27 February 2009


Here in our big, drafty old house, we have a couple of methods for keeping warm.

First, we pile into the recliners with blankies and sisters:

A secondary method: Fill the bed with a pile o' cats

26 February 2009

Snow Day

We got to school today in time to hold one class, then turn around and head home. When I left home, there wasn't a flake to be seen, but by 9 am my car was covered and the roads were slippery.
I got home about an hour before my kids got home from their school. Then the slacking began in earnest. We did get the dishes done as we set the kitchen up for cookie baking jamboree.

While we knocked around in there, the iPastor got some assistance from the Things with a project he's had on the back burner for a while. He found a great little freeware app for sorting recipes. He has had family recipes for years, and with his mom's death, inherited her boxes of recipes from her own mother's cafe as well. They began sorting so they can import them into the database in batches.

Hopefully he can start with some of our pictures soon as well. I am a little fearful that we have lost all our photos from about 2002-last year. We did a lot of computer switching this summer, and one of the major backup disks failed. Keeping my fingers crossed that the king of backup took care of business.
I made some beef stew from leftovers. iPastor did the grocery shopping last week. I am thankful for a man who likes to cook, and who doesn't mind shopping, but we do have different philosophies. We plan for leftovers, but implement it in different manners. I'll portion out meals to freeze for the family, he likes food on hand to use in his lunch. One of his purchases was a beef roast. A ten pound beef roast. We've been eating beef for days. I did manage to sneak some into the freezer to bring out at a later date, but I'm about done with beef for a while. Holy cow.
Since today's content is a little random anyway, I will share with you one thing I do enjoy about winter: Sundogs. One of my knowledge bowl kids got these pictures for me as I drove the short bus to our invitational last week. When the wind is cold and bitter, I can at least look forward to a little eye candy to keep me happy.

23 February 2009

A clean slate

It's a brand-new week! I have some sort of weird sense of elation and optimism. I awoke on my own 15 minutes before the alarm went off, refreshed and ready to get out of bed. This can only end badly...
Last week was almost too quiet. This week is shaping up to be pretty busy. I did, however, get the majority of papers corrected as they came in on Friday, so all I have left are the stragglers. Between Job2 and school activities, I won't have a free evening until Friday, but I also have some dedicated blocks of time to get some desk work done when I have to wait around school.
We're busy at home getting ready for a visit from our most recent exchange student, and just doing the family thing. It's been lovely, peaceful and domestic, but I haven't had any earth-shattering ideas to share or bloggable moments. So sad. Off to warp the minds of America's youth!

18 February 2009

All is well...

I'm just lazy and uninspired. As of right now, I have no projects looming with deadlines, therefore the irresistible urge to blog is not there either. Funny how those go together...

11 February 2009

And again with the reposting...

Everyone else has more interesting and important things to talk about today.

MercyMe is visiting the Dominican Republic this week. The pictures they are posting reflect the living conditions of the people who live there. Go check it out, and I'll shut up about my water problems...

The Fine art of Knowing the Whole Story

I was going to link to Jeff, but decided instead to copy/paste. He says it better than I could...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Skate Plaza Stimulation

Some of you may have seen that my son's skate plaza project has been in the news recently. Only this time, for a different reason.

The Setup

Last fall, mayors nationwide were asked by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to submit a list of, what was termed "shovel-ready" projects, along with the cost of each project. "Shovel-ready" refers to projects where, if funding was available, would be ready to start within 90 days or less.

Upon completion of the lists that were gathered, the conference published a report that showed all the requests from the cities that participated. Here is a summary from the report:

Today The U.S. Conference of Mayors releases the fourth in its series of reports on
infrastructure projects that are “ready to go” in cities across the nation – projects that meet local infrastructure needs and contribute to local economic development goals, that can be funded quickly through existing federal channels and start quickly when funding is received, and that can generate the significant numbers of jobs that are needed to counter the severe economic problems we face today in our metro areas and our nation as a whole.

Today we are reporting that, in 779 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country, a total of 18,750 local infrastructure projects are “ready to go.” These projects represent an infrastructure investment of $149,758,339,126 that would be capable of producing an estimated 1,604,371 jobs in 2009 and 2010. These are the cumulative totals of projects, required funding, and jobs to be created that have been reported in the four surveys of cities conducted by the Conference of Mayors over the past three months. The populations of the 779 cities submitting projects total 77,946,664.

As asked, our mayor supplied this list. In all 32 items were submitted for St. Cloud:

click to enlarge
source: http://www.usmayors.org/mser/documents/mser-report-200901.pdf

As you can see, the skate plaza was listed as one of seven Community Development Block Grant improvement items as defined by the Conference of Mayors

Community Development Block Grants – CDBG would be used to create jobs through: the construction of public facilities and improvements, water and sewer facilities, streets, and neighborhood centers; the conversion of school buildings for eligible purposes; activities relating to energy conservation and renewable energy resources; and assistance to profit-motivated businesses to carry out economic development and job creation/retention activities.

The "List"

On January 28, Tom Steward, from the Freedom Foundation of MN, created this list which he calls "10 Worst Economic Stimulus Requests Made By Minnesota Cities." And topping his list as the #1 worst request was... you guessed it - the St. Cloud skate plaza project.

Steward's entire "10 worst" list was nothing more than what he thought were bad ideas for ways to use stimulus money. The items on his list were cherry-picked out of hundreds of MN submissions and were presented completely out of context. Unfortunately, it was an easy target for the media.

The Backlash

Immediately upon release of Steward's list, our local media decided to give it credibility and run with it. In no time at all, the idea that the federal government would be spending all of the stimulus money on skate parks and tennis courts hit a national nerve and got legs.

Suddenly St. Cloud became the poster child for irresponsible funding requests. In only a matter of days Minnesota's Governor Pawlenty, MPR and Fox News were ranting about this issue and adding fuel to the fire - prompting Sean Hannity himself to write an article called Skateboard Parks Will Revitalize the Economy? in which he stated, "Perhaps Speaker Pelosi can explain how skateboard parks will revitalize the economy."

The Reality

The reality is that all of this has nothing to do with irresponsible spending. Our Mayor was only doing as he was asked and had no allusions that the skate plaza was going to receive stimulus package money. Here's how he states it:

“We were asked to submit a list of every possible project we have that could be ready to go in 90 days or less,” [St. Cloud Mayor Dave] Kleis said. “We didn’t prioritize the list. If we had, those items would have been on the bottom.”

In fact if you look, you'll notice that he simply listed the projects alphabetically by Program type.

The good news for Austin and his project is that this media hype does not affect the skate plaza in any way. It is still being funded through private donations and will still use a portion of the 1/2 cent sales tax that St. Cloud voters approved 3 years ago for park improvements, regardless of whether or not it receives federal funding.

But really, if the federal government decides that city improvement projects that would employ local construction workers and buys tons of area concrete and steel are good for the economy, should St. Cloud turn the money down?

I can't imagine why.

Originally posted by Jeff Lee at viewfromthecloud.com

Dear Congress,

Could you please allocate some of that infrastructure money to our freakin' water mains. We got through the deep freeze miraculously with no broken lines, but now that there's a thaw, the bugger in my intersection cracked.
Good thing the cistern in the basement is full.

08 February 2009

Did you miss me?

I forgot that along with the end of last semester came rebooting for this semester. Been just as busy this past week as we geared up. I am teaching two electives that will no longer exist next year, as administration has dropped electives and switched to English 11 and English 12 due to declining enrollment and scheduling headaches. Therefore, it has opened up some avenues for my classes, as I can basically teach what I want, provided I can find copies of novels for the class in the closets, or otherwise obtain books. We'll keep some of the elements of each elective, but some will go by the wayside. Nothing is official until April, but it looks as though there will be a position for me next year, though it would still be part time. Nothing says I can't keep looking... Now that I'm back in the swing of things, I expect to be less scarse around here, so at least we'll keep Cliff amused.