From My Bulletin Board

Saw this on someone’s LiveJournal years ago (I think before the stroke, in fact) and posted it on the bulletin board in my office. I saw it there today and thought, yeah, that’s worth sharing.

It does not matter where you are in life or what your circumstances are, you always have a choice. You may not like the choice. You may have made so many unconscious choices you will have to make some really difficult choices to get to a better place. But you always have a choice.

You are here, in this place, at this time, doing this thing, living this life, because of all the choices you made up to now.

Do you want your life to be different?

Pay attention to what you are choosing.

Penny for your thoughts…?

I Really Wonder…

Last August, Mary and I “cut the cord” and got rid of cable TV and phone service, keeping Internet service because we actually use it. I was actually surprised that I miss very little about cable; if anyone is thinking about doing it, I can recommend it highly. You’re definitely saving money, even if you don’t take advantage of the bundles they offer.

It’s generally been a smooth transition, because 95% of what we were watching on cable was network TV, and we could get that over-the-air. We’re able to get most channels (the two PBS stations remain elusive), including the subchannels. One of the subchannels is MeTV, Memorable Entertainment TV, and we generally spend the evening switching back and forth between CBS, the Justice Network, and MeTV. Saturday nights are “Super Sci-Fi Saturday” on MeTV, starting at 6 PM. We watch the superhero shows, namely The Adventures of Superman, Batman, and The (New) Adventures of Wonder Woman.

None of these shows are new to either of us: we grew up watching Superman and Batman, and while we didn’t generally watch Wonder Woman, we had seen a couple of episodes between us, and knew what it was about. Still, it’s been a treat seeing the shows again.

We’ve had an ongoing discussion the last few months about the shows, though:

How is it that the secret identities of these characters remain a mystery to the companions?

Seriously, how is it that Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane have never figured out that Superman is Clark Kent? Something happens, they tell Clark, he sends them off on a wild goose chase, then runs to the storeroom, takes off his glasses and Clark Kent clothes, and jumps out the window as Superman. Then, when Superman saves the day and the bad guys are off to jail, Clark Kent appears out of nowhere and asks if he’s missed anything. And somehow, they never think, “hey, Clark sounds a lot like Superman,” or, “stick glasses on Superman, he’d look like Clark Kent.”

Same thing with Batman and Robin. No one in that show, not the villains, not Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara, not even Aunt Harriet can figure out that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin. Bruce and foster son Dick are loaded and are always going to charity events, where Bruce speaks and is seen on television, and no one says, “you know, that Bruce Wayne guy sounds a lot like Batman.” It really got weird when Barbara Gordon, the commissioner’s daughter, a/k/a Batgirl, joined the cast. A father’s not going to know his own daughter? Even with the costume and the red wig, I would think he would know who she was. And Bruce and Dick see Barbara all the time, and Batman and Robin know Batgirl, and none of them can figure out the connection?

While I’m on the subject, have you ever noticed that the main villains on Batman wear masks when wreaking havoc on Gotham City? Why? I mean, a guy running around in a green leotard with question marks on it is either the Riddler or Matthew Lesko.

And Wonder Woman. Major Steve Trevor brings YE1 Diana Prince to investigate something, suddenly she disappears and “Oh, hey, Wonder Woman, where did YOU come from?” He can’t look at Diana and tell she’s Wonder Woman? Is he that easily fooled by a pair of glasses and hair pulled up into a bun? He’s never noticed that Diana and Wonder Woman sound alike and have the same blue eyes?

I don’t buy it. No one is that dumb. And you could say that for all of them.

So, what do you think? How is it these superheroes never get figured out?

STEM and Creativity

I put “need for STEM education” into Google, and I got all of these sites. One of them was this page from the US Department of Education, which makes a couple of interesting points:

  • “Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.”
  • “The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects.”

They even put this diagram on the page to show the need for young experts in the STEM fields.

Source: US Department of Education

I bet if you were to ask kids why they aren’t interested in going into careers in these fields, they would say, “It’s too hard! All that math and science and stuff…” And, granted, kids have to have a good foundation in sciences and math before they can hope to understand the material being discussed. But they need something more.

Remember this that I put up on Wednesday?

See, people involved in the STEM areas are just as creative and intuitive as artists and writers. Engineering isn’t just an area where people work with numbers and logic; engineers also dream and design. Same with mathematicians: I was a math major in a previous life, and got into areas of mathematics that don’t deal with numbers or computation. We worked with number systems that don’t involve anything resembling the numbers we use every day. (That’s when I got out.) You could make similar arguments for scientists and technologists. All of the STEM areas are arts as much as sciences.

If we want more mathematicians, engineers, technologists, and scientists, we need to make sure that kids are seeing both sides of the picture. We know that both sides of the brain work together, each side doing what it’s best at and drawing connections between the world of fact and the world of fantasy. I realize that’s an oversimplification, but if a kid’s education doesn’t provide as much focus on creativity and idea formation as it does on math and grammar, what good does it do?

Then again, I could be wrong… What do you think?

Happy Hallowe’en! (#blogboost)

A little music by the incomparable Henry Mancini:

WGN used this song as the theme for its Saturday night horror movie screamfest, “Creature Features.” Maybe they still do. I doubt it, though.

I have to confess, I’m not into Hallowe’en. Thinking back, I never was. No offense intended, it just never appealed to me. It was my duty as a kid to put on a costume and go trick-or-treating, and it wasn’t something I looked forward to. The year my dad died, Hallowe’en was on a Tuesday, and all the kids in the neighborhood were going out on Sunday. It was colder than a well-digger’s backside, and I decided that I wasn’t going to do it. My mom gave me five dollars and told me to get myself a costume. The only costume left by then was a devil costume. I felt like an idiot. I did go out in 7th and 8th grade, mostly because I was with my friends. They were into it. It didn’t catch on. Oh well.

Hallowe’en has become big business these days. I’m told people spend more money for Hallowe’en than for any other holiday but Christmas. Wow.

I have nothing against it. I don’t believe that it’s a Satanic celebration, though many would disagree, nor do I believe that it’s a gateway into the occult. In fact, its name comes from “All Hallow’s Eve,” the day before All Saints’ Day, a day that the Catholic Church honors the holy people who lived lives of heroic faith. We don’t pass out candy (we don’t need the temptation, believe me) and we are certain to keep Jasmine, our one black cat, in the house on the day. I’ve never understood the whole aversion to black cats, by the way. We’ve had a few of them over the years, and they are wonderful pets, most of them are a little goofy (then again, cats in general are a little goofy, especially torties and calicos), and too many of them don’t have “forever” homes. When we adopted Jasmine, the lady who ran the pet rescue was so thrilled that she gave her to us. If you’re ever looking for a companion animal, consider a black cat.

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!