From Away

Living and writing in Maine but forever From Away

Add it Up

I pay taxes in Maine. I expect that investment in my government to be used wisely. I just read the February 17, 2013 article by Robert Long of the Bangor Daily News entitled “Superintendent: LePage’s data on number of school administrators not valid.”

I’ve never been a master at math, but it seems that Governor LePage and MSSA President Paul Stearns, superintendent of School Administrative District 4 have no quarrel. Mr. Stearns said that the number of superintendents used by Governor LePage was incorrect. The Superintendent’s numbers — 94 full time plus 33 part time superintendents — add up to the same 127 superintendents as Govern LePage. Part time superintendents are still paid by my tax dollars.

Mr. Stearns is correct. MRSA Title 20 A section 1001 (3) does state the school board “shall select a superintendent in accordance with section 1051 to carry out the duties specified in section 1055.” Section 1051 says “A contract made by a school board shall follow the requirement of Title 30-A, section 2605.” Title 30-A section 2605, governs municipalities. Section 1055 says “The school board or union committee shall provide for an office for the superintendent, office assistants, supplies, utilities and other office expenses and the school board or union committee shall fix the superintendent’s salary.”

That is probably why Maine is working to consolidate schools into regional units. We do not need to be paying placeholder superintendents as stated in Long’s article, “some of whom work only a few days a year.”

On the Maine Department of Education’s website, it says that Maine had 186,906 public school students in 2011. That number is 28,936 students less than it was in 1998. In 2011, we had 16,450 teachers or an average of one teacher per twelve students. Schools also employed 35,487 “other staff members.” So there was an “other staff member” for every six students and two “other staff members” for every teacher. Even for mathematically impaired me, the math makes it easy to see.

The issue is Maine’s public educational organization. I understand those people working in the Maine educational system want to keep their jobs. Who doesn’t? Looking at the numbers, it is clear that Maine just might have an unnecessary and bloated educational bureaucracy that isn’t able to add any better than I do.

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Detail Makes the Difference

Skills, I don’t need no stinking skills!

While waiting at the beauty shop for my mother, I encountered a very nice young woman who is currently working on a degree in a medical field. She stated that she has been considering going into the legal field as either an attorney or paralegal. I have some familiarity with the subject and we started talking. She seemed to be interested in doing research work as a paralegal. She typed 40 words a minute. When I told her she needed to get that speed up to work as or for an attorney, I heard a string of reasons why she didn’t need to. I think that she will be surprised when she is told she will be expected to type quickly to get the job.

Redo.

In a forum I frequent, I encountered a thread where the person was, justifiably, bemoaning putting in twelve hours or so of work doing the wrong job. The contractor had followed the client’s instructions to the letter. The client realized after the fact that he had given the wrong instructions for that job to the contractor. He sent the product back to the contractor asking for a redo. The contractor was furious. The client asked the contractor to do the job again, only this time in compliance with the new instructions. In my opinion (and that of the contractor) that’s two separate jobs for the price of one. I would be royally miffed as well.

Say what?

I needed to pick up an order for mom. Part of the order took place at one business with another business completing the order. The first business called to let me know their part was done. It wasn’t. It was only partially finished. I had to wait for them to finish the order. They had to rush it through. It  turns out that the second business was unable to do their part because the first part was botched. I had to jump through several hoops and make a number of trips back and forth before the first business made it right.

The long and the short of comes down to attention to detail. More career research would have told the young woman that document production (thus the need to type quickly and accurately) is what lawyers do. The client would have given the contractor the correct specifications the first time if he had taken the time to double check. Business one would not have called me when they did if they had made certain their end had been completed. I cringe when I hear someone say, “We don’t have time. Just get it done.”  It takes a few moments to make certain you have it right.  Like a very wise man I know often says, “If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it again?”

Hide the Beets!

Life with Mom is always entertaining.

She is mobility impaired right now because of a vertebra that is 13 degrees out of alignment. We go talk to the surgeon tomorrow. Because of this misalignment she is in pain constantly, and there is not much she can do without increasing her pain levels.

HOWEVER, she wants to give away holiday gift baskets to her friends. Covered and padded gift baskets. LARGE covered and padded gift baskets. So I’ve been “helping” her to do this. I’ve been baking (to her specifications and with her oversight) stuff to fill her baskets.  You know, the typical holiday stuff, cookies, nut breads, and candy. We’re getting close to the old deadline here, and it is going to be tough to fill the baskets.

Mom has the solution.

While I was putting a batch of mini loaf pans in the oven, she snatched a few pint jars of pickled beets out of the pantry for her best friends.

Hope she doesn’t grab the honey, I’ll need it later…

Sandy’s coming

I just finished watching a news clip where the President was encouraging everyone to take precautions and/or evacuate before Sandy arrives. He stressed that we need to listen to our state authorities.

The storm is a bad one. I even heard a weather person say it will become a nor’easter which is if not worse than a hurricane it is at least as bad. I can attest to that. I would also encourage everyone to evacuate and take precautions. But that’s kind of a no brainer. This kind of storm is a killer.

What caught my attention about the President’s comments is that he was being so very truthful.  We do need our state authorities to step up. After all the best we can hope for from the federal government is a drone flying over so the federal guys can watch Sandy destroy everything in its path while the President sits safely in a situation room and then a story later about how the storm was sparked by a video.

Loma Prieta and Zumba

I promised myself that I would not write about either one of these things. I just can’t help myself.

Besides being taxation nation Maine is the land where life is the way it should be.

I could not agree more. I love living here and Loma Prieta and Zumba have reminded me again why that is.

On Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Maine had an earthquake. At least I think it was on Tuesday. I’ve heard that it was either a 4.0 or a 4.5. I completely missed it. No, I wasn’t out of the state; I was playing computer games. I must have sneezed or coughed or something. However everyone here who has never been through a really big quake is all excited about it. I did see a photograph on facebook of a lawn chair that had fallen over which was attributed to quake damage. This is big news here. Like I said I didn’t even notice it. I was in the San Francisco Bay area during the 1989 Loma Prieta. I like living in Maine where a “big” earthquake is a 4.5.

Unless you’re living in Maine you probably missed this story. I think it ran on a national news network but for the most part it is small news everywhere else. A Zumba instructor down in Kennebunk was running a Zumba/prostitution studio. The guy that was “screening” her clientele lived an hour or so north of the Zumba/prostitution studio. Looks like they were the only two folks working the prostitution side of it. From rumors (and they are flying) she was actually making a photographic record of her “sessions.” Cam Groves even has a You Tube video entitled “I wish I knew.”

For several days the public was demanding that the johns be named and this week the court allowed it. Oh. My. Goodness. One poor old man who happened to have the same name as one of the johns was getting people coming to his house and non-stop calling. So the court put out names with middle initials and then later addresses. “Johns” are quitting their jobs because they have been exposed (pun intended.)

This is big news here in Maine. It wouldn’t be in some of the other places I’ve lived.

This”prostitution ring” has been the big lead news story for at least a month. I disapprove of fornication and keeping a photographic record (why would she do that?) just makes it more disgusting. However, that it is such big news here is actually kind of nice in a weird way.

I really love living here. It’s simple and innocent. A good place to live.

Maine, the way life should be.

The Magic Muse

As an author I have the answer to selling my book. The answer did not come to me in the middle of the night. It did not descend on me magically from an unseen muse. Nope. It was a political advertisement.

As some of you might know I’m an unaligned voter. I’m not registered for either party. I thought at the time I unregistered myself that I would stop getting political mail. Now I get it from everyone! And that is how the answer came to me; I’m on every political mailing list.

I received a nice letter describing the hardships and struggles caused by the law the writer wants me to vote against (or was it for?). Because of all these personal heartbreaks the writer concluded that this law should be passed (or was it voted down?).

Voila! My answer!

Dear Reader:

I have written a book. It is a fun book to read. Even though I can’t seem to get people to leave a reviews on Amazon many who have read it have told me that they like it and some (including people I don’t know) have even raved over it. I won’t get my family and friends to pad those reviews and if I don’t get many reviews at least what I do have will be honest.

I worked hard writing it and overcame many difficulties getting there. Just because the big publishers won’t talk to me, most agents don’t return my emails, and I have no platform doesn’t mean my writing isn’t worth reading.

I think because I am a writer like all other writers I DESERVE to have my book be a best seller and that I DESERVE to have you help me.

Don’t you?

Sincerely,

Marsha

Malarkey and stuff

I watched the vice-presidential debate last night and I agree with what I am seeing on the various news sites. Biden looked like a goof and Ryan could have been stronger. I believe that the best line was Ryan’s when he talked about the Romney camp’s request for Obama’s economic plan and they received a copy of an Obama speech. The funniest line was again from Ryan who stated that Vice President Biden should understand that people don’t always state what they mean clearly.

However, what I haven’t seen this morning is anyone call Biden on is his statements that the military leadership voluntarily asked for reductions in funding, equipment, and manpower. Ms. Raddatz, the moderator of last night’s debate did point out to Vice President Biden that the military do what they are told. I cheered.

No organization in their right mind is going to let go of equipment, manpower, or funding unless they have to. That includes the military.

The “top brass” in each of the military branches work for the “Commander in Chief” and when the “Commander in Chief” tells them to cut cost they do. I know that from experience. It’s a fact. To say that they came forward with “voluntary” requests to reduce manpower, funding, and equipment is just crazy talk. I guarantee that our top military guys were ordered to do it.

Indeed, Ms. Raddatz, the military do what they are told by the boss. It’s “malarkey” to say otherwise.

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