Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Sunday Thoughts (Concluding on Monday)

I began writing this post last night but fell asleep before I finished, so am finishing up tonight.  They were all Sunday thoughts, just some were written on Monday. :)
After doing some laundry yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, a couple pairs of pants, a blouse, and a sweater were hung over the door to air dry.  When I went to bed last night, the clothes were still a bit damp so they were left hanging overnight.  I woke up to them this morning in a pile on the floor of my closet.  At first, I was surprised to see them there.  I was certain they were left hanging, and they didn't grow legs and walk there.  Then I stared remembering a dream I had in the night.  Someone was staying over in my guest room, so I needed to close my bedroom door.  In my sleep, I must have taken them down and thrown them in the closet because they were blocking the door from being closed.  Funny thing is, I do kind of remember starting to hang them in the closet but could tell they were still a bit wet and didn't want them hanging with the other clothes.  So my solution...throw them on the floor.  This dream might be an indication of the kind of housekeeper I would be if it were socially acceptable.
While unpacking my classroom again a few weeks ago, I came upon a box of VHS tapes.  They are so outdated, even in an outdated classroom.  We've got enough technology these days that at least DVDs can be used.  However, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in that box of good, educational videos that I hated to get rid of, even though I hadn't used one in years.  Earlier last year, I called a photo/printing/copy store who advertised converting VHS to computer files, but the price was astronomical - about $30 per 2 hours of video.  There are over 40 tapes in the box with anywhere from 2-6 hours of video.  Having someone else do the job was cost prohibitive.  After some research, I bought a couple of AV cables that plugged into a VCR (I took the one from school which had finally beed removed this summer) and then into the computer.  Other than being time consuming, it's so easy.  I can store the computer files on a disc or a flash drive and that takes up so much less space than those bulky VHS tapes.  I've processed 15-20 hours of video so far.  Only A LOT more to go, but at least it's saving me some money and space after all is said and done.  I'm not sure what I'll do with them after the conversion.  Maybe give them to someone else to hoard for no reason.

This summer a couple of new dramas aired on some of the cable networks.  If a new show is playing on a network that isn't one of the Big Three and isn't SciFi, I'll usually check it out, at least for a show or two.  The content is always a bit more original, intelligent, and edgier than the shows on basic cable.  I DVRd them this summer, but never took the time to watch them.  While the VHS converting above is quite easy, most of the videos I'm converting are 30 minute kids' programming.  Not really enough time to delve into another project as I didn't want to get side tracked and forget to stop the recording after each show.  So I sat on the floor of the office, VCR connected to the computer, while I watched a couple of episodes of the new shows on the DVR.  All three shows were semi-entertaining and have some potential, but something else struck me about them.  All three shows also portrayed one of more characters using cocaine.  WHAT!?!?!  Is that still a thing?  Back in the 80s and early 90s cocaine use/abuse was often the subject of television and movies, but I can't remember the last time I saw it in entertainment or even heard about someone using coke in the news.  The first show I saw, an unhappily married couple/parents took a some hits in a bar.   I didn't think much of it as these characters slept walk through their marriage and were very depressing.  Well, that's not true, I did think about it and was surprised that the drug use was even necessary.  In the very next show I watched, a PR Rep went to her ex-boyfriends house where she stole a packet of cocaine and snorted it in the bathroom.  And in the third show, a disgraced doctor had to medically revive his one-night-stand after a night of cocaine debauchery.  Drugs aren't my thing, so maybe I'm out of the loop on the current drug of choice (I thought it was meth!), but I have been under the impression that cocaine had lost its coolness with the cancelation of Miami Vice.   So I ask again...Is this still a thing?
After yesterday's earthquake up in Napa those in California are probably a little on edge, thinking about the Big One and if/when it will hit us.  Twice today I was stopped at a light underneath a long, wide freeway overpass.  Those always stress me out after an earthquake because if it fell on my car, I'd be crushed.  I digress though.  I was also surprised at the small bit of relief I had that there were no fatalities and that overall the building structures kept it together.  After the 1994 quake in Northridge and the 1989 quake in San Francisco, California really worked hard on preparing our structures for a big earthquake. Standards are high, and it seems as if they are adhered to.  Although yesterday's earthquake was not quite as strong as the ones in '89 and '94, it was still a 6.0 which is big.  I take some comfort in knowing that the earthquake measures that have been taken might have (and hopefully will) make a difference in our safety even if that Big One does hit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Been Awhile...Saturday 9

The song for this week's Saturday 9  is Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe".  While I do like their original version of the song, it came out several years before I was born.  So I think I'm partial to this UB40 and Chrissie Hynde cover of it...
1) Popular music has produced almost countless groups, but not that many duos. Besides Sonny & Cher, can you name another? Oh yes, Simon and Garfunkel were a great duo.  I'd say they top Sonny and Cher.

2)  Hearing this recording from his clock radio is how Bill Murray woke up every morning in Groundhog Day. What woke you up this morning?  The alarm clock.  I'm so afraid that I will sleep through music so have the clock set to alarm.  It's such a terrible sound.  When I hear that sound any other time, like on TV, it makes me cringe.

3) When she was growing up, Cher practiced her autograph for when she became a star. Is your signature legible? Or is it more of a scrawl?  It used to be big and flowery but now that I so rarely  write in cursive, it's a scribble - more like two capital letters and then some lines.  

4) In addition to show biz, Sonny & Cher had many careers: Sonny was a restauranteur and politician, Cher is an interior designer. Would you like to try your hand at any of those professions?  Wouldn't it be fun to be an interior designer?!?!  I already am one in my head.  I just wish I had the funds to make it all happen.  As a night owl, I think I'd enjoy a restauranteur's work hours.

5) In 1965, when this song topped the charts, Sonny and Cher were as famous for their wardrobe as for their music. Sonny was fond of tall, heavy-heeled boots while Cher often paired granny dresses with bare feet. What's on your feet right now?  My feet are naked!  In the summer, I'm usually in flip flops around the house,  but I've misplaced one of my favorite pairs so I went without rather than find another pair in the closet.  So they're bare, with pink nail polish of course. 

6) By 1968, their career crashed. Cher's early attempts as a movie actress failed, their records stopped selling and the IRS came after them for back taxes. Have you ever been audited?  I answer this question with a serious knock on wood...No, I haven't and I sure hope I haven't jinxed it.  The IRS takes about half of paycheck so I don't know what they'd audit...I should audit them! 

7) In 1971 they were on top again with their TV show. But their marriage was coming apart. Sonny said, "For the last 5 years I worried about our career, not about us." Have you ever been guilty of putting career before relationship?  Definitely do all the time.

8) By 1972 they were living separate lives -- in the same house. For the sake of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, they pretended to be happily married another year and a half. Tell us about a time when you pretended to be happy, but weren't.  I'm not a very good actress so do not pretend very well.  I wear my emotions like a sandwich board, so pretending to be anything is not in my wheelhouse.

9) While their separation and divorce were bitter, they resumed their friendship when Cher showed up at the opening of his restaurant in 1976. Have you ever made the first move in repairing a relationship? Sure have.  I don't have any problem admitting to being wrong and am willing to eat crow to repair a relationship I may have damaged.  On the other hand,  I can be a bit of grudge holder so don't always put forth the effort to repair relationships when someone has treated me badly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yep, That Happened

So this one time last night I sat in bed with the TV on, a giant bag of school work sitting on the side of the bed, the computer on my lap, and the dog sprawled out next to me.  When out of the corner of my eye I noticed SOMETHING running along the bedroom wall.  At first I thought it was a spider or some kind of insect.  "Oh my god!" I shouted when I focused and realized there was a small lizard IN MY HOUSE.  It scurried underneath the armoire.  I jumped out of bed, my stomach in knots, wondering what I was going to do.  After waiting for a bit to see if it came out from the other side of the dresser, I secretly hoped it wouldn't because I had no idea how I was going to capture it.  The dresser stands on legs about 6 inches tall so I lay down on the floor and nervously peeked under the dresser.  That lizard was right smack in the middle of the back of it.  After a few seconds Rigby woke up and joined me down on the floor.  I thought about pointing it out to her but didn't really want a dead or partially dead lizard in my house either.
I scrunched my face up and whined knowing that I had to figure something out and not wanting to.  But I couldn't just leave it there.  So the sides of the dresser were barricade in case it tried to come out, it would have to use the front.  Armed with a trashcan, I made a lot of noise and smacked a flip flop on the ground trying to get it to move.  The lizard moved in between the base board and the carpet.  I think it might have been trying to crawl under the carpet.  So that wasn't working.  Rigby was left in charge of guarding the lizard as I ran downstairs and grabbed a broom and large, handled dustpan.  Things were getting serious!
Panic set in when, while running back up the stairs, Rigby met me halfway.  "You're supposed to be watching the lizard!" I told her, worried that now it was running loose in the house and I'd never find it until it was grown and tried to crawl into bed with me.  (shivers)  The lizard was still under the armoire. Thankfully?
After a few pokes with the broom and screams when it moved, it tried to run out the side (I had to unblock it because it was too dark to see).  I stopped and regrouped, trying to logically solve this problem.  There were a few whimpers about the situation, and then I pulled it together.  The dustpan JUST fit between the side of the dresser and the wall so I held it there while lying on the floor with the broom in the other hand.  I tapped the area right behind the lizard with the broom, gradually moving it towards the side where the dustpan was.  When it was finally was in plain sight, the broom brought it forward and into the dustpan.  There were a few dicey moments with the thing trying to crawl out of the pan, but with a lot of quick movements (and screaming), I kept the lizard inside.  I ran back down the stairs, shaking that thing to keep the lizard at the bottom and still whining.  But, in the end, I made it outside and dumped it over the fence.  My heart was beating so fast I thought I might have a heart heart attack.  It took me a minute to calm back down, tell myself that there weren't anymore (fingers crossed there isn't a family living under the bed) and resume the work that I was doing before the lizard sighting.  And that was just the beginning of the night.
A few minutes later, Rigby came to me like she does when she needs to go outside.  I got back out of bed, walked out of the bedroom with her, and on the landing that's where I saw it.  Rigby must have been channeling my nervous energy because in the time it took me to go back to work and her to come to me, she had diarrhea all over the 2nd floor landing.  All I wanted to do was get the school work done and go to bed, but instead I let her outside and then went spent the next 30+ minutes cleaning the landing.  Yuck!
I thought maybe I had just freaked her out with all my screaming and shaking the dustpan and broom around.  But no, she was sick.  I had to get up and let her out about five times during the night before around 2:00am when I just left her outside.
Poor baby.  I felt bad,  but she didn't have to get up and go to work in the morning.  Needless to say, today was a LONG day.  Now, I'm back in bed, with another bag full of work.  Rigby is by my side again (so far things seem to be ok intestinally) snoring loudly.  She didn't get much sleep last night either.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Movie and a Book

Earlier this year, the movie The Monuments Men came out in theaters.  It tells the story about a group of allied service men and women who were charged with protecting and finding art during and after World War II.  It boasted a well known cast - George Clooney (who also wrote the screenplay and directed), Matt Damon, Kate Blanchett, and Bill Murray to name a few.  The reviews for the film were meager.  Historians found it to be less than accurate (that's Hollywood for you) and critics found it too comical or light for a war-time film.  I saw it over winter break and liked it.  It was entertaining and opened my eyes to this part of history.  The film made me want to learn more about this hodgepodge group of art historians/professors, artists, architects, and museum curators who donned service gear to save some art.

The movie's screenplay was based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel.  I reserved the eBook from the library about 6 months ago and it finally came available over my summer break.  It was SOOOOO interesting.  I didn't find it a fast read because it jumped back and forth across the WWII timeline.  The jumping was purposeful as the handful of Monuments Men (MFAA) worked with different allied units throughout Western Europe.  A lot of the work and "good stories" happened simultaneously and therefore the back and forth was necessary, just not quickly followed.

Most of the critic reviews complained of the screenplay being a bit too silly and showed the Monuments Men as bumbling comic relief.  But I think that was on purpose to a point.  Many of the MFAA were out-of-shape middle aged men.  They were not soldiers, but professionals who joined the army and were thrown into combat.  They were also a very small group (approx. 10 at any given time) tasked with trying to save the art located in all of Wester Europe.  It wasn't easy to say the least, and they got themselves into a lot of predicaments.  This was a very serious time and the military commanders were usually more concerned with surviving the next battle or surge than saving the art.  The stories told by the members of the MFAA were actually quite comical.

In addition to preserving art and architecture during the fighting of WWII, they also literally went on a treasure hunt to recover the art that had been stolen by the Nazis.  Hitler had stolen art and artifacts from the Jews and the museums in those cities that Germany had occupied.  He hoarded that plundered art for his planned Fuhrer Museum in Linz, Austria.  He also intended to destroy the "degenerate" art created by Jews and modern artists.  

Although a lot of people might say that they don't care about the art during a war or that our armies shouldn't be concerned about it while engaged in combat.  But without these men and women an entire culture would have been destroyed.  By the end of the war, the hoarded art was set to be blown up in various underground mines in Germany and Austria.  Some of the world's most famous art (DaVinci's "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper", van Eyck's "Ghent Altarpiece",  Michelangelo's "Madonna of Bruges", Vermeer's "The Astronomer", and Manets and Rembrandts, and the list goes on and on) was saved before that happened.  Can you imagine an art history class without the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper?  I can't.

While reading this book I was also listening to Daniel Silva's "The English Assassin".  Silva writes spy novels, and this one is the second book of the Gabriel Allon series.  Allon is an art restorer/Mossad intelligence agent.  This particular book was about a former Swiss banker who had been in cahoots with the Nazis during WWII and had several stolen works of art in his collection.  Growing old, the banker had many regrets about his involvement and decided to return the works of art, but he was killed before he could do so.  It was fun and relevant to read the two book at the same time.  The history made for a more meaningful read of a personal (albeit fictional) account of the Jewish families whose art had been stolen and then recovered.

If you have the time, I highly recommend the book.  The movie is also entertaining and gives the gist of the operation.  That period of time fascinates me, and this particular "story" has increased that fascination.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

15 Years

Today was the first day of my 15th year of teaching.  I can hardly believe it, and yet, I can.  The past few days I've been suffering from borderline sadness about returning to work for another school year. As much as I LOVE my new school the last two years have been hard, kid-wise.  I worried that I just didn't have the energy to take on another group of students with severe apathy and behavior problems.  Alas, the mortgage bill arrived last week so I couldn't didn't quit.  Even though the administrators and first grade teachers at my school promised a change this year, I started this morning skeptical; kind of bracing for the 2nd grade tornado that has hit the last two years.  And boy, I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice first day of school it was.  Sure, there are some stinkers, but nothing in comparison.  And the best part...they are excited about learning.  There was a concern that apathy was the new normal these days, but I have been proven wrong...thank goodness.  Of course, we always describe the first day of school as the honeymoon period, and the true colors come out soon after.  But I can say that this year's honeymoon was far better than last year so I am hopeful.

Anyhow, after 34 hours of vacation time unpacking and preparing my classroom (link to the before pictures) coinciding with the construction and painting because, no, it still isn't all done, the room was presentable to begin this morning.

After my bright lime, light blue, and brown color scheme from the previous two years, this turquoise and black decor seems kind of boring (the ugly new paint color doesn't help either), but it's very calm...maybe that was my problem the last two years!?!?!  I'm still without an electronic whiteboard which I have forgotten how to teach without.  However, it's supposed to be installed tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed!

One day down, 179 more to go!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Just a Dent

My work husband Jason and I went into school today to begin delving into our classroom mess.  Even though we are warned not to go in on the weekends, we decided to brave it together because we could protect each other if anyone tried to steal us, or at least call 911.

The classroom update is FAR from being finished.  I don't even have whiteboards up yet (Yikes)!  But the cupboard painting is finished, so I could start unpacking.

After 6 hours, most of the boxes have been unpacked and most of the books have been returned to the classroom library.
The floor has been spotted!  So at least a dent has been made.  In fact I stayed a little longer after this photo was taken and unpacked and broke-down those six boxes in the middle of the picture before I left.

Getting started on this room is really all I've thought about this past week, so I'm glad to have gotten a few hours in today.  It's taken the edge off a bit.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'm Getting Worried

Can we all just take a moment to digest that kids will be starting school in my classroom in 11 days, and this is what that classroom looks like right now...
At the end of last school year (which seems like yesterday btw) the rooms in my wing of the school had to be packed up and stripped down to the bare walls.  Excitingly, some refurbishing of the old rooms was going to take place over the summer.  I've got a lot of stuff so the packing was kind of a pain, but I kept telling myself that it was worth it for a much needed update.
Even though school has been out since June 14, the rooms STILL aren't done.  Typical construction speed.  Typical school project speed.  The two don't combine well at all!  My principal has been standing on her head to get the workers to finish, but time is running out.
With only 6 weekdays (we can't go in on the weekends anymore) left before school starts, panic is setting in.  I need a week to set up the room/prepare for the new year after summer break when I don't have to unpack and reorganize.
Yesterday, my friend Tami asked me, "Are you freaking out?"  Yep!  I'm totally freaking out!!!!