Transition

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As his dad so nicely put it,  Steve made his transition.

February 15, 1969 – April 28, 2011

The Most Amazing Person

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You know it’s the end when there’s a CaringBridge website. I was in church when my dad told me that Steve was being moved to hospice that day. I couldn’t hardly sing the last hymn. Deep breaths. Think of something else. Just make it to the car.

After talking to a few people, I got to my car. One thing on my mind. This is it. It’s the end.

The tears came.

Steve is an amazing man. He was first diagnosed with cancer about 10 years ago. At the time, they gave him two years. Clearly, he beat that diagnosis.

Steve had a very clear view of his mortality. He had 10 years of not knowing how long he would last. After five years, he was cancer free and he and his wife had a daughter. But shortly thereafter, it came back. And it never fully went away.

In January, a tumor appeared in the base of Steve’s skull. When I first heard of this, I was afraid that this would be it. I wrote a post about him. In order to write it, I had to have a few glasses of wine. After I wrote the post, I wrote a letter to Steve and sent it a few days later.

He wrote me back and he was the one reassuring me. That’s just the way he is. Steve is strong for everyone around him.

Although the short-term outlook for me is not good, I have had ample time to wrap my head around my mortality and have been planning for the family for a couple years now. So although the situation does stink, I have some peace of mind that many are not fortunate to gain. Plus, I have lived a very full life and had experiences that many people have not! Also, I am not quitting yet either, if God wants me around a little longer, I will take him up on the offer!

Always upbeat. At the time, he had impaired vision and could only type for limited amounts of time. We reminisced about our harrowing experience driving to Fargo in white-out conditions in his little Mazda RX-7. I will share that story with Steve’s kids when they’re older. God knows, both of us have told and re-told that story for years. It’s amazing we made it.

Like our trip to Fargo, Steve is in white out conditions now. He’s on high doses of morphine, he can’t move his legs and I’m pretty sure he can’t see. He has said his goodbyes and has asked us to let him go. In his hallucinations he talks of going somewhere. Where? You know. Heaven. The gates.

I pray that he makes it out of the storm and to Fergus Falls, where we came out of the snowstorm and saw blue sky. The roads were clear. We could breathe a sigh of relief. Steve needs peace. It’s now all I wish for him.

Tiles!

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This is a photo of the inside of the train station in Porto. It is just one of the many places in Portugal with beautiful tiles! Azulejos is what the tiles are called. Most of the time you see them in blue and white. There are some cases where you find them in other colors. But the predominant theme is blue and white. Sometimes the tiles depict a scene and sometimes they’re just a geometric pattern. Both are beautiful. But as a math geek, I was particularly drawn to the geometric patterns.

I took a considerable amount of photos of tiles during the week. Some places were more prevalent than others. Churches, store fronts, cloisters, train stations, bus stations, you name it, there were tiles everywhere!

Since I was visiting another math geek (Margaret) we started taking a closer look at the tiles. The question of how to incorporate tile design into a Geometry class was flowing through my head. The more interesting tiles had more complicated symmetry. The challenge was to figure out how to make a tile that created more than just one repeated pattern.

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I would love to sit down and “play” with designing tiles. Creating a unit where the kids actually design their own would be quite fun. But where would it fit and what would you take out of the already too short time to fit everything in? If a student created a tile, how would I duplicate it so we could test how it would look with several of the same tiles?

All of these questions are milling about in my head. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to come up with something for my classes this spring. Something like this would be perfect for the end of the year when it’s hard to get them to do anything. Hmm… I’ll have to think about it…

About a week after I got home I received this post card from Margaret:

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“I will never look at tiles the same way again!”

Health Assessment

I finally did my health assessment this week and signed up for the 10,000 steps program. I have to do this each year to keep my co-pay down. There is one question that stands out in my mind.

Have you been verbally abused or physically threatened in the last 6 months?

Why, of course not!

Then I thought about it further…

Answering this question about my personal life is a no brainer. No abuse or glimmers of it to think of, happen in my personal life. Professionally, it’s a different matter all together.

I would make a bet that darn near EVERY teacher in my district could answer YES to that question. Hell, I was verbally abused by a student yesterday! It is a regular occurrence for most of us. And we just write it off as part of the job. Kids will be kids. You can handle it. After all, it’s only words.

The scary thing is that it such a common occurrence. We deal with it on a daily basis. Does anything really happen to these kids to curb this behavior? Nope.

And to make matters worse, we’re now getting verbally abused by parents. The attitude that “the customer is always right” is a crock of shit. No matter what your situation or how bad your life is, it doesn’t excuse you from bad behavior. So… what are you supposed to do when you are getting verbally abused by a parent of one of your students? Tell me an appropriate response for that.

Besides police officers, what other profession is there where you are verbally abused or physically threatened on a regular basis? I’m pretty sure that none of us signed up for this.


We Are One

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I went to my first rally/march on Monday. They happened all across the US. Part of the reason for it being on Monday was to commemorate the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The struggle for civil rights was such a hard-fought battle and strangely enough, we now find ourselves in a similar state.

I happened to walk with my local union. But it wasn’t just teachers there. Probably every major union in the state was represented. I must say, the Teamsters have quite a presence with their semi-truck. All in all, there were about 2000 people. It was very organized. The keynote speaker was one of my friends from our last bargaining team. So that was pretty cool to hear her speak. Plus, she did an awesome job!

The thing that I find interesting is that this is not just a problem here. When I was in Lisbon, there was a very large demonstration one evening. People were marching through the streets to drums, wearing t-shirts about their cause, and carrying signs.

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When I was in London, there was a massive protest taking place near the Houses of Parliament (which is by Westminster Abbey), 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. For this one there were something like 250,000 people. It was a pretty darn big deal!

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So what is everybody protesting? To me, you can sum it up pretty easily for all of our cases. The governments of each country are trying to deal with their poor economies by making cuts to public programs and services. These cuts affect a huge amount of people because they are either getting those services or providing the services as their employment.

All the while… the rich get richer, the middle class shrinks and the poor get poorer.

Something is wrong with this picture.

I know it is probably an oversimplification. But really, is it?