Archive for February, 2014

Like watching paint dry. again.

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Matt White

Buying a new (or new to you) home can be one of the most exciting and downright frightening endeavors on God’s green earth, and contrary to so many things in life; the excitement never diminishes no matter how many times you schlep through the tedious process of dealing with bankers, lawyers and more lawyers.
There’s something bittersweet-romantic and refreshing about going through the process again, especially if you’re going through it with someone new – who’s never experienced the process for themselves.
In the case of my girlfriend, Rachel and myself, I have caught myself groaning at some of the things I dislike about the process of a new real estate acquisition and – just in time – I cut it off and turn it into a positive, encouraging remark… see?, men can be trained.
As a more considerate and understanding version of my younger self, I try to be a bit more tactful in my responses. It’s easy for someone who has a history and past such as I do to bemoan things that seem like drudgery, annoying or just plain unbearable.
But I realize that in acting in such a manner, I take something away from Rachel, who is still wearing the rose-colored glasses of being a first-time homebuyer/owner. That little bit of excitement would be tarnished, never to be regained.
I think that is it safe to say that it wound be selfish and unkind of me to – and in essence foolish – take that away from her… So I do my best to keep it to myself.
This weekend, Paint… lots and lots of painting and sanding of hardwood floors punctuated with blisters, splinters and cuts.
My nose will be plugged with sawdust, my hands will crack through the desiccant powers of drywall compound, my lungs full-up with who-knows-what.
But I will not complain. I’ll keep my head down and and smile and put on my dream-face with my arm around Rachel as we get ahead of ourselves even further.
It’s going to be a GREAT weekend!

Cheers!

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The harder you try, the worse it gets

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Shawn Magrath

They call it the law of reversed effect: The harder you try, the worse it gets.

I’m finding the same holds true when it comes to public education. There have been several stories concerning education that made headlines this month that caught my attention, beginning with last week’s proposal by the New York Board of Regents to slow down a full-scale implementation of the hotly contested Common Core learning standards. The proposal also has backing from countless parents and teachers statewide, and legislators who say it was too much, too fast. I couldn’t agree more.

Then there was this week’s pitch from Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide financing for prisoners to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree during their sentence. It’s a deplorable concept in my opinion as it’s not only unfair for the millions of people who have made all the right decisions just to find themselves fighting student loans (people like myself); but also because a college degree held by a former inmate is as useless as a fish with a bicycle. As if a degree will make a convicted felon any more employable. Give me a break. I’m guessing a fancy degree from “RIT” loses some caliber when it comes from Rikers Island Tech.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against educating prisoners. I’m against paying for student tuition for them. Instead of paying their college fees, how about throwing a little money my way so I can pay off my student loans? At least I’m a good investment.

Lastly, I recently read an article from NYSUT United that says child hunger is a growing concern statewide because it’s also affecting students’ behavior and performance in the classroom. One million children in the Empire State go to bed hungry, and those numbers are only increasing thanks in part to a recent $300 million-plus cut to the federal food stamps program. For many kids, this means the only meal they get comes from the school cafeteria, and that makes it difficult for schools to close even when it snows two feet overnight. If ever there’s a downer of a story in education, this is it.

It’s taken our country more than 300 years to get public education where it is today. And it always seems that no matter what efforts are made to enhance it, there’s always a bigger obstacle to overcome. It’s times like this that one of my favorite Homer Simpson quotes comes to mind: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”