Blue sky

I know I take a virtually identical picture a couple of days a year at least, but … man, the colors today.

One down

I’ve said this before: I don’t know how to relax. I had my first day of Real Summer Break today, distinguished from the end of last week (which seems like a distant memory already) by the fact that my wife had to go back to work and the boy and I had to fend for ourselves all day. I don’t have a routine yet, or (much of) a plan for one, but I did spend some time this morning planning for next year and Sending Important Emails that I’ve been putting off.

Specifically, I’m putting together a list of 28 (seven per quarter) skills that I feel like my kids should have mastered before 8th grade– some of them, well before 8th grade– and which we’re going to be working on during one of the two class periods I’ll have with each of my kids next year. I’m experimenting with several things at once here that I don’t have a lot of experience with– heavy differentiation, complete with (maybe?) centers, where, in theory, the kids in the room could be working on as many as 8 or 9 different skills at once, since I’m going to have kids who can “pass” a standard almost immediately if they already know how to do it, as well as standards-based grading and much heavier skills tracking than I’ve used in previous years.

What I need is for this to actually work, and not collapse under the weight of discipline issues and the number of kids in the room who are going to try and choose to opt out of being educated at all. I’m worried that I’m going to spend the entire summer planning and then end up abandoning the whole thing by the middle of September.

(Thinks about something, throws an email at his boss)

I did some initial studying today, too, and some of the Important Emails that got Sent were trying to nail down exactly how this process of National Boardsing actually works; I had my plan provisionally approved by my coach, who doesn’t actually have to approve my plan, but it was nice that she did, but now I need to know what to do to actually, like, tell these people that I want to take their lil’ math test, and it would probably be useful for me to know when/how often that test is administered, too.

And then there’s all the other stuff. I got some organizing done in my office, mostly finished a bookbinding project I’ve been working on for a while, and did some light cleaning. Played some Returnal and discovered that suddenly I suck at it. Would have jumped in the pool, but it rained all day so I didn’t.

I need to get into a rhythm as quickly as I can, and I probably need to get into the habit of being showered and dressed as quickly as I typically was during the school year. I’m going to focus a bit more on the cleaning and organizing side of things tomorrow; we’ll see how well I do. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have my topics pulled together and can start organizing them by quarter and figuring out how this entire process is actually going to work.

Let’s go.

I can do this

10 days left with my kids this year, and I had my first “maybe I should turn around and go home or at least drive off a bridge” moment on my way in to work this morning, which is really weird, because this hasn’t been that kind of year. Like, yesterday was probably the worst day since I’ve been back, and yesterday was nothing when compared to a bad day in literally any other year I’ve been teaching. Like, darn, I had two hard classes and wrote two kids up. Suck it up, Buttercup; I think my record was, what, seventeen in a day at the Hell School in Chicago? And that was a year when I only had maybe 60 kids in a day and not 140?

(Well, okay, I’m probably not actually seeing sixty kids a day right now, but you know what I mean.)

I’ve got the rest of the year planned out; I need one good day and I can actually get all the assignments written out for those classes. Hell, if I had any balls I’d just put all of them online right now as a grand experiment in what the kids would actually do. “Here is all of your work for the rest of the year; go for it” might be a really interesting thing to say, and it’s not like anybody is watching me too closely right now or would be mad about it if they were.

… hell, I might actually do that, just to see. The data collection aspect of it might be too much of a pain in the ass to be worth it, though. But it would be a fun story.

I need to start some hard-core planning for next year. I’m getting lazy, and I need to break out of that; it’s been a long time since I had the same job for three years in a row, and I need to make sure I’m actually doing a better job next year than I have been. (Not that I’ve been doing poorly, mind you, but the thing about even my first year at my current school was I had to hit the ground running, and this last year and the last quarter of the year before that have been “figure-it-out-as-you-go” kinds of years. I need this one to be well-planned and effective, and I probably ought to alter some things about my practice or at least try out some new shit and see how it works.

Lots to think about. That makes it video game time, obviously.

And the livin’ is easy

So today’s my first real day of summer vacation, or at least I’m counting it as such– I suppose I could have counted Friday but I had all kinds of shit to do and the boy started his summer camp today so let’s say it was today.

I am, therefore, at the same place I’m always at whenever summertime starts: looking at something like seven or eight weeks off before school starts to ramp up again and pretending that I’m gonna be super efficient with all that extra time and Make My Summer Count.

Let’s take a moment and just contemplate the pure American-ness of being given time off and immediately feeling guilt that I, in the future, won’t spend it working hard enough, and mourn our deeply stupid culture.

But anyway. This is the first summer in a very long time that I haven’t actually had a job. Since the summer The Sanctum of the Sphere was written, I think, and technically I did have a part-time job that summer so this may be the first genuinely job-free summer since early in high school.

So, therefore, knowing that my one real responsibility all summer long during the weekdays will be to get the boy to his summer camp and pick him up a few hours later, I would like to do each or at least most of the following things every day until school starts again, excepting weekends and major holidays:

  • Eat something vaguely resembling breakfast;
  • Write a blog post;
  • Write a minimum of 500 words fiction and preferably 1500;
  • Be showered and dressed by 10 AM, if not before I take the boy to camp;
  • Once a week, at least, put something on Patreon, preferably a microfiction or excerpt from item #3 up there;
  • Play video games (yes, I have to schedule this);
  • Clean and/or organize and/or maintain something;
  • Move around a bit somehow so I don’t gain 300 pounds in the next two months;
  • Spend an hour reading, and time before bed doesn’t count.

So far today I have done all but three of those things, and I’m betting you can guess which three if you’ve been around here for more than a couple of weeks.

I want a new book ready by Kokomo-Con X in October. And unlike my last several I want to launch this one right. That’s only gonna work if I get to work now.

Anybody wanna take bets? Let’s take bets.

In which I get summer break sorted out

So here’s what I did today. It was supposed to take 45 minutes.

The yard, prepared.
The tarp!
Initial layout of the pool.
My assistant, assisting.
Right here is the 45-minute mark, where the box said we were supposed to be done. Ha! No.
All of the piping and frame in place.
My assistant tests the ladder. It’s sturdy enough but it could be wider; I can see myself having trouble getting *out* of the pool– in will be easy, obviously, because of the water.
It’s gonna be quite a bit deeper than I initially imagined. It won’t be filled to the top, of course, but this is way less of a kiddie pool than I’d pictured.
Starting to put the water in. This will take a REALLY long time to fill. Total elapsed construction time before we started putting water in: about two hours, and not a terribly strenuous two hours, either. Not bad, really.
The filter, and my solution for the fact that the filter really doesn’t want to sit on the ground without falling over.

So, yeah, we’re gonna have a pool in the back yard this summer. Total cost was about $450, and a membership in the local neighborhood pool that we’d have to get in the car to go to is around $325, so I figure even if we only get a couple of seasons out of it it’ll be worth the money. I did the math; it’s a 48″ pool and it’s filling at about 4″ an hour so it’s literally going to take half a damn day to fill it up.

Also, across the 15 feet of the pool we’re only about 1.25″ off from level. I’m pretty certain that’s about as good as it gets in a back yard.

I’ll post another picture or two once it’s actually filled tomorrow, and then there’s chemicals and shit before we can start swimming in it on a regular basis, plus I’m sure it’ll rain for the next two weeks.

Whee!