Among ‘You’s, ‘We’s, ‘They’s
Space holds all spellbound
Among ‘You’s, ‘We’s, ‘They’s
Space holds all spellbound
April 24, 2005, Jimmy Johnson drew this Sunday panel.
It’s a reminder to be patient. It’s a reminder to be observant. It’s a reminder to appreciate the glory of life, the cycle of death, the power of nature.
It’s a reminder to look to see what works best, what to do differently, how to surprise yourself.
It’s a reminder to do things with purpose, with meaning, with full engagement.
I’ve had this panel printed on my door, on my computer desktop, and figured this is as good a place as any. It reminds me so much of this, perhaps the best C&H of all time, given it’s Watterson’s goodbye to the bullshit. Lucky Watterson. He could afford to go out on top, with integrity.
FB blasted me my 2015 writing for the NYE 2016, so I’m copy/pasting and updating this in 2020 for NYE 2021. Let’s see how it goes. I’ll just add the updated version (in parentheses), so.
PSA – Reflection 2015 (2020)
Well, the year is done. I’ve been 54 (59) orbits around the sun, which in itself is a shocker. So, what went on in 2015 (2020)?
– Lived in Chicago from January through March, waiting for work visa. (2020 – Lived in Abu Dhabi UAE the entire year. Didn’t leave it to go anywhere).
– April, moved across the world, YET AGAIN, this time back to the Middle East and a job in the United Arab Emirates, neighbor to Saudi Arabia, but very different culturally and technologically. (2020 – Renewed my apartment rent. Expensive, but nice building with a view of the Gulf and downtown AD – worth it)
– Resigned (2020 – reassured) myself to the fact that I probably (2020 – definitely) won’t live and work in the US again, for reasons too numerous to put into this little FB posting. (Even more new and improved reasons in 2020)
– Found myself separated from my immediate family for quite possibly a very long time. The repercussions from this are also too numerous, but suffice to say, it takes a very VERY strong mind to reconcile and accept this fact. Since I am a “go with the FLOW” kind of person, this is how it has to be, and I am going with it. My family knows me, and accepts this. None of it is easy ever. At all. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)
– The opportunity I have here in Abu Dhabi is unique in many ways, and the same as anywhere else I could be. I am buckled in for quite possibly several years here, given my age and current situation. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate, though I thought I’d have advanced my position, but I know now that won’t ever happen)
– I am politically removed from the US now, and I don’t like the direction the country is headed. It’s obvious through my many political postings where I stand, and being a “pragmatic progressive” I have also accepted that oligarchy has taken over the country I grew up in. I am thinking a lot about this, and thinking of the many people I know, family and friends, who I’ve left behind to live in the US, which, if you look at the facts, is declining in wealth and influence around the world. (2020 – Unchanged – except for it being far worse, and accurate prediction)
– Overall, my physical health is not the best, but that’s all from my horrible personal habits. I am human, and proud to be who I am, and have grown a bit more into the “jeez, it’s one life, might as well enjoy what I can of it” state of mind. I’ll be around for several more years, so no worries there. (From January 2020 to now, I’ve dropped close to 15kg, so there’s a bright spot. Except for the usual old bastard things, I’m relatively healthier than in 2015)
– I am the most conflicted about my life’s work. I’ve been an educator since age 24. It’s really all I know and love. As much as I’ve seen in the many countries I’ve lived and worked, I try to stay positive, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary about what it means to be in higher education. I’m still doing it, and really adore every minute I put into writing about it, thinking about it, and putting it into practice. More amazeballs things are around the corner for me in my current job. (2020 – Coaching is a new endeavor – and there’s already a lot of potential that surprised me – especially how it seems a natural next step)
– Basically, I am extremely happy and fortunate for the experiences I’ve had – even with the crusty “angriest guy in the world” postings that I just can’t help posting on FB. I know what I’ve seen and done is something extremely rare in this world. I’ve experienced things extremely unique for one travelling the earth. I am more than a tourist to many regions of the world. This experience has been priceless, so very very priceless, and it’s absolutely impossible to express in words. I’m not gloating about this. I really feel so very fortunate for what I’ve carved out in my life. (2020 – in 2016 I hit five continents within one month of travelling. That was pretty cool. Returned to Okinawa twice – or three times – already too old to remember).
– Facebook, more than anything, has helped me connect and reconnect to a LOT of people from my past. This is such a unique moment in our collective experience to be able to do this. I have re-friended a lot of people, made closer friends with a lot of my acquaintances, and seen that there’s no way ever we will all see eye to eye on things that are important to us. Folks, we can and must agree to disagree, but we must realize how temporary we are here, and do our best to leave a legacy to our progeny. (2020 – Yeah, FB is a dark joke. At least I started using Duck-Duck-Go instead of Google for my web searches. All large social media are evil – FULL STOP and that won’t change.)
– Above all else, I want everyone reading this to remember two very important things about our all-too-short life. 1) Breathe in. 2) Breathe out. Laugh if you want, but these are the two basic truths that we must remember in order to continue another time around the sun. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate; so very very accurate)
– Go watch a sunrise, and watch a sunset on the same day. It’s a very sober reminder of the amazing beauty that surrounds us, but that we can very easily forget when we get caught up in the day-to-day goings on. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)
Love (2020 – most of) you all, and with the very best wishes for a safe, sound, prosperous, content, and very very Happy New Year (2020 – stay. the. fuck. inside. wear. a. fucking. mask. get. a. fucking. vaccination. then. wear. your. fucking. mask. stay. safe. stay. sane. wash. your. hands.)
In short: 2015 was AMAZEBALLS (2020 was the worst god-awful shit-storm dumpster-fire and I really don’t see an improved 2021 ahead because reasons).
I’m just cleaning up my desktop on a lazy Friday morning (my Saturday, because UAE is a Muslim country with Friday/Saturday as the weekend), and I found this, so this seems the best place for it. From an MS Word doc dated 15 OCT 2017.
PSA – very, very long posting ahead…SPOILER ALERT…no spoilers.
Part I: Life is a Ride
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are.
The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
I would shorten this as indicated – an excerpt – and provide the link at the end.
― Bill Hicks (1961-1994), greatest comedian (until Dave Chapelle came along).
Part II: Question Reality
An open letter to self, regarding that graphic you posted just over a year ago…
Remember that challenge on FB, during the election season of 2016, to post about what three fictional characters best summarize your personality…well, time to reveal to yourself why you chose these three…
First, the soundtrack for this letter is – The Harder They Come.*
Let’s start with the woodcutter from Rashomon in the little box in the upper left corner of the graphic. Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa’s 1950s masterpiece. Film buffs know this film, because, like Citizen Kane, it broke a ton of cinematic rules in its day and was a sensation because of it….but Rashomon is a tale where one must conclude that it’s imperative to question reality on a daily basis. Is this real? Or just a ride? The storyline, four different views of a crime committed, left you baffled as to what actually happened.
Because that’s how reality works.
In the light of the crimes I and hundreds others in my high school alum community have just become aware of…we can’t piece together what actually happened in every instance… 40 YEARS OF INSTANCE …and we are stuck trying to see the facts as they were. From a LOT of different points of view. Knowing that each view will be a little different. But we know bad things happened, and there was a pattern to it all that’s about to emerge. Like the woodcutter, you are about to see the forest from the trees.
Maybe during those quiet times, when that man of in a position of power abused a boy (sorry to keep you all nameless, but there are names a plenty) to satisfy some primal desire without regard to the human beings he was using as sex toys … it reminds you a little of the arrogant Tajômaru, the thief/rapist in Rashomon proudly boasting of his heroic rape, and the noble fight the victim’s husband put up to defend her honor, and which he, the Great Tajômaru won.
The woodcutter’s tale of the fight is very different… Tajômaru was not a man of courage or a hero of any kind after all, but a small-minded imbecile who got a lucky break in the swordfight after he raped a woman …but then [SPOILER ALERT …] you learned the woodcutter himself also lied about a certain missing dagger. Woodcutter 2.0. The dagger mentioned in the wife’s testimony and in the late husband’s testimony to the police. So even the woodcutter’s story can’t be taken as the total truth.
You are like that woodcutter – both facets – and to be honest, everyone is like the woodcutter on Facebook to some extent. You put up your nice veneer, awesome times, good times, check this out… but there are holes in your stories and skeletons in the your closet, some which might not ever see the light of day. You are human after all, and the woodcutter bears this out. Even in times of honesty, there lurks some darkness below the surface.
No justice, no peace. Fear, not love. Just a ride.
This week, you are going to learn that lesson about justice again, when the stories get exchanged, everyone shrugs, and moves on, possibly with an unwitting embrace of the fear that bombards us daily. The woodcutter didn’t tell his story to a lawyer after all… and left out a little detail when he told the police Tajômaru’s story in a different light.
Most days, you are the woodcutter, wandering deep in a forest, hoping you won’t stumble upon the Tajômarus of the world. But they are everywhere.
“One of these days
When you hear a voice say come
Who you gonna run to?
You gonna run to the rock for rescue
There will be no rock.”
– The Slickers, Johnny Too Bad
Part III: The Catcher in the Rye
Then, in the middle of the graphic you posted, front and center and larger than life, is good old Willy Wonka, the Gene Wilder movie version (not the Johnny Depp movie version nor the Roald Dahl book version). Willy…what can you say about this brilliant guy? The Augustus Gloop scene sums this up well.
At first, Willy is pretty upset as he tries to keep Augustus from drinking from his chocolate river, he runs to try to save him, alas his attitude changes completely once the boy falls in. This is the concerned Larry, wanting to keep people from harm. Fear. Not succeeding. Woodcutter 2.0.
The mom screams “DO SOMETHING”, and then, out you come, the Jaded Brechtian Ennui(TM) Larry, in all your glory: “Help. Police. Murder.” spoken knowing the damage is already done, and what’s the point. Just a ride. It’s like watching a 20 year old age into a 55 year old in a matter of seconds. There are seriously no more fucks to give at this age.
It’s just a ride.
20 kids dead in a mass shooting? Just a ride. Guy plans to kill hundreds if he can with a bunch of guns but only mows down 60 and only injures 500. Puerto Rico. Trump blah blah blah FEAR…or just a ride. Help. Congress. Murder.
Then later, the part that scared the living shit out of me when I first saw it, Augustus gets stuck in the pipe. Willy matter-of-factly states, in the best Dr. Professor Larry voice: “Well the pressure will get him out. Terrific pressure is building up behind the blockage.”
Then old Punk Rock Larry (RIP D. Boon – miss you DAILY!) kicks in with glee in his voice and a kick in his step, while popping popcorn in his mouth: “The suspense is terrible! I hope it’ll last!” Yes, it’s a dark satire indeed, and you’d be a woodcutter 2.0 if you said you didn’t have that in you…that part emerges as a kind of last ditch effort to maintain sanity given the horror of the situation.
Multiple personalities trying to make sense of a world gone mad. You post politics all the time, but everything’s already in that chocolate river. What can you do but say: Help. Mr. President. Murder.
In the end, you give the factory to Charlie. The boy with a heart more valuable than a golden ticket. “The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”
You are SO VERY MUCH Willy Wonka on a daily basis.
“Dema loot, dema shoot, dema wail” – Desmond Dekker, 007 (Shanty Town)
Part IV: Fake News
There are two Hobbes. This is the reality Hobbes. The stuffed, motionless tiger. The Willy Wonka Jaded Brechtian Ennui(TM) Hobbes, perched on Willy’s shoulder. The woodcutter Hobbes, telling the real story while still craving a hearty can of tuna fish. Is he a figment of Calvin’s imagination, or is he a magical autonomous entity? Am you real, or is this just a ride? How many political comics have you seen drawing Calvin and Trump in the same light.. and me, that imaginary foil to Trump, rolling your eyes, losing faith in all that is human. Do your exist in Trump’s reality? You are mostly the stuffed Hobbes to over 65 million Americans, and face it, close to seven billion other people.
Hobbes is a shapeshifter, that’s for sure, but only for Calvin. Me, only for American politics, it seems. Maybe for some people some of the time. That stuffed form resonates with you, doesn’t it? You’ve felt like stuffed Hobbes most of the time when dealing with politics…with people, and why you cling to your introversion and am perfectly content to have yourself as company. Yet on social media you go doing this type of live active Hobbes doing dances with Calvin and getting all up in his grill.
One time, Calvin took Hobbes out on a safari, and for whatever circumstance, left him behind. He got all angry and frantic at the same time. Calvin’s panic was palpable. When he found Hobbes, boy was he mad at Hobbes for getting lost. Calvin lost the stuffed tiger, and the living tiger ran away dancing in the forest with the woodcutter 2.0.
There are actually too many Calvin/Hobbes stories to tell, but there isn’t a moment when you don’t feel like Hobbes rolled round in earth’s diurnal course with rocks and stones and trees (apologies to WW).
It’s tough being Hobbes to the world of Calvins out there, many of whom are real, actual friends or acquaintances of yours (you reading this know if I’m giving you that living Hobbes stare at your RIGHT NOW).
Anyway, back to stuffed Hobbes, who explored a lot of the world with Calvin whether he wanted to or not. Remember the last strip, the fallen white snow, the world of possibilities to explore. Such delight on Hobbes face. Off they went to explore “space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
Thanks for the explanation, Larry.
* Soundtrack to the 1973 film classic about the hard life Jamaican’s had back in the day, and you know the US CITIZEN Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are having the same hard time right now…
“Many rivers to cross
And it’s only my will
that keeps me alive.”
– Jimmy Cliff
“Well, they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when i die
But between the day you’re born and when you die
They never seem to hear even no cry
So as sure as the sun will shine
I’m gonna get my share of what’s mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all.
The harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all!”
– Jimmy Cliff
Anyway, back to stuffed Hobbes, who explored a lot of the world with Calvin whether he wanted to or not. Remember the last strip, the fallen white snow, the world of possibilities to explore. Such delight on Hobbes face. Off they went to explore “space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” Um, you just woodcutter 2.0’d didn’t you? You are really living Hobbes. Yeah, thought so. Thanks for the explanation, Larry.
Suggested listening while you read this:
My apologies to Prince. I tend to like Diamonds and Pearls, though I know other efforts of his are better. Anyway, RIP to yet another great gone too soon. Also some minor typos fixed below…also some essential verses from some songs.
I’d recommend you revisit this post from time to time, because there just isn’t enough information that can be packed into something in one sitting. I just thought of a whole bunch of other things I want to put into this one, so there are a ton of edits from the original post. Enjoy, but also note people have commented on earlier versions of this one. Also, as you know, I like swear words, so scroll by if you get offended by that stuff.
Hi Facebook. Several of my friends are posting their top 10 albums of all time on their feeds, and doing it without explanation. So, just to help you to get the Russians and others to market to me properly and reach into my already depleted wallet based on what I post, here’s my list, posted all at once, and WITH explanations, because our privacy is dead and you already know everything already so the more details I give you the more I screw with your fucked up algorithms. Go on parse out all this shit.
This is not a top 10 though…#1 is not #1 of all time…these are all pretty much equal in their impact and I spit them out without thinking too hard, because I think that’s the point. Also there are 11, because everything needs to go to 11 after Spinal Tap told us so.
11. Best of Bent – Bent. This is a British duo album and is a very late entry, but for the past 10 years or so, I’ve grown to really love downtempo European duos who make the best “this is the soundtrack to my life” type music. The song Private Road tops several great offerings from this group, although Magic Love is a close contender (and a hilarious video on YouTube) and they lead me to a slew of other newer music that I listen to regularly now. Listening to related artists for Bent led me to such incredible individual artists and groups such as Ulrich Schnauss, Goldfrapp (Ooh La La was on Black Mirror!), Zero 7 (Pia did a few tracks with them very early in her storied career), Bonobo, Daft Punk, Lemon Jelly, Air, Nightmares on Wax, Kid Loco, Chemical Brothers, Boards of Canada, Röyksopp, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Télépopmusik and many others.
Bach is Dead.
10. Blue Break Beats, Volume 1 – Various Artists. The first five seconds of the first track, by Richard “Groove” Holmes solidified my love of Acid Jazz and all the funky variations, although that first track is still my favorite, and Groove has a fab version of Misty that you MUST find NOW and listen to. There are four volumes to this series, and every track makes you want to say “God Bless America” because Jazz is one of the greatest contributions to American culture I know, and the early 60s and 70s that these tracks come from are certainly some of the best. Honestly, if you have not heard Richard “Groove” Holmes, Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson and the slew of other folks in this series, you haven’t been paying attention.
9. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables – Dead Kennedys. You all know I was an LA Punk, like a lot of you, my friends. There are a couple other selections on this list that re-affirm that. But you know, “You’ll work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day” wasn’t just how things were then…it’s how things still are now, only of course on a much more metaphorical level. Jello rules. Also, to get a flavour of the time and place, you’d need to listen to the Minutemen (see below), X, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, Germs, Wall of Voodoo, Suburban Lawns, and then of course expand out to Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxie and the Banshees, Ramones…oh the list can go on and on…
8. Remain in Light – Talking Heads. Really, these guys are still my favs, and David Byrne’s career has been on the come back trail yet again. Really, all of the Talking Heads albums are eligible, but “This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.” pretty much sums up adulthood as we know it. I always think of the B52s and their first and second albums as the fabulous frilly foil to the heady Heads. Oh yeah, Devo lol. Devo dovetails in nicely with these two groups.
Bach is Dead.
7. Revolver – The Beatles. Hard to choose one Beatles album, but this one ends with John Lennon singing “play the game existence to the end, of the beginning“…and really this was the end of the beginning of an amazing musical career, everything after this was pure collaborative genius and this, along with Rubber Soul, were the bridge albums. Every 60s group is related to this, so I’m not adding in any related music. I mean if you twist my arm, then Janis, Jimi, and Jim (glad Mick didn’t join THAT club) have to be at the top of the list. Oh, and to my high school friends who insisted that Eric Clapton is God…well, ok, ok. I think it’s also good, historically, to put Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Mahalia Jackson here as related influences on 1960s rock. While Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye were going down a fabulously parallel R&B path with the Beatles, so, you know my arm is twisted and I could have listed ANY Motown song here, but Motown wasn’t an album so, PAH.
6. Sandinista – The Clash. Come ON. There are a brazillion tracks here that are awesome, but still my favorite lyric here is from Magnificient 7 “Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi/ Went to the park to check on the game/ But they was murdered by the other team/ Who went on to win 50-nil”. So it goes. Joe Strummer died at age 50, murdered by the Cancer team, so yeah, some irony there. I’m putting Michael Jackson here because he also died ridiculously young (murdered by the prescription drug addiction team), and had a much more poppy influence on me at the time. Billie Jean made me think of…
5. Lady in Satin – Billie Holiday. If you don’t know the history of this album, shame on you. Just take a moment. Stop reading. Now hang your head in utter shame for 30 seconds before you start reading again. I can wait…
Done? Welcome back. This was a recording of a 44-year old woman, addicted to Heroin, the most talented voice of her time, and still considered so today, and she was treated like less than a dog, being black in the 1920s to 1950s and knew she was about to die, and still belted out every single word in every single track to make sure people knew what had happened in her life. If you aren’t weeping on the floor after listening to this album, you have no soul. Also, sure, Strange Fruit is still her signature song, and rightfully so and it’s not part of this album…but again, knowing the context of this album, listening to her broken voice, but not broken spirit…this was quite a good bye love letter. But what else can you do at the end of a love affair? The story reminds me of Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay (although he didn’t know his death was imminent), and David Bowie’s Blackstar (damn, David, you can’t give everything awayyyyyy, but I bet you thought of Billie Holiday at some point in recording YOUR final album knowing your time was limited).
“Do they know, do they care
That it’s only ‘cuz I’m lonely, and low as can be
And the smile on my face
Isn’t really a smile at all?”
Bach is Dead.
4. The Harder they Come – Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists. An obscure 1972 Jamaican film about a country boy gone gangster in the capital, Kingston, this compilation is the grandfather of all Reggae albums, a close cousin to New Wave / Punk genres and the uncle of all Ska music to boot (although OK, Ska was around before this, their blood relationship is obvious). I still can’t pick a favorite track on this one, although my current favorite is 007-Shanty Town. I still play this whole album constantly and tear up when singing, and yes, dancing, along. You sentimental old fool, you. Just picture old fatty me dancing in my living room looking out at the Abu Dhabi skyline singing out “Dem a loot / dem a shoot / dem a wail (a shanty town!)”, then doing some ad lib in the bridge between the vocal sections at the beginning and end. Ok, now that you’ve washed your eyes out and after that image is gone, you can follow up listening with everything Bob Marley and UB40, then go check out 1980s British Ska: English Beat, Selector, the Specials, Madness, Fun Boy Three…then go back to the beginning of Ska with the Skalites aka Ska Kings of the First Wave and you’ll find a ton of obscure but danceable related tracks from dozens of artists (dem-a rude boys ya bum up de town!).
3. Duck Stab – The Residents. Never heard of the Residents? Well, forget it, then. Those who have heard of them know that I’m coming soon to Constantinople. There is no group out there (well maybe Frank Zappa, but I really honestly don’t know enough Zappa to make a qualified judgement) quite like the Residents.
2. Double Nickels on the Dime – The Minutemen. I am still in mourning. RIP D.Boon 1958-1985. #1 Love Song is just that. History Lesson Part II sums it all up nicely and everyone who I was with in my formative years at UCLA remembers the over 40 tracks on this gem. See the DKs above for related music, but The Minutemen still are my favorite from back in the day.
On the back of a winged horse Through the sky pearly grey Love is leaf-like... You and me, baby Twinkle, twinkle Blah, blah, blah E! T! C!
Lyrics to #1 Love Song
1. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys. Good Vibrations is a great song, but this is what a great album is, and Good Vibrations isn’t on it. To all my friends and family: God Only Knows what I’d be without you.
OK, I guess I kind of lied. It IS in order and #1 is #1 for a reason.
Walking women want to see the Southern Cross at night And so they set aside a sock and tie their laces tight Yes, mournful is the melody that echoes in their heads Without a beat, they march along believing Bach is dead Bach is Dead.
Hi everyone, some personal updates from me…
1. I turned 58 on December 1. Thanks for your birthday wishes. I share birthdays with the late great Richard Pryor, Bette Middler, the disgraced Woody Allen, and the putrid piece of shit Senator from Florida, Rick Scott, among of course many other people. Birthdates determine nothing about your future.
2. My friend and long ago classmate Charlie Williams announced that he’s leaving Facebook at the end of this month. I think it’s the right move, and it triggered something in me, and today, I’ve spent time unfollowing between 50 to 75 groups that I’ve been in on Facebook. I’ve had friends leave FB for various reasons, and, you know, by staying here, we are all contributing to…well, if you don’t know it by now, it’s not even worth commenting. It’ll be hard to leave FB because it’s one of my lifelines to family and friends. What are the alternatives to serving a billionaire who lied and cheated his way into his billions, and is now quite alright that the thing he built is one of the biggest sources of misinformation on the planet. The alternatives are serving the billionaires at twitter, who pretty much do the same thing; serving the billionaires at Instagram (aka Facebook-owned but for the younger generations); serving someone else in order to stay in touch with friends and family. No matter what we choose, it’s the wrong choice. We have no choice, so I’m thinking what to do.
3. The groups I’ve unfollowed are 80% political, with the remaining 20% various news agencies and other weird websites. I’ve kept some web comics sites, some art and design sites, and of course the UU sites, who remind me that religious points of view are embraced by a vast majority of humans and I need to keep my mind as open as possible. Already, I’m seeing a lot more posts from family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that were being drowned out by all the other flak I had on my “news feed”.
4. I spent a good three or so years as an online adjunct for St. Thomas University, my former employer, and subsequent alma mater (Ed.D. in Ed. Leadership), and I taught a few doctoral level courses about Social Media Management, naively extolling the virtues of the major social media websites. Now I realize I was duped like we’ve all been duped. The hardest part is admitting the dupe. I actually have a lot to say about higher education and education in general, but I think I’d probably have a serious brain aneurysm if I started to do the research that I want to do. I’d be doubled over in rage at the ghetto education has become globally, and especially the anti-educational road that the USA is barreling down.
5. I’m very thankful for my current job. I work with people from over 80 countries. I recently attended a talk at NYU-Abu Dhabi (they have a huge campus on Saadiyat Island…actually kind of hermetically sealed off from Abu Dhabi proper) and their main problem was, they spent all their time recruiting students globally, but their teaching staff come from a homogenous educational background (that being from Western Universities mostly from the English speaking countries). They have a huge disconnect, whereas our college student body comes from open-enrollment Emerati students who have the amazing value of faculty from, as I said, people from over 80 countries. The irony of it all … that’s just the tip of the iceberg… I have a lot of creative freedom in what I do, and have had many valuable working relationships here … and I’ve been humbled and reminded daily of my world view talking with the faculty and staff here. Long story short, this is the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere. I’ve had some frustrations, but I have to say, it’s the least stressful job I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and the opportunities for collaboration, whether with my Italian friend / colleague who will need my help with instructional design issues, my Jordanian and South African colleagues looking to collaborate with designing PD sessions on assessment, or the teachers who I coach from Mexico, India, Panama, Malaysia, Iraq, Nigeria, Tanzania, Australia, Pakistan, Romania…it’s been a really fabulous opportunity and I look forward to our transition to competency-based education at the college. If I write anything (and I still am not disciplined enough) it will be about the diversity of the people I work with. The government of the UAE is, I believe, doing their best to leverage the wealth that oil has brought them, and they are doing their best to diversify their economy. Of course, the road to where they want to go is bumpy, and seat belts are fastened. So far, everything I see here is forward looking, especially from my view inside the college.
6. With that said, moving to Okinawa is somewhere on the horizon, but I’m wondering if I should try to crowdsource some cash so I can have an adventure in Rwanda, first… there are still a lot of teachers who need guidance, and I wonder if there’s a place for me in or around Kigali. What do you think?
This morning I had a (one day late) 15-minute zoom-enabled 30th Anniversary “breakfast/lunch” with my lovely, cheery, and ever-energetic wife. Me in the UAE and she in Japan. Thousands of km apart…
To be honest, the sadness of the pandemic and the rush to open things 17 months before there’s a chance of a vaccine… just a bit too much for me.
I don’t usually wear my heart on my sleeve, but it’s aching right now.
For your convenience: a glossary of Dr. Larry-isms (I paid 70k for those damn two letters, let me have my vanity!), aka, my favorite ways to make quick notes or comments on shit that scrolls through the FB feed. BTW, fuck Zuck and fuck FB, but this is my only soapbox so there’s that. Make sure you print this out and tape it to the front of your computer / tablet / smart device for your reference. Print it out now before you read it. Stop stalling and print the damn thing…you know copy/paste into something and hit print. That color laser printer in the corner needs some use. If you want, color each point below a different color for variety, and you know, all that printer ink just sitting there. Jeez, go on eat some cheetos too, but watch out there’s onion powder in ’em. Or just watch this, instead, do I need to tell you everything?
Accurate – something that is way the fuck true. So true that you don’t even have time to shave. So true that that Japanese curry just needs a little more red chili powder so the burn in your mouth extends beyond each spoonful, although, hell yeah that piece of meat is better consumed via those aluminum chopsticks you just bought a few weeks back. So true that Patsy Cline and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Buddy Holly and Jane Russell would approve. So true that even Robert Mugabe would concede that everyone being a multi-mega-trillionaire just wasn’t helping.
Current Mood (and variations) – OMG I’m so fucking happy to have added a new pattern into my repertoire. Happy New Year 2020! A NEW DECADE! Just there’s literally a bug in the system and it has literally given us pause to gauge our mood. Shit, what’s gonna happen next? Is this just a 30-minute sitcom that will have resolution? OK, actually 22 minutes because of the fucking marketers…
A pause! A time to reflect! I mean, yeah, I grew up on sitcoms, so everything should be resolved quickly. Who isn’t having mood swings right now? Among all my FB brethren and sisthren there are the pray-ers, the drink-ers, the meme-ers, the political-ers, and the ones I least understand, those who keep it strictly personal with photos of their dogs and cats and living room furniture. Well fuck all that, I’m gonna cuss because there’s empirical research showing I’m a goddamn genius for doing so. Moody? Foody? Goody? Broody? This one I’m gonna milk for a very very long time.
Framing – George Lakoff. George Lakoff. George Lakoff. George Orwell. George Orwell. George Orwell. Lev Vygotsky. Lev Vygotsky. Lev Vygotsky. What do a modern day linguist, an anti-fascist fighter in the Spanish Civil War, and a Soviet educational psychologist have in common? Language is a way to make sense of a world where there’s no sense, until you dig down and see how language itself has been used and is still being used to bend minds, and souls, and morality, and pineapple on pizza. As a language teacher who has always paid attention to the “whose English, exactly, are we teaching?” debate, and keeping in mind Orwell’s lament of the death of hundreds of other languages as the worst legacy of colonialism and hegemony… well shit…sticks and stones may break your bones, but you are fucking wrong to think names will never hurt you, moron. STAY THE FUCK INSIDE.
Kwaheri – Kwaheri is Swahili for “Goodbye”. Straws aren’t destroying the earth, corporations are, and we are all complicit. Dire predictions, animal extinctions, stuff lost forever, like tears in rain … it’s all kwaheri, though it used to be adios.
Pearls – (found in many different phrased ways). Clutch clutch clutch. Remember, in these times, there is no bottom. None. NONE. Almost every day something even lower happens. Because of this new given, nothing that happens from this moment forward should surprise you. Those who want to see the world burn are also dragons, sitting on their piles of gold, the worst hoarders of all, and we are supposed to admire their success. Well, you know what? Framing. The rest of us are their servants in one way or the other. Deep inside me there’s an optimist, but like that speck of dirt that causes oysters to secrete whatever the fuck they secrete to form a pearl, that’s pretty much where I am personally. Also, I really was getting into the XFL because fuck the NFL. I will never learn, will I?
PSA – Public Service Announcements are usually sometimes actual real important serious things…or they aren’t. If you know me and my sense of humor, you’ll be able to tell them apart. It’s really my shorthand for saying… do you really NOT have the basic common sense and decency that this post is flagging? What the ever living fuck is WRONG with you? I think it’s me being Calvin and ranting at all the injustices I PERSONALLY AM SUFFERING. It’s maybe the sociopath in me (I have strong genes in that area sherioshly). Anyway, it’s something that you should take note of.
Zen – Use this as reference
Face it: the contradictions in the human condition baffle as much as they entertain. They make waffles as much as they use sump pumps on sailboats headed to St. Croix. You either try to connect it and control it, or you realize that all is well because nothing is under control. It’s why I’m a left-handed-ambidexterous Unitarian. Now go enjoy your snickers.
I did not eat tacos today. On taco Tuesday. On Cinco de Mayo. Forgive me. I had chocolate pudding And a can of Coke Zero Instead.