The School as Sanctuary


August 11, 2022- The tearful little girl was introduced to me, by her teacher of four days. She readily agreed to take a short walk with me, and we went, briefly, out a door to a small play area. There were other students and teachers in the area, and between the lot of us, we found an exterior door that was unlocked. The girl and I went back inside, walked to the office and let the staff there know about the door. Each of us who was over the age of 18 thought of another school, far away, that had an unlocked door, a few months ago. The matter took on an urgency.

The school where I worked today is in a fairly comfortable part of Prescott Valley. The teachers and staff have a clear love for their students and there is a warmth there, that I wish were present in every institution of learning. Although the rest of my day was spent as a lunch room monitor, I could very easily return to the school and assist in whatever capacity is needed.

Modern schools almost to a one, find themselves as sanctuaries. Those whose structures more accurately resemble prisons, in their design and physical plant, have to struggle mightily to avoid being such. There are also schools whose teachers are intellectually adept, but are emotionally-stunted, and actually take pride in making students cry. This school has none of that. There is a sense that difficult children are so, for a reason, and that reason is not to punish adults.

I sense that this year will be one of more discerning acceptance of assignments, especially as there seems to be a surplus of substitute teachers. There are maybe 8 schools where I feel that my presence is a good fit. This school would be the eighth, and but for a three-to-five month commitment on Fridays, and a pair of short, but necessary trips in September and October, I would have signed on for a lengthy “Roving Sub” position, there or in another such school.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success


December 22, 2020-

Sir Arthur Helps offered this viewpoint, in 1868. It was an ironic statement, as two years before, Sir Arthur had all but lost his shirt in the Panic of 1866. Since then, the phrase has been tossed out, several times, by snarky commentators, both in support, and in condemnation, of the amassing of personal wealth.

My own idea of success has such an amassing of pecuniary fortune somewhere down on the list of what constitutes actual wealth. I have not yet seen a fabulously wealthy person exude happiness, based solely on the ability to attract coin. There are several more realistic criteria, by which to measure stature.

Friendships are probably the most obvious of these. While in my own life, money has come and gone, (though, at present, it is giving me a modest level of security), friends since childhood are still in my circle, and new people show up all the time.

A secure set of values is even more fundamental to a feeling of success. Secure does not mean rigid, which actually undermines security, by not taking into account the changes in circumstance. Being able to live honestly, while adapting to change, and growing from it, has led to my present homeostasis. It also has enabled a positive response to crises, when they rear their heads.

Baha’u’llah has given us leave to earn financial wealth, as we see fit, and has instructed us to put such wealth to good use, in resolving the ills of humanity and of the planet. Not everyone will amass millions, or billions, yet each can do something along the lines of sharing.

Money has been called “the lifeblood of civilization”. It is love, however, that is the lifeblood of humanity. Nothing succeeds, like the success of attracting and maintaining friendships, and living a life of integrity.



January 31, 2020-

While covering a class yesterday, I showed the film, “Avatar”.  The point was made that, in the far future, a certain segment of Earth’s populace was bent on colonizing a planet similar to our own.  It involved a colonialist mentality, based on perceived economic benefit.

I read a report, yesterday, about an American woman, missing in the Central American country of Belize.  The report said she was last seen on a beach, late at night.  Several commentators cast aspersions on the safety conditions in that country, as well as those in the Dominican Republic.  The comments included the opinion that Americans are routinely seen as projecting a “rich and entitled” persona, by residents of those countries.

I have never been to either nation.  I have been to the South American nation of Guyana, where similar charges were leveled against the local populace.  I was there, with Penny, for three weeks.  We walked about with humility, and did not find ourselves being menaced or accosted by anyone.  We had escorts and host families, the entire time we were there.  That was 1984, and yet I am certain that similar precautions would bear similar results now.

I have been a number of places, since that year.  I can say that I made some boneheaded judgments, when in Europe, in 2014, but none based on hubris or egoism.  I learned what not to do again.  It is simply best to walk in humility and fair-mindedness, albeit while maintaining a smart sense of safety.  I have plans that will take me far afield, over the next five years-and I don’t rule out any given country.  Most will involve making suitable security arrangements beforehand, in any case-but not because I am “rich and entitled”.  There will be many conversations on the subject, I’m certain-just as I spoke with a few disaffected people in Guyana, 36 years ago, and in Paris, six years ago.

This is perhaps as big a reason for my reaching out, as any.



September 14, 2016, Prescott- 

Practicing defensive stances

guaranteed to put a raging child

in a place safe from harm to self and others.

Use these techniques properly,

I am told, and the child will

feel stability.

I will guard their precious souls

with my own life, if necessary.

There is a fine line, though,

between security and retaliation.

Let no one cross that line,

lest they deal with me.

“No child thrown under the bus”

has been my oath,

for years upon years.

Thanks, “Handle With Care, Inc.”

for the training today.

The Road to 65, Mile 182: Blanket Forts


May 29, 2015, Reno- When I was a boy, forts of all kinds were the only way to go:  Tree forts, rock forts, and bedding forts (which were the bane of my mother’s existence).  My last night in Reno finds me “guarding” a blanket fort, the creation of a 3-year-old, and actually very sturdy.

We all seek security, knowingly or unknowingly, every waking moment of our lives.  The information age has brought the need for new kinds of fortresses. So, we make do with passwords, both fun passwords and the more mundane variety.  We pick and choose who gets to see what- and I have had the discomfort of an e-mail account being hacked, a few years ago.  I learned the hard way, six years ago, about computer viruses, trusting the wrong “Internet Security” outfits, which led to wiping the slate clean.  Now, I maintain a high level of security online and am conscious of offline safeguards as well.

We watched a program, this evening, about predators and their teen prey.  I spent the better part of my career educating children and youth about  how to avoid just this sort of thing, in the aftermath of some serious depredation in the 1990’s.  Now, as I have ridden around the Biggest Little City in the World, I see trusting young women holding signs, asking for assistance, having seemingly little knowledge of the sort of people who could “help” them.  I can only pray for these naivetes, and talk with those who will listen, to get them to focus on building their own fortresses.

The blanket fort survived the night, and its creator slept safely, in another bedroom.

The Road to 65, Mile 61: Vintage


January 28, 2015, Prescott-  This afternoon, as I was readying for my drive up to Colorado, I got a call from my street-smart buddy, wanting me to look at something.  I met him at a used car lot, mentally preparing for yet another misadventure.  What I found, though, was that he had found, and arranged to buy, a treasure.  A 1995 Ford van, complete with solid wood consoles, and a small 8-cylinder engine, was his, for a bargain price.  He started it up, and I did my usual in such matters- kicking the tires (good tread and solid wheels), checking the exhaust pipe, manifold, belts and hoses (all good) and the fluids (topped off and clean).  He seems to have done well.

This set me to thinking.  Many of us complain that there is little made to last, any more.  Here is a prime example, though, of a vintage model that has held up well, after nearly twenty years. I am of the opinion that young people will revive the notion of building things in a solid manner.  We already see artisan products- foods, beverages, and various crafts, all being made with pride.  I think that artisan products will expand, in number and in scope, as the need to ditch the concept of planned obsolescence gains momentum.

Relationships, too, will increase in the number of “vintage” long-lasting bonds.  We may not see traditional marriages increase in number, but I have observed a larger number of couples who are committed to one another.  I don’t think it’s just old Bruin wearing rose-coloured glasses.  Young folks want security, and where better to find such, in the days of the scaredy-cats on Wall Street selling other people’s funds at the drop of a hat, or of the proverbial sky, than with a long-term partner.

As some things fall apart, other things will emerge and be the foundation of the future True Vintage.

On Oracle Road


This is a repost from Xanga, but it expresses my feelings about what went down a year ago, in Tucson.  My site, my rules.

A year has now come and gone.  The Tucson shooting rampage has had its predictable First Anniversary media blitz.   Congresswoman Giffords is on the road to recovery, and may well run for reelection.  Her husband is at her side, as he has been, to the extent possible, all along.  The families of those killed grieve on and virtually all are giving back to the community which stood by them.  The President is silent, and suitably so.  He needs to stay in the background for this one.  The wounded progress and live their lives in the way that best suits each of them.

I read through the entire newspaper segment on how each of them are doing.  It is a low day for me, for obvious reasons- a trigger, but I made it through, just because I could.

The media did not have to look far to find a gadfly to the hoopla.  He is George Morris, widower of one of the slaying victims.  He blames Mark Kelly for his wife’s death, for not having provided security on that day.  I am sorry for your loss, Mr. Morris.  I know what it’s like to have lost a soul mate.  Contrary to your understanding, though, let me point out something:  The spouse of a congressperson is not  who provides security at congressional events.  My Congressman, Paul Gosar, provides his own security, through his office budget.  I believe it’s the same across the institution.  Ms. Giffords most likely had no idea she would be attacked at a minimall.

He also faults Kelly for “going off into space”, while his wife was in the hospital.  Fact is, that space flight was a GROUP decision.  Ms. Giffords, Kelly’s daughters, both sets of parents and NASA all weighed in on the pros and cons.  It was his last flight, so to him, it was six or a half-dozen.  Since Morris regards Ms. Giffords as “worthless”, how would the space flight matter.

Well, grief leads people to say strange things.  This, I know.  Personally, I grieve for the Tucson victims, also.  I grieve for Judge Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Mr. Stoddard, Mrs. Schneck, Christina-Taylor Green and for George Morris’s wife, Dorothy.  Each had a good life ahead.  If Judge Roll had lived, he’d have seen the courthouse he planned for Yuma get built.  If Gabe had lived, he’d be the one coaching Ms. Giffords back to health and might have been a fine surrogate candidate, had she been unable to run.  If Mr. Stoddard and Mrs. Schneck had lived, they’d have seen their grandkids on to higher levels of achievement.  If Christina-Taylor had lived, the sky would have been the limit,  If Dorothy Morris had lived, perhaps George would have had the chance to clear the air with his Congresswoman, instead of lashing out at her now.

We’re all adults here, so I sense Ms. Giffords half-expects to get some tongue-lashings from the disgruntled among us, even as she works on recovery.  Such is life in the public eye.  The vast majority of Americans, however, are pouring out good will, and not because we’re media sheep.  It’s because we’re human and the hurt of one, or of the few, is the hurt of all.

The scene we see today, on Oracle Road, is of a memorial.  For a long time to come, may its cause not be repeated.