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Rutabaga

Life Can Be Lonely by Colin Kelly

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Story here:  https://www.codeysworld.com/colinian/life-can-be-lonely/life-can-be-lonely-index.php

I had to do some online research to try to sort out what "block scheduling" and "collaboration" were all about.  I never did figure out "academy period," but it's not essential as long as Kevin and his fellow students can keep track of all the shifting schedules.  

I can't even conceive of what it would be like to experience what Kevin did.  It is encouraging to see how many other people are rising to the occasion.  

R

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On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 8:01 PM, Rutabaga said:

I had to do some online research to try to sort out what "block scheduling" and "collaboration" were all about.  I never did figure out "academy period," but it's not essential as long as Kevin and his fellow students can keep track of all the shifting schedules.  

R

Thanks for your comments about Life Can Be Lonely.

I should have explained about block scheduling, but the best place to add the explanation is in chapter 8 when Keven is explaining it to his cousin Eve.

So, to help members of the AD/CW forum, I've included an excerpt from chapter 8 that explains block scheduling the way it's used in the local high school district here in Walnut Creek, California.

There are many other types of block scheduling that are different; sometimes wildly different and very complicated.

https://www.codeysworld.com/colinian/life-can-be-lonely/life-can-be-lonely-block-schedule.php

Colin  :icon_geek:

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13 hours ago, colinian said:

So, to help members of the AD/CW forum, I've included an excerpt explaining block scheduling the way it's used in the local high school district here in Walnut Creek, California.

https://www.codeysworld.com/colinian/life-can-be-lonely/life-can-be-lonely-block-schedule.php

This really is complicated.  My online investigation found examples where collaboration time occurred at most once a week, and usually not every week (frequently only once a month).  Often the regular classes would dismiss early on those days and collaboration time (for teachers) would occur in the afternoon.  I saw no examples where it was so heavily incorporated in the weekly schedule as in the illustration.

I got no useful results searching for "academy period" or similar terms.  Moreover, the block schedule examples I saw did not contain anything that looked equivalent.  

I agree that it makes things more like college.  The most massive impact, I would think, is on morning bus schedules (if the school system tries to tailor these to the varying start times) and/or on a school's need to find somewhere for kids who get there early to hang out without getting into trouble on the days when the bus delivers them early but classes will not start for a while.  

When I was in first grade (in a Los Angeles school) the bus delivered me fairly early in the morning.  To deal with this, the school had an early morning Spanish class, open to all grades, that I attended.  I still remember the bits of Spanish I learned there, although my main foreign language is now French which I learned after my family moved east the following year.   

On block scheduling in general, apparently there continues to be debate as to whether it is superior to traditional scheduling (all classes in a row every day).  There seem to be schools of thought that certain subjects "stick" better when the students are exposed to them daily.  I would not have minded a more varied schedule, myself.

R

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I welcome regularity in all its forms.  As a kid, I depended upon it.  Fortunately for me my school day, in elementary, middle, and high school all started at the same time every day.  All classes met on the hour for 50 minutes.  If it was 8 or 9 or ten or eleven or noon or one or two or three, you knew that a class would be starting at those times.  I would have gone nuts if every day I had to remember a different schedule.

Of course, since we were a small school all grades from first through 12 were housed within the same building.  The bells that rang rang for everyone.  Elementary students stayed in the same room all day.  Beginning in seventh grade we changed classes (10 minutes) and had lockers in the hall.  In high school classes with labs met for a double period twice or three times a week.  The hour for lunch was long enough for some of us to walk home and back.  School buses all ran at the same time, arriving and departing, and the passengers were mixed first graders through seniors, although many seniors had cars.  We all took care of the younger kids and bullies were soon identified and dealt with.

School size had a lot to do with the success of this approach.  It was sort of the flip side of economy of scale.  Another reason that it worked was because elective courses were few and far between.  Instead we were tracked:  the academic track knew what they would be taking for the four years of high school, as did the commercial track kids and the Future Farmers of America.  Education was way less enlightened than it is today.
Yet, in its own way, the educational system enabled small town America to exist.

Believe me, I am not trying to romanticize this experience.  I believe I got a good education, but I was a privileged child.  I knew I was headed out of town and toward higher education by the time I was in "junior high" (grades 7 and 8).  Others were not so fortunate, but many of the graduates of that high school--we had very few dropouts--remained in that small region to make homes and families and rewarding lives.  We were still, as a nation, a couple of decades away from the loss of innocence of the vietnam era and the great migrations of youth following the Summer of Love.

 

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The four high schools in our school district (Acalanes Union High School District) averaged about 1,750 students. Like most high schools in California, each high school has four grades, nine thru twelve (freshman thru senior). The middle schools and elementary schools did not and do not use this kind of block scheduling.

Most students liked the block scheduling. The only ones to complain were new freshmen.

Most kids rode their bikes or walked to school. I walked because I lived close to school (1.3 miles). Leaving on time to get to school on time was our own responsibility.

There are no school-district sponsored busses in the high school district; the local public bus line (County Connection) schedules allow for high school starting times.

We had to arrive at school by 8:30 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and by 8:00 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But when I was in high school (I graduated in May, 2007) I and most of my friends arranged to leave home so we'd arrive at school by 8:15 AM every day. That way we could stop at the cafeteria and grab something to eat before class (we were teenagers – we were always hungry). If any of us had a meeting with one of our teachers we'd leave earlier to get to school by 7:30 AM or get someone (often a parent on his or her way to work) drop us off.

So block scheduling wasn't a big deal. We coped with it regardless of how we got to school. And we didn't think it was complicated.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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Frankly, I haven't even really bothered myself about the scheduling in the story. It is what it's stated as, and as I'm not going to school there it's not a concern. That said, when I was in Secondary school in the middle 1960's we operated on a 7 day cycle, and many kids hated that each weekday would have a changed lineup every week. You might think that as an aspie I'd be upset, but no; it's just another regular system that only seems random at first. 

I love this story, BTW. 👍👏

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6 hours ago, Trab said:

I love this story, BTW. 👍👏

Thank you, Trab.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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Back in the 60s when I was in school, we had elementary school for K-6, junior high school for 7-8-9, and high school for 10-11-12.  

Except the year I hit 6th grade, the school system was running out of room at the elementary schools, so they assigned the 6th graders from several elementary schools to a brand new junior high school that had just opened.  For that school year only, the junior high school had 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  The following year, everybody there stayed where they were, and we had 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.  

I thought it was very cool to be "with the grownups" at the junior high school in 6th grade, with changing classes, etc.  Also, we got to unpack all the new stuff that had been shipped in for all the classrooms, including all the tools in our Industrial Arts (shop) class.  On the flip side, however, I was more than ready to move out of there by the time I was in 9th grade and enduring my 4th year in the same building.  

The high school I moved on to for 10th grade was also newly built, and had opened the same year as the new junior high school  By the time I arrived their 4 years after it opened, it had already been heavily worn down by the many students (we had more than 1,000 people in each class year).  

A large number of the students came by bus to both the junior and senior high schools.  I lived close enough to walk (or bike) the the junior high school, but the high school was far enough away that many of the kids by my neighborhood took the bus.  I walked sometimes, or caught rides with kids old enough to have a driver's license.  

It would have been interesting to have the elaborate schedule of Kevin's school when I was in high school.  People just didn't even consider such things back in my day.

R

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I don't know why, but I had recurring nightmares as a child about not remembering my schedule in school when we were changing classes instead of staying in one room.  I'd never know what class to go to next in the dreams and would be left out in the empty halls when the bell rang.  That block scheduling would have been a killer for me, at least in my dreams.

My Jr. High and High School grade designations were the same as those of our root vegetable: 7-9 for Jr. High (not middle school), 10-12 for High School.  I doubt many school systems do it that way today, but it seemed very right to me at the time.  Most of my 9th grade classmates didn't seem any more ready for high school than I was.

C

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9 hours ago, Cole Parker said:

My Jr. High and High School grade designations were the same as those of our root vegetable: 7-9 for Jr. High (not middle school), 10-12 for High School.  I doubt many school systems do it that way today, but it seemed very right to me at the time.

The middle school across the street from me handles sixth through eighth grade, and the high school down the street takes 9th through 12th grade.  This is in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  A short distance away, in the Glendale Unified School District, the closest middle school handles only seventh and eighth grade.   So philosophies obviously vary, and the designations also change based on the demographics of the students (i.e., population bulges).   For example, in the Glendale system, a junior high school was recently converted to a magnet high school in order to relieve crowding in the other three high schools in the area.  It (like the other Glendale high schools) handles 9th through 12th grade.

R

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R:

Most of the schools in our area work the same as in your area. Some are different, very different. For example in Davis, California, they have junior high schools with grades 7 thru 9 and high schools with grades 10 thru 12. What's wildly different is that when the school year and the semesters start and end doesn't match any other school districts, even those that are nearby like Sacramento.

I built it into my story, A Time When It All Went Wrong. Chapter 39 has a description of the problems when Tony (the protagonist) is going to have to move to Davis and cope with their scheduling mess. This has nothing to do with block scheduling, by the way.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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A significant new chapter. I know what kind of emotional toll it can take on an author to write about the events that Kevin is talking to Dr. Ranse about, so kudos for that. 

But Kevin raises a question that adds a massive new layer of intrigue to the story:  “How could someone kill five people, my entire family, in cold blood? And three of them were kids! They didn’t rob the house. All they did was break in and kill everyone.”  What’s going on here?

R

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Nooo... another week to wait. I won't have any nails left.

Also, I'm wondering... if his entire family has been slaughtered why isn't Kevin under 24/7 close protection?

 

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13 hours ago, Camy said:

Nooo... another week to wait. I won't have any nails left.

Also, I'm wondering... if his entire family has been slaughtered why isn't Kevin under 24/7 close protection?

Keep watching for upcoming chapters, Grasshopper… much will be revealed — sooner or later.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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On June 13, 2019 at 12:55 AM, colinian said:

Keep watching for upcoming chapters, Grasshopper...

I know that expression, so I'm not upset at its use, but I want to point out that there is a writer of very awesome LGBTQ+ stories (sadly inactive for many years now) by that pen name. He reported being injured in a farm accident, and hasn't been heard from since (as far as I'm aware). 😢

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The stories written by Grasshopper are on IOMFATS here. Be sure to read Jamie's Journal dated October 16, 2008.

My reference to "Grasshopper" is based on the TV show "Kung Fu" which was popular in the 1970's. It was shown on Nick at Nite on the Nickelodeon channel (the first cable channel for kids) which I watched when I was around 10 years old.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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On 6/10/2019 at 8:34 PM, Cole Parker said:

I don't know why, but I had recurring nightmares as a child about not remembering my schedule in school when we were changing classes instead of staying in one room.  I'd never know what class to go to next in the dreams and would be left out in the empty halls when the bell rang.  That block scheduling would have been a killer for me, at least in my dreams.

My Jr. High and High School grade designations were the same as those of our root vegetable: 7-9 for Jr. High (not middle school), 10-12 for High School.  I doubt many school systems do it that way today, but it seemed very right to me at the time.  Most of my 9th grade classmates didn't seem any more ready for high school than I was.

C

Something else I have in common with Cole...

I won't attempt to describe the complexities of the school system that I laboured under, but after finishing school at eighteen I had a recurring nightmare for years onwards, in which I had failed my exams and had to return to school for a further year - my subconscious presumably identified that as the worst thing that could possibly happen to me.  I turned up for classes on the first day of term and didn't know where to go. Everyone else seemed to know where they needed to be, disappeared into one classroom or another, then all classroom doors closed leaving me in in the quadrangle panicking that I should be in one of those rooms but which one?

To this day I remember clearly how terrifying those nightmares were.

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Kevin has a book-stand. I knew it! The plot thickens, but still we have no idea why his family was murdered.

Alex seems nice - unless he's an assassin in which case he isn't.

I'm wondering about the relatives in Massachusetts, too....

Yours, confused, worried, happy Kevin and Alex went upstairs, but angsty about waiting another whole week,

C2

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12 hours ago, Camy said:

The plot thickens, but still we have no idea why his family was murdered.

Alex seems nice - unless he's an assassin in which case he isn't.

I'm wondering about the relatives in Massachusetts, too....

I had the exact same reactions.  I'm surprised the FBI has not put in an appearance.  

It occurred to me that readers outside of California (or the Southwest US) might not have fully grasped what was going on with Connie's carnitas tacos and all the fixings that were described.  Here in Los Angeles, with the large Hispanic population, we can find excellent Mexican food practically on every street corner.  In my particular neighborhood there are taco trucks that set up on the major streets every night, and you can look in and watch the tortillas being made by hand from scratch.  

Carnitas are made from seasoned and marinated pork.  Even better is the lime-marinated pork available at Cuban restaurants in the area.  The trick with carnitas is not to overcook the pork and dry it out.

Anyway, for the benefit of those outside of California, the basic deal with tacos is that you put the meat of choice (carne asada, ground beef, carnitas, etc.) in a tortilla, then add other stuff on top such as shredded lettuce, onions, cilantro, shredded cheese, and salsa.  The tortillas can be soft (warmed on an open gas stove burner) or crispy (cooked in hot oil).  At my house we also like to make tacos with small flour tortillas, warmed by wrapping in a damp paper towel and heating in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds, topped with carne asada, cilantro, and chopped white onion, along with salsa or hot sauce.  The little tortillas are usually doubled up.   

R

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