Friday, November 26, 2010


Interesting doing this whole "new things" effort for the year. I'm already about 10% along the way and the attempt to embrace/try/experience 54 new things during the year certainly has had a different impact already than what I had anticipated. I expected sitting down, thinking about things I would like to try, and giving them a shot. And I've done a bit of that and have no doubt I'll continue to try new things based on that approach.

What I did not expect was the awareness of trying things all the time. As I'm paying more attention to what I do each day, I'm aware that I do a lot of little new things all the time. Some are pretty insignificant. But others really do have a bit more impact. And I was never aware of all these things coming into my life.

Some people believe that the more you focus on something and think about something, the more you attract that thing to yourself. Is that it? Am I actually trying even more new things than normal just because it is in my thoughts more now? Or have I always done this but just never paid enough attention?

Either way, it is definitely interesting to be more aware and to enjoy each of those experiences.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Every Day

Definition of LIBERAL
a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or waysb capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political partyc : an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights
The above comes from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. And I'm thinking this is me. In fact, I know I'm liberal, but I'm beginning to think I'm very liberal. Conversations I have with friends and family leave me thinking that I'm not just a little off center....but more that I'm so far away from the center that I don't even see it any more!

Open-minded? Absolutely. Not strict in the observance of established ways. Totally. In many cases, I view "established ways" as code for "resistant to change". In a recent conversation with an old college friend, he was bemoaning the fact that his students (he is a college professor) just did not write very well. Sure, they used complex sentences, decent grammar, well thought out reasoning. But on occasion, they just seemed too casual. In fact, hold on to your hats here, a few of them had even used some text speak in a homework assignment. I know. Horrors. These surely are the end times!

He was surprised when I basically said...."so what?" If they are writing well reasoned papers with complex writing strategies, what's the harm in including some of the casual words that are part of our every day communication? Should school work be devoid of what is real in our lives? Perhaps that kind of thinking is why many kids think of school as irrelevant or "old fashioned" or many of the other complaints kids have about the institution. I'm a teacher. I'm all for standards. But standards can change with the times. 

My friend felt differently.

And yes, I support the liberal party. In truth, my real problem with politics is that the liberal party is just way too conservative! I voted for Obama. And I hear pundits talk about how he has to move to the center to get re-elected. Move to the center? He was smack dab in the center to begin with! How about moving toward some actual, liberal thinking??? For example, it was back in 1972 that the ERA passed both houses of Congress. But has it been ratified yet? Nope. For some strange reason, our country is still threatened by the idea of women being equal! And don't get me started on the rights of gay and lesbian folks to get married. But does the so-called "liberal" party stick up for those kinds of issues? No way.

And in a recent chat with a good friend, I was expressing my dismay that a gentleman in our state was recently sentenced to death for a crime. Yes, the crime he committed was awful. But I simply don't support the idea of killing someone. I mean, that was his crime. He killed someone. And if we view killing as so terrible, then why do we want to do it even more? Plus I know all the political arguments - it costs more to execute a prisoner than the have him spend life in prison. States with the death penalty traditionally have higher rates of capital crimes than those that don' clearly it isn't a deterrent. And the US is pretty much the only developed nation that still chooses to kill its citizens when they just don't like what they do.

My friend was horrified. He could I want this terrible person to live??? At some point, I don't even know how to explain myself in the face of that.

And what about those individual rights? Well, the current uproar about TSA and the full body scanners (sometimes referred to as the "porno scanners") and the National Opt-Out Day that may or may not happen tomorrow is the perfect example. No way would I want to be scanned by one of those things. And not because I don't want someone seeing me naked. Go ahead and look, I don't care. But every reputable scientist who has spoken out on the issue says the radiation levels are dangerous. That's good enough for me. And yes, I do care of they see my wife and/or kids naked. And like the guy we've all come to know....I just don't really want those folks touching my junk. Or my wife's private parts. Or my kids. Millions of people fly all over the world every day without going through those screeners or getting groped. And the incidents of disaster are extremely rare. And there is no proof...none at all...that these types of scanners and fondling would have prevented any of the few that have taken place.

They say we NEED these things to protect us from shoe bombers and underwear bombers. But wait a minute. We stopped both those guys. Without any of this nonsense. So why do we suddenly need it now?

And why is it necessary that we give up our basic rights of privacy just so the guys who see terrorists around every corner can scan us and feel us and probe our luggage and make us strip off our shoes and belts and dump everything in our pockets? Is it really necessary? Has anyone ever tried to take down a jumbo jet with a car key? And if not, why do they need to see mine?

Yeah, I'm a liberal. I wear it proudly. But I fear my liberalism is creating a pretty large gap between me and most everyone I know. And sometimes that makes me sad.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What would you do?

Today I pulled out a large box that was part of what ended up in our house after my mom passed away. And yes, I know, she passed away many months ago, so your first question can rightfully be...why are you just now going through those boxes? Well, lots of reasons.

There are so many boxes and so many things that the task is overwhelming. I don't mind admitting that I'm intimidated by the task that lies before me. There is so much to go through and I have no idea what to do with all that I uncover. The work we did in sorting and packing her house was just the beginning.

The other major reason for a is hard emotionally. After her death, we worked hard to pack up the things in her house and move them here. That alone was a task that was so difficult due to the distance involved and the emotions tangled up in the process.

So here I am, 21 months later, pulling out a large Rubbermaid container and starting through it. I knew this was a container that held photos. In fact, as I worked my way through it, it had more than 20 photo albums inside along with a fairly large pile of photos that were just tossed in the box. Twenty albums....hundreds of photos. Some of them are labeled...many are not. Some are people I know...some are not. Some are not people in my family, but seem to be friends of my parents. Others are family members that I don't know and, without any labels, I probably will never identify. And then, for some reason, there are multiple copies of some photos...the same photo showing up in different photo albums. No logic in that at all.

I labeled books as best as I could. But there are still hundreds of photos that leave me at a loss. What to do? What do you do with photos that you just can't identify? If they seem like acquaintances of my parents....easy choice. I can toss those. No one will ever want to see those again. But what about all the rest? All the photos they have of our kids...those are photos that we also have. Do I need multiple copies of each? And what about really old photos of family? Some are very old and probably would be meaningful if I had any idea who they were. But I don't. They are just old photos with old people.

I'm only one box in...with so many more to go. And I'm already at a loss.

Monday, November 01, 2010

New Things

So I've made my first choice for my "new things" effort. An attempt to motivate and keep myself inspired and focused on positive messages.

It also resulted in the creation of one more blog...but I promised not to keep making up blogs. Google needs the server space for other people. But I did want to keep a record of what I've done, so you'll see one more link in the right column under The Rest of Me. I'm calling it Messages for Me.