Saturday, August 25, 2012

Not much to say . . . but I'm sayin' it.

It's that time.

The second year of college has fewer parental requirements, of us.  We went shopping for a reload of perishables, washed the last load of clothes, watched while he packed the car and waved as he drove away.

Admittedly, it was okay to let him drive away, an option that would not have been considered Freshman year.  The quiet, emptiness of the house is still difficult to get reaccustomed to.
I did shed a few tears cleaning his room.

The sewing room is intact and the machines will be humming before the weekend is up.  We'll be camping over the holiday, like last year, and expect to enjoy it more (due to less concern for him).

I'm thrilled he wants to continue as a guest blogger for our series "Inside the Uni, Outside the Classroom".  As the summer wanned he was anxious to return and I realize we will quickly embrace the enjoyment of returning to our own schedules.

From where we're standing it looks like it's going to be a great year.

Best wishes to all those starting a new year of school, work, retirement, adventure or just regular life.  God bless us, every one.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Five Senses of Summer

There are few people who, when asked, cannot recall specific memories of summer related to the five senses. 

The smell of grilling food is among the strongest for me.  We often will grill a large variety of meats that will be available for meals throughout the week.  Charcoal smoldering to the proper mound of ash brings and creates good memories.The smell of roasting meat is a favorite (even when it is not coming from my backyard). 

The color of the flowers I patiently plant each year are a favorite sight.

Crickets, preferably not in my house, are a true and pleasant sound of summer.

A feeling I don't mind so much as I get older is the heat of the summer sun.  It  could be as much from the artic blast of cold that gets cranked up on the inside of buildings but I enjoy walking out and absorbing the heat of summer.

The sweet taste of summer resides in the kernels of roasted corn on the cob.  Soak the corn, still in their husks, in water then place them on the grill.  Twenty three minutes later peel back the husk, slather on some butter, sprinkle over some salt and WOW!

What about summer tickles your senses?

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Friday, August 10, 2012

The Robust Pursuit of Happiness

Welcome L. as guest blogger speaking Inside the Uni Outside the Classroom.

There are days I fear for my profit driven generation.

Since the blossoming of American prosperity in the 1960s children have been fed the idea that they have a right to a quality of life that supersedes their parents.

 For a time this was correct. Where my grandparents were allowed the luxury of a dishwasher, microwave, and answering machine my parents have established a household with a flat screen television, DVR, laptop computer, cell phones and a number of amenities that extend beyond the necessities of life but rate as staples of the American household.

When I consider my future family home it looks very similar to that of my parent's. This can be a tough pill for some college graduates to swallow.

This is not solely our fault: many were brought up on the adage that a college degree would allow one to skip the “burger-flipping” stage of employment. Unfortunately, we are then chastised for not wanting to take the burger-flipping opportunity.

The solution, and reality, is we cannot continue with this business as usual. While a Philosophy degree may make for an interesting four years of study it does not provide an edge in a highly competitive job market where the need to drive the profit margin pushes for downsizing and outsourcing.

Having a college degree does not guarantee a “good” job or a better life. We need to accept that business driven initiatives do not protect our job market nor encourage companies to hire Americans.

This blunt reality hits at graduation. Times are hard, and will likely get harder.  Our economy is in a slump that cannot be remedied by either government party.  Government debt has little to do with how our economy runs but government expenditure does, which causes the job market to suffer.

Still, I fear for my classmates who dream of McMansions earned with their Business degree. We, as a nation, must make a paradigm shift and realize a more robust economy similar to Germany, who is an island of stability in the European Union. 
This robustness requires a brutal sense of self-honesty. We are not unique in the world, we are not God’s chosen people. If you are one in a million there are 1,354 copies of you in China plus an additional 1,214 in India.

A good life is not guaranteed. John Locke believed every human had a right to "life, liberty and property."  Jefferson saw the right to property as a delusion and changed the words in the Declaration of Independence to read "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 
Shifting away from this entitlement thinking will change the way we deal, psychologically, with our economic prospects. If we accept that hardship is part of the cards we are dealt, at this time; realizing there is no right to a better path, will provide perspective.

As well, this might lead us to be thankful for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies and the knowledge we live in a country where clean water is readily available.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer's End . . . Sophomore Begins

August ushers in school prep.  Teachers prepare their classrooms, Back to School commercials are in every time slot and box stores fill their aisles with school supplies. 

Here, at the end of the parade of summer months we are all ready to go back to school.The excitement of free days and endless summer activities has worn off or melted in the heat. 

This parade is familiar to me but I do not join in. . . not this year.

This is our first college summer; so much different than the 'at home' years.  Colleges release weeks earlier, summer terms have their own schedule and prepping for the next year includes a road trip, hauling a full room of belongings and another good-bye.

The wisdom of Empty Nest veterans was realized by March.  As a couple, by Spring Break, we found a new rhythm; as did our student.  He enjoys the freedom of his own space and schedule as do we.  He came home for half the summer, for me, and I appreciate that more than he will know (until he experiences it with his own children.)

I have friends experiencing the Freshman firsts and although sharing is an attempt to alleviate their fears and anxieties it is a road they must travel in order to claim their own peace; their personal assurances. 

The August prep days are slipping from my periphery as my life changes stations and my concerns and efforts move elsewhere.  The next three years I expect to look similar to this other than summers spent on internships, away from home which is as it should be.  I have been prepared; I am being prepared; I will look forward to the opportunities D. and I will have on those hot, sultry, summer days to come.

We are not yet Empty Nest veterans but I can definately see the road ahead.

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