A Bad Winter

What an intriguing idea.  How do you define a Bad Winter?  I think there are actually two schools of thought on this.

               and          

Bad Winter…Blizzards                                                   Bad Winter…Too HOT

High winds and snow                                                       Heat and Humidity

Power outages                                                                    Turn on Air conditioning?

Damage                                                                                Hail?

Hazardous driving conditions                                        Who dreams of a Brown Christmas?

Good Winter… Blizzards                                                Good Winter…Just Right

Smell of pumpkin bread                                                   No coats

Hot Mulled cider                                                                 Ice Cream on Pie

Quiet of snow landscape                                                    Thunderstorms and Lightning

Sledding                                                                                 Football outside, no coats

Ice Skating                                                                             Skateboarding in Park

Holiday Inn and White Christmas                                    Latest blockbuster at the theater

Which camp do you belong to?  I’m weird…I love the snow.  As long as it’s OUT THERE and I’m IN HERE.  Baking bread, pies, soups, and other wonderful warm savory foods, and experimenting with different teas and coffees.  Netflix binges.  I love watching the kids build forts and snowmen, and making hot chocolate for when they come in, red nosed and laughing.

I didn’t love it when I was hanging out a window working drive through in the fast food joints.  I’m warm, I’m a Popsicle, I’m warm, my teeth are chattering, I’m warm…I remember thinking, “OH LORD!  Please don’t let me get the ones that have to count out their change and they’re 2 pennies short and HAVE to find those 2 pennies!”  “O Please!  Don’t want to talk to me while you’re waiting for your food!  My left arm is frozen!”  I didn’t love it when I had to walk 3/4 mile to my class from the dorm with a head wind and sleet and snow pelting my forehead.  I didn’t love it when I had to drive 180 miles on the interstate at 12 mph because of bad roads and accidents.

The idea of a Brown Christmas is not appealing to me.  Spending Christmas in Florida or Hawaii just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ll take a White Christmas please.

 

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Honestly…

Honestly, Truthfully, Trustworthy

I can believe

I can disbelieve

I can act

I can choose not to act

Why must I be protected from truth?

Ignorance is Bliss

It takes my decisions

and makes them impotent.

It takes my perception

and skews it.

“You don’t need to know

“Not now, later

“To protect you

Saying this only

when I NEED to know

when I NEED to know now

when it doesn’t protect me because

I don’t know.

Facts in timely manner

Not emotions

Withhold, Lie

No preparation

No trust

Surprise, and confusion

Tell Me.  Honestly

 

Oooh New Project!

Measurable Progress. Moving forward. Learning new things, and becoming a different person are lofty goals. Wait, becoming a different person? Why would you want to be a different person? Shouldn’t you like the person you are?

Let’s rephrase the question. Isn’t the person you currently are based on choices you’ve made and changes that resulted from those choices? If you had chosen to have a fruit smoothie for breakfast instead of an ultimate skillet, would that have affected the way you look and feel today? Well, of course. Would you be a different person?

What makes you you? Looking from the outside, the changes are microscopic, and we know from experience that microscopic changes become permanent and more noticeable when repeated every day. Looking from the heart, do you feel differently about yourself today than you did yesterday? Looking from the brain, how has your perspective of the world around you changed since yesterday? The real question, the one that makes you more like your ideal self, what did you put into your brain yesterday? When you were ordering your breakfast, how far ahead were you looking?

“Wow, I’m hungry!  That looks delicious!  I will have (make) that!” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! I’m hungry now because I ate late last night. It shouldn’t take much to fill me up now, so I’ll have just enough–something to tide me over to lunch.” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! What would be the healthiest thing to eat this morning? This will make me feel full, but won’t shoot all that sugar in, and that will be better than the caffeine that will make me hungry again before lunch. I will have (make) this.”

What did you read yesterday? What did you set out to learn yesterday? What ideas did you expose yourself to? What ideas were sparked from your conversations? What concepts did you explore? Do you think you built onto the self you were yesterday or did you add a branch? The only way you aren’t a different person today than you were yesterday is if you didn’t get up and do anything new. No, that’s not right. That would have been a choice and would have changed you the other way–made you less than you were the day before. In choosing not to expand, you shut down something in your head that looks for opportunities to grow. Your brain, desperate for something new, developed a slightly different perspective on the world, and because it was a microscopic change, you didn’t see it. I guess that regardless of what you do, you cannot be the same person you were yesterday. To put it bluntly, the only way you don’t change the person you were yesterday is if you freeze that moment when you are the person you choose to be and die in that precise moment.

Since this is MY blog, let me tell you what I did.

I wrote about the Rat Race concept because I’d been thinking of it all night. I went to have an adjustment to help me walk without a limp. I went to breakfast and worked on some puzzles so I don’t lose my marbles. I came home and started to learn French! (That’s a rant by the way.) I went to meet a friend of mine who’s collaborating with me on a manual that helps people plan conferences. I had Soul Food! (An Italian sausage with mustard and fried onions on a toasted bun, and some coleslaw.) I started sifting through ideas for an international speech to give for the Toastmasters Contest next spring. I gave a French Horn lesson. Then I watched some TV.

I am following “Criminal Minds” and the geek on the show has been thrown in prison pending his trial. Due to the machinations of the villain, instead of being put into protective custody (as an FBI agent, he’d be in mortal danger) he’s been put in General Population, and he’s not emotionally or physically equipped to handle this situation. So as I’m watching the episodes, I am noting the changes in his character. He has pitted his mind against so many clever serial killers; he has been exposed to many techniques that allow him to go undiscovered as a criminal; he has the IQ of over 150. I have noted his change in stance and the look in his eyes. He’s been bullied all his life, and his mother’s schizophrenic and has developed Alzheimer’s. Had he made one choice in his youth, he might have been one of the serial killers instead of the FBI agent that has caught them. He was tortured and drugged in one episode by a criminal who had a disassociative personality disorder, so he has some lingering PTSD. Will he become the killer he has chased? Will he defeat the villain that has put him into this situation, or will he kill him?

What fascinates me is how well the profilers read the people around them.  They’d be like wizards to normal people. They read micro-expressions, they are hyper-aware of their surroundings when confronting a criminal and can interpret unconscious behavioral traits like how the subjects arrange the pictures of their children or what clothes they like to wear. And yet…the members of this team are constantly flummoxed by newer and scarier criminals. They MUST grow and become different people in order to capture the bad guy.

The top people in industry and education and any other field you wish to examine are becoming, not static. Put something new into your brain every day, then ruminate on it and create some new idea, new thought, new action that will enhance what you put into your brain. It may change the way you feel about yourself and/or how you perceive the people and the world around you. Then you can choose to keep the information or discard it.

But you cannot remain the same person you were yesterday. You will be different tomorrow. The good news is that you are in complete control of who you choose to be.

Why FIX that?

We’ve had some accidents lately.  Don’t judge.

  1. Our mailbox was placed when we moved in and bought our house about 1998. (We rented it for a year.) It has rusted out at the ground level and is now totally supported by the bricks we’ve stacked around it.
  2. Our couch broke. One of the welds broke when Mark sat on it. In order to fix what is broken, we have to remove the covering either directly under the cushion, or turn it over and remove it from the bottom. Then we have to fix the weld, then recover the section. OR we could remove the springs entirely and replace it with plywood with a padded cover.

Which one do we fix?

Let’s look at the cost considerations:

Replace the mailbox…costs for new mailboxes go from $40-$400. Remove old mailbox, put in a new one. Fix mailbox, bolster it with a metal rod assembly and attach current support structure with wire. Which would look better?

Replace couch…costs for new couch go from $250-$2500. Finance the new couch and have the broken one picked up and disposed of. Fix couch, get plywood cut to correct dimensions, cover with batting and upholstery material, attach to couch, cover with cushions. Takes hours of time and care, costs for plywood, upholstery materials. Fixed couch shows no sign of being fixed to the casual looker.

Which one do you think we want to replace? Yup, the couch.

Why would we do that? It makes no financial sense. Because fixing something requires time and care and a place to work on large pieces of wood, we look at it as an impossibly long and complicated process. We’d RATHER NOT. We can slap-dash fix the mailbox, and it would take little time or effort, might last a little while longer, but regardless, it will look like crap. So effort, time and care are higher opportunity costs.  We do not want to pay for that cost. Fix it quickly–buy new or slap-dash. We are now sure of our priorities…minimum effort.

Hopelessly Devoted?

That hit me oddly.

You’re devoted to a person or a cause or whatever and with no hope to ever attain it? Well, that doesn’t make sense. Can you choose what you are devoted to? You’d think so. You can devote yourself to your work, to your significant other, to your family, to your beliefs. You can devote yourself to yourself! But isn’t that devotion something that is supposed to GIVE you hope?

Hope is to Desire with the expectation of attainment or fulfillment.

Hope is to Expect with confidence.

Devotion is the Fact or state of being dedicated and loyal.

Therefore Hopelessly devoted means you are being dedicated and loyal without any chance of attainment or fulfillment. It is a contradiction of terms. Why would anyone choose to do that? Ahhhhh. A Stalker!

It may be just my opinion, but I think anyone that is Hopelessly Devoted to anything is creepy.

Unwilling Learners

Ever taught an unwilling learner? They are the ones that question the validity of the subject matter, question the expertise of the teacher, and/or refuse to do the homework because of priorities in their lives. I was a band director. I required practice from my band students. I got calls from parents accusing me of being unreasonable to require 20 minutes of practice EVERY NIGHT for band students.

“How DARE you require daily practice! Kids have sports, homework, and chores to do every night!”

“Oh? They never take their books home with them. I know, I watch them as they leave. They’re in 6th grade, how often and how long are their football practices? Oh? They’re not in football yet? Oh, they ARE in football but it’s club football, not school football, so practices once or twice a week for an hour? So you mean to tell me that on the nights they don’t have practice, they’re doing homework for two hours and chores for three to four hours and going to bed at 9:00? Too bad they won’t get to play Football in High school. How will they EVER squeeze in time for the mandatory two-hour practices for football every night? High School homework is what, two to three hours a night? And they’ll have part-time jobs as well in High School.  So unless they work only on weekends, they get home after football practice at about 6:00 PM, do three to four hours of chores, homework for two to three hours, puts them in bed at 1:00 AM.”

“What? You’re going to keep them out of Football because they won’t practice for your stupid band?”

This is a conversation I had many, many times. They refused to give their kids any sense of responsibility.  Of COURSE, they weren’t doing chores around the house. Of COURSE, they weren’t doing two hours of homework every night. They were watching TV, playing video games, hanging out. It was amazing that the students ever learned enough music to fill out a concert.

There was one 6th grade band that did so badly (because I had 0 support from the parents) that I made them play the concert anyway. They got 1/2 way through their third song and just basically quit because they were all lost. I explained to the parents (and the children that were upset behind me) that with band practice once a week, we only got together for 14 lessons. 14 lessons should give them at least 14 notes they could play, plus the ability to play in two different time signatures, and the ability to follow a director. But for the days between lessons, without practice, the students lost about 20% per day of what they had been taught, lost the endurance and strength in the muscles that allowed them to play more than five minutes on their instruments, did not improve or maintain the eye-hand coordination necessary to process the information on the page and could not improve their listening skills so they could be in tune and play together. That’s why practice between band lessons is important and it’s important that these kids learn this concept and that you, the parents, learn this. Ya, I got fired.

“Why don’t we teach tax preparation and finance in school?” We do.  Do you think that the tax laws remain the same from year to year? Do you think your kids will completely reject your advice about money and ignore the advice from banks and other financial institutions that profit from people’s ignorance when it comes to money management? Or do you think you have all the money issues figured out because of what your Insurance Agent told you was a good investment?

“When will I ever need algebra and geometry? I have my iPhone.” Which bag of flour is the better value? Which car is the best for my money? How long does it take to get to work? Why does my shed keep falling down? Where do I put the jack on my car when I have a flat? Show me on your iPhone how you would input that information to get the answers to those questions.

“Why do I have to learn this Olde English Shakespeare stuff?” Ever watch Game of Thrones? Where do you expand your vocabulary? Can you communicate in phrases that are longer than 140 characters? Can you make a point? Can you win a debate? Can you logically defend a choice?

“What do YOU know about math? (English, Statistics, Computer Science…fill in a subject)” I know more than you. I know where to look to get the information I need to fill in your gaps. Do you?

The culture has changed. Kids don’t HAVE chores. They can’t have fun unless it is regulated by parents. Playdates? Really? Organized sports for 5-year-olds? Video games and educational programs on a tablet for kids under 4? What is WRONG with us?!!! If we want to immerse kids into a love of learning, they have to be surrounded by people that love learning. Because we denigrate learning to something that only happens during the first 12 years in school, and we abhor reading or going to concerts or seminars, what have we taught the children? Learning is a CHORE to be endured. Maybe we should establish mandatory boarding schools!

Welcome to the House of Husker.  There are 4 teams: Crimson, Cream, Black, and Runza. Their respective Beasts are the Crimson Pegasus, the Cream Cow, the Black Spectre, and the Runza Dragon. Each team will be responsible for learning basic life skills such as Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Geography, Physical and Biological Sciences, American and World History, Civics, and Visual and Fine Arts. Each team will be responsible for a farm consisting of garden and farm animals including pigs, goats, chickens, and cattle. Each team will be responsible for the finances and business management of their farms and other related ventures. There will be related businesses such as cottage industries that specialize in industrial technology such as carpentry, metal work, small and large engine repair, information technology, and animal husbandry, etc. Each class in each team will be responsible for cooking for the whole team one weekend of every month. (7th graders–Breakfast, 8th graders–Lunch, 9th graders–supper on Saturdays, 10th graders–Breakfast, 12th graders–Dinner, and 11th graders–Supper on Sundays.) Homework will include a mandatory hour for every class taken and an hour’s practice in the Arts course in which the student has enrolled. The heads of teams will be two faculty members per team, a senior student leader, a vice-leader, a business manager, a project manager, and representatives from all the classes in that team. Each team will wear student robes with the team uniform during class time. Intramural competitions will be encouraged.

Applications accepted on a first come, first served basis.

 

Update: I have had NO applications up to now, 5/10/19. I thought I’d have at least a dozen!

 

 

I’m Fat

I was listening to a show on NPR this morning and they did an issue about obese people. Fat people haven’t always been considered gross and disgusting. Botticelli and Raphael featured full-figured women in their paintings.

   

Now, they are considered lazy, undisciplined, and weak.  Wait?  What does that have to do with weight? Do people think that fat people just don’t care about how they look?  And it is alllllll about how people look isn’t it.  Observe in the pictures that the women do not have defined abs and muscular shoulders. Normal people cannot attain that measure of fitness, but we’re shamed by the fact that we don’t.

The woman in the interview said she came out to her family and friends that she was fat. This was not news to the people she told. She didn’t do it for them, she did it for herself. She now defined herself as a fat person. How can weight define a person?  That’s ridiculous! She had some valid points though.

People view fat people in two different ways. Sloppy, lazy, undisciplined, weak fatties, and fat people trying to get thinner. They patronize the fat people trying to get thinner. They shame the fat people they perceive aren’t trying. They complain about sitting next to them on public transportation, in movie theaters, at events, because they take up soooo much space! They consider fat rolls gross. They make fun of women of significant size in leggings.

What do I mean about patronizing fat people trying to get thinner? “Oh, you just have to eat more salads!”  “You should try this exercise.” “Are you going to eat all of that?!” I have news for those well-meaning people. You couldn’t keep up with me in the gym. That’s right.  You heard me. I do 90 pounds on the crunch machine. I do 70 pounds on the lat pull machine. I do 15-20 pound biceps curls. I do 80-pound leg presses. I can go 30 min on an elliptical machine on level 6. I do 90 crunches and 45 push-ups. I live on about 1200 calories a day. I do not eat burgers and fries three times a day–more like 3 times in a month. I have pizza twice a month. So yes, some of us are really trying to lose the weight. It is NOT however because we can’t find clothes that don’t look like circus tents or Macy’s white sale bedding. It is NOT because eventually, we’ll be diabetic. It is NOT because we feel guilty that our “fat-related” illnesses are a drain on the public health system.

Why do we try so hard? Because we remember how it felt to be thinner. We remember not having to have help getting out of the couch or the car. We remember not wheezing when we went up the stairs. We remember not hurting when we walked long distances. We remember being able to walk into a store and just buy something because it looked cute. We remember knees and ankles and backs that didn’t crack when we moved. We remember running to fly kites and taking hikes and climbing trees.

My Fat does not define me. (Obie is surprised–Obie is my sentient fat by the way.) My size does not determine my intelligence, my work ethic or my self-discipline. It does restrict my activities and how I feel.

I am fat. And I don’t like it. And I’m working to get rid of that fat.

Through the Keyhole CW cue

“What do you see on the other side of the door when you look through a keyhole?
 a prompt for this week’s CW piece.
[Source: @DailyPrompt]

“What do you see?!”

“It’s dark, but it kinda looks like a library. There is some light in there though.”

“There has to be more to it than that!”

“Because…”

“Because they won’t unlock it. Let me look.”

“I’m going to look under the door.”

“Never seen a keyhole like this. It’s BIG!”

“Nothing but dust bunnies down here. Ya, it’s an old house. It’s like the old movies where they carry an enormous key ring.”

“Shhhh! I just heard something inside!”

“What? There are people in there?!”

“Shhh! They’re talking.”

“What are they saying?”

“There’s music coming from behind the wall. He’s knocking on the bookcases.”

“Do you hear any music? Can you See anything?”

“Nope…wait, the light is moving around.”

“Is it a flashlight then?”

“What was that? It sounded like furniture moving. They seem to be talking.”

“More than one person?”

“Yes, a man and a woman.”

“And…?”

“It makes no sense.  ‘Put the candle beck?’

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/cw-its-not-what-you-think/#comment-10553

But Not for Me (CW Prompt)

“Write a poem from the perspective of a pirate ship captain writing to the woman he loves.”
 a prompt for this week’s CW piece.

I hear your voice in the wind

I see your eyes in the lightning

The smell of your breath

in the scent of the exotic flowers.

I long to be with you, my love.

 

I hear my destruction in the storm

I feel death’s needles in the lightning

The smell of blood and decay

in the ships that I prey upon.

I would not wish you here, my love

 

The Sea calls to me

The treasure draws me in

The blood-lust clouds my mind.

 

My love calls to me

Your soft touch draws me in

Your kiss clears my mind.

 

On my ship, I see my own death.

In your arms, I see life. And yet…

My foolishness drags me back

into the arms of Davy Jones.

You are my Love, but your

Love is wasted.

Save your love for one who is not

Drawn to the sea.

Your love is precious–

But not for me.

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/cw-in-the-deep-blue-sea/

There’s a hole in the bucket…

“In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water.” ~CW word prompt this week.

You remember that song

There’s a hole in the bucket

Dear Liza, Dear Liza…

It goes on for 8-12 more

verses, each one brings

a problem and a solution.

Hole? Fix.

How? Straw

Cut straw? Ax

Dull ax, sharpen…

Problem-> solution

She solves the problem

in her head.

He formulates new

problems in his.

What if…

There’s a Hole in the bucket

Dear Liza, dear Liza.

There’s a Hole in the bucket,

Dear Liza, a hole!

Hmmm.  Isn’t that

curious Henry, dear Henry,

Curious it is! So what will you do?

END OF SONG!

Off he drives to Lowes, cursing.

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/cw-wet-monday-an-easter-tradition/