Monday, July 14, 2014

Circular Thinking of Things

They're chopping down trees with a vengeance outside my window. The chipping machine runs with a Fargo-esque sound that makes my ears water.

When I look outside my sliver of glass in the winter, my view is spindly leafless, lifeless trees, a railroad track and the rusting metal walls of seldom-used warehouses. In the spring and summer, the trees explode with green, heavy with leaves and huge vines of poison ivy.

Cardboard boxes, strips of metal and and the occasional dirty sock crop up along the tree line; remnants of the tiny homeless camp that comes with the spring.

Here's the irony, Alanis Morrisette. They're chopping out these trees to "get rid of the homeless camp." Or so says the family support worker from down the hall. You see, the agency in this building, the one who presumably doesn't much care for the homeless camp, is a social services corporation. One of the services provided inside the building is a low income housing program.

I wonder if anyone from inside this building went outside to tell those folks about that housing program before the chain saws started buzzing.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Will the Real Question Please Stand Up

The subject line: Best email ever!!

Thanks to Google Mail, I could see the first line of the note: "How do YOU counter this?"

It came from someone I like, a lot, so I knew I would open it, understanding the challenge would include conservative propaganda I do not have the stomach for anymore.

Here's a taste:  During the Bush years, the email practically shouts, the US was in (only) two wars! Obama's time, now we're in three! In 2008, gas per gallon: $1.81, now: $3.69, Bush had an annual budget! Obama, no budget! It rants on and on.

For a time, I actually thought about this. Hard. Do folks really believe these statements? Three wars? Seriously, Obama's administration got the US out of Iraq. The US is still in Afghanistan. So...that's down to one. Hmm. We've sent troops to assist in areas around the globe. This is not new policy. I defy the conservatives to argue with the idea of helping, particularly when our policies possibly set those areas of violence into motion. Those aren't wars, though. Nope. One does not equal three.

The gas-per-gallon argument: I thought for a bit about 2008. I was driving way back then. I recall feeling some serious pain at the pump. The BP spill happening. Just to make sure though, I pulled out my iPhone, searched "gas prices 2008." The high that year was around $4.10 in the summer (ouch). Half point to the email authors, prices dipped to around $2.00 after Obama was elected.

The truth about the annual budget? Go here: PolitiFact  or here: FactCheck to get details, and information about how that really works.

Later that day, in the middle of lecturing to my PSYC 110 class, it hit me like when first I saw the rabbit in the Duck-Rabbit Optical Illusion.  The "Best Email Ever" left out some Really Important Questions.

How will Romney make our country any better for the majority of citizens? What is he going to really be able to do to improve our country for the long view for the most people? How will he be able to accomplish this with an achievable plan? How can he gain consensus? We have a balance of power written into our constitution, the President can do little on his own. What can Romney do to help the 100 % of people he would have to govern--not just the 53% he apparently wants to govern?

Nowhere, actually, in this Best Email, was Romney's name mentioned. I wonder sometimes if the conservatives want voters to forget him. It's easier to put the focus on an anti-Obama vote. Try not to confuse it with facts about what or who they're voting to put in office.

These days facts can easily be checked. Some questions, however, are not so easily asked.

Regardless of your views, it is important--essential--to ask questions. Then  question the answers, and make informed decisions.

In terms of the November election, our future depends on smart questions and informed answers. It certainly has to rise above emailed memes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The New Luxury

It's been a while dear Blogosphere--long time no see.

Life has blown up, blown into pieces, and come back down again--a few times--since I last had the luxury to type a blog post, or even had time to write down my thoughts on something besides the back of an old envelope. Time is now a luxury in my newly minted life.

A friend says I have a chance at a "do-over." I like that idea. It really puts a fine point on looking closely at choices. Do I really want that in my do-over? Am I going to put up with that in my do-over? Of course, reality it is that I can't jump over a high board fence from the crash of my life into the do-over and expect everything to be, well, white-washed. I have no Bourne Euphoria opportunity at a new social security number and identity card to just leave the past completely behind.

The blown up pieces of life are still settling, too, putting a punch-in-the-gut perspective on luxury. Now, I understand it on a very different level as I watch my sister have the luxury of walking from her hospital bed just to the door and the gown they gave her before her emergency brain surgery stays closed in the back. Luxury

I feel an odd luxury as I drive my car through an ice cold Ozarks winter night, drinking in not only the heat of freshly-made convenience store coffee, but also the overwhelming mix of sadness and relief knowing that now there is no one waiting at home. This time I don't have to rush through the night--I can pull over and look at the brilliant points of light the stars make in the sky above the deserted Ozarks road.

Luxury is watching the Young One, who is almost a man, finally relax, able to make it through the holidays just the two of us now without the confusion and loneliness coming off of him in waves.

Luxury will be, someday, knowing who I can trust. So far, I'm still driving the 65 Impala of understanding that luxury of my do-over. The 2013 Audi of what will become of the idea of trust is parked where I can see it. I just don't trust the ground between me and it. Life's lessons have taught me well, I suppose.

I'm pretty sure its full of quicksand and rattlesnakes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Power Corrupts and the Message is Lost

Turns out John Edwards is a phony, a sleaze, a stereotypical politician. From a clinical view it is sadly interesting that this man: the self-professed son of a mill worker, the first in his family to go to college, the postcard of the American Dream, could dash it all on the rocks of power and greed.

At some level he must have really hated himself or feared what he was becoming. Maybe for about a millisecond. But then the money and the authority and the power just kept rolling, rolling, rolling.

Maybe he's just got Antisocial Personality Disorder. You know, the whole "lack of conscience" problem.

In the final analysis, though, it doesn't much matter. His message, which was important and relevant, that our nation is divided into two Americas, and that those that have much need to help those that have little, is now lost in the sleazy tabloid headlines with a not-very-pretty 1980's cocaine chicky and her love-child.

I'm not re-writing history when I say that each time I waited in line at MSU (three times) and again at Fassnight Park to listen to Edwards speak, and each time I wrote checks to his campaign, a teeny tiny part of me wondered if this wasn't just a bit too good to be true. But I so wanted him to be for real that I pushed it back and cheered him on. I even dragged the Young One to his speeches and let him shake Edward's hand.

Now when I watch this play out on the news, I just feel sick. I wish I could get those pitiful little donations back. I wish I could scrub the Young One's hand, and apologize for taking away his afternoons of playtime to spend listening to someone who was creating a web of deceit and betrayal.

John Edwards did have some important things to say. Those words and messages are lost now, and that's the worst tragedy of this whole mess.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

thinking things outloud

I need to start blogging again.

I say that to myself almost everyday--usually when I'm trying to condense a thought into something short enough to fit into a "facebook" status, or when I'm feeling especially opinionated.

This mental list of things I need to do, of which the "need to blog" is a teeny tiny part, has gotten to a point where it is paralyzing. Perhaps that is the ultimate method of procrastination, I don't know. I do know that I've got to push through it or drown. So I'd doing what Morita would suggest: Feel your feelings, know your purpose, do what needs to be done. (Once I get in the habit of this, I'll be able to make that a link. Soon, soon.)

In a moment what needs doing, for better or worse, is to push the publish button and begin to think things out loud and on purpose again.

Here goes...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Hey, this site just saved me 17 cents!

Go here: gas edge to find out if its worth it to drive a little further for gas that's a few pennies cheaper per gallon.

In my case turns out it would have cost me about 17 cents to "save" the extra .03 cents a gallon to drive a few miles out of the way for a cheaper pump price.

Every penny counts these days.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Behavior Support starts in your own backyard

I've been too swamped with work to post until I witnessed this craziness at a conference in Columbia yesterday. It was too rich to pass up.

Picture this:

A packed hotel conference room full of school administrators. That's fancy talk for Principals, Assistant Principals, Superintendents and the like. You know, the people teachers and students alike will walk down different halls to avoid, the ones who sometimes wield their power with wooden paddles drilled with holes. The authority figures, the check-signers, the deciders. Yeah, yeah, surely the vast majority are like Morgan Freeman in some 1980's movie where he saves the gang-ridden school from a horrid fate, but play along with me here, kids.

The speaker was a honcho, a muckety-muck and frankly, the real deal. He had flown in from Oregon, and is someone who is well-respected, frequently published, and clearly had gone to some trouble to speak to this huge crowd.

I'm in the back row, so I can see the crowd and the Expert.

Which means I can also see the three different people who are openly READING THE NEWSPAPER, cover to cover, while the Expert talks. When one woman finishes the sports page, she opens her laptop, connects to the hotel's wireless connection and begins shopping for a new cell phone.

They're not even trying to hold the newspapers on their laps. They hold them open, full page up, leisurely turning page after page, occasionally glancing at the speaker, and sipping from their coffee cups.

Do you think they would tolerate this rude behavior from their students?

I wish the speaker would have stopped his talk and sent them out.

I wish I would have had the courage of my convictions to have told them to go to the lobby to read and surf the net.

I wish I could tell you positively that a couple of them sported name tags from Lebanon Schools, but I'm only 85% sure.

More than anything I wish I'd only dreamed this horrible behavior.

Oh yeah--the topic of the conference? Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support.

Administrator--heal thyself.