Monday, June 29, 2009


OK, yeah, I've done it again - gone on over a month without an update. It's been a hectic month, to say the least.

On May 5th I became co-chair of the Lakewood City Schools Phase III Construction Project District Configuration Sub-Committee. Yes, this was something I volunteered to do, it was (is - the last meeting of the subcommittee is tomorrow) annoying as hell at times, but I really do feel like it was the most important thing I've done outside of the creation and well-being of my little family. Lakewood City Schools is reducing from 7 elementary schools down to 6 due to lowered enrollment and Ohio not giving us as much funding (Ohio says we only need 6 elementary schools so they'll only contribute toward the cost of 6 elementary schools). 4 of the 7 existing schools have already been remodeled in the last couple years, so that left 3 to look at to figure out which one(s) to close (there was a proposal to close two of them and open a new school geographically between them where there is currently a city park smooshed between the train tracks and a strip mall - I don't think I need to tell the reader exactly how popular THAT idea was with everyone aside from the person proposing it ). If current decision making process that I was being strongly encouraged (almost to the point of arm bending, but not quite) to use is any indicator, the decision making process for the prior remodels/renovations was rather flawed - as evidenced by two of the schools already done having DRASTICALLY lower percentages of households with enrolled children in them than the other two (one has 4.1% of households in its boundary line having enrolled children, the other has 6.9%, the average for the district as a whole is 9.4% and all 5 of the other schools in the current configuration are at or above that average, with those two removed the average for the remaining 5 schools is 10.9%). There are certain powers within this city who would really like to see one of the schools in particular (the one in the highest-child-density district, ironically) closed, bulldozed, and redeveloped as commercial property. This seemed like a rather bad long-term plan to me, so I went in search of data months before becoming co-chair to check my gut reaction to that plan. What I found demonstrated that it wasn't just a bad idea, it also could potentially wreck our happy little you-better-walk-cuz-there-ain't-enough-parking already existing commercial district if it encouraged families to move to the perimeter of the town to be closer to the elementary schools, reducing foot traffic to the shops (and also discouraging them to keep their spending in Lakewood, since if they live in the perimeter in all but one of the other elementary school boundaries, they've got really easy access to Big Box stores just across the town's boarders - and most parents with little ones, if they're going to have to load up the car anyway, they're going to go where they can park ONCE and get the majority of what they need without having to go inside and outside repeatedly in likely inclement weather). So I went in search of hard data, got access to the census data and a lovely person at the county auditor's office who crunched data in highly sophisticated mapping software that I didn't have time to learn to use (tho apparently there's some decent stuff available open-source), I learned Google Earth to a fairly high level of proficency and counted LOTS of expanding dots (dots representing enrolled children, geocoded into Google Earth so if I went over them with a mouse they expanded so I could get an accurate head count). I also found out that Mandell School of Applied Social Sciences aka MSASS (at Case Western Reserve University, aka CWRU, my alma mater) turns out not just social workers of the knock-on-doors or therapy kind, but also of the policy wonk kind. We'll see tomorrow and in August/September what others make of the data I've gathered and crunched, but the MSASS saga continues in the next paragraph in a life of its own.

So, the dean of MSASS, Gover "Cleve" Gilmore, was my undergrad prof for both statistics (a challenging class since I wasn't aware that I have mild dyscalculia - you mean EVERYONE doesn't have to do every equation on the calculator 3 or 4 times to get the same result twice???) and research design (which I totally rocked, thankyouverymuch). He and I had been in occasional contact in the time in between and he very much still remembered me when I asked him if he could put me in touch with someone who could help with the census access stuff I was seeking for the above project. As I think I mentioned earlier in this blog, I'd applied to CWRU's Sociology graduate program (or did most of the application, at least - never took the stinking, time-wasting, back-throwing-out GRE) but was not hearing anything encouraging on the funding for part-time study so kinda let it drop (there's no way with my fatigue, physical disabilities, and family I could manage full-time study, a fellowship, AND not be a danger on the roads and/or zombie mommy, so the being safe on the roads and human with my family won). Cleve encouraged me to apply to MSASS, pointing me toward their Community and Social Development degree (policy wonk heaven I think, if only I could manage to do the dual degree with the law school at the same time *sigh* yeah, that's not gonna happen). Deadline for the Sociology program for fall admission was back in April so it never occured to me that MSASS's deadline would be so late - TOMORROW, JUNE 30TH! Sooo... I've got most of my application completed, just need to spend some time today updating my resume (which I haven't done since sometime around 2001, so, yeah, WAY out of date - nothing I've been doing in the interum has required a resume so I hadn't bothered to keep it up-to-date). I've also gotten 3 spiffy new recommendation forms filled out, and I'm planning to hand-deliver everything non-digital today. It'll be nice to finally meet Churyl, the lovely admissions lady I've been emailing back and forth and apparently sending into bouts of active laughter in the office with my weird sense of humor (which I see no need to hide from anyone, even someone responsible for helping decide if I get into grad school or not). I'm getting everything in on time for consideration for fall admission, though if the funding isn't there for me to go part-time (I *might* try full-time study if there's scholarship/work-from home fellowship promised, just can't deal with communting and family safely on top of ~40hrs outside the house). If funding looks more promising for starting in January (aka "spring" semester), then I'll do that instead.

In addition to all that, we've also celebrated Liam's 5th and Delano's 2nd birthdays and gone to Cedar Point twice and Kalahari Indoor Waterpark-Resort-and-Spa once (the 3 night stay at Kalahari was paid for by Garvin's work's sponsors or something, he was at a conference there while the kids and I were playing in the water). And I got myself a new laptop that I'd been drooling over for over a year (HP TouchSmart tx2) which I'm typing this up on (the keyboard is very nice, the tablet conversion with multi-touch will come in more handy while reading massive amounts of hopefully online journals for grad school, and it's small -but not too-and light and has decent battery life).

I will make another post with links to kids birthday party pictures soon. Haven't had time to organize and upload anything for ages.

OH, and if you're seeing this on Facebook and waiting for a response from me I haven't been ignoring you - I've not logged in to FB since around Easter, everything on my profile there has been posted via conduits (aka my cell phone, cross-posted by Twitter, or from this blog). I'm going to try to make some serious time to work on my novel in the next month (I want to complete it before the end of July) after getting this grad application finished, plus spend time with my family, plus sometimes post on my blog, Facebook priority comes in around this slot. I'll be back eventually.