December 31, 2006

If Student A...Then Student B -- Can't you C?

I spent a large chunk of my day grading the projects that my students turned in the week before break. I had hoped to get to them before the break started, but there are a lot of weeks that I cannot get a lot of grading done until the weekend. That last week was one of those crazy weeks...

The last week before break I was frustrated with quite a few students who did not turn their projects in on time. I spent too much time hounding them because it was such a large project, which means if they fail it, they will likely fail this quarter.

As I've been going through the projects I have once again encountered strange phenonmenon.

The project was due on Monday, December 11. I offered extra credit, what I call an "early reward," for students who turned the project in on Friday, December 8. This early reward idea is something I came up with last year as an opposite for the penalty that late papers receive. I often do it for papers or projects, and I sell it hard to students who could use extra credit, but it's usually the top students who turn their work in early. That's fine, though. Those students see the early reward as a challenge to complete a project quickly. It's gives them their jollies.

For this particular project, only 10% turned the project in early, and of those students only one or two really needed a grade boost. All of them, however, enjoyed a worry free weekend, unlike their classmates who busted their buns to finish the project by Monday.

In my class, the penalty for each day an assignment is late is one full grade drop, until the worth is 50% of possible points. It's my little compromise to not wanting to accept any late work at all, but never wanting to have to compromise my integrity by being made to cave to parents and students who cry over grades that cannot be made up.

Now on this project, as I mentioned, I had several students who did not turn it in on time. There were those students who turned it in, without my prodding, one day late. I don't see why they needed that extra day, but whatever. They were living in reality and took responsibility.

Then there were the other students who thought this project would just go away. So, by Wednesday, when we were starting to wind down our week with a few smaller assignments that could be completed day by day, I started hounding these clueless students. In fact, I would not allow them to participate in the regular assignment, giving them more time in class to finish their heavily weighted projects. By Wednesday, the best grade they could get was a 75%. And I didn't say I excused them from the regular assignment. They just could not do it until the project was turned in. Trust me, completing a little reading comprehension lesson on holiday traditions does not make up for THE PROJECT.

If you are anyone other than a teacher, you might expect that a student who has had 2-4 extra days work on a project would turn in far superior work than students who have turn in the project on time, or even early. Furthermore, knowing that taking a few extra days past the deadline would penalize the worth of the project, you might expect that the student would work extra hard to produce quality work to avoid further penalty.

For some odd reason this is so far from the truth. The projects turned in 2 days early were of the the highest quality, along with those turned in on time. A few of the projects turned in a day late were of high quality, but NONE of the projects turned in 4 days late had much merit. In fact, a large number of the projects turned in 4 days late, that is for a maximum grade of 50%, were actually incomplete. In reality, those projects, with the late penalty applied, will actually receive a negative grade.

(Okay, they won't. I'll given them some pity points. Can you imagine how I'd explain to parents that their students earned a -10%? "Mrs. Parent, according to my late policy and the criteria on the rubric, you student certainly did early a negative grade." Baaahahahaha!)

Am I wrong, or is this just one of those incredible universal truths that, as crazy as it is, we teachers accept as absolutely true and predictable? It would make me feel much better if you would all chime in to disagree. I suppose I'm making this a much bigger mystery than it really is. It boils down to the fact that some students will, and some will not--no matter how much time or prodding they have.

December 27, 2006

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

I would love to post some thoughtful thoughts and ponderings; I'm brain dead.

I would also like to post my pictures from Christmas to Flickr.

I would like to play with my new MP3 player.

I would like for my computer and all things related to cooperate with me.

I would like a little peace and quiet away from the kids to figure it out.

I'm going to go read a book.

Books are usually pretty user-friendly, right?

December 23, 2006

Meme-ing Around the Christmas Tree

Mrs. T has been bugging me to do a Christmas series much like the one I did for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if she's looking for more of me wallowing in self pity, or poignant thoughts on the meaning of Christmas. She flatters the old storyteller inside me. (Back in the day, I belonged to a storytelling group and could spin a yarn or two for those who'd listen.) Besides, I suppose it doesn't hurt to take requests, lest I should blog about inane things. That's why it was perfectly okay for me to steal this meme from Mrs. T to kick off my Christmas stroll of memories both good and bad.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? I look forward to a bit of eggnog this time of year, but hot chocolate is the drink of choice anytime--with a shot of Peppermint Schnapps, please.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Santa doesn't always wrap the presents? WHAT?!? Why didn't someone tell me? Oh, well. It's not like he does it anyway. He has parents elves for menial tasks like that, aye?

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I think white lights look so elegant! We have colored lights. The kids picked out red and green for outside. I didn't even know they made just that combo. It looks very festive!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Where can one find mistletoe? I would hang it if I could find it.

5. When do you put your decorations up? I don't have a consistent answer for this because there have been many years of my life when I didn't put up decorations because I went home for Christmas and didn't want to be bothered by it all. It really depends on the time factor. This year we had a lot of time Thanksgiving weekend.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Homemade cranberry sauce. My mom always made it, but I came up with a better recipe, which is basically this recipe with some cinnamon added. (Usually, I don't feel rich enough for Grand Marnier, so I use any affordable Triple Sec.)

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: The one that is coming forward in my mind right now is the brown Christmas we had when Santa brought me roller skates. Because the weather was so nice, I was able to roller skate all afternoon long. Most years, roller skates would have been a gift best saved for spring.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I really have no idea. No specific memories or dates are popping up for this one.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes! And some later years my dad let us open everything, and then we'd open Santa gifts the next morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Our tree is very tiny, so it was a challenge for the kids to put every single ornament we own on the tree. I wanted to buy a larger tree, but the kids protested. I thought maybe they fond memories of it from the first Christmas we spent together and we made all the ornaments for the tree, but I think they like the fiber optic lights and the smallness of it.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? I love to look at it from indoors. I dread having to go out into it.

12. Can you ice skate? I can ice scoot! Barely! People with my kind of fluffy behind were not meant to stand on little blades.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Not really, but I do fondly remember that winter Santa brought me roller skates, and since it was a brown Christmas, I actually was able to go outside and skate all afternoon!

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Spending time with loved ones.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I can't think of anything specific here. Who doesn't love some pie? Or those cookies and candies that you only eat at Christmas--like fudge. Oh, yea. Fudge. I could go with that.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? My brother and I go out and buy stocking stuffers. For the longest time it was really just for my parents--to fill their stockings with stuff, but now it's becoming an arduous task since our families are growing. When our spouses joined the family, we stopped to consider if we should bring them along, but we decided against it. Although it would have been fun, I enjoy the time I have with my younger bro for us to just act like kids again.

17. What tops your tree? A crocheted angel that my mom made. Most everyone in the family has one. Mine has been a little squished somewhere along the years, but it still serves its purpose.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving gifts? I love giving gifts, but I'm not opposed to receiving some.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? For the last few years I really love "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" as performed by The Bare Naked Ladies and Sarah McLachan. When I was a kid "Silent Night" was probably my favorite song, but you'd more likely catch me singing "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with my friends.

20. Candy canes! Yuck or yum? Yum.

21. Favorite Christmas movie: I just cannot choose at all! I enjoy watching any Christmas-themed movie.

22. Favorite Christmas Cartoon: I adore Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

Feel free to join in if you'd like share some of your Christmas spirit!

December 22, 2006

Unexpected People in Unexpected Places

I blew off doing much Christmas prep today to go have lunch with my friend and co-worker. I drove to her house, which took me about 30 minutes to get to from my house. She had suggested that we go to this yummy hamburger joint near her, and then we'd do some shopping therapy in her neck of the woods. I'm completely unfamiliar with her area of town, so she drove. And drove, and drove. It seemed like we drove forever. I joked with her about it, and she said, "Yea, but there isn't a yummy hamburger joint near you." I nearly fell off my seat laughing. There's one just a few miles from my house. I just don't go there often. It was a lot closer than the one "near" her house.

So, I'm in a part of the city that is practically not even the city. It's all good, though. I didn't have to personally find my way out of there. What an exciting adventure.

We went into the craft store so I could pick up a couple of little stocking stuffers, and while we were there, I had one of those strange life moments.

I was wandering aimlessly when I saw a woman come around the corner into the main aisle. In my mind she looked familiar, but she was out of context. At first I thought that perhaps she had a face that just reminded me of someone else, but then she spotted me, her mind probably doing the same familiar-face-in-a-strange-place processing. It was an old friend from the tiny little northern Nevada town where I used to live!

In my mind, it made sense that I might bump into her because she has daughters who live in Las Vegas, and of course she was there for the holiday. She asked if I lived in the area and I answered, "No. Actually, I do not even know where I am right now!" I told her where I did live, and her husband, who has also been good friend, confirmed that it was about 20 miles across the city. It made no sense at all that I was there at that time, in that store. Now, if we were talking about the craft store in my neighborhood, you can find me there several times a month. THAT would make sense.

So many times in my life I have had these experiences where I see people I know in unexpected places, or I meet people who know people in my little world. I'll save the details of my it's-a-small-world experiences for another post. For tonight I'm just enjoying the reconnection I had with some old friends, which digs up pleasant memories of good times with good folks.

Mmmmm. Warm fuzzies.

December 21, 2006

Back from the Cold with No Deep Thoughts

Back from the few days I spent up in Utah with my family. It snowed just enough that it seemed that everytime I wanted to use my car I had to scrape frost and sweep snow off of the windows. Just like riding a bicycle--it all comes back to ya!

Mostly the whole time I was there I was wishing the feeling in my toes would come back to me, too.

It was a lovely visit that was obviously too short. My visit fell on the days off of one family member or another, so I ended up basically one day with my brother's family, one day with my dad, and one day with my mom. We were all together for dinner a few evenings, too. I didn't expect to see everyone so much because it is a busy time of year in all their jobs, which I something I can say when I visit in the summer, too.

I do feel much more decompressed and relaxed. I've rarely thought of work, even on the long drives, which is where I often do a lot of thinking. My most pressing thought these days is, "What should I make for Christmas dinner?" Should I go traditional, or should I make something yummy that we rarely eat because it's too rich or time-consuming? These are some deep thoughts, aren't they?

In the next few days I'll be doing the Tasmanian Devil-dance cleaning the house, wrapping presents, and doing last minute shopping. And you know that with the last-minute shopping it's going to be a hurry up-and-wait event. Two Sundays ago I was out shopping and the lines were long and slow, and twice I arrived at stores only to find no shopping carts. Can you imagine what it's going to be like 4 days before Christmas? I should take a book to read. Reading is what I'd rather be doing anyway!

December 17, 2006

Does My Blog Always Look Stupid?

I made it to Utah! The worst snow was in the valley where my parents live, so they thought it was much worse elsewhere, too. It usually is! Lucky me! It's lovely to see snow, but it is so COLD!

Everyone is at work this morning, so I'm just surfing around. So here are some technical questions for my readership of the 3-5 of you beautiful bloggers. Does my title ALWAYS appear at the bottom? I usually use my Mac with Safari and everything looks fine. Here on my parent's PC and IE, my title is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom.

I'm been looking over the code, as if I even knew what to look for, but I can't see what the problem is when comparing it the original template. I believe I've only added Haloscan comments and blogrolling with Bloglines. Anyone have any ideas?

Other than I should take some time to learn some more code already?

I'm also thinking about going with the new Blogger beta thing. Anyone have opinions about that? (My best opinion is, I'd rather be at Typepad!)

Whoa! Thanks everyone for letting me know how messed up or not my blog is. Could you imagine my paranoia if I actually tried to use something other than the boring old standard template?

Hmmm...I remember this happening to me last summer when I posted a picture. I've posted some pictures lately, so maybe it has something to do with the size of those pictures or something. Since it doesn't seem to be affecting it for most people, I guess I'll just go with the flow. It looks fine on Safari, and perhaps I should avoid, as I usually do, posting from my desktop and IE.

December 15, 2006

Your Crisis Isn't My Problem

I've had a group of students all week that's I've been trying to squeeze work out of all week, particulary a big project that was turned in on Monday. One student is often behind, and I've talked to his mother on the phone, too, several weeks back. He's a nice kid, and as a person I like him. He knows that, and that's why I can' get away with saying things like, "You tell me every day that you're going to turn in some missing work, yet you don't. I'll believe it when I see it. You're like the boy who cried wolf." You know you say that to some kids and they are devasted--or their parents are.

So today he came to class claiming that he was finally going to turn his work in, and he handed me a note from his mom. It was actually a print-out from the online grades we post. She wanted verification returned that he had turned in his missing work, and if he didn't finish it, he was to stay after school to do it. His trip out of town was depending on him not having any missing assignments. AS IF! Hey lady! Your kid has been in trouble most of the year and you know it. What makes you think I want to stay even 2 minutes past the bell when IT'S BREAK TIME! You're the one who made the ultimatum to him about missing his trip. Don't try to put off any of it on me!

Furthermore, she wanted me to call her TODAY to discuss this matter, and to set up an appointment for a conference. Perhaps a little redundant to call and then have her come in discuss the same things, plus I don't make the appointments for conferences--the counseling office does. There was no way I could call her. By the time I made it to the phone and had our little conversation, it would have taken a half hour. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have talked to her any other day this week. Just not in the LAST HOUR OF TODAY.

I have the student the second to last period of the day, and the last period of the day is my prep. It just so happens that I was going to be running my patooty off to do everything I needed to do to be able to leave on time. And when I say "on time," I was hoping to leave early to go to my stepson's kindergarten Christmas party (I ended up getting there for the last 10 minutes), but if not I still had to leave at the normal time so I could pick them up from school, and I was already feeling a little stressed out that that might not happen.

And it had to happen because besides leaving them stranded, we had to hussle had to drive across town (an hour trip back and forth) to pick up my husband's paycheck (can you believe his techie company doesn't offer direct deposit)--on a Friday afternoon in Las Vegas for cripe's sake. Then I had to make it back home and feed the kids and pack them up for their week's stay at their grandparents in California. Their stepsister was hitching a ride with them, so I definitely had to be back by the time she was meeting us at our house. And then when I finally got them out the door, I had to run to the bookstore for a few last minute gifts, do my own laundry, and pick up the house (which looks like a cyclone hit it) before I leave in the morning on my trip to Utah to see my parents for a few days.

So, can you see how this little crisis, dropped on my desk near the end of the day, really got under my skin? I was already preoccupied with my own issues, and at that time of day, I didn't see problem with it! Lucky for that kid, he had finally decided to follow through on his promises to do his work. I printed off a new report, checked off what he turned in, wrote a note including the counselor's phone number saying how I'd love to meet with her and wished her a happy holiday. What more could I be expected to do in the 11th hour before a two week break?

Okay...enough decompressing. Back to getting my ducks in a row for my trip!

December 14, 2006

Batteries Need Charged

Two days and counting. Just trying to survive. After lunch my biggest, loudest class comes in, and I set them to the task of "dropping" their essays to my laptop in-box (share file). But there's a glitch to my system as my computer has fallen asleep and will not wake up. I'm having battery issues, and after a few minutes of trying to bring it to life when the battery says it's charged but nothing's happening, I give up. Nothing's turning on.

So, I guide my students to move on to the main lesson, a website to explore, and I told them I would get back to them about turning in the essays after I had time to fidget with things. (I am at times a "computer whisperer" and can jump start dead student laptops.) The assignment sheet was in my computer "assignment drop" for students to retrieve, so that was yet another irritation, but we found enough hard copies (handouts) around the classroom to get by.

I wanted them to listen to an audio file first, and I had my secondary microphone sitting next to desktop speaker, as I had all day, but when I moved away from my desk, I realized that there was no sound coming through the audio enhancement speakers, so I dash to the back of the room to check plugs and wires, ready to brawl with the idiot kid who unplugged it. Nothing's wrong with the wires. What the heck? It has to be the batteries on the microphone. Not dead, but certainly dying. Quite worthless.

So, I threw up my arms in a mini tantrum: "Arg! I hate technology today! Well, you've found your way to the website. You have the handouts. The audio was much of the same information. So, just go ahead and get to it."

Nothing like a strong warm-up. Chaos. Technical difficulties. Whatever. Just get to work kiddos.

A few hours later, I have finally made it to that 20 minutes to myself when I am waiting in the car for my kids' school to get out. I usually read, but I finished the book yesterday, so I was looking forward to calling my best friend back home to tell her I'm coming to visit in two days. And guess whose cell phone was D. E. A. D.?

It's weird how there are those days when there are patterns. Today was the day of dead batteries. I'm sitting in the car connecting the dots of the day, and I realize that it's just not the things in my life that need their batteries charged. I need my batteries charged, too.

Deep, huh?

December 13, 2006

My True Love Better Not Give Me...

the items from "The Twelve Days Of Christmas." According to PNC, it will cost him $18,920.59. And what would I do with all those birds, anyway?

I stumbled across this site last week while searching for some good holiday related websites that might also help us address that informational reading benchmark.

I'm so excited to share it with my students; I hope they find it interesting, too!

'Twas Three Days Until Christmas Break...

"Can I check out a book tonight?"

We're talking about the book we finished reading in class before Thanksgiving. Students took an open-book test on it as soon as we came back, and this is the very book that they did a project on, which was due two days ago.

And what book were we doing? John Steinbeck's The Pearl. A nice short read, right? Should we drag it on forever?

Is it me? Is it my class? The work we did with each chapter was largely done in class, with finishing up work as homework--probably about 20 minutes for each chapter. Why are there students who did not turn this work in? I just can't figure it out. It's been an epidemic this year. My classes are accelerated, and I have a large chunk of students who are...well...not.

(Can anyone think of an antonym of accelerated that isn't retarded?)

A few more days and I can block this all out of my head for a few weeks.

Oh yea...except I'll probably still have a stack of projects and essays to grade.

December 11, 2006

'Twas Five Days Until Christmas Break...

and one of Happychyck's students found just the right button to push to make her go off:

"I thought you said the project was due Wednesday!"

Another student pipes up, "Yea, me too!"

Are you *%&$*%! kidding me?!

All the time I gave you in class last week and the opportunity to turn it in for early reward bonus points on Friday, and you thought it was due on Wednesday? Even if you never listen to me, as I have reminded you daily when it was due, it was printed on the instruction sheet, and it was posted on the board. Oh look! It's still there! Does it look familiar?

December 10, 2006

When the Food You Bring Looks Like a White Elephant...

Edible Christmas Tree

Busy, busy weekend! My staff Christmas party was last night at our magnet counselor's house. I heard some staff members complaining about how lame it was that we had to pay money (like $5), and bring food and a white elephant gift. (Oh, and it was BYOB, but isn't that cheaper than a closed bar anywhere?) Those scrooges didn't come anyway, which is too bad because they obviously don't realize that to have a good time our staff just needs some food, drink, and karaoke.

(And to be honest, I think it was cheaper than the time we paid for a venue that was too small, too far out of the way, and that served us pizza and spaghetti.)

So, it was a great time not talking shop with the people we are constantly immersed in shop-talk with thanks to all the PLC and NCLB. Everyone is always running around with not enough time in the day, but last night life was in party-time, and the clocks magically slowed a bit so we could laugh a little more. And you know with karaoke and white elephant exchange we were laughing our arses off!

Five more days until break....we need to start off the week with some positive vibes, aye?

So, what's with the tree? I thought I might try to be Martha again and do something creative. It looked better in real life, but I thought it was a really cute idea. My idea? No way! Thanks to BusybusyMommy and Rita L. Next time I have ideas for improvement, which does include not starting it at 5 pm when the party is at 6 pm!

December 9, 2006

Twinkle Lights Make Everything Special

Silent Night...

Last night we took the kids to Ethel M's Cactus Garden, which is all lit up for the holiday season. The company's website is more educational than inviting, but at Flickr under the tag ethelm there are much better pictures that show why this is one of my favorite places in Las Vegas. Er, actually, Henderson.

The first time I visited the factory and gardens, on a visit to Sin City in 1997, it was 115 degrees. I remember thinking that it's such a strange place to make chocolate, but of course it is nice and cool inside the factory. When people come to visit, I take them to Ethel M's, but not so much for the chocolate part but for the cactus garden, which I find to be a meditative place. Okay, it's also just a few miles from my house, and it's free. I usually take people very early in the morning because it's a touch cooler and the sun isn't beating down on us. Supposedly, we are more likely to view the workers making chocolate, but I've been many times at 8 am and they have already finished for the day--especially in the summer months.

I can't believe that I've lived here for three years I just found out that the gardens are lit up every Christmas. People just don't seem to go all out on the lights around their homes and businesses, but you see a lot of palm trees lit up. I rather miss seeing lights everywhere at Christmas. It was a brisk 40-something degrees last night, but the garden did not disappoint at all. Although, not so meditative with all the people visiting, it was more a magical place in the dark with all the lights. I could have just strolled through winding pathways for hours getting lost in the little desert winter wonderland.

December 4, 2006

No Teacher of the Year Award for Me!

I know I once posted a piece on how beautifully I can punt when presented an icky situation in the classroom, but today I just didn't have it in me to do it.

About ten minutes before my 0 hour class started the whole school lost power. Who knows how long it was going to last? It was the direct result of a crisis situation down the hallway from me, but in the meanwhile, school continued on.

The bells didn't ring, but I sent some students down to the quad to round up their classmates. (There aren't a lot of students who have class at this time of day.) When they all arrived, I read them the agenda in the dim light:

1. Skillstutor "Life Around the World"--reading comp lesson
"Well, no wireless good luck with that one." (It's an online program.)

2. Read 162-178 and 179-180 in grammar book on compare/contrast structures
"Okay. The six people who are sitting here might have enough light from the emergency light and the window in the door to handle that. The rest of you--good luck."

3. Write 5 questions with answers about the main ideas from the reading.
"Again, light might be an issue. Good luck with that."

"Miss! We could open the door and there'd be more light."

"True, but let's not. With no electricity we also have no heater, so it wouldn't take too long to get colder than it already is in here."

"Oooooooohhhhhhhhh. Let's not do that," my students replied.

"Yea. So, well..." My mind raced with things we could do. Writing in the dark? Read to them? Have a discussion? Screw it! "You know guys, this isn't the first time I've ever had to conduct class in the dark. In the times before though, we had more windows for light. I could come up with something to do, but I just don't have it in me. So just keep it low today. The teacher next door is actually trying to conduct class."

Did I actually have to tell them to keep it low at that time of morning? I've been wishing for students as hyper as I am in the early morning, and this year my wish has come true, so they are one of my rowdiest classes. 7:00 am. Go figure.

Some of them talked. Some of them took out their laptops and worked on their upcoming project while others played games. And then there were those two weird kids who my talked ear off all period long. One of them thought it was the end of the world or something. Seriously kid. The power's out. It happens.

The next period what did I do when the power was still out? Same thing. An administrator came by to check on us and told us it was business as usual. There was no word when the electricity would be on, but the electricians were on campus. If we had an emergency we were to send someone to the office.

Business as usual? Whatever!

I do not like wasted time--as if we really have time to spare EVER! I could have been a better teacher today and made the best of a bad situation, I felt a little guilt over it for the first 10 minutes, but then I got over it.

(Yes, we did get power shortly into 2nd hour. Then it was business as usual, indeed!)

December 3, 2006

Nine Kinds of Weird

I saw this meme over at Rock in My Dryer, which is a really cool mommy blog that has a great weekly feature called Works for Me Wednesday. Shannon has actually been tagged and tagged other people, none of which I am. I stole it anyway because in my little circle of bloggin' buddies, we just don't call on on each other. We wait for volunteers. Haven't you noticed? Is that how we all are in the classroom?

Anyway, here's my weirdness, which may not seem so weird to some of you. We'll see! In no particular order...

1. I was born with polydactyly, and had I not had surgery when I was a baby, this is probably what my hand would look like today. Right hand. Same location. When I put it like that--with visuals and all-- it freaks me out, too. I usually just tell people that I was born with an extra thumb and show them the scar. They're usually still incredulous.

2. The longer I teach, the more of a germaphobe I become. I'm not THAT bad, but give me a few more years... This all probably goes along with my messiness issues.

3. Although I have issues with germs and messiness, my desk is always a disaster. It's just paper, though. No boogies or food. It irritates me to no end, but everytime I clear it off, it just takes a few hours for it to get cluttered again. People! Stop giving me papers to deal with. That means EVERYONE!

4. Also, those little frilly edge from notebook paper drive me nuts. I call them "paper fuzzies." I can't decide if they drive me more crazy on the floor or in my in-box.

5. I prefer to eat my hamburgers cut in half.

6. A new habit: I hum a lot. Especially while walking around my classroom monitoring students.

7. I wore the same color on my toenails for about ten years: green. I always had to buy the color at Halloween. Now you can buy it any time.

8. Chewing bubblegum and blowing bubbles makes me happy. Like a little kid. Regular flavor is the best.

9. I used to play D & D. I was a kick-ass halfing thief named Zora with a ring of invisibility that made me a pretty good fighter when I had to be. I once made the killing blow on a dragon after climbing up his back, while invisible, and stabbing him in his vulnerable place simply with a dagger. I acquired a human fighter named Brian from a deck of something or another. That meant I had to play both characters. I may sound enthusiastic, but I only played to be social.

December 2, 2006

Neither Warhol nor Marilyn...

just Happychyck spending a mindless day playing in Flickr.


December 1, 2006

Yet Another Thing to Worry About

A few days ago a teacher at the elementary school across the street from my school was robbed at gunpoint in the parking. It wasn't dark yet, and he approached her initially asking for directions.

So now we are being advised to not stay too late after school, to walk with a buddy out to the parking lot, and to not talk to strangers.


My classroom is the first outdoor classroom next to the parking lot. I can see my car from my door. Should that give me comfort or fear? Hmm...I don't know. Let me check out which way the security cameras are pointed.

I usually feel safe at my school, but then then things like this happen that create a little reality check. It's the city. Crime happens. All the time. Close to home.

November 29, 2006


It's about 40 F with a windchill that makes it feel like 30 F. I know. I'm a wimp, but I could be freezing to death. Need some long johns. Monitor the hallways between classes? Uhm, Could I get a cup a coffee to warm myself afterward?

I signed my evaluation today. It's the best evaluation I've had since working in this district, but in my mind I'm thinking, "Okay whatever. That hoop's been jumped through this year." Funny, I didn't feel that way the last couple of years.

My students have been performing horribly lately, and not just in my class, I've realized with the daily parent conferences my team is having. Last week I gave out progress reports and assigned it as homework to bring it back signed. Could there be an easier grade? I encouraged those student who had D's or F's to "be men and women" and actually show their parents. Guess what? Maybe one or two did. So I did something I haven't done with this group of students, and that is I mailed the progress report home with a nice little note. Productivity is way up this week. Hmmm. Imagine that.

Made it over the hump this week...

November 26, 2006

When I Was a Student I Used to Procrastinate, Too

I have about an hour of life left in me tonight, and I don't know what I'm teaching tomorrow. We just finished a novel in class last week, and I told them we'd be digging in deeper to it this week. ACK! I HAVE NOTHING! Since I have never taught this particular novel before I don't even have anything to pull out of my files.

Well, actually I do. I do have a ton of different ideas and approaches. We need to focus on theme and conflict.

Discussion? Reflection questions? Small group? Hands-on? Using technology? A series of small assignments? A big project? Leave it open? Set exact guidelines?

What would be the most engaging, yet the highest impact?

Don't even ask why I didn't have this all planned out before we started the book.

I've been flying by the seat of my pants.

I'm so dead. My first class starts at 7:00 am.


November 24, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: When It All Started

And I swear this is where it ends. I'm bored and depressed by all this talk of my worst holiday.

The first Thanksgiving I spent without my parents was when I was a student at Lewis-Clark State College. Like my current situation, I lived too far from my parents to make the trek home for a long weekend. I grew up a 100's of miles away from any extended family, so my small core family of my parents and brother were all I'd ever known for the holidays. Plus, if you're a college student and you've made it to November, isn't it common that homesickness should come along?

My extended family did live in northern Idaho, so it wasn't like I was going to be completely alone. In fact, the plan was that my aunt was going to pick me up on her way from Pasco, Washington, to my grandparents' house in Pierce, Idaho, which was about 90 miles from where I was attending college. I was looking forward to being with my grandparents because it was quiet and peaceful in their tiny little town, but most of the dinner guests who were going to be there were 2nd and 3rd cousins that I didn't know.

So, I had the morning to myself to hang out in the dorm and just relax. There were only a few girls left at the dorm for the holiday weekend--so few that we didn't even see each other. So, on Thanksgiving morning when I went down to the lobby to read the paper and then went up to the shower in the communal bathroom, it truly felt like I was all alone in the dorm. I tried not be a big boob about it, though.

The cafeteria was closed for the holiday, so meals would be whatever I could microwave or toast in the joke of a kitchenette we had. My breakfast that Thanksgiving morning was going to be Pop-Tarts. So, I put them in the toaster and stepped out into the hallway where there was a full-length mirror so I could primp a little. The next thing I knew, flames were shooting out of the toaster--my Pop-Tart had ignited! I ran back into the kitchenette and put out the fire, but the kitchen was full of smoke, so I open the window and hung the toaster out, lest the fire alarm go off. So just picture this chick frantically putting out a toaster fire and then trying to air out the room...and then picture her panic when the FIRE ALARM DOES GO OFF!

It was a handy dandy little thing at our ancient dormitory. When the fire alarm went off, the fire trucks came. And I actually knew this already because a friend of mine burned up the oven the month before while trying to roast pumpkin seeds for my Japanese roommate. Hey, it might have been our pumpkin, but we had nothing to do with the dense girl who tried to "roasted" the seeds unattended on BROIL. Same thing happened there. Fire. Alarm. Fire trucks came.

As the handful of girls and their boyfriend (who weren't suppose to be staying there because it was an all-girls dorm at that time) were evacuating the building into the chilly November morning, they just glared at me and could not see any humor at all. How did they even know it was me? Well, if you were homesick on Thanksgiving and you'd just caused the fire trucks to come because your Pop-Tart went up in flames, wouldn't you bawl hysterically, too?

Luckily the weekend didn't get any worse than that moment, but it wasn't the best either. I had to work the day after Thanksgiving at my sucky seasonal job at Shop-ko and the only thing that was good about it was that it also happened to be payday. Unfortunately, after my eternal shift when I went to cash my check at the bank, I locked my keys in my car. I did have an extra set in my room, so I walked up the hill a mile to retrieve them--that is if I could find an RA to let me into my room. Unfortunately, the main door to the dorm was locked since most of the girls were gone, and nobody would come when I knocked, and knocked, and knocked. I went to the campus security office, but nobody was there despite the fact that someone was on duty somewhere on campus.

And if you think I took that calmly, you just don't know me. It was getting dark and cold. I was trapped outside. I just wanted a bubble bath. It was hours before I was able to let Calgon take me away, too.

Since that weekend it seems like the dark clouds that formed in the sky that bleak afternoon have followed me for every Thanksgiving since. Am I being a dramatic? Perhaps. But I'm entitled. I made the freakin' fire trucks come because I couldn't make Pop-Tarts. That's something you can never live down.

(By the way, I only eat granola bars now.)

November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006: Creating Ghosts

Several times in the past decade I have gone with my best friend to her parents' home which is just outside Twin Falls, Idaho. Originally, it probably started out of pity, and although Twin Falls was a good 5-6 drive from where we lived in northwestern Nevada, it was still a lot closer than going to my parents' home, which takes nearly 12 hours to reach. That's just too far for a 4-day weekend.

In subsequent years I've looked forward to a Twin Falls Thanksgiving. A big family dinner with some real folks. Early morning shopping for the good deals. Firework display on Friday night. Nightly domino games. Putting up Christmas lights outside. Well, the putting up the lights is not that enjoyable because it's usually "cold as a frog's nose," but we worry about my friend's parents trying to decorate outside when it's cold and slippery. Anyway, it's always a relaxing, enjoyable time.

It was in my plans to take the kids (computer tech hubby is on call for businesses that probably aren't even open this weekend) and go to Idaho for the weekend. The kids were excited because my friend has a dog and they are dog-crazy, and they were anticipating some snow on the ground that they could play in. We bought them new hats and gloves (the selection here in Las Vegas was terrible) and warned them that it would probably be cold. The kids, sick and twisted as they are, relished the idea.

And the plans were in place until Wednesday afternoon when I picked my stepson up from school and he looked like he'd been run over by Mack truck. I'd felt my holiday weekend--only the 2nd vacation I've taken out of town this year--slipping away throughout the week as I tried to nurse my stepson back from the dark side of a cold. I thought he was doing better, but you know how colds and oozy infectious 5-year-olds can be...a pain in my arse.

Not to mention, detrimental to my holiday fun.

So after a long wait at the urgent care clinic with a sniffing, oozy, swollen-eyed child, a quick trip to the local drugstore, and then the battle of the medicine spoon which resulted in us wearing $4.00 worth of medicine, I found myself at Albertson's in the 'hood at 9:00 pm with tons of other people trying to scrimp together a Thanksgiving dinner. Losers.

In my adult life I've rarely had to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner myself. I've helped. I've contributed to potluck. I've simply shown up to eat and then helped with clean-up later. Today, in a true miracle that I hope my family can appreciate, I put on the whole Thanksgiving dinner from cranberries (homemade) to pie (bakery) and set the table with fancy glasses and cloth napkins.

(No, I didn't cook a whole turkey because I may be with a legion of losers, but I'm not a damned fool who needed the hassle of thawing a 20 lb turkey overnight. We had a lovely breast roast of turkey.)

I complained to my mother on the phone how I hate this stupid holiday and how my Thanksgivings always had to flop, but for my family I put on my happy face and sucked it up. It seems like being a mom is just one bitter pill after another. I wonder if moms who actually give birth to the children they are raising ever feel this way, or if it's just that I was rather thrown into this life.

I do know that I'm giving it my all to put a positive spin on all these constant glitches. We had all the windows and doors open today for a nice meal and a relaxing afternoon. Napping, movie-watching, goofing off...It's not what we expected, but it wasn't terrible, either.

Yea, nothing caught on fire...

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Life in the Geriatric Buffet Line

"Mom, I really don't like Thanksgiving. I don't care what people say. It's a stupid holiday about eating a lot of food--well that's what is about now, anyway-- AND it never goes my way."

She chuckled, "Yea, you're right. You never had much luck with it, but that one Thanksgiving when we came down was fun!"

I'm glad she mentioned that this morning because, as a matter of fact, that was exactly the next planned Thanksgiving post.

(Mom, have you been reading my blog? At least a comment so I know you've been here!)

The second Thanksgiving after I moved to Nevada my parents and brother came out for the holiday. By then my first marriage had broken up; we were back to the the orignal family unit for the holiday--something that hadn't happened in many years.

I was all ready to welcome my family to my cute little home and cook them a big Thanksgiving dinner, but my Dad had different ideas. He thought the effort was needless and was more excited about the idea of going to the Reno-Carson City area and spending a few days checking out the historic sites.

So, off we went 130 miles from my home to Carson City where we stayed in the The Carson Nugget, in what I believe may have been the motor lodge. I must have still been in that stage of newly Nevada-ness when I actually enjoyed going to Carson City because although a quaint capitol city, there isn't much to do. That's not even to mention that there aren't many nice places to stay or good casinos to play. It IS an easier drive to Virginia City (my favorite place in Nevada) and more accessible to historic things that my family enjoy like The Nevada State Museum and The Nevada State Railroad Museum, I'm thinking maybe that's why we stayed there. Trust me, I can think of half a dozen much nicer, yet affordable places to stay 20 minutes away in Reno.

Anyway, enough of the tourist plug...

But what ever did we do for our dinner? Are you kidding? Where there's a casino, there's a good Thanksgiving buffet just waiting for, well, mostly old people who've somehow escaped having dinner with their families. My around-50-year-old parents were young compared to the other diners, and my brother and I, in our mid 20's, were simply out of place. I don't want any hate mail about been an old person hater or anything because that is so far from the truth. It's just that as a family, we had never experienced the buffet as an alternative to Thanksgiving. It was weird and everyone was moving in slow motion. I know my brother and I probably seemed like insolent children giggling and whispering all throughout dinner.

Later in the day someone won big on the nickel slots, but I can't remember if it was my dad or bro. (It as probably something like $80 since we are obviously such high rollers.) In any case I remember we went to a little lounge and bought ourselves a good drink to celebrate.

My brother and I wanted to keep the party going after my parents went to bed, but we had great difficulty finding an open liquor store anywhere in downtown Carson City on Thanksgiving night. In fact, we couldn't find anything open but a scary little gas station where we bought mini bottles of whatever there was for an exorbitant price. Then we stayed up half the night catching up on old times, trying not to get too drunk, lest we be hung over for the next morning of touristing.

Over the years my family and I have shrugged off some of the great American traditions. Sometimes we do it together, but other things I've done on my own. I suppose that my mom and I remember that strange little Thanksgiving holiday in Carson City not because it was the first time we shrugged off the traditional way to do Thanksgiving, but we remember because what's most important to our family is that we have good times together. That can be Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, a birthday party celebrating three birthdays, or just a Sunday evening hanging out on the porch in July.

We're simple people. It doesn't take much to make a good memory for my family.

So, has Happychyck ever had any traditions that stuck for Thanksgiving, or has it just been a long weekend to fill year after year? Actually, I kind of have a tradition that I had done most years in the past decade, which I had planned on doing this holiday weekend, but...

November 21, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Mom Commands a Tradition That Didn't Stick

My first marriage was to a hometown boy. When you marry a hometown boy, there's the potential for making yourself crazy trying to balance holidays. I think it might be a little easier when you don't have families living nearby. You see, now that my current husband (the one that stuck) and I live nowhere near family, nobody expects us for any holiday.

My family is pretty cool about not spending holidays with them because my own father rebelled against everyone in the early part of his and my mother's marriage and proclaimed that they would be spending holidays in their own home--not busting their butts going from family to family. He was pretty much talking about Christmas, but it applied to all holidays.

The problem was I didn't mind going from house to house because my first husband (further known now as Ex) and I never had children and the holidays were pretty boring with just the two of us. I wanted to spend the holidays with everyone, and I didn't want to choose. Christmas worked itself out pretty easily because each family had different times of the holiday that were the most important, and those times didn't conflict. My parents enjoyed Christmas Eve as a family, and Ex's family liked for us to all gather Christmas night, and then on New Year's Eve when all the extended family came to visit.

Thanksgiving was a different story. Since the whole day is about eating, it was always an uncomfortable one by the time it was all done, too. Thanksgiving wasn't a major holiday with my family, and it was usually just my parents and brother with an occasional bachelor co-worker of my dad's. When my brother moved to the city and got a McJob, he didn't come home for Thanksgiving, so it become an even smaller event.

Ex's family came to just rely on Ex and me to show up for a huge meal, and maybe other family members would show up for pie later on.

It seemed sad to not show up to both tiny Thanksgiving dinners with our respective parents. We were often the only guest they had.

After about 5 years of that, my parents came up with the big idea that Ex and I should host Thanksgiving at our house and invite both sets of parents. Logistically it was a great idea, but seriously, could both moms give up the power of the kitchen? What's your guess? Anyone? Anyone?

I was a little nervous because I'd never cooked a turkey before, but PEOPLE, IT'S NOT THAT HARD! On television "they" always make it seem challenging. So, the turkey was easy. Put it in the oven and wait many hours.

Now, how challenging do you think it would be to put together the rest of the meal for six people? Again, not as hard as some people would make it out to be. You know, I read entertaining books and magazines--this was during my Martha-wannabe phase--and I learned the key was really in the prep work. So, essentially, when the moms arrived, there was nothing to do because I had it under control!

But then here came The Moms, invading my kitchen, taking over, treating me like I didn't know what I was doing. From the time I was in middle school, I made dinner every night so it would be ready when my parents came home from work. Did my mom think she'd trained me so poorly? And my mother-in-law, well, she was the type of woman who would slave over the stove for hours for who-knows-what-reason while I could prepare the same meal in 30 minutes tops. So, did I deserve their harassment when they came into MY kitchen and started messing with my meal? The answer is NO!

And my dad only shook his head and told me it would be okay when I begged him to call off The Moms.

How bad was it really? Here's the straw: my mother-in-law brought her potato masher because she thought I didn't have one. And how right she was! We use a mixer in my family. Even better, since I was in my era of Martha, I had a potato ricer. And you know my mother-in-law, with her beehive hairdo, had no idea what a potato ricer could do for your life. They would have been beautiful mashed potatoes. Sigh.

And isn't that how many family functions end up in brawls? Fighting over how to make the damned mashed potatoes?

Only, it wasn't worth selling my gracious soul to the devil to get sucked into that war, so I bit my tongue. I bit my tongue over everything that day. (Had we not been a "dry" family, I would have turned to the wine to comfort.) So, I bit my tongue and let The Moms take over the Thanksgiving I had been coerced into hosting.

After the meal, I excused myself and went upstairs to collapse from the emotional exhaustion.

The Parents raved about what a wonderful holiday it had been.

Good for them.

I graduated college the following year and moved to another state. That tradition stopped at the stateline.

And that reminds me of the best non-traditional Thanksgiving ritual I thought my family might start, but that didn't work out either...

November 20, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Do You Put Herbs on Your Turkey?

Thanks to the corrupt influence of the teens I've taught over the years, when my stepson brought this picture home from school, I could not contain my giggles. All through dinner, every time I thought of it, I started to laugh. I just told the darling child that I thought it was just soooo cute! My husband was not as amused as I was, and actually I'm not sure why I am so tickled. Inadvertant pictures of ole MaryJane usually don't amuse me at all.

Even worse though, this picture has triggered a sort of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Thanksgiving walk down memory lane...

If you give Happychyck a picture of a turkey with a pot leaf, she'll think about that Thanksgiving she spent with one of her friends around 1999. She lived too far away from her own family to go home, and her boyfriend wasn't ready for her to spend Thanksgiving with his family so...

Yea, I spent the day with one of my dear friends, who just happened to be a weekend imbiber of the herb. (Actually, come to think of it, so was my boyfriend of that time--and now, we aren't talking college boys, but professional, successful men.) I'd never actually seen him high, as it was something he'd do on the weekends, usually during a good hike. So, on that Thanksgiving, he'd taken off to go hiking, but he didn't return at the appointed time.

How long did I wait outside his house while the turkey was cooking unsupervised inside? Nearly two hours.

But no worries, when he did show up, all was well that the turkey wasn't too crispy, and we finished cooking dinner. Or rather, I helped him avoid injuring his high ass while he bumped around the kitchen preparing the meal. It was just bizarre. We were kind of hopeless losers with nobody else to spend the day with, going through the motions of trying to make it a decent holiday. Thank goodness for friends, which is the theme Thanksgiving has truly taken on in my life.

The best part of the day was how we spent the rest of the afternoon kicked back in recliners, drinking some fine microbrew ale, and watching The X-Files. That part of the day made me feel much better, and not quite so depressed because while I was waiting outside my friend's house, I'd had plenty of time to take in the beautiful, peaceful afternoon at his lakeview house and meditate on the condition my life.

That would be the life with a boyfriend who, after four months did not feel comfortable enough for me to meet his mother, thus leaving me all alone on Thanksgiving. Ouch. That would be the life where living away from my family was still a hard thing to do on holidays. That would be the life where memories of my previous life with my ex-husband, who shared the same first name as my current beau, would sometimes seep in.

And you know when memories of happy times seep in, even though your ex-husband is involved, another Thanksgiving memory is triggered...

November 19, 2006

'Tis the Season for Stupid People?

I hope not.

I appreciate that in the neighborhoods where I shop people are generally friendly and patient--both customers and workers. (Drivers are a different story, though.) I've had my experiences working in retail and food, so I try not to freak out on people when service is bad; however, because I have worked in those types of jobs, I do know it's not as hard as some people make it.

Three times this weekend, while doing basically normal stuff, I met inept or rude people. Does this mean that a season of hell is upon us?

Yesterday at Target, I met the slowest, dumbest checker ever. You'd think that with her turtle speed she wouldn't have to stop after every couple of items and double check that it went through. Yo chick! Did you hear it beep when you scanned it? It went! But go ahead and search through the bag just to be sure you have the correct number. She could sense that I didn't trust her abilities and told me that I could go to customer service if I found any errors. I really wanted to take her by the hand and say, "Listen, honey, you will not make it through next week, let alone the holiday season. Quit now."

Yea, I worked retail in a big store like that when I was in college. Not that hard. Greet. Scan, scan, bag. Take money. Give change. Buh bye!

Later in the day, bless my sweetie's heart, he stopped for takeout so I wouldn't have to cook. It was around the dinner hour when we pulled into Jack-in-the-Box, but it wasn't really busy. We used drive-thru to save time dragging kids in and out of the car. Nothing special in our order, yet we were asked to pull around to the front to wait for our food. (I guess so we wouldn't keep the nonexistent people behind us waiting.) And we waited ten minutes! And then the dude walked all over the parking lot looking for us. When we found us, he just gave us our food. No apology for it taking so long or anything. Seriously. Were they not waiting for people to show up and order some burgers? And maybe some fries?

Again, been there, done that. Sucky job, but not that hard.

Oh! And let me throw this out there since I rarely have an opportunity to rant about fast food. Well, this goes for anyone giving change, but it's really important in a drive-thru. It bugs the hell out of me when people give you your change and they put the currency in your hand, then the receipt, and finally the change. Essentially, the currency and receipt serve as a SLIDE for the coins. Why am I the only one who has it figured out that it's easier to hold it all if the coins go in the hand first?

Okay, back onto crazy people I met this weekend...

I stopped by Walgreens today to pick up a few things I forgot elsewhere. Have you ever been to Walgreens or any of those other corner drugstores (they're all the same to me) when they had more than one checker? If you have, you obviously don't frequent any of the dozens of drugstores in my 'hood. One checker. Who cares how many checkstands. One checker.

So, I'm in line behind two people and I hear a voice behind me, "Only one checker?" Duh, I think to myself. Always!

So, I go on spacing off until the line moves forward. There are still two people ahead of me despite the fact that one just left. The lady in behind me, a very little old lady dressed for church, is actually trying to sneak into the line ahead of me. She was the owner of the incredulous voice I'd heard a few minutes before. I didn't know what to do, so I decided that crowding my way in front of her to my rightful place would not make me look like a good person since she was a little old lady and all, so I asked her if she'd like to go ahead of me. Afterall, she only had two things, and I had four. Sheesh.

She thanked me and told me she was in a hurry. She was carrying bleach and a stuffed Santa. Perhaps I shouldn't judge, but maybe she shouldn't have stopped to pick out a stuffed Santa? Wanna talk about hurry? My husband was home making lunch for the kids. Using the oven. Trust me. Potentially scary situation.

Ah, how I sound like a Class A *itch. 'Tis the season for irritable people like me. Watch out!

November 15, 2006

The Good and the Bad

While I was monitoring the hallway during passing time, one of my students came up and stood next to me.

I yelled at some kids displaying some PDA right in front of my room, and she yelled at them, too.

I turned to her, "Do you want to take over?"

"No," she said sheepishly.

"Are you sure you don't want to try? Do you want to be the teacher?" My tone was playful, and the girl realized I wasn't reprimanding her.

She asked me, "What's the best part of being a teacher?"

"You know, I really like being with you guys all day. I know sometimes you might think I don't like you, but I truly do enjoy working with you crazy teenagers. It's a blast!"

It was a kind of epiphany for both of us. She saw the human side. I felt free of frustration and realized that I am truly entertained by the students I have this year. Sure, their chattiness gives me headaches by the end of the day, and I'm disappointed by their lack of performance on daily assignments, but they are really cool kids--interesting personalities. Good hearts.

The girl then asked, "What is the worst part?"

Thinking about the paperwork I had been working on all day--administrative stuff, not paper grading--I told her, " Ohhhhh! It's the paperwork! So much! I need a secretary!"

Thinking I'm talking about grading papers, she rolled her eyes and says, "Miss! That's the worst part of being a student, too!"

November 14, 2006

One Word Says It All

This is the kind of stuff I do when I am bored and avoiding work. And boy do I have work to do. Bookkeeping stuff. I need a secretary for my classroom. When will that ever happen?

Anyway, give it a shot if you like. I stole this one from Teacher Lady.

You can only type one word. No explanations.

Yourself: lethargic
Your partner: solid
Your hair: neglected
Your Mother: thoughtful
Your Father: smart
Your Favorite Item: Thumbelina
Your dream last night: dark
Your Favorite Drink: Pepsi
Your Dream Car: fast
Your Dream Home: homey
The Room You Are In: main
Your Ex: dork
Your fear: unknown
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? elsewhere
Who you hung out with last night: teenagers
What You're Not: content
Muffins: moist
One of Your Wish List Items: home
Time: lacking
The Last Thing You Did: reprimanded
What You Are Wearing: cottom
Your favorite weather: autumn
Your Favorite Book: none
Last thing you ate: cheese
Your Life: crazy
Your mood: exasperated
Your Best Friends: real
What are you thinking about right now: audit
Your car: practical
What are you doing at the moment: holding
Your summer: numbing
Relationship status: loved
What is on your tv: Oprah
What is the weather like: sunny
When is the last time you laughed: eleven

November 11, 2006

My Excuse for Getting Lost

My sweetie and I went on a quest for shoes today. The first store I wanted to go to was Kohl's because they were having this big power sale for Veteran's Day. I only discovered Kohl's about six months ago, and as pleased as I am with their selections and awesome sales, I don't go there often. The closest store is beyond my usual shopping neighborhood, but it's still in the same area of town--on the edge where all the new business and homes are.

So is that my excuse for leading my husband down the wrong street for miles and miles until we ended up on an unpaved road that went straight into a hill? No. Mine is much better.

We were on a major street called Green Valley. The major street we needed was parallel and about a 1/2 mile to the west. It's called Valle Verde.

It's the same freakin' name, just in a different language! Who thinks up these names? It's totally justified that I was lost and confused, don't you think? My Spanish skills are, at best, rudimentary. I'm sure there is some Spanish speaker (of which we have lots) whose English is rudimentary, and is just as confused as I was.

Life Inventory: Things I've Done Meme

Check out this meme as seen performed by Graycie, Science Goddess, Ms. Cornelius, and many others! To get your own, simply copy, paste, and bold away!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone (Besides that 6th hour class in 2004?)
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (From sickness)
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach Or one touched me.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fish--yes!)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

November 10, 2006

My Favorite Veteran

It's been a while since I have posted anything about my favorite veteran: my husband. Sometimes I forget he's a veteran because he did the majority of his service long before he met me. He's been in the National Guard, Army Reserve and enlisted Army, and throughout his life did end up serving 20 years, including a tour in Desert Storm. Sometimes he'll tell me about the years he lived in Germany or some philosophy in life he acquired from years of military service, but other than that, his other life is quite distant from our current life.

I'm proud to tell anyone that he is a veteran, and even a veteran of a foreign war. My sweetie, though, is quite humble and nonchalant about everything. Serving in the military is just something he did. No big deal. If you didn't know him, you may not even know he is a veteran. You might guess that he was in the military because he does still have some of those mannerism that one might associate with military and he does have this unidentifiable dialect that one would not expect from a small-town Nebraska kid. (I call it his Army dialect.) But he is not one to live in the past, so you probably would think that he had done a few years in the military and then gotten out pretty early on.

It might seem kind of weird to say this, but it is because of 9/11 that we met. Right after the attack, his reserve unit was called to duty to do a transportation mission. (He had been out of the enlisted Army for about three years.) He was the supervisor for his team, which was stationed in my town, a large ammunition depot. Now, I know there's probably some military jargon that better describes this, but I never caught on to it. Our sweet little story is one for another time, but I would say that his participation in the military brought him within my radar, and of all the military bases he should end up on...

So anyway, on this day as we remember and thank all our wonderful veterans, I just need to look at the man sitting next to me to express my gratitude. But while I'm at it, thanks to the rest of you all, too! No, I haven't forgotten my other family members (3 uncles) and former students who have served and are currently serving our country. Thank you!

November 8, 2006

My Reoccuring Thought:

It's a bummer having to grow up and be responsible and not be half as selfish. Just sucks.

November 6, 2006

The Custody Battle

I try to ignore a lot of the adolescent shenanigans that go on in my classroom. When I think too closely on some, I think to myself, "Why the *%&% am I teaching middle school?"

There was some sort of "legal document" floating around one of my classes today. It had some sort of statement that so-and-so would do something or another. There were signatures. It looked pretty official-looking for being written on notebook paper. (Funny someone didn't type it up since they all have laptops.) I don't know what it was. Don't really care. I just saw it on various desks throughout the period. I didn't confiscate it because, quite frankly, if they weren't trying to hide it from me, it probably wasn't that interesting.

At the beginning of the class, I confiscated a teddy bear. I had half a mind to do it when I saw it come in the door, but I let it go until I saw it go flying through the air just before the bell rang.

Some minutes into the class I asked the girl who was trying to catch it whose bear it was. She was not the one who carried it into class. It was a boy. She told me it belonged to another student--a female. Whatever. Who knows how these bears get passed around?

At the end of the class, I told the supposed owner of the bear to get it from under my desk and to make sure I didn't see it again. She didn't seem relieved or highly attached--just okay with it.

The boy who had brought the bear to class in the first place walked back into the classroom and saw her with the bear. A little argument ensued about who should get "custody" of the bear. Then she threw it in his face that he was a child abuser. Or rather a bear abuser.

It seems there was a divorce going on with my students today.

It also seems that I was unwittingly an agent of Child Protective Services.

Just another damn thing, aye?

November 3, 2006

Behold: The Cake

I'm a teacher. Not a pastry chef. Especially not the Ace of Cakes. I'm also not a professional castle builder. I just do it on the weekends with Legos. Taking this into consideration, I think it's a pretty cute castle cake.

November 2, 2006

Dia de la Poor Representation

For the last two years our Spanish teacher--and my dear friend-- has had the students create ofrendas for teachers at our school. She used to have the students make one for themselves, but then she decided to turn her little project in to a school event. It's a great idea, and she has planned it very well with clear and precise instructions and rubrics. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the group of students who chose to honor me have done a crappy job. I thought last year's was pretty bad, but at least one could get a sense of who I was.

This year my ofrenda had about 8 pictures on it--pictures printed from the Internet to represent things I would like. No captions. One of the pictures, which happens to be a focal point picture, is particularly troublesome. It is a picture of a teacher leaning over and helping a student. Yes, I am a teacher. Good symbol. Only, through this picture is a big red X!

When I asked the students what the heck that was--and these "accelerated" students are in my class--they told me they chose that picture because when they asked if I'd always wanted to be a teacher, I told them I hadn't. Well, considering I've been a teacher a lot longer than I considered not being a teacher, that isn't really a main detail of my life. Whatever, though. It's the way they represent it that is just WRONG!

Nearly all the teachers and administrators and at a couple hundred students saw that ofrenda displays. In the short time I was in the room to view the displays, I had several people ask me what that picture with the big red X was about. Well, wouldn't it have been nice if the students who made it had bothered to include some captions with my pictures? I suggested it, as did their Spanish teacher, but they still thought it would be fine.

It's fine that my ego is a little dented because it's really not a huge deal. It's a stupid kid thing, and they truly didn't not mean to be malicious. I can tell you though, that they won't think their grades are fine. Too bad they couldn't do a little thinking or take any advice from their teachers.

I'm just shaking my head. Merely another crazy thing in the crazy life as a teacher.

November 1, 2006

I'm No Martha...

...but I think sometime in my past I used to aspire to be more creatively domesticated. I distinctly remember actually attempting to decorate my house. Little Home Interior-like groupings. Matching knick-knacks and whatnots. It's hard to believe, but I used to live like that. Now, though, If it weren't for my interest in photography and the fact my brother is an artist, I'd probably not have anything at all on my walls. It's l modern minima, yo!

And I remember in my days of creative domestication--in my 20's while I still lived in Utah, where everyone is quite good at craftiness, homemaking, and other domestic issues--that I used to decorate my own birthday cakes. Buy one from the bakery? No way! I'll decorate one up! And never fear, my darlings! I have even taken some decorating classes.

So, I took a trip down this memory lane when I told my husband that I would make our daughter's birthday cake. Somewhere along the path I may have stopped to take some hallucinogens when I actually let the birthday child pick what kind of cake she wanted.

Today was day one in the making of the great and beautiful castle cake. Castle. Cake. A cake shaped like a castle. What the hell am I thinking?

I already screwed things up pretty well when the BASE split right in half and I had to "glue" it back together with frosting.

Don't worry though, I was a Girl Scout in the decade before I was a Martha wannabe, and during those years I learned all about making do and Plan B.

And tomorrow afternoon I might take a walk down memory lane to my college days where I learned that rum makes everything a little happier.

October 30, 2006

A Face in the War: R. I. P. Kenny

Day after day the war on Iraq takes the lives of our young American troops. One of those has a name and face to me. Earlier tonight I found out that one of my former students, Kenny, died overseas in Iraq. I've had a lot of students join the military over the years, and there was a particular group of wild young'uns who made the decision to go not long after we went to war. They came to school their senior year and proclaimed they were all going. I was impressed with their maturity, duty, and sense of patriotism.

I can't say that I haven't been dreading the day that I found out that I lost "one of my kids" to the war. I have thought about it a lot because right now there are quite a few of them overseas. Half expecting that it was going to happen sooner or later doesn't make it feel any better, though. I'm heart-broken and weepy like he was more than just some kid who was in my class.

He was more than just some kid in my class. Before moving to the city, I lived in a teeny, tiny town and taught at a high school that only had about 200 students. I taught all of the students for first two years of their high school careers, but after that it wasn't like I forgot them. We teachers worked as a team to help raise these kids, and we were a constant presence in their lives. As the yearbook advisor, I was everywhere capturing everything on film. (My staff members were often also involved in the activities that needed photos taken.) I was there on the football field with them. I was on the dance floor at prom. I was there pinning on their flowers and straightening their caps at graduation. Sometimes I felt like a mom--or at least an auntie.

Kenny will forever be in my mind as that nice guy whom everyone liked. He was an average student, but a good athlete. He always had a smile, and the one I'll remember the most is the one with braces. And with freckles. And a ball cap that I'm sure I had to continually remind him to remove in class. I remember him in some sort of jersey or school athletic wear. Sports were a big deal at our school, and a lot of the students' wardrobes mainly consisted of black and gray clothing with our mascot and school name.

I had seen him since he went into the military. The first time I was so surprised that he was so fit and trim. I hadn't though of him as fat or even pudgy, but with some boot camp training, he came home for a visit standing tall and looking lean. He looked like a man. He acted like a man. How quickly the military matures them!

And I'm sure duty in Iraq matured him even more. There are some pictures of him on his Myspace page, all dressed in his gear, looking like the original bad-ass GI Joe. He looks serious, but healthy. And to me, he still looks young.

And he will always be young, as he was barely 21-years-old.

My heart is so full, yet so broken. Spilling. I'm so damn proud of the man he became, but just deeply saddened that he didn't live too many years walking as that brave, honorable man.

October 29, 2006

From the Tattle Tale Files

Mister Teacher posted an anecdote about the Princess Tattler he has this year. Who doesn't loathe tattlers?

Since I teach at the secondary level, I don't have too much tattling, and when I do, it's usually kids just goofing around. "Miss! He hit me, poked me, looked at me, took my pencil, or did something I obviously cannot deal with on my own."

I used to answer, "Well, what did YOU do to provoke him?" Doesn't it usually seem that the tattler is often the instigator?

Lately I've been amusing myself with responses such as, "Well, them I'm going to have to hang him upside down and throw darts at him." Or, "I'm going to have to banish him to another realm."

When dealing with my own children I say, "Well, I'm just going to beat the shit out of him. Does that sound like a good solution?" (Their eyes get wide and they run off and deal with their petty issues without my help. In case you aren't a regular reader, of course I wouldn't follow through on that threat. Even if it does sound like a good idea.)

Mister Teacher's post brought to mind an incident with my high schoolers last week. If you think it's irritating to have 2nd graders tattle, try 12th graders. It's hard for me to not completely go off about their immaturity when they tattle, so I generally ignore them. However, I did put one of my senior boys in his place (he was left speechless) last week:

"Miss! She's bugging to me! I'm trying to concentrate." As far as I had observed, he had not been concentrating most of the night. And who was he tattling on? His own girlfriend.

"Listen," I said, "You're going to be a dad soon. Leave her alone. She's eight months pregnant, and you need to treat her with a little more respect. Stop tattling already! Daddies don't do that. You need to GROW UP!"

That poor pregnant girl has TWO kids to raise.

October 27, 2006

Hooray for a Good Day!

I've just been way too depressed and pissy lately. Don't think I don't know!

Yesterday some little things happened that made me day just peachy.

For one thing, people weren't trying to pick fights with me. Well, except one girl who really so badly wants to be in charge of the 35 students of her class, but whatever. We had a talk and she's going to try to find something else to be in charge of because her class is mine all mine! I wonder if she'll actually do it.

Anyway...I had students finishing quarter exams and the rest of them were doing the old stand-by round robin writing activity. You know the one where they start a story and then after a little while pass it to another student to add to it, and on and on and on. They complained at first, but then after the class was over, many of them (mostly my stinky boys) came up and told me it was a cool activity.

Glad you like it kiddos because I got a ton of work done at my desk, your slowpoke classmates were able to finish their tests, and YOU spent what could have been a worthless day (end of quarter and the day before a 3-day weekend) actually WRITING your little hearts out. Triple score for the teacher!

I missed lunch because I attended a very cool function in library. One of my yearbook students (and a student on my team) brought me a HUGE plate of food from day two of the Multicultural Feast our social studies teacher organized. (Two days because including all the students in one day would have been crazy. The first day actually was a little crazy because all 50 students actually brought food to share. It was amazing!) How sweet for someone to think of me! It turned out that it wasn't a student but another teacher who sent the plate, but still I am loved. There were four different tamales on my plate. Score! I have no idea how to make tamales, and eating them in a restaurant is not the same. Seriously, if you want good tamales, someone's mom has to make them!

So then that class period was, "Shut up and start your story. Leave me alone. I'm eating tamales."

The very cool function I attended in the library? We had an author visit our school!I'm not sure if he's known author, up and coming, or serious obscure, but he gets paid to write books for kids, so good for him! His name is Obert Skye and you can check out his website to find out more about his books and a place he discovered called Foo. I'm not a big fan of young adult fantasy, but it does seem to be a hot genre right now. The book reminds me a little of J.K. Rowling and Lemony Snicket, but then perhaps there is that notion that the good YA fantasy books should contain some of key elements that those contain. I dunno.

Obert Skye was a very entertaining speaker who kept the students enchanted the whole time. He told them about his exciting journey into having his story published, which you wouldn't think would interest many of our students, but he did frame it in terms they would know from experiences of writing their own pieces. It was so funny when he showed the kids the before and after with a piece of writing he had done. His editor must be as evil as I am! I just turn and looked at a few of my publications students who were sitting behind me and they shook their heads at me. I'm pretty brutal with their writing: "Did you proof this before you brought it here? Well, try again. Make sure you figure out the correct way to spell "which" unless you'd like to see me turn into the one you have written down."

It's so awesome for the students (and me) to get some outside inspiration from our visiting author. It's not every day one meets a writer who actually makes money. For the students, it's not every day they meet someone besides their teacher is super cool and actually like to write.

The day ended pretty well with a lack of suicidal drivers on the freeway when I took the kids to the weekend trade-off place, which is two hours away. I hate traveling that roadway so much that I keep threatening that I need to be medicated to stay calm. Instead, I usually read. This time I had to take them alone, so I was dreading it, but in the end it turned out to be a quiet night. Mostly just me and hundred of semi trucks.

Some inspiration...homemade tamales...extra industry at my desk...students writing and liking it...and not dying in a fiery crash in the I-15...what a good day!

October 25, 2006

What Drives Teachers to Drink

Students who don't do their work.

Students who, in their 9th year of education, cannot remember to put their names on their papers.

Giving the same directions 20 times a day.

Parents who don't want their students to take responsibility for their own actions.

Needing caffeine and finding only a empty Pepsi can on my desk.

Parents who think that their students should have extra opportunities to turn in work for full credit because they, the parent, didn't know about the missing assignments the very day it was missing.

Parents who think that because they are trying hard to be good parents that we teachers should allow their students to make up work--for full credit--including work done that should have been completed 7 weeks ago.

Being out of chocolate.

Parents who would like students to redo the work they turned in late and incomplete for full credit. Isn't my letting students turn in late work, although with a penalty, their chance to complete an assignment? Too bad they chose to do a crappy job and turn it in late.

Parents who who signed the course expectation but don't really care what it actually says.

My own internal struggles as I wish I could actually make it a rule to never accept late work, like I did when I taught high school, and how I know many teachers who teach at our target high schools do.

Needing mittens in my classroom because the air conditioner is still on, but it's now actually sweater weather. Finding mittens in LV when it's only October.

Trying to be kind to the students of difficult parents, especially when left alone, the students in question might actually pull it together on their with a little guidance, rather than having their parents bail them out.

Not knowing how to be professional and caring when decent students of difficult parents are obviously trying to reach out and make a connection with me, as other students sometimes do, but I'd rather not even speak to the student in fear of adding more flame to the fire. Or having it used against me in a court of law somehow.

Feeling alone and overwhelmed.

Parents who pay visits to my classroom, not to observe how their students are doing/not doing, but to observe me. Perhaps these parents should save my administrator some time and go ahead and file those reports to her, aye?

Not knowing that the visiting parents were actually there to accumulate dirt on me that could later be used in a public complaint.

Forgetting to stock Tums in my desk.

Using up my entire prep to attend "important meetings" but actually wasting 15-20 minutes waiting for the meeting to begin or for people to show up.

Broken copy machines.

Parents who say they've left voice messages but actually haven't. I've had two (2) parents leave a voice message this year. I think I might have caught it if the parent in question was one.

Following the administrative directives but then having parents complain.

Getting called into the principal's office one day and the vice-principal's the next. (At least I have a trouble buddy. We've been sharing the meetings.)

Somehow being involved in a big school conflict but not really sure how I got there.

Walking into a meeting about said conflict and feeling a little lost because it's larger than me and what's going on in my classroom.

Having problems with the prescribed computer programs and applications. Problems? How about wasting my time trying to do things like load rosters, only to have the programs freeze. Huge time waster. I wonder if we pay a lot of money for these things.

Not wanting to take pills for my headache because I can't chase it with Tums.

The 3-foot stack of papers that I wanted to have done tomorrow so I can take the weekend off.

Supporting Red Ribbon Week and not being able to take the necessary drugs that might make that 3-foot stack more enjoyable.

Not knowing how to score some of the drugs anyway.

Having to go home to my own (step)children and be alert and kind when I just want to go to happy hour like in the good old days of being single.

Adding all of the above up to get the mother of all bad weeks. Adding is bad.

October 24, 2006

End of Quarter Fatigue Sets In

I was hardly impressed with my high school students tonight. It was the last class of the quarter, so they should have been working hard to finish their final, which consisted of one new essay and two essay revisions from their work this quarter. I didn't think it was a lot to ask in the four hours I had them over the course of two days. My ELL student can earn a little slack because his thought and writing processes take so long. Bless his hard-working heart. The rest? Bleah. They are the type of students who are happy with their medicore grades. One student is going to fail, but he claims he's just going to school to impress the judge.

Whatever. Why do I care anyway? They could do better. But what do they say to me? "Miss, am I going to see you next quarter?" I'm not going anywhere. You trying to get me to leave? Geez. Bring it on, punk. You might be good at jacking cars, but your skills in driving me nuts aren't quite developed yet. And one girl said to me, "Miss, do you really need the money?" Actually the money is nice, but who teaches a writing class to a bunch of non-writers at 8:00 p.m. unless they enjoy it? Or try to enjoy it? The students don't understand. They all have shitty jobs so they can make their way. I'm sad that they think my frustration in their apathy constitutes a shitty job that I need just to get by.

It's hard being an English teacher sometimes. Students either love or hate your class. Very little gray area for most. None of my high school students--in a composition/creative writing course--enjoy writing in any way. They all need the credit and were hoping it would be an easy grade. Well, it is not too tough, but it is quite work-intensive. "Miss! All we do is WRITE!" Well, DUH! it's a freakin' writing class!

This week marks the end of the quarter, and luckily we happen to have a 3-day week to celebrate a state holiday. The last few weekends I've had to bring a lot of work home, so I'm completely entrenched in work right now. Entrenched. Whatever. BURIED! I just want to veg out with a good book and forget about work for a few days. Hurry up week! End already!