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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Years writing

I ran off ten copies of Anne Littlewolf's childrens book right before school let out and sent nine copies up to her to sign and send back. She's kept one for herself and sold all the others. Next week I'll have to run off a bunch more. She's also working on a second book with ideas for others. Now she has proof that there is a market for her books she needs to find a publisher.

I'm taking over Writers 2 Writers which is a monthly symposium for writers here on the West Side. The gentleman who has been coordinating it for the last five years has sent me half of his e-mail list, but I'll have to cut and paste the names and addresses into my own contact list. I'll be busy doing this for a bit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

Oh my! How can I feel like this when I don't drink?
We opened all our presents, the kids all got toys that make noise, do they make any that don't?
Mom's is waiting for her return late Monday.
We had a nice breakfast, did a little shopping at Walrgeens came home and played a new Monopoly game (The City). It has a computer with credit cards (extra of course) to keep track of the money. It is a much more modernized version of the old game with sky scrapers, you bid on the purchase of property with a timer that ends the bidding (like e-bay). Overall a new game to add to our collection. We also have a Scene it of all the Star Trek series. Now we're going to have to catch up on all the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise episodes.
The turkey was baked Wednesday, deboned and stored in the fridge so all we had to do was heat it up and fix a few side dishes for a pleasant late afternoon dinner.
For the next week my favorite part is eating oranges, apples, bananas and shelling nuts. For some reason the week between Christmas and New Years these foods bring back pleasant memories. (It's what Mom always put into our stockings usually along with a bag of chocolate coins)
The family present for this year was a Wii Fit game (the original that we got the last one in stock at a Radio Shack) to help us all stay in shape during the winter when it's too cold to exercise outside.
The one thing that is horrible is that the sun is shining and it looks so nice outside, but a pocket of cold air has settled on us and the high for today will only be around 30 degrees and that means no golf. The greens will stay frozen until too late in the day to get a round in. I'm hoping it'll get a little warmer by Monday so the gaggle can play.

To all my friends and family that come by to read my rambings, may these next days be calm and stress free so that you return to work refreshed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

Here's hoping everyone is having

a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sad News

Last month as I was posting about the different churches I attended while growing up. I mentioned a wonderful man who was my Sunday School teacher and many years later helped me get hired in APS. When Grinnygranny checked her e-mail today word came that Mr. May passed away. His funeral was today. The world is missing a truly wonderful and kind hearted man.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting Things Done

Since the semester ended (finished posting my grades today) I've played a couple of rounds of golf (good to get back with the gaggle) since the weather was nice. Picked up Mom's car from the repair man, got my hair cut, had my hearing checked (ugh getting old sucks, need a hearing aid), did some shopping, mailed off the copies of Friends Forever to Anne for her to sign and send back. She's already sold three of them up there and I've sold one down here at my last book signing, doesn't leave many left and I can't run anymore off until after the first of the year.
Weather turned gloomy today with sleet or snow coming tomorrow. Guess I'll just take it easy for a few days. I can get caught up with all my bloggers which will be nice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Captain

Just wanted the few followers I had on my Captain's log blog that since the poop has hit the turning blades the blog is back in business. Warning to those that may not like the descent my vocabulary may take when I get my dander up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Children's book

Today I ran off ten copies of Anne Littlewolf's children's book. This is the front cover. It is really wonderful. I got a good price for the number of color copies I needed on the color copier, but I won't be able to make many more copies at that price.
I'll be selling these copies for $10.00.
She wrote this after her husband passed away and it's about dealing with loss, grief and going on. E-mail me if anyone would be interested.

The header is her lastest painting.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Sometimes one reads or hears about a crisis of rational thought—that rational thought is impotent when confronted by the complexity and irrationality of human life. I am convinced that such doubts are unfounded. Historically, it has been the representatives of science—that is, of rational thought—who have recognized and tried to solve the problems of economic and social regulation, environmental protection, pollution control, the management of irreplaceable resources, population planning, the maintenance of an open society with the free exchange of information, and disarmament including the control of nuclear weapons.
I am convinced that humanity’s survival depends upon open and tolerant societies, and their ability to progress guided by scientific principles. This method does not promise paradise on earth, but then, does the essence of human existence reside in utopias? Our future depends on persistent and unselfish effort, on our sense of responsibility, and on our wisdom.
–Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, Science and Society: Address to the New York Academy of Sciences, Dec. 6, 1979 (remembering Andrei Sakharov on the twentieth anniversary of his death).

I copied this quote verbatim from today's Scott Horton's No Comment Blog. It struck a nerve, let me explain.

My definition of art is that there is within us all two aspects of thought. There is the reasonable, logical, scientific, mathematic (left brain); and there is the emotional or right brain. Just as there is the flesh (Id) and spirit (Super Ego) that is balanced by the Soul (Ego) in faith or Psychology. There is a balance between reason and emotion. I call that balance Art.
The rational side of our natures asks questions and tries to figure things out. It is always searching for new things and new ways to do things, but devoid of emotion it is sterile. There are good things to be said about objectivity in its proper time and place. You want professionals to be objective and focus on the problem at hand which is why even lawyers will get another lawyer to represent them and doctors should not treat themselves or family. You expect artists to whether musicians, painters, writers, etc to be tempermental and irrational even insane like Van Gough. At least that's the stereotype. They live large and die young usually from a drug overdose from trying to live too hard and too fast.
  • Being purely reasonable is cold and meaningless. In our schools the focus is becoming more and more on the science and math skills but at what cost to the humanity of the students? What about the students that would rather write literature or draw or sing or learn to do a simple task and make a living as a technition instead of scientist? All the testing we're putting these kids through is trying to make a living breathing human into a learning machine. We are analog not digital. In religion the purely rational mind focuses on literalism and legalism and tries to make God conform to an equation.
  • Being purely emotional is even more limiting. This does sometimes get confused with art as most artists have a more dominant right brain functionality. Maybe that's because in out specialized, compartmentalized society the scientists and mathemeticians have shut out that side of the brain and only artists are allowed to open up those pathways, but emotion by itself is too chaotic and without direction. For education students are allowed to do their own thing, learning is by experience not production, who needs discipline? You want to see pure chaos in action travel back in time to the late 1970's and early 1980's when they built schools without interior walls and teachers were to just guide the elementary and middle school darlings on their path to understanding. When I first started teaching that was the vogue. In English it was called whole language and the buzz word was "Self Esteem." In religion this becomes superstition and people are ruled by their fears when bad things happen. Illnesses and natural disasters become manifestations of God's wrath and he must be placated by sacrificing an animal, child or killing whichever minority that gets blamed.

To be totally human is to have a ballance. To live a meaningful life is to have a ballance. It's the art of living that I think Sakharov calls wisdom. The one thing that I find truly lacking in our schools, religion and politics right now is wisdom.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My favorite...

My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night. I grew up listening to Christmas albums on the stereo at this time of year with George Beverly Shea, Tennessee Earnie Ford, Patsy Cline, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra even Elvis. Everyone who is a top singer puts out a Christmas album. Even Jews like Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. And they've all sung this song. Whether sung or insturmental this is by far one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
Some artists take the time to lend their version dignity, as this is a song that should not be rushed. Others phone in there their take on it. Barbara Mandrell and Celine Dion have excellent performances of it and Carrie Underwoods on her T.V. special the other night was well done. No matter who sings this song it just sends shivers up my spine and a tear to my eye. It has that strong of an effect on me.
Last night we watched the Trans-Siberian Orchestra special on PBS. Not sure how many years this has aired, but Michael Crawford's rendition of this song just blew me away. He has the purest tenor voice that can reach to the raftors and sustain it for near eternity with only a hint of vibrato. Truly he puts Josh Groban and even Pavaroti to shame on this song. It's amazing for a song to be so beautiful and meaningful no matter if sung by woman, man, soprano, alto (Karen Carpenter), tenor or deepest bass.
Still when the song comes to mind I hear George Beverly Shea. What you grow up with kind of sticks with you.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mondays are for teaching.

The London Times has a section called Schoolgate every Monday. If you, dear readers have wondered why Monday is when I have a post on teaching it's usually in response to an article I came across there. The focus is on educatin in Merry Olde England, but education hasn't changed much since the Sophists made Socrates drink hemlock. (We're just a little more genteel about it today).
Today's post was by a blogger under the name Mr. Teacher . It's nice to know others feel as I do concerning our profession and he has an engaging writing style. Give him a look and spend time reading his posts. You're a better man than me Gunga Din (Mr. Teacher) putting in twelve hour days. I only manage eight, then again I walk to work and don't have to worry about rush hour traffic. Oops, I was putting in twelve hour days in October for our Next Step program, but that was for only two days. Concidering we're only payed for 61/2 hour days I think the taxpayers are getting a bargain.
That said, a dear teacher friend of mine told me today she's had it and was turning in her letter of resignation. She will substitute next semester. Main reason: she's tired of parents calling her names and blaming her for their children's problems. Had a rather nasty parent/teacher conference Friday. I'll miss her and wish her well. I've felt that way a time or two after a meeting like that, but I'm not going to let a parent or student (even administrator) determine my career, just kind of persnickety that way.

Nice time

Saturday was very fruitful. I'm taking over a writer's group here on the west side of town starting in Jan. I planned the first meeting with the two who had run the group before taking over all the equipment, but I needed speakers to fill out the rest of the year. For the past three months I've made announcements at SWW meetings that if anyone was interested they could contact me and I'd had no response. After Saturday's meeting I have every month execpt April (poetry month and I still a poet for that meeting) filled up through August.
Whew, I was worried there that I'd take over the writing group and it would fold right off the bat. It's been going for ten years and I'd hate to see it fail, especially since SWW does everything in the NE heights. Looks like it's going to be a good year.

I also sold one copy of Optimus at the book signing, have an order for Anne's book whenever we get it together, and traded my book for another writer's book. I also had a really nice chat with the other writers there and have loads of ideas for better marketing.
Page One does this every first Saturday of the month so I'll be there from time to time and hopefully can get my inventory down some.

Anne's (the heading painting is one of hers) working on a cover for her book, tentatively titled Friends Forever, and when she gets that, back cover and the other pages color copied to me I'll find a color copier that doesn't charge an arm and a leg and we'll start producing them for sale. It's a wonderful children's book and we're hoping by self publishing will be better than using print on demand or a regular publisher because we can set our own price. Publish America is killing my sales by having such a huge price on it. It should be selling for what I have to pay for it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Book Signing

Got an e-mail today from Page One books here in town at Juan Tabo and Montgomery. They're having a big discount sale for teachers tomorrow and as a plus will let authors sell their books from 3pm to 5pm. I'll be over to that part of town for Southwest Writers in the morning anyway so I'll just have a nice lunch and see if I can sell some copies of Optimus.

Anne Littlewolf has a children's book that we are working on getting color copies run off (color copies aren't cheap) and then bind them so I'll have something other than just my book to sell at book signings. I'll also try to have some color prints of her paintings.

Things are looking a little better than they did a few days ago.

Too true

Hat tip to Woody at one of his six blogs.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Someone else gets it.

I'm depressed. Family, finances, work and the news are burning me out right now. It's a biorhythm thing and I'm sure in a few hours or days I'll be back with a better perspective. Today I'm dark.

Over ten years ago Bruce had me read two books by James Davidson Hunter, the first was Culture Wars and the second was the one pictured. I thought he was being a little over dramatic with the title, but the events of the last year seem to be making him rather prescient.

Chris Hedges struck a nerve. This is his final paragraph of a well written and reasoned post concerning the economic tidal wave getting ready to swamp all of us.

I spent two years traveling the country to write a book on the Christian right called “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” I visited former manufacturing towns where for many the end of the world is no longer an abstraction. Many have lost hope. Fear and instability have plunged the working class into profound personal and economic despair, and, not surprisingly, into the arms of demagogues and charlatans of the radical Christian right who offer a belief in magic, miracles and the fiction of a utopian Christian nation. Unless we rapidly re-enfranchise these dispossessed workers, insert them back into the economy, unless we give them hope, these demagogues will rise up to take power. Time is running out. The poor can dine out only so long on illusions. Once they grasp that they have been betrayed, once they match the bleak reality of their future with the fantasies they are fed, once their homes are foreclosed and they realize that the jobs they lost are never coming back, they will react with a fury and vengeance that will snuff out the remains of our anemic democracy and usher in a new dark age.

What pisses me off about the mindless drones filling the pews of the churches spewing this kool-aid is that they're too damn dumb to place the blame on the ones who have gotten us into this mess and take out their wrath on the ones trying to clean it up.