty much anywhere. I always associated the words with a journey on a ship. :-) But since it can be any kind of a trip, I came up with an idea that I am very happy with. Unfortunately, it isn't coming out on paper, er, screen, quite as well as I had hoped. But I think I can make it work.


I’ve been ill this weekend. It started on Friday with severe abdominal cramps that after about three hours subdued to a sharp pain every time I moved. Thankfully, the bad pain didn’t last into the next day. But since Friday I have had a fever and discomfort in my abdomen. If it’s still here tomorrow I will call my naturopath and ask about it. I guess I should be thankful that I could waste my long weekend being sick so that I didn’t have to be worrying about work, too. :-) I was able to finish my weekly challenge entry in time to get it submitted last night though. The topic of the week was “postcards”, but, sorry, I can’t give you any more information than that until the judging is complete. :-)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hope Floats: Bringing Bibles to the victims of Katrina

The victims of Hurricane Katrina have lost everything; their belongings, homes, and for some of them, even family members. They are crying out to God for hope and many of them have requested Bibles, seeking encouragement and strength from God’s Word.

The Hope Team is answering that call. They are putting together a collection of true, hope-filled, short stories in a book called Hope Floats. The proceeds of this book will go toward purchasing Bibles for Katrina victims.

I have been given the awesome opportunity to submit a story that will be considered for publication in Hope Floats. I am so excited about this! To be able to use my talent and love for writing to help with relief efforts is really a dream come true!

Please pray for wisdom for me as I write a story. Maybe I’m just spoiled :-), but normally I come up with two or three ideas for a story within twenty minutes of hearing the topic and within a few hours I have picked one and have the story-line pretty well on it’s way in my mind. I learned about this opportunity yesterday afternoon and still don’t have a story. I don’t have much time to write it, so I’m really praying for the right idea to come quickly.

I keep thinking through all the stories I have heard about my parents and grandparents and missionary relatives and friends. I know the right story must be there! Of course, there are many hope filled stories in my family's history, but most of them would make a better short anecdote than a longer story. If anyone has any ideas for me, please pass them on! :-)