Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shiny Things (That Aren't Glitter)

There's this whole big to do here in Cornopolis over Miss Nebraska (a newscaster on one of the local channels), and her experiences out in Las Vegas, where she is participating in the Miss Universe pageant. The front page of the local rag has a teaser of the story in the "insignificant news" section (which is cleverly (and annoyingly) titled "The (402) 411" (as in, the information for the zip code) so hip, so cool, so trendy (I have so lost track of my parentheses)). I will just call it "The 165, 222," since that is the product of 402 x 411. It makes the same amount of sense, doesn't it?

What was I talking about? Oh, the beauty pageant, right. So, there in the 165, 222 is a little article (right under the profile of the engineer who hooked his snow blower up to a motorized wheelchair to make a robot snow blower) about this (predictably) blond young lady having a time in Sin City. A picture shows her and another (genetically cloned) contestant (Miss Massachusetts), sharing a dessert of some sort with the manager of a local franchise anchor restaurant. Miss Nebraska wears a (predictably) red dress. Miss Mass wears a (not-so-predictably-as-it-used-to-be-but-still) blue dress. They both wear sashes and tiaras.

What's wrong with this picture, you ask? Well, at first glance, nothing, I guess. A couple of pretty girls and a handsome guy posing for a publicity still. Representatives of various states of the union sharing and smiling together. Opponents in a contest showing good manners and conducting themselves with respect for themselves and others. What's my problem?

It's those goddamn tiaras! I can't stand it! These are grown women, not six year-olds. They are not "Little Princesses." Yes, I have a sick (as in ill) little piece of my heart that finds all of these sorts of spectacles ridiculous and undermining to women's status as equals in our (still) patriarchal world. And the organizers of these contests can do whatever they want to make it look less like a "let's give the pretty airhead some attention" event. But, as long as the women involved dress like children at a tea party, I am just going to have to be annoyed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What the Hell?

Yeah, so, January is just clipping along, right? And I am posting, like, every other day, keeping tabs on the ramblings and perambulations of myself, you know? And then, WHAM! Everything just stops. No posts. No nothing. What the hell, man?

It's the same old story, all this stuff that needs to get done. All these other distractions. The other interactivities. But, we can't just let January fizz out like a neglected two-liter of Coke in your grandmother's basement. So, here's some post-y goodness to break the silence.

Except that, I got nothing. It's Friday evening. The State of the Union is old news. JD Salinger is old news. Howard Zinn is old news. Groundhog Day is not until Monday. I can't think of any new news. But, that's the way it is sometimes. Even when you have nothing to say, it doesn't hurt to shout into the abyss every now and again, just so everybody else can be reminded that they are not alone.

I am here! I am here!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post-a-licious January Continues!

Yet another post, making January the busiest month of the year, so far!

Today was somehow an awesome day. The portended freezing rain never materialized, due to the lack of freezing temps (funny how that happens). As a result, I didn't have to scrape my windows for the first time in at least four weeks (except for those days when I didn't have to scrape my window because I didn't have to go be honest, I have had quite a few of those the last several weeks).

You would think that I might be in a grumpy sort of mood, since the anticipated freezing rain might have led to an inclement weather day, had it happened. You would be wrong. Oh, sure, a little voice in my head (one of the gremlins?) was hoping, as I turned off the alarm, that when I checked the school website the red banner would indicate that we could go back to bed. But that was a little voice, barely perceptible, really.

After all, today was the start of third term. Why wouldn't I be eager to start a new schedule, with new classes? Why wouldn't I be eager to meet all my new charges? Well, I kind of was...but you know how I feel about meeting new people, so my attitude was a little tempered that way. At any rate, tempered attitude, or not, I was pretty excited to get a new start going. And I really didn't want to start this term immediately up against the same eight ball we'd ended the last one on. We've had enough weather-related closings.

Already, we are extending two weeks worth of school days in February an additional 36 minutes to make up for one last day. Is that the stupidest thing I have ever heard? Well, it's not the stupidest, doesn't matter. We have a legal obligation to be holding on to our kiddos for a requisite number of days. Even if those days are elapsed one minute at a time, legally, we are covered. But, we're not lawyers, you say? We're teachers? Right, but I don't think one teacher had a hand in making that decision, but...that's right...I digress.

So, without turning this into a blow by blow recount of my day, things just went really well. It's still early, so take this with a grain of salt, but my kiddos seem pretty cool. A few handfuls, as always, but they seem pretty solid. Of course, we shall see, right? It has only been one day. But, it was a good day. Maybe the best I have had in a while. That's nothing to take lightly.

Oh, whatever shall tomorrow bring?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Mathematics of Gremlins: A - A = 0; A - (-A) = 2A (where A = What the Hell Did I Do Today?)

Mr. Horrible? Mr. Horrible?
There's a phone call for Mr. Horrible.
They Might Be Giants, "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair"

Did you ever have one of those days when you worked for ten hours or so, and, when you looked around at the end of the day, you seemed to have accomplished not one thing? That was my day. We start our second semester on Wednesday, so today was a workday. I had one section of finals left to grade, which I didn't even look at until I got home this evening (I just finished them), and I had planning to do for the upcoming term. But, honestly, the most obviously productive thing I did today was make coffee, and that was done by 7:45!

I guess I just chalk today up to one of those bizarre time warps, where things happen at a pace that seems normal to the person inside the time warp, but where things are actually happening at a much slower pace. However, if that were the case, and I were moving that slowly, I imagine that I would be really tired, right now. It's hard to move directly and slowly for an extended period of time (and I am talking about eight hours of almost perpetual movement (at least of the arms)). But, I am not least not overtired.

So, what is it? What happened today? Perhaps, as often happens on these "work days," a troupe of gremlins imperceptibly undid everything that I had done almost immediately after I had done it, today. That would leave me with a sense of doing something, but having nothing to show for it. Hmmmm...that MUST be it.

Unless you have any suggestions.

***Twilight Zone still from The Stygian Port

Monday, January 18, 2010

Walking the Dog

It is one of the little joys in life, walking the dog on a Monday at noon. It's one of those things one doesn't get to do often (admittedly I get to do it more often than most, especially in the summer months, but I digress). So, as Ripken and I trotted through the fog-beshrouded neighborhood, tenuously picking our way through icy patches and climbing the vestiges of snow mountains left by plows and shovels, we both had a jauntiness in our stride, the click of heels and toe nails making a rhythmic celebration on the cement and frozen melt.

And just like that, it's a good day, again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Only Eight More Weeks to Go!

Winter is really wearing on me, right now. After a three week period in December/January that dumped a couple of feet of snow and some bone-chilling temps, things have been dry (but gray), and warmer (like 35). So, that leaves us with slushy roads, monstrous potholes, and massive piles of dirty snow. It's not pretty, anymore.

I know that winter happens every year, and that each time I welcome the season. I like a little winter in my year. This one is just grinding me down a bit more than some others have. It's not just the cold--I've done the cold before, and I think I held it together. It's not just the snow--I've done that, too, with no obvious effect on my psyche. The combination of it all, this time around, just seems to be getting to me.

Is it that I am getting grumpier in my middle age? Is it that other world wide events are influencing my state of mind? Sure, but, each day, when I look out the window, I want to see change. All I see is dirty ice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hooray! Now I Have Time To (Insert Cynically-Mentioned World Destroying Behavior Here)

You read it here. I'm just happy to know that the end of the world is still on schedule. How messed up would that be, if it showed up late (or early).

Side note to La Fashionista: You keep David Hasselhoff out of my living room. I don't care what time it is.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Need to Die Faster?

After being sent this link by my boss today, I am wondering if his intention is to suggest that not enough of we teachers are doing our part to sustain the Earth. Should we die faster? Walk more? Feed our overweight people to our undernourished? Should we turn out the lights? Turn off the computers? Publish fewer newspapers? Stop making cars?

All of these things might be good things to do (except for the feeding of the overweight to the undernourished...even if it helps to lower the population). But, following a recent email from another administrator about how crappy a job of recycling we are doing, I am wondering: a) why don't they ever send me emails that might help me be a better teacher, and b) what do they do with themselves, all day?

And now, I am going to go finish getting ready for finals!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Late Night Wars

I am not a consistent watcher of late night TV. I am usually in bed by the time the late local news comes on, and if I do stay up to watch something on past 10pm, I am probably watching a sporting event or The Daily Show (and that not often). I used to be a Letterman devotee, back in the twentieth century, and I never liked Leno or Conan that much. Well, truth be told, I can stomach Conan in small bits, but I can't stand Leno. I don't know what it is about him, perhaps his too chummy persona or the fact that he kind of climbed over Letterman to get the Tonight Show job, but I have never liked him much.

So, I haven't really spent too much thought on the latest brouhaha involving Leno and his move back to his old time slot. It was a big story in the NY Times this morning. I read the story online, and was surprised to really find out what NBC seems to be doing to O'Brien. It seems like a pretty dirty deal, and Conan is not taking it lying down.

One more reason to dislike Leno: he's being treated somehow special by his employers. Maybe that is in their best economic interest, but it is still a poor way to treat another of their employees, namely Conan O'Brien. As a result, Conan grows in my estimation. Like Letterman when he was at his best, Conan is pissed off at his bosses and he doesn't seem to mind venting in front of his studio audience. Letterman was always hilarious when he was taking his network and their parent company down a peg. Okay, he was hilarious almost all the time, a while back, but that was a looooong while back, when I was still a HIGH SCHOOL (when we used to while away the lectures in chemistry by passing around silly, homemade Top Ten lists), but, I digress.

Which reminds me: have you seen that FedEx commercial where the boss takes Carl, the employee, on a presentation with him because somebody told the boss Carl was their "best presentation guy?" Come to find out, Carl was good at putting together the visuals for presentations, not giving the presentations. He sits there beside the boss, with a mustache and greasy, stringy gray hair. He stands up in his corduroy jacket, raises his hands and says to the clients, "Good morning...but, I digress." A hoot. You can see where that thought came from.

Anyway, to sum up: Leno still sucks. Conan getting snarky. Letterman sitting back and watching the fur fly. This boy still going to bed at 10pm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shocking Revelations

It was announced today that Mark McGwire has admitted to using steroids. All I can say is: "Well, duh."

At least now we know that the 1998 home run race between him and Sammy Sosa was evenly matched: one 'roided meat head vs. another. Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals were heard to exclaim, upon hearing the news, "At least our 'roided meat head won."

And so it goes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Most Frustrating Day

Monkey thinks she needs to get the dog out of the house. It's Sunday. I will be watching the Ravens. That means I will be screaming at the TV, most likely. They are playing the Patriots. That means I will be screaming at the TV more than usual, most likely. It is a Wild Card Playoff game. That means...well, you get the picture.

You might recall last year, I resolved (sort of) to not get so wrapped up in sports on TV. I am not doing that very well. But, as much frustration as it may cause me, as irritated as it seems to make me, as un-enjoyable as it might be for Monkey to be around me, it's actually kind of fun to get so wrapped up.

And now, it's game time.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Hot Frozen Mess

So, it's ten below here, colder than yesterday, and the third day that our school district has canceled classes due to the most recent weather unpleasantness. For those keeping score, this is the second three day stretch this school year. For you mathematically challenged readers, that is six inclement weather days, which is one more than our calendar can absorb. As well, finals are supposed to begin next week.

This creates several problems, the most pressing of which is the finals issue. A decision is expected to be made by noon today concerning what the end of the semester schedule will be. Will we simply conduct next week as if this week never happened? Will we push back the end of the semester one full week? And, if we do that, will we still take MLK, Jr. Day off, or no? I am guessing no, but anyway.... I suppose that we will just go with what we have, spend three days next week cramming in a few things, and have exams on Thursday and Friday. After all, there are a host of other contingencies affected by a change in schedule that are even more boring than what I am already talking about, so moving the calendar seems like a CF waiting to happen.

The other big hairy deal is the extension of the school year. Will we add days at the end? Most likely. But, we could also extend a few school days, or add in a Saturday class meeting or two. It really doesn't matter what they do, honestly. It's kind of stupid, really. It's just a legal issue: students have to be in class for so many days/hours per school year. Hell, let's add one minute to each class, and, in half a school year, we'll have made up for that extra day. Does that mean students have received one extra day of instruction? Of course not. Does that really matter? Well, no, not really. Okay, maybe I am being a little bit cynical, here. Maybe. A little bit.

Whatever the district does to resolve our issues, everything is kind of hosed. Sure, we'll get done what needs to get done. We'll have our finals. Our kids will get their grades. It will all work out. But boy is this causing some serious stress around here.

And, we still have at least eight more weeks of potentially bad weather to make it through. Wow!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Weather Related Closings

So, here I sit in my comfortable sun room chair, at 9:44 am, tapping away on my laptop, instead of preparing for second block. Why, you might ask? Because we have been granted our fourth snow day of the school year, due to forecasts of day long snow, heavy winds, and ridiculously low temperatures. The highs for the next two days are at or near 0 (yes, that's right: HIGHS). As we hitch and start our way toward the end of the semester, these snow days become somewhat of a hindrance to smooth operations, but I'll take them. The only problem is, with so much of winter yet to go, one more day off puts us at the limit. After that, we have to make up the missed time somehow. That usually means extending the school year. And those days are hard ones to get through for everybody.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

These Here Are Some Scary Times!

I used to really get a kick out of these Honkworm animations. Ah, who am I kidding? I still get a kick out of them.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New! New! New!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Things that are different this morning:

--dog is much better

--everything is one day older

--I am now a person who has seen AVATAR (in 2D)

--we are dangerously low on pie and cookies (the holidays must be coming to a close)

--Mizzou is embarrassed after dismantling by Navy

--about a million other things

Things that are the same this morning:

--it's snowing here (just flurries)

--the Ravens can still make the playoffs

--I am STILL only 40

--Monkey is still my favorite

--about a million other things