• Miscellaneous,  Writing

    Finding Happiness in What You Carry: A Bit About Mother’s Day

    If you ask me, most holidays are much ado about little of any real substance. Take Valentine’s Day. If you aren’t some kind of jerk, you’ve probably been halfway nice to the person you claim to love above all others. If that’s not the case, dinner and chocolate isn’t going to suddenly set it right. Despite soft-focus commercials about exotic weekend getaways and advice about the portion of one’s salary suitable for purchasing jewelry items, Valentine’s Day could just as well be called, I don’t know, Tuesday. How about Christmas? Whether we’re talking about its Christian or pagan origins, it’s hard to see how any of what happens today relates…

  • Miscellaneous

    Don’t Be Part of the Problem: Just Let that Rumor Pass on By

    Brace yourself for some bad news, folks. This week, famous bad guy Charles Manson endorsed Donald Trump for president. Also, it’s been revealed that Ted Cruz was once best friends with Fidel Castro. On top of that, Bernie Sanders has announced a plan to ban all trucks in the U.S. Yes, trucks. He might as well outlaw lunch buffets. All of these bits of information would indeed be surprising if they were true, but they aren’t. I didn’t make them up, either. They’re just a few examples of fake news stories floating around cyberspace this week, and they’d be funny if people hadn’t actually believed them enough to pass them around.…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Non-Resolution Resolution

    Two days ago, after three or four hours of driving around town looking at houses, drinking Mexican lattes, and chasing cell phone signals, my wife and I decided to go to the gym. We were worn out, but if we didn’t get our workout time in, we’d have trouble justifying all the Friday night snacking we’d planned for later. That’s basic science.   Our gym is a good place to exercise, but it isn’t perfect. They have nice, well-maintained equipment, but they also have televisions hanging from just about every available square inch of ceiling, all of them tuned to FOX News, CNN, ESPN, and A&E. Lucky for me, when…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    George Orwell and Truth for Truth’s Sake

    Sometimes, I ask myself this question: What would George Orwell say if he were alive today? I mean, what would he say other than “Man, I’m really old, which is surprising, not in the least because of that whole tuberculosis thing.” At any rate, I’m sure he’d have some other interesting insights. As John Lennon once said, these are strange days, indeed. I’m not the only one thinking about Orwell. As you might have noticed, folks are throwing around the word “Orwellian” like they’re earning double royalties on its usage. Saying “Orwellian,” in fact, has become shorthand for most of the ideas Orwell cared about. This means, by the way, that using…

  • Miscellaneous

    Teachers and Doers, or: Those Who Can Do May Also Do Teaching

    Maybe you’ve heard the old saying about teachers not being competent enough to actually do the thing they’re teaching. After all, the logic goes, if someone is proficient at their craft, why would they forgo fame, acclaim, and the ability to purchase frighteningly expensive houses just to slum it as a teacher? The horror. I don’t buy it. It makes no sense to assume that being a teacher disqualifies someone from being good at their discipline. Sure, in some instances the old adage may be true—as is the case with many clichés—but I often wonder about the folks who feel compelled to offer up this nugget of wisdom. Do they…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Road to the Whiteboard and the Power of Pretending

    This week has been a flurry of activity for me. Lesson plans and rosters need attention, and I’m working hard to memorize my new class schedule. Another semester has blossomed, and another round of students now sits before me, each with a new name and face to be learned. For the next sixteen weeks, I’ll have the constant suspicion that I’m running behind, and I’ll be right. But all that’s fine by me. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. Unlike some teachers I know, I didn’t grow up wanting to become one. In fact, from what I can remember of my life as a teenager, I didn’t have a…

  • Miscellaneous

    Finding, Loving, and Losing Pets

    Recently, we found out our dog Ringo has mouth cancer. This wasn’t a huge surprise, since he’s had small tumors for the past few years on his legs, and we know from experience that any dog with a Labrador bloodline is probably going to succumb to some type of cancer during their later years. Still, this kind of news is always tough to take. At this point, we could put Ringo through surgery, chemo, and maybe even radiation treatments, but at about fourteen years old, he probably wouldn’t do well with it. For now, then, all we can do is keep him comfortable, satisfy his still impressive appetite for food,…

  • Miscellaneous

    Self-Centeredness

    Today, I’ve been thinking about self-centeredness, specifically my own. If you don’t know me, I need to point out that when I talk about personality deficits, they’re usually my own. It’s not that I don’t see shortcoming in others, but since those are outside my control—and usually none of my business—I don’t bring them up in conversation. Anyway, here’s what I was thinking. Most of the things I’d like to change about myself—impatience, pessimism, anxiety, procrastination, anger, dealing with disappointment—trace themselves back to me placing my own needs in front of others’. I’m not saying I’m a narcissist, at least no more so than the average person. Bear with me…

  • Miscellaneous

    Dealing with Disappointment

    Today, I went to the gym. It was a good visit, fifteen minutes on the bike and fifteen on the treadmill. At any rate, I walked out of the gym coughing, which I always count as a success, never mind what I’m coughing up in the first place. Now I’m thinking about my mental health in 2019. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not trying to sound ominous. Really, I just mean my overall sense of well-being, which, if I’m honest, varies from day to day. Some days I feel positive and optimistic, while others I get a little down and pessimistic. Part of this, I think, comes from my childhood and…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Fear of Doing One Thing

    Earlier today, I decided to sit down and dig back into a cool science fiction book I’ve been trying to finish. Then I remembered I hadn’t written anything in a couple of days. A few minutes later, I realized I could stand to spend some time going through emails that had come in over the holiday break. A snack would be nice, too, I thought, seeing as breakfast was by then only a distant memory. Which of those things did I end up doing? Not even one of them. Instead of devoting some of my free time to recreation, I spent it deliberating which activities I didn’t want to do,…