Teachable Moments

Hurricane Michael wasn’t my first experience with a major storm. In the autumn of 2004, four hurricanes, beginning with Charley, and followed by Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, impacted one part of Florida or another. I was teaching 5th graders at Croton Elementary in Melbourne that year, and it seemed that through much of August and September my students and I were either prepping for a storm or cleaning up after one.

Prepping at school meant wrapping all of our electronics, computers, monitors, and books in heavy duty garbage bags, securing the openings with duct tape, and placing them as high as possible in the classroom. Then after the storms passed we had to take everything down, remove the tape, and put things back where they belonged. Networked computers had to be put back on line, and books matched with students.

The school was fortunate, and we never had any significant damage, but every time a storm’s predicted path indicated Melbourne might be hit, the drill to prepare was carried out to a “t.”

Since some of this prep and de-prep had to take place during the school day, we made learning games out of the process. I taught math and science, so my students measured the equipment to be stored during the storm and estimated the minimum amount of bags and tape we’d need to do the job. They measured shelves and cabinets to see where the equipment could be stored best. They learned to code tags for computer equipment in order to get everything running smoothly again as quickly as possible. We did job efficiency studies afterwards to see where we expended unnecessary energy and what we should do differently if there was a next time.

We didn’t realize when we prepped for Charley that we’d be doing it again for three more storms, but the students made charts and checklists just in case, so we’d be ready to go into action if another storm hit. By Hurricane Jeanne, we were operating like a well-oiled, if slightly weary, machine.

The team prep work seemed to take some of the anxiety out of waiting for storms to hit, and the games helped minimize the learning time lost to the storms. And when we came back together after the various storms had passed, students were engaged in problem solving and trouble shooting, instead of worrying about the lack of electricity at home, at least for a portion of the day.

That was a tough year for all of us, but I have only good memories of working with that group of children. Studly and I moved to Illinois at the end of the school year, and I’ve lost touch with those students, but I hope the ones who stayed in hurricane country remember those days of prepping for the storms as good ones.

Peace, people!

Home, Baby

On Saturday afternoon I arrived home to Doright Manor after having spent the past week in Dallas. While I was gone a guy named Michael blew through the Florida panhandle and redecorated without asking permission.

We had our electricity restored on Sunday evening. Studly Doright said it had been out since Tuesday afternoon. We have a generator that kept lights on in parts of the house, but neither our hot water heater nor our stove were hooked up to it. Apparently they require too much amperage or wattage or something electricity based to be powered by the generator. At least the air conditioning worked! Soon after the power came on I enjoyed a hot shower. Best feeling ever.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of the damage just in our neighborhood. And, we got off easy compared to folks on the coast. These were taken after a crew came through and cleaned up! We still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Peace, people.

The Passenger

Old cowboys don’t die

They board planes and fly away

Run down boots, no spurs

I picture his horse

Long put out to green pastures

Bent neck and swayed back

The man still stands tall

Smelling of leather and dust

Old straw hat in hand

I wrote this while waiting in line at a Southwest gate in Dallas. The photos aren’t great–I was trying to be surreptitious.

Hopefully Homeward Bound

Hurricane Michael has been a total ass. He’s destroyed lives and homes and businesses all along the gulf coast of Florida, and Michael has kept on wreaking havoc as he’s slammed inland through Florida’s panhandle, into Georgia, and beyond. See, a total ass.

My home near Tallahassee seems to have weathered the storm fairly well. I happened to be in Dallas with my son and his family while my husband, Studly Doright, and our cats rode out the Category 4 hurricane at Doright Manor.

Studly’s job as an area director for a public utility company calls for him to make sure resources and people are in the right places at the right times. When I spoke with him last night before bed he’d just ended one conference call and was preparing for the next one. It’s non-stop.

Originally, I was booked on a Thursday flight from Dallas to Panama City Beach via Houston on Southwest Airlines. When Hurricane Michael, the ass, came in so quickly I changed the flight to Friday (today as I write this). It seems I might’ve been a little optimistic. Yesterday afternoon I received a text from the airline saying the flight from Houston to Panama City Beach was cancelled.

I knew I had other options, but I wanted to check with Studly before changing airports, since he’d need to meet me there. Of course when I called him he was on a conference call and just told me to do whatever I needed to do, and he’d make arrangements to pick me up at the airport I chose. It was an easy change to make with Southwest (bless them) and I am now scheduled to land in Jacksonville around nine this evening.

Studly, however, called me back when he got my flight information, and he won’t be able to meet me. I’d anticipated that, knowing what’s going on in his world right now. So, I’m renting a car at the airport and we’ll return it on Saturday to our local airport. (It just occurred to me that the Tallahassee airport might not be functioning right now. That could be problematic. I’ll check after I publish.)

Studly warned me to be careful coming home. He says I’m going to be shocked by the amount and size of the debris around Doright Manor. For safety’s sake I might end up staying overnight in Jacksonville so I can make the drive in daylight. I’m ready to be home, though.

Thanks to all of you who’ve expressed concern for us during this storm. We appreciate the positive vibes and prayers. Keep those in the gulf coast towns in your thoughts. The damage there looks devastating.

Peace, people.

Stormy Weather

As many of you reading this know, my husband, aka Studly Doright, and I live in the Florida panhandle just west of Tallahassee. On Wednesday a category 4 hurricane named Michael blew right through our neighborhood and caused some excitement. I happened to be visiting my son and his family in Dallas, so I’ve only gotten second hand reports from Studly as to how our home, Doright Manor, fared.

First things first–he and the cats are fine. We have several trees down, but that was to be expected. He didn’t think there was any damage to the house, but the road in front of Doright Manor is blocked with trees. I’m sure he’ll be out there with his chain saw and axe as soon as the weather allows. The power went out fairly quickly, but we’d bought a huge generator after last year’s storms, and he’ll be able to enjoy his creature comforts.

Studly is an area director for a public utility, so he’s working from home during the storm. He sent me a text early this morning:

Scout is an incredibly helpful cat, especially during conference calls. She thinks Studly is talking to her.

I was supposed to have flown into Panama City Beach today (Thursday), but we changed the flight to Friday. Studly wasn’t sure he could get out of our neighborhood to pick me up in PCB which is a two hour drive on a normal day.

So I’m hanging out with granddog Toby. We had a good walk in his Dallas neighborhood this morning. Now he’s taking it easy and I’m going to read my book. I sure am ready to be home, though.

Peace, people.

A Distant Storm

Here in Dallas, Texas, on this October Wednesday morning, the sun is just barely up. I’m getting ready to walk Toby, my granddog, under the promise of a clear sky.

Back home at Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, my husband, Studly Doright, is hunkered down, as the locals say, while Hurricane Michael drops buckets of rain and rattles the rafters. I’ve weathered more than one hurricane, but they each have their own personalities, and none are to be taken lightly.

I didn’t evacuate for the storm. It just happened to hit while I was visiting my family in Texas. Studly Doright left Dallas on Sunday morning and drove 12.5 hours to be home ahead of the storm. We’d already planned for him to leave on Sunday, but the approaching storm made everything seem more urgent.

Tonight I’ll be attending a concert with my granddaughter while Studly makes sure all of the hatches remain battened down back home. Tomorrow I’m supposed to fly home. Fingers crossed that the local airports aren’t impacted by Michael’s wrath.

In the meantime, I’ll be listening to this beautiful instrumental piece by Robert Linton. I found it when I googled the phrase “A Distant Storm.” And praying. A lot of praying.

https://youtu.be/tVReCkhyCxA

Peace, people!

99 New: What’s Next

Damned straight. Great piece by Jan Wilberg.

Red's Wrap

What just happened was inevitable so we shouldn’t be acting like a tsunami crashed over us while we were sleeping. Oh my God! What just happened? All that water!

The Republicans won the election. And before I get a slew of comments about how Donald Trump didn’t really win because he lost the popular vote, let me say this. He won. They won. The Republicans won everything. That’s why we feel like we’re swimming in a pond of vomit right now. Not only did Trump and the Republicans win, they’re doing exactly what they said they would do – with the Supreme Court, deregulation, tax breaks, and immigration. And we’re sitting here getting shocked and dismayed all the time. What the fuck did we think was going to happen?

And why did the Republicans win everything? Ah, the analysis will go on in graduate political science classes forever; thousands of…

View original post 401 more words

Newton’s First Law of Motion as Applied to Walking the Dog

Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia, states that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by unbalanced force.

Even though I once taught science to students in fifth and sixth grades I’d never paused to ponder just how Newton’s Laws of Motion applied to dog walking until this morning.

Last night I’d told my son, Jason, and my daughter-in-law that I’d rise early and take Toby, their elderly, furry, coffee table-sized dog, for a walk so they didn’t have to before leaving for their respective jobs. I figured it was the least I could do since they’ve put up with me for nearly a week now.

Toby and I got off to a great start. Jason had already helped him down the steps to the backyard. When I went out Toby was joyfully rolling in the wet grass, so all I had to do was hook the leash onto his collar and coax him through the gate. There was a brief hiccup when Toby saw Jason’s pickup truck pulling out of the driveway. He really wanted to go with his favorite human.

After Jason was safely gone, I allowed Toby to find his path, and he set a slow pace along the sidewalk. When one walks Toby, it’s more of a shuffle than a stride. The goal, of course, was to get him to poop, so when he slowed down even further and began avidly sniffing around a bush I got the poop bag out and was ready to clean up after him. I didn’t realize it wasn’t pooping he had on his mind.

Toby might be old, half deaf, and arthritic, but when a cat shot out from under that apparently delicious smelling bush he quickly went from being an object at rest to being an object in motion. As for me, I became an unbalanced force. By some miracle I kept a firm hold on the leash and applied some energy to keep him from escaping into the yard where I now realized multiple cats were lounging about.

With more nimbleness and agility than I believed I possessed, I managed to insert myself between Toby and the cats, applying an equal and opposite amount of force until he realized resistance was futile. Whew! For a brief moment I knew the whole situation could’ve gone sideways. Lucky for me, Newton’s Laws held true.

We continued our walk, and Toby found a suitable pooping spot. Now we’re safely back in the house where he’s chasing cats in his sleep. I’m pretty sure Newton’s Laws don’t mean a thing in his dreams.

Peace, people.

The Lone Ranger, but no Beto T-shirt

Unless one lives outside of the U.S., I’d be willing to bet that they’ve seen a “Beto for Congress” t-shirt. Beto is a junior state congressman from El Paso, Texas, who’s running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent, Ted Cruz. And while I live in Florida, I’m a huge Beto supporter. I really want, nay, need a Beto t-shirt.

On Sunday afternoon my son, grandson, and I attended a concert/rally for Democratic candidates in downtown Dallas. I just knew I’d be able to buy a Beto t-shirt during the event.

The rally began at 2 p.m., but the three of us figured that Beto wouldn’t speak until near the end of the night. We spent the morning going to estate sales, went out for brunch, and then took a short siesta before driving to the concert around 4:30.

Finding a parking place wasn’t difficult, but we had quite a hike from our “$10 a day” parking lot to the park where the concert was in full swing.

Jason had loaded a backpack with a blanket to sit on and we all took umbrellas since there was rain in the forecast. Unfortunately after we walked all the way from the parking spot we encountered a sign telling us that backpacks weren’t allowed. Grandson Jackson and I went to the end of a long line of concert goers while Jason ran back to the car with the backpack.

As Jackson and I waited in line a guy came by asking if anyone had extra tickets. The folks in front of us happened to have a pair and he bought them.

My brain said, “Huh.”

“Is the event sold out?” My mouth asked.

“Yep. Right as we arrived they put the signs up.”

“Well crap,” said my brain.

I instructed Jackson to hold our place in line while I went in search of spare tickets. I only needed two since kids’ admissions were free. I tried my luck behind us first since the guy who scored the tickets in front of us had already tried that direction. Nothing. So I went to the front of the line hoping the guy had been mistaken. Nope. The event was indeed sold out.

I texted Jason, and went back for Jackson who was nearing the front of the line. We stood near the press line figuratively beating ourselves up for not purchasing tickets in advance. Then, just as I noticed Jason crossing the street to join us, a young man came around the press barrier.

“Here,” he said. “I heard you needed a couple of tickets.”

When I tried to pay him, he refused to take the money and disappeared back into the press area with a wink and a smile. He was like our knight in shining armor, or the Lone Ranger. Hi ho, Silver!

Jason, having just read my text about the concert being sold out wasn’t expecting to see Jackson and me smiling from ear to to respective ear as he approached.

“He just gave the tickets to you? What did he look like?”

“Like the Lone Ranger, my son. Like the Lone Ranger.”

Our little group then made the rounds of all the booths in search of Beto merchandise. Unfortunately, though, like the event tickets, the Beto t-shirts were all sold out. And this time, no Lone Ranger to help out. I managed to buy this one at a booth promoting the band, Polyphonic Spree:

But I was in search of one like this:

Finally I gave up, had a Shiner (a wonderful Texas beer), a gourmet slider, and enjoyed the rally. And what a rally it was! Beto was the main event, though, and he did not disappoint. He’s running a positive grassroots campaign, never once mentioning his opponent by name, and refusing to accept money from political action committees (PAC’s).

Beto has visited every county in the sizable Lone Star State at least once and several multiple times, speaking sometimes to a handful of people and other times to groups of thousands. Texas has long been a “red” state, but Beto has a chance to upset that apple cart.

I will wear my alternative shirt proudly back in Florida. My only regret is not being able to cast a ballot for this young man in November.

Peace, and hi ho Silver, people.

The Lone Ranger, but no Beto T-shirt

Unless one lives outside of the U.S., I’d be willing to bet that they’ve seen a “Beto for Congress” t-shirt. Beto is a junior state congressman from El Paso, Texas, who’s running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent, Ted Cruz. And while I live in Florida, I’m a huge Beto supporter. I really want, nay, need a Beto t-shirt.

On Sunday afternoon my son, grandson, and I attended a concert/rally for Democratic candidates in downtown Dallas. I just knew I’d be able to buy a Beto t-shirt during the event.

The rally began at 2 p.m., but the three of us figured that Beto wouldn’t speak until near the end of the night. We spent the morning going to estate sales, went out for brunch, and then took a short siesta before driving to the concert around 4:30. Finding a parking place wasn’t difficult, but we had quite a hike from our “$10 a day” parking lot to the park where the concert was in full swing.

Jason had loaded a backpack with a blanket to sit on and we all took umbrellas since there was rain in the forecast. Unfortunately after we walked all the way from the parking spot we encountered a sign telling us that backpacks weren’t allowed. Grandson Jackson and I went to the end of a long line of concert goers while Jason ran back to the car with the backpack.

As Jackson and I waited in line a guy came by asking if anyone had extra tickets. The folks in front of us happened to have a pair and he bought them.

My brain said, “Huh.”

“Is the event sold out?” My mouth asked.

“Yep. Right as we arrived they put the signs up.”

“Well crap,” said my brain.

I instructed Jackson to hold our place in line while I went in search of spare tickets. I only needed two since kids’ admissions were free. I tried my luck behind us first since the guy who scored the tickets in front of us had already tried that direction. Nothing. So I went to the front of the line hoping the guy had been mistaken. Nope. The event was indeed sold out.

I texted Jason, and went back for Jackson who was nearing the front of the line. We stood near the press line figuratively beating ourselves up for not purchasing tickets in advance. Then, just as I noticed Jason crossing the street to join us, a young man came around the press barrier.

“Here,” he said. “I heard you needed a couple of tickets.”

When I tried to pay him, he refused to take the money and disappeared back into the press area with a wink and a smile. He was like our knight in shining armor, or the Lone Ranger. Hi ho, Silver!

Jason, having just read my text about the concert being sold out wasn’t expecting to see Jackson and me smiling from ear to to respective ear as he approached.

“He just gave the tickets to you? What did he look like?”

“Like the Lone Ranger, my son. Like the Lone Ranger.”

Our little group then made the rounds of all the booths in search of Beto merchandise. Unfortunately, though, like the event tickets, the Beto t-shirts were all sold out. And this time, no Lone Ranger to help out. I managed to buy this one at a booth promoting the band, Polyphonic Spree:

But I was in search of one like this:

Finally I gave up, had a Shiner (a wonderful Texas beer), a gourmet slider, and enjoyed the rally. And what a rally it was! Beto was the main event, though, and he did not disappoint. He’s running a positive grassroots campaign, never once mentioning his opponent by name, and refusing to accept money from political action committees (PAC’s).

Beto has visited every county in the sizable Lone Star State at least once and several multiple times, speaking sometimes to a handful of people and other times to groups of thousands. Texas has long been a “red” state, but Beto has a chance to upset that apple cart.

I will wear my alternative shirt proudly back in Florida. My only regret is not being able to cast a ballot for this young man in November.

Peace, and hi ho Silver, people.