One of God’s creatures

I am not a very religious person in the traditional way but I am a very spiritual person who is fascinated by the universe and all its complexities.  I look into the starry night and marvel at its beauty.  I see mountains and sunsets that make me want to cry with joy, but there are times when I question the rationale behind this universe of ours.  It seems as though some creatures are on Earth just to make our lives less enjoyable.  Now, if God or the universe, depending on your point of view, created all creatures, what was the point of creating life-forms whose main purpose is to make our lives miserable.

There are several living things that I would place on this list, and I am sure that some folks of a more religious mind might interject that God works in mysterious ways.  Well, let me tell you about chiggers or jiggers, with a multitude of other names, who live in grassy areas and love the smell of human blood!  I would gladly place a picture of my own suffering on this site but these little monsters do not bite in areas that make for appropriate photos for this site.

There is a fine line between pain and itching, and these bites are right on that line.  After being bitten about 15 times I spent two nights with outout much sleep.  Finally, I found a numbing cream made just for chiggers, applied the cream and had a wonderful night of sleep, but the last several days have left an indelible mark on my emotional state!  As a trained scientist, I know that these little guys occupy an important niche in the grand scheme of nature, and that somehow the house of cards that we call the ecosystem would suffer without their presence, but at this particular moment in my life, I am ready to abandon these ideals.  Forgive me God or Universe but please take your chiggers home!

Graduation gone to the dogs

I recently read an article in the Hampshire Review about dogs that attended a high school graduation.  This was a relatively long-winded piece discussing the many issues of dogs attending graduation.  First, let me express my feelings on this issue, keep the damn dogs home!  I seriously doubt if your little canine understands that Billy Bob just spent 13 years getting at best, a mediocre education.  So now that we have settled that, I would like to address a far more important issue, that is, graduation has gone to the dogs!  Many people do not realize the extent of the dumbing-down that is occurring in public education.  Do you realize that last year nobody failed to graduate from our local high school, Hampshire High!  Your first reaction might be that this is good.  Have you seen the test scores of our high school?  Take the time to ask a graduating senior a few questions about math, current events or most anything. You may be lucky enough to find one who actually knows a few facts and can add two numbers together, but chances are you will be met by an empty stare and very few answers as they ignore your request to respond to someone’s text message.

It angers me when I hear people discussing such dumb things as to whether we let dogs attend graduation when the state of education has deteriorated to its current level!  I listen to people complain about the grass on the football field or how many lights are left on at night at the high school or, my favorite, how much money it cost to educate our children.  Come on folks, you must realize that education is what made us the most powerful country in the world!  If we continue to abandon education and to dumb it down, we will be rowing to the center of a big lake and then throwing your oars overboard!  We have got to get back on track by once again demanding that our children meet certain standards before we award them a high school degree. The beauty of this is it does not cost more to increase standards!

Let me add that I am not blaming any one person, program or educational theory for this mess.  They, we, are all responsible!  Hidden under the guise of improving self-esteem is the fact that we have forgotten what education truly is!  When my children were growing up, oftentimes I had to watch as they hurt themselves or fell down because I knew that one day I would not be there to protect them from the bruising realities of life.  School is very similar.  The teacher teaches a concept or fact, the student attempts to learn it and then we test to see if they have learned it.  Not the best system, but right now it is all we have.  So what do we do with the student who can not or choose not to learn?  Do we reward them and send them on their way?  Surrendering to this idea is what modern schools are doing and what brought us to this level of incompetency!

In most European countries there are several tracks for students to follow based on their aptitude.  If they are inclined to be a research scientist, then they are trained to be a research scientist.  If they are inclined to work with their hands, then they train them in some trade.  In America we encourage everyone to be a college graduate and then become upset when a large percentage of these students are not interested in attending college.  This forces our drop-out rate up, frustrates teachers and students and is the main reason we have dumbed-down education to the extent it is today.  We have no national plan for improving education other than to test the students until their fingers bleed at the same time binding the hands of the people who could actually make a worthwhile change;  the teachers.

When I was a young teacher, I was critical of home-schooling and alternative education in our country, but based on the current state of our schools, I would encourage ALL prospective parents to find another option to educate their children.  For most parents this not easy due to the cost and many other factors but it is something to think about.

So next year during graduation ceremonies you may need to watch where you step!


This man new what passion was

For the last decade I have been looking for a word that helps me understand what is missing in the world around me. I was looking for a concept that explains the lack of commitment, drive, eagerness, loyalty, happiness that is needed for a society to survive.  I have observed my friends and asked myself what is it that attracts me to certain people?  Why do I feel nothing when I meet others and yet feel so much emotion when I meet some?  I think the answer to my search lies hidden somewhere in these questions and today I feel confident that I have come to an answer, the missing ingredient or word is PASSION!

When talking to many older people I often see a gleam in their eyes as they talk about days gone by. They speak of their work and the total commitment they had to some company, how they committed their life to their career or how their wife of 40 plus years is still the love of their life. Many of the younger people I talk to are already talking about retirement; they probably have been through a divorced and may have children who they see during visitation!  In today’s society very few employees stay at a job for more than 5 years. In order to move up, one must keep moving on.  According to these younger folks it is not cool to stay at one job!  If you stay in one place too long you are labeled as a loser or not motivated to climb the corporate latter.

This will come as a real surprise to some people but not everyone can be at the top!  Some of us have to stay where we are to teach the children, drive the trucks, man the stores, cook food and keep our society working.  Despite the fact that TV constantly shows us how the rich and famous live out their lives and spend more money than we can dream of, they represent only a small number of people in our world and I might add not a very happy segment of our society.  I believe that all these issues create a sense of uncertainty or unattachment that prevails through our whole culture.

The other institution that is being torn apart in our world is family. In the past the family was the corner stone of our whole society. It was the core of all learning and where values were demonstrated to the children by the parents in day to day activities. Friendship and love of family were as certain as the rising of the sun. It was a simple time with far less distraction than we experience today. I feel certain that passion was an essential part of day to day survival.

So back to this word, passion, most people today, when they hear this word think of sex.  I am not talking about sex even though the mere mention of it in my blog will gain numerous hits on the internet. I am talking about a passion for life!  We have been given by the universe a short piece of time to enjoy, survive, learn, suffer, win, lose, see, feel, smell and ultimately leave a world with so many incredible nooks and crannies that it would take several lifetimes to scratch the surface.  Every minute is a gift!  Every day is an adventure!  Every person you meet is a chance to expand what you know! There is no time to waste!  Passion for life is the engine behind this experience, the push that makes you take chances, try new things, go new places and most important, meet new people!

Every person I meet has the potential to make my life better with a little piece of wisdom or an experience that helps me see the world a little clearer.

So grab the passion! Enjoy today! Do not let people without passion bring you down!  They are the ones who are not having fun.  As my old friend Jon Luke Picard would say, “Make it so”.