Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Overtaken

I'm not certain why but I let global competition get the best of me, but I do. And this rings especially true when China is in the mix. I guess I become cynical when I hear about the progress other nations are making while America slips into decline. Or possibly it's the progresses other nations are making that I only wish America would begin, such as improved transportation, infrastructure, and policy.

The BBC this week released two news articles predicting China overtaking the United States in the areas of the economy and science in the near future:
China 'to overtake US and dominate trade by 2030'
China 'to overtake US on science' in two years

In terms of the economy and trade, the article predicts China will eclipse the US in terms of trade and the economy within the next twenty years. This will happen as long as the Chinese economy continues to grow at the rate that it does. What I question is if the Chinese society overall could handle this growth, and if the government will continue to keep the economy growing at the pace that is has been. For example, with the growing concern over the quality of life in rural areas, and with pollution and environmental problems, will the government halt economic growth to protect these two areas - or will the economy continue to remain their largest focus? However, with the growing middle class in China, the country is predicting to increase foreign products and imports drastically in the coming years to keep up with demand, which will also boost its trade growth.

The article stirred me because I become angry with the fact that America continues to rely so strongly on foreign trade, while at the same time continuing to import from China when Chinese refuses to raise the value of its currency. I believe the government needs to bring more growth to American made goods by creating policy (and sticking behind it) that makes it more difficult to trade with foreign countries. The media continues to raise the issue of jobs fleeing our country, but it seems that nothing is being done to protect industry in America.

In terms of the science article, I do not see this as a surprise. Again I'm angered because America continues to slash spending on education and it comes to no surprise that other nations are quickly catching up to our research output. Two weeks ago the BBC had an article highlighting the new high-speed rail that is connecting Beijing and Shanghai, making the trip just under four hours. Not only is this technology cutting edge, America's rail system is greatly paled by China's. America does not rely on its rail system and our transportation infrastructure has made it difficult to get around our own nation without a car. Sure most Americans have access to a car, but it shouldn't be that way. A flight across the country should not bankrupt your wallet. Americans should have access to reasonably priced, and speedy, rail services that connect major cities and the regions of the country.


However, one very interesting point made in the article was that China wants to work to reclaim its historic reputation as being a forerunner in technology and innovation. The article also mentions that the number of times Chinese academics are references is still relatively low, causing the scientific community to remain dependent on output from other nations. And a Chinese professor is quoted in the article as saying "There are many millions of graduates but they are mandated to publish so the numbers are high." Again, with China's enormous population comes many mouths to feed, but also brings positive benefits to the nation such as a large labor force, cheap labor, and a high population of academics.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We Come in Peace


With the conclusion of Jersey Shore last week, I've set my sights on marathoning season one and two of the lesser watched show V. I'm midway through the first season and it's pretty good - alright plot, interesting alien species, decent acting, etc. Overall I feel that the show glosses over a lot of the alien culture and how it interacts with the human world, but for the most part the series is keeping my attention and I recommend it to anyone who was thinking of trying out this series. The second season just ended a few weeks back and I'm not quite sure if there will be a third, but the way the second season ended, things were left pretty open-ended. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Working for the Weekend

Will get to the real meat of the post in just a second. But first...

I get home from work today, open up my mailbox and pull out this envelope. It's normal-sized but on the front there is a label that reads "time sensitive material inside - act fast!" I wasn't expecting anything so I was instantly curious as to what was calling me to "act fast." I opened it up ... and it was a pamphlet for penis enhancement. Complete. With. Diagrams. I dropped the booklet to the floor and nearly fell over laughing. How on Earth did my name and address get fed to this place? All I ever get from the mailman are Comcast and electric bills, and here I go getting male enhancement propaganda!? (not that I need it :P)

Anyway, the real icing on the cake was the back of the pamphlet which had conversation bubbles of men who have experienced success with this product. The pamphlet hit the trash after I read how John Doe's "life was changed forever."

So yeah.

Is it the weekend yet? I feel like my life has so many different priorities in it but all I want to do is lie in bed all day, with a warm blanket, fluffy pillows, and a good TV show or movie. That's all I need. Add in some rainy weather and I'll never leave. Is that too much to ask for? Instead I find that I never get this little request and instead I'm giving up weekends to attend grad classes. Give me my life back!

Although, I don't even think I have one anymore. I find that by the time I get home at 4:30 each day, I veg around the house until I go to sleep (which is creeping up to the 9:30 time slot). I don't do anything for work the following day. I don't even play with the thought of doing any grad school work. I do nothing. I watch TV, eat, surf the Internet obsessively, and then crawl into bed.

And I still wake up exhausted each morning!

What are my hobbies? What should I be doing in the afternoons when I feel burnt out from work? How can I stop wasting away my afternoons with mindless entertainment? I need help.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Department of the Treasury

I have become money-crazed once more. Not just bad with my money (that may never change), but I obsessively check my bank accounts and plan out how I'm going to spend and balance my money down to the penny. I make sure I put enough away into my savings each week, mail out my bills as soon as they arrive in the mail, and still I nervously think that my money is not managed correctly. I set aside so much of my money each paycheck for bills, loans, and rent, and then the remainder I use on food. Why do I spend so much money on food and yet my cabinets are always empty!?

I hate being an adult.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Scoring Advanced, Baby

I can't believe I forgot to post this here last week. Let me start from the beginning...it all started last Wednesday when I went to a professional development workshop for TFA about using video in the classroom and watching videos of teachers to work on your own weak points/development, etc. What I pulled away from this was that I had to bring more fun and joy into my classroom, and I figured since my school already does a lot of songs, chanting, and cheering, that it would be easy for me to bring those into my classroom.

So, I went home that night and I was prepared to go over the usual chants with my kids when it hit me, a miracle from the heavens: the perfect chant to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" to get my kids pumped up for their state test (the PSSA) that they are anxiously preparing to take (tomorrow actually). I was listening to it on the way home and the lyrics came to me from Gaga herself:

Chorus:
Studying all night and all day,
Cause I'll make no mistakes,
I'm scoring advanced, baby
on the PSSA!

This test won't get me upset,

Hand me a pencil, I'm set,
I'm scoring advanced, baby
on the PSSA!

I can't wait for testing day,
Baby I was born ready!
Baby I was born ready! (born ready)

I can't wait for testing day,
Baby I was born ready!
Scoring advanced baby on the PSSA! 
YEAH! 

It works perfectly with the tune of the chorus and I was so proud - my third graders learned it all on Thursday and sang it amazingly at their pep rally the following day to the whole 3-5th grades! It was my defining teaching moment (sort of) of present. Now my students know that I'm a Lady Gaga fanatic and I promised them more educational Gaga-inspired songs in the future :P

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eurotrip Baby


I just booked a flight to and from Europe for this summer. My friend Kami and I are going to travel around Europe for twenty days in July, a much-needed vacation after conquering our first year teaching! It's funny how quickly this was decided on - Kami had been thinking of going for a while, but when I visited her in DC this weekend she planted the idea that I should join her. I agreed and thought it would be great, but I NEVER thought I'd have the flight booked within two days...crazy and exciting all mixed into a giant ball.

Our itinerary is to fly from Boston to London and then return from Venice to Boston. In those twenty days we plan to travel around London, Paris, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. I'm so excited to visit Europe and I've been aiming to travel around Europe for years now and it's finally coming together. All I have to do now is learn some basic Italian for our time in Italy! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Furnished

I finally bought a couch, giant bookcase, and coffee table yesterday at IKEA. They were delivered and assembled today, and for once my living room looks like a living room. It was a perfect rainy day where we built the furniture, ordered in, and lounged on the new sofa all afternoon watching HGTV and Travel Channel.

I'm road-tripping to DC this weekend to visit Kami! Very excited :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day Dreaming

Just had to pop in for a second and share some lyrics that I always find so applicable for the way I'm feeling. I always feel like I wish I could just crawl into bed and drift in and out of dreams. This is especially true when things are going good for me and I just want to lay there and revisit things over and over in my head.

I present, Heart's "These Dreams" lyrics:
These dreams go on when I close my eyes,
Every second of the night I live another life.
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside,
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away.