The thoughts of a writer.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Award

Award
October 30, 2005

For the second time today, Cutris has won the prestigious, annual Dude of the Week award. This award sponsored by the Women of Today, is given out once each month.

Something to think about

In our world, we are often given one side to the story… whatever the story happens to be.
The United States does not use weapons of mass destruction, though we do have them. Furthermore, the 15,000 lb. Daisy Cutter bomb, which destroys everything within a 600-yard radius, is not a weapon of mass destruction.

I have recently begun a dialogue with a man from Syria who found me on my blog. He is afraid that the USA will invade his country, because of the allegations that Syria is arming Lebanese terrorists. He had those awful pictures of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. This led me to wonder if the USA is also spreading terror?

http://www.nd.edu/~techrev/Archive/Spring2002/a8.html

http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/iraqis_tortured/

Friday, October 28, 2005

Gorock Stick

Yesterday, as I was hiking up a muddy creek in the Wilkie Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I found that I needed to use a “Gorock Stick” to improve my safety. For those of you who may not know what a Gorock Stick is, it was named after a man whom I first wrote about sometime ago, who lived around 5000BC.

Mr. Gorock may not have invented the concept of using a stick to poke unstable ground in order to find safe passage, but he did in fact, perfect the art form. In a time when it was important to have the basic skills of hunting, using weapons and poking a stick in the ground to find safe passage, Mr. Gorock was the undisputed expert in the use of what would later be referred to, as the “Gorock Stick.”

Some of you may have seen the movie “Nanook of the North,” in which the lead character, Nanook, used his spear to find safe passage across dangerous ice flows. It is likely that Gorock’s stick too, may have doubled as a weapon such as a spear.

The stick that I used was a simple branch that I broke off to the correct length. I was able to use it to help support my weight as I traversed a slippery ledge. I also used it in the traditional way –of poking the mud to see if I could walk across it, or if I would be sucked down into the muddy depths to my death. Thus you can see the importance of knowing your way around a Gorock Stick.

Mr. Gorock’s great skill with the stick made him both the envy of the other men, and quite popular with the ladies. This would sometimes cause friction between him and Mrs. Gorock. No doubt, at that point in history, his skill was akin to that of a fighter pilot in our modern society.

Modern humans have less need of such skills as the use of a Gorock Stick, just as Mr. Gorock would have had little use for a laptop computer. While I could never reach the proficiency level of Mr. Gorock, I am proud that I know how to use a Gorock Stick. Such things tend to make history come alive don’t you think?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Vikings Won!

A flock of pigs was seen flying over a frozen hell on Sunday...
Yes, the Vikings had actually won a game.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Not the Job

One of the e-mails I had yesterday informed me that I didn’t get the job I had wanted. I was down to the last two applicants, and I interviewed twice for it. I could get upset, but it apparently wasn’t the right job, and I’m not going to let it ruin my day.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Off the Grid

On Tuesday, I drove to Grand Marais, MN and met my friend Dean who was waiting for me at the Gunflint Tavern. After having a Mesabi Red (beer), we left Dean’s truck with his friend’s (and neighbor’s) wife to drive back, and he rode with me.

It was raining, and it was at least an hour from Grand Marais (past the township of Hovland) to Dean’s shack in the deep woods. I must say I like the shack. You may remember that one of my early posts mentioned that I am considering building a shack in my brother’s pasture (to carry on an old family tradition). I will be featuring Dean’s shack on a blog coming soon.

Tuesday after arriving, we hiked around the area a bit. Dean and his friend John each have 20 acres. The lifestyle is definitely different. The only electricity comes from generators, and the only heat comes from burning wood. With it being an hour to Grand Marais, it takes a while to go to town if you need something. The scenery, however, is worth it.

By evening, the rain turned to snow. Both evenings that I was there, John came over and he and Dean and myself jammed on guitars until our fingers were sore. It was a good time in the shack.

Wednesday morning, Dean drove us part of the way up the mountain and we hiked the rest of the way up to a small lake, where we did a little fishing. There was about four inches of snow up there on this beautiful mid-October morning. We noticed some moose tracks and some fox tracks in the snow during the hike.

Later, we enjoyed a meal at “My Sister’s Place” in Grand Marais. We stopped by the big lake (Lake Superior) on the way back to the shack. Late that afternoon, we set to the job of installing some lights on a borrowed trailer. Dean and John do a lot of plowing to keep their roads open, and one of the neighbors who benefits from it, loaned them his trailer so they could pickup a snow blower. This isn’t the regular kind of snow blower, it is the kind you hook up to a truck.

There was more guitar playing and beer drinking that evening. In the morning, Dean and John left to get the snow blower. I packed up and drove out to Tom Lake where I fished for a short time. Then, I headed back home. I noticed upon arriving back, that the weather was considerably warmer, and everyone takes electricity and plumbing for granted.

http://www.grandmarais-mn.com/

http://www.gunflinttavern.com/

http://www.lakesuperiorbrewing.com/ourbeer.html

http://www.trailcenterlodge.com/sisters.html

Providence Loses to Cutris

The city of Providence (you may remember this battle from previous posts) finally sent my refund for the excess they charged me for the (rip-off) excise tax for my car that I don’t own anymore in a city (Providence) that I don’t live in anymore.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give up easily. I outlasted the Providence Tax Assessors office!

Liars

I went to my car dealer after my summer trip in July, and the service guy tried to talk me into all kinds of unnecessary repairs. I did decide to go with a transmission flush, since I know the transmissions on most cars are crap. The guy wanted to do a brake inspection, and I negotiated a tire rotation while they had the wheels off. The rotation wasn’t on the invoice, but when I asked, I was told it had been done. I was also told that my brakes would need to be done this fall, because they were down to 20% of original.

I called the service guy when I noticed my tires hadn’t been rotated. He said he’d “take care of me” next time I came in. I went in the next morning. He said he couldn’t help me because the mechanic who was supposed to work on my car wasn’t there. I was mad. He told me he couldn’t help me, so I backed out and backed all the way to the front where I went in and asked to speak to a manager.

I was explaining to the manager what had happened, when “Andy,” the service guy ran in and said he “called in a favor,” and had somebody who would rotate my tires. He apologized for the mishap. Then, when the mechanic (who remember, wasn’t there that day) brought my car out, he said he was sorry, but nobody had told him yesterday to rotate my tires. What is that now, at least two lies? There’s more…

I went to the same dealer in October for an oil change, and though they insisted that I needed several hundred dollars of maintenance, I told them I’d had a bad experience with them and only wanted an oil change. They put a warning in large letters that I had refused recommended services.

Then I went to my favorite Car-X in Bloomington, MN. They checked my brakes, and told me I still had 50% left! Imagine, my car added 30% to my brakes since my dealer checked them three months before! What a bunch of liars!
Car-X gets my business.

Friday, October 14, 2005

YELLOW???


This is YELLOW???

No, it's

ORANGE.

Quote of the Day

"You wouldn't think you were so smart if you had a wasp up your butt!"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lockup

Most of the kids in detention think they are really cool and really tough. Some of them know everything. A lot of them are in detention almost daily. One decided that it would be a good idea to threaten me yesterday. He is currently serving a 5-day suspension.

No doubt, some of these kids are destined for prison someday. Even if they’ve been in juvenile detention, they have no idea what’s in store for them after age 18. I haven’t seen one of them yet that would last more than half a day in an adult lockup. I really wish that I could help them, but most of them are too stubborn and too proud.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Philbrashen

One day an ant was walking down the street when it heard its name, “Philbrashen.” Who could have been looking for a tiny ant? It thought. It looked around with its compound eyes, listened with its auditory senses and felt with its antennas, but there was no one around!

Suddenly it heard the sound again, “Philbrashen! Philbrashen! Philbrashen!
But again, there was nobody there!

Then the tiny ant heard someone say, “Damn these allergies! Philbrashen! Philbrashen!”

Suddenly feeling spooked, the little ant ran home.

I can interview AFTERNOONS

This is a "sanitized" copy of the letter that I e-mailed to an employer who is insisting that I interview in the morning...

Person, Title
Person, Title
Address

RE: SECOND INTERVIEW FOR, ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM

I received two phone calls regarding a second interview for the position that I talked with you about last Thursday (10/6/05). Each time I was asked to interview in the morning, and each time I explained that I have a job and I can only interview in the afternoon. The last call did not sound very promising, since I was not given any alternative besides this Thursday morning.

I am currently working for ISD ###, and my hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00AM until 1:30PM. I cannot in good conscience take off work to interview for any job. I respect my employer, my coworkers, and the children who I work with. While I am still interested in the job, and I am available most any afternoon (except this Wednesday when I have another second interview), I cannot interview in the morning.

If my position excludes me from the process, I believe that this is unfortunate. Were I to work for Exxx Pxxxxxx Schools, I would hope that such a regard for my employer would be appreciated.

If you can find the time to have me come in on an afternoon, evening or weekend, I will do my second interview.

Sincerely,
ME
My phone number
-------------------------------
The response,

Kevin,
I appreciate your dedication to your present employer. However, we are working under a tight timeframe with our hiring process. The only time the entire interivew committee is available this week is now Thursday at 12:30. Paul and I have 2:00 open tomorrow (Wednesday, 10/12) if that would work for youto come in for the 45 minute 2nd round interview. The other 3 members of the interview team would not be there, but it would give you a chance at interivew this week. Please let me know if this will work for you.
Her Name, Ph.D.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Exxx Pxxxxxx Schools

If you read my first e-mail, the time/date offered was the only time I said that I could not interview...
----------------------------
My response,

Her name,
As I mentioned in my original e-mail, I have an interview today (Wednesday afternoon) in St. Paul. This prospective employer arranged the schedules of three people to meet with me. I cannot meet with you at that time.
Kevin

---------------------------
A week later,

Kevin, thank you for your interest in my position and in Exxx Pxxxxxx Schools.
I have offered the position to an internal candidate whose background was a closer match to my needs.
Good luck in your job search.
Her Name, Ph.D.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Exxx Pxxxxxx Schools

Translation: “We were just wasting your time calling you in here in the first place, because we already knew who we were going to hire.”

Friday, October 07, 2005

Uncomfortable PC

Within our society that pretends to be politically correct at all cost, it is difficult to address any real problems. I have personally worked with drug addicts, convicts and now I work as a detention monitor with Jr. High School students.

The interesting and perhaps sad thing about it is that certain demographic groups are disproportionately represented in all of these areas. In my experience, it has nothing to do with prejudice, and everything to do with the attitude of the individuals.

These attitudes seem to be passed from parents to their children. Wanton disregard for rules and almost complete defiance of authority is often ignored by the parents and embraced by the children. More likely, the children learn from the example of their parents. If the school continually sends discipline notices home and the parents ignore them, how will the child know to change? If the child refuses to serve detention and the parent will not intervene, what can the school do?

Street Culture seems to give status to those who behave badly. Such things as assault, robbery, theft, drug use, sexual conquest, having children out of wedlock with multiple partners, and even murder, are recognized in this “Bizarro World,” as achievements. Ironically, the same culture looks down on those who succeed academically or financially via legal means. Such persons are thought to be “sell-outs.”

No doubt it is easier to blame the entirety of society for being the cause of one’s problems. However, is it really a good thing in the 21st century, to pretend that your own bad behavior is a good thing and the resulting problems are the fault of others?
It is; however, politically and socially taboo to recognize that a particular group of people might be more inclined to such things. Those who want to prove that they are politically correct, or want to reserve the power of being a “victim,” or perhaps those with no first-hand knowledge of these cases, would ask for your resignation, or your head if you uttered such “blasphemies.”

I argue that pretending something doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t like it is, is insanity. It only keeps our society from recognizing and ultimately addressing a set of problems. I am not saying that there is any kind of deficiency going on, except for a real need to pass on a positive attitude to the next generation, and to leave the problems of the past in the past. To continually live within the confines of the past is destructive. It eliminates the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and make things better. To condone and grow such negative attitudes is incredibly destructive. The first step to fixing the problem, however, lies in the ability to identify, recognize, and admit that there is a problem. Political correctness has clouded our vision to some extent.

It is not a matter of prejudice that puts more students of a certain demographic in detention. It is the direct result of the individual's own behavior. It is the result of bad choices. It is the result of deciding to fight the system, anyone in authority, and to constantly undermine such things as kindness, academic success and the usual benefits that we all get if we follow rules, obey traffic laws and pay taxes.
KJC

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bones/Interviews

On my birthday I went hiking at Rapids Lake. I was climbing down a ravine, when I found some clothing and a bone. I looked around a bit, but wasn’t interested in digging. I don’t know what it was all about, but I put it in my ranger report.

Otherwise, I seem to be generating a lot of interviews all of a sudden. I have two so far this week and maybe another. There is one job I really would like to get, and I just found out that I have made it to the final two!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Life the Universe and Everything

October 1, 2005
Today, I am the answer to “Life the Universe and Everything.” (See “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”)
I am 42.