Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cheater, Cheater, Pants on Fire!: Plagiarism Rears Its Ugly Head

A dean from a university contacted me via email because a student borrowed liberally from the writings of at least three of my entries and submitted the results as her own original work.  I'm unsure as to what my reaction should be. On one hand, someone stole from me! On the other hand, someone considered something I wrote to be worthy of plagiarism! I'm simultaneously both angered and honored, but not very grievously angered, as I have too many real problems in my own life to devote much energy to this non-issue that really doesn't concern me to a very great degree.

The dean who contacted me requested that I submit phone records, bank records,  and passwords for email accounts and social media accounts so that he can determine that I am not actively involved in aiding and abetting students in plagiarism. My guess is that he or someone else suspects that I'm selling compositions or at least wishes to rule out the possibility that I am doing so. I understand why someone would suspect this or desire to rule out the possibility or likelihood. On the other hand, if I intended to operate such a business and expected to make any sort of profit by doing so (And why would I operate such an enterprise if I did not expect to make a profit?), one of the stupider things I could ever do would be to post on my blog the compositions I had sold.  

I have mixed feelings about the degree to which I desire to assist this administrator of this educational institution in his investigation of plagiarism, which now includes an investigation of me. First and foremost, I have nothing whatsoever to hide.  Part of me says that, because I have nothing to hide, it makes perfect sense to hand over everything that is requested. Then again, perhaps I should consider the words of Edward Snowden of Wikileaks infamy, who either said or wrote, "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."  

The bottom line for me, I suppose, is that I made it through my undergraduate studies without resorting to plagiarism, and I'm not especially appreciative of anyone else taking shortcuts to the fulfillment of a degree by using my work. Had someone in some way gained access to any of the work I produced by the sweat of my brow for university or even high school credit, I would be outraged.(This did happen to me once, and I was more than outraged.) That someone was either lazy enough or desperate enough to lift writing off this silly blog, antithetically, is more a source of amusement to me than of outrage. Really, I want to ask the person who borrowed my work, with everything now available on the Internet, you couldn't find anything better than this to steal? Moreover, I truly hope that the person who borrowed my work took the time and trouble to edit for typographical errors, as the entries of this blog are, more often than not, written between the hours of midnight and four o'clock a.m., and, also more often than not, I don't return to the site to fix my typos.

Note: Some universities come down very heavily against the idea of re-using one's own work, sometimes going so far as to refer to the practice as "plagiarism." While an institution has every right to create and enforce policies against the re-use of one-own work, the re-use of one's own work does not constitute plagiarism, and saying it does will not make it so. Institutions do not have the privilege of re-inventing the definition of plagiarism.

I have two legal sources I have relied upon in the past. At some point I'll consult at least one of my attorney friends for advice as to what are my rights and responsibilities in this matter. My instincts tell me that no harm would be done in allowing the administrator to have my password to my blogspot site. Nothing here, whether published yet or not, is either private or personal. I'm more reluctant to hand over email and social media passwords, and more reluctant still to turn over banking information. As far as I know, the administrator with whom I have corresponded has no security clearance. I have no reason to trust him. Suppose I give him the information he has requested, and suppose I am the victim of identity theft five weeks later.  Who is going to help me remedy the damage done? Probably no one. 

Furthermore, giving the university dean my online information would clear me of nothing. All he could conclude after reviewing it would be that nothing incriminating had been found in the accounts I had given him. He would have no way of knowing if I had given him an only  partial listing of my accounts and sites. That conclusion could be reached only after reviewing any and all computers I had used in whatever time period is being investigated. I'm not about to turn over my personal computer or my cell phone to this guy. My medical school is even less apt to grant the man or the university he represents access to their devices.

If, after hearing from the university in question, the F.B.I. were to choose to involve itself in this matter, I would cooperate fully. It would be massively inconvenient for me, but I would suck up the inconvenience in the interest of the common good. I probably wouldn't even ask for warrants, though my educational institution would require them before granting access to any of its devices I might have used. I would not exactly relish the invasion of my privacy, mainly because I would have to change all my passwords once the investigation were concluded, but I would certainly survive it.

I don't know what specific entries were purloined. I hope to have that information at some point just for the purposes of my own entertainment and to satisfy my own curiosity.

To any potential plagiarists who may be reading: If you, for some reason, have spent the last several years in a cave and don't already know this,  when your professor asks you to submit your work to or whatever anti-plagiarism site or program used, it will detect any unlikely similarities between your work and this blog or almost anything else you may have located on the Internet. You have been forewarned. If you insist upon proceeding in your efforts to use work that is not your own, please plagiarize from someone else other than I. It's not so much that I am especially possessive of anything I have written here, because it's not worthy of any particular possessiveness,  but I don't need the inconvenience of having to deal with your school's dean or whomever else they sic on me. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Out of the Frying Pan of a Closet and Into the Fire: Bobby Flay Made My Cousin Gay!*

Without naming him, I wrote of my cousin Richard few years ago. He's a cousin on my dad's side -- the side of the family with whom I do not have especially close ties. Actually, that's not entirely true. I do have especially close ties with by dad's brother Steve and with his family, and I have, at the very least, close ties to my Uncle Michael's and his family, and to my Aunt Cristelle and her family. It can even be said that I at least have ties to my aunts Marie-Therese, Elyse, and Claudine, and to their families. To my dad's remaining three siblings and their spouses and offspring, however, I am persona non grata, which is more than OK with me.  I am perfectly happy to have my very existence denied by these people. 

I hold a very special place of antipathy in the hearts of my  Aunt Angelie and her spouse and progeny for good reasons which have been discussed elsewhere in my blog without giving names. In an infamous incident, my well-being was placed in jeopardy, which resulted in the unity of their nuclear family being likewise placed in jeopardy. Alas, all's well that ends well, at least for me. I cannot speak to the wellness of the unity or of anything else pertaining to their family.

When Aunt Angelie's son Richard returned from his  mission a couple of years ago,  the transition from living the uber-regimented life  of an LDS missionary to the life of relative freedom of civilian life was fraught with peril. One would need to qualify the term freedom as it pertains to the lives of the offspring of my Aunt Angelie and her husband, as the only child of their to have experienced bona fide freedom was their son Josh, who was literally disowned by them for having failed to remain on his LDS mission when he suffered a life-threatening intestinal ailment. 

Still, the metamorphosis from life as a twin automaton salesman for LDS, Inc., to  life as a soldier in God's army serving under my drill sergeant aunt was jarring to Richard even by the most conservative of estimates. Family members did not, at the time, grasp the magnitude of the issues with which Richard was wrestling. We were led to believe that he suffered with a mere lack of direction in his life which compelled him to spend hours at a time in front of the family's living room television, thoroughly engaged with Food Network programming. Richard's fascination with all things related to Bobby Flay did not escape the attention of his mother, who honestly believed she could change her son's true nature to what it should have been according to LDS teachings by the simple act of cancelling her family's cable TV connection.

Alas, in real life, true love, even when unrequited, is not so easily circumnavigated. Richard enrolled in one of the church's universities, where, once again, he had access to cable television and to the Food Network. Not only did he reconnect (albeit with a one-way connection) with Bobby Flay;  he found a kindred spirit in his Food Network addiction: one whose connection was not limited to mutual passion for food, but to mutual passion for each other.  The close encounter was, to the consternation of his parents, not of the heterosexual kind.

Richard is no longer enrolled in The Lord's University, nor is he, at least as far as she is concerned, enrolled in Aunt Angelie's family. Of course my parents (meaning, of course, my mother; even my dad would have had the common sense not to have touched this situation with the proverbial ten-foot pole) almost immediate involved themselves in the drama. They have offered to fund Richard's education on the condition that he take the remainder of this academic year off and work at any job he can find (they will supplement his earnings to help him meet his living expenses if necessary and will fund his health insurance for the remainder of this academic year) and give himself the better part of a year to get his head on straight (with straight not equating with heterosexual in this sense) so that he will be prepared to focus on his education when he returns to university.  Richard essentially tanked a year's education, so this request from my parents was not an altogether unreasonable one.

If the family rumor mill is to be taken seriously,  my aunt plans to sue the Food Network and the celebrity chef himself on the grounds that Bobby Flay made her son gay. Good luck with that one, Aunt Angelie.

Any way I look at it, it would seem to be a step in the direction of mental health that the current object of my cousin's affection is a person with whom he interacts in the flesh as opposed to one whose daily TV appearances dictated the schedule of his life.

* I'm being ironic. i'm not REALLY accusing you of causing my cousin to have become gay. Please don't sue me, Bobby Flay.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Is it luck, or do we make our own luck? (I AM an adult, dammit!)

I recently read a tweet, which I tried to copy as an image, but was unsuccessful. The tweet stated, "It is never too late to become what you want to be when you grow up."  I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment if only because there comes a point by which a person probably should have grown up. If the statement were tweaked a bit to say instead something like "it is never too late to learn," or "It is never too late to achieve a dream," I could get behind it. While this seems to be a bit non sequitur, it actually relates to the bulk of this post.

Last week I attended three educational meetings in my capacity as a medical professional. I was privileged and honored to have done so. Attending educational program meetings on behalf of students with medical needs that potentially impact the educational process for them is valuable experience for me. I'm not certain how often I will be called upon to attend similar meetings once I have gained expertise and am practicing in my field of expertise, but if the need for doing such arises, I will be better equipped to do so because of the guided practice opportunities that have been extended to me. For that I am most grateful.

On the other hand, unexpected challenges sometimes present themselves in such real-life situations. I shall share with readers a particular challenge that presented itself at all three meetings last week. Because essentially the identical circumstance presented itself at three of three meetings last week, I'm not at all convinced it should be considered a coincidence. Allow me to describe the sequence of events as it unfolded at just one of the three meetings I attended, as it happened so similarly at all three meetings that to share all three interchanges would be redundant. The offense was most egregious at this particular meeting, but the essence was the same.

At educational program meetings, participants  introduce themselves and state their titles and roles. When I did so, my title of "medical school student in clerkship phase of education, acting on behalf of XXX Medical Practice under the direction of XXXXX XXXXXXXX, M.D.," it wasn't taken at face value. Other participants felt the need to suggest that I was possibly a student in a paramedical program, or perhaps a nursing school student, though even that, to one questioner,  seemed to stretch the bounds of credulity. One member of the individualized educational program team wasn't shy about directly stating that I was embellishing my credentials for the purpose of making myself appear more 
credible, educated, successful, professional, and a few other adjectives I won't bother repeating.  

Once my role and qualifications were clarified  --  once the more skeptical members of the team were convinced that I was as I represented myself  --  I was treated to lengthy dissertations from other team members as to how very lucky I am to be going through the education that will lead to my professional certification at such a young age. First and foremost, such discussion has no place whatsoever in any child's Individual Educational Program meeting. The meeting is about the child, and not about me. I'm more than willing to provide whatever documentation is necessary in order to assure a child's parents that I possess adequate knowledge in the areas of which I have been called upon to report. I'm even willing to humor the members of the team other than the parents with regard to their skepticism concerning my expertise. That, however, is where it should end. Individualized Educational Program meetings are not an appropriate venue for venting as to how very arduous was the task of returning to college to complete one's education after having become a parent. If a parent of the child for whom the meeting is held needs for some reason to share difficulties in his or her own life, which may included the difficulties of having returned to higher education, as they impact the child or the family, such is entirely appropriate. Where the rest of the team is concerned, on the other hand, their personal lives have no bearing on the subject matter at hand except as it is an attempt to demonstrate empathy for the parent. Otherwise, our personal lives are just that -- personal and therefore not pertinent in a professional setting.

So the director of special services and I stared at each other with wild-eyed What the fuck? expressions as an administrator and a special education specialist blathered about the experience of having returned to the university setting with few college units that were transferable, with spouses or ex-spouses who were virtually useless as co-parents, and with several children for whom they were almost solely responsible. The administrator and special education specialist went on to tell me how very lucky I am to be completing my education without the difficulties that they faced. They told me how very easy it is to get through any level of schooling if one has merely schooling on which to focus, and one isn't up to one's neck in domestic responsibilities. They complained that I came from a more privileged background than did either of them, and that [for the record: untrue] my parents had paid for my education, while they had to secure their own grants and loans. "I even had to run my own
household!" one of them practically hollered. "Where would you be if you had that responsibility? Not very far, I can tell you!"  I sat silently while shrugging my shoulders. There was nothing I could have said that would not have compounded the level of un-professionalism of the supposed professionals in attendance at that meeting.

My detractors added insult to injury by saying that they had finished school as adults. What in hell do they think i am, a two-year-old?

I won't address the obvious begging of the question as to why these women would feel that it was safe to assume that I had never been on the receiving end of adversity. I didn't feel the need or obligation to share my personal history at a meeting for which the purpose was to detail an individualized education program for a child. Moreover, how would these women who, by their own admissions, had struggled to complete their teacher credentialing programs (the administrator in the charter school held merely a teaching credential and not an administrative credential, which would have been mandatory to serve as an administrator in a standard public school). Why would they presume to have any knowledge of the relative rigors of a teacher credentialing programs as opposed to those encountered in medical school?

While the lack of professionalism at the meeting was baffling, that is not my primary complaint at this time. While the circumstances under which these educational professionals chose to air their grievances with the system and with me were deplorable, my grievance is not the platform they chose in which to complain. Instead, I take exception to what it was that they said.

I've been blessed with a few advantages that not everyone can claim. My mother stayed away from booze and drugs while she was expecting me. My parents were college-educated. They talked to me when I was a child. They exposed me to books. I had parents who, in my earliest days of schooling, fed and groomed me before sending me to school, and, in the later years of my schooling, would have noticed had I failed to do the same for myself. Most of my schooling took place in a school district that demonstrated high rates of success with students in numerous measures. My parents ensured that I attended school all but five days of my entire kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade career unless I was too sick to be at school. My parents accepted nothing but my best efforts in school.  My brother and I were able to skip one grade of elementary school, and my parents provided the support that was needed to make that early promotion successful. 

Beyond that, I had no particular advantages that the two professionals who lamented the lack of a level playing field would likely have had. Furthermore, odds are that they had some of the very same advantages I did have. Most people who are reading this had parents who expected them to do their work and to stay out of trouble at school. Some parents were more involved than others were, but one can have too much of a good thing. A parental expectation of a child maintaining a certain degree of independence in school is not necessarily a negative. In the days before video games acted as babysitters, most parents, regardless of their levels of education, interacted with and talked to their children to some degree. Neither professional presented any compelling evidence that she had clawed her way up from the very direst of the projects or the barrios to solid middle-class status.

The primary difference in how life unfolded for me as opposed to how it happened for the two ladies who essentially derided me for my level of privilege was in the choices we made. As hard as it may seem to believe, I could have gotten married at the age of eighteen or nineteen. While the pickings for me might have been slim, surely someone out there would have married me had that been my goal. I'm not sure about my state of fertility, as I haven't yet attempted to conceive, but no available evidence indicates that I am infertile. I am childless at this point of my life either through abstinence or through some other effective form of birth control; I'm not saying which.

The ladies who lambasted me for having had such an easy and uncomplicated life were not brought up in the dark ages. One is probably in her early thirties, while one is more likely in her forties. In the years in which they attended school, even if parents didn't talk bout the importance of paying attention, making good choices, and doing well in school (and most parents did), teachers talked about it. If they chose not to listen and to get married and to begin reproduction without having completed college degrees or vocational programs, they were exercising their own powers of free will in doing so. They had a right to make the choices they made, but that doesn't give them the right to excoriate me for having made different and perhaps better choices.

In many ways, it would have been easier for me to have done things in the manner in which the two professionals had done them. Completing homework at midnight, then being at the pool for diving practice at 5:45 a.m. three days per week, was not easy for me. All the reading and homework I did in high school, including taking one university class each semester in addition to the advanced placement classes I took in school, would not be considered to be the course of least resistance. It would have required far less effort to have taken a general college-preparatory curriculum without university courses and advanced-placement classes. I could have spent afternoons with friends or with a boyfriend. I could have gotten a couple hours of additional sleep each night. A less intense course of study would have been so much easier on so many levels. It wasn't as though I was born some sort of a genius who didn't have to expend any effort for my achievements. I worked hard for everything I achieved. Beyond that, I even had a few major hurdles thrown into my path, which I could have used as excuses not to achieve, but I worked around them.

I'm not claiming that my level of achievement is highly unusual. I'm two years ahead of where I otherwise would have been in school because of having skipped a grade and because of having taken AP and university courses while in high school. Some students have skipped more grades than I have, though. Others I have known have been far more successful than I. I'm not laying claim to any superhuman accomplishments. What I am doing is speaking up for all of us who have done things in the most prudent order: who have taken care to complete ourselves to some degree before bringing others into the world who are dependent upon us for every need.  

The University of California system in which I received my undergraduate education is relatively cognizant of and respectful of the sacrifices those of use who have done or are doing things in the most prudent order. The same, however,  cannot be said for all systems. My cousin was a finalist for the outstanding student award for her graduating class at her California State University campus, which is a lower-tier of the university system in California. 
My cousin is one of the students who did things in the most prudent order. She graduated at the age of twenty-one with a 4.0 grade-point average in an engineering program, while simultaneously holding a part-time job, while also serving in a leadership capacity in a charitable honor society related to her future profession, and while participating in religious education for children and in charitable works through her church.. One of her competitors, who was, in fact, the eventual recipient of the outstanding student award, was a young woman who had been one of my cousin's high school classmates. The young woman had made an unfortunate choice or two in her earlier years and was, as a result, raising her young child with the help of her parents. This young woman was not from a skid-row family. Her parents were both teachers, as were the parents of my cousin. This young woman, despite having made a few mistakes earlier in her life, had defied the odds and had managed to graduate from high school and had managed to, at the age of twenty-two, complete a liberal arts degree with a near-perfect 3.9? grade-point average. It was made clear through the speech given by the chancellor in the presentation of the award that the [self-created] adversity faced and overcome by the young woman had factored heavily in the decision as to whom to give the award. 

My cousin's resume (as may have been several of the other finalists' resumes; I have knowledge of my cousin and of her former high school classmate, but not of the other finalists) was far more impressive except for not having created and assumed responsibility for a child. While I don't believe that the other young woman should have been penalized in the award process for having become an under-aged parent, neither do I think having done so should have worked in her favor. My cousin wasn't entitled to any sort of a morals-clause bonus for not having been knocked up, but neither was it fair that, for the purpose of determining the final standings of the award, her lack of child-bearing status counted against her.

This essentially sums up how I feel about the administrator and teacher who felt so vastly superior to me because they finished their educations under far more adverse conditions, while I was somehow magically gifted with the opportunity to coast through life. I see the matter from  different perspective. I would say, rather that I did things the difficult way earlier in my life so that I might have a less adverse path later in life. It's  matter of choices. We all have them, to some degree, and can use them as we see fit.

You have my sympathy, but don't blame me for your adversity.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why Has God Not Stricken a Shitload of People Dead for Revealing Temple Secrets? Calling All Mormon Experts!

Perhaps they should have given in to sick fans' sicker fantasies and married each other.

This morning I thought of a quandary concerning LDS temple proceedings. I asked my dad about it. He said he had no idea. I asked him to call his father in Salt Lake City, who should know the answers to such things. My dad said he only talks to his father on such occasions when it's an absolute obligation, and he had no intention whatsoever of calling his father on a random Thursday in August when no one in our family has died or is in the immediate process of dying.

I am, therefore, asking anyone who comes across this blog to PLEASE answer my question if you know the answer.

How is the following quandary solved according to LDS doctrine?

A LDS woman went through the temple to receive her endowments and be granted permission to wear sacred underwear on the day of or a few days before her wedding. She was given a secret new name at that time. Her betrothed was told the name so that he would know what it was, and would only bring her through the veil if she knew her name.

The woman was told not to disclose the name to anyone and not to discuss the matter.

Then her husband became a cheater. Or perhaps he decided that he no longer believed in the teachings of the LDS church. Or perhaps he decided that he liked the teachings of the LDS church too much, to the extent that he wanted to follow his religion in the old style of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and wanted to be allowed to marry as many women as he could service. Or maybe the woman and the man simply grew apart. Or maybe he discovered that he had same-sex attraction and wanted to act upon it. or maybe she never actually went through with the wedding in the first place after the endowment and after having been brought through the veil in the temple by the guy who was to be her husband before one of the two of them changed their minds?

In any event, the man and the woman divorced (or were never married in the first place). Their temple sealing was dissolved or canceled (or never happened). The man may or may not have remarried in the temple. The woman did remarry in the temple. Perhaps this would seem to be enough of a happily-ever-after scenario to you. If such is the case, you have not considered all the angles.

How is the new husband supposed to know the woman's secret name if she's not supposed to tell anyone? For that matter, how does any man learn his wife's new name if  she goes through the temple for her own endowments for some reason or other at a time when he's not there if she's not supposed to tell anyone what her secret name is? Something seems fishy here. The Church makes all these rules, but I've never heard of any Mormon being concerned about this before, so chances are that someone is talking about things they have been told NOT to talk about. 

What is the protocol concerning informing new spouses about old secret names? And what about if two husbands know a woman's secret name? What if the original husband says he has moved on, but he really hasn't, in an emotional sense, and he still knows his ex-wife's secret name? What if he manages to get himself posited into the right place to bring his ex through the veil? The wife is unsuspecting and thinks it's the right person bringing her through the veil, or whatever, and then VOILA! She gets through or across and sees that she has been facilitated into eternity by someone she wasn't at all expecting to see there. What does she do then?

Or does she get a new secret name so that the old husband, in case he's not on the up and up, doesn't know her more current secret name? That way she would have two secret names. Then, if she decided after the fact that maybe she screwed up in dumping the original spouse and would have been better off without a new spouse and a new secret name, she can forget she ever knew the second (or third, or fourth) one, then go back to the old one, and when two spouses are waiting for her at the veil, she'll know which one to go to or with even if she doesn't recognize the voice because she'll know which name goes with which husband.

What if they really give separate wives' temple names for each marriage, and then, just by luck of the draw, a woman got the same temple name both times? They do recycle the names, I've been told. That would seem to be tempting the fates if the original husband wasn't the sort to be trusted.

The woman could still get the names or the husbands confused, particularly if she's someone like Marie Osmond, who married someone in the temple, divorced that guy, married someone else in the temple, divorced him, then married the first guy in the temple again. Did she seriously have the same secret name all three times? And Marie's esposo numero dos seems like a potentially nefarious character. I could seriously seem him showing up at the veil or wherever such transactions are to be conducted and attempting some sort of celestial coup, tricking and kidnapping Marie right there at the veil! I shouldn't be so worried, though. Even if rank-and-file LDS women get just one temple name, people like Osmonds are probably sufficiently worthy to be given as many temple names as they need or want. Marie probably gets a new temple name each time she changes the color of her fingernails if that's what her heart desires. She probably doesn't even have to physically reappear at the temple to get a new name. There's probably a special phone line or web site just for Marie and the other seven-digit tithers (we're talking about cumulative tithing here, not annual) for anytime they need new temple names or any other special privileges. 

I'm quite concerned about this. It could potentially affect thousands if not millions of people with the divorce rate being what it is.

Trump Is Brain Dead! Oxygen Deprivation!!!!!!!!!!

My leg is giving me a great deal of pain tonight. I had reviewed everything I can possibly review that is work- or study-related, so I resorted to wasting time at various sites including Twitter. I read Donald Trump's tweets. He had a few new ones up. I didn't check the time stamp for precisely when they were posted, but they were his most recent.

One of Trump's tweets I don't recall. Another was an inane reference to Glenn Beck's tin foil hat being too tight. I'm not a Glenn Beck fan by any stretch, though I don't think Trump is better than Beck in any way. 

The third of the tweets stated that if [the proverbial] "you" want clean air or water, get out of America. (I'm not certain if it actually read "leave America" or "Get out of America.") The tweet has been removed, so I cannot verify it. Only thirty responses had been posted prior to mine. I left three responses. Then I went back to see if Mr. Trump left any new tweets, only to find that he had deleted his three most recent tweets. He made a reference to "breathers." We who desire to have clean air or water are now known as  "breathers."  Perhaps therein lies the root of the conflict. Maybe he's not breathing, is not getting any oxygen to his brain, and is, thus, brain dead. it makes as much sense as anything else.

I didn't get a screen shot. It didn't occur to me that he would take his tweets down. I'm sure it occurred to someone else, and I hope someone got a screen shot of his tweets.

One of three things is happening. Trump may be fucking insane in a literal and clinical sense or perhaps criminally senile, as in sufficiently senile for it to cause him to act in an unlawful manner. If he is not indeed insane, it may be that he will in some way benefit financially if our entire nation goes to Hell. I have no idea how destroying our nation might possibly cause great financial growth to happen to one or more of his holdings, but I am not ruling out that such is the case. If neither of these things is true, Trump is playing games with all of us and is entertaining himself at our expense. Perhaps he thinks this is all one big joke, and he's having a great time making maniacal speeches, posting insane tweets, and playing "Survivor: White House" with the staff of the executive branch for the sheer purpose of his own entertainment. I'm having a hard time convincing myself that he could be toying with us. I've never in my life played so many games, and until less than five years ago, I was officially a juvenile. The man is seventy-one years old. Unless he is senile, he would have no excuse for behaving in this manner. And if he is senile, we need to get his sorry ass out of office and into a secure facility for those who are both senile and criminally insane.

One of the three possibilities I have listed is true. I do not know which one.  The craziness is not at the hands of some supposed fake news entity. No one but Donald Trump and perhaps those closest to him could be responsible for this. Regardless, he cannot be entrusted with codes to access our nuclear weapons. He's either a nutcase, a sociopath, a megalomaniac, or perhaps all three. We must remove him from office. He cannot be left in place to cause any more damage than he has already done.

I've been concerned about his actions for quite some time, but seeing his absurd tweets go up and them come down almost as quickly as they went up has firmly convinced me that something is not right with this man. Does he do this every night, as in post tweets while most of the nation sleeps, then wait for public reaction to determine whether or not they are too preposterous to be left for most of the nation to see them? Is he so far removed from reality that he doesn't know if a tweet is irrational until those who respond tell him such? Either way, he's either too stupid, too crazy, too opportunistic, or too sociopathic to hold any office, much less our nation's highest office. The only thing that would comfort me in any way is if someone were to offer credible evidence that he had been hacked, and I don't think that is going to happen.

A close friend one -- one who admittedly voted for Trump -- acknowledged to me a couple of weeks ago in response to concerns I had raised  at that time about something else Trump had done, "He's an asshole, "  as though that was the worst that could be said of him. Yes, he certainly IS an asshole, but that is far from the worst that can be said about him. For some reason, he is willing to stand idly by, eating popcorn, as he watches our nation deteriorate. It's deteriorated far enough. GET HIM OUT OF THERE!

Someone in congress, PLEASE accelerate impeachment proceedings. if the ball is firmly rolling in the direction of impeachment, Trump will quit. I very strongly oppose the political stance of the vice-president, but he HAS to be more fit for office than is Trump. GET HIM OUT NOW!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Unrequited Lust and Fisticuffs: WWE* in the Parking Lot

This would be my luck.

For me personally, action is a bit slow because of the rate at which I am presently capable of moving and with my reduced work hours in order to allow the knee attached to my better leg to heal.  The action around me, on the other hand, is heating up ever so slightly. A cohort mate of mine -- one I had considered a friend though not necessarily a bosom buddy --  returned from a visiting clerkship to learn of my injury. I'm not sure why my cohort mate took my bad news so acutely, but when he met up with the careless resident  (there was more to the story that I wasn't and still am not  free to share), following a heated argument during which the resident threw the first punch, my cohort blocked the jab and responded with a knockdown punch (knockdown as opposed to knockout) at the resident. I'm told that the response was measured and that my cohort mate could have done far more damage than he chose to do.

It happened outside and wasn't witnessed by any of the brass or by any patients to the best of anyone's knowledge, so probably no one gets into trouble. My cohort mate walked away after one punch so that no one had to pull him off the resident. It could perhaps be argued that my cohort mate lacked the authority to speak to the resident in the manner in which he chose to speak, but my cohort mate presumably would have kept the disagreement within the verbal realm. It was the resident who chose to escalate the level of aggression.  

I really wish this meant that the cohort mate liked me as much as and in the manner that I would wish for him to like me, but such is not all that  likely. It's far more probable that my cohort mate's anger was fueled by a sense of protectiveness toward a young and defenseless colleague than by any amorous feelings toward me. Alas, that's the way the cookie crumbles. He's almost unbelievably good-looking.

*albeit not all that entertaining

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Brain

The world of modern educational administration will probably not soon be accused by anyone who understands it as being overly bogged down by an insistence upon using common sense as any sort of a barometer. Anyone with much of a sense of awareness who has been in the public school system in the past fifteen years or so should be able to identify with this concept. I would suspect that such has been the case for far longer than fifteen years, but I cannot speak from personal experience with much authority about things that happened in the school systems before I was seven years of age. Likewise, the same might be fairly said of most private school systems, but because I spent only two of my kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade years in private schools of any kind, I cannot form valid conclusions about even the parochial system I attended for the two years I did not attend public schools, much less about private school education as a whole. I will, however,  speak with apologies to no one in terms of much of the madness I have seen with my own eyes.

A mid-sized school district that I attended very briefly and in which I worked even more briefly as a substitute teacher has a superintendent who would be described as cautious. Caution with regard to other people's children entrusted to one's care is generally a good thing. School district personnel are charged with acting in loco parentis, or in place of the parent. The welfare of children should be first and foremost in the minds of school personnel in dictating policy.
All reasonable efforts should be made to safeguard students. Reasonable is a key concept. Because individuals, including children, have the volition to act, and because forces of nature can come into play, no one's safety can be one-hundred per cent guaranteed. Furthermore, what might be the safest policy in terms of injury prevention may not be the safest in terms of facilitation of learning, in terms of student emotional well-being, or in terms of overall wellness and disease prevention.

For example, students can be injured in a variety of ways while playing on a playground. On the other hand, students can develop life-long sedentary habits that lead to poor overall fitness and even to serious cardiovascular disease if they are not allowed or encouraged to take part in physical play. What is a reasonable course of action in response to this? The most reasonable course of action is to remove the greatest contraindications to safety from a playground, to provide competent supervision to students while on the playground, and then to encourage students to move about freely and to play. Even though trampolines offer many developmental and cardiovascular fitness-related benefits, they can be dangerous for large groups of children. Trampolines, therefore, are not typically found on school playgrounds. Along similar lines, the sport of archery has its benefits, as do lawn darts, but neither of those are typically found on school playgrounds for obvious reason. Common sense has prevailed in the balance between physical activity and safety.

Bad things sometimes happen when students interact with each other. Sometimes students disagree, and the disagreements can become physical, which on occasion has led to injury. Sometimes children say things that hurt other children's feelings, and sometimes bullying between students happens. School personnel could conclude that the risk of physical or emotional harm might possibly happen as a result of student interaction. They could ban all student interaction at school. They don't, however; in addition to bad things that might happen, good things can and usually do happen as a result of interaction between students. Furthermore, students will eventually have to interact with others. If children and youth are not allowed to interact while in school, where will they learn to deal with each other? For those reasons, it would be considered ludicrous to attempt to ban interactions between young people at school despite the realization that bad things sometimes happen as a result. School personnel provide supervision in order to mitigate damage happening as a result of student interactions, but students are allowed and even encouraged to interact. Once again, common sense has prevailed in the balance between student interaction and the need for physical and emotional well-being.

If I stopped there, a person might conclude that common sense is a major guiding factor in the dictation of school policy. The person would be sadly mistaken, at least with regard to the  particular school I mentioned earlier. Allow me to elaborate.

When I worked as a substitute teacher, the students were working on the geometric concept of determining the areas of triangles. We all remember that the area of a triangle equals one half of the product of the base and the height in square units. If a triangle's height is four inches (The term height is used as opposed to length to differentiate between the length of one of the other sides in a three-sided object; the height is the number of units between the base or bottom and the  point or vertex at which the other two sides meet. Any of a triangle's three sides can be designated as the base with the same result being reached) and the base is five inches in length, four and five would be multiplied, then divided by two. The answer would be ten square inches, with the term square being used because when multiplying perpendicular units, square units result.

We all have sufficient background knowledge to comprehend that any given triangle is one-half of the surface area of a rectangle (one with the dimensions of its base multiplied by its height). Most nine- or ten-year-old children don't approach the lesson with that level of background knowledge. In the olden days, a child would simply have been told that  base times height over or divided by two is how the area of a triangle is calculated, period. Commit it to memory, kid. It didn't seem to matter whether a kid understood why it was that one-half of (the base times the height) equaled the area of the triangle. It was taught with no thought to concrete understanding or conceptualization.

While I am critical of many modern trends in education, and while I feel that educators have taken many good ideas and have extended them too far, it makes perfect sense to attempt to conceptualize an idea for children. If  child understands why it is that the area off a triangle is the one-half of the base times the height, the child is more likely both to remember the algorithm and to have some idea if his calculation is way off. If objects have been used in repeated attempts to objectify a concept, and if the child still cannot grasp the why of the concept, at some point a teacher almost has to use the old base times height over or divided by two is how the area of a triangle is calculated, period, with the hope that someday in the future, if it is explained again, the child may grasp it. The child cannot be left behind because he cannot understand the underlying concept. He has to learn the concept even if he doesn't grasp the underlying reason. Some of today's educators would say the child is not to be taught the algorithm until he understands the reasoning behind it. The problem with this philosophy is that if the child has trouble understanding this, he may have trouble understanding many other concepts as well. By the time he grasps the underlying reason for any of them, he's years behind his classmates in learning the basic math. He cannot afford to be that far behind; he has to be taught what to do to reach the correct answer even if he doesn't understand why it is that we do it the way we do.

So, because a teacher was out for a complete week, she had to leave it to me, her substitute, to teach the concept and the method of determining the area of a triangle. The teacher had a sudden case of appendicitis (as is typical with appendicitis) and did not know in advance that a substitute would be teaching the lesson plans that she wrote for herself.  Had she known, she might have given me different ways to teach the concept. I attempted to use what seemed to be the logical way of teaching it. I cut a paper into a triangle. I used the standard algorithm to calculate the area of the triangle. I then used the existing triangle as a template to cut another triangle. I had the children direct me in how to put the two triangles together to form a rectangle. With the children, I calculated the area of the new rectangle. We discovered that the rectangle's area was twice the area of the triangle, or that the triangle's area was one-half of the area of the rectangle.

I'm taking entirely too long to express the point that children learn better by doing something themselves than by watching something be done. I handed pre-cut rectangles to the children and asked them to take out their scissors and to cut the rectangles corner-to corner in order to create two equal triangles. The children looked at my dumbfoundedly. "We don't have scissors," one of them finally volunteered. We got through the lesson by folding and tearing the rectangles into triangles, but it would have been both simpler and more effective had the children been able to use scissors to cut the shapes.

At lunch, I asked another teacher why Mrs. Ernst's class didn't have scissors. The teacher and all the others within earshot laughed. One of them explained, "About three  years ago a kindergarten boy cut a girl's hair with scissors. The girl's mother went to the district superintendent and complained. After the next principal's meeting, all of the student scissors in the district were confiscated." No students in the kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade district are allowed to use scissors now because one kindergartner cut a lock of another kindergartner's hair.  

Are scissors potentially dangerous? Yes. Could they potentially be used as weapons? Absolutely. Could they be used by students to cut hair? Obviously. Is that sufficient reason to ban all student use of scissors? I wouldn't think so, but my opinion didn't matter. One teacher mentioned that inevitably a student would eventually poke himself or another student with a pencil or pen and cause an injury. It hadn't happened, or hadn't been reported, since the present superintendent had been in power. The teachers were afraid that the superintendent would ban writing implements when that happened.

Other policies the superintendent had instituted were a ban on all peanut products including peanut butter even in lunches from home because one student in the school had a peanut allergy. (This is perfectly ludicrous but he's not the first principal to have instituted such a policy regarding peanuts.) Tetherball was not allowed because the superintendent feared that a suicidal child might ask to use the bathroom, then go to the playground and  hang himself on a tetherball rope. The teachers said site principals offered to take responsibility for getting the tetherballs on and off the poles so that they would be out only when children were supervised on the playground, but the superintendent insisted that someone would eventually forget, and that might be the one time a child was suicidal and decided to end it all. The teachers told me that one principal then commented to the superintendent that if a child were sufficiently desperate to end his or her life, the child could potentially drown himself or herself in a toilet.  They told me that the superintendent worried about that possibility for a long time and considered banning the use of all restrooms except for the one student toilet in the nurse's office. The superintendent doesn't allow teachers to use paper clips at all in their classrooms because children could turn them into weapons even though it's never happened in the district, or the children might steal the paper clips, take them home, and stick them into electrical sockets. I'm sure there are many other asinine restrictions in this district based solely on the superintendent's unreasonable obsession on safety.

The superintendent's safety obsession, I have learned from a relative who teaches in the district, is in full force today -- the day of the solar eclipse.  It would have been better had he taken the eclipse into consideration when the year's school calendar was developed and had the day declared to be a school holiday. It would have been inconvenient for working parents, but the students could at least have had the opportunity to observe the eclipse. Instead, the superintendent has decreed that on all campuses in the district, a rainy-day schedule will be in effect so that no one is to observe the eclipse. There hasn't been one in North America in thirty-three years, there won't be another one here for eight years, and the students and teachers of the district are going to miss out on all of the excitement and the learning opportunities associated with the phenomenon because he's too cheap to order protective glasses for the children. This blows my mind.

When they learned of the policy, many teachers went out of their way to inform parents of the district policy so that the parents could keep their children at home today if they felt strongly about wanting their children to observe the eclipse. The superintendent will pay a financial price for his absurdity. A large chunk of school funding is based on student attendance. Teachers are guessing that as many as one-third of students in the district will be absent today. The superintendent's lack of common sense will hit him where it hurts most.

I am utterly flabbergasted by the stupidity of this person who has been elevated to a position of authority over every student and teacher in a school district with an enrollment of nearly 20,000 students. 

Cucumbers are not just for salads anymore.

I never met either of my maternal grandparents. My mom's father died about a year after my parents married, which was several years before my twin and I were born. My mom's mother passed away when my mom was fifteen and in her final year of high school.  Though it's not the same as actually having met them, I've heard all the stories my mom and her siblings tell about their parents. Perhaps I've heard even more than I would have heard by way of ancient family lore than I would have heard if if my Grandma and Grandpa were still around.  

They're my only grandparents who allowed anyone to call them "Grandma" and "Grandpa." My dad's parents claim French and insist on being called "Grandmere" and "Grandpere." They probably think the terms sound classier than do the English equivalents. The joke is on them.

My maternal grandmother traveled to the United States as a fourteen-year-old to live with an aunt and uncle in Colorado. She received nurses' training at the University of Colorado College of Nursing and was a registered nurse. Following graduation, she worked as a civilian nurse in a clinic on the premises of the United States Air Force Academy. She met my grandfather when she gave him a tetanus shot after he stepped on a nail that poked through his shoe. He thought she was cute, and he was charmed by her Irish accent. His parents were immigrants from Ireland. My grandparents married almost immediately following my grandpa's graduation from the academy. Ten years later, they had seven children, including two sets of twins. 

My Grandma was a bit of a bohemian, which would have been perfectly acceptable in many circles. Among spouses of military officers, it wasn't all that acceptable. She dealt with not fitting in particularly well by attending only those events she absolutely couldn't avoid.  She survived living in base housing because she was a generous and likable person who was always willing to watch someone else's children for a few hours or who would cook double portions of a meal she planned to serve her own family if one of the neighboring wives was under the weather. Even in a military setting, others are willing to overlook a bit of nonconformity when it behooves them to do so. On two occasions when my grandfather was deployed for lengthy stints, she took her brood back to Ireland, the land of her birth and where her parents still lived, to live among relatives until my grandfather's deployments ended. The family was in Ireland when my mom learned to talk, and traces of an Irish lilt can still be heard in her speech.

Once my grandma's youngest children were old enough not to need immediate supervision every moment that they weren't in school, she sometimes served as a chaperone for her children's various activities. She especially liked accompanying the band and choir groups when they traveled to competitions.  She was a much sought-after chaperone because of her training as a nurse and because she got along with children and adolescents especially well.  The other parents, however, didn't always know what to make of my grandmother's rather frank speech.  

Once, on a school bus en route to a band competition several hours away from their town,  my grandmother shocked the other parents by telling them of how she demonstrated to all of her children, once they were at an appropriate age to know, how to properly put on condoms by using condoms and cucumbers to demonstrate. Some parents were stunned, while others were amused. One mother wanted to know how a person as devout a Catholic as my grandmother was could sanction condom use. My grandmother responded that she didn't necessarily sanction it, but that she sanctioned teen pregnancy even less and felt that keeping kids in the dark was an ineffective deterrent. Another parent wanted to know why my grandmother thought her daughters needed to know how condoms were properly applied. My grandmother answered that if girls were going to be sexually active, they needed to know enough to insist that their partners wear condoms and they needed to know whether or not the condoms were being used properly.

It's probably not so unusual for today's parents to speak so frankly to their children about sexuality, but my grandmother's children came of age in the late 60's and 70's. (My grandma died when her youngest children, my Uncle Kevin and my mom, were 15 in 1981, but she managed to give them the condom demonstration before she moved on.) Some of the other parents apparently thought my grandma was practically encouraging her children into sexual activity.  I don't know for certain whether or not any of them were promiscuous, but I do know that none of them either had children out of wedlock or married because a baby was on the way, and neither have any of their children done so. Three of us are still unmarried, so the verdict is not yet entirely in, but, for the most part, it can be said that my grandmother's frank approach to prevention of pregnancy  was successful. The same cannot be said for my other grandparents' offspring and for their offspring. 

I've been told before that I am too direct in my communication.  I don't know if such a specific personality attribute can be genetically transmitted or if I acquired the quality of bluntness from my mother who picked it up from her mother. Either way, I come by it quite naturally.

Friday, August 18, 2017

When the Moon Is In the Seventh House

I'm growing rather tired of this temporary cast. It's unbelievably bulky and itchy, Temporary casts are almost always very uncomfortable. It's most noticeable at night; when a person is trying to sleep, the affected part aches in places it wasn't even injured just because the temporary cast is so uncomfortable.  I was a little concerned because I counted my Vitamin V tablets and discovered that I'd taken more than I had planned to have taken by now. I still have several left, and the orthopedist says I haven't abused them and that he'll write me another prescription if I run out. While that is good to know, my aim in life is not to become a stoner.

Baths and showers are a major production with an above-the-knee cast. I ordered a plastic cast-cover, which arrived yesterday. The cover is both easier to use and more effective than is a kitchen trash liner used for the same purpose, but it still doesn't allow for full immersion. I am capable of getting myself into and out of the tub, but showers are simpler with a high cast. I knew this before because it's not my first fracture requiring a full-length cast, but one would be surprised at how many of life's daily activities are made significantly more complicated with the inability to bend one of one's knees.

My job is obviously tougher with a cast and crutches. Some procedures are not safe for me to perform while standing. Sitting on a high stool isn't all that easy or comfortable with a full-length cast. i will spend a bigger portion of my time in this clerkship just observing than I have in previous rotations.  Many of my cohort mates have done just that for most of their clerkship experience, though. I've been fortunate to have been supervised by attending physicians and residents who have trusted me enough to have allowed me to have more hands-on experiences. As my knee recovers and I can spend more time standing, even with crutches, I hope to get to participate at least a bit more in patient care in the pediatric portion of my gastroenterology rotation.

It's now time for a psychedelic experience. I've tolerated enough pain for the night. I am taking a Vitamin V  and will soon be tripping. I will see without the use of my eyes, will hear without ears, and so forth. I will be one with all things living and non-living, and my consciousness will swirl through the entire universe. Unfortunately, I'm lying.. it's just Vicodin, not LSD, but I can imagine.

Jupiter is supposedly aligning with Mars here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

crazy versus stupid, and how to tell the difference

I had a post-surgical appointment with my orthopedist on Tuesday afternoon, followed by an appointment with the dean who oversees the students in my cohort. my surgical wound looks as it should look, and the swelling seems to be on the decline. I will be allowed to work mornings for the reminder of this week. When I get my permanent cast (meaning the hard fiberglass cast I'll have until my leg heals, not meaning I'll have it for the rest of my life), which I hope will happen on Friday, I will be allowed to work more hours per day. Because I have a knee injury on the leg that doesn't have broken bones attached to it, and because the knee will not heal if I don't spend more time off it than on it, I will be limited to eight-hour workdays for at least the reminder of this month. 

As I waited for my friend to drive me home following my appointment with the dean, a third-year medical student consulted with my friend who was transporting me. The subject of their consultation was a patient the two of them had seen earlier in the day in their emergency medicine rotation. The patient had been given instructions on how to care for a wound at home. The third-year student expressed concern that the patient may lack the competence to follow the discharge instructions. My friend, a fourth-year medical school student, was less concerned. My friend explained to the third-year student that while the patient seemed a bit nutty, she clearly was not stupid.

"Stupid, crazy . . . What's the difference?" the third-year student said, throwing up his hands. 

There is actually a rather large difference. I told the third-year student the story that I've told here one before. I copied it from another person's blog tonight because I'm too lazy either to find my own version in my blog or to re-type it from scratch. Here it is.

A truck driver was doing his usual delivery to the Mental Hospital. He discovered a flat tire when he was about to leave. He jacked up the truck and took the flat tire off. When he was about to replace the flat tire with the spare tire, he accidentally dropped all the nuts into a storm drain. Realizing he can't fish the nuts out, he starts to panic.

A patient walking by asks him what happened. The driver told him his problem.

And the patient said, "
Here's what you can do: take one nut each from the other 3 tires and then tighten them onto the spare. Then replace the missing ones as soon as is practical. It's as easy as that!"

The driver was very impressed and asked: "You're so smart . Why are you here in a Mental Hospital?"

Patient replied:  "Hello, I am here because I'm CRAZY, not STUPID!!"
Source: cook'n & eat'n
My friend asked which is worse: stupidity or insanity. The answer would depend on the situation, the degree of either stupidity or insanity present, and the particular form of insanity.  If a person suffer from a form of mental illness that causes him or her to  hear voices that tell him to harm himself or others, that's probably the worst-case scenario, and in that case, insanity is probably worse than any form of stupidity could ever be. If, on the other hand, a person merely operates under the assumption that he or she is Emperor Hirohito, his or her insanity is probably less an impediment to following discharge instructions than stupidity would be.

I've seen some crackerjack cases of stupidity when it came to complying with medical instructions or even with living in general.  One patient was putting her inhaler up to her nose when using it. She thought all of the inhalers were defective, as she continued to wheeze after using them. Another was taking rectal suppositories orally.  Another patient had her boyfriend take her birth control pills because they caused her to gain weight. Perhaps they did cause her to gain weight, but not even close to as much weight as the resulting pregnancy caused her to gain. One guy used his ringworm medicine for hemorrhoids. The medications for both hemorrhoids and ringworm should be the same thing because both hemorrhoids and ringworms are basically round. (?!?!?!?!) An overweight patient who was consuming the nutritional shakes in addition to meals (and dessert) instead of in place of them. She thought the shakes contained an ingredient that would magically cause her to lose weight. In each case the instructions were stated explicitly.

Whatever anyone does to himself or herself because of stupidity is at least fair. What's unfair is when a child suffers because a parent is too stupid to comply with medical instructions.  We had a parent who put her child's ear drops in his mouth. Another patient didn't fill the prescription for topical ointment for her kid's yeast diaper rash and instead used leftover medication from her own yeast infection. (A topical medication that is to be used for an external infection would have to be much stronger than would one for an internal infection. I wouldn't necessarily expect the woman to know this, but I would expect her to at least ask before using the wrong medication on her baby.) Another parent for some reason thought all of her children were protected from chickenpox if just one of them was immunized. (I can't understand how she even came up with that.) A child with a known peanut allergy was brought to the E.R. for anaphylaxis from eating peanuts M & M's. The parents thought the peanuts in peanut M & Ms were fake peanuts.  A six-month-old baby came for a well child exam with Dr. pepper in his bottle. We knew it was Dr. Pepper because the mother admitted it. The doctor was far more patient than I would have been in thoroughly detailing all the reasons why babies should not have Dr. Pepper or other soft drinks. The child came to the office about three weeks later for an ear infection. The mother proudly showed us her baby's bottle and told us that she was following the doctor's orders. Instead of Dr. Pepper, his bottle was full of Mr. Pibb. The doctor actually walked over to the wall and banged his head against it.
Unless a parent is so far gone that voices in his or her head are telling the parent to drown a child in a bathtub or elsewhere, stupid is usually far more dangerous to a child than is crazy.

Monday, August 14, 2017

the grass Is always greener if you water it

My next appointment will be early Tuesday afternoon. I won't be allowed to return to work until after that appointment at the very earliest. I want to get back to work as soon as possible. I don't like being stuck here with so little to do. I'm reading and watching many videos to distract myself. It's better than nothing. Back in the olden days, I would be limited to whatever books I could talk someone into buying or checking out from a library for me. Now all I have to do is to click once on amazon to purchase the book and once to open it in my kindle reader. I'm not a huge fan of much of today's social media, but I'm not against the information age as a whole. The instant  access to any book available on kindle is mind-blowing. 

I really don't mean to be a whiner. People exist who are so overworked that they would love to have almost a week to lie around reading and watching whatever suited them even if they had to suffer broken bones and a torn ACL to get the much-needed rest. Please humor me as i attempt to view my circumstances through a more rose-tinted lens. I wouldn't willingly break bones and tear a ligament to have a few days off, but others toil away day after day at jobs so demeaning or oppressive that this enforced rest would seem like veritable paradise to them. I'm fortunate enough to have a job. And, since I'm not being paid to do the job even when I'm there, I'm not losing out on any income by not showing up. I am endeavoring to be a glass-is-half-full sort of person as I make ludicrous assertions in trying to convince myself of just how great things are for me right now.

The job I have is not exactly a proper job, as instead of being paid to do it, I'm paying a university a whole lot of money for the privilege of doing it, yet it is my work for now. It is the culmination of eighteen years of study if I count preschool, which (counting preschool)is probably a bit preposterous. Still, I've studied for a long time to be prepared to come into contact with real and living patients who are not just pretending to be patients. It's virtually impossible not to be excited when the opportunity has finally arrived.  

Children and adolescents grow so weary of hearing adults tell them that they need to study and learn the very best they can in school in order that their career options may be as limitless as possible. As much as they get tired of hearing it, it is, nonetheless, true. Regardless of our diligence as students, some professional and vocational limits are a reality for most of us. I could have studied and/or practiced for every waking hour that I wasn't in school or eating, but I still could not have been a professional athlete. I lack the physical prowess needed for any professional sport.  Furthermore, at least one area of specialty in medicine is not available to me because I lack the physicality to perform some aspects of the job.  

Because I have reasonable intelligence and because I studied diligently in school, however, my career aspirations were limited by only physical constraints. There probably wasn't a career option that was unavailable to me by virtue of any lack of cognition. Nuclear physics, for example, would have been a stretch for me, and I would have struggled in completing the required education for the field more than would much of the competition in the field of study, though I would have been accepted for training into that or virtually any other similarly cognitively demanding field and, with sufficient focus and effort on my part, could have completed the program of study.  I'm certainly not stupid**, though neither am I all that much brighter than have been my classmates. What I am is a very hard worker who developed excellent study skills. 

Some students may have more limitations than most of us have, but almost any student who studies diligently and effectively enough should be able to find a career that would hold his or her interest and would provide adequate financial support for him or her provided that he doesn't spawn babies with almost every female residing within his zip code. And admittedly, some individuals, usually through no fault of their own,  struggle with physical, cognitive, or learning deficits that close off all but the most basic and menial of career options for them.  Be that as it may, such is not the case for the vast majority of us.  Most of us are limited primarily either by past efforts or by  the efforts we're willing to put forth now and in the future, and not so much by any inherent weaknesses we may possess. 

Even finances are not an insurmountable impediment to the fulfillment of the education of our own choosing. If we're willing to take on the burden of incurring some debt, and if we use the funds we've acquired through student loans wisely and devote the time and attention to our studies that would need to be given, lack of funds isn't really a reason why we cannot complete the course of education we would choose for ourselves. It's absolutely dispiriting to have to rely on debt and to have to take on  extra employment to get through through university while seeing others receiving generous grants and scholarships or whose parents foot the bill for their educational costs. 

A person would probably be abnormal if he or she were not at least a bit disgruntled by the imbalance and unfairness of it all. It's best, nevertheless,  not to dwell too ponderously on the un-levelness of the playing field, because, to quote a rather trite [but still true] aphorism, it is what it is.   Or, if it sounds better coming from the mouth of Bruce Hornsby, "That's just the way it is. Some things will never change." The Trump children have a cushier path to success than do the Rousseau children. The path undertaken by the Rousseau kids is likewise far less embedded with figurative booby traps than is the path traveled by the progeny of the Jutes and Kallikaks, for entirely different reasons. Whatever the path that anyone's particular circumstances have carved out, the person can see both those who have it easier and those for whom things are far more challenging. Read or even memorize the Desiderata for help in maintaining perspective in this regard.

In relation to a matter about which I cannot, at the present, share specifics, I'm facing ethical and legal challenges at the present. My instincts tell me  that I'm not the person who faces any serious peril in this situation, but there is tremendous potential for my superiors to be angry with me. Instincts notwithstanding , I will feel much more at ease if or when I hear from my superiors that I face no dire consequences and do not have to rely solely upon my instincts to tell me this. I'll be more specific when I can.

The turmoil in D.C., Virginia, North Korea, and wherever the next disaster strikes is more than sufficient to fuel my anxiety.  I would gladly abdicate the drama of my personal life, and will be greatly relieved when someone in power tells me I no longer have cause for concern.

On that note, have an awesome week, everyone!