I read the news today…oh boy.

So, the Big Secret was finally revealed to us this afternoon at work.  Still no details as to who would be affected, suffice to say, it will be…everyone. Brace yourself. Layoffs are coming.

Basically, they will be laying all of us off.  All 16 of us admins (who work in the College of Ed.) and making us apply for just about 4-6 positions.  The gist of the four main positions are pretty much anything except what I do, except for fixing the website every once in a while.

So I’m venting.

So, facing the upcoming months will suck.  Mostly because of our lovely family law system, I can expect to not have a job for an indefinite period of time, but it will take several weeks, if not months to adjust child support. Maybe I’ll go to jail?

Also, we still do not have a timeline on when this will happen.  It will be as early as a few weeks from now, or as late as May 15.

So I’ve got that going for me.  Which is nice.

In spite of the plans and thoughts I have on the matter, as far as how to move ahead and seize opportunity instead of letting this university drag me to the bottom of the abyss with it like it has been trying to do for pretty much the last several years…those will come later.  I am optimistic.

That being said, I will disclose what we know about the University.  It is failing.  Each year, for the last 8 years, they have been overspending to the tune of about $8-10 MILLION dollars. That was back when they had $80million in reserve.

And right now, we have about 100 days of money left if everything were to just stop.  Considering projected tuition and funds for each year, we have maybe 3 years of operation before university financial reserves reach zero.  Since they said the same thing two years ago, I think that might be a generous estimate.

Upper administrators’ salaries have increased, and really other than going to meetings a lot, not many people here even know what they really do.  They go to lunches and conferences…a lot. They make six figure incomes, get bonuses, and this will not affect them.  They are also the people who put us in this mess as they rode the proverbial bomb down, yelling like Slim Pickens.

Anyway, this seems to be the trend. After 18 years here, I have learned how the sausage is made and I’m ready to try the employment version of Vegan now thankyouverymuch.

Higher Education is the second biggest ponzi scheme in our country.

The first being Social Security. Selling vitamins is third.

The vast majority of people who go through the Academy do so with degrees such as English, History, Psychology, Business, Philisophy, Liberal Arts, Art History, etc. etc. The only way these are really viable for most graduates is if they continue with their education to Post-Graduate degrees. Then they can teach other suckers who have come to the workforce, because everyone (mainly educators…i.e. High School Guidance Counselors) told high school students for GENERATIONS that the best way to make money in the USA is by going to college and getting a degree.

If you went into the military, trades, or other vocations, you were considered lower class and immediately voted least likely to succeed. You were called a loser. Some jaggoff who never left their home town. There is a stigma. Unlike the noble creature, the Guidance Counselor, who went to college and has either an MA or a ED.D.

I went to college to learn how to become a writer. College did not prepare me for that, other than the sheer number of papers being an English major and History minor required me to write. And out of 120 credit hours of an English degree, over half of those were Core Curriculum classes I needed to graduate regardless of my major. I took maybe 30 credit hours of literature classes. A math class, some history classes, and some art classes.

College didn’t make me a writer. Writing made me a writer. College gave me a delusion of grandeur that I was a competent writer. I wasn’t.

But, consider this too, that is typical. Unless you are going to a trade school, getting a teaching license, or other professional degree like doctor, lawyer, nurse, veterinarian, etc. you probably won’t be receiving any practical training anyway, other than preparation for the next higher level of education. Otherwise, you have a neat piece of paper to hang on your wall, plenty of stories about getting shitfaced at parties, and massive amounts of student loan debt. But no actual job in your chosen field.

Those frat parties I made fun of are your best ticket to getting a job after college. Why? Because when you hold someone’s head when they are puking their guts all over a bucket, and their dad runs a giant company that is hiring, you might just get a job offer.

Otherwise, don’t hold your breath. You’ve been duped by the Higher Education System. You can work your way through it to become a full prof and work three days a week, nine months out of the year. Or you can apply your talents to being a lamprey who attaches itself to sharks navigating these dark waters of Academia. Eating the scraps from the money left over after administrative feeding frenzies.

The best way through this life is knowing that being rich has nothing to do with money.

Why I Quit Cub Scouts

No, this isn’t a post about something that happened 30 years ago. I’m talking about last week.  So to be more specific, my son and I quit Cub Scouts.  Still weird?  Oh, buckle up.  It gets better.

Let’s start off by saying this:  I was a Boy Scout.  I even achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, which a while back, actually used to mean something before they were handing out the rank like participation ribbons for the three-legged race on field day.  It used to mean that you not only held true to the tenets of Scouting, but also performed community service, learned skills, survival, self-sufficiency, pride in your achievements, and also what it means to lead as well as follow.

Popcorn

Scouting is different now.  At the younger levels, it is not what it was when I was a kid.  It’s all about using cute kids in expensive uniforms to advertise excessively priced popcorn.  The Den gets to keep a percentage, but in reality, it’s as much a racket as Girl Scouts with their cookies.  In my opinion it is nearly exploitative.

Core values, learning skills, learning, growth, development, and community service are secondary to $20 bags of what is basically Cracker Jacks.  Or more apropos, Poppycock.  Last year, nearly every “Leadership” meeting was about popcorn sales.  This pressure for the kids in the Den to sell at least $650 in popcorn per kid.

So, stomping around on the few weekends I have with my son to sell crap wasn’t how I could or wanted to spend what time I could.  With pneumonia.

And it isn’t limited to Cub Scouts.  Schools employ the same bullshit tactics for funding each year from take and bake bread knots to expensive wrapping paper.  The method is the same, send the crap home with the kids and the parents can take it to work to be parasites on their workplace, family, and friends.

The Bad Touch

With the exception of the Catholic church, almost no organization has become synonymous with child molestation than Scouting.  In all my years as an active member of the BSA to my recent stint as a parent involved in Scouting, I haven’t seen it happen.  But the organization is so hyper-vigilant about rooting out child predators, that the whole thing hangs like a cloud over Scouting.  Kids even take a yearly brush up on how to recognize grooming, predation, and all of that each year.  It kinda makes a person wonder how frequently it happens in the organization to have that much awareness of it.  Like what the hell is going on here levels.

Ever hang out with someone who keeps talking about child molesters?  Yeah, it’s a lot like that.  Not fun at all.

Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting is not only encouraged in Cub Scouts.  It is the status quo.  Parents have to sit through the meetings with the kids the entire time, participating in activities, all of that.  Probably for a couple of reasons, the first of which being molestation.  If your kid gets molested, you can’t blame them because you were there the whole time, or should have been.

The other reason is crowd control.  Parents are expected to keep their kids in line the whole time.  But you know, if everyone was doing their job as a parent, trusted people in positions of authority wouldn’t have to worry about the ADD afflicted kids who may as well have been crafted in a lab from squirrel DNA might actually sit the hell down and listen.  I blame Adderall.  I blame electronics.  I blame parents.  And I just don’t feel like watching kids bounce off the walls while all the parents are sucked into their phones.

For those parents not sucked into their phone, the meetings became total chaos of kids acting up for the attention of their parents who were always willing to indulge them.

Creepy McCreepsters and their Spawn

Or worse yet, the extra creepy parents hovering around their kids, making me have to take note of who is especially touchy or groomy of the kids in the vicinity.  And the spoiled kids whose parents doted on them disrupting everything for an ounce of unearned attention every five seconds.

For the most part, the parents aren’t friends.  We are all in the same room for the same reason.  Our kids wanted to do this and now we can’t just let them do it, we have to micromanage them as they do it.

Once more unto the breach…

I got my Eagle Scout award many years ago.  Why am I doing all this stuff to get my Bear patch now?

Ask not what Scouting  can do for you…

They actually handed out a checklist of things we as parents can provide.  Not really a list of what we would like to provide.  Four wheel drive vehicles.  Boats.  Camping equipment.  Hand tools.  Carpentry tools. All that kind of thing.  You know, so they know who and how they can exploit.  It’s less of what they were asking for than it was how they were asking for it.  Sorta like when a neighbor borrows a weed whacker.

Last year, I agreed to being an assistant Den leader and quickly found out how much more of my time Scouting wanted out of me for my troubles.  It became a major time sink, which in my life of working two jobs, raising kids, and trying to get a career in travel writing off the ground was a bigger problem than I hoped it would be.

The worst part, nobody really even acknowledged that I was a Den Leader.  I was just the dad who helped at the meetings.

Personal issues

  • Coordination of time. There were also logistical problems involved.  Mainly my ex-wife has no intention of doing anything for our son while he was in scouting.  So, he wound up missing half the meetings and many of the weekend events and activities.  I had to pay for uniforms, travel, supplies, etc.  And deal with her promises to Leadership that she would allow our son to participate.  Which she never delivered on.
  • Money.  This stuff is expensive.  From $50 for uniforms the kids outgrow to gas money to get to events, to events in other towns like baseball games, the zoo, camp, etc.  It adds up quickly.
  • Time. Possibly the rarest commodity.  Combined with school projects, family time, and a split parenting schedule, it was hard to find the time.  Especially with meetings two or three times a month after school, then Leadership meetings twice per month were we mostly talked about popcorn sales.
  • Kids will be kids.  Friendships come and go, and one of his friends in Scouting has decided he doesn’t want to be his friend anymore.  So, he doesn’t really want to be around that kid if he isn’t going to play nice.
  • Feeling out of place.  As an adult, I have discovered that you won’t get along with everyone.  But here, man, it was a lot like high school.  Anytime I opened my mouth, on such matters as camping, hiking, Scouting, they looked at me like I was the weirdest motherf**ker who ever lived.  My expertise was not welcome (you know considering I’ve been camping, hiking, etc. most of my life).
  • Popcorn. Most of the time I felt like the only thing that was welcomed was my ability to serve in the Popcorn Army.  It is as bad as exploitation of Girl Scouts to sell overpriced cookies which do very little to actually fund the troop/den/etc.
  • POGs.  A lot of the leadership was constructed of desk-driving career military POGs who couldn’t pass a tape test to save their lives, but continually reminded the rest of us how important they were because they were military every goddamned minute we had to be around them.  These are the same kinds of people who love Monopoly because of all the rules and never improvise or make up their own bits.  Fun.
  • It’s TOO fair.  Take for instance the Pinewood Derby.  What should have been ten heats of racing cars down a track turned into two three hour events because every car has to run on every track and be averaged in the spirit of “fairness.”  Jeez. Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  If you can’t handle that, then this world is going to be very hard.
  • Guilt.  Maybe what kept us going as long as we did was the guilt.  You do things for your kids, even if they put you out of your comfort zone.  That part was fine, but for the same reason so many parents stick their kids in lacrosse or soccer or other activities.  But really, after the clusterfuckery of the most miserable campout ever* we were done.  But, how do you say that to family who were supportive of Scouting when you were coming up?  Such as a grandma who keeps sewing the patches on her grandson’s uniform?  Well, to be honest, sometimes as a parent, you just have to call it, and say, “We aren’t having fun anymore.”  After all, it’s not them who have to sit through the meetings.

Loss of interest

My son just got bored with it.  The last award he got he just didn’t even seem to care.  I thought, why are we even here if he doesn’t want to be here?  So, we plan on doing a lot of other things with our time that aren’t selling popcorn, watching a bunch of hyperactive children with helicopter parents, or working on awards the parents are doing most of the work on anyway.

The hardest pill to swallow

So, I guess my son didn’t want to do it anymore, and I am the one who wound up quitting for the both of us.  But that’s not even the worst of it.  Having been an avid Scout when I was a young man, I felt like the organization had become something I no longer even recognized.

The Scout Oath and Law are mumbled by parents and kids at the beginning of every meeting.  I don’t remember either of them mentioning popcorn, but it was the main focus of the whole thing. It wasn’t ever supposed to be about selling popcorn and it sure as hell wasn’t about the parents being around constantly.

I loved being in the Boy Scouts of America.  It saved my life as a young man and it helped me to get out of my house and into the outdoors or at least get experience doing things as a group, individually, etc.  It helped me learn how to lead and how to follow, and it gave me a lot of skills I still use today.  One of those being how to recognize something that doesn’t sit right with me.

This isn’t the same Scouting that I knew and loved.

Sometimes you gotta roll the hard six

So, as a parent, it’s good to make sure you kids have great experiences which hopefully broaden their minds and build on character, but sometimes, it’s okay just to throw on the brakes and say “I’ve had enough of this.”

Where was the self-reliance?  Where was the sense of achievement?  Where in the hell was the fun?

Sorry, Scouting.  It’s not you.  It’s me…no, it’s you.  You’ve changed.

*Soon to follow:  The Most Miserable Campout Ever.