Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why can't I stop complaining!

Teacher from hell sent me a flaming email right at about time to go home today. The computers in her lab weren't working, and she had to spend time "tinkering" with them instead of teaching. Well do I look like ITS? She wants "someone" (ME) to check the computers before every class to make sure "the software works." Well the software worked on 7 of the 9 computers. What was her problem with them? there was no desktop icon. The students had to start->programs-> program they needed. The other three computers? I have no idea why they didn't work. They did two weeks ago because I checked them myself. Did she call ITS? no. Did she call me? no. She just bitched and flamed an email to everyone, including my boss and his boss, and probably the teacher's union rep as well. So I stayed after work about three hours and got two of the computers working. I had to stop because a lab was coming in, or I'd probably still be there.

And then she had the nerve to complain about broken equipment when it was HER STUDENTS who broke it, and I very clearly told everyone to watch their students carefully so the equipment wouldn't get broken. And her most recent complaint other than the flame? That a one page-two sided lab was stapled backwards to the instructions, so her students had to ***gasp*** turn the freaking paper over! afater I gave her two copies to proof (which she has lost and is on #3- but claims I never gave them to her). Last week she was gone, drying out from her prescription drug problem. She did two weeks at Mayo last fall for the same thing. And she rants and raves and acts like I'm the one with the problem?

Usually ranting makes me feel better, but not tonight.

On to better things. I'm going to read some of my homework, to get ready to turn in an assignment Thursday, and try to relax before I have to go to bed. I'm going in early, if I can manage, and get back to work on the computers. The good thing? I have thursday away from campus- more tree tapping with 4th graders, and friday I'm meeting up with some of my treehugging friends for some professional development which includes a behind the scenes tour of our state natural history museum. Can't wait!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

more tree tapping

Feb 23, 2008

Another fine day in the woods tapping trees. This time it was families and scout troops. It was fun, maybe not “whee I'm bungee jumping” fun, but more like “what a good day” fun. More of a half adult-half kids group, and there was one group of teenage boys. They might have been from a group home or something. They had some trouble tapping the tree, and I told the the brownies that came out earlier did it in about 2 minutes- it probably took them 4 or 5. Then we couldn't get the bucket on because the spile was in too far, so we tried to get it back out and it broke off. We just looked at each other. Umm.... gee... what do we do now? Well one of the long time sappers dug it out with his leatherman's tool. I wasn't the only one (although they gave me a really hard time about it) . The group broke four today. Spiles are just tubes made out of pot metal, so they are pretty cheap and apparently break when really cold (and tapped with w hammer). There were loads of photos taken, and the TV station came out, so maybe we'll be on the news. It finally got warm enough that the sap was running a bit today. Some of the trees we tapped in the morning had sapcicles by the last group at 4:30.

Today I soloed the same part I shadowed two days ago. I really like doing it myself without someone watching over me. I like presenting material my way, with my examples and my jokes. The other presenter does a great job, but she's her and I'm me.

So nothing else is new and exciting, Tomorrow is homework. The MIA instructor has posted( said he had the flu) and now that we are two weeks behind, he said not to get all excited about working ahead. Apparently some chapters will be dropped. I don't know what's going to happen. I was really looking forward to this class, but so far it's Earth Science 101- definitely not a 400 level class.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

In the snowy woods today.

February 21, 2008

What a wonderful day! Freezing cold, outdoors, in the woods in a snowstorm, showing 4th graders how to tap sugar maples. It really was fun. First I “shadowed” someone who has given the mini talk on tree structure and a “build a tree” activity for several seasons. I probably could have winged it, I've done the same talk myself, but different people do things differently, so I watched and listened. I get to do it on my own on Saturday for about 9 hours.

It works this way:
“Hi kids! This is how a tree works, here's a giant tree cookie, here's the Xylem, here's the phloem....yada, yada. Now lets make a tree! Ok- nice a frozen yet? Into the woods! Let's pick out our tree.. where should we drill the hole?” It's really fun and fourth graders are great. The are still enthusiastic, and even though it was only about 20 degrees and snowing, they were very engaged and I only had a few whiners. Most of them wanted to stay out and tap more trees. Of course my feet and fingers were cold by the end of the day, but a day in the snow in the woods is 100% better than a day in the office. It's a strange thing. Standing out in the sugar bush, with snow falling and 20 degrees, I didn't feel a bit cold. I was about as bad as the kids, and more than willing to tap more trees.

Took a night off from homework. I have a couple articles to read. One instructor has been MIA for about 2 weeks. The other class is only demanding about every other week, so I can work a week then just read a week. I need to catch up a bit, because I 'll have an assignment due in a week and need to read this and next weeks readings to do it. Tonight I managed to read a large part of a book for the Reading Divas exchange. I spent yesterday ordering books I didn't have and digging out books I did for all my exchange commitments for the rest of the year. March, April and May are going to be BUSY so if I can get this all done and out of the way, that's one less thing to worry about.

Calm and warm tonight. 1.5 inches of snow today and more coming tomorrow. A snow day would be fine with me.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

Feb. 20, 2008
I was supposed to go out to Sugar Grove and take a class through the wonderful world of sugaring, but it was freezing ass cold today, and the school canceled. I have another tomorrow, when it will be slightly less cold, but still in the high 20's. This weekend is an event for the community sugaring, and it's supposed to be int the mid 30s, which should feel pretty nice after the cold we've had.

I read an article online about a Pastor who is trying to get people to stop complaining. He gives out purple bracelets and every time you complain you move it onto the other wrist. If you get to keep the bracelet on the same wrist for three weeks, you get a certificate. He said most people take months to stop complaining. What's so wrong about complaining? There's more wrong with being passive and going along with the herd. There is a difference between whining and complaining. Whining I can do without, but complaining is often very relevant and leads to solutions. If you don't complain, then everything's ok, right? I hereby vow to complain more, to stand up for all those who think passivity is good, and that we should be sheep. Frankly, that whole shepherd/sheep religious thing just sets me way off.

Speaking of religion, I found a book today when I was out feeding my habit. It's “the Little Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville. So being a loud and proud Atheist, I thought I'd take a look. I'll review it here as I read it. Oh I like this. It's divided up into three sections: Can we do without religion? (Um... yup- better than with I think), Does God Exist? (nope. Sorry- he's a figment of our collective superstition and refusal to accept the responsibility for our actions- God's will and all that crap) and Can there be and Atheist spirituality? (Depends on the definition.) Interesting so far...

Full lunar eclipse tonight. Last one for about three years, so I had to go out into the freezing night and look. Magnificent! The moon was in full eclipse, with a wonderful red glow. That is truly spiritual. Seeing nature in all its glory. I know why it happens, I know when it happens, I know when it will happen again. It's not magical or holy. It's science showing off, just like buds in spring and whispering soft snowfalls. I find it beautiful because I choose to, not because some old man in a long white beard (who is a Packers and Cowboys fan at the same time, apparently) has made it beautiful. Beauty is paying attention to the common and the uncommon. It would be the height of egoism to think that some supreme being made something as beautiful as a red eclipsed moon simply for me to enjoy, or to send me a grim warning, or to predict a new king, as has been declared in the past. It happens on a predictable cycle and it's beautiful because I'm there to appreciate it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm Back!

I've been thinking about bloging again. Life was rough last summer, but things are getting a bit smoother now. So what's been happening? Loads. Things on my mind? Sure.

Rant for the day.

A few days ago, a student walked into a college c;assroom at Northwestern Illinois University. NIU is about 2 hours from me. Working at a college, and having this happen so close, I can only expect some kind of response from work. Here it is-- we are all supposed to go stand outside by the flagpole (in freezing weather) for a 10 minute "vigil" and we are signing a banner to send to NIU. Well, won't that make them feel better? Won't that just help? WTF!!?? My office is on the ground floor, first one in, easy acces for any CRAZY MAD EVIL GUN TOTING WACKO!!! Are we planning to lock the outside doors, or maybe suggest teachers lock their classrooms? How about even having ID cards displayed? Anything? Last communication from higher up was that the locks on the classroom doors will be changed to push button locks. Now teachers have to lock and unlock the doors with a key. So you could open your door without unlocking it, and then close it and it would be locked again. Now instructors will have to push a button in to lock a door. That makes us more secure how? Every instructor has a key.

So we have a meaningless gesture to NIU, who could use maybe some help with councellors or with some useful discussion about how to make campuses safe, and a meaningless change in "security" to keep us safe. It's going to cost some money to secure the campus, but it could be done, and we aren't safe until we do.