Month: April 2018

Fortnite For Fogies

I am at a family gathering over the vacation.  My brother-in-law has an app.  This naturally intrigues me.  “What’s that app, ya got there?”

“Oh, it’s for tracking how much water I drink.”

Now whenever I see someone using an app to improve his life or his health, I must have it (provided it’s free…and time-consuming).     I already track my steps, my heart rate, my blood pressure, my sleep (including a breakdown of light, REM, deep sleep, and sleep adversely affected by sleep tracking), but clearly I have overlooked an important aspect of my health.  My brother-in-law’s app features a cartoon water drop, which becomes more plump and happy when you drink more water.  Awesome graphics!  “This is cheerful and uplifting.  I must have it,” I think.  Sadly (skinny, downcast water droplet), apparently it is an Android-only app, and I will have to settle for something less engaging but undoubtedly more sophisticated.  I learn from my brother-in-law, that he is trying to drink at least 80 ounces of water per day.   This sounds like a lot to me.  I do the high-level math. That’s ten glasses of water.  I think about my usual day.  Orange juice and coffee in the morning.  Maybe a stop at the water fountain during the day.  A glass of water with dinner.  Gulp.  Apparently I am woefully dehydrated.

I confess this later at the family gathering, hoping to get some “me toos” or “yeah, right there with yas.”  I get none.  Instead, I get advice.  From everyone.

“I carry a water bottle with me wherever I go.”

“I keep a large bottle at my desk and just drink from it all morning.”

“I carry a gallon jug with me all day.  It’s good exercise in the morning, and I’ve got incentive to lighten it by drinking.”

“It’s easier if you just get to 32 ounces before you leave the house.”  This from my brother-in-law, who I had thought would surely give me an “I was like that, too.”

I don’t smoke.  I don’t drink much alcohol.  My salt intake is way down.  I eat oatmeal for breakfast, for cryin’ out loud!  But apparently I  have been engaging in very self-destructive behavior.  I make some excuses.  “I’m rarely at my desk.”  “I can never get to a bathroom.”  “I can’t have a bottle in my hands all the time.”  No one in the room is in the mood to enable me.  They have answers for everything, though my wife’s sarcastic suggestion of “stadium pal”  at least shows some understanding of my situation.  I briefly entertain that thought.  Briefly.

So, after returning home, I spend the rest of my vacation week faithfully filling my water bottle,  taking healthy swigs every time my engaging new app reminds me,  tapping the water bottle icon on my phone, racking up all sorts of hydration points with the parched cells in my body, and making frequent trips to the bathroom.    Aside from an all-day bloating sensation, I don’t notice dramatic changes. My energy, mood and cognition seem about at their usual pre-hydration levels.  I tell myself that my kidneys must be feeling so much more valued.  I realize, though, that I was working from a serious deficit.

The real challenge, I know, will arise when I return to school.


I have now survived two school days since operation hydration.  My routines have changed somewhat.  I now drink a glass of water in addition to my glass of orange juice at breakfast.  That’s 16 ounces, folks.  Coffee counts, too, so I’m up to 24.  Then, after I walk McGee, I have another glass of water before heading off to work.  That’s right, 32 ounces before 7:00 a.m.!  I bring my water bottle with me and take a few swigs in the car.  No, I don’t tap the app while I’m driving.  I’m health-conscious, remember?

At school, I keep the bottle at my desk and make frequent side-trips to get in a few gulps.   I’ve found that if I stand reasonably still without bending, my bladder won’t actually burst before my first break in the morning.  The down side is that I rarely interact with colleagues anymore.  Some try in vain to engage me in hallway conversations, but those will have to wait.  I brush past them impatiently, as I dash to the men’s room. I make my first trip as soon as I arrive at school (32 ounces, remember?) and then at every break opportunity.  I have new respect and admiration for my pregnant colleagues who often remarked about how long our morning was.

I have considered purchasing a life-size cardboard cut-out of my image to place at the front of the classroom while I dash out.    It might work.  The kids don’t always pay that much attention to me, anyway.  Alternatively, I may contact Royal Flush or John’s Johns to see if they have a classroom model.  I think that would be fun.

It’s also possible that when the excitement of this new app wears off, I might actually discover moderation.

Procrastination Day

It’s Tuesday, but that could also be known as Procrastination Day.  I’m on vacation, so I’m not under great time pressure, but I have tasks that I need to address this week.  Today is overcast and drizzly.  It’s the perfect day to get things done.  I need to write a letter to my class.  It’s a school tradition that the fifth grade teachers write a letter to their class and read it at the Moving Up Ceremony at the end of the year.  (Note:  I believe I am the #%#$@-hole who started this tradition about 15 years ago).  We have to write the letter in April, because the parents like to put the letter in the fifth grade yearbook, and that goes to press…soon.  My deadline is April 17.  I know, after a month of writing a daily slice, it shouldn’t be  hard to write a letter.  Still, there are so many ways to avoid the task.

Just this morning I have found almost twenty ways to leave my letter:

Just go to the bank, Hank,  run a trivial errand, Darren

Make a to-do, Hugh; it’s important to you.

Send an email, Dale, format some pix, Trix

Just take out McGee, Lee, and keep your keys free.

Sadly, I just spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why nothing that I did today rhymed with any known names in the western world.  Nothing rhymes with adding 100 songs to a Spotify playlist.  Nothing rhymes with hanging a family portrait that’s been sitting around for months (oh wait, “hang a picture on the wall, Paul!), or sending excessively long texts about poems discussed over the weekend, or a reminder to Sarah about  meeting with one of my former students who’s touring her college (“Don’t call ‘er, just text ‘er, Dexter,” was the best I could come up with.  Seriously, I spent time thinking about that!).

So, since I’m even having trouble writing about the ways that I’m not writing, I think I’ll just publish this post and force myself to get to it.

Just sit and compose, Rose; write a rough draft, Shaft. 

No need to delay, Jay, just listen to me.

Just tap on the keys, Louise, no need to fret, Chet

Just get it on the page, Gage, and set yourself free.

Final note:  Just for the record, Paul Simon only came up with five ways in his song, not fifty.  I counted.

April Flakes Out

Today seemed like April Fools Day Observed.  The calendar said April 2, but the pranks showed up anyway.  First, we wake to a blanket of white stuff on the lawns, trees and roads.  The snow is falling steadily.   Nice one, God. I get it. Maybe it’s April first somewhere. Well played.

Maybe there’s a delay. That would mitigate the prank. I check my email.  Nothing.  I check Twitter.  Nothing.  The Superintendent is pulling a good one, too.  She appears to be going  with a regular opening.

Usually a serial tweeter on mornings like this, today she was MIA.  It was a good prank on the people who came from the hinter lands.  They got the Adrenalin rush of car-sledding on the Connecticut hills.  For me, it wasn’t so bad. A slushy Post Road, but no skidding or fish tailing.  Nice try, though.

Then I arrived in my room.   Some sort of gremlin had gotten into the heating system and cranked it up to Inferno.  Opening the door to my room was similar to opening the door of the oven after it’s preheated.  I hadn’t dressed appropriately, meaning I wore more than a bathing suit.  I opened my two windows, but this had minimal effect on the temperature in the room.  Later, as each student arrived, he or she needed to point out that, in fact, the temperature in the room was astonishingly high.  I didn’t blame them. It’s hard not to comment when you’re slammed in the face with a blast of dragon breath.  I suggested that they sit on the floor, since heat rises, but then I noticed the reddish glow of the carpet.

We spent the rest of the day looking for opportunities to vacate the premises. “Hey, let’s get to Music early.  That’ll surprise Mrs. L,” said one student.

“Maybe we can stay a little longer at the library,” another suggested.

During our reading period we headed for the hallway outside the auditorium, only to find another refugee class had beaten us to the lobby.   We stayed anyway.  “Mind if we sit on your laps?  Good.”

I had to applaud the resourcefulness of my students.  We had indoor recess today, in spite of the fact that we would have given almost anything to go play out in the slush and freezing rain.  As recess began, so did the special requests.  “I had said I was going to do regular recess, but can I go to extra instrumentals?”

“I was wondering if S. and I can go help the art teacher by cleaning brushes.”

“Did she say she needed help?”

“No, but I’m just thinking she might.”

One student had set up a special tooth extraction station so that kids could go to the nurse for the “I lost a tooth today” stickers. I heard she ran out, today.

“Hey, Mr. v., what would I need to do to get sent to the office?”

“Hey, can M. and I go clean the downstairs bathrooms?  I think there was a toilet that was clogged.”

“Umm, could  J. and I  go look for poison ivy in the courtyard?”

Yeah,  I thought I had dodged the prank by driving to school without incident this morning.

I’m bringing  a hose and the wading pool tomorrow.