Monday, September 20, 2021

My summer 2021

Hello! It's been a while. I hope this post finds you well. I had a very productive and fun summer this year, and I hope you did, as well.

Summer School

For starters, I worked my very first summer school. I assisted middle school students in three social studies -related courses: Geography Bee, Let's Plan a Trip, and Latin America. I love social studies. As evidence of that statement, I offer to you my college major, which was political science. I also graduated with minors in sociology and philosophy. I participated in Model United Nations for five out of my six years in college. And now, as a Ph.D. student, I'm studying China's rise to power on the international stage, as well as aspects of the Cold War and Soviet history and economics. Love social studies. Did I make myself clear on that point? If not, let me try again - I LOVE SOCIAL STUDIES!!!

But in all seriousness, and getting back on point here, helping with summer school was a very rewarding experience for me, and I hope to work summer school in my district next year.

What made it so awesome for me was that I got to learn with the students. Sure, some of the countries and topics discussed in these courses I was already familiar with. But there were also so many new things I learned. Let's Plan a Trip, in particular, was a really cool class. Students in this course were tasked with researching countries they would be interested in visiting. Each week, they gave a presentation to the class on their findings. If I remember correctly, summer school was five weeks long, so students in this course gave a total of five presentations, one new country or region each week. These presentations included details like hotels to stay at, attractions to see and experience, local cuisine and culture, interesting trivia and history, costs and budgets, and flight details.

Another wonderful aspect of my summer school experience was simply getting to meet and begin building connections with quite a few new students. Many of these students are incoming 7th graders at the middle/high school I work at (in the district I work for, middle school starts at 7th grade, and the school I work at is a combined middle and high school).


Immediately after summer school ended, I got a chance to stick around for one more week to work a STEM -themed camp that my district organized. This, too, was very enjoyable, and again, I loved learning right alongside the students. I was in two sessions - one was on rockets, and the other was about coding. Check out the paper airplane I flew in the rockets class. At the end of the week, we flew - you guessed it - rockets. That was a lot of fun, and we were very lucky to have a beautiful, calm, sunny day for it.   

My trip to Key West, Florida

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Key West for the first time back in August. Over the course of the coming days and weeks, I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, photos, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, and travel tips. There will be a number of separate blog posts coming out of these adventures, but they'll all be unified through my Key West travel series tag.

How was your summer? Did you get to go on any fun trips? Learn a new skill? Work? I'd love to hear all about your summer, so please feel free to comment below!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Welcome back, students! - 2021-2022

Hello! It's certainly been a while. I hope you're all doing well and are off to a great start in this new school year!

I'm a little delayed in my usual welcome back to students and my recap of my summer. My apologies. It's been a very busy yet fruitful and rewarding last few weeks for me. You can read all about my summer by clicking here.

Welcome back! I hope you have an awesome year, one that is full of learning, growing, and fun. It's important to have fun, too. And never forget that learning can certainly be fun, and fun can be learning. It's exciting and uplifting when we learn something new that can help us out somehow in life and/or career, and that's why we're in school. That's why we're in sports and clubs and activities. That's why some of us may be receiving tutoring help outside of the school day. That's why some of us may have a part-time job outside of school. It's all about learning and growth, of self-improvement and self-discovery, and of exploring rewarding opportunities in the world - or even creating our own!

Here's to you and to an incredible year!

Mr. Robertson

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

COVID and job prospects for teens

Over the summer, the country witnessed a sudden, explosive need for workers to fill jobs of all kinds, due largely in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were, or remain, a number of factors that, when combined, have created a complex labor situation for our economy. 

With many consumers severely limiting their shopping, dining, and tourism/recreation habits - or even outright staying home altogether - during the pandemic, many businesses imposed heavy layoffs or even closed their doors for good due to the lack of demand.

When restrictions started to ease as a result of COVID numbers beginning to drop significantly, combined with a general antsyness to get out of the house more after a year-plus of this, demand naturally began to surge. But the workforce was no longer there to support all the demand, and it still isn't.

Fortunately, many teens stepped up over the summer where many adults chose to - or were forced to, due to economic circumstances or health concerns beyond their control - walk away for a while.      

A brief blurb appearing on the front page of the Business section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 7, 2021, explains the rise of teenage labor during the summer:

EMPLOYMENT: Teens step up as employers struggle to fill jobs

The owners of restaurants, amusement parks and retail shops, many of them desperate for workers, are sounding a note of gratitude this summer: Thank goodness for teenagers. As the U.S. economy bounds back with unexpected speed from the pandemic recession and customer demand intensifies, high-school-age kids are filling jobs that older workers can't - or won't. The result is that teens who are willing to bus restaurant tables or serve as water-park lifeguards are commanding $15, $17 or more an hour, plus bonuses.

The uptick in teen employment has managed to temporarily help a little, but many teens have to return to school. The overall labor situation is going to take more time and effort to fully resolve itself.

In the meantime, where I'm trying to go with this post, is that, if you're a high school student, or even in college, you have an incredible opportunity right now that you can take advantage of. There are so many job vacancies all over the place, in numerous fields and industries - far more vacancies than there typically are under more "normal" economic/labor conditions. Now, more than ever, is the time to really explore what's out there in the world of work and start gaining critical job skills and experience for your resume. Having to return to school after the summer break doesn't have to get in the way of this unique opportunity, either - so many jobs these days require evening, weekend, and holiday hours. Now's the time to break into fields and industries that may otherwise not really be available to you until further down the road. And with wages (along with bonuses, perks, and benefit packages) rising due to demand for workers - that makes this an even sweeter opportunity to earn while you learn.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Fun facts about Key West, Florida

 Some fun and interesting facts about Key West, Florida

Southernmost point buoy Key West Florida
Photo credit: Aaron S. Robertson

I visited Key West between August 16-21, 2021, and this blog post is part of my broader Key West travel series. Stay tuned for plenty more material in the series, as I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, travel tips, and of course, more photos!

The wealthiest city in the United States per capita during the 1830s

You read that right - Key West was the wealthiest city per capita in the country during the 1830s. TravelExperta points out that much of the wealth during this time was generated from, "...treasure retrieval from shipwrecks off the coast." notes that Key West was the wealthiest and largest city in Florida in the years leading up to the Civil War, and it still remained near the top of the list for the wealthiest cities in the country during this time.

The only Union city south of the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War

There were definitely Confederate sympathizers in Key West, no doubt, but Union forces were able to retain a tight grip on the city, thanks in large part to their control of Fort Zachary Taylor on the island, as well as Fort Jefferson some 70 miles west. It also certainly helped, as this post from the blog entitled, "Key West - The Confederate City that Seceded from the Civil War," points out, that good portions of the residential population at the time were originally either from New England or the Bahamas, and therefore had no particular interest in fighting for the South - or for anyone, for that matter. These factors combined to award Key West the unique distinction of being the only Union city in the South.

Never above 100 degrees 

While walking the streets of downtown Key West, I overheard the tour guide/driver of a tour trolley explaining to his passengers that Key West, as hot and as muggy as the climate is, has never recorded a temperature over 100 degrees. This blog post from June 2017 entitled, "10 Cities in United States That Have Never Been Above 100 Degrees," published on the Joe Dorish Weather blog, confirms this.

Duval Street - the longest street in the world?

At just 1.25 miles long, Duval Street, the heart of the downtown Key West scene, can playfully boast that it's the longest street in the world - it runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

That's a lot of bridges!

There are 42 bridges connecting the island to the Florida mainland. 

The Conch Republic - Key West secedes from the United States for a brief time in the 1980s!

You read that right, as well. For a very short time in 1982, Key West declared independence from the United States, and the Conch Republic was born. While the secession was largely in good fun and playful in nature, the frustration and annoyance felt by residents and business owners leading up to it was certainly real. The U.S. Border Patrol had set up a roadblock and checkpoint to inspect every car entering or leaving Key West for drugs and anyone here in the country illegally. You can read more about the formation of the Conch Republic on Wikipedia

Famous residents

Key West was home to, among others, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Major League Baseball star John "Boog" Powell. President Harry Truman visited Key West 11 times, for a total of 175 days, during his presidency. He stayed at a house on a U.S. Navy base. That house is now a museum known as the Truman Little White House.

Tips for selling your home

Tips for higher sale price when selling your home
Photo from Pexels

What You Need to Know Before Listing Your Home

Are you faced with putting your home on the market? Consider tackling some minor improvement projects that will help you maximize the sale price of your home but not break the bank. Rearranging furniture or taking the time to declutter your kitchen countertops can go a long way in allowing someone else to envision themselves in your space. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your home for a sale, presented by Mr. Robertson’s Corner.

The Price is Right

When putting your home on the market, it’s important to consider a competitive pricing strategy. What are the average listing prices nearest your neighborhood ($380K is the average here in Muskego, Wisconsin over the past 30 days)? What is the average number of days a home is on the market? “Nothing turns a good buyer off faster than an overpriced listing,” advises HGTV. “Pricing your home right is one of the most important advantages of having a Realtor.”

Curb Appeal

How welcoming is your home? First impressions will make a big difference when potential buyers come to tour your home. If your front door is dingy, you might consider a quick paint refresh to make it more inviting, and you might even add a wreath. Installing new house numbers can add a quick curb appeal and also allow potential buyers to find your house more easily. Try matching your house numbers with the finish on your exterior lights, offers DIY Network. Strategically placed potted plants, or container gardens, can give your front yard some zest, in lieu of higher-priced trees and shrubs. Matching containers to your home’s style will serve to carry the theme of your home through to the street.

Finally, take a good look at the trees in your yard and determine if there are any that detract from your curb appeal. If you spot any that you think your yard could live without, call in a local tree service to handle the removal - this is definitely one job you shouldn’t DIY.

Kitchen and Bath Refresh

Full-on kitchen and bath remodels can break the bank. But, if your kitchen and bathrooms are outdated and in disarray, they will most likely turn buyers off. Look for inexpensive ways to transform those spaces with a little imagination and elbow grease. Cleaning clutter from countertops and removing art projects and school photos from the refrigerator is free. Put anything away that isn’t necessary or complementary to your space. Replacing outdated handles and pulls with something sleeker and more modern will instantly update your rooms.

If your cabinets are dingy and old, then a good old-fashioned scrub with soap and water won’t help. Instead, consider painting your cabinets or removing doors. Something as simple as placing a colorful rug in front of your sink, according to Good Housekeeping, can hide ugly flooring.

Declutter and Depersonalize

One major reason to declutter and depersonalize your home is to give buyers an opportunity to see themselves in your space. There are 11 key spots to focus on, according to Apartment Therapy, and you’ve tackled the kitchen and baths, so the rest is relatively easy. Organize the entry point into your house by carrying on the theme from the front porch and yard right into your foyer. Clean where needed, place a coordinating container plant inside and make sure the rug is clean and welcoming. Clear halls of clutter and too many family photos. You want new buyers to picture themselves in your home. Touch-up play areas by hiding (or donating) unused and unnecessary toys. Don’t forget to tidy up closets, as potential homebuyers will be checking to see if there’s enough room for their belongings.

The process of selling your home can make for stressful times. But by spending a little time and energy to address some smaller DIY projects and tidy up, you can maximize the potential asking price for not a lot of initial monetary investment.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Roosters in Key West, Florida

Throughout Key West, Florida, chickens can easily be spotted in abundance. They roam parking lots, graze in grassy areas, walk alongside tourists on the busy streets of downtown, and gladly accept meals put out by the locals. There seems to be many more roosters (the male chickens) than hens, as my photos below demonstrate.

According to this blog post on Key West Roosters that I came across in my research: 

Key West Roosters descend from roosters bred in Cuba and the Keys for fighting. For many years a winning fight rooster would be a source of income and, of course, bragging rights. Cockfights are no longer legal in the United States; because of this, a lot of chickens were released and left to their own on the Island. Today these roosters are prized for their gorgeous colored plumes and still have their fighting spirit of their ancestors...At one point, the rooster population grew so big that back in 2004 Key West hired a chicken catcher to reduce the population. The work of the catcher was very controversial so when the contractor quit the post was discontinued. The contractor didn’t even last a year.

I visited Key West between August 16-21, 2021, and this blog post is part of my broader Key West travel series. Stay tuned for plenty more material in the series, as I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, travel tips, and of course, more photos!

All photo credits here in this post: Aaron S. Robertson. All photos appearing in this post were taken between August 16-21, 2021.

Roosters in Key West, Florida

Roosters eating in Key West, Florida

A rooster walking in Key West

Chickens in Key West, Florida

Famous roosters in Key West

World-famous roosters in Key West

Chickens walking the streets of Key West

A rooster in Key West, Florida

Roosters are in abundance throughout Key West

A rooster enjoying a snack in Key West

A rooster eating in Key West, Florida


Friday, August 27, 2021

Pictures of sunsets in Key West, Florida

Following are photos of sunsets in Key West, Florida, including several pictures of the moon, which became visible within minutes of the sunsets.

I visited Key West between August 16-21, 2021, and this blog post is part of my broader Key West travel series. Stay tuned for plenty more material in the series, as I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, travel tips, and of course, more photos!

All photo credits here in this post: Aaron S. Robertson.

All photos appearing in this post were taken between August 16-21, 2021 at the Parrot Key Resort.

Sunset in Key West Florida

Sunset at Parrot Key Resort Key West Florida

The moon in Key West Florida

Parrot Key Resort in Key West at sunset

Parrot Key Resort Key West Florida

Key West Florida

Key West Florida travel tips

Key West Florida sky