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The TSA and Other Things on My Mind Today

  • Posted on January 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I think this is going to be a long day.  I have a stressed out dog, a curious cat, and a backache.  It is the middle of winter and I am getting a new roof.  My animals, especially my poor dog, seem confused by the noise and feel somewhat invaded.  It is early.  I know that this day is only going to get much worse.  Speaking of feeling invaded, I just read the article, “Dear America, I Saw You Naked and Yes, we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent.” by Jason Edward Harrington over at Politico.com.  I have to say nothing in it surprised me but it sure reinforces many of the things I had been thinking about giving up our freedoms and all for the sake of safety.  Some of it is just to keep us in line, so to speak.  Nothing more but to make it look like someone is doing something to keep us safe.  The next time you are traveling and have to be personally checked in some way, you might think more about why it is you.  He even suggested there is a special code for attractive women, no real surprise there.  It sounds more like a Frat house party than what we should consider serious government business.

Poor Ann Romney is still whining about the fact that she won’t be FLOTUS.  I am not sure why but I did watch the Mitt movie on Netflix this week during our hiatus from school because of the chilling weather.  The movie was a great, big, warm, and fuzzy fluff piece for Mitt.  Aw shucks people, he is just one of us!  We just don’t really understand what a decent, caring individual he really is.  While I am sitting here trying to comfort my poor dog, I cannot help but think back to another dog that spent a treacherous time on the roof of Mitt’s automobile.  Maybe Mitt is one of us, one of those people that don’t understand those of us that treat our animals as if they are human.  Enough said, but don’t be surprised if Mitt doesn’t run again.  The movie made me think it was a setup for 2016!

While I was home, I also viewed those annoying videos all teachers have to view yearly about everything from blood borne pathogens and sexual harassment, to chemicals in the work place and what OSHA means to me.  I am not sure why I have to view these every year because my memory isn’t that bad.  However, it is just one of those things that some government official thinks we need to freshen up on yearly.  I always find the sexual harassment video interesting.  When I see the young female teacher sitting at her desk with the lecherous older teacher trying to persuade her to get on his team, I can only wonder what female teacher wears a top like that.  It has spaghetti straps and I think she is ready for a party.  I know many young, female teachers and I haven’t witnessed any of them dressed quite like that at school.  If they did, the boys would surely be having much better attendance rates than some of them do.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an online art conference put on by the Art of Education.  It was an interesting day.  There were many technical problems for people as the video streaming had some issues.  Even though there were problems, I still had a great day.  It was nice to feel like I was part of something bigger as I viewed and participated in conversations with other art teachers from all over the world.  Of course, art is universal and it is truly, a language that all people can understand.  AOE gave us a password so we can view the videos for the next six months or so.  This is great as I remember many times coming back from a conference trying to remember all of the different presentations I attended.  At AOE, I can review the videos and maybe get even more from them.  While they didn’t present enough material at the high school level, I was able to get plenty of ideas that I will be using in my own classroom in the days and years to come.  I really can’t wait until the next one.  Therefore, if you are an art teacher, you might want to look into the Art of Education website for future reference.

Speaking of art and websites, I want to give a shout out to my favorite online art teacher, “The Helpful Art Teacher.”  Rachel Wintemberg teaches in New Jersey and has only had her blog for a bit over three years, but it is jam packed with great lesson plans.  She shares everything and researches whatever she is posting online.  While the site visually may look a little simplistic, it is far from it.  I can spend days perusing Rachel’s blog.  It is just a treasure.  If you are an art teacher, you really need to check it out.  It is really geared for the middle and high school crowd but it is awesome.  I have nominated her blog for the Art of Educations Art Ed Blog of the Year Award.  You are welcome to nominate her as well if you are so inclined.

While I am hearing a lot of pounding, my baby dog, Brodie, has seemed to settle in under my feet, so to speak.  He pipes up once in awhile but he seems to be appreciating my presence near him and is glad that I am calm and not freaking out by the noise.  The geek in me finds this product very interesting and it reminds me of a piece of sculpture.  It could be revolutionary and it is based on an old concept.  How cool is that?

I talked with one of my ten brothers the other night about farm subsidies.  I won’t get into the sum total of our conversation but it had something to do with the concept of socialism and how some people that despise the concept of socialism are the biggest socialists, so to speak, as they get subsidized. So of course, I had to go find the website for myself and it is interesting.  If you would like to know who is getting farm subsidies in your area, just plug in the zip code.  This is for the period of years from 1995 through 2012.  I always find these things interesting because so many people worry about the $133.85 some poor person might be receiving from SNAP.  Maybe we should be looking beyond to the people that really get the lion’s share of government money through special programs, lobbying efforts, and no bid contracts.  Don’t even get me started on those charitable organizations like churches that get government money for “helping” other people.  I always think it would be better if the government just gave the money right to the people.  Think about how the bankers were all bailed out, if the government had just sent that money out to us, we would have gotten the economy going, by spending it.  Instead, the bankers kept it and then made it more difficult for businesses to get the loans they needed.  I am not an economist but something stinks in our government.  We have two parties that get their seed money for their elections from businesses that lobby for special treatment.  The rest of us out in the real world just keep doing what we are supposed to be doing and keep on hoping that something different will be done.  President Obama was going to bring us change but that’s not happening.  Washington is more gridlocked than ever and controlled by special interests that have nothing to do with most of the American people.  The one percent is getting richer and the rest of us continue to hang on….hoping to see something constructive done by our government.  I won’t hold my breath.  I don’t see any real change in anything but education and that’s just because there is money to be made there.

I have had fun writing my little thoughts.  I hope someone finds me somewhat entertaining and perhaps I can get someone thinking, a simple thing this teacher would like to do.  You don’t have to agree with me on anything, but just think.  I’ll leave you with a picture of poor Brodie.  As you can see, he is frightened but sitting under my computer chair knowing I will save him from all that is evil!100_2107

Secret Service Goes Quiet on Pay

  • Posted on July 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Office of George BushH.W. Bush and his Secret Service Patrol

Yesterday, I saw on the news the nice little story about President H.W. Bush shaving his head in support of one of his secret service member’s children who is battling leukemia.  I diverged off from the cute little story when I had a conversation with my sister this morning and she was quite upset to think that President H.W. Bush has that many secret service people protecting him.  I told her I thought there seemed like a lot but I didn’t actually get a good look at the picture as I was working in my studio and mostly listening to the news.  I decided it was worth a second look and I am flabbergasted at the sheer number of able-bodied men it seems to take to protect merely one of our ex-presidents.  The story is here:  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/24/19662020-bush-41-shaves-head-in-support-of-2-year-old-cancer-patient?lite

Now, maybe this doesn’t bother you but from my perspective, it seems like there weren’t any cuts made in protecting our dear ex-presidents when all those cuts were made this spring to the rest of the country.  I know there are many people unemployed so I think that maybe a job in the Secret Service would be good place to look for work.  Here is the link in case you are so inclined.  http://www.secretservice.gov/faq.shtml#faq8

I did some research because I wanted to know what it costs to take care of our ex-presidents.  Interestingly enough, I could only find the cost for their homes, office, and so forth but not the cost for Secret Service as I think it’s a secret!  Now, the cost for running their homes and so forth is also quite large.  In fact large enough that most of us would be happy with a onetime payment of that lottery prize.  I am providing a link here but the expense for 2012 was $3.7 million.  Interestingly enough, there was an act back in 1997 that would have ended secret service for all future ex-presidents after ten years.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/03/26/obama-bush-clinton-carter-congressional-research-service/2020323/

This would mean that President Clinton would have been the last to receive this service for his lifetime.  However, contrary to what we have been made to believe about Congress and the President not getting along, they actually do pass some legislation.  In January of this year, as I loosely quote Wikipedia, President Obama signed legislation reinstating lifetime Secret protection for himself, President George W. Bush, and all subsequent presidents.  Maybe this seems fine to everyone else but I question a government that can spend so much on those at the top of the government food chain and so little on those at the bottom.  They, meaning Congress, politicians, and the right wing media have us little people worrying about the person next door getting food stamps, SNAP if you will.  As you will see from this chart, the average SNAP benefit is $133.41.  I have been to the grocery store lately and by my calculations that doesn’t go too far!

We can all get into a battle about protecting our ex-presidents but my concern is the number of secret service needed to do that job.  There have been major cuts to programs for everything from defense to education.  Everyone at the bottom seems to have to give up something, so why don’t those at the top?

 

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