In Line

Gentle Readers: today’s entry is my annual/semi-annual Fiction entry. This was in response to a Chuck Wendig challenge to write a story about “going against authority…middle finger up…Chaos and Rebellion….”  I confess it turned out longer than requested (but it’s me, so who’s surprised?) and also to be gentler in the end than the challenge suggested, although I’m not always as grim as I appear to be, either.]

200279716-001

Miz Berenson was the meanest, strictest, recess monitor that ever carried a steel whistle onto the playground. The asphalt at Robert Taft Elementary School was her territory, and woe betide anyone who broke her rules. No gum chewing. No going up the slide the Wrong Way. No Boys vs. Girls contests. And she was super strict about how we lined up to go back to class.

She would end recess like ten minutes early just to allow enough time for the line to meet her standards. There had to be eighteen inches between students. There had to be No Talking, silence, people. There was to be no what she termed Horseplay. If she didn’t like it, she’d make us line up again even if we were late to class. Or, she would make us spend part of our lunch hour lining up.

Continue reading “In Line”

The Acceptance Letter

Last night, I reminded my ACT prep class students that this is THE time of year. I teach an eight week course on test-taking strategies to help improve scores, mostly to high school juniors.  I took a minute to step away from studying trigonometry, punctuation errors, author’s purpose, and scientific experimental design to point out that a year from now, they will decide where they’re going to college. Their eyes widened at the thought and there was a lot of nervous laughter. These juniors are in what seems like the 20th mile of a marathon. They can’t see the end in sight yet, despite thinking about it for years and working so hard right now on grades, tests, and applications. This is what seniors in high school – and seniors in college – are doing in the next 4-6 weeks. Many have Acceptance Letters in hand and are deciding where to start the next big journey.

Acceptance letters change lives. If you went to college, you probably remember yours, “Congratulations, future Gopher/Bear/Banana Slug/Spartan! We are pleased to announce that you have been accepted into….”  Some of us also still remember the Ding letters: “…unfortunately, we receive so many applications from worthy candidates….”

Why go to college?

Even though costs have skyrocketed, the earnings potential for a college degree still far outweighs that of no degree. As of 2014, according to a Pew Research study published in the New York Times¸ the cost of not having a degree was about $500,000 over an earnings lifetime, even factoring in today’s high cost. People seeking jobs know that it is a huge barrier to a job, to a better job, to higher pay or a better title in their current job. Continue reading “The Acceptance Letter”

Our Days Are Numbered

Midweek since the time change, I’m still not sleeping properly, waking in the middle of the night and dozing until suddenly it’s later than I should be up, and I drag out of bed, logy and bleary-eyed. Yesterday was 3-14, a calendar quirk that’s labelled Pi Day on our Gregorian-driven pages, a day of no significance but a fun day for the mathematically-amused.
20170315 calendar

In movies, clocks show time passing, calendar pages falling, seasons changing with sped-up elapsed time. Why don’t we see other metaphors—for example, how often are rulers used or tape measures? We move through time and space, but we seem to take no notice of space. We are comfortable with granting the importance of spatial distances, but when it comes to time, we want to see it measured.  By instinct, we feel time all around us, whether we are forever noting the digital clock readout of our phones all day, feeling the seasons pass, or obsessing about our age, it’s as if time sits like a bird on our shoulder.

If we are saving daylight, when do we get to spend it?
Many of us grew up with Daylight Savings Time, so it’s hard to imagine that the practice is relatively recent and didn’t catch hold in the mid-1970s U.S. Energy Crisis. Even then, some places like Arizona still choose not to participate, and the starting dates have shifted around nationally, moving to a different day in the year just a decade ago. While the extra hour of daylight in the evening favor those who work inside all day, farmers and those who put on evening entertainment oppose the process. For example, dairy farmers know that the cows don’t want to be milked an hour earlier just because that’s what the clock says. Continue reading “Our Days Are Numbered”