What kind of writer am I?

I wrestle with this topic in my own way, at some point, almost every day.

There is this quest as a philosopher. It is to truly understand and give a proper account of the world, without bias and misinformation. Lose all assumptions and open your mind to really get a fair look at the world, and not just with your eyes. Using your mind to make sense of it all, and then help others along the way.

But you see, there are many different types of philosophers, and this only describes one sort. So I see that we are all different in many ways, yet we are all the same in many others. How we respect and honor one another, it seems so easy and obvious. How do even the highest of moral beings make quick and irrational mistakes?

I want to be an informed and helpful writer. So I analyze every topic I would write about and rule out the prospect, the ideas I have, simply because I feel the inadequacy of properly labeling the “voice” I may have. There are styles, I don’t know what they are all called and I chose to learn more about science, than grammar. I may not be great at math, but I can spell flawlessly. (Most misspelled words you will read of mine, are because I need to trim my fingernails and my fingers keep slipping off the keys, lol right!) It seems as though writing is reserved for those who study English or History. Purpose and passion is where I come in. But where is the value? Maybe inspirational messages for tea companies…

There are these things about writing, the permanence of your word. Yet, the ability to edit and truly have what you really mean, out there, for the world to see. I love the editing process, but I only do quick edits for my own writing… I have to remind myself, the message is important but I need to always read with fresh eyes before publishing.

There are timelines, and timeliness, not the same. Well recorded events and current events, often with the most pressing messages necessary. But accuracy is the key- “How Urgency Can Provoke Misinformation”, a topic I will write about one day, as it is commonly accepted and sometimes correction is less obvious, so you end up with people with the wrong understanding. What happens when they quickly respond according to inaccurate information? We have a responsibility to be accurate. So dig a little deeper when researching something, especially something important.

I have to keep my writing brief and to the point. It’s all I have time for. As a person with a responsibility to my family, there are many tugs on my time. So I have to stop ruling out my ideas, and make time for the important ones.

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Independence and Independents

What do ideas like liberty, independence, and freedom mean in the context of our current world? We can make our own choices, but there are certainly limits to what is deemed allowable (laws) and acceptable (norms)- although not always the same things allowed are accepted and vice versa. One very important freedom in the U.S. for example, we can vote. Our independence to vote for a candidate to represent us is confined by who we can “select” within a “two-party” system, which is ironically being tugged by voices outside of either paradigm to sway the political process this 2016 cycle. The independent faction has responded to this tide by an uprising of candidate’s who aren’t even members of the republican nor democratic party, but must run on the party line ticket to even be eligible for nomination.

Is this the best independent’s of this great nation can do? What if there was open primaries and there was no (R) or (D) or (I) next to any names? You would have to <gasp> vote for an actual candidate based on their platform! It’s kind of exciting and new-agey, but would it work?

It has been the norm since my adulthood that there is a polarity in politics. A right and a left, conservative and liberal positions. Either side seeks to own a voice on various issues, each one opposing the other out of necessity for preservation of it’s own validation as a paradigm. Often these issues are considered ethical or moral stances- abortion is a hot one for example. There’s no squishy room in the middle for people who look at each issue on it’s own, and who also don’t assume that being for one thing means your remaining values are automatically prescribed to oppose another based on political party affiliation.

On the liberal ideology we have a large turnout of the working class, or proletariat, an often (though definitely not always) higher-educated middle to lower income group of people who see the massive gap in their political representation and their paycheck. They are taking the country by storm, banding together after the financial crisis of 2008 tore a hole in their savings and future retirement prospects. Housing was largely lost or given up, and the consensus is frustrated. Student loans are a necessary evil for many to escape the likely impoverished community they are otherwise prescribed to, with interest rates higher than auto loans it might make better short-term financial sense to take up a delivery driver job instead of seeking a college degree for their future career training. The very important issue for this group- How does the government take interest in aiding the large financial interest of institutions before taking interest in the actual people who are the real pillars of our government? These are not only alert citizens but also the dominant contributors to the wheel of capitalism, even though seldom directly benefiting from their loyal contribution. Perpetual serfdom.

On the conservative ideology we have two different strategies to pull in a voter base- a prominent religious undertone, and often educationally suppressed group of people. Since there is no understanding of the manipulation on either side, issues that directly affect the lives of this group are of particular interest- like veterans benefits for example since enlistment is a guaranteed income for very low-income young people looking for any way out. There is always of course the wealthy supporters of this group as well. The issues become freedom from government, mostly taxation and regulation of business prospects. This group identifies themselves as those who are financing the governments ambitions to maintain a status quo for all, and they are pissed about it. People need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and figure out how to make their own lives better, without the big government wiping their fannies. This mentality is often from entrepreneurs who struggled to get where they are, but presume others can make the same sacrifices they did and anyone else can do it too. Unless of course you are one of those illegal immigrants, then you better learn to climb great big walls. Success isn’t deserved, it is earned. These are the people who look at the business world and seek to create jobs, even if they are not ideal paying jobs- since the risk of opening the business ought to be rewarded at a higher rate than the reward for merely being employed by the business. Lords who inevitably support our troops, since our troops “protect” their investments. Also, guns. Lots and lots of guns.

Representative government is what we are supposed to have, but is that what is really happening? And if so, representative of who? A group of “united citizens”? See what I did there…

Of course this will light a fire under some of your arses, don’t get upset if I didn’t address your particular position in life, or your viewpoint. If you feel unfairly lumped in a group, that’s the problem we are all facing. Disenfranchised voters- that’s what we are called. It’s a real phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many times a devoted democrat assumed I was one of those enemy republicans because I strive to work for  myself and have ambition to do better than I was given, I must be greedy. Or on the other side, a republican who assumed I was one of those pansy liberals who wants everyone else to pay for my way since I am not angry about immigration and I will proudly declare that ‘humans are humans’. One viewpoint is assuming the other is the opposite on all things and must then be declared an enemy. So there is a very large group of us, right here in the middle of it all, with viewpoints that seems to be invalid because they aren’t entirely one-sided. We are independents with less independence than any other voter.

How is this freedom?

We are limited by popular acceptance to voting for one of two parties. You have to either mostly agree with one “party” or you can vote against the one who disgusts you the most by propping up their strongest opponent with your vote- see what I did there… If you take the liberty you are allowed to vote for anyone else, there aren’t enough people in your “party” for it to matter. Go ahead and try, see… you “wasted” your vote.

To clarify, we need to discuss why there are necessary limits to our freedoms. It’s pretty easy really, to protect us from impeding on one another’s freedoms. Life, liberty and property- wait not that- pursuit of happiness. There, now that’s better. It’s always better when it’s edited properly to portray the actual political interest. Because if we had a right to property, well, then it couldn’t be taken from us by the powers that be unless we lost it square in a card game. More on that another time.

This didn’t clarify why our voting freedom is limited to an antiquated polarized system. In order to preserve our freedoms, we must exercise them. If we want to remain independents with independence, we must exercise our interest in freedom and take the liberty to vote accordingly. Now if we could just settle on the right candidate together.

 

The seasonal downpour comes early this year

Usually around November, when the skies become grey on a regular basis, and the flourish of summer becomes dormant, my eyes well up and my mood darkens alongside my surroundings. I grow quiet and calm to match.

I’m sure a Dr. would label this as “seasonal depression” or some similar “problem”. Recommending exercise and a healthy balanced diet (which I do both anyway), and this little magic blue pill that makes it all go away.

That little magic blue pill isn’t the answer, doc. Why is it not ok to be sad sometimes? Fear of irrational behavior? Let’s just make the world perfect and happy, science will fix it all! After my only sister, my only older sibling, overdosed on magic pills that were supposed to “fix” her- I choose to remain magic pill free.

The sadness this year comes early on account of a reality check. So instead of doing anything irrational, I ration my life. I say to my family, ” you get this and she gets that, he gets this every so often, and I will continue to cook, clean, and care for everyone.” But I am also doing this and this for me. I don’t tell them the last part, I just do it. If there is an issue they will be gently reminded that I am also a human and need to care for myself, or there will be nothing human about me left once they have all taken what they want.

And so I ration. I ration how often I speak and what I say. I have no excitement left, for that takes more than I can muster and it’s better to not fake it- children notice everything. I ration my chores and make sure needs are met, the extras I often provide must wait until spring.

This is the only thing I can do, because it is a form of suffering. Balance is required to overcome the feeling of malcontent. I must enforce boundaries for my own sake.

IDEC 2013 Afterthoughts

I attended the IDEC 2013 (International Democratic Education Conference) http://www.idec2013.org/ specifically to participate in a workshop involving Jefferson County Open School http://www.jeffcoopen.org/. First I must say, the word “Democratic” does not mean the opposite of “Republican”. Of course the word itself has political implications, meaning every individual has a say, and political meaning the organization of people. In this context, however, we are speaking of education. This translates to mean, every person in the educational community has a say, intending to include the student.

I learned a lot about the changes that are taking place in education across the world, there were many attendees from Korea, inklings from Europe, China, and other parts of the US. I am sure there were attendees from other countries that I did not get the pleasure of meeting.

Some countries are on the verge of breaking, or at least trying to break free of oppressive governments, or oppressive ways of life that are taking a stronghold on their culture and future. These educators are working to make changes from within the educational institutions to empower the individual, and create the necessary paradigm shifts within their societies using education as a powerful tool. The northern European countries I encountered seemed as though they are not trying to break free from governmental control of education so much as they are seeking to further perpetuate the individual spirit and enlighten the mind through alternative methods, possibly creating a more self-aware learner. A learner that chooses what they learn and is aware of their interests by having the freedom of pursuit.

The individuals I met from the US were from a variety of different backgrounds. Some were not educators but worked with at-risk youth and this conference helped spur ideas for them to approach alternative methods of reaching out. Many were homeschoolers, or worked with/for organizations knitted to homeschoolers. Many were affiliated with organizations that are involved in education one way or another, but are not schools themselves, and the hybrids always exist.

There were certainly, and always will be the bulls#!%%3rs too. The sellers. The ones who don’t really have a contribution but want to be known, or want to profit from the event. I came across a couple but it was not overwhelming. Thank goodness for that.

I found out about a program in my area called Innovation Labs. The website is www.redefineschool.com, and I poked around a little before writing this. I just might have to get in touch and see what I can do to help the educational community in my school district.

And then there is AERO. The Alternative Education Resource Organization, which can be visited via http://www.educationrevolution.org/. This is a great network of alternative education resources, if you are interested in the alternatives in your area, or perhaps just in your interest it might be worth taking a gander.

In the end I can say there is a lot of movement within the realm of reforming education, and there has been for quite some time. It seems to be the conflict, however, that an alternative system only works for a small group of people. When you have a lot of students to manage, the oversight has to be systematic. And yes, the drawback is the uniformity of education, but the advantage is cohesiveness and coherency. I think what many educators who are involved in Democratic Education are pushing to change is the way we view our understanding of how the system should function.
The afternoon workshop I chose to attend was titled “Intersection of Formal and Informal Education”. There was some controversy as to whether there is even a difference, and the underlying assumption among all the participants (at least it seemed this way) was that an “Informal” education was better or more important in some way. Sometimes these things go unspoken, but are present and unquestioned.

In my Philosophical studies I have come to realize one very important thing about life, and I remind people of this on a regular basis. There is idealism- what things ought to be like, and there is realism- how things are. We can strive for the ideal but the realism sets in when we accept that there are practical limitations.

In the case of education, we have the application of “Democratic” education as the practical limitation. This means for each educator how to facilitate and manage, and oversee, and guide, and mentor a large body of individual needs. Every educator would be spread so thin the quality of their work would necessarily be undermined. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. The systems (or un”systematic” systems) that are present and successful in alternative education tend to be of the smaller student:teacher ratio, and of the smaller subset of the population.

One person being interviewed said it all in one word: money.

Until our educational systems are seen as relevant enough to warrant enough of our collective contributions, there will not be enough individualized attention in education. We will have systems in place that are best suited to address the more basic needs of every student, even if the approach is rigorous and boring. As my educator friend said to me, “how does 2 teachers take 80 students on a weeklong backpacking trip?” My answer, now clear to me, “you don’t.. we do”.

That is the key. Education is not something someone else does for us. It is something we all do together, and for each other. Education is not something that happens in a building, or on a chalkboard. I mean, it can happen there too, but real learning comes from everywhere and anywhere. We have to not only open our eyes, but our minds too. We all learn in many different places, of course. I think it is important to recognize when we are learning, and how we are learning so we can strengthen and perpetuate our methods to be most effective.

Don’t Assume Another Intends to Offend

Conflict is inevitable when there are multiple different interests at play.
The best thing we can do is try to look beyond the current persuasion and think kindly of others.

How often does something happen and your first instinct is that the other person sucks. It can be something so trivial as being cut off in line at the store; or a passing comment made by a stranger, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t understand their situation as clearly as you think. There might be some very justifiable explanation for their actions, something you can’t even think of- maybe because your mind is clouded from your own busy day. It could be a bigger deal, like working with an uncooperative neighbor to pay for a fence, something that consumes hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Are they really just trying to get the best out of you? Resource sharing is a consistent conflict, we all want to make sure we have enough for our own personal security.

We can’t live our lives taking things so personal, assuming another person intends to offend us. How miserable to think poorly of others on a regular basis. To judge them as if they are judging you poorly. We will never fully understand other humans, only ourselves. It is up to us to assume there is no offense intended, unless of course, they make it clear that is the intent (which is not the topic here).

People get offended easily and it is much easier to blame someone else. Take ownership, be the better person, and try to understand where they are coming from. We have to each reach further than half way across the aisle to cooperate fully, leaving some wiggle room for those who aren’t quite there yet.

Be the example by choosing to see others, and their intentions, positively.

Help Wanted: Better People

After careful deliberation this is what I have come to understand.

The World Needs Better People.

Who is the World?

It’s everyone!

Who is everyone?

It’s you and I.

What is a better person?

It’s you and I choosing better actions.

When?

Now. Oh, and tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.

Why?

Things can only get better for all of us!

Where?

Everywhere you go.

How?

Consider everything you do. Then try your hardest to make the best choice.

The last time I checked, there is only ONE EARTH for us to live on. International communities are realizing that the only way to function is to maintain some sort of unity. We must all work together. The only way to do this is to consider one another, and those unspoken for, and make the right choices every time we can. We can’t let money override our values. We can’t let those with the biggest voices have the power unless we know in our hearts and minds that they are working and speaking on behalf of the rest of the communities. We can’t be persuaded to view the world in a way that seems unfit just because someone influences us to think that everyone else thinks this way too. This is TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY gone wrong and we will not tolerate it.

We all have brains, use them!
We all have hearts, use them!
We all have strength, use it!

Create the world as it ought to be
This is a goal of my lifelong education.
If I do it, will you?

My Pajamas Are Dirty

So, I have been gardening!
Went outside early in the morning last week to see how the earth was feeling. As it turns out, she is feeling like making food for my family.
I couldn’t help it so I played in the dirt awhile, turning it over and seeing where the moisture is from the night before.
Rushed inside once I realized it was almost 7 a.m., and made my plan for where things will go. I did a little research on CSU Extension- this is worth checking out if you are going to garden. Certain to save you some time and headache trying to figure out where to put what.

My biggest task was getting the kids excited to garden together.
We went outside and my daughter helped sow some seeds. The other one wanted to play with her babies so that was fine too. Now I can’t help but have dreams about those first little tender plants poking out of the ground!

Here is what we planted: Sweet corn, spinach, buttercrunch lettuce, yellow italian squash, dark green zuccini squash, black bush beans, green bush beans, and sweet peas.
Still have to plant sage, and butternut squash seeds.
Will also purchase tomatoes and peppers as it is too late to start seeds outdoors in CO for these.

I love to play in the dirt.

Power of the Positive

I went to a fast-serve lunch with my family recently. While we were there, I pleasantly engaged in conversation with (almost) every person who contacted me. It made our meal more relaxed, and every single person said some version of, “have a nice day”. When you leave, and you reflect on the time you just spent, was it positive? Every person can do this, all the time. We just have to try.

I guess you could say I am an extrovert. Finding a common way to connect with strangers isn’t always difficult, but I have many years of professional experience engaging in conversation with strangers. Until recently I just looked at it as part of my personality.

There is a new incentive at work now.

Part of my mission is to create the world that ought to be.

I have young children and would like for the world to be a better place than it is now. I have an obligation to work towards making it that way, can’t expect everyone else to do it for us. I am a member of society, so as a form of participation I try to coerce others to be more positive and look at things in a way that is beneficial to all. If my “gift” is being able to engage with strangers (aka the public), and perhaps I can influence their way of looking at the world, even if just for a moment, even if just a tiny little eensy weensy bit.

There is a subtle method, though. You can’t just go up to everyone and be like “The world is great and so are you! Let’s all just be great people together!” People will think you are crazy and avoid you, at least people like my husband. He “hates most people”, supposedly, but it’s really that he is just tired of the bs. So he clicks “off” in his brain when it comes to others, reminding me why we are married. I am his buffer to the world. I am the middleman that gets things done efficiently, and with a smile, so he doesn’t have to deal with others.

Best trick- Make them laugh. You have to find some common thread that you can identify with, and turn it on it’s head. Once they laugh, it’s like putty. You can work with it and turn it into something it might not have been without your influence.

There are so many people in the world like my husband. Positive people can take that attitude or mentality or whatever you want to call it and turn it around. We can get inside and make the necessary changes, kind of like little elf helpers. The best part is, they don’t even know you are doing it. It just happens. All it takes is the right comment, at the right time, to influence their thinking in a direction that is beneficial to all.

Can we all identify with one person, one person who needs us to make their day a little better, without them even knowing?

Hickenlooper Tightening Belt on COGCC

Today it was a good day. I found out our Governor, John Hickenlooper, who is known for his business savvy, just issued an executive order tightening the reigns on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. See, the problem has been a conflict of interest in the mission of the agency. They are supposed to develop mineral rights, while also enforcing regulations that protect public health and environment. Let’s just put it this way, after months of in-depth research, I decided the agency is more focused on developing mineral rights than they are with protecting anything (other than the industry). Looking at the members of the board, they are all pro-industry. This means nobody cares about the public health and environment, they just do what is necessary to stay under the radar and make some serious money.

People are sick of it.
Enough people have stood up and made a stink that the COGCC is now being held responsible for their favoritism of industry. Even more amazing is that pro-money Hickenlooper is backing the public on this one, maybe that’s also a good business (ahem political) move.

The COGCC is instructed to review and adjust their regulatory framework, especially fines. Here are a couple of my favorite (emphasized by me) sections:

“The COGCC must structure these adjustments so as to hold the oil and gas industry to the highest operating standards in the nation for protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.”

My favorite is item (6) of the penalty rules they are ordered to construct: “Make certain that any economic incentives for noncompliance with the Act and its regulations are eliminated.”

This is the biggest problem I think. There are rules, sure, of course there have always been rules. The agency doesn’t always (nor usually) enforce the rules, let’s just say they are a little “understaffed”. The amount of wells being drilled compared to the amount of people working in the agency who monitor or enforce regulations, sincerely reflects the agencies priorities. They say they can’t keep up, but on the same token, if they enforced the rules and imposed the penalties and fines accordingly, they would have more funding for staff to enforce regulations. If half the staff shifted to monitoring, rather than, I don’t know, say, approving new permits… The COGCC would be a completely different environment.

On a side note, but a very serious issue to be clear on. Mineral rights are separate from land rights. One person can own the surface, another “person” can own the minerals beneath it. Mineral rights trump land rights. This means the person who owns the mineral rights has to be allowed access to fully develop their right. In other words, if someone owns the mineral rights below your property they can pull permits with the COGCC to develop them whether or not you cooperate. Your land must be restored to it’s original condition to the best of their ability, but also “within reason”.

Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado

This topic is a dicey one, eh? Should we line the state coffers now for future rehab programs? Perhaps the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program might need a little review, this was in my 5th and 6th grade public school curriculum.

Interestingly enough, I am not overly concerned about  my children’s future when it comes to this particular law. The negative effects will reveal themselves, if there are any. To be clear, people are already addicted to pharmaceutical drugs and marijuana might be a better choice. Consider it a step in the right direction.

The fear is it will only make drug abuse more common, prevalent, and overwhelming. If we give our kids a good head on their shoulders, hopefully they will make the right choices when they are given the chance. It’s all about creating the kind of leaders the world needs to be a better place.

Regulate the driving laws if you want to make a positive change. Not just for marijuana levels though, for all drugs. All prescriptions that recommend against driving should have some control measures. Should we place a ridiculous fine for driving while under the influence of anything mind altering, we already pick on alcohol like it is poison- oh wait, it is poison.

Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. Don’t forget folks, you can take your kids license away too. We have veto power because we are responsible for their actions until they are adults.

My most concerning worry is my kids (or myself) will be killed in a car accident by someone under the influence of something. This is far more likely, right?

Let’s get some perspective from others on why this is a good or bad move for Colorado.