Tag Archives: challenge

#14 Great Public Schools

I managed to get 13 challenge posts (one is embedded in the Sandy post) in before completely dropping the ball. I worked 51 hours last week. This week I’ve worked two 10 hour days and one 8 so far. I dropped the ball on my challenge because I spend most of my day in front of the glowing computer screen, it’s not exactly my idea of a good way to relax to come home and sit with a computer on my lap.

I was lucky to grow up in Minnesota. Particularly in Bloomington, MN. Bloomington today is quite diverse, although while I was growing up it was probably less so ethnically speaking. I grew up surrounded by people of different religions, political opinions, origins, ethnicity, and so on. I attended public school in a state ranked 2nd in the nation.

It wasn’t until my brother and I moved away from Minnesota for college (he went to Colorado and I went to Pennsylvania) that I realized Minnesota’s public schools, or, more specifically, Bloomington public schools are fantastic. I’m not talking about test scores or anything measurable, just the general sense of education and critical thinking skills you get from people around you. I am very much relying on anecdotal evidence, but then I’m not asking you to extrapolate from this blog post, am I?

I take for granted the fantastic opportunities that were available to me in Bloomington’s schools to learn. I was particularly determined to get the greatest value possible from my public school education, and I certainly got it. I also take for granted the caliber of education offered to every student in Bloomington (not that they all took advantage).

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#9 The Library

I am several days behind. I wrote a post in my head for Sunday, but didn’t have a chance to type it out. And by “didn’t have a chance” I mean I didn’t want to sit down at my computer – instead I spent the day relaxing. I stopped at the library on Saturday. It got me thinking about the role libraries and books have played in my life.

Not too long ago there was an op/ed in the paper from a woman claiming the library saved her life (not literally). She had beenĀ  a book purchaser all her life – going to book stores and buying what looked interesting and reading it later. When she lost her job and remained unemployed in the recession she realized she no longer had the disposable income to spend on books. That is when she started going to the library.

I read this and thought, “I would have been going to the library that whole time.”

I love the library and the role it has played in my life. I think I assume everybody knows how great public libraries are. Access to hundreds of thousands of books and databases all free to the public? What could be more fantastic?

Libraries open up so many worlds to us – from the classics to spy novels to how-to books, and you never have to consider what your income is when you go to most public libraries. There is no obligation with a library book other than to treat it respectfully. I am a cautious book buyer – when I buy a book it is either at a fantastic price, as a gift for someone else, or it is a book I already love. When I go to the library I am adventurous and willing to pick up and try just about any book. Books I would never purchase come into my hands at the library. I’ve discovered any number of wonderful stories because of the library.

I wish everyone would appreciate and make use of their public libraries. They are a fantastic resource that I hope never disappears.

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#8 Minnesnowta

Minnesota has the nickname Minnesnowta for a reason, although it’s certainly not the snowiest state in the United States. Every winter (except last winter…) we get plenty of snowfall and it typically stays on the ground all season. We don’t just have white Christmases, we have white winters. I have always loved snow and always been happy to live in a state that gets plenty of it, but I don’t know that it ever occurred to me growing up that some states have brown winters.

There are green winters and white winters, and as a kid I assumed that’s all there was. I didn’t give it a lot of thought until I started talking with B before we became a couple. B grew up in Kentucky. Snow days happened (laughingly) with even a few inches of snow in Lexington, but that doesn’t mean they had many. Snow has always excited B, and he gets very excited every time it snows.

B’s reaction to snow made me truly appreciate the wonderful amount of snow I had growing up. I made more snowmen than I can count. Sledding was one of my favorite winter time activities, and it was almost always available thanks to the hill across the street from my house. The city I grew up in has more outdoor ice rinks than most people could imagine in such a small area – all free to the public with warming houses open daily.

B, and much of the rest of the country, did not experience that. Minnesota winters are magnificent. I am so incredibly lucky to have grown up with the chance to play in the amount of snow we get here. I can’t count the number of nights I spent playing on snowbanks, working on snow forts, and playing outside with friends.

Many people have experienced the delight of waking up to a white blanket covering the outside world, but I wonder how many of those people have seen that same blanket at night. In the moonlight, under the streetlights snow is like a blanket of diamonds. Nothing makes the world sparkle quite like snow at night.

B loves Calvin and Hobbes. When B talks about snow, I imagine Calvin’s reaction of pure childlike glee. B makes me appreciate so much more the winters I had growing up.

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#7: Tornado Sirens

How many people in the United States know exactly what a tornado siren sounds like? I haven’t the faintest clue what the answer to that is, but I know what a siren sounds like. I have taken that for granted nearly all my life.

I was listening to a Pandora comedy station, and a track about tornado sirens came on. The comedian was visiting Nebraska and the sirens went off. It has barely ever occurred to me that most people have no idea what those sirens sound like. The few times I’ve thought about have led me to these realizations:

  1. There are many cities that never test their sirens.
  2. Even people who live in tornado-prone areas may not know what the siren sounds like.
  3. It’s amusing to me that people might hear a tornado siren and go, “What the hell is that noise?”

Where I grew up they test the sirens once a month – the first Wednesday of every month. You get very used to the sound, but I still think, “What day is it?!” every time they test it because you want to be sure it is actually the first Wednesday of the month.

So here you go, this is what they sound like. Memorize it in case you ever visit tornado country during tornado season.

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