Letters to Holly

Friday, June 4

Making the Grade

I never mind helping Your Sister grade papers. It's glorified proofreading, but the kid will usually never see what I mark and write. These are the final papers, and they won't get them back. I don't agree with that personally; I would want to see the paper's marks if I was the student. The only way they will see them is if they formally request it the following semester. As I type that, it sounds wrong. Maybe they can see them if they come by during the teacher workdays after exams. Now I'm not sure.

Anyway, Your Sister reminds me of this and says I don't need to make marks after the first page or so. She suggests extrapolating the paper's quality based on the first sheet, but that doesn't sound right to me. I do the whole paper (minus the citations; that's hers). There was one paper last night that started strong and fell apart by the middle of page two. Another paper would have stood tall had there been any citations. That kid failed the paper, and it was the best written paper by a mile.

Parent and student shenanigans are par for the course. Your Sis has one pair arguing that her classroom is in disarray since she left and the sub misplaced the paper turned in by the student. To fix this, the parent called the sub during class so she could hear the student turn in another copy. This was to document that the sub received it. But this seems to me to document instead that the student has officially turned in her paper very late, and that leads to a hefty point deduction. They outwitted themselves.

Parents can challenge their kids' grades and request to see the final paper to ensure the student got they grade he deserved. That's why I mark it completely. The teacher who speaks to the parent may not be the one who failed the student, and I want whoever reads the paper to see all the marks that scuttled the grade. The biggest problem I see this year is sloppiness due to hurry. Sentences contradict themselves. Simple grammatical mistakes riddle the papers. These are works done in a rush, probably at the last nanosecond. I worked the same way back then. I know their pain. I think seeing those mistakes accentuated with marks could cement the need to pace their effort and give themselves a chance.

One consistent mistake I see is a lack of understanding anything about Africa. One paper last night claimed that 80% of adults and children have AIDS. There's at least one paper each year that thinks Africa has one government. They all think Africa is utterly backwoods. I hope they watch the World Cup just to gasp that paved roads exist there.

Fucking Awesome Scene of the Day
Is this a clue to a name we're considering? Mayhap. Is this one of the best moments in a great movie? Definitely.

Thursday, June 3

Name Game

The dizziness continues in step with research papers. I'd recommend she get outside for some vitamin D, but it's rainy. I may have watered the garden three times this year.

We whittled the name list down to two options, and I suggested we use each to replace all references to Roo. A test drive, if you will. One day we use one name and then switch. We briefly considered four names as a compromise until we came to our senses. I confess I have a degree of competitive in this. She picked the middle name, and now I want the first name. Her choice has less allure only because it's her choice. Had I picked the same name, I'd employ the same sneaky methods to secure its victory as I am for the name I picked.

It feels weird to affix a proper name to the offspring, this golden child of evolution, when it's still a barely concealed hidden abstract. Yes, there's something moving around in there, but my associations of "baby" and her pouch passenger haven't reconciled yet. The manuals, decorations, accessories, and appointments aren't quite enough to convince me we'll have a baby living in our house. One that we planned for and instigated.

Roo has officially dropped as we are now in Week 37. We see the doctor today for our first weekly appointment. I don't know what tests to expect. I packed up the CDs we'll play during the labor, but we have yet to pack our clothes. I push for it daily, and it continues to be postponed. She's still lucid, though; the rumored scatterbrained phase of pregnancy hasn't hit her yet.

Moving Picture of the Day
Yes, I'm geeking out.

Tuesday, June 1

We're Officially Ready

The office threw us a nice shower Friday, complete with ice cream cake and baby gifts. As a joke, they offered tiny pickles to eat with the cake. I tried it. The salty taste covers the daily entirely. One of my coworkers tried to whisper that I had a big smile on my face, and I immediately swallowed it. I'm a different guy at work, and I blame the atmosphere. It's not the kind of air that I thrive in socially, and I'd rather raise the blast shields and save my winning personality for Your Sister.

On the drive home, the daily 5 p.m rainstorm clobbered us with hail. Big hail. Hail that mushed and piled up like snowbanks. I've never seen that before. We drove out of it after a few minutes. There's a spot between Asheville and Mayberry that is hit the hardest during summer, and the town becomes a block of rain virtually every day at 5 p.m.

All the rain has not helped my garden seeds, and we bought new sprouts Saturday: peppers and tomatoes. I also bought marigolds to scare the bugs away from the tomatoes. Those were planted Sunday morning. Your Sister's dizziness kept her home Saturday night, and she missed a birthday party for a fellow teacher. She did go to work Sunday to grade papers.

A sudden bill in the NC statehouse has raised the possibility of shortening this spring semester. The school rumor is that the semester would end next Friday, not the 15th as currently scheduled. The county board argued over this and eventually decided to keep the current school schedule in another nod to local businesses who hire teens. This time, the summer camps balked at starting the fall semester early to avoid bad weather delays that might shove the following spring semester into late June. There was lots of to-do, and now the statehouse may make it moot. This affects Your Sister by allowing her to cut out material from the final exams. She went into school Monday to huddle with her sub, and I dropped off a carload of cardboard for the science teacher. He wants to use them for garden beds. We had gobs of the stuff from baby gift packaging.

Roo is making her much warmer than normal, and she's now taken to soaking her feet to cool down. My Mom again pressed the issue of a name, and I said we won't divulge the options now lest camps break out over preference. I don't want campaigns for names.

After buying shelf boxes, we decorated the nursery walls with an applique tree and leaves. We are rapidly running out of preparations to make. We'll pack our suitcases tonight, I hope. I also need to choose a stack of CDs for the delivery room.

Using NetFlix, we're watching Colonial House, the PBS reality show of volunteers living in a 1620s English colony in Maine. Unlike in Frontier House, this group have to work toward a common goal: making money for England, and the colony governor -- a Baptist preacher from Texas -- is trying to make it a religious retreat. They haven't tried to trade with the natives after two months of interaction, and they are betting everything on a giant crop of corn. The illusion of Jacobean civilization vanished quickly as the womenfolk refused to live under the throwback social standards. It's calamity.

Word is moving through the neighborhood that the police are looking for a couple of burglars scouting our street for empty houses. I suspect that they would have moved on by now; if the jig is up, they'd have to be desperate to try the same tactics in the same area. I'm hiding my laptop and backup drives before I leave work. Your Sister is at home of course, and I assume sneak-thieves won't try anything with someone in the house.

A podcast of Fanaticon interviews is online here. Skip to the final ten minutes or so to hear me.

Moving Picture of the Day
New Scott Pilgrim trailer. I'm jazzed.