Education

Simply not acceptable

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Invasion: Definition #2,

Invade: Definition #3a

Infringe: Definition #1

Illegal: definition #1 & #2

Flood: Definition #3

Whatever definition you want to use, it can’t be denied. Simply saying that it is something other than what it is, well, that’s just delusional. Unfortunately, a large portion of our elected officials are just delusional. Plain and simple. “No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

Look, I have a heart. I can feel empathy. I understand that people are coming from places that are poor and there is suffering. I been there (Mexico) and I’ve seen it. I have been the drop in the bucket that brought light to someone’s world for a short time. So, I am not an ignorant soul spouting about something that I don’t know about.

However, there is a time and a place for the rule of law and my to my dismay (and many others) we have people amongst us that are actually inviting and encouraging the unlawfulness. They are sending a message that is directly counter to the foundations of our country – that we are a law-abiding people, who honor values and principles of law.

The border of our nation doesn’t get this way unless someone has invited and encouraged them. Our states don’t get this way unless someone has given them assurance that once they’re here they won’t be caught or charged with a crime. Our government doesn’t get this way unless someone has exploited the intentions of good laws for political purposes. Democrats, the fingers are pointed directly at you!

I don’t normally like to call out one single party (yes, I have done it in the past), as I try to look at both sides objectively, consider the factors, and understand decision aren’t always cut and dried. But, when a spade is a spade you have to call it that. When a duck walks and talks like a duck, you have to call it a duck. It’s time the Democrats be called on  the carpet and held accountable for actually calling for the open violation of our nation’s laws. They say they are doing it for the “humanity” of it all, but that can’t actually be the case because the message they are sending people who aren’t coming to the nation legally is actually dangerous and unfair.

What is happening at the border just simply should even be a concern, if we were a nation that actually believed in law and order. If we were actually a nation that believed in sovereignty. If we were a nation that actually believed that we could do this better and still follow our law, protect our borders, and improve the lives of people where they are.

 

barbed wire barrier blur border

What’s a guy to do?

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I live in a state that makes illegal things legal and tries to make legal things illegal.

I have a national, two-party political system that is broken to its core and has become so partisan that neither can let go of anything, any time, anywhere. The work of the people doesn’t get done because they have to play tit-for-tat with everything.

I live in a country where insane people want to give everything away for free and do no work.

I live in a country where approximately 3200 people die in automobile collisions and about 3000 unborn babies are murdered every day; however, the former has government campaigns to stop it and the later the government funds to assist in it.

I live in a country that supposedly holds the ideal of Free Speech sacred but has a culture that silences people who speak freely and are counter to mainstream thought.

I am in a country with national sovereignty and borders, but has a political party that openly invites people to violate the sovereignty and break the law.

I live in a country that has no better political choice for representation (and president) than to choose between the lesser of two evils.

I live in a state where one major city wants to willingly give heroin injections freely and openly but won’t listen to its citizens when they show up at a city council meeting.

I have a national media that used to tell us the truth, the facts and no more, but now they tell us their opinions and speculations with no reliable sources or verification.

So what’s a guy to do?

It’s weird to think that we are living in the upside-down. What we used to say was wrong is now right and what we used to say was right is now wrong. There will be no reprieve if we don’t change directions soon. A 180 degree turn, turning the down right side up is the only way to make it happen.

So what’s a guy to do?

I wish I had answers. It’s an age-old question that obviously none of us has an answer to. We can’t rely on our politicians. We can’t rely on our education. We can’t rely on our government. We can’t rely our political parties. We can barely rely on each other. We are gonna have to find the answer, somewhere, deep down within ourselves. We are going to have to work together and find common ground.

Common Ground.

Not what is best for me. Not what is best for you. But what is best for both. Can we even do that anymore?

I’ll add that to my list

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Confession time: I am a list maker.

OK, not that I really need to confess that but what I have found is that I am perpetually making lists and sometimes I find that I am being held captive by my lists. Like, I look at a list and all I want to do is run away from it because it is overwhelming and though I have the list, I am not sure where I want to start.

I make lists at home.

I make lists at work.

I make lists on my phone. I make lists on little pieces of paper. I make lists in notebooks. I make lists in my head. I make lists on my computer. Grocery lists. Ideas to write about lists. Movies I want to see lists. Books I want to read lists. Places I want to go lists. Things I don’t really want to do but really should do lists. Things that need to get done ASAP and things that don’t need to get done ASAP.

I make lists.

Now, I might need to confess if I never really got anything done on my lists. I guess the real problem is the lists actually never end or go away. I get things done, but then add more things to the list – by creating a new list.

Example: I made of list of six things I wanted to get done over the weekend. I only get three of them done. So, I’ll add those three things to the list of things I want to get done next weekend. And the list goes on and on and on…it just grows!

Damn. I just realized as I was writing this blog that I have now created a list of my lists.

I am without a doubt – neurotic.

OK, I’ll just add that to my list of things that I am, and remove it from the list of things that I am not.

Sheesh.


So, how do you get through life? Are you a list maker? Do you feel overwhelmed by your lists or do you get freedom by making lists? 

Tell me what you do in the comments below.

Something personal…

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Two weeks ago I asked in a post if you were paying attention. Apparently, you aren’t, or at least most of you aren’t.

I had only one response in the comments to the “poll”. That one vote came from Bel at RoadsBelTravelled. Thanks for paying attention and playing along! So, since she was the only one to vote she wins the vote by default. She chose “something personal”…

Now the question is…what to share? How about I climb into the “way back machine”?

Desert Trek

Once upon a time I used to hike and backpack quite a bit. That is, until I got married and had a child. It slowly decreased after that and over the last few years I am lucky if I get in one hike. I actually did two last year, but they were fairly short. I am hoping to work back into more this summer! Anyway, on to the details of the desert trek.

It all started in college when I decided to go on a one week backpacking trek with some college friends and two professors from the college I was attending. I had never done this before, but I had a good friend who had done it a lot so it was fun to go to REI and purchase the essentials that I would use for years to come (I finally unloaded some of that old gear – though it was still good – two years ago).

We trained for the hike, during the winter months, in the nine story tower on campus. Up and down the stairs we went, walking, running, and at first maybe even crawling. Then with extra weight, in our hiking boots, etc. It was a good way to build stamina and leg strength. Most people don’t know, but going downhill and maintaining balance takes a different set of muscles than going uphill, so the walking down the stairs slowly and methodically was essential to the training too.

After months of preparing, we all piled into a 15 passenger van the professors borrowed from the school and we loaded up our gear. It was a little cramped in that van, but it was fun as we road-tripped it from Chicago to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. There isn’t much I specifically remember about the road trip other than I do know that we realized we were going to be going through Winslow, Arizona, so we played a lot of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” in the van and when it came time…yes, we jumped out of the van and took some moments “…standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” and “it was such a fine sight to see…”

It ended up being perfect weather in the desert. We hiking in the sun. We relaxed next to a brook. We swam in the brook (the water was really cold!). We played Rook sitting around a camp fire or in the sun on a giant boulder next to the brook. I can’t describe what it felt like to be out there, feeling like you were the only people on the Earth. It was glorious!

Again, I don’t remember the particulars except on experience did leave an impression on me. There were some lessons to be learned one particular day.

We used camp as a base and took different hikes from there each day. So, one day, we decided to take a hike. It was supposed to be about a 10 mile round-trip hike and it was going to go near some of the Anasazi ruins in the surrounding valleys. The day hike started out rather normal but as we got farther into it, the guide book that the research was done from didn’t appear to be as accurate as we though. We were on Mile 6 and we hadn’t gotten even half way to the destination. So, part of the group decided to turn around and head back and part of the group decided to continue on.

We found the ruins and they were SPECTACULAR! It was really cool to see that kind of history and imagine what life would have been like at the time. It was hard to imagine, quite frankly.

I should mention that the ruins were about Mile 12 of the hike that day. Now we are well past mid-day and we have to return back to base camp. There are five of us (our group was a total of 12) and we have to make a decision – return the way we came or find another way back to base. This decision was key because we know what we just went through to get to this location and returning the way we came would be difficult to say the least.

We gathered around the map and saw there was another route back to base and it appeared that if we kept going ahead, instead of turning around, it would only be about 8 miles back to base. Mind you, we haven’t been on the trail and the sun is well past the high point of the day. We are all in pretty good shape and there was definitely some hill climbing to be done as we left the valley we were in, but we thought we could do it if we kept up a good pace. We refilled out water bottles in the creek through our filters and off we went. Through the bottom of the valley for a while and then…uphill.

The uphill part was not as steep as the route we came down through. There were no switchbacks and the trail, at least at first, was pretty clear. Yeah, you read that right – “at first.”

In many places, the trail had markers or signs to help point you in the right direction instead of just using the map. Up to a certain point, it was pretty useful until we came up to a spot where the trail split from one to three. The signs had been pulled out of the ground and thrown in a pile slightly off the trail. Great! Let’s hope our map reading skills are better than we realize because now we are solely relying on a compass and a detailed map that didn’t show a 1-3 transition. Really great. We knew where we were, approximately, and the three options didn’t really offer any sure-fire sense of which was the correct trail to take.

So, after studying the map and looking at the different trails, we decided that we would take the one that looked the most traveled, and by that I mean that there were hoof marks on the trail so we knew a mule or a horse had followed the trail. We assumed they knew where they were going…yeah, not so much! We followed the trail for about 45 minutes until it just kind of petered out and there was no trail to be found, just cacti and scrub. Super awesome! Not only did we pick the wrong trail, but we just wasted at total of an hour and a half of light going the wrong way! It was now late afternoon and we knew we were not getting back to camp before dark.

This was not a good situation since we were not prepared to hunker down for an overnight and our supplies were limited since this was just supposed to be a day hike. It left us no choice but to power on and hope for better results this time. So, we chose a different trail and started up the hill.

Needless to say, as you are reading this blog, we survived. LOL  Our legs were scratched from brushing against cacti we couldn’t see in the dark. Our flashlight and headlamp provided a little light, but only two of the five of us actually brought lights (not sure why we did for a “day hike”) and we discovered that the starlight provided better light as our eyes would get all whacked out when we used the bright lights, making it harder to see a small trail. We really only used the light to look at the map, which looking back was kind of dumb since we couldn’t see any landmarks, but once in a while we would come to a trail sign and we could reference the map to see where we were.

All in all, we made it back to the main trail we hiked to get into base camp and then followed it back to base that night. We ended up walking in the dark for four hours and we were back to camp well after dinner. We were all famished! And we were lucky.

Lesson learned: Be prepared for an overnight, even if it is just a day trip. Obviously, we were not prepared if something had really gone wrong. We weren’t prepared for a cold night in the desert and we weren’t prepared for injuries. Luckily, no one got hurt, and we didn’t end up having to huddle together for body heat. LOL But, it is better to be prepared than not to be. So, if you think you may be over packing, you probably are and that is OK.

I have never forgotten those lessons. So, even on those occasional day hikes I take now (and hope to do more of this summer) I may look a little funny with a bigger than normal pack, but I am ready for the end of the world! Wanna hit the trail with me?

Do you have any good hiking stories or lessons you want to share? Hit me up in the comments with your learned wisdom!

**Sorry I don’t have pictures to include with the post. That was back in the day when photos were taken with real film, had to be developed, and the printed. I haven’t had those pics digitized yet.**

Should libraries be obsolete?

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Let’s get real for a sec, shall we?

Just yesterday I tried to download an audio book on an app that the local library uses. Sure, it’s been more than a year since I used my library card, but that shouldn’t really matter right? Nope. Turns out my library card has expired (it has to be renewed every year) and I can’t just do that over the phone. I have to show up and show them my picture ID. Really? Do we really need to be that rigorous in our library security?

That got me thinking? Should we really need a “membership” to access a library? I mean, in the practical sense, yes I understand they want to make sure books are returned and they can collect fees if they are not, but when it comes right down to it, is it really necessary? But I only consume audio-books and the only time I have stepped foot, literally, in a library is to renew the stupid card. That is absurd and impractical if you ask me.

There is a wealth of information on the internet and most of it is controlled by memberships via electronic registrations and whatnot. Can’t a library be like that also? Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, and a whole host of other companies/institutions have memberships all generated electronically and it seems like it is a fairly efficient way to deliver content to consumers. So why can’t a library do the same thing?

Does a library really need to be the gatekeeper for information access? I don’t think so. That’s why I have said many times in the past that libraries are kind of a waste of space. Sure, it’s nice to hold a book once in a while. Yes, it does take some getting used to consuming what is normally “printed” data via an electronic source. I get that some people prefer to do it the “old-fashioned” way.

So, readers? What say, ye? Do we need libraries or can we (better yet, should we) do away with them?

I choose life

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There is so much to say about this topic and I just can’t process all there is to say, so I will say it in a rather short, blunt manner.

New York, you’ve got it all wrong. I suppose you were outraged by the news of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but honestly this just puts you on a similar level – only now you make it legal.

Apparently, in New York, the definition of life involves which side of the vagina a baby is on, inside or outside. Outside the vagina, you’re good, kid! Inside the vagina, well, you’re SOL! Doesn’t anyone (ok that is a generalization) in New York recognize that mere seconds doesn’t make life? A baby is a baby. Inside or outside. There is no difference.

It hurts my heart to see that people actually cheered for this as it was signed. The level of stupid has reached new heights. You seriously need to question your morals if you think this is even remotely a good idea.

Get this contradiction: In New York, it is illegal to kill a convicted criminal but it isn’t illegal to kill a completely innocent baby.

Yeah, let that sink in.

Nice work, America. You have managed to tarnish that whole “LIFE, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” thing.

 

Checks, Balances, and Gridlock

Andertoons.com

It is unfortunate that our system of government has been HIJACKED by political parties. Instead of doing what is right for the American people, we have two parties who do what is best for themselves based on ideology first, then try to sell it to the American people by telling them this is what is best for them.

Our first president, George Washington, warned against political parties and, even then, we didn’t heed his wisdom:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796

*emphasis is mine*

It is getting rather old. Oh, and before we start bashing on one party more than the other, let’s get one thing straight – BOTH parties are guilty of it to a high degree and NEITHER party is the answer to everything. There has to be cooperation and sacrifice. Neither party can do what is best for the people that way. The problem then is that when one party “takes control” they force their agenda on the American people, whether is it best for them or not. That is not a way to govern.

You wanna know why we are where we are today and why Americans are so cynical about our government? Wanna know why we are more divided politically than ever? Look in the mirror.

It’s our fault really. We created it. We put up with it. We don’t do anything about it.

Look in the mirror. This is your fault.

The Decline of American Society: Cause and Solution

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Ok, guys, this is a pretty serious topic and it warrants a long discussion. However, I am going to let the article speak for itself and reserve my comments for a discussion, should one actually occur.

This topic doesn’t just apply to American colleges, but at all levels of education and society in general. We have trained out students incorrectly, done them a huge disservice, and I have been saying it for years.

Before I share the article, I would like to suggest that microaggressions don’t actually exist. I would posit instead that they actually should be referred to, and focus on the opposing source, as microsensitivities (not hypersensitivity), meaning one is so sensitive that anything and everything could cause an individual to over-react in nearly all situations. In essence, one is so fragile that they believe they and others should be protected from reality. We have an entire segment of society that avoids anything that causes discomfort and if it is challenging they won’t even attempt it.

I ask that you read the WHOLE article below before making a comment  (it is a long one). It is well written, well reasoned, and well supported. We need more of this type of journalism and thought.

 

The Coddling of the American Mind

 

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments.

Fake News and Media Evaluation

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In a world where “fake news” is a thing, whether on social media or on an actual network, and lots of people are looking for ways to back up their own opinion YOU can do something to be aware of your own bias. Everyone needs a wider view of the world and being informed in a well-rounded manner could only make things better.

I used to tell my students there was no such thing as unbiased media – everyone has a slant – and I stand by that statement. However, there are media resources/outlets that do their best to remain “neutral”, as hard as that may be. One thing we know, even if an outlet tries to remain bias free the person/people contributing the media still have a bias.

I recently found a source I wish I had known about while I was in the classroom. It would have been incredibly valuable! The site is called AllSides.com. The cool thing is that you can get news from across the political spectrum – the Left, Center, and the Right. So, if you are a news hound like I am, you can get your news from all perspectives, not just the ones Google thinks you want to see (remember, Google logs your clicks and searches so it progressively narrows the results you get based on your selections).

Allsides

AllSides.com site banner

An interesting part of this website is the ability to check your own bias. It has you take their short bias survey, but you also have the ability to complete a bias survey from Pew Research as well as a political party quiz from Pew (for confirmation of where you fall, specifically, or seriously have no idea). All together those surveys give you a pretty complete picture of your social and political bias.

From there, you can rate the numerous media outlets based on your perception of their bias. Of course, your opinion is only a small part of the overall bias rating. They take all the submissions (a sort of crowd-sourcing) and then use statistical research and methodologies to develop on over-all rating for the media source. The methods they are using is really quite interesting. For me, I agreed with the bias rating on about 70% of the media outlets. I gave my input and added it to the aggregate results.

Article

An example of what you would see at AllSides.com

The important thing here is that you are contributing to bias awareness. Why is that important? Well, too many American’s get their information from too few sources. If more Americans took time to look at the same topic from different sources/perspectives, they might understand the topic in a more well-rounded way. Instead, many Americans fall into or use a confirmation bias. This is dangerous, especially in a technological, highly connected society that is hyper-sensitive and hyper-politicized.

We have to (no, really NEED to) stop using just one source to support our argument. Or, even better, we need to stop using sources that fit our point of view. We need to encourage more media sources to go back to what they used to do – report, without editorial and bias. We need to stop trying to argue our points over social media and instead demand truthful, unbiased reporting.

I know. Maybe I am too hopeful that we can “turn this ship around”. But, I believe that if we are more aware of our own bias we might have a chance. I think using websites like this is a good first step in the right direction.

**Disclaimer: This is not a paid endorsement for the website mentioned above and I am in no way affiliated with the organization. Just a satisfied new user.**

Vote today, make a difference tomorrow

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A vote cast today, means your voice will make a difference tomorrow.

Your civic duty, no, your Constitutional right is to be used.

I don’t care which “side” you are on, as long as you’re legally allowed to vote. As an American citizen you should care.

Use your voice, or hold it until the next election, because whining about the results after not having cast your vote is just plain stupidity.

So, don’t be stupid.

Vote.