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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Busy Body…

I’m going to reveal something about myself that may or may not be popular.

Did you ever throw a late night beer bust with outdoor loud speakers still going strong at 02:00am when the cops showed up to close it down? Have you ever wondered WHO called the cops to cruise by and shut it down? That was me!

Got a junker of car with flat tires that’s been parked on the street for months and was finally red tagged for towing? Yep, me.

Ever decide that during a dry, drought plagued, “High Fire Danger” summer season the best way to get rid of the six foot tall weeds in the back yard across from my house is to intentionally set them on fire only to have the fire department show up to douse the blaze and issue you a fine? Me again!

(All this stuff really DID really happen…)

Inconsiderate people don’t get consideration from me. But occasionally, I’ll stick my nose in where it just might do someone else some good.

As I was coming back from an appointment Monday of this week, I passed the parking lot of Country Club elementary school where I had my first subbing assignment last year. I noticed something peculiar about a car parked in the nearly empty lot. The car was sitting on the ground with all four wheels missing.

My thought was that this must have been stolen and the fancy rims stripped. It’s summer, the school is not in session and this school isn’t on a particularly busy street. It could be a while before this gets reported. If it was my car, I’d like to get it back ASAP.

I live in the 10th largest city in the nation according to today’s newspaper, but I don’t think that some of the city services have kept pace.

I called 311, the non-emergency number, to report the possibly stolen car.

I’m on automated “hold” for twenty minutes while “All other operators are busy. Please hold…” before I give up and try again.

The non-emergency menu selection indicates an alternative number for the “city directory assistance operator”. I try that and get a very helpful person who sympathizes with my long attempts to contact the police. She suggests the office of “code enforcement” might help and directs my call.

I give CEG (Code Enforcement Guy) all the relevant information. The school name, the car license plate number, etc.

CEG: I need the complete name and mailing address of the school.
ME: Whaaa? I don’t have the EXACT address, but how many schools might there BE at the corner of San Fli___ Road and Farn___? Don’t you have MapQuest, YahooMaps?

CEG: I can’t help you unless I have the exact address.
ME: Ok. Fine! I’ll look up the address from my school district maps

CEG: Great, we’ll send a letter out to the property owner right away.
ME: You mean you aren’t going to send a cop car out to take a look?

CEG: No, we have to send the property owner a letter and wait two weeks for them to respond before we can move it. (He means he’s going to send the SCHOOL a letter about the car!)
ME: Since the “property” is a public school, doesn’t that mean YOU, the city, own the property? You’re going to send yourself a letter? (I’m trying not to get TOO sarcastic at this point)

CEG: Well, that’s how it’s done.

I called 311 again and waited for the “real police” to answer. It took another twenty minutes on automated hold for them to pick up. Four minutes later I completed the report to which they responded that they’d send someone out to check on it.

Over an hour of my time spent but the car was gone the next day.

CEG called me back today to tell me that they couldn’t send the code compliance letter because their department handles only private school properties.

Never mind…

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wild Cat Rodeo Roundup…

Rozilla.. Posted by Hello

Nothing beats a tiring day like rounding up a bunch of sugar high Kindergartners. Unless it’s medicating an unwilling cat...

My wife has a cat. Two cats actually.

It’s been three years since we got these cats from the local rescue shelter. We haven’t had to deal with flea problems owning these hairy fur balls for pets…until now!

After three flea free years (try saying that 10 times in a row!) and the onset of summer, the fleas have somehow found their way indoors to feast on these two over fed mobile blood lunch wagons. So we got this overpriced, liquid stuff you’re supposed to rub in on the back of the cats’ neck once a month to get rid of the biting bugs and prevent them from coming back.

The “easy” cat was no problem. A pat on the head, scratch the belly and a dose on the back of the neck and we’re done.

The other cat, aptly named ROZILLA, is a different story. Rozzee hasn’t ever been to the vet because she doesn’t trust us enough to pick her up. When I’m occasionally stupid enough to try, I get a twisting, furiously hissing, screaming, spitting, ball of fur and muscle which usually results in making us both very wary and unhappy with each other.

So we’ve come to somewhat of a truce. As long as I don’t try and touch the cat with both hands she’ll submit, somewhat flinchingly, to an occasional one handed scratch behind the ear.

Our plan was simple. I was to immobilize Rozzee with a beach towel and expose the neck area for Claudette to apply the medication. The execution of the plan wasn’t so simple.

Festooned with said beach towel and thick leather work gloves like some demented urban toreador, I approach my quarry. The cat immediately shoots full tilt from room to room with me never getting within five feet of a capture opportunity.

“Plan B”: Close off all the doors in the upper hallway. Chase the cat up the stairs and corner the cat at the dead-end linen closet door. Claudette will stand guard at the top of the stairs to prevent escape in case I miss.

Round and round downstairs we go until Rozzee bolts up the stairs according to plan. I cautiously approach. Coming in low while blocking off the only exit with the towel, I manage to get most of the cat wrapped in the towel. Unfortunately, “most” isn’t enough and I’m getting mauled by the toothy end and one exposed claw.

The cat manages to squirm loose and shoots down the hallway toward Claudette who’s supposed to be blocking the exit down the stairs. Claudette, no fool, immediately abandons her job as “blocker” by pressing flat against the hallway wall and shrieks as Rozzee zooms past. Nice blocking job there, partner!

We regroup and decide to have another pass at “Plan B”. The problem we have now is that the cat has figured out “Plan B” and won’t be tricked into going up the stairs.

So for the next twenty minutes, we go round and round from the living room, to kitchen, to family room, behind the piano, behind the entertainment center, under the couches until the cat and I are exhausted and sweating like hard run horses in the Kentucky Derby. I’m sure any neighbors looking in through our living room picture window that night would have found the spectacle better than any reality show on FOX that night.

The cat finally is exhausted and panting hard. She latches all four claws in the seat cushion of a dining room chair and howls as I cover her with the beach towel with one hand and hold her head with the other while Claudette applies the medication.

Job complete, I quickly step back releasing both ends of mad cat at the same time expecting her to bolt as far away from me as possible. Surprisingly, the cat remains clamped to the chair for the rest the evening probably resting up for next month when we get to do it all over again.

Maybe Kindergarten isn’t so bad after all.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Final Tally: 2004-2005

I didn’t sub at all the last week of school, so I guess I’m on summer vacation also.
Substitute teaching seems to be the only job where no training is given, feedback is rarely provided and the kids, themselves, are the wild card variable to whether or not they make a memorable blog entry.

I thought I should take this opportunity to summarize how this first year of subbing in the Kinder through 6th grades has been. I’ll answer some questions that some people have been curious about and list some likes and dislikes of the subbing experience.
Q: Which grade levels did I like best?
A: Without any in depth analysis on my part, I think I first prefer 2nd,3rd,4th grades, then 1st and 5th with Kinder and 6th last. I’m sure some psychoanalyst could read something into that but I’m not gonna ask.
Q: Am I going to do it again next year?
A: Probably if I don’t find a better paying job before then.
Q: Do you think you’d like to become a full time teacher?
A: No, and I don’t have to think about that too much.
Q: from When Pigs Sing “What advice would you give to teachers to procure the good subs?”
A: I’m not sure I have enough experience (8 months total) to give any advice to teachers on how to keep “good subs” other than it would be useful to phone or email the “good subs” they’ve had and let them know that they ARE doing a good job for them.
No one’s contacted me, post-sub assignment, for any feedback at this point so I’m not sure how well I’m doing this job. Hmmm…Maybe teachers already DO contact the good subs and that means…..well….hummmm.
Anyway, I DID get a letter from all three districts I worked for this year that I do have a “reasonable assurance of returning to work” next year so I guess that’s something.
Q: from When Pigs Sing “What advice would you give to teachers do to make your job easier?”
A: The two best sub jobs I’ve had were for classes where a lot of the kids had some kind of classroom job.
The routine daily chores of taking attendance, homework check, library book check in/out, etc was treated, by the kids, as an honor. The classes where this was the normal setup tended to be better behaved and ran like clockwork.
Likes and Dislikes
Dislike: Waking up at oh-six-damn-its-early-oclock to get to the school on time.
Getting off work at oh-three-isthatdaylight?-somethin-oclock every day.
Dislike: That queasy feeling right before the 1st kid comes in the classroom door. (Does this ever go away?)
Like: That the feeling does go away just after that 1st kid comes in the door (How does that work?)
Dislike: No lesson plan!
Like: Detailed, word processed lesson plans with all the material clearly available.
Dislike: The handful of the kids I encountered destined to a future state and/or federal residence facility.
Like: The other 99% basically normal, reasonable, pleasant, kid-people to be around.
Like: All of the teacher and administrators of the schools I encountered. They were ALL supportive, friendly and approachable.
What next?
That’s all I can think of right now. If any blog readers wish to submit questions in comment section, I will append and/or update it to this first year summary posting.
Just don’t ask me to sing. It ain’t goin ta happen…

Friday, June 03, 2005

No Calls …

No calls WED/THU/FRI. I guess the schools are winding down for the start of summer on June/10th.

Maybe I should have worked Tuesday instead of going to the beach?

Nope….Life is too short and one day’s subbing pay isn’t enough to make much of a difference.

Let’s see what the last week of school brings.