Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Guy!

Today at work, the new guy assistant in the classroom asked us, "Did you know that Bill Nye the Science Guy died in a freak accident?"

We all were caught off guard. I was like, "When? He was just in last season's Stargate Atlantis on an episode! What happened?"

The new guy goes on to tell us that Bill Nye was doing a massive experiment with baking soda & vinegar (like those frothy volcanoes for science projects) with a truckload of baking soda & a tanker truck of vinegar. When the two were combined, the explosion was so huge, it killed Bill Nye and they couldn't even find his remains!

Uh huh.

So then we're all, okay - so who told you this? Why wouldn't we have heard about this? And baking soda & vinegar don't EXPLODE.

But new guy is so adamant about this happening, he says he's going to prove us wrong, and he goes off to the computer to show us. Here's his proof: Bill Nye Article

If you are not aware, The Onion is a parody website - kind of like April Fools all year long. I told him if he didn't believe me, look at a few other 'articles' on the site and see if they made sense. This is what they like to do. They 'got' a bunch of Christians to think J.K. Rowling was a devil-worshipper, and they've zinged the 'real' media & embarrassed them very well.

And for anyone who noticed, the title of this post was a nod to Stargate. Whenever there was a cast change, and the new guy did something dumb, the others on the team would say, "New Guy!"

It just kind of fit.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lesson Learned

I had previously posted about a transaction I had on ebay with someone who charged me shipping, even though he'd advertised his item had "Free Shipping."

Well, I tried emailing back & forth, but he was a moron (or was he?). He was not going to do anything to resolve the shipping, and so I waited the 10 days to open a case for resolution through ebay & PayPal.

Turns out even though they checked & looked through everything, they don't actually handle fixing things like that. If the item had been faulty (it's not) they could have reversed the charges for the whole thing, but they can't just refund the shipping charge.

Maybe the seller knew this the whole time, and he purposefully sets up his auctions that way? I don't know. He certainly didn't seem at all concerned that I was going to take it to the Resolution Center when I told him that was my next step. Maybe he's done this before, and that's just how he operates. I don't know.

So the lesson would be, next time cancel any auctions, no matter for what, if the invoice doesn't match up to the item description.

Email the seller first and get it in writing that shipping or whatever is different will be changed (although again, if they say one thing and do another, there isn't a whole lot the buyer can do once they click that "pay" button on the invoice). If they change it on the invoice before you pay, you would be okay.

I still came out ahead. I had a one-day coupon that actually covered the cost of the shipping and then some, but it was really the principle of the thing.

I still need to leave feedback. I will wait until he does mine first though. I am pretty sure when I leave negative comments, he's going to want to reciprocate. He still doesn't seem to get that the item description and reading the notes on the invoice are the seller's responsibility (or does he?).

Like I said, lesson learned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kiester Ranch March 2009

Yesterday we went to Kraig & Nancy's to visit. Diana was still recovering from the extractions, and Lee was working, so it was just the boys & me.
We all took turns riding Trinity, the very gentle 30-year old horse who is great for Connor & Trevor to learn horse riding skills on.
Trinity actually trotted a bit with me - he responds to the vocal tsk-tsk I do when I'm riding him pretty well.
This time around Nancy also took us over to the creek where the frogs are all coming out of hibernation - lots of croaking & ribbets.
Before heading back to the house, we also took a little hike to the Cougar Rocks on BLM land. Very nice.
Thanks again Kraig & Nancy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Diana's Dental Drama

This is exactly what the x-ray looked like on Monday, when Diana went in for her routine cleaning. I figured since she was home for the week, she could get her teeth cleaned & any cavities filled, if necessary. Good news was no cavities, bad new - two wisdom teeth were doing this.

I actually gave her the choice of doing it Tuesday, or in the summer. She opted to take care of it now - she was home, able to hang out on the couch, and didn't have any other pressing things to do.

Since I currently have awesome dental coverage (they paid 100% for two crowns for me last year), this is actually a good time to take care of this.

That morning, I made her Apfel Pfannkuchen (German apple crepe-style pancakes), and I think I felt almost as nervous as she did about going in there. Ugh. Wish I could have done it for her.

The meds we got from Wal-Mart (Darvocet, Demerol & Prednisone) were the generics, and only cost $12 for all of them. I got them during the time Diana was under the knife, so she could use them as soon as possible.

I didn't take any pictures, but she looked like a little chipmunk - poor thing. We had her use ice packs and she set herself up on the couch and pretty much stayed there all week until Friday.

The Prednisone is a steriod to decrease the swelling, and thus the pain. Diana's system didn't appreciate it though, and she had to throw up a few times after taking it. I called the dentist and let him know, and he said if she was okay with just the ice packs, she didn't need to take any more. Good. She does get a little woozy from the narcotics, but she's to the point now where she can sleep through the night without the Demerol anymore, and is just taking the Darvocet when it really hurts. The swelling is almost gone now.

They stitched her closed after extracting the teeth, so hopefully that will help keep her from getting any dry socket problems. The stitches should dissolve after 20 days.

Connor had to look in her mouth to see where the missing teeth used to be, and he tells her the tooth fairy should be coming any day now to give her something. She wants to get a small pet for her quad room -we'll probably stop by Pet Co or Wal Mart or something on the way back to her place on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ebay Frustration

Last week, on St. Patrick's Day, I had a one-day coupon for 10% off something at ebay.

I actually had something I was planning to get that way, so I found a nice buy-it-now auction & placed my bid.

The auction stated "Free Shipping" which was one reason I even chose that auction to start with. It was going to be over in 2 hours, so when I noticed there WAS a shipping charge on the invoice, I put in a note to the seller, "please remove the shipping charge, since your auction is advertised with 'free shipping'. Thanks." I didn't think I'd hear back within two hours to get the item, and I know the seller can remove shipping charges, because I've combined things before, and the seller has that option to change the shipping if they want.

The sale goes thru, showing my 10% off coupon - and the shipping charge is still there.

So I contact the seller & ask again to have the shipping removed.

His response is: I don't see any notes at all. You should ask me the question first b4 buying it and pay for the item. If you want to return i have to charged you for the shipping and you have to pay the shipping for the return. I wish you ask me b4 buying it. THE FREE SHIPPING IS NOT SUPPOSE TO BE THERE BY THE TIME I SEE THE ERROR EBAY WON'T ALLOW TO EDIT ANY MORE.

So he's an idiot. First off, he copy/pasted information to his auction without checking what it said. Then he never puts in a note once he realizes it says 'free shipping' (probably because he didn't even notice it until I pointed it out). On top of that - he ignores the note on the invoice.

Now, this guy has 100% positive feedback with over 100 items sold. So how does he not know to check the invoice for notes from the buyer?

It sounds an awful lot like fraud to me.

I sent him back an email requesting the shipping be removed again. And letting him know it is HIS responsibility to make sure his auction is correct AND to check notes on the invoices.

He basically said the same thing in response to my last email.

So now I have to take it to the Resolution Center. I don't want to send the item back to him - I don't trust him to be honest about it, to tell the truth. The item is fine anyway. Plus I'll lose my 10% off coupon, plus I'd STILL pay shipping!! With nothing to show for it!!

I have to wait 10 days to even send in my information. What a dweeb. He admits on the first email back to me that "it was a mistake" - so why didn't he note that somewhere on his auction? Why didn't he withdraw the auction & make the changes?

Because it went through PayPal, I should be protected. And reading through ebay's rules, it's exactly what I'd told him. What he's doing is fraud. You advertise free shipping with the item & then charge shipping? Eat the stinkin' $15, kid.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tax Question

Yesterday I did the taxes with TurboTax again. It works for me. I get it well enough to do it, and I only claim stuff I keep receipts about - and that's what works for me. We'd probably see a little increase if we had them done professionally, but that would most likely be eaten up by the cost of the tax prep. :/

This year I have a new thing - Diana is still claimed as a full-time student on our taxes. She's 18 now, and has income from a couple of jobs (though not a whole lot of money) and she also got scholarships for college. She gets her money disbursed to her to use as needed (tuition, room & board). I don't claim her income, but there is a form from the college with the scholarship total & the tuition total. It's only for the first term.

If I put that "T" form in with our taxes, there's no difference one way or another. Should I leave that to Diana for her own taxes? Or have it be on ours?

Trevor didn't get one this year, although he got one last year.

I was going to have both kids file their own taxes this year even though they are claimed as dependents on ours. Trevor is living at home, after all.

Any suggestions or ideas?

And just so you know - we are getting a refund because Lee opted to have taxes taken out of his unemployment compensation, even tho that's not typical (yay Lee!).


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More fun about my job

As pretty much anyone who reads my blog knows, I work in a classroon with severly disabled students (Complex Needs Classroom). My job includes specialized feeding protocols, nursing skills, bathrooming and physical therapy activities as well as assisting in the educational components of kids in a school.

Since so much specialized care & education is involved, our classroom is kind of a center for our county. We serve multiple school districts, although most of our students are in town. So we're not a school district room, we're a classroom run by the Education Service District for Douglas County. The ESD also provides the Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, nurse, vision specialist & Physical Therapist that work with our kids.

Today I'm listening to talk radio, and I hear that Oregon wants to reduce the number of ESDs we have in our state. Currently, there are 21 ESDs. They want to drop that to 11. (This was proposed by a Democrat, btw).

The reason is the bureaucracy, of course. Each ESD has a superintendent earning at least $100K. On the radio, they were questioning whether an ESD even needs a superintendent at all. There's already the superintendents for the school districts. If ESDs are combined, the administrative staffing would be halved, at least. Those salaries would feed back into the school fund (which is so low now, they can't even estimate how many days we'll lose for next year).

The thing is, each child served by the current ESD employees have a legal document, the Individualized Education Plan. Trevor had one, and Connor has one. These IEPs make sure the student gets the services they need to be successful. Connor's lays out that he takes the Special Education bus, that he works with a modified curriculum, and that he gets an aide, for instance. Connor works with a Speech Teacher to help him figure out better how to speak (which is working wonderfully, btw), and he also has a Consulting Teacher available to help with his educational goals & how to reach them. Both these ladies are ESD staff.

I don't think you could eliminate the services provided by the ESDs at this point. There still needs to be some kind of central service place to get those specialized folks that a regular school can't support. Just like there are no school nurses on site any more. You get the one from the ESD to spend X amount of time with your student. As it is, the current ESD therapists have huge caseloads and are totally overworked.

It's all going to be very interesting to see how this plays out now. We're a pretty big ESD, so maybe we'll just absorb a few smaller ones? Our county is the biggest in the state already, but it sounds like they want to ignore the county aspect and just go by "northern coast, eastern, central, southern coast," etc.

If they close my classroom, would I wind up working with a student, one-on-one, for the school district? All our kids are 2-person lifts for equipment & bathrooming. Where will the mats be to have them be able to stretch out? Where would we feed them so kids aren't staring at us putting in feeding tubes or sitting for 1.5 hours to feed them their specific diet of pureed food? Would they get to do their goals of learning to become more independent? Would it be up to the aides to determine the educational plan if we don't have a certified teacher (there's no way each kid gets their own teacher)? Who would supervise us if the regular ed teachers don't even know these kids?

Oh - and just as an aside, we are being asked to take 4 furlough (unpaid) days next month. They're just going to shut down our room on 4 Fridays next month to be able to cover payroll. The rest of the school will be open...

I went home after being at work an hour today because I've already built up 9 hours that they can't afford to pay me for days I had to work that were not in my contract. (The school district had added conference days back in as regular school days, and we don't work when we don't have students). We had a kid out sick, so I could leave without asking for a sub to cover me (no money for that).

Anyway - I got the taxes done ;)

Yes indeed. Interesting times.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Appropo Sewing

Diana did a class this last term called "Reinventing Yourself" and this was her final project.

It was basically a sewing class, and you had to create a dress and a story to go with it, from medieval times.

As you can see here, her dress is red. Red was not a common color for peasants to be able to wear. So apparently, in her paper, Diana (Blanche) talks about how she won the 'favor' of a local lord, who bought her bread regularly, gave her red fabric, and also bought her a real bed. "Favors" indeed!

Also in the story, she described the death of her parents, and her husband (plague) and that she has a 2-year-old son (who will eventually die in the Hundred Years' War).

So, here's a photo of Blanche, the skank. And the butcher girl in her green dress, who did NOT have the favor of a lord, but apparently had to wear icky colors & sleep on the floor of her shop.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


apologies for the blurry photo - but you can see the set nicely!

On Friday night, my friend Rose & I went to see the RHS production of Oklahoma!

I was especially interested in seeing it, since it's the same musical I was in during my Senior year in High School at OVHS. Diana's friend, Becki, had the same role I played; chorus. I don't know if she sang alto or not.

It was fun for me to get to hum along the same notes I sang almost 30 years ago (wow!).

The big differences in this show: 1) all the costumes were rented. 2) there was a LOT more kissing. 3) there was a lot more dancing.

I have vivid memories of trying to sew my dress, and help my friend Cindy with hers, until my mom got so frustrated with our feeble attempts that she took over and finished them for us. The fabric had to be inexpensive, and so we wound up with curtain fabric which was not very comfortable, and the seams ripped easily since it was a weave and not a knit. Add to that my misjudging my size (I was going to lose weight!), and my poor dress was lucky it held together for 3 weekends of performances!

I don't remember ANY lip contact at all in our production. Now, in this one the other night, it turns out the gal playing Ado Annie (who gets a lot of kissing in) is actually in a relationship (according to Facebook) with the guy whom she kissed the most, so that's not a biggie. I don't know if the leads were also dating while doing the show. That sort of thing happens in high school musicals :P

Finally, our chorus didn't do any dancing. We sang a lot, but we didn't dance with anyone. These kids all did a polka for the girl/guy dances, and the guys had a little line-dancing looking thing they'd done at the beginning of the show as well. I was impressed!

I don't recall all the lifts either, in our show. Some chorus girls were hoisted up on some guys shoulders to sing the finale. And I really don't remember as much of a fight scene in the dream sequence. The kids in this one were throwing each other across the stage! It was very exciting!

I guess my only complaint would have to be the lighting, and the sound. This is kind of the bane of RHS productions - maybe I'm just spoiled having grown up in So. Cal where so many kids were so into tech theater? I don't know. It bugs me when I can't understand the lead when she's talking, or see part of the cast when they're just out of the spotlight.

Still, it was a great effort & I'm always happy to support our local high school, community college & community theater. I certainly hope Becki continues with her acting, because it looked like she had a blast :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Troop 371 Reunion

A couple of weeks ago, Renee & Mary worked out a surprise for Amanda & Diana. Diana found out sooner, and MARY spilled the beans to Amanda, but it was all good.
Renee decided to fly up for the weekend.
She arrived in Portland on Friday, spent the rest of the day with Mary & CJ & probably Brandon (who is talking with Diana in the 2nd photo).

They will all recover, but Renee had better sleep on the plane trip home.
Yesterday - they came to the 'Burg to visit. They left Portland around 8:00, got to Eugene to pick up Diana, and then headed further south.
Renee visited her cousin, and then they stopped here. We got to visit a hour or so (and Lee was bummed he missed them - he was at work), and after cake & donuts, they left to go see Renee's folks and Mary's family.
After those visits, they were going to head back to Portland. Same day.
Renee is flying out Monday, I think. Hopefully she'll be sleeping in the car & what.

Remember when we were 19?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

How did THAT happen?

Last night, around 11:00something, Lee & I are mostly asleep in bed, when suddenly there's a loud "POP!!"
We both jump out of bed, because we have no idea what it was. I turn on the light, and we're looking around the room to see if something fell, or what happened.
We can't find anything around the room, so Lee's next thought is that something hit a window. He moves the curtain aside on the window above the bed, and the whole thing is cracked!
I used packing tape to get the little shards of glass off the bed & pillows last night, then vacuumed everything today.
It's only the interior pane of the double-paned window, and there's no damage to the screen either.

The whole window moves just fine still, so it's not like the house settled & squished it.

I guess it was just pressure from the air in the window? It was pretty cold outside last night, and around 60 in the room.

Lee said he thinks these windows have a lifetime warranty, and I'll find the receipt.

Still - what a weird thing!

Friday, March 06, 2009

School is saved!

Today an announcement went out that the State was going to get some kind of legislation to 'backfill' the deficit the school system suffered, and that we would NOT lose any school days after all.

It has to do with the Stimulus thing, shuffling some other funds around, and using up all the reserves (which will probably mean days off for NEXT school year - but that's in the future so we don't have to think about it..). In any case, we will complete this school year however it works out.

There's still no summer school, and yesterday & today I worked days that were not in my contract, since they were supposed to be conference days. This was to avoid loss of time for the kids once we cut days. There's another day in April that was supposed to be a non-contract day as well.

Now the schools & ESD owe their assistants for time for the last couple of days. We had a student that didn't come, so I only worked 4.5 of my 7 hours yesterday, and I'd planned a visit to the Jr. High schools today to see which would work best for Connor. That was 1.5 hours today. At this point, they owe me 8 hours of my time back.

I can't take any old time - I have to take time that I wouldn't need a substitute to cover for me. Basically, I have to wait until a student is sick or something, and then I'd go home early.

The other people in my classroom are already so short on sick leave (like, minus time) that they are getting their extra time put in there. I hardly ever call in sick, so I have, oh, pretty much 4 years' worth of sick leave saved up now. They can't give me my time back in sick leave.

It would be nice if I could take the Friday off for my TOPS convention this year...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Something to do

I mentioned before in my blog that on my lunch break at work, I only have use of an OLD Apple IIe, which is pretty limited in what I can do online.

I am able to check my work email, but not do anything but reply to emails from outside the Groupwise address book. So I can't create a new email to someone outside the school system - I always have to find a previous email & then reply to it.

I also can't post to blogs, or create any new posts on my blog. I can look at most blogs, but if there's more than a few pictures, it doesn't have enough memory. Video clips are not at all possible to view.

And of course, being a school computer, any shopping, Facebook, stuff like that is blocked anyway.

So there I am, with my 1/2 hour lunch. I'm done eating in 15 minutes (including nuking time) and I don't have enough time to really do much else. I knit while I listen to music, or write a little note maybe. I'm kind of tired of that stuff though.

The other day, I checked to see if I could look at 8-bit Theater - and I can!

This is a silly comic strip based on the 8-bit version of Final Fantasy. I got through the first 20 episodes yesterday. At this rate, I'll have a few years of something to read during my lunch break. :)

I love Black Mage.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy 11th Birthday, Connor!

Connor requested a "Thin Mint" green cake.

I will attempt to make one after school today :) It will be a chocolate cake, and then I use regular white frosting, add peppermint flavor & green food coloring, and that should make it pretty minty. I already picked up another box of Thin Mint cookies at the leader meeting last night (I knew someone would have cookies in their car!). I'll decorate the outside of the cake with the cookies then.

This morning Connor woke up to balloons and some presents. He is not the typical kid to shop for, so we just go with tried-and-true winners. White Cheddar popcorn, Sour Cream & Onion Pringles (or as Connor calls them 'green chips'), and for the toys, we just go Dollar Tree. He has a huge trampoline in the backyard, and he plays YouTube cartoons on his own. He already has enough games for the consoles we have, and is happy with those.

He did say something about various kids in his class giving him things at his party, so I had to tell him that the school kids were NOT bringing presents. They ARE celebrating with him at lunch with a pizza party, and I hope that went well. That's more or less the 'big' present this year. Pizza & drinks for 27 kids is a lot, but we can't do a party at home, since Connor would pretty much hide out in his room. Too many people in his 'space.' As it is, when we do Open House, he'll just tolerate people poking their heads in his room for a bit, or maybe one person coming in to talk with him. So this was our solution - he wanted a party, and this was the best way to do one. :)

He has requested spaghetti for dinner & then we'll have the green cake and vanilla bean ice cream.