Friday, August 31, 2007

It's over!

The first week back always seems to drag by, so it is nice to have it done with. Plus, you have to be nice and not start counting tardies, or yell at the frightened freshmen because they were incapable of understanding the vocabulary assignment, or let the juniors see how much work you are going to be making them do.
On the upside, it is now a long weekend, and, thanks to my wonderfully efficient student aide, all my grading is done and I have about thirty minutes' worth of work to do over the next three days. That is very, very nice.
So my first week has gone very well. I don't actually have 45 kids in any of my classes, so that is great. I got most of the week's assignments back from the juniors (the "regular" ones with the reputation of not doing much of anything), and my honors freshmen will, I think, turn out to be somewhat less neurotic than a roomful of chihuahuas. I hope.
Also, the graphic arts guy is awesome, and he always has my copies ready in time. And he will print on colored paper, cardstock, or laminate things without administrative approval, which was a dumb rule anyway.
On the other hand, my LCD projector is almost as old as some of my students, and my pull-down screen is three feet wide. And, for some reason, the only voice jack in my room is in the one corner of the room where it doesn't make much sense to put a desk: where the cable jack is (and where the TV, then, has to be).
Yes, there are going to be some problems. There are too many crazy stacks of papers, already, that I need to deal with, and there are still 37 weeks of school left. There are about four kids in each class that need to say something out loud approximately every six minutes, and as many that are willing to sit and stare at a blank sheet of paper, rather than asking for help. A couple speak pretty poor English (although, given extra time, one manages to crank out spectacular work), and lots are just unmotivated or half-asleep at 7 in the morning.
Anyway, I just thought you would like to hear how things are going. I hope you are enjoying your own back-to-school experiences!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Summer is almost over!

In fact, my first class starts in just over 12 hours. Crap.

Not that I haven't been bored as hell lately, but still.....

And there's not really anything to worry about on the first day, but still.....

And I know that I'll do a good job, but still....


I have a short list of things I need to be doing tonight so I don't have to do them tomorrow, but I'm not doing them. I've tried all my procrastinating techniques: cleaning the house, playing video games, reading all my blogs, and now I'm here (that should say something about the hard-core procrastination I am doing right now). Officially, my excuse is that I need some of the files that are on my jump drive, and I don't know where my keys are, and, hence, my Swiss Army Data Knife thing. Tyson may have them actually, and he's at Wal-Mart with our JVO swimmer getting swim and school supplies.

So too bad, so sad, I guess my homework will just have to wait. Seriously, none of it is for tomorrow, anyway, just stuff I should print up and get to graphics by the end of the day tomorrow. School gets out at 1:15, so I'll have more than an hour before I have to leave, and I will definitely have my keys then, and I will possibly be more motivated.

One thing I am....let's say apprehensive....about is that when I got my rosters on Friday, I had between 40 and 45 kids in each class. That is scary. And I saw some kids wandering around the halls doing whatever kids who come to school a week early do, and they are so huge. I don't know how 45 of us are going to fit in my room. Probably between 5 and 10 each period won't show up, on the first day or ever, but I only have 37 desks in my room. I'm trusting in karma to take care of me on that one; I figure I'm a decent enough human being that things will just "turn out," without me having to worry any more about it. I'm getting tables eventually anyway, and you can always cram one more kid if you have to, if nobody is too particular about their elbow room.

So anyway, I will keep everybody posted about how the first day goes. Right now, in my head, it's going alternately perfect or horrible, but I'm sure it will be somewhere in between.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Panic! at the Grocery Store

So yesterday I was pushing my cart through the grocery store, and just about worked myself into a panic attack. Seriously, if there was anyone else at my house who could have finished shopping for me, I would have just come home and gone to bed.

Let me tell you how it went:

I got a barbecue grill for my birthday (thanks, hon!), so I had planned on some inaugural steaks for dinner last night. Only I've never really bought steaks, except cubed steaks for chicken-frying, because they're expensive and not worth doing if you don't have a grill to cook them on. So I was staring at hunks of raw meat in the butcher block section, looking for something with a sign on the package that said "Great for the Grill! Impossible to Screw Up!" Finally, I asked an employee which ones were good on the grill. She made a few suggestions--a tri-tip roast, porterhouses, T-bones, New York Strips, etc., but what I really wanted was an answer. Something like, "Here, take these eye of round steaks. Marinate them in Worcestershire sauce and garlic pepper for two hours, then cook over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side."

Let me say that, when I am shopping and don't know what to get, the indecision is agonizing. The more I allow it to go on, the more powerless and insignificant I feel. Then I start fretting about what everything costs, and what percentage of my take-home pay that is, and then I start to feel guilty about every expenditure I've made for the last three months. So you can see where this is headed.

Desperate to make a decision, any decision, I glanced quickly at the price tags on the cuts she had shown me, and hastily (and, I hoped, authoritatively) put a smallish tri-tip roast into my cart. Almost immediately after I had done that, I changed my mind again, but I was determined not to let the grocery store lady know how crazy simple steak-buying was making me. I pushed the cart down a few more aisles, fretting the whole time about the prices of each item I picked up, knowing full well that five dollars here and four dollars there has a way of adding up very quickly, and there were all those groceries in my cart from before the steaks, before I had started obsessing over prices, that maybe I should try to put back.

Finally, I went to the meat counter, where there were only two kinds of steak to choose from, and ordered two giant ribeyes. No kidding, these were an inch and a half thick and weighed in at more than a pound each. They still cost as much as the tri-tip (which I couldn't go put back because, out of the corner of my eye, I could still see the lady who'd helped me restocking the meats), but they were steak, not roast, and I vaguely remembered hearing somewhere that ribeyes were pretty good for grilling. I started to worry some about how I was going to cook such thick steaks, and how I would probably mess up twelve dollars' worth of steak.

Then I started worrying about school, if I was going to be any good at it, or if people would like me, or if I was ever planning on going up and unpacking all of my stuff, and if I could get a bigger screen for my projector, and who I was going to ask for help with things like that since my new school doesn't have mentors like my old school did. And once that got going, well, forget it. I got the last few things I needed, and finally the meat section was empty so I slipped the tri-tip back onto the shelf. I got a doughnut for myself, which I later ate furtively in the car in the parking lot, because when I start to go crazy like this, I sometimes turn into a junk food junkie, which adds fuel to the fire of these neurotic mini-meltdowns.

My sanity was somewhat restored when I checked out and the bill only came to $112. Actually, I was mildly amazed, but still so far gone worrying about all sorts of other things. I still needed the doughnut in my car.

So anyway, I knew that the waves of panic and terror would go away as soon as I told somebody about them (thanks, therapy!), and as soon as I got home I told Tyson, and we laughed, and it was no big deal. So don't you guys worry or anything. It's funny now (and probably was at the time, I suppose!). I just thought that, given my recent absence from the blogosphere, I would give you enough honesty that maybe you would be happy with just random links and comics and things again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Okay, okay OKAY, already

So the reason I haven't updated lately is because a) I was in San Diego for a week and internet access was ten bucks a day, and b) I am a really, really boring person. I mean, it's one thing when I'm left alone to stew in my own juices for a month, but this is different. While Tyson was gone, I was SO bored I HAD to find something to do, and posting inanities on my blog killed about an hour a day. Now I'm only about 80% saturated with boredom, not quite to the point of prolific blog-writing desperation. It's like how they give ADHD kids stimulants like Ritalin; you'd think they would act even crazier, but eventually they get so hopped up it like fries their circuitry and everything.

Anyway, there it is: I am bored and boring.

But now I am bored, boring, and 27.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"I thought it would boost my social status!"

Two researchers at the University of Texas have apparently spent a great deal of time and money in an attempt to figure out why people have sex. The results are interesting.

Out of the 237 reasons given by more than 1500 respondents (ages 17-52), the top answer was "I was attracted to the person." The bottom answer?

To give someone an STD.

And that's the only bottom answer I believe. The top 50 are pretty predictable: "It feels good", "I was horny", and "The opportunity presented itself" are all ones I would have guessed. Take a look at the bottom list, though, and let's try to figure out how many of these people were being honest, while the Top 50 people lied through their teeth:

Someone offered me money to do it
I wanted to get a raise
It was an initiation rite to a club or organization
I wanted to get a job/promotion
The person offered to give me drugs for doing it
I wanted to punish myself
I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person
I wanted to breakup my relationship
I wanted to breakup another’s relationship
I wanted to be used or degraded
I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend
I wanted to get a favor from someone
I wanted to enhance my reputation
It would get me gifts
I wanted to make money
I wanted to hurt an enemy
Because of a bet
It was a favor to someone
I wanted to end the relationship
I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/
her partner
It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no’’
The person had a lot of money
Someone dared me
I wanted to have more sex than my friends
I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner
I thought it would boost my social status
I wanted to be popular
I wanted to get a special favor from someone
I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm
I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps
My friends pressured me into it
I felt sorry for the person
I felt jealous
My regular partner is boring, so I had sex with someone else
I wanted to get rid of a headache
I wanted to change the topic of conversation
The person had too much to drink and I was able to take
advantage of them
I wanted to impress friends
The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex
with him/her
I wanted to get out of doing something
I wanted to get even with someone (i.e., revenge)
I wanted to make someone else jealous
I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person’’
I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner
I was slumming
I wanted to brag to friends about my conquests
The person demanded that I have sex with him/her
I wanted to stop my partner’s nagging
I felt guilty
The person bought me jewelry

There are several reasons I can think of for these surprising results:
  1. People lie about why they have sex.
  2. I am too jaded.
  3. The only people I talk to about our sex lives are under 36.
  4. Too many reasons were closely worded and bumped other, more frequently-occurring reasons down in the lists.
  5. Soap operas, movies, and TV do not accurately present reality.

Do you have any theories?

A Possible Error in Judgement (hard to believe, I know)

Say you were taking a trip to Las Vegas and wanted to plan some fun outdoor activities. A day on the lake, say, or a long walk at the Wetlands. (Yes, we have one of those. No, it is not at a casino.) Or maybe you want to have an outdoor wedding reception next spring. A pool party, perhaps. Fourth-of-July fireworks. An egg drop contest. Perhaps it is your dream to retire, buy a condo here, and celebrate your golden anniversary at the communal barbecue pit by roasting a whole pig.

Go ahead. Set the date. The nice thing about Las Vegas weather is that all of these things are pretty much a safe bet. I can say, with more than 98% certainty, that my golden anniversary barbecue on August 4th, 2051, will be hot and sunny. So mark your calendars now. Bring your bathing suits. I'll supply the wine coolers and sunscreen.

Inclement weather just isn't a concern here. (Unless by "inclement" you mean 120 degrees.) After a while, you just take it for granted that things will turn out OK. Like when it's 3 a.m. on Sunday and you're hungry for creme brulee--it's just not a problem.

So when we woke up late this morning and decided to walk the dogs, weather didn't really factor into our decision. Even though it was overcast. And thundering.

We got almost all the way to the coffee shop on Water Street before deciding to turn back, just in case. Within half a block it started raining pretty hard, accompanied by more thunder and lightening.

Before you shake your head and think "I could have told you that was going to happen," just hear me out. This is the desert. Any given part of the valley receives, statistically, about 2 to 3 inches of rain a year, but that's just an average. I think we've managed maybe an inch since this time last year, and that's counting the snowfall in January. Also, we're in the middle of our first monsoon season in years, which doesn't mean anything except it's overcast, less hot, and more humid than usual. In theory, it sometimes rains, but almost always somewhere else, and not usually enough to do anything except bead up the dirt a little bit. So the clouds and thunder were more of a novelty than an actual indication of weather conditions, since it's been this way for almost two weeks now.

Seriously. Rain is just another one of those "it-won't-happen-to-me" scenarios, like getting carjacked or being on reality TV.

It does remind me, however, that being cavalier about the weather is another of those things I won't be able to do quite so easily when I live somewhere else. Somewhere without 24-hour grocery stores and restaurants with creme brulee in the middle of the night. Somewhere I may actually have to have backup clothing (or, at the very least, an umbrella) in case the weather changes suddenly. And, somewhere, God forbid, one day I may even have to learn how to drive safely on snow.

Speaking of errors in judgement I have made lately, my new breadknife Tyson brought back from Switzerland is very sharp. And typing is difficult with one's finger all taped up.