Sunday, May 30, 2010

Accelerating Change

3 profound changes came into my life on Wednesday this week:

1. My son-in-law, Michael, had a promising phone interview for a new job Wednesday morning. The interviewer went on to schedule a face-to-face interview for this coming Wednesday. Michael is their only candidate, and it looks like he is on track to have a good job in his field. Michael has been unemployed for several months, since being laid off from his job in January. He has sent out countless resumes and applications, and has yet to have a face-to-face interview. He and my daughter, Julia, with their four children, have been living with us for 18 months. Wonderful news! 

The only catch is that the job is in...Delaware. So on Thursday morning, Michael got in his car and began driving. As of this morning, he was just outside of Philadelphia, and he should arrive in Delaware this afternoon. Since Wednesday, he has received calls from two other companies in the same city, so now he has two interviews scheduled for Wednesday, and another phone interview for Tuesday.

This is bittersweet news for me. My house has been crowded for a long time. I would love to be an empty-nester again. But oh, how I will miss my little family if they move so far away.

2. The governor of Oregon released the latest budget calculations on Wednesday, and they are not pretty. The state is implementing 9% budget cuts to all state agencies, including public education, across the board. By Thursday, teachers in my district had already been informed that this school year...the one ending in 3 weeks...will probably be cut short by 3 days. Looks like school will be out in only 2 weeks. 

That translates, of course, to a pay cut for staff. With Mark and me both teaching, it's a double pay cut. I'm not complaining; at least we have jobs, and I get it that the whole world is in a recession right now. We can cope with the pay cut. We'll find out this coming week what the proposals are to balance the district budget for next year. Cutting 3 days right now will help, but it will not come close to solving the entire problem. 

The district already cut nearly 40 teaching positions last year. The new budget reductions would require almost that many teachers cut again, or cutting days of school, or cutting benefits, or all of the above. Our class sizes are already up to 36. Mark has classes scheduled with 39 students next year. We can't even fit that many desks in our classrooms. 

3. Last Sunday we learned in church that we would be getting a new bishop today. The Mormon church is completely staffed by lay leaders and teachers. No one gets paid. Our current bishop works at Parr Lumber during the week. 

Mark has been serving as the group leader for the High Priests, an assignment that has him organizing visits and service to widows and older couples in the ward. On Wednesday night, he was asked to serve as the 2nd Counselor to our new bishop (Tom Carlson, who manages the service department at a car dealership). Mark and the 1st Counselor will assist the bishop running a busy congregation of nearly 200 families. 

For the most part, this isn't a dramatic change for our family. Mark was already fully committed to church service, and I already support him in that. He will have a few more meetings to attend, and the nature of his service will change with this new assignment. He'll be sitting up in front on Sunday, and I'll be sitting in the congregation--I'll miss the companionship of getting to sit next to him, but it's also ok with me to worship independently for that hour.

Henry James wrote an essay in 1910 titled, "A Law of Acceleration." In it, he toys with the notion that the rate of change doubles every 20 years. 

Every age finds itself new and modern. Writing in 1910, he said that, "If science were to go on doubling or quadrupling its complexities every ten years, even mathematics would soon succumb. An average mind had succumbed already in 1850; it could no longer understand the problem in 1900." 

Assuming that the rate holds, he went on to predict that, "At the rate of progress since 1800, every American who lived into the year 2000 would know how to control unlimited power. He would think in complexities unimaginable to an earlier mind. He would deal with problems altogether beyond the range of earlier society."

Have we "succumbed" to the accelerating rate of change? Will we?

The global rate of change is more than I can get my head around. Even here in my own little sphere, the rate of change has been unsettling lately. I am experiencing changes that are profound and permanent. Things will not go back to the way they were. 


Dorothy said...

Hold on're in for quite a ride! Honestly, though, as you well know, changes can be exciting and they definitely give new experience.

I know you're both up to the challenge. :)

Polly said...

Love you, Mom! Things will calm down after the wedding I'm sure, and you'll be into a new normal.