He Was Right

“Of course, there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in the like manner, have their indispensable office,–to teach elements. But they can only higher serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow rich every year.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar

I read this a couple of weeks ago and it has just stayed with me.  The words were first spoken by Emerson in 1837 during an address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, I am not an expert when it comes to higher learning or the institutions of such, other than to say that I have a Bachelor’s Degree and aspire to even higher education.  Yet, when I think of my alma mater in terms of this quote, along with the incredible sense of urgency by politicians to get students enrolled into math and science programs with endless government subsidized loans, my eyes open and I see that few heed the warning Emerson gave nearly 200 years ago.

Consider also the meteoric rise of for-profit colleges and trade institutions and the point is even further illustrated.

Truth is that colleges and universities are becoming training centers rather than institutions of higher learning, and, as one that sees the importance of the arts and humanities, also math and the sciences, and how that combination gives a well-rounded education, that is troubling.

The traditional subjects, the arts, humanities, mathematics, and sciences teach one to probe more deeply, to ask questions and seek answers, to innovate in order to find solutions.  They promote thought beyond simple rote memorization, which is incredibly boring and less than stimulating to the mind.  There is always a question to be asked and answered, and there is always an answer seeking to be found.  To know the right question to ask is to take the first step in discovering what is being sought.  Other materials have failed to ask it and without the question, there can be no answer.  With answers still waiting for their questions to be asked, there is more knowledge to acquire, and with more knowledge to acquire, there is a continued need for education, rather than indoctrination or job training.  With more time spent indoctrinating students with “proven” techniques, models, and ideas, there is less time spent engaging creative areas and then a lack of true ingenuity creeps in and sets the ground for little to no innovation. With less encouragement for innovative thought or creativity, there is a loss of newly acquired knowledge, leaving education stale and, overall, unrewarding.

I was reading an article earlier today at Salon.com, the title of which is “Congratulations, Class of 2014:  You’re Totally Screwed.”  It states that the average student loan borrower that completes an undergraduate degree owes an average of $33,000 (I feel your pain. I still owe $23,000 on mine). Among other things, I highly recommend the piece and sharing it far and wide.  One sentence that stood out to me, “Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth:  college costs more and more even as it gets objectively worse and worse.”  I think there is probably some truth to that, in terms that previous generations’ educational experiences were a better bang for the buck. The article goes on to talk about the perils and troubles experienced by adjunct faculty that are hired by universities in order to cut costs for tenure-tracked positions.  Perhaps I am incredibly naive and maybe a bit utopian in my thoughts, but I believe education to be an endeavor that should not seek profit and growth for profit’s and growth’s sake, but to further the search for knowledge.  Not every worthwhile pursuit needs profit and infinite growth.  How large does a school need to be in order to maintain a healthy bottom-line which is being fed constantly by tuition costs that rise steadily and continuously?

Back to my alma-mater…

It is a public university, a part of the state university system.  I remember visiting the school and loving the campus. It was beautiful and not overly huge. If you humped it, you could get from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. Classes averaged about 20-25 students (my senior level classes and some of my junior level classes were less than 10) excluding freshman/general education courses and introductory classes, but even then I think my largest class was probably 100 students or so.

I’m not sure what the class size is now, but I know the school continues to grow. Every year that I lived in the area, about 15 years (I dropped out for a while and went to work.  I went back later once I got my shit together.), there was a construction project going on somewhere.  A new science building for the chemistry, physics and astronomy departments.  An addition to the old science building that houses the biology, geology, geography, and anthropology departments. A new dormitory or two or three.  A new cafeteria.  Two new parking decks on campus.  A new library (thank god.  The old one SUCKED). The renovation of the old library into a classroom building that contains the history and political science departments (where I was when I was not in the new library). A refurbished football stadium with expanded seating and press/spectator boxes. New athletic facilities for the baseball, basketball, softball, and tennis programs.  A new arena known as the Convocation Center. A new student recreation facility. And a revamped student union and student bookstore. When I left, the school was breaking ground on a new facility for the school of education. There are others, I am sure, but these stick out in my mind.

I love my school. I loved attending it, and I love the area. I am convinced that there is not a better place on earth. It is heaven. There are things that put a damper on the experience, though, and every one is due to growth of the university. The endless construction projects create havoc on the campus and are unsightly, taking away from the beauty of everything else surround it.  With growth, there are more people. Holy crap, more people and traffic. The traffic. Oh god, the traffic. It used to be only on football Saturdays that one avoided getting in a car unless you absolutely had to. Now, it truly is every day, especially during the academic year. It’s awful and you can damn well count on having a stroke or a coronary everytime you get behind the wheel and on the road.

I don’t know the total cost for all of these projects and the others that have surely sprouted up since I left the area a few years ago, but I do know how much tuition increased from my inaugural semester until my final semester as a full-time student some years later.  Over 300% just for classes, not including any price hikes for campus room and board or books and materials for class.

I’m just spitballing here, but what if the school spent more time, money, and energy showing what the faculty actually do in their classrooms and laboratories rather than shaping up the buildings that house them, it would get a more effective and efficient use for every dollar spent.  If schools are seeking students whose wish is to attend a university with stellar athletic facilities and shiny new buildings without a thought or care about what they will actually be learning or doing, then institutions of higher learning are most definitely missing the point.

Emerson was right and we can’t even see it, and that saddens me.

A Principled Solution

Regardless of what I may think or say, I am not always right. I think those are some of the most difficult words to say. I’m usually right, anyway. Well…sometimes I’m right. My wife will give me that much.

And those times when I am right, I thoroughly enjoy. Being right is one of life’s great pleasures. It does not matter why I am right or what I am right about but just the fact that I am right brings loads of happiness and delight my way.

Sometimes I am wrong, but that’s done on purpose. It’s good to spread the right around from time to time. You know…just give ’em a taste, get ’em hooked, and they’ll come back wanting more.

Being right is addictive. It is to me anyway. I may have a problem, but that is for another post. I spend my life looking for the right answers, and it seems like a neverending quest. Searching, searching, searching everywhere. Looking for the elusive right answer that will solve a given problem. Looking for the solution that will come without a conflicting response or opinion. I look for these and when I cannot find them, I try desperately to develop them in my mind. When that does not work, I go to like-minded souls that will reassure me that the course I wish to take is the right one and will not faulter. I check my beliefs and my unshakable bedrock of principles against the issue that needs addressing. It is in those things, those places and recesses of my mind I find solace. I find comfort and reassurance. Yet, the issue remains unresolved.

People change.

Needs change.

Wants change.

Situations change.

Seasons change.

The weather changes.

Minds change.

With changes, questions change and answers change. As much as we would like to believe that the world is black and white and is set in stone; it surely is not. Rather the world is fluid. It is always changing and shifting, both figuratively and literally, and perhaps in the most minute ways. Those that wish to survive in it must learn to grow and adapt to the changes that are coming and that will come.

With the immense challenge that comes with keeping up with a changing world, there is a need to come to grips with the uncertainty that is sure to accompany those changes that will arise. More gray will be thrown into a world that is already muddled with many shades of gray between the already indistinguishable black and white. Undoubtedly, panic will ensue with some of the changes that perceivably threaten the status quo. People will not know what happens next, as much as we pride ourselves in believing we do know. Tempers will rise. Defensive mindsets will take over. Comfort will be sought within groups of like-minded people. Instead of built, bridges will be burned.

We see it all the time in politics and government, but this happens in the everyday as well. Bridges must be built and maintained between contesting ideas in order to promote meaningful solutions that each holder of a given idea believes to be correct. It is here, in these bridges, that the real work of problem solving is done. It takes hard work, a lot of communicating, and a little humility to find satisfying and agreeable solutions that will alleviate the problems that accompany a change that requires action or an obstacle to overcome.

However, we allow individual egos to get in the way (See the opening paragraph). Egos and the individual’s perception of need taints the process and clouds the issue that needs to be addressed. It is easy to see this everywhere. Just turn on the television. There are an endless number of voices and views which pander to individual wants, needs, and egos. They provide us a zone of comfort and an area of certainty within a truly uncertain world. Within them, we know our point of view is safe and right. It is easier to stay within those walls than it is to come out and experience another point of view, or at the very least, entertain one. Yet, in order to see the whole picture and find a solution to it, it is necessary to put egos on hold and allow “the better angels of our nature” to shine forth and show the way to meaningful solutions to issues that come with the changing world. Add to that time and patience and reflection, and we can accomplish anything.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most patient person. I find it difficult to maintain a patient attitude, especially when there is a problem. Often, I will make my point of view known with little regard toward those who disagree with my position. Eventually, I will listen to an opposing idea, and after immediately dismissing it, I will take time to contemplate or even consider the prospect. It may not be right, but there is planted the seed of a possibility, the chance that an idea can be built which incorporates the better parts of competing views; and then, that idea, or multiple ideas, may be better on the whole than the original competing propositions.

It seems to me that this is the only way to bring about any meaningful change that has a chance of lasting. What most people are afraid of, I think, is the idea that they may come to empathize or sympathize with an idea or principle that is opposite to what they believe. They do not want to consider that, though their idea is right, there may be a better idea wandering in the fray. For many, to empathize, sympathize, or otherwise identify with a diametrically opposed position means to cast doubt on one’s own position or principles. If such is the case, then perhaps that position  or those principles require change, and there is nothing wrong with that.

It takes a strong character to be willing to look at one’s self, and what one believes, and see that a change is necessary. It happens to the best of us, even me, and will continue to happen. We learn new things through experience, and life is just that…a series of experiences. What we do with what we learn speaks volumes about the people we are and that which we want to be.

And maybe, just maybe, through learning by way of experience, we can adopt better principles upon which to lay stronger, more worthwhile, and sturdy foundations.

Guilty Pleasure

Since about Saturday night I have been feeling a little guilty, here’s the story…

I don’t remember what year it was, but when I went back to school to finally get my undergraduate degree, I got a laptop computer, an HP to be specific. I had a desktop, but the laptop seemed a more useful tool to use for writing papers and doing research and what have you. I carried that sucker everywhere and if I could find a table on which to work, I would stake my claim and get to work. It processed more than its fair share of papers and presentations, and downloaded a lot more than its fair share of research articles. It was a beast.

Sadly, after I graduated, my technological companion only made it about a year and a half before the motherboard crapped out on it. It was going to cost more to repair the motherboard than was originally paid for the computer. It was a sad, sad, sad day. I still have it. It still works…sort of. I can plug a monitor into it, but its laptoppiness is gone. Its portability is no more. I should probably get rid of it, but we are friends and I don’t like casting friends aside.

At the time I was working a job that paid peanuts, so the funds were not readily available to purchase a new techno-friend. I began doing some thinking and research on the next computer I would buy. After a lot of looking around, I settled on an ipad. This is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Like all purchases, there are some things that I wish were different, but my ipad and I have been together since 2011 and neither of us have looked back. It is super duper portable and it does not get much more user friendly, especially when it comes to the technologically inept, like me.

I type on it quite a bit even though the virtual keyboard and I are mortal enemies. I surf the web, check email, read articles, blog posts, and columns on it. I write blog posts and emails on it. I watch videos, listen to music, play games, and look at pictures on it. It is a useful machine, and has been a faithful friend for going on three years now.

However, the decision has been made by my wife and I that it is time for me to get it in gear and go back to school for even higher education. Now, even though I have my faithful friend of three years, I have used my trusty ipad to do more research on a new, more powerful friend.

Actually, I have known since before I bought my ipad what computer I wanted to buy next, but the expense was just too much so I felt it necessary to just wait and the time would eventually come when I could afford it. Patience. There was a lot of reading and a lot of thinking done during that time. I don’t do any gaming, so I don’t need a super fast PC. I read and write and take pictures and look at pictures. I watch videos. I do like storage space because I prefer to save everything. I wanted something that was going to be user friendly and would not crap out, because I am horrible with technology and not afraid to admit it.

After three long, arduous, computerless years, the time finally arrived. My wife sent me a text on Friday telling me that we would go after we got off of work and buy my computer. I knew exactly what I wanted, so we went into the store and went straight to a salesperson and I told him why I was there.  He went and got someone that would be better at helping me out, so I told her what I wanted. She  did not try to talk me into a different machine. She did try and upsell some coverage plans…warranties and what have you. One of which I bought. She also saved me $200, because, yes, I still carry my student ID in my wallet.

After swiping the magic debit card and signing for the charges, I received my computer, and went straight away to get it set up which was a breeze. I mean…a breeze. We got home and I played with it some, checking out some of the ins and outs…did a little typing on the keyboard, and it was heaven.

That was Friday.

The next day, Saturday, went along much like a well needed lazy day does. I had my delicious weekend coffee. I piddled with my new friend for a while off and on all day. Did a little housework and piddled some more. Then I laid down in the bed.

That is when it hit me. As I laid in the bed looking up at the ceiling in the dark, the thought crossed my mind that my new friend cost more than what was paid for my first car. It cost more than what some people pay for a car. It may not be a great car, but it’s a CAR.

So, the guilt hit me a little…not enough to take my new friend back, but a little, and it’s still there…not enough for me to take it back, but a little.

It is a wonderful machine and I hope that my Macbook Pro and I enjoy many years of typing, processing, researching, and net searching ahead.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.  Earlier this week, I posted about being grateful and taking things for granted. This is a big one for me.

There is a lot I could say about my mom, but I won’t here, other than to say that I don’t know many people that are as strong, or stronger, thoughtful, or caring as she is.

Sorry, dad, but this one is about mom.  It’s her day…

I’ll just say this…

When I grow up, I want to be at least a little bit like my mom.

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Hurry Along

I’ve had a difficult time getting the creative juices flowing this week, and my mind has been a bit more muddled than usual for some reason. So, I’m hoping this little free writing session will help me out a little.

It’s been a long week. Work is a little busier as the calendar lurches on toward the summer months, and the summer heat is coming right along with it. I am not ready for that! See…I’m one of those weird southerners that prefer  cooler weather. Spring time weather is about as warm as I want to feel. 65 to 75 degrees works just fine for me. Anything over 80 better have a stiff breeze coming with it, otherwise misery ensues. Why does summer have to hurry along so quickly?

Hey, there’s a topic. Hurrying. Let’s run with it and see where it takes us…

Do you ever just stop and think? And when you stop and think do you ever wonder why it is we are always in such a hurry? I say “we” as if you are in just as big a hurry as I am. Are you? I read a pithy meme on facebook sometime back that said something like “when did staying busy become such a glorified trait?”  I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

But it isn’t just being busy, it’s being in a hurry. Everything is a hurry nowadays. I find it sad, ironic, and a bit humorous that everyone pines for days gone by when life was perceivably easier and things moved more slowly. Yet, the same people that wax philosophical about those long, lost days move nonstop from sunrise, or before, to sunset, or beyond, and rarely slow down long enough to see the world that is around them.

Admiittedly, I can be the world’s worst about being in a hurry. When something has to be done, I need it done immediately. If it does not get done, then I stew over it and stew over it until it gets done, so I prefer to get it done and out of the way. When I have to get somewhere, I am in a hurry to get there in order to keep from being late.  Lack of punctuality is probably my biggest pet peeve. I consider it incredibly rude to be tardy, me or anyone else.

But why?  What is the point?  What good does it do us, in the long run, to stay busy or in a hurry?

Personally, I feel much better when I am able to slow down and relax.  Sure, there is satisfaction after being busy and completing a task, but there is just something about being able to sit, take a deep breath, and just look around at the world in which I live. I feel calm and collected. Then at some point, it begins all over again.  A task presents itself and needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible, usually to be followed by another one. Instead of enjoying life, it becomes a contest.  Get the task done in the appropriate amount of time, and I win!

But…win what?

What is the prize?

I previously posted about a list of things that we are supposed to do as we develop and our minds and bodies mature, but it seems like I forgot to add one…

Apparently, we are supposed to stay busy.  I don’t know where that rule is written down, or any of the rules for that matter; but in order to be a good and decent person, we have to keep busy.  We always have to be doing something “productive.”

It does feel good and satisfying to complete a task.  The harder and more demanding the task, the better it feels when it comes to fruition.  However, that pleasure does not come until I take a moment to slow down and reflect on what I did and how I did it.  Why did I take on the task, though?  And beyond its completion, is the task or the results of the task going to give me satisfaction? And how long is that satisfaction going to last?

All good questions I think, and I bet the answers are just as good. Of course, every task that I perform serves a very important purpose, brings immense satisfaction, and that satisfaction lasts ’til infinity and beyond.  It’s true.  Every bit of it.

Now my body is telling me that I better hurry up and get the coffee going so I can relax and enjoy it once it is done!

Have a great weekend!

 

This Needs a Title…

I don’t really know what made me think of it. I was in my car on the way to work and being grateful just popped into my noggin.

My brain does weird things. Don’t ask.

So, I thought about being grateful and, of course, what came up are the things for which I am grateful. There were a lot when I really got down to thinking about it. Then I got into the whole taking things for granted issue in my head. I do this a lot, too. I take things for granted. Lots of things. Then again, don’t we all?

The short version of things for which I am grateful goes like this…

Life.

I am grateful for life. Pretty short, eh? And it’s easy. Think of something in your life that does not bring pleasure, make the day better, make the day-to-day easier, make life worth living, or teach you in one way or another to live life, differently if needs be. All of that adds up to life. If you are not thankful for it, get rid of it. It isn’t worth having, doing, or suffering through.

I try to tell myself these things, and my self does not always listen, but sometimes it does, and my life is the better for it.

Then there are those things that I take for granted. Like I said, this is a big list. Pretty much it goes like this…

What do I take for granted?

Life.

Not always, but a lot of the time.  Other issues that seem important and life altering at the time tend to take precedent and demand immediate attention and action of some kind.

After taking a little time to consider what I am thankful for and what I take for granted, I have come to a conclusion.

For me anyway, those things which I am typically most thankful for are things that I want. Those things which I take the most for granted are those things that I need.

Now I could go into a long, drawn out debacle concerning those things I want and those things I need, but I won’t. I know what I need and know what I want…I think.  Here’s the thing, though. When I don’t get the things that I need, I feel off. Things don’t feel right. I might feel depressed. I’ll probably feel anger, and probably have a sense of despair. I don’t feel these often, but when I do, I feel it all down to my bones.

When I don’t get what I want, I tend to whine about it in that moment I want it…no…that moment that I think I need it. The situation in which the thing I want is needed passes, and the pissiness goes away. Sure, I will mull it over and wish for it should the desire arise again, but it just toddles off like a passing fancy. Usually anyway.

I have been thinking a lot about this over the last little while…weeks, months, years..a little while anyway. I’ve written countless pages about it in one of my little journal books, trying to understand it and cope with it. I know there are a LOT of books out there that will claim to tell people what they need and what they want, but how does some author or specialist that has never met me, spoken with me, or even seen me know what it is that I need or want? How do they know what makes me happy? How do they know what makes me sad? How do they know what angers me or depresses me?

There are some good general rules, I suppose, but each of us is different. We each experience life differently and have different experiences that add to the lives we live. I will not assume what makes you happy, but I am continually learning what makes me happy, and what makes my life worth living. I know this, writing, is one of those things. Sharing my thoughts with others makes me happy. It is something I need. It is even better when I find people that agree with me, though it does not happen as often as I like. That is something I want.

Needs and wants are pretty closely linked. They seem to be anyhow…to me, and with a world full of seemingly infinite possibilities to fulfill any number of wants and desires, it is easy to lose focus on what is really important.

I know I feel better when my needs are met, and for that I am most grateful. I am thankful for those wants that I have acquired as well; but it’s those things I need that I receive that bring the greatest joy and greatest sense of fulfillment to my life, and that is what’s important.

 

Ahhhhh…

There is nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning and knowing that I don’t really have anything that I have to do.  I can take my time, abandon my morning rituals and just be.

I have time to enjoy the splendor of a perfect Spring morning.  I can spend a few moments in quiet solitude before the rest of the world wakes up around me.  I am able to spend good quality time with those most important to me.

I can do what I’m doing now…just sitting in my papasan chair with my feet on a foot stool and relax.

There are things that need to be done, and probably will get done, but there is no hurry.  Not today.

My wife is relaxing.  Our dogs are being lazy.  We stay on the run, so there will be little running today.  A walk probably, but no running.  There is plenty of that throughout the week.

Do you want to know what one of my very favorite things is about Saturday mornings?

This…

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I’m a big fan of coffee.  Huge fan, actually.  You can call me an addict, and you would not be far off.

Now during the week, I drink the cheap stuff.  Chock Full o’ Nuts out of the automatic coffee maker straight into my travel cup for work with French vanilla creamer.  It takes no time, little effort, and tastes decent.

On weekend mornings I am able to create coffee heaven.  We have a French press, and thanks to my wife’s sister, who just happens to live in Italy, we have been shown the deliciousness that is good coffee.

I can take my time.  Heating the water on the stove to the perfect temperature, just before boiling, and adding it to the caffeiney goodness that awaits in the bottom of the press.  As that sits and steeps, I warm my milk on the stovetop just enough and with my immersion blender make the delicious foamy heaven that adds a little extra specialness that is the weekend.  A dash of vanilla extract in the bottom of the cup prior to pouring the coffee and steamed milk makes a perfect cup of coffee that much more perfect.  The whole process from warming the water to consuming heaven itself takes about 12 to 15 minutes, and is the perfect start to a perfect day.

What do you do with your Saturday mornings?

 

The Best Idea Ever….EVER

I have the writing bug this morning, but no clear topic on which to write, so please bear with me.  Sometimes it is just better for me to put some words down on paper or screen, as it were, than to let them just keep swirling around the abysmal black hole that is my mind. Good, earth shattering ideas or thoughts come up all the time, and are immediately lost without the opportunity for the greater humanity to even catch a glimpse.

Right now, it’s hot. I mean hot. I’m talking over 100 degrees hot because the weather cannot make up its mind on whether it wants to stay cool or get warm, so the ancient prehistoric HVAC system at work is having a more than difficult time adjusting to the schizophrenic temperature changes. I could go on and on about that, but you would bore quickly…let’s just leave it that I am hot and tired of my clothes sticking to me.

Now that you have that wonderful image branded into your imagination, word has it that the NBA has helped confirm that there are still racists living among us in the good ol US of A. Some say the douchecanoe was set up, but does that really matter? If you’re going to be a racist, own up to it. You apparently have principles. Stick by them and let others know what they are, otherwise you’re just a douchecanoe that sells out your principles and resides below those loud and proud racists that inhabit the lower levels of human decency, but at least they are principled.

There’s a nutjob out in Nevada that wants to take on the Federal government that has apparently garnered quite the following. To him and his followers I say bring it on. I think history shows what happens to those that pick a fight with the government of the United States. Put up or shut up. We’re tired of your grandstanding. Your moment in the spotlight is over. Your fifteen seconds are up. Shit or get off the pot. Think of it this way…we Americans are proud of the strength of our fighting forces, our men and women in uniform. We dare countries to get in our way or fuck with us. Do you think for one minute that the same fighting force that represents the physical might of the United States government, the same fighting force that eats sovereign nations for breakfast, will blink more than once when it comes time to bite instead of bark. Get over yourself. Pay your fines, shut your mouth and move on.

And there it is…Damn, we are a petulant, whiney bunch of people. Note, I said we. We whine about everything…EVERYTHING. We whine about the government. We whine about food quality and food standards. We whine about the media. We whine about popular culture. We whine about how people with which we disagree suck. We whine about gas prices. We whine about food prices. We whine about rising prices. We whine about global warming. We whine about evolution. We whine about creationism. We whine about schools. We whine about common core. We whine about racists. We whine about religion. We whine about atheists. We whine about abortion. We whine about pro-life. We whine about pro-choice. We whine.

Some people get paid a lot to whine about this stuff to us, and we LISTEN TO IT. We choose to listen to whining. We don’t listen to, or read, coherent, well put together arguments. We listen to, or read, the whining…the fractious pissing and moaning that goes on and on and on and on ad nausem. And these people know it. They know that we are too lazy to think for ourselves or too busy to do the grunt work and research a topic about which we may or may not care. They know that we are intellectually weak because schools don’t teach to think anymore, just how to do things through rote memorization.

Why? Because that is the easy way, just like taking the media’s word for it. It’s easier to just listen to someone blather on endlessly about utter ridiculousness rather than put the time in ourselves to come to an informed and rational conclusion.

Read a book. Read a few books. Can’t find a book that supports your point of view. Bullshit. You are not looking hard enough, and you are not looking hard enough because you don’t care enough to look for it. Listen to lectures. Go to presentations. Research on your own.

We are all guilty of it for one reason or another. There are people out there working for the cause or principle you believe in. If you believe in it so much, help do something about it. Write. Speak. Converse. Donate. Rally. Dream. Act on it, and be constructive.

If some douchebag decides to start a pissing contest with you, cut them off. They, or their pissing and moaning are not worth it. Whining promotes only whining. Pissing and moaning only promote more pissing and moaning. Anything deconstructive. Disengage. It has taken me some time to learn that, and I am the better for it.

This is the third time I’ve noted this quote on this blog…

Be the change you want to see.

Make your voice heard and follow through with constructive action. It doesn’t have to be big. The smallest of actions can create huge reactions.

There is no better time than the present.

I know there are those out there that already work for what they believe, and they believe in a cause, or causes, greater than themselves, and I applaud them all. It is time for the rest of us to follow their examples.

I guess the problem is that we all want different things. Well, really, we all want the same things…just different ways of achieving the same goals. Perhaps in talking to one another and acting, we can find some common ground, something on which to build.

There are a lot of ways this can go. Which way do you want it to go?

It took some time, but my rambling finally made it somewhere. Where it goes beyond this, who knows?

 

Severe Miscalculation

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Since Sunday, maybe even before, my little corner of the world has been warned of some extremely bad weather coming our way on Tuesday and lasting through Wednesday.  If you follow the weather the way I do, then you know of the devestation and loss of life throughout the south due to the same weather that is supposed to be hitting us in north-central North Carolina. So like any weather geek with multiple weather apps on their phone and ipad, and weather sites bookmarked on their computer, I have been glued to them all…

watching…

waiting…

expecting…

I even began planning what I would do should an emergency present itself due to the weather. If at work, make my way to the central hallway or meeting room that is centrally located in the facility. If at my parents’ picking up my dog after work, make way to either of the bathrooms (the basement is full of instruments of death should 300 mph winds come about). If at my apartment, find solace in the bedroom closet with my better half and our dogs.

See…all figured out. Safety first, as they say.

The anticipation is almost gut-wrenching!

What you may not know about me is that I am a nut for thunderstorms. I love them. Always have. I enjoy sitting, or standing, out on the porch (covered of course) and watching the lightning flash and the wind blow and the rain pour from the sky. Sure, I get spooked from time to time and common sense prevails, telling  me to get my ass inside, and more often than not, I listen. I’m not without at least a little working gray matter upstairs. But, I love thunderstorms, so a sick and twisted part of me gets all giddy when I see a severe thunderstorm watch come up on my little weather apps…a severe thunderstorm warning is something akin to Christmas Eve. I know… there is something wrong with me. You don’t have to say anything.

You can imagine the level of anticipation I was feeling yesterday when I checked my weather apps first thing yesterday morning. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ALL DAY TUESDAY AND ALL DAY WEDNESDAY…lots of yellow, orange, and red on the future-cast radar…80% 90% 95% 100% chances for the foreseeable future. Call me a kid at the candy store with mom’s credit card.

Excitedly, as excitedly as first thing in the morning prior to coffee, I went through my strict weekday morning routine and headed off to meet the day ahead, watching the horizon and nearby sky for hints of the impending shit storm that was to be coming our way.

I drop my dog off…

Nothing.

I get to work…

Nothing.

Not so much as a little gust of wind. A little drizzle, which, I do not have to tell you, is about as annoying as it gets when it comes to weather…you can just never get the windshield wipers to wipe at the perfect interval.

Immediately, I check the weather.  The severe weather has been pushed back to beginning at lunch.

Great.

I check again at lunch time…it has been pushed back to starting during the midafternoon.

Check again at midafternoon, around 3ish, pushed back to dinnertime.

Check again…check again…check again…check again…

Pushed back…pushed back…pushed back…pushed back…

You can imagine my displeasure.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad my entire world has not been blown away. I’m glad I still have my life, my wife, my dogs, and my stuff. BUT not even a rumble of thunder…hell…not even a strong gust of wind…bigger hell…not even a gust of wind…barely a breeze…just dull, boring, gross gray sky and drizzle.  DRIZZLE!

My wife stayed at her place of business last night, being the good boss and facility director she is, in case anything catastrophic happened. I stayed home with my dog, expecting at any moment to be awakened by a freight train of wind and to hurry into the closet. I woke up multiple times to check the radar and the forecast to see that, again and again, the storms were pushed back. No awakening to rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning or the pelting of rain or hail on the window by the bed, and awakening to the dull gray sky, the same sky I saw all day yesterday, this morning.

I know predicting the weather is not a perfect science, far from it. Lots of unpredictable things happen in a seemingly predictable world, but…damn (I was hoping to be a little more profound, but that’s all I’ve got).

I’m still looking at that gray sky now…still waiting…still watching…still checking…though expecting less and less.

Relax…

 

imageI came across this litte gem a few days ago on Facebook, and a thought came to my mind…

Who on earth wants to be an adult?

Maybe I was a weird kid, but the last thing on my mind was wanting to become an adult.  Work, bills, a mortgage, rent, car payments that seem to never end (like a mortgage), health insurance, and a plethora of other things adults have to handle were NOT my aspiration.  Oh, and kids and raising a family…definitely were not on my to do list when I was 15.  Truth is, I didn’t know what I wanted at all at that time.

When I turned 18 and graduation loomed on the horizon, I knew I wanted to go to college, and I thought I knew what I wanted to do.  As it happens, I was wrong, as are a lot of teenagers. I know a lot of folks that did know what they wanted to do, and have done it. I even know some that began doing what they wanted to do, saw that it wasn’t up to the snuff they thought, and then found other things to do.

The fact of the matter is that too many are in too damn big a hurry, and… AND, this little piece of wisdom illustrates, there are things that people are supposed to do as they come of age.

We are supposed to become adults.

We are supposed to raise a family.

We are supposed to have a career.

All of those came before living life without failing at it.

There is my thought in a nutshell. Life is not about the things we are supposed to do. There is more to living than that. Living is doing what you enjoy and figuring that out for yourself. I’m learning that slowly.

I am big on routine, so big on it that my most regimented routines are more like rituals. If one piece of the routine goes wrong, then chances are my whole day is screwed.

I like plans. I love it when a plan falls perfectly into place and runs itself flawlessly. If one part of the plan comes undone, then panic mode immediately sets in, impatience ensues, and the world as I know it comes to a grim and bitter end.

Some may think I’m being a bit melodramatic. Just ask my wife if that is an overstatement. I’m working on it though, It helps that my wife is the most spontaneous and erratic individual that has ever graced the earth.

It comes and goes, more going than coming at this point, but my patience with life will grow. My patience with living life will overcome. I will survive.

The rituals and knowing what we are supposed to do may make life easier and more manageable, but it does not necessarily make it better. One never, ever knows what is coming around the corner.

So, I would boil down this little proverb into two words.

Relax. Live.

That is all we really have to do.