Saturday, February 25, 2012

Going Viral

This week was 'Winter Break' in the great state of NY. See, New York had this great idea that started sometime around the end of the last ice age. The greatest scientists and politicians of the Pleistocene Epoch crunched the data and noticed that February is the traditional coldest month of the year.

The Goal: Reduce energy spending in the public schools

The Method: Give the kids a week off school. By turning down the thermostats and turning off the lights, the state can save millions of dollars.

Collateral Damage of the Method: Parents must find ways to occupy their children during the day for a week in February. Most of that time is spent watching TV, playing video games, or browsing the internet resulting in brain decay and copious amounts of intellectual regression.

The Problem with the Method: In the old days, schools actually did turn things off. Now, in the days of automation and increased complexity of the school systems, relatively little is saved. School buildings are very busy places because they refuse to give certain staff the week off too (technicians, maintenance, housekeeping, secretaries, support services, etc.)

The Unexpected Benefit: The state had no idea when they planned this February break that I would become a triathlete. I get to use this time to provide a big boost to my training. I have 9 days of next to no responsibilities to really hammer out my training. Essentially, I get to become a pro. I can train as long as I want. I can take a nap in the middle of the day. The school still sends me a pay check.

The Problem with the Unexpected Benefit: Teaching is a dangerous occupation. Kids are not the most sanitary of individuals and germs spread like a California wildfire. Here's the bug that got me:

From the NIH
I would like to introduce the Human Rhinovirus. This nasty devil is not much more than a batch of protein surrounding a small stick of RNA. It's burr-like tentacles allow it to float freely through the air, from one student into their most hated teacher. Once this little incubus gets inside, it's hooks burrow their way into your upper respiratory system and injects its tube of RNA into your cells with syringe-like efficiency, turning your respiratory tract into a rhinovirus factory.

The Consequence of the Problem with the Unexpected Benefit: My professional triathlon career was over before it got started. The incubation process for the virus is about 2-3 days. I picked it up (through deductive reasoning after the fact) on Friday before break. On Monday morning, I started to feel a tickle. By Monday night, the nose was running. By Tuesday morning, I was in full blown misery. I didn't sleep for 3 straight days due to an inability to breathe. I did get some sleep last night, but it wasn't nearly long enough nor of high quality.

Collateral Damage of the Consequence of the Problem with the Unexpected Benefit: I went way over budget for the month of February in Puffs brand facial tissues. If you were a smart investor, you'd buy stock and reap the dividends of my cold.

The Blame: Of course, the state is fully at fault for this illness. If they hadn't come up with the idea of having a Winter Break, I wouldn't have gotten sick. They should do away with this useless week off. We get an official Spring Break in April. I would much rather trade the February break week for an earlier dismissal in June. Assuming state officials read my blog (which is highly likely), then not only will we be able to graduate our students a week earlier, but the total number of illnesses in the month of February will be dramatically decreased.

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