Storefront Schools

Here’s a novel Idea. Make schools (I’m talking about K-12 here) smaller. They would be easier to control. Better student to teacher ratio. Better security. And closer to home. They would also better reflect the community that surrounds them. We need more schools. The ones we have are usually overcrowded by the time they are built, and they cost millions before they even open their doors. Meanwhile there are lots of empty storefronts in most every large metropolitan city. Excellent space going to waste.  Now, most people will think I am either very naive or quite mad to even suggest this but to those people I say, “what do you suggest?”  More of the status quo? And how is that working? A lot of schoolwork is done online anyway. Or at least it could be. What would it matter if the next classroom is down the hall or down the street? (Of couse I am not suggesting that kids travel from one storefront to another during a schoolday.) I could go into all the advantages of smaller schools but I don’t think I really need to. It would take much less space to list the advantages of Large Overcrowded Schools, wouldn’t it? Now I am not suggesting that we bulldoze the schools that already exist but as cities expand, it is an option. The school that I went to had six “portables” behind the school where practically everyone took at least one class. They each had their own A/C and heat system, plumbing and electricity and porches (and yet they were ‘portable’?)  They were practically freestanding storefronts anyway, And this was in a rather small suburb of Detroit. More than twenty years ago. OK a lot more. And to be honest, having part of your Jr. High that was “portable” really did not gender a lot of confidence in a teenagers mushy mind.

It’s sort of a modern day “Little Red Schoolhouse”. The average storefront could hold 2-3 classes of about 15 kids each or fewer kids in more classes. You could put a couple of different grades in each one and have a few teachers and an administrator in each. Have an overseer that covers a dozen or so schools and a regional “Principal” that oversees a district. As you can probably tell by now I have no experience in the school system except as a pupil, but I think even the most cynical of you can see what I am talking about. I am sure that you cynics can see many problems with a system like this. After all isn’t that what cynics do? But problems can be overcome and most solutions to problems usually bring their own set of problems anyway. It’s just an Idea.


You want to save the world? Compost.

Could I have chosen a more boring subject for my first ever blogpost? Maybe, But this is important enough to, well, be important. I know that you have heard about Cfls and French fry grease for fuel. But the truth is that Gasoline, For all its faults is pretty much the best thing going right now. Will that change in the future? Man, I hope so. But for about the last 40 or so years, We have been hearing about solar and wind being the future of energy. And while most technologies have gotten better and less expensive, Solar is still not the panacea it was promised to be. And since solar cells were originally made from slag (waste) from the silicon chip industry,and chips are now being made more efficiently, the solar folks have to actually manufacture their own raw materials, Thus solar is now MORE expensive than ever. And if you live in a neighborhood with trees as I do, you may find that you have to cut some down in order to get full capacity from them. (I would have to cut down two. A huge live oak and a ficus tree.) According to one website that sells solar power systems, “Solar Power accounts for 0.001% of the electricity generated in this country.” and as I have looked at various sites I have yet to find one that says that their manufacturing plant is powered by Solar electricity.

Wind power is somewhat better. The problem with Wind is that in order for it to provide power for even a small community a Wind machine has to be Huge, And properly sited. There is saying in Germany that “wind machines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies.” Or you can have the small backyard machine. You don’t need an Electrical Engineering degree to install one, But it helps. So if your city building code allows it and your neighbors don’t complain about the noise and you get enough, but not Too Much Wind and the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down in a thunderstorm, Then you may be able to supplement your grid power.

Which brings me to the subject at hand. (you knew I would get there eventually, right.) As I keep hearing, The main problem is an excess of Co2. Carbon Dioxide. There is just too much of it. Now I am not going to go into the sources of it, Be it SUVs’, electrical power plants or moose farts. The fact remains it’s there and we need to get rid of it. Sure we should find ways to reduce emissions in the future but Hey, I want to get the dirt out of my house now, then I’ll worry about tracking more in, OK. So what can we do, what can anyone do right now without a great out lay of cash, To help get rid of some of this gas? Well, plants and trees breathe it, right? But the real problem is that we are stripping away the fertile topsoil and replacing it with chemical fertilizers. So you Vegans are not off the hook yet either. We throw away garbage everyday that can be turned into the best plant food on the earth. We seal it in plastic bags and truck It to centralized locations to be buried and, when the hill is big enough, turned into a golf course or a nice sled run. Then we Truck in more plastic bags filled with COMPOST. So why not stop wasting all that fuel and just make it yourself. It’s not hard, there are plenty of books on the subject, Although you can learn pretty much all you need to know in an article not much longer than this one. And those chemically fed plants? A plant that is not getting the proper Nutrients is not an efficient Co2 Processing machine. And compost is a much better and more balanced source of those nutes than any chemist. Chemical pesticides often kill natural adversaries of the bugs you are trying to get rid of. How many pounds of coffee grounds does the average coffee shop throw away each day? I’m sure you could get all you want just for the asking. Florists have dumpsters full of scrap plant material that they would much rather not have to pay to have hauled away. Recycled Plastic would make very good Compost bins. It just takes a little thought.

Hello world!

Welcome to A time stamp for the beginning of this blog.

Also I would like to acknowledge the photo “make a mountain out of a molehill” by xerones (Michael Wilson) on flickr, used under creative commons license.