Monday, March 29, 2010

Education in Florida and why I might not be a part of it in the near future

Florida education is in trouble. Everyone knows it. It's not news. What Repulicans in the legislature are trying to do with it now is news.

Governor Charlie Crist and Senator John Thrasher (who wrote the legislation) plan to make teachers' salaries and continued employment based entirely on how their students' perform on standardized tests. These are (the already passed) SB 6 and (the soon to be voted on and expected to pass) HB 7189. Teachers will even have the threat of loosing their teaching certificates if their students don't make the mandated gains. I would make jokes about the legislature getting medieval on us, going back to the policies of the University of Bologna circa 1090 CE, but the details of this legislation make me physically ill and I can't. It's too disgusting and too disheartening. I can't enumerate them all here. Please, go here to see what this is all about. It breaks my heart.

What is clear to me in all this is that I am and what I have to give are not appreciated in this state, not by those who would employ me and not by the parents if they would allow such legislation to go unchallenged. The service that I was hoping to do for my community is not valued. If this legislation passes, it would be impossible for me to teach in public schools in this state. I will not do it. To teach under these conditions would be absurd! There are 49 other states out there and there are many private schools. I will get my teaching certificate, meet those requirements, and then I will take my youthful enthusiasm and desire to inspire young minds and I will go somewhere I will be properly respected for it (at least in the way I'm dealt my salary from my employer, in the way my contract is written, and in the way I can actually gain tenure and have advanced degrees and years of experience mean something to those who employ me - we all know that teachers aren't respected in general... that's why legislation like this is even possible).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The universe is speaking...

And it is telling me to make socks and mittens. I've been inundated with awesome sock and mitten patterns for the past month. We're talking a near daily occurrence here between magazines, books and new patterns on Ravelry. Clearly, someone thinks I need to make some and I'm beginning to agree with that assessment.

I just got an awesome new book from Ilana called Socks, Socks, Socks by Elaine Rowley. 70 sock patterns, y'all! And there are bunch of patterns in it that I want to use post-haste! I feel a trip to the LYS coming on quick to stock up on sock yarn. Perhaps not this coming weekend (will be too busy) but the following for sure!

At the same time, I have a major interest in mittens. Not just because of the crazy cold winter we had this year, but because I keep reading things about them in magazines and it's making me want to knit them. I think the medieval mittens from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Piecework because they are simple and elegant looking. I think perhaps in red and white, or red and black? I also love the Brewster Socks from that issue.

And while I'm on that subject: Piecework has been publishing awesome things lately! The Jan/Feb issue, the March/April issue and the special Knitting Traditions, Winter 2010 are not to be missed! If you like really interesting articles about the history of knitting, knitting traditions/techniques from different cultures, and patterns to go along with these things, you really need to get your hands on them - especially Knitting Traditions which is chock full! Ravelry currently only has 17 patterns from it in the database, but there are actually 43 in the magazine with accompanying notes about the historical or traditional patterns they are taken from, many with full articles about the extant item or techniques that the pattern features.

I also can't wait to get up to VA this summer. If I get to go to DC again (which I hope will happen), I'll get to stop in this little VA town just off of I-66 (I think) on the way, where a woman who sells SpinOlutions wheels lives. I've already contacted her about meeting her to test drive the wheel and then - should it turn out to be as awesome as it seems to be - I'll have a new wheel coming with me to DC or if not then coming home with me on the way back from DC. I also need to send my HitchHiker to finally get its double-treadle retrofit. I keep putting off packing it up because I feel like I'm going to need to spin something desperately the minute I do, but there really is no reason to keep putting it off; it needs to be done! I just need to buckle down and do it already. Ilana sent me some yummy BFL too and I want to get to spinning it ASAP! But I want to have the double-treadle when I do, I think.

In other news, my hip seems to be all healed up finally (I cautiously say, while knocking wood, so as not to tempt the evil eye), so I should be able to cautiously begin spinning semi-regularly again (as soon as I get that double-treadle). Yay!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The state of things...

  • I'm too annoyed at the Health Care legislation issue to comment extensively on it. The entire thing just sounds like a huge clusterfuck (and that's a technical term there) of the first order. I'm displeased about there being no public option and I suspect that it won't change the insurance company abuses. But, of course, only time will tell how it will pan out. I do not for one second blame it on the President though, but rather entirely on the Congress.

  • Except for some ends that still need to be woven in and blocking, I've finished the OpArt baby blanket I've made for my friend Andrea, who is expecting a little one in about a month. She is the first of my friends that I went to high school with to have a child. The blanket is lovely. I've also made a Jayne hat and another hat and a pair of booties. There will probably be more things to follow, although she doesn't like the cutesy baby things so that cuts out a lot of the options at the newborn stage of things.

  • I'm making Pumpkin-Cranberry bread pudding. I wish I had a recipe, but I don't. It's something from Dinner Done, a dessert that I bought out of their Grab-and-Go freezer. I hope it will be good and can't imagine that it won't be.

  • I made 48 half-pints of strawberry jam this past weekend. It took almost all day both Saturday and Sunday. It's delicious!

  • The garden is looking awesome! I need to take pictures and put them up here. The peppers are a little less than I'd like them to be right now, but hopefully they fertilizer I put on them today will perk and green them up. We've had good rain for the past few weeks.

  • Passover is coming up and we've got most of the kosher for Passover food that we'll need. Last year, we were in VA over Passover and had to take all the food up there with us because there's no where to buy it up in the Ville. But this year, we will be here. I was glad to find rotini and shell pasta to buy this year, as well as organic and whole grain matzohs. I'm really glad that those are options now! Oh, another interesting thing I found the other day - Target has Passover dishes! I was surprised! Plates and platters and special "matzoh plates" with the word מצה (matzoh) in the center in silver. Unusual and unexpected at a place such as Target. I thought about buying it, but I figured I'd wait a week and if they still have any, they'll be on clearance for a fraction of the price.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

What my weekend is like...

I'm gardening every minute that I can. Just stopped for lunch. So far, today and yesterday, I've planted 16 tomato plants, 2 eggplants, 8 sweet peppers and bunches of winter squash seeds. Still left to do are all the various beans, tomatillos, scallop squash, and ground husk cherries, which we're trying for the first time this year because they sounded very interesting. Oh, and cucumbers! I'm really hoping for a good cucumber harvest this year because the last two have been awful and I want homemade pickles!

Previously this season, I've planted 160+ onions, some garlic and shallots, some leeks (which were actually planted last year at this time from seed), basil, carrots, dill and cilantro, and of course, marigolds in strategic areas to help keep away pesky bugs. And I've had to relocate many earthworms away from the areas in which I'm working so I didn't accidentally injure them. I love that almost every time I so much as scratch the surface out there, an earthworm appears. It's as it should be! I can't wait for the lady bugs to start showing up... Probably as soon as it warms up. Right now, it's still on the chilly side of things, but that makes for pleasant gardening weather.

Pictures to follow as soon as things start coming up and will make nice images to share...