604: Slavery in modern times

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Not all Civil War monuments celebrate slavery – many memorialize the Americans who served and died, whose relatives raised the money to erect a memorial in their honor, as a remembrance of lives lost in armed conflict. There is nothing stopping others (whose views and memories are different) from raising the funds and erecting new memorials that reflect their differing views. There is room to coexist.

I come from that part of the USA that has a unique history. We are the only American citizens to suffer defeat in armed combat – if you don’t count the recent military “actions” that were never rightfully called a war, even though Americans also fought and died there in armed conflict, too.

Georgia (and her Confederate sisters) was defeated. Yankees still to this day call what we did in those times as “treason,” although no Southerner calls what we did (honorably seceding from the federal union), treason. Many southerners fought that war for state’s rights, since many (most) southerners were not wealthy enough to even own slaves – what we are continually told (lectured) was the sole cause of that conflict. If the North thought the South committed treason when they seceded, perhaps freeing the slaves was not the sole reason they fought, either. Especially considering that when they freed the slaves, they did not promote them to equal status even in their own self-righteous northern homelands. Even into the 1960’s, a white boarding house owner in Green Bay, Wisconsin (among other northern states) was not allowed, by law, to rent a room to a colored man, even if he *was* a team member of the Green Bay Packers that they were all ostensibly so proud of.

My Wisconsin-born husband tells me gleefully about when the other sports fans disdainfully referred to his Green Bay Packer fans as “cheeseheads,” and how they  took that slur and made it a point of pride for the Packer nation. And he completely and willfully ignores how the term “Rebel” came to be a point of pride for oppressed Southerners during the very long years of Reconstruction that the entire region suffered under the hands of rapacious Yankees and the low-life Southern-born who sucked up to them, and who should have been raised better. Blacks like to claim that the repercussions of slavery still resonate today – and that, to a large extent, is still true for Southern people of whatever skin color.

LEGAL slavery ended in the USA as a result of the defeat of the Confederacy – and states’ rights died there, too. Slavery in modern times is primarily economic (overlooking the recent horrific actions of the Islamic State). Modern slaves are those people who, through economic need, are forced to submit to providing their labor for less than a living wage. I’ve been hearing a lot (from liberals, primarily) about how illegal aliens are beneficial to the USA economy and their illegal status should be overlooked and forgiven because they take the jobs no American citizen will take.

Well, DUH.

What do you think the South’s primary reason for importing forced labor (slaves) into the cotton and tobacco fields (labor-intensive cash crops) was, idjits? They were imported to perform necessary work that few free Americans would take, because the work was not worth the wages. That legal slavery wasn’t a whole lot different from the sharecropping that white and black Americans did, and it wasn’t much different from laying those railroad tracks across the West that the Asians did, and it wasn’t much different from the coal mining that the Irish immigrants and poor whites did. It was economic slavery. And now, in your enlightened liberal minds (ha!), you want to PROMOTE economic slavery for a whole new crop of human beings who happen to be primarily Hispanic.

Yeah right – we can be SOOOOOO proud of our self-righteous humanitarian progress in the USA, can’t we?

579: The dumbing down of America

My brand spanking new hubs has obtained a job managing one of two employment agencies in our tiny south Georgia town. I have taught high school and middle school (some) for 26 years in Georgia (all over the state). What he is reporting is a confirmation of what I have been observing for decades.

Employment agencies offer their services free to job seekers. Companies contract with them to vet their potential employees, but the company ultimately gets the final say in any hiring, and the employment agency gets a finder’s fee for vetting candidates on behalf of the employing company.

As part of the candidate process, there is a drug screening, an employment application and interview, and a screening employability skills exam. Sort of a very low-level SAT. VERY low level. The questions include: how many inches are in three yards. How many is a half dozen. What is 50% of 150. Plus other similar mind-blowing, difficult, major league, scholarly questions. Most applicants (teens to adults) fail the screening exam.

I have taught high school in my state for 26 years. His results absolutely do not surprise me. And we are getting worse, not getting better- I do not care WHAT the government pundits are telling you about improving test scores.

Our schools took out career/life classes like shop and home economics. They replaced them with curriculum that presupposes all of our students are headed off to college. Yeah, right. The governor of Georgia just released his new “mission goals” for Georgia schools. It includes the statement that ALL Georgia students will earn college or career credit before they complete high school. “•Every child in Georgia will earn college and/or career credit before they graduate high school.” Yeah, right.

Our school’s students get multiple, multiple chances to complete work, including retaking major tests. Try that in real life – unlimited do-overs. Only GOD is that kind. And, as a teacher, I am forbidden by my school administration to assign a score of zero when a student turns in nothing for an  assignment. I have to assign them points of credit – for NOTHING. Last time I checked, breathing was not an academic activity.

What I am allowed to teach in the courses I am employed to teach is mandated by the state government. I cannot teach reading to a child who cannot read. LITERALLY, not my job. I am teaching pre-Engineering. ONLY. Even though I am also state certified in English, grades 6-12.

I try. Invoking the overarching academic goal of literacy skills, I  require my students to write reflection essays in MLA format over their Engineering assignments. I have high school students who cannot write ONE correct and complete sentence, much less a coherent essay. Some cannot even to this day capitalize their first and last NAMES on a paper. I wish I was lying. And this, from native speakers of English. Our Spanish native speaking kids are blowing the American-born kids out of the water. Let’s not even discuss the MATH. I have taught how to figure the square yardage needed to replace the carpet in a room EIGHT SEPARATE TIMES, and still have high school students in the class who cannot compute it correctly. Carpet sellers, you may freely rook customers in south Georgia, because they have no clue you are going to cheat them. Have at it.

And the beauty of this? The government, and most parents, will tell you it is the teacher’s fault, all of it.

Yeah, right.

4 more years.

4 more years.

My mantra.

567: Travel Deals

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I have been subscribing to a travel website for years now that I would like to share. It is free to subscribe to travelzoo.com’s weekly e-mail posting of what they consider to be the Top Twenty travel deals that they found by canvassing hundreds and hundreds of travel companies world-wide. The weekly post arrives via e-mail every Wednesday, and highlights twenty or more local and/or international travel deals that are often astonishingly inexpensive.

To be fair, often they are at times during the year when I cannot travel, being a schoolteacher – travel companies tempt travelers to travel at non-peak times with extra good discounts, and usually, those are times when I am tied to my job and can’t go. However, if it is a time when I can go, the deals are spectacular!

I have booked and traveled with Travelzoo’s recommended deals several times over the last few years and I have been thoroughly pleased with each trip.Often the trip packages offered through the site’s recommended agencies include airfare, accommodation, taxes, fees and excursions, and some are all-inclusive resorts that include entertainment, sports and all you can eat and drink into the bargain.

To sign up for the free weekly e-mail and see the great travel deals yourself, go to http://www.travelzoo.com and register for free. They have departments of the company located in various parts of the world, so there are e-mail deal packages especially for people who live in Europe, or in the USA/Canada, or in Asia, for example. They also offer local deals for you based on your identified zip code, which means for me that I see extra travel and entertainment deals in the southeastern USA, and in Atlanta, Georgia, especially.

Have fun planning your next exotic (and cost-conscious) destination!

545: Too busy to write is too freaking busy

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I process my life by writing. When things happen, I process my thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions through the reflective and revealing lens of the written word. This is the method that works well for me. Except lately.

Lately, having moved country (Atyrau, Kazakhstan to Fitzgerald, Georgia, USA), started a new job in a sort-of new school (I taught there before I decided to leave the USA), moving into a new place, BUYING a new residence, becoming a new grandmother and obtaining a delightful new husband……I do not have time lately to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

This is a serious problem. I get the sneaking suspicion that without the catharsis of processing everything via my usual written lens that I am missing the deeper significance of things – leaving important details out, losing the flavor, the spice, the nuance – the meaning of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

I just don’t have the time to fret about it before some new demand raises its head, insisting on being dealt with RIGHT NOW.

The urgent is overwhelming the important, ding dong dag nab it.

*sigh*

458: Trucking On

I am a prisoner in this truck. I am not even a CDL (commercial driver license) driver, I am merely a passenger. I was trying to visit my husband, who IS a newly-certified, licensed, tested and inspected CDL driver. When his company-owned truck developed problems and he was stuck waiting for repairs over Christmas, I cashed in a previously-purchased American Airlines flight ticket I would otherwise have lost had I not used it for this purpose, and flew out to Omaha, Nebraska to see him, after I spent a couple of days visiting the rest of my family in Georgia.

I expected to ride with him on his drives for about a week, since he was supposed to be routed on deliveries to Atlanta to pick me up, and to drop me off, for this jaunt. That was December 28. This is January 7, and the next run is to some freaking place in MICHIGAN. That has absolutely nothing in common with ATLANTA, GEORGIA. The next delivery after that is scheduled for Missouri, which is also further north and west of where we are now, in West Virginia. Wrong direction, dispatch!

I got desperate enough to check the tickets to Atlanta on Greyhound buses, for Pete’s sake. The bus costs nearly as much as it would cost to freaking FLY. Bus tickets were supposed to be cheap enough for people who do not have enough money to buy airline tickets to buy them instead. At least, they USED to be cheaper! Buses are certainly less comfortable than the airplane, and there is no snack served, either, so the bus ticket should be considerably less expensive than flying. Not so!

Ah, well, as I write on the truck stop provided Internet while serving the mandatory 10 hour refresh down time to be able to drive again, I have discovered that my brother’s expected children have been born January 6th – twins: one girl and one boy. Graydon James and Elise Drew – making me a new auntie twice over. In addition, while visiting my family, my daughter announced that she and her husband are now expecting their first – making me a grandma-to-be later this year. It is quite clear that life does go on – even if I am stuck in a truck!

427: Watermelons, Panamanian Style

I am from Georgia in the USA. We are an agricultural, rural state, if you can ignore those few square miles around Atlanta. Cordele, Georgia claims to be the watermelon capital of the world – and well do I recall getting forty-pound-plus melons for fifty cents.  Georgia claims some whopper, prize-winning hugemongous melons.

Here in Panama, things are a little different. In the first place, it is summer year-round, so watermelons grow here all the time. Secondly, most Panamanian are not wealthy. They do not have an American-sized refrigerator, necessary if your family buys a Georgia-grown watermelon at any time other than a birthday, a BBQ, a family reunion or a church social. At those functions, you’ll need several melons, and there won’t be any left over. Bring the salt.

Here in Panama, though, a family fridge is not a whole lot bigger than a college dorm model, and a Georgia melon is not going in there, unless that is ALL that is going in there. So, Panama adjusted. Not the fridge, the melon.

E-tee-niney watermelon slices, Panama style!

E-tee-niney watermelon slices, Panama style!

This is the size of the melons I usually see offered for sale here in Panama. It fits in the fridge, assuming there is actually any of it left over. When I get a Georgia craving for watermelon, it takes two of these tiny babies to do me.  By myself.  Heck, we would probably not even bother to pick those watermelons, and would leave those in the field! Still, they do taste good, even if they are small enough to hold one in one hand……..