Phone it in Friday XXVII: Virtual Learning Hurricane Holiday

Hurricane Ian has been battering Florida, and South Carolina should be experiencing the effects of said battering today, albeit to a vastly diminished degree.  The weather is calling for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing that seems (to me, anyway) particularly dangerous.  I just wouldn’t recommend hanging out underneath any old trees.

Naturally, the slightest degree of inclemency prompts the shuttering of all operations for those of us in the cushier fields like education.  Fear of the “L Word”—Liability—means my administration has opted to close the school today, lest some witless teen driver find himself, wheels spinning, in a watery ditch.

Of course, in this post-The Virus era—here in The Days After The Age of The Virus—there are no longer inclement weather “holidays,” as there were in The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago.  Now we can hop seamlessly online, teaching and learning from the comfort of our couches.

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Phone it in Friday XXV: Spooktacular 2022 T-Shirts

The 2022 Spooktacular is coming up on Saturday, 15 October 2022, which means it’s time to have some t-shirts made up.

This year, I’m debating between two designs:

The white image is a vampire playing a bass guitar (which he is apparently hypnotizing).  The caption on the bottom reads “Blood-Suckingly Spooky Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

The yellow image is a spider whose legs make up notes on a treble clef staff.  His caption reads “Venomously Good Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

The vampire could also be made yellow (or any other color).

So, I’m asking readers for your input:  which design do you prefer?  I’ll probably only make one this year, and I’ll use reader feedback to decide which one to order.

Thanks for voting!

—TPP

Phone it in Friday XXIII: School’s Back!

School’s back, baby!  We resumed classes Wednesday, 17 August 2022, a full sixteen days after the poor unfortunates in my county’s public schools resumed (they started back on Monday, 1 August 2022; while the school district has transitioned to a “semi-year-round schedule,” as they call it, it still seems borderline criminal to start school that early).

Just like last Friday’s post, I’m actually filing this one early; indeed, I’m writing it the day before school resumes.  As such, I can’t comment on how this first, abbreviated week has gone, but I can give some insights into what we’re planning on doing, and how I’ve prepared for the start of this year.

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Phone it in Friday XXII: Malmsteenian Excess

This morning I’m recovering from a late night of rockin’ out to the neoclassical metal strains of Yngwie Malmsteen.  At least, I’m assuming I’m recovering—I’m filing this post a day before the concert.

As such, a complete review of the post will be coming next week at some point.  I can only assume the concert was incredible, and that Yngwie showed up on stage, on time.  It’s not the 1980s anymore, so I doubt he pulled any Guns N’ Roses antics and showed up on stage two hours late, but who knows?  If so, you’ll know more next week!

Yngwie Malmsteen championed neoclassical metal back in the 1980s with his band Rising Force.  He revived Baroque and classical works and played them on electric guitar, which is pretty awesome if you just think about it for a second.

Naturally, his sheer technical brilliance gave him a huge head, and that ego was only slightly deflated when he suffered injuries in a car accident that made it difficult for him to play.  To his immense credit—and to our musical delight—he relearned to play, building back the strength and dexterity necessary to ascend to the level of guitar god.

So, since I’m writing this before the concert, I thought I’d share some clips of Malmsteen rockin’ out in his distinctively technical way.

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Phone it in Friday XXI: Gratuitous Back-to-Work Self-Promotion Bonanza!

Well, it’s not Bandcamp Friday, but it is the first Friday of the month, and my first day back to work.  Why not celebrate both “occasions” with some shameless self-promotion?

You might say, “Well, because no one wants to read an ad,” but all I hear is, “Take my money, Portly—please!”

Here are the goods:

If enough of y’all buy my stuff, I might be able to retire… or just not have to work quite so much.

Eh, who am I kidding?  I’ll still do that.

Thank you for your support!

—TPP

Phone it in Friday XX: Miscellaneous Late July Update

By this time next Friday, I’ll be back at the grind, starting with some teacher meetings.  The public schools in my area have shifted to a semi-year-round schedule, so those unfortunates will start classes on Monday, 1 August 2022.  Yikes!  That means teachers in the public schools have already been back, which doesn’t seem right.  No one besides an administrator or grounds crew should be darkening the door of a schoolhouse in July.

Of course, heading back on 5 August 2022 seems pretty dang early in my book.  I notice that my school keeps inching up the return time for faculty a bit more each year.  I’m still a tad baffled as to why they want us to start back on a Friday.  Classes won’t resume until Wednesday, 17 August 2022, though, so I still have a little time before I really hit the ground running.

The news cycle remains slow, it seems—just more of the usual bad news.  As I am writing this post, I’ve spent nearly $400 in gasoline (petrol, for my British readers) this month in a car that gets around 32 miles per gallon.  Granted, I’ve been keeping the road hot with lessons and seeing my new lady friend, but, goodness, something has got to give.

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TBT^2: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

The Virus is like a bad movie series that just refuses to die.  There was a controversial but impactful first release that everyone was talking about, even if they didn’t see it.  Then there was the lackluster sequel, which still enjoyed some popular support, even though ticket sales were down.

Now it feels like we’re on the tired third film, which is a watered-down, ineffectual finale (one hopes) to a premise that is played out.  Sure, critics love it, but audiences are tired of its antics.

What still seems to make it into the script of every one of these films is the part where the government bureaucrats lock everything down and release a bunch of ghosts into Manhattan (uh, wait, what?).  Meanwhile, we all kind of sit by and twiddle our thumbs and put our masks on dutifully.

What happened to the band of merry wastrels who tossed tea into Boston Harbor, rather than comply with an odious monopolization of the tea trade?  Or the plucky scofflaws who made it impossible to enforce the Stamp Act?  I’d rather disguise myself as an Indian (feather, not dot) and caffeinate the water supply than put a mask on again (but that would be cultural appropriation, of course).

In short, why don’t we get a backbone, instead of cowering behind masks and locking ourselves indoors?  We’re literally cowering before an invisible enemy with a 99%+ survival rate.

Well, liberty is never easy.  Better to stay inside watching movies and disconnecting from reality, eh?

With that, here is 29 July 2021’s “TBT: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus“:

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Phone it in Friday XIX: 1300

It’s been over a year since the last Phone it in Friday, which I take as a good sign that I’ve been providing quality content on Fridays—or at least new content on Fridays—instead of simply offering up self-indulgent rehashes of past posts and various minor reflections.

In that post—“Phone it in Friday XVIII: Writing“—I wrote that “I keep thinking 1000 posts will be a good time to give the blog a rest and to reduce my output, but who knows if I’ll be able to stop?”

Well, I hit 1000 300 posts ago, and I’m still truckin’.

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TBT: Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day

Well, it’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but I thought it would be worth looking back to 2020’s Valentine’s Day post, which was mostly a collection of various blog posts and reflections on the holiday.

I’m still wondering how Jay Nordlinger gets to travel the world writing pithy little observations about violin concertos and the like.  How do I position myself to take his place when he finally retires or kicks the bucket?  Who else is going to critique all those free concerts in Vienna?

But I digress.  The Season of Love is upon us, and I suspect restaurants will be packed this weekend with lovers canoodling over their cannoli (or, in the case of the high number of breakups on Valentine’s Day than average, crying into their kishka).  Sounds like another weekend of frozen pizza and spaghetti for yours portly.

So, here’s some great stuff from better writers to celebrate your Valentine’s Day Weekend.  It’s 14 February 2020’s “Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day“:

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