Archive for October, 2010

A Dog’s Ten Commandments

October 24, 2010

Thanks to my pal Bill –  cop, wildlife photographer and father of three – for sending this along.

We haven’t gotten our boys a puppy yet – but with each year, it gets closer and closer. And when that day comes, I’m printing the list below, and hanging it in a central place in the house where everyone can see it daily.

As we’ve all heard and have said many times before, “having a puppy is a big responsibility: you have to feed it, walk it, potty train it, etc.”

All basic rules.

But it’s the thoughts below that make all the difference.

Thanks for the reminder, Bill.

A Dog’s Ten Commandments

1. Don’t leave me alone. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old, as you too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, when my time here has come to an end, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier if you are there with me, because I love you so.

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Educational Paradigm Shift

October 17, 2010

Thanks to Dani who dropped this amazing video into the comments of the last post.

Breakfast notes

October 17, 2010

This was a note I scratched onto a steno pad a few mornings ago while eating breakfast. I wanted to preserve the idea, (and someday elaborate on it) and figured it would have a longer shelf life here in the blog than rattling around my desk as it had been.

[  … 10/3/10 – It is the troubled kids that are often the most creative among the crowd, but most often, they have no platform upon which to express their talents. This is to say that their creative sides are given no framework or structured outlet for expression. Thus, their corresponding practical sides are over taken again and again by torrents of creative impulses. As a result, their sense of stability is often warped and distorted, abstracted by their strong innate creativity.
This makes a strong case, I believe, for further development and emphasis on programs that seek to provide troubled youths with rich creative outlets, as means toward corrective and acceptable social behavior … ]

It’s a very basic notion I’ve had for some time – and I really need to develop it. I suppose getting it from my head and onto paper is the first step.

I have a few thoughts on the next step, and would love to hear yours in the comments.

Telling the Truth

October 12, 2010

When I was twenty two years old, I decided to read an entire set of encyclopedias. I was that guy.

I wish I could say I finished, but the truth is, I had randomly hand picked about half of them to keep in my car (yeah, I was that guy, too.) So with half in my small New York apartment, and the other half in the back of my silver Ford Escort station wagon, I just never got a good reading system going to finish the collection.

One night however, back then with a bottle of Merlot and hand-rolled cigarettes, while curled up with a hard-cover copy of A-B, I came across the name, Bobadilla, and the very interesting story accompanying it.

It was one of the first times I realized that I had been lied to in grade school. You know, deliberately speaking falsely is one thing, but in some cases, I believe intentional omission of facts is akin to lying.

And so we have Bobadilla.

The Cliff Notes version is Francisco de Bobadilla was hired by Spanish King Ferdinan and Queen Isabella to take over for good ole’ Chris Columbus across the way here in the New Land. In 1500, once Bobadilla got there (or here, rather) he confirmed reports that Columbus had been a cruel and dishonorable leader in the Americas, and was thus sent back to Spain in shackles and chains.

And while I don’t imagine anyone will rush to their dusty book shelves to read the rest of the story, they might read more online about how Christopher Columbus was arrested.

It’s insightful, especially for the generations who learned in school the story of Christopher Columbus the hero, who set out bravely in search of the New World, with his three mighty ships, The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Ma- OK, you know the plot, at least as we were told it in school.

Why do we uphold the tradition of telling our kids the sanitized versions of such historic tales, and then fail to follow up with the truth, the rest of the story, when they are older? Like the Native Americans and White Man sitting down to break bread, and be at peace, and live in harmony and be BFF’s. Oh, is that how it happened? I’m not so sure that’s the whole story.

I suppose it’s gotten better to some degree. My father’s generation was taught in school that the Red Man was nothing but a savage, beast-like man who scalped the innocent. Since then, history texts have undergone major restorations, to reflect the Native American’s naturally spiritual and peaceful ways, and the greed and plunder of their paler “visitors.”

Or on Valentine’s Day, which we learn is about love and cutting pink doilies and making cards when we are little – but then we are never set down in class at an older age and told about St. Valentine, one of many martyrs killed, for right or wrong, for what he believed in. That’s an important story, and a great lesson wasted. It’s a missed opportunity for a sixteen-year old student and a crucial question not asked: What would you defend until the end?

I just think telling our kids partial truths breeds confusion.

I’m not sure if it’s gotten better since I was in school, so I asked my six year son tonight what he learned about Christopher Columbus this year, and he said, “well, he only wanted gold and spices to get rich and someone else actually discovered America anyway.”

It’s a step in the right direction, I guess.

But it’s still a half truth, which is a gross inadequacy of our American education system.

I don’t propose to have a answer. But I have a question. How can we expect our kids to grow into responsible adults who speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, when we ourselves condone, and in some case even encourage, the glossing over of crucial points of life?

It’s a gap I hope all of us parents can shorten, together as we go.

Kids and the Value of Film?

October 2, 2010

It read, “Learning Life’s Lessons Through Film”

I get roped into reading these stories all the time. A cover story about kids, right?

Wrong.

Few things irk me more than a title that doesn’t deliver. And more and more, it occurs to me how often consumer culture dangles “kids” in front of us, hoping to get a bite.

In any case, beyond the fact that this story has four ledes, and barely a cohesive thread of thought woven through it, you might find, buried in the end (after clicking through once), it only vaguely mentions something about kids and preserving the art of film. All good points, but buried at the bottom.

USA WEEKEND – “A marquee of A-list directors, led by Martin Scorsese and including Spielberg and George Lucas, has come together to turn the magic of movies into life lessons for America’s young people and, in the process, infuse a new generation with an appreciation for film.” FULL STORY

All things being fair, USA WEEKEND did also included a great VIDEO about SIDS, as October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness month.

So they’re forgiven.