Sunday, March 16, 2008

Manual Labor!

For five days, I’ve done the most exhausting physical labor of my life, but I anticipate it paying off for years to come. I, with much help from C. have redesigned my entire back yard so that it is a place I want to spend my evenings. Growing up on a farm, there is just something about the outdoors that captures me and calls to me. In a year, my secret garden will be an efficient oasis within my urban landscape.

I work in education and some in the field see our focus as getting students to go to college, in fact, my job exists solely to get students to enroll in some postsecondary institution after high school. The prejudice with educators against those who do not value as much as we do is thinly veiled by many as the platitude that “college is not for everyone.” If everyone wore librarian glasses, the statement would be delivered down the nose and over the glasses.

Educators feel a certain need to persuade every person that if they do not get a four-year degree, at least, they really will not be successful, no matter what they do. Training, apprenticeships, two-year, and technical degrees are viewed as lesser options that will only lead to a lifetime of struggle and misery.

It annoys me when other educators act in such a way because the facts are otherwise – only about 23% of careers being created in the United States require a four-year degree. Sixty-five percent require some training post-high school, specifically not a four-year degree. Still the prejudice continues.

After a week of hard physical labor, I see the joy of it. My call is to be an educator; I’ve tried other jobs and have been miserable in them, but the accomplishment one sees when boards are hammered and dirt is shoveled, is real, visible, and capable of bringing joy over time.

That is my garden.

Every bloom, every tomato, squash, pepper, cucumber, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, and all the herbs will remind me not to begrudge those who choose to do this kind of work on for a living. I have taken pictures of the project along the way. I think I’m going to print out a bunch of wallet sized photos and whip them out whenever I see the education prejudice rear its head.

Flip-Flop Burn


Yes, I really have been doing yard work - in flip-flops.

I wore flip-flops to church today.

I'm attending a fashion event tonight.

At a shoe store.

Yes, I'm wearing flip-flops again.

I'm giving myself a pedicure first.

Thank goodness this is Austin and I can get away with it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Extreme Makeover #1 : Introduction




It's not the flu.

It's extreme makeover, backyard edition.

Pictures have been taken and will be posted to document the days of backbreaking labor C. and I have put into my back yard.

It is nice to have a friend who loves doing yardwork and helps me out for free - well, I do pay for his Friday night drinks and dinner year-round, but it is worth it for the level of physical labor he's put in the last few days.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Brett Favre: Somtimes They are Heroes

Saturday Sportscast

Sometimes They Are Heroes

This week Brett Favre announced his retirement after seventeen seasons as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. For years there have been calls for his retirement, but after one of the best seasons of his career, there were mostly tears.

There is little if anything to be added to the obituary of Favre’s career. His records, some of which are viewed as unbreakable in the physical modern game have all been recited repeatedly. His personality and personal courage have been well documented. His every-man nature endeared him to even those for whom the Packers were life-long rivals. Some of these characteristics are what made me a fan.

I remember the night he played just hours following his father’s death in an auto accident. It was one of the most exciting games and a game when he showed what a masterful quarterback he was. As I watched him play that night, I cried – overcome by the sheer grace and willpower and courage he displayed.

Favre made enough mistakes to be real and always entertaining. Sometimes, the miracle comeback came because of an errantly thrown ball earlier in the game. Whenever the Packers played – even in seasons when they were not particularly successful – they were always fun to watch.

The next season is still months away, but I’m already anticipating it with a mix of anxiety and excitement. It will be a challenge to see the green and yellow without automatically rooting for Favre, but I am looking forward to rooting for the next generation in Young and Romo.

With luck, one of them will resolve to take up Favre’s mantle and become the next foundation for the team and community. Favre was more than a player – he was a hero for to many and those are rare to find in sports today.

The last generation of players seems to be dominated by players going for the biggest payday who fly from team to team as the dollar signs grow. Many of those same players also took advantage of “advances” in medicine – some of which were not illegal at the time.

The only real difference between illegal and not legal at the time is a matter of ethics and character. Athletes who used performance enhancing drugs before each new one was banned knew they were doing wrong, but did it anyway because they could get away with it.

Brett Favre stayed with one team and has never been accused of using any performance enhancing drugs, but was very open about his addiction to pain killers following a series of injuries. He shared his struggle and became even more human for it.

So now I sit back and wait for the next great player who is both Clark Kent and Superman. Sometimes they are heroes.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Drunk Texting

Over the years, I’ve received my share of drunk calls in the middle of the night. As far as I know, I’ve never made any, but then again, I would have been drunk so how am I to know? Friends would have told me, but strangers probably would not have recorded my number to call back and let me know.

Last week I bought a new phone – a lovely Blackberry Curve and I’m still in the process of playing with it. While waiting for some friends to join me at our usual Friday night spot for dinner, I texted a person I’m getting to know – well, after one margarita, I thought it was someone I’m getting to know.

The Curve has a great track-ball that functions like a mouse and lets one rapidly zip through the names in the address book and from function to function. It is very easy to get to where one wants on the phone, if not just past it.

My brother has the same first name as the person I’m getting to know.

The friends arrive and we’re having a great time having a few margaritas and eating dinner. I receive a texted response from the person I’m getting to know: polite and just right for the message I sent him (merely hoped he had a good week, so nothing salacious) and a promise to call over the weekend.

Monday rolled around and I had still not heard from this person I’m getting to know, but I’d had an unexpectedly hectic weekend, so I didn’t’ think much of it.

Mid-day Monday I received an email from my brother letting me know he had received my text.

I questioned him as to the content of the text message.

It was the message I “sent” the person I’m getting to know.

From now on, tricks and potential dates are getting a “phone” nickname from the first conversation on. The last thing I want to do is send my brother a text telling him just what I planned to do to him next time I see him!