Sunday, December 13, 2009

A shopping trip to remember

The following story happened last week when my friend and roommate Kassie and I went to Provo for some Christmas shopping. I was going to report on it, but Kassie did it so well, I've cut and pasted the story below. I didn't ask permission, but she'll forgive me. It really was a funny night.

"WARNING, this is a long whiney story, but it makes me laugh just to relive it.

"Arti and I drove to Provo/Orem to do some shopping (I thought that I had to work, but it was only Tuesday, and I work on Wednesday. Working nights messes up my body schedule to the point that I have no idea what day it is) . . . anyway that is another story.

"We got all of our shopping done hunky dory, and are ready to head home when I decide that I need to fuel up. Stopping at a nearby Holiday Gas Station (the one with the creepy clown guy); I start the process of putting fuel into my car. I’m standing outside in the freezing cold (because you can’t get back in because you don’t want to start a static electric sparked fire), when I get the bright idea that I need to clean my windshield somehow in the 283 degrees below zero weather. After chipping the little sponge/squeegee cleaner thing out of its bucket of ice I begin to spread a thin layer of water on my windshield, which froze instantly into a thin film of ice like I totally knew it would, but the look on Arti’s face through the window (like what the crap are you doing) made me start laughing, and somewhere in the hysteria my dang windshield wiper blade just fell off, serious it just died right there in my arms, snapped clean off, irreparably off, I don’t even think that I touched it. I stared down at the carnage and my face must have had some odd form of expression on it because in my peripheral vision I saw Arti laughing so hard she couldn’t even open the door to help me figure out what the crap to do. Here I stand in the freezing cold winter weather, with a dead windshield wiper blade in one hand, the murdering sponge/squeegee thing in the other, and a thin film of ice on my whole windshield. By the time that Arti makes it to my side her tears of joy are freezing as they run down her cheeks. Still stunned I stand there and all I can think are (bad words and dirty names), when the helpful guy at the gas pump next to ours says, “Wal-Mart sells wiper blades for like 5 bucks.” At this point it becomes totally funny, and I begin to laugh almost manically as I grab the scraper to get the ice off (seeing as the windshield wiper blades are useless to me now). We flirt shamelessly with the helpful guy at the next gas pump, and then drive away in search of a Wally World that will help us out at 11 o’clock at night.

"We get to Wal-Mart, the doors to the hardware side are locked so I have to use the other entrance (keep in mind that it is FREEZING COLD OUTSIDE). I finally find the wiper blades in the 10 acre plot of the SUPER Wal-Mart and there before me is about 10,243 different types and sizes of windshield wiper blades (bad words and dirty name) good thing I took the dead wiper with me for size because I didn’t read the owners manual to know what size to grab (I’m use to NAPA where you tell them what you need they grab it from the shelf and even replace it for you). Finally making my selection, I walk the mile back to the checkout stands (where they have 25 registers, but only 3 are open). First line I get in the register dies just dies on the lady in front of me (it must be my curse of the night). The next line I wait in for 6 years before I get to the register, and then the register guy is so busy chatting with me that he starts to swipe everything on the conveyer belt until I’m like wait I only have the windshield wiper blade (the guy behind me was crestfallen when he realized that I wasn’t going to buy his groceries).

"Arti has been waiting in the car, and when she sees me slipping across the black ice rink that passes for a parking lot, she gets out of the heat haven inside the car, because maybe two of us can figure out how to properly attach the cursed black thing before frostbite sets in. Somewhere in figuring out how to attach it the little black contraption that attaches the blade to the arm of the wiper goes flying though the air and disappears. We stand in the parking lot stunned . . . how the crap are we going to find a little BLACK thing at 11 o’clock at night on a black pavement parking lot (bad words and dirty names). Through some form of divine intervention the little black thing is discovered, and the blade attached quite easily (they really are user friendly). Story done. We start for home again with a serious case of the giggles because of the ridiculousness of the situation. At least it wasn't a flat tire, I didn't have my phone with me and we would have needed some serious back-up on that one."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A rant for education

*Disclaimer: I usually keep my opinions to myself because I like to be agreeable. I smile and nod during conversations I disagree with, and that's fine for me. But this particular matter needs me to open my mouth and not sit back idly. I've been reading "Civil Disobedience" with my students this week, so maybe I'm doing my part to cause friction in the machine. Just sayin :)

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm a teacher, and I don't know why. Well, I know why, but lately I don't know why anyone stays in the profession expect they think they are getting something done. Something meaningful too. So I accepted a lifetime of crappy pay when I selected the major. I didn't always think I'd be the one income in my life. But regardless, I accepted the pay. I even accepted it in Utah. I could go, literally, anywhere else and make more, but being close to home is a big bonus. But personal reasons for staying in this job are beside the point. I love teaching, so they'll probably have to kick me out in 28 years with or without a retirement.
I went to an Association meeting today. Yes, I'm a member of the Association, and I think every teacher should be a member. The Union really has my back, and I'm learning just how much they do for teachers. At our meeting today we got introduced to some proposed budget cuts the legislature has planned for us in the near future. For some reason, they feel that the education system isn't worth investing more money in. In fact, they are proposing some serious budget cuts--anywhere from 1-5%. Even in a small district like mine, that's more than a million dollars (at 5%).
For obvious reason (like my salary), this infuriates me. But on a deeper level, I think everyone is getting cheated by this. Do you have a student? You're getting cheated out of the best education for your student. Do you own a business? You are getting cheated out of future educated employees, AND money that could be put back into the economy. Putting money into education is good for everyone. Even if you think your school has "crappy" teachers, and you don't think they deserve to be paid more, putting more money in education is a good idea. I bet everyday someone has an internal battle of "Do I make some sacrifices and do what I love (teaching)? Or do I choose something else so I can afford the lifestyle I want?" And, I bet everyday teaching loses someone that could become a fabulous teacher. If the teaching profession were a little more competitive, I bet those "crappy" teachers would shape up, or at the very least schools could find someone to replace them.
So here's the bottom line. Something has to change. The economy isn't as bad as it was a year ago. It will be slow going, but things will have to get better. But at the rate things are going in Utah, the trend in education spending will only get worse. Teachers can't keep doing more for less, and with out the support of voters and other citizens, nothing will change. I'm not asking anyone to do anything but maybe pay attention to the legislation this year. Email your representatives to encourage them to vote in favor of education friendly bills. Don't vote for people who won't fight for education. You may not care what kind of retirement I may or may not get in 28 years, but you might care how much your school has to let go because the legislature won't fund education. Utah is dead last in all 50 states in per pupil spending by nearly $1000 per student. Can that number get worse? Apparently, yes. Be proactive. Whether you are a teacher, wanted to be a teacher, are related to a teacher, or ever had a teacher that made a difference in your life, don't sit by and let the world happen. That's no way to run a democracy. If we want to be ruled by the people for the people, you have to do something more than sit back and watch. Be the people.

(dismount soap box) For happier news read the fun Thanksgiving stories below.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Update at last: November

November is a crazy month. A lot happened. I wanted to blog sooner, but my camera went m.i.a. after Thanksgiving for a few days. Thankfully my parents returned it to me (triple wrapped for protection in the mail). The month started out with my birthday. That's right, I'm 25. Quarter of a century baby! My mom and Kim came down for the weekend. Gunnison has this fun boutique thing called Mistletoe Mall that happens to fall on the weekend of my birthday almost every year. We ate out and shopped a lot, all of us spending more than budgeted, but most of our purchases were forward thinking gifts for others. (Yeah, that's totally a justification.)

I can't think of what else kept me busy the rest of the month. Probably Young Single Adults. But that's another story. I spent Thanksgiving in Gunnison. My family wasn't really getting together, and the family I live with had big plans. So the Browns have eight kids and like 24 grandkids between those children. I know most of them, and have kind of claimed them as my own. They're great people for letting me tag along on all their fun get-togethers. Kassie and I spent the week before Thanksgiving prepping rooms and bathrooms for the whole crew. Most of them came Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It was great. I think we had 60 people in all for dinner, and more than half stayed the night. We were crowded but cozy. Dinner was excellent. (The pie was superb!) The dishes and cleanup weren't so fun. I can only imagine how hard it would be if we had used real plates instead of paper.

The next day we all loaded up in all the available pickups to go Christmas tree hunting. Kassie's nephew just turned 16 so he gladly volunteered to let us ride in his truck for the day (anxious 16 year olds are so cute, and handy). The drive was glorious. I haven't spent much time in the mountains in the backyard, so I enjoyed it all. We drove to nearly the top before we found a suitable section of trees for us all to go hunting. Kassie and I found a tree right away. It is beautiful and full and slender. Plus it wasn't a spruce or a juniper. Limber pine all the way, baby (thanks scout camp for teaching me tree types). One of Kassie's brothers sawed it down for us and we were happy hunters. I just wish the anxious 16 year old was so easy to please. He and I hiked all over that mountain before finding the perfect tree (which was actually a hard sell). But, we got the job done and I think he's happy with what we got. I actually haven't asked him about it. Hm, maybe I should.
After we got home and warm, I headed for Salt Lake to spend some time with my folks. Mostly I just shopped the Black Saturday sales and hung out at the parent's apartment. It was nice to take a break from the crowd at home. Even with my extended family, the Browns are a big crowd (and boy do I love them).
Kassie and I have been decorating whenever we are home at the same time. Our tree looks amazing, and our outside lights will too. We started on Saturday, but the snow today made us put a hold in the progress. Plus we need a taller ladder. So we have a jumbled strand of lights hanging from the rain gutters waiting for us to finish. We will, but it might take us a while. Maybe we'll get it all done in time for Christmas.
I'm sure something exciting will happen between now and Christmas, but until then, enjoy the snow. I know I will :)

Here's the Hunt and last is the final product: