Friday, October 31, 2008

Life's simple pleasures

It's nice to sit back and enjoy the little things once and awhile and really appreciate them. Those things have really been on my mind a lot these past few days. I'm especially thinking about this after just having enjoyed a lemon creamslush from Sonic...mmmmmm. A Sonic recently opened in Streetsboro just a few weeks ago, so on my way back from the Cleveland area tonight, I stopped there. I have no idea where the closest Sonic had been before this one opened, but it isn't close wherever it is. I love many choices and the prices aren't bad, so it's definitely one of life's simple pleasures. We have had several other "little" things happen this week that I've been enjoying too.

First and foremost, we finally got the livingroom in a presentable manner, just in time to host some visitors from Idaho who were here to pick up their missionary who has just finished her mission. Now, since Dad has officially moved out, we suddenly have some extra space not only in what had been his room, but also in the basement. For anyone who has been to our house recently, you know that the livingroom was bordering on chaotic. Not only did we have furniture in there, but much of Mom's stuff was also in there since there wasn't anywhere else to put it, like some of her shelves and her computer desk among other things. With Dad moving most of his stuff out the last two weeks, we were able to move most of Mom's things into what had been his room and return the livingroom to something a little more like, well, a livingroom. It was getting to the point where there wasn't much room at all to do much of anything and it was certainly a place I didn't feel comfortable having guests over in. I spent much of the week slowly moving out Mom's things and organizing the various things left in there, and dusting and vacuuming of course too. I finished the main cleaning not too long before our guests arrived, but I still need to put some pictures on the wall for the finishing touches. It's nice to have it so clean and organized-- I've found myself just standing in there just admiring it-- but even clean, it still has some cosmetic problems. Our furniture is a nice sample of several decades, our two unmatching, hand-me-down couches in particular. One is a nice 1960's couchbed and the other is a dark, too-big-for-this-room sofa from the 1980's or 1990's that our cat had a nice time shredding. I've actually never had new couches in my life as we have always had someone else's cast-off, whether they be from friends or relatives. The couches go right along with our ancient piano (dates back to at least 1916) with a 1950's kitchen chair in place of the piano bench as well as our 1980's entertainment center in between two cheap particle board shelves, most likely from the late 1990's. Let's not forget our 1980's tuner and the paint job from the late 1990's! One day, once things stabilize with the house and me having a job, I really hope to be able to get nice furniture that not only matches, but is something we picked out ourselves and actually fits in the room! Despite that, right now just having it clean and respectable is a welcome change, though I remarked to Mom yesterday that it's funny how when we clean our house, it tends to still look awful! The floors need redone and pretty much every room except mine needs repainted (mine was painted in 2006) as most haven't been painted in well over 10-15 years. But first things first: get the house organized and make sure we are going to be staying here longer than just another year.
Of course the other simple pleasure has been watching the price of gas fall. Since gas has been as high as it has, I've basically been getting whatever $25 can get me. Last time I got gas, the $25 got my tank full. This time, I didn't even have to spend the full $25 and my tank was full! That's what happens when gas is $2.10/gallon. No sooner did I get gas then I went past another station where it was listed at $1.99/gallon and on the way to the Cleveland area I passed a station in Streetsboro where it was listed at $1.97/gallon. Yes! Having gas prices finally fall has been nice to see since rising gas prices, in my opinion, played a large role in bringing the economy down. Think about it: gas prices went up, so people had to spend more on filling their cars and heating their homes and then prices went up at the stores because things cost more to transport. What it resulted in has been people cutting back and spending less, which leads to a slowdown and/or recession. Gas prices going down so far (don't forget, just after Hurricane Ike hit in September, gas prices were over $4 here and even higher in other parts of the country) gives me hope that the economy will start to rebound soon as long as prices stay down. I know it's helping me be able to spend more on other things already!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homecoming Weekend/Script Kent

After Kent State's homecoming last weekend, this weekend was Roosevelt's homecoming among many other things. It got off to a pretty interesting start on Friday, but everything worked out. My brother Andy and sister-in-law Heather were in town for the weekend for my brother's 10-year reunion, we had a pretty fun ward activity on Saturday night, and then a full day Sunday with church and having lunch with Andy and Heather at Grandma and Grandpa Derby's before Andy and Heather headed back to Maryland.

First item of business was Friday morning. I was supposed to attend a music conference in Cleveland as part of my class and the fact that we were missing regular class for NEOEA (Northeast Ohio Educators Association) day. I'll admit that I wasn't exactly thrilled about going, not only because of the early start to the day but just the thought of sitting through another conference. Professional conferences are a great tool, but like anything, too much can be a bad thing. Having just attended a conference two weeks ago on top of a full-slate of classes, I'm a bit burned out by music right now beyond pleasure! Despite that, I was up and ready and out the door on time. I had no problems getting to downtown Cleveland even at 8 AM as Cleveland has a pretty extensive highway system, so rush hour isn't really that bad at all. Sure, there are traffic jams and slowdowns, but nothing even close to what I've experienced during rush hours in the Washington, DC area or Salt Lake City. Backtracking, Thursday night I was driving back from campus and heard a noise that sounded like something bouncing around in the hood or on the side of the car. When I got home I checked and didn't see anything, so I figured I must've hit something that rolled around. If only it had been that simple! Just as I was getting downtown and running into my first traffic slowdown, I noticed my steering was getting stiff. As I noticed that I looked at my dashboard to see that engine temperature already in the "red zone" meaning it was pretty hot, so my "hot engine" light was on as well as my "low volts." I got a little nervous because I needed to pull off and wasn't sure I could make it to the exit. Thankfully I did and pulled off (not so easy without power steering!), immediately shutting the car off and opening the hood. I would come to find that the noise I had heard was a belt breaking; the belt that pumps water to the engine. So, thankfully I have AAA (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!) so I called them and had it towed back to Kent. I was surprised how fast the tow truck showed up (30 mins) and the driver was a nice guy, so we had a good conversation on the way to Kent (about 45 minutes from downtown Cleveland). Come to find it was indeed the belt that turns the pump, but like anything with a car it's never quite so simple. It also broke some other things when it broke apart. All in all, I spent $860 after labor and some other maintenance things I added that needed to be done now or soon anyway. While I waited for about 3 hours, I wrote the blog "Fall Colors" since the dealer (Montrose Chevrolet in Kent) had wireless internet and I had my laptop. How convenient!

Left: Roosevelt Stadium homecoming crowd on a perfect night for football; Right: Rough Rider Marching Band at halftime for homecoming festivities with visitor's stands in the background; Below: Aunt Sue, cousin Lindsay, Katie, and Me at the Roosevelt game.

Things got much more fun Friday night as I attended the Roosevelt homecoming game against Crestwood. It also happened to be the final home game of the regular season. There is a chance we could get another home game in the playoffs if we move up one spot...we'll see. The great thing about homecoming is alumni get in free. For the first time this season, I also didn't attend the game solo as my sister Katie, cousin Lindsay, and aunt Sue were all at the game as well. Roosevelt played really well and won 35-7 (go Rough Riders!) to clinch at least a tie for the division title, but the real treat was after the game. It is tradition at Roosevelt for the marching band to perform "Script Kent" at the final home game each season. Script Kent is just like "Script Ohio" in that the band slowly spells out "Kent" in formation. The difference is that rather than just spell it out like Ohio State does, the band members wear green glow-sticks on their ankles and it is spelled out in the dark with the stadium lights off. It's really cool to watch and it never gets old. When I was in high school, it was done at halftime. Soon after I graduated, the school got new stadium lights that don't allow them to be shut off and turned back on quickly, so they moved Script Kent to after the game.

Left: Script Kent a little blurry but visible in the dark; Right: The band still in Script Kent formation after the auxiliary lights came back on

Andy and Heather arrived during Script Kent. We were hoping they would be able to get there right before it started, but it just didn't work out as the game ended a little quicker than I thought it would. Rather than come into the stadium, they went to my Derby grandparents house and I met them after the band show was finished. It was great having them here this weekend as it always is. Katie and I spent much of Saturday with them visiting the grandparents, touring (or attempting to!) Roosevelt, and visiting Aunt Sue and our cousin Jason. Andy was here for his 10-year high school reunion on Saturday night. While he went to that, Mom, Katie, and I went to a ward activity in Suffield where a member of our ward (congregation), Brian Ebie, hosted a bonfire and dinner followed by the 1925 silent film version of "Phantom of the Opera." What was cool was the garage it was in also has an organ inside, so he supplied improvised organ accompaniment as we watched, which apparently was pretty common when silent films were running. It was a pretty fun evening visiting with friends and just having a good time.

Left: Katie, Heather, Andy, Me, Mom at Derbys; Right: Andy and Heather with Grandma and Grandpa Derby at their house in Kent.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall colors

It seems most of my posts latetly have been pretty depressing to read. While I don't want to depress people, just remember, if it's depressing to read, try living it! That said, on to some of life's pleasures. =)

One of my favorite things about living in northeast Ohio is the colors that come out in Fall, especially at my house. I wish all the trees changed and peaked in color at the same time, but they don't. At least they're pretty close. I've always enjoyed how our yard looks in the Fall, the back yard more than the front. The two main trees in our front yard are pin oaks, so their leaves turn brown. One of them keeps those brown leaves until Spring. The only tree with in any color in the front yard is our smaller dogwood at the very front (which also has pretty amazing blooms in the late Spring), a tree I planted around 10 years ago. The back yard has a lot more trees and a lot more color. By the time it peaks, it looks like a blazing yellow fire behind the house since the trees are so tall and all turn yellow. Some of our neighbors' trees get great shades of yellow and orange making for quite a scene. The tree right behind our house, one I planted back in 1993 when it was just a foot tall, gets pretty colorful. The only problem is that it is one of the first to change and lose its leaves, so I got some pictures of it the other day before all the leaves fell off. As I've been driving to Southeast Middle School I've been treated to some pretty spectacular colors along all the roads I take, I-76 in particular. All sorts of reds, yellows, and oranges along the roads; just incredible! I may try to get some pictures, but I've found taking pictures while driving is not only not very smart, but the pictures are blurry or the dirty windshield gets in the way. As I was coming home from school I saw a tree that was the most brilliant shade of orange along Tallmade Road just east of Southeast Middle School. I hope it's still there when I go back on Tuesday. It was stunning!

The Fall colors were definitely something I missed while I was on my mission in Arizona and New Mexico as well as going to school in Idaho. While Idaho had more color in the Fall than Arizona or New Mexico, it wasn't much compared to what we get here in Ohio, so it was nice to enjoy a Fall again last year here for the first time since 2001. Arizona and New Mexico's problem was simply not having hardly any trees and the trees they did have were mostly evergreens. Idaho had a similar problem, though it was mostly lack of trees period as was the case in Utah. Idaho and Utah had more deciduous trees than Arizona and New Mexico, though. The only Fall colors I saw on my mission were a select few aspen trees (which turn yellow) in Ruidoso, New Mexico for Fall 2003. I don't remember seeing much of any color in Sierra Vista, which is where I was in Fall 2002.

I just want to point out I wrote this blog while waiting for my car at Montrose Chevrolet in Kent. What a fun day this has turned into! Who would've thought a simple little belt breaking in the car could cause so many vital systems to not work??

Notes on pictures: 1. View up the tree right behind our house before it lost its leaves a few days ago; 2. That same tree with the back of the house and other trees visible behind it; 3. Looking towards the back yard from the front porch; 4. A view down our street...the big color change will happen in a few weeks, but some color is already there.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Everyone loves a parade

After a five year absence, Kent State brought back the Homecoming parade this year. I'm not really sure why they decided in 2003 to stop doing the parade, but they did. In place of the parade, the University decided to do what it called a "Homecoming Celebration" at Dix Stadium leading up to the football game. While that sounds nice, I am really glad they decided to return the parade for several reasons. First, a parade is something that gets the community involved in so many ways, from parade entrants to just community members watching. The "Homecoming Celebration" really limited itself to those who were either connected to Kent State in some way or who happen to be attending the football game. I'd say most of the people who come to the parade aren't going to the parade and many don't have any connection to KSU other than living in Kent. I've always been a big proponent of town-gown relations. That was one of the things I didn't like about BYU-Idaho. Even with the common religious beliefs between the church-owned school and the community which was also predominately LDS, I felt like the school was very insulated and had only limited interaction with the city since it did not have athletics and most of the activities put on by the university were limited to current students. The only things where I actually saw community involvement were some devotionals, concerts, plays, etc. Of course those were better than nothing, but not enough in my opinion. I always felt like there was an invisible wall between the school and Rexburg (which was a bubble in itself!).

Of course parades are just fun too. I admittedly wasn't planning on going but my sister Katie woke me up Saturday morning and asked if I wanted to come so I said OK. I'm glad I went because I really enjoyed it. I saw several people I know from the university, church, and community and enjoyed pretty much all the entries. About the only thing I had to roll my eyes for was the second-to-last entry, which was the Kent State Anti-War Committee. Yes, I realize this is America and we have free speech. I'm not opposed to their entry in the parade, but since I have free speech too I can say how I didn't agree AT ALL with their message. They were chanting "support our troops! Bring them home!" I couldn't help but think of my friends the Wilcocks. The father of that family, Jacob, has already had duties in Iraq and his wife Tina is pretty opinionated about the war and what supporting our troops means. I REALLY wish they had been with me at the parade...we could've had some fun! As it was, I just rolled my eyes and gave a few causal "boooooo"s from where I was sitting. Nothing obnoxious or loud, but not silent either. Like I said, they have a right to their opinion, but I also have a right to mine, even to disagree. I'll have to blog about that a different day (my feelings on bringing the troops home), but let's just leave it at I definitely want to bring the troops home, but I also want them to come home having finished the job. Supporting our troops means making sure they have the resources to finish the job so they can come home fulfilled.

Now, back to Homecoming, if Kent State ever gets a decent football team then Homecoming will be an even more fun experience for everyone. As it is, we have a great weekend until having to sit through a disaster called a football game and watch the Flashes beat themselves! As much of a college football fan I am, I'm beginning to wonder if the enormous costs associated with a Division I football program are worth it for Kent State since the team is hardly ever good, even in the Mid-American Conference! When is enough enough? When does the university finally say "this isn't working"? Well, after the millions put into upgrading the stadium with all sorts of new things like a scoreboard and other renovations, it doesn't look like it'll be anytime soon.
Notes on pictures: 1. Katie and me right before the parade started along East Main Street in Kent. We sat in front of the former site of Terrace Hall right near the beginning of the parade route, which ran from Midway Drive to Franklin Avenue in downtown Kent about a mile away; 2. What's a parade without a marching band? This is the Roosevelt High School Rough Rider Marching Band. There were two other high school bands in the parade as well as Kent State's; 3. View of Dix Stadium's west stands during the homecoming game from the new scoreboard & concession plaza (sound end zone); 4. View of east stands (student section) and north end zone stands; 5. View of new scoreboard and concession area in the south end zone.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hopeful news

I wish I had wonderful news to report that all the problems related to the house were solved. Unfortunately, that's not really the case, though that doesn't mean all is lost at the moment. In terms of immediate problems, we seem to have the issue of paying the various bills (electricity, gas, groceries, etc.) taken care of as the three of us seem to be bringing in just enough money to cover that. I feel that as far as the bills go, we will be OK for now. As for the house, that's a different story. The good news is that it's unlikely we'll be forced to leave due to foreclosure anytime until about a year from now. I spoke with a man who responded to my request for information on a website that is part of some national association of foreclosure prevention or something like that. He said basically that as long as my dad owns the house there is little he (or we) can do to stop the foreclosure, especially since we have no way to even think about paying the monthly mortgage payments, which is around $1,700, not to mention insurance and property taxes. The glimmer of hope is that should I somehow get a job and be able to start making some sort of monthly payment on the house after I graduate in May, there could be a way we could still save the house. He also said that adjustable rate mortgages, which is what has played a huge role in the house becoming too expensive for my dad to handle, is a tool that was incorrectly used on this house. Adjustable rate mortgages are more for investors who take a mortgage out to fix a house (or houses) and raise the market value of the property and then have the rate lowered. He also said many mortgage companies began using this tool as a way to attract new customers with the false hope that they could have the rate reduced. Like here, most times it goes up.

Of course I would rather not take over a $1,700/month mortgage payment, so if we somehow keep the house I would definitely want to try and reduce that as much as possible. Many people, particularly those close to the situation who know the problems the house has in general keep wondering why we don't just walk away when we can. One thing people need to understand about me is I am someone who is not only fiercely loyal, but I also tend to get attached to things and places. We have lived in this house for 25 years, so basically my entire life (we moved here when I was 10 months old) this has been home, so my attachment to the house and the yard is pretty deep, almost like it's a member of the family. It would be different if I were moving out to my own place, but losing the house is just something I cannot even fathom right now; it's like thinking about losing a loved one as far as I feel. I realize I have personified the house, but can you blame me? It's played a huge role in my life. Just walking away or even stripping the house when we leave, to me, would be like betraying the house even though I know it's just a "thing" without emotions or feelings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pre-election rant

I typically have a pre-election rant, so here it is. This time I'm hitting it a little earlier than normal, though we have only a month until the general election. My objective isn't to tell you who or what to vote for-- I think I've made it pretty clear what I think-- but to encourage any who read this to vote smart. By voting "smart" I don't mean "vote my way" I mean "vote educated." I see too many people who vote for someone/something for superficial reasons and know next-to-nothing about a particular candidate or issue. There are ample resources available to help voters make educated decisions about anything. The simple fact that you are reading this means you can access the many websites for and against a candidate or issue as well as news about them. For candidates we need to look at who they are and ask ourselves questions like, what has this person done in previous experience? Are they things I agree with? Do they stand for the ideals I do? Of course there is never going to be the "perfect" candidate, but there is usually someone that we can identify with more than the other. The same goes with issues: what will passing or rejecting this issue do to the area or to me? Is it positive or negative? Will it cost me money I don't want to or can't afford pay? Will it allow things I consider to be wrong? Granted, not all things you will be voting for are equally important, but it's still a good idea to be familiar. I am a firm believer that a non-educated vote is worse than a non-vote. This is why I'm worried about this drive going on in Ohio to get people to vote. Yes, voting is very important, but it is something that can also be abused. We shouldn't be JUST promoting the act of voting, we should also be advocating the entire process and making educated decisions on who or what to vote for. I don't think I have ever seen any group that promotes voter education outside the local League of Women Voters here in Kent. They publish a non-partisan voter guide before each election that includes basic information about each candidate as well as ballot issues. It's not comprehensive, but does allow voters to make at least a more educated vote than just voting along party lines.

I want to be clear here: I do NOT have a problem with more people or poor people voting; what I have a problem with is just getting them to vote for the sake of voting. I feel like it's being done not to help them make educated choices but just to pad numbers. While there are CERTAINLY people that are educated in regards to the issues and opinionated who now have the opportunity to vote, there are many more that are being courted for the vote for whatever candidate and/or issue the group getting them to vote supports. I think it's taking advantage of people and of the voting system no matter who the party is they support more. I'm also not at all excited about same-day registration. I think it's opening the door to voter fraud and mass confusion in Ohio. This from the same state that just forced Cuyahoga County to spend millions of dollars to get an entirely new voting system and asked many of the rest of the counties to do the same in an effort to reduce voter fraud. The state should be focusing on making elections safe, reliable, and accurate. Instead, we're setting aside the safeguards put in place to make sure that every vote is equally counted and that those who vote are legally allowed to do so.

So, November 4th is coming quickly. If you haven't registered, I think you're out of luck unless you're able to get that same-day registration. Just make sure you make an educated vote no matter which way you lean. If you don't know, don't vote.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Rah Rah for Roosevelt!

Of course its always nice to win a rivalry game, but even more so when it means something beyond local bragging rights. Tonight I attended the Roosevelt vs. Ravenna game at Roosevelt Stadium in Kent. Both teams came in at 3-0 in the Portage Trail Conference (PTC) Metro division, so whoever won would seemingly be on their way to a division championship. It seemed like everyone was picking Ravenna, at least as far as the local newspapers were concerned. Both have their "pigskin picks" and the Record-Courier panel had all but one of the 7 voting sportswriters choosing Ravenna to win and then the Akron Beacon-Journal did a video where they talked about their picks for select games of importance and they all said that Ravenna's offense would be too much for Roosevelt. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also picked Ravenna. I felt good about Roosevelt's chances because Roosevelt has had an excellent defense all year, including two shutouts. One of those shutouts was last week at Southeast (42-0), a team that put 34 points on Ravenna the week prior and led for most of that game before Ravenna pulled away for a 52-34 win. As I mentioned in a previous post, Roosevelt has a really fast defense, and I felt it would be able to hold against Ravenna. Whenever you have a good defense against a good offense, usually the defense prevails, at least in my football-watching experience.

Well, I arrived during halftime as I first had to attend a mini-conference for music education in nearby Streetsboro. I was a little disappointed when I found out earlier this week that the conference conflicted with the game. Friday night football is one of the things I really enjoy doing, so it's frustrating when other things interfere with it, but even more so when it's a big game like this! Anyway, I went to the first session of the conference and will attend 3 sessions tomorrow as well (it was quite a workout doing different folk dances we can use in music classes!). So, I arrived at halftime with Roosevelt up 13-9. I would find out later that Roosevelt initially led 13-0 before Ravenna got on the board with a touchdown and field goal. In the second half, the Ravens added another field goal to get within 13-12, but had ample opportunities to take the lead. Both teams had a lot of penalties (15 total for 152 yards...ouch!), but especially Roosevelt. There was one point they had a second-and-42 or something like that. But, Roosevelt's defense also had five interceptions, and I believe three were in the second half. Most of the second half Ravenna didn't punt, not because they were moving the ball, but mostly because they kept throwing interceptions. I know people will say Ravenna played poorly in that regard, but you have to give the defense credit for interceptions as much as poor offensive execution. Many of the interceptions were the result of the quarterback being under pressure as well as good coverage of receivers. Some were poor decisions by the QB of course too. Anyway, Roosevelt got a long kickoff return right after Ravenna got within 13-12 and was aided by a personal foul later to keep a drive alive and ended up scoring again to make it 19-12 (the point after was tipped and missed). That ended up being the final score as Roosevelt couldn't move forward with the ball (they would have a second-and-38 at one point late in the 4th due to consecutive penalties) and Ravenna couldn't move much either against the Roosevelt defense and then would throw an interception. So, with that game in hand, Roosevelt has three games left against teams they should beat, well, at least on paper. The teams they are playing (Springfield, Crestwood, and Norton) currently have a combined record of 2-19.

It was nice to see such a large crowd from both sides. The stands themselves were pretty full. It's pretty rare to see the visitors stands full for any game, but they were pretty full tonight, which didn't surprise me at all. In reality, there were way more people than the stadium can hold since so many, especially students, just hang around on the grounds or stand around the fence surrounding the track. Roosevelt Stadium probably holds around 5-6,000 people for seating and I would guess there were close to 7,000 people there, though I really don't know.

The rivalry with Ravenna is an old rivalry. It goes back to 1922, which was the first year that Roosevelt was called Roosevelt (before then it was just Kent High School). Since then the two schools have played 86 times counting tonight's game, with Roosevelt holding a 44-41-1 lead in the series. The rivalry between Kent and Ravenna goes WAAAAAY back though, long before 1922. It pretty much goes back to the very beginning when the two cities were first being settled; Ravenna in 1799 and Kent in 1805. In 1807 it was announced a new county, Portage County, was being formed. Competition between the two tiny settlements began as Ravenna founder Benjamin Tappan and Kent (Franklin Township) proprietor Aaron Olmstead both pushed to have their settlements named the county seat. Although it seemed that Olmstead was going to secure the county seat for his settlement (which he did not ever actually live in), he died before the land he had set aside for the county seat could be donated to the cause and his heirs used the land, located near what is now Standing Rock Cemetary across from Roosevelt High School. Ravenna ended up being the county seat. As the two towns slowly grew, they were in constant competition for settlers and businesses. In fact, the namesake of the city of Kent, Marvin Kent, was actually born in Ravenna and came to what was then Franklin Mills in the 1850's with his father Zenas. In fact, local historian and Record-Courier editor Roger Di Paolo did an article not too long ago that talked about how Zenas Kent came to Franklin Mills from Ravenna after he had a falling-out with another Ravenna businessman. ""It is said that he declared he would live to see grass growing in the streets (of Ravenna)," historian E.Y. Lacey wrote in a 1933 account in the Evening Record, "and he set about to make his word good" by turning his interests to the tiny settlement of Franklin Mills, which was located west of Ravenna."

Ravenna and Kent would compete throughout the 20th century for the title of the county's largest city as each city seemed to pass each other back and forth. They were also both among 20 competing sites for the location of a new northeastern Ohio state normal school in 1910. Kent would end up being chosen and it was said the Ravenna delegation knew their bid was doomed when the state delegation arrived 4 hours late to tour Ravenna's proposed site for the new school. In the history of Kent State it says:
"The Ravenna welcoming committee had been waiting, with mounting anxiety, for four hours when three cars braked in front of the city hotel and the five commissioners climbed out, along with some familiar Kent faces, all smiling and laughing. The Ravenna men knew in their bones that they had missed their lunch and wasted four hours—all for nothing: the normal school would not be coming to their town. And they were right, though the commissioners did not make their final decision until after paying a surprise visit, on November 12, to the fifty-three-acre Kent Farm."
Of course this normal school evolved into Kent State University and started out pretty small, but is now Ohio's third largest university. By the end of the 1950's, Kent State's growth began to really fuel growth in Kent and so the population battle between the two cities effectively ended. Today, Kent is the county's largest city at around 28,000 residents while Ravenna has just under 12,000 and is actually now the county's 4th largest city behind Aurora and Streetsboro (though it should be noted that both Aurora and Streetsboro incorportated their entire former township. If Kent and Ravenna did the same thing, then they would have close to 20,000 residents in Ravenna and over 34,000 in Kent.). Because Kent is the larger city, Roosevelt is also, naturally, a larger school by about 500 students. In fact, there are only a few sports where Roosevelt and Ravenna are actually in the same state size division, which varies by sport (football, for instance, is divided into 6 size divisions based on enrollment while basketball is divided into 4). In football, Roosevelt is part of Ohio's division II and Ravenna is division III (in Ohio division I is the biggest schools, down to division VI). What that means is that in theory, both Roosevelt and Ravenna could win state titles in the same year since each enrollment division crowns a state champion. This year, they are both on track to qualify for the state playoffs in their respective division's regions, which would mark the first time that both would be in the playoffs at the same time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I have a placement!

Well, with all the BAD news I've been getting this week, it's nice to finally have some good news. I found out today I will do my student teaching at Southeast Middle School with the choir director/general music teacher. The Southeast Local School District is a rural district located in Palmyra Township and covers all or most of 5 townships in southeastern Portage County (hence the name "Southeast"). It is about a 25 minute drive from my house to the school. All of the district's schools are located in the same general area. I know several people from the area since it is part of our ward (congregation), so that is a plus.

Anyway, Tuesday when I was observing that teacher's general music classes I got a call from the principal of Southeast Middle School letting me know he'd received a letter from Kent State about me student teaching and that he'd like to visit with me. Well, how convenient that I was already in the building when he called! I called him back between classes and he came and talked to me during the 8th grade class. He was OK with me coming there, but wanted me to talk to the teacher and see what he thought about it. The teacher didn't have the time to talk right then, so when after I observed his classes again today, we talked briefly and he said he was OK with it. At this point, that means I can start observing on a more regular basis and start having more of a role than just being in the background watching. The MAT is designed to allow the student teacher to observe in the classroom they will student teach in so that the students aren't totally surprised by the student teacher come January. In the general music classes that won't be the case since they change every nine weeks, but not so with the choirs. I'm not sure how much I'll take on as a student teacher (he also teaches a 5th grade choir at the intermediate school), but I'm excited. This teacher is highly respected and thought of by students and colleagues alike and he's been teaching for 31 years. I actually met him this past Friday night when I attended the Roosevelt vs. Southeast football game at Southeast (Roosevelt won 42-0 =)). After the game I saw some people from church that go to Southeast and they introduced me to him.

I'm just glad I have a place to go now so I can get the work done required for this semester. As part of our 100 hours of observations, we have to attend certain meetings and meet with certain people. The nice thing is that our observation time isn't just the time we're sitting in the classroom, but the time we're at the school in pretty much any capacity. So that game I went to on Friday? Well, since Southeast is my school now, it counts in my hours. Hurray! I'm also excited since I already know a few people at Southeast, both students and workers. One of my friends from church works at the primary school and her best friend is the secretary at the middle school. Turns out I already know the secretary as she came with us when my friend took my sister and me to an Indians game a few weeks ago. Of course my three current piano students are all at Southeast, with one at the middle school, plus one of my former students from my days as a teacher in Primary (children's Sunday School) at church is in the 7th grade choir. So, it's not totally familiar like going to Roosevelt or Stanton would be, but not completely foreign or new either. That's good for learning new ideas and ways of doing things; broadening my horizons as a teacher!

In other news, though the calendar said Fall started back around September 20, after today it is OFFICIALLY Fall here as I put the basement windows back in and closed them, turned on the furnace, and just took my window air conditioner out and put my screen back in. NOW it is Fall! After the house got down to like 60 degrees this morning and into the afternoon, it was time! Of course the weather has a few more nice days ahead, but doesn't look like anything that warm. I know Fall has arrived for sure when I have to do the window rounds! The same goes for Summer when I open them and take the storm windows off!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Well, to start there isn't any news on the house front. Amidst all this we all seem to be remarkably calm and have a quiet reassurance that somehow, some way, this is going to work out. I still can't explain it nor even attempt to say "here's how it could all work out..." but something tells me it is going to happen. I wish I were at the other end of this story so I know what happens...the suspense is killing me! LITERALLY!

I've been thinking about something in relation to all this. While I've been greatly helped and strengthened by the wonderful comments I've been getting, one thing I've heard from several people over the time we've known about this is basically "don't worry about it since you have no control over it." For just about anything else I'd agree because there's no point in getting all worked up for something that's going to happen regardless of what I say or do. But this is different. Why? Well, for starters it affects me directly. It's hard to not worry about something that's going to directly affect me in a BIG way (stress, emotionally, physically) even IF there's nothing I can do about it. The fact that I can't do much of anything about it makes it even more difficult to deal with. See, in most things I can't do anything about, the end result either doesn't affect me at all or affects me indirectly which is why it's easier to just not worry about it. For instance, when my sister got married, there were a host of reasons why I didn't think it was a good idea and I made those clear to her. As that unfolded, I began to really understand what it meant to just not worry about it since there was nothing more I could do that was productive. I had done what I could and now it was out of my hands. Now, I could see someone saying, "well why not apply that here?" and they'd be right except for one major difference: my sister getting married didn't have a direct impact on my life; it had an indirect effect. In the end, little changed for me. In losing the house, however, that will be a HUGE change for me not to mention it will be a very stressful time with school added into having to pack up and move everything here and deal with the emotions of losing my childhood home of 25 years. So while I'd LOVE to not worry about it, it's much easier said than done. It's along those lines of things that sound good to say, but show that the person saying it really doesn't understand what the person/people experiencing it are actually going through and feeling. Since the person saying it doesn't have to worry about losing their home, it's far easier to tell others not to worry.

Now, if you are reading this and saying "oh man, I think I said that to him," rest assured, I'm not angry or anything of the sort, so no need to apologize. I appreciate all the comments and moral support I have been given and recognize that it's not easy to say the "right" thing. I also understand that those who have said that to me have meant it in a loving and caring way to help me feel better. Let this be a learning tool for all of us so when something like this happens to others we can be an even greater support to them.

Now, I do want to report a little bit of progress on the academic front. I registered for two online "workshop" classes to satisfy the holes left in my schedule due to the fact that I do not have to take Reading in the Content Area (but since it was an undergrad class it cannot count towards my masters degree) as well as the fact that the methods class I have to take is an undergrad, so it also doesn't count, so I was short 4 graduate hours in my total. I signed up for two 2-credit workshops that both deal with technology; one in podcasting and one is using Microsoft Office Access in any profession, including teaching. They each last about a month. While I am still a little irritated I have to take extra classes, at this point I'm ready to just get them done and over with so I can move on. I did make it known to the director of the MAT that they need to seriously evaluate how this program works with the School of Music because the two are almost not compatible with each other. Because I'm not a music graduate student (I'm a secondary education student), I can't take any graduate music courses, so all the content classes I've had to take this semester don't count towards my degree; rather, they are for the teaching aspect. I don't see why there can't be a way so I can get the classes I need to be a good music teacher AND get the credits I need to get a masters degree. The biggest problem is, of course, that I am the first music student to go through the MAT in 10 years and second in 18, so it's not something they have had to deal with for awhile. Even with that, now is the time to get things fixed so this doesn't happen to whoever the next music student is who comes through. Honestly, I think this is a better plan than just going straight through the undergrad music education program. More expensive, yes, but since teachers have to have a masters degree or the equivalent (30 graduate hours), why not get it done in one year when it's still fresh, plus you get the added benefit of graduate education courses and smaller classes?