June 30th, 2006
Yes – a look at the calendar confirms it! June 2006 is nearly history. June is the best month of the year for me because it pretty much is my month to do things I want to do instead of doing things that I have to do. I didn’t get a lot of things done this month that I wanted to – but I did accomplish some things. Here’s a summary of the past few weeks:
- *I’ve been walking every morning – sometimes with the girls and sometimes by myself. This morning was a 3 1/2 mile walk that really got the circulation going. And, I got to listen to lots of songs on the iPod too!
- *Some household cleaning and organization has been done – but there’s always more left to do. I guess that’s what July is for!
- *I’m playing the piano this week-end for Ryan’s wedding in Fremont, so I’ve been practicing a bit. Ryan is a favorite FCCLA student from the class of 2000 who will be starting his own teaching career in Omaha this fall.
- *Earlier in the month I spent some days in Kearney at the FCSTN teacher’s meeting – it’s always fun to see the other teachers and I was glad some of my responibilities on the state board are over. This year, as past president, I got to choose and surprise three teachers as Teachers of the Year. That was pretty fun!
- *On Father’s Day we took a drive with the family up to Ash Fall and then over to the winery at Pierce. It was great to spend time with all three kids just like we used to when all the kids were home – and the wine was good too!
- *Francis and I took lots of evening rides on the motorcycle. That’s always fun for me!
All-in-all, June was pretty awesome, as usual!
June 30th, 2006
Yesterday I heard on the news that a 12 year old kid died soon after riding a roller coaster at Disneyworld in Orlando. What an awful tragedy that was for the family and everyone involved. The ride that was described was the very same one at MGM Studios that Kalie and I rode several years ago (summer of 2000) when we were there for national FCCLA and it was one of my favorites! With rock music blaring, you enter a room where you hear the voices of Aerosmith band members talking about going to their rock concert and inviting you to get into their limo (a.k.a. roller coaster car that looked somewhat like a limo) to join them for the ride. When everyone is all securely locked in, the car literally blasts forward for an awesome ride that probably lasted less than one or two minutes. It was one of my all-time favorite rides anywhere. I’m not sure what caused the child’s death yesterday, but I can only guess that perhaps he had a preexisting medical condition. After watching my parents and parents-in-law suffer for days, weeks, months and even years with terminal illnesses, I think that if I could choose a way to die (at an old age) I would want to be on a motorcycle, riding a roller coaster, or traveling to some cool place when it happened. At least my last moments on this earth would be spent having fun and doing some things that I love!
June 15th, 2006
Today marks the reduction of the number of school districts in Nebraska due to the enactment of LB 126 which requires Class 1 (elementary only) and Class 6 (secondary only) school districts to merge with K-12 districts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the small country schools still in operating will close, but rather that they will operate as part of the larger K-12 district – although some of the remaining one-room schools will, in fact, close. People can make good arguments on both sides of the issue – the benefits of the mergers vs the benefits of the small schools and local control. I can see merit in both sides of the discussion.
At the risk of sounding like an old-timer (OK – well, maybe I am!), I can’t help but thinking of my own experience as a kid in the one-room school a couple of miles away from my house. If I remember right, we had as many as ten students and as few as six or so during the seven years that I attended school there. I had one other student in my grade, a boy named Robin. One of the best things about attending a country school included the interaction I had with students of all ages. As a Kindergartener, I played the same games at recess that the eighth-graders did and also had parts in the school Christmas program and county music contest. I listened to lessons in math, english, history and science that all of the older kids were learning since we were all in one room. Since I learned to read at an early age, I even got to give the older kids their spelling tests sometimes to help the teacher out. (I suppose now that would be considered brown-nosing, but to me it was just fun!) I can’t help but think that all of that exposure we had to the curriculum of all grades, K-8, not only accelerated learning but also reinforced what had been learned in previous years. That’s not something that is so readily available with the structure of our schools today. Of course, on the flip side, we probably gave up some things like more indepth instruction in areas like music, PE, art and other curriculum areas since we only had one teacher for all things and all grades! Our little school closed at the end of my sixth grade year and we all headed off to town school – we felt like little fish in a bigger pond for awhile, but we all did OK for ourselves and learned to adjust to a new situation.
So I have mixed feelings about the state forcing mergers of school districts. Keeping in mind that bigger does not always necessarily mean better, I also know that change can be tough. With all of the pending litigation surrounding LB 126, we be hearing more discussion on this issue for years to come.
June 8th, 2006
I admit that I like watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Tonight’s guest on the Colbert Report was Steven Johnson, author of the book Everything Bad Is Good For You: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter. The basic premise of his book is the idea that contrary to popular belief, many of today’s TV programs and video games are actually stimulating thinking skills and problem solving abilities of kids today. Besides the usual entertaining, subtle and not-so-subtle, sarcasm and satire of Stephen Colbert, the interview with Steven Johnson offered up a lot of food for thought about positive aspects of our culture and media on our intellect. I do remember thinking when our kids were small that shows such as “Wheel of Fortune” taught the alphabet, reading, and spelling and video games such as Nintendo’s Marioland and Sim City offered opportunities to develop strategy and problem solving skills. And I think that The Simpson’s is largely recognized now as a show that deals with relevant issues and gives viewers a lot to think about. Even South Park, if you overlook the language and sometimes blatantly gross references, usually illustrates conflicting viewpoints of a current social issue that leads to higher level thought processes. I also think it’s important that parents of young kids watch the TV programs their kids are watching and are aware of the video games/Internet sites/etc. that their kids are exposed to so that they can discuss the issues found in the media. So Steven Johnson’s interview tonight caught my attention. This book and others he has written look like they would be interesting reading!
June 7th, 2006
Having to leave town yesterday afternoon for a couple of days in Kearney at a teacher’s meeting, I was lucky enough to get to drive the school’s new 2006 Suburban. Before I even got out on the highway, I was checking out all the cool features it had. I found you could change the radio station and adjust the volume by pushing controls on the steering wheel. There are also buttons to push that will give you information about the tire pressure and condition of the motor oil! I tried out all the buttons just to see what they were. There was a button on the rear view mirror (next to the time and temperature) that said ON, so of course I tried it too. The next thing I knew the radio kicked off and I could hear a phone dialing. Soon the rear-view mirror was talking to me! “This is Onstar responding – what is your emergency?” Oops! I had to explain (to the mirror!) that this was my first time to drive the new school vehicle and I was guilty of pushing buttons just to see what would happen. (Who knew that pushing a button labeled ON would be akin to dialing 911?) The voice coming from the mirror chuckled and invited me to call back anytime I actually needed any kind of help in the future before wishing me a good day.
Well, it seems I wasn’t the only one having problems with vehicles yesterday. On my way out of town I had to stop at the gas station because the Suburban was nearly on empty. As I was filling the gas tank, I noticed an elderly woman trying to get the hose from the diesel pump into the gas tank on her car. I hollared over to her questioning if her car really took diesel. She said no so I told her she probably needed to use a different pump then!! Oops again! She thanked me about a dozen times as she hung the diesel hose back up and reached for the gasoline hose.
June 3rd, 2006
We were surprised last night with a new baby llama. We knew it was a possibility, but with a llama it’s pretty difficult to tell by looking if there is a new baby expected until the little one just shows up! Well, it’s a baby girl and so far, both the mother and baby seem to be doing fine. The mother llama had two babies in the past two years and had no maternal instinct. In fact, she would kick the babies away and not let them nurse at all. We bottle fed them, but both lasted only a week; proving that there is no substitute for mother’s milk and TLC, I guess. So, I hope that the third time’s a charm and this year she will finally act like a mother llama should. We think we will call the new little llama “Bandit” because she has a mask-like face. She’s a cutie!