Saturday, October 08, 2011

Mooresville elections Tuesday, October 11th!

Wanted to remind the 3 people who read this blog, of course only one of them might live in the Mooresville area, that next Tuesday is VOTING TIME!

I've gotten to meet both of the candidates for mayor, and frankly think either one of them will do a good job (and their recent mayoral point of comparison is not even a hurdle here).

Miles Atkins (link is to his site, no entry on NC voter guide)


Jared Esselman. (link is to the NC voter guide)
His personal site

As for the At-Large commissioners positions, I'm strongly in the tank for the only woman on the ballot, Dawn Huston. (link to NC voter guide). She'll provide some gender diversity on the board, brings some strong business sense and background to the table, and would provide another voice from the West side of Mooresville. She doesn't have a slick website like Miles and Jared, but she does have a Facebook page, you can search for Dawn Huston for Commissioner.

10 and 20 (years of war and service)

Was privileged to run in a 10k race on September 11th at the North Carolina National Guard Joint Force HQ, and will be running in the Army 10-Miler in Wash DC this Sunday. I'm not in great shape, but glad I can participate in these activities.

Got a couple of reminders today of my brothers and sisters in arms who continue to push on as the services continue to answer the call of our country's leaders.

We're not supposed to call it 'the long war'... but it has now been 10 years.

From a CNN posting:

...In the North Country, as the locals call this part of New York, Afghanistan is as much in people's hearts as it was a decade ago, when the horrific events of September 11 pushed America to war.

Elsewhere, Afghanistan slid down many rungs in the ladder of public interest. Americans are paying far less attention to war now than at earlier stages of the fighting, according to a Pew Research Center study published Wednesday. But not here.

War makes unwanted, life-arresting visits; crashes into homes and entire neighborhoods just as assuredly as a January blizzard....

Afghanistan is now the longest-running war America has fought with an all-volunteer military. But only about one half of 1% of the population has served in uniform, and military and civilian worlds rarely collide anymore....

"I fear they do not know us," Adm. Mike Mullen, the newly retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle."

And a post from which I've lifted the image above.

I'm proud to feel that, while what I've done pales in comparison to what so many others have done, I have done my part. 10 years ago when the US was changed by the violence of September 11th, I knew that unless I resigned my commission, I would be involved in one way or another. I'm even more proud of those who have come before me, those to my right and left, and those who continue to step forward. I admire them and marvel at their dedication and stamina.

I hit 20 years of service in Guard and Reserve next week. My body is tired and worn, and some joints have been replaced and others won't ever work the same, but I'm still here, and will keep plugging along with Uncle Sam for a bit longer. When serving an LDS church mission, we often heard the phrase "you love the ones you serve" and the same definitely applies to my service to my country and my teammates in the process.

I keep in touch with my military side through my continued work with the NC Army National Guard and more recently with a group of military veterans internal to Lowe's. Thanks to the focus and energy of a recently commissioned Navy Reserve officer (in Army we call them green to golds), we've been exploring ways to help servicemembers and veterans within the company, helping them understand policies and benefits that are relevant to them at Lowe's, etc.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lowe's Campus- some great pictures of nature and landscaping

At Lowe's corporate HQ, or what we call the Customer Support Center (CSC- yes, we're trying to communicate it is ALL about the customer), we have some beautiful scenery.

The Charlotte Observer recently posted a piece about our efforts in that regard titled "Enhancing nature at Lowe's"

If you'd like to see some great photos of the scenery, check out that story's associated slide show.

A week kayaking the OBX

Just wanted to post a public thank you note to the North Carolina Outward Bound team and the benefactor who is sponsoring Veteran's Groups so that we can go through the program at no cost.

Veterans about to start the trip, plus one of our guides, Trish

I had a great time just unplugging from everything- literally- as we left cell phones and all contact with the outside world behind and kayaked, camped, cooked, etc. There was a bit more fieldcraft and bonding/team building type activities than I had anticipated, but I hadn't really investigated Outward Bound too much in preparation- I just saw an opportunity to do some free kayaking and take a bit of a vacation. I also enjoyed the many quiet moments to just be still and reflect. I appreciated the many times the guides recommended we simplify and think about what really matters.

We ferried from Harker's Island, a couple of nights on Shackleford Banks, a few nights on the Core Banks, and then our final evening at the Outward Bound "Base Camp"- someone's backyard on the mainland close to Harker's Island. A good time.

Sea oats- make for great pictures, and apparently critical to building sand dunes 

 Sunset on the sound side of the Outer Banks.

View from a kayak. Most days did 4-6 miles.

So in short, a tremendous opportunity to step back from the day to day grind, and in some beautiful (but sometimes buggy) settings.

Thanks again, to NC Outward Bound and to the benefactor who made the trip possible!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beware the mimes- Funny French Folk and Keeping the Language Pure

For those who have ever expressed fear or malaise around mimes, or anyone who ever thought it an odd avocation:

It draws to mind for me a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!"

And other evidence of unintentional comedy in France:

"Just say 'non'!"

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Think Global and Act Local OR Think Short Term and Invest Accordingly- Iredell and North Carolina Education Funding

I was escorted out of a county school board meeting by a police officer last year during deliberations about the future of international baccalaureate (IB) program frustrated at the lack of attention to quality and to the input of the large group of citizens attending their meeting- every deliberation seemed to be based on two things- the board’s desire to show the audience they would not be bullied by the voice of the attendees, and their concerns about the expense of a program that they had previously supported, but now wanted to back away from. The police officer had accused me of threatening school board members. He’d gotten the tone of my comments right- I was angry, but I had not threatened anyone- outside of saying that it is an elected group, and elections would be their undoing.

September of last year, got this email from one of our children’s principals:

Unofficial financial rankings for Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in North Carolina were recently posted by the state. It was no surprise to see that Iredell Statesville Schools has moved from 111th to 113th in per pupil funding in NC. That means that only 2 school systems in NC spend less per child than we do. Below is a link to an interesting article entitled "How Much Does It Cost to Educate a High School Graduate in Your County?". The cost in Iredell Statesville Schools is $107,000. The average is $142,000 and the highest is $265,000. The conclusion is that the faculty and staff of the Iredell Statesville Schools are providing an outstanding return on investment to the taxpayers of Iredell County. Here's the link if you would like to read the report.

If you are happy with the services that are being provided to your child in the public schools of Iredell County, please let your County Commissioners know! We are committed to your children, and are proud of the work we do. We want our local government officials to know how you feel also.

Have a great night,

Boen Nutting

It is true that these are tough economic times, and I’ve tried to be a bit more educated about our funding/spending for our school systems. The fact of the matter is that we don’t pay a lot for our children’s education in North Carolina (46th out of the 50 states) and in Iredell County (Iredell-Statesville Schools rank 106th out of about 114 and close by, Mooresville schools ranking 100 out of about 114 in 2007-2008 per pupil spending excluding nutrition programs.

It begs the question, though, of what is the quality of that education, as both systems tout the quality of the education they provide. There are some great parts of the system that we have benefitted from- two of our children are thriving in a strong elementary school, and another is doing well in that IB program that succeeds despite the lukewarm support of the Iredell County school board. There are other parts that are more of an issue- overcrowding of schools in some areas and open seats in others, and the increasing student to teacher ratios all around. We have one daughter being home schooled, in large part because of the substantial social challenges she has faced with bullying in school. So it is not all roses, either. Of course, quality measures are debated far and wide, I choose to highlight those from, (I welcome comments about their impartiality or lack thereof- seems to me in my review to be fairly straightforward in advocating for education in general and providing feedback and comparisons). Based on their information, we’re doing adequately considering our spend, but there’s an opportunity to do even better. We scored a “C+”; or 77.8 on their numerical score. That put us above the US average of 76.3, and scores ranged from Maryland’s 87.6, and Nebraska’s 68.6.

Dr. Nutting noted in her email that in her estimation we’re providing a great ROI in terms of spend and what is delivered for that spend. I commend her and others in our local education system for that ROI. My personal feeling, however, is that the state and the county are frankly derelict and shortsighted in their funding for our children’s education. I agree that there isn’t a 1:1 correlation between spend and quality, but I firmly believe if our system can do as well as it does given how little we spend, we could do even better with greater investment. One can also argue that the ROI will decrease with greater expenditures, but all things being equal, greater investment should lead to greater returns, and it appears that our leaders either don’t buy into that rationale, or feel they are representing the voice of the people who don’t want to make these investments.

Our school system and associated parent teacher organizations or other volunteer groups spend far too much time in fundraising mode (or working at the school for free), and I’d rather they focus on education. I’m not going to list all of the fundraising approaches they use, some clever, some less interesting, some almost offensive or demeaning.

Of all of the different ways we’d like our government to invest in our future, from zoning and permits for businesses, to roads and transportation, public services from fire and police to water and waste management, I can’t think of any that is more important from a long range standpoint, than a consistent and strategic investment in education. We, quite frankly, seem to be satisfied with “good enough”. And as my child in the international baccalaureate program knows, there are more English users in India than there are in the United States.

Go ahead, kids- we’re preparing you to compete in a global world, but you know, we’re not gonna spend a lot for this education, so get out there and sell some cookie dough and we’ll cobble something together for you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In memory- the woman in the arena

On Christmas eve I got a call from my sister Beth letting me know that Mom had passed. Things haven't slowed down much since for me to do a tremendous amount of processing. Utah, Minneapolis, Virginia, NC, Virginia, Charlotte, NC, Asheville, NC, now in New Jersey.

But there have been quiet times. Some time just sitting and reading with Dad. Writing up what I would say at her service (to be posted in my private family blog), which was held at a Veteran's cemetery in Amelia, Virginia. Dedicating the grave a few days later.

Mom had her challenges, and as one of her 6 children, I know I was one of them.  It was unfortunately only with distance from my childhood that I was more fully able to appreciate all of the blood, sweat and tears that she put into raising us.  She truly fought the good fight, and her passing now allows her to continue work on the other side. As I thought about how she gave herself to parenting, I thought of one of my favorite quotes, from Teddy Roosevelt: 


"The Man In The Arena"
Speech at the Sorbonne
Paris, France
April 23, 1910

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Mom, you have completed your time in this mortal arena. Thank you for striving valiantly for us. Thank you for letting your children know that you count us as your victories. 6-0. Undefeated.


A couple of other postings:
Some family memories and pictures of Mom (thanks, Andrea)
A perspective on the services (thanks, again, Andrea!)