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Early March 2004 Edition


The first week of March brought spring-like weather, with sunny days, warm temperatures (at first) and brisk winds. The snow is all gone now, and it's not likely to come back. I have already washed and oiled the push-reel mower for the spring.

This week winter has returned to fight to the finish, with tiny bits of snow in the air. But I am sure that spring will be back to stay.

the last week

The week has not been problem-free. First I found that the bill I paid to my doctor did not cover lab tests. I had to dig into my savings to pay those off.

Then yesterday I found my car had a flat tire. It was a slow leak, so the air stays in the tire for an hour or so. That's long enough to get the car to Miller Tire to the flat replaced.

I also found that I have exhausted the allotted reinstalls of my original copy Windows XP under the original product key. I found this out after installing WinXP on my blue box after putting in a newer motherboard. Of course, this makes the WinXP CD useless, because I can't afford to buy a new license.

So I installed Fedora Linux on the blue box. I have found it works quite well. Better, I have discovered EditPad, a TextPad-like text editor program for Linux. I tried it out, and it works as well on Linux as on Windows, even though for some reason the settings (esp. for tabs) will not stick.

On a better note, I will have an interview with a web design shop sponsored by Ball State. I applied last Monday, thinking it was a University job, but got the call Friday. I was ecstatic when I got it.

general assembly

The General Assembly of the state of Indiana has finally adjourned. Not much has been done. The Indy Star claims ordinary Hoosiers have lost. I don't know: A legislature that spends very little more in an age of budget deficits and little income is a good thing. Maybe our bond ratings will go back up. Anyway, here's a brief summary of the legislative session.

Full-day kindergarten. The governor backed this because his predecessor, who died late last year, wanted it. Kindergarten teachers didn't really want it: It's easier to teach five-year- olds when they are split into two half-day groups, where the kids are not yet bored witless and the teachers can give them more attention. But the bill really died because there was no money available anywhere to pay for it.

The governor identified twenty-five million dollars a year from abandoned property sales as a source for kindergarten funding. That, too, failed. It's just as well, for that money could be better used to pay the interest on the state's billion-dollar debt.

Daylight savings time. Just when there was at long last a consensus to move Indiana to daylight savings time--with almost all the state going back to Central Time--the Speaker of the House, a notorious obstructionist, killed the idea.

Child protection. The legislature approved some reforms of the child welfare system after two kids died of neglect in Madison County.

A bill requiring special car seats for kids between four and eight years old also passed.

Health. A bill to require more physical education and less soda and junk food in public schools died. The less-soda part is a good idea; diabetes is no joke. The more-phys-ed part is iffy: If schools still teach phys-ed the same way they did when I was a teenager, then more of the same will do no good at all.

Townships. Both bills died, including the one my state senator introduced. Townships are safe for now. The Indy Star does not seem to care that rural townships work just fine when it stares unblinkingly at Marion County.

Most other bills died the death when the Republicans got in a figurative pillow fight with the Speaker on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

But it's all over now. When the legislature meets again next year it will have to wrestle once again with the state budget, which will be deep in deficit and with almost no cash reserves. I know there's little the legislature can do for education until Hoosiers stop valuing athletics and sports more than academics.

Copyright © 2004 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 8 March 2004.