Monday, August 31, 2009

Not just "any job"

I had a brief conversation with my grandmother the other day when I stopped over to pick up my sister that got me thinking and had me a little irritated. Somehow the topic of jobs came up and my grandma asked if I had heard about jobs in Las Vegas. Of course I said yes because EVERY teacher knows that there are teaching jobs available in Las Vegas. There always seems to be a teaching shortage there as they are opening several new schools every year. The problem is first, I have no desire to live in the desert, especially a city that gets as hot as Vegas. On top of that, the cost of living in Nevada is much higher than here in Ohio and teacher pay is not higher, so moving there would set me back as much as it would move me ahead. The same is true with Utah, which also came up. Apparently, my grandparents' across the street neighbors, who are also members of my local LDS ward (congregation), told her that the cost of living in Utah is significantly lower than here in Ohio, so despite the fact that Utah ranks 45th in average teacher pay, that is allegedly offset by the "low cost of living." I disputed that because when I lived in Idaho and was in Utah frequently, I didn't notice much of anything being significantly cheaper there than it was in Ohio. Things like gasoline were usually more expensive (though that can vary greatly) and groceries tended to be more expensive because of Utah's regressive sales tax on food (Ohio does not have a sales tax on food). All in all, I found the cost of living there was roughly the same as Ohio; it certainly wasn't lower.

The thing my grandma said that got me was "I'd think in this economy you'd want any job." While it's true I want a job and I need a steady job, how would moving across the country be financially sensible for some crap job in Utah or Vegas? I'd have to sink myself further into debt for a job that could barely keep me afloat. How would that be smart? As it stands now, it looks like I'll be subbing for this school year. While that's less than ideal, it is much better than doing nothing. On top of that my Derby grandparents are OK with me staying here as long as I need. Why rush "in this economy" to get my own apartment if I don't absolutely need to? Believe me, I want to get my own place ASAP, but I also understand the situation. I would much rather take it carefully and well-planned than moving far away and hope for the best. That said, as much as I wouldn't mind staying in this area, I am not opposed to moving anywhere for the right job. But that's just it; I won't move for "any job" unless that job is worth the time, effort, and money it will cost to relocate.

I, of course, did a little digging on cost of living and teacher pay too. Earlier this month I found a study that ranked the states for teachers where cost of living and teacher pay were factored together to make a "teacher comfort score." This is a much better indicator than just comparing how each state ranks in average teacher pay since cost of living can vary, particularly on the east and west coasts. So, while Ohio ranks 13th in average teacher salary and 19th in starting teacher salary, it ranks 6th in "comfort" when cost of living is factored in. California, on the other hand, which ranks 1st in average salary and 9th in starting salary ranks 44th on the comfort index because the cost of living is so high. The same was true for a lot of the higher paying states; they ranked high on starting and average salary but low on comfort because of high cost of living. Utah, on the other hand, didn't fare so well in ANY ranking. It ranks 45th in average starting salary, 45th in average teacher salary, and 39th in comfort index. So much for the low cost of living! The best state was Illinois: it ranked first in comfort, 4th in starting salary, and 3rd in average salary. The worst was Hawaii which ranked 50th in comfort, despite being ranked 9th in starting salary and 15th in average salary. Oh, and wonderful booming Nevada? They ranked 45th in comfort , 25th in average salary, and 38th in starting salary, so not much better than Utah. Again, why would I want to go into that? Sounds like I should look in the Land of Lincoln!!
As for cost of living, I found an interesting study. It doesn't rank the states, but does do a comparative chart index using numbers from 2006 and 2008 as well as the housing numbers for the same time. The average for the US is 100, so the index tells how close each state was above or below the national average. I first looked at Ohio, which was at 95.4 in 2006 and 93.4 by 2008, so just below the national average. Housing was a different story. Ohio was at 84.3 in 2006, but fell to 74.9 by 2008. Not really any surprises there. How about Utah and their "low cost of living" according to my fellow ward members? Not true: Utah was at 96.1 in 2006 and 95.0 in 2008. Housing was at 95.2 in '06 and 92.1 in '08. So yes, Utah is below the national average in COL and housing, but it is not less than Ohio; it's right about the same though slightly higher, which I always suspected. Tennessee was very low: 90.8 in 2006 and 88.3 in 2008. Housing was even better: 79.3 in '06 and down to 75.8 in '08. Not bad even with a high sales tax! Nevada wasn't too great: 107.4 in '06 and it went up to 109.2 by '08. Housing was even worse: 119.8 in '06 and up to 126.4 in '08. Yikes. The worst states for cost of living and housing were the coastal states on both coasts (Hawaii is the worst in all categories: COL of 162.8 in '08 and housing index of 252.5 in '08 followed in both categories by California. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Alaska also were very high in all categories), though even the mountain west and southwestern states didn't do so hot either. The best are the south followed by the midwest.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Brent A. Webb

I had a somewhat interesting experience today. As I've blogged before, I'm pretty active on Wikipedia, especially now as I wait to hear on job openings and likely wait for subbing to begin in a few short weeks. There are days I am far more active than others, depending on what else I have scheduled for the day and other activity on the site itself.

A few days ago, I noticed an article had been created about a particular Ravenna High School graduate named Brent Webb. In reading the article, I noted it was written like an advertisement, had a grand total of zero outside sources, and featured someone that at least had claims of performing on national networks and in notable places with notable people, but his notability didn't particularly stick out to me. Notability is a tricky subject on Wikipedia because it is so subjective. Usually, in the case of a person, if several reliable sources can be found which mention the person and their accomplishments or contributions, they can at least establish limited notability. That usually involves sources outside that person's hometown and the only sources I could find about him were in the Record-Courier (the local paper here) and in Cleveland news (Ravenna is part of the Cleveland media market). Seeing this article in such poor condition, I did what most editors do and asked other editors to look at the article and see what they thought and placed tags on it. Tags are ways to let the author and other editors know what problems the article has that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Well, hardly any of the issues were addressed, particularly the sources (if an article has no sources, it won't last long at all) and notability, so I nominated it for deletion, which is usually discussed before it happens. No sooner had I done that than the original author (who I just discovered is Mr. Webb's manager) "blanked" the page, which caused an administrator to "speedy" delete the article because the author had erased all the content. Well, that wasn't the end of it. The author re-created the article the next day; a much shorter article but with all the same problems as before. I placed the same tags on it and left a message for the author on what to do to keep the article from being deleted again. Well, other editors also saw (plus I let some who had previously been involved know the article had been re-created) what happened and investigated and nominated the article for deletion again. This time it was discussed more with three other editors supporting deletion and zero in support of keeping it, but during the discussion the manager again blanked the page, so it was deleted by an administrator. One reason the editors gave for deleting it was it appeared to be making a false claim about being inducted into the Ravenna High School Hall of Fame. I thought that was a pretty unimportant fact, but it turns out he was inducted, but the page hasn't been updated yet (not that it would've made a difference in what we all thought about the article). That was 2 days ago I think. I figured that was the end of that. Well, not so fast!

I got a message today on Facebook from none other than Mr. Brent A. Webb himself. He took the time to search me out (probably on AOL or Google judging by the traffic tracker I have on the blog), read this blog, and sent me a pretty seething message as follows:

"My manager tells me you really get off on editing Wikipedia. First of all..a few facts you need to know.... I am being inducted into Ravenna's hall of fame THIS year...that may be why I'm not on an old list of inductees. Second... I would certainly argue that someone who has performed around the World with major recording stars, for Fortune 500 corporations, and for private events for celebrities, politicians, etc. and has appeared NOT JUST on local TV, but on NBC, CNN, MTV, etc at least a bit notable. There is really a World outside your computer monitor. Maybe you should look into it?

I have asked Doug to pull my entry...don't worry about it. I know you have so much non paid work to do on Wikipedia.

And I know it's only local...

But try and catch me on "That's Life" Aug. 20th at 10 AM on Fox 8.

Sorry to hear about all your trauma from your forced move, and the fact that you are jobless.... wait...THAT explains the free time. No girlfriend (or boyfriend) either? And judging by your musical theater photos..I would say the latter is probably true.

What is the Mormon view on homosexuality?

All the best----


So, I was pretty taken aback, but not all surprised to learn his manager was behind the article creation. That's a common problem on Wikipedia, and is known as "conflict of interest." Not only did he take the time to search me out, but read the blog and made some pretty evil comments about my life, my interests, and my situation. And heck, he even threw in stereotypes about gay people! This was my reply:

"Wow, thanks for all the judgements. While it is true I played a role in the deletion of the Wikipedia article, I was not alone. Perhaps you should get the entire story before making such mean-spirited, hurtful, and untrue comments. Other editors also felt that you were not notable enough for inclusion since the only outside sources were small local newspaper blurbs, which is why the article was deleted TWICE. Also, your manager is most to blame as he did a poor job of not only writing the article (it was written like a press release or advertisement, which aren't allowed on Wikipedia), but defending it as well. I did not initially nominate it for deletion; I placed tags on it asking for sources and only after those requests were ignored was the article nominated for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia policy the first time. Another editor found the same problems and nominated it the second time. And no, I cannot delete Wikipedia articles; only an admin can do that. I also sent a message to your manager the second time letting him know what to do to keep the article from being deleted (he has deleted the message on his talk page). Glad I made the effort. I also did *not* note the absence of your listing on the Ravenna Hall of Fame; that was another editor and to be honest, it didn't make much of a difference to me. Being part of a local hall of fame is not reason to make someone notable or not notable.

Refrain from messaging me and making such stereotypical, hateful, and untrue comments about me because you're upset you didn't get your way. It says a lot about your character, especially that you would use incredibly painful experiences of another as a weapon like that. What did I say about you or your career that was so insulting besides you aren't notable enough at this time to merit a Wikipedia article (like 99.9% of the population)? Is your ego really that bruised that you have to search me out on Google, read my blog, message me on Facebook and lash out like some teenager? Seriously? Wow. I wonder what you hope to accomplish from that? Hope you read the will be featured soon."

If you'd like to see who this person is, check out his website at He can be e-mailed at Meanwhile, I'll go back to editing Wikipedia since I'm SUCH an obvious loser with no life, but maybe I should consider changing my username!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Updates Updates Updates!!

OK so my title makes it sound like I'm posting some big news. I WISH! No, nothing really is going on, though I am blogging from Nashville, Tennessee! Nope, haven't moved here (well, yet!) but I am visiting for the week! It's more to get out of town for a week than anything. I got here Thursday evening and haven't done a whole lot, but I'm not complaining. I'm in a beautiful air conditioned house with people I enjoy being around.

Yesterday we went with Heather's sister Kristie to the famous Loveless Cafe, which is just a few miles from where Andy and Heather live. It's famous for southern cooking, particularly its biscuits. When you walk in, the main waiting area is covered with autographed pictures of famous people who have eaten there. I must say I enjoyed the food I got there: hand-breaded chicken fingers (which were freakin' huge!), crinkle fries, and mashed potatoes. It was all very good! Today Andy and I went to a luncheon for the Vanderbilt Housing Alliance, an association for the spouses of those currently in their residency here in Nashville. I thought it was an excellent organization and they provided a reeeeeealy good lunch (not to mention an amazing lemon!). Most of the group is made up of women (counting myself, there were all of 5 guys there total and like 50 women), so many of the smaller groups within the organization are geared towards that, but even then it's a great idea with something for everyone. It made me grateful for the organization of the church too. Many of the people in this group have come here with little or no support system, so this organization is a valuable too to help make the transition easier. How wonderful to know that wherever we end up, we also have the church organization (particularly the local ward) as a support and constant. One group this organization helps support is the Hospital Hospitality House of Nashville, which is similar to the Ronald McDonald House in providing housing and care for those who come to Nashville for the treatment of a loved one and have no money to afford a long-term hotel room or even food. The "HHH" is able to supply basic needs so the family member can focus on being the support for their loved one in the hospital without having to worry about even more expenses. What struck me in the presentation they made is the genuine desire to just help people for the sake of helping. If I had money to give, that would be something I would give money to support.

As far as other updates, the play ended July 18. We had a great closing week and the final performance went really well. After the show we took the set apart and my dad took the lights down the following Tuesday. I definitely miss being around the cast, but thankfully the last night of the show wasn't the last time we al got together. On the 24th I went with several of the children cast members and some of their parents (many of whom were also in the cast) to visit Historic Kirtland and the Kirtland Temple. Not only did we pick a fantasic day weatherwise to go (the day before and the day after it rained), but it was also Pioneer Day, a day we celebrate the arrival of the early Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake Valley (July 24, 1847). I had a great time seeing the sites, but especially being with some of the cast again. It was even cooler being with them at the actual sites where the play took place. We were able to sing "He Lives" in the actual School of the Prophets room and sing "Spirit of God" in the Kirtland Temple. Way cool!

We had a cast recording the next day, where we all got together and recorded most of the vocal numbers from the show professionally. A recording had been made available from the show itself, but this one will be more balanced than a straight recording from the show and without any audience noise. Not only that, it gave us an excuse to get together again! I can't wait to hear the finished product! I also got to see a few cast members the next day when I went to the Hiram Ward to hear Bobby Berryhill (who played Lorenzo Snow) give his "farewell" address. He is set to leave for the Nevada Las Vegas mission in just a few short days. It was nice to "see him off" and visit the Hiram Ward. I hadn't been in that building since sometime in 1999 or 2000 and I have no idea the last time I attended a sacrament meeting there!

As for my job search, no such luck just yet, though July was going to be dead anyway as pretty much all principals are off during July, so there is little if any movement. Already I have started applying for 3 openings in Lorain, Ohio, so we will see how that goes. At this point I'm preparing to start subbing in Kent and the surrounding districts. While it won't allow for total financial independence, it will allow for some and still give me some flexibility. I'm also keeping my eyes open for other job opportiunities besides just teaching music in a public school setting and am open to teaching abroad. I got my PRAXIS scores a few weeks ago (I took it in June) and found out I did well enough to earn a distiction on the test (top 15%), which translates to finishing 20 points above where I needed to. While I'd love to feel really good about it, it has little bearing on getting a job and to be honest, after plunging some $20,000 into graduate school, I BETTER have done really well on that test! I was just glad I passed so I could apply for my teaching license.