Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a Tag

Thank you for my tag, Marcyface. It goes very well with my working late to finish my dissertation and being in need of a break.

Ten years ago I was...
1. Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2. In Neubrandenburg, Germany
3. Training my golden (aka greenie aka brand spankin new missionary)
4. writing in my mission journal which just happens to be within arm's reach of me that in the week prior to today:
Elder Baker and I were just starting to figure out how we can teach together, but haven't yet figured out how to plan together;
I was learning about "nasal irrigation" because the doc wouldn't give me antibiotics;
I performed in two multifaith choirs (one Catholic, one Lutheran) in two different cities; and
I was hit by dove guano while singing Mozart's Mass in D.
5. Most importantly, ON THIS DAY ten years ago, my companion and I went forward full of faith, prayer, and fasting with a firm determination that one of our investigators was going to accept a commitment to be baptized ... only to have her ask us not to come back anymore before we stepped in the door. Despondent, we dragged ourselves around the downtown area, not knowing what to do or what went wrong. Suddenly, a man called out to the "young men in black suits," (mine was navy, his was charcoal gray). Herr Dennig ran up to us puffing and told us that he had a radio program he did and would we consent to be interviewed for it? He had heard many people wonder who "the young men in black suits and backpacks" were and thought it would be a good program. We got permission and the interview went amazingly well. In the prep for it, we taught him a first discussion. He came to General Conference (drunk) and during a talk on tithing asked our ward mission leader what a fellow had to do to get baptized around here. It was a day to remember.

Sorry if that answer was a touch long. It's a cool day to remember.

Today's To Do List:
1. Work all day and night on dissertation (check). Today I proved that c is orthogonal to x. That is big, important news because it means I'm DONE with that part and can get to writing again.
2. Exercise 1 hour (haven't started)
3. Do something to show Joy I love her (check)
4. Turn in the LDSSA forms (OOPS! Guess that gets to be first thing tomorrow)
5. Play with Hyrum (check)
0. Read scriptures (check)

Snacks - today or in general? I'll do in general.
1. celery & peanut butter (today) or banana & peanut butter (today) or apple & peanut butter or, best of all, choooocolate & peanut butter
2. Snickers
3. peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips
4. couple bites of ice cream
5. toast with cheese

If I were a millionaire... (I will assume that I have already paid tithing and made other charitable contributions with this money, and that I have a million left over after that. That is, this is a wealth question, not an income question.)
1. I hear tell mortgage-backed securities are a pretty cheap investment right now.... Hey, they can't go any further down, right? ;D
2. Worry less about when exactly my dissertation gets done or what job I get after the postdoc
3. Save/invest most of it. We'll worry about buying a larger home when we get where we're going. Children's college fund and our retirement fund would get a decent portion.
4. If I were a millionaire, I would have great leverage in reassuring Joy that getting a new computer every 3-5 years is not extravagance.
5. Get our dryer and plumbing fixed.

Places I've lived...
1. Santa Barbara, CA
2. Eisenhuttenstadt, Germany
3. 10 square miles surrounded by reality
4. the former Deseret Towers' Q, R, V, and W halls, including next door to the room my mom lived in 20 years earlier TWICE
5. I lived in Heaven a long time ago, it is true. Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you. Then Heavenly Father presented a beautiful plan All about Earth and eternal salvation for man......

Jobs I've had...
1. Research Assistant in: developmental nutrition, labor economics, and high theory econometrics
2. Asst. Manager at Little Caesar's
3. LDS Temple worker (volunteer)
4. Gardiner for my parents and the family next door who were out of state trying to sell the place
5. Daycare
6. Son, brother, husband, friend, and father.

I tag...
1. Husbands whose wives write more than 90% of their family blog
2. Shari
3. Joy
4. Tami C. (who probably doesn't read this, but oh well)
5. Dad (maybe give you some more encouragement to write post #2)

What's Hyrum saying now?

Mostly he mumbles, gurgles, shrieks, cries, and laughs. He has a pretty good "mamamamama" mumble, but he still doesn't use it to call Joy.

On Thursday, though, I picked him up from the floor. As he arced up to me, he said in the clearest tones imaginable, "Hiiiii!"

Of course, maybe he said "Hyyyy!" Never can tell.

Unfortunately, he hasn't reproduced the sound since, so I'm not entirely convinced it's his first word. The baby book will wait.

This means that if Joy and I want to have something cute to report for him, we have to make it up ourselves. Tonight he was crawling around on the floor commando style and attacked Joy's foot. She called out to him, asking if he had become a vampire. She then filled in this response for him: "Not yet, Mom. I haven't finished all the classes."
Speaking of the boy genius, Hyrum's toys have mostly been stuffed animals to this point, plus a couple flashy noise makers or bouncy things. We have other toys ... we just never got them out. Yesterday while he was at the Fredricks' though (because Joy was called in for jury duty and then excused), he got his first ever chance to play with a toy car. Joy watched him roll it back and forth exactly like a car. She is amazed that he has picked up what cars do and can play with them so well, even though we've never handed him one before. Today she got out the rest of his toys - blocks and toy people and a monster truck and a fake pool and such. He likes the truck and the people the best so far.

Course, he still thinks the computer, the piano, and the Wii Fit board must be the most fun things in the world since Mommy and Daddy spend so much time on them.....
He goes in to the doctor tomorrow for another check up and some S-H-O-T-S.
Hyrum says, "Oh, I see Mom get those all the time, Dad. No big deal."

Oh my goodness. While typing this, he upgraded his couch climbing skills. He pushed off the from the couch and balanced on his knees for about 30 seconds to a minute, swaying forward and back. This of course freaked his mother out "as she tries not to show it, and frankly I'm doing a good job right now," Joy interjects.

Dad doesn't help much. He cheers, claps, and catches the falling baby with his foot. "Mommy doesn't catch the falling baby. He only does it because he's a daredevil," she declares decidedly.

He was about to do it again and cried because I wasn't paying attention. Once I turned to look, he smiled and laughed.

I love my boy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Climb every couch cushion

Hyrum has had many new adventures in cuteness lately.

For instance, our branch president left the door to his office open last week. Hyrum immediately stopped playing with the poster on the floor and headed straight for the bishop's office. I think he wanted a temple recommend.....

By far Hyrum's most frightening new trick is that he can get up on his knees in his crib and grasp the top of the bars. We'll be lowering the bed again tomorrow (when Joy gets back from jury duty).

"Baby wanna cracker ... and some milk, please."

Me and my buddy. Friends forever. :D

(Interestingly, we were both in red Cornell shirts that day.)

I already posted videos of Hyrum's larger crawl, but I liked this shot of how high his hand is starting to reach in his crawl.

Hyrum decides hamburger is his official fourth approved food. Now he has all five food groups! Oatmeal, peaches, yams, hamburger, and Mommy Milk (TM). Next up: rice cereal (maybe) and bananas.

Hyrum's big new trick is to grab on to the couch or his Exersaucer or a chair and try to climb to a standing position. He can't make it yet - just to his knees so far. Then he falls and hits his face. Then he gets mad and cries ... and tries again! Go, Son!

But the big news was during the branch Opening Social. Hyrum came over and talked to the Lees for a bit, and showed off his bouncing to some of the guys (who ridiculed him), and then ... he met Millie.

Without any prompting, she reached out and grabbed his hands, staring into his eyes in a most eager manner. Hyrum looked back for a moment, then turned away and said, in his best John Wayne baby voice, "Awww, shucks, Ma'am." Since his daddy's the membership clerk, he didn't even have to ask for her phone number. Mom says, "He's been interested in the cell phone ever since!"

Millie Waltman's parents have not confirmed if this is normal for her, but Crystal Hunt happened to be taking baby pictures that night and sent us these two treasures.

We'll let you know when Hyrum calls her up for a play date.

Inchworm Marching On

Little Hy is getting better and better at crawling. Unfortunately, the camera interrupts his train of thought sometimes or you'd see a much smoother 'run.' That's what Joy and I are discussing in the background.

So then I got inventive. Maybe if I lined up the camera and the "goal" object, he wouldn't get distracted.....

I try to keep the videos short just for ease of uploading, so I paused there before resuming. During the pause I missed one of his better runs.

That's when the victorious baby was rewarded with the gold medal milk.

Peek a boo

What makes a baby laugh...

Bring Back the Baby

Hi, everyone! It's me again! I've got some exciting news, but Dad hasn't uploaded all the new pictures yet, so I thought I'd share some of my recent ... ADVENTURES ... IN ... CUTENESS!

(After all, it's really me you all come to see. No offense, Dad, but politics schmolitics. Bring back the baby!)

I have two bottom teeth (that you can't quite see in this picture, but oh well). They're coming in further and further. No other teeth are in sight yet.

In addition to the oatmeal, peaches, yams, and - new today - hamburger, I work on eating toes.

This is me eating one of Dad's toes. You can see the telltale slobber. I like looking at the camera, though, so I stopped playing with the toe

I also really like shoes. I chase Mommy's shoes all over the floor, and then I untie them. When Mom took off her shoe, I got to keep it. I also tried to get her sock off, but that didn't work.

Dogs chase cars. Cats chase balls of string. I chase shoes.

Speaking of cats, Dad is proud of me. I roll things under the couch, just like his cat used to roll things into his shoes. Mom thinks I just can't get to them anymore and that's why they stay there.

I play with more than feet and shoes, though. I enjoy reading, particularly scriptures. After I ripped a page out of the phone book, Mom doesn't let me play with her Bible anymore. At least Dad still lets me take apart The Economist after he's done with it.

Most of the time I spend exploring, but sometimes it's nice to be held too. Mom seems to enjoy it even more than I do.

The other day, Mom and Dad actually let me watch TV. This is me watching Fraggle Rock. Dad had about the same expression on his face at the time, only he can remain upright while watching TV.....

Look for more exciting adventures, coming soon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life is like a box of peaches

Hyrum likes his peaches. They're his favorite food right now, ahead of oatmeal and yams. Later this weekend we'll see how they stack up against hamburger, but I'm guessing peaches will still be #1.

This means that someone (Joy) gets to prepare them. This week she went to a local farmers' market (one that doesn't think that people should pay an extra 50% for the privilege of buying local) and bought a box of peaches. She wanted to prepare them so they would stay fresh and yummy for a long time.

To do this, she first cleans and boils the peaches for a short time (though at 4-5 peaches per boiling and a whole box of em, it takes a long time). Then she removes the skin and tastes the cooked peach to see if it's a sweet peach (= happy baby) or a not-so-sweet peach (= happy garbage disposal? I'm not sure what she does then.)

Having decided a peach is worthy, she removes the pit, mashes it up, and freezes it in these little baby food ice cube trays. Once frozen, the 2 oz pieces of frozen peach are placed in plastic bags and removed one at a time for Hyrum's dinner each day. What a woman!
"Thank you for the peaches, Mom!
It's a lot of work, and I'm sure glad you think I'm worth it."

So how is this like life? Well, she didn't have time to get to all the peaches she boiled yesterday. Today all the peaches she had boiled had gone bad. The peaches she hadn't boiled were just fine. This led me to the following conclusion:

The peaches start out in a state of relative innocence. They can't remain that way, though, or they will be of no use. So they undergo a process that I have to imagine is pretty painful from the peach's perspective. The purpose is to save the peach. However, the same process that preserves peaches for a long time also has the potential to corrupt them and make them bitter. In the end, with the pit removed, you would hardly recognize the old peach.

We started off living with our Father in Heaven in a state of relative innocence. We couldn't remain that way or the purpose of our creation would have been frustrated. So He sent us here to earth to undergo a process that can seem pretty painful sometimes from our perspective. The purpose is to save us and our families. If we don't let God finish His work in us, though, and make use of Jesus' Atonement, we will be corrupted and bitter. In the end, with our old, sinful self removed, one would hardly recognize the glorious beings made in His image.
Thank you for your love and sacrifice, Jesus.
It's a lot of work, and I'm sure glad you think we're worth it.

(PS - I'm also thankful for a wife who reminds me of Jesus, just by being herself.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Forum - Sept 26, Oct 3, and Oct 10

September 26 (this Friday) we will be discussing the place of religious opinion in political discourse and what latter-day saints mean when we say the US Constitution is divinely inspired. Forum materials may be found here. The articles being summarized come from an Oct 1992 Ensign article, Religious Values and Public Policy, and a Feb 92 Ensign article, The Divinely Inspired Constitution, both by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Additional materials are from the Church's Newsroom. We will be using our Doctrine and Covenants this week. Please bring your scriptures.

October 3 (next Friday) we will follow up the previous article with this one about same-gender marriage. The two materials used are from the Church Newsroom: an official Church statement called "The Divine Institution of Marriage" explaining the Church's stance in detail and the reasons for it; and an interview with Elders Oaks and Lance B. Wickman on the same topic that was done a few years ago. The Church Newsroom can be accessed here.

October 10 - Eliza will be leading our discussion of the General Conference Oct 4-5. Come prepared to talk about the talks that meant the most to you. The conference sessions held at 12-2pm and 4-6pm Saturday and Sunday will be available to the general public: at our local meetinghouse, on Pegasys Channel 13, and via internet at www.lds.org.

We have a standing offer for those taking the Forum for institute credit: one page of notes of General Conference talks = 1 made-up absence. You need 70% attendance (~9-10 weeks in the semester) to pass. If you are taking the class for credit, please make sure to sign the roll that gets passed around each week. If you are not taking the class for credit ... please make sure to sign in anyway because it has sometimes been questioned whether or not our area gets CES missionaries, and it's largely based on Institute attendence whether we continue getting such wonderful people as the Bushes, the Oborns, the Hauns, and the Klands to volunteer a year of their lives to serve the YSAs, oversee our local institute, and make food for Forum. There's my plug.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A decided lack of schmalz

That's the chief problem with this blog recently. I've just been so eager to tell everyone how wonderful my son is that I need to remember to tell everyone how wonderful the love of my life is too! (I think those two facts are strongly correlated, myself.)

I love being married! I'm so thankful to my have my Sweetheart by my side. When we were rapidly approaching being engaged (I had told her 6 months ago I wanted to marry her but wasn't asking yet, and she was about to tell me that she still wasn't ready for me to ask but that when I did, the answer would be yes) (:D!!!!:D!!!!!:D) she handed me a wonderful card with 100 reasons that we were perfect for each other. (After she told me the Really Exciting Part, we ... went to look at engagement rings. I was in a trance most of the time! Was this really happening to ME?)

The picture on the right was taken the very first night we met. *sigh* I went home afterward to IM Mom and Dad about the lovely and gracious Joy I met, and the nickname stuck. Joy is the Lovely and Gracious.

I am amazed to discover that 1,212 days after our marriage, we have grown many times more perfect for each other. I acknowledge that this has come through sacrifice - it hasn't been easy for either of us to change, and our Family Home Evening discussions on communication always filled me with a kind of dread - but oh how sweet the fruits that continually flow from that sacrifice! and particularly from our many efforts at communication. I've been sitting back this week taking time to notice how much more smoothly everything goes because of some of our unique communication compromises.

I am so thankful for Joy when we're out being social. (Here she is at the LDSSA Opening Social. Tada!) I can deal with a lot of people when they're one large group, like an audience; and I can usually handle one-on-one conversation. But large group gatherings where people float from group to group and mingle really leave me feeling adrift. This means I'm deeply uncomfortable at most ward functions. But now I have an anchor. Whenever it gets just a little too much for me, I have a home port I can sail towards where I know I'm always welcome and invited and loved. (My old anchor was the piano. At a BYU freshman ward reunion a few years ago, several people reminisced that one of their strongest memories of our ward was me at the piano playing background music for whatever we were doing. You can imagine the mixed feelings that brought up! I like my new anchor better.)

As we are convalescing together, I'm reminded again and again how nice it is to just hold her hand, or put my arm around her. How perfectly and softly we fit together!

Joy is such a thoughtful, tender ministering angel. Her patience with me and with Hyrum, particularly on his many recent grouchy days, is inspiring.

I also truly admire her persistence and dedication. For a couple months last year she read the Book of Mormon at a rate of 10 pages a day while she walked back and forth across the apartment to get her exercise. Most recently she's been reading the BoM and Doctrine and Covenants by reading one page from each every day, and she's managed to do so every single day for so long that she finished the D&C and is now halfway through the Pearl of Great Price. Not just in religion, but in everything: if she says it, she does it. She is amazingly dependable, reliable, and dedicated.

Her love of family history work is not only infectious, it is amazing to see how brilliantly she smiles and gleams while she works on it! She has been known to disappear for hours on end if Hy and I will let her, only surfacing when I insist she eat something.

She is the most zealous yet natural missionary I've ever known. She happily talks to anyone she meets and often finds a way to bring in the gospel. It isn't something she does consciously - she doesn't think "I've got to convert this person." She just shares the good news that makes her so happy.

I particularly enjoy the delightful sound effects she makes when throwing herself at the ball during racquetball.

I love her beautiful voice and how sweetly she sings to Hyrum. How grateful I am for her attentiveness to him! (On the left is a picture of her and Hyrum enjoying the Groton parade. Above is her with her Excellent Parent trophy my parents gave her after our doctor said we were ... excellent parents.)

I am thankful most of all that she has chosen to love me, and chooses every day to find more reasons to love and better and better ways to express it. She really is the greatest strength and grace in my life. Would that I might someday be worthy of such an inestimable treasure! To think that she let's me be hers! Some might say we've been married three years, going on four. To me, one of the greatest parts of the gospel can be summed up as: 1212 days ... going on forever.

Thank you, Friend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Forum - Sept 26 and before

Eliza Brown and I team-teach an Institute class out here called the Friday Forum. A bunch of students get together at lunch time on Friday to enjoy a discussion about sundry gospel topics while the CES missionaries make us lunch. I set up a page on my website for the Forum articles, but since it's difficult to remember that address, I thought it might be a good idea to link to the articles here also, so anyone interested can see what we'll be discussing any given week. Feel free to come!

I met the Forum my first semester at Cornell, and it's really been one of the highlights of being here for me. That first year I had a strong impression that it had the potential to become a School of the Prophets (see the later verses of Doctrine and Covenants 88). We teach each other the doctrines of the gospel, on average more people are prepared for it than for church classes and so the discussions are more involved, there's a lot of discussion but we make use of the words of our modern leaders and scriptures to make sure we don't stray too far, we can cover topics that would never make it to Sunday School, and it's a great opportunity to feel the Spirit and share some gospel with friends. I love it! I was thrilled when the Hauns asked if I would teach it four years ago, and I still love leading the discussions now. Thank you to everyone near and far who have made Forum such a fulfilling part of Cornell for me.

So each week I'll include a short post here with links to the articles.

The last two weeks we've talked about improving ourselves and retention. The next two are based on requests from class members: Religion and Politics and The Divine Institution of Marriage. Please feel free to make comments about the articles (including things you would like to see covered if you're coming to the class) here on the blog. I can bring them to class if you can't make it, for instance. The Online Friday Forum!

For those who want the full-texts on which the excerpted readings above are based because they are EXCELLENT ... uh, I'll get a few links up in a couple days. It's bedtime and we're still sick.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Scenes from the Social:

David carved the watermelon. I did the strawberry bunt ice. Everything else courtesy of Emily and her crew.

The Bushes in their matching uniforms.
Mindi and Caroline in their show-stopping number.

A few weeks ago, as the LDSSA Opening Social had finally run its course (thanks so much to everyone who helped out!), Dad asked me if I saw light at the end of the tunnel. I was way too stressed at the end of August/beginning of September to think straight, in good part from this strange new calling I was given... as well as the five OTHER callings I'm officially and otherwise holding down right now, not to mention I'd like to graduate someday and hadn't had time to work on the book for my adviser in a month. I responded yes, but there's another tunnel at the end of the light.

Well, the next week saw a major breakthrough. The tunnel collapsed before I got to it! In speaking with my dissertation committee members, they each had one medium-small recommendation for my third paper but otherwise called it good. A few days later I had a date set for my dissertation defense! I've already made the changes for two of the profs and the third will be done as I review the papers one last time before turning them in in two weeks.

I will be a doctor Nov 3.

If I were in a "normal" field of study, I probably could have graduated a few months earlier, but given that the entire committee was off this continent the entire summer and that Nov 3 is the first day since May that all three will be in Ithaca at the same time, I'm doing quite well. Since they have all seen each of my papers several times, there should be no big surprises, though some improvements and corrections are inevitable.

I'm going to graduate! I'm going to graduate! By golly, I really am going to graduate!

This is soooo coooool!

So for the last couple weeks, though I'm still buried up to my ears, there is significant light. Just a little bit further.... Why has it taken me so long to blog it? I guess one advantage of being sick is time to blog a bit.

Most of these pictures were taken when I was single. I've come a long way!

Rejoice! (No, that isn't David's watermelon. But it fit the theme nicely.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From Fred, Fan, and Joe

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - y'know, those two mostly-private mortgage giants that the government recently took over in a scene that would fit perfectly in a Godfather sequel (Treasury Secretary sits them down at the table and makes them an offer they will not be allowed to refuse) - also make campaign contributions. I find the list of top donors intriguing.

Top Recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Campaign Contributions, 1989-2008

1. Dodd, Christopher J, D-CT
2. Kerry, John, D-MA
3. Obama, Barack, D-IL
4. Clinton, Hillary, D-NY


N.B.: Senator Dodd is Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.


Why do I find this intriguing? Well, the claim in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times (and if those two agree, there must be a kernel of truth) is that economists and cabinet members have saying for over a decade that the government oversight of the two companies the government created and implicitly backed was severely lacking. The Times' statement is that "Lawmakers, paralyzed by partisan infighting, delayed strengthening regulatory oversight of the politically powerful companies." It's also amazing that with two decades to pour money into Dodd's and others' pockets, that Obama and Clinton managed to rake in so much in so little time.

And while I'm busy copying and pasting from mighty macroeconomist Mankiw's blog, let me swipe the following as well:


Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden released 10 years of tax returns Friday...The Bidens' joint gross income hovered between $215,000 and $320,000 a year during this period...The amount they gave to charity during this period never exceeded one-half of 1% of their annual income. The Bidens never gave more than $995 to charity in any of the tax years, and usually gave much less.(Source)
Compare Biden's behavior to that of a typical American:
The IRS reports that those who itemize deductions on their income tax returns have claimed, since 1975, that between 1.6 percent and 2.16 percent of their income went to charitable concerns. (Source)
This contrast is an example of a broader phenomenon:
conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure. Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes. (Source)

Joe Biden's Adjusted Gross Income and Charitable Gifts

On teacher salaries and blame

Joy and I were having a brief conversation last night about elementary teacher salaries. You see, she was one. -- a teacher, that is, not a salary -- For two years Utah sent her to one of their worst districts, which served to shape her understanding of our education system and helps her to see the problems with many of the arguments put forward from both sides of the political aisle for "what's wrong with education."

The question is occasionally asked, "Why are teacher salaries so low," usually in relation to someone like a baseball player. The Econ 101 answer is typically that the supply of teachers is so much higher than the supply of people who can hit home runs without steroid use that this keeps their wages low relative to baseball players. There are a number of issues with this argument, but there's one that's glaring:

The market for el ed teachers is not free.

Specifically, the wage for el ed teachers is not set in a market. State governments, school boards, and to a lesser extent voters choose what they think a fair wage offer for el ed teachers should be and offer to hire a given quota of teachers. As a side note, this means that people who really have no idea what it's like to be a teacher (including most of you and including me) are choosing the conditions under which teachers work. This is a recipe for disaster. Some states, like New York, have such a glut of teachers that they can require a Masters degree while others have difficulty hiring enough for the year. That wouldn't happen in a free market.

I happened to see my wife's social security statement last night, listing what UT pays its el ed teachers. I confess I was appalled. I've never been on the side that says throwing money at the school system is the answer, but this was poverty line pay for college graduates doing absolutely mandatory work! It was frankly insulting. And the fact that she could have made almost $15k a year more by working in the other half of the same city (that just happened to be in Nevada) is evidence that we are NOT dealing with free markets here.

Now, while I'm on a roll, let me take you a little further away from Econ 101 to grad school econ ... WITHOUT GREEK SYMBOLS! In Econ 101, there is a slight admission that workers may differ according to some mystic thing called "ability." High ability workers can command a higher wage than low ability workers. Teachers are willing to work for very little, so the Econ 101 answer spouted by conservatives and libertarians who never made it any further than 101 (that's still better than most liberals who didn't understand 101 in the first place) (no, please, Derrill, tell us what you really think) is that teachers must be "bad." If wages were higher, "good" teachers would enter the system. Liberals will then have a tirade about needing more money and conservatives will have a tirade about unions and libertarians will have a tirade about governments.

As a footnote, saying that the school system is in the tank because of bad teachers is not the way to win my wife's good graces.

Instead, let's suppose there are two ways that teachers differ: "teaching ability" and "love." A teacher who loves her students will bring about better outcomes, even if there are other people who are better teachers. Now what we really want are excellent teachers who love their students - the two skills are complementary rather than substitutes in the jargon. High wages elsewhere in the market will draw away high ability teachers who don't love their students, it is true, but it turns out that if you want to attract and keep teachers with high levels of love, the way to do it ... is to pay them very little. Only those who love stay.

Now this is not a call to lower salaries. I have a different point in mind. (At this point, Joy quips that I don't want to sleep on the couch tonight.) But there really does need to be some sort of balance here. We have decided as a society that el ed teacher salaries should not be set in a market. Now whether you agree with that or not, that's what we've decided to do. After seeing what Joy was actually paid in UT, I'm convinced that UT doesn't pay what their teachers are worth - it literally is poverty line pay. After hearing my wife's horror stories, I'm convinced that there are a fairly large number of things wrong with the system - enough for people of all stripes to find productive things to improve.

As I ran this by the Lovely and Gracious, she commented that she didn't leave the education system because of a lack of money, or that she decided she could earn more elsewhere. Once again, econ fails in the real world. :) "I left because to be the best teacher I know how to be took more than I had to give; and I would have been completely worn out with nothing left for myself in less than 5 years. That's how I feel about it." It's a difficult job, and blaming the people who are doing the best they can in a very difficult situation in a real labor of love is not the answer. And that's the point.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Random Hyrum, mo. 4-6

July 1
"Now, Dad, promise me when you do your next random Hyrum pictures blog that you will NOT use this picture."

On one condition, son: under no circumstances may you do a nose dive off the dryer while my back is turned. I tie you down to your changing table for a reason. (Guess what happened last Saturday? He took the changing table with him.)

July 16
Grandma's arm: tastes great AND less filling!

July 21
"Mom, why does Dad laugh so hard when you say I'm covered in Pooh?"

July 22
"Dad, what did he mean by that? Y'know, the part about the me being the harbinger of the Numerian eschatological apocalypse."

August 2
"I learned this great new trick from Mom's visiting teacher today. Pull my finger."

Aug 3
Joy's caption:
"Please don't interrupt us, Dad. We're doing important business here."

Aug 10
"Captain's Log: Stardate 81034.3. Commander Lamb and I explored the surface of the alien world K'Chen. The gravity is three times Earth standard, so we had to crawl on our knees to their leader to beg for milk."

Aug 24
"My Dad is so OLD! 30! I can't even count that high! He's almost 70 times older than I am. Hoowee. Man, I hope they just shoot me if I get over 5. It's all downhill from there."

Aug 27
1: "To be or ... um ... erm ... line?"

2: "... then I got that baby-in-the-headlights look..."

3: "This thing's hollow ... it goes on forever .... and ... duuuude ... It's full of milk."

Aug 28,
Joy's caption:
"If you think that was good, just wait til you taste my milk!"

Derrill's caption:
"abadya, abadya, abadya, That's all folks!"

The best part of doing this series of random pics was it reminded me of some of the stories I haven't told yet, but got pictures for. So there may be more blogs ahead: Return of the Evil Overlord, Dancing with the Parents, and Learning to Read with Hyrum.

In other news, Hyrum now eats oatmeal and peaches. He enjoys his oatmeal, but he LOVES peaches. He's getting better at grabbing the spoon and stuffing it in his mouth. He's also slowly improving his crawl - I made him crawl 3 paces for his milk this morning. He stared at me for a couple minutes with this, "Are you serious?" look on his face. Then he gathered his courage and raced forward to tag the milk bottle. I was impressed.

He also played on our Wii Fit this week. When I got off the balance board/scale, he crawled up to it and started banging on the top, trying to get the characters to move. He's one smart cookie, that kid. He has also figured out how to change the channel on the remote control and how to hide things under the couch, including my 2-liter soda bottles.