Friday, June 21, 2013

Merry Solstice to you all and welcome to summer.  It will feel like it this coming week with temps north of the mid 80s.  I am watching my gardens more carefully for watering.  All my tomatoes are blooming nicely.  The hibiscus should bloom soon.  We were thinking that the goldfinches had passed on toward where ever they winter because we hadn't seen any for a bit.  But we saw a little female.  The bright males haven't shown up though.  We saw a large flock of geese heading further north and the two or three families of geese that usually hatch their young at a pair of ponds a few blocks from here are gone.  The last time we saw them the goslings looked nearly fully fledged.  Our little hummingbird is back.  She came by and surprised us by flying low on the patio looking at the plants.  None of the plants we put in for her and the butterflies have bloomed yet.  Several of the strawberry plants are putting out vigorous runners so I am planning on taking some cuttings soon.  Can't have too many strawberries.

I looked out at the bird feeder because I heard the characteristic twitter of the goldfinch and saw a female with her chick.  She kept twittering as the baby pecked at the feeder almost as if encouraging the baby to eat up.  Several times the little one flitted up to where she sat on the fence and they seemed to kiss before the baby went back to the feeder.  They have now flown off.

Just as I started reading this the BBC news noted freak storms bring golf ball sized hail and hurricane winds in Switzerland and early winter storms in New Zealand.  I am getting used to the notion of weather events described as freak or multi-century occurrences.  That I guess you could say is a new normal.  We have gotten used to remarking on how unusual the weather is.  That comment used to come up about once or twice a year a decade ago.  Now it is several times a month.

My opinion on this story is split.  I am thoroughly pissed that the government is in profit-making mode on the backs of students and their families who have been sold a "pig in a poke."  We have been brainwashed to believe that education is the royal road to social and economic advancement while that connection has been broken for the better part of the last 30 years.  At the same time that our politicians and pundits push education the scholarships and grants have been largely replaced by loans, public and private.  However, I think, perhaps, increasing the costs to the individual students and their families might not be a bad idea as long as the availability of loans is reduced as well and as long as some honest statistics are presented to the borrowers.  What stats you wonder?  Like how long it will really take you to get out from under that loan.  And what you will have to forego to make the loan payments.  And that, for all intents and purposes, you can never get out from under it--except by dying.  And, maybe, some honest statistics about what you expected income might be--not that crap about the "average" income in given fields but what newbees make.  And, lastly, some honest career counseling that offers something other than college as a legitimate option.

Some 30 years ago, when I lived in Colorado, I read about school districts, usually rural, that were so poor they couldn't repair the toilets.  But having to choose between teachers and toilet paper?  That evidently is where some Chicago schools are with the new budget.  I guess they will have to do what a couple of cash strapped schools did last year--demand that the parents provide toilet paper as part of their children's school supplies along with the writing paper and pencils.  According to this story, a toilet paper drive was held outside the location where the chief of the city schools gave a speech touting the benefits of the new budget.  Didn't hear about that on the coverage of Barbara Byrd-Bennett's speech.  I wonder why?  This ironic little piece was from August of 2010.  Something to think about when our political asses tell us how powerful this "super"power we live in is.  Good to be #1 isn't it!! (sarcasm intended)

Perhaps the legislators are hoping that a few more fire years like last year and like this one is shaping up to be and they can do without any funds at all for fire prevention.  There won't be anything left to burn. And just think of the boost to the economy as so many of their constituents have to replace million-dollar homes and everything that goes into them. (sarcasm alert #2)

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