Sunday, May 22, 2005

Saturday Hike -- Mt. Wachusett to North Rutland

Of the sections of the Midstate Trail that we have hiked so far, this was one of the least fulfilling, since over half of the trail ran over residential streets, but there was one highlight.

The first 2 1/2 miles or so of the trail (from Westminster Road at the base of Mt. Wachusett to rte. 62) ran almost entirely across the Mass. Audubon Society's Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary. The trail was pretty well marked, and the sanctuary includes a number of different styles of terrain, including some areas of dense pine forest, some more open hardwood forests, and a couple of meadows.

While the forested areas are nice to hike through, especially when it is warm, I wish there were more meadows like this one along the trail. I also wish there was less on-road hiking, as nearly all of the rest of the over 6-mile hike was along residential roads. The only exception was a half-mile or so hike along a nearly impassable service road through a state reservation on the Princeton/Rutland town line.

Total Hike: 6.4 miles.
Midstate Trail to date: 35.9 miles.
Total summer to date: 43.0 miles.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What constitutes a fireable offense?

I've been waiting to see if this story would hit the blogoshpere, and what reaction to it would be:
Pregnancy cost teacher her job

[South Bend] Tribune Staff Writer

BERRIEN SPRINGS -- At a meeting last week with school officials, Christine John was congratulated on her March marriage, John says.

Then, said the first-year kindergarten teacher at the Village Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School, she was asked why she was four months along in her pregnancy when she had been married just two months before.

John said the meeting ended when she was told her services were no longer necessary.

In a statement prepared by the Niles-based Edwin Bertram agency, she said she wasn't allowed to retrieve her belongings or return to the school during regular school hours.

"I was very surprised. Shocked,'' she said Tuesday. "I had no clue what the meeting was about.''

Now, the 24-year-old John is considering legal action. School officials said John wasn't fired but was placed on administrative leave.

Michael Nickless, communication director for the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, released the following statement:

"The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates nearly 50 Christian schools in the state of Michigan. In these schools, we follow the teachings of Jesus as understood by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"Each of our teachers is issued a 'Ministry of Teaching' license. In our school system, our teachers are expected to be a positive spiritual example for our congregations and youth.

"When she (John) chose behavior contrary to those values, she was placed on administrative leave. Even though policy allows for immediate dismissal, out of compassion, her present contract continues to be honored and she will receive full pay and benefits until the contract expires.''

John said her contract with the school system runs through June 8. She questioned why she was singled out.

"Working there, I've seen a lot of things that were done that were against our policy and those people haven't been fired,'' she said.

A 2003 graduate of Seventh-day Adventist Andrews University in Berrien Springs, John, 24, said she hadn't encountered any disciplinary problems with her job until last week.

The Stevensville resident said she and her husband, whom she didn't identify, had been dating two-and-a-half years.

After she became pregnant, she said she talked to school Principal John Chen about taking a maternity leave.

"I never tried to hide the situation,'' she said.

At her meeting with Chen and two other administrators from the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, John said she was told premarital sex is an act strictly forbidden by the school system and the Seventh-day Adventist religion.

Whether she has legal recourse or not, she said she'll look next for a job "with people who accept me.''

It'll most likely be with a public school system, she added, rather than a private one.

And finally, someone has picked it up. The unabashedly liberal found it and posted it without much comment. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the post that generated the most reader comments over the course of the weekend. Most of the comments fell into two categories: readers who took this as an example of Fundamentalist religion further encroaching on privacy rights, and readers who said that this was not a good example of that trend, since the teacher was at a private religious school and therefore was aware that certain activities (like pre-marital pregnancy) were precluded.

In my opinion, Mrs. John knew that she was going to be in trouble, which is why she told the principal ahead of time. I certainly hope she wasn't asked by the school board "why she was four months along in her pregnancy when she had been married just two months before." If so, that's an awful way to approach things. But in the end, the church and the school have the right (others might say the responsibility) to avoid situations such as this one.

A question that arose from the discussion at Pandagon: One poster wondered if the situation would have been different if the teacher were a man. I would hope it would not be different, but I'm not sure. The Adventist church is paternalistic enough that the teacher might have been handled differently (read: not fired) if it were a man.

Another blog that has picked up the story:

Friday, May 13, 2005

A cross-country trip? What a cool idea...

A couple of NBC News Producers are starting a cross-country trip tomorrow and will be posting commentary, photos, and video from their trip at their Independent America blog. Their mission:

We're on the lookout for "Mom & Pop" -- producing our own road movie across the United States. More than ever it seems like it's Independent America vs. Corporate Chain store America. We're hunting for those pressure points along with our black lab Miles. We've vowed to make our 52-day trip without setting one tire on an interstate highway--without setting one foot inside a corporate chain restaurant, motel or store.

As someone who has traveled across country and back--twice--I'm very interested in what they will find. I've attempted the trip using some of the same premises that they are and have a few thoughts:

  1. This is a really cool idea.
  2. Avoiding chain restaurants and stores should not be too difficult. However, the one thing about a chain (especially a restaurant) is that you know what you're getting, for better or worse. When I took the second of my two cross-country trips (a solo trek in 1998) I had in mind the same thing, but found that I was taking my health into my own hands at some of the places I ate. Interestingly, when I did the trip with my Grandmother, aunt, brother, and two cousins in 1986, the best food we ate on the trip was almost always at small restaurants (The Purple Cow in Beattyville, Ky. especially stands out). I don't know if I just had better luck the first time, or if competitive pressures have made mom-and-pops worse over the years, but I suspect the answer is the former. The other part of this that they might find difficult is if they get to a small town late (say after 8:00), it's entirely possible that the chain restaurant or store is the only thing open. Still, as I look back on my solo trip, I wish I'd done more of this.
  3. Avoiding chain motels will also be easy, but I'll be impressed if they can keep that up over the 7+ weeks they're on the road. We stayed almost exclusively in these types of hotels on our trip in 1986, and I can tell you that they were always worse than the two Super-8s we stayed at on the same trip (and that's saying something). On my 1998 trip, I expected that I would camp most nights, but the brutal heat that summer (107 degrees in Boise, Idaho!) forced me indoors.
  4. I wish them the best in avoiding Interstates completely. I doubt they can do it. When we traveled in 1986, we did about as well as possible in this regard, sometimes going miles out of our way just to avoid a four-lane highway, but there are places where you just don't have any choice without resorting to some nearly impossible (or impassable) roads. Looking at their map, I'd say there are a couple of areas in the Southwest where they'll have to bite the bullet. But I hope they can make it. I essentially attempted the same thing when I took the 1998 trip, but had to get on the highway when it became clear that I was running out of money.
I've added their link to the list on my homepage, and will be following them.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Crusaders' schedule

Here is the 2005-2006 SLA Girls Basketball schedule. Home games are in bold caps. Conference games (the new Worcester County Athletic Conference) are denoted by a WCAC.

Mon.Dec. 12TBAat Tip-off Classic
Wed.Dec. 14TBAat Tip-off Classic
Sat.Dec. 178:00AYER
Tues.Dec. 207:00at Tahanto
Thu.Dec. 227:00at Monty Tech
Wed.Jan. 47:00at St. Mary’s WCAC
Sat.Jan. 78:00TAHANTO
Mon.Jan. 97:00at University Park WCAC
Sat.Jan. 218:00ST. MARY’S WCAC
Wed.Jan. 257:00MONTY TECH
Sat.Jan. 288:00PARKERWCAC
Mon.Feb. 67:00at Bethany Christian WCAC
Thu.Feb. 97:30at Ayer
Sat.Feb. 118:00at Abby Kelley WCAC
Mon.Feb. 137:00at Parker WCAC

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Could be worse

Michelle and I have discussed vacationing in Europe sometime, and I'm a big fan of these driving tours, where the tour company sets your itinerary and reserves the car hotels for you, but it's up to you to drive from place to place, giving you the freedom to see whatever you want along the way.

The cost has been prohibitive, and knowing that gas in Europe costs up to $6.50 per gallon doesn't help.

Can a dog take care of a baby?

Friday, May 6, 2005

Baptists and Cheerleaders

Since I complained a couple of weeks ago that the Republicans were attempting to outlaw weather each weekend has been a washout (including the upcoming Mother's Day weekend). So perhaps linking to this TV news story about a Baptist church that excommunicated members for being Democrats will result in a deluge of Democrats.

On occasion, I defend religious conservatives because I attended religious schools, went to church every Saturday, and have friends who are religious, conservative, or both. I appreciate that most religious conservatives are sincere in their beliefs and are basically good people. I have found that where I come into contact with these folks, I generally like them. But I just don't understand the philosophy of the James Dobson/Pat Robertson Fundamentalist Faction which says that people who do not hold the same beliefs are enemies of the church and should be shut out of society.

The only thing worse than church leaders kicking people out of church because they are Democrats, or suggesting that prominent Jewish Democrats are Communists and Muslims and Hindus should be prohibited from serving as judges, are politicians like Bill Frist who cater to them.

Unfortunately, there are some loony Democrats out there as well, including the one who led the fight in the Texas legislature to keep cheerleaders from "shaking their behinds, breaking it down..."


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