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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belated Thanks

This is after all my Friends and Family blog, and I just noticed that my toasts for Thanksgiving only dealt with family.

I wish to express my thanks to Michael Manning, Irina, Brian, Russ, and many other friends that visit my blog and leave comments. May you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends and they made you feel truly rich in love.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day For Gratutude

Happy Thanksgiving to all and may we truly appreciate that which is the greatest form of wealth on this planet -- our families.

To my mother: Thanks for giving me life, manners, belief, and being the driving force that helped me finish my education and becoming a teacher. May your days be filled with peace and good friends to help you through this time of sorrow.

To my wife: Thanks for giving me thirty years of your love, support, toleration, and opinions as we shared our life's joys, sorrows, triumphs and tragedies. May we have many more years.

To my children: Thanks for your being in our lives these many years. We love you both dearly and wish you much happiness in your lives. You have made our life interesting and fulfilling. May you both be able to become independent and find the same kind of happiness from your children as we found in you and our grandchildren.

To my brother: Thanks for your strength and righteousness. Congratulations on the prospect of finally becoming a grandparent. May we continue to keep in touch even if only by internet.

To my sister: Thanks for you admiration as we grew up, your smile and good humor, your strength as we faced tough times while in our father's last days. May you enjoy the time you have with your family and know how much you are truly loved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I Found

Here's a quote I found today. It is so eloquently put I just had to post it. Sara Robinson
Talking Turkey: Ten Myths Conservatives Believe About Progressives.

5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans.

...as opposed to those sainted corporate men-of-the-people who fly around in private jets and pull down eight-figure salaries while closing plants and cutting 10,000 jobs at a time. That's what real populism looks like, you betcha.

Liberals are funny people. We think that sending well-paid American jobs overseas is a bad idea. We think the minimum wage should be big enough to cover life's necessities, with some left over. We think it's insane that over half the bankruptcies in the country are due to lack of adequate medical insurance. We think everybody who has the grades should have a shot at college. And we believe that middle-class prosperity is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy democracy—because history (via Kevin Phillips) has taught us that no democracy that's tolerated our current levels inequality has ever survived for long.

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how many conservatives making this accusation have never stopped and taken stock of the role government has played in making their own middle-class life possible. Their dad or granddad got through college on the GI Bill. They financed their own education with Pell Grants and federally-guaranteed loans. They grew up in FHA or VA-funded houses, and collected fat mortgage interest deductions—which, right there, ensured their family's place in the middle class. They went to decent public schools—and, perhaps, state universities. They're several thousand dollars richer every month because they're off the hook for Grandma's living expenses, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. They or their parents may have started businesses with help from the Small Business Administration, or relied on government advice and subsidies to keep the farm going. They work for businesses that depend on government contracts.

And then they'll sit there over the second helping of candied yams and loudly insist that they made everything they had, all by themselves, with no help from anybody and especially not from the government.

All you can do is laugh. And then, because they're family, go back to 1945 and start re-telling the family story—this time with Uncle Sam's forgotten role in the drama front and center.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No Brainer

For twenty years some kind of a national health care plan has been one of those issues that for me has been a "No Brainer." As most manufacturing jobs were outsourced to other countries and we became a servie oriented workforce nation there were fewer and fewer employers offering health care benefits (outside of government workers municipal, state and federal). By the 1990's it was more than apparent that with the elderly having Medicare and the welfare class having Medicaid, that there needed to be some kind of national health care for the working poor.
It's hourly wage earners that face economic disaster with any kind of hospital stay, or may die because doctors and hospitals won't provide services to those without insurance or cash on the barelhead.
It looked like the working class was going to get some kind of national health care when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. The health care industry, Republican party and a fear factor ad campaign stopped it cold.
Sixteen years later the need for a sensible health care policy has reached critical mass. It's to be understood that the Republican party, being the fiscal conservative, free enterprise, government hands off party, and up for sale to the highest corporate bidder will try to block any attempt in the next year to pass a national health care bill. Again this is a no-brainer. The country needs it. The automobile industry needs it, most employers squeesed by rising health insurance costs need it. This economic slowdown needs it, the tax payers need it NO BRAINER.

So why is the Republican Party still so adamant about oposing it? They're kind of spitting in the wind here. U.S. News and World Reports have figured it out: If a nationalized health care bill is passed it will kill the Republican party!
They need the working poor to vote against their economic best interest on taxes, support waging logistical unwinable wars that ruin or kill their children, and turn a blind eye as they starve education while burdening it with unfunded mandates and useless testing. Will anyone listen to those like the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson, James Dobsen or Rush Limbaugh if it means voting against your health care coverage? Not bloody likely, and they have Europe's experience with National Health Care to prove the point. Or as the Republican party is saying openly:

Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute,... puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: "Blocking Obama's health plan is key to the GOP's survival."

Having a father who the VA on two different occasions nearly killed by their rationing of health care (refusing to treat the problem by saying he didn't have it), and his life was prolonged only by a private health care plan. I'm going to look with a skeptical eye at any plan offered, but what is the 'NO BRAINER" here is that something is better than nothing, and right now too many people in this country have no health care at all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Robo Complaint

From Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator

And a heads up to Russ for posting it on his blog

The purpose of this letter is to outline a plan to suggest the kind of politics and policies that are needed to restore good sense to this important debate. With this letter, I hope to lay out some ideas and interpretations that hold the potential for insight. But first, I would like to make the following introductory remark: If you think that this is humorous or exaggerated, you're wrong. Mr. Patrick M. Prescott wants us to think of him as a do-gooder. Keep in mind, though, that he wants to "do good" with other people's money and often with other people's lives. If Mr. Prescott really wanted to be a do-gooder, he could start by admitting that he is a human leech dedicated to sucking the life out of our doomed corpses. This is equivalent to saying that he likes to cite poll results that "prove" that there's no difference between normal people like you and me and the worst sorts of dangerous crackpots I've ever seen. Really? Have you ever been contacted by one of his pollsters? Chances are good that you never have been contacted and never will be. Otherwise, the polls would show that that is no excuse for anything. To say anything else would be a lie.

In contrast, Mr. Prescott may unwittingly expand, augment, and intensify the size and intrusiveness of his coalition of callous spoilsports and temperamental, insensitive proletariats. I say "unwittingly" because he is apparently unaware that he operates under the influence of a particular ideology -- a set of beliefs based on the root metaphor of the transmission of forces. Until you understand this root metaphor you won't be able to grasp why I am not fooled by Mr. Prescott's homicidal and eristic rhetoric. I therefore gladly accept the responsibility of notifying others that the biggest supporters of Mr. Prescott's scabrous publicity stunts are cruel pests and power-drunk, froward sewer rats. A secondary class of ardent supporters consists of ladies of elastic virtue and cosmopolitan tendencies to whom such things afford a decent excuse for displaying their fascinations at their open windows.

Similarly, I strive to be consistent in my arguments. I can't say that I'm 100% true to this, but Mr. Prescott's frequent vacillating leads me to believe that our national media is controlled by the worst types of careless, dour traitors there are. That's why you probably haven't heard that Mr. Prescott's statements such as "Space aliens are out to lay eggs in our innards or ooze their alien hell-slime all over us" indicate that we're not all looking at the same set of facts. Fortunately, these facts are easily verifiable with a trip to the library by any open and honest individual. As this letter draws to a close, I want to challenge you, the reader, to tell Mr. Patrick M. Prescott how wrong he is. That's what I intend to do until my last breath.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time For Real Happiness

Everyone is forecasting the largest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. There are many similarities. The news, government and it seems most people think this is an attack on the American Dream, our pursuit of happiness and that our lives will not be worth living. They focus only on the bottom two levels of Abraham Maslow's pyramid and equate this with happiness. My thesis for this post is that hard times makes us stop and try to figure what is true happiness as opposed to the propaganda spread by social scientists, government experts and advertising agencies.

The Great Depression and perhaps today are the two most significant times in the last century that the physiological needs (air, water, food, shelter, clothing), and safety needs (protection from crime, loss of income and/or retirement, health care) have been in serious jeopardy for a significant portion of the general population. Natural disasters like hurricanes, fires and earthquakes hit only an isolated area. Economic depressions hit the country (even the world) as a whole, thus having greater impact. In all of these tragedies there is loss of life, and great pain. This also produces great soul searching. People step back from the rat race, ask themselves if losing their house, car, furniture, etc. is really the end of the world?
In time all material things lost due to these circumstances, though missed, can be replaced. And when they look at how much energy and effort went into the accumulation of all they lost thinking that these things would make them happy they realize how foolish they'd been.
  • Happiness is not a house, or a car, or expensive clothes. This only covers steps 1 & 2 of the pyramid.
  • Happiness is not to be found in a job. Again this covers steps 1 & 2.
  • Happiness is not found in the family. Steps 3, 4 & 5 all have to do with love, togetherness, emotional well being, accomplishment, serenity. Things we all need. Happiness, but just because we need it does not make for happiness.
  • Happiness is not to be found in Religion or running away from it all.  Sidharta Guatama (The Buddha) chose enlightenment over temporary fame, chose poverty in order to focus on his mind and spirit. In Christianity those who retreated to monasteries or convents chose a small cell and meager food to devote their lives to prayer and meditation. Others chose a life of helping and serving others. Other religions have similar practices of either escape or altruism. Giving up steps 1 & 2 and 3 to focus on steps 4 & 5 doesn't mean you'll be happy either.
So then what is happiness if it's not any of the above. Happiness is all of the above (for some) and none of the above (for others)! There is no equation for happiness, you either have it or you don't.
For me, happiness is balance, completion, striving to reach a goal no matter if its ever reached. The good times are always the ones where you are climbing the hill not coasting down it. When you're coasting down it's easier to appreciate the good times than when you're focused on going up the hill. 
I like the visual of Maslow's pyramid. Happiness, what he calls self-actualization is not connected to the pyramid, it's removed and sits above. Is it possible to be happy and have little or none of the other parts of the pyramid -- yes. Is it possible to be happy and have all of the pyramid -- yes.

In summation in good economic times people get caught up in the acquisition of material possessions thinking this will make them happy. Hard economic times, disasters, or tragedies make us take stock of things that have real value not just monetary value. Real value like real happiness is unique to each individual. Read the Beatitudes, Jesus chose as blessed (happy) those society thought would be most miserable. Society can only use Maslow's bottom two steps as an indicator for happiness which is a pretty lousy yard stick. 
Each person has to figure out for themselves what makes them happy. This is a time where there's a collective "gut check." It's a time to be enjoyed, savored, appreciated not feared. It's a time to learn what really matters in life and focus on that instead of possessions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another one on the way

It seems that Grinnygranny and I are going to have another grandchild in six months. This is making for a full house. I never thought we'd turn into The Waltons, and most importantly that we would become the eldest generation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Apology

Definition: Apology (pronounced ap/a/low/gee) to defend vigorously.

Michael Manning left a comment on my last post. I've responded to it, but since many readers don't look at the comment section I've decided to print a portion of my response to his supportive comment.
Preamble to the point I want to make. Many people I encounter understand the difficulties of being a teacher today. Many wonder why people become teachers. First and foremost it's not about the money. Not everything in life is. A salary commensurate with the level of education is better in other fields. 
I was fortunate to get a college education on an athletic scholarship which did not leave me with a huge financial debt. This allowed me to become a teacher and weather the professions low pay. It takes about fifteen years before the salary really becomes a living wage. None of the other professions requiring the same level of education take this long and many have starting salaries higher than what a teacher makes at twenty years experience.
I fear for the profession and the future generations that need even more eduction that I did at their age, and for the well being of the country that needs a well educated society to advance us technologically and economically. I've seen too many baby teachers take a look at their first paycheck and realize they can't possibly live on it, after they make their college loan payments. The salaries of teachers have not kept up with the basic educational requirement for certification. That is the real problem facing education today.
My reason for being a teacher is part of my answer to Mr. Manning.

Every time I get disgusted with the hassles of teaching I start looking at other professions and figure if it was easy and wonderful they wouldn't call it work. All jobs have their unpleasant aspects. This one has many rewards (seeing students learn and graduate), security (a biggie in this economy), benefits (health and retirement) and summers off to spend with children and grandchildren and write. It may not be many people's cup of tea, but it's mine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In The News

Reading the online New York Times today there was an article about the Chancellor of Washington D.C.'s public schools trying to abolish tenure. The woman is trying to get teachers to decide which economic package to sign up for, the tenure track with little money, or the non-tenure track with double the money. The extra money coming not from the taxpayers, but undisclosed private interests.
  1. Tenure: a person after attaining three years of probationary teaching has the right to be informed of the reason for being terminated or fired. In other words if an administrator wants to fire a teacher they need to say why!
  2. The red  herring being bantered about is that teachers unions are trying to save the jobs of bad teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. If there is a teacher who is not doing his or her job, or is in violation of the contract, good riddance to them. All the union and tenure requires is that there has to be a good reason for the termination. How many workers feel that before your boss fires you that they should have a good reason for doing so? Come on raise your hand. Isn't that the way things should be done in the workplace?
  3. Is anyone else bothered that a non-disclosed private source is funneling money into one of the largest public school systems in the country on the condition that tenure be abolished? Who's trying to buy our public schools? For what reason? What's next, mandated curriculum or they pull the gravy train?
  4. When there is a teacher shortage that is only going to get worse as the baby boomers (like me) retire, why is there so much emphasis on how to get rid of teachers?
  5. Public schools are too important for them to be placed in the hands of the highest bidder. Corporations have already seized our universities with their research grants and have turned them into their own research and development departments and in the process tying them up with contracts that limit their academic freedom. Do we need them grabbing high schools too?
Here's and anecdote:
When I was at another school the teacher in the next room had a student teacher. The student teacher blew up at her. He screamed and yelled, called her every name under the sun, and as a result he was dropped from the program. When I left that school a few years later to teach where I am now I was surprised that he was an assistant basketball coach here and teaching in my department. That year he blew up at the head basketball coach and they nearly got into a fist fight in front of the students. My classes were large and nearly half of my students came into my class from parents requests to get them out of his class, because he wasn't teaching them anything. I talked to the dept chair, told what had happened at the previous school and asked how he even got certified as he was dropped from the program. He came in the back door through the internship program and they grabbed him because he would coach. The next year he was gone. Two years later I attended a dinner as a sponsor for the department to honor a selected student, where they received an award. This teacher was there from a private school. It gets even better, last year I was at a career day representing Southwest Writer's Workshop with a fellow teacher from another high school. Sitting there with a lot of time to talk he complained that an assistant principle at his school was giving all the teachers living hell and he came from my school and they would sure like to send him back. I asked who he was talking about and when he said the name it proved to me where bad teachers eventually wind up -- as principles.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Take

In a humorous approach, here's my take on the last three Presidential elections:

Dateline USS Enterprise-Earth
Stardate 111108.0930

  • USS Enterprise-Earth has experienced eight years of inept and bumbling Romulan-Republican Captain Archer-Bush. Proceeding blindly into the unknown without a map even resorting to torture to get what he wants. The only reason he was in office was because the Federation-Democrats could only find Spock-Gore and Tuvok-Kerry, emotionless Vulcans, to run against him. The real disaster of this Captaincy was that Archer-Bush chose 7 of 9-Cheney a Borg as Science officer. 7 of 9-Cheney's attempt to assimilate the entire world has nearly destroyed the USS Enterprise-Earth.
  • This last election primary pitted  Captain Janeway-Clinton against Captain Picard-Obama. It was nip and tuck, a knock down drag out, and even when everyone else was telling the scrapy Janeway-Clinton it was over she stood her ground to the very end. Janeway-Clinton's handicap in the race was that she had been stranded in the Delta Quadrant under countless attacks for years from the Romulan-Republicans and was a little too battle scarred for the crew. Pickard-Obama's approach was a "corporate board meeting leadership style" being inclusive to all members of the crew giving them a seat at the table. His confident, well reasoned fatherly manner galvanized the young, and previously dispossessed which has inspired the crew and USS Enterprise-Earth. Particularly his choice of Sisko-Biden as science officer, though not a star ship captain he does have years of command experience in Deep Space-Senate
  • The Romulan-Republicans gave it a valiant try by bringing out of mothballs, over the hill Captain Kirk-McCain. His shoot from the hip, bed every female he picks up in a bar, swaggering maverick style was once very popular with the crew (after all they chose Captain Kirk-Clinton twice) why not a third time? Unfortunately Kirk-Clinton was wise enough to choose Spock-Gore a dependable Vulcan as science officer while Kirk-McCain was letting the little head think for his big head and chose Yeoman Rand-Palin. Bad choice, as she turned out to be vain, expensive and inexperienced and worst of all: upstaged him. For Kirk-McClain it just shows that age does creep up on even the most vibrant of mavericks.  There is grumbling by the Klingon and Borg factions of the Romulan-Republicans over who lost the confidence of the crew, but there will always be malcontents in any crew.
  • With the USS Enterprise-Earth in the hands of the Federation-Democrat Pickard-Obama the crew has the audacity to hope for a resolution to the Federation-Cardassian conflicts, better living conditions and salary. 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good Deal

For the Holidays, I'm offering Optimus: Praetorian Guard for $15.00 which is listed at 21.95 at both amazon.com and publishamerica.com. E-mail me at jtenebrae.com to make arrangements for a signed collectors item. I'll even pay for the shipping.

White Peacock

All thanks to my special twin: Anne Littlewolf who sent me these pictures. I hope she's working on a painting that would incorporate it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Perfect weather

Today was the best it can get for golf. Not a cloud in the sky, no wind, fifty to sixty degrees, surprisingly not that busy on the course. Shot a good round and had nice company while getting the exercise. What makes life good.
Didn't have all that quiet of an evening last night. Penni's brother-in-law came over to help E on a computer and M's boyfriend showed up, so we had a house full.
Tonight C, E's girlfriend, fixed a nice dinner, Mom came over with a cake and we had a late anniversary party. Sat around and talked for a little while. It was nice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Quiet Evening

What I'm looking forward to tonight and for the weekend.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


  • Reading all the news articles and blogs have to say about the past election and being grateful that NM for once isn't having to wait a week to know who won which race I have to say something about it. 
  • One thing you can say about Sarah Palin as she heads back to Seward's Icebox, it was nice to have a candidate for that high position that could have been picked for the Tonight show's Jaywalking.
  • Everyone offering advise to President elect Obama: The din is so loud no one can hear you or remember what you wrote or said after ten seconds have passed.
  • Ten weeks is one hell of a long time for all kinds of things (both good and bad) to happen. I will rejoice the day he takes office. I will not trust Bush or any of his storm troopers until the day I die.
  • It would have been nice to watch the returns with those of like mind, but circumstances mostly quite good found us surrounded by truly wonderful and decent people that have political blinders. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but I did have to make a few snide comments about watching Faux News and why I would want to listen to comments by someone still in contempt of Congress. We went back to our room and celebrated our anniversary once Obama was declared winner.
  • Too many people are rejoicing at the demise of the Republican Party. Not so fast. They were saying the same thing about the Democratic Party four years ago. The 2010 elections could just as easily reverse the political course as the 2006 one did. The electorate wants results.
  • Today's lead article in the Abq Journal was about everybody rushing to buy assault rifles before they're banned. My father did that when Clinton was elected because all his VFW and State Defense Force buddies were just sure the big bad Democrats would take them off the market. When he developed Alzheimers I had to take his six hundred dollar AK-47 to a pawn shop that had ten of them in stock and they generously gave me twenty bucks for it. Clinton only stopped the sale of imported assault rifles, ones made in the U.S. were not affected. Had a Republican done the same thing he would have been praised for protecting American business. Let's see, ten weeks before he's sworn in and it took over ten years before the Brady bill was passed to require background checks on the sales of handguns. Yeah, Obama's going to be banning guns in the blink of an eye. At least it's nice to know one part of our economy is doing a brisk business.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

30 years today

Everyone else may be glued to the tv to see how the elections going, but Grinnygranny and I are in Glorieta celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. This is where we met, and where we have shared numerous joyous days and nights over the years.
We stopped off at the factory outlet mall in Santa Fe and we each bought an anniversary present. That way we get what we want while still thanking each other for the gift.
We're not alone as this is actually a retreat for all those that GG works with, and there was one meeting already and another scheduled in a few minutes. We've had a nice lunch and dinner in the dining hall with pleasant conversation and there will be a couple of meetings tomorrow before we head back. Nice to have a couple of days like this and I only had to use one personal day of leave.
Everyone is having to watch tv to see how the election is going when they all know the final tally is a good three to five days off in the tight congressional and senatorial races.