I’ve been in pain for about a week now and I can’t wait to see the chiropractor on Monday afternoon!! Last Tuesday, I woke up and my upper back hurt so much that I thought I was going to throw up. I took a very hot shower, which helped to relax some of the aching muscles, and headed to work. Thank goodness the athletic trainers at THS are just has helpful as Coach Bowman and Coach K were at SPHS! I got a 15 minute electro-shock treatment (I like to joke and call it electro-shock therapy but I have no idea what it’s actually called) and headed to the middle schools. The rest of the week was rounding out okay and my back wasn’t hurting nearly as much, thanks to Aleve and hot showers.

Then on Friday I woke up really cold – the thermostat said my house was 10 degrees colder than I’d had set it for. After a hot shower to get my brain working, I went out to the heater and saw that the pilot was lit but no fire on the burners. 😐 Turns out the HVAC unit is unrepairable so I get a new one….on Tuesday! Thank goodness for a great landlord because he left me two space heaters that have kept the living room and master bedroom nice and warm.

Having to go to the cold rooms in the house for various reasons hasn’t helped my back. The pain is mostly in my neck and shoulders today. I’ve managed to get some laundry done as well as unload/load the dishwasher. That’s about it though. I’m having a hard time thinking about what I need to do, much less get much done. So if this blog entry has bits and pieces that don’t make sense, that’s why. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s chiropractor’s appointment!

Love you, mean it!

The Fire

I’m still not 100% sure of how it all went down but on December 6, I got a strange message from my mom, asking me to call her because something wasn’t quite right. I tried to call my parents on their home phone but got an automated message saying the number wasn’t working. I called my mom’s cell phone and although she sounded like things weren’t quite right, she assured me that it wasn’t anything and everything was fine.

Either the next day or so, I talked to mom again and she finally let me know there was a fire in their house and they were living in a hotel. I got more details from my dad when I spoke with him. The fire was in their full bathroom (they have one full bathroom and one toilet room) in the lighting unit. Now that I’ve seen the damage and heard the story a few times, I’ve pieced together most of what happened. My parents are just coming out of shock of it all and are able to remember more details of that night.

My mom had gotten home from work and one of them went to turn on the light in the bathroom and it didn’t work. My mom says it was really warm in that part of the house, too. Soon after, the lights and other electrical things in nearby rooms stopped working. My mom smelled smoke and went outside and saw smoke (no flames) coming from the roof. She had my dad call 911 and they said the Austin Fire Department were there within minutes. Luckily, they live about 5 minutes away from a station on Manchaca Road. They had to take out a lot of the ceiling and some parts of the wall to reach all of the fire but luckily, it was tended to so quickly, the fire (which was really all smolder, really) remained in that bathroom area and no one was hurt.

Now, it’s all about finding a good construction company to repair the house (some of the roof will have to be replaced, even) and a company that can remove the smell of smoke from the walls. That maybe the hard part.

So here’s what the damage looks like:
You can see the majority of the smolder was right by the doorway. There was a heater/light/fan thing installed there, which the fan went out on. All that was left was light and heat – good sources for fire.

Here, you can see that the fire had burnt out quite a bit of two of the crossbeams:

This is the breaker sub-panel that went out and caused the electricity (and potential for more fire) to stop flowing throughout the house. It’s right outside the bathroom so it didn’t have far to go to stop the flow of electricity:

This is in the living room, right above the couch…which is now destroyed from water damage. Not too much of a loss, it was an old couch.

They didn’t have to do too much damage to the ceiling and wall in the bedroom:

The insurance company was really good (at first) about getting them set up in temporary housing, first a extended stay hotel and now a one bedroom apartment, but I think that’s the end of unusually cooperative insurance company treatment. With some of the little things we’ve negatives encountered since I’ve gotten back, we’re starting to have a feeling that an insurance fight might be coming. I sure hope not ’cause none of us have the strength to go through that.

As far as rebuilding goes, it looks like it will be a minimum of 6 months before they can get back in the house. I’m thinking it will be closer to 9 months to a year. Luckily, I’m on the house note and insurance so I can help quite a bit while I’m away at school. Let’s hope for the best, though.

This house is 38 years old and I’m sure a lot of the wiring is just as old. If your house is fairly old and hasn’t had breaker panel maintenance or at least an evaluation from a licensed electrician, please have it done.

Love you, mean it.

But do they know what they want to say?

There’s a budget crisis in Texas. Actually, it’s a national budget crisis but that’s not what this post is about. Many State workers, including educational employees, are scrambling to either find a way to save their jobs or at least the integrity of their profession. The stress of this have trickled down to our students and they’re feeling the crunch of upcoming shortcomings.

Human nature tends to make our brains try to fill in holes we may have in the facts and kids being kids, easily fall into that trap even more so than adults. There are a lot of possibilities for “band aids” on how to make school work for next year. There’s talk about:

  • going from an A/B block schedule to a 7 or 8 period day,
  • having a 4 day on, 3 day off school week,
  • increasing class size,
  • laying off teachers,
  • etc. – the suggestions are endless
  • in helping to relieve some of the financial woes our government has put our districts into. What’s the best answer? Your guess is as good as mine since band aids on this type of a problem are only temporary and usually lead to bigger problems. So, as kids hear the possibilities being tossed around out of context, they take it as gospel and get upset that their world (as they know it) is going to change. Well of course, they’re kids. And good for them for wanting to do something about it and their parents for supporting them in projecting their voice. BUT, what everyone needs to understand is that walking out of class, causing havoc during lunch, getting upset in classes is not going to help create a positive change. Not enough people understand that the school districts are being given their annual “allowance” by the State and are having to make due with pennies compared to what they’ve operated from before.

    When that happens in a kids life, they go find a job (if they’re old enough) or whine and cry to their parents until they get what they want (I got a job ’cause crying to my parents wasn’t going to change what little they had to share with me when I was a teenager). When that happens on a government to school basis, neither is going to offset the millions of dollars they’re talking about. There’s no choice than to make changes because they district only has what they’ve been given from the State.

    Let’s review – who has control of the money districts operate from? The State government. Tell me how walking out on classes and standing around the outside of campus is going do any good? OH, the media is going to talk about it – probably not, folks. There are school districts having to lay off anywhere from 500-2000 employees. Those are the districts the media wants to talk about. Our school district has actually made some smart moves with their rainy day fund and are willing to dip into it to offset some of the shortfall from the State. Being proactive isn’t what the media wants to talk about – it’s not “good news” (except it is actually good news).

    Speaking of rainy day fund, why isn’t the State dipping into theirs? Are they waiting for a monsoon or something? I think a multi-billion dollar deficit could be considered a bit more than just a sprinkle. In fact, I’d call that the monsoon!

    So, writing this blog entry – is that going to solve anything or put a band aid anywhere? No. And I know that. Is that going to make kids smart enough to know that disrupting the last of their well funded education days they have left isn’t going to help the situation? Probably not. But it makes me feel better. And right now, that’s all I can do.

    Love you, mean it.

    DTV Delay

    I’m disappointed in the delaying of DTV. Or at least the House and Senate voting to delay it.

    As a teacher, we ask our students to be organized and prepared and meet deadlines. This is to prepare them for “the real world”. Many times over, we give them “this one chance” to turn something in late…but that one chance happens over and over again with some students and turns out, they never learn to be organized and responsible. Okay, maybe not never but certainly, we don’t see it.

    Now, here it is, they see a “real world” application of getting things taken care of and because people didn’t do what they were supposed to do (get a converter or cable or a new TV), the US Government is now allowing an out of consequences. This is the PERFECT opportunity to teach readiness – it’s JUST TV. I know, TV is an important part of our current culture and a large reason for the problem is the money for the coupons running out (supposedly – I got two coupons and never used them before they expired so there’s that money. How many others are in the same situation? Thank goodness I actually didn’t need them). But still, the teacher in me feels very unsupported in what we do in teaching life skills as we try to do.

    President Obama – don’t let me down this early. Don’t sign that bill!

    Thank you.

    Looks like the FCC is allowing broadcasters and their affiliates to choose to wait or go ahead and transition on the original date set. There may be hope for deadlines, yet!

    Take 3

    As they say in School House Rock, Three is the Magic Number. At least it was for me in getting to Chicago this week. My flight Tuesday evening was delayed twice then canceled. Thanks to the efficiency of American Airlines, I was automatically re-booked so I got the back I checked on Tuesday afternoon and went home. On Wednesday morning, I got to the airport probably about an 1:15 minutes before my flight and spent almost that entire time in line to re-check my bag. So, when I finally got to the front of a line, it was only 29 or less minutes before my flight so the system wouldn’t take my baggage and I was told that this caused me to “miss my flight”. Needless to say, I wasn’t all too happy about take 2 being denied as well. They re-booked me (yet again, mind you) on the 11:55 flight but tried to get me a spot stand by on the 8:25 flight with no luck. Not even any more stand by spots left on that flight. So, I sat in the airport, watching Casino Royale (a much needed watch after being oh so disappointed with Quantum of Solace) until a few folks I knew came to wait for the same flight. Despite the drama, I’m glad I’m in Chicago. It’s been a great time already. Long day tomorrow so I’m gonna turn in.

    Love you, mean it!