#MeToo-and Me

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April 9, 2019, Phoenix-

I had planned, initially, on waiting until tomorrow to make the trip down here, to renew a certificate that had lapsed.  Things being what they are in Prescott, that proved unworkable, so I joined the multitudes dealing with an early mini-heat wave- and started the processing of my new certificate.

The new Superintendent of Public Instruction is proving to be as meticulous in her work, as her predecessors were lax.  The result is that many who are jump-starting dormant careers are facing renewed scrutiny.  That, to me, is a good thing.  There is no daylight, when it comes to the safety of children and teens.  Besides, I have nothing to hide.

Some blame the #MeToo Movement, but really, when, as one of my early mentors would have said, “your pants are down, they’re down.”  Getting caught in wrongdoing, even if it was done forty years ago, is part of one’s cleansing.  I was raised to own up to things I did, and I’m a very bad liar-so that has all made me a far better person, than I would have been, if I had a silver tongue.

Recently, as I’ve posted earlier, a local politician was caught in a lie, about what he allegedly did in his younger years-and with regard to how he still feels about the underlying issue.  I am, unequivocally, in favour of the evolving nature of male-female interactions and relationships.  Anything that presents a person, female or male, as the equal of any other person, is spot-on.

It’s important to not go overboard, by getting caught up in hysteria.  I can understand, though, the conditions which produce such overreaction.  The only way to curb hysteria, in the first place, is to treat each and every person with the respect and decency that is her/his birthright.

So, I will sit back and wait for the SPI’s team to complete their review of my record.

 

One Good Loop Deserves Another

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April 7, 2019-

A week or so ago, one of Arizona’s premier hiking columnists, Mare Czinar, wrote of a new trail, branching in elliptical fashion off the Prescott Circle Trail, which I have hiked and chronicled, in the past three years.

A group called “The Over-The-Hill Gang”, loosely named for a Western movie set of characters, has taken it upon themselves to build this, and other new trails, as well as maintain older trails in the area.  I value their efforts.

The West Loop Trail begins at a large, new parking area:  White Rock.  Prior to this, those who wanted to hike in the region west of Thumb Butte had to leave their cars parked just off the road, or into the brush.  White Rock is a decent compromise, between “no footprint” activists and those who object to cars clogging the side of the well-traveled recreational road.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The West Trail’s initial segment is .5 mile in length.  It features several granite and limestone boulder formations, so despite its brevity and flatness, this small sector is worthy of keeping one’s eyes open.  I reassured a tired little guy, doing the home stretch with his parents, that he was almost done.  It was nice to see that kept him going, instead of having Mom or Dad carry him.

The boulder fields are off-trail, thus making for a quick, easy start.

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As with any large number of rocks, the imagination can show a given boulder to have a human or animal likeness.  I see the boulder in the background as George Washington.

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Poking out from between two boulders is a charred tree limb, with the likeness of an angry snake.

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These sandstone boulders are laid out, almost looking like segments of a large worm.  It was about here, that I turned left, onto the Javelina Trail, a part of Prescott Circle.

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I took a brief rest at this spot, writing in my hiking journal, as to the ambiance of the place. I had the trail to myself, much of the time, with the preponderance of other users being bicyclists, whose presence is most always fleeting.  I step to the side for them, as downhill and flatland find cyclists going at a fast clip and uphill involves their huffing and puffing.

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Here, I see another giant watchman, in the center of this scene.

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This clump of boulders is another fine spot for sitting and meditating.

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“Little Italy” is a side trail, which I will investigate on another hike.

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This abandoned corral was part of a small ranch in the area, prior to the National Forest being established.  The rancher moved away, before the Forest took over.

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All that is left of his home is this chimney.  It seems to have been used as an outdoor oven.

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The reason for his choice of home is simple:  Here is the South Fork of Willow Creek.

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From the creek, the path becomes Firewater Trail.  A brief climb takes us past this stern eagle-like formation.

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Back on the flat trail, a dead alligator juniper resembles a welcoming totem pole.

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At the junction of Firewater Trail and the homestretch of West Trail, a clever OTHG member placed this trail marker.

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Surrounding peaks make their presence known, along the West Trail.  To the southeast, is Thumb Butte.

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To the north is majestic Granite Mountain.

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Working around a family who had come to this panoramic viewpoint for photos, I got this shot of the San Francisco Peaks.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After taking a photo of the three family members together, I headed down the last half mile.  Just before the parking lot, I came upon this little “critter”.

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My left knee and cardiopulmonary system thank me for this afternoon- and I extend that thanks to the Over-The-Hill-Gang and the U.S. Forest Service.  It’s good to feel like old times.

Flex Schedule

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April 6, 2019-

Insights into the wider implications of my being released from my most recent position seem to be coming to me, usually in the early morning- a time when I had been doubting my effectiveness at times, only to pull myself together-and usually do a credible job, on any given day.

There are always aspects of one’s day-to-day life that are not readily understood.  Why, for example, do crisis moments seem to happen, almost out of nowhere?  Why do some people seem to be keenly interested in one’s shortcomings, when they have no supervisory role of which to speak?  Why do processes come to an abrupt end?

I have chosen to not concern myself with any of that.  I will go back to what has sustained me, in times of trial before:  Working where I am most needed, from day to day.  There are nineteen months until I would, optimally, prefer to retire from education: November, 2020.  I would work through December,  if the need arises.

It also occurs to me that the needs of my Faith, and possibly other needs that have yet to reveal themselves, are the true reason for my newly resumed flexible schedule.  Another, younger person could do what I had been doing with my former charges, from one day to the next and do as well, if not better.  I see that there are already areas, in which having the freedom to determine my own work schedule will do more good than I’d been able to do, in those areas, over the past three years.

Everything happens for a reason, and usually for at least two or three.

“Part of The Experience”

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April 4, 2019-

This morning, I read a news report that a recently dismissed Arizona state legislator had remarked to a fellow diner, at  a recent luncheon, that, hypothetically speaking, sexual behaviour towards children, by adults, would be “part of the experience”  The comments are supposedly on tape, having been streamed.  Sexually activity should not be part of any child’s experience.

In all my years of working with children and teens, I have seen this mindset rear its ugly mug, time and again.  It has never been part of my own mindset.  Many of us, in the course of our daily work, have hugged or held our charges, boys and girls alike.  It is not for our own physical or emotional gratification.  The child comes up to us, is reassured that all is going to be okay and goes off again, free of any trauma.

This same ex-legislator, in a couple of instances, has minimized the extent of sex trafficking of minors. That mindset is, woefully, far more rampant in our society-and globally, than one might imagine.  The judiciary is rife with men and women who pronounce themselves “disgusted” with the young people brought before them, on charges of  prostitution.   The implication seems to be that the poor, deprived old man who is found in the child’s/teen’s company is actually entitled, under the law, to gratification.

I am an older man, and I will pass on that entitlement, thank you.   I agree with the judge who stated:  “Children should be at home, with their parents.”  That is why human trafficking, especially of minors, is an abomination.  Children, under normal circumstances, ARE at home, particularly at night,  especially after hours.  This is true, even if they run away, for a bit, in fits of pique.  Many runaways find their way home.

Normalcy, though, is not always on everyone’s plate.  The streets abound with teens, and children, living in insecure environments.  Predators smell money and power, and the hook-ups happen.  The causes of the kids being away from home are almost as many as the number of young people.  Generally speaking, though, it boils down to a person-parent, parent’s live-in friend, other family member not regarding a child or teen as fully human,  totally worthy of respect.

Having grown up in a home, where even my deeply-flawed person was loved and cherished, with parents who blocked my running away-more than once, my deepest inclination is to love those who aren’t.  I have seen adults who were battered, pummeled, sexually-assaulted as children.  The resulting human being is an horrific sight.  That visage underscores the vileness of the comments made by the above-mentioned ex-legislator, the judge who sentenced two teen girls to the maximum penalty, for “being aggressors” towards the man who purchased them from their pimp, and the Catholic priest who told me, during an interview in 1975, that there was “no such thing as child abuse”.  Shame on all such blinkered mentalities.

I stand ready to help any victimized, trafficked human being mend and heal.

 

Feet First, Again

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April 3, 2019-

I began the work day ready to help keep our charges occupied, and relatively productive, as ever.  I ended the day, back in retirement mode- at least until I can get another position.  I chose to leave, after a brief pitch for me to take a position for which I am even less-suited than the one I have left behind.  I declined the offer, and the end game was set.

For all the platitudes that my co-workers and I have received, over the past two years, regarding loving and working with autistic children, there are people watching who do not have the best interests of those children in mind.  They are the ones who call the Governing Board, Human Resources-and the hapless school administrators.   I know this, because I once took the calls that my former boss has been getting.  I know this, because I heard the veiled threats and “you don’t know who you’re dealing with”- from individuals like the person who has been threatening me, personally, with the loss of my job, since last October.  I know this, because for refusing to take the earlier threats seriously, I was relieved of my position as Principal, in 1999, twenty years ago, this month.

So, it behooves my former supervisors to protect themselves.  Follow due process, but do not fall on your swords for others.  You are doing excellent work and deserve to remain in your leadership roles.  I will make my way, just fine, and being of “retirement age”, no one can come out of the woodwork, on the other side of the equation, and blast me for “not delivering”, as has happened a few times during my checkered career.  I will find work to tide me over until I hit 70, and, no, I will not heed the threats from last Fall.

My former co-workers remain like family and have already been in touch, wishing the best-as I do for them.

 

Microaggression

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April 2, 2019-

The other night, whilst visiting one of my best friends, I watched and listened to a speech by the conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro.  Among the social phenomena he noted was the trend towards condemning “microaggression”.  The term is used to describe remarks or gestures that trigger unpleasant feelings, discomfort or fear in people who are experiencing , or whose forebears have suffered, oppression.

I was treated, in junior high school, primarily, but also when in the Army, stateside, to a modest amount of bullying and verbal taunting, due to my autism.  I sometimes pondered what society would be like, were it to be rendered illegal to ridicule or belittle another person.  I came to the conclusion that, while it would a fine thing if people were to choose freely, as a society, to rise above such behaviours, to codify criticism as an offense, with criminal penalties, would only drive negativity underground.

To be sure, there are words and phrases that don’t belong in an enlightened society’s discourse.  Racial, ethnic and gender-based slurs are things I banished from my own vocabulary, when I was about 17, to the extent I ever used them at all.  Getting to know people on an individual basis, without pre-conceived notions, has been the only way I have achieved any personal growth, in my own right.

Last October, I found myself, mercifully only for a short time, in a veritable microaggression bootcamp, where every single word, behaviour or gesture that came from me was analyzed, castigated, sliced and diced, to the point I was leery of even taking a breath sideways.  The individual doing this determined that I was beyond redemption, and I was dismissed from her presence.   Mind you, I went through this at the behest of a friend, who was likewise deemed irredeemable.

None of us walks on water.  No matter how loving one’s heart is, and how consistently one shows that love, there will always be someone, somewhere, to whom one is a bete-noire.  It’s helped me, to be more present and aware of the deepest feelings and insecurities of others.  It has also helped me to have grown a thick skin, over the past many years.  “Microaggressions”, it seems to me, are best rooted out through calm, but firm, dialogue and education.  Shrillness and stridency, as Mr. Shapiro pointed out, only drive unkempt behaviour and rhetoric underground, into the maw of the Dark Web or the shadier places in the legitimate Internet.

 

A Step at a Time

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March 31, 2019-

I made it to Planet Fitness, despite a sense of fatigue after a trip to Phoenix and back, having attended a worthwhile, but somewhat tiring, meeting.  I was glad to have not had to drive, with a competent friend at the wheel instead.

Tonight’s workout came after a twenty-minute catnap.  I feel better, having done the 30-minute express, followed by ten minutes on the hydrobed.  Bittersweet March has thus, in the end, affirmed that there is still quite a bit left in this sexagenarian frame.  I get appreciative glances from ladies, the younger among them knowing, as well as I do, that that is as far as it goes.  It feels nice, regardless.

It is now full-on Spring.  Tomorrow, we will see what practical jokes remain to be played.  Later in the month come Chalk-It-Up, Earth Day, Easter and the Twelve Days of Ridvan, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Declaration of His Mission.  I will get my annual physical at the VA, sometime during the month, and will visit the Grand Canyon, on Good Friday.

April, as a wise colleague once remarked, cannot be the cruelest month.  Sorry, T.S. Eliot.

The Black Hand

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March 30, 2019-

In the Planet Fitness where I work out, there is a large seat, shaped like a Black Hand, in each of the stations where a hydromassage bed is located.  It strikes me that this is a symbol of challenge, that there are always difficulties to be overcome, whether self-imposed or brought on by others.

I have had to do a lot of re-assessment, after a rough past few days.  What I have determined is that: 1.  I am going to make fitness a higher priority than it’s been, having shown that I can make time for a workout, even on the busiest of days.

2.  I am going to cut way back, if not eliminate, my appetite for pastries and other high sugar-based food items.  Neither having my cake nor eating it, at least for the last two months of work.

3.  Doubling down on avoiding violence, no matter how violently I might be attacked, either by one of my charges or anyone who is deranged.  My reaction, from now on, will  be to distance myself, until assistance is at hand, at least in the work setting.

4.  Being more mindful and present.  Neither Alzheimer’s nor Parkinson’s has knocked on my door, but problems have presented themselves, through a combination of fatigue and autism.  I have done better, today, and need to continue getting enough rest, so that there is no repeat of incidents on Thursday and Friday.  The same old story:  When I am challenged by an authority figure, when I’m in a fatigued state, I come out with a blather of telling the person what I think they want to hear and making myself look guilty of something that, in actuality, never happened.

5.  Tax returns are done and I have worked out a more efficient system of time management, so despite some of the above, things are on an upswing.

Another One Out Like a Lamb

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March 28, 2019-

There is one more work day and one more trading day left in March.  A quarter of my sixty-ninth year will end on Sunday.  March has been roiling, as we have seen, in the areas of weather-based crises and human conflict.  It has also been a time of great joy for me, personally.

As I get ready for the last two months of a fairly successful work year, and begin to ponder what life might be like, after I leave full time employment and devote my time to family and to several months of the year as a traveling writer, there may be a catch.

Having said, a few times, that I am likely to leave Prescott, and Arizona, after nearly thirty years straight and thirty-eight years, all told, in the Grand Canyon State, there is the matter of who might prevail on me to remain here.  Most of my friends here will wish me well, regardless of what path I choose to follow.  There are some, not  counted as friends, who will be glad to see me leave.  One or two special people, who will remain nameless, could yet get me to stick around.  In any case, I know my meanderings would bring me back here, time and again.

This is all conjecture, at present.  I have two very full and rewarding years left, before “retirement”.  The March Lion will bow out, and April will bring pesky standardized testing, the beauty of Ridvan and of Easter, and the Proms.  May will likely see the first 90-degree day for Prescott, and 100-degree day in Metro Phoenix.  The weekends seem to be fully-booked, but I could very well get in a day trip to Grand Canyon, on the Centenary of its National Park.  This one would be to the east side of the Park, and Desert View Tower.  That was my Dad’s favourite spot, when he and Mom visited, in 1985.

Enough meandering, word-wise; I had a busy day and rest is of the essence.  See many of you, tomorrow.

All Those Meanwhiles

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March 26, 2019- 

For a good part of my time with my little family, in Korea, I was drawn away from anything to do with the wider world.  It felt only natural to narrow my focus, with only a relatively brief microburst of heavy rain, upon our return to Busan from Jeju, on March 15, to let the potential of havoc remind me that there was indeed “life’s mud and stone”, in the words of the great Kenny Rogers, of which to be ever mindful.

Nothing was more jarring than the shootings in Christchurch, something for which I ached, for days afterward, upon reading a digest of news in a copy of The Korea Herald.  Spiritual truth is one, continuous flow, throughout history and will remain so.  The wanton slaughter of 120 people in northern Nigeria, yet another episode in the back-and-forth atrocities between Christians and Muslims in that country and the ongoing bloodbath in Mali, orchestrated by the Islamic State and pitting the Peuhl people against IS’s Dogon opponents, have stayed on the back burner of the world’s awareness.  This is the wrong approach. At the very least, what happens in Africa, especially in the west and north of the continent, will spread to Europe, eventually, just as conflicts in the west of Asia are feared to do.  More essentially, the deaths of hundreds-anywhere- is a humanitarian crisis, worthy of the full attention of the wider world.

We seem to at least be paying closer attention to the horrific cyclone-caused damage and casualties in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.  Americans can identify with such events, especially when simultaneous horrors are ravaging the North American Great Plains and riparian areas of the Midwest.  Nature is in a highly-charged state right now.  Whether it is cyclical or the result of intense man-made climatic disruptions, unified responses are necessary.

Then, there were the more personal individual tragedies:  A young lady who had survived last year’s Parkland, FL shootings was overcome by her emotional pain, and took her life.  A week later, the esteemed economist, Paul Krueger, overcome by suffering of his own, followed suit.  Closer to home, two teen girls in our area and a Phoenix police officer were killed by inattentive drivers.

I learned my lesson, that even during the most basic and intensely personal of life events, there is no separation from all that surrounds us.  Meanwhile, family thrives, near neighbours may struggle-and those who live in areas, where life’s larger problems seem intractable, continue to warrant our love and efforts to help, where possible.

The “meanwhiles” never take a vacation.