Tuesday, July 28, 2009

News From the Front

Days three and four:

It's been quiet. Too quiet. If I sit still long enough I can see them growing, soaking up the sunshine, mustering up the courage to turn red, perhaps coordinating with their siblings and cousins on when to make the attack. There are dozens of them.

In the meanwhile an unexpected attack has come from the bell peppers. Two... three... FOUR of the monsters demanding to be picked before they turn bad. Stuffed peppers for dinner tonight? Oh, they'd like that, I'm sure.

We've also managed to stave off two assaults from the Bushbean Corps. This year not only are they coming at us in green but also in yellow... just as dangerous, just as tasty. The children won't touch these yellow beans which laughingly leaves more for my wife and I. That wife of mine (as well as the baby) loves fresh beans so I doubt we'll have trouble keeping up but still I worry because also new this year is four stands of pole beans. Already they've crested their seven-foot poles, reaching higher still. Some of them seem to be reaching for the phone line about two feet above them. It's an insidious plan, taking out our communication line to the outside world. I'll have to keep my eyes on them. So far these vertical devils haven't done more than put out a few flowers but they are notorious for later production. I fear they will hit us hard after our culinary defenses have been tired out by the Bushbean Corps. There's always blanching and freezing but it's not the same.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

News From The Front

Day Two of the Siege:

Some time during the night a hoard of Cherries turned . We found them first thing, smiling back at us with their cheery red faces, wearing their socialism proudly. Our eldest daughter dispatched them quickly.

Two Better Boys are making their way over the hill. Big guys. One looks like it's almost here but the one will most definitely reach out camp by nightfall. Like I said, they're big but it's early in the battle and I think we can take 'em without much of a problem. If not they can cool their heels with yesterdays scout.

Fortunately that's all there is to report at this time. The Mountain Heirloom unit still seems to be trying to get organized and Commander Stripey's unit appears to only have two troops still in training. We'll have to keep an eye on those Cherries, though. There's a lot of 'em and sooner or later it's going to take more than a ten year old girl to keep up.

News From The Front

Day 1 of the Siege:
The first of the enemy arrived today. It was small so it was probably a scout. Our troops took the scout into custody and it has since been in solitary confinement ever since, being moved to a cold containment unit.

After being alerted to the long-awaited arrival of these fiends we sent out a scout of our own and found a larger combatant, though only about 90% ripened. Unfortunately our interrogator got carried away and in the process of trying to learn what this soldier knew, well, things got dicey. Fortunately we're having tacos in the mess hall.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If it weren't for the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution we wouldn't be having this debate over nationalizing health care.

The current plan is to force the states to pay for national health care. "YOU THERE! I COMMAND YOU TO DO THIS BIG EXPENSIVE THING AND FIND A WAY TO PAY FOR IT!" Doesn't seem right, does it?

It's not. Our founding fathers didn't want a system like this. They didn't want Congress to have this kind of power. They envisioned an America of individual States that were United for a very few common goals (such as protection from other nations). Kind of like a Europe with a small central government. France can set the rules and laws it wants and Germany can set up completely different rules or laws. Likewise their intent was that, for exampe, Michigan can force a minimum wage upon it's employers but Indiana could choose not to. If you live in Indiana and think the idea of a minimum wage is good, move there. If you find working or employment conditions better in Indiana (or there are few jobs to be had) and you live in Michigan, move there. Competition. It's what's for dinner.

The founding fathers carefully planned out a balanced system where the people elect members of the House while the states elect two members for the Senate, members that are intended to protect the interest of the states. In terms of the recent "debate" such an unfunded mandate would be shot down in an instant.

House and the President: "Hey, let's mandate national healthcare and force the states the pay for it!"

Senate: "Let me check with the governors of our states that send us to protect their interests.... Um... nope."

-End of discussion.-

When I was in skool I remember wondering what the difference between the house and senate was because I didn't see much of one. Too bad the teachers didn't explain this but I guess they were too busy praising FDR and Woodrow Wilson. I also remember wondering what the big deal with the 17th Amendment was. I mean, wasn't it corrupt for the states to NOMINATE someone for such a powerful position? Wasn't this America, the democracy, where people voted on things?

Maybe I wasn't paying attention or was too shy to ask. We are instead a Representative Republic. Our politicians can't, and shouldn't, stick a finger in the air and take a poll for each and every item up for vote. The American people are supposed to choose a candidate who reflects their values and if that candidate betrays them, they don't get re-elected.

The 17th Amendment, in my view, was a monumental dismantaling of the intricate balance of power that the founding fathers set up. Hey, if they overturned the 18th amendment then why not the 17th? DOWN WITH 17!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Long Overdue Math

I see that Fort Wayne Community schools is finally doing away with this asinine policy of having two hour elementary teacher in-service training days sprinkled throughout the school year. SURPRISE! This morning your normal schedule is disrupted because of a non-weather related two hour delay! Find a sitter or take two or three hours of vacation time from work, juggle your schedule 'cause them teachers gotta have training!

It's not like they have, oh, ALL SUMMER FOR TRAINING! All these two hour bites could even be summed up into one or two full days either before or after the regular school year. But don't mention this to a teacher or else they'll get all whiney (being around small children all day tends to make the whininess rub off... or maybe it's because the majority of public school teachers lean to the left) about how it's hard to teach all day (all "seven" hours of it, including a break for lunch, recess, when your class goes to art or gym or music or Spanish) and how you get paid so little (apparently they had no idea of the pay scale while they were in college or interviewing for the job... but if you count up the actual hours worked [7 hours + prep time + spring break + CHRISTMAS break + summer break + regular sick days] you'll find that they get paid quite well!

I just did a quick check. The average STARTING teacher's salary in Indiana is $31,703, while the average teacher's pay is $46,597. That's not adjusted for time off, etc... Seems pretty durn good to me! Let's do some math, shall we?

7 hours a day - 1 hour for lunch/recess - 1 hour for special subjects + 1 hour of prep/grading time = 6 hours a day. Let's throw in an extra hour a day just to be generous.

7 hours a day X 5 days a week = 35 hours of work per week

52 weeks in the year - 2 weeks for Christmas break - 1 week for spring break - 1 week of vacation/sick - 11 weeks of summer + 1 week pre school prep + 1 week post school cleanup = 39 weeks

39 weeks X 35 hours a week = 1365 hours worked per year

$31,703 starting salary / 1365 hours worked per year = $23.23 per hour. Wow. That's way more than I make! More than most people I know make and this is just for a teacher starting out.

$46,597 / 1365 = $34.14 per hour... PLUS GREAT BENEFITS! QUIT YER WHINING!

My brother Pete used to be a teacher. Junior High. History. Do you think he earned his money every day, trying to get self-absorbed junior high schoolers interested in HISTORY!?!?! You bet he did, trying to come up with ways to get the interested! But he even said that it was a cush job. The first year, he admitted, is tough because you have to do a lot of lesson planning and prep work but every year after that is a cake-walk in that you just modify your plan IF YOU WANT. Remember that old teacher who seemed to be teaching the same things the same way for decades? He or she probably was.

But this long overdue rant is all for naught. DING DONG, THE SUPERFLOUS TWO-HOUR DELAY IS DEAD!


#4- DONE

Things to do today:

1) Write and polish up and submit a review for the new Phil Keaggy / Randy Stonehill album - Mystery Highway. Overall feeling, a fairly good album whose aftertaste is tarnished by one horrendously horrible out of place song that isn't even good enough for a hidden bonus track. Start work on a long overdue review for the newest Joey O. Band CD.

2) Revise and polish up a short story I wrote and then decide what to do with it. Submit it somewhere in the hopes that it's published? Just post it online? Finally check out online writing communities?

3) Continue to contemplate the Fruit Bat song 'cause I get to work on it tonight. Hmmm... what part to tackle next...

4) Finally write a blog post. DONE

5) Work a full eight hour day. More or less.

6) Spend time with my wife and family after work.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Terry Scott Taylor Home Show

I was very fortunate to be able to host the world-famous Terry Scott Taylor at my home as part of his mid-west tour this year. Below are two video snippets of his show. He spent a lot of time tuning so if you want to get a real feel of the evening just loop the tuning bit over and over. :) The house was packed with fans (well, sprinkled with fans) and Steve Hindalong of The Choir paid me a great compliment: "You've got a great sounding home." YES!