Monday, July 13, 2009


Following along with my most recent column, I will be on vacation from July 15 to July 27. During that time, there will not be a column from me. I'll see everyone in August!


Rechargable Batteries - 7-15-09 Editor's Column

Everyone I have ever talked with or met by chance has at some point brought up the topic of working and doing too much of it without a break.

We often put in long hours at work and then come home to put in a short amount of time with family or friends, often times watching television or spending time on the computer before going to bed and heading back to work the next day.

In a sense, we are doing what a professor once told me to avoid, if at all possible - we are becoming what we do. We go to work each day and we don’t stop to think about the time between when we leave work and when we arrive the following day. We are what we do.

However, at some point, the battery that keeps us moving along our seemingly set path starts to run down and if we don’t take the time to recognize the fact that we need to recharge, we may find ourselves not only not enjoying our work, but dreading that next trip to the office, and the one after that and so on.

So becomes the question in all of this: How do we recharge those batteries? Well, it has a little to do with separating yourself from what you do.

The best way to approach work is to treat it as something important in your life, but also something separate from who you are as a person. If you allow yourself to become your work, you are involving yourself with it every hour of every day which, over time, can put a strain on you and lead you to look unfavorably at the things related to your job.

Instead, try leaving as much at the office as possible when you head home each day, both in terms of physical work and emotional attachment. While there will obviously be some transference, the more you leave behind, the less you have to get in the way of enjoying your life - to enjoy being who you are.

Once you’ve accomplished this, the rest is easy: Do the things that best fit your personality and let you be yourself.

For example, I have a weekly poker game that I play with my friends. I enjoy swimming with my friends and my wife. I like going out to hear live music and be around people I care about. I also enjoy playing video games, driving and engaging in sports.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy my job. In fact, because my activities outside of work and the fact that I take time to recharge my batteries and separate myself from what I do, I enjoy my job that much more. I enjoy it because I don’t have to think about it every hour of the day and when I come in to work, it doesn’t feel like I never left.

Take some time today to think about how you recharge your batteries - if at all - and how you can separate what you do from who you are.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our Developing Social (Networking) Revolution 7-8-09 Editor's Column

In an interesting conversation I had about a week ago, a friend of mine and I discussed how far we have come in our technological advances just over the last 20 years.

We discussed how easily many people got along without email or text messaging then and how being separated from cell phones and computers for any length of time now can lead to some people having sensory deprivation.

I remember when my family first got a computer and dial-up was the standard to have; you would have been hard pressed to find DSL or anything like that anywhere but in most offices or schools.

Yet, here we are with a world of information at our fingertips and the convenience that comes with things like e-mail and the likes provide.

And, along with that has developed what is commonly referred to as the social-networking scene. Web sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others connect people that would otherwise never talk to one another.

But how big is this ever-changing asset that we now find at our disposal? I would venture to say much larger than many of us might think.

Consider Facebook, for example. With a few clicks of a mouse and the proper spelling of a name, you can find anyone that has a profile on the popular web site. Facebook, which eclipsed 175 million users back in February, not only allows you to find people that you have lost contact with, but also gives you a glimpse at things like what they're doing now, what they are in to, what kind of beliefs they have and even what they did five minutes ago.

But it’s also a little more than that. While there are plenty of fun things to do on Facebook, it also has the potential to serve as a tool for political and social organizations looking to reach a wider audience. Many people who frequent the site may be familiar with the fan pages that the presidential candidates used to gain support and spread their platforms, reaching younger audiences that spurred one of the largest turnouts in voter history.

Businesses are using Facebook to reach new clients and advertise in this new social medium. Bands are using it to gain support for their music. The applications are endless.

Then we have the web site known as Twitter. A real-time status feed, similar to Facebook’s status but geared more toward quick blurbs and shortened hyperlinks.

Limited to only 140 characters, many Twitter users will post links to content relevent to their professions or their interests. Users can follow people or submit for approval to follow and have an endless feed of news from any one person.

One of the more interesting things to me about this site is the fact that you can follow as many news organizations as you like and most of them, so long as they are fairly active, will have the latest headlines minutes after they go up on their web sites, giving us breaking news at our fingertips and no longer requiring us to wait until the end of the day or for the next morning’s newspaper.

There are even professions beginning to take shape around social media. A good friend of mine is currently the Manager of New Media for the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, a think tank on government policies - and there are more like Cato utilizing the social media scene every day.

We have come a long way in such a short period of time and now find ourselves redefining what it is to network socially and get our news.

I would venture to say that instead of looking at it as a passing trend, we should consider some of this to be developing future of the online presence that will likely ebb and flow with the rest of technology. The only question that remains is, how will approach it?

If you would like to try out Facebook or Twitter, add me on Facebook or follow the Mahomet Citizen on Twitter at

Medical Care in Schools: Is There a Right Side? - 7-8-09 Editorial

Most residents who have been keeping up with the news are at least in some part familiar with the discussion about administering medical care to students in the Mahomet-Seymour school district.

Depending on which side you sit on, it is an easy answer. You either believe that the medical care a child receives while in school is acceptable so long as the person performing the actions is trained properly by a professional or you believe that the only person who should be treating a medical issue concerning your child is a medical professional.

However, which side of the argument is one that proposes the most appropriate course of action?

On the one hand, you have teachers and teacher's aides that are being asked to do things like administering catheters to students who a typical citizen would view as requiring special care. Some of these teachers and aides may not be willing to complete these tasks because they either do not feel comfortable or qualified enough to do them or they don’t feel that their job description is specific enough on the issue.

On the other hand, you have students who need an education and the help throughout the day that a parent would typically provide at home. A parent (or parents) that probably has some sort of training in administering the care of a catheter or a similar procedure.

So becomes the argument: Should an educator be put into a position of possibly doing something that he or she is not comfortable with to provide for a child’s well-being or should we look at it as “if they are shown how to do it, there is no reason they can’t?”

I suppose the answer to the question is, how much headache is the district willing to put up with and for how long?

The popular choice among many residents is to say that a medical professional or a person educated in medical practices should be the only person to handle in-school procedures on children.

Either that, or the incoming teachers and aides to the district should have some sort of training experience in handling situations such as administering a catheter or executing basic care to children.

Another side of this that may come as a need is the wording of the job description for teachers and teacher aides, which states that they are to do “other duties” as specified by the administration or designee.

If there is to be a solution reached in this matter, perhaps some of the language that allows for the issue to be continuously set aside should be examined and dealt with.

Finally, there is one important detail about this issue that seems to either be overlooked or used as the reason for discussing it: We must make sure that when all is said and done, that the decision handed down is in the best interest of the children that it will affect.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Being an Active Citizen - 7-1-09 Editor's Column

As many residents and readers are aware, it was recently passed by the village board that burning in Mahomet would be banned beginning August 1, earning any residents inside the village limits a fine should they not adhere to the new ordinance.

However, in talking with local residents, it seems that some people are only now realizing that the burn ordinance in Mahomet is changing and are asking questions about why it is being changed and what will be done to offset these changes when they finally take effect.

To be honest, I was somewhat confused that such a hot topic would be so unknown to so many residents.

For example, the leaf burning issue has been a focus of numerous stories in the Citizen over the last few months, detailing the potential changes, potential alternatives and when the next phase of the discussion will be.

Often times, there were listings of when the next village meeting would be and what would be discussed.

Those I spoke to told me of people who were upset that the changes happened under their noses and that they didn’t have a say in the matter.

So what does that mean about the way we should be approaching new issues that require public input?

It means that we should take note of the meetings that will be heald to discuss the potential changes that could come to the village. It means asking questions of village officials about what they might have heard or asking them to clarify something we might have heard. It means checking with the newspaper to see what press has been published about the issue to ensure that we know the latest details.

There is a lot more to being a citizen than simply living somewhere, paying local taxes and cheering on the local sports team. It’s also about being informed on the issues that are important to the town and the people that not only live here, but work here and send their children to school here.

We should all be so fortunate to live in a community that wants our input on changes that may affect the way that we do things in our daily lives. We have neighbors with strong opinions on and a great amount of knowledge when it comes to local issues. We have the paper that focuses on local events.

If ever you find yourself in the position of not knowing what is happening in the village and want to know how you can become more involved, do the active thing and ask. After all, you can’t give your input if you don’t take the time to find out what is going on.