February 2015

4 articles in February 2015

Wwe are working our way through another one. The winter of 2015, brought back the snows and cold that all of us who live in Northern New England have come to both love and hate.

This year our New England winter seemed to be good to us. We flew through November, December, and half of January hoping that global warming had minimalized winter’s harsh effects. This was not the case. As I look into a bleached open field that once contained bushes, trees, and a mailbox I only see deserts of white blowing snow.

Any day now I expect Laurence of York to come flying over the dunes in a giant snowmobile warning people that the end is near. Along with the weather of winter comes another famous tradition; cabin fever anxieties. Cabin fever comes in many forms.

The name comes from the necessity to stay in a house to stay warm and dry. The days are shorter and the nights seem endless with the below zero wind chills and perpetual humming of our heating systems.

Strange things happen to us during this time of year. We become aggravated by the most trivial of things. For example, I enjoy those little pudding in cup snacks they sell at most grocery stores. I guess this is because I was fed the little jars of custard pudding baby foods when I was little until I was a senior in high school.

The only problem is that you can never tear off the plastic top on each portion. I understand there are arrows showing where one is supposed to pull but the easy open tabs never open. The company must use the same glue they use to keep the airplanes together.

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Mmy driving partner and I drove a truck with a bed in back of the cab. We hauled lumber from Oregon, to the Plains States, and then we would load grain, like wheat and corn, to haul back to the coast. It is of one of these trips that this story is about.

We loaded the truck in Portland, Oregon, with lumber and we had to put a tarp over it, so the dry lumber would not get wet from the snow or the rain, as it was winter. When we got to Nebraska we tried to unload the lumber, but the tarp has frozen to the lumber so we had to borrow a blowtorch to defrost it. After we got the tarp and the lumber off, we went a few miles to load some bulk corn.

The truck was equipped with folding sides and all we had to do was lift them up and put some stakes that were provided, in holes in the bed of the truck. We did what was needed, and I drove the truck under a hopper that poured the corn in the bed of the truck and trailer. After the truck was loaded, we headed for Oregon.

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Iit happens every time with the first snowfall of the season. This is a time when mature people who live ordered, sensible lives decide to become stupid and I’m assuming it has something to do with the lack of light or the change in temperature.

However, after the first snowfall of the year most everyone rushes into their pickup truck or SUV in order to prove to themselves and the world that they are invincible. The other day there was a small snowstorm around mid-week. It was more a squall than a storm, but it put about two inches of snow on the road before everyone had to head out to get to work. I left at my normal time, which was a mistake because I should have known it was going to take me twice as long to get to school, but it seemed like such a little bit of snow. Needless to say I was wrong again!

The drive down my road was tricky because it was very slippery and the town hadn’t plowed or put down any sand yet. I fishtailed at the first corner and, thus, decided to go into 4-wheel drive in order to hold the road. This worked out pretty well until I saw another truck coming from the opposite direction. He was attempting to make a turn onto Route One and failed miserably. I watched his wheels spinning as he slid. Since all four wheels were spinning I assumed he also had a four-wheel drive truck.

But, since he threw his truck into the ditch with all four wheels spinning I assumed he had also discovered that four-wheel drive was not synonymous with supernatural powers. As soon as I slid out onto Route One I knew it was going to be a long journey to work so I took my time and drove behind a small, red Ford pickup that was also taking its time. Then the truck decided to stop in the middle of the road!

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Wwebster defines compete as, “ striving for something (as a prize or a reward) for which another is also striving.” The definition goes on to describe competition as, “ a contest in which all who take part compete for the same thing.”

Public education now believes the art of competition is something that should have nothing to do with our schools and our children. Many school systems across our nation have decided to eliminate letter grades and thus eliminate any competition between students but rather reflect student comprehension of their courses.

It is stated this is different from the traditional education model. As an educator, I would disagree with this statement. Technical schools across our nation have been using this model for years. To my knowledge I know of little data showing how successful this strategy has been. Proof of success should always be related to success of their students after they leave their school.

I’ve read that the State of Maine passed legislation in 2012 suggesting “proficiency-based” education should be a model toward which all schools in the state need to strive. Many remember the 2002 “No Child Left Behind” education model that promised to change our public education system for the better.

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