Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our Incredible, Wondrous, Dysfunctional American Government.......

It is a rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon in east Tennessee.  The liquid began falling around midnight and has not really stopped, except for a few minutes at a time.

I like rain.  I like the soothing drum of it as it pelts the roof and windows.  And I like the thunder that sometimes accompanies it.  It makes me relaxed and contemplative, and I like it when I am relaxed and contemplative.  My mind wanders more than usual and it makes me smile when my imagination is holding sway.

Well, thank God the media coverage of the Boston bombing has subsided.  In the 24/7 day-on-day coverage that continued with no letup in sight, North Korea successfully launched an ICBM; a number of barges collided on the Mississippi River, causing untold damage and blocking one of America's busiest avenues of transport; a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas killed 14, injured 150 and leveled five square blocks of the town of West, Texas.  One would never know any of that, however, amid the blanket coverage of the Boston Marathon terrorism. 

Someone I respect said that Boston got all the media attention because it was a case of wealthy people with $200 running shoes and big bank accounts sucking the coverage away from blue collar workers in middle America and the fact that no one cares if North Korea has a missile with a nuclear warhead attached until they actually take out the US west coast. 

I wonder how many hundreds of millions of dollars (billions?) was spent trying to locate the perpetrators of the Boston bombing.  The entire city of Boston was shut down for one entire day.  Thousands of military, police and fire personnel were activated for days.  Untold equipment was brought in---all to find two crazy guys. 

I especially liked it when the guvnah of Massachusetts announced to everyone after a long day of searching every property in the designated search area that it was now safe to come out. Ha.  Politicians are great, aren't they?  I mean...they are always wrong.  It was not ten minutes later that all hell broke loose in the 'hood with gunfire and helicopters and lions and tigers and bears until finally they had caught the second Muslim terrorist. 

Then it came to light that the Russians had warned us about these two guys.  The older perp was interviewed and nothing came of it.  Even when he left the country for 6 months to go to Chechnya for training, it raised no red flag with the FBI.  Kinda' reminds me of the events preceding 9-11, when our government was given all kinds of warnings and leads but chose to do nothing.  Remember how those who flew the planes into the Pentagon and the WTC only wanted to be trained on how to take off and not how to land the planes?  Duhhh. 

Nothing's changed.

Think I'll go back to looking at the rain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Public School Journey.......

I know there are many others out there who, like me, made a complete schizophrenic, bipolar mess of their public education as a child/adolescent.  I have often reflected on my twelve year journey.  Frankly, after going through that emotional roller coaster that involved not only readin', writin' and 'rithmetic, but also teenage acne and hormones mixed with liberal doses of rebellion, it's a wonder I can think at all.

But as I have pondered over the years my passage through the alimentary canal known as elementary, middle and high schooling, I have come to realize that much of what I am was formed in those twelve years between ages 5 and 18.  I decided to draw a graph showing my education satisfaction and confidence development over those years, and man---what a trip.  When I look at the psychotic nature of my ride I realize it's no shock I turned out the way I did.  Sigh.

If I were a product of the present, I would have been diagnosed with ADHD and several other current maladies du jour.  But of course, back in the dark ages of the 1950s and '60s, the medical establishment was quite in the dark about these syndromes, so I (fortunately) did not have the questionable benefit of the pharmaceuticals of today used for such afflictions.

You can see by the chart that my journey started off pretty badly.  The first four years in school produced bad grades (in conduct as well as in the subjects studied), any number of whippings at home (my dad preferred a belt, and it was used every 6 weeks when the report cards were delivered), a zero sense of self-worth and a very (un)healthy symptom of acting out which made my parents crazy and resulted in an uncontrollable death spiral.

Then, in the fifth grade God put me under the tutelage of one Mrs Dot Shumake at Golfcrest Elementary school and Oh.  My.  God. 

I never knew such wonderful teaching and leadership.  She was an angel.  My grades excelled. I felt good about my self.  I got no more whippings.  I'll never forget her. 

But in the Seventh grade, I was in a new school---a Jr High, or Middle school---full of bullies and advanced math and teachers you couldn't BS.  I crashed.  Back to the bottom.  Bad self-confidence.  More acting out.  And, of course, my hormones were now a player and that alone is enough to cause bedlam with most teens.  Ha.  I can laugh now but it wasn't funny back then.

Slowly, my level of achievement and satisfaction rose.  Very slowly, my grades rose.  Very slowly, I began to find myself.  But it was an ordeal.  It was probably the most productive part of my "education".  I guess everyone goes through it, but I just didn't handle it very well.  After high school, it probably took another 15 years for me to truly "find" myself and settle down as a grounded and actualized individual, although I know now that no one ever stops growing or changing.  But, those early years were certainly a trip worth remembering and reflecting upon.

I bet every one of you could tell a similar story.