Half Days

I like half days, as far as work load goes.  They are plenty tiring for me.  But the half days I have had this week have also been a bit disconcerting.  I am scheduled to be there at 12:30, but the classes I had didn’t start until 1:00.  I had 1st and 2nd graders (mixed classroom) for the first hour 1:00 – 2:00; Kindergarteners from 2:00 to 2:45; and 3rd and 4th graders for the final hour, 2:45 – 3:45.  The sub caller actually said I was supposed to be done at 3:30, but since that is a pretty short half day, I have stayed until the end of the class. 

The person I am subbing for is actually there – he is giving make up TCAP tests this week in the computer lab.  So we have been using laptops.  I hate using these particular laptops and I especially hate using them with the younger kids, the K-3s.  The touch pads are WAY TOO sensitive and the kids end up doing all sorts of things they don’t expect, just because they accidentally touched some place on the touch pad that got them into trouble.  What a mess.  And you can’t help 20+ kids at a time, even if there is an aide with you.  We survived, but it certainly wasn’t the best experience for the kids. 

I know that they might also have had problems on Macs, but I still can’t help thinking that the problems were worse on these PC compatibles. 

I don’t think I have computer classes tomorrow, since he said that they normally have “clubs” on Fridays.  I have no idea what that means.  I wish he had told me more – maybe I could have prepared something.

It is interesting to me how some of the teachers have been so nice and friendly and others have made me feel like the most bumbling bumpkin they have ever met.  Sigh.

During my free 45 minutes today and yesterday (no Kindergarten classes on Wed or Thurs) I have been working on organizing their bookshelves.  I am not sure what the other subs have been doing with their “free” time.  But, organizing the books has been fun for me – and I hope helpful for them. 

Sorry, for the rambling post – no real content, just blather.


Evaluating Teachers; Evaluating Congresspeople


The above was posted on Facebook and it got me thinking.  What would be the best way to evaluate Congress?  How can we tell how well they are suited to doing their jobs?  Should we base their pay on whether they actually do their jobs, such as passing a budget?  
Or, even before they take office, make them take a PRAXIS exam, developed by an independent commission, in which prospective congresspeople have to demonstrate the knowledge necessary to make reasonable decisions on matters that might come before Congress, such as climate change, trade agreements, banking regulations, etc.  If they pass the exam, they will be qualified to get a Congressional PRAXIS endorsement and be certified for 5 years, after which time, they will have to apply to be re-certified.  They then must show proof that they have spent 15 college semester hours studying issues that they have had to make decisions on. 
If we truly believe that representing the people of the United States is an honor and an important job, then the people who do it should be qualified to do so.  Maybe they should be required to get a certificate declaring that they are HIGHLY QUALIFIED congressional candidates — because, you know, they actually know something about the issues. 

Writing Songs

I have been writing songs for about two and a half years now.  To be exact, I wrote one song for a class around four years ago, but I didn’t write anything anything after that one for about a year.  Then, for some strange reason, I started again in the fall of 2010.  Some of the songs come to me almost fully formed, others begin as snippets of melody that gradually change into longer forms.  Some of the snippets of melody come to me in the car, while I am commuting to or from the next subbing job.  Some have words right away; for some, I struggle with the words over and over again. 

Some of the songs come to me with a rhythm that I struggle to write down.  I used to think that I was pretty good at rhythm, but have lately discovered that that simply isn’t true – at least now.  Maybe I was better at rhythm when I was younger. 

When I started writing again in the fall of 2010, most of the songs I wrote were sad and painful.  My music teacher encouraged me to branch out a bit, setting objectives such as writing about an abstract idea, a funny incident, or an inanimate object.  One of my best songs is about the chairs in my living room. 

My husband has never liked music.  He has tolerated my interest in singing from the time we were first dating to now.  I don’t blame him for not being interested in my song-writing.  It just isn’t an interest or understanding of his.  What I do blame him and my children for is making fun of my interest in music.  He and they joke about having to go to my recitals or concerts. 

My older daughter is the only one of the two “kids” who has heard any of the songs that I have written.  Both she and her sister listen to music a lot – practically all of their waking free time.  The younger one goes to live music concerts near and far from where she lives.  Both have wide interests in music.

So, why are they so disdainful of my music?  The younger one has never even heard a single song that I have written.  She has heard me sing – and she may not like my voice, but she hasn’t heard any of the songs I have written.  Other people have told me that, at least the Chairs song is really good.  But, when they were home for the holidays, the fact that I offered to sing it for her was treated as a big joke.

They didn’t know that I cried myself to sleep that night.  One of my best songs is about the anger and hurt I felt at their rejection.  The Song You Won’t Hear. 

Organizations I Believe in, but They Always Want Money

I am getting tired of organizations that ask my opinion or want me to sign their petitions – and then immediately follow that request with an “opportunity” to contribute money toward their goals.  Yes, I know they have to raise funds, but it makes me feel that they really don’t give a damn about my opinion or my signature – what they really want is the money. 

So, a new experiment:  I am going to give $25 (I can’t afford more) to the first organization that I belong to that sends me an email asking for either an opinion or a signature WITHOUT also asking for money.  I will post a follow up here, if that ever happens.

Keeping Myself Amused While I Swim

Last year, I counted my lap-swimming lengths in base 12. Base 12 is actually a very nice base to use to count for my lap-swimming.  I swim 40 (12) lengths of the pool (that is 48 lengths or 24 laps).  I prefer to count lengths, because in one direction, the number is always odd and the other direction, it is always even.  It is easier to keep track that way.  My husband thinks that is incorrect and he is probably right, but he is welcome to count any way he pleases, and so am I.

The reason why base 12 was so convenient for me was that the 40 (12) laps (which are really lengths, but laps are easier to write) took me around 40 minutes.  So each of the 4 10 (12)s took me around 10 minutes and I could easily keep track of whether I was on pace or not.  On days when I felt pretty good, I could pick up the pace and on tired days, after a particularly difficult subbing day, I could slack off, but not too much.

Base 12 counting required a bit of an adjustment in terms of number words.  When you count in hexadecimal, the numbers are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, 10.  I could have just used A and B for 10 and 11 (base 10), but I decided that those letters didn’t mean much to me.  So I switched to D for dek and E for elf.  Dek reminds me of the metric system based on base 10 and it was perfect for the number that is one more than 9.  Elf is the German word for eleven and besides being perfect in meaning, it is also short and easy to remember.

So, the only word I still needed was a word for 10 (base 12).  I chose duz for dozen.  Since base 12 embodies the concept of dozens, I thought it was a good choice.

While I was changing the names of things, I also made the wording a bit more sensible.  In English 17 is pronounced seven-teen.  The seven, in spite of being second in the number, is said first – and then the ten part.  I changed the pronunciation of the duzth numbers to duz-one, duz-two, etc.  It makes more sense and conforms with the rest of the nomenclature better.

The thing that was especially interesting to me about base 12 was the ability to name fractions for how much of my swim I had finished.  It is easy to reduce some fractions in each number base and harder to reduce others.  4 laps out of 48 (base 10) is 1/12 of the swim.  4 laps out of 40 (base 12) is 1/10 of the swim.  3 laps out of 48 (base 10) is 1/16 of the swim.  3 laps out of 40 (base 12) is 1/14 of the swim.

Since swimming laps isn’t always a very fascinating way to get exercise, counting and doing fractions in base 12 was a way to keep myself amused while I was swimming.  Other things work, too; I just really enjoy number bases and this proved to be interesting to me.

This year, I decided to switch and count my laps in octal. I sometimes change the names of the units to match the number base, so 50 is pronounced 5-oct-null. Today, I swam a sq-oct.  I decided that 100 (base 8) needed a different name from hundred, so I decided to use part of the word square to designate 100, since the place value of the 1 in that number is the square of the base.  So it is a sq-oct – and can be pronounced squawked.  I am easily amused.

So far, I have found that base 12 had more interesting fractions to compute and reduce.  But I am still getting used to counting in octal and more interesting things may come up as it becomes more routine and requires less concentration just to remember to change directly from 27 to 30 and from 37 to 40.

Yes, this is probably my most bizarre post, but, again, I find it amusing.  So there.

Violence Against Women Act

In response to a post on Facebook about domestic violence, I wrote: “Is there a reason why the Violence against Women Act couldn’t be renamed and re-introduced as the Domestic Violence Act? This would encompass the small number of men affected by domestic violence, too.”

This ties in with a recent push to pass the equal rights amendment, too.  Maybe we need to write a lot more of the newer legislation to be gender neutral.  There are some things that may apply only to men or only to women, but not that many, as far as legislation goes.  It seems to me that most legislation could be written with gender neutral language.  With the possible exception of pregnancy and child-bearing, are there any aspects of life that are exclusively relating to one gender or the other?

Day 1: Envision your goal/resolution.

I think my first goal will be decluttering – my desk, my refrigerator, my garage.  I need to get rid of the things that I haven’t used for a long time.  I wonder if I can persuade the kids to come get their stuff – probably not, but I think I will re-organize the boxes of their things, so that it is clear what things are their.  Maybe I will divide the shelves in the garage into sections – Rachel’s, Alyssa’s, Mom’s, and ours.  John’s will be mostly tools – he seems to be better at not accumulating “stuff”.