I have lovely new soffits, which have appropriate venting that I can actually see. The roofing owner mentioned that this would be one of the features of the new stuff. Now if I had gutters and pressured washed all the cobwebs off the house it might look normal. Though all the trim needs painted. Sigh.

Supposed to be another week or two before I get the gutters replaced. Another exciting odyssey. At least they cleaned up very well today. Even swept the front porch clean of all the garbage that fell when the soffits were ripped down. I can’t tell whether the plumber was here today. Nothing has really been moved that I can see. Who knows. I could go out to the garage for the step ladder and see if I can see up in the attic well enough to figure it out, but I’m not sure it’s worth the possibility of knocking more insulation down.

I added some images to the NCTE Halloween Party gallery and added captions so people who explore have more of a shot at knowing what they’re looking at. Adobe is my friend. Otherwise, I am very dull and boring.

The unauthorized exposé is here:
NCTE Halloween Party. Yes, I know that you all never believed me when I said this happens. Now you have photographic proof.

The dumpster was gone when I got home from the office; so I get to park back by the garage again. But who knows what they’ll come up with tomorrow, so I’m leaving the car outside so that they know I’ll need out. No evidence that the plumber was here. Maybe s/he was very tidy.

Today was a day of much more prom wear. In addition to all the dresses, the office now has bins of makeup and jewelry and other accessories. There was a pre-party meeting this afternoon to coordinate and make sure everyone had what they needed. I’ve pretty much figured out that nothing is going to get accomplished tomorrow. It’s party stuff most of the day.

I found a cute shirt for my niece, the panda lover (Thank you Wonkette). Yes, I was off-task at work today too.

I’ve been working on a Grapes of Wrath lesson plan. I’ve gathered a lot of Web sites into a travelogue, with some specific questions, as a prereading activity. After the exploration, they predict some of the themes that the novel will explore before diving in.

Frappr was just posted on the TAWL list. They’re using it to map the locations of list members, but it got me to thinking of lesson options. Students mapping their extended families. Mapping literary authors. Mapping important locations for a historical period (e.g., the Dust Bowl).

So I got to thinking about a Flash interactive that allowed us to pass whatever background we need via xml. Students choose locations for the markers and write associated descriptive text. In ways it’s just an annotation tool. Perhaps the background could be a graphic of a Shakespearean sonnet, and the markers are features in the text that the student is explaining.

I think the functionality would be relatively simple to develop, because we have tools that do similar things. Dragging the bubbles and creating related text is no different in function than dragging the text tags for the Venn or Plot Diagram. The background could be passed with xml, as we pass in text for the Guided Tour. Or at the worst, we’d have subfolders for each new version (a la the Graphic Map).

I’m hoping to investigate the options on this. Could be a cool tool that wouldn’t take long to develop.

The owner of the roofing company just came to my door. Apparently my soffit is shot, and the facia (?) that it should connect to wasn’t properly done in the first place. $600. He showed me places where someone had tried to use drywall screws to hold the soffit in place.

Before this discussion, I had no idea what a soffit was (“the exposed underside of any overhead component of a building”), let alone that I owned one. I still don’t know how to spell facia. Thank you, Google. It appears to be fascia (not “a thick band of fiberous tissue” but “a horizontal band or board, often used to conceal the ends of rafters; the front of an object”).

He promises that is the last thing. I told him I wasn’t letting him in the house because he was gonna find something else. The plumber is supposed to come at the end of the day to work on the dropped pipe/vent. I’m okay with someone working on the roof while I’m not here, but it’s creepy to have someone in the house while I’m gone. I’m trying to breathe and avoid anxiety. The plumber is probably going to find 15 more broken things. Why did I move far away from family handyhelpers and buy my own house?

I swear there are monkeys involved in this roofing project. You’d think that propping a ladder up against a house required a degree in astrophysics for the noise and nonsense going on outside my window. Hell, I looked out the window. They saw me, of course; but the bigger issue is that they dropped the ladder. How the hell do guys who do this for a living drop a ladder when they try to prop it up against a house? Now I could certainly drop a ladder, because I don’t know what I’m doing; but this is a roofing company with their name on a sign out in my front yard…

While the roofing today was clearly, um, a different event, the strangest event of the day may have been the prom and bridesmaid dresses strewn all over the office. Several folks, including Lisa, are going to do 80s prom for the Halloween Party Friday. I’ve never seen so many crinolines, and there was puffy fabric everywhere. There’s still fabric everywhere. It looks like everyone was playing dress up, which, let’s face it, they were.

I’m bah humbug and not participating. Where would we find a formal gown to fit me? Especially a formal gown from the 80s. I never went to any dance, so I don’t have these dresses in the back of my closet. Everyone seems to assume that everyone else goes to the prom and has ugly bridesmaid’s dresses around. That has never been my life. The only dances I ever went to, I went alone. I think I remember 2. Once in junior high, when I really had no idea what I was supposed to be there for. Once in high school, when I collected money and tickets at the door and did various set-up things as a student government member, because I was one of the losers who wasn’t already occupied with a real life. I have such a stupid life when you really look at the details.

The number one link in last week’s Inbox was English “Must Reflect Technology”—an article that I found in the BBC and passed along to the newsletter’s News section editors. I forgot to mention it here though. Silly me.

The article examines a research report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which argues that “English in schools must adapt to reflect the use of text messaging and communication via new technologies.” I’d say American schools might want to pay attention too.


I know that a school can place limits on what students can write. I have personally asked that students avoid some topics at various points in my career (e.g., please don’t write about abortion). I learned eventually that there were better, and easier, ways to avoid those sorts of papers, of course.

That kind of limiting seems completely different from the new censorship move at Pope John XIII Regional High School. As “Principal curbs kids’ Internet activity” from Asbury Park Press Online explains, students are being forbidden to blog in school OR AT HOME:

Effective immediately, and over student complaints, the teens were told to dismantle their Myspace.com accounts or similar sites with personal profiles and blogs. Defy the order and face suspension, students were told.

That’s right. Students’ independent, out-of-school activity is being limited by the school they attend. My hope? My making the act of writing illegal the school will turn them all into prolific bloggers. Viva la résistance!

Roofing people are crawling all over. There is a lot of heavy dropping of things up on the roof. The whole house rumbles. My own mini-earthquake. I’m expecting the windows to all be broken by the end of the day. I think this is all just the truck that’s putting all the shingles up there, but I have this fear of people falling through my roof. I’d call it an irrational fear, but well, they’ve already dropped things through the ceiling.