First day of school

I’d ironed yesterday. All of my things were together. The only thing left to do was wake up, check, have something for breakfast, check, get ready to go to campus, check, and, finally, have my first day of the new school year … on the third day of the new school year …

And so that was the first half of the day.

Our schedules are pretty similar on Thursdays, just like the old days, so we drove in together, just like the old days. And I mean the old days, going back a lifetime or two ago. The mid-oughts. There was a gas crunch, as I recall, so we carpooled. Some days I would drive her to Red Mountain and drop her off at WBRC. Some days she would go over the mountain and downtown to Pepper Place to put me in my office at 6 a.m. I have vague memories of that, and they’re not vague because of the early call time. This was 17, 18 years ago, I think.

And here we are today. My lovely bride had to get her newly issued computer. (Still waiting, myself.) And the place to go for that is just one building over from where I’ll spend the semester. We cruised through two full parking lots and finally found a spot behind the building. We walked around the front, said our good lucks and I went inside. She went on for hardware and to teach two classes elsewhere on campus.

I wandered most of the halls until I found my classroom, plenty of time, clock on my side. I think it would have been more direct, though, if I’d just gone in the back door. Such is life in a new place. There was a class still underway in my class, so I decided to walk the halls until I stumbled upon the offices of one of the departments I’m working with and met a few people. I sat in the copy room and checked a few emails, whiled away some time and then headed back to that class.

This is where I invoke the memory of a guy I used to work with. Chris was an MCO at a television station but, before that, he was an RN.

Chris, I said one day, if you can do that, why are you doing this?

He pointed at the screen, punched a bunch of random buttons on his panels and, with a wicked grin, cranked the chroma key, changing the color of everyone on the TV screen at that moment, and surely making people watching at home wonder if they were having a mental or physical episode. But it didn’t last long because with deft and practiced hands Chris reset everything to its proper position and the TV show continued on.

“No matter what happens here, nobody died,” he said.

I’ve repeated that to myself as a joke for all of the years hence — I mean it that way here, too — but that’s grim.

There were 15 people in my first class. A few non-traditional students, a range of people freshmen-to-seniors, and a lot of interested faces. We talked about the class and all of the usual first day things and, before I knew it, I was ready to send them on their way.

There’s just long enough between that class and my next one to sneak a comically late lunch, so I did that, finishing a sandwich as the early arrivals for the next group trickled in.

There are 15 people in that class too, a range of college experience, but mostly freshmen. We talked about the class and syllabus. It’s the same class, and so I realized pretty quickly that I’ll live in fear, all semester, of wondering what I’ve omitted because I think I said it, and what I’m repeating because I’m afraid I’ve omitted it. Also, the very tip of my nose started itching. No idea why. But you know noses. Once you address the matter, it just gets worse. It’s hard to make a point about the exercise planned in week 10 of your course when you’re trying to scratch the first two layers of epidermis off your nose. But, before I knew it, I was tired of talking. The second class wrapped a bit earlier than the first, but it was after 5 p.m. and no one minded. All of the important information was still conveyed.

All of the brave and hearty ones, the ones who stick in the class, I’ll see next Thursday.

It’s an intro to production class, They’ll be learning about camera movements, shot composition, audio capture and a bit of light production. They’ll go into the studio and do some mock leads and tags. It’s a lot of fun. I hope they have fun. I really hope I can teach them a fair amount.

After class, waiting on my ride, I had time to run through some email, and start building a calendar. This won’t be a conventional schedule, this semester — I’m beginning to wonder if there’s ever going to be a conventional schedule — and so now I’m trying to decide what to do with my free time and when to make my free time. But first, the basics, what day is the first day of my week? Is Thursday the first day of my week? Is Thursday the last day of my week?

And that was basically my day, because almost six hours of listening to myself talk is just about enough, thank you. Except at home, there was a bit of early grading (syllabus quizzes are easy points, and it makes the diligent student hunt for details within the 12-page document) and starting to think about how to set up next week’s classes. Oh, and my third class, which will begin next Monday.

Right now, the early vote is for Thursday to be the last day of my week. Though I’m considering something innovative: making Monday both the first, and last, day of the week.

Later, I decided to change my bike tires. I’ve had three flats on my rear wheel in the last three weeks. One could be wear. Another could be anything. A third, that’s probably user error. Plus my tires were mismatched in age. I don’t remember which is the newer. And the one on the front wheel looks like it could fall apart any day now.

So, before tomorrow’s bike ride, two new tires. Here’s how that went tonight.

I took the front wheel off the bike. Struggled, in a most unusual and almost embarrassing way, to remove the tire from the wheel. Finally got that off, and then started putting this guy on.

Gatorskins are great. They’re heavy. They’re durable. You wouldn’t race them because of all of that, but I don’t race. They’ll run forever. One of these has been on my bike for two years. My receipts say I last bought a set in 2013. So tonight’s effort should serve me well for a good long while.

The downside to a Gatorskin is that they are difficult to put on the first time. (The secret, if you can’t get it completely fitted, is to heat the stubborn bit of the tire with a hair dryer.) But I’m getting better at it. (No hair dryer needed.) Tire on, tube in, tire seated. Inflate.

Take the back wheel of the bike, remove that tire. I found a little sliver of metal inside that had escaped my earlier notice. So I know what caused at least the third flat.

Speaking of, the tube on the front wheel is leaking inside the brand new tire.

And this is why you don’t immediately slap it back on the frame, I said to myself.

Which was a nice thing to say, since it was congratulatory. The wheel wasn’t back on the frame, but I did have to take the tube out. I found a tiny leak right in the seam. Maybe I damaged it. Maybe Continental tubes are the most temperamental tubes on the market. Anyway, old tube out, new tube in. Gatorskin seated. Inflate.

Back to the rear wheel then. Repeat that process. Decided I’ll keep both old tires. One can go on the trainer. The other … well, in a bit I’m going to google recycling and repurposing bike tires.

Both are inflated. Neither are mounted on the bike frame. Let’s see what they do overnight. (Update: They were fine.) And now I’ll have two new tubes and two new tires for tomorrow’s bike ride. It’ll be a great day. And this one was good, too. But I hope yours was even better.

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