Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Long Night

Ripken was pretty sore yesterday after returning from the vet. His surgery consisted of the removal of six tumors (all of the fatty, benign variety). Some were located in such a position that he could not lie down with any comfort for most of the night. He was given the recommended dosage of baby aspirin, and he did lie down for an hour from 8 to 9 and from 11 to 12, but for the rest of the night, he stood. He was clearly tired, and he would apparently nod off, only to wake when he started to lose his balance. He leaned on me for a while, but that was uncomfortable and unproductive, since I couldn't keep his back legs from buckling, no matter what I did. Monkey was up most of the night, trying to comfort the dog and cajole him into a prostrate position, but, it was not effective. He was just in too much pain.

Finally, at about 4:30 am, he was probably so tired that he dealt with the hurt. Down he went, and he stayed asleep until about 8 this morning. He's been down for most of the day, except for an hour or two just after lunch. He's had his dose of aspirin for the day, and he doesn't get another until 8 tonight. I hope he makes it until then.

It has only been a little over twenty-four hours since his surgery, so his discomfort is to be expected. He is clearly better today than he was yesterday, and I expect he will be better still tomorrow.

I just hope we can all get some sleep tonight.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snowshine Sun, Dog Soreness, and Raven Disgust

The last Monday of the old year has been a memorable one, for sure. First, it has finally stopped snowing here, and we are almost finished digging out (as a municipality). One side of our street has been plowed, and we expect the other side to be done sometime before spring. Our own walkways and driveways have been cleared and re-cleared over the course of the last four days or so. I am pretty sure the entire neighborhood is about tired of shoveling, snow blowing, vehicle pushing, etc. As a bonus, today, the sun came out for the first time in about forever.

Secondly, Ripken had another operation to remove some tumors from his torso. He had a similar operation last year at this time. None of the tumors were on his head, but he had one right on his sternum, so he is having a hard time finding a comfortable position to lay in. He is looking pretty miserable, six hours after his operation, but, after he keeps some food down and has a baby aspirin, he should be feeling better.

In an irrelevant vein, compared to the dog's recovery, I suffered the frustration and helpless disgust that is watching your NFL team basically outplay their rivals AGAIN, yet still lose due to boneheaded penalties and a lack of execution. Most likely, the Ravens will beat the Raiders on Sunday and make the playoffs, but, if they keep playing like they have (and nothing indicates that they won't), a loss wouldn't surprise me, but a deep run in the playoffs would.

Finally, we made a pretty tasty potato soup for lunch today, and we still have about ten pounds of gifted potatoes to get through!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The White Christmas and All That

So, yesterday we got the ice. The streets were passable, but the trees and shrubs and other such vertical and semi-vertical stuff all got a nice sheen of frozen beauty to click clack in the wind with. Today comes the snow, which some reports say we should get 10 inches of by Friday night. I hope all the Kris Kringle's and Jessica Kringle's, all the reindeer, and all the elves take special care when making their way through the winter wonderland of the Midwest this evening.

I know that back in the east, the left overs from the past weekend are enough to guarantee a white Yuletide, as well. Why it matters, I am not sure. I think it's Charles Dickens's fault.

Or maybe Charles Schultz's.

Regardless of who might be responsible, I hope your holiday is whatever you want it to be!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
--Don Henley, "The Boys of Summer"

(I apologize if my opening lyric today causes anyone shock or illness.)

I know I JUST said, "Don't look back," but, upon a request from a fellow Blogoshpherian, I compiled a short list of the top ten albums of the year. If you are at all interested, you may access it here.

Plans for today include a short visit to Wilber, the Czech capital of Nebraska, to see if they have any kielbasa. Which reminds me that Chicago State actually has a dude on their team named Joseph Kielbasa. Monkey and I figured that if Chicago State had been playing Mizzou, the Antlers would have had an inappropriate field day with that one.

Also on the docket: possible visit to used book store, work party, watching the weather (a potential storm may scrub Tuesday's KC trip). Ah, the holiday season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Resisting The Urge

All we have is now.
The Flaming Lips, "All We Have Is Now"

As the year draws to a close, it is natural that we wish to look back, to gauge the year just past to see what was good and what was not, to see how we progressed as we made our way down the road of life. This year, we might feel even more tempted to look back and measure the decade that is drawing to a close (depending on whom you talk to). Honestly, I am pretty blown away by the fact that it was a decade ago that Monkey and I spent our first New Year's Eve in Missouri, wondering if the world would end at the stroke of midnight and prove us wrong for not building a survival shelter, taking our meager savings out of the bank, buying a generator, and stocking up on canned goods, bottled water, and kerosene. I hadn't even thought about it, really, until comoprozac started running his list of the best albums of the Aughts. A lot has changed in ten years, most of which, I don't really need to get into.

As a matter of fact, I am not going to get into any of it. I am going to try to resist the urge to look back. I am going to try to resist the desire to measure my progress. Instead, I am just going to be happy to be where I am, and try to keep my focus on the road ahead...or maybe just the road under my feet. After all, the future is impossible to see.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ahhhh, Freedom (Albeit Temporarily)

Technically, I am on break. Actually, I am sitting in my classroom waiting for a student to finish a make up quiz. But, in the next ten minutes or so, I am tearing out of here!

Just thought you'd want to know that I had survived in one relatively healthy and sane piece.

I'll be shouting at you again soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Looking Forward

There are a few things we have to look forward to this holiday season.

First, Monkey has been on her special (and very annoying) no iodide diet to prepare for her latest scan to check her thyroid. She has been eating roasted vegetables and oatmeal since the day after Thanksgiving. She is very excited to be able to eat whatever she wants. That begins tomorrow afternoon.

Also on tomorrow afternoon, winter break starts. I look forward to two weeks off, and having only a few things to grade during the break. It will be good not having a lot over my head while I enjoy the festivities.

A third big event planned for Friday is the earlier than usual removal of the beard. I started it early this year, and it is clear that Monkey is quite tired of it. I, as usual, am growing ambivalent about it. I enjoy it sometimes, I am bored with it at others. The beauty of it is, if I want to grow it back, I don't have to do anything. Literally.

This weekend, the Ambassadors are heading into town for the holiday. They will be staying at the Monkey House. We all get along really well, so Monkey and I are really looking forward to their arrival. It will be fun, for sure.

Monkey and I are also looking forward to heading down to KC next week to enjoy the decorations and eat at Lydia's again. We tried to go to KC two years ago for the same reason, but the weather and the roads were so bad, we turned around about halfway there and scurried on home. This year, we hope for better weather.

New Year's Eve will most likely maintain its low key traditional tone. We have no plans, and we are not searching for any, really. An old boss used to call New Year's Eve "Amateur Night," referring to the increased number of intoxicated driver's. He was only half joking. I try to stay off the roads on December 31/January 1.

So, one more day of work, and all this will begin. Kicked off with one last 2009 Happy Hour. Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

That Most Pivotal Day

Ye Ole Hump Day hath arrived. Plans are looking pretty solid and feeling pretty realistically survivable. When you get into this particular week of the school year, you have to ask yourself, "What can we seriously expect to accomplish today?" The trick is not to scrap everything that is worthwhile, but to maintain expectations that are achievable. But then, isn't that always the case? I never understand why a teacher would resort to cutting snowflakes or making hand turkeys or showing a movie (unless any of those were actually tied to some sort of academically sound standard) during pre-break weeks, or short days, especially since these days when I temper my expectations makes me feel so much like a poor educator. But then, isn't that always the case? It's enough to be hyper-critical of myself, who am I to criticize others?

The point of this short, just before I rush out of the house post is to send out a warning before I latch the door and journey across the dangerous terrain of the day: should I not return by sundown, assume the worst and DO NOT send out a search party. That said, according to all of the portents, today will be a good one. I shall return, my friends; I shall return.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Countdown Begins

This Monday marks Day One of the Five Days To Winter Break Countdown. In reality, this countdown is part of a larger December Countdown to Winter Break, which, in turn is part of the Post-Thanksgiving Countdown to Winter Break, which, again, in turn, is part of the Post-Fall Break Countdown to Winter Break. You may notice that we do a lot of counting down around here.

It was a pretty manageable day, aside from the freezing drizzle and blinding snow that greeted us as we left the house. A scheduled 6:50 arrival turned into a 7:20 slide into the parking lot. No worries, however. By second block, we were back in the swing of things.

Our tree, which we picked up on Saturday, is currently bedecked only with strings of multi-colored lights. We have yet to put an ornament on it. That is probably scheduled for this evening. Holiday festivities are in full swing, ladies and gentlemen.

We'll try to keep you posted on the rest of the week. And by the way, in a completely unrelated vein, even after three years in a new school, I still miss Chicken Nugget Day!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thoughts on a Two Day Work Week

It's been a while since I have done a top ten list, so.....

Top Ten Reasons There Should Be a Mammoth Snow Storm Every Monday Night (from the home office in Savage, MD)

10. I've got all this firewood. I need time to use it.

9. My shoveling skills get out of practice.

8. People don't wear (or say) things like "long johns" enough.

7. I love the smell of snow blower exhaust in the morning. It smells like victory!

6. It's a challenge on the third off day to make something that is less like "bad snack" and more like "actual lunch."

5. When else can I take the dog to the vet? (He's fine, by the way.)

4. How do you manage rambunctious fourth block sophomores? Two days off, one day on, three days off, one day on, two days off....

3. I get to push and dig out the snowbound cars of people who live down the street whom I haven't yet met, and I don't even ask them for money when they are freed.

2. Neighbors talk to each other when there is snow on the ground. What is that all about?

1. Happy hour is a lot more fun on Friday when your exhausted head isn't doing a drinking bird impression into your beer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Puppy Concerns

I really can't explain it, but, just as Monkey and I headed to bed for a long winter's nap, we got the news that school was canceled again, today. I know that three days off is going to play heck with the end of the term (especially since this is an already too-short eight week term), but, like I have said before, we'll just have to deal with that. The residential streets are still pretty hard to navigate, and the temperature at 9AM was still only two above zero, so I can see why they might have erred on the side of caution. I am still surprised.

Today, I am taking the opportunity to get the puppy dog a vet appointment. He seems generally okay, but he has lately been hacking a lot, like he has some bad chest congestion. Monkey, a concerned parent, as always, is worried, so, I am taking him to see his doctor this afternoon. Maybe she'll tell us to "put some 'Tussin on it," in the immortal medical advice of Chris Rock.

Other than that, since I have already had two days to catch up, I have little to do, really. I suppose I'll do some reading. Boy, it's been tough to be me this week.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's Wednesday. It's Not Dark. It's Not Snowing.

The blizzard has passed. The driveway is cleared. The walks are cleared. The cars are dug out. The sun is shining, making it abundantly bright and clear what makes us love snow, even when we are humping our three thousandth shovelful onto a pile as tall as our head.

The dog has carved out a thin path from the backdoor to an acceptable post, but the depth of the snow has made him reticent to explore more. Monkey and I have taken this extra time off to get some holiday-type chores accomplished. We hope to venture out later today to pick up the TV we paid for on Saturday.

We will most likely be back to normal tomorrow, but, with winter break coming at the end of next week, I must selfishly say that I have truly loved having these two days to get my head right. I hope that we can finish the next ten days stronger, more focused, and more pleasantly than things were shaping up after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's Tuesday. It's Dark. It's Snowing.

Snow day is drawing to a close. Spent the day reading, sitting by the fire, shoveling the drive way--you know, those sorts of snow day things. Monkey and I are currently watching AWAY WE GO (Monkey has taken a snack break). No word on tomorrow, but I expect we'll be back to school tomorrow.

*****NEWS FLASH*****

Monkey just checked the LPS website, and they just posted that we have NO SCHOOL tomorrow! This is unbelievable. Awesome. Troublesome when we finally do get back to school, but we shall let that simmer until Thursday.

And now, back to the video.

Monday, December 07, 2009

It's Monday. It's Dark. It's Snowing.

It has been snowing for only a few hours, but LPS has called school for tomorrow. That is a nice treat, knowing about a snow day ahead of time. It's also nice to have a snow day on the day after PT conferences. It's a long day, and I appreciate not having to scurry around to get things ready in the morning after having left the building less than 12 hours before.

Monkey made a scrumptious butternut squash and peanut butter soup. It is a great recipe, especially since it has no iodide in it, making it ideal for Monkey while she is on her diet. But, it is so good, it is a good recipe for anytime.

Beside those two wonderful things, I am making myself crazy watching the Ravens-Packers game. I think if I never see another yellow penalty flag in my life, I will have seen enough in this game to last me.

Anyway, I'll be sleeping in tomorrow.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It' s Sunday. It's Dark. It's Snowing.

December arrived determined to wipe away any memories of a balmy November. Global warming is not on any one's mind today, here in Cornopolis. It's pretty chilly out there, and the snow has been falling slowly since about ten this morning. The next couple days could bring us six inches or so, all told. It probably won't close schools tomorrow or Tuesday, but it might be enough to make Parent Teacher conferences pretty poorly attended tomorrow night. You know how much I love PT conferences, eh?

It has been a pretty good weekend. The Florida-Alabama game was enjoyable. It wasn't a great game, but I was pulling for the Crimson Tide. I don't know why, but I have always liked Alabama, even as a tyke. And, equally inexplicably, I have never been a fan of the Gators. But, now that I think about it, that's probably Steve Spurrier's fault. Anyway, the Big 12 Championship game WAS exciting (unless you like offense), and unexpectedly competitive. Monkey asked me before the game if I thought it was going to be ugly. I told her I thought it would be, but I didn't mean ugly in the way it turned out.

In addition, the Steelers lost to the Raiders today. I feel a twinge of guilt, getting joy from others misery (see Florida, as well), but, when it comes to the Steelers, I know that their fans get as much satisfaction out of watching the Ravens flounder as we get out of their losses. But, in a less spiteful vein, Pittsburgh's loss (which is kind of inconceivable...as well as their loss two weeks ago to KC) opens up one more door, ever so slightly, for Baltimore to make it into the playoffs. Of course, the Ravens need to win on Monday night, and they need to keep winning, and they need Jacksonville to slip up at some point, but, with Pittsburgh's loss, they have an opportunity to move closer to the wild card.

Okay, no more sports talk.

Except to say that I jammed my finger playing b-ball this afternoon (not in the snow, in the church gym), and now I can't get my wedding ring on. Monkey is distraught, but I am wearing it on my right hand, and hoping the swelling subsides sooner, rather than later.

Okay, no more sports talk.

Except to say that the local ESPN radio station pulled my favorite talk show off the air this week. It was a show called THE SPREAD, and it featured former Husker All American Jason Peter. I liked the show for several reasons. One, it was on during my drive home (when I drove), so it became part of my routine. Two, Peter, a former defensive tackle who played a few seasons with the Carolina Panthers, was an unpolished, but thoroughly entertaining radio personality. And, three, Peter, a New Jersey native, had one of those East Coast accents (and attitudes) that used to make me a little homesick. Why the show was canceled, no one knows, but one day they were on the air, and the next day, they were gone. That happens in radio a lot.

Okay, no more sports talk.

Saturday, Monkey and I bought a new TV. But, they didn't have it in stock, so we have to pick it up Tuesday. I was thoroughly bummed, since we were going slightly larger, slightly more 16:9 aspect ratio, slightly more 1080p, and slightly more 120Hz. In sum, we were moving into the 21st century of TV receivers. I was thinking we would bring our shiny new LCD TV home on Saturday, hook it up, watch the Big 12 Championship, and then, on Monday, we could dig on the Ravens' Monday night appearance in all of their bright and shining (in black and purple) glory. Unfortunately, that ain't gonna happen. I got over it, but Monkey will tell you, I was one grumpy dude at the grocery store. At least I can watch the Army-Navy game (Go Navy!) on Saturday on the new tube.

I know, that non-sports item was awfully sporty. And, I haven't said a word about NCAA basketball.