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Usually, I have a few ideas floating around in my mind about upcoming columns. As long as two of them are in the queue, I feel comfortable. I’ve been a bit uncomfortable the past week. I’m not sure what to write about this week. I’ve always made it a goal to try and focus on one topic, but this week might need to involve some meandering around the corners of my brain. Let’s see where that leads us, shall we? Turn on your flashlights!

Illness seems to be running rampant everywhere. If your family hasn’t had at least one person laid out by some nasty cold or flu bug yet, consider yourself lucky. Michelle and I have both had horrid colds, Anton had what might have been a mild version of influenza, and even Jayna has had a couple days of trying to drag herself to school and practice.

Why so much sickness this year? It does seem to be worse than it has been for some time. One reason could be the weird temperature patterns. Snow, freezing, thawing, 50s in February, then freezing again. All of these add up to germs getting stronger earlier as well as people not always dressing appropriately for the (still) cold temps overall. Plus, my dad has been warning for years that all our antibacterial soap has been making the bugs stronger through evolution. They have to change to survive all the cleaning we do, and that might be showing now. Even people who get the flu shot have been suffering from that illness.

It’s been difficult to keep track of who’s absent in my classes on certain days. There have been many times in the past few weeks where I have double digit numbers gone per grade in a day. And for many kids, they’re out for 3-5 days. It’s been tough sledding to plow ahead with our curriculum and try to catch those kids up who are absent once they return.

This is one area I really appreciate technology and parents and/or students who are willing to communicate with teachers. I have some students who are caught up once they return (or very close) because I’ve been able to enlighten them when they request work. It makes things a lot easier on the students and the teachers if this can happen. Some kids are so sick for a couple days that they can’t even think about that, but I’m appreciative of those who are able to do even a portion of their work.

Along these lines, I’m trying something new with communication. I’m using my Twitter account (@MrD1973) to post educational updates. I’ll have reminders about upcoming assignments or events so any student or parent who follows me will also be kept up to date. As we move toward an age where some people rarely check their email and don’t answer a phone call from a number they don’t recognize, this is another try at keeping people in the loop.

Communication should be easier than ever, but I recognize that some folks are tuned only to updates on Twitter or Facebook or some other social media service, thus this move toward using a platform I hadn’t really utilized in the past. I don’t yet have a smart phone, so being linked to all my social media only happens when I’m in front of my computer or iPad. And I’m okay with that.

I know it’s difficult for Jayna to ignore her phone when it beeps while she’s driving. I asked her once if she wanted me to check it, and she flatly turned down that offer. That’s all right; she’s focused on her driving. And I’ve been very pleased with her driving. She’s over halfway to the hours of practice she needs prior to attaining her license in September and has come a long way from trying to give me whiplash every time she started or stopped.

She has commented on how boring driving can be, especially if she has to be behind the wheel for an hour or more. Welcome to part of being an adult! What would we do without the radio to keep us entertained? I suppose we’d just have to carry on a conversation. We do have some good talks on our trips home from basketball, critiquing the games and analyzing different situations. Jayna may become a coach yet some day!

It’s been very relaxing to sit on the sidelines this year and not worry about the coaching side of things. It’s not that I never think or say things that I would as a coach, but most of the time I keep my mouth shut during games or only talk to people around me. It’s been fun to watch the kids progress in their skills at a different level, and it’s hard to believe the season for the non-varsity kids is at an end. On to baseball and softball!

Okay, that wasn’t so bad, at least not from my end of the column. Stream of consciousness writing can work, I suppose, when I can find links to jump from one topic to the next. However, I’ll do my best to wrack the other parts of my brain to come up with some good topics for the weeks to come. It might take some more dusting up there, but I’m not completely allergic to cleaning!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is quotidian, which means commonplace or ordinary, as in, “The columnist didn’t want just a quotidian column, so he worked hard to come up with something memorable.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!


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