First off, Merry Christmas to everyone … I have been busier than ever the last several weeks heading in to Winter Break, which by the way, today being Christmas Eve is only day two of Winter Break. Thursday was our last day of school. Over the last several weeks I have been averaging about 5.5 hours of sleep a night, and that includes the roughly 9-10 I get on Saturday night, which is the inly day of the week I can get to bed early and sleep in late. I have been very tired, and just had one of those realizations that I had been neglecting things …. not like “updating this blog”, but “checking e-mail”. I don’t think I have ever gone more than 2 days without at least checking it, and realized that while I was checking my school account daily, I had completely forgotten about my private account. So, if you e-mailed in the last 2-3 weeks, I will be getting back to you right after Christmas.
Needless to say, it was wonderful going to bed around midnight on Thursday night, and then sleeping in until 10 am Friday. I was in bed by 11 last night, and woke up at 8 refreshed.
So, I’ll do my year in review. Ill try to stick to positive things.
1. It looks to be a red letter year in science. The LHC at CERN is turning out new discoveries and data like Wonka’s Chocolate factory: each more strange and wonderful as the next. The whole “faster than light” thing is still on hold awaiting independent confirmation (which looks like it may be coming from Fermilab!!). However they just found a new particle to close out the year, and it seems that the Higgs Boson is coming tantalizing close … which means that 2012 could turn out to be another great year in particle physics.
2. Barely two years in to its mission, and the Kepler Observatory looks like it hit the jackpot! For the first time ever, we have the discovery of planets with Earth-like conditions (though the planet is a little bigger than we had hoped), and planets the same size as Earth (just a little hotter than we had hoped). I think this tends to confirm that Star Trek was completely wrong in the idea that there were Earth-like planets around every corner, but I think it finally is putting to rest any belief that anyone was holding on to about the uniqueness of Earth. Again, it sets up 2012 as maybe the year we will find a long lost cousin out there.
3. It was not a great year for baseball … but I can say that I was very happy to see Bert Blyleven inducted into the Hall of Fame. Statistically, there is no reason he should have had to wait, and he always gave me the impression he was a good guy. Though his induction will come this summer, we can also note that Ron Santo finally got what was coming to him, albeit they had to wait until he was dead a year to do waht was obvious to so many people. Cubs nation will undoubtedly be out in force for the ceremony this summer in Cooperstown. Also o the plus side, my collection of baseball memorabilia has increased quite a bit. I will be slowing down a bit this up and coming year, but my basement (recently re-painted so I had to take everything down and move it) is looking much nicer!
4. My students have been off to a fairly good start, though they were all tripping up as December rolled in … I was spending more time than usual working to put out fires that were starting up with kids. I am glad that my administration is doing their best to try and keep the stupidity that is NCLB as far away from the teachers and students as possible, but even that may not be enough in the long run. With negotiations starting next month, and new laws that are going to severely hamper what we can do with kids going into effect, 2011 may go down as nt so much a great year, but the last year that didn’t totally see the government interfering in my classroom to a huge extent. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, I suppose I can still chalk up my nomination for a Presidential Award. It’s a thing.
5. My work in quizbowl has seen its peaks and valleys …. far too few peaks, and more and more valley though. I don’t write much on this subject, but it has been an overall good year for quizbowl, even if it wasn’t so awesome for me. Some new rules were passed in 2011 that brings Illinois high schools more in line with the national standard for competition. This is very good, even if our state has a ways to still go. My officiating continues, though I have noticed how it has gotten more and more difficult for me to maintain a standard of excellence that I have set for myself. I have seen far too many over the hill long past retirement officials that are doing what they do for reasons unknown … they sap the fun out of the game for the kids, and I swore that when I started doing that, I would hang it up. I have tried talking to other officials and coaches, and they keep saying I am fine …. but I have my doubts that it is kindness for the sake of kindness. I am having a much more difficult time hearing players answer, and I have caught myself making a few more mistakes than I usually make. On the plus side, one of my former players has returned home to work in the Chicago area, and has taken up the mantle of officiating, and is getting pretty rave reviews … I wont claim that I taught him much of anything, but it is one of those great things to see someone who you remember as a younger player start taking the steps into a more adult role and succeeding at it.
6. On the plus side, I got to see almost all of my friends this last year. I didn’t get to see Al (sorry, man), but was thrilled to see the Nugents if even for one day. One of the problems with teaching is that at the start of every school year, the students all basically look the same … it is not a good way to tell time. However, when I see my friends’ kids, I get those moments of shock when I realize that time has been passing outside of the bubble I live in … the kid I got to hold in a blanket a few weeks after birth is now running around or curled up in a chair reading a book of their own. I have seen this to some extent with my goddaughter and nephew. I never get to see them as much as I would like, but when I do, I get that sense that time has passed since I last saw them, while I don’t get the impression of time passing when I don’t see them. I’ve wondered if this is part of the reason I don’t see myself as having matured as quickly as a lot of my friends …. they constantly confront the passage of time. For me, it can go weeks or months before I realize that its been weeks or months. I have actually woken up on my birthday to not even know about it until someone brings it up. I’m not sure if that is a sign of being eccentric, brain damaged, ADHD, or immature. I’m really hoping for eccentric.
7. The family has started the process of moving on. I know mom has her bad days. I had meant to call her on December 13, and I forgot being bogged down with work. She called. I think she was upset that I hadn’t called. I haven’t been the best son I could be, and being a little further away doesn’t help that. However, I think she has started the process of coming to terms with her new life … and while there are tremendous downsides, I think she can also recognize some good things … she doesn’t have to worry about getting phone calls from the police that dad was arrested for DUI or that he had killed someone in an accident …. she doesn’t have to clean up after him and there are no more pointless fights. She visits the cemetery every so often, but not on a weekly or even monthly basis.