22 September 2017 @ 06:08 pm
So, so much Power Rangers. I've been binging while I'm recuperating from my surgery. I'd started in August, before surgery, and had gotten a little over halfway through season one of Mighty Morphin, which is 60 episodes long. At the moment, I've got 8 episodes left before the end of season 3. From there, it's the Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, followed by Zeo, Turbo, etc. I've decided to watch ALL the extant Power Rangers episodes. All 800+ of them.

It's interesting to watch, because I can remember some of the episodes from way back in middle school, almost 25 years ago. I used to watch with my then-6-year-old brother, because it was easier than playing with him as a 13 year old who wanted to just read, thank you (even if we did make an amazingly epic story about pirates when we'd play with his vast collection of Lego). But as I've gone through the seasons, and especially into season 3, I remember less and less. I had no idea this was where Katherine came in. I've just watched the episode where she's able to break Rita's conditioning, and Kimberly passes her power coin on to Katherine. It's really sweet.

That's something I'm discovering as I watch/rewatch this show I used to pretend was a chore to sit through (it was middle school - I was weird enough as the Cartoon Girl and the Trekkie without adding the Power Rangers into the mix). This show is really sweet. There's a lot of heart, and a lot of care in these stories. Even with the villains, who argue and bicker and insult all the time. Rita doesn't kick her brother out when he fails over and over - she gives him another chance, even while she grouses about it, because he's her brother. And when it's (finally) discovered that Rita tricked Zedd into marrying her by means of a love potion, and Goldar forces Finster to spray Zedd with the antidote, we discover that it doesn't work. Zedd may have been tricked at first, but he is genuinely in love with Rita, and she with him (though at the beginning she used the marriage as a way to regain power).

There's a lot of good stuff in the old Power Rangers episodes. Yes, they're cheesy. Yes, they're intentionally cheesy in parts. But they aren't self-mocking. They tell stories with depth I wouldn't have expected of a 90s kids' show. They tap into a lot of different childhood and teenaged experiences, and treat them with sincerity. That, as much as the Zord fights and ninja/karate/kung fu/martial-arts-flavor-of-the-season, is what made so many people connect with the series, and why it's still going strong 24 years later.

Think about it. Power Rangers will have been around a quarter of a century next year. Continuously. Yes, casts have changed, villains have changed, etc, but the core of the series has remained the same. Kids - young adults - who have good hearts and strong morals unite and get super-powers BECAUSE OF their goodness and morals, and fight alone to protect Earth from all manner of evil, while keeping their identities a secret. Each group follows the same 3 tenets, by Zordon in the first episodes. They're not bad tenets for life, actually.

1. Never use your power for personal gain.
2. Never escalate a fight unless the bad guys force you.
3. Never reveal your identity to others. No one may know you are a Power Ranger.

So, let's look at those.

1. Never use your power for personal gain. Don't be selfish and self-serving. With all the abilities the Rangers have, it would be easy for them to help themselves to a lot of things. The nerd could get rid of the bullies with his/her newfound superior strength. And while that does happen, it is never because the nerd sought to do so. No one ever uses their enhanced physical abilities to win the ubiquitous martial arts' tournaments. They use their own personal strength and agility, and call on the Power only when they absolutely have to, to protect others.

2. Never escalate a fight unless the bad guys force you. Self-defense only. Defense of those weaker than you. Stand up to the "bad guys", but don't take the fight to them. If only more people took this particular piece of the Power Rangers' creed to heart. For all the action and fighting sequences in the show, the rule was not to engage in a fight unless you absolutely had to, either to defend yourself or others. Do not attack first. Even in the martial arts' competitions, the fighting skills were mostly for show - a display of discipline and training, not open combat. The mental and spiritual aspects of martial arts were focused on more in the kids' everyday lives than the fighting aspects - those were the dressing used to teach the morals of dedication, discipline, hard work, honor, etc.

3. Never reveal your identities to anyone. No one may know you are a Power Ranger. Don't go gloating or bragging about your good deeds. The Power Rangers, for all that they are in the spotlight, are anonymous heroes. And interchangeable, when it comes down to it. Those who possess the qualities that make someone a candidate for becoming a Ranger usually end up being a Ranger. But they don't brag. They don't show off. This is easily transferable to a real life setting. Do good deeds because you want to help, because you are kind, not because you want recognition or reward. Each of the Rangers participates in community service projects, teaches classes on a volunteer basis, works in shelters, etc. They are engaged in the world around them, and working actively to make that world better, both in and out of uniform. And they don't brag. They just do what they feel is right, and take pleasure in helping. The work itself is reward enough.

There's also an element of found family to Power Rangers that appeals. A group of teens brought together by circumstance, who share a close bond as comrades-in-arms. They lift each other up, encourage each other, and push each other to improve themselves. They care for one another deeply. While we do see parents on rare occasions, and mention is made of them getting permission to do things, the parents are largely absent, unless the story requires. Kimberley's last ten or so episodes before she left dealt with her divorced mom remarrying and moving across the world to Paris, France. Aisha, the current Yellow Ranger, spoke with her parents and asked them if Kim could live with them until the end of school. While this was a big change for Kimberley, the fact that Aisha was there for her, and her parents were so welcoming, made the transition much easier for Kim. Her friends, her found family, supported whatever she wanted to do, just as she did for them.

There's a lot to unpack in Power Rangers is what I'm saying. It was there in the new movie, too. But in a long-form long-running TV show, it's easier to look for and notice trends. And the characters stay with you longer. To the kids watching, they become a kind of family. I've been reading interviews and articles about the original cast, and David Yost, the original Blue Ranger, mentioned that he's spoken with people for whom Power Rangers was the One Good Thing they had growing up. That Power Rangers taught them about kindness and discipline and helping people. It kept them going when they'd otherwise give up. And that, more than the silly monsters or giant robots, is the true legacy of the Power Rangers. And why late 30s me is an unabashed, unashamed fan of the series in all of its iterations.

Do I laugh at it? Do I mock the cheesy effects? Yep. I mock from love. I cheer at good triumphing over evil, I get emotional when long-running characters leave, but in the end, I adore what ends up on-screen.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: contemplative
20 September 2017 @ 04:27 pm
I've submitted my paperwork for ending my FMLA absence. It's been approved by both my doctor and my employer. I start back on Monday, with a restriction about lifting 15 pounds at most. I am ecstatic. I miss going into work and seeing my students every day. I miss all the questions, the ups and downs, the looks of understanding and the looks of confusion. I miss seeing my colleagues. I miss my clubs. I want my life back properly.

I think I handled this long-term absence pretty well. I've had strong communication with my sub. We've emailed and texted every day. I've been able to more-or-less keep up with how my students are doing. I only see work once a week, but I think I have a good idea of where they are right now, and the types of things I'll need to work with them on in more detail when I go back. I've made sure to rest, eat well, and exercise. I've gone out more and more these last two weeks. I went out on my own again yesterday for a few hours, and while I was tired, sitting in traffic will make anyone tired.

I'll be back in time for the NHS Induction ceremony, which makes me happy. I have no idea who our new inductees are at all. I haven't seen a finalized list. I should ask my co-adviser for one - at least for my portion of the newbies, so I can add them to my roster.

I went in on Monday morning with my wife, to drop off the folder of graded assignments in person. One of my Anime girls was sitting in the office when we came in, and her face just lit up when she saw me. I had to tell her it was still one more week, and she seemed sad. I've missed those kids so much, too. Seeing her made me light up. Seeing my sub and my classroom, walking through the halls, all of it. It felt right. I got to see my department chair, and my other Latin colleague in the building, and that made me feel better as well. We left before the bell, so I didn't see any other students, but it was good to be back for just that little bit. It took away some of my stress, surprisingly. That'll change once I'm back and pick up my duties again, I know. But for now, it was a good feeling.

So, for the last few days before I go back, I'm working on things for my level 3 class. I know we'll have things to catch up on, but I want to be able to start back up with the new chapter (they've got a quiz on Friday for the current one). We can do pick-up activities with the new material to make sure they've got a handle on the concepts from earlier.

I hope my kids are as excited as I am that I'm coming back. I've missed them all so much.
Current Music: "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors
Current Location: home
Current Mood: bouncy
17 September 2017 @ 08:30 pm
My wife went to visit her parents this weekend, and to help them learn their way around their new smartphones. My in-laws are now officially head of my parents in the updated tech department. So, I was left on my own this weekend. This is the first time I've been on my own for longer than a few hours since my surgery, so it was a good test/predictor of how I'm doing.

Verdict? Success!

I spent all day yesterday cleaning, and I mean cleaning. I scrubbed, scoured, mopped, dusted, etc. I worked in 45 minute chunks, and took 20 minutes to rest after each chunk of cleaning. I think I did 7 or 8 chunks overall of cleaning yesterday. I was tired, but not exhausted or completely wiped by the end of it.

What did I clean? I did the kitchen - dishes, counters, cleaned out-of-date stuff away, swept, spot-mopped (which turned into all-mop), and dusted. Everything but the top of the fridge. Because that's a bit too much dust for me to tackle right now. I shredded everything in the shred bag. I took three bags of garbage and all the miscellaneous cardboard boxes out to the bins. Four trips up and down the stairs, carrying heavy things. I put books away, and cleaned the dining table/desk, and the top of the coffee table. I put various things that were out of place back in place, and gathered all the plastic bags to take to school and recycle. During all this, the soundtrack to Descendants 2 was my friend. I know I'm stronger, because I could sing along while cleaning for the majority of the tasks.

In my breaks, I colored, messed around online, worked on my bullet journal. I also made myself tiny video diaries - maybe 3 minutes at the longest - reflecting on the work I'd done, because I like playing with the camera on my laptop.

Today was schoolwork day. I graded three classes' worth of papers - this is a week's worth for each class (though it's only about 3 assignments per class), put all the grades into my school's learning management system, and then got the marking period totals for each student, since grades are due at the beginning of this week. I input those based on what I have right now - there's always the chance a student will email me a photo or a typed paper, but it's not a guarantee. I also binged a bunch of season 2 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Netflix. I have a long-term goal to watch all the Power Rangers' series, from the beginning. I like when I can binge, because it's formulaic enough that I can multitask. So I can input grades while watching (but not actually grade). I can clean while watching, or color, or mess around on my phone. I've also been doing the usual Sunday laundry.

My wife got home around 5:30. We've been having a nice evening together. But we both agree that getting back to a normal routine will be welcome. She needs to have her alone time in the house as well.

So, when does my normal schedule resume? Sometime the last week of the month. I'm talking to the FMLA coordinator at my GYN-ONC office tomorrow to see about getting the paperwork in. Ideally, I'd like to go back on a Monday, so I can have the whole week. My mom thinks I should try for Wednesday, instead, so I can ease myself back into the schedule. I'm just worried I'm going to be clawing at the walls if I wait too long, and that going back later will be more detrimental for my students.

That, and I just really miss them all. Grading their papers today drove that home hardcore. I could picture each of them, and their quirks and seat-sprawls. Talking to them online helps, but it isn't the same.

All in all, this was a nice, relaxing weekend. Busy, but not frenetic. I did things at my pace on my schedule, and made sure to build in time for non-chore things. I exercised, I read, I sat around to think and reflect, I doodled and colored. Definitely feeling rested and ready for the week.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: accomplished
15 September 2017 @ 08:51 pm
Last weekend, I found one of those dot-journals on clearance at Walmart for $5.00. The kind that look like graph paper, but with only the four corner dots to mark the squares (like a whole journal made for playing snake). I've been reading about and seeing examples of bullet journals for a while now, so I decided to pick this up and give the whole bullet-journal-thing a try.

The concept is awesome. Make an index/table of contents at the front - just like I ask my students to do in their Latin notebooks - and fill in each topic as you go. Ideally, the first set-up after the index pages is what's called a Future Log - basically a self-created calendar grid for the number of months you want/need to make note of right away, not counting the current month. The creator of this type of journaling makes a 6-month grid on a 2-page spread. I've done mine with the same grid, but I'm allotting two spaces per month - so quarterly planning. Anything I need beyond that, I'm writing in December's grid, so I can add it to the next Future Log I make.

From here, there's a Monthly Log (write the dates down the page in a column and make short notes about important things happening on the day), a Monthly Goals page (the other half of the 2-page spread), and then the Daily Logs. It works like a planner, but there's no set amount of space, so you can take as much or as little as you need. There are also notations used to show a task versus a note versus an appointment, and markers to indicate importance, research, and the like. Everything else is called a collection, and the collection idea is amazing.

Collections are lists, notes, writings, etc, all on the same topic. And if you run out of space, you find a new page, even if there's stuff between. When you write down the heading of your topic, it goes in your index, and the page number goes to the right, so you can find every page related to the topic. Headers and indexing are what hold the entire thing together.

I've been using this method for five days now, and I'm really enjoying it. Is it "Pinstagram" pretty? Nope. But it's functional, which is the whole point. And I can doodle or try making cute headers or dividers and such as I go. I wanted to actually get started using it first, because I can get very easily distracted trying to make something pretty, and end up missing the point of the thing.

So, what's in my bullet journal? The basics, along with a key at the front of all the notations I'm using, to start with. I write down the tasks and stuff I want to get done each day, and I have space to make notes. I've made notes of the days my mom called me, or that I ran into a former student at the store. I made notes today about the problems we had trying to do a chat with Google Hangouts with my students. We ended up doing audio-only...on their end. They could see and hear me, but I could only hear them. I've made a note in my future log to ask my GYN-Oncologist about something at my next follow-up, based on something my sister's GYN asked her today. I've also got a habit tracker on my monthly pages, and I'm coloring in little boxes for every day I get a certain amount of rest, I exercise, and I do schoolwork.

As for the collections? I have one of current podcasts - that is a long list! I have one of contact info for each of my doctors, one for the work we want to do to the bathroom this month, one for books I read this month, one for what I want to do this weekend while my wife is visiting her parents, one for our podcast, one for my current OTPs, and one for Nanowrimo Prep.

I've watched several videos, both on the official bullet journal website, and that I've found through pinterest recs, and really do think this is something that will work for me. Only having one book is nice. And I'm used to taking notes next to tasks, thanks to how I set up my lesson plan notebook for work. We shall see how this pans out over the next few months, but I'm feeling confident.
Current Mood: productive
Current Location: home
13 September 2017 @ 11:31 am
I love my long-term sub, don't get me wrong. She is doing me a HUGE favor by taking my kids while I recover from surgery. She knows little Latin, but she's working hard, and the kids are being super-understanding and trying their best, and it's all well and good.


It's been difficult to get any actual work done during the time I set aside for doing schoolwork. I spend an hour answering emails - from my sub, my students, parents, asking permission to forward IEP information to my sub, since I'm not there to fill it out, and that stuff is classified, etc.

I'm also not sure how exactly the class pacing is going. I left a pacing guide for my sub, along with ideas, etc. for class, a key for the notes, a choice board of activities the kids could do to show understanding (or not) of the readings. But my classes have each only completed one quiz so far for the marking period (which ends Friday). They're taking a second quiz this week, but we've decided not to count it on this marking period, since there's no time for retakes, with the schedule being what it is. I get my folder of work on Fridays, and it goes back to school on Mondays. That's it. I see things on the weekend, and have to intuit.

I'm also answering a lot of questions I feel like I've explained already. It gets frustrating. Not from the kids - that I expect. But, my sub is a working professional who came highly recommended by others in my department. Good with kids, a quick study, hard-working. And I'm finding things not quite as promised. I am hoping my fellow Latin colleague was able to help them this morning. My colleague has offered, several times, both in my hearing and via email cced to me, to help my sub if they had any questions about material, grammar, etc. My colleague doesn't want me worrying about school - she's told me so every time we've spoken. But I can't not worry, since this is affecting not only the comprehension levels of my kids, but the pacing of my class, and the routines of my class.

I'm not sure what to plan for when I go back, because I have no clue where my classes will be. They won't be at the intended points; that I do know. I'm worried my kids this term will be short-changed for their next level of study. But, at the moment, there's not a whole lot I can do.

The plan of going back the last week of the month still stands. So I've got a week and a half to continue building my stamina, and working to come back prepared and ready to step in wherever the kids happen to be, and go from there. I can do this.
Current Mood: frustrated
Current Location: home
10 September 2017 @ 09:32 pm
I've gone out both days this weekend to go shopping. Each day, I ended up tired and napping on the drive home, but I was able to walk around (with breaks) for a couple of hours. Today I stayed out longer than yesterday, which I attribute to the types of places we went.

First up today was the pharmacy, which was a quick in-and-out. Then, we went to Staples, which was having a sale on office supplies. They were also having chair sale, meaning all the office chairs were out and scattered around the store. So, when I got tired, I could sit down and rest. We got lunch at Tropical Smoothie after we finished at Staples, which was also good, since it was sitting and food. I overdid things at Michaels, where we went for yarn and other crafty supplies, so I ended up going to a nearby Bed Bath and Beyond to sit down for a bit. Then, we walked around that store for a bit, before heading home.

I have a routine I'm planning to start tomorrow, so that I can build up my stamina. I need to get back to work by the end of September, and while today was a good measure of where I am now, where I am now isn't where I need to be.

So, here's to a new routine.
Current Mood: cheerful