Saturday, June 11, 2011
Ever wander down the dock at a marina and notice water coming out of a hole in the side of a boat's hull? Water drains out of small holes called scuppers that can be for removing gray water used for washing hands, showering or doing dishes. These scuppers also allow the overflow of fresh water when the holding tank is full.
One other reason might be that the bilge, that place deep down in the lowest bowels of the boat, has filled to0 full of water and one or more of the boat's bilge pumps have turned on. Bilge pumps are rated as to the number of gallons of water they can move in a certain amount of time. On my boat, for example, I have two 500 gal./hour pumps and one 1500 gal./hour pump. When all are working that is 2000 gal./hour of water that can be removed from the boat. Sounds impressive but in the worst of conditions, I'd probably be heading the boat to the nearest shore to run it aground before it sank. Or, there is always the dinghy if an immediate exit was necessary.
My point in writing about this blog is that I recently had issues with one of my pumps that lead me to have to have some service done. We docked in our home slip last weekend after a tour around Bellingham Bay. After a near picture perfect landing, I shut down the engines and headed down the ladder to the main deck. A whirring sound could be heard coming from the engine room. We pulled open the hatches and peered in to discover what sounded like one of the bulge pumps was running. No amount of effort could get it to stop. Our only solution was to cut one of the power wires before it drained the batteries. I called my electrician and he came by this past week to take a look at it. While he was at it I suggested he look at the third pump hidden under the floor of the master stateroom which had never worked.
The results? He explained that something had been pulled up into the pump that wouldn't turn off and got the switch stuck in the on position. A little Simple Green cleaned it up and that problem was solved. The pump under the stateroom floor was a more serious problem. The float switch on it was dead and the pump was on its last legs, so it needed to be changed out completely which he did. $250 later, problem solved and I learned a few things as well. We are now good to go. Another of the older devices on the boat has been fixed and or replaced and The Key of Sea is that much more safe. The sad thing is that it is one of those "can't-be-seen-improvements" that homeowners always talk about like a hot water heater instead of say, new carpet. Oh, well! BOAT--Bring Over Another Thousand! You warned me, Rick!
Friday, June 10, 2011
I’m going to step out of my usual third-person writing voice for a moment. As a parent I received a letter last week from the Kansas State Board of Education, informing me that my children’s school district had been placed on “improvement” status for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.
I thought it ironic that our schools were judged inadequate by people who haven’t set foot in them, so I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Predictably, my letter elicited a deluge of comments in the paper’s online forum. Many remarks came from armchair educators and anti-teacher, anti-public school evangelists quick to discredit anything I had to say under the rationale of “he’s a teacher.” What could a teacher possibly know about education?
Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase “in what other profession….” and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything.
In what other profession, indeed.
In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”
In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising “choose me – I’ve never done this before”, and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.
In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”
But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced “dead wood”. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.
And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.
If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.
For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.
If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail; we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.
And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Flash forward to last weekend. I had promised a student I would come watch him play lacrosse. His games happened to be in Stanwood. Jimmy's! We had to stop at Jimmy's for lunch. Jimmy's is a bit of an anachronism both in its decor, a very friendly staff, but best of all the food is great.
I ordered my favorite spaghetti and meatballs and my wife ordered the ravioli skillet. The waitress asked if I'd like mine baked? I thought a minute and said sure. The dish arrived in a skillet, a plate with a handle on it. I could hear the skillet sizzling. It was red hot with the cheese bubbling over the top. I waded into the plate starting from the edge. The sauce was a deep red indicative of one that had been simmering on the stove for hours. The pasta was perfectly al dente and two enormous meatballs rich and flavorful. My wife's ravioli was great as well, but this time, I won! The ravioli was great but my spaghetti was fabulous. With each main comes a salad choice or either a ceasar or green salad and a thick slab of garlic bread. Neither of us could finish the enormous serving and so we had a delicious second meal.
Stanwood may not be on any of the main routes, but it isn't that far west of I-5. So stop by and try it out. You just might like Jimmy's.
The first of several recognitions for my 33+ years of teaching occurred last night at the Mount Vernon High School. The school board (most of them) were there. Our principal's introduced their retirees and spoke about their accomplishments over the years. My principal, Kris Wollan, spoke about me, then I received an apple with my name and year of retirement on it from the superintendent and then each board member shook my hand and congratulated me. Afterward, the group of about 20 retirees was invited to a reception with pink lemonade and cake and ice cream. Leslie was there beaming at me, with the same look she gave me the first time I laid eyes on her some 40 years ago. We had a glass of punch, shook a few hands and then left. She had a dinner to get to with some of her students and I headed home to watch NCIS reruns and look over the latest details of our trip to Ecuador coming up next month. It was a little anticlimactic considering the number of years those people being honored had devoted to this profession, but I guess it is pretty reflective of the state of education and befits the quiet way most of us go about living our lives. Quietly doing whatever you have chosen to do with our lives and then, quietly walking off into the next phase of life. The real excitement remaining is in the classroom anyway. So this morning I arrived as I always do and will continue to do for the few days left, to do my job, be with the kids, my colleagues and finish packing up my room. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++