2019.03 minutiae

  • This is genius.  Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing shares his research: panels from the foundational issues of the original Hulk comic, tagged to highlight running themes and comment on individual moments.  No bonus points for guessing what I will be having my students do when they start in on a graphic novel after the break.

  • Speaking of which, once again, the reason I have disappeared from these internets is that my teacher credentialing program takes up every last moment of my time—​the only reason I’m able to bang this out is that it’s finally spring break and I’m putting off starting in on my edTPA.  This program has been a grueling experience that I will be very glad to see come to an end; the encouraging thing is that the parts I actually like are the ones that constitute the actual job.  While I don’t like the fact that I generally end up doing it at two in the morning while my alarm is set to go off at six, I do like lesson planning and putting together worksheets—​for instance, a few weeks ago I collected the core directives of several religious traditions for students to look over, then had them come up with and write out justifications for their own sets of commandments.  And while there are good days and bad, on balance the teaching is fun as well.  I mean, I bet that at your job you don’t often find yourself saying things like, “Yes, Kassidy, you can accept the tenets of Satanism as your own, but you have to explain why a Satanic society is the ideal fit for you.” 

  • One nice thing about going to high school in a different district from the one where I went to elementary school and junior high was that my high school classmates didn’t remember me as a small child.  (It was bad enough that they remembered me at age twelve.)  I always thought it was weird that so many of my classmates had grown up together and remembered each other from when they were all tiny.  But it turns out that things are an order of magnitude weirder today, because my students have more than just memories—​they all have pictures and video of each other’s childhoods in their pockets.  Facebook has been around long enough that all those baby pictures I saw when I actually kept up with Facebook now belong to teenagers who taunt each other by showing them to each other.  “Hey, remember how you wore this shirt every day back in first grade?” “Shut up!”

  • Of course, these days I spend a lot of time with someone whose students won’t be in first grade for a couple of years.  A while back she mentioned that for Black History Month her class would be doing a unit on African-American inventors, and mentioned a few of the inventors her lesson plans would feature.  I wondered why George Washington Carver wasn’t on the list.  She patiently explained that George Washington Carver was a non‑starter because these days if you bring a peanut into a preschool half the kids will instantly drop dead.

  • Gah, it just occurred to me that all of my students are younger than Crango.

  • My school email is provided by Google, meaning that for the first time I am encountering Gmail gimmicks such as suggested replies.  A student wrote in to ask for an extension on an assignment; when I pointed out that the assignment wasn’t due for another week, the student wrote back, “Phew! I was really nervous.”  Here are Google’s suggested replies:

    What do you think—​bad programming, or socially inept programmers?

  • On that topic: for a piece of technology that costs more than some cars, you would think the least the manufacturer could do would be to add a single line of code to prevent this:

  • Most trash disposal areas around here now require you to divide what you’re about to throw away into compost (food scraps and paper products), recycling (glass, metal, plastics), and actual trash.  But what does that leave as examples of garbage?  Here’s what the sign on the Ferry Building suggested:

    Because apparently we live in a world in which an artist tasked with making a sign like this thought, “What would be something that, were you to find it in your possession, you would automatically toss into the trash?”, and decided that the natural answer was “a compact disc”.

  • At least the trash can people put some thought into their graphic rather than sticking up the first stock photo they could find.  Would that the web designers for the specialist I had to see about my damaged front tooth could say the same—​here’s one of the graphical links they posted on the “Treatments” page:

  • For years the Republicans have been trying to win votes with the promise that if they were in control they’d reduce tax forms to the size of a postcard, and it looks like they’ve finally followed through, sort of.  The new 1040 is indeed shorter—​but only because the parts that made it longer have been separated out into Schedules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, joining the pre-existing lettered schedules and numbered forms.  I guess the idea is that you can skip the schedules that don’t apply to you… but you still have to pull them up to see whether they apply to you, and chances are good that a lot of them will.  My taxes are pretty straightforward but I still had to file Schedules 1, 2, 3, 4, C, and SE, as well as Forms 8863 and 8962.  Meaning that instead of filing a few full pages I had to print out a bunch of pages that had a few lines at the top but were otherwise blank.  And what was at the bottom of all these wasted pages?  Why, a cheerful note about compliance with “Paperwork Reduction Act”, of course!

  • Also, someone at the IRS has been slipping fan fiction into the instructions.  Like, did you see the explanation for line 9 of the 8962?  “Henry enrolled himself, his spouse Cara, and their two dependent children, Heidi and Matt, in a policy for 2018 purchased through a Marketplace. APTC was paid on behalf of each. The couple divorced on June 30.”  It gets weirder from there, as the IRS goes on to detail how Henry gets custody of Heidi while Cara takes care of Matt.  Will this damage the kids’ sibling bond?  Had Heidi been feuding with her mother?  Do they have any pets, and if so, were they divvied up as well?  Were Henry and Cara at least married for longer than Keith and Stephanie from page 16, who marry at the beginning of 2018 but divorce in July of the same year?  When Nancy from page 17 flees her abusive husband Kevin but is then expected to enter his Social Security number on line 30(b), is she just supposed to have it memorized, or does the IRS expect her to go back to ask about it and risk another beating?

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