Monday, July 24, 2017

Interview

I have a job interview tomorrow in a different division of the organization I work for. My current supervisor is on the interview panel despite having no involvement with the position or the group it's in. I've tried everything imaginable to have him removed to no avail. I feel trapped and targeted.  The whole reason I'm interested in this job is to get away from my supervisor and the evil witch he works for. But there's no escape, unless I want to give up my career and trash my retirement by starting over somewhere else. 22 years down the tubes because a corrupt, evil CEO put others just like him at the top of my division and they in turn did the same at the next level down.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos & American Public Education

Let me start by saying I'm not a democrat and I'm not a teacher.  So I'm not opposed to DeVos just because she's Trump's choice and therefore I must oppose her because the Democrat Handbook says so and I'm not opposed to her because I'm worried about my job.  I am, however, a parent.  I'm a parent with a child in 7th grade in a public school.  I'm also the product of 18 years of public education: 1st-12th grade in public schools, undergrad at a state university, and grad school at another state university.  I believe in public education.

Betsy DeVos's record does not at all show that she believes in public education.  She is a cheerleader for charter schools.  She's all about vouchers and charter schools -- two things I vehemently oppose because they take money away from public schools.  And although she and Mr. Trump both say they are against Common Core, her past doesn't demonstrate that.

I want a Secretary of Education who will abolish Common Core, abolish PARCC, abolish NCLB/RTTT, abolish charter schools, and abolish vouchers.  And then, I want that Secretary to abolish the US Dept of Education and return control to states and local school districts.  If the DOE is to remain and stick its nose into states' business, it should only be to help the states that perform below average.  Leave the states, like mine, that have always done well alone.

But what about the poor inner city districts or the rural poor with abysmal outcomes?  These children and these school don't fail because the kids aren't bright or the teachers are underpaid or whatever else has been addressed before.  These children don't do well in school because they're hungry.  They can't get a good night's sleep because their bed is a ratty old couch and their bedroom is the family room, if they're lucky.  They don't get help with their homework because mom's too busy working 2-3 jobs or taking care of the younger siblings or is passed out from drugs or alcohol and dad, well dad's nowhere to be found.  These kids fail because of extreme poverty that the average American doesn't even know exists.  If the government wants to help these kids succeed, they have to throw out all the rules and the plans and the things that work in middle-class and upper-class school systems.  They have to help these kids LIVE in order to help them LEARN.

To start with, extend the school day.  Extend it to say, 6:00 pm.  Make it an opt-out thing (as opposed to opt-in) where the kids will stay at school until the buses send them home at 6:00 unless the parents sign them out of the program.  Feed them a healthy, nutritious, delicious dinner.  These are the kids who are on free and reduced lunches.  They are thankfully now receiving free/reduced breakfast too but what about after school?  Some of these kids don't eat again until the next morning.  How can they do homework if they're hungry and can't concentrate?

What else can be done with this extra 3-4 hours of school?

  • Teach them how to cook.  Simple, healthy meals.  Girls and boys, not just the girls.
  • Buy a bunch of washers and dryers and have the kids bring their dirty laundry to school and teach them how to do laundry and give them a place to do it.  Some kids skip school simply because they have nothing clean to wear and they're embarrassed.
  • Teach them how to grocery shop wisely in the stores available to them.  If the family has no car, the corner convenience store may be the best they can do routinely.  Teach them what's bad for them and why and what's good.  How to read nutrition and ingredient labels.  Feed them foods they've never had before so they'll know what they taste like before they buy.
  • Teach them how to stretch the few dollars they have in the store.  Teach them about unit prices.  They probably learn it in math class, but not that this bottle of ketchup's unit price is per pound and the one next to it is per quart and therefore not comparable.
  • Start a school garden and have all the kids take turns working in it.  It's a proven fact that if kids grow food, they'll eat it.  They know what it is and they are proud that they grew it.
  • Teach them about money, budgeting, credit cards (yes, you have to pay for what you buy on them!), balancing a checkbook (no, just because you still have checks doesn't necessarily mean you still have money in your account!), online banking, etc.
  • Offer tutoring and homework time.
  • Have organized sports and other physical activities.  Not gym class and not recess but somewhere in between.
  • Teach them about nature and music and art and all the things schools used to teach before standardized testing took over the school day.
  • Offer them medical and dental care that most of us take for granted: annual checkups and biannual dental cleanings.
You get the idea.  Think outside the box.  Give them a few hours a day that's not school but not their crappy home life. They'll be clean, well-fed, get their homework done, get tired playing so they'll sleep better at night, and they'll be learning things they really and truly need to know instead of just going to school to learn all those things that make kids ask, "Am I ever going to use this in real life?" 
 
Links to check out:
  • Ron Finley: The Gangsta Gardener: http://www.ted.com/speakers/ron_finley
  • Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?  http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/
  • Gardening as Cultural Renewal - the Gila Crossing School Program:  http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=47
  • Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods is Bad for Your Health: http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=217
  • There's No Such Thing as Small Stuff: Being Poor in Louisville: http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=409
  • Food Fight: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/hip-hop-video-compares-food-industry-drug-dealers.html 


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Please stop

Dear liberals and other Trump haters:

Please stop.  Just stop for a moment and check various news sources, as well as federal laws and the US Constitution, before you go shooting off your mouths and protesting EVERYTHING.  

The "Muslim ban" isn't a Muslim ban.  It's a temporary travel ban on people from seven particular countries that were decided upon by President OBAMA.  There are dozens of other Muslim-majority countries that are totally unaffected by this executive order.


A few tidbits of history:

2016 - In February, Pres. Obama'Department of Homeland Security implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.

2016 - In January, Pres. Obama'Department of Homeland Security began implementing changes under the Act and designated Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.

2015In December, Pres. Obamsigned the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act” into law, which restricted access to the Visa Waiver Program.

2011 - Pres. Obama banned Iraqi refugees for six months in 2011 due to concerns that the program was being used by terrorists to infiltrate the United States.

2002 - These same 7 countries were mentioned in a report from Pres. G.W. Bush's Department of Defense with plans to destabilize those countries

1980 - Pres. Carter invalidated the Visas of Iranians during the Iran Hostage Crisis.

1952 - 8 US Code 1182 was written; passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, House and Senate; and signed by a Democrat president.  It contains this passage: 
(f)Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

1932 - President Roosevelt and the State Department essentially shut down immigration during the Great Depression.  (And I would argue that although our economy isn't in that dire of a situation, it's not great and that alone could/should be reason to halt or slow immigration.)


Sources:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Vertigo

Have you ever felt like your head was about to explode and you kind of wish it would to put you out of your misery?

I've had vertigo for the past 9-10 days and it's driving me bonkers.  I'm on meclizine but it doesn't seem to be helping.  I wake up each morning feeling normal but as the day goes on and I move around, the dizziness returns.

I've mostly been watching movies and sleeping throughout "winter break" (my son's... I don't get one) and it's really bumming me out that this week+ was wasted.  I can't do much housework because most housework involves bending, lifting, reaching, stretching, and spinning.  Lots of spinning.  Think about cooking a meal... now think about how many times you turn around.  Same for laundry -- from bending over to sort it to spinning around to take clean items from the basket and put them in their proper place.  I haven't really been able to go anywhere because driving makes me a bit dizzy.  That's not a good way to be when you're driving.  I can't read because the back and forth eye motion makes me dizzy.  I can't do anything for work that involves comparing 2 documents (which is what I've been doing a helluva lot of the past several weeks at work) because of the left to right and back eye motion.  So basically, I'm screwed.  I'm tired of sitting in the house through all these days off but when I get to work, I'm a wreck and dreading driving home all dizzy.

To top it off, my son is now 13.  Sitting around in the house a year or two ago wouldn't have been bad because he'd hang out with me but now?  Pfft!  If he's not out with his friends or begging to go out with his friends, he's in the basement playing video games with his friends remotely!  If not that, then he's talking to them or FaceTiming them or group chatting with them.  My baby's growing up and leaving me in the dust.  With my husband.

My husband, who I haven't spent time alone with in 13 years.  Last night was our first New Year's Eve without The Boy.  You'd think we'd be thrilled.  Instead it was like "what the hell are we going to do for the next 5 hours waiting for this stupid ball to drop?"  We ate our traditional NYE meal of appetizers and snacks.  We watched a couple movies we wouldn't have watched with The Boy home.  (Settle down.  It was just Neighbors (Seth Rogen, Zac Efron) and Deadpool.  Nothing racy.)  Anyway, it made me realize that this is now my life.  My son is going to grow farther and farther away from us and it's just going to be the two of us alone.  We're not the people we were when we got married 15 years ago.  All these years of marriage and parenthood and life have changed us.  We're older and achier and crankier and I'm terrified of spending the rest of my life with just him.

Yep.  There, I said it.  Just thinking about it makes me lonely.  I'm married to a guy who is content to sit on the couch all weekend watching one sport after another, barely grunting at me in between.  I want to travel and see the world, or at least leave the house for more than an hour or two at a pop.  And this is who I'm stuck with for the rest of my life.  My dad is gone.  My mom is 82.  She won't be around forever.  I have no siblings.  I have no best friend (because I'm an adult and do adults really have best friends???).  Even if I did have a "bestie" would I be able to go globetrotting with her without my husband wondering what trouble we could be getting into?

So here I am.  Day One of the new year.  Dizzy, depressed (that's a whole other story for another time), and dreading the future.  Happy 2017.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

First Christmas

This is my first Christmas without my dad.  He died in July after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. He was 74.

I've been married for 15 years and have a 13-year-old son.  This is the 16th Christmas Eve night that I have not spent with my parents.  Yet here I am on my third cry of the day because my dad's not here.

I'm an only child, so Christmas Eve was always just the three of us.  Christmas Day was spent with extended family but the night before was ours alone.  After I stopped believing that a fat man in a red suit was scooting down our chimney, I became a pain in my mom's ass for a few years begging her to let me open gifts early.  Over the years, one gift on Christmas Eve eventually became all gifts in Christmas Eve, which was how my mother's family did it when she was a child.  We would put the PBS Yule Log on the TV in the other room so we could hear the music and I'd "play Santa" and hand out the gifts from under the tree.  It was always a special, cozy time that was all ours. 

I went away to grad school and later moved out to my own home, but I always came home for Christmas Eve. Just the 3 of us.  When I got married, of course, our tradition changed. I had my parents over for Christmas Eve dinner and we'd open gifts with my husband.  Our son was born right before our third Christmas and again our traditions changed. My son got older and my dad got sicker, traditions evolved.

Last year, as we had for the previous few years, we went to my parents' house on Christmas Eve and opened gifts. We were gone before dark to go to my sister-in-law's house. We came back the next day for my family's dinner (a late lunch, really) and then later had a dinnertime dinner with my husband's family.

That brings me to today.  I'm not thinking about the last 16 Christmases. I'm in tears over the 15-20 Christmases before that.  I'm crying over that special closeness that I haven't experienced the same way in years and suddenly I'm missing it like it was yesterday. My mom is home alone tonight on Christmas Eve.  I can't go to her house and "abandon" my family but she's not going to stay here overnight either. I saw her today and she's fine but I feel overwhelming guilt that I can't spread myself out and be everywhere at once.  And I am so, so sad that my dad isn't here anymore.  I've been so strong since July, telling myself my dad had really been gone for a long time (if you know Parkinson's, you know what I mean) and this was just his spirit leaving his traitorous body. But this is the first time that I've experienced something that I so closely associate with my dad and it's like he just died yesterday or is dead all over again.  I miss my dad.  Not the guy who he was the few years, but the guy I grew up with. And I find that I'm begging him to visit me tonight. In a dream.  I need him to come to me and hold me and tell me it will be OK.  That he's OK.  That mom will be OK.  That this will get easier. And I want to tell him again that I love him and I miss him.