Tag Archives: Volunteer

Veteran’s Day 2013

Say thanks to a veteran today, dudes.

They deserve it.

At this point in time in America, we have an all-volunteer armed forces. Which means, that if you don’t want to join the Army or the Navy, or the Air Force or the Marines, you don’t have to do it.

So all those men and women serving overseas, fighting in at least three different conflicts (no matter how our feelings on the idiot who started said conflicts) deserve our thanks.

Not deification. Not adoration. Thanks.

They have accepted the opportunity given them by our country and its leaders and they are taking on a dangerous job. And we appreciate it.

And, if you want to feel like you’re not part of the herd, wait a day or so and then say thanks. It really doesn’t matter when you do it, but let our men and women in the armed forces know we appreciate the job they are being paid to do.

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School’s Out. . . For Summer!

Yeah, dudes. Today is the last day of school for students and teachers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system.

Which means that Hyper Lad and I are free for the next couple of months.

Well, really, Hyper Lad is free. I’m just sad.

As you might remember, I’ve been working as a Title I Tutor at Awesome Elementary here in Charlotte for the past almost complete school year. And, honestly, I don’t remember when I’ve had a more fun work year.

It was a treat, a joy, an appallingly wonderful experience to interact with these little dudes and dudettes, their teachers and the school in general during this school year. I really had a hard time holding it together over the last week or so as I considered that this might be the last time I see some of them.

The deal is that the funding for my job is from a federal source, which means it’s not the most stable source around. It could have been offset by the state, but it’s cutting more than 400 teacher assistant and tutor positions around the state in the coming school year. Personally, I think that’s extremely short-sighted. They’re exchanging a happier future for a slightly more solvent present, all so they can avoid making the hard choices like antagonizing their major campaign contributors by making the rich pay their fair share.

I’ll get down off my soapbox now. Sorry.

Anyway.

With the funding for my position gone, so am I. Which means I won’t be around to watch as the younger kids keep growing and learning and turning into young men and young women. I won’t get to watch the fourth-graders prepare themselves to become middle schoolers.

I enjoyed working with all of these students, but there are a few that will remain my favorite. These are kids who really worked hard, who had a spark in their eyes, who loved to learn, or learned to love it. These are the kids who had to overcome even more obstacles than did most of the kids at this mostly-poor school.

I watched them overcome so much, and helped as much as I could. And now I’ll not get to see them as they keep working and keep growing.

Oh, I will be back at least a little bit. I mean, I just can’t go cold turkey. But I’ll only be there as a volunteer and not there as a worker or someone who sees them everyday.

Still, I can’t thank the teachers, students and administrators from Awesome Elementary (known in it’s more everyday guise as Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School). I really feel like I should have been paying them over the course of the year. I’ve come to care about them more than I ever thought possible. Come to depend on seeing their smiles and hearing their voices.

And, for me, as of today, they’ll all be gone.

I don’t pretend that any of them will really miss me, or wonder all that much about me come next year, but they will be on my mind. Dwelling in the small space they dug for themselves deep in my heart.

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Dude Don’t Wanna

Nobody likes paying taxes. Let’s just get that out of the way really fast.

No one likes it. Period.

However much we grit our teeth, mumble under our breath or whine and complain, though, we gotta do it. What’s more, I’m thinking we might actually want to try and feel a bit better about the whole thing.

I know a lot of dudes have difficulties with paying taxes because of all the fun stuff certain people in government like to bring up to rally their base. They like to bring up what they consider to be wasteful spending. Then make fun of it. They like to talk about all the pork in every budget and say it should all be cut. Then under their breaths, whisper something along the lines of, “Well, except for mine because that’s not pork that’s just good sense.”

So, yeah. There are problems. There is waste in the budget, but I’d argue that the good far outweighs the bad.

Our taxes don’t only go to fund (insert your idea of a wasteful project here [but, again, I’d probably argue with you about it because it might actually be of benefit, just not an obvious benefit]), but also go to fund things we all need and use.

Taxes go to fund police and fire and ambulance. They go to fund schools, which try their best to educate our children so they will become productive, happy members of society. They go to fund building inspectors, so that great new house you just moved in to doesn’t fall down around your ears.

Taxes go to fund infrastructure repair and improvement. Though I’d argue that not enough goes to fund that sort of thing. The sorry, scary state of our nation’s bridges alone are enough to give any dude nightmares and make us think twice about crossing most bridges. In addition, taxes go toward funding our national defense. We have a volunteer armed force, so we’ve got to pay these people. We don’t just force them into the army or air force and then expect them to serve free.

We also can be thankful that our taxes go toward helping out many of those in our society who need our help, who were failed by our school system and didn’t get the education they need to successfully compete in today’s job market. And, yes, for Medicare, Medicaid and our country’s latest foray into medical care, Obamacare. Which I think is working out just swell.

So, yeah. Taxes are a pain in the butt and, yeah, I’d certainly rather not pay them. But I understand that, no matter how much I dislike them, and no matter how much I dislike some of the things our money is spent on, I realize that taxes are necessary if we are to remain a somewhat fully functioning democracy.

Have fun, today.

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