Thursday, April 26, 2007

Someone That Amazes Me

I am so proud and impressed with my wife. This week was the county teacher of the year banquet and my wife was nominated by her school as new teacher of the year, this is a nice recognition, but this it is not what impresses me. It is the wild and non-conventional route that she took to reach this point.

A year ago my wife was employed as a service area representative for the Girl Scouts, which meant the she coordinated and ran all the girl scouting programs in a two county area. She
had finally got a job she enjoyed after working a menial sales job after graduating with he degree in psychology. In the six plus years that I had know her she had never seriously talked about pursing teaching as a career.

This all changed very suddenly when last June she was suddenly laid off due to a reorganization that lead to the elimination of her position. Professional employment opportunities are limited in our some what isolated town. There is however a demand for teachers. She enjoyed working with kids during her time with the girl scouts so she decided to investigate what it would take to become a teacher.

The day after she found out that she was to be laid off she was a middle school in little border town south of here running a girl scout event and she decided to ask the vice-principal what it would take for her to become a teacher. His response to this was to pretty much hand her a job application right there. Apparently that particular district was having such a hard time hiring teachers that were being allowed by the hire teacher under an emergency certification program. Which basically means that could and would hire anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a pulse. She applied and was hired on as a seventh grade science teacher. The school year started and she was promptly thrown to the wolves.

One would think as a new teacher with no educational experience that my wife’s new school would provide her a lot of support as she made the transition in to her new career. This however would not turn out to be the case. After a fairly standard new employee orientation, she was handed two text books, told her that one of the was the one she was supposed to use, and that as for a curriculum she could find the state standards on the web and that she should try to teach to that. Adding to the challenge she faced is the nature of the school and its students. The school is located a few hundred yards from the Mexican border, in a town that is primarily composed of farm laborers. Only about 5% of the students speak English at home, many don't speak English at all. Because they have spent so much time learning English the 7th grade science class is the first time in their academic careers that they encounter Science. Needless to say this added greatly to the degree of difficulty of what she was attempting to do.

Further complicating things is an ongoing conflict between the Principal and the Vice-principal. Both men apparently loath each other and do what ever they can to undercut each other, creating a poisonous atmosphere. There are multitudes of other problems, but that would just be depressing to list and would not speak to the point I am trying to make.

Despite all hardships she has faced she has been most successful. The kids absolutely adore her; they want to hang out in her class room both before and after school. One of her more artistically gifted students her has turned her into a cartoon characters and has written several comics featuring her.

Even in her perceived failure she has met with success. The best example of this is the unit she attempted to do on Mars. NASA offers to let students to select a spot on Mars and use a satellite to take a picture of it. his is really a neat thing and she decided to do a unit around it. Unfortunately many have her students were not interested in doing it, so she was forced to cancel the unit half way through in favor of text book work. However a sizable group were fired up enough about it come in after school to complete the Mars project. She views the whole incident as great failure. I completely disagree the fact that she had so many students so fired about it that were willing to volunteer to come in after school to complete it, speaks volumes about her natural teaching ability. I can not think any school work where I would have volunteered to come to do after school.

Making this all more impressive to me is that while launching headlong into a career that her education and experience had prepared for she was embarking on getting her masters degree in education so that she can become fully credential as a teacher. Getting my own masters was a very difficult task, how she is able to manage it while doing something as tough as she is doing impresses the hell out of me. I married a truly amazing person. Best thing I ever did.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mr. Goodwrench I Am Not

Two years ago the air conditioner in my car failed, a mechanic told me that would cost over $1,000 to replace the compressor which had seized up. Considering that is about 50% of what my car is worth I opted not to do it. I can be stubbornly cheap like that. Besides even if I had an extra thousand bucks laying around I can think of a lot more exciting things than air conditioner compressor for an aging Subaru Legacy to spend it on.

Because of this I had to endure a 20 minute unairconditioned commute in the full heat of a Southern Arizona summer. For two summers I endured this torture. I would arrive home totally drenched in sweat, the only thing that allowed to keep my sanity was jumping into the nice and cool pool. For two sweltering summers I endured this, to cheap shell out the grand to fix it.

Facing the prospect of enduring a third summer of this hell, I got on the Internet to see if I could find any cheaper solutions to my problem. Much to my surprise and delight I discovered that a junkyard in Pennsylvania was selling the part I need for $26 on E-bay. This brought up a new problem I would I have to install the part myself.
My father is like a crazy cross between Mr. Goodwrench and McGuyver. I remember one time when I was very young that our car quit working while we were on a trip in the Mountains. My father looked under that hood, then went and cut a branch from a tree. He then whittled it down into a shape and size that he wanted and plut it somewhere in engine, some how this fixed the problem, the car ran, and we went home.

I inherited none of my fathers mechanical aptitude, something that always made me feel kind of inadequate. Previous attempts by me to repair my own car have ended badly, often very badly. But the chance to save so much money and to perhaps redeem my self in my own eyes proved to much to resist, so Saturday morning I popped open the hood and set about replacing my A/C compressor.

The old one came out very easily, things are always easy to uninstall. Then I began the process of putting the new one in. I began the process of installing the new one and things went very well, and got to the final step, the installation of a belt. By this point I was feeling pretty damn good about my self and began to swagger around the garage. There of course is only one inevitable conclusion to such hubris.

While tightening the very final bolt, I neglected to pay to attention to how tight the bolt was getting. Just like that the plastic receiver that bolt was going into snapped, I howled with rage and frustration. This not being the first time that life has taught me this particular lesson. Sigh, why must I be such a god damn idiot.

After consultation with my father on the phone, it became apparent the situation was not as dire as I had first feared. The piece that had broke was not critical but rather a convenience in tensioning the A/C belt, a process that I would now have to do by hand. A process that that turned out to be a pain in the ass and painful, but in the end I accomplished it.

So now my car has air conditioning, I saved a butt load of money, and more or less completed and auto repair project successfully. This all makes me very happy. Still the whole experience has sterengthend my desired to have as little to do with what is under the hood of car as possible. I will never understand car guys, working cars for fun seems like doing your taxes just for fun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I have recently come to the conclusion that I am obsessed with tattoos. Currently I have three of them, two on back and one my leg. None of them are particularly new, the newest dates back to last summer and the oldest to 2000. Despite this fact, every time I see my self in mirror, when I am in state of undress that allows for viewing of my tattoos, I take the time to notice my tattoos. I just really like the way they look on me. Plus there is just something about the idea of tattoos that appeals to me. I have design for a fourth tattoo all set to go, a topic that I have already blogged about. Everyday for months I have thought about the tattoo that I want. As for my wife's tattoos, I find them sexy as hell.

The thing that puzzles me about all this is, why? I can not figure out what the root of this obsession is. What is about tattoo that I find so appealing. After years of pondering this I still do not have the slightest clue. As a very analytical and introspective person the inability to understand the root of my desires in this regard bugs me. I like to know the reasons behind why I feel certain ways. Usually I am very good at least coming up with some sort of hypothesis on why I want something, or feel someway. But not in the case of my tattoo obsession.
But since they make me happy, and are harmless, I guess it does matter if don't know why I like them. I guess I will just enjoy them. Man, I can't wait until I get me next one. I wonder how many ultimately will wind up with. I can't see why I would want to stop with just one more.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Planner III!

My promotion finally came through and I am now officially a Planner III. I am already doing the work of a Planner III so my daily routine won't change. I do get a nice 6% raise, which will bump me above the 50k line for the first time ever. Not too bad considering that less than two years ago I was making less than $6 an hour stocking shelves at a grocery store. What a lovely way to start to weekend. I have been working towards this for over a year, and it happened almost exactly as I planned it. What a novelty that is.

The next step up the career latter is much more daunting, management. But that is worry for much latter. Right now I am just going to be happy