Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thoughts on a snowy day in March

The world is white outside my windows today. Last year at this time, the temps were more like summer here. To compound this wintry surprise, the sidewalks and porch are slick so we had fun ice skating our way out to the garage this morning to feed outdoor cats.

I read an interesting book recently. Angels are Watching Over Us by Niki Behrikis Shanahan is a comforting Bible-based book about the many types of angels we humans encounter in our everyday lives. She also writes books about our pets and what the Bible says about animals in heaven. Anyone who ever wondered about angels, or grieved the loss of a beloved pet, might find comfort in Ms. Shanahan's books.

My last post sparked interest in a way I didn't expect. I expected comments about the banking and Wall Street bailouts but got feedback about school cuts and closings instead. I admit my comments here are "knee jerk" reactions based on personal emotional responses and not always hard facts. I even admit to knowing that everything I see on the news may not be hard, proven facts. (Imagine that!!) I'd like to address both sides of this little tempest in a teapot:
  • Yes, I'm firmly convinced that in some cases schools fail because of mismanagement or even fraud. And I know that educating students is a far more complex job than it used to be back in the dark ages when I was a student. In most cases, it isn't teachers who cause schools to fail. That fault lies with management, or state and federal influences that hamstring classroom educators. I've seen first hand stupid practices that drove a school system into the red despite taxpayer opinion.
  • On the other hand, the school system where I live is a shining example of how education can thrive in a hostile economic environment. When it became apparent that teachers were spending their own money to purchase school supplies, shoes, socks, gloves, coats, food for students, local church groups and private citizens stepped in to lend ongoing assistance. Locals volunteer their time to ensure that track meets or the arts continue to be part of school curriculum. Such support is common practice in rural school systems.
  • I know several excellent long-time teachers who left the profession because they felt that their hands were tied and they could no longer make a difference in the lives of students. Yes, there are more than enough heart breaking stories to go around on both sides of this topic.

One thing is obvious to me: when it comes to government and politics, my opinion is worth less than nothing. So I'll go have a cuppa coffee and watch cardinals eating at the bird feeder.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I recently read an interesting book, The Law of Distraction and Interruption by Joe Carroccio. Life's distractions can keep us from achieving our goals and dreams. Interruptions can slow us down or stop us from accomplishing what we set out do do. Carroccio's book came along at the ideal time because I've been distracted and interrupted for years!!!

Some of my distractions are beneficial, like watching colorful birds eating together at our feeder against a snowy backdrop, or glimpsing a bald eagle perched in a tree behind our house. Most of my distractions, however, are not so soothing or kindly.

Some days, I make the big mistake of watching the news on TV. Watching news begins the distraction, but then I compound the problem by thinking about what I see. Two recent stories started the distraction process. One story involved Wall Street and how -- despite being "bailed out" by taxpayers -- they continue to do their business in the same old greedy, wasteful, destructive ways. Since I thought at the time that bailing out banks was saving the wrong bacon, I tend to go bananas with every new story about continuing fraud and waste. Yes, it drives me to distraction, which leads me to my next story.

Closing down schools to save money for bankrupted city and states and cutting education related services, laying off educators? Are they serious? This is especially distracting since I suspect some of our cities and states are going bankrupt for the same reasons the federal government is in the deep red: fraud, waste, greed, mismanagement, and refusing to acknowledge the voices of the taxpayers who fund all follies. I fear the foxes have been in charge of the hen house for too long.

None of us want necessary services cut. We want our infrastructure maintained, for example, by repairing roads and upgrading utility systems so our electric, gas, and water service works without glitches. But closing schools and cutting education services seems particularly short-sighted to me. I have no kids in school and may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I can see the awful long term effect of putting education on the back burner.

Hubby says I shouldn't think so much about problems I didn't cause and can't change. But I can't help thinking that maybe in some small way I DID contribute to this problem. During all those years when I worked and focused on earning a living and ignored everything going on in the world around me, I was a part of the problem. Every time I voted in a less-than-stellar incumbent at the polls, I was a part of the problem. Every time I allowed political smoke screens or flowery rhetoric to lull me to complacency without question, I was a part of the problem. Now I'm reaping that bitter harvest of my past neglects.

Yep. Now I'm distracted and interrupted by the news and thoroughly disgusted by what I see.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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