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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 36,537

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A flicker of hope

I have my cadre of Facebook friends. But one stands out for me.

A woman in her 80s. I've known her for 40+ years. My mother's age. She was a secretary in my high school. And a loyal Republican.

She "friended" me after losing touch with her for decades, and I accepted.

She's gone 180 degrees. Not just a Democrat, but an activist. No matter how inflammatory my posts are (usually sharing articles), she endorses them. She "saw the Light," so to speak.

I reluctantly declined a teaching job today.

I'm a substitute teacher and have been employed until Covid for all five days of the week.

One of the schools that I really like called me today and asked if I could work as a temporary substitute starting next week until November. I don't know what subject or grade level. It pays $100 (maybe more) a day. And at the same school with the same class. Plans would be done for me and all I'd have to do is execute the plans, practice modest discipline, and protect the kids during Covid.

I've already had Covid. I work as a cashier in a supermarket and found out I have antibodies when I donated blood in July. I don't know when I had it as I had absolutely no symptoms. Could have been in June, or even in January. We can't tell.

There's always the risk of catching it again. But that's not too much of a concern as I'm staying at my job as a cashier and it's likely a Petri Dish of Covid there despite our masks and gloves.

I declined the job as my chances are doubled between the school and the supermarket. And while I don't grandstand, and I'm not a member of the state's teachers' union, I support the teachers. I feel that taking the school job would be like crossing a picket line and working as a scab. And I also don't believe the schools should be in session with in-person/classroom education while there's a pandemic going on.

Trust me, this was putting my ethics on the line. If I had the two jobs, I'd be working 10+ hours a day (been there/done that) and making an extra $50 with the cashiers job. I'm working part time as a cashier right now and money would be welcome.

I feel I made the right decision for me. I won't judge someone else making another decision.
Posted by no_hypocrisy | Tue Sep 1, 2020, 06:39 PM (0 replies)

Lynchburg without the stranglehold of the Falwells

Maybe one good thing about the scandals reigned upon Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki, is that Lynchburg may be free of the Falwells as unelected local government.

I went to school at Sweet Briar College, graduating in 1979. I've watched as for 40+ years, the City has been in the grips of Jerry Falwell and then his son via their college/university and to a lesser degree, their church, the Thomas Road Baptist Church.* The school has been incrementally buying up land and taking it off tax rolls, thereby raising the municipal taxes borne by local residents. Jerry Falwell had so much influence that when he died in May, 2007, the public schools made an announcement over the public address system. (My goddaughter leapt up and yelled, "Yay!" ) I went out for take-out that week-end in Lynchburg and the local Pizza Hut had a Jerry Falwell and black crepe on the computer screen-saver when I went to pay.

As it is, Liberty University is the biggest employer in the City, if not the region, and calls a lot of shots as far as ordinances and zoning, again, without the precondition of elections.

I don't know in which direction Liberty University will take, but at least it won't be for the financial benefit with power that has been given to the Falwells. For all I know, it might become a true Christian college. (Naaaaaaaaaaaaah!)

* Lynchburg has about 100 Baptist churches. Thomas Road is the largest and wealthiest.

The "Liberal Arts"

I graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1979. I majored in Music and Fine Arts. I studied three modern languages. I studied music history, art history, and theater history. I took two semesters of European Civilization. I composed rondos and song cycles and analyzed music scores of symphonies. I found overlap of other courses in the ones I was currently taking. I learned Greek philosophy, history, and cultural references.

On final examinations, my professors didn't want a regurgitation of my notes. They wanted me to demonstrate that I UNDERSTOOD the nuances, the connections, the relevancy, and the application for new situations. Even the foreign languages.

While I had my own individual program of education, my friends shared many of the courses I took. Some specialized in English Literature, Modern Dance, History, Economics, Biology, et al. We could discuss any pedestrian subject at a meal and pull out a cultural reference that the others understood.

I thought I was learning everything that ALL educated people should know. Now I know better.

I am more than educated. I am cultured.

While I don't present myself as Elite, unfortunately by default, that's what I am. I know more than many other college graduates. I know how to employ critical thinking and how to defend my theses. Without a second thought, I'll let slip a "common" French phrase that is incomprehensible. Even using certain English vocabulary turns into an exercise of using a foreign language among certain people.

While I value the advantages that Liberal Arts have given me, I also feel humbled because I also believe that this kind of education is for a privileged few. And there were plenty of students at Sweet Briar who took the courses and didn't seem to be transformed by this Knowledge.

I'm not saying that I know "too much." I have a feeling of democracy where on one hand, I wish it were more widely available; and on the other hand, it would be deferred or refused as it would be irrelevant to the needs of others who depend upon raw survival, not a heightened awareness of society, the world, and culture.

Epilogue: In light of its survival, Sweet Briar College is a now a low-impact liberal arts college. In order to attract more students, it has altered its curriculum to CORE where courses are directed towards the goals of leadership and immediate applicability. Many of the language courses are gone. Music is no longer music history in eras or music theory. While there is performance, there is no theater history. What I was fortunate enough to have is no longer offered. I understand why. The college would have disappeared from the face of the earth without sufficient enrollment and would have had the same result of no liberal arts.

All I can do as a teacher in elementary schools is to try to introduce the principles I garnered from my four years. And hope for the future.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes to House floor and slams Ted Yoho's misogyny and false apology

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not mince her words as she completely annihilated Congressman Ted Yoho.


A personal corollary

In 1984, I was 26 and working in a NYC daycare center. I was the kindergarten teacher. I watched as, one-by-one, students contracted chicken pox. I didn't remember getting CP as a child but guessed I was immune. Not so.

One morning in the middle of July, like today, I woke up with a single small vesicle on my tummy. I knew what it was right away. I called my father, a doctor, that I believed I had chicken pox. He dismissed me out-of-hand, claiming I already had it. I was demeaned for being an amateur pediatrician. He didn't even say, "Let me see later when I return." More vesicles appeared, red and itchy and resembling small blisters. By the time Dad showed up that evening, I was covered head-to-toe. He had to concede to my "diagnosis". In the meantime, I had gone shopping for Aveeno Oatmeal Bath, Benadryl cream, had shortened my fingernails, and found winter mittens to wear to bed.

My point: Not that anything could have been done to stop the inevitable "progress" of chicken pox once it started, but my father, a doctor, refused to consider that CP at my age could have consequences after the condition had abated. He didn't even know whether I had had them and we lived together for more than two decades. I had to handle my situation alone and without internet to find useful information.

I ended up going to a dermatologist instead of a pediatrician as I figured scarring was going to be an issue.

Gotta admire his "positive attitude".


Democrats need a Super-Majority in the Senate or an end to the filibuster.

Not just a majority. 61 or more democratic senators.

There's a good chance that Mitch McConnell will be re-elected, and thus also be elected as Minority Leader in the Senate. You remember what kind of leverage he had during Obama's two terms. He blocked nearly all legislation being put up for a vote. Not judiciously, but rather arbitrarily. Even if McConnell isn't re-elected, the republican block will elect someone who will follow Mitch's "strategy" to block all democratic proposed legislation. Bipartisanship is a pipe dream.

On the other hand, if Democrats are the majority, they can take away the stick in the hand of the Minority by voting to take away the filibuster and let a simple majority pass legislation. Yes, it cuts both ways: if Democrats are in the minority, and say Senate Republicans propose a federal law that outright bans abortions in all 50 states and U.S. territories, it will pass. The filibuster would have stopped it from coming to a vote. But I've come to the conclusion that the filibuster is not being used by Republicans (nor will it continue to be used) as originally intended. For the foreseeable future, the filibuster will be used to neutralize any legislation even if there is a Democrat in the WH, a democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, save for a super majority, which is statistically very difficult to expect.

I grew up in a household with an authoritarian father whose mantra was Cognitive Dissonance.

From the time I could verbalize, I was pointing out contradictions that seemed obvious to me. By the time I was an adolescent, we were having tirades, again, with me speaking reality and my father sticking to his delusions. In my thirties, when I agreed that one of his employees was not working and collecting salary, he was so incensed that he withheld the money he promised me to attend law school. Dad tried to laugh it off, saying "I may not always be right, but I'm never wrong."

Mom tried to challenge him, but she lacked the will to be successful (not that she would have succeeded where I failed). I think one of the worst things about being raised in this environment is seeing how that affected my siblings. To this day, my sister still can't think critically and believes whomever is the most persuasive, not whom is correct. She doesn't often give me credence. (It got so bad at one time in her life that she actually requested that our parents find her the right guy to marry. Fortunately, she married my BIL before that could happen.)

I get no pleasure remembering these memories. I know I suffered for challenging my father at every turn. But my sanity wasn't negotiable.

On this date, 41 years ago, I strapped on a backpack with a T and jeans and sneakers.

I went on a solo adventure for 13 weeks, walking through Scotland, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (nine countries). Got to know the people, the currency, the art, the music, the food, the beer. And I had no idea where I was going or where I'd be sleeping that particular night. I knew a functional amount of French, Spanish, Italian, and German -- only to have my subjects respond in better English than my attempts in their language. And not once was I dining in McDonalds. Ate the local cuisine with the regulars. One of the cool things, besides the memories, is the fact that I can remember a block of 90+ days of my life, each day.

I did everything: Tower of London, Mme Tussaud's Wax Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, David in the Academia dell'Arte, The Vatican, The Forum, The Colosseum, The Tower of Pisa, Naples at Night, Oktoberfest, Tivoli Gardens, the Grand Canal of Venice, and more.

Total cost was a little more than $2,000, the bulk going to airfare, Eurrail & Britrail cards. I lived frugally, two meals a day, one of which was a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. The hostels were $3 to $5 a night.

This was right after I graduated college. My father offered me a choice: a car or Europe. Never regretted my choice.
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