What have I learned in 2016?

The cost/benefit analysis of singing in the choir mitigates in its favor

Melanie, who got married recently – congratulations, you’ve made an honest man out of your honey! – asks:

What was the most important thing you learned this past year?

That I REALLY have to be more selfish. I find this, at some level, to be an anathema to me. There’s all this service that needs to be done, people to be helped, tasks to be fulfilled.

And I get this message not from my church, though it emphasizes it, but from deep within me. It was modeled by my father and I understand its import.

But Continue reading “What have I learned in 2016?”

10 books that affected me

It’d be pretty easy to come up with ten more books…

ispyLike the other lists, these do not necessarily represent my FAVORITE books, which might be reference books such as Top Pop Singles or The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, or the World Almanac. Pretty much off the top of my head:

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They weren’t called the brothers grim for nothing.

Growing Up by Russell Baker (1982). I used to love to read Baker’s columns in the New York Times, and this book, which I have signed by the author, captures this wonderfully. Funny, though, I don’t remember WHERE I was when I got it signed.

I Spy: Message from Moscow novelization I read as a tween several times, and learned the phrase, “Hoist by his own petard.” Alas, do not have this book anymore. I Spy was a TV show in the mid-1960s starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.

In Critical Condition: The Crisis in America’s Health Care by Edward M. Kennedy (1972). Those who think that Obamacare is the best or worst thing to happen to health care seem to have short memories about inadequate insurance policies, selective availability, and the pain of pre-existing conditions. I mentioned that it was my near-death experience in 1979 that defined my feeling about the American way of health, but even earlier, it was more likely this book.

The Methodist Hymnal (1935). This was the black book that I grew up with, which a former girlfriend of mine still refers to as the “real” Methodist hymnal. Holy, Holy, Holy is the first hymn.

O Albany! by William Kennedy (1983). While I never really got into his novels, Kennedy’s non-fiction treatise on New York’s capital city is marvelously insightful, and a great read.

Play the Game: the Book of Sport, edited by Mitchell V. Charnley (1931). This was an anthology of sports stories from American Boy magazine from 1923 to 1931, stories which I read over and over. STILL have the book.

The Sweeter The Juice by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip (1994). I wrote about this HERE.

The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb by Eric H. F. Law (1993). This book is about multiculturalism, written shortly after the Los Angeles riots. My future wife and I attended a conference in Maryland to learn more about the author’s techniques. I think mutual invitation in meetings is definitely the way to go. The mutual invitation explained at length or in brief.

Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer (1977). I read this in 1978. REALLY helped me in dealing with a particular individual, maybe a bit heavy-handedly, but the book definitely made an impact on me at the time.

It’d be pretty easy to come up with ten more…

The Lydster, Part 125: The homework tradeoff

The assignment is actually a good exercise for the future learning, but it was introduced, essentially, as a punishment for cheating

LydiaGREENThis is what I think about The Daughter’s homework:
1) It’s often too much, in terms of time
2) It’s too often taught to these bizarre Common Core standards so that she might know the answers to the questions but doesn’t know how to show it the way THEY want her to

Yet:
3) I found it odd that she could earn a homework pass, for one subject, if she brought in ten returnable bottles and/or cans.

Generally speaking, she has three areas of homework: spelling (alphabetize words, put in sentences, take a word and make it an acrostic); math (doing geometry and algebra stuff I didn’t do until much later); and reading. She LIKES reading, a lot actually, has at least since the above picture was taken five or six years ago. We’ve literally had to take a flashlight away from her so she wouldn’t read under the covers.

But she HATES writing the reading responses because they are not “fair.” Her class used to just keep a reading log, but apparently, some other kids were writing down titles of books they actually didn’t read. So now everyone has to write a narrative about what they read. The assignment is actually a good exercise for future learning, but it was introduced, essentially, as a punishment for cheating, and she wasn’t cheating.

Thus, the bottles collected are always in lieu of the reading assignment. They are painfully easy to come by. After her soccer game one June afternoon, we collected from the top of the trash 17 returnables, almost all of them water bottles. Why people don’t take them home for the nickel apiece is beyond me.

Still, the collecting has been its own lesson, about people’s wasteful, polluting nature.

July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk

I REALLY want to see the movie Life Itself, about Roger Ebert.

clock.numbers
Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell. To that end, Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations and Congratulations: It’s a corporation.

An answer to the child immigrant problem at the US-Mexican border? I note that the Biblical Jesus was a refugee, his parents fleeing Herod’s wrath. Yet so many people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ “are so uncaring and hateful about hungry children trying to get to a better, safer place to live.”

In the non-surprise category: Stand Your Ground Laws Lead To More Homicides, Don’t Deter Crime.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda.

Yiddish Professor Miriam Isaacs has dug in a previously unknown treasure of over a thousand unknowns Yiddish songs recorded of Holocaust survivors; the text is in Swedish but can be translated. Miriam was my old racquetball buddy decades ago.

The Creation Myth of 20th Century Fundamentalism by Jeff Sharlet, who I also knew long ago.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe came out as gay. Arthur explains why it STILL matters. Also: I Can Be Christian, and Gay, and Live in Alabama.

Portraits of people in 7 days’ worth of their own garbage.

These next several feel of a piece, about understanding life and each other:
Amy B says This is not a bucket list.
It’s Not as Simple as it Seems: Neal Hagberg at TEDx Gustavus Adolphus College.
Technology has taken much away much.
I Dare You To Watch This Entire Video.
*She Sent All Her Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week.

Our church, First Presbyterian Albany, hosted a work camp in the city the week leading to the 4th of July. Homes were repaired/painted throughout the city; 400+ youth and adults, from several states, including Hawaii, plus folks from Ontario, Canada, were hosted at Myers Middle School; 75+ First Pres folks volunteered to make it all happen. We received some media coverage, including one of the radio stations, WFLY present on opening day. Here’s the web link to the Times Union article. Plus nice coverage from a local public radio station.

The Importance of Eating Together.

Sinful, Scandalous C.S. Lewis, Joy, and the Incarnation.

Interview with Marion Meade, Dorothy Parker biographer.

Jaquandor, via George RR Martin, on writing. While he writes just one word at a time, I write five or six, accidentally leaving one out.

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With.

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.

whyteachmusic
Melanie plays with toys. So does Chuck Miller.

GayProf’s life continues at 40.

Is Dustbury, “prolific” as the inevitable consequence of a desire to maximize his output before the time comes when he cannot put out anything? And, I wondered, am I?

I realize that the 45th anniversary of the moon landing depressed me. Here’s part of the reason. Another part is that, despite disliking violence, I understand why Buzz Aldrin punched Bart Sibrel after being harassed by him suggesting that the July 1969 moonwalk was faked.

Cat Islands.

Louis Zamperini Was More Than A Hero.

Paul Mazursky wrote and directed Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), An Unmarried Woman (1978). But I saw (or heard) him in a number of TV shows and movies.

James Garner’s legacy: A commitment to civil rights and political activism.

Why I want to see the movie Life Itself, about Roger Ebert.

Check out this interview Rebecca Jade, my first niece, did recently through Voices of La Jolla. Click on the microphone/link on the upper right-hand corner to listen to the podcast.

Watching the new Weird Al Yankovic videos, especially Word Crimes. Weird Al is a marketing machine.

Did I mention that Paul McCartney came to Albany, NY? And Omaha, Nebraska? Who performed the mysterious ‘train song’ from the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’? The George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles.

Some of SamuraiFrog’s favorite Marvel stories; nice reveal in Fantastic Four #21. Also, for round 15 of ABC Wednesday – YOU can still join! – Mr. Frog will “highlight a different Muppet for each letter, hopefully, some of the lesser-known Muppets and milestones in Muppet history.” So far, A is for Arnold, who you WILL recognize; B is for Bobo the bear.

Superman and the Bible.

For the rest of the summer, absolutely everything new that’s published in the New Yorker will be unlocked. “Then, in the fall… an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall.”

Renting Liechtenstein.

Could “The Big Bang Theory” get canceled? I’ve watched the show maybe thrice, but I find TV machinations interesting.

Mark Evanier wrote about The Battle of the Network Stars, some cheesy TV competition c. 1977. What struck me is that I knew every actor and the associated show from CBS, all but one from ABC, but had serious trouble with the NBC stars. Even I knew of the actor, say, Jane Seymour, I had no idea what show she was representing.

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

Arthur responds to my TWO posts on Hobby Lobby.

Dustbury cites my Instant Runoff Voting post and my TMI post.

Mr. Frog tackles #1 Songs on My Birthday, which some of the rest of you regular bloggers – you know who you are – might consider.

(not me)
Alison Green, M.D. will join Green Family Practice Clinic on August 1st as the newest family practice doctor in Newport. “Alison joins the practice established by her father, Dr. Roger Green, continuing a rich family heritage of healthcare providers.”

(image from http://teachr.co/1oik2Qr )

The Lydster, Part 123: Reading is Fundamental

Her favorite book is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

One evening when she had no homework, the Daughter complained, “I understand why you’re limiting me watching television. That’s all right! But reading?”

I was so pleased. I was only “limiting” her reading because she had to go to bed, and get up in the morning. In fact, because of my lax parenting, I had to wake her, as she had fallen asleep, reading some Roald Dahl tome.

Often, her bedroom door is closed in the morning, and I used to assume she was still sleeping. More often than not, though, she is lying in bed but reading a book. She was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder for a time and was recently going through Beverly Cleary. She had entered a poster contest at school – came in third place – and she indicated that her favorite book was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. She seems to be over the fairy books that dominated her reading a year or two ago.

She took one of those standardized tests last year in third grade and she did better than 96% of people in her grade.

She has the family disease.