WHERE IN THE WORLD? – RICH PASCHALL

 Ouagadougou, anyone?  by Rich Paschall

One of the many things that has surprised me about education in the twenty-first century is the absence of Geography in grade school and high school curriculum.  When I have asked any young people in the last two decades if they have taken geography in school, the answer is usually the same.  “Geography?  What’s that?”

When I was in elementary school, we took Geography.  We had Geography books.  The class room had Geography maps so we could understand where in the world our place of study was located.  They were the kind of maps that rolled up like your window shades.  There were pictures pinned to a bulletin board of various places we might study.  The geography course was our window to other locations in the world.  It was an introduction to other people and cultures.  I always found it an interesting class, although I did not know at the time just how useful it would be.

Earth

There were many things about geography that I did not find so interesting.  The topography was lost on someone who lived in an area that is completely flat.  Information about crops and commerce held no delight at the grade school level.  The local currency meant nothing to a boy with a tiny allowance.

Climate was interesting, however, to someone who had experienced the severity of all four seasons.  I could not imagine living somewhere that had a colder climate then we have in winter.  I did imagine that places with warmer weather throughout the year would be great to visit, especially in winter.  Pictures of green mountains or long, sandy beaches fueled my imagination.  I did not think I would ever get to travel much, but the views of great scenery and different types of structures were the joys of my young fantasy vacations.

With the news of the world more available than ever, you would think that geography would be an important field of study to more than the CIA.  Perhaps those in charge of various school boards around the country do not think so.  Can you match these cities recently in the news with their countries?


City ——————————- Country
Mogadishu————————United States
Castañer ————————– Israel
Bishkek —————————-Turkey
Ankara —————————- Kyrgyzstan
Tel Aviv —————————- Somalia


When I was first working in freight forwarding, a young person was trying to pronounce the name written on one of the folders.  She may have been filing items by destination. To just look at it, you would not think it a mystery, but the uneducated person was lost. “Tell a, Tayla, tellavi…”  At that, a very annoyed supervisor in another group yelled over to our area, “Tel Aviv! Tel Aviv! It’s in the news sometimes.”  It was the capital of Israel at the time, and it is the only international airport in the country.  I guess we are always stunned by people who do not know the capital cities or the largest airports of any country.  By the way, the supervisor shouting the name of the city across the office remains one of our favorite air freight stories. It also points to the deficiency in our education on geography.

Another part of Earth

When I got a job in air freight, I think I already had a good idea of the capitals and major cities of most countries, and now I have come to learn their airport codes as well. The locations of major hubs of commerce and the airlines that fly there are key to our success.  You could put Asian freight on Lufthansa, who makes its first stop in Frankfurt, but it may make more sense to put it on a carrier going west to Asia.  It really depends where you are. If you are on the east coast, for example, it may make a bit of sense to go east.  Lufthansa does go most places in the world.  If you are in Chicago, it may be better to go west.

We can send your Shanghai freight from Chicago on a European carrier, but the distance will be greater to fly east, the cost will likely be more and the time of travel will be greater.  No plane would have the range to go nonstop.  However, there are Chinese carriers, as well as American Airlines, who fly non stop from ORD (Chicago, O’Hare) to PVG (Shanghai, China).  Because of competition, you are likely to get a good rate for the faster transit.  In freight forwarding, it is important to have an idea where everything is located in order to make the best routing decisions.

This is true for your vacation trip as well.  When I tell people I have gone to Alsace, France, they usually conclude I must have flown to Paris.  The truth is, I usually fly to Frankfurt, Germany which is about the same distance from Strasbourg and usually cheaper.  I have also considered the Euro-Airport at Mulhouse, France which is closer, and the airport at Zürich, Switzerland.

Strasbourg, France

Grab a map and discover the world. OK, here are the answers, although I am tempted to tell you to grab a Geography book or just Google it.

1 – Mogadishu is the capital of war-torn Somalia.  Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

2 – Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey.  You probably thought it was Istanbul.

3 – You can fly to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv which is a major international city, but no longer a capital. 

4 – Castaner is a mountain community in Puerto Rico that was devastated by the hurricane.  Yes, it is part of the US.  And one more just for fun. 

5 – Can you find Ouagadougou on a map?

GENIUSES? WHY AREN’T THEY RUNNING THIS WORLD?

On a day when my “lead” story is ARE PEOPLE REALLY THAT STUPID?, it figures the Daily Post would have “genius” as the word of the day.

There are some very smart people in my world. Geniuses even. 

Why aren’t they running the world instead of the morons who actually ARE running it? If anyone has a sensible answer for that, please let me know. Otherwise, please see my lead story of the day.

The flat earth — according to Terry Pratchett


The world is not flat.

Vaccinations prevent plagues, the pox, and infantile paralysis — and much more.

9/11 was not a conspiracy.

We really did land on the moon.

We are not creating hurricanes using laser beams with the intent to “gain control” of “The People.”

Climate change is real and has been scientifically proven (repeatedly).

Drilling into the core of the earth to get some more combustible gas is stupid. And dangerous.

Guns DO kill people when in the hands of PEOPLE. Who own guns.

The first amendment allows you to say anything. It doesn’t force you to be a moron.

Not liking something doesn’t mean you should automatically reject it. A failure to fit into your idea of the way things ought to be is not a failure of science. It’s a failure of your brain.


If you believe any of these things, please, let’s not talk. If you can’t be convinced by any existing evidence, there’s nothing to talk about.

ENDLESS PAST WITH NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT

I can see the future. So can you.


The first thing I taught my granddaughter — after reading — was telling time. They no longer teach analog time in schools, so I bought a couple of those old wooden clocks we had when we were little kids. The ones on which you can move the hands. I wanted her to be able to read a non-digital clock because who knows? She might be in London, looking at Big Ben … and have no idea what time it was.

It took her just a few minutes to figure it out. From then on, she was on the clock. On her way to school. Hurrying home. Being ready on time.

On time.

Life is all about on time. Looking to the future with hope, fear, trepidation, Ouija boards and clocks.

Really, we can all see our future if we choose to look. We don’t always want to. If you want to see the future, take a look at the present along with a peek at the past. Extrapolate what’s most likely to happen. It’s not magic. Very basic logic — and probably not what you wanted to find out. We want to learn something special. The fabulous places we will go and the exciting things we’ll accomplish. We don’t want to know that our lives will be very much what they have always been, with minor alterations here and there.

The future is the present with the flip of a calendar. Intentions made real. Probabilities aligned.

Chinese (Sui) porcelain musicians. They come from the past. We all come from the past. In case you failed to notice.

Chinese (Sui) porcelain musicians. They come from the past. We all come from the past. In case you failed to notice.

My very old Chinese (Sui dynasty) porcelain musicians are on  my mantel having survived 1000 years of the past to be in my present. We all come from a past and are never in the present because as soon as we notice time, it has moved ahead. We never live now and are forever rushing from yesterday to tomorrow. Everyone tells us to stop and enjoy the moment. How can we? How do we find the now in the endless forward pressure of time?

We should not have invented time.

We can see ahead as accurately as we need to. Seeing more would gain us nothing. If we really saw what our future holds, it would be terrifying. We could waste our lives trying to change the future without stopping to realize that the future will rush past the same way “now” is racing. No one would enjoy anything and the future would look flat and hopeless.

Moreover, every one of us has a history that goes back to the beginning of time. The difference between us and the “blue bloods” who lord it over us with their famed family histories, is that they know more of the names and the rest of us don’t. Your family, whatever their name and rank, is no deeper, longer, or more important than mine. We are the same.

I will make one more prophecy which I can guarantee is true.

We will all die. Of something. Eventually.

Whoever preceded us and whoever follows us? We will all meet the end, one way or the other.

LIMPING INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS

I’m not one of those people who romanticizes the “old days,” but there are some truths worth remembering and revisiting.

I grew up in a different world. Play meant imagination. Physical activity. Jump rope, hide and seek, tag, Stick ball because no one owned a real bat. Stoop ball, jacks. Building a “fort” or climbing a tree. Cowboys.

Toys were simple, not electronic. Getting a new doll was a thrill. She never needed a reboot, unless you count having to find her lost shoe. Almost nothing except flashlights needed batteries.

If you were having a hard time with the bullies in school, you got up, got dressed and went to school. It didn’t mean you weren’t scared. I was plenty scared. It simply wasn’t a parent problem … it was mine. Yours. Ours.

You didn’t get a lot of pats on the back for “trying hard.” You might get an “attaboy” for doing exceptionally well, but you were expected to do your best. Nothing less was acceptable. Doing your best was your job. You took it seriously.

You learned your lessons in elementary school so you could go on to junior high school and then high school. You had to do well in high school because if you didn’t, you couldn’t get into college. We all knew — with 100% certainty — if you didn’t go to college, you wouldn’t go to heaven.

Pretty much every family has family members who didn’t make it. The ones who never found real job or formed a serious relationship. Or accomplished much. If they happen to be our own kids, it makes us wonder what we did wrong. Usually, we have a sneaking suspicion the problem isn’t what we didn’t do. More like what we did too much.

I don’t think we should be mean and uncaring to our kids, nor am I an advocate of corporal punishment, but I think it’s important to recognize we didn’t get strong by being protected from every pain, every hurt. We didn’t get everything we wanted the moment we wanted it. Or, at least I didn’t. If I got one really cool present, that was a big deal. Now kids get so much, it’s meaningless. They don’t appreciate anything because there’s always more where that came from.

So, in memory of the good times, the bad times, the hard times, the great times. The schoolyard battles we fought and sometimes lost. The subjects we barely passed or actually failed — and had to take again. The bullies who badgered us until we fought back and discovered bullies are cowards. Getting cornered in the girls’ room by tough chicks with switch blades, wondering if you can talk your way out of this.

Being the only Jew, Black kid, Spanish kid, fat kid, short kid or whatever different kind of kid you were in a school full of people who didn’t like you. Getting through it and coming out the other side. Being the only one who used big words and read books when everyone else was watching American Bandstand. Being the klutz who couldn’t do the dances and never had the right clothing or hair. Then, finally, getting to college and discovering the weirdos and rejects from high school were now cool people.

Magically, suddenly, becoming part of the “in crowd.” Metamorphoses. No longer outsiders. Whatever made us misfits were the same qualities that made us popular. And eventually, successful.

The fifties and early sixties were not idyllic, especially if you weren’t middle class, white, and Christian. Yet, whoever you were, it was a great time to be a kid. Not because we had more stuff, but because we had more freedom.

We had time. Time to play, time to dream. Whatever we lacked in “things,” we made up for by having many fewer rules. We were encouraged to use our imagination. We didn’t have video games, cable TV, cell phones and computers. We were lucky to have a crappy black and white TV with rabbit ears that barely got a signal.

We learned to survive and cope. Simultaneously, we learned to achieve. By the time we hit adulthood, we weren’t afraid to try even if success seemed unlikely. We had enough courage to know if it didn’t work out, we’d get up, dust ourselves off and try again — or try something else. We knew we would make it, one way or the other.

When we got out into the world, for at least a couple of decades, we had a blast.

Here’s to us as we limp past middle age into the so-called golden years. We really had great lives. We’re still having them, but more slowly.

DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVING WHAT YOU DO – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother was a psychologist and my father was a psychoanalyst. They both practiced as therapists. It seemed like the greatest profession and I grew up wanting to be a therapist too. You get to help people but you can be your own boss and set your own schedule. I always thought I would go to medical school, like my Dad, and become a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I sucked at science. After my first year in college, I realized that I would never get good enough grades in the sciences to get into medical school. So I followed my interests and became an American Studies major, with a minor in history. Toward the end of my college career, I announced that I would become a therapist by going to social work or psychology grad school.

My father went ballistic. He was actually famous in his profession. He was devastated at the thought that his daughter would not go to medical school. ‘Just’ being a therapist, without a medical degree, was unthinkable for any daughter of his. I would have been an embarrassment.

Like a young, insecure idiot, I bowed to his wishes and gave up my dream. I realized I could go to law school if I just took the LSAT exam. So that’s what I did. I basically chose a career based on where I could go to grad school — with the least amount of hassle. I was interested in the law, but not excited. I had no idea what it meant to be a practicing lawyer, day-to-day.

I made it through law school, still not really motivated to practice law. It turned out that the only kind of law I was really interested in, found intellectually challenging, was litigation, or trial practice. But litigators had to put in crazy, unpredictable hours and my husband was already doing that. I wanted children and didn’t think I could handle a demanding career, a demanding husband, running our lives and bringing up kids. I don’t thrive on stress and hyperactivity – they sap me and overwhelm me. I ended up being overwhelmed anyway, at home, with a bi-polar husband and one child with psychological and learning issues.

So I opted for a small, general practice law firm in New York City. I did contracts, trusts and estates, some leases, etc. I was bored out of my mind. Lots of paperwork and endless bureaucracy to negotiate. Not stimulating or gratifying in any way. I couldn’t wait to get pregnant so I could quit and become a stay at home Mom. Being a Mother was the one thing I was really excited about.

It turns out that the day my son was born, two months prematurely, I found my ideal career. I loved being a Mom and managing a home for my family. I worked hard, with no weekends off and few vacations. I was never bored. I always felt challenged by whatever phase my kids were going through. I was happy and satisfied with my life style.

I never looked back or regretted my decision to leave the law for motherhood. The decision I regret was appeasing my father and not pursuing the career I really wanted, in whatever way I wanted. Had I found a career I loved, my life would have played out differently. I could have worked part-time as a psychologist while my kids grew up, like my Mom did. (At that time, part-time work or job sharing was almost non-existent in law firms). I would also have had a career to go back to when my kids left home. It would have been nice to have a job I loved to fill the empty nest years, in my 50’s and 60’s.

What is depressing to me now is that I gave up the chance to fulfill my dreams of being a therapist. And I gave it all up to assuage my father’s ego. I wish I could go back now and tell my 21-year-old self to stand up to my Dad. To just go for the life I wanted. What makes it worse is that my Dad and I had a very limited and strained relationship. He was not really involved in my life. Except to step in and put the kibosh on my career choice.

I loved my job as a home maker and Mom. But I could also have loved my job as a therapist. And, I would have never felt I missed out on a big part of life.

TRUMP SHOULD BE IN SPECIAL ED – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My son spent middle school and high school in Special Ed classes. He suffered from ADD, hyperactivity, learning disabilities and psychological issues. He needed all the help he could get.

So does Donald Trump. Trump’s behavior reminds me of many of my son’s symptoms. He, like my son, could benefit from some of the strategies taught in Special Ed.

People with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have trouble organizing their things and their thoughts. My son could actually put full sentences together, so, at 12, he was way ahead of our President at aged 70. Trump would have needed extra remedial help, even in Special Ed. But, my son did have trouble staying on topic, in speaking and in writing. His writing was jumbled, random thoughts strung together. He couldn’t organize logical paragraphs. Sound familiar?

Trump’s tweets and speech are really word salads attempting to form sentences and meandering, disjointed words masquerading as coherent thought. Trump would fall at the high-end of the disability spectrum for his thought processes and his ability (or lack) to express himself. And we’re talking middle to high school levels.

In terms of behavior, my son was hyperactive. He couldn’t sit still or pay attention for more than a few minutes at a time. His teachers had to help him reduce his class material down to a couple of pages of bullet points so he could study and pass tests. In the school system, this is considered a disability.

Who’d have thought that our President would require his staff, just like the Special Ed staff, to reduce all presentations to him down to one page, even security briefings! And for Trump, that one page has to be double spaced, in big letters, with lots of graphs and maps.

Another symptom of ADD and hyperactivity, is restlessness and jumping from activity to activity, topic to topic. Trump is known for this. He frequently gets bored and turns on Cable TV News. He goes off topic all the time, with world leaders, in speeches and in interviews, as well as in tweets. It’s hard to figure out what he really thinks about anything because he doesn’t stay on topic long enough to get an intelligent position across. Of course, he may not have one on most issues, so this point may be moot.

My son had other behavioral issues that are associated with ADD and hyperactivity. He didn’t always understand how people would react to what he said or did. He had terrible impulse control and had trouble reading social cues, so he would blurt things out in class, out of turn — all the time — then not understand why other kids made fun of him. He would say inappropriate things and be surprised when he got a negative reaction.

I don’t need to point out all the times that Donald Trump has exhibited these traits. I do need to point out that these are considered issues severe enough to warrant removing a child from mainstream classrooms and giving them remedial help in Special Ed.

My son also had emotional issues. He had trouble dealing with failure and setbacks. He was also very sensitive to criticism and slights. He had to be praised a lot and needed to have frequent, even small, successes to build his confidence. He would often have meltdowns. But. At his worst, he never, ever was as mean or vindictive as Trump is during his twitter rants against people who disagree with him.

If my son had exhibited behavior half as nasty and over-the-top as Trump’s behavior regularly is, the school psychologist would have been called in for a consultation. My husband and I would have been read the riot act by the psychologist and told we needed to teach our son self-control and acceptable social limits.

My son has worked hard over the years and, as an adult, has mastered most of his childhood issues. He’s trained himself to write clearly and well. He writes for work all the time. He has harnessed his energy and focus and can now concentrate on and absorb long papers for his job. It might take him longer to read and write than other people, but he gets through it. He has also matured. Now he can now handle disappointment and opposition and his social skills are well above average.

With effort and special help, a kid with a lot of issues managed to conquer them and become a compassionate, thoughtful, sensitive, responsible adult. So, for the sake of the country and the world, can we PLEASE set up a Special Ed Department in the Oval Office?

WHERE’S YOUR POWER?


WHAT EMPOWERS YOU?

When you’re worried, frightened. When you’ve lost your way and have no idea what to do, what’s your game changer? Is it a hug from a loved one? Encouragement from peers or colleagues? A visit to the doctor where he or she assures you that all is well, not to worry?

Information empowers me. Knowledge. Facts. You can hug me, praise me, love me, talk to me, but if I don’t understand what’s going on, I’m lost and miserable. You cannot comfort me unless I have information with which to process current events. For me, the mind rules and always has. This is how I have survived and how I continue to live in a world full of danger.

This is a fundamental issue facing us today. If you are knowledge-based and depend on science, history, knowledge … how do you survive in a world where facts are rare and truth has become as elusive as … white rhinoceroses? As we assassinate our wild species, we are also assassinating our ability to think. Collectively, we seem to be growing ever dimmer.

“Decades” is a show on “MeTV.” It’s for people our age who like remembering things that really happened in a world we recognize as ours.

Last night, they were discussing cults. I have written about the Jonestown massacre and it’s probably my most popular post over the past five years. Last night’s show included, among other cults, “Heavens Gate.” That’s where several dozen people killed themselves so they could arise and be lifted into the UFO following in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. Maybe it’s just as well that people this foolish never lived to create more children. I know it sounds cruel, but really? They believed that? Clearly these are not people for whom knowledge was the critical issue.

What makes you feel free? Secure?

Are you satisfied with “Everything looks great” as an answer? How about “It’ll be huge!” No details. No explanation of what it means, if it means anything. Our new, improved medical care will take care of everyone — except we’ll be lucky if it takes care of anyone.

It’s not that we aren’t asking questions. We ask and we ask again. We can keep asking until we are blue in the face. We aren’t getting answers and probably, never will.  But don’t worry. Whatever comes, it will be huge. Magnificent. We’ll get tired of winning. Really! The future is all great stuff for everyone all the time.

If you are a believer, that is.  For the rest of us, it looks pretty creepy.

Yet, we can look to the skies. Maybe we’ll see another comet coming our way with a UFO tied to its tail. One of its reclining seats has your name on it. Maybe mine, too. And then, we will have all the health care any of us will ever need.


What empowers me? Information. Knowledge. Facts. Truth.
The more I know, the stronger I feel.
The rest is gibberish.