Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Juggling, juggling


School started back on Monday, in both New York and Maryland.  I am teaching two on-line classes in Maryland, one on-line class in New York, and an in-person class in New York.  I have about 140 students, more or less.  It's been interesting answering student questions about two different campuses with different procedures for adding and dropping classes, and different books for the classes.  I imagine grading is going to be hysterical.  Oh, and I am teaching one more class than I did when I worked full-time in Maryland, for less than half of what I now earn being part-time in both places.  That's the part-time adjunct scandal, pay them crap wages instead of higher pay for anyone full-time or full-time with a Ph.D. 

Well, it was my choice to move, and I knew I might have to find a different job and that I might not be able to teach, so I've only myself to blame.  Still, we're managing, in spite of life's latest pitfalls.

It seems we live on clay soil.  We've also been in a drought.  When clay soil doesn't get regular moisture, it contracts, sometimes tremendously.  A week ago we had a scare because our gas line broke when the soil contracted 3 inches and pulled the pipes apart.  We had the Fire Department out around 11:00 p.m., giving all the neighbors a little excitement, but no explosions, so thankful for that.  In addition to our gas line snapping, our concrete deck around our swimming pool has pulled apart and torn the liner.  It cannot be repaired because the concrete slabs have pulled too far apart and moved too much.  The whole thing has to be torn apart, we're talking $10,000 to $17,000 likely to rip out the concrete and fix that.  It might cost around $10,000 to remove the pool entirely because state law says all the concrete and materials must be removed and clean fill put back.  Of course it does.  We're waiting on a couple estimates, oh and did I mention, homeowners' insurance won't cover any of it because they don't cover earth movement, sink holes, or earthquakes.  You need a special policy for that, a policy that our insurance agent never mentioned we might need. 

But wait, just like those late night infomercials, there's more!  We first noticed our dog, Lambeau, was having trouble jumping up in the back of our SUV shortly after we moved here last year.  He seemed to be having weakness in his hips.  German Shepherds are known to have hip dysplasia, but he seemed kind of young for that.  We've been keeping an eye on him and taking him to the vet regularly.  Now the hip weakness has gotten so bad that he struggles to get up from lying down, he struggles to go up or down stairs, when he runs, his back left foot swings behind his right one.  We've had tests run.  His bloodwork says he's in perfect health.  He's not in any pain.  Drugs haven't helped (just in case there was some inflammation somewhere).  We had him genetically tested for Degenerative Myelopathy, because his symptoms fit perfectly with that disease and German Shepherds are prone to it.  His tests came back that he is a carrier for that disease.  It's basically Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS) for dogs.  Our vet is now recommending we take him a couple hours away to a neurologist for more tests (MRI and spinal tap).  We're currently trying one last ditch effort with a drug cocktail to see if we can get his symptoms to improve before going to the neurologist.  Life has many twists and turns.

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