Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School

Well, we've just completed our first week back at work after the long summer break. Oh, wait, I didn't take a summer break. I worked 7 out of the 10 weekdays I had off so I could hit the ground running.

My classes seem pretty good, although large. We lost a half-time math teacher to a transfer, and they just decided to split his classes between the remaining two 8th grade math teachers. We have constantly heard throughout my 12 years at this school that we do everything according to best practices. It's the reason we lost our block scheduling and team teaching, which coincided with us getting our prep time cut in half along with a reduction in staff. It's the reason we went to trimesters instead of semesters, which coincided with another reduction in staff. And now we face increased class sizes, which everyone knows is the best practice when teaching children. Now I don't have a problem with any of these cost-cutting moves. Our economy is in bad shape, the worst in the state. What offends me is how we are told such obvious falsehoods. These are not best practices for teaching middle school children, but unfortunately they are necessary at this point. Please just don't candy coat why we have to do this. We're adults, and unlike Tom Cruise's character in "A Few Good Men," we can handle the truth.

I was so tired last night after a week of getting no more than six hours of sleep each night, I crashed as soon as I put Sera to bed and was asleep before 8:30. I awoke at 5:30 AM and thought, "Weird. I'm awake, but not exhausted!"

I have missed my bike this week. Last week I was riding across the construction zone by our house to get to my normal riding neighborhood, when I heard two pings. Turned out I had broken two spokes on my back wheel. I took my bike in, and they said they could replace the fragile aluminum spokes in just two days with steel ones, which would last forever. Well, two days apparently meant seven, because I just got my bike back tonight. Is it weird that I had an emotional reaction when they rolled my bike out of the garage section of the bike shop? It was like a friend I hadn't seen in a year. Of course, I gained five pounds this week. I ate right, but with no exercise that's not very effective for me. So I'm back up to 291, but determined to let it go no further. Tomorrow I'll probably ride 10 miles just to get back in the saddle.

We've cut back on our monthly bills with the new school year. Using TurboTax cost us a ton of money when it automatically kept a deduction from a previous year to which we were no longer entitled. By the time we paid the tax bill (along with penalties and interest) and made an unexpected trip to Utah when my dad died, we found ourselves in a big hole. We cut out XM radio earlier in the summer, and tomorrow we're consolidating our communication bills. We're abandoning DirecTV in favor of Comcast digital cable, from whom we already receive Internet services. We're also cutting our landline for telephone service, since the only thing we use it for is connecting to DirecTV. Losing DirecTV means I won't get to watch the Tigers anymore, but it's a difference of over $120 a month with all the cuts, and for that much money I can make do listening to the radio broadcast on my phone and watching video highlights. Our daycare expenses are lower now because Sera is potty-trained, and we paid off our second mortgage in June, so that payment's gone as well. I'll probably be taking on a second teaching job in the evenings again just to get caught up. There always seem to be students who need homebound instruction because they can't manage a classroom environment. One-on-one they're not that bad, generally.
It could be a lot worse. I know a lot of my friends are out of work, and the community in which I teach is still desperate for jobs.

Okay, I have "Twister" on in the background while I'm writing this and I have strong memories of liking this movie. But now it's really puzzling how the bad boy team of storm chasers get surprised by a tornado at a drive-in movie. It's almost like they didn't have five trucks filled with weather-sensing equipment that could have let them know that a frakking tornado was right on top of them. And why is it that scientists would use an aerodynamic shape, a sphere, to get sucked into a tornado so that they were forced to add aluminum wings (made exclusively out of Pepsi products. Holy product placement!) to create enough drag to be pulled into the vortex? Seems like the guys in the black trucks who used cubes were a little smarter. And seriously, is that Academy Award-winning Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the stoner guy in a baseball cap? "Heh heh heh. We're gone." He's a chameleon, that guy is.

Well, I guess that catches everything up for a whole week! It's been busy, and I've been too exhausted to write. It was so good to see my colleagues back at work. We had fun Monday catching up and exchanging reading and movie lists. I borrowed the first season of True Blood on DVD from Traci the Twilight Lover, and I look forward to watching it.
If you can't enlarge the image, go here!

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