Star Struck

10

February 5, 2020-

In engaging with a group of First Graders, this morning and afternoon, I was pleased to see that their awareness of the sky, our solar system, and constellations equals, if not surpasses, that of many in much older generations.  There was even a mini-debate about whether Pluto should be still regarded as a planet. (My take is that it should be so regarded, given that it orbits the Sun and it has at least one moon.)

The kids have been taught well, as to how to recognize the various constellations.  I was probably in fifth grade, before knowing of much more than the Big and Little Dippers, and Polaris.  The ability to spot Antares, Betelgeuse and Sirius, among others, has already entered these children’s intellectual exchequers.

This exchange underscored the presence, at last night’s State of the Union, of an eleven-year-old boy, who has dreams of one day exploring our planet’s Moon, and Mars.  The generation some call The Alphas will definitely have a shot at the beginning stages of  human interplanetary travel, so this early awareness of the Heavens is well-placed.

I will spend another day with the group, tomorrow, and hope to engage them further, in the notion that humanity may both explore the near solar system and find ways to learn much about the systems orbiting the intriguing bodies of the Milky Way and beyond.

Smacked Down, Rebound

15

November 21, 2017, Prescott-

I was told that I am unqualified to work with international students.

This, after 5 years of working with Korean students, albeit 25-30 years ago, at the university level.

I have to remember, there are two types of unqualified:  Under, and over.

The people running the corporation that minds these students prefer housewives and unemployed retirees, so I am underqualified, in those respects.  They also prefer people who speak Mandarin, and I am definitely not filling that bill.

Getting smacked down by people of other points of view stings only as long as you let it.

My rebound is my writing, so I need to stop making excuses and set the time aside to put one or two books together.  Even if sales are initially spotty, the money that comes in will equal whatever might have come from this other position.  Besides, who knows?  Circumstances in my life show signs of changing.  Life might well have gotten in the way of working for the corporation.  Everything happens for a reason.

The Road to 65, Mile 332: Where It’s At

8

October 26, 2015, Chino Valley- I am holding my own, as a third grade teacher, it seems.  Three weeks into my nine-week assignment, I find I could extend the term, if the state Department of Education simplifies my elementary certification.  I will ask them what is expected of me, within the next two days.  A certification fee and a couple of tests would be reasonable.  Thousands of dollars on a new course of study would not be.

I was in a labyrinth, of sorts, on Saturday.  I was reminded of the days when getting a teaching certificate here was Byzantine.  Now, standardized testing, of teachers, has made this easier, at least here in Arizona.  I have my transcripts on file down in Phoenix, so that should speed the plow. I will likely be there on Friday, and so would go in to see what else is needed, besides the certificates I already hold.

The bottom lines are: 1. I will be in a good place, whether I remain with my 8&9 year-olds, or move on to another assignment, or two. 2. The children’s security, however, means we need to secure a teacher for the second semester, and soon.  Stay tuned.

The Road to 65, Mile 264: Ferry Life

5

August 19, 2015, Prescott- No, I am not embarking on another far-flung adventure.  Today, I am ruminating about the process of getting from one place to another, by boat.  Ferries have been around since before Egypt or Sumer were kingdoms.  Probably, as soon as a Neanderthal or Peking Man was able to fashion a log large enough to hold one or two other people, he or she would have had the bright idea to charge them a fee, in the currency of the day, in order to get across the river or lake.

My own experience with ferries goes back to 1966, when my parents took us to Martha’s Vineyard for a day.  I remember the salt air and the rather smooth ride from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, across Vineyard Sound.  We visited some Wampanoag people, in Gay Head, on the western end of the island, and being 15, I wandered off for a bit, by myself, to try and meet up with some local kids and hang out to see how life was there, day to day.

Since then, life has taken me across many bodies of water, either by watercraft or by plane.  I’ve tried my hand at rowing, and paddling canoes, with varying degrees of success.  There was one time, when I worked for Villa-Oasis School, now defunct, when one of the students and I slept on opposite ends of the Headmaster’s boat, while at Cholla Bay, in Sonora.  When we woke up, the next morning, the boat had drifted about a half-mile out to sea.  We rowed it back in, but I was never invited to go back to the hacienda.

Large ferry operations, like those in Alaska, Washington State and British Columbia, are staffed by young and old alike, working twelve-hour shifts.  Alaska’s ferry crews are state employees, and no tipping is allowed.  My tendency is to tip, fairly generously, for good service, so this was a new experience.  Then again, the prices of their fare make not needing to tip, a blessing.

Having spent 6 1/2 days aboard a U.S. Navy vessel, last Fall, I wondered how the crew members on various ferries regard their lives.  I listened to people talk back and forth, during the four Alaska Ferry rides, and the trip to and from Victoria, aboard a Washington ferry.  The dining staff and purser’s office folks seem to work the hardest, never seeming to catch a break, with several hundred, and sometimes over a thousand, people to keep fed, and secure.  As with any vessel, the engineering people, in the hottest part of the ship, have the most thankless working conditions; even if they are sitting, they are doing so in a heat capsule.

The sleeping quarters for the Alaska crew, are below decks, under the engine room and car deck, which, for safety reasons, is off-limits to passengers, for most of the journey.  Four scheduled and supervised car deck calls, per day, are allowed the passengers, mostly to check on caged pets which are secured in vehicles, with the windows rolled down for ventilation.  The crew members did tell me it was sometimes hard to sleep, with the dogs barking, off and on.  It’s definitely a life that one would have to choose out of love for people and for the sea.

Many of my fellow passengers chose state rooms as accommodation.  Being me, I rolled out a pad and a sleeping bag, though on top of a cot, so as to not have to get soaked, lest a wave came up over the bow or, as happened a few times, rain water leaked through the canopy.  I have mentioned, in one of the Alaska posts, how a woman sleeping to my left did get an unwelcome bath, from just such rain water.

One of these days, I will be on a ferry again.  I might do the state room experience, or just remain myself, and exult in the canopy of stars.  Either way, the sea and I will remain friends, as will the crew.