Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Oh my gosh, I'm home! Muggy, rainy, beloved, home. Actually it isn't bad here. We had the windows and balcony doors open all night in the bedroom and no air conditioner on. It's a lovely 68 degrees out and I had to drink my first cup of my prime addiction outside. The frogs are still going off after the storm last night. It's the end of July already. Even the Katydids are wearing out. What's up with the frogs trying to carry on like that? You would think they were involved in some kind of midlife crisis for amphibians. I wonder what a trophy toad looks like. Lumps and bumps in all the right places?

I have to make myself get busy sometimes, otherwise I'll just stare out over the gorge and be happy. That's wrong, isn't it? I should be worrying about something or repenting for some nefarious deed that I only thought about doing.

This summer, in spite of the high gas prices (which are actually stupidly low to any world traveler),  I have burned a fair amount of fossil fuel visiting family, friends, and the like, and I'm not done yet. I have a couple of visitations yet to perform and a college or two to tour for my eldest who graduates in 10 months. Dang!

The money I put away for college has followed the stock market and the cost of college has followed the cost of prescription drugs for old people of which I am fast becoming one. Having a child or two headed for college hastens the process, it appears. It has been a test for me, but I find my manly man self turning into my mother, in the "What are you going to pursue as a career for the rest of your life?" mode. This, we ask of teenagers, while refusing to consciously admit that we ourselves still have no clue as to what we want to do when we grow up. Too often the things that make us money are no fun...or against the law. Still some decision of some sort or another has to be made, and some concession to preparing for life after Dad has to be made.

When I think about what I learned in college that prepared me for my career, I get more confused. The facts and skills base that I picked up at the various institutions of learning I attended was obsolete within a few minutes of my entering the business world. I think you go to college to learn how stupid you are, which you don't actually learn until you leave college and try to talk someone out of a paycheck.

 I have this strong personal idea that my children should, at some point in their school life, encounter a rigorous and demanding academic program just like I did. The problem with my experience with this four year period of unreachable goals was that it occurred during my third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. I learned to think critically and question everything. Got me in a lot of trouble throughout my life but, by golly, I can see the trees for the forest, though sometimes only in the retrospection of a mistake made.

I think we have a reasonable school system here in my home county, with all the problems of the world in microcosm but with enough teachers who actually give a flip to make it worthwhile. My own were Miss Walton, Ms Rattery, Mr. Wilkes, I thank you. What a snot I was (still am! ;>) Thanks for letting me to live, though I know the alternative must have crossed your mind at times. Now I hope that my kids can encounter the two or three teachers in higher education that will make a difference for them. Oscar Stembridge, you were the best of all time. Who would have thought an English teacher would be the best for a tech weenie like me? I still don't understand sentence construction but I read a lot.

And David Summers! Head of the Electrical Engineering department at Southern Tech...Still my friend after thirty years. I owe you.

These are the people I want my kids to meet. These are the people who will place seemingly impossible demands on young students who will learn more in failure than success. These are the people that will praise the good effort and show these kids that they are capable of excellence, but that it does not come cheaply. These are the people who suffer the ridiculous system they have work within and still they teach our children.

All I have to do now is find them and ship off my boys to sit at their feet. The search is on for the right ones for my kids, but you know what? These people are everywhere! There aren't enough of them, but every learning institution has them, even the community college down the street. A good education is everywhere you look if you want it. The problem with the world is that so is ignorance!




(Are these actually jokes? )

“President Bush said he also played a lot of sports as a child, but somehow the records were either lost or destroyed.”  Jay Leno

"The Bush administration announced they want to lift the ban on logging as part of their No Tree Left Behind program." Jay Leno

Oh good! I just checked the weather channel and the fog is really outside and not in my head as I feared. I tried to take a pic of the mist on the hillside but it doesn't do it justice. You'll have to imagine fog monsters crawling around in tendrils over the trees. The redtail hawks have decided to wait until later to go into the office, and are just sitting on convenient limbs being soggy. My head seems foggy and soggy and it is only the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

It will be over in 100 days, good or devastating.

I guess I'm probably the only person here that watched much of the DNC convention last night. Just so all of you will know, it was actually a lot better than the news coverage would have you believe. The woman on CNN was Don Rumsfeld's spokesperson before she became fair and balanced. You'll note the slur and innuendo in her commentary. Ann Coulter is covering for USA Today and had to be censored. Why any news organization would give her a forum is beyond me. They did have the decency to censor her remark that this was a convention of the "Spawn of Satan". I think they should have left it in so folks could see for themselves what she really is. Nothing makes me sadder about the state of my country than to see what passes for our news media now. Even so, it was fun to watch most of the commentators get caught up and say nice things about Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore.

James Earl Carter... looked right into America and told the plain truth about where we have been taken for the last three years. I wish I could make George W. Bush face him in his Sunday school class. You shouldn't lie to America! You shouldn't misslead us into a war to settle your own personal greivances and enrich your friends. You shouldn't play politics with the safety of our country. And folks, it is just plain evil to poison the world for profit. Go Jimmy! They loved him. Even the commentators, everyone I saw, were nice.

Al Gore... Everytime I see Al Gore I wish he had bigger balls. It was ultimately Gore's failure to realize the depth of the emptiness of the Neo-conservative conscience that let him step aside for the Bushistas. He gave a great speech. The crowd initially reacted by waving their Kerry-Edwards posters but before he was done they had put those down and were standing and cheering Al Gore, the man who was elected President but did not serve.

Bill Clinton owns any room he walks into. Hillary gave the speech that introduced him. She does a good job, but it was a token appearance in prelude to the man everyone really wants to hear. Everyone kept waiting for Hillary to kiss Bill but she never did. A good hug, yes, but she never gave in to our voyeurism.

I plan to find a transcript of Clinton's speech. he had to rush it a bit to get it all in and he only went one minute over his alloted time...a miracle for him. I remember sitting there thinking that this should be required reading for all voters. There was no political exaggeration but a clean dissection of the differences between John Kerry and what he will do as president and George Bush and what he has already done. It was clear, methodical, lively, and sincere...All reasons why Bill Clinton speaks at the beginning of the convention, as far from Kerry's time slot as possible. Now here's the thing: every person I have heard who has an ounce of objectivity has said that John Kerry is a decent, honest, and genuine person, completely contrary to the ad hominem attacks generated by Republican operatives. But!...No one claims Kerry is a great speaker. Having to follow John Edwards is bad enough but to have to follow Bill Clinton? No way.

Kerry is working his way around the country and will make his grand entrance toward the end of the convention. Let us hope that he is practicing his speech until he can just talk to us and laugh while he does it. If he reads his jokes, he will have a hard time. If he let's us somehow know that he's a friend of ours, he will dance into the Whitehouse.

Here is a good view of the DNC from a formerly neutral observer: 

God knows it's not perfect - not even close. I'm sure there was no shortage of vile hacks and corporate fat cats in the audience. And when it comes to actual policies, it's pretty clear the Democratic Party has about as much progressive backbone as a bowl of corn meal mush.
But compared to the sea of sour-looking honkies and fundamentalist zealots that have filled the seats (if not the stage) of every GOP convention I've ever watched, there's no question in my mind which side I'm on in this fight. It may not be my party, but those are my people, my America. I wish I could be there with them.

So here's the question: Can independant and swing voters remain in denial for the next 100 days or will they examine what the two candidates say and think about it? If there is any real examination Kerry wins!

Peace and Courage!