Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WNBP: Of Mice And Cats

This is embarrassing.  I wish I could just stick my head in a hole and play the I Can't See You So You Can't See Me game.  I wish there had been a massive earthquake that only affected my living room and that this could be my excuse.  I wish I was out saving puppies from certain doom at the hands of coat-making, crazy-haired harridans.

But, as Mommy Sheep always used to say, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, if turnips were watches, I'd have one by my side.  Which didn't always make sense to a 3 year old little Sheepie, and yet were wise words all the same.

My excuse for not blogging last week?  A massive temper tantrum brought on by a non-functioning mouse.  There were certainly ways I could have worked around this minor technical issue and made the Wednesday Night Bullet Post happen.  Surely all the various and sundry gadgets and gee-gaws around here could have been put to work solving the problem.

But, no.  I tantrumed and that is the sad truth of the matter.  I'm not proud of it.  I'm mightily shamed by it.  But I think I need to at least be honest about it, painful though that may be.  Perhaps it will be a lesson in the future.

With that out of the way (and my school laptop ready to do the job my stupid wireless mouse won't) I shall sally forth into the bloggy ways.  Here is this week's WNBP:

*I guess it's also kind of last week's WNBP, now that I think of it...

*I'm going to talk about stuff that I would have talked about last week had the whole mouse mishap not happened.

*Like how I had to take Da Boyz to the vet.

*We missed our summer appointment.  That meant we were low on Happy Pills for a certain Very Complicated Kitty.

*I do not care for the VCK when he doesn't have his Happy Pills.

*He wants to tell me stuff.  And he wants to chew stuff.  And he wants to bowl his hapless brother off his feet at random and highly disturbing intervals.

*There are no Happy Pills without a visit to the vet.  Happy Pills require blood work.

*Which is fun for the whole darned family...

*To make matters worse, the speed with which my shattered nerves required this appointment meant that we weren't going to be seeing The Cat Whisperer.

*AKA: The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty's Girlfriend.

*Actual conversational snippets from the aforementioned vet visit:

"Are you sure these cats aren't brothers?  'Cause they act exactly THE SAME!!!"

"I think I see some flea dirt.  There might be fleas, wait.  Never mind.  I think it's glitter.  Your cat is Bedazzled.

"There's something on the chart here I can't decipher.  It may be an important condition...let's see.  FDC?  What the heck is FDC?"

"Maybe this Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty would behave better with a treat.  He hates these treats.  Does he have a favorite treat?"

"Do you have any Italian food?  Pizza?  Ravioli?  He also goes wild for spicy Thai curry..."

"Darn it all...I wish I knew what that FDC stood for.  I'd like to know if it's contagious."

"Where are we on those claws?  Have we finished the first foot yet?  No?  Anyone got an ETA on when we think he'll be ready for us to try again?

"  I hate to interrupt, but I kind of remember the whole FDC thing.  It stands for Freeze Dried Chicken.  I think that is partially why he loves The Cat Whisperer so much."

*I love my cats and I take care of them.  In case you were wondering if one can put a price tag on such things as love and care, let me put the question to rest.

*You can.  It costs $311.00.  Make a note of it.

*And a day later, when the bad feelings and looks dripping with contempt for my betrayal were starting to subside, I got to fire it all up again when I delivered the flea/heartworm/everything else treatment.

*We are over it.  Mostly...

*I took a half day off for all this because that seemed appropriate.  When my staff need to take their kids to the vet they get to take sick time.  

* I'll bet their kids are better behaved.  And that they don't require the purchase of a new deluxe kitty house/scratching post to make things right or demand freeze dried chicken as partial compensation for pain and suffering.

*I was out of the classroom yesterday, too.  I had to take the safety procedures training.

*I used to teach safety procedures training, but I had to cover for one of my staff people so often that I couldn't teach enough classes to keep my certification current.

*So I couldn't teach it anymore.  They solved the problem by hiring someone else to do it.

*The staff person for whom I was covering is now teaching safety procedures classes.  She never misses a training date.

*Apparently the policy around excessive staff absences is to pay them to be absent more often.

*I don't question it.  I just shake my head.

*That's not true.  I did question it.  But all I got were a lot of embarrassed looks and mumbling so I stopped pointing out things that people don't want to think about too hard.

*Both of Da Boyz received clean bills of health when they went to the vet.  Even their respective weights, a constant bone of contention, were considered okey-dokey.  (That is a slight exaggeration with regard to the VCK, but he's still in the process of rediscovering his waistline so we decided to call it good)

*The AGK decided that this pronouncement of good health was license to live it up a bit.

*Yesterday, I came home to find that he'd foiled the childproof locks on the under sink cabinet so he could dump out the trash, root through the empty cat food cans and lick them clean.

*He'd also managed to pick the latch on the decorative cabinet that housed the kitty treats but I got those away from him before he gnawed through the packaging.

*Over the weekend, he helped himself to a mini cupcake.  He licked off most of the chocolate frosting before I caught him.  

*I was no more than two feet away at the time.  He's stealthy.

*When I turned my back to wipe up a bit of spilled sauce, he snatched a slice of pepperoni from the still steaming pizza that was only seconds out of the oven.

*I never found it so I have to presume he has a pizza burn on the top of his mouth but I don't feel badly about that at all.

*I have a full time job.  I don't need another full time job.

*But I am beginning to think it is a full time job having a Smart Cat.

*Mr. Principal (Formerly Mr. Assistant Principal) announced today that he thinks it would be a fine idea to allow the students to wear their Halloween costumes tomorrow.

*I'd call in sick, but I already missed one day this week and I have to cover for the staff person who is now being paid to be absent more often.

*I emailed a parent who asked about costumes to tell her that it was OK.  But I was careful to tell her that we needed to consider our festive garb and not go overboard.  I reminded her that things like excessive blood, masks and weapons wouldn't be a good idea.

*She emailed back to let me know that she didn't think it would be a problem.

*Her son is coming to school tomorrow dressed as a Rotarian.

*Member of the Rotary Club.  Civic organization.  He's wearing a suit.  

*Mom claims he looks rather dapper.

*I shouldn't have been surprised.  He's the most Rotarian kid I've ever met...

*My mouse still doesn't work.  I've replaced the batteries.  I've reset it.  I've chanted and waved holy water around the manse.

*It just sits there looking tired.

*I think I need a new mouse.  I also need a new cordless phone but I'm not sure that is a related problem.

*It's probably something more along the lines of If It's Not One Thing It's Another.

*Or When It Rains, It Pours.

*Or Stuff Breaks And The Universe Finds It More Entertaining When It All Breaks At Once...

*As I type this, the AGK is frantically pawing at the decorative cabinet that once held his treats and still holds the canned food.

*Strike that.  He's opened it.  For the third time since I got home from work today.

*I know I need a new mouse, but I think I'm going to forget about that.  I need to put my money into a nice, solid safe.

 OK.  I need to go deal with this cat.  He is perilously close to dumping the whole decorative cabinet right over onto its side.  I know this because it's not the first time I've had a decorative cabinet dumped onto its side.  I'm starting to think I don't live in a decorative cabinet kind of world.

Maybe it's just part of the ongoing payback for that vet visit.  Or the universe commenting on last weeks' epic mouse tantrum...


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WNBP: Is It Just Me?

OK.  I know that sometimes it really is me.  As much as I like to think that I'm not the cause of anything that goes awry around me, I suppose the odds aren't in my favor.  It is very likely that sometimes I'm partially at fault.

Or wholly and completely at fault.  It's probably one of those at least some of the time...

Other times, I can't help but throw my arms up and wave them helplessly about whilst shouting, "Hey, is it just me or is this an utterly stupid way of going about this?????"

Point of fact:  When you say, "is it just me" what you really mean is "this is so frickin' obvious that Me, all my friends and anyone within a ten mile radius can see the problem here."

With that in mind, let's take a stab at this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post:

*I can't believe it is Wednesday.  Is it just me, or is this week moving along kind of rapidly?

*Long weekends will do that.  I love long weekends.

*They are longer than the average weekend and they make the following work week move along kind of rapidly.

*I thought I had another refill on The Very Complicated Kitty's medication.

*His Happy Pills

*AKA: The Pills That Make Life Around The Manse Bearable And Keep Him From Trying To Dig Through The Walls.

*I did not have another refill.  I also ran out of Happy Pills.

*Let me give you a mental picture.

*Fat Siamese running around in search of something he will never find, pausing only to tackle his brother, nip at his own tail and tell me stuff.

*Cats without Happy Pills are very fond of telling you stuff.

*"Hey.  Hey.  Hey.  Mom.  I wanna tell you something.  It's wicked important.  Look at me.  Look at me.  Look at me.  This time I really, really have to tell you something!!!"

*Eventually, I have to stop and listen.  I'm only human.  But he never remembers what he wanted to tell me.

*He will need to dart off, bowl the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty off his feet a couple of times and then go gnaw on the fan in the back bedroom for a while before it comes to him.

*Then we start back at the beginning.

*I ended up having to go out shopping on Monday, spending money I didn't really have, just to get out of the house.

*I now have four new bras and a mini cupcake maker.

*I also have an emergency prescription for Happy Pills and will be taking half of Friday off from work to visit the vet for annual kitty physicals.

*The immediate need for this appointment means that we cannot see the Cat Whisperer.

*I have not told The AGK yet.

*The AGK is partial to the Cat Whisperer.

*He is not partial to Anyone Else.

*And I'm almost looking forward to what happens when Anyone Else tries to trim his claws.

*I can't even trim his claws.  I don't see how Anyone Else thinks they are going to do it.

*And yet, somehow, The Cat Whisperer manages it handily.

*We will not be telling the AGK that he isn't going to see his girlfriend this time around.

*And that isn't just me.  I really do mean WE.

*Mum's the word, people.

*I didn't blog last week.  I didn't forget.  I know what I didn't do.

*Due to a convoluted series of errors, one of which I admit was mine but the rest of which were not, I found myself doing a massive amount of paperwork last Wednesday.

*Multiple individuals were involved in this calamity of errors.

*But none of them were at home trying to complete this mountain of paperwork.

*That was just me.

*And, in my defense, I did mention that this mound of paperwork was due soon.  I further reminded certain individuals that I could not begin that mound of paperwork unless one more piece of paper was added to the pile.

*It was kind of a key piece of paper.

*Meanwhile, others could have been churning out their own bits of paper and we wouldn't have ended up in this pickle.

*I say, "we."  But it wasn't really, "we."

*I ended up not taking the blame for the debacle, but still ended up trucking home more paper than any one forest could have produced.

*All this was distilled into one final document and sent to my director at 9:00 Wednesday evening.

*With a few terse, but respectful, suggestions for how we might handle this situation in the future.

*Step One:  I don't have to go to staff meetings tomorrow morning.  I can begin slogging through the other mounds of paperwork I have waiting for me, most of which are well beyond the mandated due dates for completion.

*I know it's just me who has an overflowing caseload with a minimum of staff to manage the situation.

*Most people who do what I do have a plethora of staff.

*I was personally told of one program that literally has one staff person per student.

*I do not.  I have two staff people who are trying to cover the support needs in three classrooms while I make up the difference.

*I do not have time to slog through mounds of paperwork.  I mean this in the most literal sense possible.

*Yesterday, the new Mr. Assistant Principal suggested that I reassign one of my staff to provide coverage for a single student.

*I did that thing where you kind of laugh and cry at the same time.

*Then I explained the situation.  Like how, if a student's individual education program dictates he or she have support in certain classrooms, I can't just not do it.  Even if there is one student who isn't behaving very well right now.  As things stand, my staff and I are only barely able to be where we need to be and do what we need to do.

*I further explained that I am currently teaching between one and three subjects at the same time during a single class period and that none of the students currently on my caseload are capable of working independently.

*I am doing this three out of four periods per day and spending the fourth assisting students with their Health projects.

*I finally offered up that the student in question might already be getting a lot of attention since he is in my classroom all day and that he doesn't go to any other rooms.  Short of adopting him and taking him home with me at the end of the day, I honestly don't think I can spend another minute with him.

*The new Mr. Assistant Principal now talks to me in a very soft voice and says very encouraging things.  Gently.  Kind of like how you'd approach the VCK when he doesn't have his Happy Pills.

*He also doesn't come within five feet of me.  Which is probably for the best.

*Today he asked me if my Director was aware of this situation.

*I don't know.  I do know she is currently out of town and that I can't ask her where she stands on the awareness scale.

*I ended today spending over an hour arguing with a student who stubbornly insisted that Freedom of Choice means he doesn't have to do the work I assigned for the day and that I should be reported to the school department for this flagrant violation of his rights.

*He didn't seem impressed when I pointed out that my choices in the matter might count for something or that his current behavioral choice was making several other students question their choice to NOT put a trash can over his head.

*Go figure...

*I'm starting to wonder if maybe that mini cupcake maker was a subconscious sort of purchase.

*The kind you make when, deep down, you know you really need to be eating more mini cupcakes.

*And then find a machine that makes them at half price...

*Tip:  The mini cupcake maker only produces six cupcakes at a time.  No one needs more than six mini cupcakes floating around the house at one time.  That is dangerous.  But you can mix up a bunch of batter, keep it in the fridge for use as needed.

*That is a good tip.  In case you were wondering how I was managing all the mini cupcakes.

*Oh and here's another tip, one that I know others have already discovered.  This is really not a "just me" kind of thing.

*If you haven't read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, you are missing something.

*Even if you don't care one whit about vampires, this book is haunting.

*It is really hard to connect with any of the characters, but I think that is a big part of it.

*Each and every one of them is fully developed, totally fleshed out.

*And, as such, they aren't all very likeable.  They are flawed.  

*And yet, even as you resign yourself to their ultimate fate, you can't help but root for them just a little bit.

*Or mourn when one of them makes a bad choice.  Even the really, really flawed characters.

*I listened to the audio version, but the print offering would clearly be just as awesome.

OK.  The scents wafting from the kitchen tell me that I might have some chicken ready to come out of the oven.  And, if the scents weren't doing it, the AGK prancing between the living room at the kitchen would probably serve as a strong hint.  I'm going to wrap this up.

Sometimes it's just me.  Other times it's me saying, "is it just me..." when I know it's really everybody.  And still other times, it's just me floundering about in a mound of paperwork or slogging through an endless logic loop when I'm pretty sure I should be doing something else.

Is it just me, or are all those things starting to blur together just a bit?


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

WNBP: There Oughta Be A Law!

I'm not what you'd call 100% rule bound.  I like to go my own way.  I daresay I even flaunt convention every now and again.  Admittedly my flaunting is a good deal less flaunt-y as I approach the half century mark.  I am more on the "look I wore a quirky pair of striped socks today, ain't I just the bee's knees?" end of the scale.  But sometimes I wear them on days when more somber attire is required so I count it.

Still...I believe that some rules should be followed merely out of simple respect.  You offer your seat to an older lady on the bus.  You don't slam the car door when you get home after 9:00 because others are trying to watch prime time television.  Even if you really want that last slice of pizza, you should never, ever try to stab your dinner companion with a fork to avoid the competition.  That's just plain old good manners, for crying out loud.

We have laws for a reason.  Rules are there for the good of all.  And where's the fun in flaunting them if you don't follow them most of the time anyway?

Wednesday is the night for bullet posting and I'm going to follow that rule this week.  I sort of blew it off last time and it's in the consistency that one finds joy in the lack thereof.

There should probably also be a rule about convoluted logic and sentences that attempt to follow them, but I'm too tired to go back and edit the thought.  Just go with it while we explore this week's twists, turns and rules gone wrong.

*I firmly believe that once I have to go back to school, there should be no more summer.  It should immediately revert to autumn.  Or it can snow.  I don't care.

*However, as my reasoning for that is more selfish than anything else since I resent anyone enjoying the summer I no longer have, I don't think that should be a rule.

*It's more the kind of thing I think about a lot and try to not say aloud.

*However, I believe it most certainly should be a rule that October behave itself in a sensible manner.

*There is no earthy reason for it to be over 80 degrees on the second of October.  None whatsoever.

*In my corner of the hemisphere, October has been issued a mandate.  Crisp, cool days and pumpkins awaiting kids to smash them on every doorstep.  And crunchy colored leaves.  And apple crisp.  Warm apple crisp.

*It should not be a day when you have to dig around at dawn's early light for a sleeveless top and sandals so you can survive the coming work day in your third floor classroom with limited window access.

*One of my first clear thoughts this morning was, "Oh no.  I am going to have to spend an entire day in an overheated room full of overheated students, most of whom have difficulty with understanding why things aren't the way they are supposed to be."

*Even worse, I knew I was going to have to give up at least one full teaching block to state mandated achievement testing.  That, in case you didn't know, represents a schedule change.  

*Schedule changes do not go over well in my world.  Schedule changes cause trauma to minds that thrive on the expected.

*Also, I was going to have to explain why it was hot.  

*And I am not a meteorologist.  Nor do I control the weather.  

*Although it seemed highly likely that I was going to be blamed for it.

*Thankfully, it was the second day of testing so most of the kids were feeling a little more comfortable with the whole thing.  Sort of...

*And the humidity stayed reasonable so it didn't seem quite as hot as it really was.

*Which is good because the heat caused the wasps that live in the surrounding trees and apparently the ceiling, to think that summer was back.

*Wasps follow the rules even when the weather doesn't.

*I sent an email to Mr. Principal apologizing for what I expect will be dismal test scores this year.

*It is a little hard to focus when you have to duck, dodge and flee the scary wasps that bumble around the ceiling in search of sky.

*The periodic shrieks of terror probably didn't help much either.

*And, in case you were wondering, explaining that a wasp is more likely to notice the kid running around the room, flapping his arms wildly and screaming, "BUG!  BUG!!!" is an exercise in futility.

*He who is terrified by wasps is going to run, flap and scream no matter what you say.

*I checked the hole in the plywood covering the window that was broken five years ago to make sure our paper towel stuffing was still in place.  

*It is.  No wasps sneaking in that way.

*They are coming from my office ceiling.  Which is where the only windows are located in that area of the classroom.

*So I had to keep the door closed.

*And it was 80 degrees.  

*Hot or wasp attacks.  Pick your poison, people.  I can't grant you amnesty from both.

*And yes.  You still have to take your state mandated achievement test.

*Did you also know that there is no limit to how many times you can tell kids what page they need to start their test on?  You can say it and say it and say it.  It's free and, since it's a standardized test, it is also a rule.

*You can check each student's page before the test begins to ensure that all have fully understood the direction.  

*Heck, you can do a little interpretive dance just to make sure they're paying attention.  No rules around that.

*And it doesn't really matter anyway.  You'll still have one that somehow ends up taking the wrong test.

*We have a staff meeting the first Wednesday of every month.  We didn't used to have them on Wednesday.

*At least I don't think we did.  I remember having them on Wednesday last year, but it never really stuck in my mind.  I'm still on the Tuesday meeting schedule mentally.

*Which is why I planned to run a few errands after school today so I wouldn't have to do it on Thursday when I have scheduled the late meeting.

*I will be running my errands tomorrow after my late meeting.

*By the time I get around to remembering that I have a required staff meeting on the first Wednesday of every month, I will either be retired or they will have changed it to Thursdays...

*I am never retiring.  Not at this rate.  They keep changing the rules around when teachers can retire.  And I will probably still be paying my car off anyway.

*I'm fairly certain that, by the time I might be able to consider retiring, they will have invented a way to make me a cyborg so I can teach and teach forever.

*I'll still be at the top of the state's longevity scale and without hope of ever seeing a big pay bump but I guess it won't matter then.

*Cyborgs just need routine maintenance and probably don't eat much.  I'll just need a bit of walking around money and something to cover rustproofing.

*In spite of the glitches and drawbacks, I'm still setting up the surveillance camera before leaving each day.

*It seems prudent.

*Today's Cat Related Classroom Conversation:

Boy Child #1: Ms. Sheep, did you just say you have cats?  I didn't know that.  That's nice for you.

Boy Child #2:  Yeah.  She sets up a camera so she can watch them all day.

Ms. Sheep: Yes.  I do that.  Wait...did you just roll your eyes?  I think I saw you roll your eyes.  You know what, Buster?  You just try living a day in my life and see if you don't start recording stuff that goes on in your home when you're not there.  You see what it's like living with creatures who don't care one little bit that you are the Mommy and set the standards for appropriate conduct.  You try existing in a world where the chicken you left on a plate last night for JUST ONE LITTLE SECOND suddenly DISAPPEARS and you find it BEING DRAGGED ACROSS THE NICE NEW KITCHEN RUG!  YEAH...THAT'S RIGHT!  JUST TRY IT.  DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!!

*It is entirely possible I have some difficulty separating my issues from the workplace.

*But I have more issues with Da Boyz so I think I am justified in being a little sensitive over the whole matter.

*My I-Don't-Play-Tennis elbow is still wreaking havoc at the worst possible moments.  

*I may soon have to bow to the doctor's strong suggestion and start considering seeing the OT.

*I don't want to see the OT just now.  I don't want another afternoon appointment.  Nor do I want to pay what the insurance won't cover.

*Nor do I really know for certain exactly how well the negotiations worked out on our latest teacher's contract.  The law of averages would seem to indicate that I shouldn't expect much.

*For all I know the 85% coverage I had last year is now gone and the only thing my provider will cover for occupational therapy is leeches and happy thoughts.

*Or maybe one of those rack thingies.  The kind that stretch you out until you don't care so much about the pain in your elbow.

*The one that doesn't swing a tennis racket.

*This time last week, I was in the throes of what looked to be a rather ugly oncoming workplace dispute.  

*It was going to require some confrontation.  I am not good with confrontation.

*As a rule, I avoid it.  

*Couldn't avoid it this time.  If the situation was what I thought it was, I needed to go in hard.

*And I did.  My stomach hurt and I didn't sleep the entire previous night.  But I took a stand, fighting against every natural urge I have to scamper away and promote my agenda from the sensible safety zone found under my bed.

*The situation was not as bad as I thought it was, although rules were broken in small ways. However,  the clearing of the air was a healthy thing in the end.  Seriously cathartic.  My adversary and I parted on friendlier terms than most people in the school building can say.

*But I made someone cry and I don't feel good about that even if I couldn't help it.  Someone had to ask the hard questions and it was apparent that no one was going to do it for me.

*So I had M&Ms for dinner along with a vanilla Coke that didn't have the word "diet" inscribed anywhere on the label.

*I don't know if that is a law, the consumption of sugar after a stressful experience where you have to take a stand even if you don't want to and you realize that you and the other party have both been put in horribly awkward positions by others who got to just kick back and watch from the sidelines.

*But it should be.

*However, I have noticed a tendency since then to find justification in bad eating habits a little more easily.

*And I'm not really sure if it is appropriate to reward one's self with candy because of a glitch in the weather that turns October into July...

So there you go.  That's this week.  And a smidgen of last week.  Although I hope it isn't a glimpse into next week because I cannot imagine further summery weather infringing upon what I consider to be the rules of the fall season.  Things need to cool down and we need to get back to the business of wearing shoes that cover our entire feet.

Although I'm not sure what the wasps will do.  I don't think they wear full shoes...