Friday, April 27, 2007

Peorians, I Love You, But ...

You suck at giving directions.

Everywhere does have its own little quirks. When I lived in Raleigh-Durham, there were people accustomed to referring to the direction you wanted to go on the Beltline as "clockwise" or "counterclockwise," which always required me to get out a map and visualize a watch, because "clockwise" and "counterclockwise," like 8+5=13, is one of those things that just won't stick in myhead.

I've noticed three things about Peorians giving directions. First, you people have no comprehension of what a "corner" is. I frequently get told somewhere is on the "corner" of X and Y when in fact it's halfway down block X driving east from Y. Service people often ask "what corner?" when I tell them my house number and I used to say I lived in the middle of a block, only to be told, as if I were a very slow child, that they were asking what major intersection is nearest to me. Well in that case, ASK FOR THE NEAREST MAJOR INTERSECTION! Sheesh! (There is also absolutely zero agreement in this town on what constitutes a major intersection. Sometimes Sheridan and Forest Hill is "major"; sometimes I have to escalate to University and War Memorial.)

Second, none of your streets have last names, like "Road" or "Street" or "Way." Except for Boulevard Avenue, which I'm sure there must be a story behind, because it's a deeply bizarre name for a street. For the longest time I thought the street was "Wisconsin Boulevard Avenue" which is even weirder, because I only saw it when I passed the sign coming west on 150, and didn't realize the street changed names when it crossed 150. When I'm giving my business address to B2B vendors or whatnot on the phone, I'm frequently stumped. "3445 North University," I say. "University Road? Street?" "Um ... I honestly have no idea. I've never heard anybody say." Virtually no personal mail sent from within Peoria has a street's appellation attached to it. Most of the signs at least SAY road or street or lane on them in very tiny print, even if nobody CALLS them that, but one of the road signs for Frostwood, out towards the new mall, doesn't actually say anything but "Frostwood." "War Memorial" is almost always called "War Memorial," except by men over about 55, who call it "War Drive." I've never heard anybody call it "War Memorial Drive," let alone "EAST War Memorial Drive." I spent ages pouring over a map looking for "War Drive" on it, incidentally, the first time I was given that in directions. (There is also West War Memorial Drive and, for a brief bit where it crosses Glen & Sterling, a NORTH War Memorial Drive.)

Finally, and most difficult, YOU GIVE DIRECTIONS BASED ON PLACES THAT ARE NO LONGER THERE. I was invited to a meeting at Jumer's once. Nobody thought to tell me that JUMER'S HAD BECOME THE RADISSON BEFORE I EVER MOVED TO PEORIA! (No, I never made it to the meeting. It wasn't until about 6 months later that I finally figured out Jumer's was the Radisson, at the Wheels O' Time Museum, of all places, that has the first limousine in Peoria, which belonged to Jumer's, which is now, as the sign noted, the Radisson!) VOP's was something that wasn't VOP's and people were always trying to get me to go to a place that wasn't called VOP's by anyone except THE ENTIRE CITY, but now I guess it's back to VOP's. I frequently get directions like, "It's at the foot of the hill where the Random 50's Drugstore/Diner/Restaurant/Gas Station used to be, you know?" Um, no, I don't, I JUST MOVED HERE. (And by "just" I apparently mean "within the last 50 years" and "I was not granted the Peoria hive-mind that allows me to know the name and location of things that ceased to exist before I was born.")

If you can just try, TRY, to tell me the current names of places you want me to go -- something like "the Radisson that used to be Jumer's" would be fine -- I will forgive you for referring to geographical landmarks that are invisible to the naked eye, likes ridges and bluffs and things that have had houses built on them so long you can't actually SEE them, but since they were blatantly obvious in 1852, have become part of the local hive mind.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Sleazy Ameren Tricks? Update.

UPDATE: Ameren called me this morning and are trying to find out why my bill was identical two months in a row, and to assure me that the numbers were not made up but do seem quite odd. They're investigating and I will post the result.

UPDATE: This is entirely my fault. I, for whatever reason, got a duplo copy of the bill. Ameren was extremely helpful in solving the problem and ensuring I didn't play the same bill twice.

I remain a little bit troubled by the fact that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, even though I know that's how the universe works. Calling customer service was an exercise in frustration, and I admit I just dropped it because I had other things to do, and then forgot about it. Had I been more persistent about it, I probably would have eventually gotten it solved. So I appreciate Ameren stepping up to try to solve my problem once I blogged about it, but I have to wish that being one of the regular people calling customer service in the first place had been fruitful and simple.

That isn't just a complaint about Ameren, because as I know you all know, virtually every call center for every product and service in the entire United States is maddeningly frustrating to deal with and entails endless minutes on hold, being dropped when being "transferred" by a rep who doesn't want to deal with you, or never being able to get through at all! (I tried to call the TSA with a question about carry-on luggage after I tried their website, then e-mailed, and then got told "call this number." Waited close to an hour before I gave up and decided I didn't want to carry anything on THAT badly.)

I know the purpose of publicity, from local newspapers, or sites like Consumerist, or blogs, or calling your Congresscritter, is to shine enough light on the problem to get it solved -- to squeak loud enough that someone will apply grease. But it would be a much nicer world, with much happier customers, if call center employees were trained and empowered to actually SOLVE customer problems instead of being asked to shovel through a call every seven minute (Sprint), or hanging up on you every time you call (BofA, every time I call. We've decided it's easier to close the account than fix the very simple problem), or upselling you rather than helping you (AOL, notoriously).

C'est la vie in the 21st century, I suppose.

I meant to write about this last month but forgot until this month's bill came. My February and March bills listed as follows:

Feb. Mar.
405 405 kWh
122 122 Therms

Each had the code "A" which stands for "A = Actual reading used to calculate bill."

Now, leaving aside that I did not actually see a meter reader either month (and I work from home, on the side of the house with the meter, so they usually scare me to death popping up in my window), because it's possible I was away both months when they happened to come by --

What are the odds that two months with such different weather (February averaged 27*F; March averaged 57*F), and one of which included the DST shift halfway through, would have exactly the same usage of BOTH electricity AND gas?

I mean, seriously, Ameren, if you're going to just make up numbers, either be honest and label it "E = Estimated reading used to calculate bill" or don't make up the same numbers two months in a row!

(Or, third option, you better check on what, exactly, your meter readers are doing. And you can bet I'm checking my bill against my meter EVERY MONTH now!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nature Is Red in Tooth and Claw, and This Post Is a Little Bit Gross

There is an eviscerated, headless baby bunny in my backyard. I can't imagine what did it (dogs can't get in that part), but I find the whole thing gross and disturbing. I had to share with teh internets to get the ickiness out of my brain.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why I Hate Grocery Shopping

I've gotten over hating the actual shopping part now that I have a store I know pretty well and I know how to cook, so I mostly go veggies, meat, dairy, deli, done, and I only have to go into one or two actual aisles for staples.

But the part I absolutely loathe, and every time I do it I loathe it more, is that you load everything into your cart. Then take it out, onto the belt. Then back in to go to your car. Then back out, and into your trunk. Then out of the trunk and into the house. (And, I suppose, out of the fridge, into your mouth, and finally out the far end.)

To get food from the grocery store to my house, I have to pick it up and put it down five separate times. The same food. Over and over and over. Ridiculously inefficient.

I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it's maddening, and every time I shop I get a little more annoyed about it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fort Box


This was Grey Cat's weekend project. (And isn't that picture cool? My new camera has funky color functions. That's sepia tone.) Grey Cat believes all boxes exist for the purpose of his amusement and never, ever has there come a box into this house that he did not promptly stuff himself in.

This one was standing upright when he tried to climb in, and it tipped over, slipping the packing peanuts EVERYWHERE. He first looked totally shocked, then started stepping on them, then got this absolutely delighted look in his manic eye. He played on them for a few minutes, swatted them around, then retreated inside the box and has basically been sitting in there, very self-satisfied, ever since. Unless you try to step on his packing peanut caltrops, in which case you must be attacked. Particularly if you are Orange Cat.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What Are You People Doing With Your Free Time???

So I read a story in the Chicago Tribune that only 28% of adults in Illinois volunteer at all. In any form or fashion, with any sort of group, for any amount of time. And I am truly and DEEPLY puzzled as to how, exactly, you manage this. Or how those of you who don't have pre-verbal children manage to not volunteer, and I know 72% of the adults in the state are not infant-laden.

I mean, are there seriously full-grown adults out there who don't even chaperone a dance? Man a booth at a charity fair? Do some churchy project? Do a Habitat weekend? Christmas in April? School fundraisers? 72% of adults in this state don't have do-gooding friends who guilt them into spending an hour at a neighborhood cleanup?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Any Given Tuesday II - More Randomness

And then I saw a nun in Home Depot in full-on habit. Most nuns these days are plainclothes (which, a friend of mine from college complains, is sneaky, because you could be swearing up a storm in front of the nun without ever knowing she's a nun, and herein he speaks from experience), so it's always sort-of funner when you see a nun in a habit. At Home Depot. Buying light bulbs.

Any Given Tuesday

My life is so. random.

I voted today, and if you haven't yet, you should. I absolutely love voting. Sometimes I actually "woohoo!" after I vote, which makes the retired people running the polls look at me funny. I get such a kick out of participating in the electoral process and the whole self-governance thing. Makes me way psyched. Plus, they give me a sticker. Which, since today I was wearing my T-shirt featuring a bear with underwear on his head, I put on the 2nd bear's head. (Mine is blue, not pink.) On second thought, it may have been the bear with underwear on his head making the retired people look at me funny, not the woohoo.

I took my husband out to lunch at Rizzi's on State, where we were (unbeknownst to us) sitting behind John Morris, the development VP at WTVP, who overheard us talking about a show on Nova tonight (First Flower, at 7 p.m. on WTVP, looks VERY good!), and gave us his card, which charmed me. Well, now you've done it, John Morris, because now I'm inviting you to like every party I ever have from here on out.

Speaking of which, now that it's warmed up, I'm starting to think about blogger bashery, so stay tuned, bloggerinos!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Grey Cat, Sinuses, and Spring

Grey Cat is a pain in the butt come springtime. First of all, both cats operate under the delusion that dawn=food. This is fine in winter, but in summer, food=WHEN WE GET UP AND NO SOONER, GOT THAT, FELINES? I realize this is not entirely Grey Cat's fault, as cats are crepuscular, so for him food=sunrise and sunset, but it's still really irritating, particularly since Orange Cat just whines about it, but Grey Cat launches his 20 lbs. of CAT on top of your stomach to wake you up.

Grey Cat grows in a gigantic winter coat. Orange Cat gets fluffy, but Grey Cat gets SUPER GIGANTIC. He looks five pounds heavier. So come spring, as soon as the weather warms up even a little bit, Grey Cat blows his entire coat all at once, which means constant dusting and vacuuming and STILL finding cat hair in the most unlikely and icky places. Like my glass of wine. Ew.

But the two things that make him craziest in spring are birds and sinuses. When the birds come back, Grey Cat can hardly stand it. He wolfs down his breakfast as fast as possible so that he can GALLOP from window to window to stare at all the birds he would so seriously eat if I would just open that window for a second? Please? And then gallops back to a different window. Back and forth and all around, until he pukes up his entire undigested breakfast from too much running around chasing birds. Then I have to clean it up. Then he goes and stands by the food bowls and demands second breakfast because he puked up the first one and what kind of mean food-bringer won't feed him a second time???? There are birds involved here, woman!

Like me, Grey Cat appears to have tricky sinuses. Mr. McGee insists he's "my" cat whenever he gets sinusoidal. About four hours before a stormfront comes through, Grey Cat gets the galloping crazies and behaves like he is entirely possessed -- about the same time my sinuses start stabbing me in the brain with tiny little sinus-booger knives. In the spring, Orange Cat and Mr. McGee will be having a nice sit-and-read-and-purr on the couch, when suddenly Grey Cat begins galloping and behaving insane and biting everyone within reach, and I begin moaning and clutching my skull. It's a sure sign a front is on the way. And a sure sign that Orange Cat and Mr. McGee will eye me and Grey Cat with the contempt those with healthy sinuses reserve for those of us with weather-wise sinusoidal cavities.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Other People's Yardwork

I ran into Peoria Illinoisian at (what else?) a Junior League event, wherein we were engaged in doing other people's house- and yard-work. Specifically the League headquarters' house- and yard-work, as the headquarters is in a restored historic house in the Randolph-Roanoke district.

Anyway, I was outside doing yardwork for two reasons: First, I can barely be bothered to do my OWN housework; I'm certainly not doing others' on purpose. And second, I'm much better at yardwork and like it better. Even in the chilly rain we had yesterday.

So when I saw PI more than just passing by on my way to the mimosas, I was deeply involved in being one with the bushes that had not been trimmed in some years. By "being one with them" I mean that I had been literally inside them most of the morning trying to get in at the center to prune out the dead wood, leaving most of my hair behind on the twigs and the hair still attached to my head sticking up in all directions. I'm pretty sure the scrunchie allegedly holding up my ponytail was just attached to my hair by sap at that point.

I was actually and uncharacteristically very, very embarrassed to be caught having the worst hair day of my entire life!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Midterm Redux

So I've been busy this week with midtermy stuff, and now that I've graded the test, I'm sort-of fascinated by the entire process. I hadn't realized, although I probably should have done, that the tests would show me as much about the quality of my teaching as they did about the quality of my students' learning.

It was entirely fascinating to see what I taught refracted back to me through the prisms of my students' essays. I could clearly see where I taught a concept well and they really got it and understood it. I could see where they were just parroting back what they knew was correct, but weren't really connecting with it. And I could see one area where I'm going to have to do the entire lecture over before next year because I'm really NOT pleased with what my students wrote on that topic. My husband, charming man, says this is their own fault for not understanding the reading because he's sure my lecture was excellent, but I rather feel that it must have been my fault for not explaining it clearly enough.

At first I really hated marking students who scored poorly -- I hated being the one who had to hand out the ugly grades. But as I got to the bottom of the stack of tests to grade and the number of "couldn't be bothered" tests increased, I felt far less bad. Apparently a bit of jadedness is required to be the pen that wields the grades. (Good thing I jade fast!)

Generally I was quite pleased. All of my students who put in the effort got As and Bs. I always preferred assignments with clear instructions and transparent grading policies so that grades were comprehensible, and ideally so anyone who puts in the effort to do it properly and demonstrates a solid understanding can get at least a B, so that's the kind of work I try to assign. I don't like classes where it's graded on some ethereal imaginary scale of "what the professor feels like" or, ugh, on a "curve." If every student in the class comprehends the material, every student in the class deserves to pass.

And seriously, curves seem far more common in math and science classes, which strikes me as insane because they're OBJECTIVE CLASSES! If you get 90% of the questions right, it seems like you deserve a 90%, not some arbitrary number created by how much your classmates understood. I get "soft" curves in subjective classes (where the professor is loosely grading essays in relation to other essays), but I have never, ever understood them in objective classes. It's like, "I did enough math to get 90% of these problems correct, yet you have strangely assigned my test an 87%; why are you teaching math if you don't understand percentages?" Hard curves have always pissed me off, where 2 students will get As, 6 Bs, 10 Cs, 6 Ds, and 2 Fs, regardless of the quality of the work. That doesn't fairly assess student quality. I can't even imagine why anyone would deploy such a scale. If you've got a class of geniuses, some of them will arbitrarily fail, and if you have a class of morons, some will arbitrarily pass. With As, no less. I'd really prefer engineers not be graded on a curve. If you know how to make bridges stay up, you should pass. If you don't, you should fail. I don't want to be driving across the McCluggage Bridge wondering if the engineer was graded on a curve in a class full of morons and only passed for that reason. The laws of physics, oddly, do not grade on a curve.

Of course I had a few who couldn't be bothered, but by and large my students did me proud. One of my students, on his essay analyzing an ethical problem, began with something to the effect of, "Anyone who hasn't taken an ethics class would obviously say X, but now that I've taken class I can't do that because I keep thinking about it." (In an amusingly resentful tone.) Yay! That's the entire purpose of the class! I've sown confusion!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Update: The Trees Have Arrived


from stupid warm California. This is what my bathtub looks like:

There are two apple trees in that plastic bag on the left (which is now wrapped in a blanket to keep the roots dark until planting). In the big foam pot (from UFS, I love it, $4) there are two little pots with lingonberries in them.

The answers to your questions are: Yes, we have another bathroom. The butterflies are stick on thingies from Hobby Lobby. Because the bathroom has a sort-of unfortunate 70s decor theme in brown and yellow with butterflies and these cheered it up quite a bit without the bother of new tile and wallpaper. Arkansas Black and White Pearmain. Lingonberries come from Scandinavia and make a lovely jelly. And a very nice ground cover.

What you didn't ask is how old the White Pearmain is. As you may or may not know, apple trees that make apples that taste good are all clones of the original good-tasting apple tree of that type. Apples do not come true from seed, and like 95% of apples from seed are substantially too tart to eat and often taste like crap to boot. Johnny Appleseed wasn't spreading eatin' apples -- them was alcohol-makin' apples, and that was the primary use for apples in the U.S. for a very long time. (Because alcohol is a lot CLEANER than untreated water since it kills buggies rather than sharing them with your intestines.)

Anyway, if you want an eatin' apple, usually called a "dessert" apple, you've got to find one that tastes good, and then you've got to keep grafting branches from that one onto other rootstocks, creating clones, and then use the clones to make more clones, and so on and so forth. All of your Red Delicious apples come from clones of the first Red Delicious tree, and when the market for dessert apples started to grow in the U.S. in the late 1800s, you could literally make an overnight fortune if chance genetics bestowed upon you a tasty tree. Very chance, because apples are remarkably profligate breeders: a mature tree can easily produce 700 apples a year (or even twice that), with 10 seeds per apple, each and every one genetically different, for a yearly scattershot of some 7,000 genetic combinations in an attempt to find one that will survive local conditions -- leaving us to choose among those 7,000 options to try to find a tasty one! Next year, the tree will try 7,000 new combos. Maybe you'll get lucky then.

So how old is my White Pearmain? Well, it's the oldest known English apple, and has been in cultivation -- and cloning! -- since A.D. 1200. Yep. When my tree starts bearing fruit in a few years, that will be the identical fruit that some English dudes were eating 800 years ago, and my tree is an exact clone, via centuries of grafting, of that original tasty tree.

(This, incidentally, is why apples are among the most pesticide-laden of crops -- potatoes and cotton are the other huge ones -- because you have literally thousands upon thousands of acres of identical Red Delicious clones growing, often in fairly close proximity, and bugs evolve FAST. Wild apples grow in a crazy genetic mishmash so a bug that can kill one apple tree might not be able to attack the one right next to it. Red Delicious dates from 1870, and trust me, it didn't take the bugs 137 years to hit on the right genetic hack to go all Langolier on their asses. Which is also why heirloom apples like the White Pearmain often don't have problems -- all my local apple attackers are probably really good at Gala or Red Delicious or whatever, but haven't seen a White Pearmain in buggie memory, and the nearest one is probably 100 miles away.)

Next to the White Pearmain, my Arkansas Black looks like a mere baby, having turned up in Arkansas in the 1880s.

The other apple fact I have to throw in here, because it's one of the few things that sticks in my head from four years of high school Russian and I never ever get to use it, not even in Trivial Pursuit, is that the capital of Kazakhstan in Russian, Alma-Ata, means "Father Apple." In Kazakh it's Almaty, and means something more like, "Seriously, you would not BELIEVE how many apples there are here!" But the Russian mistranslation is on to something, since apples are believed to originate there.

Will This Cold Snap Never End????

It is seriously confusing my efforts to change out my winter wardrobe for my spring wardrobe. (We have no. closets. so my offseason clothes must live in Tupperware.)

The tulips are now definitely a loss. Our kitchen counter has been entirely taken over by seedlings that had to come inside to survive the cold, and our bathtub has lingonberries in it and is awaiting the arrival of our apple trees, which stupid warm California shipped because it's warm out there. Stupid warm California.

I think it's affecting people, too. I'm EXTREMELY grumpy, and for some reason almost everyone I've had to deal with the last few days has been screamingly incompetent or totally out of it, to the point that I'm starting to wish slapping people was a legitimate adult form of coping with them.

I think I need a day off, a mug of hot tea, a ripping good novel (preferably one that makes me bawl), and some particularly vile form of comfort food, like cheese balls or Kraft Mac & Cheese. Either that, or a little sunshine!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Diesel Boys

Today I gave my first midterm -- it's a takehome -- and as I noted before, writing tests is HARD. I'm teaching business ethics to the boys (all boys this go-round) in the automotive technology program, with a few add-ins from other programs around the college. But it's primarily "The Diesel Boys," which is a dire misnomer because they mostly work on gasoline engines. Still, it's a cute nickname.

I received dark and dire warnings from gloomsayers about agreeing to teach in Voc Tech, so I've been most pleasantly surprised. They're generally diligent and engaged, and the ones who sleep through class are very polite about it. (And I don't mind as long as they a) don't make noise and b) don't complain about their grade after sleeping through 90% of lectures.) They seem to like me, probably because I used the word "burgle," which they totally did not believe was a real word, and because for every dull abstract hypothetical in our ethics textbook I have a lurid local legal case that fits the fact pattern.

I really enjoy teaching, so I'm excited to get to 3 p.m. and into my classroom. I also think it fills a deep-seated inner need of mine to listen to myself talk. I'm missing whatever inner connection it is that's supposed to make you nervous about public speaking. I LOVE public speaking, probably because I secretly imagine that everybody is DYING to know what I have to say. (I hate acting, though -- I throw up with nerves when I have to and shake like a leaf the whole time, which is usually not in character -- because I might screw up when it's somebody else's words.)

We've been discussing Kant this week and the idea of a duty of beneficience. So today I brought them cookies and when asked why, replied, "Well, I have a duty of beneficience towards you all!"

Mumbles. Puzzled looks.

"Guys," one said, rolling her eyes. "That means she has to be nice to us."

Little nervous about the midterm now!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring Garden Pictures

I'm trying a new little toy here, called MapWing, which allows you to give virtual photo tours. I took some pictures of my garden on April 1 (at entirely the wrong time of day, the light was terrible) and I've uploaded them to create a little tour so you can "walk around" my garden.

The pictures start playing as a slide show; you can click under the picture on the left on "play" to make it stop and let you progress manually. If you hover your mouse over the picture, an arrow pointing forwards will appear. If you click it, you'll move on to the next picture. When you're looking at the daffodils, you'll see arrows to each side as well -- you can click those to "turn around" and look the other direction.

Little buttons with a camera on them or a "www" will also appear, and will take you to close-ups or to a website (which, in this case, shows you what the flower I'm talking about will look like when it grows).

You can also navigate by click on the little circles on the map to the right of the pictures. Take the embedded tour below or click here. Let me know what you think!


Monday, April 02, 2007

zOMG, Knight in Dragonland is in the Chicago Trib!

I was flipping through lazily today and scanning the op-eds, and suddenly sat up -- Knight in Dragonland's blog is quoted in the Trib's "In Other Words" on the op ed page! (Which I assume he does not yet know because it's not mentioned on his blog.)

They quote this, from this post:

There is no right to smoke. Smoking in a restaurant or bar is an assault on the lungs of non-smoking bystanders. A restaurant would be shut down if they let some customers poison the food of the other customers. What’s so different about the air?

You can see it at the Trib's site here. Knight, I'll save you the paper! Way to hit the big leagues!

Radio Stations, and My Brain Hurts

So first off, I am thoroughly shamed because it turns out there's all KINDS of things on Peoria radio I didn't know about but half of the local radio folks have been kind enough to inform me. And included their station numbers. So now I can find actual stations on the radio, which is a new and different thing for me.

My car radio is possessed by gremlins. The clock has never run on time (it constantly speeds up, as much as 10 minutes over the course of a month) and I gave up trying to fix it years ago, because fixing the clock resets all the radio presets (it's not supposed to) and doesn't solve the problem where the clock can't keep time. My radio presets mostly work right, except periodically when I try to change one it changes them all. So basically I drive around Peoria listening to whatever radio station my husband was listening to when he last borrowed my car, because he knows tons of local radio stations (as he drives all over central IL to little rural courthouses), and that's where it stays until the next time he borrows my car, because I've completely given up. I could never get my radio to hang on to one preset long enough that I could get to remembering the station, and it took me too long to figure out what were actually Peoria stations and what weren't and what would disappear if I went down to cross the river or tried to drive out to Grand Prairie.

So anyway, this was a good moment to mention it because now I'm being flooded with suggestions for radio listening and, by golly, I'm going to go reprogram my radio. Because now that I'm teaching at ICC, I'm in the car a heck of a lot more often. This will probably require digging out the instruction manual and issuing five or six beatdowns, but for the first time in three years, I shall have radio presets that stay preset!

Which leads me to the reason my brain hurts: Teaching is HARD! Writing tests is a LOT HARDER than taking them. Yeesh! It also comes at you a lot faster, since you've got to be about a week ahead of where the students are in terms of preparation, so I hit midterms last week when I started prepping the test and study guide while the kids won't actually get there until this Thursday. This is confusing to my brain, which was on a student's schedule for 20-odd years.

Now, adjuncts get a few perks, and the single best perk of all is that I get to take a free class every semester I teach. FREE SCHOOL! I have this whole list of classes I want to take, mostly agriculture, voc-tech stuff, or sciences (as I was a liberal arts major, my education is notably light on post-secondary science). I'm trying to decide between basic electrical wiring, anatomy, and native plants for the summer. I'm also jonesing for basic soils (I love soils! I bet I already own the textbook), economics of food, plant propagation, zoology, botany ... . I could keep myself entertained for years.

But maybe I should sneak a radio class in there, too. Because when I was in college I was a guest on college radio shows a couple times and it was the funnest thing ever. Once they even let me read the weather and I did it in this awesome smooth "radio voice" and was very proud of myself. I love being on radio.