7 Things I’m Thinking Today

  1. Thought_bubble - 7The beginning of the school year. For awhile I wanted to be a teacher. I was certified in secondary education. There’s no particular reason why I didn’t… other jobs, other life events intervened. However, in addition to learning how to teach I also learned that our education system is a mess. It’s not a mess because of the teachers as much as it is a mess because of our educational system and because of parents. A parent’s involvement and the message a parent extends to a child about the value of the schools, the teachers, and being well-educated go a long way to insuring the success of the child in school and likewise, the success of our educational system. A teacher is much more likely to succeed with a child who is predisposed to success, who has been told in various ways by his or her parents that school is important. When I was student teaching a young man in one of my classes refused to do anything in class other than stare out the window. In listening to him talk with other students I could tell he was intelligent, he was literate, he should have been successful, but he had given up. Once I managed to coax him into writing a poem. It was pretty good. After class I stopped him, pointed out how good his poem was, and told him I thought he was easily smart enough to pass my class if he would just do the homework. He said, “All this stuff is a waste of time. School is a waste of time. If I could quit now, I would. My grandfather works at Hurd (a window factory). Both my uncles work at Hurd. My brother and sister work at Hurd and when I finish here I’ll get a job at Hurd. That’s the way it is. That’s all I’m good for.” I knew that wasn’t all he was good for, but it was what he probably heard again and again from his family. Re: Huffington Post
  2. Just got finished reading about the Apple iPhone Touch Disease. At first I thought this was a frivolous lawsuit, along the lines of the woman who sued the Hostess company claiming that it was the Twinkies that made her fat. I was expecting to read about some people who claimed to have gotten ill from touching an iPhone. That wasn’t the case though. A few weeks ago I was considering trading in my iPhone 5s for an iPhone 6 plus. Now I’m happy I didn’t. Apparently the iPhone 6 and 6 plus have a defect, a disease of sorts that can make them so sick they die. There is a tiny solder connection that can break due to extensive use of the phone’s touch screen and if it does break the phone becomes useless. Re: Fortune Magazine
  3. Alzheimer’s. I don’t expect to get Alzheimer’s. So far no one on either side of my parents’ families has gotten the disease. That doesn’t mean I’m immune. It just means if a person is genetically attuned to it, I probably am not. However, I’m in my 70s, mentally and physically active, have a number of friends, and intend to continue exercising my mind and body until I’m no longer to do so. Still, it is a concern. I’ve had friends and neighbors who have had the disease or had family members who’ve gotten Alzheimer’s. It’s one of those things like cancer that I hope and expect a cure will be found before my life is over so that if by the time my daughter or granddaughter are at an age where Alzheimer’s becomes a possibility for them, they will not have to be concerned because it will have joined the list of diseases with a cure. Re: Time Magazine
  4. While I’m thinking about terrible illnesses… Whatever happened to the Black Death, aka Bubonic Plague? Twice it ravaged Europe sweeping across the continent spreading fear and death, first in 541 – 544 (called the Justinian Plague), then 800 years later in the 1340s (as the Black Death), killing 20 more than 20 million people. The same bacterium, Yersinia pestis, spread by rats caused both outbreaks. I thought the disease had just disappeared, due to improved sanitation and health practices. However, it’s still around, lurking. Outbreaks in recent years have recently surfaced Peru, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the World Health Organization, in 2015 320 cases of plague and 77 deaths due to the disease were reported around the world. The disease is spread by rodent or flea bites or exposure to someone who has the disease. Unlike the 1340s, however, it is easily treatable with antibiotics. http://www.history.com/news/microbe-behind-black-death-also-caused-devastating-plague-800-years-earlier
  5. Chicago Sports: The Cubs: I will be shocked if the Cubs aren’t in the World Series this year. Usually the key to getting through the playoffs is pitching. All five of the Cubs starters could be the Ace on the pitching staff of some other teams. The Cubs also have the best pitching staff in baseball with a .311 ERA, that’s 34 points better than the next best Washington Nationals. White Sox: Although the White Sox lost today and Chris Sale got a no-decision for it, I think it might have helped his Cy Young chances. For the past month or so they seemed to have been slipping. Back in July, even though he wasn’t pitching as well as he had in April, May, and June, it still seemed he was a shoe in to win the award. Since then his ERA has dropped and he has 4 losses to one win. Now he appears to be one of about six pitchers in contention for the award. I think a solid win for him today would have kicked him back to the top of the list. As it is today’s performance has kept him in contention. A Cy Young win for Sale would be one of the brighter spots in an otherwise disappointing White Sox season. Along the same lines, over in the National League Clayton Kershaw’s injury and subsequent absence might have also cost him what had once been a lock on the Cy Young. Now the Cubs have a pitcher who looks like a strong candidate and it’s not last year’s winner, Jake Arrieta. Kyle Hendricks has an ERA at .206 and an 13 – 7 won-lost record. If he can keep the ERA that low and notch a few more wins it could mean the second year in a row for a Chicago pitcher winning the NL Cy Young. Bears: Offhand, it doesn’t look good for the Bears, not with three losses in three pre-season games and two of those losses being closer to thrashings rather than nail-biters. I still expect the Bears to finish the season at 8 – 8 or better. The preseason hasn’t looked as pretty as I expected, but the team hasn’t come together as a team yet. There are many new players who are fitting in with each other. Unfortunately we won’t know if this year’s Bears are better than last year’s Bears until after the first game of the regular season, that game against Houston, one of last year’s play-off teams should tell Bears fans about as much as the first game last year told us. Last year, after losing 31 to 23 to the Green Bay Packers, we knew the 2015 Bears were better than the previous year, but still not especially good.
  6. With all the media coverage, all the attention, and all the information provided about leaving children in cars on a hot day, how could a Texas woman leave her infant child in a car with the windows rolled up, unattended for 40 minutes? It never ceases to surprise me that anyone could be so stupid and so unaware. Fortunately an off duty police officer happened by and rescued the child by smashing one of the car windows with a sledge-hammer. The mother has been charged with child endangerment. Re: Time Magazine
  7. I’ve come to the opinion that I’m not very good with roommates. I’ve had four at various times in my life and each situation ended with one or the other of us stomping out. On the other hand I’ve had a dog for a roommate for the past 13 years and that seems to have worked out very well, so perhaps it’s simply a matter of choosing the right roommate. When I was in the Army I had anywhere from 6 – 16 roommates and it always worked out well. I spent my time with the 5 – 14 I liked and avoided the one or two I didn’t. Even the few I avoided were not intolerable, they were just irritating in one way or a few others. I’ve sometimes wondered about that, why a roommate situation is good or bad for me. In the end it might have something to do with expectations and amount of time together. In the army the kitchen or dining area, the recreation areas (TV, games, etc.), and work areas were all separate. In my roommate experiences they have often been in the same building. One of my roommates often stole my food. Another left the kitchen a mess. Another expected me to share anything I cooked or baked. One wanted to throw parties at the drop of a hat (I am not a party person). Another liked to stay up making various amounts of noise till 2 or 3 in the morning (I was usually ready for bed by 11 pm. I’ve come to the conclusion that I expected my roommates to be just like me and vice versa, but we never worked out how to maintain peace on that vast battleground in the middle or our expectations. Re: NY Times

Yes, again this week I’ve been thinking about Hilarious Hillary and Dumpy Trump, but I’ve been thinking the same things you have so who needs a repeat?

11 Things I’ve Been Thinking About Today

  1. elevenSometimes I wish it would rain more often here. I live in Southern California where a month’s worth of rainy days are about average. I’m from the Midwest, where a month’s worth of rainy days often happen in a month. I’m not talking about thunder storms. Thunder Storms are okay as long as you’re inside and your plan was to stay inside all day. Then being able to watch the crash and flash of a mean and nasty thunder-storm can be quite pleasant. What I’d like to see are more refreshing, cool drizzle days… something to break up the humdrum of sunny day after sunny day.
  2. The gardener is blowing leaves and dust past my window. If I owned a house here I’d never have a gardener… never. I find it amusing that very few people here enjoy the pleasure of pushing (or riding) a lawn mower over an accumulation of grass that you have cared for: sometimes planting, sometimes weeding, sometimes hand watering. They also don’t know how enjoyable it can be to plant and nurture flowers and vegetable plants: choosing them, putting them into the soil in a personally chosen arrangement, weeding, watering, then picking either to place in vases or bowls.
  3. I’m shrinking and my ears are growing. Some men my age also see their hair disappearing. That’s not me, however. The day I entered the army my official height was 5’8″. I was actually a little over 5’7.5″ tall, so the nurse who measured me rounded it up. I thought that was very nice of him. I’ve always wanted to be taller. Whenever there’s a picture of me with friends, I’m almost always the shortest man in the picture and I’m often shorter than some of the women. A few days ago I was looking at the notes from my latest doctor’s visit and saw that my height was listed at 5’6″ (and shrinking). All I asked from life was to be allowed to make it to 5 foot 5 inches. I thought this was reasonable, since I come from a family of short people. I never made it past 5’ 4”. The other thing I’ve noticed happened when I looked at pictures of myself from about 30 years ago and a few weeks ago. The camera has played a cruel trick on my. It photo shopped somebody else’s ears onto my head.
  4. Members of my family have a genetic mutation, called Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), also known as Grönblad–Strandberg syndrome. It causes fragmentation and mineralization of elastic fibers in some tissues. The most common problems arise in the skin and eyes, and later in blood vessels in the form of premature atherosclerosis. . I’m very fortunate that I do not have it, but some of my sibling’s do. It’s a frightening disease. One of my brother’s is almost completely blind because of it. Some people with PXE look like they have extra skin or wrinkles, especially around the neck and on their arms.
  5. I tend to prefer young adult novels over adult novels. I like to think that’s because I’m a kid at heart. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (and seen all the movies), the entire Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, books 2 and 3 of the Hunger Games series (after seeing the movie for the first book), all three books of the Divergent series, the False Prince trilogy, the Seelie Wars series by Jane Yolen, the Maze Runner, Stargirl, The Giver, I’ve ordered Bone Gap, and I’m reading The Obisidian Blade to list just a few. On the other hand I do read books intended for adults… most recently The Goldfinch, The Girl on the Train, Stitches, and I’m reading The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri, and Tenth of December by George Saunders.
  6.  I wish more people would read this blog. I think I write some pretty good stuff, but then I don’t do a lot to market it… maybe I should… maybe I will.
  7. Because I’ve had a problem losing weight I’ve stopped eating wheat products and stay away from most grains. Since I’m of Italian heritage I especially miss pizza, and pasta – almost any kind of pasta. It’s not easy for me to go into an Italian restaurant and not order a pasta dish… usually I don’t. That is I don’t not order a pasta dish… which is a double negative and for me having too much pasta is a double negative. I was once 70 pounds over weight. I’m now only 30 pounds overweight (did I mention that I really miss corn, too) and seem to have leveled off. I’ve been hovering there for the past four months, so I’m taking the advice of one of my best friend as well as that of one of my sisters and going to give the Beachbody program a try (more on that later).
  8. My Car on the lot 2002I no longer own a car. It’s been more than a year since I donated it to charity. I’m fortunate to live in a place where three grocery stores, a department store and at least a dozen restaurants are within six blocks. However, I miss owning a car. Not sure why. I get along perfectly well without one. I’m happy not having to pay licensing, insurance, and upkeep costs. Maybe it’s the status of it, the conversationality of it… I can’t talk about the benefits of ‘my car’ or the crazy drivers I’ve encountered, or the best gas price around.
  9. The White Sox have just enough time left to make a run at a playoff spot, but they won’t. The Cubs have enough time left to win 100 games, and they probably will (the World Series is another matter). The Bears are going to better this year, than most of the sportswriters are predicting… at least one, probably two games better than .500. The Bulls will have a good shot at last place this year… maybe even worst in the NBA. If the Cubs win the World Series, the Black Hawks will win the Stanley Cup. If the Cubs don’t win the World Series, the Black Hawks might still win the Stanley Cup.
  10. I just found a way to get Windows One Drive off my computer: http://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-tip-shut-down-onedrive-completely/ – Let’s see of it stays off.
  11. I’d never heard of Amatrice, Italy before this morning’s newest telling about the devastating earthquake that hit the area, demolishing much of Amatrice. It hit at just about the worst possible time because tourists have been flooding into the the town which was set to hold its 50th annual Festival of the Spaghetti all’Amatriciana this weekend in honor of one of Italy’s most famous dishes, which originated there. Although this may sound a bit crass, considering the death toll due to the earthquake, but I’m wondering about the town’s architecture. Amatrice is the home of a number of churches including two 15th century churches, St. Francis and Sant’Agostino, which feature medieval artwork and statues. I am always deeply saddened anytime a disaster takes human life, but I am also saddened when it destroys things of beauty and history.

And I know you were expecting me to write something about Donald or Hillary. Sorry, but I try hard not to think about either of them.


“Life is a process, not a substance, and it is necessarily temporary. We are not the reason for the existence of the universe, but our ability for self-awareness and reflection makes us special within it.” ~ Sean Carroll, physicist