Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Monday Mumblings Apologizes for the Silence

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Monday, August 2, 2010

I've tried to start a new journal post multiple times. Only the phone rings, an urgent email hits the inbox, the cat decides it's the perfect time to gorge herself on dry food with the standard predictable consequences... Bloggus interruptus, that's me!

So, what's been going on in the past two weeks? A lot. And yet, not a lot. Allow me to explain. (As if I wouldn't.) As both of my readers know, I'm chair for FenCon this year. (And next year. The popping sound you hear is m blond hairs spontaneously turning gray.) Running a convention is a bit like herding cats. I love the people I work with, but there are so many threads I have to follow that I tend to lose track of others, like blogging. Or cleaning house. I manage to keep up with the eating thread, much to the consternation of my bathroom scale.

Anyway, it's been busy, and I expect it to be absolutely crazy until close to the end of September. So apologies in advance for lack of posts.

One thread I was forced to keep up with was paying tuition. Ouch. Yes, it's time for my periodic rant about our state government. Hello? You want kids to go to college, yet you allow the tuition for state universities to double! That's just tuition.On top of that are fees and books.

I sat down and did the math today. I could work full time for just over 6 weeks at minimum wage and pay for everything for a semester - books, tuition and fees. So my part-time job at a major league ballpark paid for a year of school and then some. (I was also expected to pay for my own gas and car insurance while I was working.) I even ended up with a little in the bank. No, it wasn't a lot, but I can say that I never bounced a check. That's something. Today it would take 17 hours or so of minimum wage work to just cover the tuition for a full ride at UTD. That, of course, is assuming that one does not pay taxes. Of course, there are taxes - FICA if nothing else.

Yes, it's a vintage whine. We'll make it, but I have to wonder about families who scraped and saved and can't quite make the deregulated tuition. Sorry, but a high school diploma and a passing grade on a TAKS test doesn't qualify a kid for much more than a minimum wage job. On one hand, the state is focused on making sure every kid is ready for college, and on the other raising the price beyond affordability. So we have all these kids ready to go to college, but not qualified to do much more than flip burgers.

Enough. What else is going on?

Well, I've been having some fun with the tablet. I even bought one for Karen. She seems to be enjoying it. She and I are in it for different things. We both like the ereader and the Internet connectivity. I like the hackability. That's not a word, but you know what I mean. I'm having fun learning little bits of - gasp! - Linux. Last night I built a custom boot screen.. It's not perfect, but I felt a small sense of accomplishment.

Oh, the city wants to partner with a homeless shelter in McKinney to build a shelter for families here on the east side.Wow, this is hard for me to say, but here goes. The shelter does some good work, and we do have homeless families here that need help. But I worry about the location. In spite of what they say, I don't think it's ideally situated for access to jobs and other services the shelter can't provide. Then there is the school issue.

It's been conveniently forgotten that the city is trying to rezone a tract nearby from industrial to single-family housing. The schools here are already strained. I worry about the influx of kids. Chris spent all of middle and high school in overcrowded facilities. I honestly wouldn't wish that on any other kid - homeless or not. Does anyone talk to the school district to determine how they will deal with this? I think not. They're different government entities. I don't think one cares how the other deals with the problems they create.

Ghu knows I've been an outspoken critic of the school district, but darn it, I do understand this situation and I do wonder how the district will be able to deal with it, even in the best of times. Of course, if this were the best of times, both of those tracts of land would house office/warehouse space rather than people.

Of course, there are other issues. Some people fear that single homeless people will show up, get turned away, and camp out here. I'm not so sure of that, but I do worry that people aren't looking at the whole picture.

Well, that's probably enough.

No, it isn't. What about Abby? Oh, Abby says I should have mentioned her first, in a position befitting her status. No, Abby, you're not an afterthought.

She's improving, but it's slow. We've been giving her supervised time without the cone, and today she did really well. She spent the better part of an hour just relaxing and cleaning herself. She was ready to leave the room before she was ready to go after her hot spot. That's progress.

Now that's enough. Really. I mean it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Life

Filed under: Life            


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