Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anticipation (and octopoda)

We spent the last day of summer vacation wondering if was really the last day of summer vacation.  The school district and the teacher's union have been in labor negotiations--I don't know all the details, but they didn't come to an agreement before their contract expired.  There was supposed to be a meet-the-teacher-and-bring-in-school-supplies night on Wednesday evening, but it was canceled because they were having a meeting to vote on whether they were going to start the new school year without a contract, or go on strike.  So we didn't get to meet Kate's teacher, and we didn't know even whether she would be starting school on Thursday or not.  They were keeping parents informed via robo-calls and emails, but couldn't really give us anything definite beyond "We'll let you know as soon as we can."

At about 4:00 we finally got everybody out of the house and went to the zoo for a while.  There's a Giant Pacific Octopus that doesn't usually do much--most of the time it's just hiding squished under a rock, but this time it was out and moving around.  It's amazing to see how loose and fluid their skin is, and how thin.  It just ripples constantly as they move.  There was also a little octopus that I hadn't seen there before.  We were just fascinated watching it moving around in its tank, and we even got to see it change color a couple of times.  (Nothing as impressive as this video but pretty cool nonetheless.)  They are amazing animals.

Octopus is another one of those pesky plurals.  "Octopi" is apparently out of favor (since the word isn't actually Latin).  "Octopuses" is acceptable but kind of makes it sound like you have a stutter.  (Octopoda, which I used above, is the order.  Phylum Mollusca, class Cephalopoda.)  Maybe we will just avoid talking about more than one octopus at a time. 

In the evening, when I was supposed to be getting the kids' bath ready, I found a reporter tweeting on the strike vote and camped out on his feed, waiting to see what would happen.  We finally got the word just before 7:30--no strike!  School is on!

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