Category Archives: How I think

Love and other mysteries

“Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time>  There are too many mediocre things in life.  Love shouldn’t be one of them.” ~Dreams for an Insomniac

I read this and looked at the background picture of two very pretty people laughing and kissing each other and I thought…wait.

Now I’m not a prude.  I’m just old.  I know a few things.  That kind of love is unsustainable and destined for failure.  You may have good memories for a while, but those fade.

Love is

Holding hands in the theater

Snuggling on the couch

Making love in the tent

The hug and kiss at the door

Giggling in the car

Going to the concerts

The band contests

The conventions

Love is

Not defined by a scale

Not defined by prowess.

Love changes the lovers.

You become a better you when

you are with the one you love.

Love, by definition, IS NEVER

mediocre

It’s dynamic and ever growing

and changing.

Love is

Better than any scale

Because it’s the true expression

of your deepest self and

your response to your

lover’s true expression.

 

 

 

 

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Measuring progress with a contest

Well that sounds intriguing…

Do people do that?

  • How fast can you run?  Last week I beat you by 2 min; can you beat me now?
  • When you started, you only knew 3 notes on the instrument.  What can you play now?  How would you compare to others with the same starting point?
  • How well does your band march?  Can you hold your own in a city-wide contest?
  • Your fire department let the fire house burn down.  How fast can you put out a fire now?  How well can your members climb, carry, work the hose and the axes…let’s have a contest.
  • So you think your Barbershop chorus is good huh…

I went to a Toastmasters Convention in Chicago.  There are always the educational sessions and the inspirational sessions, but the most anticipated sessions are the Semi finals and Finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking.  There is only one winner every year, and people from 116 districts, each with 5 Divisions, each Division with 5 Areas, and each Area with 4-5 clubs competing for that spot.  That’s weeding down about 13,000 speakers to about 100 or so.  Each Semi final has 10-11 speakers competing, with 10 competitions weeding down 100 speakers to just 10.  The finals consist of 10 of the best speakers.  Those who crave recognition and speaking in front of 1000’s of people are drooling at the chance to be on that stage and getting crowned World Champion.  Once you’ve achieved this amazing goal, you cannot compete again on the International Stage.  One of the competitors this year had made it to Semifinals 12 times, and had been a finalist 4 times!  He didn’t win this time either.

Here’s the thing.  Even if it isn’t an official contest, people judge their success by comparison.  Our school districts have more children in the top 10% of the country on ACT/SAT scores than any other school!  We have a larger percentage of graduates placed right after graduation than any other university.  We have more rich people in our city than any other in the country.  To aspire to be the best, we resort to self improvement classes, personal coaches and support groups.  We then tend to look at the finals and derive the formula  that will give us similar results.

There’s the 10,000 hour rule.  There’s the gimmick of the year (onstage costume changes, props, even themes for speeches!)  There’s teaching to the test.  Then there’s over-prep.  In Bands of America, the winning bands often practice 1 routine with 3 songs for a year and begin their preparations for the next contest 1 week after the finals in the previous contest.  At the speech contest, many contestants hire former world champions to mentor them and coach them to victory and will pay upwards of several thousand dollars.  They will sacrifice vacation times, neglect their jobs and families, and practice for hours to perfect their entries.  In their quest to have the winning performance, they will study hours and hours of previous performances by winners, analyze second by second recordings of their own performances and compare them to the winners.  What are they doing?  They are looking for the differences between 1st and 2nd place.

Judging is subjective.  They TRY to make it objective…this many points for that sound, deduct this many points for this infraction…but the bottom line is still a subjective opinion.  Do you have that same type of judging on the local level as in the International finals?  Of course not!  So something that would win on the Championship stage or field might not even place on the local level.

I went to an area speech contest where all of the speeches that placed concerned dead pets.  I saw a local band contest where one of the finalists of the Bands of America didn’t place in the top 3 because they sang and didn’t march in straight blocks.  We understand that you cannot advance to the next level of the competition if you don’t succeed at the local level.

As a member of Sweet Adelines, sometimes the difference between 1st and 2nd place is 4 points.  The difference is the sparkle on the costume. The difference is the choreography for the lady in the 3rd row 14th person over.  The difference is the intonation of the slide between chords on the Tag.  These are things that are so minute and so specialized that a normal person wouldn’t even notice it.  So you work on those incredibly small details, then your chorus gets rejected on the initial contest because one of the judges didn’t like your choice of song, or because one thought it was too gimmicky to have props such as hats or fans.

One Football team did a statistical analysis of the winning super bowl teams and discovered a higher percentage of this type of offense and that type of defense, sooooo that’s what they used.  They lost 50% of their games.  A high school team perfected a trick play, and then became famous for it.  Oops!  Isn’t it supposed to work because it surprises the opponents?

You must discern what wins on the local level.  That’s a problem because in the case of Toastmasters Speech contests, what wins the club might not win the area because of the way the judges are chosen.  Who’s here?  Ok, take this ballot and vote for your favorite! Or you might encounter this:  We, as judges, have been studying all the Semi Finals contests for weeks and have been well trained on what to look for in an international speech.  We are 15 minutes early and have chosen our seats trying to look as anonymous as possible.  If you win in the area, even if it is the caliber of Convention competitions, you may not win the Division because these particular judges may LIKE dead dog speeches and vacation pictures.  And if you do give your dead dog speech on the District level, they will shoot you down because the message isn’t clear.  And if you win on the District level, and you do not use onomatopoeia, alliteration, or parenthetical phrases, and have no props and no funny lines, you may not win at the Semi-final level.  If you do win at the Semi-final level, YOU MUST USE A DIFFERENT SPEECH FOR THE FINALS.  Wait…The speech you used and perfected throughout the club, area, division and district levels is thrown out and you use an untried, imperfect, alternative speech for the final?  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

What would you do?  I’d have 1 speech topic and 3 different approaches to it.  “How to survive the Hard times” would be a good topic.  It has universal appeal and can be tailored to each contest.

  • Club level:  “You all know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster here for years!  What you don’t know is that I’ve been in witness protection for 22 years and now, now you will learn about the real me!”  5 1/2 min later…  “In conclusion, if you find me at your back door with beer in hand, don’t let me in!  Mr. Toastmaster.”
  • Area level:  “You all know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster here for years!  What you don’t know is that over the past 4 years, I’ve lived a Country/Western life!”  5 1/2 min later…  “In conclusion, if you get divorced, lose your house, your car gets repossessed, and your dog dies, you can survive, and even thrive!  You can survive the Hard times!  Madam Toastmaster.”
  • Division level:  “Some of you know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster for years!  What you don’t know is that I didn’t always look like this.  I used to weigh 700 pounds and have had extensive surgery!”  6 min later…  “In conclusion, you can look this good without surgery, turn down that cupcake!!!  Mr. Toastmaster.”
  • District level:  “Some of you may recognize me:  I was at the registration table this morning!  What you don’t know is that I’m a Person of the Poetic Persuasion.  (That’s alliteration folks.)  I’ll be walking and suddenly, ‘Poof!’ A Poetic and Poignant Phrase within the Perfect Parameters will Present itself!”  6 1/2 min later… “In conclusion, should you find yourself hopelessly staring at that blank sheet of paper, Perambulate and Ponder the Paradoxical Points of the Present epoch!  Mr.  Postmaster…I mean Toastmaster.”
  • Semi Finals Level:  “You don’t know me:  I’ve been a toastmaster for years!  Have you ever found yourself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling surrounded by beeping machines and smelling of disinfectant?  I have.  Myocardial Infarctions  are sneaky little buggers and can Defy the Destiny of the most Determined and Deliberate of Dignitaries.”  6 min 28 seconds later… “In conclusion, don’t procrastinate, prevaricate the possibility of pernicious effects of heart disease!  Mr. Toastmaster”
  • Finals level:  “Madam Contest master, fellow toastmasters and guests and esteemed judges, let me tell you about my dog, Fluffy.”  6 min later, stage is littered with dog toys and speaker is sobbing into an over-sized hanky…  “Yes, he was 700 pounds and black as a moonless night.  Yes, he had 3 heads, but he had the soul of a poet and he especially loved harp music.  And after I lost my wife, my truck and my house, he was the only one that stayed with me.  I visit him every day at the pet cemetery… *sobs* Madam Contest  *sob* chair.”  *blows nose*

And the winner…(drum roll please) is the agoraphobic woman who got assaulted in the parking lot by some wild woman in a white SUV.

Um huh?

So we were having a meeting at a grocery store…yes they have meetings there.  They have to train people remember!  And of course there’s a potty break.  1 bathroom for 15-20 women…

Never mind the logistics, this was what was weird:  There was a poster inside the door that said, “Look before you flush.”  Well that was intriguing.  Aren’t we supposed to look before we sit?  That would make more sense.  Some kid might have thrown a matchbox car in there.  But no, food store restroom…so not likely.  I read the poster.  It described poo.  Yup.  Consistency, shape, and illustrations.  (Really?!!!)  And then it compared the picture to items of food!  Jelly beans, sausage, hot dogs, soup.  ACK!  I guess that’s appropriate if you’re working with food.  Makes you look at carrots differently the rest of the day though.  The poster then grouped them and suggested remedies…drink more water, check for fever, etc.

Very educational poster, but not sure why it’s in a food store bathroom.  Now here’s the thing:  the toilet had an automatic flush.  How do you look when the “product” is already down the hole before you turn around?

Imagine walking by the bathroom and hearing, “Wait!  WAIT!!!  Dammit!  OK then, I’ll be back after lunch!  Stupid toilet!”

Oh…

This doesn’t work!  The laws of nature, physics and biology do not apparently work for me!

“Oh really?  What’s wrong?”

I’ve been doing this thing…1200 cal/day plus exercise for a long time and I am still a big fat blob!  (Obie is snickering…you can’t hear him…it’s my sentient fat)

“Oh dear!  So you always do 1200 calories a day?”

Not always…But I average about 1300 over the weeks.

“And you’re going to the gym or walking how often?”

Well I started out at 5x a week.

“And now?”

Well… On the weekends…twice a month…when I remember, or it’s not to hot or cold or raining.

“Ah”

2 years later:

This doesn’t work!

“What’s wrong?”

Dr. Oz said I’d get back to my fighting weight (Obie is snorting,) in 6 weeks if everything I eat is green.  I’ve not only not lost any, but gained 2!

“So you never eat yellow?”

NO!!!!

“KFC is yellow…”

Yeah, but it’s chicken and chicken is healthy.

“But it’s not green…How long have you been eating mostly green?”

2 weeks.

“Still 1200 calories/day?  Still doing some exercise?”

Um…my last entry into my food log is 2 months ago.  (Obie has lost all control and is laughing out loud now.)

“Ah”

1 year later:

This doesn’t work!  I’ve cleaned out all my toxins and reset my probiotics and taking 6 pills at every meal and I’ve only lost 2 pounds!

“Oh dear! So you take 3 different types of herbal supplements, 2 pills each, 3 times a day?”

Well 2 times…when I eat.

“Every day?”

When I remember, and when I remember to eat.  (Obie giggles.)

“And the probiotics?”

Still full bottle in refridge.

“Still 1200 calories/day and exercising 2x/week on the weekends?”

I haven’t kept good track, but it’s gotta be close.

“Ah.”

1 month later:

This isn’t working!  I take the pill in the morning (just one so I don’t get jittery), drink the goop, and put on the patch.  I’m supposed to feel energized and refreshed and my pounds are supposed to be screaming and leaping off of me!  They’re not!

“How early do you take the pill?”

When I get up.

“Before your feet hit the floor?”

No, I don’t want to wet the bed.  (Obie thumbs his nose at my attempt at sarcasm.)

“Then what?”

I put the patch on.

“And…?”

I go through my day.

“When do you drink your goop?”

After I exercise.  (Obie raises an eyebrow waiting for the bomb to drop…)

“Do you exercise every day?”

Um…(Obie imitates mike drop)

“The trainers in this program say this:  keep the pill by your bed and use it before you get up.  Then 30-40 min later have the goop.  Then put on the patch.  Then go about your day.”

I can’t have anything to eat after that goop.  It’s just so gross.  (Obie is laughing to the point of tears.)

“You thought you could continue to eat like you have been and supposedly exercise in addition to having this goop and all the patches and pills?”

Well, yes… (Obie is tweeting?)

“And you haven’t been drinking the goop every day.”

I ran out of milk.  And I drink it after…I…exer…oh yeah.  EVERY DAY?

“It’s a regimen.  It means that its regimented, scheduled, practiced daily.”

Ah

“Betty was right.  You’re too inconsistent with your approach to this challenge.  And that lady on Solomon’s Advisor was right too… You’re trying to change something in your life without changing your life.  Your lifestyle is something you love…teaching, watching Bones or Netflix or going to movies, dabbling in other business is somehow tainted by that big blob sitting in the chair that wears your clothes.   (Obie is pleased and bows at the acknowledgement.) Ok, so You want to continue this lifestyle and just put on a skinny suit. How you feel isn’t powerful enough to make you want to change who you are.  How you look is not enough to inspire you to change your activities.  Your “Why” is not compulsive enough for you to succeed because you lose focus, you lose interest, and you become inconsistent and the program, what ever it is, doesn’t work without consistency.

What you should measure in your Measurable Progress is not your waistline, it’s your change in character.  Because your Why is a complaint against the universe for conspiring against you…(Obie adjusts his crown and points with his scepter to continue this awesome praise,) and it is not a motivator that allows you to continue and press on despite distractions and setbacks.  (Obie drops scepter.)

It’s like living the retired life:  travel, leisure, freedom from worry or care without the odious tasks of having actually worked.  Ooops.  (Obie picks up scepter.)  So go to work.  Find the Why that keeps you on the path.  Get out of your freakin’ chair and be consistent in your program, whatever shape it takes.  (Obie removes crown, puts down scepter, and readies himself for a fight.)  It won’t be easy.  (Obie nods in agreement with an evil smile.  You get the distinct impression he’s thinking, “Not if I can help it.”)  But first, figure out WHY it’s important to succeed, not WHY it doesn’t work and you’re such a loser.  The Good why will get you there.  The bad why will paralyze you.  Measure your WHY!  Let that keep you consistent.

 

 

 

 

24 hour permission

I had a strange thing occur to me.  We were doing impromptu speaking, and the questioner posed this:  If you had a 24 hour get-out-of-jail-free card and you could do anything you wanted without negative repercussions, what would you do?

Well I answered the question saying, I wouldn’t do anything that would require a pardon really.  I might change a certain someone’s teleprompter, steal a certain person’s phone so he couldn’t tweet for 24 hours, maybe crash a party or two and substitute light beer…

The questioner was aghast.  “That was the most boring 24 hours I’ve ever heard, and not the least like what I imagined you do.”  Um, thanks?  Sorry?

  1.  Why would he assume that if I could do something illegal, the only reason I don’t is because I don’t want to break the rules and get arrested or punished?  I wouldn’t want to DO anything illegal.  It has no interest for me.
  2.  Why would I do something illegal that would only affect a 24 hour period?

What most people think when confronted by a question of that sort is that they would have the freedom to indulge in a behavior that is restricted in their current lives.  I don’t have that problem.  I go where I want, do what I want, and I don’t have to break any laws or taboos to enjoy this freedom.

On the other hand, one of the other people in the room asked why I wouldn’t go rob someone of $1,000,000.  What’s the appeal of $1,000,000?  Is it the money itself?  Is it the things I could do with the money–like get a fast car and fancy house or go on a fancy vacation?  $1,000,000 is a nice round number, but I would be looking for a way to find an asset that would pay me $100,000/year in passive income.  With the original owner looking for that money, 24 hours would be way too short a time period to effectively launder the money and pick up an asset.  I’m assuming the person I stole from would want me to pay them back.  My enjoyment of the money would then be short-lived.

So yes, it was a boring response.  Sorry.

Our dreams and aspirations should not be hampered by the law, but neither should they require a person to break those laws to be happy.

 

Jungle Book musings

I had a student tell me this.  He wanted to be like me.  He wanted to have a quick wit, an infectious laugh, an insane imagination.  He wanted to be comfortable in front of people, and be funny at the drop of a hat.  He wanted encyclopedic knowledge so he could riff on any subject.

I was surprised.

Here’s why:  When he says, “Let’s go this way!” crowds of people follow him.  When he inspires people, they go and do stuff.  When he makes suggestions, people listen politely.

When I say, “Let’s go this way!”  I get responses like, “Why?” or no response and I’m by myself.  When I inspire people they’re inspired for about 37 seconds then don’t do anything.  When I make suggestions, I get laughs…they think I’m joking.  I don’t get taken seriously except by people who know me really well.  There aren’t many people that know me that well.

There was a story about a guy who saw this professional golfer on the driving range.  He walked up and said, “MAN!  I wish I could drive like that!  I’d give anything to be as good as you!”  The pro stopped what he was doing and addressed the guy.  “Would you really?  Would you practice your drives until your hands bled?  Would you practice putting for hours at a time?  Would you spend thousands of dollars on coaching, specially made clubs, and greens fees?  Would you spend 180 days on the road touring and competing?  Would you be willing to lose 90% of the competitions you enter?”  The man stammered.  The pro said, “If you want to be like me, you have to work like me, you have to think like me, and you have to desire it like me.”  Then he went back to practicing his drives.

Let me introduce myself.

I am a self improvement junkie.  When you go to a law office, you will see their collection of books–hundreds of them.  I would posit that most lawyers have never read all the books.  I have hundreds of leadership books, tapes (yes the cassette type) CD’s, DVD’s, and workbooks.  I have read and re-read every one of them.  I went to Orlando to be certified in leadership training by John Maxwell.  I have studied Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar.  I have listened to webinars and watched videos of leaders in my profession (which is finance by the way). I have even written a leadership program with a workbook for use in Churches.

I also have a curiosity about EVERYTHING!  So I read articles about scientific subjects–global warming, physics, conservation, animal behavior, kinesiology, anatomy, acoustics…I’m interested in how things work.  I read and study human behavior like psychology and interpersonal communication.  I am fascinated by economics (thanks to William Snyder from Peru State) and the financial markets, especially investments.  I have 2 bachelor’s degrees–one in music and one in business finance.  I am certified in many financial areas.

I like to connect things that normally aren’t connected…Toastmasters and Ballet for instance.  Choreography is choreography.  Use of the space when speaking is the same as use of the space for dancing.  I adore observational humor–George Carlin and Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters are my favorites.  My friend, George, and I do a bit about driving in Omaha which is observational in manner.

So if my student wanted to be like me, he’d have to read the things I have read, study the things I have studied, travel the places I have traveled, and associate with the people with whom I have associated.  He’d have to develop an observational eye and a curiosity.  But even if he did all that, he’d still be ‘him trying to be like me’ and not a better version of himself.

In order for me to be a leader like he is, I’d have to give up the humor and the impulsiveness that makes me uniquely me.  Would that be a bad thing?  No, actually.  I would like to be taken seriously.  What’s curious is that when people DO take me seriously, I get confused.  “What?  You mean that you DO think I’m intelligent?  That I DO make sense?  That I HAVE changed your perspective and you ARE going to act on it?”  Then I shoot myself in the foot and say something dismissive or silly which makes people doubt my veracity.  Being taken seriously is scary!  At the same time, when I offer some insight or advice to someone that will drastically change their situation in life, and they laugh it off, IT BUGS THE HECK OUT OF ME!

Don’t be like someone, be the best version of you. To do that, you have to work on yourself to mold your mind and body into the person you want to grow into.

Melody, Harmony, Rhythm

via Daily Prompt: Song

Music Major!  Wait. Can a song be something not musical?

The Song of Myself by Walt Whitman is 52 verses long! Would this guy be a narcissist?  Or is he exploring every nuance of his being:  what it means to be a person, to be a human, to be a man?  We do that don’t we?  We think deep thoughts and then craft them into a whole.  All our experiences and adventures become us.  All of the little bits of information and insight are interwoven into our being.  Our philosophies are developed atom by atom.  We envision big events as being catalysts for our lives’ direction, when in fact, it’s the looks from friends and parents, the Sunday school lesson, the fall off the bike, the first times–walking, climbing, writing…

Would you be the same person you are now if the first time you wrote your name, you did it with red crayon instead of a pencil?  Would you be the same if your parents had read Beetle Bailey out loud instead of Peanuts?  What kind of person would you be if your parents played Sinatra instead of Elvis?  Would you respond the same to bullies or would you be the bully?  Nature vs. Nurture has been an ongoing philosophical discussion for decades.  They cannot be separated.  2 infants with the same types of parents going through the same events would still turn out completely different due to their nature, and 2 infants of the same nature would turn out completely different due to their upbringing and surroundings.  Look up “What a piece of work is Man” by Shakespeare.

Let’s get into music then, as I am an expert.  (You put those eyebrows down!  I AM an expert!)  How many notes are there?  88 on a standard piano.  What about all the quarter tones…the notes between the notes?  What about the notes that are higher than one can whistle that you can play on a violin?  Are there notes so low that you can only feel them?  Of course.  So this is a huge palette of  sounds as pitches are available.  Then look at the rhythm instruments!  Continuous sound vs rhythmic repetition can make a difference in the ambiance of the music.  A rain stick is an example of continuous sound and a drum kit is typical of rhythmic repetition.  Then there are tuned rhythmic instruments like the piano or the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, you can think of hundreds of others.  The rhythm can be untuned or tuned then!  The bass guitar acts as a rhythm instrument as does the strumming guitar even though neither would be considered a percussion instrument.  Do you see the possibilities of musical themes?  They would be limitless and as you add more elements such as orchestration (assigning aspects of the music to different instruments or voices) counter melodies, chord progressions…the number of songs goes to infinity.   What happens if we rearrange the songs so the melodies stay constant and the harmonies change?  Look at all the covers of “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing” by Stevie Wonder! In addition, we can find the same chord progressions in multiple songs  but notice the melodies are all different?

What does that have to do with the premise?  Each person is the melody of their own existence.  The depth and breadth of their growth is the harmony and rhythm that each person builds with each day they live, each book they read, each thought they contemplate, each tune they listen to, each task they perform, each interaction with the world that surrounds them.  At the end of life, this song can be as simple as a nursery rhyme or as complicated as a symphony.

Make your song beautiful!

CW–muse poem

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/65044839/posts/1823073920

There you are, on TV

Are you seriously mocking me?

Frowns indignant, hosts bemoan

Streisand’s choice–her dog to clone!

Just because she sings and acts

Doesn’t change these trivial facts!

I’m not a bump upon a log

I just don’t CARE ’bout Streisand’s DOG!

 

(So, yes, my muse is TV idiocy)

A Love, A loss

A hole in the heart

A partnership

Each filling the other’s gaps.

A grief, a hope

A way to cope

Grasping a way

to bring her back.

There she is!

There she isn’t.

It’s not quite the same…

But close.

 

Give the vote away

“If these kids want to really impact the way the government works and how the country works, give them the VOTE!” NPR editorial

Give.  16 year olds. the. vote.

ARE YOU INSANE?!!!!

They’re Children!  It’s like handing the reins of the household to the elementary aged children.  “NO you cannot watch TV, you have Homework to do!”  “I have a vote, Teddy has a vote, and Joe has a vote…We’re all equal in this family!  It’s 3:2 we win!  Turn on the TV Joe!”  “Joe is 4.  He’s not in school yet, and Teddy doesn’t have homework in 1st grade.  They don’t know how important homework is.”  “That’s ageism!  You can’t deny me my television rights just because you think homework is important.  I already get A’s without studying and pass all my tests with ease.”  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  Here’s the remote.”

How foolish is that?

I grew up with marches.  We were protesting dress codes in high school.  We were protesting the war in college.  We were fighting global hunger.  We were fighting for youth autonomy, women’s rights, and legal and safe abortions.  Gay people were coming out of the closet.  The media was active in these marches, and they prepped their people well.  At Columbia University, during the riots, the news crew would come upon a group of people just standing around and ask them to do some action for the background of the story and hand them the bricks.  They were going to be on TV!  So they did.  Then when the news crews left, they went back to standing around doing nothing.  Funny how none of that was reported.  We voted at age 18, and nothing that we marched for was ever on the ballots.  We were voting, we thought, for the representatives who would solve these issues.

16 year old voters?  Are you kidding me?  They’re playing video games where they blow people away with astonishing ferocity.  They’re stealing cars and shooting at police from the safety of their living rooms.  All their news they get if from Facebook and Twitter.  All the news available now (except BBC) you have to already know what you want to hear and then tune into that channel.

On Super Girl, as she applies for a job as a journalist, the editor says, “Facts!  No adjectives.”  Find ONE news show that doesn’t amplify aspects of the story by their choice of adjectives.  It can be as silly as a description of the movement of the DOW which nobody understands anyway.  “The Dow PLUNGED 20 points today.  Investors were backing off due to the Labor numbers.”  News flash, none of the individual investors had the slightest idea what the Labor numbers were or what they meant.  The institutional investors looked at all the numbers, including the Labor numbers, and decided they might make a profit if they sold some today.  20 points is not even a drop in the bucket.  The next week, “The Dow was up only 20 points today.  Investors were cautious on their trading due to last week’s devastating plunge.”  No they weren’t.  So when it comes to news of substance, information we need to run our businesses, policy changes in the government, local situations we need to know, it’s all colored by the political bias of the agency that presents it.  It makes it difficult for adults to discern the facts from the news and the fake news.  We go on witch hunts trying to find quick fixes for everything because we are overloaded by the seriousness of all that is going on around us.

I’m a mom of 5 kids.  This is how I relate to this:

Ben is playing a video game, Pat and Jo are fighting about who is taking too much space in their bedroom.  Ward wants to have some friends over and is nagging to get a date and time set.  Baby Sean is screaming for mom because he’s wet/tired/hungry or all 3.  Ben isn’t causing any problems, ignore.  Pat and Jo are threatening to break furniture–handle 1st.  Stick head into bedroom and yell “SHUT UP!  Behave!  Get along!”  Put off Ward because Baby is still screaming.  Change/feed baby.  Ward is pouting, leave alone.  Girls are whispering urgently and vehemently in room, but no longer threatening furniture.  Too many things coming at you, and reaction is immediate but incomplete.  The problems are not solved.  Only symptoms are addressed.

North Korean situation, Russian situation, Afghanistan situation, Syrian situation, LGTB rights protest, economics situation, GDP situation, International trade situation, School regulations, bullying, suicides due to cyber-bullying, piercings, tattoos, all this is being unloaded unfiltered and biased into kids’ heads.  What can they get their heads around?  Killing kids their age in schools.  No brainer.  This is a bad thing.  Kids should not be killing kids.  How do we stop kids from killing kids?  March!  There ought to be a law that protects kids from getting killed at school.  (There is.  Murder has always been against the law.)  There ought to be a law that keeps kids from getting guns.  (There is a law that requires background checks and a waiting period.  Guns can be borrowed, stolen, and bought illegally, or bought legally for purposes other than killing kids.)  There is no question on the application that says, “Do you plan to use this weapon to kill as many people as you can in a short amount of time?”  If there was, would people answer this truthfully?  But it is an easy concept…kids should not be killed in school.  Anyone that would oppose that is seriously lacking in the common sense department.  Does it get headlines?  Of course!  Big ones!  So if you wanted to advance your point of view, put your face on the front of the movement, and get good ratings during sweeps month, hitch your wagon to this pony!  So yes, adults can take advantage of naive and active kids.

There is no way in the world that a 16 year old child has any inkling about how things should work, and 18-year-olds are not much better.  The difference is, 18-year-olds can be pressed into military service and have to volunteer their lives for a premise they might not even understand.  The information available to 16-year-olds is incomplete and sometimes incomprehensible.  They cannot see years ahead because they don’t have the wisdom or the experience to do so.  We didn’t in our 20’s!  They do not have the moral basis to make ethical decisions.  They get no instruction on morals from school, the community, the media or their parents.  How would they be suddenly qualified?  Heck!  If we are realistic, we should RAISE the voting age to 50 or so.  Let people with wisdom, the gift of hindsight and foresight, experience, and a logical mind do the voting.  There would be fewer knee jerk reactions to situations and more pondering on the deeper implications of proposed legislation.  How ridiculous is that?

I’m sorry, but if I had been a gun toting teen watching all those privileged kids who had bullied me since I was kindergarten marching on Washington and making righteous indignation noises about my right to have any gun I pleased, I would have gone with them and set up in a hotel or parking garage and sprayed the whole group.  I’m kind of surprised no one thought of that.  Did the nerds and the geeks and the undesirables ride on a different bus…in the back seats?  Did the poor kids that were the brunt of the bullying get to make the trip at all?  The only ones marching were the ones that were afraid they’d be on the top of the hit list like mine.  It’s self preservation, nothing more, nothing less.  They could care less about all the kids they destroy because they can without firing a shot.  They’ll never be judged.  They’ll never have any consequences to face.  I’d be glad that they’re being trashed on social media like they’ve done to the rest of us.  I’d be delighted that their every move was scrutinized by an unforgiving public, because none of those dirty secrets ever comes up in the school; they’re too popular and too savvy to allow that to happen.  Will any of those snobs get to the point of considering suicide like the kids they subjected to this treatment?  I certainly hope so.

But I’m not a gun toting 16 year old kid.  I don’t think like that.  I don’t believe they should have the vote.

Replacing loss

I heard this amazing lady on the radio.  The interviewer was impressed by her resilience.  She had survived the flood from Katrina, but lost all her books and notes and everything creative.  She’d lost her dog, her husband, her friend, her mom…And instead of rolling up into a ball in the corner, she became more active and more creative.

What the interview focused on was loss and how people deal with it.  If you lose a pet, buy another one.  If you lose someone you love, meet someone new.  If you lose a child, have another one, or adopt or foster…  It was filling in a gaping hole with a replacement.  That might work, for a while, but the image this author gave was very deep.

Imagine you live in a house near the railroad tracks.  You have a display of china or crystal and every time the train rumbles by, it shakes the shelf and some of the objects break.  You replace them as they break, but you’re not stupid.  You replace them with cheaper objects.  In the end, you have a shelf full of cheap objects that you have no emotional ties to.  Being a geek, the 1st thing I thought of was a way to display these items so that they wouldn’t fall down and break.  Then I thought of replacing the breakables with stuffed animals or books or something.  I lived next to the tracks and the trains came 5-6 times a day, and not only would they rumble by, they’d stop and you’d hear each car collide and then jerk into motion when the train started up again.  It was nearly continuous noise.  After a few weeks though, I didn’t notice the noise.  When we moved near the AFB, people could tell we were new because we looked up when the planes took off and landed.  Natives don’t notice.

When someone dies or leaves and you go through all the processes like the psychologists say you should, in the end, you do not replace the person you lost, you replace your means of connection.  Let me explain.  When they are with you, you interact by calling, texting, writing, talking, whatever.  It’s the personal, physical relationship you enjoy.  You miss them physically at first because it was the way you connected.  After they’ve been gone a while, your relationship changes.  You remember what they said, how they looked, the tic when they lied, the horrible jokes, the hugs, the tears, the laughter.  Before you could only interact by setting a physical parameter.  You got a busy signal; they didn’t get to the concert; someone got sick.  You could not connect every time you wanted to.  Now you can.  You can bring up their faces in a blink.  You can anticipate the conversation on any subject.  You can recall that story they told, look at the old pictures and remember the venue where they were taken.  You are not constrained by time or presence.  You can be closer to the person who’s gone (whether by death or distance) at the time and place of your choosing, than when they were physically available.  It takes practice to reach that point.  My dad and mom and brother and his wife have died.  But now they are incorporated into my thinking and feeling processes so they are closer to me now than they were.  I do not need to replace them with someone new.  The relationship has evolved to something better.