Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WNBP: The Other Side

It's hard to believe it's been a week since I waved goodbye to the last of my students and sent them home so for the summer.  By my internal clock, at least a month has passed.  However, I can't ignore the laws of time and space so I guess I must admit that a mere seven days have passed.  And five of them have been very, very busy.  It's over now, though and I've made it through to the other side with naught but a little fatigue.

Let's take advantage of the Wednesday Night Bullet Post format and review the highlights.

*I could have pared down the three days of teacher workshops and two days of committee meetings to something a little more palatable.

*Two days of workshops and maybe a day or so of meetings.

*That would have been nice, save for one thing:

*The mandatory restitution that comes from working over one's contracted schedule.

*Was it worth it?  Really?  Can I honestly say that the amount of work I've had to do during what should have been the first week of my summer break was an acceptable trade-off?

*Oh, yeah.  When you tally the numbers and factor in that the extra monies don't require the removal of insurance payments and whatnot...yeah.  It works out.

*To the tune of an extra paycheck this month.  

*I don't actually get "paid" to take the summer off, but I do still get checks.  They just divided up my ten month salary over twelve.

*An extra paycheck in the summer is a very good thing.

*Especially considering the upcoming auto repair bills.

*I knit furiously through Days One and Two of workshops.

*That was the Sit And Listen While We Impart Words Of Wisdom Unto Thee portion of the festivities.

*Day Three was a work day.  Since I didn't really have a group to work with, I got a lot done.

*The other humans distract me.

*Days One and Two of committee meetings were not good for knitting.  I had to sit next to Mr. Principal and didn't want to appear anything less that totally engrossed.

*Knitting would have helped.  To say we lost focus once the lunch hour passed each day would be an understatement.

*We got to work in the library, though.

*One of the few air conditioned spaces in the building.  That was nice.

*Plus they turned off all the filters on the interwebs so Facebook and Twitter were working quite handily.

*And I've gotten a whole bunch of free lunches.  Real lunches, not the cafeteria kind!

*I have been awake at the crack of dawn-thirty every day since school let out.  

*Not necessary since all the meetings started later than the regular school day.

*The Very Complicated Kitty, however, does not understand this.

*He has stuff to tell me in the morning.

*Very important stuff, by the tone of it.

*I answer him with gurgles and grunts that I imbue with interest but I honestly don't have a clue what he is saying.

*Although, if I had to guess it's probably food related...

*I finished my last meeting today.  Celebrated by buying myself a new label maker and some fancy metallic labels.

*I shall now pause for a moment so everyone can giggle and make "geek" references.

*No harm, no foul there.  I get it.  I think it's geeky, too.

*I like to label things.  

*And buying a sports car was not in the budget in spite of the extra pennies going into the coffers this month.

*I can maybe make a label that reads, "sports car" and stick it on my existing bumper.  That's about it.

*The work schedule hasn't allowed for much reading lately.  Mostly revisiting some old stuff.

*But I did pick up Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest.

*She wrote Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books).

*This one doesn't have any zombies in it.  And it's not at all Steampunk.

*I happen to love a good ghost story, though.  And there are few settings more suitable than the American South.

*Very, very well done story.  Classic for the most part, except in the middle where the tone gets a bit lost.  But then it comes back.

*Highly recommend this one if you like that genre.

*Best Line(s) Of The Week Courtesy of Mr. Assistant Principal:

You want to show me more baby pictures?  Fine.  You can have three.  That's it.  I'm done looking at baby pictures. All anyone does is show me Baby's First Photos these days. Yup.  That's nice.  He's cute.  Next!  I can't see.  Tilt the monitor.  Oh...OK.  I'll give you that one.  Adorable and worth the glance.  You get one more and then I'm done because my kids are 14 and 17 and I shouldn't have to do this anymore. should have stopped at the second one.  I'm finished now.

*C'mon.  Admit it.  You've always wanted to say that.  At least once!

*Our school is big on baby pictures whether we like it or not.  

*I am not anti-baby, for the record.  I just sometimes think I should have a choice rather than find my inbox full to the brim with JPEGs.

*Yesterday's meeting was interrupted for fifteen full minutes while some participants discussed how loudly their babies pooped.


*I offered to show Mr. Assistant Principal pictures of my cats.  He laughed at that.

*And promptly declined.

*I respect him more than I ever have now.

tellya!  I don't know for sure just what the plan is at this point.  Yes, I have finished the Index Cards Of Summer Organization and I think I know what I'd like to accomplish.  At least in a vague, general sort of sense.

For now, though, I am just kicking back and thinking like a Vacationing Person.  It is going to be hard to switch gears, but fear not.  Somehow, I'll manage...


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Too Many Cooks Spoil The Workshop

I did pretty well right up until the last half hour of today's teacher workshop.  I thought I might actually make it, but then I couldn't take it anymore.  Before I could stop myself, I spun around in my seat, glared at my neighbor and hissed, "STOP IT!!!"

She was obviously startled.  I could tell by the way she jumped, looked guilty and muttered, "Er...sorry.  I was just trying to copy the thing."

It's nobody's fault, really.  My school district is switching a lot of our applications over to Google.  They've done about a million trainings, most of which have been poorly attended.  Today's workshop was pretty heavily dependent upon Google Docs.  To make sure that all went well, they started the day with yet another crash course in how to use it.  This happens to be a very handy application and one with which we should all be more comfortable.

I do not claim to be a tech savvy person.  I will also admit that I haven't made it to any of the classes they've offered.  I have, however, used the application as part of a smaller committee upon which I serve and I suppose that this gave me an edge over some of the other participants.

Yet, even without this slight advantage, I like to think I understand the basic meaning of the word "shared."  I learned all about it in Kindergarten.  If something is "shared," it is not mine and mine alone.  Others get to use it.  Hence, it is unwise for me to get all proprietary about this thing and ignore everyone else waiting their turn nicely.

For example, if the crayons are to be "shared," you cannot stick them up your nose or break all the green ones because you hate broccoli.  When cookies are served and you are told to "share," you can't lick each one until you find your favorite.  It's basic pretty basic stuff for most five year olds.

So how is it that a group of fifty adults can't get their heads around the idea that a "shared" document is visible to everyone?  Or that being given viewing privileges don't necessarily translate to editing rights? I can understand how it might be a little confusing at first, especially if you've never worked with a shared document before.  But three hours in, people were still randomly highlighting stuff, taking notes and remaining blithely unaware that everything they were doing was showing up on everyone else's laptop, not to mention the big screen at the front of the room.  Sometimes they even changed the name of the file so that the presenter couldn't find it.  Even better, each time they did something to a doc, the program helpfully identified them by name so that we all could see who was messing with the text.

I mean, good lord!  If a document is "shared" and you don't know what you are doing, take a page from Sheepie's book:  Sit on your hands and touch nothing.  Save yourself the embarrassment until you can figure out how to make it all work.  And Sheepie figured this out in a small meeting where she would only have humiliated herself in front of six people.  Sheepie didn't need to have her sins put up on the big screen for all to see.

There were little colored tabs everywhere, random alerts letting us know that stuff was being changed and sometimes full sections being highlighted as people attempted to make copies so that they didn't do exactly what was driving me utterly insane by that point.

 When the lady sitting next to me attempted to highlight and copy the final document for her own editing purposes, I probably could have held my tongue.  I'd made it through the whole day on very little sleep and somehow kept myself from having an episode.  But I just couldn't take it anymore.  I guess I should count myself lucky that it was a person with whom I have a pretty good working relationship instead of a total stranger.  That is the sort of thing that lends itself to restraining orders and whatnot.  As it was, I merely flung down my knitting and showed her how to make a copy.  I knew how to do this because they went over it at the beginning of the workshop, but I didn't bother pointing this out and that is how I know I have amazing self-control.

All other evidence to the contrary...

Sure, you could point out that maybe 56 people having access to one document is a little extreme and that maybe Google Docs isn't the best way to go about handing out training material.  Or that using shared documents in a training with people who don't have much experience with them is certainly going to take away from the actual content of the presentation while everyone figures it out.  It might even be suggested that a group of teachers forced back to school on the first day of their summer vacations is not the most focused of audiences.  They are highly unlikely to recall certain important details from the first hour of a very long day.

All valid points. But I still can't help but wonder if maybe we should have had a different agenda for the first day of training.  Perhaps Day One should have been right out of the kindergarten teacher's manual...


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WNBP: Excuses, Excuses!

I have multiple reasons for not blogging in a week.  Actually, they aren't so much "reasons" as they are "excuses that I intend to put out there until someone takes pity on me and tells me it's OK."  Given the day and the nature of the post, I think it will all work rather nicely in Bullet Point Format.

*Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: Today was the last day of school.


*It is not so much the last day as it is the last day I have to teach kids since there are a week of workshops coming my way as of tomorrow, but we take what we can get.

*We are bidding a fond farewell to the following characters in my little cast: The Boy With The Bass Booming Earbuds, (The Boy Who Is) Dark And Disturbed and The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage.

*Each of them left before the last day for varying reasons, all of which were in their respective best interests.

*It has been very, very quiet in my classroom over the last couple of days.

*You seriously won't believe how much teacher stuff I can get done without extra students...

*My great uncle passed away on Monday.  He was 93.

*This was sad, but I think I'm maybe more sad for those of you who didn't get to know him.

*Truly a gentleman from another era.

*A better one, some might even say.

*His memorial was Saturday and it was as moving as any I think I've ever attended.

*He was a man who believed in service to others, the importance of ongoing education and the value of hard work.  He was what you might call an "old school gentleman."

*And he liked to blow up cans with fireworks on special occasions.

*Which was a contradiction in the most awesome way you can imagine.

*I'll be startled every time I remember that he isn't here anymore for a very long time.

*I was very sniffly at the memorial.

*Which was understandable.

*The fact that I remained sniffly the next day at Daddy Sheep's Father's Day lunch was not so understandable.

*It is June.  I don't get sick in June.  That is silly!

*Allergies.  Yup.  That's what I figured it was.  Allergies.

*Best Student Line Of The Week Courtesy of Spunky Girl:

You can think whatever you want, but I'm telling you right now that is NOT allergies.

*It is not allergies.  I have it on good authority from an actual 6th grader who knows.

*Full-on cold, complete with laryngitis and nasal drippage.

*I missed the 8th grade promotion ceremony.  I think that Mr. Principal was mad at me for that until he saw me this morning.

*It was suggested that I consider going home.

*I did not go home.  It was the last day of school and I'd already ordered my Super Special Last Day Teacher Lunch Of Chinese Food. (which is almost free)

*I am so totally not missing my SSLDTLOCF (wiaf)!!!

*I was talking with the Literacy Coordinator about a student this morning.  I was half-way through a brilliant observation when she threw up her hands and cried:

That's it!  I can't talk to you anymore.  It's too much!  You're just so...I God!  It's THE PLAGUE!!!!!

*She then proceeded to walk away flapping her hands in a warding off gesture and I could hear her warning others to stay as far away from me as possible.

*So, I guess I have the plague...

*I took some cold medicine last night.  The sleepy kind.  Went to bed a little after 10:00.  Read for a while.

*Woke up at 3:19.  I know this because I could see the clock and it was a very odd time to be awake.

*Then I thought, "Gosh, I can sure see that clock clearly.  Oh, silly me!  I left the light on!"

*Then I thought, "Hey...I can see that REALLY clearly.  That's weird."

*Still had my glasses on.

*Then I thought, "You know what else is odd?  I shouldn't be looking down at the clock.  It should be at eye level."

*I was still sitting up in bed.

*With my ereader in my lap.

*And no recollection of what I read.

*Sleepy time cold medicine, indeed!

*I settled myself into bed like a proper human and slept through to the alarm.  And then some.

*Still considered a plague carrier by my colleagues...

*For the record, I wasn't reading Dark War: A Matt Richter Novel (Matt Richter Novels)

*Because I finished that already.  

*Fair Warning:  Don't try to read this one if you haven't read the others in the series first.  You will be lost.

*Further Fair Warning:  Fans of Simon R. Green (Something from the Nightside (Nightside, Book 1)  should know that these books are a quarter concept away from being in a total copy-cat situation.

*But that doesn't mean I don't love them because a zombie private detective is just too cool to ignore.

*I wasn't reading that when I dozed off, though.

*I was reading Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Norville, Book 8).  

*Werewolf DJs are cool, too.

*Not cool enough to fight off the effects of NyQuil, but I don't blame the books for that.

*If I ever get to the point where I can be on summer vacation, I envision some hard core reading in my future!

*But I have to get my plague-ridden self through five days of workshops and meetings first.  

*I'm packing up my knitting tonight.  

*I think I'm going to need it.  It's hard to pay attention when all the sneezing kicks in.

*Plus no one is going to want to sit with me and I'll need something to do...

So, as you can plainly see, I have had a lot on my plate over the past week.  Between finishing up the school year, family obligations and attempting to spread the plague hither and yon, I've barely had time to think.  It's been a whirlwind, I tellya!  I'll try to do better now that we are in the home stretch and heading into summer vacation.  Meanwhile, I must dash.  I have some leftover Chinese food that smells like it's just about heated through and I suffered through a snuffly last day of school to get that!

So much to do, so little time...


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WNBP: Soldiering On

Back when I first started teaching, we would sometimes joke about school years that lasted longer than others.  "At this rate," we'd say, "we'll be going until July!"  Then we'd laugh and laugh because that was such a silly thing to even consider.

This year, when you factor in the extra student time, the snow days and the mandatory trainings, I will literally be going to school until July.  This is just my little reminder that you shouldn't joke about stuff that isn't really funny unless you enjoy a firm and painful smackdown.

I am just going to stop thinking about it and do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  I honestly can't think of anything else to do at this point.

*Last night was cold.  Crazy, not summery at all cold!

*How do I know this?

*Well, first of all...I was cold.

*And I was wearing wool socks to bed.  

*And I had the electric blanket on.

*And the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty was snuggled up to me in bed instead of keeping to his own side.

*And sometime around midnight a gigantic, furry cannon ball landed on the bed, causing both of us to panic and make garbled choking sounds.

*It wasn't a cannon ball.  It was actually the Very Complicated Kitty coming in for a landing and demanding snuggle space.

*He never sleeps in the bed but, last night, he was there for the duration.  He is a whole lotta feline.

*I woke up contorted around cats and with far less bed space than I think I deserve.

*It is warmer today so I'm assuming I will be back to the One Cat Sleeping Program again.

*My Other Favorite Librarian had to come to the room today to deliver an overdue slip.

*Not for a kid.  For the Cheerful Teaching Assistant.

*At that moment, I revealed my inner Library Nerd before I could stop myself.

*I do not have overdue library books.  My books come back in a timely fashion or with a heartfelt apology should they be late.  The library is for all of us and we are darned lucky to have it.  We should regard it as a privilege, not some sort of God-given right!!!

*The school librarian loves me.

*But even she acknowledges that I'm a little bit geeky.

*Speaking of books, I'm still powering through the Kitty Norville series with great gusto.

*Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Kitty Norville, Book 5)...done!

*Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, Book 6)...done!

*Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7)...not done.  But close.

*These are quick reads and the character seems to be getting a bit better developed as I go along.  

*Plus they are great time killers while I wait out some of the books the publishers keep promising they will deliver.

*Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Norville, Book 8) is up next.

*Unless I get sidetracked by Dark War: A Matt Richter Novel (Matt Richter Novels).

*Good old fashioned dark humor and might be a nice distraction from the werewolf drama for a while.

*Can't help but think of summer reading at this point, but I hate to let myself start dreaming about that.

*Still have a ways to go.

*Best line of the week thus far comes to you courtesy of Mr. Assistant Principal.  One can assume he is as done with his staff as we are with the school year.  I don't think this little slice of my day requires any further explanation:

"I am hanging up now."

*I don't blame him.  I'd hang up on me, too, if I were the boss of me.  I'd probably never even take my call in the first place.

*Second best line of the day, also courtesy of Mr. Assistant Principal:

"I am TOO paying attention!  I am looking right AT you!"

*He was not looking right at me.  He was looking right through me to Mr. Principal who he wanted to join him in signing promotion certificates so he could finally leave the school and not have to pretend to pay attention to needy teachers such as myself.

*I do not think I was wrong to point that out but others may have differing opinions.

*This is a very long school year...

We are all just doing what we have to do to get by, I guess.  Apparently, I've chosen to do this by becoming the Commander In Chief Of The Righteous Library Brigade and annoying the man who could get me fired with just a few well-chosen words.  I'm not sure how this is working as a coping strategy, but I can't really think of anything else.  It will have to do.

And rest assured, I will never joke about going to school until August...


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Saga Of Squirt

This is a long school year.  There were snow days.  Many, many snow days.  There were weeks I managed to forget how to work full time.  I like a good snow day, don't get me wrong.

I do not love a long school year.

We are hanging in there.  We are, perhaps, a little more flexible in our teaching strategies.  We are doing what it takes to somehow get this group of kids through to the last day with a minimum of office referrals, suspensions and detentions.  My class is particularly prone to this sort of thing, I fear.

This is why I didn't really say much when The Boy With The Bass Booming Earbuds asked to go outside for a walk between classes.  A staff member was available and he really needed the break.  My patience was a little more tested when he came back inside with a friend.

"It's my new pet worm," he proudly announced. "He is green, he bites a little bit and his name is Squirt.  Say hello to Squirt.  Do it.  DO IT!!!"

Sure enough, it was a green worm of the Very Wiggly Variety.  I dutifully said hello because, if I didn't, I suspected TBWTBBE might take exception to that.  Then I dug deep down into my reserves of Teacherly Tolerance for the strength to not make a big deal out of this.  As much as I don't want a very wiggly worm (that bites) in my class, I knew it was a distraction and perhaps enough to keep a boy who is already done with this school year happy for the day.

And Squirt really did make him happy.  He lugged him around the room.  He let him crawl on his desk while he worked.  He took him down to visit Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk and was thrilled to death when she screamed.  Yup.  Squirt did a fine job of bringing the happy and if he was looking a little worse for wear by lunchtime, I opted to not notice that.  Or how he kept ending up in Spunky Girl's hair, for that matter.  I knew that it was an early release day for TBWTBBE.  He'd be leaving soon and then we could release Squirt back into the wild and let him run free as green, wiggly worms (that bite) were meant to do.

It was looking promising right up until TBWTBBE decided to put Squirt on the wall map.  He wanted to see how far his little buddy could make it across Europe before the lunch bell rang.  The fact that he put the worm on Africa doesn't speak well for my recent geography unit, but what are you gonna do?  I had bigger problems at that point.  It seems Squirt wasn't interested in backpacking across Eurafrica.  He was tired.

And he fell into the heater.

TBWTBBE was crestfallen.  Heartbroken.  Inconsolable.  And then it was time for lunch and he forgot all about it because that is sometimes how these things go.  I bid a fond farewell to Squirt, thanked him for his sacrifice in the name of education and told the class that there would be no more creatures brought into the room.  And that was that.

Except it wasn't.

The Future Farmer couldn't accept that this was the end of Squirt.  He believed in the power of the wiggly worms (that bite).  He took a stand on the matter and there was really very little I could do about it.  He was not going to move on until I allowed him to deal with this tragic situation.  And thus I found myself having the following conversation at the beginning of last period:

Mr. Assistant Principal:  ...and that is the scheduling matter I'd like you to fix, Ms. Sheep.

Ms. Sheep:  Why certainly, sir.  Consider it done.  Oh, and by the way, you don't care that we took the heater apart, do you?

MAP:  Of course not...wait.  What?  

MS:  The heater.  We took it apart.  See, there was this worm and it didn't want to travel across Eurafrica so he fell and it's not like we could just leave him in there!

MAP:  OK.  This is the part where you just walk out the door, close it behind you and don't tell me stuff anymore.

MS:  Okey-dokey.

Squirt ended up being released, very much alive and well, into the great outdoors by day's end.  He didn't go quietly.  No, he escaped and hid during math, shutting down the entire classroom while we searched frantically for him.  (Squirt is a very fast worm, not to mention crafty)  He thwarted his departure ceremony by biting Spunky Girl and causing her to fling him into the grass long before we were ready.  He didn't really cooperate with us once TBWTBBE was no longer there to keep him in check, if you want the truth.  Frankly, I was glad to see the last of him.

Still, the whole saga helped the day along and that is what we need right about now.  We are desperate.  I'm grateful to little Squirt, if only for that.

Tomorrow I'm thinking of letting the kids try gator wrestling...


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I Got S-s-s-team Heat!!

We here in the northeast do not generally do "heat" very well.  It is not our natural habitat.  Hence, I was not pleased to see that today's temperatures were looking to break 90.  The fact that I was going to be spending this searingly hot day in a third floor classroom during the last two weeks of the school year didn't exactly make me giddy either.

But, it is what it is.  If nothing else, heat means that summer is upon us and I might eventually be on vacation if we can ever get past making up all these snow days.  Even better, it is Wednesday and I can do the Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  This is always something of a picker-upper.

Let's have at it!

*Ice cream for dinner tonight.  Don't judge.

*I am eternally grateful that someone finally figured out how to turn off the heat in my classroom.

*They still haven't gotten around to fixing that window they had to board over last spring so we aren't getting much in the way of air circulation these days.

*We are, however, getting many, many hornets.  They seem to be coming at us from above.

*The angry buzzing creatures are doing wonders for keeping the kids focused and working hard during these last few weeks of school.  

*That was sarcasm, in case you missed it.

*Last week, we were dismissed half an hour early due to tornado warnings.

*Yesterday, we had to be evacuated for over an hour due to a weird odor in the hallways.

*Which smelled a lot like propane, but no one could find a leak.

*Three fire trucks and an ambulance.

*I like firemen.  I like them a lot.

*I didn't get to appreciate them because I was standing in a hot parking lot with kids who blamed me for everything from the heat to the stench of cooking asphalt radiating around us.

*At the staff meeting that afternoon, someone mentioned that a propane truck drove by while we were all standing around out there.

*It is now being theorized that an entire school was evacuated due to a propane delivery down the street.

*I still got the blame as far as my students were concerned.

*They do not like being taken away from their lunches.

*Next week, we have scheduled a plague of locusts.

*The lady next to me at the staff meeting was knitting a dishcloth.

*This made me think of summer vacation because I knit dishcloths during summer vacation.

*I am so totally OVER this school year.

*But it is not done with me.

*It is just heating up!

*Da Boyz were pretty pleased to hear about the upcoming car repair bills.

*It means they get to postpone their visit with The Cat Whisperer until the end of July as opposed to the beginning.

They sit in the window and stare gratefully down upon the ailing vehicle.  I think I hear them singing its praises...

*I'm including this one for no reason other than I think it is sweet how they do the cuddly-snuggle-umpkins thing.

Seriously...can you STAND it????

*I had a rather horrible time last month on the anniversary of the day we lost the Big Fluffy Kitty and it makes me smile to see that the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty is so happy with his new baby brother.

*Sue me.  I'm sappy like that...

*I am less sappy and sentimental regarding the new Wake Mommy Up At 4:45 In The Morning Routine, though.  

*Fat Siamese in my face.

*Loud, fat Siamese in my face.

*Loud, fat Siamese with an agenda in my face.

*He has not processed that the heat means summer and that this is the time to start thinking about easing off on the early morning wake-up calls.

*We shall be working on this.

*I know.  You don't have to say it.

*I do not control this situation.  I never have.

*I just like to pretend, is all...

*I finished up with Kitty Goes to Washington (Kitty Norville, Book 2).

*Honestly don't recall if I told you that already so I'm doing it again just in case.

*Then I cranked through Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville, Book 3).

*Then, as if that weren't enough, I started Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Kitty Norville, Book 4).

*When I start a series, I take it seriously.  I need to power through it.

*Fortunately, this is a fun read.  Not great literature.  Not dark literature, not really.

*It has mood lighting.  Low lighting.  

*It's just plain fun because when you have a werewolf named Kitty, there is really not much else to do but chuckle.

*I'm enjoying this series immensely, if only for the playlist at the beginning of each book.

*More fun!

*When not losing myself in the trials and tribulations of a werewolf/late night DJ, I'm in the car.

*And now I'm listening to something other than free content podiobooks.

*I sprang for Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) on audio.

*I figure I got my Urban Fantasy Chick Lit thing going on right now so I might as well go for broke.

*Apparently, the steamy weather has inspired some slightly steamy reading...

And so ends another Wednesday, complete with heat, humidity and a few good books.  Eventually, I'll get to the place where this school year finally ends.  For now, though, I'm hanging in and riding it out.  It could be worse.  The heater in the classroom could still be blasting.  The car could be actually dead rather than possibly dying and the heat wave could be predicted to last longer than I can stand.

That said, tomorrow promises to be just as hot and steamy.  Let's see how my sunny attitude is holding up after another day in the classroom with the cranky teens!


Monday, June 06, 2011


I have been driving on tires not really meant for travel for some time now.  I was told that the rubber holding up my car was nothing more than a suggestion of tires and that they needed to be replaced immediately.  At the time, however, tires were a bit on the pricey side.  Especially for one who needed to hire a Professional Worrier to help with a worrisome situation.  I waited on the tires and pretended that I was a reckless risk-taking type who didn't bother with things like traction.

Eventually, the stress got to me, though.  I finally bit the bullet, packed up the knitting and headed over to the dealership to get two of the four sad tires replaced.  I also figured that an oil change might be a good idea what with the car's information center screaming this suggestion at me every morning.  You can only hit the reset button so many times before you run out of luck and I'd already pushed things with the tires.

Those who know me are very familiar with my car repair history.  They know I am the target for all things Strange And Unbelievable when it comes to cars.  If there is a rock to be found within a twelve mile radius, it will fling itself at my windshield.  If a squirrel decides to end it all, he will do so by following the rock aimed at my car.  I have bad luck with cars.  Bad enough that I've gotten pretty good at spotting when things are about to go horribly awry.

For example, getting a free oil change is a portent.  You'd think free is good.  But it is just a way of lulling you into a false sense of security.  All it means is that you've had enough work done over the years that you've racked up a few Customer Rewards Points.  And they want you good and distracted for what is coming next.

When you are invited to come behind the Sacred Service Desk to look at the computer, that is a very bad sign.  No one gets to come behind the desk.  That is blasphemy in the world of auto repair.  And being allowed to look at the computer?  Unheard of!  Probably grounds for immediate termination!!

Unless, of course, you are being invited behind the desk so you can view a picture.  Said picture, of course, having been taken because "we didn't think you'd believe us unless we showed you..."  That is a very, very bad portent.  It's the sort of thing that, if you saw it in a horror movie, you'd be screaming at the heroine to run as fast and as far as she could before the monster got her!!

I didn't run.  Curiosity got the better of me.  I couldn't help myself.  Could this be something new and interesting in the world of auto mishaps?  Something I hadn't ever experienced before?

It was.

Sometime between last November and this past Saturday, I ran over a trash bag.  Not a trash bag full of nails or live grenades.  An empty one.  The kind you see flapping all over highways across this great land every single day.  This trash bag, however, was a killer.  It had me in its sights and wanted me something bad.  It probably heard all about me from the rock and the depressed squirrel.

This trash bag wrapped itself firmly about my front axle, snagged a few other things along the way and proceeded to wind and pull merrily away for miles and miles and miles.  It bent things.  It tore things.  It wreaked havoc.  It was the Incredible Hulk of trash bags.

They did a few hasty patches along the underside of my poor car and the nice lady who took the picture managed to bend my brake line back into place without too much trouble. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of leakage. We've got things running for the time being.  But there are several visits scheduled with the dealership in the immediate future.  Not only to deal with the Killer Trash Bag, but also with the moisture that got into the electrical system at some point while the car was distracted by the mouthful of plastic upon which it was choking.

On the plus side, however, no one is all that worried about my tires anymore.  That is a load off my mind...


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

WNBP: Irony, Winds And Whatnot

Here it is, again...Wednesday.  It came kind of fast this week, partially because Monday was a holiday.  It is also possible that the mighty, whirling winds have ushered it along at a hasty clip.  Either way, it is time for the Wednesday Night Bullet Post so let's have at it!

*I know what irony when I see it.  Or hear it.

*Irony is the principal coming on the school's PA system to announce that all afternoon activities are cancelled due to the tornado watch going into effect.

*And one of those activities is try-outs for The Wizard Of Oz musical at the high school...

*That is just crazy with the ironic.

*They let us all go home half an hour early to say good-bye to our loved ones and whatnot.

*There have been no tornadoes.

*But likes to have time for a little bit of whatnot before things start whirling about.

*Here are some more skulls and skins from yesterday's fun-filled field trip:

*This was back in the halcyon days before I lived in fear of the raging tornadoes.

*Tornado watches are only up for another hour.  It's all fine here.

*I arrived at school and was told that none of my teaching assistants would be joining me for the day.

*Then a veritable parade of sympathetic souls dropped by to offer their condolences on my being left alone all day with the children.

*Only Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk thought to offer me a bathroom break, though.

*I don't have scheduled lunch or prep breaks like other teachers.

*She's a good egg, remembering that.

*It all worked out, though.  I had a lot of sickly kids who couldn't make it in today.

*There were brief gaps where I could scamper off to the restroom.

*Best parent email of the week:

Hello, Ms. Sheep

Thank you for letting me come on the field trip yesterday.  It was so much fun!  In fact, I enjoyed the time with my son so much that I wanted it all to continue and decided to build a tee-pee with him.  It sounded like a pretty cheap way to have some quality time with the kids.

Then he stepped on a nail and we all had to go to the emergency room and, three hours later, it wasn't quite so cheap anymore.  He will be out today while the antibiotics kick in.

Thank you,

Mrs. Mom

*That is slightly paraphrased, but not by much.

*The lesson here is this:  If you've had a good time on the field trip with your kid, don't push it.  You'll just end up exceeding your insurance deductible.

*Best student line of the week (from Spunky Girl):

I am practicing a new glare, but you don't seem all that scared so I guess it still needs some work.

*She has a wicked glare.  I was scared, but I was also kind of tired and couldn't really give her the reaction she wanted.

*Every time I go to school for the day, someone gets into the knitting.

*I come home and yarn is chewed, needles are's so frustrating!

*I think it might be a cat, but I don't want to cast aspersions since I'm not here to bear witness.

*And in reading news...

*I finished Dead Matter.

*And Dead Waters.

*A very enjoyable series and one you can easily whip through without too much difficulty.

*The characters grow on you...they just do!

*Then I heard tell about another series and decided to give it a try.

*Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, Book 1) turned out to be a pretty decent read.

*I know I've said repeatedly how tired I am of the whole vampire/werewolf thing, but this one is a very different take on it.

*Werewolf DJ.


*I was as intrigued as I'm sure you are.

*I downloaded Kitty Goes to Washington (Kitty Norville, Book 2) right after finishing the first!

*I've also been hearing good things about Death's Daughter (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel).

*Anyone read that?  Just curious.

*If I say to Buffy fans, "Yeah, it's that Amber Benson" they'll know what I mean.

So that's today.  As Wednesdays go, it had the potential for disaster what with the missing staff and tornado possibilities.  In the end, though, it didn't go badly.  I even got to go home half an hour earlier than usual so I guess I should thank the Weather That Wasn't.  Now Thursday is even closer and Friday can't be far behind if my calculations are correct.

For the record, the winds never seem to push Friday along any faster.  It comes when it's darned good and ready.