Sidereal ramblings

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Late start

We had our first late start of the school year today. We got maybe an inch or so of snow yesterday, but this was after a good spell of rain, so it was a bit icy. Add to that the incredible winds we had, which made for virtual white-out conditions at times, especially in the country. I didn't think it was all that bad, but I live in town, and my drive over to school at 9:30 found the roads to be more than adequate. People who live out in the country, however, tell me it was pretty bad. It's very flat and there's nothing to stop the wind whipping that little bit of snow around.

I teach three sections of English 12. One of those didn't have class today; one had a shortened twenty-minute period; the last had a full forty minutes. Needless to say, there are all in different places in Macbeth now.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Very good pig country, Camelot

I don't know how many of you readers saw this story in last Monday's Minneapolis Star Tribune (here's the link: about feedlots in Minnesota. The story contains a color-coded county-by-county map of the state, with the number of feedlots in each. On the cattle/dairy/swine map, the numbers go up by 11s or less until the last category. The second highest category is 28-39, and the highest one is 40-93. There is only one county in that last group, and it's Martin county, where I live. The only reason I can fathom as to why they'd use "40-93" as the range is if, in fact, there are 93 feedlots in the county. While I can certainly believe that (you can hardly drive a quarter mile out here without sighting another group of pig barns), I am a bit astounded that we have three times as many as any other county in the whole state. Mmmm...think I'll go have some bacon.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Field Trip

I took my theatre class to Minneapolis yesterday to see a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the University of Minnesota. A college production, to be sure, but certainly more than many of these kids will ever get to see otherwise. And it was something we'd read together in class, so they at least knew the story. I'd like to say the production was great, and looking back on it tonight I can say that it was very well done. However, I personally couldn't enjoy it too much because I was too distracted by certain problems that had occurred on the way up to the Cities, mostly that a couple of students had decided to take the opportunity to drink on the bus. I dealt with the problem as efficiently as I could at the time, and will do moreso on Monday when we get back to school. The vast majority of the students on the trip, ninety percent, were well behaved and seemed to enjoy the show. I, however, was annoyed and had to think about how to deal with the behavior of the minority to the point where I couldn't "get into" and enjoy the show.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The past half-month

So it's been over two weeks since I've posted anything new to this blog. I've been busy. Last Friday (the 4th) was the end of our first quarter at school. One of my big assignments for my senior English classes is to do a paper about a novel they've read independently. I have them due about a week before the end of the quarter because it takes me about a week to go through them. (I had 83 papers, most between 4 and 10 pages in length, to read.) My schedule, which I managed to keep pretty close to, was to read 8 papers per day. I spend about 15-20 minutes on each paper.

The following week (last week) was the last week of rehearsals for our fall play, Into the Woods. It was a long week, as it typically is, but this one was even longer than normal. There was only one night during the week when I was home before 10:30. Last Monday, a week ago, the play looked to be a complete disaster. A number of kids didn't know their lines, their songs, their blocking, their entrances and exits. I think the four-hour practice we had that night must have sunk in with them, because by Wednesday, they had improved tremendously. I've been at this long enough to realize that with this age group, everything seems to happen at the last minute, but I have never seen a turnaround that big in only two days. It was amazing. By the time we had our final dress rehearsal Friday afternoon (which we do in front of a live audience of junior high kids), they had managed to pull it off. The three shows we did over the weekend went extremely well. We got more than our usual share of compliments, and when people saw the difficulty level of this show, I think many of them were blown away. It was great. My only disappoint is that our audience attendance was down quite a bit from normal. We had about 100 people in the audience for each of the three shows, but we often get maybe twice that for some nights. Ah, well, the kids did an amazing job, and I'm proud of all of them.

Now that it's all over, I'm looking forward to getting back to doing a little reading once in a while at night, and this little thing I have vague memories of called sleep.

At least for a couple of weeks before I begin work on our school's one-act play.