WAKE THE FUCK UP AMERICA!


As a parent I want the best for my children. I want them to achieve more than I have. I want them to be fully equipped to take on the challenges ahead. The only lasting thing I can give them is an opportunity to get an education. The education they get will determine their ability to make a living and be productive citizens. Their education will help them avoid the pervasive scams in our society. The education I fight for them to attain will improve their ability to survive. I will continue to fight for their right to be given a competitive education. As such, I am proud to support the goals of common core. It seems I am among the minority of persons who believe that common core is a good thing for the American K-12 system.

The continued attempts to disparage the goals set reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what education means. It is a reflection of how urgent the need for better education is. The problem is that most Americans know enough to complaint but not enough to assist in the fix. We are a very poorly educated society in spite of the graduated masses. We are a society that prefers quick answers rather than long processes. The truth is that getting the correct answer is less important that understanding how you arrive at it. Every time I see a story decrying the ills of common core I see another example of a parent or teacher who lacks the fundamental understanding of what education means. Our education is lacking and we cannot compete, but we want to go back to the old ways. The old ways have not worked. The old ways have created people who oppose change not because the change is bad, but because they are so poorly educated they do not understand the change.

 
Someone suggested to me a novel solution. The parents who do not want their children learning in the common core “way” should be allowed to go to their own schools and the rest of us learn a common core based education. That sounds great to me, but the truth is that the educated will continue to suffer at the hands of the stupid. Do not be stupid and destroy your kids ability to compete. If you want to disadvantage your child let me thank you now. Thanks for removing my childs competition.

Can we please wake the fuck up America.

TRAUMA


The coffee was much too hot and the air was much too cold, but she was perfectly happy with the world. The room was loud, but it seems she did not notice. As I tried to pass her I tipped her table with my backpack, and spilled coffee into her lap. As I frantically gestured to the barrister for assistance I notice that she had not moved an inch. No assistance was forthcoming. The shop was full and all behind the counter were busy supplying the assembled masses their morning dose of caffeine. I retrieved my sweater from my backpack and in the process spilled my headphones and various cables unto the floor. I tried to mop the steaming liquid from her legs and shorts. She did not move. It seemed as if she had not noticed that I was trying to get her attention. I tried to get her gaze, all to no effect.

I was immediately transported to my time on the inpatient psychiatric unit. There I was introduced to catatonia, and this was it. I was surprised and scared by what I was seeing. I was snapped back to reality as a baby started to cry. I looked around only to notice that the cry was coming from the floor next to her. It was a baby boy or I assumed so from the blue clothes. His crying snapped her awake and she shouted at me for spilling her coffee. I was startled, but happy to see her aroused. I hugged her in relief, but she did not share my emotion. I apologized as she picked up the baby and consoled him. Only them did she notice that the coffee had spilled into her lap. She was not bothered and continued to cradle the now quite baby. Her demeanor changed to a concerned loving mother and I was impressed by the rapid change.

As I sat I wondered what she was thinking while she was in that haze.
“Was I out long?” she asked.
“No, you were not, it was only about 3 minutes.”
“Thanks for getting the spilled coffee. Sometimes I am helpless.”
“What do you mean?”

Maybe I should have left it there, but my curiosity got the best of me. As she started to talk I was being drawn into a deeper more complex puzzle. She had delivered her son twelve months earlier by cesarean section, which was her first surgical experience. It was not planned, but she was having a complicated labor and her doctor suggested that a cesarean section would be safe for her and baby. Her had a long reassuring discussion with her Anesthesiologist and was comfortable with the plan. But the experience was more challenging.

As she talked the color went out of her lips and face. Her experience of the spinal was clouded by the coldness of the room and the warmth of her nurse’s hands. She was happy to be able to watch and she remembered the mirror. She watched as her prince as plucked from the warmth of her body to the cold of the world. She saw her stomach open and admired the hands of her surgeon. She watched to make sure all the layers were closed. While she watch her view started to get cloudy and her chest felt heavy. She quickly became aware of the beeping over her shoulder. She started to feel the approaching nausea and caught a glimpse of the heart monitor as the number fell slowly from 35 to less than 30. As her vision continued to get darker she could hear a sudden piercing sound and then blackness. She then awoke to the bright lights of the operating room and returned to watching her doctor close all the layers of her abdomen. It was all over and she was happy for it. Her prince was safe and warm in her arms.

“All I could think of for the next day was how beautiful he was,” she said.

I shook my head in understanding and lost all the questions I was contemplating. As she continued I notice that the baby had fallen asleep with his little fingers wrapped around mommy’s pinky. She did not seem as comfortable as he was and as she continued to speak I understood why. Her birthing experience was not as she had expected. For the first 48 hours she was great, but then she started to have moments of “haze” when she just could not remember or hear people around her. The first time it happened she was being taught how to breast feed by the lactation consultant. She was in a “haze” and did not hear the instructions being given to her. She continued to ask her consultant to repeat.

Her husband had returned to work and had not noticed anything different about his wife. He was an active duty soldier and was deployed less than 36 hours after the birth of his first son. She still could feel his hug and kisses, but he had not returned home. Her life was forever changed.

She had become a widow of war and trapped by the trauma of her berthing experience. I listened, but there was no word of comfort that came to mind. I was shocked by her story and lost in her grief.

THE GIFT OF WORDS


There is a time and place for everything is a saying that is banded about often. For me, Sunday morning is a time for words and words are key to opening the world. I learned my appreciation for words from my father and grandfather. Both read a lot and gave me the desire to read. The power of words are in their ability to transport. Unlike any other medium words are all-powerful. They transport both in time and place. How far we get transported is determined by our willingness to grasp the full meaning of the words we encounter. There is no short cut to getting to full understanding. All understanding comes via a dictionary. I had to learn that the hard way. I wanted to get the words without putting in the dictionary time. I resisted examining the meaning of unfamiliar words. My resistance stifled the growth of my vocabulary. Over time I have come to the understanding that a dictionary is an essential tool. I now check my dictionary as often as I can and am the better for it.

Sunday morning is my special day. Sunday morning is my newspaper day. Getting the Sunday paper and reading for hours is my joy. The importance of reading cannot be underestimated. I want to read for fun and encourage all to do the same. Sitting in a comfortable chair with a coffee and the Sunday New York Times makes my weekend. The feel of the paper between my fingers. The sounds and pictures created in my mind are always a joy. Giving that joy to my children is my goal.
Giving the love of words to our children is the most vital gift. We must give them that gift without reservation and allow them to express themselves. They will surprise and delight us. I love words because they have opened the world to me. They bring the outside in and the inside out. They transport and uplift. They transform and elevate. Giving the power of words transmits great expectations and challenges the receiver to greatness.

Let us challenge the children in our life with meaningful words. The love of words will open to them the broad expanses of life’s possibilities.

IT WILL BE WORTH THE INVESTMENT


As Americans we expect to be the best in every field. Our expectations have been built on both historic experience and much self-delusion. We have achieved much because of  a long history of  focusing on our challenges and working together to solve them. There is no golden era,  just a time when Americans expected much and worked harder to achieve.  Today we have gotten used to the idea of achievement, but lack the vision or leadership to achieve. Long after we have done anything to declare us better than the rest we still believe ourselves to be.

This delusion is killing us slowly. It is allowing us the luxury of contentment. It is allowing us to believe the delusion that our children are getting a world-class education. It has allowed us to believe that our kids do not need to be the best in maths or science, but that they are more creative and will still be the winners of the next generation. We will one day find out the truth. Winning  as a nation means setting high expectations for all our citizens. Ensuring the continued success of our nation will depend on ensuring a second-to-none education for all.

Expecting little from the majority of our students is a recipe for disaster. All of our children deserve to be pushed hard, because they will not break. I believe all of America’s children can excel,  but only if we expect them to and begin giving them a shot at a world-class education.

Rigorous and challenging classrooms are what we need more than ever. Fun and education focused homes is where we need to start. Along with car seat education every parent should be given a blueprint as to how to start their child’s education. From birth to kindergarten is where the real focus needs to be. Parents need to be guided as how to challenge their prized little ones. It is that challenge and example that will determine their trajectory in life. Let us focus some pennies on our children’s education. It will be well worth the investment.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.


I am not big on holiday celebrations. Most holidays have degenerated into a shopping experience. However, like many others I have a special place in my heart for mother’s day. This year more than others I feel the pull of the celebrations. Being a mother is a tough job and the challenges are many. After 9 months physically attach to another human I am not sure how one can ever let go. The challenge of letting go is a skill that nature has had many opportunities to refine. I am glad that the tires that bind are stretched not broken.

I am very thankful for all the mothers in my life. All the mothers that took me in and made me the person I am. Looking back over my very short life I realize that the mother that carried me for 9 months was just the principal of a my “moms” committee. I had an exceptional committee and will continue to shout their praise from the mountain top.

Mothers are special people. Mothers are special woman. Mothers are those special woman who have and continue to lookout for your best interest in spite of yourself. They are the women in your life that have kept you going. They have kept you on the difficult path because they know that the fire of life creates strength for the ages. Mothers do not see genetics, they give love because we deserve it.

Mother’s day is an anti-climax. It is a let down. It is not sufficient to celebrate the depth of love I have for my mothers. In spite of the inadequacy of the day, I want to express a sentiment not said often enough. Mother I love you. Mother I love you because you have been and continue to be my safe resting place. Thanks for the love and the pain. Thanks for the joy and let down. Thanks for the commitment to a better me. Thanks, because you have been my champion and I will continue to be yours.

Happy mothers day.

ENJOY THE CLIMB.


It was a long arduous climb but I had gotten to the peak. The view of the valley was breathtaking. As I looked around the beauty of the valley below stood in sharp contrast to the plainness of the mountain top. The wide open expanse of green was awe-inspiring. The many hues of the expansive forest reminded me of why I loved the hike. This was a very special day. It was the challenge of my life and I had gotten to the top by mastering my fear of failure and confronted the ultimate question. Was the effort worth it? Feeling the warming of the sun and the cool air placed my challenge into perspective. The risk of my climb would have been in not taking the challenge. I am glad to had taken the climb.

We all have a challenge, will you embrace it? Will you be able to look down the valley of your life and see the beauty of the experience? Will attaining the peak be your prize or will the journey be the ultimate gift to yourself? I want the journey to be the prize. The risk of life is in not living. How we live is in our hands.

The ultimate question is, will your valley be lush and colorful or barren and gray? I want my life to be about the memories created, not the things left behind. I want to turn the tables and do the unexpected. I want always to be hungry for the next challenge. I want to be willing to take the risks since the reward is in the experience and not the contemplation. Once we get to the peak there is no next time. There is only today and yesterday. Live, for the risk in life is not taking the risks as they come.

WHAT DO WE OWE OUR CHILDREN?


Our children are our most important investment and their well-being is our primary responsibility. How we get them from helpless to confident and self-sufficient is our primary task. I am currently on that journey with my two beautiful daughters and hope I am doing the correct things to create wonderful members of society. These are my guide posts:

1. Create confidence
Give them confidence by allowing them to succeed and fail early. There is nothing like accomplishing physical tasks to give confidence. My girls have never been restricted by age guides. We have allowed them to challenge and master anything they would like to attempt. Many times they fail but it is only in failure that we learn how to succeed.

2. Make learning fun
We strive to make every experience a learning opportunity. I hate structured learning, that is not where most of our learning occurs. Most importantly, answer all their questions (much easier said then done).

3. No baby talk please
When my girls speak others are often amazed at the depth of their vocabulary and general language skills. Those skills are not coincidental. We talk to them in adult language and provide definitions as needed so that they have early exposure and reinforcement of appropriate language.

4. Early introduction to technology and science
My girls are 3 and 4 and both know their way around a computer. They both have been introduced to programming. The 4-year-old gets it and is an intuitive problem solver. The 3-year-old is not there yet but she is learning about computers and always want to program. They love seeing the effects of their work. They remind me daily that they need to program. We are on code.org most days and I am the one limiting their time.

5. Respect others and the planet
Letting them see us showing respect to others and nature gives them a sense of their place in the universe. We are here to take care of the planet which is not limited to our fellow primates.

Our child are willing and able to learn and accomplish so much more that we give them credit for. We need to unleash them. In the rapidly changing world we live in, the only skill that will guarantee success is adaptability. Exposing our children to as many learning opportunities as we can will prepare them well for the challenges ahead.

 

FOG


The slow climb of the fog over the hillside was fascinating to watch. Sitting in a rocking chair on a wide veranda was almost comforting. However, I was in a hurry to leave town before I had to make any more decisions. The smell of rot was deep in my lung and the feeling of isolation heightened with every passing minute. The sun tried to rise about the fog but it seems as if the fog had a mind of its own. It was as if it was racing to catch up with the rising sun. There was a race to keep an eternal dawn. I could see the problem but the beauty of the orange sun piercing the white fog was irresistible. I stood there and enjoyed the view for much too long. Enjoying the view distracted me from the facts, I was fired from my own project.

I was so distracted by the beauty before me that I did not hear the low whine of the electric scouter until it was just meters in front of me. I noticed the flash of orange against the thick white of the approaching fog. Her hair was red-orange and floated like streams of diluted red ink in a fast flowing river. Marcia was in a hurry. As she jumped off the scouter and ran into the house she shouted, not quite intelligibly, for me to come into the house. I had never seen her in such a state, so I dutifully followed her. She disappeared into the darkness of the house as I closed the door. She was still shouting and I still could not understand what she was trying to tell me.

As I tried to understand her I heard a high-pitched whistle. I turned and opened the door and notice that the fog had moved with a 100 meters of the house. What was creating the noise was not clear. As I stood there a sharp, small blob hit me on the left cheek and without thinking I slapped my face and crushed the small device. I instantly recognized what I was seeing and her babble became intelligible. It was our creation. It was a cloud of nano-bots. I slammed the door shut and for a second was paralyzed by questions. My back was pressed into the door and my eye fixed on the clock about the archway to the dinner room. The second-hand seemed to be moving in slow motion. I had many questions. Who is controlling them? We had designed the system to be a directed cloud. I did not notice, but I was shouting. I could see Marcia running about but I could not hear what she was saying. I felt my body move but had no control. I was moving without purpose then suddenly there was a loud bang and my brain started to function. I pinched myself and it hurt. This is not a dream. I started to see and hear her. From the clock only about twenty seconds had passed.

Marcia slammed the back door shut and started to spray silicon sealant around the door. My daze lifted and I grabbed the canister Marcia offered me and started sealing the door and windows. We got all the windows and doors and them focused on the few bot units that had gotten into the house. Being apart of a hive brain they were lost outside of the cloud so they were easily destroyed. As Marcia caught her breath she started to tell me that an experiment had gone bad and the nano-bots had escaped. It must have shown on my face, since Marcia tried to comfort me. She knew what I was thinking. We did not design autonomous bots, so who is controlling them?

I HAVE A DREAM.


I have big dreams and I am sure you do too. Those dreams are what we all live for. We work hard and push to attain new heights. Those heights attained are the source of stories for our grandchildren. The joys of the effort and the intensity of our victories are what we will remember. I think I have lost that drive for big accomplishments.

Now all I think about is how am I going to make life better for my daughters. At Sarah is 4 years old and Samantha is 3 years old and they only ask for my time and attention. That is easy to give, but what happens once its time for more substantive investment. My love will not pay for college nor will it be enough for that first car. So, like all parents I have to save. Will it be enough? I am sure I am worrying for no reason, but without planning for those events I will not be ready. I promise them I will be ready.

When my oldest was born, I was reborn. They are my world and no one comes ahead of them. Making them strong, confident and productive is my goal. The question of how to accomplish my goal is both harder and easier than it seems. Easier because I have my parents play book to look at and harder because of the same. Picking from what I think worked and not repeating their mistakes is a tough challenge.

Sarah, my oldest taught me a lesson this weekend. She is already strong and confident. I watched her perform under the big lights with her cheer team and she was perfect. She performed with intelligence, poise and confidence. I am a proud dad. At 4 years old she is already setting a great example for her 3-year-old sister. I had to smile when my 3-year-old said to me, “Daddy, next year I am going to win like my sister”. I am going to keep loving them and allowing them to dream big, while I dream of their success.

GO CREATE SOME MEMORIES.


Life is what we make of it. It is short and turbulent, then it is over. The question of what comes next has been and will continue to be asked by the many with no really fulfilling answer to the had. For the religious the answer is often clear while not really clarifying. Humanity continues to look to the skies for our salvation. Some see a maker and some see the origins. Whatever you see, if that comforts you it is good enough. No one has a complete or even a near complete answer.
The joy of life is in the living. Live well and make others happy. Live well by making yourself happy. Live fully and experience the creator. Live fully because our conscious time in the universe is short, it is like a minor wrinkle. Our years cannot be compared to the vast time scale of the cosmos, our time can only be remembered for how we lived it. There is only the past and future, live life well and leave or create joy in another heart. It is in creating joy that we can change the direction of the universe. Our atoms will be reused when we no longer need them and we will not know any better because this is the true nature of all life. We arrived, we depart and we are forgotten. Let’s live our time not trying to be remembered, but live it to create memories.