Friday, February 11, 2011

Watching History

I've been glued to television coverage of the revolution in Egypt this week. It's amazing watching people come together, rise up, and, with nothing more than their voices and their will, topple a dictator. Who knows what will come next. I hope that it's some form of self-determination, rather than another oppressor. I will watch, and hope for the best.

Life is good here:

How can it not be?

I finished my second Annis. This one's for me:

You get good bang for your buck with this pattern -- it's fast, it's enjoyable, it looks great. I've shied away from using multi-color yarns in lace before, because often the colors obscure the lace. I picked this color (Agatha dark, Wollmeise) because I thought it would be tonal enough to provide some color interest without looking like barf. I think it worked. I hope so, anyway.

I love the scarf/shawl hybrid because they're lacy enough to provide interest without being so lacy that I feel conspicuous wearing them. I'd go ahead and knit another Annis, but I'm sick of nupps for the moment. I have other patterns like this to try out, so look for one coming up.

Now that the Annis is done, I've picked up the second Paper Crane. Because I'm making this one a pullover, I can just go ahead and knit that bottom section in the round. I think it will go much faster... as fast as a laceweight sweater on size 2 needles can go, anyway. I've got three-quarters of an inch so far. I'm rocking and rolling, aren't I?


One of the things that has been brewing here in our little corner of the world for a few years has to do with crowding in the schools. Back when Sr. Jr. was in 1st grade, there was a big fight over re-drawing the boundaries in the schools. Our elementary school was overcrowded, and it seemed like rejiggering the boundaries might solve that. No one wanted that, there was a big stink, and ultimately nothing much was done.

A couple of blocks away from us was a building that used to be an elementary school. Now it's being used to house the teacher day-care facilities, the teen pregnancy program, and a couple of other things. The plan was to rebuild and renovate that building, and some of us suggested turning it back into an elementary school. We argued that it was clear that the school-age population was growing and the county would need to deal with it. The county didn't agree. "It's just a blip," they said. "A momentary bulge in the school-age population." We looked around us, at all the young families moving in and having babies, twins, even, and wondered what county officials were smoking. The county seemed to have no clue, no matter what people tried to tell them.

Now, all these years and several additional overcrowding fights later, the county has come to realize that it has a wee problem. Now, almost ALL the schools in the county are at or above capacity, with, again, almost ALL of them projected to be significantly overcrowded in another year or two. Our elementary school will be at nearly 150% of capacity soon, even after cramming classrooms in wherever they could, creating a mobile computer lab, adding trailers (oh, excuse me, relocatables), and more. *

The PTA has announced that the only thing we can do for our school at this point is add another trailer, but because of space constraints, the trailer that will be added for the 2011-12 school year will have to be on the blacktop. Yes -- on the playground. Sooooo, where will the kids play? How will the poor kids in the blacktop trailer be able to concentrate with the noise of kids playing right outside? This is ridiculous.

The problem is that it's now almost too late to do anything about this. Changing school boundaries won't make a difference, because there's nowhere to move the kids to -- all the schools are overfull. It's a bit late to think about new construction. Many of the county buildings that used to be schools are really too old, small, and out-of-date to be repurposed.

And what about the middle and high schools? All of the high schools were just renovated (some are still under construction!), and they're already over capacity.

Long-range planning and thinking -- Arlington does not have it.

* Most distressing were the comments on a local online article about this situation. Many people were blaming the crowding situation on illegal immigration. Arlington has traditionally been immigrant-friendly, but lately they've sold off some low-income properties to developers, reducing the availability of low-income housing. In fact, census figures show that in all of Northern Virginia, Arlington is the only county that saw a decrease in its non-caucasian population.

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