I have been illin’ on and off (mostly on) for over a week. I  have attended an exquisitely useless meeting,  forced to grind my molars to powder in order not to make enemies of an entire department, the kids are on glue, and Modern Family was a rerun after I stayed up to watch all dopey and sick.

I have been a little crabby lately.

But I have also been doing a lot of lying around in bed, reading on my various devices. (I wish I had thought before just now, to convert my e-books to Palm format, so I could have been auto-scrolling, and not even had to move a finger to swipe.) So I’ve been reading some great books lately.

Rant: I missed the Puppy Bowl for the first time since its inception eight short years ago. I always catch at least a quarter or so, but this year we were somewhere where the “real” Super Bowl wasn’t even mentioned. Too busy chattering about the upcoming David Beckham undies ad. I was too hungry to complain.

I also miss the Bud Bowl.

Rave: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party and the sequel, which is even better, and where you finally find out about his name and why he’s a traitor: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves.

OMG. I have two new fave literary characters: Octavian, the title character, and his BFF Pro Bono. Set during the Revolutionary War, this pair of books (and characters) had me rooting for the British. There is too much goodness here to summarize–and I’m crabby right now, remember, AND House is new tonight–so I’ll just say this two-book story is my fave in the last year. Go get it and read it now. If I taught 9th grade and up, I would be lobbying and wrangling to get enough copies to teach these books RIGHT NOW.

Rant: We were talking about possible argumentative writing prompts for the new district benchmark tests. (Ok, this rant will probably span several rants, so I will number them for handy reference.)

1. I always love it when they want junior high kids to make clear logical arguments based on facts, and express them in writing. Did I say I love it? I meant, I HATE IT! Middle schoolers don’t know enough to form rational opinions or take a logical, fact-based stance on an issue. They don’t know anything.

Should the school year be longer?  Duh.
Too much homework? No brainer.
Should you be able to download music for free? Well, why the heck not?
School uniforms? Eww.
Texting while driving? I want to do both of those!
How do you prevent cyberbullying? Superior firepower. Or don’t be a baby.

The topics need to be narrow, and the facts have to be taught. Then, perhaps they might form a rational argument. Perhaps. I’ll come back to this one later; I can already see the smoke coming out of some people’s ears.

2. During this discussion–in which the  prompts were  actually pretty ok–we had some “concerns” voiced by a couple of our… deep breath… SPED teachers. (When did Special Ed become OK again? Isn’t it called Resource?) Sorry, I have to take a moment before I can continue this rant. Let’s have a rave now. Haha. Get it?

Rave: Our whole parking lot at school is being covered with solar panels.  We’re going to be more than 3/4 self-sufficient electricity-wise. Groovy.

Rant: I am SICK of the whole no-name paper thing. I throw them away, I tape them to the board, I hound, and I penalize, and I whack stacks of paper on kids’ desks and make them find the one they forgot to put their name on, I give zeros, I apologize to parents for throwing away papers, I institute fines, I throw them all in a box, I give them to Mrs. G so she can do the Hamster Dance while tearing them up.

Nothing works. Do you people have a silver bullet or a wooden stake for me for this pesky creature?

Rave: Another great book: The Orphan Master’s Son. Set in North Korea, and not for the faint of heart. It fully rocks.

Argumentative Essay Meeting Rant #3: One of said SPED teachers said that she thought “her population” would “get frustrated” with the “complex language” of most of the prompts. She actually said that “her students” would “get confused” by such words as “technology” and “copyright.”

I have to stop now. I might say something I regret, and I don’t have any enamel left on my teeth. See you soon.