Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Sue, wherever you are...

It is funny how the mind works sometimes… what sticks, what doesn’t. Today, is one of my childhood friend’s birthday. I haven’t seen her in years nor even heard about her, and yes, I’ve tried Facebook but she’s not online or doesn’t use her birth name.

At the silliest times we were together, at the saddest times we were together. We were in junior high school, we liked the same band and from there on we were great friends.

The 1970s in Los Angeles was a crazy time in history. There are few publications or movies that come close to the craziness that was everyday life then, there.

Surrounded by the counter-culture of the boomer generation, were we the next large group to come on the scene. In number, we were larger than the baby-boom, called originally the Second Boom, then Generation X. There were schools built to hold us, then closed as we finished the grade. The building budgets boomed. The child-focused advertisements expanded.

Pushed to the ultimate in competition, we were expected to exceed or self-destruct. All the access to unquestionably un-reasonability was at our fingertips, if not in the laboratory than certainly on the street corner. Encouraged extremism was status quo giving societal birth to everything skewed: violence personified in serial killers to reactionary fanaticism and everything excessive in between. This was the generation of speed metal and surf-bums.

In the middle of the pandemonium found in junior high school, there were those friends that understood the tornado of chaos in which we lived. And there was Sue.

I don’t think I ever laughed as hard in my youth as I laughed with her over the silliest little things. I can't ever forget the first time I drove on the freeway and the particularly ear-piercing scream that came from the passenger seat when I took the curve for the first time. I remember when she showed me how her step-dad wanted the carpet vacuumed in two different directions and that the shag had to all end up leaning the same way or she’d have to vacuum again. I recall hanging upside down on the elementary jungle gym bars & laughing so hard we drooled. I'll always appreciate the emotional refuge of sleep-overs that didn’t include much sleep. And of course, I’ll never forget how badly I hurt her feelings believing my then-husband’s story over hers. After that, our friendship just wasn’t the same. We drifted further apart but I only ever wished her well and nearly immediately wished that I had chosen differently.

It occurred to me today that it’s been more than twenty years since we spoke and that every year, on January 31st, I say out loud, “Happy Birthday Sue, wherever you are.”

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: Better Than Lennon:

Title: Better Than Lennon - The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney
Author: John Cherry
Genre: Nonfiction/Music
ISBN: 978-1-936051-40-3
Publication Date: September 2009
Pages: 132
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Peppertree Press

Better than Lennon: The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney written by Paul McCartney fan extraordinaire John Cherry supports the argument that Paul McCartney was and continues to be the most successful solo artist to come out of the controversial group The Beatles.

Using quotes from friends & co-workers of the Beatles, John Cherry constructs his arguments by comparing the writing credits, sales numbers and placement of songs on the charts to convince the reader of his position.

Paul McCartney always worked hard at delivering what the music fans wanted. He learned to play other instruments and often took charge at recording sessions to get the projects done. When the Beatles were inevitably going to break-up, Paul was the one to try to save the collaboration and when it was over, he was the first to release a solo album. Clearly, Paul was not only a musician but a businessman too.

In the years since, Paul created Wings which had similarly successful sales and chart ranking. The Wings band was plagued with character flaws from the other members which lead to the end of that endeavor. But Paul McCartney overcame those difficult situations to triumph again.

Since crossing into the 21st Century, Paul McCartney, who turned senior citizen, hasn’t lost his touch in producing emotionally evocative music for his fans. The author admits to being emotionally moved to tears during a recent concert. What can top that experience?

Reading this book is like talking to the biggest Paul McCartney fan you know. If you love Paul McCartney, you’ll love this book. If you’re on the fence: who’s the best Beatle, Paul or John?, you may be persuaded that the answer is Paul, by the number of songs produced, by the placement of songs on the charts, by the placement of albums on the charts or by simple dollars and cents.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling

Title: Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling

Author: Sandra Dodd


Pages: 350

Price: $25.00


Purchase at:

Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling book is intentionally written for the radical unschooling parent, however, any parent who wishes a better relationship with their child, better learning strategy and just an all around calmer household would do well to mine this resource for the jewels within. It is unquestionably about parenting in a loving way.

Employing short essays to frame and focus on particular aspects of child-led learning, assembling a child focused household, Sandra Dodd’s book brings the concepts and the practice of unschooling into spotlight for the reader.

Inspired by the Open Classroom model of learning practiced in classrooms during the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the writings of John Holt and others, Sandra Dodd trusted the theory that humans are innately curious and left to their own they will inquire and learn a variety of information and skills with which to thrive. She determined to raise her children in this way.

Dodd uses examples from her own life raising three children in New Mexico, fulfilling her desire to create an environment supportive of free learning and free thinking as previous educators only hypothesized about doing with classrooms full of children.

Part One: unschooling is arranging or strewing for natural learning to take place. The 250+ essays bring the reader from neophyte to understanding of the process. Part Two: gives insight and a behind the door kind of information about an unschooling family.

Beginning with the profoundly accurate statement: “Neglect is not unschooling.” I was drawn into this book so entirely that I didn’t want to put it down. This great read was over so quickly. Well, quickly for 350 pages. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book.

I especially like the way Sandra Dodd presents each issue. Each short essay, most a page in length, poses questions, gives ways to find the answer or examples of results. Because the answers are different for each parent and each child, there are no hard fast answers. Someone looking for answers in a Dr. Spock style: if A happens, insert B; would do better building a piece of furniture rather than raising a child. But parents who are truly looking for a better way to parent can’t help but learn from this book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gouge and SyCophant: a tragic comedy

Monsieur Gouge and Sy Cophant, his clerk, were deep in conversation. Profits were down and Monsieur Gouge was not pleased with the return on his money.

Sy Cophant: But sir, the whole economy is slow. When the others use the consolidation formula pulling increased profit out for their stockholders, we see less earnings.

Monsieur Gouge: That’s no excuse Cophant! I want results. We must get results!

Sy Cophant: We could look at expenses again.

Monsieur Gouge: I knew you’d think of something. Read them.

Sy Cophant: Overhead: building, heat…

Monsieur Gouge: What can we lower?

Sy Cophant: The temperature. We’ll save on the heating bill this winter.

Monsieur Gouge: Your suggestion?

Sy Cophant: Well, research shows people usually slip their jackets off when they come into the store. I suggest we lower the temperature so they don’t have to remove their coats as they shop. That way, they’ll stay comfortable while shopping.

Monsieur Gouge: Very considerate. How much? How much?

Sy Cophant: The estimates show a 10 – 20% savings on the heating bill depending on the difference between the outdoor and indoor temperatures.

Monsieur Gouge: Excellent! Make it 30%! What’s next?

Sy Cophant: There are the employees, sir.

Monsieur Gouge: They always cost so much. What about them?

Sy Cophant: That’s the trouble sir, they’ll stop being customers if they don’t have jobs.

Monsieur Gouge: How many times have I told you, Cophant? The employees just cost money! They aren’t customers. The customers shop. The employees cost. When will you get that straight?!

Sy Cophant: Sorry, sir. You’re right, sir.

Monsieur Gouge: Lower the wages.

Sy Cophant: Lower the wages?

Monsieur Gouge: Yes, lower the wages. Except yours, Cophant, you get a big bonus because you do as I ask.

Sy Cophant: Thank you, sir.

Monsieur Gouge: How much?

Sy Cophant: Well, they’re already at minimum wage, sir.

Monsieur Gouge: Damn government. This is the government’s fault. So, what do we do?

Sy Cophant: We can lay-off staff.

Monsieur Gouge: Yes, lay them off.

Sy Cophant: Who exactly?

Monsieur Gouge: How much is payroll?

Sy Cophant leans over toward Monsieur Gouge holding the papers at an angle, points to a number on the balance sheet.

Monsieur Gouge: What? That much?

Sy Cophant: Employee wages are down 30% from 10 years ago.

Monsieur Gouge: All of them.

Sy Cophant: All of them?

Monsieur Gouge: Yes. I want that money. Stop paying everyone. Except you, Cophant, you can have another bonus. You are so useful.

Sy Cophant: Thank you, sir. I appreciate that, sir. But sir, the customers?

Monsieur Gouge: Sometimes, I don’t know about you, Cophant! You seem so smart and then you ask the dumbest questions. Haven’t you heard about self-serve?

Sy Cophant: It will be done.

Monsieur Gouge: So, how do we increase sales? Get more customers? Do you think I should Twitter?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Path

Experience alone will bring the seeker to the path on which the seeker is to travel. There is a way for the seeker to find their path but first they must recognize that they are not on the path.

What does life look like when you are not on the path?

Life has the experiences of life. The stresses of life become painful to the spirit when the person is not on the path. Health will not be as good as it can be in that moment. Relationships will not be as good as they can be in that moment. The person has secrets that they cannot share with their own mind. The secret is a block. The block in the mind is a block to the path that will bring the person into the state of being a seeker. The recognition that… it can be as simple as, there is just something missing, or not quite right, that is the first step on to the path.

What does life look like when you are on the path?

Often what a person may experience on the path is just the same as when they are not on the path but it is the inner journey that is different. The inner journey allows for each moment that is experienced to be within itself. It is the now of the moment that the seeker can experience the moment. Gaining the experience of the moment that experience becomes information of the being which makes the journey clear.

The difference is the inner journey. It is that, which makes the seeker more. The seeker experiences each moment and in doing so, the seeker has more, is more and is better able to find the advantages to the path, where they are on the path and experiencing each experience to greater depth. There the seeker finds what is sought, the power that is within the seeker.

The thought that brings a person to be a seeker to the path to learn to experience the deeper nature of power that is within the individual is a powerful thought.