Saturday, December 24, 2016


I rarely comment on anything I read here, but this article struck a chord and I felt compelled to write something (more like a rant).  It strikes me that the result of this election has so many people behaving like idiots.  Every election has winners and losers, and afterward people go back to their lives.  This time is different.  Those unhappy with the results are lashing out at people who are content with the outcome.  My position with the result is irrelevant, and I was not pleased with the result of the majority of elections in which I voted.  Like everyone else, I moved on with my life.

People now are reacting as if Trump is already in office.  He isn’t doing anything at this point except hiring his staff.  Why do people have their diapers in a bunch?  What do they think their irrational behavior will solve?  How about being part of a solution?  Instead, these people wail and gnash their teeth and do nothing except protest.  Who has the time for this crap?  If the economy had been improving like the current administration claims, these people might be at work, making a positive contribution to society.  That’s probably not true, as it is not easy to find work with a degree in ancient languages or [insert group here] Studies.  Not that there isn’t value in learning about these topics.  But the careers that these support are already filled by the few dozen people lucky enough to land positions in their field.  The rest will simply have to wait for them to retire or die.  In the meantime, they will have to slave away as a barista while trying to service their six-figure college loan debt that they will never be able to satisfy (Lots of people have student loan debt with six figures – they’re called doctors).  I feel bad they that their interesting degree isn’t as valuable in the real world as they were led to believe.  But don’t expect me to pick up the tab.  My kids will be attending college soon, and I’m more worried about that.

But I digress.  What got me was the action of two bozos on a flight, who decided to vent their frustration on Trump’s daughter and grandchildren.  One of the two men involved is an attorney.  A highly-educated person who of all people should know better and how to be an adult.  They were rightly taken off the flight, but what has happened to civility?  People didn’t behave like this when Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, or Obama were elected.  Further, what happened in society that people feel this behavior is acceptable?  Would it be acceptable for someone to express his or her presidential grievances to Obama’s children?  Of course not.  It is wrong.  How would you feel if someone was harassing your kids because of your work or position?  Children act this way in grade school.  A kid picks on another and uses a comment about their mark’s parent(s) to belittle them.  These people are called bullies.  Kids with this propensity are supposed to be corrected or at least grow out of it.  It is cowardly.  These are adults in today’s society???  It seems this generation of “trophies for everyone” adults/children has regressed as a group.  Worse, these snowflakes are grotesquely viewed as “heroes” to a cause.  Bad behavior is cherished when it fits their worldview.

It makes me sick.  If you want to see examples of real heroes, read about Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter.  Their actions saved the lives of 150 people, at the expense of their own.  The account of this action is easy to find, most notably in a speech given by Marine General John Kelly (now retired, nominee for Homeland Security).  It is easy to find online.  He gave this speech just four days after his son, 1LT Michael Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan.

I’m finished with my rambling.  I will go back to quickly scrolling through Facebook posts to find something funny or interesting.

Addendum: I was just reading an article about the bozos mentioned above.  I mentioned one was an attorney who should know better.  The other is highly educated as well and also should know better.  He is a college professor who teaches - wait for it - Urban Studies.  He wrote a book about Hillary and people angry with him are slamming it for reviews.  You'd think someone trying to sell something that people review would have the common sense to be nice to other people, especially in public.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

School Zero Tolerance Policy Consequences

It’s easy to apply a punishment standard to various serious school policy violations, but does anyone really consider the consequences of the punishment?  There are obvious violations that should have more severe penalties than others.  Violations that can injure people are more significant than painting graffiti on a building.  Bringing a real gun to school should have a more severe punishment than someone chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, yet both will get you expelled (the Pop Tart isn’t hypothetical – it happened; and a Pop Tart shouldn’t even warrant more than a brief discussion – if anything at all).  Bullying or racial slurs can result in suspension or expulsion.  Stupid behavior by adolescents can result in future-altering changes (positive or negative).

The problem is the punishment should fit the crime.  School administrators should be able to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis.  Federal funding and litigation has changed this.  Bringing a gun to school carries an automatic expulsion for a minimum of one year.  A school district’s failure to adopt this policy will result in loss of federal funding.  Consider two scenarios:

•    Student #1 brings a weapon to school with malicious intent.
•    Student #2 borrows his father’s car to drive to school, only to later realize there is a weapon in the trunk.  He/she tells a school administrator about it to avoid getting into trouble.

Student #1 should certainly have a very serious consequence (perhaps with mandatory counseling), but should student #2 have the same consequence?  What if the weapon in the trunk was an Airsoft or a bright orange plastic replica?  Policy sees no difference in these clearly different scenarios and result in the same punishment.  Does this make sense?

Schools are terrified of an accusation of treating people differently, so looking at every situation as a black and white issue takes away the burden of having to analyze and evaluate the situation to find a remedy that benefits the school, society, and the student.

But what about the student?  A student with malice should be treated differently than one who made a poor decision or had no intent to violate a policy.  Still, the severity of the punishment should have some relation to the severity of the violation on which it is based.  Schools either cannot or will not do this.

So a student commits a sin at school and is punished.  What is the effect on their future?  The intent of punishment is to change behavior.  The greater the infraction, the more severe the punishment.  Aside from students with malicious intent, are children not allowed to make dumb mistakes?  Should two students calling each other names or fighting be treated as criminals?

Do school administrators consider the effect of severe punishment on the student?  Young people with little life experience don’t clearly appreciate that the challenges they face at sixteen are different than at forty.  A break-up can be just as stressful and painful to them as a divorce is to an adult.  Stress is based on what you know at the time.

My son’s high school has a policy in which racial incidents (slurs or otherwise) will result in two options: expulsion or take a three-day suspension with a catch: two of the days are served in juvenile detention.  To further the “scared straight” approach the student must stand before a county judge in a courtroom prior to incarceration.  I cannot grasp the justification of treating the violators as criminals.  How is incarceration even a remotely balanced punishment for this?  In addition, the violator is thrown off any teams or clubs.

What is the impact of on the student?  It is highly competitive to get into any college.  The application process seems to be all-inclusive of the student’s life.  Suspension or any discipline must be reported in the application and certainly doesn’t help them.  And not being able to participate in the team or club can be another significant stress to them.  Further, the stigma of what happened can be overwhelming.  What about the experience in juvenile detention?  How might this affect the student, who may already recognize the stupidity of his action?  Wouldn’t a mandatory training course on racial issues be more appropriate than forcibly blending them with actual criminals?  Why don’t parents have some influence when dealing with their child’s transgressions?  The school has usurped parental responsibility.

Last week such a thing happened.  A bright student, who came from a solid and loving family, was faced with the choice of expulsion or suspension/juvenile detention for a racial incident.  As a junior he would be getting ready for the college application process.  He plays an instrument in the marching band, a very close group who spend countless hours together.  From his perspective he might see his college hopes crushed.  He could further see losing his position in the band with all of his friends and the camaraderie.  Not understanding that there could be resolution to all of this, he went straight home and ended his life.  I recognize there were likely other issues but this event served as a trigger for someone needing help.

This tragedy both saddens me beyond words and sickens me.  A promising young man with a bright future and his whole life ahead of him saw his future crushed by school policy.  This was avoidable.  The school and entire school board is culpable.  They should first spend time experiencing the incarceration they advocate.  They should then have to face the parents whom they have directly harmed.  They should then pay financially to something that helps students learn and grow.

And then they should be fired.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Miss you Mom

How do you sum up a person’s life in a few minutes?  You can’t.  All we can do is try to share a few stories and remember who she was.  She was my mom and a friend to everyone.  She was a best friend to so many people.  She loved her grandchildren and doing things with them.  She took vacations with them, and even when she knew her condition was terminal, was planning a final trip to Orlando with them.  We talked her into taking a second trip to Savannah for her bucket list, as she had always wanted to go there.  I’m really glad we got to do that.

Mom was a planner.  She had endless Post It notes everywhere, and she somehow kept track of them.  This was her OCD.  Whether it was planning a trip or a meal, she was thorough.  She liked to dig into the details.

Mom loved to cook and entertain.  From the annual Christmas parties when we were younger, to simply having us over for dinner, we were assured there would be plenty to eat, including something new she wanted to test out.

Some of the most important things to mom were family and friends.  Mom kept in touch with people.  Really kept in touch, whether by phone or visiting.  She really connected with people and genuinely cared about the things happening in their lives.

Mom never forgot to send a card or an occasion to call, even when she was ill in a care facility.

Mom was a strong woman.  Through all of this, she never complained about her condition.  Not once.

For my 50th birthday, she gave me my letters from sleepaway camp 1973-1975.  I read them to her during her final few days.  My letters at the time I wrote them had to be torture to receive.  The content was useless.  I would often write, “Send me more stamps.” And nothing else.  But there were some funny nuggets that sparked a laugh from her, even though she could no longer speak.

She was always willing to help someone in need.  She cooked things for people when they were ill, even when she was suffering her own illness.

Mom was supportive of grandchildren’s events.  She really made an effort to attend games and concerts or band events, even when she was ill.

Mom had class.  She was very straightforward without being insulting.   She agree with Joan Crawford about wire hangers.  Mom gave advice whether you wanted it or not.

Mom is survived by Dawn and I, and her three grandchildren Sam, Gabe, and Jack.  Though she is gone her memory lives on.  I will miss mom dearly.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

RIP Mom October 1, 1942- April 23, 2016

Mom left us this past weekend, after a tough battle with cancer.  The last couple of months, and especially the last few weeks have been hard. She was so strong and brave, and through it all she worried about us.  She spent her last month at home, and I think it gave her comfort being there, with her caregiver Bertha, who really provided the compassionate and personal care she deserved.

During her last week she wasn't able to speak, but clearly understood everything.  Many people called and came to visit to say goodbye.  That was really difficult, but what a blessing it is to be able to say goodbye.  Friday was really rough, and we did all we could to try to keep her comfortable.  Her friends came by, shared some prayers, and we just held her hand.  Later in the evening her friend Dana (a nurse) stopped by to visit and working with the hospice nurse on the phone, made adjustments to her medication to ease her breathing.  It really helped calm her, and while she still had difficulty, she was at least resting better.  Her last couple of hours she was peaceful, and just before midnight, she quietly left.  We notified hospice and then the funeral home, who came out at 1:30am to take her.

Through it all my sister remained stronger than I thought she could ever be, and I'm proud of her for it.  I'm glad I could be there at the end, and she wasn't alone.  But she never was.  She had so many people praying for her.  Mom touched so many people and it's unlikely I can ever know just how many that really is.  We are still making arrangements and I still can't believe she's gone.  I miss her dearly.  I love you mom.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


We are all faced with challenges in our lives.  They start when we are young and never let up.  Over time we learn how to deal with them, but they are never easy, or they wouldn't be challenges.  The difficulties faced as a child are no less stressful than those faced as an adult; as adults we have experience to help us recognize the severity of youthful situations is not the same as what we face as adults.  Death is [fortunately] one of those.  I am 50 and can have not had to deal with loss near as often as many other people.  I have been blissfully in my bubble while my mom has been advancing rapidly towards the inevitable.  Her unsuccessful radiation treatment last May did nothing except make her feel really bad with every listed side effect.  The previous chemo bought her a fair amount of time without negative side effects, but the demon of cancer was going to have another victim no matter what.

I'm writing as a way to make myself feel better about what is happening right now.  Mom is at home, waiting to pass.  She lost her ability to swallow yesterday and so her only sustenance is pain meds, which I pray are helping her.  She is present but has lost her ability to speak as well.  It is the hardest thing in the world to witness, but so many people have been there for her.  I'm numb today, yet it is truly my first day of this.  I have been task-focused which has allowed me to remain in my bubble of denial for so long.   But now I am mentally exhausted, after just one day of really feeling what is going on.  I mean spent.  Yet she has been so strong.  Every time she had to deal with this.  At the same time I have to be an example to my children, who are experiencing this for the first time (Sam was very young when Brenda passed.  He had the vision as a 5-year old to say that she wasn't in pain anymore).  I pray for that.  I pray for mom.  People were calling today to say goodbye.  It was really hard to hear these calls.  Mom has meant so much to so many people, and to call someone to say goodbye - as in we will never speak again in this life - I have not yet crossed that bridge.  I had better do it soon, or I will have to add items to my basket of regrets.  I pray I still have a little time.

I'm just rambling now as I'm in a fog knowing there are only hours or perhaps days left for my mom.  She has been so strong.  She has been strong her entire life.  As in older generation strong - that doesn't seem to exist - looking at the current generation with their safe zones...  I will write more about mom later.  But I was looking at recent photos and thought I'd post a few.

Less than two weeks ago her friend Rita passed away.  I struggled for days about whether or not I should tell her.  After seeking advice I decided not to.  The priest was right.  We needed to keep mom comfortable, and she would know about Rita, and our dilemma/struggles, soon enough and would understand.

Holy crap this is hard.