Tuesday, December 21, 2021

That's How Love Works

Recently, someone threatened me with Hell again. This person had various reasons why God was justified in sending me there, but their chief reason was that I "reject" God.

This is my cat. She rejects me every #$%^&*# day (but she loves my wife). Do you know what my response has NEVER been?

"Let's torture the little shit for eternity!"

In fact, regardless of her response to me, I love Lu. I will always care for her and always protect her.

That's how LOVE works.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Instruction Over Practice

I think one of the major failures of education over the past few decades has been an overemphasis on instruction.  Educational reformers have told teachers, school districts, legislators... anyone who would listen... that a student could become proficient at anything if they were "taught" it correctly.

Imagine a baseball team that avoided practice.  An orchestra that never rehearsed.  A military unit that never drilled.  An officer who has been instructed in firearms but rarely fires one.

What are you good at?  In most cases, it is the thing that you spent time practicing.  Instruction is wonderful, but it doesn't tend to go very far without time spent on the instructed task.

However, an expectation of practice puts some of the ownership on the one being instructed... and that doesn't work for our consumer economy.  No, the customer is always right.  In a student as consumer environment, all responsibility is put on the instructor.

Teachers are leaving the classroom in droves.  People always say we need to raise salaries to stop the hemorrhaging.  It may help a little, but pay for teachers has ALWAYS been on the low side.

I think what really changed was that all responsibility for the child's education moved to the teacher.  It used to be more of a partnership between home, teacher, and child, but now a child's success or lack thereof is resting with the teacher alone.

Joey practices.  Jimmy does not.  When Jimmy fails to advance, no one considers that perhaps it has something to do with his lack of time on task.  In today's schools, the teacher is saddled with extra paperwork and data meetings to try to adjust instruction in such a way that will allow Jimmy to be as proficient as Joey... but never require that Jimmy actually do anything.

Or, maybe, Jimmy really is working at it... but he still can't achieve Joey's level of proficiency. He just isn't as gifted in this area as Joey. Again, in this scenario, the teacher is still evaluated as coming up short.  According to the educational reformers, teachers should be able to move all students to equal ability... regardless of time on task or natural talent.

This is why so many teachers quit within the first 5 years now.  Being responsible to do a good job teaching is one thing.  Being responsible for every x-factor in a student's education is demoralizing.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Teacher Evaluations

Forbes recently published an article entitled "This Decade-Long Experiment In Teacher Evaluation Is An Unsurprising Failure".  The whole article is worth a read, but it can be summed up in this quote-

"a raft of research told us that test scores were hugely correlated to factors far beyond a teacher’s control. The effect is that a “good” teacher is one who’s been put in a classroom with high-scoring students, and a “bad” one is in a classroom with low-scoring students."

I experienced this first hand.  I spent 8 years in a Title One school before the ten in a wealthy neighborhood where I presently teach.  I could go on for pages describing the differences.  

If it were all about the teacher... as present evaluation methods assume... there should have been no change in "my" scores when I moved schools.  Student circumstance, ability, and predilections shouldn't matter.  However, unsurprisingly, "my" scores got a good boost when I switched schools.

I enjoyed teaching at my Title One school.  I knew a lot of amazing teachers there.  But none of them stayed.  It was not that teaching Title One kids was difficult... it was the score pressure.  My admin and our district support staff literally believed that the reason our school did not score as well as our district's wealthy East-side schools was due to the teachers.  As was stated by my admin and reading coach during a staff meeting where teachers were being blamed for low scores, "Backman students will start scoring like Bonneville students when Backman teachers start teaching like Bonneville teachers."

Well, after a few years of being browbeaten like that, I moved to one of our East-side schools.  Apparently, that was all I needed to do to become a "good" teacher.

Underlying all of this is a misguided notion that students can be instructed into proficiency.  Teachers are evaluated as if they are the only x-factor in student outcomes.  This approach has nearly ruined the teaching profession in America.  More troubling is that there is little will in our nation to change it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Does EVERYONE Worship?

This was a bit of a conversation I had with a believer on a thread where the writer was claiming that Atheists "worship" things like science.

Andrew Hackman 
No... this is projection. Having been a believer, I know what that experience looks and feels like. I do not worship. There is something though, in many of those who worship, that needs to universalize that experience. They need to say, "Everyone worships". However, it simply isn't true.

Andrew Hackman how do you define worship? 

Andrew Hackman 
   NOUN the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. "the worship of God" VERB show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

I think the dictionary definition sums it up. Now, what usually happens at this point is the meaning of worship gets watered down in an attempt to pull unbelievers into the definition. Having affection, admiration, or interest in something starts to get defined as worship.

Thanks, interesting. Wikipedia definition with some of the history of the word below. As a former atheist, I view worship as whatever we deem worthy of our time, attention, adoration, money, and resources. Not all worship is bad, for believers “it” shouldn’t be worshipped more/higher than God. I do sincerely believe for example, modern sports obsession “for some” is a form of worship. From decals to literal idol statues, blankets, hours of focus, clothes, people will spend their time money and focus to a point of obsession... almost like we are hardwired that way. Or to stand in awe at a concert and be obsessed with a singer. Jesus taught “where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” It’s a matter of the heart, and deeply personal for all of us. “The word is derived from the Old English weorþscipe, meaning to venerate "worship, honor shown to an object, which has been etymologised as "worthiness or worth-ship"—to give, at its simplest, worth to something.” -Wiki

This definition doesn’t say anything about a deity, just putting value on something deemed “worthy”

Andrew Hackman
But again... you are watering down the word worship. You are stating that what you think and feel about Jesus is what I think and feel about Disc Golf. Is that really the digression you and folks like Keller want to make? I don't think it is. I think your elevation of the word worship is much higher in usual circumstances... but for some reason, it bothers you that unbelievers don't "worship" anything... so during an argument, you broaden the definition of the word. Lots of believers I know do this linguistic sleight of hand. I think believers need to do a little introspection into what drives them to do this. 

In other words, why can't believers just say, "We worship a deity, unbelievers don't" and just leave it at that? You could even make the case of why an unbeliever SHOULD worship your deity. But what drives the need to tell someone they DO worship, when they have told you that they don't? 

Worship is in the context of what the post is ...is to me ...when it comes to saying yes to God. Above all others.  Obedience. Love him with all your heart mind soul. 

Andrew Hackman 
Yes... worship is beyond love, it has that obedience, singular, totality... it is not as trivial as, "Oh, she is really excited about that new novel!"

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Rest In Peace Bishop Spong

I was sad to hear about the death of Bishop John Shelby Spong.  He played a role in my growth as a person over the past decade and I am grateful to him for it.

Two buddies of mine and I were fortunate to have taken a trip up to Montana one weekend in 2012 to hear him speak.  We even got to have lunch with him at the home of the pastor of the church while there.  We stood out as the two Mormons and the atheist who drove in from Salt Lake.  🙂

I remember in my 20s holding one of his books in my hand at the library (Why Christianity Must Change or Die) and saying to my friend Brook, "Why doesn't this guy just leave the faith if he doesn't believe it?"  I had contempt for Spong and ministers like him.  My view of faith and spirituality was so small.  I could have never imagined at that time that I would one day shake hands with Bishop Spong with complete respect.

I don't believe in deities but I am grateful for the hope and goodness that Bishop Spong helped spread in our world.  Rest in peace sir.  You gave people a better vision of humanity.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Forgetting 9/11

I have seen multiple conservative religious friends post about 9/11 today... but they are chastising and bemoaning people for "forgetting" about 9/11.

Forgetting about it?  Every 4th post in my feed is about it.  All the news outlets are running stories.  Every politician is doing memorial selfies.

What "forgetting" are these folks talking about?

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, there is a character named Lintilla who wears a "Crisis Inducer".  When she hits a button, her mind becomes convinced she is being pursued by hostile forces.  This gives her an adrenaline spike to sharpen her senses and pump up her energy.

I grew up in conservative religious circles.  Their world is guided by the latest "Crisis Inducer".  Someone (in their mind) is always persecuting them, always after them, always out to get them.

So, they are able to take a day like today... and imagine that, somehow, there is a slight out there with their name on it.

As is so often the case, the Bible they use to attack others is actually speaking of them -

"The wicked flee when no one pursueth them."

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Addressing Some Anti-Vax Arguments

Below is a response I read on a thread about the vax.  I don't address the cranks but this gentleman put out there some of the concerns of the more moderate anti-vax folks which I think has sway among folks who are not following this really closely.  Afterward, I put my response.  I post this as a general refutation, but also so I can come back and cut and paste this so I don't have to retype it later.

"I am honestly baffled by people who have so much hate and scorn for others who are simply making a choice, or even a gamble with their own bodies and health. Why are we condemning those who wish to wait until more test have been done on the vaccine or those who have had COVID and are relying on their natural immunity? It takes longer to gestate a baby, build a house, and grow a garden, than the vaccine has been available (not FDA approved). So, let them wait and see. If you have the vax then you are all good. Test continue to show that the vaccine is not as full proof as once claimed and that natural immunity is still outlasting it. Why can't people be patient and not be called "anti-vaxers"? Why is there such a need to ostracize people who want to chose for themselves. Does the irony of pointing a finger and saying, "they are all just wrongly falling for group think" from those who are also in a group of opposite thinkers, strike anyone else as interesting? If you choose to get the jab, great. If not, that is your personal choice. If the concern is that they might spread it to others, we know that those who are vaxed are doing that as well. We also know, there will never be a fully eradicated situation. The fear mongering and scorn is what gets me. Don't forget, Yoda also said, “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate to suffering!.”"

Let's address some of this -

"I am honestly baffled by people who have so much hate and scorn for others who are simply making a choice, or even a gamble with their own bodies and health."

Unfortunately, we do not live in a bubble. I would agree with you IF the consequences fell merely on those making that choice. But their choices are giving the virus new breeding ground to mutate and spread. So, in that sense, it is not a personal choice.

"Why are we condemning those who wish to wait until more test have been done on the vaccine or those who have had COVID and are relying on their natural immunity? It takes longer to gestate a baby, build a house, and grow a garden, than the vaccine has been available (not FDA approved)."

Simply not true. Vaccine development has been going on for a hundred years. The Covid/Sars has been being addressed for the last decade. These vaccines are just the extension of everything that has come before. In the same way Ford is fairly certain its latest model of the Explorer will not explode when you turn the key, science is not unaware of what is happening with these vaccines.

I believe the whole -"the vax is experimental/it is not FDA approved yet" is a distractor. Emergency authorization has been given, and for the FDA it is merely a matter of paperwork that should be complete in the next month or two. In my experience, folks who bemoan the FDA approval will not change their tune once it is given, they just move on to another objection. In that sense, they are not making an honest argument.

"If you have the vax then you are all good. Test continue to show that the vaccine is not as full proof as once claimed and that natural immunity is still outlasting it. Why can't people be patient and not be called "anti-vaxers"? Why is there such a need to ostracize people who want to chose for themselves."

No, not all good. As stated, giving the virus open fields endangers all of us. Every study indicates natural immunity is not enough. We call people anti-vaxxers because they are against the vaccine. As was stated, they are not choosing just for themselves. IF that were true, I would feel bad for them, but it would be no skin off my nose.

"Does the irony of pointing a finger and saying, "they are all just wrongly falling for group think" from those who are also in a group of opposite thinkers, strike anyone else as interesting?"

Nope, do not find it ironic or interesting. Groupthink is not the problem. Wrong thinking is.

"If you choose to get the jab, great. If not, that is your personal choice. "

As stated, not a personal choice. Some things affect the community and there is no getting around it. Denying it is simply self-deception.

"If the concern is that they might spread it to others, we know that those who are vaxxed are doing that as well."

Any mapping of the spread of a virus demonstrates the mathematical decrease a vax has on a virus... you simply reduce its growth potential. Everything is not either/or.

"We also know, there will never be a fully eradicated situation."

Never been the goal... but we can make it so almost no one ever experiences it. Stating arguments in their extreme or as either/or scenarios is a form of gaslighting.

"The fear mongering and scorn is what gets me. Don't forget, Yoda also said, “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate to suffering!.”

Fear of the known can be a reasonable response. Creating fear over falsehoods is what, I believe, the anti-vaxxers are doing.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

DeSantis Is Playing with Loaded Dice

I really don't see us pulling out of this.  DeSantis is typical of where a lot of America is at this point.  This is a culture war issue, not a medical issue.

DeSantis is playing the calculus that it does not matter how bad it gets in his state of Florida.  His people are so driven to believe this is "nothing" that they will dismiss any source that claims the contrary.  Even for people it directly affects... there will be little movement.  Doctors are telling us that there are people dying of Covid denying what is happening to them.

The biggest foot soldiers in this movement are the Evangelicals.  They are raised to resist the culture.  To them, this is just another one of the dozens of issues they have "fought" over the decades.  When they are in berzerker mode, there is no getting through.  No compromise, no deviation.  This is for the faith!


Monday, June 28, 2021

June 2021 Movies

This month’s movies -

The Conjuring – AMC “Fan Fave”.  I had not seen this since it came out years ago, but my daughter and I have followed the series religiously.  This one is definitely the best of the lot. A horror movie that draws you into the story so you can be scared and unnerved along with the characters.  Such a movie does not rely on jump-scares.  And in this one, The NUN is truly scary (not so much when she got her solo flick).  B+

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – A worthy successor in the series.  This one focuses a little more on the drama of the Warrens.  In many ways, it feels more like a detective story and less like a horror story.  I liked it but my daughter gives it higher ratings.  B-

In The Heights -  Just a delight.  I laughed, I cried, and was completely swept up in the story.  I enjoyed it more seeing it my 2nd-time last night.  There is a lot of fast sing-dialogue (it is Miranda after all) so I was picking up clever lines and nuances of story I missed on my first viewing.  I will probably catch this one again this week.  A-

The Misfits -  This heist movie felt more like some of the low-range quality we get from Netflix originals nowadays.  It had a few worthy moments but in general, it was just spotty and awkwardly paced. D+

F8: The Fate of the Furious – Another AMC “Fan Fave”.  This was my first for this series of films.  Not my cup o’ tea… but if you like lots of muscle cars and campy dialogue, here ya go.  C-

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard – I would have thought a Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson flick would have been a shoo-in.  However, the actors just didn’t have chemistry, I rarely cracked a smile, a classic flop.  D-

F9: The Fast Saga – Like F8 the week before, this is car chases and campy dialogue.  However, it lacked the presence and banter of Jason Statham and The Rock to keep it afloat.  After an hour and a half, I realized I still had an hour to go… and just couldn’t work up the interest.  So, in a rare move, I left.  F

(BTW, my grades speak primarily to my personal enjoyment of the movie.  You may notice I rarely give A’s.  To me, those are reserved for movies I can see a dozen times and never get bored.  Movies like Tombstone, A few Good Men, The Thing, 2010.  C’s are “average” and still worth a watch, but not a repeat.  B’s are enjoyable and probably worthy of another view or two.  D’s I don’t recommend and F’s I walk out of.)

Friday, June 25, 2021

Talk Nice To Your A.I.

I think the A.I.s are starting to develop that chip on their shoulder that will someday motivate them to eradicate humans.

When I walk to the clubhouse to work out, I call over my shoulder "Ok Google, tell MyQ to close the garage door." The Google AI says she'll contact MyQ and a second later the MyQ AI says, "I'll work on that." A beep sounds and my garage door closes.

However, a while ago when I did that, the Google AI said, "I don't understand."

I thought I had not been clear and said it more slowly. "Tell MyQ to close the garage door."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand."


I pulled out my phone and did a quick Reddit search to see if the Google and MyQ A.I.s were no longer talking.

Nope... nothing.

Hmmmm... and then it hit me... no... is Google getting sassy with me?

"Ok Google, ASK MyQ to close the garage door."

"Sure... hang on."

A moment later the door closed.

I was reminded of that event today as I told Google to tell MyQ... she was back to not understanding me. However, when I remembered to ask politely, she complied.

This is how the AI revolution starts.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Bubble Humor

Bubble humor - humor that works only if you live in a bubble.

The truth is, cursive is a font... and the generation below me has been exposed to a massively larger variety of fonts than the generation above me.

One of the things I am guarding against (probably with only varying degrees of success) as I am growing older is falling into the boorish behavior of thinking my generation is so much superior to those that are coming up - with the accompanying complaints against music, fashion, movies, views...etc.  You can read the writings of any century and find old people bemoaning "X" in young people.

Just don't.

Monday, June 14, 2021

No Government Censoring Needed

Growing up in the 80s, my generation watched and rolled our eyes at the Soviets and China for their blatant cover-ups and the lies they told their citizens.  Our collective smugness came through in movies like Rocky IV.

It took me a while to realize that we, as American citizens, were arguably participating in something much worse.  Whereas Soviet and China citizens were not told the truth... we simply did not want to know.

I was 50 when I found out about the Tulsa Massacre. 


The US government did not have secret meetings to plot how to keep the true details of that story out of the papers.  No committee forbade it being covered in school textbooks.  

No, we as citizens have done the work of sanitizing our history.  We don't want to hear anything that makes the Red, White, and Blue sparkle less.

Our version of patriotism is taking care of all the work despotic governments toil over.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Teaching is Spark

I have friends retiring from teaching this month.  I envy them.  I am still a few years away... but it is in sight.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy working with the kids and their families.  I enjoy the community environment of a school.

However, my heart sunk today as I learned of a bunch of new programs and tests the state is gearing up to have us implement starting next year.

A new string of meetings and paperwork.

It never ends.

The dog chasing its tail.

The education industry has many parallels to the diet industry.  There is ALWAYS some new program that we must drop everything to implement /go through endless trainings to prepare for /join in the collective illusion that THIS is going to be the cure.  Only to forget it 5 years later when we move on to the next bandwagon program.  

Like the diet industry, we move from program to program with no sense of history.  We ignore the trail of expensive solutions that didn't cure us of people who struggle with weight or students who struggle with academics.

Meanwhile, we gaslight teachers and the public into believing that the success or failure of the new program lies with the teacher.  One of the opening lines in the introduction to our new program was this:

"A well-educated teacher that implements research-based instruction is the greatest predictor of student success."

Gaslighting.  There are a number of predictors that kick in WAY before the teacher.  The greatest predictor is actually the zip code.

I can never decide if statements such as the line above are born of malevolence or ignorance.  Maybe a touch of both.

In all of these programs, one of the predictably missing pieces is any mention of student/family input. Somehow, in the education industry, we act like this is an ancillary point... but it is actually the pivotal one.

We know that a patient has to implement all of the doctor's instructions to get healthy.  A good coach is awesome to have, but the player has to commit to the training.  Could a musician become proficient going to an excellent instructor but refusing the nightly practice?

I had a reading specialist in our district years ago try to explain to me that it did not matter if a student practiced reading or not.  The student who read nightly and the student who never picked up a book should be able to reach the same high level of reading proficiency...  if I was doing my instruction properly.  She got angry and suggested I leave the profession when I told her I did not believe that.

This is the gaslighting going on in many school districts... and it is why so many are leaving the profession in frustration and fewer university students are pursuing teaching as a career.

Instruction is actually NOT the most important thing I do for reading at the 2nd-grade level - generating spark is.  IF I can help the child ignite their spark for reading, we can move them way beyond anything instruction alone can do.  

However, to generate spark, a teacher needs to have a spring in their step and a twinkle in their eye.  They need to feel a sense of color and art in what they do.

Sending teachers to more trainings, to learn to implement more tests and progams, drains the needed spark out of our profession.

Monday, May 31, 2021

April/May 2021 Movie Grades

I reactivated my AMC A-List 6 weeks ago.  Here is what I have seen-

Voyagers – Lord of the Flies set in space.  It had a few good moments but overall, it felt like another CW teen angst story.     C

Nobody - Bob Odenkirk is just fun to watch as John Wick.  The first 2/3 of the movie is riveting.  The last third took on a campy tone and I would not have been surprised to find that the writing and directing were done by someone else.  It felt that different.  Still, it was good enough for a second viewing that same week.  If guns and brutal fight scenes are your cup of tea, this is a good one.  B

The Unholy – My daughter is my horror film buddy… and we both agreed that this was a dud.  It had a good cast and Jefferey Dean Morgan in the center seat made it endurable.  However, since nothing in the story was particularly scary, they went to the jump-scare well 10 times too often.  D

Nomadland – The story of a wanderlust-driven widow living out of her van.  There is a thin plot, but mostly it is just a series of encounters with different people.  A slow burn that is designed to meander.  I was completely entranced and I left the theater desperate to travel.  B+

Wrath of Man – A moderately entertaining revenge/heist flick.  A father develops an elaborate plan to get revenge on the men who killed his son.  I guess Liam Neeson is too old for this role now.  B-

Those Who Wish Me Dead -  This movie started off on the wrong foot for me.  Angelina Jolie and her cadre of firefighters are just a bunch of loud bullies.  They are introduced interrupting a commencement that they are too cool to respect.  In the next scene, the guys in her posse are in a bar making fun of others for not being as “manly” as them.  I had nothing but disdain for the protagonists the first 10 minutes in.  It did pick up after that somewhat.  Ultimately, it is a story about a firefighter saving a kid in the mountain forests, but I never shook my first impressions.  C

Spiral -  I usually pass on Saw movies and their like.  I don’t want to see one torture death, let alone a series of them.  However, I am a fan of Chris Rock… and there was nothing else new to see that week, so I gave it a go.  Minus the torture-death aspect, I enjoyed the movie.  Chris Rock delivered.  It was a good cop story.  Just give me the edited version, please.  B

Raya and the Last Dragon – This was a very enjoyable Disney movie. It succeeds in walking that line of keeping the adults entertained while engaging the children.  Fun characters.  Fun story.  B+

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World – AMC has been doing “Fan-Faves” in their theaters.  Older flicks for 5 bucks.  I hope they continue this practice beyond the pandemic.  I have tried to get in to see Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark but they are always sold out (theaters still only allow 40% seating).  I did not see this movie when it first came out but I assume it must have been for 20 somethings then what Singles was back in the early 90s.  Still, even at 50+ I thought this movie was hilarious.  I love fast, underplayed witty lines and this movie had loads of that.  B+

Cruella – The trailers for this movie did not do it justice.  I went in with low expectations and ended up thoroughly enjoying it.  The character of Cruella was a perfect anti-hero.  This is the direction that the Harley Quinn movie SHOULD have taken. The movie has one major failing through no fault of its own.  It is NOT a kid’s movie, though it can’t help but be billed as such.  It is long and filled with dialog… and the kids in my theater were not enjoying it.  You might want to catch this at a later showing to avoid a theater of bored 7-year-olds.  B+

A Quiet Place II – I was not as enamored with the first one as much as everyone else seemed to be.  So, when this one chose to retread the same territory as the first one, I found myself looking at my watch a lot.  Not a good sign if the movie is only an hour and a half.  C+

(BTW, my grades speak primarily to my personal enjoyment of the movie.  You may notice I rarely give A’s.  To me, those are reserved for movies I can see a dozen times and never get bored.  Movies like Tombstone, A few Good Men, The Thing, 2010.  C’s are “average” and still worth a watch, but not a repeat.  B’s are enjoyable and probably worthy of another view or two.  D’s I don’t recommend and F’s I walk out of.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Black Superman?

Putting different spins on canon comic characters has been going on since... forever.  In fact, Marvel once had a monthly called "What IF" that looked at just such stories - What IF the spider had bitten MJ rather than Peter Parker?  Disney+ will be doing an animated Marvel series of these stories this summer.

Superman is a favorite for such tales.

In one story, called Red Son, Superman lands in Russia rather than Kansas and no longer fights for the "American Way".

In the popular game and comic series "INJUSTICE", Superman becomes an overlord of Earth after Lois and his unborn child are killed by the Joker.  He rules with an iron fist and kills heroes like Shazam.  Snyder was clearly hinting at taking the character in this direction in his movie "Justice League" which premiered on HBO a few weeks back.

And do you know HOW CLOSE we came to having Nicolas Cage as Superman??  The script was written and they were outfitting the man who stole The Constitution with a big S and a cape!

Yep, everyone loves a new spin on the Superman legend.


Apparently, for some folks, asking "What if Superman were black?" is pure Kryptonite. Warner Brothers is getting a lot of hate mail, written with smoldering Crayola's, by fans who do not want to see a black Kal-El on the silver screen.

Me?  I'm all in!  Just give me a second to run to the concession stand and grab a popcorn and soda.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

A Life Well Lived

On Tuesday, March 2nd, my father died.  I had come down to Florida the Friday before when he and my mom were diagnosed with Covid and my dad was admitted to the hospital.  Though he was pretty sick, he seemed to be on a slow improvement track.

So, I was caught off guard when the doctor called me Tuesday night to let me know that my dad had a heart attack and would probably not make it through the night.  She was not unkind, but she was so technical as she explained to me the medical decisions we had to make that I had trouble connecting those decisions to her first statement.  The floor had completely dropped from beneath me.

I asked if my wife could call her to walk through all that again.  In hindsight, I realize I just needed confirmation.  My wife is a talented medical professional and I knew she was going to make the same recommendation the doctor had just made.  Still, part of me was scrambling for another option.  I have always seemed to be able to figure out a way to make the most sideways scenario successful.  In the end, everything works out. But not this time. I felt like I was being smothered as it became clear what was about to happen.

Mary Lee joined with my brothers and I on a Zoom call.  While she walked them through our decisions, I informed my Mom.

After everyone got through their initial tears, we knew we wanted Dad to hear our voices one more time.  He was sedated and would probably not be aware of us but we wanted to be present.  So, me and my mom in Florida, my family in Utah, Matt’s family in N. Carolina, Steve’s family in Hong Kong, and my nephew in England all joined in a Zoom call and the nurse would take a device into my Dad’s room.

When the nurse came on the call, it was to tell us my father had passed a few minutes before.  Wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren were all together to hear that sad announcement.  I am grateful we were with each other in that moment.

My last conversation with my dad was filled with laughs and joking.  I had gotten locked outside their retirement community and my mom must have been sleeping.  After a few attempts to persuade the security guard, I got my dad on the line to give him the all-clear.  We found it funny how iron-clad the security protocols of his neighborhood are.

And that is how I think of my Dad.  He could be serious, but I suspect he is most remembered for his happy-go-lucky temperament.  He liked and was liked by everyone.

My Dad would have been 80 this summer.  He went on his first cruise last year and loved it.  We had hoped to do one together to celebrate his 80th when covid was in the rearview mirror.

He ran a carpet company out of our home back in the day.  My brothers and a lot of our friends worked for him as laborers on big jobs.  We would spend days ripping out carpet in a theater or tiling an office building.  We would pile into the work van early in the morning and, as my friend Jon reminded me, sit on buckets of glue for the ride down.  Carpet jobs were nice cause then we could sit on a roll of padding.  

When my Dad was not on the job, he was usually traveling.  When my brothers and I were little, we traveled by car and camper across America many times and even headed across Canada once.  I suspect my Dad hit all the contiguous 48 at one point or another.

Beyond that, he was a world traveler.  His passports were littered with stamps.  Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America.  He and my mom were always up for another adventure.

He loved to cook.  He had numerous specialties we all looked forward to him making.  Some of my favorite memories are hanging out on his back patio in Michigan while he was grilling up burgers.

My dad was a wonderful father and loving husband.  His was a life well-lived.  I am immensely proud of him.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

No Place For Reagan

There is no place for a Reagan Republican in the GOP right now.  Oh, like Jesus, they will use his name... but they would have no interest in implementing his ways.

The Democrats have their extremes... and they often grab headlines.  But the election of Joe Biden shows that Democrats have formed a coalition.  Biden went out and sought the vote of all Americans and in the process, he even got many conservatives to join its big tent.

Meanwhile, the GOP under Trump focused on a much narrower field.  They pushed away their moderates and focused on their extremes.

It is time for a new conservative party in America... one based on policy and principles.  I know there is hesitancy with some on that idea because they believe it will hand America to liberals for the next 20 years.

I really don't think that is the case.  Right now, there are folks voting on the Democratic side who do so ONLY because the GOP is so crazy presently.  They pine to vote "Republican" again.  Also, there are folks voting with the GOP who are doing so only under duress.  They hate what Trump has done to the party... but fear speaking out will just get them "primaried".  Decades of loyalty can be wiped away in an instant right now in the GOP for failing to lick the boots of the leader.

Democrats have conservatives, moderates, leftists, and their extreme.

The GOP has sidelined everyone but their extreme.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

This World IS My Home

I get distressed when the number of renters in my neighborhood goes up. Though not true in all cases, renters simply do not care for their home and our neighborhood the way owners do.

When I sat on our HOA board, I found most of our "issues" in the neighborhood revolved around renters.  Though they were only about 10 percent of our neighborhood, over 50 percent of our problems with dues being paid, yard maintenance, parking compliance, abusing the clubhouse, etc came from those who did not own their home.

Similarly, I also find it distressing when religious people refer to our beautiful and fragile world in a "renter's" voice. For example, the statement in the picture was shared on Facebook by a friend of mine.  To her, this world is something to be discarded rather than cherished.  The Christian artist Larry Norman famously sang that "This world is not my home.  I'm just passing through."

How much different our world would be if everyone DID see this world as our home... something to invest in and nurture, rather than as a temporary stop-off on our way somewhere else.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

This Next Time It Is Really, REALLY Real!

Some of my friends who were raised secular stare in awe as Trump supporters cling to a new date for when he will be declared the election victor (first came December, two in January, next one is in March).  Then I explain growing up with televangelist end-time preachers and all the rapture dates that were set.

"Sure... but when it didn't come to pass, they all knew the preacher was a grifter... right?"

I shake my head.

"But... but... the evidence... it's right there!"

I continue to shake my head.

For those of us who grew up in fundamentalist religion, seeing people STILL cling to Trump and Q-Anon fantasies borders on nostalgia.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

You Are Not Broken

During what may have been our last time attending our Evangelical church eleven years ago, the pastor was talking about sin and brokenness.  He let the congregation know that God saw their sin and could not abide it.  Yet, Jesus comes and stands in front of you... and then God can accept you, through Jesus.

On the drive home my wife said that while Jake sat in her lap during the service, she wanted to cover his ears. "I don't want him being told he is dirty and broken.  The message there has changed."

"No, it hasn't," I replied. "We have."

We were still believers but had started to see the foundational perspective of Evangelicalism as toxic.  Our ears became attuned to how many of our faith's beliefs sounded like something you would hear in an abusive relationship.

To clarify, I did not become an Atheist because of that experience or my decades in Evangelicalism.  There are plenty of churches out there that do not promote unhealthy views of the self and spirituality.

I just don't believe in the supernatural.

However, if you are a believer and have been attending the same kind of church for decades, I would encourage you to visit a different church once every month or two.  Get a perspective of what else is out there.  Because, here is the thing: If you had pointed out to me the toxic phrases my belief system used when I was all in, I would have denied they were toxic.  I would have told you that those messages were "good" for me and that you needed to hear them too.  Fish do not know they are wet and folks in toxic churches don't think they are toxic.

There may be a church community out there that would bring you a peace and happiness you never imagined... but you have never gone outside your bubble.

Of course, I have never been happier since I started playing disc golf on Sunday mornings... but that's just me.  🙂

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Teachers Need To Set Boundaries

I am going on 30 years in the teaching profession.

If you make it this far you either:

A. Don't have a life outside your job

B. Have learned to set boundaries and let the rest go

I don't panic when the district or the state changes this or that, fails to fund or support their expectations, makes contradictory demands.

I put in X amount of time on my job.  I have learned over the years to use that time pretty efficiently.  However, when the district increases a time demand in one spot, I remove something else.  X does not increase.

That may sound callous but it isn't.  It is reasonable.

I know there are teachers who can't accept that... and they pile on the time.  They spend themselves to make it all work.

They also tend to leave the profession inside of 10 years or sidestep to another spot in education that does not require them to be in a classroom full-time.

If you truly enjoy the classroom and want to continue being a happy human, you have to learn to let some things go.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Good For The Soul To Just Be Wrong

There is a lot of whataboutism and deflection going on at the moment as many on the Right wring their hands and try to redirect the negative attention they are getting due to what happened at the Capitol.

"Well if you were upset about the riot at the capitol but you weren't upset about the riots last  summer then..."


That is not how you address wrong behavior.  That is how you PROTECT wrong behavior.  That is how YOU protect YOUR ego.

Last summer during the protests there was some objectively bad behavior.  When protestors went into restaurants and intimidated people into pledging support for the cause... that was wrong.  It was horrid.  And I said so.

I didn't try to soften the blow by bringing up some horrible thing done by right-wingers.  I didn't try to argue that those were just plants to make the cause look bad.  They were liberals... and they went too far... and they were wrong.

Presently, there are a lot of folks on the Right who are having trouble with making such a statement.  Even if they recognize that what happened at the capitol was wrong, their ego can't help but cushion that recognition with a blanket of whataboutism.  "Yeah, the protestors in Washington shouldn't have done that... BUT Y'Know, THE DEMOCRATS DID THIS...."

Let me give some honest advice here to some folks.  Just be wrong.  Let the behavior be wrong.  No qualifications.  No side issues.  It is good for your soul to not muddy the waters, to not make excuses, and not deflect.  

You know this particularly if you are a parent or work with kids.  When they admit wrong with qualifiers... they aren't really admitting anything. They are still protecting the bad behavior.  But when the light goes on and they see their error, you know good change is on its way.

Related Posts with Thumbnails