Sunday, October 16, 2016

An amazing journey

What an amazing journey!

I'm stuck in Ireland due to an unexpectedly delayed flight causing a missed connection.
How is that amazing?
The same way that bad weather prevented us from visiting Monte Carlo a few days ago. 

Missing Monte Carlo meant we spent another day in Italy and allowed us to have perhaps the best day of the cruise, touring the hills, medeavil villages, and farms of Tuscany.  

Being delayed in Ireland meant Guinness in an Irish pub and the chance to walk on Irish sod, to bend down and feels it's thick, green grass between my fingers.

Perhaps that means nothing to you. 
Perhaps if you're Irish-American it does.

Traveling, like life, can be an amazing journey.  
Those who know me best know that like everyone, I face real challages at times, challages that can get me down.
But they also know that I can sometimes make mountains out of molehills, and in so doing, can miss out on opportunities.

This week, because I was able to make the best of situations, I enjoyed lunch at a Tuscany farm, Guiness at an Irish pub, and the the feel of the sod of my ancestors beneath my feet.

And when I can do that, it makes for an amazing journey.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reality check

I know I don't delve often into education issues, put I feel the need to make an exception.
I don't claim to be an expert by any means.  I have not stood at the front of a classroom and faced what educators do every day. The closest I have been is standing at the end of a stretcher and teaching my patients and families on whatever illness they were facing. 
It's not the same, and I don't claim it to be. 

However, I have come to know teachers and PSRPs in the past year and I can see the dedication they have for their students is so, so similar to the dedication of any nurse or other healthcare worker to our patients.
Perhaps, my perspective as a non-educator is of some interest.

I'd like to speak on two issues.
The first being the resent Connecticut court CCJFF decision.
I agree with the court on the fact that Connecticut's funding of schools is unequal.
Affluent communities are much better able to fund their schools than struggling communities.
We are too dependent on local property taxes and this needs to be addressed.
Connecticut's students deserve high quality, well funded school whether they grow up in Greenich or Hartford.
However, the court's contention that schools are unequal because the evaluation system does not hold teachers accountable is not only an overreach of it's duty in the case, it is both inaccurate and insulting.
The reason schools are unequal is multi factored, including many socio-economic factors and the reliance on local taxes, not poor teachers, as the court implies.
Yes, changes could be made to some evaluation systems, and when educators are involved in the development and implementation of such systems, they embrace them.

The second issue I would like to speak to, is the recent announcement by the State Department of Education, on the possible need to close some of the state Vo-Tech high schools due to spending cuts proposed by the governor's administration.
I spent the early part of my working live bouncing from job to job with many periods of being laid off due to economic downturns and factory closings.
During one such period, the state sent me to CNA training at Windham Tech.
Although the factory layoffs continued, I was always able to find work as a CNA and never again collected unemployment.
Eventually, I returned to school, at Three Rivers Community-Technical College, and began a 16 year career as an emergency room RN.
None of that would have been possible without our state vocational school system, including high schools and colleges.
I know of many others who have stories like mine.
Closing any of these schools would be counter productive.
While it would save a little money in the short term, the long term result would be more unemployment and less tax revenue. 
But the biggest loss, would be the nurses, the skiled tradespeople, the teachers, and the others, who would never find their training, never learn their crafts, and never share their gifts.

In my humble perspective as someone who has not stood at the front of a classroom, I believe in this "new economic reality," we need a reality check.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cruise day three

Let me get this straight.
Croatia was once part of Yugoslavia, which was part of the Soviet Block, which was the "evil empire," correct?

Except Split, Croatia was lovely, with lovely people.
Our city tour guide explained the history and architecture, complete with occupation by the Greeks, the Venetians, and Romans, as well as the effects of World War. II, and the Bosnia-Serbia War, as only someone who had grown up in the region could.
The shop keeper where we stopped for souvenirs helped us pick out a local wine, asking that we return to give her our impression. When we said we were on the cruise ship and were leaving at days end, she wished us a wonderful journey and asked a pledge that we would return.

"Evil Empire" I think not. Ordinary sisters and brothers interested in the same things we are, I think yes.

Tomorrow, Dubrovnik.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cruise day two

Having gelato in Venice is pretty cool!

Let's face it, just being in Venice is pretty cool. 

We took a walking tour of Venice on day 2, including St Mark's Square. Our guide was a native, and as such, had lots of local insights to share. 

One thing she pointed out was an area of water in the square. Without her explanation, I would have taken it to be rainwater but she explained it was seawater seeping up from below at high tide. This is becoming a more frequent problem over the last few years she stated. 

As we were walking back to catch the shuttle boat that would take us back to our ship, we ducked into a small shop and found our gelato!

Now we say goodbye Italy for a few days. On to Croatia. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cruise day one

It's a strange feeling waking up in Italy on Wednesday morning and knowing that the last time I woke up from a bed it was Monday morning in Connecticut.

It was one long day with several "plane naps" and many miles.

We left from Hartford just after 6:00 pm Monday and arrived in Venice about 11:00 am Tuesday, losing 6 hours with the time zone change.

One of Michelle's big wishes was to take an evening Gondola ride in Venice but the excusion sold out before we could sign up so when we arrived we put our name on the waiting list.
Our chances didn't look good, even several hours later so we took someone's advice and tried to strike out on our own.
To say I was nervous about venturing into a country where neither of us speaks the language and have no clue as to the geography of the city would be an understatement.
Anyway, we were no more than 10 minutes from the ship and Michelle could see I was a few steps from panic mode and suggested we abort the mission.
I felt like I had let her down.

When we got back to the room, 2 tickets were waiting for us, and soon we were with a group and headed for the gondola, stress free.

What a wonderful night it turned out to be.

A ride slipping through the canals of Venice with a group of 4 or 5 gondolas being serenaded all the way!
We returned to ship tired and happy, but too late for dinner but no worries....
They delivered steak to our room!