Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
I recently viewed a TV special on poverty in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan region where families were interviewed about their attempts find long term employment so that they could feed and house their families. It was the most depressing film I have ever seen on the subject. I know about poverty first hand because I grew up in a family of eight during a time when my father was in ill health due to working eighteen hour days as a contractor on irrigation projects during the great depression. We did have one advantage the people in the film did not have. We lived on a farm which we took out of the sagebrush as part of the homestead act which no longer exists. Under this act we paid $80 for 80 acres of land. We not only had to clear the land, but over a period of seven years, one had to make improvements such as building a house, improving the land and be able to make a living on the land.
In the film about poverty in Portland, Oregon, the unemployed people do not have the opportunity that we had to grow our own food, build our own house, and live in a place without the constant threat of having to move out and live in shelters or in their cars. This depressing film showed people evicted from their apartments or homes because the jobs they had were no longer available because the economy had gone from bad to worse starting in 2008 or earlier. Over and over, the people being interviewed stated that they had always worked and enjoyed working, but because of the 2000 depression they lived under the constant threat of being on public assistance which the latest US Congress failed to extend before they recessed to go home to their states. The grand bargain that Rep. Paul Ryan(Republican) and Sen. Patty Murray(Democrat) got passed in both the House and Senate voting did not include extending unemployment for these unfortunate people who will have to live out or their cars, or in a public shelter, or try to get food from the volunteer outlets which do not have enough food to go around. These people are not the mythical 47 per cent that Mitt Romney was deriding in his speech to the wealthy. They are people living under the constant threat of starving and living in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for this problem is that we have allowed our largest corporations to relocate in foreign countries in order to escape having to pay taxes and pay workers a living wage which includes pensions for retirement. In the community where I live, we have a Wallmart Superstore being built, not because we need the store, but because one wealthy land owner got on the city counsel and was able to get approval for this ill advised project. The city violated the open meeting laws by passing this project without the people of this community approving or having an opportunity to vote on it. Wallmart is the face of corporate America which likes to claim that the United States is the wealthiest nation in the World, but that wealth extends only to the millionaires and billionaires, and not the other 99% of the population of the United States.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
The answer of the day for education is to abolish labor unions which support teachers in the public schools so that teaching as an occupation can support not only a family but support a retired teacher as well. At present our governor in Oregon–Gov. Kitzhaber–is doing his very best to make teaching an occupation of last resort. He wants to use pension funds to fund the general budget even though during the last two years the retirement fund has returned about 1.5 and 2.8 billion dollars to the state of Oregon. He is calling the legislature back into a special session in order to cut the income of current retirees and future retirees even more than he did in the regular legislative session. Gov. Kitzhaber is supposedly a democrat, but he operates more like the infamous Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin who was struck by a similar bolt of lightening in going after pension funds of all labor unions. One wonders if he has been paid off by one of ALEC’s billionaires such as the infamous Koch brothers. Some of our state representatives and state senators from the Republican party have been. If you want to check for yourself, all you have to do is look up ALEC for your own state. I have done this for the State of Oregon and found that most of the senators and representatives who are members of ALEC are republicans. In the State of Oregon we have many democratic senators and legislators who are democratic in name only because for the most part they fly under the political radar. Gov. Kitzhaber, in his non-governor role, is a medical doctor but he loves politics much more than doctoring. He will also draw a pension when he retires for his 12 years as Governor of the State of Oregon. He may run for another term and very likely has spent time in the Legislature as well.
All public employees for state and local governments are members of the Public Employees Retirement System. This includes water districts, fire districts, state and local police, firemen, judges, college and university employees and many more. The largest sector used to be public school employees but at present there are no teachers on the PERS board. One of the biggest benefactors was the Coach and Athletic Director of the University of Oregon. When no one was paying attention, his salary included much more than was in his contract as coach and athletic director. He left the state with an income of about $45,ooo a month or $540,000 per year. He has been gone from Oregon for several years and now works for some sports organization drawing an additional salary. His monthly salary is about equal to my yearly salary retirement salary, and under current law his salary is taxable in the state where he now resides and he gets an annual increase from the PERS in Oregon.
One of the paradoxes of this whole problem with pensions is that many of the recipients never bargain for their retirement benefits. Principals, Superintendents, and other like members of the management are on the other side of salary negotiations during bargaining. But as soon as the bargaining is completed the administrators get a nice increase in their salaries based upon the teachers’ salaries. At the State Universities level, there is no collective bargaining. If one is even suspected of trying to bargain, if that person does not have tenure, their contract will not be renewed. I spent three years as an administrator and got a double increase each year until I got at the top of the salary schedule. Judges, clerks, and many others who get PERS benefits never bargain for their salaries. College and University professors are supposedly paid on their ability to write, publish, get grants for research, and sometimes teach, but the whole system defies all logic. A professor may simultaneously teach, write, research, and administer, so many have no incentive to involve themselves in collective bargaining.
A final note on my view of the teaching profession is I really enjoyed teaching and had success in that role. I never liked administrative work because I sat for hours listening to administrators spout total nonsense. I thought many times of the outfielder for the Yankees who got so bored he would stand on his head, interacting with the fans in the stands, but I took the easy way out and did something I enjoyed and went back to teaching. Our politicians need to be contacted and told forcefully to quit trying to balance their bloated budgets on the backs of members of PERS, and do something meaningful such as working for a living. Teachers and other employees who work for a living are the messengers of our civilization, so stop Blaming the Messengers and robbing them of their retirement incomes.
Walter Bell Ph. D.
An addictive personality can take many forms other than addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, and sexual addition. We have all met people who obsess over each object having a proper place, so that when entering a room they will get upset if something is out of place. I notice this addiction because I have trouble keeping track of my own possessions which are not lost but seem to be where I left them. I tend to have a horizontal method of filing so that papers get scattered across my desk or work area. I have files, but I do not always put them in the proper place. Another form of addiction are list makers, who can drive those around them crazy if the day does not proceed according to their list. I know of one person who has a mental list that has to be followed or he gets very upset and constantly has to tell those around him about his list.
I saw an old movie recently about two people who got married where the man was already an alcoholic. He offered her a drink which she refused. When he persisted she told him that she had no interest in drinking, but she always had a supply of chocolates. He ordered her a drink flavored with chocolate and got her started on alcohol, so that she replaced a relatively harmless addiction with one which ruined her life. It is the latter kind of addition that I will explore in this article because addictions which ruin the life of an individual and which make those around them miserable are ones that need to be treated by skilled counselor.
Power is another kind of addiction which causes those in charge of a company to try to dominate those around them. Politicians are often addicted to power and can be easily purchased by billionaires who use them for favors which furthers their own quest for power. In my professional life in education, I met many of these people. We had one member of our staff who would throw up prior to coming to a staff meeting as he plotted how to manipulate the other members of the staff. If you caught him in a lie, he would reply that he was not the same person as he was when he lied, because each day he became a new person. He chose one acolyte who was willing to sell his own soul with the promise to get a promotion from an Assistant Professor to a full Professor by doing as he was told. He went from an Assistant Professor to a full Professor in two short years without doing anything but following orders. The senior Professor was eventually fired by the President of the College for sending demeaning letters to the President. His acolyte eventually became Dean of the School of Education as the College became a State University. The acolyte traded his soul in his quest for power.
Prestige is another form of addiction. Since I lived in a University town, we had many wives who sought prestige through their husband’s career. We had one wife of a medical doctor who complained about the members of the University who were addressed as Doctor, but who had earned a Ph.D. rather than an M.D. What the woman did not realize was the the first degrees were Doctors of Divinity. D.D. Next came the Doctors of Philosophy or Ph.D. which was more of an all inclusive form of recognition and includes a wide range of disciplines such as physics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. Later, we had Doctors of Education, or E.D., and lastly Doctors of Medicine or M.D. which also cover a wide range of specialties which stemmed from the first surgeons who were originally barbers. Doctors of Veterinarian Medicine are the most difficult of all doctoral medical degrees to obtain, because the number of degrees granted per year is limited to the top candidates because the demand is limited and the pay is not on par with other medical specialties.
Money is not evil, but people who have an excess of money will usually associate only with those who have money. Occasionally those who have lived all their lives as wealthy individuals will use their money to help others, but because the pursuit of money can become an addition, it can also become a source of snobbery, isolation, and lack of tolerance for those who are not wealthy. There are exceptions where those who are wealthy will form a foundation to use their excess money to help those who are poor, disabled, and those who lack the means to get an education.
Lastly, the kinds of addiction are limitless. One last addiction that is shown on television are the addiction to hoarding all kinds of objects. Some of the hoarders will completely fill their living space with all kinds of objects, both new and old, and have to hire people to come in and get rid of the excess objects so that they can have access to an orderly living space. There are also people with multiple additions to wealth, drugs, power, prestige, food, and to toys such as cars, boats, homes, etc. Many people with addictive personalities never seek help for their addictions to the extent that they make those around them unhappy and unloved.
The usual preparation for teaching mathematics in the elementary and middle schools is dismal at best. In the years when the National Science Foundation provided year long stipends for Secondary Teachers of Mathematics and Science, there was no provision to provide support for Elementary Teachers below seventh grade. I tried to get a grant, but I was denied so I started taking mathematics and science courses toward an M.S. in Secondary Education while I continued to teach in the elementary schools. I did teach first and second year Algebra at one of the Junior High Schools in our district for one year. I then transferred back to the elementary school where I had been teaching and taught two more years at the 5th grade level. What I found when I returned really surprised me, because I was able to teach elements of algebra to my 5th grade students. I found that they were much more receptive to new ideas then the 9th grade students. I was also able to teach science to the 5th grade students by introducing them to cooling curves such as freezing water. I would alternate science and social studies for a two week period of time so that we would have a longer block of time to spend. I began the cooling curve idea by asking the students at the temperature at which water would freeze. They would tell me it froze at 32 degrees farhenheit. We started with this idea and collected enough small metal cans, and thermometers, to proved equipment for ten stations. I assigned the students in groups of three with each group having one who could provide answers, another who could handle equipment, and another who could read and record each drop in temperature. The first day every station got tap water and then compared their results at the end of the station. Every chart was the same with the first portion of the graph falling until it reached a plateau until it began to fall again until the water was completely frozen and most of the ice on the outside of the can had melted. The next day we did the experiment again, but I prepared the water in the can ahead of time by putting salt in the water in three cans, tap water in three cans, and some duplicator fluid mixed in water in three cans. Of course some of the graphs came out the same as the day before, but the others were different from the first day. We repeated the result a third day except I told them that some of the water had been altered which they suspected from the second day results. Salt water will freeze, but the plateau found when freezing was tap water was altered, and the water was mushy in consistency. My class kept wanting to repeat the experiment, but we moved on to other things such as collecting pond water and using projection microscope to observe all the creature in pond water as a comparison to chlorinated water.
On the topic of mathematics, I started out by asking my students how many common denominators existed for any two fractions. We started out with 3/4ths and 2/3rds and showed each one of them as 3n/4n and 2n/3n where n=1,2,3,4,…. We get 3/4, 6/8, 9/12, 12/16, 15/20, 18/24 … and 2/3, 4/6, 6/9, 8/12, 10/15, 12/18, 10/15, 12/18, 14/21, 16/24,… . Most elementary textbooks in mathematics will use terms like lowest common denominator, least common multiple and so forth which has little meaning to most elementary teachers, including myself at the time. My view is that for the most part we could skip teaching any mathematics, but the simplest concepts until 5th grade. I taught next to a 4th grade teacher who kept her students in until they had memorized their multiplication tables. Some of those poor kids never saw sunlight all year, which was pitiful in Western Oregon where form October through April we have gray skies and rainy weather.
My view is that we would be better served by requiring candidates, who major in mathematics and science education, to spend time teaching in an elementary classroom prior to getting their masters or doctorate and teaching mathematics and science education at the college level. I also would like to see a requirement for college teachers in Education Departments to spend a year out of every six years teaching their subject in the public schools so that a little bit of reality creeps back into their psyche. I would make the same requirement of counselors, principles, other support personnel, and superintendents. My advice to one Superintendent was to require all of the administrative personnel to spend an entire year teaching full time in a classroom so that the reality of the daily grind of classroom teaching remained embedded in their brain. I spent many hours listening to supervisors, principals, superintendents criticising teachers when some of them fled the classroom for administrative positions after as little as three years of teaching.
Tags: Political Outcomes
I decided to add a preface this post after reviewing what I had written. It has to do with the onset of World War II and the incarceration of Japanese American citizens into Concentration Camps. There were those in the War Office who considered them a threat to the war effort against the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Two lifelong friends, one Japanese and one Caucasian, are part of this post because prejudice is not confined to any part of this country or to any particular race or group of immigrants. The Japanese sent to the concentration camps were loyal Americans who were sent without proof that they were disloyal. They came to live and go to school with us because the father of my lifelong Caucasian friend suggested releasing the Japanese to farm. We needed farmers to replace all the young men who went off to fight in World War. Once the Japanese were released from the Camp in Idaho, they came to work as farmers. Farming was new to most of the Japanese so the crops they chose to plant and raise were row crops such as lettuce, potatoes, sugar beets, and onions. Their first task was to take out the fence rows and farm adjacent to the roads. They did not raise any livestock or any crops such as corn, alfalfa, or grain. The children of the Japanese became our classmates and entered into learning with greater effort and diligence than their Caucasian classmates. They entered into the sports programs such as boxing, football, track, and baseball. There was prejudice at first, but as we got to know each other better the prejudice diminished and we became friends. The first Japanese and Caucasian marriage caused an incident by both families. The couple married and divorced because of their families, but they remarried each other after the brief divorce. There were many more intermarriages. The Japanese decided to build a cultural center to commemorate their arrival and development as citizens of Malheur County in Eastern Oregon and also Western Idaho, but decided to dedicate it to all the citizens of the region because they realized we were all immigrants. My lifelong Japanese friend still lives in Eastern Oregon and is married to a Caucasian woman, and my other friend lives in Southern Oregon.
On October 1956, after graduating in June from what is now Eastern Oregon State University, I was drafted by the U.S. Army. I had three school choices, cook’s school, military police, or aircraft maintenance school. I chose the latter and set off for basic training at Camp Carson in Colorado. The elevation at Camp Carson is about 6000 feet, but because I had been building a telephone line from La Grande, Oregon to Baker, Oregon, where the elevation was about 4500 feet, I was not bothered by the difference in elevation. For those who were overweight or in poor physical condition, it was so difficult that some would pass out and have placed in the medical truck which followed us on our marches. After about five to six weeks, those who were out of shape at the beginning of basic training were able to keep up with the rest of the company. My work during the summer had prepared me very well, because I had been finishing up digging the holes for telephone poles using an eight foot metal bar that was pointed on one end and flat on the other end. I also had and eight to ten foot spoon to scoop out the loose rock. I did this work for about twelve weeks or more in temperatures that were often 110 degrees. I always got a severe headache because dynamite contains liquid nitro-glycerine which is placed in diatomaceous earth or sawdust to form a means of holding the liquid. The nitro-glycerine fumes cause the headaches. When I went into the Army, we had to take physical training tests(PT Tests) to determine our degree of fitness, plus we all had to pass a medical exam and take shots of all kinds. So with my fitness at a very high level, I did better at the PT tests at the beginning of basic training than at the end. As soon as I finished basic training, I was sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama, now Fort Rucker, to train as a helicopter mechanic. It was an interesting assignment and an interesting place. I was sent there in December from Camp Carson wearing my winter uniform which was a heavy wool uniform. When I got off the train at Montgomery, Alabama the temperature was in the 80′s and the humidity was very high so we were very uncomfortable. As I looked around the train station, I saw that the water fountains and restrooms had signs “Whites Only” and “Colored Only”. My mother was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas and had told me about the South, but I was puzzled by the signs. It was my first introduction to the South in the late 1950′s. I should have known better because my mother told of traveling from Jonesboro to Memphis, which was about 60 miles, and seeing a black man hanging from a telephone pole. His crime could have been as minor as looking at a white woman ore even worse flirting with her. The other information of interest was that we were told that the blacks had refused to give up their seats to whites on the buses and were boycotting the bus company, so that the busses were not running at a full schedule. There had also been a black Minister, who had been traveling around the South, demanding the same Civil Rights enjoyed by the white citizens. I had never heard of this Minister who turned out to be the Reverend Martin Luther King, or the woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks had been arrested sometime either in late 1955 or in 1956 for this crime. She had also been arrested about ten years prior to the latest event, when she refused to pay her toll and then get off the bus. walk to the back of the bus and enter the bus through the back door so the white passengers did not have to look at the blacks as they went down the aisle. This earlier crime had taken place on the same bus with the same driver before the one in 1955 or 1956. The Army had sent us to Montgomery, but had not provided us with transportation or with money to travel to Camp Rucker, so we had to stay overnight in the YMCA for a night which cost us 50 cents plus a little more for food. Some of my companions went out looking for women and reported back that the women they had met were very light skinned but the palms of their hands were even lighter. They thought they might be mulattos, a term seldom used anymore, to label a person of mixed race primarily black and white. After spending the night in Montgomery and contacting the Army in Fort Rucker, we took the bus to Fort Rucker. As usual, I walked to the back of the bus and got peculiar glances by the blacks sitting in the last ten rows of seats. I sat down next to a young black boy and talked to him as we rode along. I later learned that the State of Alabama could have arrested me for riding in the back of the bus. I liked riding in the back of the bus because it was usually empty or not crowded. In my case, ignorance was bliss because I was neither arrested nor did I have any problem because I rode in the back of the bus.
In the rest of my service, I had little contact with blacks except for a Warrant Officer who was one of the 34 helicopter pilots in our company. The only segregation I observed was that we started to get NCO’s in our company from the Infantry because the military was going through a downsizing and had to put the senior NCO’s somewhere. These NCO’s did not want anything to do with the Specialist class of soldiers who had been through helicopter maintenance school and tried to impose spit and polish techniques on the rest of us. One thing they tried was to insist that both pairs of boots had to be polished to a high shine, but once any hydraulic fluid was spilled on the boots, they would no longer shine. With the help of the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer, this life threatening problem was solved by leaving one pair of boots polished for inspection. These same infantry sergeants did not want to share the mess hall with such low-lives, which the specialist class of soldiers represented. We also had army officers who had been victims of reduction in force, but they had a choice of retiring with less than twenty years of service or staying in the service as a Master Sergeant to finish their years toward retirement. The moral of this story is that different branches of the US Army operate without the need for strict rules of hierarchy because the pilots need to trust and respect the enlisted personnel who take care of the aircraft they are flying. Before the infantry sergeants, we did not have this class distinction in our company. I guess another moral of this story is that rigid class distinctions can arise anywhere at anytime.
It was in 1991 before I returned to the South where I lived for three years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The State of Mississippi had changed greatly due to the Civil Rights movement. The black kids and white kids who were poor attended public schools, while the affluent black kids and affluent white kids attended the once all white academies which were set up by the whites as the result of the desegregation. This meant that the Southern States spent more on education than the Northern States on a per capita basis, a statistic seldom discussed in Educational Circles. The other result of the resegregation of schools on the basis of affluence and not race, is that it robs the public schools of the leadership qualities which the affluent kids enjoy because of their enriched life experiences. The Northern States have a similar segregation due to affluent parents sending their kids to private schools, such as charter schools and other private schools that were set up before the United States were formed as a Union. Now the Public Schools are under assault by the large companies which make up ALEC, because they do not want to support public education through taxation. We are entering a new era of segregation with the super wealthy citizens refusing to pay their fair share of taxes in order to provide financial support for public services. In politics, we see new voting laws which try to keep underprivileged citizens from voting. These wealthy corporations and citizens have no sense of patriotism. Segregation as once practiced in the South now finds new areas in which to flourish, from the avoidance of taxes to prejudice against less affluent citizens in the Hispanic, Muslim, Black and White communities. We have states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania trying to void municipal laws, elected officials, labor unions. and so forth.
In contrast while living in Mississippi, we had Black police officers, mixed church congregations, mixed schools and many other examples communities working together for the good of their communities. In contrast, on the eve of Inauguration of President Obama we had Rep.Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, probably Minority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and many others attending a secret meeting and agreeing to do everything in their power to thwart the Obama Presidency because he was of both Black and White heritage. We had Senator McConnell of Kentucky declaring that he would do everything possible to ensure that Obama would not be elected for a second term.
To summarize this post, I have a favorable view of Southern Politics and my Southern Relatives. I grew up in Oregon, but my mother taught me the Southern tradition of manners, and my Southern Wife from Mississippi has continued the lessons, although she is sometimes in despair over my progress. Southeners are not perfect. Neither are the Northeners or Westeners because in many of the Western States such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, there are some of the most conservative political leaders anywhere in the United States. We have some of the Oklahoma delegates who do not believe in global warming and would not even if that state formed rain forests and jungles. My deceased brother-in-law had many black friends in Mississippi, including a Deputy Sheriff who met in each others homes. He once asked me what I would think of his asking his friend. Deputy Sheriff Bubba, over for drinks. I replied that if he were my friend I would not care what others would think if I invited him over for drinks. I am certain he and Bubba had shared many drinks in each others homes, but he wanted my approval. In true Southern tradition white and black women would often assist each other during child birth or if there was an illness in each others family. During the early 1920″s, my father bid on a construction project while he and my mother were living in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was criticized for hiring black carpenters to help him on the project. He told the white relatives and friends that he did not care what color their skin was as long as they could do the job. I cannot state my true disdain for any political leaders who would meet in private and pledge to oppose the first White and Black President of the United States in everything he proposed. I promised myself not to use profanity in my posts.
I have found this a very interesting topic over many years. It is not one that is treated as a serious issue particularly in the scientific community which views life as a biochemical state made up of atoms and different compounds, but with no spirit or concept of an afterlife. Since I started out as a liberal arts major and ended up with a background in physics and mathematics, I tend to bridge both worlds in my thinking. I have many books on the subject of reincarnation and have read many accounts of near death experiences in which people have been declared clinically dead and yet survived. Many of those who survived recount experiences in which they viewed their operations from the ceiling and heard themselves declared to be clinically dead. Others recount experiences of going through a tunnel toward a light in which they were greeted by friends, relatives and counselors who told them their mission in life was not yet finished.
Many of the major religions accept reincarnation as part of the cycle of life where one works out problems they have before they are accepted into a permanent state where it is no longer necessary to reincarnate. Most Christian religions accept the idea of Jesus of Nazareth as a soul worthy of resurrection without the need to reincarnate. Buddhists, depending upon the particular version of Buddhism, view the quest for enlightenment as a means to attain a state of permanent reincarnation. Buddhism is based upon the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who sought enlightenment, rather than to follow his father as the ruler of a state or region in eastern India. I have no intention of going into the various versions of either Christianity, Buddhism, or the Islamic religion. The topic is too vast for my purposes which is to discuss briefly the concept of reincarnation which is permanent state of existence where birth and death as we know it is no longer necessary. Wikipedia has an excellent overview of Buddhism which you can read if you are interested. My interest and reading has been primarily devoted to Zen Buddhism and to the Tibetan version of Buddhism.
One of my favorite books is a compilation of Zen thought, ZEN FLESH ZEN BONES, A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings(1957 and 1985) compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki. It consists of a series of Koans which are thoughts designed to help the unenlightened to become enlightened. Here is an example of having attained enlightenment: MUDDY ROAD
TANZAN AND EKIDO were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.
Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous, Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
Another book I found of great interest was written by a Irish Priest who left Ireland and spent ten or more years studying with a Zen Master in Japan. The book is entitled: CHRISTIAN ZEN: A WAY OF MEDITATION, by William Johnston. He was amazed that he could ask any question without fear of reproach by the Zen Master, who would usually answer much like Tanzan did in his answer to his fellow monk. William Johnston was amazed at the manner used by the Zen Master to enable the Priest to answer his own question for himself. He stated that if he had stayed in Ireland as a Catholic Priest he would never have thought through the answers to his questions in such depth.
Another author I have read extensively, was Ruth Montgomery who wrote many books on the subject of reincarnation, including one entitled Strangers Among Us(1979), and one entitled Aliens Among Us(1985). In the book Strangers Among Us, she discusses people who she calls Walk-ins, as enlightened beings who are permitted to take over the body of an adult being who wishes to depart and has given permission to an enlightened being, who has undergone many reincarnations, to come back and work on a specific task without going through rebirth, childhood, and adulthood. Ruth Montgomery started out as a journalist and turned to writing books on many topics related to reincarnation. Among her associates were Edgar Casey a medium who worked with a medical doctor to help develop cures or treatments for diseases of his time. Casey had many books written by others based upon various topic he discussed over many years one entitled Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, compiled by Edgar Evans Cayce(1968) his son and who was the Director for the Association of Research and Enlightenment.
There are so many authors who have written upon this subject that I will not attempt to name them all, but I must at least list some of the books in my personal library which relate to the topic of life and other lives.
Gina Cerminara, Many Lives, Many Loves(1963), Lobsang Rampa, The Third Eye(1956), Carlos Castaneda, The Fire From Within(1985), George Gamow, One,Two,Three Infinity,…Facts and Speculations on Science(1988), Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics(1976), The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fizgerald(1962), Kahlil Gibran, The Profhet(1923), and R.G.H. Siu, The Tao Of Science, An Essay on Western Knowledge and Eastern Wisdom(1957). My list is short because it is up to the reader to explore this topic and come to their own conclusions. If you choose to explore it, you will come across many more authors, skeptics, who deny any afterlife. It is up to you. I hope you enjoy your journey.
Daniel N. Fader, Ph.D. and Elton B. McNeil, Ph.D. wrote this book in an effort to help those millions of students who come through our schools, but cannot read. Looking back on my own childhood where I spent my first seven years in a rural two room school and had a total of three teachers, I consider myself lucky that I not only learned to read, but reading became a lifelong habit.
The children depicted in ‘Hooked On Books’ who could not read came from very poor homes, where one girl of thirteen had to work as a prostitute to help supplement the family income. She came to school three days per week, and did learn to read. If you think about it, why would a person want to attend school when the only way they could learn was through listening to a teacher talk? A person listens with a comprehension level of about 20 to 30 percent, but a very good reader to an excellent reader has a comprehension level of 70 to 95 percent. I insisted when working with prospective teachers that instructions were to be written on the blackboard, and if a student did not understand the assignment to have someone read it allowed and explain it.
One of the most important innovations recommended by Fader and McNeil was to expand the reading materials available to students. They came up with a list of 1000 recommended paperbacked books and popular magazines, including magazines for girls and those for boys. Have you ever seen Popular Science or Popular Mechanics in an English Classroom or in a Science or Shop Classroom? They also made a list of books that they thought the boys might read and were surprised that their list was not worth much because the boys had different ideas of interesting books. The one book that all the boys took with them was a paperback pocket dictionary so they could look up words that were part of their own language. Like many kids from poor homes, continuous attendance for an entire nine week period was not always feasible, because there are many problems that arise that the students from middle and upper class homes never have to consider. This group of students was divided into two groups–those from a lower class public school and those from a school called Maxey School which was for kids from about ten to eighteen years who were wards of the court. Many could not read above 3rd to fifth grade level, and some could barely read below that level. In addition to reading paper back books, the schools also introduced them to newspapers and magazines. The library books were rarely ever used by these students. They could have their choice of what to read without any checkout of the books. Surprisingly, the students took very good care of the paperback books, and traded them with other students.
The other aspect of this program was to consider every classroom as one where English and reading were taught in all subjects in all classrooms. I spent many years teaching mathematics at all levels, in a talk and chalk classroom and in a self-directed and self-paced mathematics classroom. One cannot assume that students can read a mathematics textbook, so teaching reading in a mathematics classroom is essential.
The last aspect of the Hooked on Books program was to have each student keep a journal by spending some time writing each day in a notebook which was to be turned in each Friday. The student who wanted the teacher to read their journal place it in a to be read pile. Of course, some students will claim that they do not have anything to write about, so to get around that excuse they were told to copy from whatever source they wanted. One student copied an entire issue of Time magazine. You might ask what would be the reason for copying? It might surprise you to learn that by copying the writing in a book or magazine the student is learning how the English language is used and imprints that language in his or her own brain. Before I ever heard of this book, I used the journal idea in a different form, I used books, magazines, and newspapers as part of my reading program. At the time I was teaching in a self-contained classroom at the 5th grade level where the reading range was form 3rd through 12th grade level, so teaching reading was part of my daily task.
Since I would urge you to read this book for yourself, my only hope is that you will buy a copy for yourself or if you can find a copy in the library check it out. The book is out of print so if you choose to buy a copy from Amazon, go to my Amazon Store listed above and purchase a copy for yourself.
For horse lovers, training a horse so that a given rider and the horse are of one mind is not an easy task. Recently I watched a program sponsored by the Colorado Prison System where inmates were allowed to train wild horses to the point where the horses could be sold to persons needing a well trained horse. The techniques used were based upon Horse Whispering which has been well documented and used by trainers all over the world. This program trained both the inmates and the horses. The change that it brought to the inmates was a sense of purpose and a sense of self respect that many of them had never had or learned. Their love of working with an animal changed their inner spirit and for many a renewed interest in life.
I personally spent about five years teaching at the fifth grade level and there were always girls who loved horses and loved to read stories about horses. I suspect that some of them either owned horses or belonged to riding clubs. I also suspect that for many this love of horses continued into their adult life. My wife has two daughters who are now in their 50′s who not only ride horses and train horses, but have spent the last few years going to different activities where other horse lovers meet. They go through training sessions, competitions and trail riding. I have challenged them to go with me on a bare back ride on the open range where my brother and our friends used to ride in the vast area of Eastern Oregon. So far they have not taken up my challenge so they probably will never get to experience the thrill of bare back riding. I am going to include an brief article written by the youngest of my stepdaughters who not only trains and rides horse, but recently built a riding arena so that her friends and her sister can ride and train their horses on the many rainy days in Western Oregon. I affectionately refer to them as the Rhinestone Cowgirls. The following is one of my stepdaughters.
HORSE THOUGHTS by Lee Ann Thomas
Actually, the proper title of this blog would be, “Thoughts about Horses,” but that would hardly get your attention, now would it? Besides, maybe my thoughts will help other people to think about what they do with their horses, in terms of whether the horse likes what they’re doing, or not.You will find reams of articles, blogs, and books written by wonderful trainers. They are full of highly useful information, and if you want to learn about training horses, you really should choose a few and read them thoroughly. I am not a professional trainer. I am a horse owner and rider, who has learned a few lessons along the way. Some of them were straight forward and easy, others were quite difficult. So, in my articles, I intend to share some of my hard-earned insights.
I currently live on a small acreage in Oregon with my husband, two horses and two dogs. I also have a small business designing and creating horsehair jewelry and you are welcome to visit my website:
For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals, especially horses. We always had dogs and cats growing up, but living in the suburbs made finding a way to be around horses difficult. Eventually, I figured it out. By cleaning my riding instructor’s entire house each week, I was able to trade for lessons. Looking back that was a fantastic deal – for her! But she gave me a solid foundation for all of my future riding, and was an excellent teacher. The horse I learned on was a character, and he also taught me well. All through my teen years and into young adulthood, I found ways to take lessons and ride friend’s horses. For a few years, while my daughters were young, I gave up riding. The expense was simply prohibitive. Then, for about 10 years we raised llamas, but those stories will have to be written another day. I will say that llamas made me much more aware of body language, and that knowledge carried over well to horses.
Rosie is my 8-year-old, Foxtrotter, mare. She is a red roan sabino. OK, I had to look up “sabino,” too… It has to do with her white markings, but you’ll have to look it up for a better description! Rosie came from a ranch in California, where she was allowed to run with a herd for her first two years. The breeders gave their horses excellent care, and taught them in a humane manner. Rosie went to a gaited horse trainer, my friend Gina Gardner, for a winter and then came to live with us. She is my “perfect horse,” but I have to say, it took me awhile to find her! She loves to do different things, which makes her a good match for me. We do gait training, obstacle training, trail riding, horse camping, and we love to play soccer. We have also played at cow sorting a little, and that is something I would like to do more of.
So, that’s a short introduction to me. Rosie will be a big part of this blog, along with Payton, Sonny, Jake, and Aurelia. Maybe our boxer, Colby, will even get a paragraph, or two.
I have written upon the subject in previous posts, but until recently, like many others I have had my own problems with achieving weight loss and keeping my weight at a desirable level. I read several months ago about a group of monks who had adopted the practice of eating a meal as a sign of thanking their creator for the food. Instead of eating the food rapidly, they chose to savor each bite of food by chewing each bite thirty times. I decided to try this after being told by my doctor that I needed to lose weight. This method is a slow method, but you do not have to change your diet. The reason for this is that as you chew each bite many times, your body digests the food as you eat and not after you eat. I will be eating, and I am suddenly full sometimes with only half of my food eaten. I then stop and put the remainder of the food on a small plate to be eaten later in the day. In approximately two and one half months, I have lost 18 pounds and am now wearing pants that I not been able to wear in four years. I also eat breakfast and a mid-day meal and have a small evening snack, either the rest of the meal I have put into the refrigerator or some other snack. I do some sort of exercise about two times per week either a aerobic exercise or a strength exercise.
As with all weight loss techniques, there are times when I forget and slip back into my old habits and eat my food without realizing that I have not chewed slowly. Old habits are hard to break, so I have to make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy my food. It helps to lay down your eating utensil and have a sip of whatever liquid your normally drink with your meal. The other technique is to slowly lower your set point which is the signal that your body has built into it that keeps your body weight within a definite range. Dieting does not have the effect of lowering the body fat to its optimal level. In fact it has the opposite effect and does not allow the body to adjust to a lower natural set point. Exercise is useful, but as you lose fat you may experience a weight gain, so it is better to lose weight slowly, exercise moderately and to measure your chest and waist rather than just your weight. My belt is the best indicator of waist loss. I have had to buy a new belt when I used up all of the holes in my old belt. You also have to not worry if your weight fluctuates up and down by a couple of pounds. I will go for a week or more and have absolutely no weight loss, only to have my weight drop to a new level. I would like some feedback from others who try this method. My weight loss is about one fourth of a pound per week or about one fourth of a pound of butter. My goal is to continue until my body stops losing my desired weight. At that point, I will probably have achieved my ideal set point. If you try this method and have success, please write and let me know.
George Will wrote an article entitled “The Basement Boys” where he discusses the phenomenon of men in their 30′s who are still living at home because they do not want to make a commitment to get married or to be independent. I was taking an Adolescent Psychology course in the 1960′s where the Professor was talking about the delayed adolescent due to the introduction of requiring more and more education in order to get a job. The Professor did not limit the delayed adolescent phenomenon to males because she included young women as well. The time when it was common for girls to marry at 16 years of age or younger, and when an 8th grade graduation was considered an adequate level of education has long since passed. The year I went into the 8th grade was the year the mandatory 8th grade examination administered by the State of Oregon was discontinued. We still had 16 and 17 year old teenagers still in the 8th grade. The 7th and 8th grade football team beat the High School Varsity Football Team because they were bigger and stronger and more experienced. We also had 16 and 17 year old girls in my 8th grade class. In fact, since the outlying schools were consolidated into one large elementary school, it took two years for the Principal to end their school careers by putting part of the class in the 7th grade and part in the 8th grade. There was one difference in the young men and women where I grew up, because most of us lived on farms and were accustomed to hard work and long hours before we ever reached the 7th and 8th grades.
At the time my professor made these statements, I disagreed with her because most of my college classmates had the same background as I did. We were not from wealthy or even upper middle class homes, and we all had classmates who had left school and gotten married at age 16. By the time our 20th high school class reunions were held some of our classmates were already grandparents. My wife and I have two sets of grandchildren, hers and mine. Two of her three granddaughters were 28 before they got married and have no children, and her two identical twin grandsons are still unmarried at age 27. One granddaughter got married when she graduated from High School and will soon have her third child at 28. I have three grandsons, the twins are in their second year of college and the youngest will be starting college in the fall.
I have long since adopted the ideas of my professor with whom I loved to argue. In fact, after I had been teaching for three or more years, something would click into my head and I would think she was correct. I should explain, that because the college I attended was very small at the time, I took all of my education courses from her. She was a very different person. She had been an officer in the army in World War II, had an undergraduate degree in engineering, and a Masters and Doctorate in Education. She stood just five feet tall, maybe less, and probably weighed less than ninety pounds. She gave true and false tests in her psychology tests, usually 150 or more questions. I used to argue with her about using true and false tests in a subject as contradictory as psychology and education. She was correct in her view that we were entering a period of the delayed adolescent. Only in the under privileged in our society do we still have children giving birth to children. The outcome of this phenomena is that the leadership and ideas about our nation will not necessarily come from the people with degrees, but may come from the millions of children with parents who are children. Our well educated children may have long lost the desire to do anything other than indulge themselves. Or if the trend continues for women to earn college degrees–women now earn more degrees than men–it will be the women who lead the nation.
I wrote a related post quite some time ago about a group of monks who out of reverence for their creator and their food, chose to chew each bite thirty times. I thought about this idea and wondered if it would help me to lose weight. I do not remember when I started, but it may have been nine months ago. At the time I was eating a very heavy rye bread with seeds of all kinds for breakfast with an ample amount of butter and low sugar raspberry jam. This bread required a lot of chewing so it was easy to count and do the required amount of chewing. Since starting this practice I have lost 30 pounds of weight without changing the rest of my diet except changing the bread I was eating. In order continue this practice, I have to remind myself to chew my food as many times as possible and to eat slowly. Since I spent many years teaching in the public schools, we usually had less than 20 minutes to eat before we had to return to work. I got into the habit of eating my lunch rapidly before I had to return to my tasks. I continued this practice even after I retired, so when I finally decided to try eating slowly even if the food I was eating did not always demand a lot of chewing, I slowly started to lose weight. I still have some weight to lose, but as long as I am conscious of my eating habits I am still losing weight.
As I thought about why eating slowly works for losing weight, here is what appears to happen.
1. When eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly, I will often find that before I can finish my meal I am no longer hungry, so I put the food aside and, if it is something like a piece of steak which I will eat later, I cover it with wrap on a small plate and place it in the refrigerator.
2. By eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly, by the time it reaches ones digestive system, the food is easily and quickly digested and our hunger is abated.
3. If I get hungry in between meals, I eat a small snack, part of which may be the food I placed in the refrigerator. I still eat slowly, but again it has to be conscious reminder to myself.
4. Since Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays tend to be traps for weight gain, I still try to stick to my routine, but if I do not, within a few days I have returned to my former lower weight, and I continue my routine of chewing my food and eating as I have done before.
The habit of some parents who become impatient when their children eat slowly or because they leave uneaten food on the plates often lead to unwanted weight gain as they grow older. I have seen parents who give small children portions of food equal to that of an adult, and then get impatient with them if they do not eat all of the food.
The practice of eating rapidly, drinking soft drinks, or over indulging are very likely caused by habits learned in childhood which include being encouraged to eat all of their food at one time. As adults, we need to set reasonable standards for ourselves as well as for our children. I like good food, but I do not worry about whether it has too much sugar, salt, fat, or other ingredients.. I used to drink coffee with every meal, but because of a medical condition I can no longer drink much coffee. So, if we have to compromise on our eating habits, we can still go on living with very little sacrifice. At this point I have lost about 30 pounds which has lowered my blood pressure, altered my waist size, and greatly improved my overall health. I still have to lose another 15 pounds to achieve my ideal weight for my height and stature.
Finally, if you try this simple weight loss method and it works, please tell others about it and let me know of your experiences.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
I have never visited Detroit, but, after viewing Anthony Bourdain’s account of the city, I was saddened that American Companies had abandoned this city in order to find cheap labor in other parts of the world. This city was responsible for manufacturing our war machines when the Allied Forces were on the brink of collapse during World War II. It would have been unpatriotic and dishonorable to have abandoned this city at that time because the workforce was not only one of the most highly skilled in the United States, but that workforce was highly paid, unionized, and had pensions to support them when they retired. Now that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, the promises of retirement with dignity has become a source for bailing out years of mismanagement of the city and the lack of patriotism by the companies for relocating the operations where slave labor and sweatshop conditions abound.
During several administrations, both Republican and Democratic, the nation entered into NAFTA, WTO, GATT, IMF, FTAA, MAI alliances with countries all over the world to accomplish two things: 1) Allow corporations to avoid taxation in the United States, and 2) provide corporations with the world’s cheapest labor so that these same corporations could then import those goods back into the United States duty free. President Clinton was one of the most ardent supporters of NAFTA and the other list of Treaties and the demise of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which separated Banking and Investing institutions that had led to the Great Depression of the 1930′s. In 2008 we entered a period of meltdown with the combined Bank/Investment debacle where we had Banks and Insurance Companies such as AIG which were too big to allow to fail. To make matters worse, when TARP monies were transferred from the Treasury to the Banking/Investment firms, huge bonuses were awarded to the same executives who gambled away the monies entrusted to them in the stock market and in derivatives, a new form of gambling in the stock market. Even our Congress was involved by using insider information to invest in the stock market which could get a private citizen sent to prison. Congress passed a law to prevent the use of insider information to make them wealthy, but I have read that the law has been quietly rescinded.
The move to use monies from pension funds to bail out state and municipal treasuries continues. The Governor of Oregon has lowered the States’ commitment for the funding of pensions in order to use the money to balance the budget. We have individuals in highly paid positions who used outside sources of money to pad their pensions, such as the former Athletic Director of the University of Oregon, which has impacted the State of Oregon Budget. The Governor and his buddies in the Legislature passed this resolution, that has now been challenged and referred to the State Supreme Court.
In almost every instance, it has been the lack of appreciation for highly paid, skilled, and union workers which has led to the demise of our industries in the United States. Even within the United States, the move to avoid union labor has been to move industries from highly unionized states to the South where there are no unions. Most of the foreign car companies who manufacture cars in the United States are located in the South. Boeing, which has its home office in Seattle, when building the Dreamliner had to call in its contracts for parts which were scattered all over the world, because they had no quality control over those parts. This problem led to cost overruns because of the lack of quality control, so they had to use their union labor in Seattle, who were highly skilled and also highly paid to build the Dreamliner. It seems to have escaped their attention that in the long run, highly skilled and highly paid workers, are worth more than unskilled workers, because they are planning to relocate some of the manufacturing to non-union workers in North Carolina where they had poor quality control along with unqualified foreign contracts in the early stages of manufacturing the Dreamliner.
Finally, we need stringent laws to protect the pensions of those retired workers who spent the life in industry and other occupations. We need to have workers who are skilled and loyal, and who can look forward to good pay. Corporations like Walmart do not allow their workers to join unions, but yet Waltmart has asked their own workers to give some of their money for the support of their own employees who cannot make a living wage. Walmart, Inc. needs to be renamed WALSCROOGE, INC. WE need a new form of patriotism and commitment by the National, State, and Local governments to provide for the education and support of workers both union and non-union, so that the ordinary citizens can have a chance at the American Dream where we all succeed together through shared commitment and sacrifice.
Crater Lake, Oregon
If you have watched Piers Morgan on his daily show on CNN when he interviewed a member of the NRA , who ranted about the move to remove assault weapons from private ownership by civilians, you witnessed an irrational man. This post is the result of a conversation with a colleague when we were teaching a class together at one of the state colleges, now referred to as state universities. He taught educational psychology and had the view that normal people thought rationally. I told him he needed to read the book, IRRATIONAL MAN: A STUDY IN EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY, BY WILLIAM BARRETT(1958). In this book, Barrett writes of the misconception by many people that we as humans are essentially rational people, but if one studies the history of war, we know that one has to be irrational to start a war, because even if we are on the winning side, the harm done to the soldiers and civilians leavers many in an irrational state from which they never recover.
The last election was a study in how irrational a political party can become when we have groups trying to do everything to win by suppressing the votes. The Republican Party is still working on ways to suppress the vote in the next election. It will probably take the courts to decide what is legal, but even the court system has its own problems with irrational decisions as we saw in the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizen’s United case which made corporations people who had the right to use unlimited amounts of money to buy votes. Murder, stealing, accepting bribes, harming others through gossip or innuendo, making accusations against someone just because you do not like them are all examples of irrational behavior. The question that arrises is how do we eradicate irrational behavior from the human race? The answer is we cannot because as much as we would like to improve ourselves and others, rationality and irrationality are the ying and yang of human existence. The best we can hope for is that we gradually improve as individuals and as groups of individuals. The problem with individuals is that each person may be rational with respect to parts of their lives but totally irrational in other parts of their lives. So we each have to look within ourselves and try to act rationally, with the proviso that learning to become rational is a lifelong problem which in fact may take several lifetimes to achieve.