A Word About Denying One’s Id

Nancy Gordeuk revealed a bit more of her private self than she probably ever meant to the other day in Stone Mountain, GA. She’d already screwed the pooch by ending the graduation ceremony of the school she founded before the valedictorian’s speech. Most likely off balance and seeing the fruition of her prize achievement going sour, she blurted out a completely unnecessary observation that “all the black people” were leaving. Hate when that happens. Sucks to be her.

Here’s the thing: that crazy person who temporarily lost her poise was the real Nancy Gordeuk, and she’s a racist. I want to tell her that, in my opinion, that’s okay. She’s given kids an opportunity to finish high school who might otherwise not have graduated. That’s a good thing. When she denies that in that moment she was her true self devoid of poise or pretense she only makes it worse. She’s never been more herself than in that moment. I like to make believe I’m a better person than I am, too. Doesn’t make it true.

Personally, I think society goes too far when it expects our ids to be innocent. I’ve quit drinking, quit smoking, try to be a good citizen and not piss people off, but sometimes when I’m driving down the road I’ll fly off the handle and rant a little bit. It doesn’t usually last long and then I reflect on how I came to lose it like that, knowing as I do that whatever screwed up the traffic wasn’t about me and someone up the road was having a much worse day, but there exists a part of me that wouldn’t win me any popularity contests.

Nancy, try using note cards instead of a program. I tend to lose my place in a program but putting one agenda item per card and putting each card on the bottom of the stack as it’s completed has worked for me.

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Distractedness

There are things that I might write about here, but I appear to be unable to focus. I’m in the process of yet another migration; this time a bit south into San Diego County.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post after Dave Goldberg’s funeral made me a bit reflective, and there are other issues popping up on my radar, but thoughtful analysis – which is what I’m going for here – isn’t going to happen until I’m into my new place. I hope to be settled in down there by May 21st. It could happen!

Keep up the good work; I do stop in to read now and then.

“Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.” – David Hume

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Thoughts on Parenting

I am mindful today of violence and destruction.

On the one hand we have a 7.8Mw earthquake that has taken more than 4000 lives and destroyed Nepalese cultural artifacts dating back hundreds of years. On the other we have whatever the hell is going on in Baltimore. The events in Baltimore are more tragic to my thinking.

I am mindful of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I am also mindful of the words of Rev. Jamal Bryant yesterday: “This is not what the family asked for, today of all days. For us to come out of the burial and walk into this is absolutely inexcusable.”

I get the protests and everything that drives the protests, and I’ve spoken about the violence of modern police tactics – that’s on us – but that is separate from the gangs who routinely take advantage of the protest environment to loot and pillage and destroy the community resources. To my mind, that is also largely on us.

I kind of liked that mom who picked her son out of the crowd and followed him home smacking him upside the head the whole way. We can talk about her violence, but we cannot argue against her ownership of the problem and her commitment to deal with it.

I was an absentee parent. I’m not proud of that, but there it is. My choices meant that others were left to raise, to nurture, to influence my children. That has been the norm for the past 50 or 60 or 70 years? How long have we been talking about the disaffected kids these days? Could there be at least a correlation?

Who was raising my kids? How was their day in school? What were they eating? Who were they playing with? Where were they going? What were they doing there? What were their hopes, their dreams? What are their values? Where did we go wrong?

How do we fix this?

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Is Jimmy Coming Out?

You may -but probably do not- know that Jimmy Carter is one of a couple of well-publicized people I think I’d like to have coffee with.

In 1976 the guy who brought us home while leaving the South Vietnamese to their fate had recently resigned from office, and the guy who pardoned him lost the election to Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter was looking pretty good except that his commitment to his faith was widely known. Welcoming home those who chose not to serve their country was a little hurtful, but the thing I was never comfortable with was his overt religious commitment. On the other hand I don’t believe he ever played me or lied to me and I respected that.

Well, now I read that he’s leaving his church because he feels they have distorted and misrepresented the Bible to promote and preserve gender inequality. (This reminded me of Rain Trueax’ recent post and using the Lord’s name in vain.) I see his lips moving, I know he’s religious, I hear him call bullshit on organized Christianity. What is up with that? Does it matter?

This is why I wanted to sit down with the guy. He struck me as a guy I could relate to, but sometimes he made no sense. Now he’s repudiating what I took to be source of much of what made no sense.

I’m still not okay with giving those who fled their country to avoid wartime service a pass.

Posted in Civil Rights, Morality/Ethics, Religion/Spirituality | 2 Comments

Openly Secular?

I put a daily almanac up on Facebook for no other reason than that it amuses me, and I noticed that Thursday is Openly Secular Day. It didn’t make the cut for my almanac since I was already out over 430 characters for Thursday. This morning someone made reference to Openly Secular’s Facebook page where they  are talking up a program to “Tell One Person” on Thursday if I’m “openly secular.” Honestly, that makes no sense to me.

There is a lot of stuff that we probably don’t need or want to know about each other. People tell me things I don’t want to know all the time and I think I experience that with pretty good grace, but I don’t feel a need to reciprocate. I put this in the category of those posts where a graphic says “I love my dog. Repost if you love your dog.” No.

It says here that: ” Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law.” It goes on to say that: “If you believe this, you are secular regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs.”

I am not religious. I am a non-believer, in almost any sense of the term: “non-believer.” I know of absolutely no religious people , zero, who can leave that baggage at the door. If a Grand Poobah of your particular religion has expressed an opinion on a topic, my experience tells me that will influence your opinion on that topic. If I am aware that you are religious and you tell me that you are also “secular,” I will not believe you.

In fact, I don’t want to know whether or not you’re religious and/or secular. Unless you’re the person who told me about John Davidson “coming out” on Openly Secular as being secular, I don’t care.

This whole thing sounds a little creepy to me. Who “comes out” as being secular anyway? Why would people just volunteer that stuff?

Posted in Life, Religion/Spirituality | 1 Comment

Work Gives Me a Context

Ronni Bennett posted today on how folks manage retirement. Not speaking for her, but she is engaged in blogging and issues on aging. Others take jobs, and still others appear content to be still. There are no wrong answers, it seems. I need to work, but only as a volunteer.

My (former) boss mocks me at times because I would never have willingly worked the hours for pay that I now work as a volunteer with the Red Cross. What I recognize about myself is that I am socially awkward. The only way I know anyone outside of family is from work. (Okay, that’s not entirely true, but it’s probably about 97% true. I’ve lived in four apartments in the past nineteen years and never knew any of my neighbors by name.)

Work gives me a frame of reference, a context. My role is defined, and I know what I’m supposed to do and how I’m supposed to behave. I understand how to interact with co-workers in their various roles, and how to interact with customers. Happily, since I stopped cleaning out roof rain gutters in 1962 (acrophobic), I’ve done work that I enjoyed and/or was pretty good at. Since retiring, if I’m being honest, I’ve actually enjoyed working with animal rescue even more than with the Red Cross because my role in animal rescue was primarily working with the animals being rescued.

I’ve tried a couple of meetups but they’ve gone off script pretty quickly with coffee before or after, or barbecues, or something else where I’m trying to ad lib with strangers. Even in internet communities, sooner or later, someone will want to meet up. People have suggested various strategies to “fix” this, but I’m going to be 68 in a few weeks. I’m better off finding work that needs to be done; there’s plenty of that.

Posted in Life, Relationships | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday, Ronni!

If you’re reading this and haven’t read Time Goes By, you need to fix that. Ronni Bennett is one of the main reasons I started blogging. She’s not only much better informed, but she also knows people.
Happy Birthday, Ronni!

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A Little About Hattie Alexander

Hattie Elizabeth Alexander would have been 114 today. Through her undergrad work she was only average in academics but she found her passion working as a bacteriologist for the USPHS and Maryland Public Health Service. She went on to medical school at Johns Hopkins earning her MD in 1930.

Helplessly watching infants and children die of influenzal meningitis due to Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) in one the best hospitals in the U.S. (Babies Hospital of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center) pissed her off enough that she buckled down and developed an effective rabbit serum and paired that with the use of sulfa drugs and antibiotics to reduce mortality from influenzal meningitis down to around 20%. Then she kept improving diagnostics and treatment to reduce mortality even further.

She observed that, over time, bacteria are able to develop resistance to antibiotics through genetic mutation which segued into early DNA research. By 1950 she was tinkering with the genetic code of Hib.

She published roughly 150 papers in her career and wrote chapters on microbiology and pediatrics in textbooks. She became president of the American Pediatric Society in 1964.

Dr. Alexander died of liver cancer in 1968.

When your babies get a Hib shot now and live to a ripe old age some of them owe a little bit of that to Hattie Alexander.

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Reflections on the Life of Victor Mills

Anyone reading this might know that I compile a daily almanac (because I’m nuts), and I occasionally “discover” someone I’ve never heard of whom I’d consider an unsung hero.

Today I found Victor Mills, born March 28th, 1897, in Milford, NE. Victor enlisted in the Navy in time for World War I, worked as a welder, met and married his wife, and graduated from the University of Washington as a chemical engineer.

Shortly after getting picked up by Proctor & Gamble in 1926, he came up with the continuous production process to make a bar of Ivory Soap in a couple of hours instead of a week. Then he came up with a production method to make cakes from Duncan Hines cake mixes without lumps. He’s credited with making synthetic rubber tires more durable by adding a little soap into the mix, and with keeping the oil from separating out of Jif. He figured out how to make Pringles, but no one is perfect. His master piece was the invention of Pampers disposable diapers.

The guy died at home in his bed in Tucson at the ripe old age of 100.

We get so caught up in what the mainstream media is pushing out – because they’re good at it – that we start believing that the comings and goings of the latest hottest cebritantes are important and we’ve never heard of a guy who has transformed the lives of just about all 7 billion of us in one way or another.

Fair winds and following seas, Victor. Thank you. I prefer Skippy, and Pringles are crap; but thank you for the rest of it.

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Thoughts on Inflating One’s History

I’ve been thinking about Brian Williams’ problem.

First, to put the issue in perspective, Walter Cronkite and the journalists of his era to whom Brian Williams is being compared didn’t deal with this odd conflation of real news and whatever the hell the Kardasians are. We don’t even know what the news is anymore.

Brian Williams did go into the combat zone and put himself in danger to report from there. He did not get shot at. That kind of sucks.

I spent September, 1967, to August, 1970, in the operating rooms in the Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, at times working more than once around the clock on the Marines coming off the med-evacs from VietNam. We put most of them into good enough shape to survive the ride back to the States, but not all and it was a fucking mess pretty much either way. The memories, good and bad, from there have never left me; but I never got shot at, and that’s always bothered me.

I was a REMF. The guys down at Charlie Med in VietNam were doing the heavy lifting, and I was just cleaning their patients up to send them home. Even when I did “go to VietNam” it was on an aircraft carrier. We had a couple of accidents on the flight deck, but accidents happen everywhere. I was there without being there. I was never in it. Do you think I’ve never thought about embellishing my service?

The thing is that I know these guys, and they will know if you lie to them. Accept the privilege of having accomplished what you did accomplish. I know that, if I had ever actually been ordered to Field Med School for duty with the Marines, I’d have been kicked out of the Navy then and there for my flat feet. I wasn’t supposed to be there… but it still bothers me.

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