My Happiness Receives A Daily Jolt of Somber

It seems as though I can no longer feel a full 24-hours of happiness. I have never been prone to a bleak attitude and am adept at showing “the tears of a clown” when in public for the want of making others happy by keeping any sadness I feel from them. But not as of a few years ago when my beloved workplace took a hairpin turn to the right throwing off everything and everyone into several tumultuous years that show little sign of self-correcting the negative flow of constant overwork.

Yesterday, I played the song “Yes, We Can Can” by Allen Toussaint demonstrating the 1973 version recorded by The Pointer Sisters in two of my audio classes, pointing out various sonic details in the song and how an audio engineer achieves these sort of things in the mix session. It kept me in a perky state all day as one class at 9a and another at 5:30p heard the great song, and I even sung it during the ride home after a 13-hour work day. “I know we can make it. I know that we can. I know darn well that we can work it out…” I had no idea until I awoke this morning that Allen Toussaint died last night after a performance in Madrid, Spain at the age of 77.  Somehow, I channeled him, bringing my students and me the happiness of his funk groove, great lyrics, and the sonic pleasure of The Pointer Sisters recording of it by Arranger, Engineer, Mixing Engineer, and Producer David Rubinson as Allen took his last breath on earth. R.I.P. Allen Toussaint.

This brings me back to another moment of somber which does not diminish the happiness I felt yesterday provided by the now dead composer, but certainly stepped on my groove for today, the 11th of November. This day usually causes a revolt in my heart as America celebrates Veterans Day because when I read the first line in the link provided:  “The mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) is to fulfill our Nation’s promise to Veterans for their service and sacrifice to our Nation,”  I think of my numerous students who are Veterans trying to obtain a promised education who have to come to me in embarrassment every semester with the reality that they can’t purchase certain requirements of the course because their check from the government has been delayed again. There is no delay when the government sends these soldiers off to war, but when it comes to truly caring for our Veterans upon their return, the U.S. government needs to take a good look at the O.V.A., clean house, and do the job it purports to in its mission statement.  Never mind that I’m a pacifist and wish that no nation need an army. I find the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. more akin to my spirit on this day: “”Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” Still, I thank those who have served and who serve now for what must surely feel like time in hell when we are at war whether it be a declared act of Congress or the multitude of covert wars our country engages in around the globe.

Peace out.

“…just like Pagliacci did/I’ll try to keep my sadness hid

Sad Clown

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On The Importance Of Being November

Hello, November 1 from the early and now BRIGHTER morning of 7 am. The return to Pacific Standard Time (PST) has once again boosted my spirits as it does in annual fashion. I’m awake, alive, stretched, and ready for Sunday! This morning at 2 am, I watched the digital clock on my hand-held spaceship slip back from 1:59 am to 1:00 am in a blip on the screen and heard the Halloween party people at the Dragon Lounge down the block on the corner howl with delight.  The Pacific Daylight Time zone is caput, and it’s the month that celebrates me.

Ancient civilizations flexibly adjusted their schedules to the sun as some of us do during the summer, so it’s not just that Roman water clocks scaled differently during certain months of the year, but the point that more morning light offers our higher brains (and our tending of agriculture) more time to shine.  A Wiki purports to Sir Winston Churchill having once argued that it enlarges “…the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.” There is a fascinating history of DST at this Wiki, and I suggest you read it for fun and adventure. Many a political fight has been waged in the U.S. around the inability to fully standardize DST throughout the entire country due to various benefits and drawbacks. The politics behind it (both for and against) are quite amusing and include reasons to accept the time change that hold Idaho potatoes and fast-food french fries accountable.

November, November a month like no other!  The Julian calendar month of eleven and one of four calendar months that contain only 30 days distinguishes this beauty from the others. It is one that my mother and I celebrated together in the happiest of ways: celebrating our birth month, week, and day; celebrating her sons on Veterans Day that they remained alive through their tours of duty; on Thanksgiving when we would dine with family to give thanks to our solid middle-class standing and the ability to have a special meal together even though it meant some travel at times.  Some other good bits about November gathered from several online sites and a Wiki on November:

These are only half of the available celebrations of the first half of the month of November and none of them include the wonderful Pacific coast chill in the weather!

While the Financial times press forward with headlines for Nov. 1, 2015, warning: “US Faces Fresh Russian Navy Challenge” (double entendre?) adding “…Increased Activity from [the] Black Sea and Med to Pacific,” and “Pyongyang’s arms drive is gaining pace”, I remain couched in my humble and deliriously over-worked folds of my brain, paying homage to my favorite month.

Alas, I’m off to visit Bunbury in the countryside and leave humanity to its own devices.


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The Barely Possible Brightness of Teaching

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Speaking on behalf of many of my colleagues, I can say that we suffer vertigo.

Teaching brings forth a host of images and thoughts about the “higher calling” of the profession. Those of us who teach can, in fact, DO. The requirement in public colleges is to keep abreast of current trends in our disciplines, update our curricula, test, grade, evaluate, assess, modify, survey, and reassess, all in the squish beneath the presses of Big Data, while remaining inspirational to our students, of course. Classroom productivity levels must rise so that our tax dollars provide the most bang for the buck. The government wages war on its public educators with such vehemence and ferocity that there are days when I feel as if I’m in an ambush at the Battle of Cajamarca.   A day rarely passes on campus when I can simply arrive to do what I do best and for that which I was originally hired. Each week, underscored by a plethora of meetings to attend, surveys to complete, reports to read and write, then further meetings to assess the reports, drones on and on in a mind-numbing loop jokingly referred to as “Continuous Quality Improvement”–a perfectly Orwellian term if ever there was one.

Professor Dave Hill, the Chief Editor of the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies at the University of Northampton, UK wrote in the introductory paragraph of his article titled, Class, Capital and Education in this Neoliberal and Neoconservative Period: “The current neoliberal project, the latest stage of the capitalist project, is to reshape the public’s understanding of the purposes of public institutions and apparatuses, such as schools, universities, libraries. In schools, intensive testing of pre-designed curricula (high stakes testing) and accountability schemes (such as the‘failing schools’ and regular inspection regime that somehow only penalizes working class schools) are aimed at restoring schools (and further education and universities) to what dominant elites – the capitalist class – perceive to be their “traditional role” of producing passive worker/citizens with just enough skills to render themselves useful to the demands of capital.”

The remainder of this excellent 25-page article provides a worthy read to educators around the free-market globe as he points to the overreaching agendas in education by those who DO NOT TEACH. One look no further than the opening lines in the Wiki on US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. His insipid professional history reveals the insidious truth about the person placed in charge to reform public education–a charter school-loving puppet who has never taught in the classroom. Early in his career, an investment banker buddy appointed him to direct a public education initiative that led to an eight year-long appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. His not-so-brilliant “Race To The Top” initiative and other plutocrat-inspired ideas as the U.S. Secretary of  Education appointed by President Obama in 2009, has left American educators in a state of vertigo. Thankfully, the National Education Association passed a vote of “no confidence”, asking for his resignation in 2014, immediately followed by the American Federation of Teachers approving a similar resolution.  He will step down at the end of this year, but the scorched earth that he leaves in his wake keeps this educator in a state of flux.

Thank you to my students and the classes I teach for giving me the breath of life and living that I need every day to push forward and onward for all of us.

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Poor Rocky, Skipper, Shamu, and Migaloo

All living creatures give me a cause to pause as I watch how in their lives they do what they do. I have never felt dominion over them but rather see myself as one with them.

Today I saw an animal that caused my soul to burst.  You know that feeling you get when you see something that suddenly causes your insides to fill up and you can’t hold back the feeling to cry in a convulsion of tears?

Under a gray sky, I was walking home from my nearby post office, remembering a sweet animal interlude that I experienced a week previous.  A raccoon family had followed me for a few feet poking out of the shadows as I made my way up my apartment steps.   In the park that I live near, I heard loud explosions and crazy monster roars.  I had seen a movie poster in a shop window advertising various films for Friday nights in October and remembered that it was Jurassic Park blasting from speakers over 500 yards away beyond the trees and tennis courts.  I turned around and watched this little animal family stop on the stairs behind me, looking up at me as if to ask, “What the hell is that driving me from my home in the park? Why aren’t you running from those monster sounds too?” I spoke to them for a minute. They cowered for fear I’d yell something at them to shoo away, but I just told them in a soft-voice: “I’m sorry about all of that noise. It will stop soon.” It sounded like the final epic moment of the movie where for 15-minutes the horror of the family caught between the Raptors and the T-Rex pummel one’s auditory senses. The raccoons turned around and walked back into the shadows near the garage.

Back to the present, as I strode up one rather hilly street, I thought about how I would write something in my blog with that animal encounter in mind, and what I would say about us humans taking over every space on this earth in all physical ways including the sonic waves.  I then thought about how some of the mammals of the ocean have been found washed up on beaches with Marine Biologists attributing the increase in deaths from the Naval Sonar Testing.  “Seven times the speed of sound,” boasts the U.S. Navy testing their new sonic weapon.

The thoughts of my writing were blurring my eyes as I starred at the concrete and walked faster up the hill, but was abruptly thwarted by what I found on my trail. There on the sidewalk at the curb’s edge with its little head hanging over, I saw a lifeless raccoon with its little hands folded over the rim. I mentally collapsed in an onslaught of tears just as I am now, reliving the memory of moments ago.  I thought about their little perfect hands the rest of the way  home wiping the tears from my eyes.  Those incredible little hands…so much like ours.

baby-racoon-pictures-cute-animals-pics Raccoon hands



some research reveals:  Migaloo, and the 52Hz whale, and some other famous beauties of the ocean.

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No Te Preocupes

I’m juggling 1,000 plates riding a unicycle on a high wire. In other words, I’m feeling a bit  Syd Barrett-ish at the moment. This is to say that I perceive creativity with a touch of madcap. Take a listen. This is my brain on writing…(be careful because it’s not a song)

I can’t make it stop.  Words pour out of me, but they have little to do with reality. The typing continues as more thoughts spill into my current favorite coffee mug with a little fox face on the front. How does one find oneself in such a state? No, it’s not due to “…cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over your head” inducements. I’m currently sipping some soup.

It’s work. It’s always work. It’s not the teaching work.  I LOVE that. It’s all of the rest of it.  That “new busy” work that drones on and on.  Those of us who educate see this as “the new normal”: more work, harder, longer, faster, and for less pay.  It causes Jane to feel like a very dull girl and a bit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. This represents the ruin of the human being because the being is be-ing no longer. The being merely puts one foot in front of the other in bipedal mode and continues in the mouse wheel circus of life.  This is “coming unglued“, my friends.  Watch the drama in a TV series coming soon…

Oh, sure.  Fun and spontaneity come along once in a while.  Once in a very long while I catch a ray of sun at work (again, not the teaching part…that is the BEST), but I mean in the other work which is to say the work aimed at keeping one busy in a data dump of madness. The very same things that are set up to make tasks easier have the precipitous challenge of constant upgrade. In my chosen field of work, this has become quite easy to manage as digital media changes annually and one must keep abreast of these things. For my colleagues who live life in books, paper, lead pencil Scantron tests, and other such places of what is quickly becoming known as “antiquity”, this DATA management and assessment causes a heap of grief.  Constant “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.”

Lately, I go up and down at the drop of a pin in a sad state of a broken world that succumbs to an avalanche of wealth that is not mine.  I am fortunate enough to own an expensive connection to the media so that I can watch it from the sidelines.  I earn pennies mientras que los pesos pesados ganan más.  Woof.

Howl at the moon. Run up and down the beach. Contemplate the waves, the freedom, the gust of wind, the salt air on the tongue, the feeling of walking on the edge of a continent. Here is where one discovers real force, power, puissance, might, energy, potentiality. Why didn’t I do this hours ago while I was drowning in the River Styx. I jump in the sand and repeat a quote I read recently:  “Todo en este vida es temporal asi que si las cosas van bien, disfrutalas porque no duraran siempre. Y si las cosas van mal, no te preocupes, no van a durar para siempre tampoco.”  Translation for those neither bilingual en Espanol nor hip to Google Translate: “Everything in life is temporary so if things go well, enjoy them because they do not last forever. And if things go wrong, do not worry, they will not last forever either. ” (repeat)

1742 – Thomas Gray’s poem Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College reveals 3 words often repeated in America:  “…ignorance is bliss,”

Scantron People

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Of Bullets and Benjamins

We are a nation held captive by terrorists who are wealthy and white. They fund the campaigns of their puppets who no longer pretend to bring forth a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The less-than-1%, moneyed marionettes hold the strings of ownership over the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Executive branch, and deep into America’s local governments.

The country’s “economic elite” provide seed money in the elections of their faithful plutocratic pawns. They also fund directors, managers, commissioners, administrators, officers, supervisors, presidents, governors, mayors, vice something of this and that, along with anyone and everyone who will bow to the thousands of Benjamins placed onto bare palms. The polished, purchased politicians oversee the masses to create a world that hath no benefit to the greater society as a whole.

This dystopian vision of the funding overlords includes plans to crush the underserved populace by defunding education and build more prisons. The overreach of the rich has reduced this nation to further fecundity of armaments. Through the idiotic spectacle of a Presidential run, this thinly veiled agenda to own America becomes clear to the educated. And it is for this reason that education must be owned by the uber-elites.

Super Donors 2016 – “One tenth of 1% of American taxpayers who work in finance have roughly quintupled their share of the country’s income,” and most use their money to buy the government influence that keeps regulations on their wealth at bay and strives to annihilate the middle-class “entitlement” programs.

Young white male terrorists brandish guns under the guise of their 2nd Amendment Constitutional Right and do their part to keep everyone in fear by stalking the schools. The answer, squawk the Hawks: “Arm the teachers!”

Turn the channel from Fox News to Nox Fews to watch North Korea’s horror display of military might. Juxtapose this to the potential insanity of a Trump-like American President. Would this not lead to the pestilence of crazed humanity feeding off of Gaia to wipe itself out in one fell swoop?

©2011 David C. Pearson, M.D

©2011 David C. Pearson, M.D

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She Lived A Life of Two

Herina lived like none other, running to and from her scheduled tasks as a high-wire balancing act. Always quick on the pick up, researched and ready to answer to anything and anyone, she discovered that opportunities in life sometimes pop up in mysterious ways.

She worked at three jobs, one of her own devising. On one particularly fine day, a meeting was called for her to perform her tightrope operation to an agent of a very famous person seeking out stories for his client. Pulling together all of her might and will to succeed at her third job that she desperately wished would someday replace her first two, she walked into the fancy downtown restaurant in her best warm-weather clothing.  For all of her devil-may-care attitude at the power of the wealthy, it was a good thing that no one witnessed the shriek she emitted into her closet upon the realization that she was peering into a wormhole.  She parted the various cloth structures hanging before her, willing them into submission. There must somehow be some magic spell that would allow her to suck up the “uh-oh, nothing fits” body into one of these strict seams.

  • What to do?  What to do?  There is no time to take stock and shop when one lives the life of two!
  • She ran to her neighbor. She called up bigger friends.
  • Is there anyone out there who can assist me with threads?

The lunch began simple and breezy. She could shoot the moon with the best of them. It wasn’t until after a few moments of the delivery of the Mission Figs and Organic Mixed Greens appetizer that the cajolery took a different turn. Faces across from her looked less warm and fuzzy and started to glance away quickly while she continued her pitch. She wondered what was going so wrong, so strong she believed in her ability to win this.

The waiter shook up the moment with the delivery of their 4 main courses. He placed the Northern Halibut before her which she had not ordered. She didn’t want to make a fuss, and thus ruin the run of the pitched idea, so she let it sit as she continued.  Then, somewhere from the back of her mind, a thought slipped in from a Facebook post a friend had made recently that included a picture of two worms found in the halibut steaks that she and her husband were preparing. Herina had read every “eww, gross” comment and even a link from a blog written by a fisherman and they were all flooding in now one after the other in an attempt to trip her lips. She tried to keep her mind split in two:  one on the story arc that she attempted to sell and one on the halibut worm memory.  She sipped the water and coughed a little from a trickle that headed down her windpipe.  Seeing this as a universal clue to excuse herself to the bathroom, she created the space for a quick moment to regain her composure.

Out flew the worms and the thoughts of gross parasites as she sat in on the porcelain seat and gave herself one of her “if Mom were alive” pep talks.  She felt better.  Straightening up, she headed for the wash basin, looked into the mirror and smiled. There before her as she watched her lips separate across her teeth in a wide beam, she found an errant piece of arugula stuck firmly over the entire front right tooth. She looked like Lucy performing her black teeth schtick.

Laughing aloud, she rubbed two clean wet fingers across the suspect, wiping it down from tongue to gullet. A fancy-do-type-A elder watched in the mirror while pretending to fix herself.  Herina winked at her, dried off, and walked out resuming her place in society…

Don't order a salad at an important meeting...

Don’t order a salad at an important meeting…

Show Me Your Teeth

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