Being retired has some advantages. For one thing, your social security and retirement payments are not subject to an employer's whim. That means you are free to act as principle dictates.

I have been volunteering at a nearby public school to help with the computers and such. Any vegetable could do most of it, like waiting for an update to load down and install. Except for Microsoft, but that comes later.

The school has gone through some changes. A distinctly "progressive" superintendent caused the principal to go elsewhere, and than was, in turn, replaced. The replacement principal had a business background, and the new superintendent has overgrowth of the ego.

Among other casualties of the new policies begun by the superintendent were the middle school administrators. And the principal, again. The new principal is a weenie, anxious to please all parties.

So one of my nephews started to get picked on, and, partly thanks to no middle school administrators, plus the unwillingness of the principal to acknowledge a problem, got no protection from the school.

With no other way out, my nephew went off on the other kid. Sixth graders don't do much damage, but he tried.

Now the school is horrified at my nephew's actions, and tried to suspend him for assault. 10 days out of school, meaning certain failure and a repeat of the year. My brother-in-law was refused a time slot in the school board meeting (by the superintendent), but the principal knuckled under and reduced the suspension to three days.

Result - I lost all respect for the school administration, and have terminated my volunteering. I can't run for school board (wrong district by about 200 yards too far south), so all I can do is vote with my feet. After saying goodbye to some exceptional teachers and letting it be known why I left.

Many years ago, I was offered an insulting raise. I managed to scare up a new job withing two weeks, but had to stay with the old job in the meantime because I could not afford to do otherwise. In my last job, I was ofter driven to outrage by poor administrative policies and decisions, but could not act because I had to have the income. That's a partial definition of wage slavery.

Finally, I can afford to act on principle. I can't say I feel satisfied or particularly empowered. Importantly, though, I don't have to bite my tongue and put up with some situation I feel is simply wrong.

The very real downside to my having left the school is the loss of interaction with a number of teachers that I liked and respected. In that way, acting on principle has thrown out the baby and the bathwater. Nothing comes without cost.

Okay - remember my crack about Microsoft? As far as I can tell from the school network, MS has rendered itself impervious to requests for updates. We hit the site just fine, and the updating software gets updated just fine, but checks for substantive updates return an error code.

There is one exception - XP SP3. In that case, the service pack is put in the queue, but the EULA never appears. Result - as far as MS is concerned, you have declined the update.

I do not know if it's due to running a Novell network, a crappy T1 line, or just that some hubs in the school are only 10 base-T. Sure got to be frustrating, though. Absolutely no willingness from Redmond to cast some light on the problem, either.

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