Desperate Sales

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, all sorts of decorative items (and useful ones, too) are put on sale to make way for post-Thanksgiving’s “Black Friday.” The sales seem to have intensified this year. Due to inflation’s impact on the cost of necessities, customers have turned wish lists into wait-and-see lists. Stores are pulling out all the stops with incentives and gifts-with-purchase.

I had a (rare) day off Monday because of a morning appointment in Port Huron. I used the drive home as an opportunity to shop before crowds took over.

(NOTE: If you are on my gift list, ahead are SPOILERS. No peeking, Carlos!)

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Winterizing La Casa de Tontería

Yesterday it snowed. Not the fluffy, stick-to-the-ground snow. Not even the fluffy, melt-immediately snow. It came down in tiny crystals that rattled in the fallen leaves.

The cold weather meant no one was burning leaves. It was a perfect time to bag up leaves and pick up sticks. I hauled four bags and, with a bungee cord and a steady hand on the trunk, the fallen maple limb to the yard-waste drop-off.

When I said I’d be back with more, the man who runs the site warned me, “Don’t stay out too long. You’ll get soaked.” He’s a local who’s seen more than a few winters.

Sure enough, the snow changed to a thick mix of rain and sleet. By the time I put away the tools, I was drenched. It felt good to change into dry, thick layers and lunch on hot soup.

I made a mental list of accomplishments. The outdoor furniture has been stored. The compost can and the garbage bin have both been moved to their easy-to-reach winter spots. The snow shovel is in the front closet.

But the outdoor faucets need capping. Would suet or seed be better? Both? And this morning, when I stepped onto the cool floor, I remembered: close the crawlspace vents!

Real snow is coming Wednesday or Thursday.

SIDENOTE: The natural gas company sent its monthly report. La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) used 28% less energy (19 therm) than the 100 most efficient homes (26 therm) and much less than comparable houses (43 therm).

Nearly a MONTH!?!?

The saying is “Time flies when you’re having fun,” not “Time flies when you’re not having fun and not expecting fun in the near future.”

I’m listing things I remember doing (if only vaguely) since March 30.

  • Preparation for/proctoring of state test
  • Administration of International Baccalaureate internal assessment
  • Lots of grading
  • Lots of make-up lessons and materials for absentee Young Humans
  • Made a lemon cake for My Old Man’s birthday Easter (The change involves an ice storm.)
  • Dealing with debris after ice storm/gale
  • Digitizing analogue materials and converting Microsoft documents to Google Docs and PDFs (Understatement: PowerPoint > Google Slides)
  • Three official meetings and two unofficial meetings at The Young Human Factory
  • Set up a composting barrel in the backyard
  • Editing dialogue in the novel – and nothing more

“The Year from Hell”

So says my mother, who doesn’t tend to talk so negatively. In fact, she’s been doing very well since the end of her radiation and chemotherapy. However, I put the final straw on her camel’s back for 2021.

I can’t go home for Christmas because I’m sick.

Is it Covid? my readers may wonder.

How should I know? Because of Covid precautions, my doctor video-called me and went through my symptoms. Then he decided to treat me for both Covid and a bacterial infection. Sure, I could go get a proper test by appointment at a drugstore a couple hours’ drive both ways. Or, I could quarantine and not inflict the creeping crud (complete with laryngitis) on innocent passersby.

Still, this is the lousiest Christmas I’ve ever had. 2022 had better be a heck of a lot better!

Living in a Panic

The Young Human Factory was closed yesterday for “mental health.” My dear readers, some of you may have heard about a teenager killing four schoolmates and gravely wounding others at Oxford High School in Michigan.

What you may not have heard was that throughout the region, schools have been inundated with threats. These hoaxes are done for various reasons. Social media is the typical source, but the “grapevine” of gossip works, too.

The Young Human Factory is no exception.

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Post-Halloween Comment

We had a good turn-out of trick-or-treaters. I got to visit with one of the neighbors. We both missed our former neighbors who used to pass out beer to the adults!

My favorite was the little boy who took off his monster mask so the neighbor lady and I wouldn’t be afraid of him. There was also a group of kids that brought their dog who barked when trick-or-treaters came to the door but was perfectly quiet around strangers on the street. Smart doggo!

Will post pics later in the week.

Nap Days

The “cold” from two weeks ago didn’t go away. I spent one sleepless night propped up on the sofa because reclining brought on rib-wracking coughs. My doctor gave antibiotics for an infection.

I took naps. Lots of naps.

I don’t know about you, but in my culture, naps are for babies. And octogenarians, because they earned it. No self-respecting adult naps, except The Old Man aka my father. Ironically, it’s because he’s an insomniac. After he checking on us sleepers, he’d go across the road to the garage and work until the rest of the household woke up.

So I’ve been feeling like a loser for napping.

Now my sleep habits are in ruins. I was typing up away at two in the morning. (3,484 words so far this week!) Then I would sleep past brunch. Or take a two-hour nap before dinner.

I have been trying my best to get back into the groove. The weather has not cooperated. Yesterday, for instance, a series of thunderstorms dropped twilight over the world for three hours straight. Today, humidity made all activity cease except for sitting in shade and partaking in a series of cool drinks (seltzer water with blueberries is the clear winner, although raspberries blended with mint tea is a close runner).

I will try again tonight to catch Mister Sandman on his usual rounds!

Year-end Review

Academic year, that is. Last week was final exams. Then came the end of masking in my region, which means that Covid-19’s Reign of Error is finally over.

Here are some closing thoughts:

  • The Middle School Mafia arrived below grade-level and – thanks to the Department of Education’s denial of a state-requested waiver – spent precious class days taking standardized tests to determine they were below grade-level.
  • Schoolteachers who disliked returning to in-person classes should change professions.
  • Our students got a detailed lesson in hypocrisy when journalists exposed how the Michigan governor and members of her staff found her restrictions too onerous to follow. (The “test” part of the lesson will occur at the next gubernatorial election, when many of them will be eligible to vote!)
  • It’s terrible when parents expect public employees to parent their children.
  • It’s tragic when students feel safer at school than at home.
  • The best part of teaching is interaction; the worst is typing information into various electronic databases and forms.

Back to The Factory… again.

Reader B4thugthagod asked if working from home wasn’t easier than being at The Young Human Factory. The truth is, I never stopped going to work. Because it was a “pause” and not a state-mandated shutdown, my colleagues and I were required to work regular hours.

And because it was a shutdown, I worked 9-12 hour days, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. Recording instructional videos, converting in-class work to Google-friendly documents, and answering dozens of questions (mostly by cutting-and-pasting the directions the students didn’t read) took extra hours.

Last week I stopped offering a daily 8-12:30 Google Meet-ups because of proctoring tests. The only students who used the virtual meetings were done with their work and lonely. (One student showed me his entire rock collection and motherboard repairs for over an hour.)

There have been recurring problems; e.g. the students mark work as “done” so their parents are happy, but they submitted nothing – or nonsense. For example, a student wrote ” “I like cheese” instead of an introductory paragraph. I tried to nip this behavior in the bud by contacting all parents of “missing work” students the first week. I printed off each nonsensical document, scanned it, and emailed it to the child’s parents.

Some – not all – students corrected that document, which I re-ran and graded. But most played the same trick later. After I entered zeroes in the gradebook, the parents cracked the whip. Last week, my inbox was flooded with hundreds of notifications about work submitted 15 to 20 days late!

There’s a misconception that The Factory is a utility company. When the electricity is shut off, students finally pay the bill and the power comes back. In truth, students are like jobbers who shirk work and then, on payday, are outraged that their neighbors are flush with cash.

It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m writing this while waiting for lunch to finish cooking, after which I must go to The Factory to finalize the Marking Period. (After which, everyone will decide to Pay the Utility Bill.) Then I’ll set up the weekly lessons (and a test over a novel!)

Things are going to be ugly for a while longer.