Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 - No Predictions Here

I was going to blog a list of predictions for the coming year.  But then thought it might be better to write about some less certain, but very sure, reality.

Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?

On New Year's Eve I had opportunity to play one of those games where you take a card, read the word on the card, and then try to draw it.  Then, if your team guesses the word, they roll the die and move their little marker along the board.  This is all sand-glassed.  Time is of the essence.  I think the game was called Win, Lose, or Draw.
One of the cards I pulled had the word Hercules on it.  How does one draw Hercules in two minutes?  Never-mind that I draw about as well as a person who just had his hand crushed in a vice.  Yet I persevered, drawing a box with a baby in it and then a snake.  Then, I x-ed out the snake.  Then I drew a stick figure with bulging arms.  We got the point when one of my teammates got the clues.  There were seven people on each team.  This was the first time in my life when knowing that infant Hercules killed a serpent in the cradle proved useful.  He actually killed two, but that time thing.
Let's go with the anecdote.  Two out of every seven people know one obscure fact about Hercules and  that information will be useful once in a lifetime.  Ahh… the bane of the liberal arts.
Part of the problem with the oft-intoned, 'follow your heart' is that often the heart leads one astray.  I mean, it's not like I ever got a decent job because I knew the differences between Ionic and Doric columns or that I can talk a bit about how one of the cornerstones of Western Literature (that would be the Illiad) is little more than a barroom brawl over a woman.  Nine years of war could have been avoided had Agamemnon decided to follow something other than his love for a two-timing, albeit supremely beautiful, Helen.  Though, I fear, our appreciation for hollow wooden-horses would be much less.  See how fascinating that all is?  That and three bucks will get me a cup of burnt coffee at Starbucks.
Point being, I currently work with a whole parcel of adjunct instructors at a community college.  These are very-well educated people.  Yet the adjuncts make perhaps a third of what the full-time professors make.  They do the same work and, in many cases, have the same letters after their names, but they make dimes on the dollar to what the full-timers make.  This situation is typical of colleges throughout the country and I am not griping about the full-timers.  This divide is not the Professors' fault.
You see, colleges are businesses.  Decades ago, collegiate management bean-counted to the realization that it's more profitable to pay part-timers without benefits than it is to pay full-timers with benefits.  When I say benefits I'm talking about little things like retirement, healthcare, and paid time off.  Thus, most colleges are staffed majoritatively (I just made that word up) by part-time instructors.  Never mind what the coaches make.
My guess is, many of my coworkers followed their hearts in college.  I think that's what I did.  Then again, my memory is a bit fuzzy on a few things from that timeframe.
To whit, upon reading the above, many will say, "Get a different job."  Begrudgingly, they are correct.  If one doesn't like their current place of employment, then seek elsewhere.  It is what it is, and let us realize that following one's heart comes with certain costs.
There's talk about raising the minimum wage to whatever they want to raise it to.  I have conflicting thoughts on this.  But I would be less than honest if I didn't confess that the thought of a burger-flipper, who may or may not have graduated high school, making more money than a person with a PhD trying instill a love for learning any specific topic, royally pisses me off.  When the drive-through attendant is making twenty-dollars an hour and when the happy meal costs ten, get back with me.  And in the meantime, what value education, when the college graduate needs two jobs to eat?
Or, consider the fact that a man playing a game (football) for one year can make exponentially more than a man who boils pre-fabricated French fries in vats of oil, eight hours a day, for a decade.  Interesting consideration, is it not?  Again, following one's heart comes with certain costs.
That sound of bone crunching into a stone wall is me banging my forehead against reality.  Complaining doesn't reframe reality, or much of anything else.  It's not always the best artists who win the game.

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