Thursday, February 26, 2015

My family keeps wondering why the kids aren't just in public school.

The imp has a spelling test, today (if they don't run out of time--it's a Friday thing, but Friday's cancelled).  He's in kindergarten, if y'all remember.  He's also reading fairly well. 

He is not being bullied.  At all.

Not like this poor little five-year-old girl in Pascagoula, Mississippi, who was kicked in the face repeatedly while playing on the slide (though the school somehow thinks she beat her own face misshapen, and blacked her own eyes because they didn't see it happen). 

And definitely not like this poor twelve-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a skull fracture (and leaking spinal fluid) by another boy two years older and three times bigger. 

There's a point where kids ought to be taught to stand up to bullies, and then there's a point where the bullies need to be forcibly removed from interacting with other children.  Unfortunately, most public schools are beyond unwilling to do anything but close their eyes and blame the victim. 

Honestly, were I either of those children's parent, I'd be yanking my kid out of the schools, homeschooling them, and suing the pants off of the district.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I hate being behind in work.

Whether that work is housework or the stuff that brings the paycheck, I hate being behind. 

And I'm behind in everything.  Trying my best to catch up, but it's not going quickly.  And the thing I most want to be working on (my writing) is what has to be set aside until I get everything else done. 

Yesterday helped, but not as much as I was hoping.  I got my papers that were turned in via the course website graded (eight very good papers in the course of an hour), then turned to the print copies.  The very first paper I  picked up...yeah, I got lost in trying to decipher what the individual was trying to say, and didn't manage to get through the paper in an hour.  The student really needs an ESL tutor, really, really badly.  Their ideas are spectacularly good, but their word choices and structure really make that hard to see.  And their papers take me over an hour to get through and grade.  I'm honestly tempted to put an F and a "see a tutor to turn this into standard English" note on the top, and be done with it.

And now, I'm behind in where I intended to be, on top of being a week behind in my grading thanks to that damn bout with the stomach flu.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I know I'm late with the announcement, but it's been a busy day.

Today was Odysseus's birthday.  We spent most of the day with his parents, or with wrangling the kids after we got home (rather: I wrangled, while he did homework and took an online quiz).

I'm just about done in, so I think it's time for me to head for bed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

random ramblings

The imp was sick, last week (got over it totally around last Saturday).  I didn't realize how bad until the call of "Mommy, my butt threw up."  And this past week, the pixie caught it, and I caught it.  We went down hard.  I've lost around another ten pounds.  I can tell the pixie's lost a bit of weight, too, and she didn't have it to lose.

She was incredibly cute, the night she started eating again.  She looked up at her daddy with big, sad eyes, and asked, "Would you carry me to bed?  My body's all wiggly."  It only took me a second to realize she meant she felt weak and shaky.  That was around Wednesday night.  

I will admit to being terribly irritable and short with the kids, this morning.  I woke up with a minor earache, and I'm a little dizzy, still with the earache, and now with a headache joining in.  And, of course, the kids are contentious and whiny. 

This morning, Odysseus has gone off to the volunteer tax prep service that the university set up (for credit for their accounting students.  I wasn't sure he'd have the opportunity--we had some sleet last night--but the roads were no more than just wet, this morning.  And he's good at driving on snow and ice with the Civic, much less the Subaru.  I'm only minimally worried, and more about the other fuckwits on the road causing incidents.  He'll be back sometime after five, right around supper time.  I've got some plans, but it'll depend on how I feel whether I can get 'em done or not.  Gonna do one of my chicken casseroles, if I feel up to it. 

The cats have started beating on each other in the evenings.  Turns out Odysseus doesn't feed 'em as much as I do, and leaves 'em hungry in the evening.  Which makes both kitties--both of which are normally sweet tempered with each other--really, really cranky and aggressive.  I'm gonna have to put a flat stop to that.

I'd actually planned on taking the kids up to my mother's, today, but the weather scotched that.  I'd planned  on helping my sister wash my dog, so that she didn't smell like a riverbank (Scotty dog likes to dig, and sleep in the holes).  They've started having her out in the house with them, just puppying about.  She likes to sleep between feet and furniture, and neither of the other two dogs in the house have the manners to be permitted the same treatment.  My dog's mother (my mother's dog--a puppy mill rescue) isn't really even house trained, though she's getting there.

I picked up papers last Friday, right before the pixie got sick.  I haven't managed to get started on 'em yet.  I'm gonna bust my ass to get those done today and tomorrow. 

I just realized something...I hope I have pants that fit to go teach in on Monday.

No, I have not gotten one word written during this past week.  I should be able to change that in short order during my office hours next week.

I also didn't manage to get a pound and a half of sliced mushrooms parted out and frozen.  Or any used to make meatless spaghetti sauce for the freezer.  And now, my mushrooms, which have been sitting in the back of the fridge for a week, are gonna have to get tossed.  Damn it.

Being sick sucks.  That has been a full seven weeks I've been mostly out of commission, and the year's only eight and a half weeks old.  Definitely praying for things to start looking up...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Still alive.

The tummy bug that hit the pixie was rather vicious.  She didn't eat from Sunday through yesterday, and all I've been able to get down her have been pancakes and goldfish crackers. 

I know first hand just how vicious it's been: I caught it, too.  I seem to be on the mend, but there's probably at least another day of fasting involved for me.  But it's definitely going to keep me out of the classroom tomorrow, just as it did on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Rough 24 hrs and counting...

The pixie has been sick.  Vomited twice in her bed fairly early on last night, and a few more times into a bucket while laying on the couch much later last night, and has spent the day laying on the couch sleeping and watching stuff, and vomiting at random points.  Only once did she get any on the couch, and even then, it wasn't much.  All over herself, on the other hand...yeah. 

She's already gotten her bed again tonight.  And the sleeve of the last clean, dry nightgown.  There are more in the wash, but I'm not whereabouts in the cycle they are.  She's currently in a school dress she wore last Wednesday, since that's what I found on short notice. 

I absolutely hate it when the kids are sick.  It's emotionally rough, since I'd rather be sick than watch them suffer, and physically demanding jumping around to make sure they hit the bucket when they lose what little they've managed to put in their stomach.  Given that I spent until two this morning sitting up with her*, I'm inclined to lay down on the couch and conk out for a while, until the next time she needs cleaned up.

*My wonderful husband got up with the kids this morning, despite having migraine level pain with a sinus headache, and let me sleep until my need to take care of my sick baby woke me up.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

random ramblings

The imp had his first spelling test, last week.  He got every word right, including the extra "surprise" word at the end.  We are very, very pleased. Unfortunately, they somehow managed to run out of time, this week--it's not surprising, since they had Friday off for a teacher development day.  They'll have Monday off, too, as that is President's Day.

He finally got a purple day* and got his toys back.  Including the blocks that had been in the pixie's room.  We had to find a set of blocks for the pixie--a small set of small, painted shape blocks, something that won't get mixed up in the imp's blocks.  Unfortunately, the blocks are so small and light that they won't build up on carpet.  I managed to adapt something for her (a 1" x 12" x 14" rectangular board), but she got awfully frustrated, at first.

We met up with some friends, last night.  My six year old son is almost as tall as her nine year old son.  They were a bit shocked.  My daughter is almost a foot taller than their son, who's only about a year and a couple months younger than she is.  Hell, to be honest, was a bit shocked.  I didn't realize my kids were that tall.

Anyhow, they're homeschooling, and she complained about her youngest daughter's handwriting.  I offered the loan of the fountain pen I fixed yesterday--kids, especially, are forced to slow down and think about what they're doing until they're used to it, and even then, are often so pleased with having something special to write with that they take more care.  My kids desperately want a fountain pen each, for example.  I've promised that I'll get each of them their own pen once they learn to write with one.  And I sent my friend the link, because the fountain pen I found is designed for kids: the grip part is molded, and there's a smiley face engraved in the nib to teach them how to hold and use a fountain pen.

My kids had their Valentines Day party at school, last Wednesday.  The pixie brought home a paper heart that she'd glued decorative puff balls to...badly, since all of the balls came off.  The cats...the cats just love those things, and have been routinely stealing them to play with in the kitchen where they slide and roll around on the linoleum.  I'm not sure what about them has attracted the cats' attention so firmly, but both cats have been acting like kittens with them.  Which makes me wonder if I shouldn't get the cats some new toys.

I picked up paper 2 yesterday, and one of my students told me they had a friend in a different Comp II class that hadn't even written one paper, yet.  They also told me that they'd picked my class for convenience (my class is in the library, in the middle of campus, rather than way off away from everybody but the business majors), but were incredibly glad they did because of how much they were learning, and because of the laid back environment, and the way I let them choose the topics.  (I rarely have two papers over the same topic, and almost never from the same point of view--which makes things a damn sight more interesting as I grade papers.)  Pretty much everyone in the classroom agreed with that student.  And they're planning to have a lot  of fun with the evaluation essay--they can review a movie** or a book** or a video game** or music, or anything else they can think of.

Writing hasn't totally stalled, but I've had less time than I'd prefer--I'm still trying to catch up with the housework that I couldn't do for almost six full weeks.  I've gotten caught up with taking care of the cats, but I've still got laundry (and clean clothes to put away), the kitchen (although I've banned the use of real dishes until further notice), and the living room to deal with.  Not to mention the master bedroom.

And I'm still waiting on cover art...

*The imp's class has a behavior chart, graded by colors.  Pink is spectacular, purple is excellent, blue is good, green is "ready to learn" and is the minimum acceptable, and yellow, orange, and red are bad behavior.

**For the movie review, they have to watch something they haven't seen; however, since books and video games take a lot more time to get through, I don't require fresh eyes on that.  I don't want to hamper them with getting stuff done for other classes in doing homework for mine.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Back in 2003, just after I bought my red Parker Vector pen (a decent pen for a student), I bought a blue Parker Reflex (which is no longer in production, though you can still find them).  From day one, it didn't work.  It either flooded or skipped, depending on the angle I held it, and the letter I was trying to write at the time. 

I very sadly put it away, since it was precisely my favorite shade of blue. 

Fast forward twelve years.  I spotted the problem with the pen last week: the tines were uneven.  Not crooked--the feed slit in the nib was cut unevenly.  One tine was shorter and much narrower than the other. 

So, I started trying to figure out if I could replace the nib--hard to say, because I cannot figure out the size of nib I need.  I know more than I used to, but I'm still far more novice than expert.  I did get the nib and feeder* removed and got a better look at the problem, today. 

And then, I fixed it.  It's a cheap, soft stainless steel nib--nothing high quality, but utilitarian, when it works--so I took an emery board to it, and evened up the tines, then put it back.  Inserted a cartridge, and tried it out.

It works.  For the first time since I bought it, it neither floods nor skips.  

Best of all?  I much prefer a fine nib to the medium it came with, and after the work I did evening up the tines on the nib, it's now more fine than medium.

*The feeder is the plastic thing behind the metal that makes up the nib.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sounds about right.

"At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism."

I'd show you my shocked face, but I'm too busy rubbing my temples with exasperation that everyone seems to have fallen for this shit, and is in the process of destroying  first world nations' economies in the guise of trying to save a planet that isn't dying.

Granted, developing countries--like India and China--need to do an absolute fuck-ton of work on just how badly their industries pollute their air and water; however, these nations either are too busy trying to boot-strap themselves up into the current century to give a flying fuck about trying to save the rest of the planet (which again, isn't in danger), or they saw through what had fooled everyone else.  Honestly, I'm betting on the first: it takes an affluent society to have the breathing room to raise their eyes from their work and wonder what they can fuck with next.

I don't think I can imagine the frustration.

Okay, here's the story: a nineteen year old girl in Texas has some of the shittiest parents I can imagine.  I don't know if there was any abuse defined as such, but there's certainly a level of hampering her getting on with her life that I think merits at least a short prison sentence.

Alicia Pennington was born at home.  Her parents refused to file for a birth certificate, or a social security number.  She was home schooled, and never needed medical care.  There is no official record of this girl.  Her attempts to file for a delayed birth certificate were denied, because the judge said there wasn't enough evidence she was born to US citizens on US soil, and her parents refuse to testify to their citizenship...or hers. 

In my honest opinion, this smacks of a nearly perfect attempt to control the girl.  She isn't able to get a job, much less do anything else that even an illegal immigrant does as a matter of course, because everyone knows she's American but she can't prove it officially.   

I think her parents ought to be jailed until they cooperate, and any children still in their home need to be removed and processed for identification so that they cannot do this to another one of their kids. 

No, I'm not against home births (though I think the people who opt for them are gambling the life of both mother and baby, with how fast things can go critically wrong), nor am I against homeschooling.  What's gotten my back up in this case is that the parents are purposefully and maliciously crippling their daughter's chances at creating a successful life away from them. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

That's the way to do it.

If the police want to regain their old reputation of being public servants, and keep the populace cooperative instead of having everyone, rather than just thugs, refuse to be friendly and courteous much less cooperate, they need to follow this guy's example:

One of the first things Magnus did when he took over was to disband the department's "street teams," units of heavily armed officers deployed in high-crime areas.
The teams stopped "everything that moved," Richmond Police Capt. Mark Gagan said, in hopes of finding suspects with warrants or carrying small amounts of illegal drugs. ...many in the community perceived the aggressive street teams as an occupying army.*
Magnus also eliminated the seniority system that allowed officers to choose the areas they would patrol. He required officers to take on more responsibilities on their beats beyond responding to calls. Beat officers are required to attend neighborhood meetings and to maintain a high profile at churches, schools and businesses. They're encouraged to hand out their mobile phone numbers and email addresses to residents.
What he's doing is working.  Crime of all types has plummeted, and citizen cooperation--in a city that's 1/3 black, 1/3 hispanic, and 1/3 white--is skyrocketing.

I am not surprised it's working.  I live in a small town in the Midwest, and I've seen anti-cop sentiment skyrocketing as the cops get more belligerent, confrontational, and self-isolating.  They're not acting like soldiers--not ours, at least, since ours are trying to win the hearts and minds of the nations they're occupying in the attempt to aid.  No, the police around here are acting like the Nazi occupation did, in areas they suspected people of aiding the Jews.

In the town where I grew up, on the other hand, we had two cops.  They tended to get bored and lonely while they were patrolling, and go to wherever people were gathered, and just hang out.  Everyone knew them, everyone liked them, and everyone...cooperated.  Even the local pot grower/dealer (and yes, they did know he did that...and didn't care because...) tended to let them know who was making meth, and where.  Everyone trusted them to do the right thing, and not to go shooting people's pets...or the people who they were supposed to be protecting.

People cooperate with their neighbors.  No one with any amount of self-respect is going to cooperate with an occupying enemy army that acts like jackbooted thugs.  And Chief Magnus gets that.

Unfortunately, very few other departments or chiefs do. 

*emphasis mine

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Well. That's done.

I picked up papers last Friday (and will again, next Friday).  I graded one class's papers over the weekend, and half of the other class's on Monday...and then, I got hit with a mild migraine.  Which stuck around through Wednesday.

I just finished grading papers a bit ago.  Now?  Since I've gotta be up and moving no later than 6:30 a.m. to get the kids up, dressed, and fed, before getting myself, it's time for bed.

'Night, y'all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pretty sure the "I didn't mean it like that" defense didn't work for Edward II.

Back in the early middle ages, a king appointed one of his courtiers to the office of Archbishop of Canterbury.  He assumed that his man would represent the interests of the crown rather than that of the Church. 

It backfired spectacularly.  Thomas Becket was ordained, and began representing the interests of the Church, which pissed off the the point where Becket fled to the Continent for a few years.  Once he returned, during the reign of the following king (who broke tradition and was crowned elsewhere--a bad sign), things got worse: the king, Edward II, said something along the lines of "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"  The exact wording is under dispute, but what happened was that four knights, freshly returned from the Crusades, decided that this was a Royal Command, and went to confront Becket.  And then, they murdered him in the cathedral. 

Three years later, he was canonized.  No, the king wasn't directly punished, but that was pretty much a slap in the face, a "we don't believe you didn't mean it" from Rome. 

I see shades of that happening in San Diego, now.  San Diego has passed an anti-gang law that states that even those inciting gang violence, knowingly or unknowingly, or profiting from it in some way, are liable as conspirators.  And now, they've arrested a rapper--Brandon Duncan, aka Tiny Doo--under said law.  He faces prison for life with all of the charges laid against him.

The ACLU are protecting him, stating that he has a right to rap about whatever he wants--that the first amendment protects him and his art. 

I can, on the one hand, see their point. 

On the other hand, Duncan's defense strikes me as a cross between that of Edward II who implied that he wanted the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered, and that of the type of idiot that screams "fire!" in a crowded theater, then tries claiming that it was his right under the freedom of speech. 

Pretty much all of the gangsta rappers tend to incite violence, crime, and rioting.  Why shouldn't they be prosecuted under similar laws that normal people inciting riots are prosecuted under?

Monday, February 2, 2015

One down, one to go.

I finished grading the papers for my 8:00 a.m. class, last night.  Twenty-four students per class times two classes means 48 papers.  I'm down to one class, just 24 papers to go.  Twelve tonight, and twelve tomorrow night means I can hand papers back on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, I don't get to rely on my usual crutch, this time: my printer ran out of toner, which means no rubrics until I get a new toner cartridge...which should be arriving sometime Wednesday. 

So.  The plan is to grade twelve papers tonight, starting with the ones turned in on the course site platform.