North College Hill Rated Effective

There is a lot that can be said about the way Ohio has defined its NCLB school ratings, but progress is progress. Congratulations, baby!
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And some school districts, stuck for several years in the Continuous Improvement category, were propelled to Effective. Among them are Northwest, North College Hill and Princeton.

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If Special Education Is In Such Demand, Why Are Salaries So Low?

From the "The Government Does Not Have Enough Money To Serve <insert industry here> But May Be The Only One Who Can" category comes a story about special education positions in Cincinnati.

Kudos to Mr. Favors for pursuing such a personally rewarding job, but the cynic in me wonders how long he'll last. I don't know many people who are willing to incur school debt for advanced degrees, maintain certification, work long hours and work with some of the most challenging segments of society for $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

And it's not even the volume of work that seems like the worse part. The worst part seems to be the Dilbert-esque bureaucracy that permeates the public sector, and prevents simple ideas for improving process with limited resources from ever seeing the light of day.

One more thing about salaries: I often hear that such-and-such a position is underpaid. Well, jobs will continue to pay at a salary as long as there are people willing to work for it. The opposite reason is why professional athletes make so much money. I understand the very personally rewarding nature of education jobs, but I wonder how quickly (and painfully) a solution for teacher salaries would be found if suddenly no college graduates wanted to become teachers?
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It's hard to persuade a college-educated man, especially a minority man, to make in the mid-$30,000 or so in salary for the first few years, said Harris. "The pay is all right, but it's not great like if they went into business," she said.

Then there's the paperwork - volumes of it that go along with each special education student. Jane Ackerson, the 35-year teaching veteran who mentored Favors last year, said she coaxed him through it last year.

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It's A Start

Most Mondays, I buy lunch and sundries for the week at Krogers. It usually comes to about two plastic grocery bags' worth, which means I actually get four plastic grocery bags. Yesterday I took the plunge and bought my first reusable grocery bag. Canvas grocery bags always seemed like an easy, "low-hanging fruit" kind of way to help out with the home planet. In this case, it made perfect sense due to the low volume.

I heard you can get a nickel for every reusable bag you use at the checkout line. Gee, thanks Krogers. If I could possibly fill up 10 bags, I could get a whopping $0.50 back. Definitely don't do this to save money.

Anyway, of course, when I checked out, she actually put the canvas bag inside a plastic bag, along with my other stuff before I noticed. I guess it will take some getting used to for both parties.

UPDATE: I knew I read that part about getting a nickel back somewhere. Apparently, they've done this for 15 years. I'm taking bets on whether any cashiers in any stores know this.

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If You've Ever Wanted To Know About Web Security

Next OINK-PUG meeting:

When: August 21 @ 7:00 pm
Where: Bridge Worldwide, Downtown Cincy

Chris Shiflett will be presenting Security 2.0 (which was the keynote at the DCPHP conference). Chris will also be handing out hard copies of the slides from his Essential PHP Security talk to all attendees. If you're not familiar with Chris, he's the author of several PHP books ( and one of the most prominent experts on PHP security. This is a must-see; Chris is an awesome speaker, very knowledgeable, and happy to answer any questions you have. He's also flying in from New York, so it would be nice to have a good turn out.

UPDATE: I want to say this: if you have any use for the topic at all, I highly encourage you to attend. Why? Not because I care about the security of your web applications, but because if Cincinnati is to become the technology hub that it can be, then when industry "names" like this come to town, we need to show them that there are interested and skilled people here.

Cincinnati Photo Hunt

With as many people in the local blogosphere that like to take pictures that I know of, this might strike your fancy.

Dave Menninger has written a Cincinnati (or anywhere) -based photo hunt based on Wikipedia.

I realized that there were lots of articles in Wikipedia tagged as "needing a photo". Also, I realized that there were lots of articles in Wikipedia tagged with geo-tags (example). It seemed like a straightforward and useful thing to mash these two lists together and find out things that are near a particular location that need photos taken of them.
Check out the latest version. (If you've got a Fire Eagle account, there's a Fire Eagle version also.)

Toyota Is Da Man

We try to recycle as much as we can at home. But I read somewhere that the vast majority (I want to say around 97%) of landfill contents come from businesses. It's a figure I believe looking back at the offices I've worked in, to say nothing of factories and manufacturing outfits.

So it's amazing what Toyota is doing. I've always had an eye out for Toyota, whose lean manufacturing principles has found its way into software development. From Soapbox:

The purging of the waste cans was a small but significant step toward Toyota’s zero-landfill goal. And Toyota has indeed achieved the goal (zero landfill is defined as diverting at least 95 percent of all waste away from landfills and into recycling or reuse). It was one thing to reach the goal at the TEMA offices in Erlanger, where most people work at desk jobs. Quite another to go zero landfill at its 12 manufacturing plants in North America, where they make cars, engines, auto parts and other things traditionally thought of as dirty manuifacturing. Toyota has achieved that at all but two of its plants, and those two are 97 percent of the way there. Pretty good accomplishment for a company that's in the business of making more than 1.5 million a cars a year in North America.


Traveled to Chicago a couple weeks ago for a wedding, and had a whole day free to ourselves. Managed to get some decent pictures.

We started out the day on Belmont St. at a diner called Ann Sather's, which had a line out the door when we arrived. I must say the food was delicious and generously portioned. Every entree was gigantic, and every entree came with two gigantic sides. The neighborhood was of course very walkable, and there were a lot of scooters motoring around. Notice the elevated train in the background.

Now, I had never been to Wrigley Field, but it did not disappoint. And all we did was walk around it! All I could think of, as I saw all the homes across the street from the park with rooftop seating, the dozens of bars, and the elevated train line a block away from the park, was Broadway Commons. That's all I'll say, for fear of starting a complaint session.

We drove down to the lakeshore and rented some bikes to ride from this bike station. I don't really know how far you can ride, but we rode along the beach for at least two hours, and I didn't see the end in sight. It was a nice day and very crowded. Here's a popular portion of the beach.

After returning our bikes, we took a stroll through Millennium Park. I had been to this park a few years ago, when it still under construction. Well, it looks finished now. Below are pictures of, what I like to call, the big space bean, and a giant installation of faces that appear on a video screen and periodically spit water out at kids. The last picture of some surrounding buildings reminds me a bit of Central Park.

Passing The Time

Big Willie Anderson has been keeping a diary of sorts for the Enquirer at Bengals training camp. I liked the one, quoted from below, where he thinks back to when he entered the league.

I was looking at the roster the other day and noticed all of the young guys, born in 1981, '82, '83, '84, '85 ... damn. We have a lot of '80s babies.

It's weird to look at the roster and see all of the young guys. It's interesting to look at when I grew up, in the hip-hop generation. I still remember my first road trip as a rookie in the regular season, and I went in a suit. I was a 1996 draft pick. Joe Walter and those guys were 1980s linemen. They wore boots, jeans, flannel shirts tucked in. I remember getting laughed at so hard. I said, "Those guys are old. They don't know what's going on."

I am thinking a lot about the passing of time. I've got a backpack filled with vitamins and minerals I put in my water. Your second or third years (in the NFL), you learn it's survival. I remember telling Levi Jones when he was a rookie, "Hey, man, tape your fingers. Take care of your hands." He said, "Man, I'm young. I don't do that." By the end of the year he had a cast on every finger.

I think a lot about the passing of time too these days. Not in a negative way, though. I guess it's because I've now been working longer than I ever spent in school. I spent a few years in college, a few years in graduate school. And now I've been working longer than any of those periods of my life.

Time passes by so fast now. It's August now, and I think back to January and I can't even remember what occurred in the months in-between. Where did all those months go?

I hate that feeling. Like months have gone by and I didn't even notice. There are things I do to combat that feeling - keeping this blog is one of them.

Another thing is - what I've found is that it's only when I do the same things every day that time goes by fast. When every day is different, and holds new challenges, it actually seems like time goes slower. At my previous job, I worked on the same project for two years. I didn't dislike the project, but it was just so repetitive I barely remember what I did those two years.

But in the year I changed jobs, bought a house, and got engaged all at once was the longest year of my life. I felt like I lived two years worth of life instead of one. Every day and night was packed for months. It stretched me and pulled me in all sorts of directions.

It's not a great thing though. It's stressful and anxious, and I can't even say I would do things the same way if I could do them over again.

The last few months have been pretty calm, thus they've passed with barely a glance. But things are picking up. It feels like I've had plans every evening for the past two weeks (some of those plans involve happy hour, but nonetheless.) This week, I have errands every morning, and meetings and work every evening. I guess time is about to slow down again.