For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A soldier's letter

I thought this was well worth posting. I found it at the Wpg. Sun website.

I am a Canadian soldier who has served in Afghanistan on the front lines and returned in mid August. Let me tell you this letter makes me mad. I didn't go over to help those people just to have our forces be pulled out saying "At least we tried." That would make all those deaths of our troops, my brothers in arms, in vain.

It sickens me to hear all these protesters trying to speak on our behalf, when in fact most of us believe in what we are doing and most of the time like our jobs. Most of these protesters have no idea what a soldier wants. Last time I checked it was my life I was risking over there and I worked very hard to be able to fight for my country. I believe in our cause and I would go back again until the job is finished. I don't need protesters who just want to be on TV speaking on my behalf because they don't share the same views I have, and I think you'll find this to be the same among most soldiers.

Supporting our troops doesn't mean trying to bring them home because you don't support the war, it means sending your thoughts and prayers to them, letting them know you're behind them through a tough time. Don't try to guess what a soldier wants. Ask them.

Cpl. Aaron Penner


Friday, October 27, 2006


Well, I'm back after a most excellent weekend trip - and it's taken me this long to get back onto the blog! We've been going pretty much non-stop for the last week.

Dh was officially "released from contract" on friday - after being repeatedly told he wouldn't be - and given two weeks notice. Except they didn't know if they'd have hours for him for those last 2 weeks. He's been on half days for a while now. Thank God his actual employer, not the billing client, will be paying him for this last part. Meanwhile, he's been accepted for a position that starts at the end of his two weeks. Problem is, it's in another town over an hour away, and we don't have a car. Not that he'd be able to commute that distance. It's a short term contract, so he'll most likely rent a bachelor's apt or something and bus home on the weekends. We're still hoping that a local position will make up its mind before the paperwork it signed, but we'll see what happens. And then there's the position back in our home province that's still in the air. All three have their benefits, but we'll work with the bird in the hand at this point.

Meanwhile, I've given my notice at work, since the only reason I was able to work the hours I do is because my husband started so early in the morning the he could come home very early. My manager didn't want to accept my letter ("No! I don't want it! Take it away!" LOL). When finding out why I was leaving, both managers told me that, once we know what's going on, they'd be willing to work something out to keep me at whatever hours I can come in. I probably wouldn't be able to do cashier (of necessity, the least flexible of departments for that sort of thing), but elsewhere in the store. They *really* don't want to loose me. I'm not too surprised. There aren't a lot of really good employess, and the newest batch are real slackers, with the exception of a couple that have a real, honest to goodness, work ethic. Some would've been fired (or not even hired) long ago, but management's so desperate for staff, they have no choice. Not good for the customers, though. There have been a lot more complaints since this new group was hired, but I think most do understand that the company can't do much about it. It's either them, or none at all.

So now we're trying to figure out how to get my husband to the new job for a meeting next week. It'd be cheaper to rent a car than to take the bus, we've found. Finding accomodations for the contract period, however, might be an issue. At least it's easier to find a bachelor's than a larger apt. At least that's what I'm told. Problem is, the place is so small, there are no online listings for accomodations that we can find, other than hotels and B&B's. For the short term, that would work, but long term... well, the job pays more, but not *that* much more!

So we're figuring out all that, while at the same time keeping up with life in gerenal. I am looking forward to when things settle down again for a little bit. Might even get a full night's sleep once in a while or something. LOL

Monday, October 16, 2006

Taking on too much

Sara at Choice for Childcare posted an interesting editorial today, discussing Ontario's push for "character education" and to "cultivate virtue."

On the one hand, it sounds like a good, common sense thing. Virtues such as honesty, integrity, fairness, etc. are to be taught and encouraged to students. Such things are, of course, of great value.

So why do I feel so uncomfortable about it?

There are a number of things that come to mind that concern me, and most involve my overall distrust whenever the state becomes involved in parenting. In my view, while modelling virtues is a no-brainer, actively teaching them becomes another issue. Especially since so few actually model virtuous behaviour. Kids aren't stupid. They can tell when someone's throwing them a BS line, just as my peers and I did when we were in school. Yeah, teachers were supposed to be these model citizens that we were supposed to respect - but somehow, the adults neglected to do anything when we told them about the one that liked to look down girls tops or grab their asses, or the other teacher that had a preference for boys, even going to far as to shove his hands down the pants of a friend of mine. Seniority was far more important than the students themselves. Then there's all the other "virtuous" behaviour among our teachers, ranging from the verbally or physically abusive, to the political power games that pitted good teachers we actually liked and learned from against a beaurocracy out of control.

When it comes to such things as "character" and "virtue," it is my opinion that they can not be taught directly - certainly not in a classroom/standardized curriculum setting. These things can *only* be modelled.

Yet, this is not what bothers me most about these implementations. What bothers me is that these are not things schools should be teaching. It is yet another parenting responsibility being foisted on teachers and schools. To my mind, schools are there to teach such concrete things as reading and literature, mathematics and sciences, history, geography and the arts. More and more, however, I've seen schools take on the role of surrogate parents. I suppose it makes sense, in a way. Children today spend far more time in school (and, increasingly, daycares and preschools), with their teachers and peers, than with their own families. Parents, sometimes of necessity, but often because they believe this is the only way to do things, are abdicating their responsibility to strangers. Of course, they believe they are doing the right thing for their children. And why wouldn't they? After all, we've been having it ingrained in us for several generations now, that "experts" are so much better than parents when it comes to teaching and raising our own children (yet somehow, parents can never be considered the experts of their own children).

As the schools take on more and more of what was once the responsibility of parents, extended families, and the community at large, they become spread too thin. Schools are being required to be all things to all children, rather than sticking to core responsibilities. As such, it would be impossible for schools to succeed in any of these areas of responsibility. They've simply taken on too much. Rather than focussing and succeeding in a small number of specific areas, they are failing or having severely limited success with a large number of things they have no business being responsible for in the first place.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I recently recieved the news that one of my first cousins just died. This is a total shock to all of us, as we had no idea she was ill - all I know is that she got a fast acting cancer of some sort. Details are sketchy not just for me, which would be understandable considering how far away I live, but for my family that lives near her.

I've also learned, almost by chance, that all of her siblings have had cancer battles - I'd only known of one. Add to that, their father died just a few years ago and their mother, who's had numerous health problems over the years, is currently in the hospital having suffered a stroke (just the small local hospital, so she's doing all right - she'd be in the city hospital if she wasn't).

This is one of the down sides of living so far from family. I won't be able to make the funeral, or visit my aunt in the hospital.

As if that's weren't enough, my husband was just asked to come in for half days for the next while (among others on the same contract). Why? The client's over budget, so they're trying to save money to make it to the end of the fiscal year and the next cash infusion by not having to pay employees. The sheer stupidity of this is mind boggling.

Dh is currently in contact with one of the several companies that have been asking to interview him lately. It's entirely possible that, in a few weeks, he'll be working somewhere else.

The client doesn't want to loose dh - they're apparently desperately trying to find ways to keep him - but loosing a half week's pay is huge for us. It's been difficult enough to recover financially from his time on medical leave, but when we start to have to wonder if we're going to make rent in a city with almost 0% housing availability, all bets are off. Especially with the rent going up again in a couple of months. This, of course, effects our apartment hunting, as we were hoping to have moved somewhere with better rent before then.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moving on...

It's past 1 am right now, and I really should be going to bed, not blogging, but it's been a long time since I've written, and I know I couldn't sleep, anyways. LOL

We've been slowly getting into new routines these days. "School" has officially started, which means our mondays at the park are back and I'm actually trying to keep some sort of record of what we've been doing.

We got a new computer system, printer/scanner and digital camera. We've blown our funding the the process, but that's ok - we're still getting used to the idea of *having* funding in the first place.

We have a new homeschooling facilitator that we'll be meeting for the first time tomorrow. That means we have to put together an "education" plan for their records. It'll be fairly easy for our eldest, as she's pretty focused right now on her online comic book (which is why we needed the new scanner/printer) and various other projects that would be easy to build a "curriculum" around. The younger child, however, isn't really focused on anything in particular, so it's a bit more difficult to come up with something. About the only things that are for sure are that we're going to be regularily using Rosetta Stone to learn French, raising triops, and working on digital photography.

On top of all this, we've been hit with another rent increase. It had been our intention to move up to a much higher floor to get away from the constant street noise. Rent is already higher on the upper floors, and with the new increase, it's no longer affordable for us to do so. So now we need to move on again, but where? The main reason we are where we are, even though the rent in this area is higher, is because it's so convenient for my husband to get to work. Healthwise, he simply can't have a long commute. That limits where we can look to someplace that still lets him get to work quickly.

As if that weren't enough, things are getting screwy with his client. He works for company A, which has contracted him out to company B, which needs him to work on a project for company C. Company A, his actual employer, isn't even in our city, and he rarely sees anyone from there. He works in the offices of company B.

The problem, though, is that company B doesn't seem to be very efficient with their budget. The client pays them X amount at the beginning of the fiscal year. Well, they seem to have run out of money. They've let one person on the project go completely, another has been asked to take some time off (without pay, of course), then come in on a part time basis for the rest of the contract, and my husband has been asked to work a few short days, too. Thankfully, my husband is pretty much the only person who can do various things for the client, so they can't afford to have him gone for any length of time. This effects his pay, of course. The thing is, when Company A hired him for this contract, it was for a specific amount per year, which was broken down to an hourly rate to bill company B for, rather than have him on salary. So as far as we know, that means he's supposed to be paid that amount for the year, regardless of how many hours he actually works. Now, when he's had to take sick days, it just wasn't an issue - we never expected him to get paid for that, once he'd used up all his sick days and holiday pay. This is a different issue altogether. Unfortunately, these are the same people that told him he'd have full employee benefits when they hired him, only to backtrack because he was considerred a "term" employee. We'll have to take a close look at that contract. It isn't a very long one - a single page, and no small print - which is why I remember it fairly clearly. If the contract says he's supposed to be paid X amount per year, it doesn't matter what company B does, as far as billable hours goes.

Ah, well. We'll figure it all out.

Until then, we need to figure out where we're moving.