379: Rant, rant, rant

A lot of what I read lately can be classified as ranting. Liberal, conservative, libertarian, employed, unemployed, student, male, female, in-between/undetermined, youth, mature, religious, sexual, racial, animal, carnivorous, herbivore, vegan, fruitopian, you name it, people are generally universally upset about whatever, and they are expressing their opinions about it in unambiguous, plain and simple language that makes it pretty clear that they are not thrilled with the situation at hand. Whatever situation that might happen to be, and whichever side of the issue they might have pitched their figurative tent upon.

At the moment, I am pissed off about people who cannot follow reasonable requests and directives who are part of a larger organization that needs its people to cooperate in order to function. And they are not cooperating. Which would indicate that the functioning part is less than satisfactory – and that would be an accurate assessment.

As a minion, a little cute, yellow dude who occupies one of the lower rungs of the institution in question as far as responsibility goes, your job is fairly simple. Follow the directives of the admins – those who are responsible for the parts of the organization that you, as a minion, never see and don’t have to worry about. If you do your job, the place should run fairly well. The problem arises when minions choose not to complete their job functions: missing their assigned duty station, which means that students who would ordinarily behave as humans because you are standing there, doing nothing, choose to misbehave BECAUSE you are not there, visible, doing nothing except standing there.


The request not to allow your students to make copies on the extremely expensive and particularly snarky copy machines, when ignored, means that every person within reach of that machine is pissed off because it is broken – because YOU sent a fourth-grader to make your copies, because you were too lazy to use your three hours a day of planning time to get your own copies done, in advance of the class you are in when you suddenly realize you need the copies.

That means that I, as a middle level drudge (not a minion, and not an admin) get to morph into a complete and total WITCH, denying everybody access to the copier once it is repaired at great expense, demanding that all of you (not just the miscreant) turn in your printing requests to ME 24 hours in advance, since I re-set all the printer codes so that NONE of you can print on your own anymore, because of the few who are not adult enough to realize that a rule/request from admin MEANS YOU, TOO, IDJIT.

My life would be infinitely simpler as a drudge if you acted your age, instead of your shoe size. And, because you have made my life complicated, I can, and WILL, get even with your lazy butt to the point where you realize that it is easier to do as you are told.

That is how the *real* ranting gets started.


378: 10 Things I Have Learned While Teaching School

Number 10. There really is a difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance we are all born with; it is cured by education and experiences. Stupidity is a choice FAR too  many people willingly make.

Number 9: Having money and the advantages of youth and good looks do not often combine to make a quality person worth knowing (unfortunately). It seems that those less blessed, who have had some real struggles, are the ones who are worth getting to know.

Number 8: More trouble has been caused by “I was just playing!” than anything done deliberately.

Number 7: Learning (your education) is struggling through opportunities to do it yourself, and failing until you learn to succeed. There are no shortcuts to this process.

Number 6: Taking the work of others as your own is not only plagiarism, it is a character flaw. That includes downloading the work of artists without paying them for their creativity, skill, time and work – it is still cheating, no matter how many people do it everyday.

Number 5. People can and will surprise you. Most of those surprises will be bad ones. It isn’t that people can’t surprise you in good ways, but those are rare, and to be treasured.

Number 4. Not everything you make will be A-quality, perfect, outstanding work. It does not mean you can’t be proud of it because you made it, but recognize when it isn’t perfect: and that includes your offspring as well. Your kids are human, and young humans who are learning. They make mistakes, sometimes big ones. It is part of the learning process. You, on the other hand, are not a youngster. Act your age.

Number 3. The hardest people to love are the ones who need it the most. Always. No exceptions. Dammit.

Number 2. Hope springs eternal. Hope powers the world. Without it, no one can help you, and you cannot help anyone else. HOPE.

Number 1. Human beings are amazing, wonderful, annoying, delightful creatures. Teaching is guiding them to be better creatures tomorrow than they were today. Every day.


377: Getting Drunk on Panama’s Largesse

I am living in Panama, in a little housing development of 11 small houses, in a fenced compound. This compound has mature mango trees, several papaya and banana trees, lime trees, coconut palms and…two cashew trees. Here in Spanish, they are called marañon (pronounced ma-ran-nyon). Cashew trees are interesting. I am learning a lot.fruit 006

Cashew trees bear cashew fruit, commonly referred to as apples, which are the STEM of the cashew nut. The nut grows on the bottom of the stem, which swells with liquid as the nut matures.fruit 005It looks really pretty, like the tree is hung with red and yellow Christmas bells. The fruit drops from the tree, and can be collected and used for a variety of things. There is a great youtube video about how to process cashew fruit and nuts from a village in Belize: http://www.villageviewpost.com/2010/05/cashew-nuts-preparation-crooked-tree.html

I am apparently the only person in the complex who collects the fruit. I make wine. I twist off the nut, and squeeze the juice-filled fruit, strain it, sweeten it somewhat, add some ginger, and add yeast. It ferments for a few weeks, and I strain it multiple times to filter out sediment, and bottle it.stuff 008

It’s pretty potent stuff…and it’s free.

Meanwhile, the nuts are drying in the sun (no pun intended).fruit 011 Next, I will roast the nuts I have been saving over an open fire (like the video shows). Then, I get to crack out the cashews, and see if I like them, too, as much as I like the wine!


376: Following Your Inner Muse

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OK, I get it. People are different. It doesn’t take all kinds, we just HAVE all kinds. We all get to learn to live with not only the few people we can stand for short periods of time, but also the other people who are genuine jerk-offs.  I get it. Just because I don’t like you, the way you look, your ideologies and beliefs, your political, racial or sexual orientation, or fill-in-the-blank, I don’t get to wipe your existence off the face of the Earth just so I can feel better. Neither, BTW, do YOU get to do that to ME. Nyah, nyah, na pooh pooh. Tough titty – suck it up.

I have my own goals and dreams. You have yours. Yours are not any more legitimate than mine, even if yours are currently working, might work in the future, or worked in the past at least at one time, and mine never did. If they are my dreams, they are mine, and I can pursue them as long as I don’t hurt others in the process. That is ethical behavior, and there are too many people breathing good air right now that other people could be using, who don’t get that. You don’t crap on others to get what you want – whatever it is that you want. Why do you think I never went into politics? It is nearly impossible to make any decision that affects large groups of people without crapping on at least some of them. That is the nature of the dirty, slimy, filthy business of politics. It takes big cajones (male or female) and a very thick skin to do it, even when you are mostly an ethical, moral person with genuine, humane values. You are still going to make enemies, because some people are going to be harmed by your decisions and actions, and that is that.

It is like being a parent – to several hundred thousand children at once. Boggles the mind. I had only two and I am batting .500. My daughter is human, and my son….well, my daughter is human. If you can’t even do a perfect job of caring for and making parental decisions for one or two humans, how the hell do you think politicians and others in positions of authority can do a perfect job? You just hope they don’t screw up too often or in a big way, and that is the best you can do, dude.

Our current crop of politicians have one impeding factor in their way, however. They have completely forgotten the ethical part of making decisions that affect others: do as little harm as humanly possible. These guys, far too often in this current time, are focused on their own inner muse, and damn the goals, dreams, values and aspirations of anybody else, regardless of how many anybody elses there are that disagree with their personal, internal view of the rightness of the universe. That is the number one problem: the current politicians earnestly and stubbornly and BLINDLY believe that they know best for everybody else, and they are determined to force their view of utopia on all the rest of us, who are pretty much blowing razzberries at the view.

I don’t like your world view, I don’t think you are correct in your vision of the future, and I am furious that you are making decisions that are screwing me over…and over….and over. Modern politicians, hear this: It is not that I don’t like anal sex, but I prefer to choose my own partners.

375: Retirement Income

I will get, assuming the USA does not implode in the next few years (a distinct possibility, unfortunately) a small teacher’s pension. I’d like more money than that to live on in my “golden years.” It won’t be a luxurious amount unless I can supplement it with some part-time income. I COULD continue to teach, but who in their right mind wants to continue doing that? That is like voluntarily joining the line for physical and mental abuse, as discount prices! Besides, there are only a few countries that allow older folks to teach, so as I age, my options shrink considerably for teaching. I’m wanting something ELSE.

What I WANT to do is start a co-operative business with some like-minded people, so that nobody has to tend the shop full-time. Each co-owner can work one or two days a week, and enjoy the profits from sales made every day. Plus, not having to mind the shop every day creates free time for people to create, either in an in-store workshop, or at home in their own studio. I’d like a varied sort of co-worker/co-owner: perhaps someone who grows herbs or fresh produce to sell, perhaps someone who makes soaps and bath products, perhaps a furniture maker, some artists and craftspeople, a potter, someone who does fiber arts….a range of people means a range of products that can be offered for sale in the shop.

I need a PLACE to do this. Location is paramount. I don’t want to pay rent on a store, because I don’t want to have to make the choice to prop up a business either at the start, or later on during an inevitable sales slump. I need to own the property. Or, ONE of us in the group needs to own it. Ideally, it would be in a location appropriate for a specialty shop of this sort. A touristy sort of spot would be ideal.

Then, I need some FRIENDS. I need some friends who do these sorts of things as their hobbies, or as their living, or as their part-time jobs – and they make quality things that people will buy. I don’t mind having some of them who just contribute stuff to sell, those who are working a full-time job and can’t volunteer to take some days at the store, to help them get established. AND, I think 15-20% of sales is a good commission for the store to take to pay for electricity, seeing as how it is my intention to own the store location outright.

Plus, co-owners could teach classes in the shop if they would like to do that: painting, making jewelry, crochet, knitting, sewing,  etc. Some people want to learn how to make their own, and are willing to pay for that privilege. I think we might could accommodate that!

I expect it would start slow, and grow accordingly…which is just fine by me, especially if I live on an upper floor of the place. That would be ideal. It is something to plan for, anyway! Everything starts with a DREAM, right??


374: Responsibilities

Tomorrow, I have to go back to work. I have just finished an eleven-day vacation. Spring Break of ten days, plus one  more day because some union in the city is protesting/demonstrating, and they specifically block traffic and bridges when they protest so that people either can’t GET to work, or can’t get HOME from work, so school called off another day of class. Tomorrow we are supposed to go, but if the protesters are doing their thing for a second day, we may go home early to be sure students can actually get back home, not to mention the staff.

I’d love to be irresponsible and not go. I get a lot of sick days on this job, and I can cheat and say I am sick, and I can go and get a doctor’s note for the grand sum of six dollars here in Panama. However, Thursdays are my busiest day at work. My partner and I teach seven classes on Thursdays, so to lay out on a Thursday is not being kind to my co-worker, who is a nice, decent guy. It would be nice to ignore my responsibilities, but I don’t know how to do that and still look myself in the eye in the mirror. I’d like to be that selfish, I just can’t seem to actually do it. I can THINK about it, I just can’t make myself do it.

We have a substitute teacher here – a part-timer who follows the sports circuit. She travels around the world, competing in various events from kayak races to skiing competitions. I don’t know how to live like that. First, because I don’t have the money to do that, and I’ve never not had a job except for the six years I took off from work to have my children and try to save my marriage. That was more work than work, and I was glad to get back to teaching, which seemed like a vacation after full-time mommyhood and housewifery. That six years sucked big time, seriously. 24/7, and I did not even get to pee in private. For YEARS. Sheesh.

I am, however, in retrospect, glad I had the time to be a full-time mommy, especially since my husband dropped dead about five years after that. I didn’t kill him. Really. At least my kids had me full-time for a while when they were small and needed somebody there.  I could do that, and I did it. Responsibility weighs heavily on me, and I feel the yoke. I waited until both my kids were graduated from high school and off to college before I sold all my stuff and abandoned the USA for overseas teaching (instead of the messed-up USA teaching scene).

I am, however, getting more and more tired of working. The money is nice, BUT……..  As soon as I can start collecting teacher’s retirement, I plan to stop doing it. I have found that I LIKE gardening. I LIKE painting and making jewelry, sewing and crafting. I LIKE doing things my own way and in my own time. I’m still busy, and I enjoy myself.

I want to open a shop, though, in concert with others, so I am not on duty every day, and I can still earn some extra 18_istanbul-handcraftsmoney. Some artists, some craftspeople, some fresh garden produce, some nursery (for plants), maybe a furniture builder and a potter…..a shop where each minds the store a day or two a week for the others, and everyone brings for sale what they produce. I just need a PLACE to do that. Maybe that place is here, and maybe that place is in the next place I go. At least I know what I want!!

373: The Validity of My Opinion

I have an opinion. Based on facts or pure supposition, it is nevertheless my opinion. It is valid because it is my opinion – which does not make it a valid opinion.

EVERYBODY deserves to have their opinion. They are breathing, that means they are a real, live human being, and their opinions are theirs, and should be respected as their opinions. It is that whole free speech thing. Nobody qualified that free speech thing by saying that you had to have a clue. Even if that is very, very, very helpful when you form your opinions, it is not a qualification. If you want to support the Save the Fire Ants Fund, your opinion is your opinion (and so should your money be yours to do with as you please, too).

Once you are dead, unless you are a published author, your opinions don’t count for much (unless you continue to vote as a DemocRAT after your demise, like so many others have done). But I digress.

Just because you formed your opinion by reaching far, far up into your own bowels and pulling forth this shining gem of thought, does not mean it is not your legitimate opinion. That much is granted. However…..

…..when confronted by evidence that soundly refutes your shining gem of thought (derived from your own assholiness), you need to be grown up enough to be able and willing to change your opinion. Just because it is yours, does not mean it is perfect (some PARENTS need to read that one TWICE).

And you need to be able to do that changing of your opinion without ATTACKING the other person for their opinions – which are legitimately theirs as much as your opinion was yours. You don’t know – they might have consulted actual information in the formation of their opinions. It does occasionally happen.