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It’s time for real change (Remove the pooper)

I was a registered Republican for years.  When they had no candidates who could beat Donald Trump who I respected up until the time that he became a politician, I changed parties…at the primary…no less.  Somehow, even though I had voted in all of the elections up to this point including primaries, I was suddenly not registered with either party and I had to declare.  I declared and voted for Bernie.

I did not really think that Bernie had all of the answers.  He wasn’t Trump and he wasn’t Hillary.  To be honest, I bought into a lot of the negative hype about Hillary.  Too bad.  It shows that this negative crap really does work and that the more poop you pile on, the more people believe the pooper.  So now we have a pooper in office.  Do you like the smell?  I don’t.

I believe that what truly made this country great was its pioneering spirit.  We seem to have lost that spirit.  Pioneers sought out new spaces that were undisturbed, untamed, and unproven and then went on to create meaningful lives.  It still lives in all of us.  It has just been crushed out of sight, but it is still there.  We need to draw it out and the only way to do that is to say “no” to the establishment.  I don’t mean politically, although some of the false ideas and doctrines are perpetuated by politicians that are beholden to organizations that are funding their campaigns. I mean societal norms.

Let’s take school.  School is where we should go to learn how to be part of our contemporary society.  Our contemporary society has changed so drastically in the past few years that organized education is almost entirely irrelevant.  Instead of looking at the skills that the average Joe or Jane needs to have to survive in our society and then adapt school to that need, we race even faster in a direction that is destroying the average family.  More of what we don’t need is not the prescription for a bright future but economic disaster.  Who is driving our schools?  Colleges!  It is because college is big business and needs to justify itself.  If it were truly worthwhile, then we wouldn’t need graduate degrees just to get a job.

Businesses use a cost/benefit analysis before moving forward in a particular direction.  What they are evaluating is a plan.  If the individual, the high school student, has no real plan for when they are finished college, then they shouldn’t go.  Even if they do have a plan, they must apply the cost benefit analysis to their own lives.  The answer may still be no to college but at least they understand why.  We need to become responsible for our own future.  We need to really “mind our own business” and our life is our business.  It is impractical for the average 18 year old to have the maturity to make these decisions when they don’t understand the world that we live in.  Racking up over $100,000.00 in debt just to find themselves is a bad plan.  It isn’t their plan.

When loans get defaulted on, it is unfair to the lenders.  The lenders are relying on the law to get their money and they will.  That is a whole other blog post, but for now, let’s just say that this “lack of leadership” from the top has got to stop. Somebody has to step up to the plate for America.  Who is with me?

 

 

Sadly Lacking

 

Rowan University Alumni Screen Wiipe

I arrived at Starbucks after my morning workout here in La Quinta, CA and I realized that I wanted to get my earbuds from my bike.  I went out and unzipped the pannier and found this screen cloth that indicates Rowan University Alumni.  Sadly, this screen wipe is the most valuable thing that my daughter has taken from Rowan and continues to use.  Now hold on there all you Profs out there.  Don’t get your panties in a twist.  I think that my daughter was able to become and incredible artist because of her time at Rowan.  I believe that it mostly comes from the students who were around her that helped her become great.  So, what’s my beef??

In the richness of the 21st Century connected world, Rowan allowed her to rack up over $100,000 in student debt without supplying her with any 21st Century skills to use that education to pay it back.  As a matter of fact, she feels useless.  If we are not going to build in to the education itself a way to make that education pay for itself in every major then the very institutions of education are obsolete and will go the way of the dinosaur.

The symptom of this crisis just played out at the location of my former employer.  They are faced with shrinking enrollment and as a result have a funding crisis.  They chose to eliminate Advanced Placement classes of less than 12 students to save money.  The community fought back they are back.  Why??  So they can pass a test???  There is so much more content in an AP class that it precludes in depth study of anything.  School should affect the student and help mold the character that they will become instead of making them a clone of the perfect academic. I am reminded of the quote from La La Land when Ryan Gosling’s character said of Los Angeles that they “worship everything but value nothing”.

The world in which we live today has a “shrinking job market”.  The colleges will tell you that everyone needs more education to compete for these fewer jobs.  The result…same mathematics on the job front…only more debt…more student debt…that can’t be paid back.

It’s time to stop the insanity.  We need to take a good look at what we are doing in education and redirect our efforts into classes for the masses.  Sadly, this is not STEM. What we need is Business, Arithmetic, History, Arts, and Language.  BAHAL!!  Sounds like a religion.  Maybe if it was a religion, we would attract the worshipers of our society.  I am not objecting to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Yes they are necessary for our modern day society…but we also need to use today’s technology to create enough value in ourselves and then have guidance on how to set that up that technology to “work for us” so that we can live in a world without jobs.  A world without jobs is not the same as a world without value or a world without prosperity.

The problem is that the longer we live with yesterday’s philosophy to address today’s problems, we will continue to dig a hole that will end up swallowing us all.  Wow.  Looks like I left out Philosophy.  How does BAPHAL strike you?

not what I expected

When you get to a place in your life when you have expectations and they’re not realized you have a choice. You can sit around and complain where you can make your life work.

If you believe that there are no accidents in life the main choice is this. you can believe that God is out to get you or you can believe that you were being guided to the path of your destiny.

I choose the latter. I recognize that the current challenges are very very difficult and I would share them if I could but that would be imprudent at this time. suffice it to say it will take all the energy and faith that I have to move forward yet I must.

A Change in Direction

As of today, my website has a new name but kind of a similar purpose.  Our existence on this planet should never be looked at as one of toil or drudgery.  It should never get to a point where you have to despair for each and every coming day.

As a teacher in the public schools I had to concern myself with the subject or the curriculum.  I never had the opportunity to consider the person.  Well, I did…but when I deviated I usually got myself in trouble.  Mostly I had problems with people who had been there in the school system forever.

Today is very different.  We are going to have to find ways of creating value for ourselves.  Our lives as employees will never completely fulfill us nor will they be adequate to the task of paying the bills, particularly if you went to college with the promise that the degree would be the credential that you would need to give you the job that would be your dream.

This site will hence forth be dedicated to the dreams.  Dreams become reality for those who take action.  I know there will be resistance, but, if you take the easy way, if you don’t challenge yourself or the social norms as presented to you by your parents, teachers, and yes even your friends…you will never be happy.  You can’t fly with the wind at your back.  It’s time to turn into the wind, pull back on the yoke and full speed ahead.

~Mike

How Inconsiderate and Selfish

This Nissan Van slid in and made access to the Saturn impossible.

Today, I pulled my Saturn Vue into the parking lot and took the space under the tree because on this hot day, I wanted a little shade.  When I arrived, there was ample space and as you can see, I am between the lines almost perfectly.

While in the store, this Nissan van arrived.  What you see is an impossible situation concerning access to my vehicle.  What you don’t see is that on the other side of the white car next to mine, are a line of about 10 to 15 empty spaces as BJ’s was not crowded on this day.  Also the back wheels are clearly in my spot, but the front wheels are turned severely to the right which means this car came into the spot and never straightened or adjusted in the least.  Furthermore, his passenger side mirror is beyond mine but within about an inch.

I was clearly angry.  I thought…who in the world would do this?  Since I found it hard to believe, I took the picture.  I then uploaded it to Facebook.  I was angry.  I am 55 years old, 233 pounds, I have two bad knees and I can’t go climbing around any car without risking injury to myself or damaging the car.  My choices were limited.  I could return to the store with the license number in the hopes that the store would call for the owner of the car to come out and move it.  I have never heard an announcement in a BJ’s store for anything and the reason is clear…it’s a warehouse and its cavernous nature would make any announcement be inaudible.  This would only aggravate me further.  So in my less resourceful state, I decided to upload and publicly shame the driver.  There are a couple of problems with this.

  1. The likelihood that he/she would see it is all but impossible.
  2. The likelihood that he/she would even care is even less likely.

Consider the person who drives into a parking lot, chooses a space that is 15 steps closer that he/she can’t fit into and then leaving their car without even checking.  This person clearly has a very self-centered perspective in life.  The idea that they would care about anything that concerned anyone else is virtually impossible.  So what did I gain by posting this.  Well, if I perhaps wanted to raise awareness in all my friends to be more courteous, maybe I could go there but that would be a rationalization.  Clearly, I posted it out of anger and I got nothing but lost a lot more.  All I did was get my friends to say what they would do to that individual if it happened to them.  Believe me, I thought of other actions as one is apt to do when they are angry.  I didn’t go that route.  It is possible that I may have done far more damage to my reputation than my knees or my car.

One of the things that I detest about the current political environment is that people have a belligerent attitude about those who think differently than they do and they have a right to offend an entire group.  I believe that I may have contributed to the lowering of discourse in social media…as if it could go any lower.  I choose not to be a part of this.  It does not do me credit nor does it help anyone who is out to “one up” the previous inappropriate response to the situation.  It’s how we’ve gotten to where we are.  I apologize for that.  I will link to this blog post…but I won’t continue to feed the beast and will remove the post soon.

Again, I am sorry!

 

New Laptop

For years, I have been using computers that conform to software that was necessary for my job.  I used to connect to musical instruments that only had midi or serial connections.  It is for this reason that I still…to this day…have a computer running Windows 98se.  Now, that I am retired, I have decided to upgrade all of my computers to the latest OS.  I now have Windows 10 on my desktop, my useless free tablet from Royal Carribean, and now…my new laptop.  Which begs the questions…what the hell is up with the shift key?

On the left hand side of the keyboard, the shift key is full sized.  On the right hand side is a short version that sits all the way to the right.  Now, I am constantly hitting the upward arrow key which, depending on what you are writing in, can send you to the previous line or the previous field.  It is for this reason that this post has taken so long to write.  My wife says that I should return it, but I think that I will get used to it…soon.  She has a mac which would mean that we would look at this keyboard snafu as a feature and not a problem.  (I have seen Mac keyboards like this.)  Macs also cost well over $1000 and I got this one for $450 and that includes the tax.

I have to say that this post has taken me a little longer because it was done on my new laptop.  I guess it is the price we pay for progress.  Now, I have to determine the software that I will include on this new system.

Retired for 10 Days

Yes.  I know.  I’m crazy.  It is the summer.  It is hectic.  I am trying to move my permanent living location to La Quinta, CA.    I should be planning on my next adventure…as a retired educator…but, I am now working on my Resume.  Yes, I am going to see if I have enough passion to try to teach again.

La Qunita High School has an opening for a choir teacher.  The last time I applied for a job as a choir teacher, I started at midnight.  Here I am again…starting late and I guess we will see what will transpire.  Best foot forward.  As long as we have power tonight, I will be preparing my application.

Oh, joy!

The Final Countdown

As of tomorrow, it will be 10 days left until my retirement as a NJ public school teacher.  While my career has been pretty rewarding, it is time for me to go.  Most of what I have come to believe about education is in direct conflict with what we currently do in NJ and all over for that matter.

I will consider the next ten days as days of transition.  I will pack away all that was once the music educator in NJ and begin to put in place my life and focus on my new passion.  Right now, that new passion is still coming into focus. but it is also very exciting.

And we are here with Mike…

So, when you watch the same news broadcast day in and day out, you get to feel like the people on the TV are like family.  Any why not?  They are in my living room almost as much as me.  I talk back to them a lot.  So, when they decided to go on location to the Wawa in nearby Galaway Township, I had to go and see them.

I began by talking to the traffic girl, Jessica Boyington who has a birthday coming up as well, and she told me where I could find Bill Henley the weatherman.  After a brief discussion about my weather concerns, he asked me to wait ten minutes and meet him outside.

There I joined Bill and Jessica with some friendly banter about my upcoming retirement and went on to do an interview.  Here it is.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/NBC10-On-The-Road-Hoping-for-Good-Weather_Philadelphia-424033194.html

Click the above link and enjoy my moment of 36 seconds.

 

No Time for School Pride

Prior to 2015, there was no school song for Buena Regional High School.  Technically, there still isn’t.  When the Senior Class Adviser asked to have the choir sing for graduation in 2015, I said that only songs that are appropriate should be sung.  When she asked what this may be, I said that I have seen both the Star Spangled Banner and the Alma Mater should be sung.  Since the Star Spangled Banner was being played by the band, I suggested that we would sing the Alma Mater.  I knew that no Alma Mater existed.

I offered to write an appropriate school related song to be sung at the graduation.  When it was performed for her and the assistant principal, it was received with a great deal of enthusiasm.  The students, as well, warmed to this song and adopted it almost immediately.

Over the past two years, there seems to be a resistance to having the choir perform for the graduation.  Last year, a special second song was reluctantly allowed.  The year before, a second song was asked for, so we performed God Bless America.  This year, “a request was made to shorten the ceremony”.  Wow!!!

In 2001, when I arrived, the school included 1000 students which meant that there was about 250 graduates.  Today, we have just over 500 students which means the graduating class is half that large.  Diploma awarding is the longest section for graduation and is half of what it used to be…so…what’s the hurry?  Is tradition and ceremony just an annoyance now at the high school level.  In a world where we celebrate kindergarten and even preschool graduation…do we dare minimize the ceremonial importance of the culmination of 12 years of academic work?