Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And, the Good News Is . . . .

Anything ZAGS is always good news in our household.  My trip in to Spokane went smoothly, and my visit to McArthey Athletic Center turned out great too.

Within three minutes, I was walking out with an armload of loot:  season schedule posters for both men and women, wallet schedules and even some refrigerator magnets like the one above. 

I also passed the ZAGS women's BB coach and almost said hello, but he was deep in study as I walked by.  Oddly enough, I saw him at almost the precise spot during last year's trip to pick up schedules. 

Slowly but surely, my pile of goodies will go to their respective homes for the ZAGS season.  Yes, Cis and Lasean, I have a schedule for each of you.  

My mother's schedule is on her door at Life Care, and the staff promises to switch to the games whenever the TV in the living room has the right channels.   

After a quick trip to Costco, I returned home in the midst of a seemingly everlasting downpour.  As is almost always the case, from the turn-off to I-90 into Spokane and back, the sky was dry and the sun was shining most of the time. 

There was bad news on Facebook, ironically sandwiched between a couple of "good news" items.  

Scrolling down a few posts, I read the following from whom I "guess" was a well-intentioned voter: 
For years we have had dead weight teachers in Idaho. There because of tenure, and all they cared about was a paycheck...
Prop 1,2,&3 will provide better education for our children and help clean out dead weight.

YES ON PROP 1,2 & 3
Don't buy the Union hype

When I see such statements,  along with the simplistic and untrue insinuations in radio ads, i.e. "union bosses," I have to wonder what life-altering negative experience these people must have experienced with teachers during their education. 

Obviously, throughout a lifetime, we're all going to have a few run-ins or unproductive moments.  That's a given when we're dealing with human beings. 
I'm sure computers never make us mad.

But loosely branding an entire profession as "dead weight" or labeling dedicated members of an education association who serve as advocates for their colleagues as "union bosses" is grossly unfair and untrue. 

Such outrageous, simplistic claims make my Irish blood boil.  And, believe me, it bypassed simmer and shot directly off the charts upon reading that Facebook post. 

A discussion ensued---to put it mildly---but as quickly as the "dead-weight" claim had appeared, it suddenly disappeared from Facebook-land.

The irony of all this:  the offensive statement was "sandwiched" between one Facebook posting announcing that the Sandpoint High School Cedar Post had just taken top honors as a newspaper and for its website at yesterday's North Idaho College journalism conference. 

In addition, the paper's editor won Best Layout. 

I learned later from the journalism adviser aka William E. Love III that the competition included student journalism programs in Idaho, Montana and Washington. 

That Facebook news appeared above the "dead-weight" statement, and after reading the statement, I opened a message from a former student and friend,  asking for my email address.

She wanted to send me a summary of the work she has done this past year connecting with students---both college and high school level. 

I soon received the following email:

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to touch base with you as a follow-up to the public lectures that I gave in January and August at Sandpoint High School and Priest River Lamanna Junior and Senior High Schools.  
In those lectures, I talked about the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Mission and the field of research known as astrobiology (the search for life beyond Earth).  
I also gave a demo of the CheMin instrument, which is part of the payload of the Curiosity Rover.  CheMin stands for Chemistry and Mineralogy and it's designed to identify minerals and rocks on Mars, including ones that formed in the presence of liquid water, a solvent necessary for life as we know it.  

CheMin was invented by Dr. Dave Blake, a scientist in our group at NASA Ames Research Center.  He was very generous and allowed me to bring a field-based version of the instrument to Priest River and Sandpoint to show the students (see attached images).  
I was thrilled to share such a special experience with students in my home towns.  At the end of the lecture, I also talked about internship opportunities with NASA for interested students.  

In this follow-up email I wanted to share with you that CheMin is now operating on Mars!  We celebrated a wildly successful landing on August 5, and since then the engineers have been methodically "exercising" the rover and going through checks before handing over the keys to the scientists to drive.  
Here is a press release with the details:

It was a unique and very rare opportunity to have the students interact with CheMin, and I just wanted to let you know that the instrument is now pumping out exciting data on Mars!  

Have a great afternoon!

Niki is one of countless students who have "survived" and succeeded in spite of the "dead weight" teachers in Idaho. 

So, in spite of the politically-charged insinuations we're hearing and reading far too many times a day during this election season, our dedicated public school teachers are doing something right. 

And, there's one more good news item on this Halloween Day, 2012.  I looked in the mirror this morning and realized I don't even have to dress up to scare the trick or treaters tonight.  

A 65-year-old mug can do the trick.

Happy Wednesday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been upset by all the political posts on Facebook - not the correct forum in my mind. And I certainly agree with you on the teacher issue - too bad we can't vote in Idaho.
The last line of your post made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that.