Sunday, March 27, 2011

Better Learn To Swim

I work primarily as a solo act. This is the result of desire at times but also because it's all that is available. Living in Waco has the unfortunate drawback of lacking the age demographic to which I belong. Thus, I've learned how to do a number of things on my own...things that most people would not seek out. While it was out of necessity for me, I think it's important for everyone to learn self-reliance. I am not suggesting that people venture out on their own all the time. People need human interaction and there is also safety to keep in mind. That being said, the philosophy that you have to "be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with someone else" and that you must "know thyself" is important and is often missing in people's lives. Discovery, introspection, self-awareness, self-esteem, self-concepts all must really be obtained in order for others to truly know us. A number of relationships come about based on one or both members needing to be needed or needing support. The notion of "being in love with the idea of love" comes to mind. A relationship then has a direct correlation with the level of one's self-esteem.
The solution, in my opinion, is to throw yourself into the deep end of the pool. The more we coddle ourselves and allow ourselves to be coddled causes a massive disservice in the long-term. Granted, this is a difficult thing to do. No one initially likes being out in the cold. However, you learn a lot about yourself and your level of resourcefulness and through trial and error you discover the myriad amounts of things you can do on your own. Each success and victory then gives the momentum to continue. Beginning with little things like going to restaurants and movies alone to going to bars and talking with random people to traveling alone. This requires us to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. A feat few are able to accomplish without the prompt of a dare of having lost a bet. Failures no doubt will occur; such is the nature of things. However, a rational person realizes that any successful person has failed more than they've any respect. The only difference between one who is a failure and one who is a success, is that the successful person learns from his or her mistakes, takes stock, and tries again. The "scatter technique" suggests that out of a one hundred tries, there are bound to be at least some victories. This is also supported by the "law of averages" I suppose.
Self-reliance teaches us that we like being around people, but that we don't always need them. The freedom of being comfortable with oneself can open doors to more opportunities than was originally thought. After all, the one we've convinced ourselves is a "must-have" might have us tied down and anchored and in the end might actually be the one who pulls us beneath the water.

"....then I'll do what my father did to me when I was five...lure you to the edge of the pool with a puppy, and push you in." -Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Guns make you stupid...duct tape makes you smart"

"Now I'm hearing about kids bringing guns to school...GUNS to school! We used to bring FROGS to school! If you brought a frog to school now someone'd shoot it!" - Jeff Foxworthy

When I think about duct tape, I think about high school. Not because I'd participated in activities involving duct taping people to the wall although in retrospect that might have been fun, but more specifically how it got me out of trouble in many occasions. The first time I drove my car out of the garage I knocked off my side-view mirror. After my father had collected himself, guess what we used to keep it attached to the car for a number of months. Duct tape also played a huge roll in being on the drum line (Get it? "Roll?" Puns really are for morons). Given our (drummers) naturally destructive nature, equipment would break on a number of occasions. Duct tape helped keep cymbals attached to straps, harnesses attached to snares, quad drums attached to other quad drums, and given that the statute of limitations has probably been reached by now, it was also used to seal containers for new items as the result of petty larceny. Duct tape is often times thought of a man's entire tool box. It is always an immediate go-to option for at the very least a temporary solution. We always need solutions because admittedly there are always problems. Better that we solve them with the grand solution of reliable adhesive, especially in a figurative sense.
The human temper can be quick to ignite and furthermore exacerbate. I know this, because there are topics and events that not only ignite my personal furnace but also come with an exuberate amount of gasoline. One such topic, is the push from our "governor" and "state legislature" to pass a law allowing students on college campuses to carry firearms. Now, a few stipulations before the oxygen levels start to dissipate. Students would have to be 21 and have obtained their conceal and carry license. There's also the argument that crazy students, or those with mal-intent are going to carry weapons on campus regardless of the rules. As Plato put it: "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." While I agree with Plato, this is not my chief concern. I believe that students as a whole will start bringing guns to school whether or not they have their license because they know one fact: that there are students somewhere in their vicinity that are armed. They are then less likely to give a shit about the rules, and more concerned with protecting themselves. That's were part of the counter-argument goes out the window. The "governor's" argument is that more guns prevents shooting deaths. If more students are bringing more guns because of all the other students who are bringing more guns then it creates a perception of fear based on fear. The more guns there are, the more opportunities for someone to get shot.
Let's look hypothetically at a situation where someone on campus were to open fire (God forbid) for whatever reason. Guns as a "preventative measure" are likely to cause more deaths not less. A student with a gun might have their conceal and carry license (which is not difficult to achieve AT ALL) but that does not mean they've had training on how to deal with high-stress situations. Unless the student has had combat experience i.e. served in the military, I don't believe that under the influence of massive amounts of adrenaline pumping through them that they will be able to aim straight. Think then off the number of additional students who might be killed in cross fire. Returning to an earlier point...we all have problems and we all get angry, in some cases pretty easily. Students who argue with other students on campuses, or teachers, or administrators, or staff about even trivial things might demand a sense of superiority which is not satisfying unless their opponent knows of it. A knee-jerk reaction might be to pull a gun and then God only knows what happens after that. Situations involving alcohol are also likely to provoke more brash reactions. Fraternity houses (as men are more prone to aggression) come to mind. Drunken disagreements amount any range of subjects, most of them probably bullshit, inane ones, might lead to "bust'n a cap" all in the name maintaining someone's ego. The end result of when pride and anger mix with tequila shots. From shot glasses to shots fired. Now granted, much of this is conjecture, but in all fairness I'd rather not find out for sure. Human life is too precious for us to let it hang in the balance for the sake of a fetish.
As a professor, I genuinely care about the well-being of my students. I'd prefer to have them go on living. Not just during the college tenure but for the rest of their lives. There is thus a bigger issue at play: gun control. The words that get every American all hot and bothered. I'll save that issue for another post. Progress, solutions, and common ground is all about small moves...and duct tape. Literal. Figurative.

"Guns make you stupid...duct tape makes you smart." - Michael Westen, Burn Notice

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride"

I read an email last night from my college president Dr. Johnette McKown that it is projected our institution will  receive "$2,922,013 less money through the formula allocation formula as well as the benefits." It is no secret that I have a number of issues with "Governor" Rick Perry, our State "Legislature" and our "State Board of Education." That damn devil has forced a mentality which stands as a common logical fallacy: either-or. Typically, there are a great number of options that exist within; however now there almost has to be a "with us, or against us" decision to be made. I never wanted it to be like that. I'm an advocate for finding common ground in the things that unite us but it is growing ever more difficult not to have absolute distaste for those in opposition. While there is some concern for the self here, my primary concern is for the souls I see in my classrooms every day. From my perspective I see students trying their absolute best to raise a family, maintain multiple jobs at times, and also attend classes so as to achieve the dreams they have set for themselves. The opposition, simply put, is trying to snatch away the means to achieve those dreams. With continued funds cut from education, not only will teachers be stretched more and more thus unable to give all students due attention, but worse, students will not have the financial assistance which allows them to proceed with their college tenure. On top of all else, colleges are being forced to increase tuition and taxes lest they close their doors entirely. Either we care about our children or not. Either we want them to receive and education and be successful or not. Either we are power-hungry, money-obsessed, narcissistic sons of bitches or not. I maintain that we are to adhere to that unspoken rule that we are to give to our children better than we received. How on earth will we be able to achieve this if we are to allow such egregious incompetence sit at the helm of our state government. There is no sympathy, nor understanding to be had for this behavior. There are things in this world where we do not and should not compromise. I am on board for the journey to fight this horrid oppression by whatever means necessary. I have a podium and I intend to use it. My students will be among the many who will begin to fight against these lunatics who would sooner strike them down and stand on their heads before they offer the slightest benefit. Who of the few will stand up for the many? Educators. There is a reason we do this for a living.
"No sympathy for the devil...keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride." - Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Vino Veritas

Maybe it takes a person who is inebriated to talk about a subject such as this. Admittedly, I am indeed that...intoxicated. The inevitable result of mixing beer with whiskey with wine. It helps to run posts through "spellcheck." I am of the opinion that alcohol is the oil that loosens our jaws and forces us to say the things we never would under sober restraint. A wise perspective time to time to be sure, however that restraint might cause us to miss the opportunities for veracity which might actually prove to be the most fulfilling moments of our lives. By no means am I suggesting that we make life's bigger decisions under the influence of alcohol, but I am indeed an advocate of letting loose our tongues from time to time in order to obtain true and obsolute honest forthcoming information and opinion. Otherwise we are careful, self-monitoring, walking liars. Perhaps a little revolution every so often is a healthy thing. Our honesty can be a purging experience though it does also need to be tasteful and diplomatic. Therein lies the trouble...finding the line. It has been my experience that the truth might hurt, but it doesn't need to equate to the physical nature of a sledge hammer. In American culture we are taught to "say what we mean and mean what we say" however the "politeness principle" has certainly fallen by the wayside in this. "Liquid courage" might be better yielded to "liquid creativity" in that we still speak with assertive intended meaning but with the fluid eloquence of cognizance (whatever is left available) and the lack of concern regarding ramifications. I also find myself to be the most spiritual when under the influence of alcohol. All inhibitions laid aside and no barriers between...a self left to instinct. To plague our brain might be in fact to clear the mind. I've been forthcoming to people in this condition which has led to benefit and to ill. I think though in both directions it has been to proper benefit and necessity. Maybe Benjamin Franklin was on to something.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin