Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dear God: If You Make it Snow and Stick to the Roadsurfaces...

The End of February is a magical time of year for all school teachers, a time where we all spend about 1/2 of all non-teaching hours at Orbitz mapping out our Summer Vacations. Yes we love our jobs. Yes we are passionate about student learning and the subjects we teach. And yes, we dig the hell out of those Summers off.

Many non-teachers complain about the fact that we get 12-13 weeks off every Summer, and it is an unspoken rule in the teaching fraternity not to gloat too much about our Summers off. Well, I'm gloating. I'm committing full-blown gloaticide, gloatbezzlement and gloatortion. Summers off rock and we teachers and everybody in Europe get them.

And no I don't think it's fair. I have a pet theory about the American psyche, one that says a sizable portion of our collective rage and violence could be ameliorated if everybody got Summers off. We should try it as a culture just once, and until that legislation passes I urge my non-teacher friends to give it a shot. Take the Summer off. You'll never go back, even if it means a few more ramen dinners and a newfound love for cheaper bottles of wine, the ones on the lowest rack at Jubilation.

The scene over at Orbitz is pretty ugly this year. Prices are higher and there seem to be more overseas flights with 20 hour layovers than I remember from past late-February Orbitz binges. As the Europeans don't really get started with vacation until late June, prices don't really spike until that time in many markets. That's got some teachers thinking of heading off at the end of May, right smack after the ending of the school year.

Which gets me to "Snow Days". If education and much of our society was really "all about the kids" we as a nation would put a stop to Global Warming (hell, the U.S. causes 25% of the problem, minimum) if for no other reason than to maintain the cherished childhood ritual of Snow Days.

Adults, think back to your own childhood and I'm betting most of your attempts at some sort of religious connection to God from ages 7-15 were spent praying for snow on a school night. Of course the kids nascent religious practices haven't changed, but in Albuquerque at least, those prayers are now going unanswered at a climatologically unprecendented rate.

Since I began teaching in 1993, the number of APS Snow Days has plummeted to the point of non-existence. The term "Snow Days" is one step from the Museum of Dead Language, along with "Close-n-Play" "Lotus 1-2-3" and "put on my turn signal".

What's this got to do with my late-February Orbitz obsession? Well, APS scheduling tacks two days on every school calendar year as make-up for Snow Days. Taking a day off from teaching is always discouraged, but taking the last day or two off of a school year is considered extremely bad form. But Orbitz is showing that I can save $300 on a flight to one of the 125 cities I am currently considering for a vacation if I book the outbound flight on one of the Snow Days.

It's almost the end of February. What's the chance of a Snow Day? We haven't had a full Snow Day since when, 2002? I can't remember. Last year just when it seemed a Snow Day would never come we had some freakish mid-day snow event that led a panicking APS to declare a half-day Snow Day. But those don't count as Snow Days on the calendar.

Oh, the strategizing. When it comes down to it, if you have to bet you simply have to go with the overwhelming favorite and bet on there not being a Snow Day. I mean, what are the odds? It's a depressing bet to place, though. We teachers were once kids once, and even as adults we in the teaching fraternity have another unwritten rule that we're not supposed to admit how much we love Snow Days. God we love them. Especially if they happen during Testing. Don't even get us started on Testing.

The upshot is that I'm placing my bet on no Snow Day, well probably. I still have about 125 more flight combinations to obsess over at Orbitz before placing my final wager.

Update: Alert reader Evan has pointed out that APS DID have a Snow Day last year, which was confirmed by a post at NewMexiKen from March 15, 2005. Given my slipping mental recall, I think I'll need to make sure I write down everything here at the blog as a way to force myself to remember. Note to self one: You ate too much cake today and almost threw up. Don't forget that months from now. Stop eating so much cake.


Evan said...

Sorry to call you on this one, Scot, but we had a Snow Day last year, remember? It was the day after you told us film "O.G.'s" to go film a winter scene if we ever wanted to have one. It was quite fun, too....all that white stuff....

frannyzoo said...

Evan: I'm racking my brains but I can't remember having a whole day last year. I'll take your word for it, as I'm old and increasingly senile. I think I might have to start posting notes all over myself ala "Momento" in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, I'm still on the fence on plopping a couple of thousand dollars on plane tickets, and news that we did have one (whether true or not) has me vacillating even more.

Anonymous said...

"Stop eating so much cake."

This is one of the most cleverly disguised post-modernist criticisms of the bourgoise proletariat I have seen in a long time.

frannyzoo said...

If there is anything we're all about here, it's subtlety. That and unintended interpretations...which is a fancy way of saying I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Nice post, anonymous, can I use it on the book blurb?