Until 10:00 Thursday night, I really thought I’d get in one post. But then I fell asleep.
Making January the only month in the seven years of this blog that I didn’t get in a single post. I shoot for four. Half the time I make three. But every month I make one or two. My writing has just fallen off a cliff. Just 28 articles in 2018.
I’m not less interested. I’m just finding it much, much harder to write.
So what did I do in January?
Well, I spent a lot of time researching two different pieces on direct instruction. A movie gave me some interesting insights and more data to research. I read Zig Engelmann’s book again. I tried and failed to organize a way to discuss either article.
I found out how to search the ACS for high school demographics by state (to keep it manageable, I made it populations of 400+). These are stats I’ve wondered about even before I started (and abandoned) Everybody’s Second Favorite. Dick Startz spurred me on with this rather anodyne wail about integration in public schools (which he confuses with opportunity). So that led me to make interesting charts like this:
But while that was interesting, I was already halfway through January and this takes more time than I had.
I also spent some time at the DMV. My brother has two cars, but he carelessly allowed the registration on one to expire, and then he ignored the followups, and then he ignored the warnings, until he started to worry about how much it would cost. So he bought a new used car from a friend for cheap. The other car was parked at the curb until the city labeled it as unregistered and threatened to tow it. By this time, the battery was dead, so he put the batter from his other car into that one–and it started right up.
“Aww,” I said. “It missed you. You should get it reregistered.”
Until then, he put it in the driveway, where the city can’t get it. But the driveway is my spot–and a non-trivial amenity I pay for with my higher rent. He gets the bigger part of the house, despite paying less. A lot less. I’m not bitter. I make more.
But it’s now well over a year later, and I want my damn driveway back. It’s often hard to park in the streets; people can (and do) park right in front of the house. So I made an appointment for him to find out what it would cost to reregister a car that hadn’t been paid for in three years. I told him about it and everything.
And I knew he’d forget, so I made a second appointment, on a Saturday, for me. So when he forgot, I spent an hour or so with a surprisingly nice bureaucrat finding out how much it would cost. The answer was much better than feared. My best case was $500, worst case $2000. It was $625. Plus a smog test. And a battery. Plus by now the tire’s flat, so he needs to fix that. Still, about $1000 to get a second car that he could give to his kids. He’s got the money. He owes me $800 that he has in an account. He doesn’t live large. I told him he could pay me later if he’d get the car done.
It’s 3 weeks later. No fixes. I told my nephew that if he got his dad to fix the tire and buy a battery, I’d pay him $20. Hasn’t happened yet.
I’m sympathetic to people who avoid. I did it for years. Still do. And I want my damn driveway back.
Anyway. That took some time.
Then I read Robert Pondiscio’s article on, among other things, killing education myths and remembered very apt parallels between that particular myth and an Asimov short story. That’d be easy to write. I looked up the text, and promised myself I’d get it started.
But first I opened my mail. That’s….not something I do often. Let me give you an example. At the bottom of the large box of mail was a letter from my financial manager’s company alerting me to a $2500 account that hadn’t seen any activity for three years, and was in danger of being put into the state account. Please notify us before it gets sent to the state. The problem was, the form letter was from December 2017. So I had to call the office and admit I hadn’t opened the letter for over a year, but everything was okay and my money wasn’t at the state, right? His assistant called me back, chuckling, to assure me that it had been issued in error and my money was safe.
Another half day gone. Then I thought about some Great Moments in Teaching articles I’d postponed, or one on my pedagogy for number sets. Multiplication is the Death Lord. Things like that.
But the major time suck was….
Grading. Jesus. Grading took over January. I used to like grading. I still like it, really. A whole day of January winter break grading. Then more tests, more grading, rinse and repeat.I don’t know why it kicked my ass so badly this year.
I’ve taken on a lot of fascinating, challenging responsibilities at school that take time and energy. So when I get home, all I do is fall asleep.
In fact, I may be slightly burnt out. My job is fantastic, but I’m usually pretty energized in January. Not this time.
In celebration of my tenth year teaching, I won’t be working this summer. The original plan was 6 week tour of the English-speaking countries of Europe, but my father’s health has been going up and down, and I’d rather stay close. Hopefully, he’ll be up for some trout-fishing or a trip into Canada. Either way, I hope to buy a used SUV and tour the US.
I will try to write more. Hope that’s not a threat.
Hey, under 1000.