612: Division of the House

American political parties stand-off

The conflict in the US over policy goes far, far beyond Democrat or Republican. In all actuality, those two surface divisions are far more alike than they are different. No, it goes far deeper and far more fundamental than political party affiliation.

Where we fundamentally agree is on “what’s best for America and her citizens.” Where we fundamentally disagree is on what exactly that “best” consists of.

To me, it boils down to two camps which are not necessarily identified by party affiliation, and this describes the two and the primary difference between them.

The difference, as I see it, is between those who  want people to stand on their own two feet, to be responsible and mature, and to provide for themselves and the progeny they produce: in effect, a limited government. This refers to the vast majority of able-bodied citizens, not those honestly and deservedly unable to care for themselves through advanced or young age, physical or in limited cases, mental defect. I get it, some people need AND DESERVE help. Unfortunately, there are far too many getting help currently who do not deserve help – they are where they are because of choices they themselves have made, and this camp believes that bad choices should have consequences.

The other camp believes that people actually born and breathing deserve all their needs, nay even their wants and desires (apparently irregardless of practicality or worth) met by a government that cares and provides for them from cradle to grave, in every aspect of life, economy, personal responsibility, decision making and bad choices totally irrelevant. Cost apparently irrelevant as well.

That appears to be where the division of the house occurs. I guess you can tell on which side of that fence I pitch my tent.


567: Travel Deals


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!

549: School

Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Evergreen Campus of Health Sciences & Human Services High School (HS3) in Seattle, WA, works with students in her classroom on May 20, 2014.

Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Evergreen Campus of Health Sciences & Human Services High School (HS3) in Seattle, WA, works with students in her classroom on May 20, 2014.

Being a teacher is a very mixed blessing. Yeah, I know what everybody says about teaching, how we are not paid enough, and how the job expects you to basically perform at God level, and how everything that happens in somehow your fault (as if you can control the choices that other people make on a daily basis). Yeah, I know.

Actually I went into teaching because I like teaching, because it was steady income, and because of the time off. Considering how much time off there is in a year’s contract, the pay isn’t horrible. Few other jobs get as much time off. No, we are not paid for our time off. We are paid for approximately (depending on the school system and their instructional calendar) 190 days of work. To keep us from starving during the summer, school systems now divide our 190 days’ worth of pay into twelve payments. THAT equals a fairly mediocre income, considering all the certification and licensing requirement hoops that teachers must jump through to qualify. But for approximately 246 days of the year (190 plus the weekends) of work time, it’s still not too bad.

Still, no teacher works a 40 hour week. If you are a teacher working 40 hours a week, you suck as a teacher. Period. Efficiency be damned, there is far too much to get done in that 190 days for you to be able to do a quality job in 40 hours a week. EVERY teacher worth their salt works far more than 40 hours a week during the months that school is in session, and often works even more days during their ‘vacation’ during the summer for certification purposes – or chaperoning student groups on summer conferences.

It is no fun being the world’s scapegoat. I know intimately how the USA feels, accused of being the root cause of all evil on the planet. Apparently, in my dedicated career quest to make a difference and improve the lives of countless people, I am considered just an inept, bumbling fool, ultimately responsible for everyone’s poor choices, and certainly not a professional educator striving mightily each day to inspire and motivate other people’s children to be and do better than they were and did yesterday. Ministers, missionaries, and priests are nodding in rueful acknowledgement of that truth. Let me ask you this – how am I supposed to fix in one hour a day what the rest of the world has screwed up in the previous hours (and years) before this kid walked into my classroom? The fact that I work on it again, and again, and again, each day, is a testament to my dedication and stubbornness. Or my complete and total idiocy – I am not sure which some days.

545: Too busy to write is too freaking busy


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.


488: Busy, Busy

This weekend is a three day holiday here in Kazakhstan: it is Women’s Day. Different from Mother’s Day in the USA, because you don’t have to actually procreate to celebrate and be included in this one. My last school, which shall remain nameless, worshipped the procreation part so absolutely that women on staff who had not given birth were shunned on Mother’s Day, and got no little gift remembrance on the day. Meh – they could have skipped me, too, for that matter, not that I don’t love my children, I just don’t define myself by that. Anyhoo – idiocy aside….

The first celebration was a very sweet and heartwarming show put on by the male faculty at the school to entertain the ladies, complete with very, very nice gift drawings. You must understand, local Kazakhs earn on average about 300 USD a month, and the men had to chip in to purchase those gifts. VERY generous of them, truly.

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I did not want to win one of the prizes, which from previous experience means that I will. I said this to the lady sitting to my right, and she did not believe me, so I told her “watch this,” and gave my number to the girl sitting to my left, and they called my number.  If I do not want to win, I will. It has happened that way too many times to count.

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I was introduced during the variety show they put on for us to a traditional Kazakh instrument whose name I cannot spell yet. Dumbra? It has only two strings, and they make fascinating and lovely music with it.

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Then, the next day of the three-day weekend, I got to enjoy a cello band concert sponsored by the American Embassy. In a lovely small theater, an American modern cello band of three classically trained-cellists (and a talented drummer) performed one Brahms concerto, and then many selections of their original, modern compositions – some incorporating our city’s native Kazakh musicians as well. Delightful! I think the group called themselves Breaking Reality.

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And it snowed again…… 😦

357: Believing the Facts

First, let’s consider that word: FACTS. We all remember facts from school. They were inarguable things, like 2 + 2 = 4, unless you are working with Singapore math, a current educational fad that makes absolutely no rational or logical sense AT ALL, and which proves {sic} that 2 + 2 = 27.328. I refer to Singapore math as Democratic math, for reasons I will elucidate.

Facts in school were mostly easily identifiable. In the grownup world, facts are very, very fluid. Just look at liberal Democratic facts. I’m not choosey, you pick any fact you like from their arsenal. See what I mean? Their facts are fluid….like sewage is fluid. Anytime you are considering vast, complex problems such as social ills, or vast economic impacts, or the impacts of a particular piece of legislation on the citizenry…things get really murky. Facts become whatever you choose to believe…and lots of people are choosing to believe whatever their agenda was in the first place, completely and totally ignoring evidence to the contrary….and I do mean ALL EVIDENCE to the contrary of their pre-chosen agenda.

I am not a member of any political party, because both of the reigning (deliberate choice of words) parties in America are guilty of un-American actions. Americans used to have a code they lived by. Many Americans still live by a moral and ethical code that the reigning politicians in the country have never, ever heard of – and they are not listening, either. They are too busy buying the votes of those holding their hands out for free cash – legal and illegal. It used to be that Americans were ashamed to take charity, and worked very hard to get off the dole if they ever found themselves reduced to taking charity, and man alive THOSE days are OVER. Shame is a totally foreign concept to these leeches. Don’t get your panties in a wad – I know full well that there are deserving people on government assistance who need help. But I also know darn good and well that many, many, many others are getting help they do not deserve, don’t need, and are shameless about taking.

I saw them every time I went in the grocery store and was standing in the checkout line with my small basket of groceries that I could pay for, behind somebody with two overflowing carts full of things I could not afford to buy, who was paying with food stamps, and asking if they could trade some of the stamps for cash, because cigarettes and alcohol were not eligible for purchase using them. I watched them with their cell phones (newer and more expensive models than my basic, not-even-a camera-phone), with their fake two-inch-long acrylic nails that require weekly touch-ups, and their fancy salon hairdos. That does not even begin to include their multiple, multiple children, or their nice car, or their expensive clothes, shoes or accessories. NOBODY was handicapped, because there was no handicapped parking going on. Don’t get your panties in a wad – I know not all handicaps are visible. If that had been the one example, I’d agree. But seeing this sort of thing week after week after week, with only minor variations, sets in your mind the definite suspicion that something is rotten in Welfare. And it didn’t matter which grocery store you went in, either, in which state…there they were.

Government assistance pays very, very well – apparently.

That’s only one example. Have you gotten your new healthcare information since Obamacare is enabled? Like the changes? Is this the CHANGE you were hoping for when you voted for his sorry ass not once, but twice? Thinking maybe that things were not so bad under the previous administration? Thinking maybe we do need a CHANGE from the current one? Praying you don’t get sick? Welcome to the club of wiser but poorer.

At the end of the day, people judge a president by the impact the policies he’s responsible for make upon them personally. I hope that those who voted for the rat now in power soon realize the smoke and mirrors they voted for was fluid…of the sewage sort.

356: Voting With Your Feet

How  many of you are fed up with the state of the United States? How many of you simply cannot believe that our once-proud nation has been taken over by sluggards, sloths, free-loaders and leeches, many of whom are illegally present within the country, and who are taking benefits hand-over-fist originally designed to assist citizens – which they are NOT? How many of you are fed up that the elected officials are assisting in this non-USA take-over as hard and as fast as humanly possible?

You can vote – except that states Obama won don’t have a voter ID law, which facilitated the massive voter fraud that got his sorry a** elected not once, but twice. The other way you can vote is with your feet. You can leave, and stop assisting in the suicide of the USA with your tax dollars. I did it. I sold my belongings, and moved country. No, I am not a multi-gazillionaire, looking to hide my assets from the rapacious USA tax code – but for those who are, more power to you. Hurting the USA financially appears to be the only way politicians ever listen.

I moved out of the USA. No, I have not (yet) repudiated my citizenship…but if they keep going the way they are going, that will be coming soon, too. How do you just leave the country? Easy. Work overseas. Especially if you are a teacher, you don’t have to put up with draconian USA Department of Education crap. Nor do you have to unwillingly donate half or more of your income to the greedy USA IRS, either.

Teachers can quite easily make the transition to ex-patriot life. Not sure about other career options, but they do exist overseas, as well. Teachers earn USA tax-free income, and sometimes also pay no taxes in the country where they are living and teaching. Plus, international schools OFTEN provide free housing and medical insurance, plus many offer free flights there and back. And the students are students, like anywhere else. Some good, some bad, so what? So, my money is no longer feeding that insatiable USA government-out-of-control.

Vote with your feet. LEAVE.