Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bags and Bags of Hair

For the last 20 years I have owned dogs (2) with white fur that sheds all year long.  I'm not sure why I didn't learn my lesson with the first one, but I didn't and now have a second one that sheds more than any dog I've ever had, ever.  I keep tape rollers in all the rooms of the house and friends who come over regularly usually bring some sort of sweater/sweatshirt to wear in order to play with my lovable dog and then, afterwards, remove it and be reasonably hair free.  With the new floors throughout the house, Rigby's fur has been the bane of my existence.  White clumps of it just appear out of nowhere ALL DAY LONG.  I adore my new floors, but at times I feel like I'm tethered to that vacuum and dust mop.
It is said that brushing dogs who shed helps with constant shedding, but it's not something I've ever done regularly with my lack of time when working.  Now that summer break is here and I don't have any major plans or responsibilities, I decided I would solve this shedding all over my floors problem once and for all.  I dug out my FURminator, a comb/brush gadget this is supposed to make brushing easier (I'm not entirely convinced), intent on making dog brushing part of my daily routine this summer.  We are 19 days into summer break today (including weekends), and I've brushed her 11 of those days.  As expected, the first two days of brushing were very very hairy.  Being part Queensland and part Shepherd Rigby has a thick undercoat that is soft and fine while the top coat is more hair-like, thick and wiry.  About three days in, it seemed as if I was making progress with the undercoat, and it didn't seem so thick.  But she is still shedding.  In 11 days I have filled 11 plastic grocery bags with dog hair, enough dog hair that would make it seem there was no hair actually left on the dog, but there is.  I don't know how Rigby is not bald at that point!
While hair is still winding up on my new floors, it HAS lessened quite a bit.  I'm only feeling the need to vacuum or dry mop about once a day now.  And with our 100+ degree weather over the last two weeks, I'm sure Rigby is feeling cooler with those bags of hair in the trash instead of on her body.  But I do wonder if she will ever stop shedding completely.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Driver's Training

Earlier this week, my BFF texted to ask me if I could pick up her oldest son and take him to his summer Spanish class on Thursday.  She was going to be out of town at an event with her daughter, and her husband would be at work.  Of course, I agreed to do so, and planned on leaving this week's curriculum work for a few minutes to help them out.
Her oldest son is 16 years old.  She has told me a few times that she would really like him to get his driver's license so he is able to take himself where he needs or wants to be as well as help out with running the other kids around if needed.  Unfortunately, he is not nearly as interested in getting that license as the rest of his family is.  In fact, she has told me that most of his friends feel the same way. We laugh about how we could not wait to get our licenses and have some freedom.  She believes that teenagers, at least the ones in her son's circle, are kind of afraid of driving on their own (Could that be a product of helicopter parenting?).  Also, with them all having cell phones and being active on social media, they don't "need" to actually see their friends in person so that motivation to drive isn't there.  It's probably a combination of both, but regardless of the reason, he doesn't have his license so I picked him up on Thursday and took him to his class.
During the ride, I brought up driving with him.  He has his permit which allows him to drive with an adult, but has not taken the driver's training which is required to test for a license.  Back in the olden days when I was 16, driver's training was offered in school.  However, due to budget cuts, it isn't any longer and it is up to new driver (and family) to take the classes on his own time and dime.  He told me that he just hadn't had the time to take the classes as he's been very busy, which made me chuckle.  I would have moved mountains to gain the independence of a driver's license.
It got me thinking about the driver's training I took through high school.  THAT also makes me chuckle.  The instructor was our school's head football coach.  My high school was/is a high profile football school having won many regional and state championships and groomed numerous college and NFL players.  Needless to say, driver's training was not the head coach's top priority. The course was a half of a semester and broken up into three parts - lectures and movies on the rules of the road, simulated driving, and driving practice in an actual car.  The first part was a joke.  I learned more about the rules of the road from the DMV's booklet than I did from anyone's lectures.  Both the simulated driving and the road practice were a bit more helpful, but make me laugh out loud when I think about them.
The simulators took place in a large trailer at that back of the school.  Inside was made up of maybe 20 "driver's seats" outfitted with a steering wheel, gas and break pedals, even a seatbelt.  In the front of the trailer was a large pull down screen where they showed the view from a moving car's front window on a film projector.  We had to practice driving in various scenarios and our actions in the "driver's seat" were recorded and graded.  It was like a very low-tech driving video game.  Watching everyone lean right or left, and duck, and look over their shoulder, and turn the wheel, and pump the brakes to this old-school film was really quite funny.
So was the road practice.  Three goofy teenagers and an old crabby driving instructor are a fun mix.  One of us would drive, while the other two sat giggling in the backseat.  The instructor sat in the passenger seat with her own foot brake.  If someone got too unruly on the road, she had the power to stop that car on her own and give us a talking to.  It was a weird feeling to have someone else braking the car while you drove.  Even back then, I had a bit of a lead foot, so driving with her was no fun at all.
As soon as that training was over, I made an appointment with the DMV to take my driving tests on the day I turned 16.  It never would have occurred to me not to.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Well That Was Convoluted...But it Worked!

I spent most of this week relaxing outside with a book on my iPad mini.  While the iPad has a beautiful, clear screen most of the time, outside in the sun the glare is very bad which makes books quite difficult to read.  Some actual books were checked out of the library for this reason, but I'm in the middle of a book that I want to finish.  I searched solutions which had reminded me that I purchased an anti-glare screen protector a year or so ago after getting the new iPad.  I had one on my full-size to keep it scratch free, but it had a bit of a haze to it.  The new retina screen on the iPad mini is so vibrant, I never actually put the cover on not wanting to reduce the quality.  Since I plan on sitting outside reading for pretty much all of my summer break, I dug out the cover and prepared to install it.
These covers are notoriously difficult to put on.  With their clingy backing, it's so hard to get them straight before they stick.  Air bubbles are also frustrating, and it's quite difficult to get all of them out.  I didn't care too much, wanting to just stick it on and go outside for the summer.  But I was surprised when I pulled out the contents of the package.  There were two rubber band things, some sticker sheets, and stickers on the cover itself.  Puzzled, I was about the throw my hands up, as the written directions really made no sense.  Then, remembering I was on vacation and had the time, I went to the install instructions link on their website and found this video.
Holy cow!  I've never seen such a process for installing such a simple screen saver.  Wrap it in rubber bands, add these stickers, peel these pieces off, add these other stickers, etc.  WHAT?!?!  But I'll tell you something, it worked!  It was the easiest install of one of these screens I've ever done.  Other than watching the video, it took less time than it's ever taken to install pretty much anything on these devices.  I only installed it one time, not lifting and shifting and lifting and shifting over and over again.  There were some additional stickers and videos to deal with dust particles and air bubbles, but after a few wipes with the dust cloth over the top of the screen, the air bubbles dissipated.
This is not a product endorsement as I haven't even been outside with the iPad in the sun yet, but I'm so impressed with the concept behind the directions.  It's a lot of steps for a very simple idea, but it sure made a frustrating exercise way less frustrating.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An Unexpected End

Yesterday was the last day of school and vacation is HERE!  After a pretty good year, the last day of school DID NOT go off without a hitch.  Here's why...
The last week of school is pretty useless with regards to learning.  We've taken all our tests, turned in or stored our books, packed away our materials in order to prepare for closing up the room for the summer.  In some respects it's a fun week because of our many activities planned to pass the time.  This week, we performed our play, there was a Board Game Day, a field trip to the beach, a Field Day with water games, a class party, a dance party, and an autograph/memory book activity.  On the other hand, for some kids the lack of routine and procedure is difficult.  On Friday, the excitement was too much and many a 2nd grader lost their mind.
We started the morning with our grade level dance party.  For about 30 minutes we go into the cafeteria, play some fun music and dance.  The kids get their wiggles out and after all is said and done it takes up about 45 minutes of, what seems like, the longest school day of the year.  After the dance party, we headed back to the room to pick up our autograph/memory books.  The kids had spent the week getting them ready for their friends to write messages inside.  We took them out into our quad area and gave them some time to mingle and sign and enjoy their friends before summer break started.  And about 15 minutes in, some of them enjoyed it a bit too much.  One of the kids came running up to us concerned over kids writing on the trees.  A couple of us ran over to the two trees in the middle of the quad, and sure enough, several kids had signed their name on the tree trunks.  Some of them had even signed MY name on the trunks!
We were livid!  Autograph day ended for those kids, and they were sent to sit against the wall of the classrooms.  There we laid into them about vandalism and their lack of respect for school property.  We also told them how disappointed and embarrassed we were by their behavior.  We wanted the kids to clean the trees as most were written in pencil or water-based pen, so we called the assistant principal to help us arrange that and to come yell at them some more.
While I was on the phone, one of my teammates found another student who had written on the trees.  This student had some defiance issues throughout the year.  When she was told to sit with the others, she did not, instead sitting off on her own by her own classroom.  Her teacher, who had had enough, wasn't going to fight that fight on the last day of school, so I offered to go get her.  At first, I kindly but firmly told her to join the rest of the students.  Instead of following that direction, she gave me an emphatic "NO".  Teachers spend the majority of their giving directions and expecting them to be followed.  This adamant "No" didn't sit well. I knelt down to her level, got in her face a bit, and told her to get up immediately.  She shook her head.  At that point, I should have walked away.  I didn't really care where she was sitting, it was just the point of not following the directions of two teachers at this point.  She covered her face with her autograph book.  I took it away and then reached for the red permanent marker she had in her hand.  She immediately pulled her hand away and hid it behind her back.  I told her that what she did was vandalism and that was against the law.  Since she was not able to use the pen correctly, she didn't get to keep it.  After my little spiel, she looked right at me and in a growling voice said, "I'd rather eat dirt."  At that point, I walked away because I was about ready to wring her little neck or feed her a pile of dirt.
The AP arrived shortly afterwards to speak to those kids, and the teachers brought the rest of the students back into the classrooms.  When they returned to class it was lunch time.  The kids were sent to lunch and those who wrote on the trees were tasked with cleaning them during their recess time.  I walked over to the other classroom to commiserate with that child's teacher and was surprised to see that teacher's name and room number written on the sidewalk by her door IN FREAKING RED PEN!  This little girl refused to move even for the AP and while the AP spoke with the other children, she wrote on the sidewalk with her permanent marker.  At that point, the child's mother was called to take her home.  What a way to end your last day of 2nd grade.  On a high note, the rest of the kids were remorseful.  One even told me on our way to dismissal a couple hours later that he was NEVER going to write on a tree again.  Good idea!
As excited as I am to be on break, the day did not end as I thought it would.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Finally a Vote...A Vote That Almost Wasn't

Today was the day!  California had its Primary election as well as our state elections today.  Finally!  As I've previously mentioned, CA is the most populous state in the country, and it really irks me that our primary vote is all but useless.  This year, it was predicted that we might actually have some influence over the selection.  As it turned out however, that influence was very little.  Since all but one of the Republicans candidates had dropped out, that race had already been decided before it was our turn.  However, the Democrat candidacy was still (narrowly) up in the air, so there was a slim chance that California (and New Jersey) could be the deciding factor between Hillary and Bernie, or at least an influencing factor over what the DNC might do at the convention.  As it turns out, Hillary took the state by a wide margin (far more than I'd expected), so if anything our vote more solidified the candidacy for Hillary rather than help choose it.  Well, at least we had state elections that hadn't already been decided before we got to vote.  And I did vote, so I get to complain as much as I want now! :)
However, today's vote wasn't as easy as I expected it to be.  A few weeks ago, I had filled out my application for an absentee ballot.  Tuesdays tend to be hard for me to get to the polling place after school and my mornings are already early enough without having to leave even earlier to vote.  In the past, the absentee hasn't been one iota of a problem.  This time though, it was.  For the last couple of weeks, I've been hearing chatter about people receiving their absentees, but I had yet to receive it.  Election Day got closer and I was still without one.  I decided I'd just go to the polls in the morning and tell them my tale of woe.  Weirdly enough, when I picked up yesterday's mail after my walk this morning, the absentee ballot had arrived...that would have been the day before the election day.  It was too late to mail in, so it came with me to the polls this morning.
That's where I hit another road block.  I will admit, I hadn't checked the address of my polling place before I left this morning as I've gone to the same place since I've lived in the house (11 years). It's about a block away and an easy in and out location on my way to work.  I arrived at just a few minutes after 7:00 am and waited to check in.  There I was told that this was no longer my polling place.  Instead, rather than going a block away, on the same main road as my house, my polling place was now about a mile away going in the opposite direction of my work.  Ugh!
I seriously contemplated just going to work and trying to go afterwards, but I knew I wouldn't.  I talked myself into it and headed over to the new polling places.  (BTW, it seems as if many of our polling places were changed this year as I was NOT the only one who went to the wrong place!)
Considering I needed to make 3 left turns (at punishment left turn lights) I made pretty good time and was relieved when I pulled into the parking lot of the nearby retirement community's recreation center where my precinct was polling.
My relief was short-lived however when I walked into the center and there was a line about 6 deep.  All 6 were residents of the local retirement community and looked to have been retired for quite some time...let's just say they were not on their way to work.  After about ten minutes of waiting, my patience was waning.  Most of the wait was due to the people in front of me needing a lot of help with the entire process of the voting.  After 15 minutes of waiting, I was ready to vote for a change in policy...if you don't have to be at work in the morning, you don't get to arrive at the polls before 9:00 am!  I was having hanging-chads-in-Florida flashbacks when it got to 20 minute mark waiting in line.  Finally, there was an opening at one of the Democrat booths.  Thankfully I had filled in my sample ballot ahead of time so I was able to punch those chads out quickly and efficiently.  By the time I fed my ballot into the voting machine and sprinted out the door to my car it was 7:40, ten minutes later than I normally leave for work.  But I made it.  I don't know if my vote was worth all the trouble, but I proudly wore my "I Voted" sticker throughout the day.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Holding a Place


With only 5 days left until the school year is over and my mother in town, these questions (asked by Kelly) will have to do.  I've had a lot of post ideas recently, just not the time to write.  As of Friday, I'll have all the time in the world!
1.  Since I’ve already broken the rules of this game by not tagging anyone… are you one who generally follows the rules, or do you like to be rebellious?  As a staunch rule follower, breaking rules causes me anxiety.  The thought of breaking rules causes me anxiety.
2. If you had to move to a large city in another country, where would it be and why?  Pretty much any city I visit becomes my new home in my dreams.  But I could imagine living in London, Amsterdam, Florence, or Prague fairly easily. 
3. What was your most frightening weather experience?  Here in California rain is our biggest weather experience...although it's been over a hundred degrees these last couple of days and that IS frightening so early in the year.  But seriously though, on one of my drives across country from school, we hit a hail storm while driving on the highway in Ohio.  Holy cow, the hail was enormous and it sounded and felt like golf balls were hitting the windshield.  We ended up following behind a semi at about 5 mph for protection and in order to see the road.  I enjoy a bit of bad weather when I'm inside.  Driving on the road at the time was frightening.
4.  With the Summer Olympics in Rio approaching, what sport do you wish you could participate in?  Since I rode horses for years, the equestrian events are always fun.  Although, now that I'm old, the thought of flying over 5 foot fences isn't as appealing as it was when I was 15.
5.  Do you consider yourself to be a patient person?  Qualify your answer.  Ha!  I'm the opposite of a patient person.  To qualify, I'm impatient.  :)  

6.  A question done to death, but if you could either go back in time or into the future, which would you choose?  Back in time, I think.  Going too far into the future seems like it could be a bit frightening.  
7.  What were your favorite and least favorite subjects in school?  (and no, recess doesn’t count) Reading (literature), writing, history were usually favorites.  Math and science were my least favorite because they were more difficult for me.  Funnily enough, those are what I enjoy teaching the most.  
8.  I love the idea of doppelgängers and our MamaDog has a pointy-eared doppelgänger living right up the road from us.  Have you ever had someone tell you they’ve seen yours?  No, I have not.  Plus, I've seen very few dopplegangers.  However, I have a college friend who lives cross country and a work colleague who, I could swear, share the same son.  Those two kids could be the same person.  Even their parents can hardly believe it.  
9.  What’s your favorite holiday and why?  St. Patrick's Day of course!  All the big holidays are usually spent with kooky family members, and St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with my friends.  
10.  Let’s hope an EMP doesn’t render our electronics useless anytime in the near future, but on a voluntary basis… how long do you think you could comfortably go without having access to your cellphone, internet, TV, and other luxuries?  A day, a week, a month?  It'd be nice to say I could easily give up those electronics, but that would be a lie.  I could give up the phone as a phone since I don't like to talk on the phone, but since I use it for so much more than that, it'd be pretty hard to even go a day.  A couple of times, my internet has gone down and once my router stopped working and I didn't have it for TWO WHOLE DAYS.  It was terrible.  
Happy June!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

An Interesting Morning

As I've mentioned previously, during the work week I wake up quite early and walk the dog about two miles before leaving for work.  When I walk in the morning, I stay in my little neighborhood and walk around the track-like quarter mile block 8 times.  It's too dark and quiet to venture out on the main street, so I just stay nearby.  It's usually a very peaceful walk as there aren't too many people out at that time, and there's less of a chance that cars back out into my path or kids ride their bike over my foot, or an out of control dog lunges towards Rigby (all things that happen during the daytime).  A few neighbors sleepily leave for work that early, which makes me appreciate that I am only out walking at 5 in the morning and not actually leaving for work then.
This morning I got up at my regular 4:50 time and was out the door to walk the dog by 5:00 am.  It was a cool and kind of misty morning which made it darker than usual.  It's finally starting to lighten up a bit earlier now since the time change, but this morning it was very dark.  I got about 6 houses down the street, close to the entrance off the main road, and police car turned onto my street.  At first, it didn't strike me as odd as one of the residents on my street was a police officer and his car was parked at his house every-so-often.  As I remembered that family had moved, I was also stumped as to why the car had its lights off.  It passed me and not a few seconds later, another police car drove in, also with the lights off.  The officer slowed when he got to me, rolled down his window, and asked if I had seen anyone out walking.  I nervously stuttered my reply that I had just started my walk and hadn't seen anyone and that I was now nervous.  He kept driving, and I kept walking not really knowing what to do.  I was about half way around the block.  I could either turn around and walk back, towards where the police officers went, or keep going and possibly run into the mysterious person.  Funnily enough, not one of my neighbors who is usually out at that time was out and because of how dark it was, I felt like I was walking into a scene of a horror movie.  While I contemplated this, two more police SUVs arrived in the track from the main road and drove in the same direction I was walking.  That made me feel a bit better, at least they'd stumble upon this murderer before I would.  I kept going, and as I made the turn that rounded back to my house, my eyes widened as I saw two police cars pointing towards my house on one side and towards my house on the other side.  They were in a V-like formation, pointing at my house!  My jaw dropped, and I tried to focus on the cars to see if the officers were still in their cars or if they were out holding guns.   I didn't see them at all so I hurried up the walkway, unlocked the door and ran inside, hoping there wasn't a murderer inside.  The lights were turned off, and I ran upstairs and peeked out the shutters to see what I could see.  There wasn't much other than some walking around in the yards nearby.  My next door neighbor came outside to leave for work and was also shocked by being surrounded.  He asked one of the officers if he could leave and he was allowed to do so.  After a few minutes, they headed back to their  cars. I watched them stand around and talk for a few minutes.  That, and the lightening of the sky, made me feel a bit better and since I still had 30 minutes to kill I hooked the dog back up and went back out to get a few more laps in.  My neighbor across the street was leaving then and approached the officers.  They told him they got a call about someone wandering in the yards.  I didn't and haven't heard the details of it, but yikes!  It'll be harder to go out agin tomorrow.