Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gold Through the Rockies

Living in a big city, kind of makes you move along at the same pace as everyone else. It is easy to forget to take time to slow down and do things for yourself. The perfect cure for that is a trip through the majestic Colorado Mountains.

Most of you that know me realize that if you were traveling in my car you would most likely be listening to R&B or Hip Hop. The more "gangsta" the music is, the better. I like to cruise to new stars like 50 cent, Eminem or jam out to classic gangsta rap like NWA, Ice T, or Public Enemy. If you wanted to go out of the gangsta genre, then we could listen to more soft-core artists like Sir Mix a Lot or Vanilla Ice. As long as it's rap, I'll go along with it. Seriously, those of you in the know realize how I roll.

However, when I get on my 20th anniversary, 1995, candy apple red, Honda Goldwing that all changes. There is something about hopping on my motorcycle and taking off across the desert that brings me back to my rural Iowa redneck roots. Without thinking, I find myself tuning into the country radio stations. I guess it is the freedom of the open road that makes me want to slow down and take things a little more slowly and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smell of the open road.

In fact, I would encourage each of you to start finding things to do outside of the city. Pick a destination out in the country or possibly a lake. Why not visit one of the national parks that dot the country in every corner of the nation. I promise it will help start to put things in perspective. So the next time you, your friends, or your family have some time why not head out to the mountains, the country, or lake and head out for a nice heart healthy hike? Or if you are fat like me and allergic to everything from bug bites to dust mites-- grap your epipen, lather up with Off, grab a lawn chair and watch somebody else go for a hike. At least you will be outside and away from the city.

I owe my love of motorcycling to my parents. They had a Goldwing when I was growing up and I remember them going on little weekend trips. When I was 14 my father and I took off across Nebraska and into Missouri. He was on his Goldwing and I was following along with a learner's permit driving my Honda 400 CMT. I think my parents were pleasantly surprised, if not proud, when I began riding again. I think they enjoy hearing of my adventures and thinking about me heading down some of the same roads they may have traveled so many years ago.

I recently spent a few days touring part of the Rocky Mountains on my cycle. And as I listened to country music while driving down the Million Dollar Highway, it seemed like the lyrics were speaking directly to me.

One song in particular jumped out at me. The song was sung by Tim McGraw and is titled "My Next 30 Years". A few years ago, that song might not have meant very much to me. But at 34, I've started to realize that life isn't forever. The song made so much sense to me. I felt like some of the lyrics could have been written for me, or about me.

For instance, Tim sings, "My next thirty years will be the best years of my life, Raise a little family and hang out with my wife, Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear, Make up for lost time here ,In my next thirty years". As many of you know, I got married on my 30th birthday. So you can see the importance of those lyrics to me. Then on my 33rd birthday we found out that my wife was pregnant. Another memorable birthday for sure. Those lyrics really hit home and made sense to me.

The song also says, "Oh my next thirty years, I’m gonna watch my weight, Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late, Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers, Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years". I could certainly get behind this advice. My vegetarian wife would like to see me eat a few more salads and maybe get rid of some of this non vegetarian belly. As an insomniac, I SHOULD get some more sleep. But I especially feel like this last line would fit especially well for me, "Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers". I think I can really get behind this. Of course, it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that I'm going to substitute Countrytime Lemonade with Mike's Hard Lemonade.

After all, I am my father's son. That's the view as I see it.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I've decided that my next license plate is going to say ASBSTS. It's not because I have a particularly strong love affair with this cancer causing substance, but because I think it will leave plenty of people wondering what I am trying to say. People are not going to understand why someone would have such a strong feeling for asbestos. I mean, aren't license plates supposed to be for something we really have a strong stance on?

On any given day, you will notice many different personalized plates. I, for one, cannot keep up with what people are trying to say. I personally feel like I am somewhat of an expert on this subject because my family members have used them for years. Alas, I have been the main holdout until now. My mother has always had the plate "9A" and of course dad was "9asgary". There was no way I was going to be "9ASGreg". Wasn't going to happen. I believe my brother avoided using personalized plates as well. Oh, and don't forget "MAPARK" out at the lake. I'm sure the list could go on and on.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on folks that decide personalized plates are for them. Some of them are very clever. Some of them even elicit a chuckle from me. I remember growing up, one of my friends parents had personalized plates and that was the only name I would call her by. She quickly memorized my plates and from that day forward, I was 089515S. Fortunately, it was her people would think was crazy.

The reason I find them frustrating is that I cannot figure half of them out. I don't know if people are Gator Hators or Gator Lovers. Do they want Bonds to break the home run record or not? Moreover, exactly which Chicago team do they support? Some even try to be intellectual. Of course, they go right over my head.

The state of Nevada randomly assigned me my current plates so I need to come up with a meaning for them I guess. Hmmmmm.....923PNC..... I guess we could try 9 23 year-olds puked and called it a day, or 92 3 year-olds peed in a cup. See, this is hard. That is why I like ASBSTS. People will spend the next 500 miles trying to figure out what it means. Those of them that do figure out that it stands for ASBESTOS will then be really confused. They will spend another 500 miles trying to figure out why someone would have a license plate that said asbestos. That is the goal, isn't it? How do you think I came up with the idea for this blog? Driving across the hot desert, you have a lot of time to think.

Personally, I think 923 people need a clue. Hey, it's my plate so that's the way I see it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A battle is brewing.....

As Michael Buffer might say "Let's get ready to RUMMMMMMMBBBLLLLEEEEEE".

Recently, Las Vegas Teamsters Local 14 held a news conference stating that they are moving towards a showdown with the local Clark County Education Association (CCEA)in an effort to represent Clark County teachers. Local teachers who support the move recently held a 2 day rally and encouraged teachers to resign from CCEA. During this time they also encouraged teachers to sign pledge cards. The Teamsters got their start at http://teachers4change.net/ and have been trying to gain support for some time.

In the mean time, CCEA countered with a rally of their own in support of the current association. CCEA asserts that the teamsters are unfamiliar with the needs of educators and lack the experience necessary to meet the demands that come with the representation of a public service group.

It is estimated that 18,000 teachers serve the needs of Clark County, Nevada. In order for Local 14 to force a vote on representation some 9,000 local teachers would need to sign pledge cards, essentially saying that they want a vote on representation.

I'm sure the Teamsters are in for a battle. Rarely, will you find a more apathetic group than the teachers of Clark County. CCEA claims to represent 13,300 local teachers but thousands fewer than that voted in the last election for association president. Even if the Teamsters do earn the right to have an election to see who will represent them in negotiations for future contracts, 9,000 teachers would need to vote in favor of the new representation. No doubt, this is a large burden to overcome.

Regardless of who represent the teachers of Clark County in the future, teachers need to demand more than what the state legislature has been providing in salary increases. Power bills alone have risen much more than the 2% per year teachers have been averaging since 1999. It's not just Clark County that must do better, but the state of Nevada must find a way to attract and retain qualified teachers.

The problem really is the lack of concern the average teacher seems to care about the process of negotiations and making sure that somebody is standing loud and tall to support teachers interests. Until more teachers get off their cans and demand less hostile work environments and better pay, they are getting exactly what they deserve. The next few months are vital for Clark County School District teachers. Regardless of whether you side with the Teamsters local 14 or with the current Clark County Education Association it is important that each teacher stands up and is heard. If not, the state of Nevada and CCSD will continue giving teachers exactly what they deserve. Which is to say they will continue the status quo.

It should be quite a battle here in the battle born state, at least that's how I see it.