Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Let Your Kids See You Read

I’ve been reading Erma Bombeck for so long, it’s hard to remember when I started. Probably Mom had a book or two of hers and home, and being the little reading bug that I was, I found them and read them. I still maintain the key secret to getting your kids to read is twofold:

1) Let them see you reading
2) Have so many books lying around the house they just give up and read what’s there.

Back to Bombeck.

The older I get, the more I notice.

This time around reading “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,” I noticed Ralph Corliss. He’s the guy played by Moe Greene in this movie version of the book (I didn’t even know the movie existed until today). He’s the guy who sees all the benchwarmers at the little league baseball game and gets them playing on his team.

The other coaches confront him, thus:

“Look,” said the second coach, “why don’t you let the boy go? What do you want with them? They’re not even winning.”

Ralph thought a minute then said, “It’s hard to explain, but kids go all through their lives learning how to win, but no one ever teaches them how to lose.”

"Let’s get out of here, Bert,” said the third coach.

"Wait a minute,” said Ralph.. “Just think about it. Most kids don’t know how to handle defeat. They fall apart. It’s important to know how to lose because you do a lot of it when you grow up. You have to have perspective – how to know what is important to lose and what isn’t important.”

"And that’s why you lose?”

"Oh, no. We lose because we’re too busy having a good time to play good ball.”

Having a good time trumps playing good ball. I know that grates. Sometimes it grates on me. Because I want to write a good book not necessarily have fun doing it. And maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. I have thusfar learned I can write a book, but I haven’t yet learned to edit one. The end is there and I “lost” because the book isn’t good. Maybe I forgot to have a good time writing it.

Are we too busy parenting that we forget to have fun while doing it? Sometimes it feels that way. Then we go on vacations, and it doesn’t feel that way any more. Or we spend time together at home. And we occasionally have a good time doing that.

Nothing But Scum

Some negative-vibe merchant tried to use my credit card to buy $277 worth of stuff from a home decoration store in Canada over the weekend.

Fortunately, our bank recognized the fraud immediately – not sure if it was because of the location or because it was my card being used in a folderol store – called us, and got the charge reversed and card cancelled.

I certainly hope they catch this two-bit, booger-baggin’ buttaramus and don’t leave HomeSense holding the bill. Yeah, maybe they are a big corporation and can “afford” it. But you know what, it’s the TB4 who deserves to pay the bill (and be prosecuted for using someone else’s card).

I sincerely hope HomeSense finds this individual and nails their smelly hide to the wall.
I also hope to find out what they bought, so I can figure out why they thought stealing someone’s credit card was worth a $277 shopping spree at a home d├ęcor store. (I suppose it could be a purchase at any of HomeSense’s sister companies as well, ranging from TJ Maxx to Marshalls to I don’t know what else. Doesn’t matter.)

So far, it appears only one credit card of ours was compromised – a check of our credit reports isn’t as of yet showing any other suspicious signs.

Also this week: A different TB4 cut the padlocks on the two Scout trailers parked at the church. By sheer dumb luck we’d parked our trailer snug against a light pole, so they couldn’t get the door open to get inside, but it sounds like they did some rather extensive burgling of the neighboring trailer. Probably the same dorks who slashed the trailers’ tires last year. Again, I’d like to find those responsible, and maybe pound a little sense into them. They also probably think this is a “victimless” crime, since they’re stiggin it to “the church,” which surely can afford it. No, boys (and I’m sure it’s boys; I hesitate to call them men), you aren’t doing that. You’re hurting a bunch of Scouts who have no money to replace what you’ve stolen.

I have higher confidence that the person who stole my credit card number will be caught rather than the trailer burglars. Thought my confidence isn’t all that high to begin with in either case.

I begin to hate people. That’s not good.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Typing with My Brain

So, here’s the thing, Facebook.

I don’t think in the way you think I do.

 Writing, for me, is more than mental action. It’s got a physical component. Whether I’m pounding out thoughts on a keyboard or writing them longhand with a pen on paper, there is a physicality involved there. Break that physicality, and my ability to write is diminished.

I know this anecdotally, of course. I’m no scientist. Heck, I’m not even a game-show host. I do know, however, if I’m in a group situation where writing is involved, if I’m going to be the one writing, I’m going to be the one at the keyboard or taking notes. There’s something in the physical act of writing that is tied in with the mental act of writing, and to take one from the other doesn’t work all that well.

Maybe it’s a crutch. Because it’s clear one can think faster than one can type – I manage about 75 words per minute, mostly error-free. I can go faster, but the error rate soars.
I could probably be trained to write without a physical aspect, of course. This old dog can learn a new trick or two.

But, for now, at least I’m safe inside my mind.

The Moon and Sixpence

Thing is, it’s hard to tell.

It’s hard to tell, watching this, whether the government Montag and Beatty represent is an oppressively conservative government looking to destroy books, or an oppressively liberal one looking to destroy books.

Neither conservative nor liberal can say they have clean hands when it comes to suppressing thought. History books, when they are written, are written by the victors.
Is the man who yanks the book from his little boy’s hands – what kind of thought is he protecting his son from?

The book he tosses, “The Moon and Sixpence,” is at best ambiguous. Does the government wish to protect the boy from the tale of a man pursuing his dream of becoming an artist, or to protect the boy from a ribald tale that shows a father abandoning a good job, wife, and family, for the hedonism of an artist’s life in Paris?

Is it, as the critic says, society is so busy “yearning for the moon that he never saw the sixpence at his feet,” or is society “charged with always want[ing] something else?”

I am an English major; I can go on for hours coming up with absurd interpretations.
Arguments can be made either way, I suppose.

But I like the ambiguity. It makes me more watchful.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hey Republicans: Shaddup

I want to thank the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee, Larry Lyon, and the IdaHope PAC for nudging me off the fence in deciding how to vote May 16 on whether to convert Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college.

Thanks to their reasoned scaremongering over (horrors!) of a potential College of Eastern Idaho emulating the College of Southern Idaho in assisting refugees to settle in our community and the bugaboo of wildly unlimited tax increases which could see my taxes go up initially $13.77 a year and then (consernation and hubbub!) forty to fifty cents a year beyond that if the community college board so chooses, I can see only one way to vote.

I’m going to vote in favor.

I've got three kids, you see. They are already doing dual enrollment and whatever other college credit they can get while they’re in high school (well, one of them is in junior high and the other is only getting started with these opportunities, but you get the picture). My wife and I also teach part-time as online adjunct instructors for BYU-Idaho. We know, like Larry Lyon, that there are many opportunities for local kids to get a higher education, or at least a toehold.

If I have another opportunity to present my kids with another higher education option, whether it be online classes, dual enrollment, Advanced Placement courses and tests, or a community college that sees fit to educate its students on (don’t let it be!) the merits of helping the downtrodden to find a new home and a new life in a new country, I’m going to take it. And if all it costs me initially is $13.77 a year, well, that’s an expense I’m willing to take on. Even with the wildly exorbitant tax increases the Republicans fear will come. I won’t even have to eat out one fewer time a year to pay for it – because, you know, if spending an extra $13 a year is going to crash your budget, you’re planning things way, way too tight.

So I’m researching the issue, thanks to this fearmongering.

I’m finding some interesting things. For example, tuition at a potential College of Eastern Idaho is set to run at about $130 a credit hour, per the Idaho Education News. That’s compared to the $348 a credit hour Idaho State University charges. A College of Eastern Idaho is sounding better and better, considering the burden of student loan debt I keep hearing about.

And as for fearmongering over “mission creep” leading to the horrors of a refugee resettlement center, bark up a different tree, please. You see, Mr. Lyon, Republican Central Committee, IdaHope, back in 1950 when my father, his brother, and their parents came to Idaho, thanks to a Mr. Lorin Andersen, who kindheartedly sponsored a Dutch family he’d never met to settle in Idaho Falls, there wasn’t a community-sponsored welcome wagon. Mr. Anderson helped my Dad’s family settle in, including paying train fare from Chicago to Idaho after their money ran out. The Greatest Generation saw fit to welcome my Dad’s family, who could have stayed on in The Netherlands after the horror of World War II but wanted to seek a better life and a farm of their own in the United States. Thankfully, there were people in Idaho Falls at the time who didn’t mind engaging in “controversial and divisive activities beyond the scope” of any mission, educational, evangelical, or moral they might have had. Lorin Anderson just knew a family in The Netherlands wanted to come to the United States, so he helped them.

So to tell me I should oppose a community college because they might emulate the Christian charity of another community college, that pushed me off the fence. I’ll vote yes on May 16, thanks to you.