Memorial Day, 2010

This story in the Wall Street Journal surmises it eloquently.

It’s not enough to say thank you and throw a barbecue, though that is inevitably what we all do, myself included. At the very least, it’s a moment to stop and think about the service these men and women have provided for our country. The fight for freedom has never been easy, nearly always been controversial and it’s just barely enough that we have a day where all of us, no matter what our political beliefs or ideas, stop and honor those who died in service to the United States.

If we cannot meet on that common ground, we are most sincerely–and most justly—lost.

Not Quite the Black Dog

Often on a Friday, I’ll get a bit euphoric at the thought of a weekend. It seems fitting that with a three-day weekend upon us, I’d fill it with true kick-up-the-heels, gas bag happiness. That would be the right and honest thing-three days without serious obligation and time with the family and with friends. That would be the honorable thing. The good thing.

But I’m not.

And it’s not that I’m seriously melancholy, either. I don’t feel well, so that’s where it starts. Caught whatever was going about last weekend and my lungs feel as though they’ve been slaked through tar and molasses and the act of simple existence for them is harder than anything. So, it’s not melancholy, per se. It’s lung-butter and I’ll give you that.

Yes, it’s also true that I’m still trying to manipulate my neck back to a reasonable state and I think I’m almost there–but it’s not back to where it was, yet and so that too adds to the gloom and cloudy sky.

Restlessness is not a quality to emulate if one can avoid it, yet I find that is where I am. It goes with the previous post of the ambiguity of the rhythm of this time of year. For one thing, the seniors whom I teach and whom I have become fairly close to are leaving. They’re graduating and I’m going to miss them. They’re great kids and they’re among the best I’ve had the privilege of having in class. That’s my Composition and Shakespeare group and every year, it’s just such a joy to get to know them. Then, they go away. Like dreams that slowly recede into the night as you rise into the day.

There’s the summer-time to consider. An odd time. A regrouping time that allows me to think hard about my teaching career while I pursue the writing career with earnest and ambition. These past three years, the writing career has taken precedent over so much else and so I’m just riding the wave, while trying to keep the wave going.

The chimneia broke today. Sue was trying to move it and it had gotten a bit too wet in the recent light rains that fell, so it wasn’t quite prepared for the move. It snapped off a clay leg and then the bottom dropped out. I loved that chimneia. I would light fires and sit on the patio and stare into them for hours, sipping wine, making small talk, scheming my big plans. It was a great way to just retreat into myself. No more. We’ll replace it, of course. But it’s just a moment that’s gone, that’s all.

Still, there is nothing of note to keep me from returning to glad tidings and euphoria. These are but peddling little monkeys that seek to stumble an otherwise smooth path and they aren’t the end of the world. I’m a fortunate man and I’m aware of that.

But pedal they do and so perhaps one alternative, one I’m advancing just now, is to allow the feeling to sit for a day and an evening and simply share it. It will not be the predominant feeling, it won’t be the Black Dog about whom I’ve written so much. But maybe it will be his smaller, lighter brown cousin. Either way, it’s a chance to embrace the moment and that is a thing over which I will revel.

And then I’ll let it go–to see what tomorrow brings.

Peace-

Cold Comfort

There is a scattered quality to the end of the year, aided and abetted this year by a returning weather pattern of gray sky, cool breezes and an indecisive sun.

At once, too much to do and at once, nothing to really get done. I could grade, but I’m in no hurry. I could lecture, but mostly, I’d be repeating myself. So I start conversations with my kids, particularly my seniors, and listen to their words and respond to a few. We talk about Shakespeare, about drama, about life after high school. We talk about truth and words and language and we explore ways in which those things color our lives. It’s what I got into teaching for and it’s wonderful.

Imagine what it will be like in less than three weeks when the year ends, my seniors are but a memory and my teaching life fades quietly into a dream of summer days, late nights, writing deadlines and time to be me. I long for it as much as I dread its coming-for it means that a big part of my year is over and the gear shift required doesn’t always happen easily or even neatly, but happen it does–it must and I’m the richer for the experience when it’s over the poorer for having anticipated it as a problem to be surmounted.

The ambiguity of this time has an attraction all its own and I realize in it that there is a quality of humanity that I like, even encourage–it is the quality of not knowing. It’s the ambiguity of opening up doors of chance and walking through them not knowing entirely what is inside them, only accepting that whatever it is, I can learn from it, profit by it and maybe even enhance, reinvigorate and bless myself and my loved ones. Abstractly, I love it-but in practical terms, I fear its coming.

And that may well be a metaphor for life in general. We in the west spend a good deal of time dreaming about what could be and what we want next, never really reaching into the here and now. Age either makes us wiser in this or frightens us so bad that we end up making radical changes we should not have sought and scaring off the very people we should have embraced and brought closer. It’s a kind of materialistic nihilism-the belief that our ability, our money, our ownership of what we need, want or seek is what separates us from the herd. But what we fail to realize is that those are things merely that do not define us. They simply reflect us and are outward mirrors and imperfect images.

Life is best when lived with the knowledge of love, not the knowledge of power.

The Wedding

I would have to search through here a bit to find the last time I was sick. I simply don’t recall it. I refer to it at times as “the dreck” and during 2007/08 for example, I got it frequently. But I haven’t been sick for a while and I’m kind of happy about it. Today, though–I’ve been hit.

I noticed a bit of Friday and then more yesterday that I had a dry, silly cough. Nothing large–nothing painful, not productive-just a little tiny hack. It grew in frequency all day yesterday and by the time we left the wedding, the throat was hot and dry, sore and raspy and the voice was cracking. I felt it coming on then and by this morning, I was achy, coughing up various colors of things and raspy. But there was a confirmation to attend and no rest for the weary.

The wedding was magic, though it cost the celebrants a good deal of stomach lining. They were to be married at El Camino Pines, a Lutheran Church camp in the mountains above Los Angeles. It’s where the couple met as counselors and it’s where they got to know each other well. But the weather reports for the week didn’t look good as the cold got colder and so on Tuesday of last week, all the plans changed and the wedding was shifted to a remote, beautiful home in the hills above Santa Clarita in the home of a Disney artist who made his fortune there and spent that fortune on the most wonderful home in all the state, it seemed to me. I’d have preferred the ocean, but everyone has their preference.

So the wedding was glorious and wonderful and the meal they served was also glorious and wonderful and it was all under a dream of blue sky and a cool, gentle western breeze that seemed to sweep the clouds aside for a peek at the impossible stars.

Home far too late, dreck taking hold by then and I slipped easily into sleep that wasn’t restful. Between fevered dreams and flaming throat, there was a pattern of sleep that lasted until about 4 in the morning. After that, it was waking drowsiness, finding myself talking about fantastic schemes, jaunts out of reality and imaginings that had I been more coherent, would have seemed on the border of madness. Such is the nature of the dreck.

Upon waking, hot coffee and a bagel in hand, we were off to a local church where some dear friends invited us to their 13 year-old’s confirmation. There were 13 kids, too and they were all confirming their faith in a loving God, through a loving Christ who was ever present all weekend. Dreck and all, stiff neck and all, there was this weekend, a time for love and caring, family and friends and constant reminder that this is the stuff of life, the dreamy and languid belief that there is something more, something greater–someone greater–who really does love us unworthy as we are.

I’m inclined to write more about faith, to try to capture the mysterious thread of belief, faith and also knowledge and truth and make them one thing. That’s what prophets do, though, isn’t it? I’m no prophet. I guess I don’t really believe in prophets anymore, though perhaps I should. The Bible talks about prophets throughout and makes them as plain as any other person with a career in this world–but we don’t speak those words anymore. We don’t have time for prophets and our visual and digital generation is too cynical to think one could exist anyway. The constant drumbeat of rapscallions in political office, liars in high places, ignoramuses telling us to beware the planet is warming or the oil is running out.

Our prophets today are Al Gore, a half loon megalomaniac who won a Nobel Prize for finding a way to scare everybody into believing a lie that never was true–and making a truly obscene profit off his prophecy. It may well be the saddest part of this generation that our public institutions are preaching lies while our average citizens are reaching out every day to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give to the poor. Our politicians are telling us that there is no need to fear terrorism while the terrorists lick their chops and light the way to dusky death, as Shakespeare said.

Our media figures think that the planet has a temperature, that markets are unreasonable, that terrorists aren’t terrifying, that war is not the answer, that education simply needs more money thrown at it, that abortion is a birth-control method, that illegal immigration is noble and worthy and that legal immigration is foolish and for fops. They think that belief in God, the Creator, is antiquated and simple.

And in that kind of world, where bad is good and good is bad-where arguing with such people makes one a pariah and where questioning the ethics of Al Gore makes you a criminal but questioning the ethics of George Bush makes you a hero, I find that at the end of a certain day, a wedding was miraculously moved so two people who love God sincerely and with their hearts and minds and soul could unite and share their life. At the end of a certain day, a snowstorm in the May mountains above Los Angeles made the young celebrants think about the comfort of their guests before their own desires and they chose love of their friends and family over a unique and meaningful location.

I find myself not at all wondering anymore. I find myself turning to my beautiful wife, my beautiful daughter and making a choice. No, there aren’t any prophets anymore. God pushed them aside. Christ is here-He’s in our midst and his message is not political ethics, or bandwagon environmentalism. His message is love and it’s the kind of love that is indeed simple–and more important now than ever.

Gentles, I bid you goodnight.

Never Say Never Again…

Finally Friday and a week of true honest to goodness work is out of the way. Two competitions for our journalism kids and took Peanut to see my friend Richard’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with several of my students in leading and supporting roles. They were fantastic, all of them and the show was top notch. Couldn’t ask for a better student production.

It was a week in which I continue to struggle with the relapse of the neck injury, but I think I may be getting the upper hand now. Damn thing has really been thrown out of sorts by the simple act of jogging. I learned my lesson, I suppose. Back to the walk and hike and I’m leaving jogging in the past. Plenty of ways to get a cardio that don’t involve jarring motions.

Scoop the wonderdog has joined me yet again on the couch. I always marvel at this I guess because even though the behavior is now something he’s been doing a while, it isn’t–or wasn’t–his normal behavior. It’s a leather couch, after all, and in my pet ownership experience, dogs largely don’t like leather couches. But what do I know?

It probably has more to do with the fact that while it is indeed a leather couch, it’s also a soft couch, one that is very much comforting to old and weary bones and a good walk like we had today does tend to tire the old boy out a bit. He looks for a bit of quiet and a corner of the couch and he’s a happy dog. Off to sleep, breathing deeply and regularly now.

I’m marveling at how Ms. P. has been growing and changing. Her independence grows with each day and on weekend nights, she craves time to be “alone” listening to music, reading or whatever. She starts conversations for the sake of starting them and she doesn’t always finish, either. She seems to plug for drama, still–attempting to play Sue, Aunt Laurie and I off one another occasionally. An Aunt Laurie is indeed the most wonderful thing. Sue’s twin who is not married and has no children and is just simply part of the family. What we do, Laurie is included and Shannon knows her as a kind of second mom. As a toddler, she referred to her as “mommy ories.” Ories was her attempt at Laurie, but it kind of stuck and has become her nickname for her favorite Aunt.

I knew that I was tired this evening, but after a couple of pieces of pizza and a Franziskaner weissebier, I fell right to sleep. Shannon was allowed to eat in front of the TV as it was Friday, so the three of us ate on TV trays in the family room, talking. I wrapped up my comestibles and leaned back in the chair. Next thing I knew I was snoring. That’s tired. Ugh.

Well, I’m off to watch Never Say Never Again and enjoy the evening if I can stay awake.

Good night.

A night of Revels

I’m writing this with Scoop the wonderdog on the couch next to me. Still battling the sore neck and shoulder, but I have faith it will come around. Been down this road before.

When I got home it was after a faculty meeting, a rather large waste of time, and a hard-ish day. So I wasn’t much in the mood for a walk, but I knew I needed some exercise. Enter–the treadmill-a real life metaphor for….well….real life. You walk fast and the faster you walk, the more you stay in the same place. Heh-that’s the cynic’s view, anyway.

But actually, I like the treadmill. It’s a pretty solid cardio workout with the added bonus of being able to have your family talk to you while you do it (note: I realize that for some of you this is precisely the opposite of an added bonus-but for me, it works). So, I did my number 8 incline at an average of 3.5 miles an hour for 25 minutes and it felt great. This is offset, of course, by having Scoop realize the sweats and tennies aren’t for him-“that some devious plot has been hatched whereby the master gets on the walking garments and then proceeds to walk without a leash in hand, on a contraption that keeps him in the same place and still, he walks. What perversity is this? I will stand here and stare at him to make him ashamed. He will sense the impending doom of my visual pummeling and see the error of his ways…”

And then, when I don’t-Scoop sighs deeply and goes into the kitchen to beg for some chicken livers and he is rewarded. Nearly as good as a walk, that. Sue made a delectable chicken spinach enchilada and cooked an organic whole chicken to do it–Scoop was the benefactor of the nasty bits, mixed into his Beneful with a few drops of broth. He was happy.

Rain fell in weird heavy blotches today, intermittently. It was coldish and thick gray clouds floated through all day. It’s funny to me to hear people marvel at it. “Oh, how strange to have rain in May.” It’s actually not strange at all. So. Cal. works in a framework of 10 year cycles and the cycles are normal and drought. We’re not a heavy rain area, but being on the Pacific Coast, we do get a bit. During a 10 year normal cycle, the rain can actually be quite heavy, depending and even on the 4th of July, we can have clouds and mist. But during the drought cycle, well…that all changes, of course. So, it’s nice to be in this cycle and the weather was lovely, actually.

Off to meet some deadlines and try to get Scoop to turn around. His business end is facing me and after the chicken livers and such, well….he does go on.

Good night.

Ridonkulus Ramblings

About 10 days ago, I was stupid in my exercise routine and jogged. This is hard on my neck. And it’s even harder on it now. I’m hurting and it was a stupid move for me. I have a disc issue up there and jogging is not a generally good thing to do. I think I’ve just rejarred a few things, so we’ll see how it goes.

Meantime, the rhythm of the school year winds down and the writing career, already kicked into high gear, shifts to cruise as summer comes on. It’ll be a busy summer and that makes me happy. Always good to follow one’s passion into a committed vocation.

Speaking of passions, I find myself thinking much more about wine these days. Mind you, I’m not drinking a lot of it–but we have a glass here and there and meanwhile, the Cabernet that is currently enjoying a happy American oak barrel fermentation is getting better and better. It too is happy.

I wish I could go on and on tonight, but I am a bit weary. Peanut’s open house was tonight and they had a fundraiser using In n Out Burger. Now, the In n Out burger is a fine burger, one of the best. But make no mistake, it’s still a burger and it sits rock like upon arrival in your gullet. You eat it with the joy of a child at Christmas, but an hour later, you feel a bit more like an adult after Christmas dinner. It has a rather “weighing down” effect. So, I munched down an apple when I got home. Always a nice way to end a meal.

Peace-

Bad to Good

It is safe to say that I enjoyed The Tooth Fairy more than I enjoyed Avatar. I guess I’m not really a geek at heart, as much as I would like to be. But, when I see a movie I do look for a compelling story and that is something Avatar, for all of its visual prowess, didn’t have.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t see the film in a movie theater. I watched it at home, in Hi-Def, but on a 36 inch screen. The result of watching a movie on such a small screen is that it has to deliver in more than just visual imagery and so, watching Avatar here rather than in a theater, simply revealed how bad a film it really is.

The story is a sci-fi environmental warning with a bit of “who’s the real terrorist anyway?” thrown in. It was tired and old, comic-book like in its construction, though I would say that most comic books were better constructed in their plots than Avatar was. The very left wing approach to it, the bad guy is the Marine commander on the ground in this space-aged Vietnam, makes it predictable and hackneyed.

I remember listening to Hugh Hewitt’s radio show in which his movie reviewer, Emmet “the unblinking eye” was making fun of the mineral the Americans (earthlings or whoever?) were supposedly after. It’s called unobtainium and it’s about the most childish invention. There was no way James Cameron could have thought of something more….subtle? More nuanced? It’s as though he got the technology he needed and then rushed the film to completion.

I fell asleep for a good part of it, though, so all was not lost. A healthy little nap is useful.

Meanwhile, The Tooth Fairy was light-hearted, funny, appropriately comic and with just a little dash of suspension of disbelief thrown in. Besides, Billy Crystal is hilarious in the movie and Stephen Merchant, who portrays Tracey, Dwayne Johnson’s caretaker fairy who guides him, is wonderfully witty. Johnson himself delivers as usual. He’s funny, interesting and a little bit arrogant, but his character provides enough sympathy to allow the audience not to be taken in by his self-possession. It’s actually a good little role, if not very complex and it gives Johnson anothe vehicle for his straight-shooting swagger that seems to come naturally to him.

So, from the hot steaming pile of trite cliches and animated characters to a simple childrens’ comedy that allows true escapist sentiments, we ran the gamut this weekend.

Meanwhile, a few more deadlines and covering Cal State Channel Islands’ graduation today. I’m nodding off as I type. Good night.

Manifesto for Today

The great whine fest is underway at school. Mostly seniors, but a lot of juniors, simply whining that anything substantive is expected of them. It’s less funny each year, I have to admit. And though from the seniors, I rather expect it and joke with them about it, the juniors are far less….humorous.

16 or 17 years old and a month left of school with one more full year to go. Rather than consider the best way to finish the year with a sparkle, or even a dull glow, the juniors–a good swath of them–are busy trying to figure out, not so much how they can get out of work, for that would require their diligent participation. No, they’re more interested in complaining that they have any work to do at all.

So, I give them more. It’s my subtle way of shutting them up–or down, or something. The more they whine, the more I add to the workload. I figure one year, a group might be smart enough to figure this out.

It’s interesting to me to listen to the whole education debate, primarily because that debate that goes on in the media with some very thoughtful people (and admittedly some real cretins), isn’t a real debate at all. Real debates feature topics that are, well, real. And the debate about public education in America isn’t really a debate. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked.

First off, credit has to be given to the Federal government and its infinite wisdom. Under President George W. Bush (and by the way, I’m under no illusions here and you shouldn’t be either. If Barack Obama disagreed, he’d do something about it. He hasn’t. Case closed), the No Child Left Behind act was passed, or NCLB. Of course, my friend John, a consummate musician and fine music educator, refers to it as No Child Left in Band. And that’s a fine point. NCLB is interested in two things–reading and math. That’s pretty much it. And it’s only interested in those two things as far as it can measure them in metrics it can translate into arcane little numbers known as the Academic Performance Index or A.P.I. By the way, whenever people mention merit pay, I bring this up. If we’re using “the tests” as a way to measure merit pay, how are we going to measure the merit of the Art teacher, the music teacher, the shop teacher, the P.E. teacher? Or do we plan to eliminate those programs? And, as a parent, do you really think that school should be about reading and arithmetic? There is no more writing–at least not much. Why? Because multiple choice tests can’t measure it.

Occasionally, I’ll have a conversation with a parent who doesn’t work in schools and they’ll talk about how their school’s A.P.I. is high, so they’re glad. I ask, “what is an A.P.I.? What’s it mean?” Their reply is usually, “It’s an Academic Perfor…”

I interrupt. “Yeah, academic performance index. I know what it’s called. What does it mean?”

To save you time, allow me to cut to the chase. They don’t know. Why don’t they know? I’m glad you asked.

They don’t know because the A.P.I. is based essentially on test scores, demographics, overall G.P.A.’s (grade point averages) and assorted other claptrap. In other words, the number says something rather vague about whether or not you live in a neighborhood where parents can afford to be involved in their child’s education or where they cannot. And, to be fair–in some cases, parents simply choose not to be involved in their child’s education.

You can go around the country and for the most part, you won’t find a school with a high A.P.I. where there is, say, a good deal of poverty or a good deal of illegal immigration. You won’t find that because, as a teacher who wrote into our local paper, and the one I write for, the other day said, if teachers are really the problem in education, there is an easy way to find out. Simply take, for example, all the teachers at the high school where I teach, in a relatively affluent community in Ventura County–and swap them with the teachers at a school over in a city that isn’t so affluent, where the A.P.I. is lower. What you will find is that the A.P.I. score largely will not change in any significant way. Why? I’m glad you asked. Because with a few notable exceptions, it’s not the teachers that cause the low test scores. It’s a messy amalgam of the kids themselves and the poorly written, wholly inappropriate tests.

If parents value education at home and hold their children accountable (Gasp! He used that word–and he meant to hold someone else accountable other than teachers!), the children will, again with a few notable exceptions, do very well. If they don’t, then the children won’t. And really, it’s that simple.

But politicians don’t do simple-I offer for your consideration the U.S. Post office, The Department of Motor Vehicles, the tax code and the new health care legislation as examples. Politicians do power. Power needs money to survive and the money is in the hands of teachers unions, administrators and school boards. The one message that I’ve gotten loud and clear–and that my colleagues have gotten, too is that we are expendable and un-necessary. Our jobs are transitory and if school-boards had their way, they’d get rid of the lot of us. Except when one of us does something that makes them look good.

Allow me an anecdote. Our school does a mandatory collaboration schedule. Twice a month, our departments gather together to “collaborate” for the purpose of sharing testing data and discussing how we can get our kids to do better on the tests. In fact, our whole school district created a monstrosity called “Benchmarks” (note: When they found out that we teachers refer to the Benchmarks as BM’s, they changed the name to D.W.A.’s or District Wide Assessments). The purpose of the Benchmark, a test given quarterly to freshman, sophomores and juniors in math, science, social studies and English, is to assess how well our students will do on the State test called the Star. Yes, you got it–the district gives quarterly tests for the purpose of finding out how our kids will do on the test. We imagine that soon, there will be a pre-Benchmark to assess how kids will do on the Benchmark to assess how they’ll do on the Star test.

Our administrators (and this goes for the lot of them across the U.S.) are so married to this way of doing things, that they have mantras: “Data drives instruction.” “What do the test scores tell us?” “Mine the data, and we’ll know what to do.” But, it reminds me of the movie The Hunt for Red October. The big Soviet Missile submarine is diving into an underwater canyon and one of the officers is nervous. His colleague, the navigator, without looking up from his charts and watch, says, “Stop pissing, Yuri. Give me a map and a stopwatch and I could fly the Alps blindfolded.” Yuri replies, “if the map is accurate enough.” Replace the word “map” with the word “data” and you have my point.

Yesterday, we were to have one such collaboration. One of our teachers arrived early, around 6:30 A.M. to do a few things before the meeting at 6:50 A.M. 11 of her Advanced Placement students showed up to her room. They were preparing to take their Advanced Placement Chemistry tests that day, but the Advanced Placement English test was tomorrow. Could she spare a bit of time to go over some things with them before they took it? Being the good soul she is, she said she would and she called down to the Dept. Chair and told her.

The Dept. chair didn’t like it one bit–neither did the administrators. They told her that she was part of the department and that she needed to be at the meeting. She told them to go pound sand. Well, OK, she didn’t-but that’s what she meant. She said simply that her students need to come first and she was going to help them. As far as I know, there have been no negative repercussions. Yet.

But there you have, in a nutshell, the whole problem–data and test scores are more important than the students. I ask you as parents–if your child goes to a school like this, do you want the teacher to help the kids, or to go to a meeting to discuss test scores?

And really, can I do anything to change it? No. No I can’t. I have a job and it is made clear to me everyday, as I said, that I’m expendable. I actually like our principal and Assistant Principals just fine. I know they answer to the board and have to do their jobs. And they work at telling us they’re grateful for what we do. But, the actions taken by the district are much louder than the words–and the actions say simply, “do what we tell you to do…” Nevermind that most of us in the classroom have the same credentials–or more–than those who “drive the instruction.”

So, the debate surrounding education–about the evil teachers and how they’re failing our kids–is just getting tiresome and, like so many other things in the media, it isn’t true. Are there bad teachers? Yes. Show me a profession without a few bad apples, please. But teachers are some of the hardest working, most dedicated folks I know. And I do know–because I am one and I’m proud of it. I’ve worked hard at it and I like doing it.

But, truly, if you ask me–and I know you haven’t, the whole fargin’ system needs an enema. And make it a double espresso.

Going Out with a Whimper

I am aware that if I use my posts to talk about my busy freelance writing, I am rather defeating the point of having a blog, so I will spare you…

I’m in the mode of feeling bitter from a political point of view. I’ve just about finished reading Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory, the Odyssey of Pat Tillman and it is heartbreaking. Suffice to say, the caricature created of Spc. Tillman in the media wasn’t who he was, neither from the right nor from the left. The cover-up of the cause of his death and the subsequent use of his extraordinary story to further a narrative that simply was made up out of whole cloth, as they say, was extremely disheartening. Still, you should read the book. Once in a while, it’s good to have your illusions shattered.

Meanwhile, it has grown ever more apparent that the race for Governor in California is nothing more than a true lesser of evils decision. Between Whitman and Poizner, the Republicans, both are silly. Whitman is a Center-mild right conservative in the vein of Mr. Schwarzzeneger who, though he tried to effect some change, failed and eventually gave in to failure. Mr. Poizner, the former insurance commissioner is….well, a former insurance commissioner. And quite honestly, neither one thrills me. Jerry Brown? Please.

If the Federal Government is in trouble, then California is the canary in the coalmine. Things are bad here–very bad. And none of the candidates have real solutions for any of it. The budget here, the state of public education, the taxes, the extreme environmentalism that reeks havoc on wildlands, causing more fires, bringing more well-intentioned but disastrous legislation. It seems like an unstoppable freight train to be honest.

My friend Jason has rosier lenses on and I’ll admit, he’s smarter than me when it comes to things economic. I’m no soothsayer. But I don’t think this recession is over–and I don’t think that the government’s attempts to fix it, change it or otherwise “help” are going to do anything but cause more problems and maybe a double-dip recession in the end.

Sigh.

Well, it’s late and I’m weary now. I bid you a good evening, one and all.