October 25, 2012

Benton City vs. St. Louis- Part Two

In part two of this comparison, I'd like to give you a window into my daily interactions with students...

#2- Students and their...manners...
In St. Louis, my title was "Ma'm." This went for anytime a kid was speaking to me, especially when they were in trouble. The first time a child called me that I thought to myself, "Holy s*&t, I'm an adult." I was right out of college and had to act older than I felt, but I'll admit, I got used to that feeling really quick. I looked to (and felt like) Anne Shirley, out of her element, yet determined to succeed. I had my fair share of Anne moments, and while I never had a snake put in my desk or hit a student, there were times when I would just vedge in front of "Anne of Green Gables" and shout, "That's right L.M. Montgomery! You got it right!! Anne, you take that little girl DOWN!" I'm glad I had that trilogy to fall back on in times of trouble.

Here in Benton City, before students knew my name (which I've always felt is a bit lazy on their part- I memorize 150 names in two weeks, and you can't learn just one? Sigh...), my title was "Teacher." I now understand that to be an honorable title in the Hispanic community here. The first time I heard that, I honestly thought of the scene when John Keating from "Dead Poet's Society" is introducing his students to the poem, "Oh Captain, my Captain!" To be called "Teacher" is just such a lovely acknowledgement of my work, akin to a military title, but with more love. It's a difficult sensation to explain.

The way students dress is also very different. I mean, I went from the inner city...
My favorite saying from St. Louis? "I gotta use it, Ms. Labrie!!"

Ah, uniforms, they flatter every body type like a bicycle helmet flatters every head shape.

to the country...
My favorite saying from Benton City? "YOLO."

This may be from spirit week, but camo, cowboy hats and boots are familiar sights at school...
And now that it's election time? Boy, do I get to know what my students' parents really think...because, you know these middle schoolers really haven't got a clue about current events. They're just parroting back what their parents say and believe. I've heard some interesting opinions about race, sex, gender, and politics that I KNOW did not formulate in the mind of an eleven-year old.

Let me make it simple for you- 
St. Louis

Benton City
Oh, America- how the heck do you stick together with such differences? It's a beautiful thing.

And to end today's post on a most awesome note...for your viewing pleasure...

Oh my freaking goodness.

October 23, 2012

Benton City vs. St. Louis- Part One

We're working on comparing/contrasting in my class, which got me thinking...how does my new home compare to the old one? Here's the first installment.
This was the view down my street on a typical fall day in St. Louis.
A typical fall day overlooking the Yakima river and the Benton City bridge.
#1- The Foliage
There's a stark beauty here in the high desert, especially as the morning mist rolls over Horse Heaven Hills. There may not be many trees outside of town, but the grape leaves turning from green to a symphony of fall colors helps make up for that. I never would have thought it, but it's gorgeous here.
This is a farming community, with grapes, cherries, potatoes, apples and wheat all around the city.
There are some interesting plants that have caught my attention...

There's a nasty weed here that grows WITHOUT water, has a thorn that will pop a bike tire and spreads across the ground like wildfire. I would like to introduce you to...Goathead, also known as Tribulus Terrestris. It is a terrible thing to step on should you be walking to work...

Next up, we have the symbol of the barren parts of the West, the Tumbleweed.

I've started a tally of how many I hit with my car on a windy day- I'm up to 29, and I'm not even trying.
They can get pretty big.
Let's just say, I recently purchased some boots.
Student Sayings/Mannerisms will be Part Two!

October 8, 2012

The Length of a Room

It's been a busy two weeks, it's late on Sunday night and school starts early tomorrow, so I'm going to try to keep this one brief.

Last weekend I attended the memorial service for a family friend, a young woman who was very close to my brother-in-law. She was an exuberant, lovely person, who always gave the best gifts. She died far too young, but what the priest said at her memorial mass really stuck with me:

"We are all thinking that we didn't have enough time with her, that her life was not long enough. But when we love someone, anyone, only forever is long enough. This is why the love of our God is the only love that is truly enough, because it's forever."

While I didn't know her especially well, her death got me thinking about a couple of things. I have actually gone to the funeral of one of my students, and many other funerals for their family members. When the young die, it seems like double the tragedy: one for the loss of a loved one, and two for the loss of their potential. In times like these, I am always reminded of a lesson I was once given from a very memorable high school teacher.

It was my junior year, after a student had apparently committed suicide by lying on train tracks. It was many students' first experience with that kind of loss, the surprise and anger and regret that comes from someone taking their own life. This teacher had everyone watch her walk the length of her room, each foot placed carefully on the ground until she had made it from one side to the other.
She then looked up at us and said, "Imagine that the length of this room is the average life-span of a person. Let's say this person is you. You could all probably live to be at least 100, what with all the improvements in medicine these days. So, if the entire length of this room represents 100 years, that would put you about here," and she placed herself a little over a tenth of the way across the room.
She then gestured to all the space that lay in front of her, saying, "That means you have that much space left in your life, about 75 years to live." Turning around, looking at the short distance she had traveled, she then said, "And you've only come this far on your journey." She turned around again, "What lies ahead of you is so much greater than what you've come through, what you've lived. You've only lived a tiny bit of your lives. I know I'm a completely different person than I was when I was your age, and when I come to the end of my life, I will be a different person again. Yes, even I, your ancient teacher, have a lot of life yet to live: I'm only half way across this room."
She paused there and looked each of us in the eye, then said, "Whatever you're struggling with, whatever pain you are feeling right now, it is not big enough to beat you. It is not so bad that you should give up on all that life you have left to live."

That visual has stuck with me, and I often think to myself when I've got big problems, "I'm only a one fourth of the way across the room, I've got a lot of life left to live." I have even used this visual with my own students when the occasion called for it, because it's the kind of message teenagers need to hear. Anything that goes wrong is the end of the world when you're in-between 11 and 19, and young adults need a concrete example to help ground them when their hormones and emotions get out of control.

Maybe you know someone who might benefit from this message.

The other thing that's been rattling around my brain for the past few days is that I have lived an amazingly blessed life. I may have been sick for the past three weeks (my first gift I've received from my new students...) and I may have had a tough time finding a job this summer and have had my share of heartache and heartbreak, but my life is a glorious, amazing life. I've got a job that just keeps getting better and better as I crack open my students' cocoons to discover just who they truly are. I'm living in a place that I'm starting to find quite beautiful and have every basic need taken care of. I've got wonderful family that lifts me up and feeds my soul. And I've got a lot of life left to live.

September 21, 2012

Well, that's a relief.

I have survived the first week of teaching 7th and 8th grade English! Cue the manic celebration...

Just a few thoughts before my brain peters out from sheer exhaustion:

Trust me, I have a plan.

There was a moment on Wednesday when I finally felt the enormity of the expectations upon me, brought home by the fact that we have three weeks until our first benchmark test. I had been in this kind of hazy denial, focusing on getting through each day, one at a time. Which works...for about three days. Then the whole idea of knowing what I want my students to learn kind of becomes important. Needless to say, with five preps, 52 minute periods that fly by until I slump exhausted in my chair for last period prep, 150 new faces, a messy room and four different textbooks to familiarize myself with, I felt like I'd jumped in the deep end without a life jacket.

Or tipped over the cart.
It's a good thing that everyone at Ki-Be, especially the English department, is so helpful and understanding. Three cheers for great teachers! After a few late afternoons that melded into late evenings, my room is looking more like my room and I've got a solid plan for ALL OF NEXT WEEK FOR EACH OF MY CLASSES (I can not tell you how big that is). I've even got about 80 names memorized (it helps that I've got about a thousand Jose's and Juan's and lots of lovely names that stand out like Justice, Heaven, Hope, Rainbow, Angel and Jesus).


I've only had serious issues with one little guy so far, and I've dealt with worse in the past. Out of 150 kids, who handle change about as well as a cat handles a bath, that's not too bad. Here's an excerpt from my 'Come to Jesus' speech I gave to him (his name is changed of course):
"Listen Vincent, I taught in St. Louis for three years. That is one tough city. There is nothing you can do or say that is going to intimidate me. There isn't a word you can throw at me that I am going to take personally. I will not back down. I will not change my expectations of you. So you might as well stop being disrespectful and stop fighting me every step of the way because the only place that's going to land you is the Principal's office. I'm not Mrs. E. Get over it. I do things differently. Adjust. And if you do anything, ANYTHING, at all that I consider disrespectful, disruptive or distracting, I will send you directly to the office. Do you understand?"
He improved.
It's at times like these that I both feel very strong and shaky all at once. I despise confrontation, but boy, was this young man asking for it. The important thing is to never change my behavior, to remain consistent and reward like a mad woman when anything positive occurs. He was absent one day and the two classes (yup, that's right two) I have him in were the smoothest, loveliest classes ever. It's sad to say, but this often is the case with disruptive students. The rest of class breathes a sigh of relief and buckles down with a teacher that's giving them his/her full attention instead of focusing on the one attention seeking student. We'll see how this relationship develops- I have hope that he'll come around.

Positive is BY FAR the best way to go

Let me just say that it is amazing what I can get a student to do for just one M&M or a ticket, even when they don't know what the ticket is for. The entire atmosphere of my classes changed when I introduced positive incentives such as tickets and class points on Thursday. This idea clicks in their brains, 'What, I might actually get something immediately if I try? I'm gonna TRY!'

I can get used to the laughter.

7th and 8th graders are slightly (emphasis on slightly) more mature than 6th graders, and most of that shows up in what kind of humor they understand. I've never had so many kids laughing at my jokes. It actually shocked me so much the first time I said something intentionally funny (we shall not discuss the "draw the balls" incident) and the whole class laughed. I was so thrown off, in fact, that I kind of stammered in my next sentence and lost momentum. I tried the same joke with my next class, and boom! Laughter! They love it when I randomly speak with an accent, too. It caught them off guard at first, and now they're counting how many accents I can do. The laughter is so endearing that I'm almost tempted to try stand up comedy. But that would only happen if I could give the audience a grade and control whether they get to go to the bathroom or not (oh, the POWER!). Nah, I'll stick to my captive audience.

Fairy Tales aren't so...happily ever after after all

I love hooking interest. That's why I speak in accents and why I can completely justify Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Crazy as vital additions to any English classroom: some kids will only read when toilet humor is involved. That's also why the original version of fairy tales and Greek myths are such great stories to use in middle school (when school appropriate of course). They're gross. They're nasty. They're more complicated and sensational than the best soap opera ever was. The villains die in terrible ways- the lessons are clear- life isn't all sunshine and butterflies- and middle schoolers connect with and dig that stuff. They forget that they're reading and that it's work and that they don't like it. This is how life-long learners are born.

So, to end my first week, let me give you a student quote that made me smile:
"Disney had it all wrong. Fairy tales are grim, yo."

September 14, 2012

Not gonna' lie

I'm kind of nervous. 7th and 8th graders are...I don't want to say intimidating, but that's the truth (see the title?). I'm intimidated. For those of you who don't know, I just started a new job teaching small intervention classes to low readers and English language learners, and now, due to high kindergarten enrollment, a inner-school transfer was made. Long story made short- I'm replacing the 7th and 8th grade language arts teacher because she is now teaching kindergarten, starting next week.
I introduced myself to my new classes yesterday and while nothing remarkable happened (no one threw their pencil or said anything more interesting than, "Why's that chick staring at me? She's a teacher? Oh..."), the overwhelming feeling I had was, "This is going to be tough." Here's my attempt to process this feeling and get myself pumped for Monday.

Blast from the past, my middle school self (top left, second row). This will help me
picture my students as cute and adorable, and so very, very awkward.
1. I'm going from a grand total of 27 students (I know, I know, pretty sweet deal, right?) to over 150.

Uh...yeah. Quite the transition there. I've handled about 80-90 in the past, so even with my previous student load, this is going to be a lot. However, I was looking over my rosters and realized I have some repeats in my advisory, 7th grade reading intervention and 7th grade regular class...so, at least there's something.

2. This move to 7th and 8th grade language arts is taking place in the fourth week of school.

Hmm...not the ideal time to start. I foresee them knowing each other's names (all 150 of them) and me stumbling for a while. It's a different feeling than the actual first day of school when they're nervous and can forgive a few mis-pronunciations.

"Is Gruky here?"
"It's Grace."
(Looking down at a name spelled Grauckie) "Oh. My mistake." (And we move on. And I never mis-pronounce that name again.)

That's expected. There aren't too many laughs. But kids can be more brutal to a newcomer than a pack of starving hyenas that smell fresh meat. Four weeks into the year, there are already groups and power structures forming, and I'm going to come in and mix it all up. Transitions are hard, especially to a teenage brain, which thrives in a stable, predictable environment. I will be the focal point, the visible instrument of change. The punching bag of which all frustrations will be taken out on.
Deep breath.
Stop freaking yourself out, Jessie. If I'm going to be a punching bag, I'm going to be the one that never breaks and comes back to knock you over when your back is turned, ha ha!
Many teachers have made a move or started a job even later than this and survived. If I make mistakes about names or stumble when I speak due to nerves, I just need to move past it and get over it. Teenagers of all ages are so obsessed with their own lives that anything I do to embarrass myself will be forgotten soonish (I hope). I just need to start strong, pretend like it's the first day, and make the class my own. Speaking of making it my own...

3. The teacher I'm replacing is a great one.

Nobody likes to say goodbye to someone they like. There's a lot of procedures that I will chuck because it's not my style, and that may anger a few students. However, these kids just don't know how awesome I am yet. Once they figure that out, they'll adjust.

4. I'm used to 6th graders.

It's not like I haven't taught or been around 7th and 8th graders. Heck, I was one and I survived, but the exuberance and excited curiosity of 6th graders fueled my teaching. I love what I teach, the 6th graders pick up on that and respond in kind, and that makes me even happier and energetic in the classroom.

Here's a normal reaction to a WONDERFUL lesson by a 6th grader:
"Wow! That book's cool. Can I check it out?"
By a 7th grader:
"You said duty. Ha ha ha ha ha!"
By an 8th grader:
Stone silence, no emotion, leaning back, arms folded. It's uncool to be interested.

That said, 6th graders can be tiring at times- they are so wiggly! A 6th grader's brain simply can not comprehend the idea that they are not the center of the universe. (7th graders are making that transition and 8th graders are supposed to be there, described with great humor here.) I loved to blow their minds with a simple lesson on how much a million really is during my Holocaust unit, which in turn would help send home the terrifying truth of just how many people were affected in that time. I have a lot of great materials and lessons for 6th grade, so I'm a bit worried about increasing rigor, difficulty and interest for the older kids. I am looking forward to having higher-level discussions with ties into social justice as well. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! 

I hope that I can break through their teenage shell and awaken joy there too, I'm just not quite sure how. Yet. While I have been mistaken as a student 14 times so far this school year, I am the adult in the room, and by golly, I'm going to stay strong in the face of apathy and get them excited about reading!

Join me, friends, in future posts as I capture all the pitfalls and joys as this new adventure unfolds.

September 12, 2012

You can count on change

I handle change about as well as a chicken deals with it's own beheading, and the past five months have been nothing but constant change. There was much running about, but I don't think I bled on anybody. Too much. I have not written in a LONG while for two main reasons: that whole losing-my-head-because-I-was-so-busy-figuring-out-my-life thing, and a strange lethargy that accompanied my unemployment status. Not a good combination of sensations, let me tell ya. I have empathy for those searching for work. Never give up, never surrender, my siblings in suffering!

Here's a quick breakdown for all of you in the mood for an update:
May- Resigned from my job in St. Louis in order to move back to the Northwest to be closer to family. Said goodbye to St. Louis and a wonderful school, full of beautiful teachers and spectacular students.
THE PLAN- Teach in Portland, get my own place and visit family and friends all the time!
Some of my fellow Busch staffers- amazing bunch of educators. 

June- Drove across the country with my sister Corey and father Paul in the winner of the "most cramped cab you can create" contest of moving trucks. Moved in with my sister Caitlin and helped her prepare for baby #2!
THE PLAN- Teach in Portland and help Cait with the babies!

The gang at Chimney Rock.

Can you feel the cramp?

July- Amid my trouble with boys (another change, but not really worth the words it would take to explain), we welcomed Lucia Jean into the waking world. Isn't she a lovely "papoose" baby (as my Mom has taken to calling her)? During this time, I realized getting a job was really hard. Really, really hard. Especially in Portland: too much firing last year to do any external hiring.
THE PLAN- Teach in Oregon or become a substitute...which is about as appealing to me as jumping into shark-infested waters wearing a suit of bloody meat.

August, part 1- Applied for 56 jobs, had no luck but lots of good times with friends, including two beautiful weddings.
THE PLAN- Teach anywhere. Even looked into a position teaching English in China. Kind of defeats the purpose of moving back home though...

Andrea, Alli and I on the waterfront for the 4th of July.
My friend Jessica, looking radiant. Recognize my dress?
August, part 2- While visiting my grandparents in Benton City, WA, I applied at the local middle school because, hey, why not? I got a call a few days later for an interview, after which I was offered the job (that same day). Can I hear a BOOYA?!?!
THE PLAN- Move to Benton City, live with my grandparents, get a Washington teaching licence, and teach Read 180 and ESL.

Here's my classroom (from a few weeks ago).
I was really proud of my word wall.
September- School started off with a great-big-exciting-bang, Benton City has grown on me and my students proved to be a good bunch. I got really excited about the Read 180 program and what it can do for low readers. I even got ideas for teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), of which I have about as much experience as a newborn does at walking.
THE PLAN- Get switched to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts...wait, what? That wasn't part of the plan!

Fine. Bring it on. It's not like I've had time to settle in or anything. (New classroom pictures to come I guess)

Plans? Ha. I made God laugh a lot this summer. And that's OK. Everything that happened turned out to be wonderful. I'm sure the next big change will bring it's own challenges and rewards too. 

April 24, 2012

Kony 2012

KONY 2012
Make him famous. 
You bet your bottom dollar that's my front door.

If you don't know who Joseph Kony is yet, know this: he is a bad man who abducts children and makes them into child soldiers. That's the extremely simplified version.

Invisible Children is a program I joined in high school, and while some have said this program and its videos oversimplify a complicated problem, I think everybody should learn as much as they can about this man and decide for themselves. In the end, that is what the Kony 2012 video is all about: To be more aware of the world, to act as a global community and to do SOMETHING. 

Please watch this video at the Invisible Children website. If you want to know more, watch the second, more detailed video here.  Once you've watched, you'll want to do something. I know I did. So I shared the video with my students. All of them. And now, they're doing something too.

Cover the Night was April 20th, and it was meant to get Kony's name on every street in every major city in the world.
Even Alton, Illinois, which isn't that major. 

While Cover the Night was last week, there is still much to do to stop Kony. My students are hard at work making posters to put up in their neighborhoods, to spread the word even further, and have pledged to talk about this with their parents. I love their fire and passion to be a part of the world (which, if you know any 6th grader, then you know this is a huge step in growing up for them). The best part? They are doing this BY THEMSELVES. All I did was show them the video. It's truly amazing what inspired people can do. I look forward to the conversations this will cause in my classroom: it's higher level thinking! 

Please share this post or the video.

KONY 2012
Make him famous. 

April 22, 2012

Chicago Comic-Con

Hello again, it's almost as if I haven't written in months! Oh wait, I haven't...I'm going to try to take a page out of my older sister's blog and write regular, shorter, full-of-picture posts that don't take too long to write or read!
Corey as Arrietty (a Borrower) from "The Secret World of Arrietty."
Corey (my younger sister) and I went to the Chicago Comic-Con  (C2E2) last weekend and it was AMAZING. It was for Corey's birthday (as she is an up and coming sequential artist), and she is very inspired now. In fact, she has been staying up way too late creating superheroes like, "WedgieMan," and her own version of Cinderella called, "If the Shoe Fits." Here's a look at one of her short comics, featuring me!

Besides the whole boost in creativity for Corey, my favorite part was the costumes... It was like Halloween for adults. And comic books were our candy.
Jayne and Kaylee from "Firefly." Yeah, I made my costume.
I am  such a  nerd, and proud of it!
Corey was even wearing her Ghostbuster's t-shirt.
You can't see their Proton Packs, but they were really well done.
 A close second were the panels. We were on a female-power kick, going to panels entitled, "Chicks Dig Comics," and "Constructions of Race, Gender and Childhood in Comics," "The Geek Girl and the Artist: Women's Perspective on Geek Culture, Gender Identity and Art/Media," and the best of the bunch, "The Ladies of Womanthology." This book is a great anthology of short comic stories, written and illustrated by women for charity. Corey idolizes these strong ladies, and rightly so- they are exactly who she wants to be. It was interesting to be surrounded by strong females, and then step out onto the main floor and see women objectified into butts and boobs. Small steps I guess. The next step I'm rooting for is a naked Thor. 
Womanthology panel. I should have taken a
picture of Corey  having a spaz-attack of  joy.
 However, the panels I enjoyed the most were the ones where I got to be close to famous people, like Val Kilmer, Anthony Daniels, Shane West, John Cusack, and the funniest of the bunch, Nicholas Brendon. 
It was his birthday.
I even got inspired to introduce comics into my classroom as the central way I teach from the panel called, "Reading with Pictures." I didn't waste any time- four new graphic novels in the classroom and a project where students illustrate the meaning of a new vocabulary word with a comic strip - and this is just in one week!

After the con was done we went out and about in Chicago, seeing what could be seen when the weather allowed. Or even when it didn't and we should have been indoors (see picture below). The wind there is CRAZY. It comes from every direction and cannot be escaped. Believe me, we tried.

I should have listened Corey, sorry. Makes for a good story though.
 After we dried our clothes from a thorough soaking in a BIG thunderstorm Sunday night, we took on the town on Monday, walking from the Sear's, now Willis, tower, to the Bean in Millennium Park, and seeing everything in-between. 

The top was closed due to high winds. CURSE YOU WIND!
I'll leave you with a few fun pictures of the greatest modern sculpture in the world (in my humble opinion). Thanks for reading!

February 23, 2012

Random Reviews

I've been out sick with a cold that won't quit lately, hence the lack of any post of substance. This is going to be a random collection of thoughts that might just be interesting to you if you are a movie, TV or book buff. Enjoy!

Nikita- A spy thriller based on the french film "La Femme Nikita," only WAY better. I watched the entire first season in three days (to be fair, one was a Sunday and another a sick day) and still felt like I wanted more. The story lines are interesting and full of great twists, but the best part is the character development. There are a lot of strong female characters in this show who kick butt and take names. I felt strangely vindicated as I sat, sick and dejected on my couch, watching Maggie Lee take down five guys that could have played pro-football with a paperweight wrapped in a towel. Sweet.

The Secret World of Arrietty- An adaptation of the book, The Borrowers, the new Studio Ghibli film has a quiet, calm pace throughout that is simply magical. The movie wrapped me up and transported me into a miniature fantasy land, filled with great details (pay attention to the water droplets) and other-worldly music. I love all the Ghibli films, but this was the closest a movie has ever gotten to the feeling I get when I wrap myself up in a blanket and read a good book- comfy, cozy and imaginative.

Life As We Knew It- I don't know what it is with me and post-apocalyptic books, but I have read five of them in the past three months, the most current being a tale told from the perspective of a 16 year-old-girl after an asteroid crashes into the moon, sending it closer into the earth's orbit. All sorts of strange weather starts spiraling the world Miranda knows into chaos, and she records it in diary format. The style and mood of this book reminded me a lot of the The Road (the most stark and depressingly beautiful survival book ever written in my opinion). It's definitely written for the middle-high school crowd, but if you're into the survival-story-in-strange-circumstances-genre, this is a pretty good choice.

Rifftrax- Brought to you by the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000! If you go to their website, you can download audio files of these VERY FUNNY guys riffing on movies. You play the audio on your computer while you watch the movie normally on your TV, and it's almost like they're in the room, making a horrible movie-going experience hilarious and truly worth while. Corey (my sister) and I have started a weekend routine of watching a movie with Rifftrax playing on the side, the Harry Potter series being our current victim. they've got hundreds of movies to choose from (my definition of heaven). If you're in need of a good laugh, or don't think you can bare watching the new Twilight instillation without some sort of help, I personally recommend the Rifftrax remedy. It does cost about 3-5 dollars to download the audio, just a heads up (it's totally worth it).

These forms of entertainment kept by clogged head above snot level the past few weeks, and if they're awesome when my brain is foggy, chances are, they're going to be spectacular to the fully-functioning mind.

One more thing before I sign off- I made out like a bandit this Valentine's Day. So much for Singles' Awareness Day, I'm going to call it Give Your Teacher Chocolate Day hence-forth. I like that second one so much better...The funny thing about Valentines though...they're really cheesy. I love cheesy. Here's three of my favorites.
Ah, blatant plagiarism, my old friend...

Complete with a parrot tattoo!

Not sure what I think of the DumDum...