By Chuck Wiser, “I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels“
I’ve mentioned a couple times lately that I am neither Democrat nor Republican and can see good and bad on either side of the political aisle or, of those who are. Very few things do I see either as all black or all white so I guess that might be considered ambivalent. There are two sides to just about anything except a polygon. If there was a polygon with two sides it would be called a by-gone. The term “Yin and Yang” (often referred to, or stated, as “ying and yang”) expresses that two sided aspect of many things. I often take some kidding about the meaning of my last name, with some, questioning its applicability to my intelligence. I hope it’s not a yin and yang thing as you know what that would make my alter side.
What triggered this thoughtful reflection was recently observing a State Police car tucked nearly out of site, I presume, monitoring traffic flow on route 19 between Scio and Wellsville. It happened to be at about the time workers would be getting out of, or going into work. My first thought was that it was almost like a speed trap for people hurrying a little as they might be apt, at that time. Upon that particular reflection, I decided that speeders, shouldn’t be doing that in the first place, and especially at heavy traffic times of the day or night. Other popular monitoring or enforcement locations near me would include both ends of County route 31 between Scio and Friendship. On the Scio end, the foot of the hill just past the “Ramsey Farm” by Gordon Brook Road is popular, as is between the gravel piles adjacent to Back River Road and across from Buckley Storage. At the other end of 31 there are two spots as well. One location is just west of the top of Friendship Hill (locally called East Hill) where west bound traffic crests the knoll and approaches 31A often just coasting, but still increasing speed exceeding the speed limit. The other, on that side of the hill, is at the bottom of the hill just past the cemetery near Moss Brook Road. As I have mentioned before, they tend to ignore the Scio to Belmont (or back) racetrack between those two towns on the Back River Road. I’m not sure of the legality but I would like to sit out in my yard with a “speed gun” just to record the speed to confirm my suspicions as to just how fast they are going. I nearly typed “half fast” but if you are speaking the words out loud as you read, it might come out sounding a little crude. Say “half fast” three times out loud quickly and see what kind of dirty looks you would receive.
Speed traps are not unique to the southern states, and I can see the need for them. But, sometimes I think they are like entrapment.
I have several special students in my heart from my Alfred State College teaching days, and many of them are on my Facebook “Friends” list. Although on Facebook, very few of them are active, actively post, or comment on my posts. On the rare occasion that one of them comments to one of my posts, I re-read my words to see what, in particular, prompted their reaction. Undoubtedly, I see in it, what I said that they had reacted to, and that just adds to what made them special to me in the first place. Given the thousands of students that passed through my “teaching life,” most were special just in that they were students, but there were a very few, probably less than 15, that were just that “Extra Special”.
One of those students commented recently, I think only for the second or third time. My last cohort of students included a fairly, close-knit group of students, that I called “The Crew.” That name also became what my fellow faculty referred to them as. One of them, and the one that triggered this topic, commented the other day. When I announced to the class, in our last meeting with that class before my retirement, that they were indeed my last class. This student, in particular, arose from his seat, came to the front of the room, and gave me a hug. That thought still brings tears of joy to my eyes, even as I write this.
Some data and implied facts in the following topic is as much personal opinion and experience, as it is scientific. I have seen, read, and lived, supportive statistical information, but the opinions are of the writer only.
Having taught in a College of Technology, I was particularly aware of the lack of female students in our programs, or in “technology” in general. As I was nearing retirement age recruitment efforts were growing to increase the level of interest and participation in programs related to technology. Traditionally female students were more apt to attend college in areas more likely related to the “Arts” as in Liberal Arts, and for purposes of this discussion I will include the Humanities, as a sub group that is more apt to interest females. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) was an initiative that ramped up in the early 2000’s to increase awareness and interest to students “non-traditonal” to these areas. Subsequent to my retirement I got involved with a couple of educational institutions and initiatives that were addressing this problem.
A significant focus of this initiative was to attract students into the STEM educational fields and covertly, but obviously, to attract them, or at least enlighten them as to justification for moving away from the ARTs. As can often happen in the educational arena a good thing seems to attract well meaning, but mis-informed educators that want “a piece of the pie.” Given the apparent success of the STEM initiative, those folks in the arts decided to “enhance” STEM by adding the “ARTS” and made the acronym “STEAM”. By adding the ARTS, they were actually weakening the initiative to move “non-traditional” students, out of the arts. STEM is still the major component of this fledgling initiative, but STEAM dilutes the movement and is counter-productive. The numerical statistics might be meaningful, and likely would validate my “opinion” but likely would also put you to sleep. I guess that’s why they call some of the writings such as my articles “Op Ed’s” as in “Opinion Editorials.” One statistic that I will share was unearthed as I read a little about the details of the topic, in what is called the Hechinger Report, it looks like STEM might actually be working. PROOF POINTS: The number of college graduates in the humanities drops for the eighth consecutive year. Following the Great Recession of 2008, college students turned away from the humanities, as expected. After a few years, the economy not only revived but thrived. Unemployment dropped below 5 percent and the stock market soared, posting one of the best decades in history. But this time, college students didn’t come back to English, history and other liberal arts disciplines. Instead, more and more students turned away from the humanities and opted to major in engineering, health and other career-oriented fields.
A puzzling decline of more than 30 percent in English and history majors.
Living with an active scanner…not a gawker but the radio frequency device, one becomes familiar with oft repeated similar or duplicate names and events. For years certain names are frequently repeated in calls to Emergency Services. Likewise, certain streets or roads have a plethora of activity and you can instinctively tell by the tones that go off, and the time of day, that the call is almost certainly to one of a few different locations. There is one such location near me, and sadly it reminds one of the stories or the adage about crying “wolf.” I have to give a shout out to the emergency responders that answer the call, day or night, rain or shine, and you have to know that they may be thinking to themselves: “Oh No, not again!” I have spoken to a couple of them and they do dread some of those calls, many of which do turn out to be frivolous or unnecessary, but they do respond none the less. Kudos “Emergency Responders”, and I use that term to be all inclusive of any kind of emergency responder.
I have encountered two pair of Doppelgänger’s over the past two weeks. For years I have walked down the main aisle in Home Depot and nearly every day passing by a lady sitting at a table that asks me “How is your home heating system?” (or something like that…I’ve learned to tune her out and just walk right on by). There is a lady singing in the Grace United Church choir that I thought was this lady as they look so much alike. Wednesday night at Choir practice I told her I missed seeing her at Home Depot and she looked at me like I was addled. I explained what I meant and she said that wasn’t her. The second one happened this past weekend when I met up with a young gentleman who had purchased a used truck part that I had advertised on Marketplace. I did a double take, ironically, as he was a near twin to a guy that sings, coincidently, also in the same church choir, and who has also joined with me in the Maple City Barbershop Chorus.
BTW, Your voice is needed in any of the choral groups that are active in the area. Your church choir needs you, as does the Genesee Valley Chorus, meeting in Wellsville or the Maple City Barbershop Chorus, meeting in Hornell. You can contact me about either by reaching out to the Wellsville Sun or the Hornell Sun.
Two Eagles Nestled On A Branch
Two eagles nestled on A branch
The love between them seen in their glance
Majestic beauty from their birth
Is seen by all upon this earth
They soar on winds up in the sky
No sight below escapes their eye
They stand on guard above this land
Until to eat or rest they land
Though just a speck while in the skies
All seeing they with eagle eyes
While we below in freedom live
Peace and freedom to us give
Majestic beauty from their birth
Is seen by all upon this earth
Two eagles nestled on a branch
Their strength to us seen in a glance