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The man inside the boy

I don’t know what happened with my youngest son, but it’s good. I have been urging, reminding, cajoling, conniving, and ganging up on his to either do more physical activity of the ordinary kind such as biking to school, running, or swimming at the local pool, or join a school or club sport or team, to please, please choose something, and I’d support him. But he only dabbled, while his newly developed height with doubled number of muscle cells puddled in a chair as he played computer games for hours a day. I got into it with him the other day–he could see from my intensity how heartfelt my concern was, how serious a thing I felt it was to neglect one’s health that way, how he would be giving up the good feeling of strength, balance, and sense of accomplishment, even while his brain was tricked into thinking that the levels or perks of his gaming were some kind of real achievement. It was a hijack of his innate evolved dopamine reaction that didn’t pay the same dividend as REAL challenges, REAL risk, REAL conflict, trouble, and overcoming, I said. And no, I said, when he told me he needed me to “make him” exercise, I just couldn’t, with a full work schedule and disciplines of my own to fit in. I said he had to make himself, or sign up for something where he would be made to do the work. I acknowledged the reality of the temptation to yield one’s time and attention to those clamoring for it–the games, or movies, or social media for some. I told him it was too much–I had been willing to make athletics mandatory, but there was supposed to be an eventual owning of it, and it was past time.

He wasn’t planning to swim again this year–said he’d had too many ear infections. Last year, with lots of encouragement from his parents and his siblings, he chose to swim on the high school team, after years of unenthusiastically participating in summer league and improving each year, though never enough in his own mind to pay more than grudging acknowledgment to his gradual drop in race times. He felt nowhere near as good a swimmer as his brother and sister before him, though she assured him that his times were about the same as hers when she started. His brother had started much younger and so had immediately made varsity in his freshman year, going on to be count Swimmer of the Year and then almost make college nationals (in Canada). We assured him it didn’t matter, that it was about fitness and fellowship, and that we loved watching him swim, along with his grandparents. Also, he was becoming a bit of a specialist in backstroke, unlike his Freestyle/Fly siblings. So much for an easy choice –excellent coach, good group of boys, great fitness, and fun to watch for us. But it seemed to be over. His sisters had invited him to go for climbing and to the gym, but nothing was happening.

Then today, he burst out of his garage bedroom and said, one, that he was really glad his drum teacher had got him listening to jazz it was so amazing (he never listened to music before this, despite several years of piano lessons and now a few months of drumming), and two, that he wanted me to sign him up for swimming.

So I guess the exhortation with tears got to him where the gentle reminders and reasoning didn’t. He’s a heart guy, like his dad. He’s owning it, too–he doesn’t do things just to be compliant, but he does have a desire to do what’s right. He’s manning up, I think. I’m so proud of him Dare I hope that he’ll also heed my pleas to say no to first person shooter games, to protect his imagination, or to do real live work with his hands, like helping me build a new compost bin, or splitting some firewood, instead of virtual digital building and tearing down?

 

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Death of liberal arts for most people?

Meanwhile in attempts to lift poor children from having little or no opportunity to go to that kind of place, or any college, to grow up educated and provide a decent living for their families, Bill Gates and other business entrepreneurs (a.k.a. social entrepreneurs), in partnership with the federal government, have launched their attempt to education everyone with “twentieth century skills,” ready for the work force.

Good, but why does that have to mean, among other things, less reading of fiction in favor of more extraction of meaning from informational text? Why limit the finer opportunities still available to those whose brain functions have not been culled by stress and poverty, who possess the desire and ability to long for deeper connection, more  far-reaching vision, a deeper understanding and expression through the arts and literature. Let’s not dumb down the culture in making it a more egalitarian one, elevate jobs and “productivity” over education in the best sense of the word.

And what about the obvious conflict of interest in having the owners of the tech corporations provide the software and classroom supplies and pedagogical philosophy for these children’s education experiences? We need workers, they say—this is the twentieth century as we envisioned it, so let us help you fit into the future we are creating, and all of us will be better off. If something has to go, let it be anything that makes workers question how we already know we should be doing things. You know, growing the economy, competing with other market powers, preserving the American way of life. Which is democracy in the sense that those with the power to sway the majority (those with  twenty-first century skills–not cumulative up to the twenty-first, but the latest set and open to re-training) can do so efficiently by means of a database so comprehensive and powerful that it allows media and “educational” products to be created that cater to each and every individual learning style.  And the part of democracy that allows us all to choose from fifty kinds of breakfast cereal in the aisles of the local supermarket and either traditional or “Simply” ripple chips, all produced by a few central manufacturing facilities staffed by twenty-first century workers. We can help students learn so effectively the practical skills they need to be “productinve members of a global democratic society” that the neural pathways needed to understand 1984, Brave New World, the MaddAdam trilogy, Animal Farm, The Hunger Games, and That Hideous Strength will be unnecessary and therefore atrophy.

An apology for the convoluted nature of my sentences, and how they go on and on, and have too many clauses. I’ve been told the “Ten Ways You Can (say) Fight the Good Fight Against Tyranny” format is so much more effective, but I haven’t mastered that twenty-first century communication style yet.

This existence seems so contrived—since when in these thousands of years does one wake and not have to go about making a living? Only to create—to write, sew, paint, create and maintain human bonds, and that mainly based on the compulsion of angst about this modern life-what is it? What does it mean? Why are things not fair and I have this free time while others are laboring to the point of exhaustion for bread for their children and something to hide from the drunken consort? Why is it considered ore valuable to go into database architecture and game design than into being a parent in the home, a friend of neighbors in the community, or a teacher?

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

That was some good soup.

Creamy, red and rich, and with no added sugar. The level of sugar in commercial tomato soup, even the gourmet stuff, makes it not taste good to me. Same with most Asian restaurant food, Halloween candy, and ice cream. Making my own stuff for many years, I got to like the taste underneath the sweetness, and only add a little or none added to most recipes.

A few months ago, I was informed that my blood sugar in on the low borderline of pre-diabetic. Though I’m pretty lean, I’m not too surprised, as I had gestational diabetes for one of my pregnancies, and my mother, uncle, and grandfather, all got Type II diabetes. Still, their diet was pretty heavy on the bread, pie, and apple juice, and low on vigorous exercise, so I hope to stave off any need for treatment for many years.

What I think I need to cut down on next is caffeine. I use two to three times a day. It’s my only drug of any kind (no prescriptions yet), so I’m fortunate, but I’d like to be less dependent, and have room for more healthy drinks like turmeric (which I need for inflammation)  or mint tea. I or so. ‘m starting by delaying my first cup an hour or so. But for energy, I’ll have to figure out how to get more exercise, since the pool is packed in the morning, and I wrenched my bad arm last time I tried to swim laps; I want to run, but not too much on asphalt. I guess I can bring myself to drive to the trail now that I have an electric car–it always seemed not quite the thing to burn gas so I could get fit. The bike issue is not yet settled–I have one picked out–a tour bike in steel for carrying loads–but still nowhere to store it, and work is too far away to bike to. Which also seems wrong, to live a few blocks away from two schools and have to commute to another district for work.

This is all warmup, and I’m getting nearer what I think I need to write, But also, I’m falling asleep. To be continued.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

I drugged my dog last night, got new glasses today, and tomorrow I will make soup.

I got a good night’s sleep because I dosed my anxious rescue dog with a light sedative. I was woken up by a pre-dawn downpour that left slushy sleet coating the ground and vehicles, but I always find the sound of rain relaxing and so I slept another good half hour after that.

For breakfast I stirred up some eggs with broccoli (picked yesterday), and strong cheese, pressed some coffee for the portable mug and a jarful for later in the day, and piled my teacher bags and craft supplies into the chilly car. I unplugged the charger, pressed the On switch, and whirred out for my half hour commute.

This week I’m listening to another audiobook from the mysteries section of the library, involving a stabbing of an upper crust millionaire in his castle while all the greedy, strange backbiting relatives are visiting and wishing here was better cell phone coverage and internet. It passes the time, and is better written and read that the last one. That one had lines like: “She fell and her head struck the cement. She had hurt herself.” Plus the reader’s attempts to “do” the male voices turned them all into irritating dweebs, even the ones the reader is meant to like. The story was okay, though–I considered rewriting it to make it bearable and hiring a different reader, but decided to stick with my own work.

I got new glasses today. The last ones were sturdy brown plastic, but growing brittle, and with a substantial scratch where they saved my eye socket from worse injury when an iron patio chair unfolded suddenly into my face. I think I’ll make a Christmas tree ornament out of them in honor of that role, along with my old mouth guard, which has been protecting my molars from grinding wear at night. I’ve also been meaning to make a multi color wreath out of my children’s swimming competition ribbons.  It’s also time I got the recipe for my neighbor’s fruit cake, the only one I’ve ever liked, even without sauce. Fruitcake is one of those things that tastes better as one ages in any case, and it’s been about ten years since I first had it, so I can hardly wait.

Something I worry about is, as I get older, into my mid-fifties and sixties, am I going to start smelling funny and not realize it, along with my house? The young people I teach would surely notice, with their more sensitive noses. It might be a good idea to start wearing scented lotions.

Nothing so strong as what that man in the grocery store the other day was wearing, though. I knew he was nearby, because the sharp, chemical odor of a certain cosmetic ingredient to which I am sensitive started wafting over me from behind while I was scanning the dairy case for coconut yogurt that my daughter had requested for a recipe. I considered telling him, as a stranger, where a colleague or friend might not. I don’t know, do men do that for one another? (“Dude, easy on the perfume next time!”) It was worse than walking down the detergent aisle.

My daughter never did make her recipe, wasn’t even home when I got there. When I tried to put all the ingredients away in the fridge, I found that the load my husband had just brought home from Costco (Lord preserve us from husbands who do the Costco runs!) was piled on top of the previous ingredients and leftovers so that an avalanche threatened. The table and counters were similarly overloaded. I put two items into my car for return the next day (he hadn’t realized we already had them), exhorted him to eat the store-bought broccoli quickly, s it was likely a few weeks old already, and we had a good crop in the garden. One of the ingredients I stashed in the car was tomato soup. I have been pleading with everyone to eat up the bounty that’s been flowing out of the greenhouse and planning to cook and can the extra.

Today in How to Not Starve, I taught a lesson on food waste. We got into a lively discussion during and after the videos showing how 40% of food produced in the U.S. never reaches any table, and much of what does later ends up in the trash. I hope some of the students will work with me to assess our waste at school and try to educate the community toward better habits. Still, one of the points of the video was that our food system depends on that waste to keep the money flowing, and the poor depend on diverted food that would otherwise be wasted (wrong size or shape, past best buy date, etc.) to feed them at low cost through food banks and soup kitchens.

I’ll make the tomato soup tomorrow, with the past due carrots, runt onions, and a little orange juice. It will be good with the romaine that’s sweetening up in the cool night garden.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Cell analogy poem, verse one

The cell membrane is like my skin
which helps to keep my liquids in.
It has some pores, and so do I
Such as valves that open when I cry
and lips that take in food and drink
Much like channel proteins, I think.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

A very short poem which I would not like read at my funeral, as that would be mean.

Epilogue

I forgive you for not appreciating me enough when I was alive.
You know who you are.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Featured

Enter title here. There is an easier way to create. Add media, add poll, ADD CONTACT FORM! And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Publicize: Not Connected. Show image, video, quote.  All categories (most) used.

Thank you for creating.

Word count: 49
saved at 8:53:11 pm.:)

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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