Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Supper.

4-5 medium potatoes, cut in chunks
1-2 bell peppers, cut in strips
1 kielbasa, cut in chunks
Shredded cheese (any kind, any amount)
seasoning to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450.  Layer potato chunks in bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish (or a half-size steamer pan from Sam's Club, like I did). 

2. Spread the bell pepper strips over the potatoes.  Season (I used Slap ya' Mama cajun seasoning), then spray with olive oil or cooking spray. 

3. Put the kielbasa on top of the veggies, and cover the dish with foil (or use the steamer pan lids from Sam's Club). 

4.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, then check potatoes.  If the potatoes are done, add cheese (I used Italian blend, about 1 c, and another 1/2 c chedder/colby jack) over the top, and put back for 3-5 minutes.

This was stupid-easy, and gut-bustingly good.  

No idea what to call it, besides tasty.

Not my monkeys

I've noticed two trends in parenting, recently--over-parenting, and under-involvement.  Both are fairly common around my area, and both cause major, lasting damage to the children involved. 

Over-parenting, also known as helicopter parenting, turns out whiny, self-centered, neurotic, helpless children that just don't grow up well.  They don't know how.  One example happened a couple of weeks ago: one of my students had a scheduled weekend home, and then wasn't able to go.  This was a major issue for that student, because that was how they did laundry.  They took it home, and had their mother do it.  Without that weekend, though, they were running out of wearable--not necessarily clean, but wearable--clothes, and didn't know how to do laundry.  At all.  To the point that they didn't even know how to measure the detergent for the load.  And they asked me how to do it.  They said that it seemed like I have my shit together, and I'm approachable, and I like to help my students learn how to do stuff. 

I told them to go get a box of detergent tabs from Walmart, read the tags in their clothes to make sure they didn't try to wash something that was dry clean or hand wash only, or dry something that was hang or lay flat to dry, then select cold water on the knob on the laundromat machines.  No, I didn't tell them to sort whites from coloreds, or warm from cold water wash items.  They had enough to worry about, and I may be their teacher, but I am not their parent. 

(I did want to slap the shit out of their parents, though.  My EIGHT year old is capable of running a washing machine.  And knows how.)

Under-involvement is also very common in this area.  If the kid's smart, they're capable of raising themselves.  If they're not, you've got a pack of ferals (and it's always a pack, because it's almost always a woman who sees having kids and pulling welfare as a career choice.  Want a raise?  Have another baby!  It's not like they have to do anything with it). 

There is a pack of ferals living next door.  The children are all around a room-temperature IQ, impulsive, emotionally explosive, and have no adult care.  No adult supervision.  Despite having non-working adults living in the house. 

I'm not talking the free-range kids movement, where kids are allowed to do things within the bounds of their abilities.  I'm talking about NO care.  NO supervision.  Neither parent is present, much less parenting (not helicoptering--parenting).  I'm talking making sure that young children and toddlers are not in danger of getting run over by a car, and making sure the ten year old doesn't have to repeatedly chase down and carry an eighteen month old toddler back to the house, nearly dropping the baby every couple of steps because a) they're not big enough to carry a fat toddler; and b) because said baby is kicking, screaming, biting, flailing, and generally trying to get away so that he can run back into the street.  I'm talking making sure the kids actually get fed meals, and have a bedtime.  And no, ten pm on a school night is not a good bed time for younger than about junior year in high school.

Assuming any of the ferals make it that far. 

This is how welfare becomes generational.

No, none of these children--adults who were never taught how to adult, nor yet the ferals next door--are actually my problem.  Not really.  They do cause problems, and they're going to be causing problems for my children as taxpaying adults, sometime in the not-as-distant future. 

No, I don't see the need to intervene.  I'm moving (hopefully) within the next two months.

What I want to know, at this point, is why people have children if they either refuse to take care of them at all, or refuse to teach them what they need to know to become adults in their own right?  Why do people have children when they have no intention of actually being a parent?  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Counting down.

I have this week and next week scheduled for my classes' last paper.  This week, we're going over APA citation format in class, and then having a research day on Thursday.  Next week, they're freewriting on Tuesday, and workshopping/peer editing on Thursday. 

The week after, we move from papers to blogging for two weeks (four posts, total), and then we're absolutely done with class; final exams are scheduled for the next Tuesday for both classes (5/9), and will be nothing but students emailing me missing work during the time set aside for the final exams.  I won't be on campus for that.  And by the end of the day, I can and will be turning in final grades.

I am tired.  I'm ready for summer break from trying to cram new writing skills and bring out the ones present in my students. 

Fall semester's going to be rough.  I'm going to have back to back 75 minute classes.  I'll be done with the teaching by 10:45, though, and should be able to set office hours to be done by 1:00...which will give me a little while to go run errands, or crash until it's time to pick up the kids. 

Today, I'm working on grading paper 4 and revisions of paper 3 that were turned in.  I just wish the course site would cooperate more, instead of taking more than a minute to load the paper to grade, be sluggish on scrolling down as I read the papers, and take another minute to record the grade, then yet another to maybe load the next paper, or maybe just put me back on the gradebook's main page...where I have to select the next paper myself, and wait for it to load.

Needless to say, that is NOT the way it's supposed to work. 

I'm still working my way through the ones turned in through the course site for my earlier class; the paper copies are still in my bag, awaiting attention...and I forgot my freakin' pencil.  And I'm not comfortable grading in pen, because I tend to get nasty tempered and snarky with students who repeat the same corrected mistake from one paper to the next to the next.  And many do, even if more learn.

I'm still playing with the fountain pens I got for my birthday, last month, and despite loving my Conklins, I absolutely adore the lime green TWSBI Eco I got.  I'm DEFINITELY spending more on one of their Diamond 580s for the next pen I get (and one of their special ink bottles that make filling the pen a much less messy proposition).  The Eco holds a TON of ink, writes smoothly, and is just an all-around excellent pen (even if, as a piston-filler, it would NOT be a good pen to fly with filled).  It also doesn't really like to be carried on its side, jostled around.  It burps into its cap.  Doesn't do that if you carry it upright, though. 

I do plan to get either one of their vac-fill pens (which also have a special, less-mess ink bottle), or another piston fill eventually.  However.  Before that, I DESPERATELY need a new coffee pot--my current one takes fifteen minutes to brew 12 cups, if it's been freshly cleaned.  Otherwise, it takes longer.  And a brown-out will cause it to lose the clock, so pre-setting it the night before doesn't really work well.  That's fine for over break and summer, because I'm not in a hurry for it, but I have to be AT WORK by a bit before 8:00, for my first class.  And that's a bitch.

I miss my Cuisinart Grind-n-brew.  Fast, power blinks didn't wipe its clock settings, and I could put beans in and not mess with a separate grinder.  That's on my list for fall. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Heading into the home stretch

I could quote Chaucer about April,* but March was pretty damn rainy, just as April has started out.

I am heading into the home stretch for class.  The fifth, and final paper, will be a sort of a final exam for my students: I'll teach them how to find sources, how to determine a credible source as opposed to one that isn't, and how to use parenthetical references in the text to cite said sources.  Other than that, they'll be on their own for writing this last paper.  Their paper is due the last Tuesday of April, and their first blog will be due the same night.  Thereafter, they're pretty much done with the majority of the semester's work-load.

And mine will just be starting.  I'll have paper 5 to grade, and blogs, and the house closing the last Wednesday of the month.  Then, we'll need to arrange to get a chain-link fence put in, and new flooring put down, repairs made, and all that sort of fun stuff, then moving.

Some time during that, the kids get out of school (mid May).  Which is good, because they're big enough to help a bit.

And I darn sure am not willing to pack their toys for them.

The timing, though, is going to be difficult: we are closing the week before classes are done for me, and since the new house is on a well, without power, there is no water for cleaning (and there will be cleaning, if only because there are a few places where well-sealed windows and no air circulation induced mold growth).  So utilities need to be turned on in our names.

Guess what?  The inspection company we hired to do the home inspection will do that for us. It's part of their services. 

I'm dreading the move, yes, but I'm excited about the new home: we're going to have another room, and will have six acres of play space for the kids.  A pond, with an area that will be suitable to learn to shoot in (with BB guns and air rifles only, since it is technically within city limits), a barn that they can play in once we get a chance to get a good look at the inside, and a storage building on the property bigger than the one we're renting at a storage facility.

Funny thing: we're going to have to move the chest freezer at the same time we move the cats.  Cricket literally CANNOT FIND the food dish unless it's on top of the freezer.  CAN NOT.  She's actually stepped in it when I set it on the floor, and never realized that the food was RIGHT THERE.  Because it wasn't on top of the freezer, it wasn't the food dish, and she was starving.  With Shadow, it's a power play (I won't eat until you put my food back.  Yes, I know it's there, but no.  It's wrong.), but Cricket is about as bright as the rooster from Moana

I love my cats. 

*First lines of The Canterbury Tales.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ugh.

Spring Break has been tense, this year.  Last Friday, we made an offer on the house we'd been considering.  Monday, that offer was accepted.  We've been scrambling to deal with the paperwork, since, and I've been fighting with a cold.  Today, we had the inspection scheduled,and had to go get the insurance done by the bank's request.

It's a nice place: around 400 square feet more than our current place, and a BIG yard.  But assuming the inspection goes well, we're going to have to replace all of the carpets, and put in a fence to protect the safety of the mouthy little Scotty bitch that hates big dogs from getting herself munched by the neighbor's big dog. 

And the inspection turned up a few thing that have to be dealt with.  Hopefully not too much--and hopefully it won't cost huge to fix. 

But yeah, busy, tense, and with me sick.  Fun times. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Busy month

Well. 

We all got sick a couple weeks ago--all except the imp, who seems to have completely dodged the upper respiratory yuck.  The pixie missed three days of school, because she was running a fever on the first two days.  Third day, she was fine, so she went back on that Friday.  And that Saturday, she popped a fever again.  This was the week of Odysseus's birthday, too.

We've finally scraped together a significant downpayment fund for a mortgage.  And that's going to be slightly complicated for us, since we have no debt, and haven't had any debt for the past six or seven years.  At all.  So we've been working on that, too.  And house hunting. 

Why the urgency?  Because the neighbors are horrid.  I don't mind the sweet little old lady between us and the corner, but the new ones that moved in to the other side last May?  We're going to have to put privacy film on the bedroom window so that prospective buyers don't see their nasty yard.  And hope that we can show while their kids are off at school, so that they don't hear the language the kids routinely scream out in the back yard...which is right next to the master bedroom window. 

There's three generations living in that house, and judging by the way the teenager acts (like a cat in heat) and dresses (like she's advertising a career choice), it's gonna be four within the next two or three years.  

Their front yard isn't good, but it isn't as bad, either. 

So, we're waiting to hear about the mortgage application, so that we can make an offer on a house barely outside of city limits (though the city has annexed the property across the road...and the one we want) with six acres, a septic system, and a well.   Enough space for the children to grow up without me losing my mind. 

And that...that's been the extra piled on top of the usual mess of grading, teaching, grading, and teaching. 

Oh, and editing a book for a friend I hold very dear, even if I've never met him face-to-face in my life.  I'm about ready to print it, copy edit by hand, and snail-mail the packet. Doing that much copy editing in Word is a serious pain. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Oof.


Last semester was hard.  Really hard.  I was trying to figure out what was going on where my health was concerned, running on empty, and trying to do more than usual.  I didn't do a very good job with any of the three classes: I was stretched way too thin.  

This semester...wow.  I wasn't thinking it would be as difficult to deal with as it is.  I have Tuesday/Thursday classes only.  MWF classes are 50 minutes per class; TTh classes are 75 minutes.  I didn't think that the extra 25 minutes would be so much of a difference, but they are.  And even worse, the two hours between classes don't help a lot where regaining stamina are concerned.  Mostly because I'm supposed to wait an hour before taking anything after my Levothyroxine, and four before taking herbal supplements.  

That puts my adrenal support supplement at 10:00, at the earliest.  Because I take the thyroid med right after the alarm goes off at 6:00.  And the adrenal support supplement is to be taken with a meal (at 7:00, then at lunch), and I often don't get lunch on TTh.  So, the days when I need it most, I don't get it. 

Yes, I will likely ask for a similar schedule next semester.  Four days in a row not at work helps.  

No, I will not ask for three classes.  Not any time soon, and perhaps not ever again.  I have a reason beyond just being unable to keep up.  Despite making a bit over $2,000 more per semester, we took a tax hit of a bit more than double that. 

Y'see, that bumped us up a tax bracket.  And instead of most of the tuition for the kids' school being covered by the EITC (think: unintentional voucher), the tuition is going to come out of our savings for a house outside city limits.  

They tax cigarettes to try to change behavior, and get people to stop smoking.  By the same logic, an income tax...yeah, I'll leave you to think about that.