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I'm awake now after sleeping for three hours. Somehow that just doesn't seem fair.

Day Seven: Went to the beach, ate, went to the pool. Yeah, yeah, I know, that isn't enough detail. Ok. Here goes:


When we got to the beach, a dad had already finished this pyramid. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. He used a part of one of his kids' toys to make flat edges after pounding the sand firm. Like all good things, though, its existence is only a fleeting thing. A marauding baby grunted and puffed and finally climbed his way up the side to where he could reach and smash the point at the top.

click for the rest of the story )
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Tapping, talking,
gurgling, gargling,
song of metal
chokes drownspout
outside bedroom window,
(chamber door, nevermore)
Tincture of Torture,
bored of boarding,
time for hoarding.
Life lifeblood
swells in flood,
tanks banks,
escapes flanks,
arises from bed.
See? Babbling brook
the land has took!
scathing bathing is
impersonal laving.
Make the people clean.
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I've set up shop in the family room, with stacks of papers in need of grading. I woke to tend to nature's needs, came out here, and was promptly joined by Mr. Clydiecat, who is rapidly becoming quite the writer's muse, I should say. He's crawled into my lap, tail against my right elbow and chin in my left wrist, to purr and (I suppose) enjoy the vibrations of my typing tendons against his furry little throat. Whatever it is that he likes most about writing with me, I'm glad of it. During the day, he's a holy terror (not to be confused with the holy terrier some of you were talking about earlier) and doesn't want anything to do with anything remotely resembling cuddling. He wants to be known as some sort of stoic feline warrior who would care nothing for the strokings and pettings of the common housecat. He surely is an uncommon housecat, and yet, in the wee hours of the morning, he is much more than content to join and enjoy the pampering.

I was dreaming earlier. Several things from reality entered into the dream. First was a blinding pulse of energy which would destroy anything it touched, even if the advance of the flash were slowed in some manner. I've been playing an online build-your-own empire game called The Lacuna Expanse (my brother-in-law is part of the huge team developing this game, so message me if you want an invitation to the game). In the game, you build various buildings and "grow" them in order to be able to have and do certain things on your planet. In my dream, I'd built an energy pulse repulser. So, this pulse of energy came from outer space, and my little planet was able to safe tiny communities and middle-class citizens by putting all the rich and elite in the largest spaces (like NFL domes) while the poorer simply hid in the dark until the danger was past. In my dream, we were all turned to vampires, and the dream-daughter was able to avoid becoming a full vampire because seh had been exposed to the combination of the ray and the repulser ray.

Confused? Me too, because it would appear that several key details of the dream are missing from the telling, and dreams have a nasty habit of only allowing the light of day to touch some of them.

While grading papers, I talk to the student whose paper I've looking at. I may have made some disparaging remarks while looking at some of the papers, yesterday. My frustration comes from what appears to me to be a plain old Lack of work ethic. For example, who does someone get zero out of ten points on a paper that the teacher requires you to do with the book open?

Since I'm drifting in and out of dreaming while I try to write this, I'm about to pack it in and head back to bed.
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My school district has canceled school for tomorrow due to inclement weather. You'd have to have seen the abysmal conditions I've traveled in when school has not been canceled to really appreciate this. However, what with the entire mid-west expecting to be buried under a glacier in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, I guess they decided to go ahead and let us be safe at home. I've observed, over the last 14 or so years I've been in this district, that we don't usually call off school until at least one bus full of kids slides off the road. That probably isn't true, but, at least in my mind, that seems to have been the case. We'll never know for tomorrow, though, because we're actually canceling school before the emergency arrives. I guess the reports of polar bears and yetis from states to the west of us have been convincing.

This brings up an interesting point, though. There are/were eighteen school days until the start of our high-stakes testing. The testing which, if our governor manages to ram his education "improvements" through, will be a major tool for determining a teacher's pay. Eighteen days. We've been working all year toward this, and I still feel that my kids aren't ready for it. They just don't take school seriously, and no amount of anything seems to convince them of the value of an education. I told them today that we're all out of carrots, so I'm going to start using sticks. Then, I had to explain what that meant, that I would never actually strike a student in any fashion.

Maddie turned 14 in mid-January. She's tall, blonde, smart, witty, and utterly amazing to me. It was so nice to have the girls here for the weekend; we celebrated Maddie's birthday by making whatever she wanted for dinner and dessert. She initially wanted me to make my chicken alfredo, and then changed her mind to chili. I tried to talk her back to the alfredo, but her mind was made up, and my mouth was ready for a meal that it wouldn't get to eat. She also wanted me to make french silk pie, which I did. Everyone said that this was my best one ever. I actually kept the beaters working for the amount of time it said in the book, and whaddaya know, it worked! The sugar all dissolved and the pie was smooth and creamy.

It's about half past midnight at this point, and I'm going to be heading to sleep. Even though there's no school in the morning, I'll feel better if I stay closer to a regular sleeping schedule.
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Of course you have. I've been wondering the same thing, of late. What with all the signs of The Apocalypse happening under my own roof, I'm amazed that I'm not wondering from a nicely padded room at LaRue Carter Hospital. My biggest concern is that they make sure I have on two pairs of socks when they put me in the straight-jacket. The one thing I truly can't live through is cold toesies. Is it bad that I can spell Apocalypse correctly the first time, without using any kind of spell-checker?

Last week, if you'll recall, was The Sign of Water, in which we dealt with flooding, and then with "The Incident In Which The Jackhammer Tore Open The Waterline", in which we dealt with reflooding of a previously flooded area which was being dried out in order to be repaired. I'm pretty sure that the other signs of The Apocalypse are just now lurking around the corner. Most likely, they're waiting until the week before ISTEP to pounce all at once. are they allowed to do that? I mean, isn't that against some sort of celestical or celestial or select testicle code of conduct? These are questions which come to me in the middle of the night.

Today, this morning, or, if you prefer to be technical, on Monday morning, there was a moment of happy news in the classroom. An assistant principal popped by, with a folder full of writing samples from my students. They had been scored by the administrative staff, and most of my class did exceptionally well! Not top scores, but above the middle scores for sure! Only if you have been a teacher of children who seem to strive to not learn anything can you truly appreciate the way I tell you that I about broke down in tears first thing on a Monday morning. I complimented the entire class, told them that we would keep working on the writing process, and they proceeded to give their brains the rest of the day off.

I've just taken it upon myself to look up the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse. I find that a flood isn't listed as one of the choices in the Apocalyptic Menu of Disaster for the Endtimes. I'm not sure if I should be pleased, as this means that a minor plumbing issue in my home does not indicate that the end is near, or if I should be disappointed because I wanted to be interviewed by Oprah as "the man whose home was the catalyst for the end of all life as we know it on our lonely little planet".

Apparently, for each of the Seven Signs, a seal is broken open. I'm pretty sure I don't want Greenpeace here in my front yard pitching a fit about seals being broken open, so that's a bad start. For the first four of The Signs, there are The Four Horsemen. I VERY sure I don't want horses in my backyard, even if they are the apocalyptic harbingers of Conquest, War, Pestilence, and Famine. It's like my dad used to say: "I don't care WHO you are, Fat Man! Get those damned reindeer off my roof!"

Well, "The Repair Guys" were here today (yesterday) and put the carpet back down, with new padding where the old padding got soaked. With any luck, they'll put the vanity back in the master bathroom soon. Another bathroom sink will be greatly appreciated.

I'm close to my target back-to-bed time. There isn't much else to record. Cats are good. Kids are good. Wife is good. I'm good. It's all good. Good night.
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So, we had the master bathroom gutted, dried out, and then found we had a small leak in one of the pipes which would require fixing before we put everything back together again. So, we hired our favorite plumber to come in to do the work. He's been here enough this year that he'll probably be in our Christmas card picture for 2011. He'll be the bald guy with the round glasses and the new Ferrari that we've paid for.

Anyway, he came to fix the pipe. Part of the procedure involves finding the leak, as you might have already surmised. Our house, I probably mentioned in the previous entry, is built on a concrete slab, which means the the plumbing was put in place first, and then concrete was poured over it. The Plumber, who now has full refrigerator privileges in this house, needed delicately removed a small area of concrete, for which he used a jackhammer.

Now, I'm a fan of jackhammers. I, in a fashion similar to many men of my age, love POWER TOOLS. In fact, I love them so much that I must pronounce these two words pah-err tyuulz in order to properly express the giddiness I feel. I practically flit and twirl in that little fenced power tool nursery, where proud papas stand around and gaze lovingly and point and whisper "that'n's mahn, o'er there," before picking up a shiny new cordless drill and tenderly placing it in the shopping cart. My point, and I do have one, is that the dude was totally gonna JACKHAMMER my house!! It's frikkin awesome! All of it, I mean, except the part where my bathroom is torn to hell and I have to navigate a Marine Corps Obstacle Course of laundry baskets and vanity drawers in order to get to the potty that's still in there.

I can see I've lost my focus a bit. Sort of got carried away by the fact that this was an electric jackhammer with a solid plastic case of matching "tear that shit up" red. Mr. P (that's the plumber) began his task, and somehow, despite the precision of his delicate instrument, managed to barely nick the side of the leaking pipe. Alas, alack, O Woe, this caused the small leak to become a large one, and rapidly re-soaked the area which had been dried out by the turbofan jet engines last week.

P-diddy-daddio sprinted through the house (I'm picturing a sort of hunched over waddle, as he was wearing protective knee pads, and you can't run in those things)(although, he was a Marine; those guys can move pretty good regardless) to where the water shut-off is, and shut off the water.

While all this is happening, Leah and I are enjoying a nice coffee at Starbucks and generally enjoying each others company. We decided we'd head back to the house to see how PipeBoy was doing before going to get a very late breakfast and do some grocery shopping.

I walked back to say "hi," and noticed rather quickly that the carpet had that "no longer dry" color to it, and got to hear all about the little "oopsy". By this time, the rest of the concrete had been removed, pea gravel from under the slab dug out, the pipes repaired, and Captain Fix-a-Leak is getting ready to back-fill the gravel and pour fresh concrete. He apologized profusely again, backing out of the house while bowing his forehead to the floor and performing at least one full salaam in supplication.

Leah called the insurance company, and then the people who are taking care of the damage from the first flood. Leah and the receptionist are probably going to be exchanging greeting cards and recipes any day now; at least on this side of the phone, it sounds like Leah is talking to her BFF. Christine, or Christy, or whatever, sent the guys back out, and they have set up the nuclear-powered de-humidifier unit, and three General-Electric turbo-fan jet engines, in hopes of getting the place re-dried. They said they'll be back in two days to check on things. In the meantime, there's a constant whoosh of white noise that has just the hint of a high-pitched whine to it. The cats are scared to come back to this part of the house, so the litter box is in the entry-way. If you stop by to visit, please take a moment to sift out any chunks as you go past. The kitties will appreciate it, and so will I.

I swear, it's like Christmas here!

No, really. With all this going on, we haven't taken the tree down. At this point, I'm afraid to flip through channels on tv, for fear that a glimpse of a beach volleyball tournament would be enough hotness to spark it into flame. At least there's still enough moisture in the carpet to put it out quickly, I guess.
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This is due to the fact that there are four (that's four) commercial-grade, industrial, professional, contractor-type hair-dryer shaped fans going. Not to mention the dehumidifier.

See, this one cat we have, Sally, she thinks she's a princess or something.

Wait. Let me start even further back than that. )
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I woke up about an hour ago, went to the bathroom, and have been tossing ever since. Here in a few hours, It'll be back to work as usual; the vacation is over. It was actually a really good vacation, despite a few days which were a bit of a worry. The girls were here for a week, we had Christmas dinner five times, and I got the Nook eReader (which is Barnes and Noble's selected reader). I've read a 500-something-page novel, a 900-something-page novel, and I'm about halfway through another 350-page novel. It's like I've discovered reading all over again! Right now, I'm on a Greg Bear stint. I tend to read authors I've enjoyed before, and this guy has some incredible stuff. He's one of a select few who I can count on to always deliver. The only issue I've got with him is simply that he's way too smart. Sometimes I can sense the ideas he's trying to convey floating just over my head. That was only one book, though, so I suppose we'll call that a statistical outlier and just move on with enjoying his writing, eh? I recommend Darwin's Radio as a fine first read from Greg Bear. If you enjoy that, you'll want to follow it with Darwin's Children, of course.

More favorite authors:

David Brin for science fiction. Has a Ph.D. in astrophysics.
Harry Turtledove for alternate history. Has a Ph.D. in Byzantine History.
Arthur C. Clark. 2001: A Space Odyssey (need I say more?)
Alan Dean Foster (he's entertained me since I was twelve, and Flinx was someone I wanted to be)
Robert A. Heinlein. He's simply the master of the SF genre. Start with Methuselah's Children, if you dare.

I'm going to try to get another good hour and a half of sleep. I want to get in early and get the room as ready as possible for my little darlings when they walk in this morning.
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Here in Indianapolis, we're celebrating with the first thunderstorm? of the year? Seriously? And by Monday, we're supposed to be freezing our little paninis off again.
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I read "The Night Before Christmas" to the kids before they went to bed. When I got to the part where Santa says, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night", Nathan said, "Uh, don't you mean Merry Christmas?" I explained that in England, where the poem had been written, they wished each other a Happy, rather than Merry Christmas. He said, "Well, Merry Christmas sounds better." As there is no point in arguing with someone who is about to turn twelve in February, is tired, and is planning to wake up in about twenty minutes to proclaim that it is Christmas Morning, I simply stated that this was what they said in England where the poem had been written more than 150 years ago.trimmed for your bandwidth )
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1-year wedding anniversary with Leah. I'm a little shocked that a year has gone past already, I must admit. I'm also pleasantly surprised at how nice it is to be married to this woman. And I don't mean in a gushy, honeymoon-phase kind of way, either. Sure, there are days when one or the other of us can use some improvement in one aspect or another, but for the most part, it's been a time of enjoying happy results of a wise decision.

For whatever reason, Clyde isn't in here on the bedroom floor to frustrate the laptop and me, and I sort of miss the wrestling we do before he calms down enough to drape himself over my lap while I type.

The end of the grading period was Friday. I got all my grades entered on time. Thursday, I printed out grade reports from the online gradebook I've been using, SnapGrades. Ms. Fleming, an ESL assistant, translated my handwritten comments on the papers: "Based on his/her grades in math and/or reading, [student] is being considered for retention". On a couple of those, I wrote "is being seriously considered for retention". That got a couple of heads to snap around. My hope is that several of these students will start to pick up the slack for the next grading period. I'm going to refer all of them to the BBT committee for possible retention, and I'm going to do all that extra paperwork. Last year, I had one or two that I probably should have retained that I didn't because I thought that they'd improve if I just taught better. I realize, now, that my teaching isn't always to blame for how they perform.

Thursday afternoon, as they were lined up in the hallway waiting to be dismissed to the busses, one of the boys I get on almost every day said that he was going to miss me. Several kids gave me hugs, which they don't usually do. One girl brought in a gift for me, and a gift to take home to Leah, as well as a card in which she wrote a little paragraph to Maddie, Macy, and Nathan. I'm pretty sure she spent her own money to get us these gifts. My is a little metal candle holder which has the word "HOPE" in front of three votive candles. The outside of the box said "$3" and I'm pretty sure it's from a dollar store. I almost cried when I opened it. I don't know if she'll be able to understand how much a dollar-store gift can mean to someone. I know that colleagues in some of the nicer parts of town rake in the loot, with gift cards and baked goodies and such. I wonder if they're as touched as I am, or if they take it in stride?

Ah, well. Things are good. My eyeballs are starting to burn again, and I'm going to follow them back to the warm blankets and kitties and the soft sleeping sounds of Leah.
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Ok, so it isn't sunny, and it isn't Minsk.

Spending the night at my mom's house after a second Thanksgiving dinner. Why am I up? My pillow is thicker than a gorilla tampon. I sleep on my side, right? So, my head has been jacked up at an angle so that my shoulder has been crammed up against my eardrum. I'll be surprised if there isn't earwax on my shirt in the morning.

As it happens, things change and things stay the same. My old room, where Leah and I are sleeping separately in my old twin beds, has been remodeled. The curtains with the pheasants and the dark green carpet with the vomit stains from my childhood are replaced with blinds and hardwood floors. My dark-stained pine bookcase has been replaced with a peach-colored table with hand-painted pastel flowers on it. At least my mirror still has the Culver Military Academy sticker on it. My point, though, is that extra pillows are still in the hall closet. I found one that suits my preference much better, and as soon as I manage to be done whining about being a guest and treated damned near like royalty by my mother, I'll be snuggled up with it and back to breathing warm, moist compressed air from the mask strapped to my head.

The CPAP machine; before (and without), I would twitch and thrash and make a snoring/snarling/gagging sound while my breathing stopped more than 60 times per hour. Now (and with) I sleep peacefully and quietly through the night. According to the memory card in the device, my breathing stops an average of two times per hour, which is in the low-normal range.

I'm sort of hungry. I only ate one plate of second Thanksgiving, after all. I may have to take a lap through the kitchen and garage refrigerators and see if I can find the rest of that turkey carcass. We only really did damage to one side of it.
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All around me, people are waking up in anticipation of stores opening at 4am. Not me, though. I'm awake because I'm having trouble staying asleep. I have no desire to endure full-contact power-shopping in a mob of super-bargain-enraged soccer moms who sprint for the doors of a store as soon as they can hear the jingle of keys. I had enough of that back when I worked the selling floor of a department store.

I thought about writing a "things I'm thankful for" list, but then realized that it would have to be a "things for which I am thankful" list in order to maintain proper sentence structure, grammatically. Then I got to thinking about how it seems that, at times, the only time people take a minute to be grateful is the six weeks from the end of November to the first of the year. After that, it's back to whatever they were doing before.

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts:

I'm grateful to live in this great country. Despite the fact that we caucasian people arrived here a little less than 600 years ago and booty-bumped the then-current residents across the continent, I love it here. It's the only home I've known, and I've ridden from coast to coast on a motorcycle to see an amazing ribbon of interstate from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, California. It's a tiny slice of a huge place, and every mile is filled with beauty.

I'm grateful to live in this great state. Indiana is one of the "fly-over" states in the middle of the US, but we manage to feed a good portion of the whole country from our fields. Our medical research facilities in Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis, and other cities, provide state-of-the-art technology that is used around the world.

I'm grateful to live in the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area. Ok, so I'm technically in Carmel, but I've lived in and around Indianapolis for almost 20 years. It's home. A big enough city for some really cool things (like the Colts!), and still small enough to feel familiar.

I'm grateful to live in this house with the family that I have. It's me, my wife, and my stepson, most of the time, except for when my two daughters come for a weekend. Quarters can get cramped, there isn't always room for stuff, and the view is of the neighbor's back yard, but the kitchen is spacious and well-suited for how I like to cook.

In interest of brevity, I'll just state that Wife 2.0 is working much better for me than 1.0 did.

I'm grateful to my anonymous friends who have shown me how to have a life like this one. Without their constant help and direction, I'd have floundered, foundered, and fallen long ago. When I say that I owe them my life, I mean nothing less. It is a pleasure to associate with just people, and an honor to be of service in return for the service given me.

I'm grateful for my students. This school year has been a struggle in a lot of ways. So was last year. Nearly a quarter of my students from last year have stopped in the building to say hi to me, though, and tell me how they are doing. I imagine that you might have to be another teacher to really appreciate how much that means to me, that they would take time from what they are doing now to get to the building, check in and get a visitor's pass, and then come all the way upstairs to see me. One of the boys that I constantly rode for behavior last year showed up just last week.

I'm going to head back to my blankets and CPAP machine and try to fall asleep again. It will be interesting to see how this sounds when I read it in the morning. I'm not checking spelling or anything else at this point, and sometimes the errors are really funny.


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