In which we try again

I’ve got the BlueTooth keyboard hooked up to the phone again; this resulted in a deleted post yesterday, so I’m probably pointlessly repeating history here, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve been in the building for about three and a half hours so far today and have succeeded in completely moving myself out of the old classroom. I’ve got some more teardown to do in there, but we’re probably talking about twenty minutes, max, and I may not even do it until I know who the new teacher in the room is going to be. For all I know he or she may want to keep some of the stuff I’ve got up.

I did break down and buy a new laser printer yesterday, but I bought a new laser printer for home, not for work, and brought the old one here. The new one is wireless and AirPrint ready, so I can print from my iPad and my wife can print from her computer and her laptop, none of which we ever figured out how to do with the older printer hardwired to my Mac. It cost more than I was planning on spending, but I think it was probably the right move. The old one, luckily, quickly paired with my work computer, which I was nervous about– the school corporation has a terrible record on pointlessly disabling useful technologies, and I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to use my printer on the work computer because of some nonsense over OMG VIRUZZIZ or some stupid shit like that. (“Viruses” is always, always the answer to any why-can’t-I-do-this-perfectly-reasonable-thing question, even when the activity in question is one that cannot possibly produce any sort of computer security issue– like, say, hooking a non-wireless-capable printer to a desktop computer.)

Anyway. I have another ukulele appointment in a couple of hours; constant scheduling conflicts have kept us from meeting again since the first one, so this one will be a double session. Hopefully I’ll walk out of the session feeling like I have some idea of what I’m doing. I haven’t been practicing as regularly as I should have, which probably won’t surprise anyone. I have, however, discovered that the boy is positively entranced by watching Daddy play, which will give me some motivation to keep going. The boy certainly likes music; he apparently was over the moon about watching a drummer at SerbFest last weekend. That’s worth some extra practice time.

Possibly a double post day, especially if this one actually goes through. Stay tuned.

Well, that was stupid


That picture doesn’t suck nearly as much at regular resolution; apparently the technology to make it clickable just doesn’t exist yet, or something.  I call bullshit; Xanga could handle it so WordPress ought to be able to.  JUST DISAPPOINT ME AGAIN, WEBSITE, THAT’S OKAY, I DON’T MIND.


I was all proud of myself this morning; I’d gotten the bright idea to hook my Bluetooth keyboard (which I carry around for when I want to write on my iPad) to my phone– since my phone actually has connectivity in my new classroom, I’d be able to use it to write and upload a post.  Well, I wrote a post, and I uploaded a post… it just didn’t post a post.  There was even a notification put up on Facebook that said post existed, only it didn’t.  It stayed live in my phone for a while, then deleted itself for no clear reason and then the link on Facebook and Twitter went to nowhere.


Anyway: I spent the whole day moving stuff from the old classroom into the new one and making vague, half-assed attempts to get the new one beaten into shape, none of which actually worked out very damn well.  I’ve come up with a whole lot more reasons to spend more money but precious little that actually seems to count as completed work.  I’d be more annoyed by it but it isn’t actually August yet and I’m under no real pressure to have my classroom ready for a while.  I should be out of the old one this week; that’s just being polite to whoever inherits it from me– but I don’t need to be done with the new one for weeks yet.

It’s that damn alcove that’s driving me insane.  I’ve got a couple of tables in there right now, but I don’t especially like them.  I think I’m going to find some cork rolls and see if I can find some way to get that attached to the cinderblocks (god, my KINGDOM for a damn classroom with bloody drywall in it!) behind it, which will make that space more usable.  Also driving me insane: the barely-visible computers on the right side of the image, which are blocking my bulletin boards, although I think I have a sneaky way to make those not a problem anymore that doesn’t involve accidentally leaving them outside.

Also fun: the realization this afternoon that there is literally no place in the building that is farther from my current classroom than the one I was in last year.  There are classrooms that are farther apart, but I couldn’t have moved farther away from where I was than this room.  I probably walked for an hour today just in trekking back and forth between the two rooms.

Now to talk myself out of buying a laser printer.  I don’t know where the hell the computer in this room prints to, but I sure as hell know it’s too damn far away.

In which we’re facebook official

imgresI’m writing this while listening to/watching the livestream of Richard Hill’s presentation to the Indiana Department of Education about the interruptions in ISTEP testing earlier this year.  I haven’t read the whole report, obviously– it was just released fifteen minutes ago– but he’s already nutshelled his own results:  he found no evidence whatsoever that the interruptions had an overall effect on test scores.  This seems, initially, entirely unbelievable, but he appears to have included his numbers in the report and he says he’s going to go over them.  So it looks like ISTEP is going to count after all this year.

(And he’s showing some charts now, and, well, yeah, that looks rather convincing.)

(Fifteen minutes or so later, this guy is doing precisely the analyses that I’d do if they’d hired me, and… yeah.  No effect.  Remarkable.  I don’t even know how that could be possible.)

So, uh, DOE, could I maybe have my goddamn results, then?  Like, YESTERDAY?  Please?

In other news, Indiana has pulled out of the PARCC consortium, which is good news, as the PARCC scared the hell out of me.  But it also means that all the money we’ve spent on getting ourselves ready for the PARCC and the Common Core over the last year or so appears to have been completely wasted money.

I’m changing jobs next year.  I’ve known it was coming for about a week now, but it just became official today.  I’ve been teaching sixth grade math and science for the last two years, and next year I will teach seventh and eighth grade math.  I’ll have three groups of kids; I should get the eighth grade honors group and it hasn’t been determined yet what my other two groups are going to be yet.  I had my interview today and then spent a couple of hours sitting in my classroom.

(Somehow, I failed to take any pictures.  I’m not sure how I managed that.)

I don’t know what the hell to do with this room.  Like, everything that is supposed to be there is there, but it’s all in the wrong bloody place.  My building was an elementary building eight or so years ago, and my classroom used to be a kindergarten classroom.  There’s a weird alcove along one wall that I don’t know what the hell to do with.  Right now the only good way to do it is going to be to set the room up along the longer axis, which I’ve never liked doing– my kids don’t like to wear their glasses, and when they get forced to wear them they tend to “lose” them a lot, so I like to try and get everyone as close to the whiteboard as possible.  I’ve also lost some whiteboard space since there’s not as much wall to hang it on.  There is, in fact, generally a lack of wall space across the classroom.  Right now I don’t know where to put any of my stuff.  Also, I’m way too damn far from the teacher bathroom.  🙂

Positives:  the light in the room is wonderful, and since I’m basically off in a corner noise level isn’t going to be as much of a problem as it is in a classroom in the middle of the hall.  There’s a ton of existing storage in the classroom, which is also good.  I’ve finally got real middle school desks, which I prefer to the type we were using in my old classroom.

I have a training thing to go to this week, for a subject I no longer teach.  If I go, I get to put $300 in my pocket.  If I don’t go, I get to spend the week working in my classroom and figuring all this out.  Right now I don’t know what I’m going to do.

In which I help to accomplish something

photoAll told, the best thing about rebuilding my brother’s deck yesterday is that it makes a boring story.  That’s not going to stop me from telling it anyway– you’ve been warned– but there’s really not a lot of meat here beyond “hey, we built a deck!”

Actually, the most exciting part of the day happened before I even got to my brother’s house, where I was able to luck into a combination of a great sale at a local hardware store and a couple of coupons and managed to get this drill for about a hundred and forty dollars.  I like tools; I’d been looking for an excuse to buy a better cordless drill for a while, and needing to put 500 or so screws into a deck certainly sounded like a damn fine reason.  I had said in the previous post about the rebuild that we were hoping that we’d find that the structure underneath the deck was still sound and that all we needed to do was redo the upper boards; we had discovered that we were about half right.  I’ll get to the details in a bit.

See the upper-left corner of this picture, how it looks like there are still some boards there?  That was all the demolition we had left to do when I got there, other than removing a bunch of broken nails.  The previous owner had decided that iron nails were a good idea for some reason, and they were all rusted to shit, meaning that they kept breaking, sometimes rather explosively, and a lot of the time the heads were popping off.  So a good portion of the first couple of hours were spent tearing off nails or, in the case of those boards, trying to get those last few sonsofbitches off the structure.  Each of those boards had about fifteen thousand nails in it.  And they were tiny, and spaced close together, and the structure underneath was unpredictable, meaning that that little chunk of demo took maybe a third of the time it took to demolilsh the entire rest of the deck.

Here’s the “half right” part.  The wood underneath was consistently sound, which was very very good, since none of us really had any good idea how to rebuild the support structure for the deck.  The deck in its previous configuration was basically an oversized parquet, and we wanted the boards on the new deck to all be facing the same direction.  What this meant was that half of the support joists were effectively useless since they’d be running in parallel with the new boards.  We were either going to have to rip out the ones going the wrong direction or just reinforce them with new boards going the right way; ultimately we decided to just cut the middle out of each of the ones going the wrong way and hang new ones in the proper direction.

First problem: I hadn’t properly explained what a joist hanger was, and he’d bought corner brackets– which would have worked, but not as easily.  So we sent someone off to Lowe’s and started cutting boards.  Then my father-in-law showed up.  My father-in-law is a general contractor, and we’d asked him to come over to look at the deck and tell us where we were being stupid.

It took him about ten seconds.

(Incidentally:  whenever I use the word “we” here, I’m referring to between four and eight people depending on the time of day.  My brother and I were far from the only people involved in this job; his neighbor and my FIL were both more useful than I was.)

“You can’t use that wood,” he says, pointing at the boards we were going to use for structure.  My brother misses the gesture and thinks he’s talking about the entire deck.

“Why not?”

“It’s untreated.  It’s going to rot out from underneath you.”

I won’t describe his reaction, because it wasn’t terribly funny– he kinda looked like he wanted to shoot himself, but long story short it took a couple of minutes to convince him that my father-in-law was talking about the new boards and not the whole damn thing.  I’m pretty sure my brother’s entire life had flashed before his eyes.  Anyway, we sent someone back out to Lowe’s again and, using the wrong boards, put the joist hangers in place so that all we’d have to do was recut the new, treated boards and drop them into place.  Fun fact about me!  I cannot hammer straight to save my goddamn life, or at least I can’t hammer in a joist hanger while crouching, bending over, or any other configuration of my body that allows me to get anywhere near the hanger in question– and when I do manage to hammer one in properly, I discover I’ve put it in a touch too high and it’s going to make the joist no longer at the same level as the rest of the boards and it has to be torn out.

Oddly, I’m pretty sure that “can’t hammer straight” is the only thing I did incompetently all day; there was some comedy when we were trying to determine how best to attach the deck boards (long story short: predrill everything) but that was about it.

And really?  That’s about it, as far as stories go.  Once we got the new structure in place, there was a little bit of slowdown while we made sure we were measuring everything right and we wouldn’t end up with something stupid happening like needing another inch of board at the last second, and a bit of nonsense with cutting some of the 45 degree angles we needed, but after that everything was smooth as butter.  My dad and my brother brought the lumber back to my father-in-law and my neighbor, who did the cutting, one of his friends and I drilled (her) and screwed (me) the boards into place, and by the time I had to leave and take a shower and go to OtherJob we had about 20-25% of the top boards in place.  The rest of the job just involved finishing that and evening off the edges with a circular saw; I wasn’t there for that part but from what I heard it went smoothly.  And now my brother has a deck that actually functions.



In which hopefully this isn’t the peak of my day

Stage One of Really Long Saturday is complete:  I have successfully cooked and eaten a large breakfast, featuring eggs and hash browns; I really wish there was some bacon in the house, because then I could have eaten that, too.

Stages Two through Infinity are:  Take Shower, Get Dressed, Pull Together Complete Change of Clothes for OtherJob, Remember to Load Car for Entire Day, Purchase Expensive Drill, Drive to Brother’s, Build Deck, Go to OtherJob for, oh, I Dunno, Six Hours or So, Do Not See Son or Wife At All, Attend Capital Letter Addiction Course, Come Home without Causing an Accident, Die.

You can guess which of those tasks might be the big one.  And I’m still sick.

I’ll try and post tomorrow if I’m not dead.

If anyone has a theory as to why WordPress consistently suggests that I add “aviation” to my list of tags for my posts, I’d love to hear it.