Category Archives: angry rant

Naked Opinions, Hot Answers

Twitter is a place where trolls live. It is a bull-puckie paradise where trolls can poop on things to their hearts’ content. It is toxic. Not a safe place to go naked. But many trolls do. They tell you exactly how ugly they are, not just in their skin, but all the way down to their bones.

I am not a troll myself. I am a nudist at heart, like the girl in the picture. I think it would be nice to walk in nature nude. But like the girl whose parents are hippies, but law-abiding hippies who would never send their daughter to school without clothing as long as that is an illegal act, I myself don’t put naked pictures of myself on Twitter. Some nudists do that. But trolls throw poo and links to porn if you do that. And being publicly naked physically is not my goal. Only naked ideas publicly.

But I put a lot of opinions on Twitter that are totally naked. They have no clothes on to cover up how I really feel underneath, the way a lot of so-called conservatives do to get their racist points across without being accused of having racist opinions. They dress them up nice.

I have a naked opinion about the impending repeal of Roe Vs Wade beginning the roll-back of safe abortion-services and the right for women to control what happens to their own bodies. I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice. And that is how I will vote. But I also believe it is the wrong approach to have this issue before considering some other very important things.

You need to be providing a better life for the majority of children brought into this world than you do now. Not just the Republican answer to abortion being adoption. You need to do something about all the unloved and disadvantaged children that already exist. Too many die of starvation. Too many die of abuse. And far too many are abused by the adults in their lives to the point that they grow up into monsters, abusing their own children, the children of others, and sometimes becoming sexual predators.

Why don’t we make a law where all parents must undergo intensive training and get a license to be a parent? You need to earn a license to drive a car. Why don’t we pass a law that corporations have to make certain that all children in their assigned districts are well-fed before they can do stock buy-backs to increase their value? If they want a healthier, more-capable work-force, they should invest in one. Why are we not passing laws to ensure that the planet’s environment is protected and children’s future is guaranteed? And all of these things should come before we worry about all people who are conceived actually getting born.

And why are we putting up with places like Florida punishing teachers for teaching tolerance to people who are different, not only by color of skin and culture, but by the sexual preferences and gender identity God made them with? If you truly want to do away with the need for abortion services, then you need more and better sex education rather than gag-orders against teachers to be punished by parents suing to get them fired and pilloried.

There will be less abortions needed if you teach kids what they need to know about how babies are made, how to use contraceptives safely, and how to talk to others about the facts of life so that everyone can know more about it and proceed with procreation properly, according to whatever version of God’s plan (including science-based secular beliefs) that you choose to believe in.

These are naked opinions. Saying flat out what I believe. Open to the poo-flinging of trolls and those conservatives who are easily offended if an opinion contradicts their self-proclaimed truths wearing the clothing of rather twisted and misrepresented Christian beliefs.

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Filed under angry rant, education, family, Liberal ideas, Paffooney

The Sum of All my Fears

Let me be clear. I am not afraid to die. I am not afraid of the end of life on Earth. Even though I am just atheist enough that I don’t believe in an afterlife or rewards for being good after I am dead. I am also not afraid of turning evil in old age. My life is centered, peaceful, and grounded in a positive, life-affirming moral philosophy. So, why would I choose to write about fear if I am not afraid of anything?

But, that’s just it. I am not immune to fear.

I am sometimes afraid to watch Cardinals’ baseball games. It seems like, during playoffs and playoff runs, if I watch the ballgame, the Cardinals lose. I am afraid of being the cause of them losing important games, as if they would’ve won if I was not watching.

Of course, I listened on the radio the night Bob Gibson pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 70’s . I watched the day Mark McGuire broke Roger Maris’s single-season home-run record. I watched the Cardinals win the World Series in 1982, 2006, and 2011. I followed the series in the newspaper in 1967. So, my fear is really a matter of being determined to overcome superstition. 1985, 2004, and all the other lost playoff series were really not my fault.

But a more real fear is my fear of stupid people winning the War on Ignorance that I have been fighting all my life, especially from 1981 to 2014, my teaching career. I am concerned that our education system is intentionally being driven into a dogma of only producing docile, controllable adults that will work hard and not demand a living wage, fair treatment, and equal rights with the privileged and wealthy minority. I labored for years to promote creativity, critical thinking, research skills, and reading-and-writing skills in students who come from poverty, Spanish-speaking homes, and who sometimes misbehave because they are not treated as well as their white, wealthy peers. Those are the hardest things that a teacher needs to teach. But the stupid people are demanding that we ban books and eliminate any idea or literature that might make privileged white kids feel the least bit guilty about racial attitudes, historical treatment of Native Americans, Slaves, and their descendants that their own ancestors might have had something to do with. And the feelings of those kids descended from those same oppressed peoples are disregarded. Stupid people would prefer that events like lynchings. the actions of the KKK, and other outrages committed in the name of racial hatred just be completely ignored and forgotten about. That is not how culture flows in a positive direction in a free democratic society.

As a retired teacher, I wish this meme had better spelling and was less true.

Stupid people are not only enacting racist book-banning crusades against straw men like CRT, Pro-Gay and Antifa terrorists, and liberal pedophiles, thus succeeding in firing black educators. banning the books of Alice Walker, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin, and preventing teachers from answering questions about sex. But also in getting stupid and violent radicals elected to offices they have no ability to handle only so they can do hateful things to the people their voters hate… mostly the poor minorities and marginalized immigrants, LGBTQ people, and even liberal educators like me that FOX News and Mark Levin tell them to hate.

I definitely fear having to live the final years of my long life under the rule of Trumpists, racists, narrow-minded stupid people, and Ted Cruz.

Oh, and I am afraid of being watched by ducks. Beady-eyed, soulless mallards, pintails, mergansers, Muscovies, and other kinds of ducks. Even though it was actually a goose that caused my preschool trauma and current phobia, it is a mallard with teeth that haunts my nightmares.

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Pirates Sell Insurance as an Act of Evil

Raygun RonnyIt is now official.  I hate health insurance companies more than I hate the high cost of health care.  I appreciate the emergency room that saved my son’s life a year ago in February.  But I am still trying to pay for it.  I am practically bankrupted by five ER visits in the last four years.  Only one of those was mine.  Health insurance does not approve ER costs for a whole list of health problems.  And that was a better insurance than we have this school year.

In order to get my son out of the Health Facility that the ER sent him to, I had to arrange a doctor and a therapist before they would even discuss releasing him.  I did that.  My son reached a level of recovery that they could have authorized his release after one three-day weekend, but of course, the kept him for ten days… all of which I had to pay for out of pocket at hospital rates.  The doctor I arranged for saw my son every three months after that to maintain his recovery and prescribe the best possible medicine.  He was one of the best doctors in his field and he helped immensely.  The therapist was even more helpful, being able to teach my son how to handle the symptoms and complications of his condition.  He was also worth his weight in gold.

But then the State of Texas decided the health insurance that teachers got through their school districts on State funding’s dime was much too good.  The wise and noble Emperor Perry of Texas decided to hand State employee health care over to Faetna ( a fake name that rhymes precisely with the corporation’s real name if you just drop the letter F).  Wonderful doctor does not even deal with the pirates of Faetna.  They swing into any and all health care situations on boarding ropes and slash at anything that moves with their cutlasses of problem-making.  So I had to get a new doctor.  The doctors in this particular field of medicine are not abundant to begin with.  Aetna… er, I mean Faetna, decided that we could only use doctors that were associated with the same hospital where we visited the ER.  Well, I asked them to give me names of the doctors who qualified.  I got three names.  I made an appointment.  We were filling out the paperwork in the doctor’s office twenty minutes before seeing the doctor.  The receptionist interrupted after I had half-way finished the mountainous paperwork to tell me the insurance had rejected payment.  This doctor that THEY had recommended to me was not a part of the approved network.  They took Faetna insurance, but Faetna refused to pay.  The same day I called the other doctors on the list.  No doctor recommended to me by the insurance company was part of the required plan.  There were no doctors in the city who did qualify.

Okay.  It can’t get worse.  We still had the therapist who was working miracles for my son.  He took Faetna insurance.  There was no problem there, right?  But wait.  The pirate captains of Faetna took another look.  They started rejecting his claims too.  Soon there was a huge yellow envelope full of demands for clinical records to justify the need for the therapist.  I went to the ER, to the wonderful doctor, to the hospital in Denton where they were still taking my money away from me, and to the therapist himself.  We gathered documents.  The lovely hospital charged me $50 for paperwork and made me drive all the way there to Denton twice to accomplish it.  I got all the materials compiled, overnighted them to the insurance company’s disapproval department, and everything should’ve been fine.  But. of course, it wasn’t.   The claims for services were denied.  I am expected to pay out of pocket.  They found no clinical evidence that the services were essential and they insisted I pay the bills without help from them.

So, I am left marveling at the ingenuity of the insurance-pirate racket.  Every month we pay for all five us, hefty premiums because we have health issues that need to be prepared for, and when the problems arise, and we ask them to pay their promised share…  we have issues, and we get denied.  I have been shanghaied by the pirates of Aetna… er, I mean Faetna.

pirates of insurance

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The Straw Man

In debate and discourse the “Straw Man” is the character the debater draws up in his narrative that he will use to represent his opponent which he will then be able to knock down as easily as if he were a scarecrow made of straw.

So, Mickey will make a straw man to represent Republicans. He is looking forward to knocking that straw man down to the ground or below.

And Mickey will make the scarecrow out of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. Made out of corn husks is almost the same as made out of straw, right? And Grassley is around nine hundred years old, so if there is any of the old iron left in his soul, it has long since dissolved into rust. Mickey’s verbal fists will not get broken bones in them.

I once shook Charles Grassley’s hand back in the 1970’s at the Wright County Fair in Eagle Grove, Iowa. He asked me to vote for him because I lived in his district, and he meant to do the right thing in Washington for the average hard-working farm family. So, I voted for him in 1976. And I did not regret that vote. Of course, that was the real Grassley. Not the corn-husk man Mickey is making for this essay.

I used to respect Republicans. Certain Republicans, anyway. The ones that still stood for something good. The ones who supported the Eisenhower Administration’s platform.

This was the Republican Party in the year that I was born. These were some of the principles that Mickey’s corn-husk man promised to uphold.

But then came Ronny Ray-Gun.

And the Republican Party got remade. They became the party of rich people. Ronny Ray-Gun introduced Voodoo Economics (a theory given its name by George HW Bush.)

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” said Ronny.

Of course, he meant, “If you’re not rich enough to own a boat, you can drown and we won’t care.”

And the corn-husk man, Mickey’s Straw Man in this argument, could’ve objected, and insisted Congress did not go down the yellow-brick road that Ronny laid out for the GOP. Instead, he said Ray-Gun was a truly great President, and he proceeded to make himself rich enough to buy a boat, something his average farmer-constituents did not have.

And when the conservatives on the Supreme Court handed an election victory to Lonesome George the Rodeo Clown that he probably didn’t actually win, Mickey’s corn-husk-filled Straw Man thought, “Isn’t it wonderful that we get to be in power without winning an election first!”

And the Straw Man went on to help the GOP faithful (now less the Grand Old Party, and more the Greedy Old Poopheads) put a justice on the Supreme Court who sexually harassed a black woman and never apologized for it, and a justice who likes beer enough to not remember trying to rape a teenage girl at a party when he was also a teen and caused Mickey’s Straw Man to be outraged… not at the Justice’s attempted crime, but at the fact that Democrats wanted to investigate the crime he committed.

And then came the years of The Donald, allegedly born of an orangutan and allegedly the winner of the 2016 election, and all the monkey poo that the king of all monkeys could fling. And Mickey’s Straw Man failed to remove him after he was impeached…. twice in fact.

Such is the nature of Straw Men. All of the Republican Straw Men are pretty much the same. I have a grudging respect for Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowsky, Jeff Flake, and Liz Cheney. And I haven’t made up my mind about Susan Collins… because she, like any Straw Man, can’t make up her own mind. But even those few believe in Ronny Ray-Gun’s boat theory.

So, now Mickey should deliver a haymaker or two on the corn-husk-filled Straw Man. He should be easy to knock down. But all the Iowa voters… and Texas voters too… have straw where their brains ought to be. This is why the party of the farmers was once-upon-a-time known as the Know-Nothing Party. So, knocking down the Straw Man has no visible effect on the votes of any of them. Oh, well… Mickey tried.

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Filed under angry rant, humor, Iowa, Paffooney, politics

Complaining by the Irritable Complainer

Today is nothing but a crotchety old man complaining. Not the clown in the picture. He’s one of the complaints I have to get out of my system. I just need to vent and take out my bilious spleen on the world (not by surgery, but by complaining.) So, I will make a list of the things that chaps the skin on my donkey (that’s the word, isn’t it? Not the Biblical word for a donkey, but you get the idea. Teachers train themselves to never directly use the word “ass” in a way that makes middle school kids hoot and laugh.)

…..

  1. Why is the pumpkin-headed orange clown NOT in prison? I could make a list of countries that would’ve executed him directly after the coup attempt on far less evidence than we get daily in the news. How can he still be in contention for the nomination of the Republican Presidential candidate who will probably win the next election because Republicans cheat?
  2. Why do Republicans who committed crimes that they describe in detail in their books about the insurrection and Trump’s coup attempt get to make money on their books hand over fist and never get investigated by the FBI and put on trial? I didn’t commit crimes and my books get ignored. (I only gave away one book on my last free-book promotion.)

3. Why do we have to pay so much for health insurance, doctor’s bills not covered by the insurance because of a technicality, Medicare fees every three months, and still have to cover eye-doctor bills and dental bills completely out of pocket with no help from insurance?

4. Each of the last two Republican administrations gave tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and left office with the economy in free-fall crashes, making a mess for the next administrations to clean up. Why then do the Democrats not only get none of the credit for fixing the problems, but also get blamed for the painful things like inflation that come with the efforts to recover?

5. Why is it an insult to be called a Liberal (since they favor labor unions, have empathy for the poor, are slightly kinder to immigrants,, and want to do sensible things like build solar-energy infrastructure to save the planet from global extinction of life on Earth?) And why is it a complement to call somebody a Conservative (when they make laws that the majority of people don’t want, to make teachers unable to say certain words they don’t like in school like gay, straight, slavery, discrimination, and activism, and to make it harder for people to vote if they are not rich, white, and Republican, and to crack down on crimes that poor people might commit while giving a free pass on bigger crimes to corporate overlords, CEOs, and Congressmen who are Republican?)

6. Five things to complain about are not enough, but I have to stop before sour stomachs become ulcers. Okay, so that makes six… technically.

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From an Alternative Point of View

These are not my two sons. The picture was drawn fifteen and ninteen years before they were born. Yet they were my two sons in the cartoon story this picture was lifted from.

Am I literally able to fortell the future? Of course not. But as an overly-sensitive artistical type one could argue that there is evidence in my art and writings that my reality now was at least partially embedded in my consciousness many years ago.

Estellia the Demoness

And truthfully, looking at the truth of things based on empirical evidence is what this point-of-view post is all about. We cannot always rely on the traditional concepts of good and evil as they have been taught to us. Sometimes you have to look at how the evidence stacks up properly, and just plain intuit a new way of seeing the whole picture. Yes, this is a portrait of a fifteen-year-old former student of mine. And she was definitely evil and difficult to deal with. But she went into nursing after high school. She works in the ER where her decisive ways and ferocious insistence on having things work out in her favor because that’s the way the established rules say it must be done turn into positive qualities that are probably saving lives in a Texas hospital as we speak. It is all in how you perceive the truth of a situation and then apply it.

Comedy, of course, depends greatly on rearranging your point of view. If you are going to make a joke about something, you have to re-mix and un-match the details in ways that still make a sort of sense to the reader or the hearer of the joke. I have taught at schools like Dudwhittler’s. If you are a teacher, you recognize that that school bus carries not only that which is funny, but also that which is very true. The teacher driving the bus is a tin man who easily rusts and cries too much, thus rusting further, but you can see he has earned his heart, even if he has to drive the bus on top of teaching so he will have enough money to buy food.

But probably the most anticipated thing from a new perspective that you were expecting since reading the title is a new perspective on the Coronavirus shut-down and economic depression. That alternative take is simply this… the pandemic, though extremely hard and painful, is a good thing that happened at the right time.

I am willing to say this, even though the way the virus has been mishandled in this country is going to very likely be the death of me, because there are benefits that we simply don’t recognize without a thorough punch to the gut and another to loose teeth.

It is a good thing because it will make it harder for Herr Fuhrer Pumpkinhead to win the next election, and he will probably take a number of corrupt Republicans down to the bottom of the sea with him.

It is a good thing because it is proving to us that we can survive on less and still make our way out of the bad situation.

It is a good thing because kids get extra time off from school, and probably also the chance to spend more time with the people who really teach them things we need them to know… like parents, grandparents on Zoom, teachers who don’t fear distance-learning technology, and trolls on the internet (Yes, I know that last one is risky and mainly learning the hard way, but it is also true from before the virus hit).

It is a good thing because the air is cleaner. And we have proven that we can make radical adjustments when it is a matter of life and death. And the environmental crisis is actually a matter of life and death.

So, now I’ve had my twisted say about my pretzel-minded perspective. And so you can now trash it, or possibly learn to like pretzels.

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Things I Hate

Greg Abbott wagging his finger at me because I like the novels of Walter Dean Myers.

I don’t very often write about hatred. It is not my focus. I prefer to write about love. But the world I live in doesn’t very often acknowledge my preferences.

You may have already deduced from the picture of the current pontificating Emperor of Texas that I don’t really love him, but it is not the braying hate-cannon that keeps attacking the things that I love which I hate. It is his idea that he can retain his immense power by telling his minions that they are being hurt by something called “Critical Race Theory.” It is the idea… the lie that I hate. It is a lie designed to cut back on education that touches on black history, black literature, and the memory of what injustices institutionalized racism has created.

I hate excuses for bad behavior that punish the victims instead of the perpetrators.

Rich and powerful bigots claim that white children are being unfairly made to feel guilty about being racists by curriculum in schools that is actually cultural and historical awareness that can be demonized by the misapplied label of “Critical Race Theory.”

Many of my favorite students of all time were children of color.

I love the book The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers. It is a book I taught in gifted classes at least seven times. It tells a story of several generations of a black family in the South It covers a time period from slavery through the Civil War and Reconstruction up to the Civil Rights Era. It is full of scenes of violence, death, racism, surviving racism, personal courage, victory, defeat, and most of all, Love. Unfortunately, it may make white kids feel guilty, especially if they have any empathy at all in their make-up. I know the book makes me cry at several points for that very reason. And so, the Emperor of Texas is against it. CRT! The book banning continues.

I hate lies that deprive black people, especially black school children, of knowledge of our own history. (And I should point out that Hispanics, Jews, and other minorities are hurt by this too, but the CRT purging does not actually touch on their history… yet.) There will never be a solution to racial hatreds until all of us confront this country’s actual history of race relations and things to be ashamed of.

I hate being told what is ultimately true… especially by people who will persecute you if you don’t accept whole-souled what they believe. It infuriates me that people who have power over my life, and have accepted an unexamined belief system instead of something that they have invested in a lifetime of searching for, tell me what I must believe in to avoid their manipulative onslaught. In truth, the average evangelical Christian has invested less than a tenth of the time wrestling with eternal truths that I have spent. I read and write philosophy. I have constantly gone back and revisited my choices and examined my personal morality inside and out. I will even carefully evaluate every hate-spewing comment I get here or on Twitter with a mind open to the possibility that they might have a good point, whether I actually block them or not.

Governor Ron DeSaniflush telling people what they are not allowed to think or teach.

I hate corruption. I hate hypocrisy. I hate lies and manipulation. So, obviously, I had considerable stomach troubles all during the Trump administration. But I believe in concentrating on positive things. Love not hate. Rewards not punishment. Looking for the good in people and encouraging that. Ignoring the bad in people when it is possible, and discouraging that.

But don’t think you have to accept anything I have said today. I am only suggesting. Because I hate being told that what I believe is not just wrong but evil. And I hate being told I have to accept toxic beliefs or be punished by society. And I would never do the same thing I hate to somebody else. I don’t wish to start hating myself.

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Hurtful Words

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about how words and the power behind words can actually hurt people.  They can you know.  Words like “brainiac”, “bookworm”, “nerd”, “spaz”, “geek”, and “absent-minded professor” were used as weapons against me to make me cry and warp my self-image when I was a mere unformed boy.  I do not deny that I was smarter than the average kid.  I also recognize that my lot in life was probably better than that of people assaulted with words like “fatty”, “moron”, “loser”, and “queer”.  Being skinny as a child, there was actually only one of those deadly words that was never flung my direction.  Words like that have the power, not only to hurt, but even to cripple and kill.

naked426_n

We all stand naked at times before a jury of our peers, and often they decide to throw stones.

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I try to commit acts of humor in this blog.  Or, at least, acts of verbal nit-witted goofiness that make at least me laugh.  I have been told by readers and students and those forced to listen that I only think I am funny, and I am a hopelessly silly and pointless old man (a special thank you to Miss Angela for that last example, used to tell me off in front of a science class I was substitute teaching years ago.)  But those words do not hurt me.  I am immune to their power because I know what the words mean and I am wizard enough to shape, direct, and control their power.

I have stated before that I don’t approve of insult humor (usually right before calling Trump a pumpkin-head, or otherwise insulting other members of the ruling Empire of Evil Idiots).   And I don’t mean to shame others or make them feel belittled by my writing.  But sometimes it happens and can’t be helped.

This blog isn’t about entertainment.  I am not a stand-up comedian working on joke material.  I use this blog as a laboratory for creating words and ideas.  It is mostly raw material that I mean to shape into gemstones that can be used to decorate or structurally support my crown jewel novels.  I use it to piece ideas together… stitch metaphors and bake gooseberry pies of unusual thinking. I use it to reflect on what I have written and what I have been working on.  And sometimes, like today, I use it to reflect on how readers take what I have written and respond or use it for ideas of their own.  That’s why I never reject or delete comments.  They are useful, even when they are barbed and stinging.  I made an entire post out of them yesterday.

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I try hard myself to be tough in the face of hurtful words.  You have to learn that essential Superman skill to be a middle school and high school teacher.  It is there in those foundries for word-bullets that the most hurtful words are regularly wielded.  The skill is useful for when you need the word-bullets to bounce off you, especially if you are standing between the shooter and someone else.  But I can never feel completely safe.  Some words are kryptonite and will harm me no matter what I do.  Some words you simply must avoid.

Anyway, there is my essay on hurtful words.  If you want to consider all of that being my two cents on the matter… well, I probably owe you a dollar fifty-five.

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Writer’s Block

I have always contended that I don’t have writer’s block. But some days, especially if I am not feeling well, I have writer’s lethargy. I can be slow to come up with the next thing. Writing can become bogged down and I am easily distracted or lose focus and have to return to what I was trying to do previously.

There is evidence that I have often had that kind of problem frequently on this blog. One thing I do to overcome writer’s lethargy is suddenly start thinking about how you can overcome writer’s block. What are the strategies that help me overcome it?

I often resort to “kickstart statements.” These are surprising or deep-left-field items that give the old brain a shot of adrenaline. The picture of the girl with the message blackboard is that kind of kickstarter. I never could have used that thing in any kind of social-media post when I was still employed as a teacher. It has the potential to generate parent complaints and administrative thoughts about evaluations and contract cancellations. But there really are kids who have thoughts like that in your classroom, and I know because not only was I a kid like that myself, I used it as an optional journal topic for writing practice, and, boy! do they ever catch fire when they can write about something like that and they know only the teacher is ever going to read it. It is the way I learned how many of my students had ever been to a nude beach in Corpus Christi or Lake Travis (Hippy Hollow.)

I can also look around the room, or scroll through my media library on WordPress and find an image or an item that generates ideas, responses, and even stories. I scrolled through to find this image of the Gummi Bear, who was a brief internet sensation on YouTube a few years ago coming from German CGI cartoons that illustrated earworm music with dancing green gummy bears. There’s a lot a goofy writer like me can run away with inspired by a nonsense thing like that.

It is also possible to generate new ideas by deconstructing a metaphor in as humorous and convoluted a way as possible. This word-food thing is the result of writer’s lethargy of a while back.

Of course, there is always the ranting factor. This, I think, is a go-to method used by stand-up comedians. They will pick something that is deeply bugging them, like the rats that inhabit my attic and walls during a winter that hasn’t yet completely gone. And they start listing all the ways they can make funny stories about the time the rat appeared on the bathroom floor tiles while my daughter was on the toilet, or the time the dog killed a rat that was in the trap already, but not dead enough not to bite back with the dog’s nose conveniently within the reach of rat teeth. And then they can rant onward about how disgusting rats are. And how can anyone look at a rat face and think they are cute? You look at that evil, beady-eyed face and you don’t think Mickey Mouse, you think plague, disease, the Black Death, and how much the Bank of America lawyer who sued you looks just like that.

So, you can see that generating ideas is easy. And you can write something interesting even on days when you can’t think of anything … quickly. When you have, not writer’s block, but writer’s lethargy.

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Recovering from Chaos

I was forced to retire from my career as a teacher by ill health, caused by years of juggling the chaos of a classroom (24 years of it in the middle-school monkey house. Aargh! Seventh graders!) I went into a school in 1981 as a rookie teacher for $11,000 a year. I was expected to take over a class that chased the previous teacher out of teaching permanently with firecrackers under her chair and nearly destroyed the school. The principal and half the teachers were new that year at Frank Newman Junior High. And I was on my own with discipline that year as everybody was scrambling to do their own jobs. The other English teacher was also a rookie.

As a group, we organized an effective faculty. Most of us were there for years as we stabilized the chaos. I personally broke up more than 35 fist fights in my teaching career, more than half of them at that middle school, and more than half of those by myself. I got punched in the back of the head twice, faced down a kid with actual razor-sharp throwing stars as a concealed weapon, and had my car tires slashed twice and car window broken once all because I was a teacher who wanted them to learn how to read and write better.

I built the English department, writing curriculum for three different grade levels to respond to three different State Tests. I was the department head for eight years, in charge of the gifted and talented program, and I helped us achieve a commendation for writing skills on the TAAS Test in the late 90’s. Of course, what I built was torn down and rebuilt more than twice because, well, Education is all about managing chaos.

A typical Texas school bus.

People often say that teachers don”t really earn their pay.because all they do is talk to kids all day and then get three months off in the summer. But I never heard a fellow teacher make that claim.

So, now I am retired, working hard at just staying alive. Retirement is supposed to be a quiet, calm, and restful time of life. But in my now-going-on eight year retirement, I have had a heart problem complete with a week in the hospital with no diagnosis, a five-year Chapter Thirteen Bankruptcy which I finished paying off in November of 2021, a two-year-going-on-three-year Covid 19 pandemic, the loss of both of my parents (neither one because of the pandemic,) and now, a war in Ukraine that could turn into nuclear Armageddon.

So, what am I supposed to do to recover from the chaos?

Maybe stuff hollyhocks in my checkerboard baggy pants. Or maybe just be satisfied with fictional worlds and living in my head.

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Filed under angry rant, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching