and still too much on my mind.
Round I of parent teacher conferences tonight went well. I had the parents of day-students in my classroom tonight, and we got a groove on — ten minutes per passenger, racing along at breakneck speed. Mrs. DP probably got the worst of it, since I have three of her boys and she only got ten minutes total. Ooops. The other conferences went well. Mrs. R told me, “if you have low expectations of my daughter, she’ll meet them; if you have high expectations, she’ll meet those, too.” I love parents with high opinions of their kids; that makes my job so much easier.
Feeling less in the dumps about my English classes now that I have a plan; Ben gave me a pep talk today, too. I love having that guy in the next classroom. I can beg, borrow and steal from him any time at all. He gave me a nifty new tool to work with today, namely a pair of sheets that I can use as my planbook. I’m so excited to have them, and start writing down my daily lesson plans and recording them.
Spent my free period today fussing with my laptop, trying to get iCal and other functionality up to speed. Tried to get the laptop to sync with the computer on my classroom desk. No dice, at least not yet. Also tried to get the school’s LDAP server to synch with my laptop. No dice there, either. Still finding it hard to gather enough time to correct papers — I’m planning on sitting at the station tomorrow and correct papers for several hours. Also plan to work out my gradebook at least for the fall. I’m also planning on printing the gradebook rather than trying to keep it digitally. As much as I’d like to give up paper — the fact is, the school’s not ready for it, and neither am I. Not this year, anyway.
Built a Labyrinth on the school grounds, off in the woods. I’ve been walking it every day since we built it last week, at least every day that I’ve been on campus. It’s a Cretan-style, or Troytown-style, labyrinth, with four loops. Two kids and I laid it out a week ago Saturday, and then we finished it last Wednesday. So far it’s been the big project for our fall camping group that hasn’t yet gone camping. We need to collect firewood and repair the lean-to shelter before we can go camping, though.
My desktop machine died today. I turned it on to help a kid who needed to work on a paper; I haven’t turned it on since mid-August, I’m guessing. The screen popped, grumbled, and finally turned on, reluctantly, with a series of static-like lines crossing the screen horizontally. The machine stayed on about five minutes, before roughly and unceremoniously shutting itself off, not to restart again. I think it’s done. Maybe it’s just the screen — maybe it’s the hard drive — maybe it’s the software. Whatever it is, my iMac is something like six years old and very slow, so maybe it’s time to let it die gracefully. I’ll take it over to the school and see if they can salvage it for spare parts or whatever, but I think it’s done.
Now I have to decide whether to replace it or not. Frankly, since I started getting freelance assignments, I’m nervous about having only one computer. can’t access the net from work, and so she wants to be able to do it from here. For several years now I’ve deluded myself that the desktop iMac was useful and good, because it was a backup machine, and that I could work on it, while worked on the laptop. But the desktop at school is mind-numbingly slow, and the home desktop machine is now definitively dead. Replace it?
With what money? I’d like one of those flatscreen models, but would like a laptop and the wireless card so she could work around the apartment. I don’t think either of those things is in the budget right now. Alas
The final issue is gaming-related. I’ve got a kid who’s really into games. We’ve been playing Carcasonne, and Fluxx, and Clans and Cathedral, in addition to things like chess. But he’s mentioned D&D by name several times now, and there’s enough interest that I’d like to run something. Only, I haven’t got time to develop the game I want to run. Who am I kidding? I haven’t got the time to grade papers, much less game-master anything. As much as I’d like to, that puppy is going to have to wait.
Still, his interest reminds me that I’d like to run a game. I’m feeling the urge to get back into it, and do something with that side of my creative life. The recent paper I did about early Neolithic life has kinda got me interested in the idea of running a prehistoric game, where the magicians have to think about erecting standing stones and suchlike to raise energy and create the leylines that make magic flow from magic-rich nodes into magic-poor areas… imagine a fantasy game where the players are literally setting up the tools that make clerical magic and sorcery and magic-user magic possible. “Ok, you raised a dolmen… you can cast first-level spells now.” “You built an altar and made arrangements with a spirit-court, so now you can cast clerical second-level spells.” “You have mystified the tribe with your sorcerous ways and your knowledge of herbs; you can be a sorceror now.”
Part of the reason I’m considering this kind of game is because of the labyrinth. It took three of us about a half-day to build half the labyrinth, and it took a crew of eight of us to finish it over another half-day. One such labyrinth, let’s say, could affect the surrounding square half-mile, meaning that you’d need four per square mile to energize and empower your tribe’s whole territory — at a day per construct for the whole tribe, that would be a lot of effort and energy to expend, just to cast first level spells, if that’s what the Labyrinth does. If you then have to construct medicine wheels to do second level spells, and dolmens or stone circles for higher-level magics, then the landscape slowly gets ‘charged’ and empowered. But then the tribe has to do maintenance, or your character does, and someone has to talk to the spirit world from time to time, and get new project ideas.
That’s one possibility. The other possibility I had considered was the idea of a colony from a magic-rich medieval society setting up on a strange and foreign shore. What if the vikings in Newfoundland had had magic, and the skraelings/Inuit had had clerical magic? Or vice-versa? What if they had weird spell lists? You’d have a town, and a wilderness, and some interesting magical battles to contend with, for sure.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout-out to . and I still don’t know about your Saturday party. We’re hoping it will work out, but I’ll have to see whether I have movie or gym duty that night, or have to drive the on-campus kids to the mall somewhere. I’ll let you know soon.