Pooh's Thoughts

What's on my mind.

20 April 2011

It's called a budget.

Sometimes something annoys me and I can't stop thinking about it. I have to tell someone about it. That's part of why I started this blog (btw, I'm not dead!), so I'd have 'someone' to tell. If you're good at putting 2 and 2 together, you may have guessed I have someone to tell all that stuff to now :) and don't have much reason to write here. Except today, I can't stop rehearsing telling him about this annoying thing and I will only see CR briefly tonight and don't want to waste breathe on this stupid thing, and I can't tell Honu-Girl (because she is annoyed about the same thing and doesn't need to hear more of my ramblings on the matter and definitely doesn't need the background...although she'll probably read this), but I can't stop rehearsing what I'd say...So, y'all are the lucky winners of the totality of my thoughts on the matter at hand - Adopt-A-School and money.

A little background to this week's drama: My employer (state science agency) has been an AAS partner for about 20 years. Our current coordinator has been doing it for about 17 years. (I've been working here for 5.5 years.) To fund AAS activities apparently they used to do bake sales, t-shirt sales, etc and passing the hat until someone came up with the idea of a golf tournament to fund all the educational outreach for the agency. Somewhere along the way a bank account was set up to handle the 'education fund' monies. Most of the funds went to AAS activities, as I understand it, but some money was donated to water festivals and a few other similar events. As I understand it, the agency became AAS partners to support Earth Science education, in particular (which is why we partnered with a middle school), but not to the exclusion of activities to support all education, teachers, and students. A bone of contintion between the education committee and the AAS coordinator was how she spent money - most of the committee favored trying to target actual educational things (equipment, books, fieldtrips), she likes to do a lot of prize type stuff (snacks during testing week, good behavior rewards (candy), lunch for the teachers). No one has a problem with rewards and treats but there is only so much money to go around.

Last summer one of our agency lawyers noticed all of this and realized this was illegal, primarily the money part. Generally state agencies can't go out and under their name seek charitable donations, at least not ours (maybe some can, idk). This was decreed right before the golf tournament. There was some chaos, then the geological society stepped up and offered to handle the money, become a co-AAS partner. Well, the chaos sort of continued through the summer as the old bank account was closed, money handed over, etc. At the beginning of the school year there wasn't a budget to hand the AAS coordinator, the society officers didn't know how much had been spent in the past, how much to expect to be spent this year, or have a firm number for the amount that could be spent. (That last was easy to take care of, it just hadn't been figured.) And in the midst of this a second school had been added to our AAS partnership, which upped the amount spent by 150% or so.

This first half of the school year AAS-coordinator would spend money then turn in receipts to the treasurer and get reimbursed. Few, if any, questions asked. After a while the treasurer started to wonder when, if ever, he was suppose to say no - so the officers got together, looked at the money spent, the money raised in the previous golf tournament, other money potentially available, and what else might education money might be spent on. They also asked the AAS-coordinator to put together a budget showing what she wanted to do for the second half of the year .(I can' t remember if there were two meetings, or a bunch of emails and one meeting) After the discussion the AAS-coordinator was told how much was available to be spent in the second half of the year and which activities were thought to be key to our goals (science education or at least directly educational), but the final decisions on how to spend the money fell to her.

Yesterday afternoon, I was included in a reply (as one of the society officers*) to an email about an Earth Day contest at one of the schools that need judges and prizes. It appears in the email that the AAS-coordinator is also asking about additional funds (although maybe she's just mentioning that she'll be buying prizes already covered in her existing budget). The society president states he can't attend but maybe someone else can go and asks the treasurer if there's still outreach money available. Emails go back and forth, up shot is there's some money and clearly this is the kind of thing we really want to support. This morning we get an email from the AAS-coordinator about how AAS isn't just something 'she' wants to do, it started before she was hired, all our bosses since then have affirmed the commitment, she doesn't appreciate others telling her what she can spend money on, she can't plan if she isn't sure there'll be money to cover activities,...and some more stuff along those lines. Oh, and suggesting we need to meet with everyone involved to discuss all this.After this email, several of us on this hall were sputtering, semi-incoherent about it. The Pres replied reminding her why the society took over the funds, that money is not unlimited, and we gave her a budget - stick to it.

My thought: We gave her a budget, she should know if there are funds left to do this. If it is indeed something the school decided to do recently and she's asking for additional money to cover prizes (as it appeared in her email) then she needs to recognize that there might not be any more money. Personally, if it's between feeding the teachers lunch (teacher appreciation lunch is apparently the only other thing this school year) and giving prizes for the Earth Day contest, I'd go with the prizes. I think most teachers would say reward academic and creative effort before you feed us - it's nice to be appreciated but we're all here to teach and encourage the kids. And if she didn't spend so much money on candy for the students maybe she could spend money on stuff that is actually educational.

Well, I feel better now.

*I got roped into being the society newsletter editor. Go me.

01 February 2010


Cool stuff! Go check it out.

That's about as articulate as I can manage today.

27 January 2010

Confession Time

So, remember that boy (CR) that I was stressing out over back before Christmas? Well, I pretty sure he likes me. We've been hanging out together fairly regularly (except the week he had a killer cold) this month. Things are moving slowly, and I'm ok with that - we aren't spring chickens and both have ex-fiancés*. But I have a confession, and I don't know if I should share it with him yet or not - I've been having rather naughty thoughts about him all day today. I don't want to freak him out - we've kissed but we haven't played any tonsil hockey - and I'm sitting here thinking distractingly naughty thoughts about him, since late yesterday evening.

So if you walk past my office and I'm smiling and blushing while staring off into space, you'll know why.

*When plural is it the masculine spelling? Should I say fiancé(e)s? Since I had a fiancé and he had a fiancée. Can a former English major or some one who knows French speak up?

15 January 2010

Attitude Adjustment Needed

Last night while having dinner with CR, we briefly discussed alcohol drinking limits, teen drinking, etc. (very briefly, mostly in the context of our former teaching careers). I just checked and I don't seem to have ever written about this here before, so I thought I'd let y'all know my thoughts on this topic.

I don't think strict prohibition until the age of 21 works well. I think there's some allure of the forbidden (particularly with teens) but more importantly makes it hard for families to teach teens to drink responsibly. A progressive introduction more like the German's* have makes more sense to me. The parent of a young teen (14?) can order an alcoholic beverage for their child at a restaurant. (I doubt anyone requires documentation for the age of the child or the exact legal relationship of the adult and teen, I assume it's kind of at the discretion of the server/manager/...). Later (age 16 perhaps?) a teen can order alcoholic beverages as long as there is an adult in the party, again at a restaurant or café. At 18 one is an adult and has all the privileges thereof.

But more important than the laws are attitudes and modeling.(Please note I'm not an expert in the field, have not raised any children,...) If parents (and the rest of the family) model responsible behavior and have less of an 'all or nothing' attitude then the kids are less likely to binge drink. Notice I say "less likely" not "won't" because nothing, short of the absence of all alcohol, can completely eliminate binge drinking. Teens are, on average, impulsive, poor judges of risk, and susceptible to peer pressure - these three things together don't make teenagers the best decision makers. On the other hand they aren't completely imbecilic robots who do everything their friends say either. I think if parents drink responsibly around their kids, show a dislike for excessive drinking and talk about it, be honest about their own youthful excesses, and even let kids taste drinks if they want (did you like beer the first time you drank it?), the children will grow up with a healthier attitude toward alcohol. Research even bears this out.

I read an article (or heard a story on NPR) about a study+ that looked at first-generation Irish- and Italian-American families (parent's born in old country, kids born and raised in US). In general the Irish-American families practiced strict prohibition^ until one 18 years old; alcohol was often drunk outside the home; and drinking to drunkeness was accectable. In the Italian-American households children were given age-appropriately sized glasses of wine with dinner, alcohol was mostly drunk with the meal; and excessive drinking was not socially accectable. The researchers followed the children in these families into adulthood and the Italian-Americans were less likely to binge drink as teens and young adults and had a lower incidence of alcoholism than the Irish-Americans.

There will always be teens who get wasted every Friday night but maybe if we change our attitudes about alcohol and teens then it could be fewer?

*At least as I remember from discussions in class 15 yrs ago. And, no, I don't know about any other European nation's laws.
+If I had any idea where I'd read about this I'd link to it but I read the article at least 6 months ago.
^except for communion wine for the RCers, of course

04 January 2010

Present from the Dog

or dogs?

But first - the laundry room lizard reading about physics.

If you are of a weak constitution, you may want to skip rest of this post and take a look at these instead.

I'm not sure where it came from but Honey or some other dog/dogs Wednesday night brought me this:

I'm pretty sure a neighbor had been butchering this little guy and left the head and spine, carelessly, where dogs could get to it. From the tip of the nose to the hip bone he's maybe 5 feet long.

The head is about 14-16" long. I tossed him into the woods Thursday by Sunday it had been pulled across the yard and the skin on the head was gone. I'm sparing y'all that sight. The ribs are gone now, too.

He must have had some kind of rack because it was hatched off.

Luckily it's barely gotten above freezing this past 5 week so he's not rotting terribly fast and the there aren't many flies. Hopefully Dad will find him and toss him in the brush today, otherwise I'll have to go out when I get home and do it in the dark.

30 December 2009

Pet Pictures

Because really what else do you want to see while surfing pre-New Year's intoxication?

Did I post Me and My Shadow yet? Well, either way, it's so cute.

Honey got How to Teach Physics to Your Dog for Christmas but Irish got a hold of it first.

I think Irish is trying to steal the book from Honey by scent marking it here.

Here's Honey reading it:

Taking a break to ponder bunnies made of cheese:

Here she's pouting because I took the book away.

I'm anxiously awaiting my turn at reading the book. :)

28 December 2009

Learning to Ride

No one's at work again today but I'm feeling more philosophical than crazy today. I'm listening/watching to an old Bones ep ("The Woman in the Car"). At one point Booth and Brennan are watching a video of a kid learning to ride a bike. Dad is a little nervous (his baby is growing up), kid is excited, Mom is worried. The mom keeps saying things like "Be carefull" and "don't let go" while the kid is saying "I can do it!" As the kid goes wobbling down the sidewalk, Mom says to Dad "How do we get him back?"

It occured to me that you never 'get them back' (kids that is) you just run along beside as long as possible. (note: I don't have any kids, just a much younger sister.) Parents (and older sisters) always want to hold on to their child, keep him or her at whatever age*. The job of a parent isn't to continue to hold on to the bike seat until all danger has passed. The job of a parent is to run along beside your child until you can't keep up anymore.

*Well, maybe not 11. Or 13, 15, and 17. I have a friend, who's now 25, that I've none since she was 11. The odd teenage years were not good.