Thursday, June 12, 2014

Little Help?

I really don't know how to jump into this so I guess I just will. I try not to bother people with my problems, but sometimes even I need a little help.  I made a decision which has potentially good or negative ramifications I now I'm committed to a course of action. I have been asked to post about it since word has spread, so here goes:

Father's Day is coming this Sunday and I have decided to go to church services where my prodigal daughter is the copastor. I told her about this last Saturday but she hasn't responded so I don't know if she's aware that I'm coming or not. My religious beliefs are complicated but I do have some that I share with her. One is that "whenever two or more if you were gathered there I am".  So we will see if her anger will melt when we are face-to-face in His presence.

What I'm asking is something I dislike to ask for,  some assistance.  I vent and whine and grumble from time time about my broken health, but that's just fussing and fuming. I did ask for prayers for my son-in-law when we discovered he had cancer. By the way, he has  finished radiation therapy and been tested to see how effective the results were. We'll know more tomorrow.

So once again I ask you all for prayers if you believe in prayer and good thoughts if you don't. Not for me. But for my daughter. Pray that your heart will let go of her anger and resentments of her stepfamily and will open up the love I have for her and my grandchildren.

And while I'm at it, I just learned today that my grandson is going on his first deployment. To Afghanistan.  

It seems a strange to me the two of my grandsons have chosen to enter professions which put them in harm's way as a matter of course for their jobs.  So please don't hesitate to include them in your prayers and good wishes.

Good thoughts only please!  There's already too much hurt and suffering involved.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Drink Whiskey, Be Cool!

Hipsters and other we wannna be sophisticates, I've been drinking bourbon since your daddies were babies.  Talk to me about whiskey in a few decades.  

Note: Esquire writes. "Now, whiskey of all kinds has become a fetish object of the young, urban, and image-conscious."

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Truth Hurts

From an editorial in the LA Times May 17, 2014. The editorial refers to the real problem in American education, the opportunity gap.

The same old thing educators have known for the past century: the problem is not with American schools or American teachers. The problem is with children who are poor. If we want to improve our educational system all we have to do is end child poverty.  Noting that while middle-class students are not improving very much in test scores,  affluent children have improved very much indeed, the editorial reports:

-- Strikingly, much of that income differential in test scores shows up among kids who are tested in the first months of kindergarten, before they've spent significant time in school. "It's preschool," Reardon said, along with "the out-of-school environment, that creates the gap." Affluent kids are far more likely to get a good preschool education and have parents who read to them and nurseries full of educational toys. 

Other scholars found in 2006, that parents in the top one-fifth of households spent about $7,500 more each year on their children — on child care, tutors, after-school programs and athletics — than households in the bottom fifth. --

Of course, according to Republicans those children are poor because of teachers and especially teacher unions. I'm not sure exactly how they're supposed to prevent preschool children from being poor, but everything is certainly the teachers' fault. Ask any Republican.

The fact is, the American educational system is one of the better systems in the world, if you discount child poverty.  Our affluent students are regularly are the top of the world in performance. How long do we ignore the facts? For as long as people will accept that smearing the teachers and blaming the unions will gain anything other than votes for Republican candidates.

American Spring Goes Splat

American Spring update: about 50 people turned up. The organizers were amazed that they didn't get the 10,000,000 to 30,000,000 they expected. Their plans included 1 million people staying permanently camped in Washington until Obama was forced to resign.

Supporters are amazed. All Americans agree with them, well, almost every single American agrees with them, so why didn't anybody turn up?  Can you guess why?

Hint: It is a problem every propagandist has...Believing your own propaganda.  It's the reason Republicans are convinced that recent elections must be spoiled by voter fraud. Since almost every American agrees of the Republican Party, how can they keep losing elections? The only possible answer is election fraud!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Whiny Guy Continued

I've had such a marvelous weekend that it seems strange that I should find my body suddenly coming apart.

 It was a three day weekend for me and every day was absolutely wonderful, including today. The weather was beautiful, the breezes cooling and pleasant, I was relaxed and at peace. I even got a lot of writing done (only at the blog level, but that is still writing).

Then, without any warning, a bad wave of vertigo. Bad enough to constitute an attack. Decades of experience have taught me that now I must to be careful for a week. Until seven days have passed without a repeat, I will be vulnerable to vertigo attacks at a higher rate than normal.

Although I have had some problems with my gut in the past few days, they appeared to be completely gone today. Until they came roaring back with a vengeance. Too unpleasant for details in a public post, but suffice to say this hasn't happened at this level in quite a number of months.

I have done the usual things. I made myself eat, although I wasn't hungry. I took a dose of pills. I drank more coke than I wanted to (for the caffeine). And it really hasn't helped much.  The edge is less cutting, but I remain in distress. 

That means it's time to lie down in a dark, cool, silent room. You have no idea how boring that is unless you have been forced to do it. But, it is a necessity. I will end up there sooner or later tonight. And if it is later I will end up there back in the midst of a severe vertiginous event.

I shouldn't complain.  I had most of three fine days, but I miss the days, so long ago, when vertigo was a rare attacker instead of a constant occupier and frequent conqueror.

Life and Literature Come Together

From my middle girl's final in Literature.  I am so proud of her and of her growth that I asked her if I could post it here.  She agreed.  I wish that more people understood the value of mutual support, of loyalty, of forgiveness, and of self control as well as she does.

What I learned through this class.
I want to say that I learned that there are some good teachers and some not so good teachers. There are some teachers that say they are there to help you through anything only to let you down and withdraw you from their class. 

I learned this semester that I can connect with some teachers on a real life level. I also learned that you are not only a good teacher but a real teacher with heart. That is rare in this day and age and it thrills me to know that not only did you teach me literature and drama but you taught me about real life and real tragedies (your tragedy). 

You are the only one of my teachers that stepped up and held me up so that I could learn through your class. You didn't just throw your hands up and give up.  You understood the dilemma that I am in with my husband. You alone held on to my schooling and kept me in school, if it wasn't for you I would have walked away and never looked back. 

Yes, I was going to run away. I didn't think that I had the strength to go through Ed's cancer and school as well, but through you I did it. So I learned that even when life deals me a dirty hand that I am not alone.  There are good people who care, sometimes it takes a horrible tragedy to find out who they are.

Something that comes from any study of literature, but especially when we are focusing on the tragedies in Hamlet and Oedipus, is just how hard we humans struggle. We try to find a little control in our lives, a little security, but whatever we can build can be swept away in a moment by forces completely beyond our control.  

Living is like a game of chance. Everyday we make deals and bets and take gambles in our lives. We truly do the best of our ability, We try to make  decisions that we think are good and right and using reason. But sometimes life (fate) proves that even the most carefully thought out actions can have horrible repercussions that can not be re-done or changed. Its just like the saying "That's the way the cookie crumbles".

 Life is what it is  So this reminds me that we should be careful of our actions and of the words that are spoken.  Once the words escape your mouth and hurt someone, there is no way that we can retract the negative actions our words have caused. Once something is done or said, there is no rewind or delete button.  It is forever saved in the memory of the one that has been affected by it. 

This is why I do not let myself get angry. I am conscious of how strong my tongue is and how much damage it can create. So I try, oh, I try, not to let myself rage because I can be ugly and vile and I do not want to be the cause of someone's injury. I don't think that I truly really grasped the concept of this until this semester.

This is what happened to Oedipus. He did everything that he believed to be right. He left his father and his mother behind and moved to a strange country so that his fate would not come true. Oedipus had no way of knowing that the people who raised him were not really his parents and by staying home he could have prevented the tragedy that he was trying so hard to keep from coming true. This goes to show you that even if you do good things and are truly a good person, bad things can still happen.  you don't have to be royalty to be a big influence on everyone around you or for big things to happen to you.  Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

Hamlet taught me that we may never be able to really know the truth and nothing is as it seems. Was Hamlet really insane to begin with? Did him acting insane lead him to actually lose his mind? Did Ophelia kill herself or was it a accident? For me there are no real clear answers. It just goes to prove that life can be a great big mess sometimes.

Hamlet had so many choices, but time and time again he made the most horrible choice. He had so few facts in front of him. Hamlet was not thinking clearly or very carefully. He truely let his emotions run away with him. While in contrast, Oedipus tried to think things out with reason and logic. It failed Oedipus as Hamlet's actions failed him.

For me in my daily life, especally with the Ed's tragedy of being dignosed with cancer, his tragedy could crush me and contribute to the me just running away or giving into despair. We have to keep going, No matter how rough our lives are going to be at times.  Just as in Angels in America, I must keep moving. I can not just sit there and think that life is going to fix itself. I must be proactive in my husband's treatment and I must advocate for the his right to good care. I must not let the demon of cancer hold me back from helping Ed.

If I were to give in and crumble, Ed would as well. Ed having cancer is a really ugly card that he was dealt. Even with the cancer diagnosis, it does not define the man that Ed is.  It is just a part of Ed. Just as me having bi-polar is not the same as bi-polar being me. Ed's cancer is just something we have to gear up and fight against. Ed will prevail, he will be healed and is being healed as I type this out. But just like our heros in Hamlet and Everyman, Ed has to go through the unknown (his quest) to reap the rewards of his fight. Will his fight be easy? Hell, no, it wont (its a fight for his life)!  It is not fair or right, but it is our life and we have no control over this part of it.

I've learned through the class and Ed's cancer that I have to live in the moment and do my very best in good moments. I will live in them and soak them up, for when the bad moments come.  The bad moments will take a lot of energy, but I must not to let them consume me or my life. Life is a balancing act with good and bad.  It's what I do with those moments that makes the difference.

Lastly, I would like to say that this class has taught me more then I could ever explain but it also helped me to realize that life is unpredictable, like when sometimes terrible things happen to everyday ordinary folk. In a stange way, I find these revelations bring me some comfort, strength and understanding that me, you, and my fellow classmates are emotional creatures and that's OK. It is life. It's plain and simple, we are what we are, good or bad. It is what it is.

We just have to do our best with it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Idle Thoughts -- You Say Manly Man and I Say Sociopath

10) Discuss the significance of the discussion between Roy and Joe in Act 3 Scene 5. Your response should summarize the conversation AND discuss what the conversation suggest about both characters.  

Joe meets with Cohen at his home. Cohen is in a bathrobe because he is actually in terrible pain and cannot dress. However, as always, nothing matters to him but show and appearance. Reality is irrelevant.  He does all he can to hide his weakness.

When Joe declines the offer of power and position in Washington, Cohen is disgusted. He doesn't care, and he feels that Joe shouldn't care, if a marriage is being destroyed, his wife is missing, or the man has a bleeding ulcer. All that matters is power and politics.

Cohen's obsession with the concept that manly men feel nothing, care about nothing, and are all-powerful at all times has made him into a sociopath. Or, being a sociopath has led him to these conclusions. In any event, he is clearly a very abnormal human being who is incapable of understanding the emotional needs of normal people.

Because Joe cares about something other than power, Cohen calls him a wuss. When Joe apologizes for not being able to carry on under these terrible circumstances: Cohen calls him a wuss again.  Since power is all that matters to him, he cannot imagine someone else really valuing other things. Joe must value exactly what Cohen values. Therefore, Joe must be a weakling.

Apparently in order to stiffen up Joe's backbone, and also to brag about the glories of having power, Cohen exhults about the greatest accomplishment that he has achieved as a politician. That is, illegally and unethically pressuring a judge to order the death penalty for Ethel Rosenberg.

Although Joe had been tempted by the power of Washington, he has remained at heart a decent man. Therefore he is shocked that Cohen did such a thing and even more shocked that he is proud of it!  He makes an excuse for the other man, suggesting that he is only saying these awful things because he sick and isn't thinking clearly. Joe really wants other people to be decent.

Cohen, on the other hand, only wants to be seen as powerful. He thinks this is the only thing that matters to everyone because it is the only thing that matters to him.  He takes Joe's kindly excuse that his sickness has caused him to act inappropriately as an insult.  Manly men don't get sick.

He's so upset that he denies his sickness, even though Joe quickly points out that it was Cohen himself who told Joe that he had cancer.  Even in the face of this plain fact, Cohen again denies that he has cancer.  Since appearance can make a weak, ill man seem healthy and powerful (all that matters to him), he again assumes that it is all that matters to everyone else.  Joe's pointing out facts doesn't make any sense to Cohen. Since power is all important, if you are actually weak, of course you lie about it. You do so even if people know it's a lie. And they should accept the lie as if it were true. This way, you remain powerful.

When Joe, again trying to be decent, offers his hand, Cohen gives him a bearhug instead and declares that he's only being hard on Joe because he cares about them. Once again, Joe understands that people suffer and need each other, Cohen needs and wants only power over others.

When Joe tries to leave, disgusted with the inhumanity of this man he had respected, Cohen grabs him. Joe pushes him away and very nearly punches him.  Cohen makes things even worse by suggesting to Joe that he a break a law. If necessary, find one he can break. The point being that if he can get himself to do that even once, it will destroy much of Joe's sense of morality. It will at least open the door which may well lead Joe down into the empty hell of all interpersonal relationships being interpreted as power games. This is the road that Cohen took many years ago.

When Joe leaves in disgust , Cohen bends over in agony. He's been in pain the whole time, but manly men don't show weakness in front of others.  If they did, they might lose some of their power.

Knowing that he's alone, he feels free to call out to someone for help.  Ethel Rosenberg appears. Terrified at the sight of her ghost, he shrieks out in fear, "I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU OR DEATH OR HELL OR ANYTHING!"  It's clear that he is in fact terrified of those things. But he is afraid that if he admits the fear, he will lose control of the situation.

Helpless from pain and fear he falls to the floor. It is Ethel Rosenberg, whom he illegally and immorally caused to be executed, who picks up the phone and calls for an ambulance.  Still trying to impress her with his absence of fear, he declares to her that he is immortal because he has made history. Apparently, he thinks this makes him in some sort of God, or at least demigod, like Hercules in the ancient myths. Or perhaps he is an Hegelian and thinks the World Spirit has chosen him to be a World Historical Figure.

Not only is she unimpressed with his power moves, she is delighting in his suffering. This is her revenge. She says to him, "History is about to crack wide open. Millennium approaches".