State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Sometimes I Just Don't Get It

by on February 24, 2014 6:00 AM

When my mother describes me when I was a child, she likes to say that I always needed to know why.

She says I was mostly willing to do chores or other things that she asked as long as I had information about the reason behind the request.

Things haven't changed much in 50 plus years. I'm still asking questions. There are just some things I don't understand.

For example, why would someone call a dog tethered by a chain outdoors 24/7 their "pet?" I understand working dogs, watch dogs, and even breeds that prefer to be outside in the cold but I don't understand how anyone thinks that it's humane to keep a dog chained.

On a totally different note but equally as confusing, I don't understand how our government makes the decision to get involved in the conflicts involving some dictators but not others. Syria. Libya. But not Ukraine. Not North Korea. Help me to understand that one.

I've heard Eric Barron is a great fit for Penn State's next president but I don't understand the salary thing. University President $800,000. President Obama's salary $400,000. Faculty and staff raises last year were capped at 2%. I don't get it. Four million dollars for a football coach is another head scratcher. In comparison, I used my PSU purchasing card for a business dinner a few years ago and rounded over the allowed 20% tip in error. That 43 cents was deducted from my pay.

I've said it before and I will say it again. I don't understand why people think a high school squeezed onto Westerly Parkway is a good idea. This does not seem like a 50 year decision in terms of either the development of the Centre Region or the direction of education. Although I have to admit the process the SCASD board and administration used to arrive at this plan this time around seems pretty clean. I just don't understand shoehorning a building on to that property. I must be missing something.

State Patty's Day is befuddling all around. Each year we see visitors come to State College for a drunk fest and one of our solutions is to pay downtown bar owners not to sell alcohol for the day. I don't get it. Unless we ask the beer distributors, liquor stores, to shut down as well (starting about two weeks in advance) I don't understand how closing the bars does all that much, particularly when restaurants, t-shirt businesses and other folks can make money off the crowds.

Help me figure this one out. In any other business or agency, a plan with as many hiccups as the Affordable Care Act would be scratched with a "do over." There are some good pieces to the plan (i.e. letting young people stay on their parents plan until age 26) but it mostly seems like a bureaucratic snafu. Can we say "we goofed" and somehow start over?

I understand the enthusiasm of THON and the numbers we saw last night are unbelievable. It makes one proud to be a Penn Stater. I'll take heat for questioning the "world's largest student run philanthropy" but I don't understand some of the decisions made to manage all of those people for 46 hours.

Each year it seems to get bigger and more difficult. Students waiting in line, all weekend and starting on Thursday night for the Friday afternoon opening, in the cold and rain. Wrist bands with bar codes. I heard from my students that there is a "no charging cell phones in the BJC" rule. Huh? A new rule is that door staff made kids who tried to bring in food throw that food in the garbage or be turned away as it is "stealing from kids with cancer" by not buying from the concession stand. Will there come a time when someone says "it's getting out of hand?"

I don't understand professional politicians, parents who lie for their children, and reality shows. I don't understand people who think they can get away with crimes or who post their faces in either naked photos or while committing crimes on the internet. I don't understand tenure for public school teachers and or labor unions that protect poor performing employees. I don't get legal marijuana, illegal immigration, discrimination, or the debate about global warming.

Sometimes, I just don't get it.

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Patty Kleban is an instructor at Penn State, mother of three and a community volunteer. She is a Penn State Alumna. Readers of State College Magazine voted her Best Writer of 2010 and 2012. She and her family live in Patton Township. Her views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State.
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