The Beaten Path


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is kind of overrated. If there is a more spiritually soothing way to shut the world out for a bit, it’s a walk by the water. While the beaches aren’t ready for swimming just yet, (hell, it snowed not too long ago), it was very therapeutic to get close to the water. Two workers were literally combing the sand for the sunseekers to come. There were a couple of us who couldn’t wait.

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The endless winter did leave a few interesting carvings behind.

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It was good to be outside, in the sunshine, and with no particular place to go, so the beach at Woodlawn State Park and the areas in the Outer Harbor were a good place to walk, and put into practice how good it can feel to not have a shoe on.

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There’s a little beauty everywhere

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It’s just in knowing where to look

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Wandering…it was good for this soul.

Roam

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“After school is over…”


Education is the silver bullet. Schools should be palaces. Teachers ought to be making six figures salaries”

That was part of a pretty high minded speech from one of the admittedly high minded characters on the West Wing. It was one of the shows that I admittedly had a problem, never missed it. But that piece of dialogue had a point.  I got myself over and made sure I voted in the school board elections in the City of Buffalo on Tuesday. I don’t pretend to know all the answers by any stretch of the imagination, but the school board has some issues that could spill over into volumes.  With one child still in the system, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for sure. He’s in a good school that is working and his mother and I are grateful for that. But the world is a different place than when our eldest entered the system 20 years ago. I don’t know how many parents remembered the magnet system and it seems to have slipped the minds of a lot of the board folks. I am not philosophically aligned with some of the more public folks screaming for reform, but you got to admit, they have a point. This thing isn’t working. There are teachers doing incredible work against staggering odds and the winds aren’t going to start blowing in their favor anytime soon. That is a tragedy. Because that is where things matter.

Perhaps it is getting looked at “behind the scenes” but there doesn’t seem to be much urgency in fixing what is failing. The rush to transfer has created another problem in the whole “where do you transfer them to?” I mean let’s fix stuff too, not just relocate problems.

Voter turnouts are always low and that’s too bad, because I don’t think folks realize what all that means. If the schools have a lousy reputation, the district run by the keystone kops, the ramifications are huge. If a business is trying to recruit talent, “what are the schools like?” is a question that enters into any discussion. If the answer is “a mess with administrative infighting over every little thing,” getting folks to come to anyplace to work and live is that much tougher.

When the town I grew up in had a bit of a fit about a proposed school tax increase last year, a tax increase that would have been resulted in a rate that is still among the lowest in the region. Cuts funds and something has to give. As usual it was stuff for the kids.  Nobody likes increases but stuff does cost monies. We all want to see those funds spent well. A quality school system is good for the town or city that it covers. Lord knows the abuses that have come to light and will come to light in the months ahead. I have friends teaching in the system and they have to cope with the effects of “No child Left behind,” twisted evaluative systems, kids that come from homes that might not have school as a priority.

So, I don’t know what exactly to make of the Buffalo elections last night, but the winners are correct in that there is a lot of work to do, a lot of words being spoken about how they got to do right for the kids.

Hope they mean it.

 

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Powering down…


I spent some time in the early 2000s as a “reboot monkey,” helping folks with their then new high speed internet connections. As jobs go, it was what it was, a way of keeping the bills paid. It popped back into my mind last evening, specifically this one guy who called and wanted to scream about all this stuff in the computer and “what your man put in the computer.” It turned out the computer was fresh out of the box and was loaded with all sorts of goodies for the new owner. The internet connection just opened the door to all these things. After he yelled at me for the requisite amount of time to feel manly,  we got things squared away, shut some things down, and he was online.

It came to mind last night as I am in day 4 of new phone ownerhood. The previous phone logged a couple of busy years and it was one of those windows I could afford to spoil me.  After 3 days of electroshock therapy from it flipping like a dead fish, and making a schmuck out of me, I was becoming one of those people, instead of periodically looking to see if it was a kid calling, it was anything and it was ridiculous and I apologize to anybody and everybody during that period. The almost ten year old reboot story came to mind and provided me with a sense of direction as I stripped the phone of the preloaded nonsense, quitting foursquare, yelp, aboutme in the process. There wasn’t anything come from it, just imagined connections, that haven’t mattered and weren’t going to, and were insulting to anybody who was actually there in the now.

So, notifications are off, as they were making me an idiot.

As they don’t matter, never mattered, all that it accomplished is that phantom buzz in your calf from where the phone was unnecessarily buzzing in your pocket. I thought I had this largely beat, having beaten my previous device into semi-silent submission, but sometimes you have to go that extra step to remember what is important and admit that you might just have an issue.

I don’t know if that stuff stems from uncertainty if you matter and getting too needy or social inept to make real connections, you take on whatever one you can get.

But as the noted philosopher Bill Murray once noted (in the climatic scene to the classic “Meatballs“), it just “doesn’t matter.” In this case, it’s the 4square check in, fb post that caused annoying buzzing.

I was asked if I got a tweet at lunch today, and it was actually good to say “No.”

Step one…

 

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