Saturday, December 01, 2007

Because Life is Never Easy

I did some Hanukkah shopping today, and bought a few books for myself at Borders.  

Stopped for a cookie at the Tollhouse cookie place and *gasp* forgot my purse.  20 minutes later, I went back, and it was behind the counter.

Then I went to Target to buy a really pretty sweater, and Target said there was a problem with my ATM card.

Got home and had an email from B of A saying there was suspicious activity on my account, so I logged in, and lo and behold, there was a $1200 charge to a Countrywide branch in Fresno.  Bwuah?

So, I called the number in the email and went through the identify verification junk, and was reviewing purchases with the guy on the line.  After a few, he said, "Well, that seems like everything's okay, then."

So I pointed out the Countrywide charge.  He was a touch confused, saying it had been "approved."  Well, yeah, I had enough funds to cover it, but there's the slight problem wherein I wasn't in Fresno today and I don't have a mortgage -- with Countrywide or anyone else.

So he turned off my ATM card and gave me another number I have to call tomorrow.  Then they will mail me an affidavit to sign, so that they can put the funds back in my account.

Meanwhile, I have to figure out if I have any other automatic payments due in the interim -- luckily, the cell phone, TiVo, and Netflix all went through yesterday...but I have to check about my car insurance.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Alas, Poor Sparky Junior

Once upon a time, while I was in college, I had a computer named Sparky.  Sparky was a 166 MHz Pentium with something like 32 megabytes of RAM.  (I imagine my iPhone runs faster than 166 MHz).  It was in a monstrously large tower and came with a 17" CRT monitor that weighed as much as Patrick at the time.

During my senior year of college, Sparky, who had been slowly limping along, suddenly panicked and the next thing I knew, I had a mostly empty hard drive.  Strangely enough, there was no apparent rhyme or reason to what, exactly, was sacrificed in the Great Hard Drive Suicide of 1999, but it was certainly traumatic.

So, after the semester I took off to look after Patrick and help to run and then sell my dad's alarm company and monitoring station after he died, I bought Sparky Junior, a 1.7 GHz (10 times faster than Sparky; I was ecstatic) PC with 256 MB of RAM and a 15" LCD monitor.  It ran Windows Me (yeah, I know), which I eventually upgraded to XP.

The sticking point here is the RAM.  It is a random kind of RAM that only existed for a brief time before SDRAM appeared and took over the world, and not even Crucial carries it.

Being a fairly well-informed computer user (translation = uber nerd), I am careful to protect my computer from spyware and viruses and only visit a few trusted sites when using the PC (as opposed to my laptop).  I have virus programs and spyware checkers, and have both a software and hardware firewall.

So I don't think the way my computer randomly slows to a crawl and complains of being out of memory is a virus or spyware issue.

I think Sparky Junior is dying.

Or, rather, I think Sparky Junior's memory is dying, and seeing as how it's virtually impossible to replace, I will soon be in the market for a desktop.  Having become a Mac fan in the interim -- especially now that you can also run Windows for those few applications that require it (Boardmaker and Writing With Symbols being the main suspects) -- it will likely be an iMac.  I wish I could afford the utter powerhouse that is the Mac Pro, but because that would require me to buy a monitor as well, I just won't be able to swing that.  For the price I'd pay on the Mac Pro and the monitor, I could get a very nice iMac as well as Final Cut Studio.

Alas, Poor Sparky Junior; I knew him, Horatio....

Wake Me Up When December Ends

So, I have this song stuck in my head, as it was playing just as I got home today...and it ocurred to me that if I just tweaked

There's a lot of chaos on the school front. Speech Aide A is refusing to work with Bulldozer because he hit her on Tuesday. I got a lovely email from Speech Person DFT when I asked if Speech Aide A was all right -- she'd come into the speech session with guns blazing ("Okay, Bulldozer, it's time for speech...NOW, NO HITTING, OKAY?") and a bad attitude.

The response I got began with something along the lines of, "I'd have to say that no she is not okay" and went on to passively aggressively chastise me for not being at her beck and call at all times ("she came to see you after school and so did I, but you were not available" -- which she knew, because she knew I was translating conferences all afternoon) and then proceeded to explain to me that, OMG, SPEECH AIDE A FILLED OUT AN ACCIDENT REPORT AND IT IS NOW ON PRINCIPAL S's DESK!

(Yeeeah, that's where they all go. Also? They're so not a big deal. My first year of teaching, I did like three a week because I had a fourth grader with some very difficult behavior.)

What bugged me the most is that she assumed his behavior was like that all the time. Long term readers of this blog know that Bulldozer can have his moments, and had many of them at the beginning of the year. However, they will also recall that as the year has gone by, his meltdowns have gotten less frequent and less intense.

(Of course, articulating that to Principal S was the dumbest thing I have ever done, as you would have thought it was a Monday in early September wasn't until 5 minutes before lunch that I got him through a transition from a break back to work without triggering another meltdown.)

In any event, my reply wasn't -- I admit -- a stalwart example of courtesy, though of course you never know how something will appear in email. I won't get into it here, but I pointed out that Bulldozer's behavior has never been wonderful, and that part of the current behavior regarding speech as opposed to just about anything else is that it worked at the beginning of the year when we were fighting battles about just about everything.

Meanwhile, the teachers are up in arms about a mysterious comment or twelve in this week's bulletin that I hope wasn't prompted at least in part by this drama.

The only reasons we survived today is that Student M was out and that it was a Thursday, so Aide Mrs. B came at 11:30, because Aide S left sick at 9:30.


Yeah, duh, the reason for the post.

We determined why the existence of November is such a problem for Bulldozer. He wants Christmas, but bad. He wants it now, now, now, now, now, now, NOW.


So I'd just as soon have it be the end of December, thanks.

Oh, and I finally decided on Swiss Family Robinson for our next book. It's available pre-adapted to a first grade reading level and the version I bought includes a professionally narrated CD for the kids to listen to for the "listening comprehension" day for each chapter, so all I have to do is retype it verbatim with Writing with Symbols and make comprehension questions. Yippee. I'm hoping to have the whole book done before Christmas so that I have a few weeks to breathe before I have to worry about adapting Matilda.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of Lee Press-On Nails

I forgot to add below that I -- really, truly -- forgot to write the "please clip Elastigirl's fingernails" note today. Of course, I had a kid melting down today before he even got on the bus, so hopefully I'm forgiven.

However, that brought up an excellent point.

Elastigirl has been fairly regularly melting down at about 11:30 each day. I suspect it has to do with Aide J getting tired and stressed, and Elastigirl reacting to that, but I'm too smart to say that.

So, today, I pulled her, along with her News-2-You work, some different work, and just me, with the express intention of doing a few scientific experiments to determine if it's (1) the time, (2) the work, (3) Aide J (didn't say that one aloud), or (4) some combination of the three.

I was all set up, when the psychologist called and reminded us that she wanted to do a few more tests on Elastigirl.


A Voice is Crying, "Your Doom is Near at Hand"

(Can ya tell I'm a quote person?)

Anyhow, remember a while back when I said I felt disaster lurking around the bend?

Disaster, thy name is December 18.

Why December 18th, do you ask?

On December 18th, of the total four staff that I have (one morning, one PM, two all day), three -- three -- will be out.

All three morning folks -- Aides S, T, and J -- will be out.

I have already asked the office if I can borrow aide #4 -- Aide Mrs. B -- in the morning and give my sub to her morning position just to have somebody who knows the kids.

And yet, I keep thinking: ALL THREE OF THEM WILL BE GONE.

Whattaya wanna bet that's the morning I wake up to a stolen transmission, four flat tires, and a dead battery?

(Meanwhile, having for the first time spent extensive time with Teacher R, a second grade teacher at our school, and her son L, I have discovered yet someone else with Down syndrome who chews their thumb. I am intrigued. Also? While I'm sure that L can be a royal hell raiser (you should hear his giggle!) he is absolutely utterly adorable, and I have decided that should anything happen to R, I will happily adopt him.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sometimes I Amuse Myself Too Much

Must be part of the writing thing.  Sometimes, the phrases that come out of my head just amuse me...especially when they appear on my computer screen without any advance warning.

Right now, I am tickled pink that my brain came up with this:
Tara shook her head in exasperation. “They’re the FBI’s real life Mulder and Scully.” She shrugged defensively at the looks she was getting. “X-Files? If they kissed, the world would stop turning?” She shook her head. “Forget it.”
The joke here, of course, is that the "real life" Mulder and Scully are just as fictional as...

...hey, it was funny to me!  :-)

Of Fingernail Clippers

The good news is that it was a Monday and Bulldozer only had two minor meltdowns -- one of which was semi-provoked. Yay. :-)

The better news is that against all expectations, Aide S's working for a certain psych care services place has only made her better at her job instead of turning her into a discrete trial drone. Yay. :-)


(You knew there was a however, didn't you?)

However, our current drama is that Aide J is just incensed because Elastigirl's parents must clip her fingernails right this second!!!!!

She has asked me to write a note requesting that they do this, but I replied that I was not comfortable doing that because they know that Elastigirl's fingernails should be cut.

(And, also, 'cause you wouldn't get the bejeezus scratched out of you if you only actually did what I told you to for more than 10 minutes at a time, and 'cause the girl could find a way to scratch if all of her fingernails were ripped off in a tragic Velcro accident. Seriously.)

In any event, she has now decided that Elastigirl's scratching is OMG A HEALTH HAZARD because she touches places that shouldn't be touched without washing your hand.

And she is, apparently, telling everybody this...according to our principal.

So I chatted with our principal after school, who grinned knowingly when I said that Aide J had been asked repeatedly to just step away when Elastigirl is scratching ('cause, you know, if you move away, she won't get attention, and -- get this! -- she'll stop scratching) and said that she would tell her the same.

But she did ask me to write the note asking that Elastigirl's fingernails be clipped.

I'm chafing at that (I've worked hard to maintain a good relationship with them, because they had some run-ins with school staff before), but our principal has been very nice and very supportive, so, hey, don't rock the boat, you know?

But this is my blog, and I'll have my say here. (So there.)

1. Elastigirl's parents know her fingernails need to be cut. Her behavior is the same at home as it is at school.

2. Elastigirl's parents have been working very hard to provide for her and do right by her, in the face of enormous challenges and obstacles. She has even done homework sometimes.

3. Elastigirl cringes and flails away from washing her hands. Can you imagine the production that is required to actually clip her fingernails?

4. Seriously. They know her fingernails should be cut. They also know she should have a bath every day, but with a kid with intense needs who has a dad on daily dialysis...sometimes things have to give -- and feeding her dinner is more important than washing her hair.

4a. Don't get all snippy with me. I know kids should have baths. But I have also been the harried sixteen-year-old sister whose dad is in the hospital and who is trying to study for midterms, pick her kid brother up from school, cook dinner, take midterms, hold together a tutoring program while the official tutor's brother is in a hospice dying of cancer, and waiting to see if her dad will wake up from his coma. Guess what? Patrick didn't get a bath that week. So sue me.

4b. Seriously? They know. Get over it and implement her behavior support plan and stop worrying about trivial things like fingernails. If you're worried they're so dirty, wash her hands. Or, you know, your cuts. That you wouldn't have (or, at least, 90% of which you wouldn't have) if you actually absorbed what I tol dyou.

4c. Seriously? They know. They're trying.

4d. While Elastigirl's "mental functioning" is in question, she unquestionably has severe delays. My brother -- my 20-year-old, mostly high-functioning brother -- would, to this day, rather chew off his fingernails than allow fingernail clippers within 50 feet of him. He would rather his toenails rip off in his socks than allow toenail clippers within 100 feet of him. Don't assume it's a matter of, "Oh, c'mere, Elastigirl, let me cut your fingernails, honey."

4e. Seriously? They know.


Allow me to rephrase that: If I have only so much good will with this family, I'd rather use it on the thing that is causing such severe pain that hitting herself is the only thing that will make it feel better than on something they know should be done anyway.


Amusing bookmark to this story. I, I admit, whined at one point, "Oooh, she's such a thorn in my side sometimes."

The principal looked askance at me. "Aide J, not Elastigirl," I said.

She looked dubious.

"Seriously. I adore Elastigirl (I do). I'd take Elastigirl home with me in a second...though I might have to fight Aide T for the privelege."

She grinned and at that point wondered if perhaps Aide J is angling for a disability leave from us (with pay, of course) so she only has to work the one job but is paid for both.

Welcome to another week!

(However, my writer's block un-blocked. Or, rather, the dam burst. I have about 4 stories almost done and two videos totally vidded in my head. Squee!)