Saturday, August 02, 2008

Work Woes

This past week I interviewed at two preschools in the area. The first was at Primrose School, a private preschool (not sure I understand what that is supposed to mean), and Private Kindergarten. This school is awesome...classrooms are oversized, bright, cheery with plenty of play and work stations for the children. Each room has their own door leading to age appropriate playgrounds. The cirriculum was excellent and chock full of fun. They integrate sign language and Spanish at every age level, from babies to Kindergarten. Anyway, the interview went well, it mostly consisted of me observing a few rooms for about 30 minutes each. I was very impressed with the program and anxious to sit and chat with the director. "Interviewing" with the director was a bit surprising, she was really much more interested in finding out if my hours would work than finding out about how I teach, discipline and react to certain situations. I don't believe she asked me a single question pertaining to children. A bit of a let down. As we got further in to the "interview" I realized that this "competitive pay", "flexible schedule" (as stated in their ad) job was not for me. Number one, they were not flexible with the work schedule, not at all. And the pay, well, I did expect it to be low, but was amazed to find out that $8.50/hr is competitive. It makes me so sad to see the way our society views the important job of caring for and teaching children. It has to be one of the most important jobs, yet, even at a professional level, pays so, so poorly. Obviously, those that work with children do it for reasons other than pay, thank goodness, but really our priorities are so screwed up in this country in regards to educators. It's so disheartening.

Awesome cirriculum. Beautiful school.
Cons: Director not as "warm" as I would like, and not up to par as far as I'm concerned. I also forgot to mention that I did speak with an assistant teacher. I asked her about how she liked the job. She doesn't. I'm sure it's all relative, but I got a bad vibe about management from her.

On to the next school. The Goddard School, just blocks away from our old house. I was impressed with their entry system. They have a fingerprint scanner, and unless your fingerprint is on file, you cannot enter the facility. The director was wonderful. Very caring, good natured and welcoming. She was very different than the previous director I interviewed with. She gave me a tour of the facility, which was nice, clean, no "day care" smell, and the employees seemed to be happy and enjoying their jobs. Good sign. After the tour we sat down and talked a bit. She asked several questions relative to caring for children, and followed through with explaining their procedures. Very thoughrough. She was interested in hiring me, however, there was not a current opening for the hours that I am willing to work. She said she'd try and adjust some things and see what happens in the future.
Pros: I know I'd be happy with management. Willing to work with my schedule.
Cons: 15 minute drive, and low pay. Education philosophy is not entirely on board with my philosophy. They seem to be a bit Piaget based than I care for...but I don't know that for sure. They don't believe in timeout either, which I found a little strange.

So the search continues. This morning I did my regular job search and ran across an ad for an Admin. Assistant for the drafting department at a manufacturing company here in Georgetown. The job description and requirements could have been quoted from my resume. The position would be perfect for me AND it's right here in G-town. The pay is much, much better, however, this is an 8-5 job. Not so good. I went ahead and shot off my resume, how could I not. I'm sure they'll want to at least interview me for the position, since there's nothing on the ad that I don't have documented experience in. I figure if I get far enough to receive an offer, I can see about negotiating a little with the hours. If that's not possible, I have a lot of thinking to do.

Cell Phones

I just received this email from my mom, and thought I'd pass it along. Ironically, I have felt the same thing when using my phone.

I have been using the cell phone alot lately & have been complaining about it to Andy everyday. I kept saying that it gets really hot & feels weird, somewhat like a low voltage shock & actually hurts the side of my head & face. Just yesterday I told him that I don't want to use it at all anymore without an earpiece because it was bugging me so much. I checked online & found that our immediate neighborhood is in a low signal area. Just a few blocks East the signal is better.
Then today this news shows up on I copied it for you below.
It's a Bummer, but please read it.
Love ya,

When Vini Khurana, PhD, an Australian (and Mayo Clinic–trained) neurosurgeon, announced that the link between cell-phone use and cancer was irrefutable--the result of his analysis of more than 100 studies--it set off alarm bells around the world. Use a cell phone, he said, and you increase your risk of developing a malignant brain tumor by two to four times. Until recently, the majority of research indicated little or no link between cell phones and cancer (the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society maintain that cell phones pose no threat), but several new long-term studies have cast doubt about their safety. Given that cell phones and PDAs serve as lifelines for so many people--24 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds carry them--it raises urgent questions. To find out what precautions you should take when using your cell phone, we dialed the nation's leading experts.
Do cell phones cause cancer?
Maybe…with extended use. Mobile-phone users are twice as likely to develop malignant, difficult-to-treat brain tumors called gilomas, according to a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed the effects of cell-phone use over 10 years or more and was published last year in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine. The Bioinitiative Working Group, an international coalition of scientists and public-health experts, recently published a hefty report detailing the link between the nonionizing radiation caused by a cell phone's electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and cancer, DNA damage, Alzheimer's, and other diseases. "The cells in the body react to EMFs in cell phones just like they do to other environmental toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals," says Martin Blank, PhD, a professor in bioelectromagnetics at Columbia University and one of the report's authors. The study found that risk from cell-phone use starts at 260 lifetime hours.
Do cell phones emit radiation only when you are talking?
No. "Cell phones give off radiation any time they're turned on so that they can communicate with base stations," says Lou Bloomfield, PhD, professor of physics at the University of Virginia and author of How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary. "The radiation emitted, however, is stronger and more frequent when you're talking or messaging." Also, the greater distance you are from a base station, the more radiation your phone must emit in order to get a signal, which is why your phone feels hot when you have low reception. That heat you feel is radiation. The Bioinitiative study found that adverse effects to DNA can also occur before the phone heats up. To reduce your exposure, make calls only when you have strong reception, hang up before your phone heats up, and store your phone away from your body when it's not in use.
What is a phone's SAR value and why does it matter?
SAR stands for specific absorption rate, and it refers to the rate of radiation exposure from radio frequency and microwaves measured in watts per kilogram of tissue, says Bloomfield. The FCC limit on any cell phone sold in this country is 1.6 watts per kilogram. To find the SAR value for your phone, go to At press time, the phone with the lowest radiation was the LG KG800, at 0.135 w/kg. The highest: Motorola V195s, at 1.6 w/kg. The Apple iPhone is in the middle, at 0.974 w/kg.
What is the range of the radiation?
Exposure to radiation from your cell phone drops off slowly for the first three to four inches from your body, and then it falls dramatically, says Bloomfield. To reduce your exposure, invest in a hands-free headset and limit the amount of time you spend talking on the phone. Khurana recommends using the speaker mode and holding the phone about eight inches away from you. Also, limit your use of Bluetooth devices. While it's true that they emit the least amount of radiation (one study found they can operate as low as 0.001 watts per kilogram), even that can add up fast.
Is it risky to carry a cell phone in your pants pocket?
Maybe. One 2006 study found no link to testicular cancer, but other researchers suspect a link to male infertility. Ashok Agarwal, PhD, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, recently completed a study in which cell phones were set down for one hour in talk mode, next to sperm samples in test tubes. He found that the sperm's motility and viability were significantly reduced, and levels of harmful free radicals increased after exposure. Agarwal suggests storing the phone in your jacket pocket to reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation. Pregnant women need to take precautions too, because a recent study found that cell-phone use while pregnant is linked to behavioral problems in children.
Are kids more at risk?
"Yes, since children's nervous systems are still developing, and they have thinner scalps and skulls than adults, they should use cell phones only in emergencies," says Gene Barnett, MD, professor and director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at the Cleveland Clinic. The association between childhood leukemia and exposure to EMFs like those from cell phones has led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify them as a "possible human carcinogen." The medical establishments in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom all recommend severe restrictions on children's cell-phone use, with some experts going so far as to say that children under 16 shouldn't use cell phones at all. Make sure your kids opt for landlines when they're at home, and if you must buy them a cell phone for emergencies, get one with a low SAR number.
What about texting?
It's actually a safer way to communicate, says David O. Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. Since kids hold phones away from their bodies when texting, they're exposed to less radiation than when they have the phones to their ears. "We are very concerned about teen cell-phone use, fearing that we face an epidemic of brain tumors 10 to 20 years from now, and there are so few who are raising warning flags," says Dr. Carpenter. Make sure your teen keeps his cell phone turned off and stored in his backpack when it isn't in use, which will dramatically reduce exposure.
The 10 worst cell phones according to their SAR numbers:
1. Motorola V195s 1.6
2. Motorola Slvr L6 1.58
3. Motorola Slvr L2 1.54
4. Motorola W385 1.54
5. Rim BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Sprint) 1.54 6. Rim BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Verizon) 1.54 7. Motorola Deluxe ic902 1.53 8. T-Mobile Shadow 1.53 9. Motorola i335 1.53 10. Samsung Sync SGH-C417 1.51

The 10 best cell phones according to their SAR numbers:
1. LG KG800 0.135
2. Motorola Razr V3x 0.14
3. Nokia 9300 0.21
4. Nokia N90 0.22
5. Samsung SGH-G800 0.23
6. Samsung Sync SGH-A707 0.236
7. Nokia 7390 0.26
8. Samsung SGH-T809 0.32
9. Bang & Olufsen Serene 0.33
10. Motorola Razr2 V8 0.36

Source:, current as of May 22, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Day 1 of Pool Construction


The machinery has arrived, and soon they'll be breaking ground on our swimmin hole!

Here are some before pics. I'll take some at the end of the day and post them later.

Update: End of Day 1

The boss man came out to the house today for the first time, and I have to say, he got me VERY nervous. He stared at the site for quite some time shaking his head, and finally when he spoke he said, "I think this is the toughest job we've ever had to do." Joy. Warm Fuzzies. NOT. After he was here for about half an hour the pin that connects the shovel thingymabopper broke. They had to cut their day short and order a new pin. Thankfully, this won't set them behind too much, since they didn't plan on working over the weekend anyway. They'll be here first thing Monday morning, and once again, I will probably get abosolutely nothing done, as I can't seem to pull my self away from watching and waiting to find out whether we'll hit rock or not. That's where the big bucks come in. So far so good, but there's no telling, one dig could be beautiful black dirt, and right underneath could be solid rock shelf.

Here are some pics of the progress:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

400 posts! Plus one!

Post #401. So, I'm trying to come up with a funny way to include my latest endeavor of chopping down a tree (ie: POST)...but for some reason it's just not that funny. I'll 86 the atempt at humor and just cut to the chase.

The pool guy came out today and spray painted the shape of our pool in the precise location...which we are just exstatic that the machinery and worker guys can come dig our swimmin hole tomorrow. It turns out that the edge of our pool came about 6 inches from a 8" diameter oak tree. Sad as it is, it had to go. After borrowing the "chainsaw-on-a-stick" from Grams' house and being lectured on making sure someone was watching me work (in case I chop off a limb or something, there has to be SOMEONE to acurately tell my story to the Darwin Award folks) I found myself on the second story deck, atop the ladder, reaching for the ridicuously high branches of this 20-ish foot tree. Once I figured out that I couldn't hold this thing up, AND pull the trigger unassisted, I employed my darling daughter to assist me in my attempted suicide. Picture me, on a second story deck, on ladder, holding the middle of the 10 foot chainsaw-on-a-stick, while I yell "NOW" and she pulls the triger. Yeah, probably not my most intelligent stunt, but hey, we got the branches down that we were after and managed to avoid injury.
But that was just the beginning.
We made our way down to the yard and pondered what we were about to embark upon...wondering if this is a job that maybe we should just leave for fact those were my darling daughters exact words.
Nah, we can do it.
Up goes the chainsaw-on-a-stick, me in the front, child labor in the back...
Slowly, the chainsaw-on-a-stick works its way through the "what appears to be a not so big limb, but is actually quite huge" limb, and eventually, a massive limb comes crashing down with an incredible thud! Mind you, this "limb" is probably ten times bigger than the TREES at our last house. Ashley and I look at each other with a look as if to say "HOLY CRAP"...although neither of us speaks a word. We just stand there with huge eyes wondering what on earth we've gotten ourselves in to.
We spend the next 15 minutes cutting it in to smaller managable pieces (once again me in the front, child labor on trigger duty), and wow, we're done with half the tree. At some point we realized that looking up in to flying shards of wood chips probably wasn't the best idea, so we dug up some protective eye gear and got back to work.
We went through two massive limbs, and an 8ish foot tall trunk in about 45 minutes, including clean up. I was so proud of my girl, never once complaining, even with her friend Ava staring in horror, shock, or possibly just complete pity.
What a good girl I have, she even helped drag off the logs without me even asking.

I think I'll reward her efforts with a pool. I think that sounds fair, don't you think?

Dad, I can see you shaking your head in horror as you read this. I promise, I won't do it again. ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Easy come, Easy go

I can't believe I forgot to post this!

While the kids and I were visiting Nana's last week we spent a great deal of time swimming in the lake, lounging in the sun. All week the kids begged and begged for me to take them out on the boat for a tube ride. Fine. Lets do it. So I'm weaving all over the lake, submitting to their pleas for me to go faster, when suddenly both kids scream STOP! STOP! Frightened that I'd just injured a child I throw it in neutral, and turn around to see Alex screaming and blood flowing down his chin. All OVER his chin. As you might imagine, I was horrified at what I might find at the end of the rope once I finished pulling the kids in. About halfway through pulling them in, my adrenaline began to settle when I realized that they were LAUGHING, not screaming with fear.

They're finally at the back of the boat, where the blood is clearly visible, and clearly flowing and I can't for the life of me figure out why he's laughing and not crying! Finally, he yells, "I lost my tooth!!! I lost my tooth!" And proceeds to hand me his little sliver of a tooth, jump back in the float, bloody face and all, and yell, "lets go!".
And so I went.