Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who Blogs?

This morning I noticed that I hadn't written a blog piece in several days. I was trying to think of something I could blog about. There were the usual suspects like my grand children, my day subbing, national politics, some piece of local trivia that agitated me for some reason, general observations about the human condition, volunteering experiences, etc. But I wanted to do something fresh and I couldn't think of anything so I decided to check out other blogs to see what other people say. According to information from the Google Blogspot information page there are anywhere between ten to fifteen million bloggers out there. That's just on the Google blogspot! That doesn't count millions of others that blog on other kinds of websites. That's a LOT of people. So what are they saying that's so important? Well, after reading many of them (not millions but a lot) I discovered that most people blog about....their families, their jobs, national politics, local trivia, general observations about the human condition and volunteering experiences! So I guess I'm not all that unusual. I also discovered that out of most of the blogs I read, people blog infrequently-some as little as once every few weeks or even months. I write a blog piece every few days. In fact there are stretches of time when I write something every day. It seems the only people who blog every single day are those who have absolutely nothing to do or who get paid for it. So what's the point of all this? Nothing much. Sorry. No brilliant insights. I'll just keep writing my pieces because I feel good about it and maybe someone out there enjoys reading them. Soooo...goodbye, until my next blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Logic of a Three Year Old Child

Do you remember sitting in a class somewhere, furiously taking notes, trying to keep up with what the teacher was saying? Well, those memories came back today as I was taking notes on my 3 year old grand daughter's assorted remarks. Here is a sample of random comments and questions:

Scenario 1:
Child: Grabs a banana, holds it to her ear and says, 'Grandpa, it's for you. It's your grand father.'
Me: Pretend to be talking to my grand father.
Child after conversation: Grampy, how long has your grand father been in the cemetery?

Scenario 2:
Child, while looking a photo album with older sister, wants to know why she isn't in some of them.
Me: Because you weren't born yet.
Child: But where was I?
Me (again): Wellllll, you weren't born yet.
Child: I KNOW! But where was I.
Me (lying, sort of): You were still in mommy's tummy. That seemed to satisfy her-for the moment anyway.

Scenario 3:
A mess in the play room.
Me: Before we go on to something else, you need to clean up that mess.
Child: You clean it up.
Me: Excuse me??? You made the mess. Now clean it up please. I'll help.
Child (thinking): I don't think so. It was your idea.
She was technically correct. I suggested she put together a puzzle.

Scenario 4:
Continuation of Scenario 3
Child: Besides my mommy and daddy are the boss of me, not you.
Me: And what about when your mommy and daddy aren't here?
Child: Then Aiden's my boss. Aiden could be any one of her several dolls. Which leads to the next scenario.

Scenario 5:
We're playing circle time. Courtney's the teacher and I'm the usual, Keila, a student. I'm seated next to 3 dolls. They're all named Aiden.
Me: When I call Aiden, how are they going to know which one I'm calling?
Child: It doesn't matter. I know who they are.

Scenario 6:
Child wearing a play head-set of ear phones: I can't hear any music.
Me: Try turning it up.
Child: It won't help, grandpa. It doesn't even hold a CD!

Finally, in response to me trying to read the very small letters on a CD player without my glasses. You have to be more patient, grandpa. Similar to her sister once telling me I have to be a better listener!

These are just a few of the many exchanges I have every Monday with this very bright 3 year old.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Luck PC Users.

I'm sitting here watching Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer rant and rave about the release of Windows 7. According to everything I've read, it's a huge improvement over Vista so PC users should welcome it. The problem is there are 6 versions of the OS and if you don't pick the right one, you're going to have problems. Also, if you're one of the millions of people who understandably avoided Vista and stayed with XP, you're going to have one hell of a time upgrading to 7. Either that or you're going to have to hire someone to do it or spend some money on a piece of software that will make it somewhat easier. All of this is partly why I've been a Mac user for as long as I've owned a computer ( a long time). When I upgrade to a more recent OS, all I do is install the one version issued, put in the CD, click, click, done! Good luck, PC users. If you're upgrading, you'll need it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Adventures With A Grand Child

Today's adventure with my 5 year old grand daughter brought me back a few years to my teaching days. Instead of the usual routine of playing hospital after school, she decided we were going to dress her dolls in various outfits. Believe it or not, I know the names of the 5 or 6 dolls she keeps at our house but then there's another dozen or so in her room and the only one I know is Benny so we started off by her telling me the name of each doll. Then she handed me an outfit and told me to put it on Katie. The problem was that I almost immediately forgot the names of most of the dolls. That prompted Brooke to remark, "Grandpa, you need to work on your listening skills. I just told you their names. Now let's try it again." I felt like I was in a time warp back to the classroom except I was the student. Listening Skills. One of the most important skills there is yet there are times when it seems like no one is listening. Politicians don't listen to their constituents. Parents don't listen to their children. Spouses don't listen to each other. Teachers don't listen to students. And so on. The topic is even on report cards. I could hear myself telling students/parents that they either did have or did not have listening skills. But there is of course a difference between not listening and having so much information thrown at you that you need more time to assimilate it all. I attempted to explain to Brooke that in the case of learning names, it was the latter but she wasn't buying it. After a couple of times I finally learned the names. There's a lesson here. One should always try to tell the difference between not listening and assimilating large amounts of information. It makes learning easier and less frustrating.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The 'No News' News

There have been a flurry of Facebook posts about the 'balloon boy' fiasco. The authors of these posts have all been critical of the media for dwelling on this ridiculous story and by extension the viewing public for giving the media the audience they seek. My response to that is exactly what are we supposed to do? There is no escape from non-stories like this. They're on every TV station all the time. It doesn't matter what you choose to watch. There's simply no getting away from them. Plus the coverage extends beyond broadcast media. Print media is just as guilty and, as if that weren't enough, they're all over the Web. The only way to avoid this stuff and thereby not give the media the audience they crave is to crawl into a hole and eat worms! I'll pass on that, if you don't mind. I suppose I could stop buying the products advertised by those who constantly abuse us with this stuff, but then I'd have to start making all my own stuff. You see where this is going. Maybe a letter writing campaign is in order. We could do that. I'll start it all off with this blog which I'm sure you know is viewed by millions nation-wide. Now you do your part!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Message to John Boehner

Here's the text of a message I recently sent to House Minority Leader Representative John A. Boehner (R - OH).
"Being a retired Connecticut resident, I 'reside outside the beltway'. I'm am writing to tell you unequivocally that I absolutely support a public option to health care reform so stop misrepresenting millions of people across this country and stop playing the role of the obstructionist!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Odds & Ends

1. It's a grand conspiracy against my sanity. I tune into the Today show this morning and what do I see but an interview with the most obnoxious human being on earth: Rush Limbaugh. I immediately switch to Good Morning America. What do I see? Rush Limbaugh responding to Al Sharpton-the second most obnoxious human being on earth. I switch to Imus on Fox Business and what do I see? Glenn Beck! Off went the TV!!

2. Pres. Obama announced to the gay community the end of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. The idea is to make it clear that anyone who wants to serve their country in the armed forces may do so but as a veteran I confess to being uncomfortable with his plan to change what has previously worked. I would think any serviceman (woman), straight or gay, would find it very awkward to learn of another person's sexual preference. Why can't people just keep quiet about it? It's no one's business. I can't believe all those generals and admirals at the Pentagon are actually going for this. I think they're just 'yessing' the president.

3. Did you hear about the 1st grader who was suspended from school for bringing a camping utensil to school? Apparently the school has a 'zero tolerance' policy for bringing to school what they perceive to be weapons. It's official. The era of common sense is over. Let insanity rule!!

4. And finally, nearly all of the Nobel Prizes have been awarded and yet again I'm passed over. How can anyone find the Nobel committee credible??!!

Thus endeth my rant of the day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who Needs Enemies With Friends Like These?!

I confess to being just as surprised as pretty much everyone else when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize but what really interested me was the reactions of various people. It wasn't just the conservative right who had their usual venom to offer. Oddly enough some far left liberals were there too. Now along comes Fidel Castro giving praise and support to the award. Great. Just what Obama needs. More ammo for the lunatic fringe-whatever side of the fringe they may be on! Hang in there, Barack. Like everything else, this too shall pass. As I've advised on numerous other occasions 'keep calm & carry on'.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

She's Baaaaaaaaaack!!

Great. First it's Glenn Beck's ugly face staring out at me from the cover of a book store display. Now no sooner do you manage to get past that without hurling all over, you encounter this idiot! And to think, I spent two years defending everyone's right to freedom of speech. Well, there is one consolation. At least I don't have to read her mindless ramblings! Only thing to do is stay calm and carry on. This too shall pass.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Age of Information

My last blog post about Glenn Beck drew a response from The Workbench Blogger on my website ( If you didn't click on the link and read it, the gist of the response was that contrary to my thesis, it was a very good thing we have folks like Glenn Beck to keep us 'informed'. I put informed in quotes because where one person regards what they say as 'informed' another might view it as a pile of crap. Anyway, my point here is not to debate the issue any further. Rather, I got to thinking about the so-called Age of Information which is what we're ostensibly in. We are bombarded by an almost infinite amount of stuff-from Radio & TV, print media, iPhones, Blackberrys, and last and probably most of all the Internet. Yet in spite of all of these sources of information, we humans continue to rely on the few sources of information we've come to admire or agree with. Let me be the first to admit I'm absolutely guilty of this along with everyone else. My sources of news are mostly certain TV newscasts, one or two internet websites, MSNBC, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and finally our town and local newspapers. That's it. No Fox News in this house. No conservative radio stations. No National Review magazines will ever be found by my chair. Pretty much just the sources I cited above and I'm betting that even those are a lot more than those of most other people. First of all, who has time to read, listen or watch everything out there? Second, most of it is in complete disagreement to our own thinking so why bother? In most cases like everyone else, I'm not likely to change my mind on where I stand on most issues. So what conclusion can be drawn from all this? Basically, people believe what they believe and they're going to seek out sources of information to reinforce those beliefs. The rest gets ignored. So why do we need all that other stuff? To sell ads of course!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Who The Hell Is Glenn Beck?

Just when I thought I had the lunatic fringe identified and safely tucked away into mental oblivion, along comes this jerk. A couple of days ago I was browsing a book store and who do I find staring out at me from a large display of books? You guessed it. Then while I was making my way through the morning paper, whose picture do I see in book ads? You guessed it. Finally, while driving along listening to Imus one morning, who do I hear being interviewed? Right again! Isn't it bad enough we have to put up with Limbaugh, Gingrich, Hannity, Palin, Coulter, Cheney, etc? Yeah, yeah. I know. Freedom of speech and all that. I get it. What we need to counter this wave of lunacy is a group of pundits who can be equally forceful without being pugnacious and obnoxious. Florida Representative Alan Grayson is beginning to show promise but he can't do it alone. Come on, gang. Let's rally around the cause for reason and sanity. Speak up!