Category Archives: How I think

What does your coach do?

My son-in-law is a track and cross-country coach. My daughter is a professor in health and recreation. One is a coach, and one is a teacher and they both work with people in sports. If you were an athlete, which would you work with? The coach or the professor?

When you think of a coach, you think of the guy on the sidelines of the football field or the basketball court yelling at the players, calling plays, directing traffic. This same daughter was on a swim team and made it to State all four years of high school. Remember, your face is in the water when you’re swimming. Unless you’re competing outdoors, the echo and reverb in the pool makes it impossible to discern voices and understand instructions. One of her coaches whistled every time her head broke water. I have no idea what that meant. Sitting on the sidelines, I could not tell if made her swim faster or if it was a secret code so that she didn’t crash into the wall or go out of her lane.

I DO, however, understand what a music coach or conductor/director of a music organization does. He tells us when to start and when to stop. If you’re lost, he tells you when to come in. He may do that even if you aren’t lost. He tells you when to play loudly and when to play softly. He may slow you down or speed you up. He may indicate what style he wants you to play–Mozart light or Wagner dark. And…That’s all you see at the concert.

But that’s not all he does. When we start a new piece, he may explain the origin or history of the music and the composer. This gives us an idea of the environment of the piece. Russian music sounds differently than French. 19th century music sounds different than 17th century music. Dance music is different than Program music. He may isolate the melody in each section of the music so we can hear where the melody is. He may review the complexities of the more difficult passages so we can play them in tune, together, and correctly interpreted. He rehearses us. He asks which part is most important here? He asks the trumpet players what the 2nd violins are doing to make sure everyone is listening and integrating their parts into the piece as a whole.

A teacher gives you information that you do not already know. A coach asks you questions to help you understand yourself and your performance. You may have already heard of the way Vince Lombardi started every season, “This is a football.” These guys have been playing football since they were 3 years old. They know that! But, by starting and reviewing the basics, Lombardi was coaching them instead of teaching them. How does it feel when the ball is snapped correctly? Can you make it more efficient? How does it feel when the ball is thrown correctly? How can you make it more accurate? What does a good block look like? How do you prepare for those hitters on the other team that outweigh you by 50 pounds and are taller than you by 5 inches? Look at all those questions!

What the football coach does is take advantage of his perspective, both on the field and in the box. He’s getting information from his players and the coaches with differing vantage points. He can tweak things on the field, calm the nerves of his players, help them focus on the game at hand rather than the mistake they made 3 minutes ago. He’s not teaching during the game just like the orchestral director isn’t teaching at the concert. He’s tweaking the balance; he’s adjusting for the room full of people and that annoying guy in the back that left his phone on.

What, then, do you think a life coach does?

Yeah… The most common answer to that is, “um.” They’re not supposed to tell you what to do. They’re not supposed to teach you. The person who controls the direction of the coaching session is you. What do you want to accomplish? What questions do you need to answer? Are you happy with your current situation? What would you like to change? How would you go about fixing it? Where can you go to get the information you need, the tools you need to use, the resources and people to get the goal done? That is coaching.

Do not assume that a life coach is just what you see in a psychiatrist’s office, or a lecture room, or a bar. A good football coach doesn’t do the exercises, the players do. A good orchestral conductor doesn’t play all the instruments, the musicians do. The life coach doesn’t fix you. The life coach’s prime weapon is the word, “Why?” Then You do the work and You get the results you’re working for.

If you have a “coach” that tells you what to do, answers all your questions, and pats you on the head before he or she takes your money, you have the wrong person.

Staying true

I have a problem. I can stay true to the evidence or I can stay true to the plot. Sometimes, they’re polar opposites.

Watching Longmire. It’s a Netflix series set in Wyoming. The Sherriff commutes from his Ranch in New Mexico, 90 m north of Santa Fe. Wait, no? Oh, well he supposedly lives in Wyoming near the Montana Border within the view of the Absaroka part of the Rocky Mountains. The series is set in Wyoming, but most of the location scenes are shot in New Mexico. Somehow, he drives to Denver in 5 hours. He’s really MOVING!

Now recall that I am a fan of procedural shows such as CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS… Longmire’s deputy has been found dead in a stream having been shot in the face by a shotgun. In his truck is his folded uniform. He has texted his old girlfriend with multiple apologies and has left a suicide note on his computer which he left running in his house.

“Click” goes my mind.

  1. Did he take off all his clothes, wander into the middle of the stream, sit down on the rocks and pull the trigger with his foot? (Gibbs would have noticed that.)
  2. Since he has powder burns on his face, he missed his mouth, yes? The muzzle of the gun would have had to be at least a few inches outside of his face to leave that type of wound. I think it would be daunting to look into the barrel and still be willing to pull the trigger rather than putting it in your mouth. Therefore is it really possible to contort yourself into a position like that to pull the trigger? (Dexter would have noticed that.)
  3. Longmire tries to sift for missing BBs to see if he shot himself in the river. There were 196 BBs in his face which means that some of them either blew out the back of his head or missed him entirely. But there were only 6 missing. If you swallow the barrel, wouldn’t all the BBs be inside the mouth or the inside of the skull and more than 6 would have blown through the back of his head. (Temperance Brennan would have noticed that.)
  4. Where did they find the shotgun? Wouldn’t his fingerprints have been on the barrel rather than the trigger and the stock? If the shotgun was in the water and washed off the fingerprints, how did the dirt inside the shell in the gun stay dry? (Horatio Caine would have noticed that.)
  5. If, as Walt noted, Barlow (Branch’s Dad) killed him, texted Longmire’s daughter, removed the cameras and evidence from Branch’s house, moved the body to the river in Branch’s truck and rode his mountain bike back to his house, there should have been evidence everywhere! (Monk would have noticed that.)
  6. There would have been bicycle tracks near the truck. There would have been blood evidence in the truck (head wounds bleed a LOT!). What did he do with the bloody clothes and whatever he wrapped up Branch’s body in? Wouldn’t Barlow’s fingerprints have been on Branch’s phone? Wouldn’t there have been river mud on the bicycle? Wouldn’t there have been river mud on Barlow’s boots and pants? How did he clean up the blood at the scene of the murder (the skeet shooting range)? How did a man of his age ride a mountain bike all the way to his home and still be able to walk the next day? (Grissom would have noticed that.)

The plot is that we don’t know who did it, and Longmire has to puzzle it out. He wants to believe Nighthorse (the owner of the big casino going up) is behind the murder of his wife and now Branch, his deputy. It would still mean that the body would have been moved and posed. Nighthorse had done this with David Ridge, the guy who’d murdered the meth head that had been hired to kill Longmire’s wife. David faked his suicide and Nighthorse helped him fake his cremation. David was an employee of Nighthorse, but was lent to Barlow (Branch’s Dad) to kill the meth head and as Barlow and Nighthorse were notoriously at odds, if they identified David as the murderer, his association would lead back to Nighthorse and not Barlow. They tried to frame Longmire, then Hector, then Henry.

David’s calling card was a peyote soaked crow feather. When Branch was trying to get the DNA from David’s cremation, David shot him and inserted this crow feather into Branch’s wound, and later, he left one stuck in the meth head’s throat, but there wasn’t one when he killed Hector. And Hector, being found dying in a cave, identified David as his killer. OK, now it’s getting confusing because David is seen alive and walking around after his death. In fact, he tries to kill Longmire and lands on Longmire’s knife so he has 2 funerals.

If they’d followed the evidence and had applied logic to the situation, they would have identified Barlow sooner.

This is what messes with my head though: Barlow shot his only son, the heir to his legacy in the face!!!! That is extremely personal. His last words to his son were, “I’m too old to start over and make my fortune. But I’m not to old to have another son.” Blam! He was afraid that the evidence his son had found would send him to jail and ruin his businesses. In the end, he had no son and his insurance would have gone to his brother Lucien as the next of kin. If he had a will, he couldn’t have predicted he’d have to murder his own son, so his legacy would be in probate for decades.

I kinda like it when the evidence and the plot are coordinated. Otherwise, I process this completely differently and it keeps me up at night.

What if you double the minimum wage?

This is exactly what Henry Ford did in 1914. He guaranteed the workers $5 per day for 8 hours of work. At a time, the standard work week was sixty hours, and Ford reduced it to forty. That put his minimum wage at 40 cents/hour. His production before the assembly line innovation was twelve cars in a month. The production time was about twelve hours per car. After the conversion to assembly line, the time per car was 93 minutes. There were 13,000 workers at the plant. (Gets out calculator). The cost to Ford for his labor went up $32,500 per DAY! But…Ford’s plant was making 260,000 cars in the year with his 13,000 workers, and the other manufacturers made 280,000 cars in the same year…but with 66,000 workers. Ford was making an average of 20 cars per worker. His competition was making 4.4 cars per worker.

Ford’s labor costs would have been in the general area of $16,900,000 per year…$5/day x 260 days/year x 13,000 workers. From what I understand, the standard wages for autoworkers was between $1 and $2 per day and 60 hour weeks. Ford’s competitors were spending about $41,000,000 per year to get 280,000 cars. Ford’s process cost was 20% of the cost of his competitors, so even doubling the wages didn’t bite into his bottom line. Further, think on this: The average price of the competition’s cars was over $1000 with some as high as $5000+. That would represent nearly 6 months to 2 years of the yearly wages average worker (outside of Ford’s shop). I got the prices from the 1914 Official Handbook of Automobiles. The Model T is not mentioned here. When the Model T was automated, Ford reduced the price to $440 in 1914, so that represented 88 DAYS of a worker’s wages. Wouldn’t it be cool to own something that you helped make? What affect do you think it would have on the profit margin?

Well, if the Model T was sold for $440 in that year and he sold all of them, 260K, He made $114,000,000 on the sales, and spent only $16,900,000 on the labor. The costs of the materials would be roughly the same for Ford and his competitors. The vast majority of the population at the time made between $1000 and $2000 per year. It is Twice the number of the people at the next level–between $2000 and $3000 per year. The idea of taking out a loan to buy a car was ludicrous.

Now we hear of Dan Price, a CEO that is reducing his own salary so his workers can get $70K per year. Dan Price made his own salary $70,000 and made his company’s minimum wage also $70,000. This is capitalism. In Dan Price’s words,  “Since then, our revenues have tripled, we are a Harvard Business School case study, and our employees experienced a 10-fold increase in home buying.”

True capitalism is collaborative and cooperative. It comes from a philosophy of plenty, not scarcity. The system we have in place is industrialism where those in want are told that it is lonely at the top–that everything in life reflects the triangle model. This is a myth. There is plenty of money, plenty of food, plenty of medicine, plenty of work. It is to the advantage of ruthless and unscrupulous moguls for those beneath them to believe that everything is scarce and they should be grateful for work without a decent wage, insane costs for medicine, and investments that are not available to anyone but the rich. We must abandon the industrialist view!

Calm Down?!!!

Are you KIDDING me? Have you ever been in mid-rant and have some well-meaning person tell you to calm down? What are the indications? Red Face, hard breathing, elevated vocal volume, higher pitch, eyes wide, brows scrunched, hands balled up into fists. Check, check and check. What is the actual cause of the rant? Is it something over which the subject doesn’t seem to have any control? Is this person indicating frustration or anger? If this screaming banshee is demonstrating anything like rage, get out of the way!

My friend, Heather, is like me. If she has her mad on, the mere words, “Calm down,” make her go ballistic. We both have the same reaction: get madder. I think it’s that people think we cannot control our emotions. The situation evokes an emotional response, and we’re told it’s not a valid reaction. I think that unless the underlying problem is addressed, the emotion cannot be just shut off.

When you see the police procedurals, the bad guy has a gun, and everyone–everyone!–is yelling in their command voices to drop the gun. 8 guys yelling at you tends to scare the crap out of you, fight or flight…no place to go, that leaves fight. I saw a cop walk up behind a guy and whisper in his ear to drop the weapon, and he did! Oh, and he wet his pants. True power is confidant enough and cool enough not to have to raise the voice. But in this case, the voice is raised, the blood pressure up, things get thrown. Then someone yells Calm Down. I have really good aim with a spatula. I may have enough self control to throw something that might break bones or cause a serious bruise instead of removing pieces of anatomy. But I couldn’t absolutely guarantee this reaction.

It’s funny. My son can be calmed down by pure logic or a nice hug, and he reacts to the words “Calm Down” by calming down. What is wrong with this boy?

I think the best reaction to me losing my temper is to ask the question: Is there anything we can do about this? It changes the direction of the rage from the way things ARE to what we can do to deal with this. It goes from an emotional response to a mental exercise. It’s a distraction technique. Another distraction technique is to agree with me. Don’t add anything to the conversation though as that might launch me into another rant. If I’m panicked, remind me to breathe. But I tell you the truth, if you discount my emotion, I will be most displeased and will do exactly the opposite and punctuate my points with sharp objects.

Don’t let her hear you…

I’m assuming it’s a she. I’m not sure. I think Friction is a She because she has an evil, vengeful sense of humor. I’m going to call her Frieda Friction. Later today, March 6, 2021, I will be giving a humorous speech detailing her dealings with humanity. I don’t think she wants you to know.

There may be scientists that will dispute my findings, but ask them about the coefficient of friction. You cannot figure that out when you have both hands full of things that will break if you drop them. (And you will drop them.)

She IS Flighty and Fractious. A Fiendish Fraud. Without a doubt she has a Foul Effluvia of Falsehood at her fingertips. Her intimations display a Freudian Figment of Feverish and Fervent Foolishness. If you depend on Friction to act a certain way and it is to your advantage that she works this way, She will always do the complete opposite! Since sitting down in my chair to write this, it has gotten inches lower, even though it is locked. It depends on friction to hold its position. My pen has spontaneously rolled off my desk twice. I guess that could be Newtonian fiction, but that is another blog and I don’t need Newton and Frieda ganging up on me today. I walked by a cabinet that I have successfully navigated for over a year, but this time my sweater caught on something and my background fell down. I pulled out the leftover roast I made yesterday, and it slipped through my hands as if I had no friction ridges.

“PHA!” I say. I will give this speech regardless of the mounting resistance by things unseen and misunderstood for a millennia. I will take the abuse and rant and rave ineffectually until my message is spread worldwide. If you don’t hear from me for a while, assume they’ve taken me to a safe place with birdsong and lots of padding.


I got to visit my granddaughters this weekend. There was a teaching moment. Unintended consequences 101. Welcome to Miyagi dough.

We were making stained-glass cookies. Those are cookies with the center cut out and filled with crushed jolly ranchers. The candy melts and looks like stained glass.

Their stand mixer was either broken or still in a box somewhere so we were using a hand mixer. Cookie dough is not good for a hand mixer as it tends to burn out the motor. So before you add the last 1 1/2 cups of flour, you have to start mixing by hand. We used a scraper. You start at the farthest edge of the bowl, scoop down to the bottom, scrape to the right against the side of the bowl and then fold it over. Then you give the bowl a quarter turn to the right and do it again. My granddaughter is 12 and taller than me and can easily do an overhand serve in volleyball. She is not a weakling. Her arm got tired. I told her to do it left handed.

“My left hand is weak and stupid.”

“Noooo, don’t give yourself that rule! It is strong, but unused to doing things independently.”

“It doesn’t work!!!”

“Yes it does, it’s just awkward right now.”

Gradually she started getting better with her left hand.

We got cookie dough on our hands and did a flick into the bowl…right handed and then left handed. It didn’t always go where we planned. There was much giggling coming from the kitchen.

The pan spray for the cookie sheets was on the top shelf of the cabinet. She was able to reach it if she jumped.

I started to laugh…”Wax on, Wax off…”

She asked, “What does making cookies have to do with anything?”

“You know that elbow move you use to keep people from stealing the basketball? Stir the cookie dough!”

She tried it and looked astonished.

“You know that wrist movement when you throw a free throw? That snap when you do a kill shot over the net in volleyball? Flick the dough.”

Her eyes got wide.

“You know that jump for jump shots and blocks in both basketball and volleyball?”

“NO! Reach for the pan spray?!!”


“So then during the basketball game, if the opponents are playing press defense, you yell from the sidelines, ‘Stir Right, Stir Left!”

“And when they’re on the foul line?”

“Flick the DOUGH! And then when I’m doing my jump serve or a block??”

“Grab the Spray!!!!”

This will totally change the games for her. I would guess she’ll be making lots of cookies now.


“You’re weird.” I think that started in Kindergarten. I had to wear corrective shoes, so not sneakers. I immediately stood out from the crowd. I had a vast vocabulary as a first grader, but I didn’t start reading chapter books until Fifth Grade…The Robe by Douglas Lloyd. I heard that phrase “You’re so weird!” every day, multiple times a day, for all of elementary school. I was imbued with the connections between subjects, music and art, art and history, history and literature, literature and math, math and science, science and music, and around and around and around it goes. I took for granted that everyone thought this way. They don’t. People didn’t understand my jokes. I was (and am) loud when I get excited. When we started on the SRA reading program in fifth grade, I zoomed ahead and got through all of the fifth grade requirements, the sixth grade, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade requirements. There were one or two others in the class that did that too. That would be two or three of us out of a class of thirty that reached ninth grade level in fifth grade.

Because our elementary school was a lab school, we were the mice they experimented on. No one in public school got as many standardized tests as we did. Where the rest of the class was worried about content, I learned how to take tests. You didn’t have to have a whole lot of content mastery to do well on the test. This surprised some teachers. I was the exception, not the rule, though. Therefore, they didn’t have to make adjustments. I was the outlier. I was weird.

Somewhere along the way, weird translated to stupid. I transferred to public school in seventh grade because my teacher at the lab school was psycho. I was in tears Every Day with this woman! Remember that I hadn’t started reading chapter books until fifth grade? I decided for my 1000-page per month book-reading requirement that I was going to read David Copperfield (850 pages). My psycho teacher said I couldn’t do it, so, of course, I did and wrote a book report on it. She accused me of cheating even though I could quote her passages and explain the whole plot to her without notes. My folks adamantly denied I had cheated. It made no difference. She flunked me on that project. I transferred before the winter break. At this time, I’d already studied Spanish for 3 1/2 years, so vocabulary words in my English class were easy–Latin roots etc. made new English words easy to understand. Though in the fifth grade classroom at the lab school, we had experimented with the “New Math,” the public school seventh graders where I now found myself were just getting into it. My teacher was not very familiar with “New Math.” They discouraged mental flexibility and solving problems without pencil and paper. For the tests, I wrote the answer and then went back and did all the steps.

The question I had to answer was this: 12 – x = 7.

  • Soooo in my head it came out in English. What’s the difference between 12 and 7? The answer is 5. I couldn’t just write 5 and go on to the next question though. So on the bottom line I wrote “5 = x”
  • Then I filled in all the steps: 12 – x – 7 = 7 – 7
  • 12 – x – 7 = (7 – 7) = 0
  • 12 – x – 7 = (12 – 7) – x
  • (12 – 7) – x + x = 0 + x
  • (12 – 7) + (-x + x) = 0 + x
  • 12 – 7 + 0 = x
  • 5 + 0 = x
  • 5 = x


NOW go on to the next question. What a horrendous way to spend twenty minutes. Only one other person in that class was done in twenty minutes. He was the smartest kid in the class. Everyone else took the full fifty minutes. My teacher assumed I’d given up and was surprised there were any answers on my test when I turned it in. Then She accused me of cheating. I wanted to issue a challenge to the other kid that had finished in twenty minutes, but this was public school. You don’t have competitions to improve your skill. It might make someone in the class feel bad. I asked her how I could have “given up” after twenty minutes and a full thirty minutes before those sitting around me and copied from people who didn’t pass the test and still get a 95% on it? The look on her face confirmed she was unfamiliar with logical debate. From then on, we had to bring our work up to the teacher’s desk as we finished it instead of just passing it forward at the end of class. It was a race now between me and the other bright kid, and we were always first and second. Sometimes he won, sometimes I did. Now I was REALLY weird. Girls are not supposed to be good at Math–we were supposed to be brilliant at English and Spelling and Social Studies. Julie and Paula and I were also good at science. Julie and Paula got a pass because they were smart. (?) I was weird so I wasn’t supposed to be smart? I was loud and obnoxious, so I couldn’t be smart.

OK, everything will be different when I go to college…oh well. Nope.

I could hear better than anyone in the music department. I could even identify metronome beats per minute without looking at it. So it would go tick tick tick tick and I’d say, “Ah, that’s 84 beats per minute,” and be right. This is a trick. This is not a tool. It not a skill that anyone would want to acquire. I took the final exam for ear training and sight singing and passed it without taking the class. I was once again accused of cheating. I was now expecting this type of reaction. I invited them to test me again on any other song they chose. They didn’t. But then they had me as “dropped from course” instead of passing it. I didn’t even realize they’d done that until I went back to school in ’86 and got a look at my transcript. Every time I did well in a course, regardless of the subject matter, I was accused of cheating. I guess it is suspicious to have someone that was weird be good at anything. I took Calculus, Fortran IV (dark ages with punch cards!) and Assembly language computer programming classes and they thought my boyfriend was doing my homework and were surprised when I got an A on the final exam. I took Renaissance History and Renaissance Literature, and they were surprised that a music major would get A’s on the final tests. I only had to take English Composition and Grammar once and apparently that’s unusual among music majors.

Then I went to get a second degree in Business, and when I did well on the accounting classes and the business law classes, they were surprised that I had another degree in Music (the horror!) I took a Geology class and not expected to do well because business majors didn’t take Geology classes. I took advanced statistics and business majors were mostly into marketing so when I did well there and was actually tutoring some of the other students, it was because I was cheating–my husband was helping me write the computer programs that I wrote in Basic to do my homework and check my students’. (Remember the boyfriend from earlier? Same guy. We got married!) Nope I didn’t cheat; that was all me. And I was pregnant. I was weird because I actually liked Macro and Micro Economics. I took the GMAT and got 650+ and that did not surprise anyone. They were surprised that I took the test at all. After all, business majors who are mothers of four kids do not usually go back for a masters’ degree. And, I didn’t. We moved and I hadn’t been accepted into any Masters programs. It reinforced my belief that maybe I wasn’t as special as I thought I was.

I have been head-butting the “you’re weird, you can’t be innovative or smart or wise” all my life. It’s only been in the last 10 or so years that I quit fighting. I had looked back on my life and realized that it didn’t matter how much I knew, how long I’d studied, how well I remembered things, or how I expressed my wisdom. I was not at all as special as I thought myself to be. If the first thing EVERYONE thought was that I was not very bright, that I was a goof off, that I was a trouble maker, or that I was an arrogant self-centered narcissist, MAYBE THEY WERE RIGHT. I tried not to stick out. I tried not to show what I knew while secretly hoping someone would see me for me besides my husband.

Long-term friends now recognize that I have a lot of intelligence and skill in a wide variety of subjects. But most people’s first impression of me is that I’m not very smart. I still get that look of shock when I speak from the perspective of a fairly intelligent being with an integrated approach to things physical, mental and spiritual. I guess I’ve spoken about this before.

Unfortunately, I am extremely intolerant of ignorant people. Given the overload of information that is currently from a multitude of sources, I find that people that latch onto the things that make absolutely no sense MADDENING! I cannot understand how anyone could fact check the things they see online or hear on TV or Radio espoused as the “truth” and ignore (hence ignorant) the facts and the context of said information. So sometimes I let my “intelligence, wisdom, and factual grounding” blow-up on the screen. It’s like I’m reading or listening to something really foolish and I say or post, “Wait just a dam minute! Do you hear what you’re saying?!!! Shut up and do some detective work before you start spouting off stuff you clearly do not understand! You are making yourself look like a foo… Wait? you got 500 likes and people agreeing with you in the first minute since you posted something this stupid?” And from the ignorant person I get, “Where’d that come from? I thought you were enlightened! You’re just as delusional as ______________(fill in the blank with the most esteemed expert in whatever area you want to discuss)” So now I get blasted by all of my ignorant friends and all HIS ignorant friends as someone who’s obviously been deceived. I’m now a member of the sheeple? Excuse me? So given a choice between overwhelming factual proof and incontrovertible evidence versus the overwhelming negative responses and personal attacks what should I do? Unfriend a person because they’re ignorant? I keep backing myself into the patronizing activity of these doofuses with the head patting, “It’s ok, I like you even if you are woefully uninformed about the FACT that the earth really is flat…” Once again, I’m not as smart and informed and wise as I think I am. I feel like I don’t belong here.

Yes, I still want to see their cute kids and their latest fur baby antics. I love their vacation pictures. But I wish they’d stay out of philosophy and science and politics and religion because on the ladder of awareness and scientific study and theological background, they are not even on the third rung. When they expose their lack of understanding, I have to show extreme restraint to keep from pouring slime all over their heads. I realize I’m not at the top of the ladder and someone above me might be fighting the same urge to pour on me. But I think I’m miles above them. And this is my problem. I am weird. My greatest fear is that I’m only on the fourth rung.

What this is demonstrates the fact that where I think of myself on an intellectual and philosophical scale may be incongruent with my actual position.

Caped Jerks

Yes, I’ve been watching “The Boys” about some crusaders who object to super heroes murdering people. It’s a very sneaky plot. The super heroes save people and get justice except when they’re high. They are just as likely to kill the bad guy and everyone in the vicinity as they are to actually save the day. If they mess up, (let off a laser-eye attack in the cockpit of the airliner destroying all the instruments) they’re just as likely to escape and cut the plane in half and blame the terrorists. And sometimes they demand sexual favors for payment. The corporation pays them handsomely and runs polls like Nielson Ratings and arranges for special events and promotions to bring in more gigs. They decide they want to be part of the military, and the only way to get them into that position is if one of the heroes comes up with a synthetic serum that turns ordinary people into super heroes, but since he sells it to the terrorists (incognito of course!) they create super villains. In that way, the only solution to super villains is the superheroes in the military. Et Voila! ANYWAY… It’s lots of blood and sex and gore and ridiculous situations, some of which have that Seth Rogen touch.

My question is this: Who does their laundry? Every single episode, they’re all wearing the same clothes. The end of the episode, the hero has blood spatter and tissue all over his outfit, and the next episode, same outfit, all clean and shiny. Does he change clothes between calls? Can you imagine him dressed like Captain America (they call him Homelander) and dropping in on a bank robbery with blood and guts all over him?

Homelander: Hey guys! Robbing a Bank?

Bad guys: Dammmmmm! What is that stench?

H: Oh probably some small colon and a bit of brain and blood…

B: gags

H: Just drop the money and surrender.

B: still gagging

H walks up to the sick one and that poor guy just starts throwing up.

Wonder Woman clone called Maeve walks up.

M: Homelander? Couldn’t you shower before you came here?

H: WW! Glad you could join us! I’m going to take this teller into the vault to see if anything else is missing.

M: I’ll hold down the fort. I wonder if I can juggle these three guys?

We hear three thuds like breaking watermelons and then M calls out: Guess not…

Then we see H coming out of the vault adjusting his trousers, and the teller straightening her skirt with obvious signs of transferred blood and goo. So obviously, these jerks need to be taken down and exposed and that’s why we have “The Boys” who try to combat these guys even though they do not have any super powers of their own. They have recruited 2 super heroines who keep saving them from the jerks, and I guess we’ll see if they stick with them.

The whole series is like that. It’s like a really bad car wreck. You can’t look away and you’re not sure if you should laugh or cringe. Will I watch the next season? Yes. Why? I don’t know!

Wait…who’s teaching here?

I have been teaching for a really long time. Last count? 52 years. Half a century. Most of my teaching has been in the field of music. I have been playing piano for 63 years and I listened to my mom giving piano lessons that whole time. I have a degree in Music Education that goes beyond most anyone in the field. You have to have 120 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, 50 of which need to be in Math, about 50 in education, and the rest general education. If you go Pre Med, it’s about 67 hours in the field of medicine. I had about 80 credit hours in music for my undergraduate degree, then I got recertified and got a 2nd degree in business finance, but still took music! I ended up with about 127 credit hours in music. Would you guess I know what I’m doing?

I have had a few students that decided what they wanted to learn and how they were going to learn it. Excuse me? I understand that most people haven’t a clue how they learn stuff, and I have developed over the years an approach that covers all the learning styles: by hearing, by reading, by watching, and by doing.

So today…sigh… The first thing out of his mouth was, “I didn’t practice the two weeks between our last lesson.” Big surprise. And the second thing was, “I wanted to move faster. I don’t feel I am progressing.” Read the first statement he made. (Can I slap him please?) He said, “Teach me like this:” and he put on a video of a woman playing a hymn that he liked using a I, IV, V and vi progression, but when she was singing the chords were much more complex because she was altering the chords with her melody. She’s playing a C chord and singing a melody centered around an F which is really interesting but that’s not how she’s presenting this. All the chords are in root position so the student needs to move his hand all over. In addition, all she’s presenting is the accompaniment but the melody is sung rather than played.

“See?” he says. “She makes it easy.” No problem. Can you play it in D? How about F? G? Do you know why those chords fit with those notes (which they don’t by the way) and how she knows which to play? No? What did you learn then? The progression isn’t written down, the melody is not written down. How do you remember the whole song? Close the computer. Now play what you saw. Do you think I can play what I saw? You’d be right. I can play it the way she showed you and at least 4 other ways.

The student underestimates the difficulty of the stuff he wants to play so he wants to skip steps. He wants to jump from Kindergarten where he doesn’t know the note names to elementary college music theory. If you are studying with someone, shouldn’t you go at the pace that both you and the teacher can agree on? I do explain every step of the way. But after 2 months, he still refers to C as Do. I told him Do could be any note on the piano. But C means C. “Oh, OK, I will make flash cards and learn that tomorrow.” No, you will simply name your notes as you play them so you get a sound and letter and a physical feeling all connected. And No, you can’t change the fingerings. “But…” NO you will learn it better this way. Fill in these blanks in the exercise with the note names. Then say the notes as you play–all three songs.

I get so frustrated. No you can’t tell me how to teach you. I know what you can and cannot do. It will take you longer to do it your way and you won’t remember. Step 1: Teacher is right! Step 2: Look at step 1.

Update 12/14/2020

Can he name his notes? Did he fill in the blanks under the notes? Does he now know the song? No, No and No. So I asked him, “Did you name your notes when you practiced?” No. “Did you make those flash cards you were talking about last time?” No. “How did you think it would go when that was precisely what I told you I was going to ask you to do at our next lesson?” Not well. (Where’s my cast iron skillet? Ka-Bong!)

OK… For Christmas we are going to learn this song by ear. I teach him the melody–Joy to the world. I explain that on the strong beats such as 1 and 3, the notes in the melody should be part of the chord he’s playing in his left hand. We’re in the key of C, so if there’s a C, an E, or a G on a strong beat, then we play a C or “I” chord. If there’s an F or an A, we need to play an F or “IV” chord in this inversion. If there’s a G, B, or D, we need to play a G7 or “V7” chord in that inversion. Do you understand why we need to know the note names now? He has a pretty good ear, but true to form, he gets some of the patterns mixed up. This is normal. His next lesson is in January.

Here’s the thing. If he hadn’t followed my instruction but had used his own instead, he might have been somewhat successful. It might have taken him longer to accomplish the result than if he’d done what I’d told him, but it would have been better. But instead of thinking “She’s nuts, I’m not going to do that!” and then making an attempt on his own, he did NOTHING! I do not think he will be a student for long.

Have I ever been in a situation where I thought the teacher was wasting my time. YES!!! Educational Methods class. However, I used their methodology to finish the projects. I used my methods to learn their methods. They had everything timed out. It was an 8 hour course. Under their constraints, it should have taken all 5 weeks during the summer session to complete 3 hours of the requirement. I told them I’d finish it. They nodded in that annoying “Yeah, Right” way and told me it was impossible. I did 2 hours of requirements in the 1st two weeks, then I did 5 hours in the remaining 3 weeks. I made them all sign my course completion paperwork. They had a tradition of ringing a cowbell when someone finished the course. I brought in a gong.

Another time, I was frustrated by this teacher who insisted on her methods and I found it terribly inefficient and fought tooth and nail on every assignment. About 1/4 of the way through the semester, I had an epiphany. The teacher was, *gasp* right! She didn’t explain her reasons for teaching the way she did, and, like a dummy, I assumed it was random and illogical. I went in to talk with her and asked some pointed questions which she answered, and I know she saw the light bulb go off. There was that “OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!” moment. From then on, I did precisely what she asked and breezed through the rest of the class.