Sunday, November 28, 2010

We All Fall Down

Have you seen the new GM commercial, "We All Fall Down?" 

In the spirit of the season I am going to assume that it was created to sincerely thank the government and the tax payers who offered a helping hand, and the GM workers who have brought about the remarkable turnaround at GM.  A more cynical person might think it is a brilliant marketing strategy.  Either way...I love it.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is snowing outside as I write this. The first flurries of snow were enough to send the spouse out to the garage to put the snow tires on my car. Left to my own devices I would have gone to Les Schwab, but apparently the line for snow tire installation reaches around the block. One of the gifts of retirement is the luxury of not having to go anywhere. I can ignore the snow and stay snug in my living room, except when I need to get to the airport. Tomorrow I have to go to the airport.

The spouse and I are going to Texas for Thanksgiving. Since our first grandchild was born five years ago, we have spent every Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family. Our son decided not to make the trip, so we are cooking a mini-Thanksgiving dinner today so he will still have leftovers to enjoy next week.

So, the snow is falling and the smell of roasting turkey is wafting through the house and I am thankful:

...for a handy spouse who can install my snow tires

...for a son who will take care of the house while we travel (his dad gave him an instructional lecture on how to defrost pipes in case it freezes while we are gone!)

...for the resources to be able to travel

...for seven days with the granddaughters to look forward to.

Editor's update:  I had already pushed the post button when the spouse came into the house and told me the snow tires were on my car and there was one more thing to be grateful for.  Faithful readers will remember the post about the spouse's habit of gleening hubcaps on the freeway.  While installing my snow tires he discovered that one of my hubcaps was broken.  Turns out he had another one in his pile collection of hubcaps.  Now I'll never break him of the habit...or hear the end of it!

Life is good. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunset Years

While I loved getting the extra hour of sleep last weekend, I don't like the darkness coming so early in the afternoon.  On the other hand, if it wasn't getting dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, I would have missed this beautiful sunset.

On Sunday I went shopping in the Tri-Cities, Washington, about 30 miles north of Hermiston.  I stopped on the freeway on-ramp to snap these photos.  The light was fading fast.  When I first headed south to drive home the entire sky was red and orange with patches of blue close to the horizon.

One of the blessings of living in the rural part of the state is the wide open spaces and the sunsets that span the horizon.  I think I have taken these sights for granted in the past.  Now that I am retired I can take the time to stop and marvel at the beauty.

Life is good!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Longer a Rat in a Cage

On Friday I was lounging around the house in my pajamas and I got an email from a friend inviting me to lunch. I responded that I was still in pj's, but could meet her by 12:15. She emailed back and told me I'd have to get dressed. With the promise of a restaurant meal and good company, I was motivated to get dressed and drive the mile into town.

Before I retired I ate lunch out several times a week. Now I rarely do. My friends are still working and it is difficult for them to schedule in advance, and it is difficult for me to motivate myself to get out of the house. Usually my lunch dates are limited to a meal at the bowling alley for the twice monthly Lion's Club meetings.

Driving into town to meet my friend I started to feel stressed. Since I retired stress is a rare event. I realized that I was stressing about where we would go to lunch. Hermiston has very few dining options. How fortunate am I that the only thing I have to worry about is where to eat lunch!
Over lunch we talked a little about the current state of education and the challenges that our district faces. My friend shared some of her ongoing projects and we brainstormed approaches to some of the barriers to success.  As I frequently have since I retired,  I felt a sense of relief that I no longer have to deal with the bullshit of public education.  I don't have to attend committee meetings, where the outcomes are predetermined, to explore changes to whatever is currently in disfavor by the higher authority.   I don't have to implement the predetermined changes recommended by the committee and pretend that I believe it is the best thing for students.  I don't have to reassure teachers that everything will be okay, when I have serious doubts that it will be.  I don't have to pretend to respect district leaders who have done nothing to earn respect.  I don't have to be a part of the big lie.
My heart aches for my friends who are still trapped in the system. There was a time that I was proud to be a part of the school leadership. I believed that we were all working together in a collaborative effort to improve our schools, to serve our students, to provide the best opportunities for our kids that we could. We respected each others opinions, expected everyone to participate and we worked long and hard to make a difference for kids. We worked in an environment of trust.  I don't see that now, but, almost all of the administrators from the previous administration are gone.  Time will tell if this top down, militaristic approach to school management has really improved outcomes for students. 
I am grateful that I don't have to work in an environment where the expectation is that we pretend that everything is wonderful and we stab each other in the back.   Lyrics from a Smashing Pumpkins song are stuck in my head  "despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage."  I am grateful that this rat is free to worry only about what to eat for dinner!

This post isn't really in the spirit of the theme of this blog.  For that I apologise.  Lately, especially following the recent elections, I'm more angry than grateful.  Perhaps I need a blog just to rant about the things that irritate me.  This blog may have run it's course.  I find myself writing more on my other blog, Benchmark 60.  Is it time to let this one fade away?  What do you think?
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