Working from Home — Day Three

Day Three of “Working from Home Because of COVID” started at around 5:15 AM, when the dogs woke me up to be let out. Normally, they are let out by Mr. Rovira when we get up at 5 AM. Ike rested his snout near my face, so I knew it was time even though I have turned the alarm off for the foreseeable future. The nice thing, though? I’m not gonna lie. It is soooooooo nice to get back in bed and actually get up at 6:30 or 7 to start my day.

Mr. Rovira and I are all about keeping routines during this challenging time, so we made sure the Things were up, too, by 8 AM, and beginning to attack their school work. Things 1 and 2 had their online instruction start today, so they were busy with content for their classes. Mr. T had a few things to work on that Mr. Rovira and I gave him.

Having gotten my grades done, I sat down at the computer, took stock of the planning I was required to do by the district for the week of 30 March (in case we are not back), and made note of the times I was required to participate in a Google Hangout with staff for planning. But having noted that it was about time for the stores to open, and we needed noodles, I got my shopping bags and headed out. The first store we went to was Ralphs. There was a line outside, and it looked like the “older people shopping hours” that some stores are doing now, so we drove on to another store. At Stater Brothers, we were able to get noodles (yes!) and some ramen (not my favorite brand, but I’m not going to complain), and some Kool-Aid (to keep the Things from drinking so much milk)—”So we’re gonna let them get cavities instead?” I said to my husband—and some fruit. Even after only walking into the store about 20 minutes after it opened, the lines were long to check out, and people were pushing carts full of things throughout the store. The only other thing we looked for was a nice, big cut of pork, so that we could smoke it on our Big Green Egg. Mr. Rovira figured, since we’re home all day, he could get a nice big on one that took hours to get just right for pulled pork. But no such luck. We’ll try again in a few days.

The new order of business and in-real-time collaborating are these Google Hangouts or Zoom meetings I’m having. I hate the way I look on camera, though, so I always mute the video feed and participate only by auto. When I mute video, it defaults to my Bitmoji avatar, so I’m fine with that.

Basically it was just work, work, work until I broke for a little nap. Then I cooked dinner, worked some more, and then we had “family time” after Jeopardy to watch Parasite. The older Things hadn’t seen it yet, and Mr. Rovira and I wanted to see it again, so we watched it. The other night—Monday?—the days are already blurring together—we watched Jo Jo Rabbit. Again, the Things hadn’t seen it, so I happily rewatched it.

Random (Non-Shower, but Shower-like) Thoughts:

  • I’m loving all of the “family time” we have lately. It’s not like I wasn’t close to my kids before, but sometimes we all did feel like ships passing in the night between Scout meetings, sports events, working late, doctor’s appointments, and the like. Now I am in closer physical proximity, yes, because we’re “forced” to stay together at home. But it is just nice (as their mom) to see them (and watch movies with them!) and have all my chicks in the nest.
  • This COVID pandemic—it seems weird to really type that word and not use it in a hyperbolic way, because I never thought I’d ever live during a time of a pandemic—seems to be a cosmic, Higher-Power or God-initiated (if you believe in God) “hard reset” of our Earth right as it is at this moment. It’s like the Force is saying, “Look, some things have gotten troubling to me. I’m going to let this loose in order to get the results I want.”
    1. “Greenhouse emissions were getting too high. Now that you are forced to stay at home, traffic is amazing and CO2 levels have dropped in major cities world-wide. You’re welcome.”
    2. “Your finances—assuming you haven’t been let off work—will probably improve because you aren’t eating out all the time, which is expensive! Eat at home and save money. You’re welcome.”
    3. (“Sorry about the hoarding of groceries; that wasn’t what I intended. You humans behave strangely sometimes.”)
    4. “Your health will improve because you’re not eating junk food. You’re eating home-cooked meals—assuming you aren’t using DoorDash all the time, see point No. 2 above—and home-cooked meals are always better for you on some level. You’re welcome.”
    5. “You have more time for YOU, and you’re realizing (finally!) how stressed you really were because of the 21st century life you lead. I’m forcing you to destress a bit and center yourself. You’re welcome.”
    6. “Maybe the jobs sector (and public schools!) will finally really, really realize that online education and online working@home is totally feasible and workers might actually be more productive in this format. You’re welcome.”
    7. “I’m trying to get you to see how much easier work@home options are for people with disabilities. Really. You need to include them more! This pandemic is forcing you to realize that.”

I’m sure there’s more that the Earth could tell us, but those are just a few that have popped into my head. As much as I love my own kids and Mr. Rovira, I am missing the daily interaction with other adults (my co-workers are the best!) and, believe it or not, the 100 13-year-olds that I work with on a daily basis.

Tomorrow, I am making my screencasts for students. 🙂 Thank goodness I have a Master’s degree in this! I’m ready!


So I find myself a teacher with virtual classes now. Our school sent kids home on Friday for two weeks, starting Spring Break early due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the world and the need to keep a “social distance” to flatten the spread of the pandemic. It is a very strange feeling. I feel ready for this and confident with distance learning because I have a master’s degree in EdTech. But to experience a pandemic (with all its attendance impact on daily life, including work and school) is something completely new and, to be honest, not something I expected to experience in my lifetime.

When I left school on Friday, I didn’t know what the future held, so I brought home most of my assignments I still had to “process” and last minute grading I had to finish. Friday was the end of our quarter. I’m operating on the assumption that report cards will still be due on Wednesday (as they always are after a quarter’s end), but new developments may change that. Some schools are off a long time! Long Beach Unified School District, for example, is off until 20 April!

So one of the things I did on my “slide of the day” for my students is to suggest that they start keeping a journal (or blogging!) if they didn’t already do so. It is important to jot down how one feels and what one observes during this time. It is history in action! What a person writes will be considered a “primary source” document in the decades to come later when we look back upon it and write about it in textbooks. And, because I never ask my students to do something I wouldn’t, I am committed to making posts to my blog as well; I want to be a good model!

(And since my last post was 2.5 years ago, what better time to get back in the saddle and start writing again?)

One of the craziest things I’ve experienced is the evidence of “panic buying” in grocery stores. For example, I had asked Mr. Rovira to buy me some ramen (since that is one of my staple foods—COVID 19 outbreak or not), and he said that there wasn’t any in the store. Since I had just been there on Monday to get some for my week at school, I thought, “Eh, maybe he just didn’t find the ramen aisle, or my flavor was out.” Well, one of the things I did Saturday morning is to get up and stop by the store to get my ramen, and some noodles to use for Saturday night dinner. I got to the noodle (and ramen) aisle, and they were EMPTY. Like, he really wasn’t lying. There were none. It wasn’t like they didn’t have my preferred flavor; they had none. No frozen peas. No potatoes. I was running out of dinner ideas because I couldn’t get all the ingredients I needed. The lines were long. One woman just stood there with her cart and admitted, “I don’t know why I am here.” I got a few things for breakfast for the week, since the Things will be home, too, and I went home. I had grading to do.

Mrs. Rovira’s workstation at home!

So I got back to grading on a dreary Saturday. I think part of what is making people in Southern California panic more than necessary about the COVID issue, is the fact that it has been grey and gloomy, sometimes raining, all week long. It adds to the paranoia, creating a darker mood.

All the shelves were bare at Target—for everything!

After grading for a while, I took another break to go to Target because I needed some shampoo. I knew better to expect to be able to find any groceries—incidentally, there were no frozen peas or noodles there, either—and I just had to snap photos to document the craziness. No medicine. No soup! (“No soup for you!” – students, ask your parents about this allusion I just put in my blog post!) No bread or tortillas. No one was fighting each other, as I’ve seen on the news in other locations in our United States.

Now, if we lived where my husband’s extended family lives (in Louisiana, where hurricanes are a normal occurrence part of the year), maybe I’d be more used to this. But we don’t. This will take a while for me to get used to a “new normal,” as the news reports. Now on Sunday morning as I write this, I am resolved to just avoiding the stores for a few days.

In the end, Mr. Rovira and I went out to eat at Baek Jeong (Korean BBQ) Saturday night since I couldn’t get the other things I needed. The Things didn’t feel like eating much, and preferred playing video games or watching Netflix, so they stayed home. It is also easier to get seated there with two rather than five. 🙂

The deliciousness at Kang Ho Dong’s Baek Jeong. MMmmm!

Tonight, I’ll make something with my chicken that doesn’t involve noodles. 🙂 I’m reporting for work tomorrow, but I don’t know yet what I will be told when I get there. Even before they cancelled our classes, they started cancelling some ancillary things like Open House, any field trips, and awards events. More info to come, I guess. In the meantime, I’ll keep grading and investigating different online programs for instruction. I’ve gotten lots of emails in the past few days from different companies—some our school already uses and some we don’t—letting us know how they will support our instruction in the coming weeks. I will also take a nice Sunday afternoon nap to keep myself healthy and my immune system strong to potentially fight off any nasty bacteria or viruses, including COVID-19.

Stay healthy!

PS. If you’re wanting to read an interesting article on “social distancing,” try reading THIS ONE at the Washington Post. It was interesting and did a great job explaining the different models epidemiologists have to try to prevent or “flatline” the outbreak.

Bass Guitarist or Lead?

I thought about this question as I was driving home today. It is an interesting question to ask someone if you are trying to get to know them a bit. Lead guitarists are up front in center, and they get all the attention. They like it, too. Bass guitarists are important, though; music wouldn’t sound the same without them. They are a little more behind-the-scenes, however. They don’t get as much attention as the lead does, but they’re still cool. Which would you be, the bass guitarist or the lead?

Myself? I think I would be the bass guitarist. I like to be important, but I like to stay low key. I don’t like to draw a lot of attention to myself. I also love the sound of the bass guitar. There’s a bass riff that plays over and over in one of my favorite movies; I was watching it today as I was grading papers in first period. It has stuck with me all day. Unfortunately, it isn’t on the soundtrack for that movie, and believe me, I’ve looked. I am a firm believer that if something is on the Internet, I’ll be able to find it. And I have not been able to find it in all the years I’ve been searching. There’s a few other bass lines that I love:

  • the bass background melody in “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash
  • the opening bass riff in “Our House” by Madness
  • “The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash
  • the opening bars of “Mountain Song” by Janes Addiction
  • “Wonderful” by Adam Ant

All of this leads me to my next question: What is on your playlist of late?

I’ve been really stressed out, so I’ve been gravitating to songs that I can play loudly and ones that I can scream along to as I drive. Yes, scream along to, not sing. One of the only times I am truly by myself is when I am in the car driving home; I don’t have my kids with me because they come home with Mr. Rovira. So I can play my music as loud as I want, or “so loud that my ears pop” as Riton says. Especially with the songs that have awesome bass lines, it makes my bones vibrate. Nice! I made a new Spotify playlist for my screaming songs. It contains:

  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • System of a Down
  • Marilyn Manson

What are you listening to? What should I add to my playlist?

Target Got Me Again!

This happens to me all the time: I need two or three things (say, hair conditioner and paper plates) from Target. So, I pop on over and enter the store WITH EVERY INTENTION OF GETTING JUST THOSE TWO THINGS. But that Target bullseye logo is hypnotic, and I ending up putting things in my cart that I did not necessarily need right at that moment. This cartoon sums it up perfectly:


This afternoon was another such time when I walked out of the store with WAY more than I originally had planned to buy. What I needed to buy was some Play-Doh and Ziploc bags for tutorials at school tomorrow. That’s it! We’re doing claymation / stop motion movies / Lego movies in my room, and I wanted to get some Play-Doh to add to the supply that is there already. The Ziploc bags were for students to put their Claymation figure in at the end of tutorials for the day to keep them nice and moist for next time. But then I remembered I need to purchase the aforementioned hair conditioner, so I put that in the cart. And then I remembered I was out of Crystal Light, so I put that in the cart. Mr. Rovira texted me and told me we needed foil, so I headed over to that aisle. I was sure we needed to stock up on the Smucker’s seedless strawberry jelly, so I put two of those in the cart.

I was heading deeper and deeper into the store. I was coming closer to all of the Halloween stuff that is out on display. That reminded me that I hadn’t yet bought any candy for the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood yet, so I plowed down the aisle to pick out candy I liked. I bought six or seven bags: one was an assortment, a few were m&ms, and I bought at least two or three of 3 Muskateers, which is my favorite.

Then, it happened! Out of the corner of my eye, I spied . . . Christmas lights. Seriously, Halloween is still two days away, and the back of the store is FILLED with all varieties of Christmas lights. I know I mentioned earlier this school year that I am not a fan of Christmas (see here). But I do love the lights, and these were calling me! The type that I was looking for are LED lights, with a traditional C9 shaped bulb. These are awesome, though, because they are color changing lights, and there’s sixteen different strobing patterns that you can set the string to flash at when they are on display. They can be, for example, “steady on white” or “steady on multiple” . . . and there are seven different colors! The colors can “chase” each other, or twinkle, or fade in and out. Very, very cool. I first saw these about two years ago at Home Depot on the Black Friday sales day. Even on sale, they were close to $80, so there was NO WAY I was buying them. Even last year, they were too expensive. But this year, they came down in price enough, that I decided to splurge and add them to my cart. After I get paid, I’ll go back and get one more strand. Then I’ll get maybe two more at the Black Friday sales this year, and that should be enough for the front of our house.


So this is what my cart ended up looking like, even though I only wanted TWO things.


I headed for the check out before I could do more damage. My pocket book is safe . . . until I need to go back to Target.

Way Random Thoughts

So I have been a sorry excuse for a blogger lately. I just haven’t made the time to sit down to write anything. It isn’t like I don’t have things floating about in my head to write about; I still have to finish writing about London! But, as I am going to try to set a good example for blogging students, here’s a few random thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

Random Thought No. 1: So normally Mr. Rovira and I don’t take the kids with us when we go out for Japanese. Thing 1 is an especially picky eater, and Thing 2 isn’t much better. Mr. T doesn’t eat much of anything at all, but certainly not sushi or miso soup. Of the three younger units, Thing 2 is definitely the most culinarily adventurous, but it just seems like taking them out to eat Japanese with us is a waste of time (and money). So we save our visits to Kaori for when Meema and Papa offer to babysit. But Friday night Mr. Rovira and I just had a craving for sushi that was too strong. Thing 1 was off for the evening with a friend, so we were left with Thing 2 and Mr. T, and we said, “Why not?” It was delicious, as usual, but I was reminded when I was there about how awesome these things are:

You’re probably wondering what these are. They are for people like me who have not mastered the art of eating with chopsticks. I am very uncoordinated like that. So they help me “cheat” and eat sushi like everyone else in the restaurant. They go at the end of the chopsticks. They are awesome. Since Thing 2 tried some actual sushi this time (eel), we allowed her to get a pair too. She’s younger though, so there’s hope for her yet that she will learn to hold and use a pair properly.

Random Thought No. 2: I have been craving Diet Coke for the past week and a half. I gave it up on June 9, so it is completely out of my system. However, we’re coming to the end of the quarter at school, so I am feeling especially stressed. Perhaps that is why I am craving it. In any case, I am resolved not to give in at all. Overseas I discovered San Pellegrino flavored waters. I drank a lot of the “arancia” flavor, but found the “melograno e arancia” flavor at Costco a few weeks back. It’s delicious, and I highly recommend it!

When I get sick of drinking just plain water, I chug down one of these.

Random Thought No. 3: What’s on your current favorite playlist? I’ve downloaded some new songs to put on one of mine. I downloaded “Best Friend” by Foster the People, “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys, “Ways to Go” by Grouplove, and “Connection” by Elastica. The Elastica title is somewhat of an old one, having come out in 1995. I’m also planning on downloading and adding to my library “Regret” by New Order. That came out in 1993. I have an external hard drive at home (1 Tb) full of music, but not all of it have I downloaded and actually added to my computer library. But I was reminded of how awesome a song “Regret” was, so I’ll add it and listen to it. On iTunes Radio I’ve been listening to the ’80s Alternative station, which is THE. BEST. STATION. EVER. The ’80s rule. (No Lionel Ritchie or stuff like that though!)

Random Thought No. 4: My washing machine is REALLY loud. I’m trying to listen to music as I type this up, and it is so loud I cannot hear anything. (We have an inside washer and dryer, not out in the garage or anything.) The spin cycle is coming to an end, so hopefully that will be the end of it . . . until I start another load.

Random Thought No. 5: I haven’t been able to go running in almost two weeks now. I pushed it too hard and gave myself shin splints. (sigh) They are very painful. I usually leave to go running at 5:15 in the morning, and so I have to say that I am enjoying getting ready in the morning at a more sedate pace. But I don’t feel as mentally sharp as I do after I go running. I feel like a slug. I hope my shins heal up soon. Mrs. Ortiz, whom I asked for advice about my shins — since she runs marathons and knows about all things running — said that it probably occurred because I tried to increase my mileage too much in one week. That, and my shoes may be faulty. Every other day or so I try jogging a few steps, but so far it has been painful so . . . I’ll wait.

That’s all for now . . . back to work grading papers.

London, Day 8

Our day started off drizzly again and was only about 62.6˚ — in a word, perfect!

I was loving the weather in England. All we ever get is dry, sunny, and hot. This past winter, we hardly had any rain at all, and only a scant amount. In England, it rained on us almost every day. It was awesome.

I woke up early that morning to blog about some of the other adventures Thing 1 and I had had so far on our trip. We were off to Stonehenge later on in the day so, not only was I blogging, but I was also Yelping and Googling some possible sites to eat an early dinner or a late lunch or shops to visit in Salisbury, the town closest to the stones. I was also catching up on some of the news coming from the States, by visiting some of the online editions of Southern California newspapers.

Though Thing 1 and I had bought our tickets to Salisbury the night before on our way back to the hotel, we didn’t quite know how we were going to manage getting to Stonehenge itself. The visitor center is located about ten miles away from the train station at which we would be arriving. There was a bus that took tourists arriving at the train station to the visitor center, but when I checked online to purchase tickets for the fare, it said that one needed to make reservations twenty-four hours in advance. (The fare included admittance to Stonehenge and the visitor center.) I had no idea if they had enough tickets available for the bus to the site, or if they even sold them at the train station or if they could ONLY be purchased in advance. So that, obviously, wasn’t going to work for us. Next, I visited the official Stonehenge site, and it said that “only a limited amount of tickets” are set aside for same-day visitors! Obviously, I didn’t research that one carefully enough. So, even when I got to Salisbury on the train, and let’s say I managed to get a seat on the bus to the visitor’s center, there was no guarantee once we arrived there that we could even get tickets to go inside. Would our trip out to Salisbury be for nothing? I hoped not. We set off. By the time we set off on the train, the sun was peeking through grey skies.

I just want to say, too, that I found it curious that the U. K. is on the metric system, but some things are still measured in miles rather than kilometers. It was about 88 miles from our hotel to Stonehenge, about the same distance from Fullerton to San Diego (for comparison).

It was a nice trip by train. Thing 1 played games on his iPad as we rolled through the English countryside. I watched every mile of the scenery pass by in a blur. I found it all very beautiful, and so very different from the drought-tolerant landscaping prevalent in Southern California. It turns out that we could get tickets on the bus to Stonehenge right there in the train station. They could be purchased on site. We quickly walked to the line to purchase tickets so that we got there before the bulk of the tourist passengers on the train got there, too. A bus was leaving in about ten minutes, so we lucked out on the timing. Our fare also paid for our entrance to Stonehenge, so we never needed to worry about arriving there and not being able to see the site because the visitor’s center had run out of tickets. We were in! After we boarded the bus, I relaxed, knowing we were off to see a great and wondrous landmark. It was a sure thing now.

The bus pulled out and began its way to Stonehenge. It made its way slowly through the narrow streets of Salisbury. It was a very picturesque town — quaint and cute. Salisbury is also famous because its cathedral contains one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta from 1215. Before I knew for certain that we would be able to see Stonehenge, I reasoned that, at the very least, we would be able to visit the cathedral and see the Magna Carta. Okay, so it’s true we already saw a copy at the British Library, but . . . it’s the Magna Carta! We could see another one . . . it is such an important document. But I digress . . .

So the bus pulled out of the station and passed through Salisbury’s center. Soon, though, we were in the rolling hills surrounding the town. I saw a polo field — which we just don’t have here in California. The only polo field I know of in Southern California is outside of Santa Barbara. It just isn’t a popular sport here. I was amazed that people were actually trying to doze or sleep on the bus! How could they close their eyes to the beauty and the sights of this country? They were all tourists like me, and I just couldn’t comprehend how they didn’t want to take it all in.

Stonehenge is pretty impressive. Today, tourists are not allowed close enough to the stones to actually touch them or walk among them. (Unless you’re Barack Obama. A few weeks after we were there, he visited, and he got to go into the inner circle.) It is still amazing to see them, though. At the visitor center, they had a replica of a stone in the courtyard that tourists could stand next to, in order to gauge their true size in comparison to themselves.

This is a replica megalith in the visitor center courtyard with Thing 1 standing in front for reference.
This is a replica megalith in the visitor center courtyard with Thing 1 standing in front for reference.

It was cloudy and blustery, but it never rained. The clouds and blustery wind provided a dramatic backdrop to the stones, and Thing 1 and I sat for a while on the manicured grass surrounding them just looking at them and taking it all in.

Stonehenge . . . we made it!
Stonehenge . . . we made it!

The visitor center had displays pertaining to the people who lived in the area at the time Stonehenge was arranged, as well as theories as to how they built it.

Selfie with Thing 1 at Stonehenge!
Selfie with Thing 1 at Stonehenge!
Thing 1 with the stones in the background.
Thing 1 with the stones in the background.

Our visit concluded, we boarded the bus at the visitor’s center to begin our trip back to Salisbury and, ultimately, back to London. In Salisbury, Thing 1 wanted to stop at a Subway to get a sandwich to eat before getting on the train. We sure were eating a lot of sandwiches! I was partial to the Pret A Manger chain that was all over London. Thing 1 just isn’t a foodie like I am. Stomach full, Thing 1 had no interest in browsing through the rest of the town, and I wasn’t going to push him, so we made it back to the train station. It turns out the we had just missed a train, so we needed to wait an hour until the next one arrive. It was actually nice to just sit, read, and people watch for a bit. Eventually we made it back to Waterloo Station in London, took a bus to a stop near our hotel, and called it a day. Another item crossed off my list of things to see!

The End of the Year is Here

. . . and I always find it so anticlimactic.

Maybe it is just me, but it is something that I think about and dream about nearly all year long. Yes, I do! Almost as soon as the new school year starts — which I am excited for, don’t get me wrong — I start thinking about the end of it because I lament the lack of time I have for ME — the “ME” time I had ALL SUMMER LONG.

All of a sudden, my life goes back to being driven by a bell. I have assignments to grade and old assignments to redesign, or assignments to create because I’ve come up with a completely different idea or standards have changed . . . or we’ve got new technology to incorporate, or . . . you get the idea. I can’t get involved in novels or books. (Well, let’s be honest: I don’t let myself get involved in those because I’d let my real work [ie., grading papers] go and I can’t afford to do that!) I cannot stay up to the wee hours of the morning watching TV or reading a book, knowing that — no matter how early Mr. T gets me up in the AM — I can still take a nap when I get tired the next day. I don’t get to eat lunch out with the “real world” anymore once school starts up again. I have to think about things like Back to School Night and Conferences, my own plus my own children’s at their schools. Sports lessons. Scouting. Life becomes a lot more difficult to juggle . . . so it is no wonder that I look forward to the respites that are Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks. And the grand one of them all . . . Summer Vacation! I think about it as the year goes by . . . not everyday, and not very consciously, but it comes up from time to time. Me: “Oh, if it were vacation right now, I could be ___ (fill-in-the-blank).”

But then it arrives . . . the day I have been waiting for: the day that my grades are done, and my classroom is tidied up and locked up, the last i has been dotted and the last t has been crossed, and I pull away from the teacher’s parking lot. In my fantasy “that’s-120-days-away not-including-weekends” mind, I run through the list of things I could do because I have the afternoon free: get a pedicure, get my hair done, get a massage, go shopping for some errand (but at a more leisurely pace), go for a walk, go to the park and take a nap — it all never happens exactly like the way I think it will. It’s all very “meh” because, invariably, I just go home. This day that has loomed in my mind, this mythical and magical day, now that it’s here? I go home. That’s it. There’s no grand finale or final coda.

At least I’ll have more time to blog. 🙂

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On . . . auh huh huh.

I love Elvis and grew up with his music — thanks to my parents — but he’s not the focus of this post.

So I have the displeasure of being gifted genetically with extreme earthquake sensitivity. I can feel ANY little tremor. It is not a gift, believe me. It has been driving me crazy all weekend; I’ve been on a heightened state of anxiety. Why?

Unfortunately, ALL WEEKEND LONG we’ve been having earthquakes. Fullerton, at least certain parts of it, have been particularly hard hit. See this link for a wrap up.

In our house, we had many things fall off the shelves (pictures, etc.), but luckily, nothing broke. I was sitting at our dinner table with my husband Saturday night when the first one struck. We had just put the kids to sleep. It was a little after 8 and registered a 3.6, I think. We commented on it . . . it was a roller as opposed to a jolter. And we left it at that . . . until an hour later. That was the bigger one . . . the 5.1. That was freaky scary, and a jolter. The whole house groaned and creaked. I ran to a doorway, which is what I have been taught since I was a kid. The kids we freaked, too, to say the least. Thing 1 and Thing 2 were content to settle back into bed after giving the house a cursory look, but Mr. T needed a little more coaxing. He decided he didn’t want to sleep on the top bunk in Thing 1’s room, so he went back to his own room to sleep. But after the next aftershock, he asked to come upstairs to sleep in the spare bedroom. (It normally is only used for gaming and TV watching.) So, we settled him in and then after the NEXT aftershock around 10 p.m., he wanted to move into bed with us. I don’t blame him. It is the same thing I would have done when I was his age (four). He snuggled in and I put my earphone in my ear, tuned to the news.

It was until at least 12:30 a.m. that I could hear sirens across the city. About two miles up the road, I learned later on the news, water manes broke and homes sustained some structural damage. The were helicopters circling in the sky, probably from the news, but also probably the police helicopters searching for problems. I couldn’t sleep; I kept waiting for the next aftershock. They occurred at least once an hour. All. Night. Long. My nerves were shot. (That, and Mr. T is horrible to sleep with. At least two times during the night I had to move his feet out of my side.) As dawn began to break on the horizon, I relaxed a little — or was I exhausted?? — and drifted off to a troubled sleep. At least if we got shaken by an even stronger earthquake, it would be daylight and I could see.

The next day, Saturday, we were groggy. When could I lay down again and take a nap?  More aftershocks. Ugh. But they tapered off, at least. After about 9:30, I only felt one every two to three hours. Even later, I started thinking we were finally distancing ourselves from the earthquakes. I was wrong. I was in the middle of watching The Grand Budapest Hotel when we got rocked again. It was a 4.1 I think? (It actually made for a nice effect; we were at a part in the movie when our main characters were traveling on a train, so it was almost as if we were lumbering along on the train too.) Then again at 11:30ish. Seriously. Enough is enough.

There was another one tonight while we were eating dinner. Luckily, these aren’t lasting very long. The whole house jolts violently, and then it is over. So that’s good. Still disturbing for people like me, though.


If you want to keep up with our earthquakes, you can visit the best source: the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) site that tracks all earth movements.

Until then, here’s to a shaky night!

Disaster Narrowly Averted

Well, grades are done for the quarter now, and I feel like I can finally breathe a bit. I’ve been working mad crazy trying to get everything graded in time for them to be printed. Now that they are done, I have people and things to get reacquainted with, including this blog.

What has happened since I posted last?

Well, on March 5, I barely escaped a professional and personal disaster when my portable hard drive dropped on the floor at school and busted open.

Busted HD 2

Nearly every professional file I have is on the hard drive. To say I was kinda freaking out is an understatement. I immediately tried to plug it in to my computer, and it did show up on my desktop, but when I double-clicked on it to open it up and access files, I got the spinning rainbow wheel of doom. My whole computer froze, so I shut it down and restarted it. I tried again, once my computer booted up, to connect my hard drive. This time, it wouldn’t even show up on my desktop . . . and it froze my computer again. I began to get a little more stressed. I had student work on there that I had recently uploaded. It hadn’t been graded yet. I needed this hard drive to start working again.

You might be thinking, “Duh, Jenny, you of all people should know that you need a backup!” and the answer to that is, “YES, I do have one.” When I went to check my backup, it was backed up only so far. (I guess I need a bigger back up drive, as it is almost out of space.) The newest files — the student work, for example — hadn’t yet been backed up.

I tried connecting it again. It wouldn’t show up on the hard drive. I tried jiggling the USB cord . . . I jiggled it some more . . . FINALLY there was a connection. And, better yet, not only did the hard drive show up on the desktop, but it didn’t crash the computer. I double-clicked on it to access my files, hooked up my other drive, and began transferring files. I put a big sign next to my computer that said, “Don’t touch!” just in case the custodian came in and wondered if I accidentally left my computer on and wanted to shut it down for me. (This has never happened before, but still. I could NOT take any chances.) I got ready to leave for our usual Wednesday staff meeting, and right before I left a message popped up, “Not enough space available,” and I cringed. What was I going to do?

I went to the staff meeting. I’m not going lie — I was preoccupied the entire time with what was going on with my computer back in my classroom. Did the USB cord shift a little and the drive disconnect itself while I wasn’t there? Where could I buy a new drive real quick? How long would it take for all the files to transfer over? There’s probably like 16,000 files or more. And some of them are large — educational movies files that I have painstakingly downloaded from You Tube over several years. I did a quick search on my iPad, and at the Office Depot up the street they sold a 2 terabyte drive for a nice price. Bigger is better, right? As soon as our meeting was over, I hightailed it over to the store to get my drive. I was under a time constraint . . . our meeting was over at 3:15, and I had to go over to Office Depot, buy a drive, come back to school, set it up to start receiving the transferred files, and leave school again by 4 to get to a doctor’s appoint. Could I do it? I had everything to lose, so I made a run for it.

Back at school by 3:35 with my new drive, I connected it to the computer. It was running S . . . L . . . O . . . W. I “selected all” and dragged the files over to the new drive. Spinning rainbow wheel of doom. I sighed deeply. After a few minutes the computer started counting the files . . . 100 . . . 200 . . . 300 . . . and then you know how when you’re downloading a file and it gives you how many minutes or second are left? It finally gave me a time: two hours. Another sigh. It was obvious that I would have to leave and go to my appointment. But, on the way home, I could swing by school. Two hours would have passed by then, and I could go home with my (new) drive and my files. So that’s what I did, except . . . when I passed by school again after about two and a half hours, and I checked my computer and . . . the time count was up to six hours. I had to give up. I went home. I felt naked without my computer and all my files. I had my iPads (mini and Air) and that was it.

The next morning, don’t think I wasn’t anxious to get to work! As soon as I unlocked my classroom door, I went straight to my desk to check the computer. I double clicked on the new drive and . . . ALL THE FILES WERE THERE. I checked a couple of different locations on the drive. ALL WERE THERE. I breathed a sigh of relief. I disconnected the old one.

Disaster averted. That could have been ugly.

It’s Been a While Since I Posted . . .

. . . so I’ll play hooky from grading and doing school-related tasks to make a posting about some random things.

First, I hope everyone’s vacation was relaxing! It is so NICE not to have to live according to a bell. It is so NICE to get to wake up at 7:30, get Mr. T some breakfast, and then go right back upstairs to read in bed. And watch as many French movies as I want on Netflix. And binge-watch all of this upcoming season’s episodes of Downton Abbey before anyone else watches them on U. S. television. (I promise I won’t tell what happens!) And . . . vacations are so NICE!

Alright, so next on my random-thoughts post, can I just say how NICE it is to go out to dinner? Any time I don’t have to think of what to make for dinner nor have to actually cook it? Well, that’s just NICE!

photo 2

We went to Wahoo’s tonight. It’s cheap and quick, but not necessarily fast. There’s Thing 1, Thing 2, and Mr. T acting silly for the camera after we got done eating. We always seem to get the same thing: an appetizer of cheese nachos with guacamole and sour cream on the side; bean and cheese burritos for the kids; a one-mild-chicken-taco-with-black-beans-and-white-rice dinner for me, and something for Mr. Rovira. He’s more adventurous than I am. I always get the SAME THING every time we go. He changes things up a bit. This is the same for every restaurant we go to. I order the SAME THING. No matter where we go, I have my favorites on every menu and I do not deviate. That’s just me. I know what makes me happy, and I do not want to try something new, only to find that I didn’t like it, leading to disappointment. That’s not NICE!

Next, it’s candy heart time again! Just like rainbow sprinkles (see a previous post on this), I *LOVE* candy hearts. I don’t know why. Perhaps because they are multi-colored just like candy hearts are? (And here’s a fun fact: did you know that in other parts of the country, the sprinkles are called “jimmies”? You learn something new every day!) In any case, I am very particular about which brand I prefer. As far as I am concerned, THE brand to buy is Brachs. Do NOT buy the Sweethearts brand. They are tart. Candy hearts should not taste like raspberries or green apples. No no no no no no no. I bought two packages tonight at Ralph’s on the way home from Wahoo’s. We’ve already opened up and dipped into one of them at home. Yep, that’s how we roll.

candy hearts

Lastly, did you know I get to go to London this summer? I’m THRILLED! Thing 1 and I are going to go. It is a long story why just he and I are going, but we are. Over vacation, we went to the post office to file the paperwork to get our passports. I’ve never had a passport before. It came in the mail today! It is so cool to have one. I took a picture of myself with my passport:

photo 1

Interspersed among the pages of the passport are quotes from important American documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the “Star Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. I’m excited to see some of the history-related things I’ve been talking to students about for so long. I get to see them in person! Thing 1 got a London guidebook for Christmas, and we’ve been starting to make a list of things we definitely want to see while we are there. On the top of my list is the Tower of London, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament. We’ll probably also take the Chunnel to Paris for either a day or spend the night and come back the next day. IT. WILL. BE. AWESOME.

Okay, well, tomorrow is Friday, which means I will have to find something cool to download from You Tube to watch for our “Viral Video Viernes” treat. We could watch Part II of Marcel the Shell, but I found a few other things that have piqued** my interest . . . so we’ll see!

I’m also going to bed early tonight. I’ve stayed up until 11 or later each night this week, which is brutal when one gets up at 5 each morning. I usually need about 9 hours of sleep to feel great, and I am definitely not getting it. At least I can make up some sleep on our three day weekend. That will be NICE.

**piqued = vocabulary word from Lesson 11! 🙂

So enough about me . . . what random thoughts have been floating around in your head?