SocraticGadfly: 2/4/07 - 2/11/07

February 10, 2007

LISD facing audit again?

My rumor on the street is that the district could get audited again.

Did this not just happen less than two years ago?

And, was this part of why Eugene Smith was canned?

And, was that for his screw-ups, or instead, was it because he was digging too deep?

If this becomes confirmed sometime in the next two months, lotsa luck with that May bond issue, Larry, because it will go straight to file 13 unless voters can be even more brainwashed than I think possible.

Patience … oh, I hate that word at times

I recognize it’s something I need more of, not only, or even necessarily primarily, with other people.

It’s patience with me… on accepting that I can never replace “lost years,” and can only try to heal the damage at a certain rate today. Of course, the more patience I find for myself, the more I am likely to find for other people, too.

Childhood abuses: Survivors vs. victims

I am not a victim (any more) of the various “slings and arrows of an outrageous childhood,” to riff on Shakespeare — I am a survivor. None of my previous personal posts have been meant to convey that I am a victim, let alone a “martyr.”

That includes my mentioning of my diagnosis several years ago with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rather, that was meant to explain a little more about “where I come from”; in other words, it’s a request for understanding, as have been the other more personal posts I have made here. With PTSD, it’s the same request as adult veterans of combat, especially hairy combat that can trigger PTSD for them; I just say I fought in a different war.

That said, it’s my impression that a lot of people are afraid to talk about, face, think about or feel about child abuse in its various forms, sexual abuse above all. Perhaps they’re afraid of seeing or hearing about its ugliness, especially if they know the adult survivor personally.

If I wanted to talk about ugliness with more personal detail, I could, but this is not the place to do into detail, for self-protection; nor do I have a desire to “get in anybody’s face.” Between professionals, group support and close friends who have listened without “flinching,” I have the avenues I need to talk, and talk through, issues in detail.

That then said, to people who may not be so comfortable with this type of talk, about physical, emotional and especially sexual abuse — I encourage you to open the door a little bit more. I’m not asking anybody to go out and buy some trauma recovery books or anything like that; I’m just hoping a few more people can face more of the more tragic realities of life without “flinching.”

And that’s not necessarily for my sake, especially for more casual readers here. You may never know when such openness comes in handy elsewhere in your life, though.

Finally, the question of why some, not others. Why do some people react more strongly and bear more scars from abuse?

Part of it is a genetic influence on temperament. In my case, it seems clear that a high anxiety thermostat runs through my dad’s side of the family, back further into Snyder males.

Of course, so does alcoholism, which raises other questions.

The other main factors as to why some are hurt worse by child abuse appear to be primarily based on the abuse itself. How severe was it, how chronic/ongoing was it, and how early did it start are the biggies.

Let’s just say that PTSD isn’t likely to develop from a one-time, relatively mild incident later in childhood.

With that, while I continue more personal posts for a while, I’ll be headed back to more political posting down the road. For obvious reasons, not much of it will be about where I am at now.

February 09, 2007

Inland port takes a back seat

Dallas is not going to push the Texas Legislature this session for inland port status for the southern sector of the city and southside suburbs like Lancaster. Given that the Lege is on a two-year cycle, and nothing’s likely to be done without a Dallas push, that means waiting two years.

How will this affect The Allen Group? I would think they would be staring earthwork at least by two years from now.

Plus, the February issue of Dallas CEO notes that inland ports that cross government boundaries usually abound in headaches. People it quotes say this will be different.

And, here you have this wonderful quote from the mag article:
The City of Dallas is so certain this inland port concept, it’s already calculating its portion of the benefits.

Oops… didn’t it just put those calculations on ice for two years?

Beyond that, I still say, first of all, that intermodal transportation is being built with no consideration to how a near-term arrival of Peak Oil will affect trade with China. Second, as i have blogged before, the question of how much capacity is too much has not been touched with a 10-foot pole. I'm not being a naysayer, just cautious.

Finally, and here’s the biggie:

What’s to stop this inland port craze to be some sort of race-to-the-bottom EDC-type adventure? Why shouldn’t St. Louis try to become an inland port? Or Kansas City, where BNSF, incorporating the old Santa Fe Railroad, has a hub? Or Denver? Or U-Pac hub Omaha?

And who renamed the airport “Lancaster Executive Airport” for the magazine article? Puhleeze.

Two-year-olds and cell phones

My nephew, Jed, has learned how to grab my sister’s cell phone and use the “redial” function.

Unfortunately, Jed, Uncle Steve had to go back to work, or he would have talked longer.

Lancaster: Who abandoned whom?

I heard there was a bit of a dust-up, to put it mildly, at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce’s February members’ lunch Feb. 8. Today Newspapers was accused of abandoning the city, and Today ad sales rep Cheri Tuley pointed out that the city had made the Focus the paper of record for its legal ads. That would be the paper that wasn’t even at the Chamber lunch to see its annual award winners.

And, I will take a bet that half the people besides a certain city councilman who claimed Today abandoned Lancaster were not even subscribers.

Cheri is also supposed to be talking to Larry Lewis about some school-related issues soon. I told somebody else to remind her to ask Larry about some friendly loan consolidation advice.

Lancaster EDC director leaves quietly, suddenly

Heck, I had heard nothing in the grapevine that Flip, Lancaster Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Steve Filipowicz, was thinking of leaving.

His new home is in Apache Junction, Ariz., a community with a large snowbird population in winter,

From Today Newspapers:
“It’s a unique opportunity in an area of the country I’ve visited before and was very interested in,” he said. “I will have the opportunity to be their first full time director and create an office with three employees. I just got all the right signals from them when I interviewed. They’ve had a coordinator position that was part-time and now they’ve realized they need someone in this capacity full-time. It’s a very unique community. It has a population of around 42,000-45,000 but between October and April it has 30,000 winter visitors. So right now, there’s more than 70,000 people there.”

Filipowicz was in Lancaster for nearly six years, a tenure that included starting a monthly Business Retention and Expansion Program including the mayor, city manager and chamber president.

Filipowicz began his new job Jan. 26. The city of Lancaster is now faced with another high profile hire it will need to make relatively soon.

City Manager Jim Landon recently announced he’s leaving to take the same job with Palm Coast, Fla.

February 08, 2007

First ex-NBAer out of closet

Two sad parts to John Amaechi’s story.

One is that he’s doing it as an ex-player, showing that fears of homophobia — and likely actual homophobia to generate those fears in spades — still abound in sports locker rooms.

Second is that not all current NBA players sound all that tolerant, even in public.
LeBron James, said he didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league.

"With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. "So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates — we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."

Hey LeBron, it’s not that he isn’t trustworthy, it’s that he estimates people like you aren’t, and you just proved it.

At least one star player sounds more enlightened.
Orlando's Grant Hill, who said he didn't know Amaechi when he was with the Magic, also applauded the decision to go public.

"The fact that John has done this, maybe it will give others the comfort or confidence to come out as well, whether they are playing or retiring," Hill said.

Meanwhile, the commish shanked his tee shot on this issue.
NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality wasn't important.

"We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said.

Nice as far as it goes, but unless he says something specific to address comments of people like James, it doesn’t go very far.

Of course, LeBron sounds the model of enlightenment compared to this:
Injured Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph acknowledged it's a new situation.

"As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine," Randolph said. "As far as business-wise, I'm sure I could play with him. But I think it would create a little awkwardness in the locker room."

It’s both homophobia and rampant egotism that you are “jump-worthy” to be worried about being “jumped’ by a gay man, first of all.

Second, it’s incredibly ignorant at least and incredibly disgusting at most to think of gayness as some sort of “disease” or similar, as it sounds like Randolph is doing.

Forgiveness vs. “letting go” and other thoughts

My puppy parable post inspired someone to comment about issues of forgiveness.

Without going too far down the rabbit trail of “to err is human, to forgive is divine,” I want to offer a few thoughts on this subject.

First, forgiveness can’t be earned. I say that from a totally secular, nonreligious perspective, specifically that forgiveness from another human being can’t be earned.

We can try to make the person we’ve hurt or wronged more disposed to forgive us, but, this isn’t something mechanical, a quasi-karma where X amount of repentance, contrition and other acts automatically produces Y amount of forgiveness. (Of course, I don’t believe in karma in any literal sense, as a metaphysical law of cause and effect, any more than I do in any Western religious doctrines; that’s the subject of another story, but those who know my background should recognize I have HUGE reasons not to believe in karma.)

All we can do is hope that the person we’ve wronged has become of a different disposition.

But, what if the hurt we caused, or were caused from the would-be forgiver’s point of view, is too deep, was inflicted far too repetitively, or has otherwise become too ingrained?

Well, to quote a religious reformer, “It’s not safe to go against one’s own conscience.” It may require too much personal change, not just in anger or sorrows toward the other person, but in trust levels.

So, instead, we have “letting go” — trying to process through our own emotions and psychological states as the hurt person enough to let go of at least some of our old emotions and old mental states. Counselors often make the distinction.

Besides, what a person asking forgiveness often needs most is something they have to grant themselves.

Now, more about the lesson of the puppy. Something to be even better learned that forgiveness is sympathy, and something to be even better learned than sympathy is empathy.

As for a person or animal that’s been hurt, it probably most needs the nurturing, and the help to re-establish trust, that comes with empathy.

February 07, 2007

“Old baggage” or “past history”?

Yes, I’m 43 and single-never married, among other things.

In part, that’s due to having met few women who have interested me.

That, in part, is due to not having “circulated” as much as some men do. Part of the reason for that might be “sour grapes.” I’ll admit that, as I look closer at myself.

But, the larger part of that has been for other, often unconscious reasons. People who know me and my “story” better might be able to take a better guess at that.

In any case, that’s part of the reason I prefer to refer to my past, the “lost years” I reference in the poem immediately below this, as past history. And that’s why I prefer the same from other people who know me well enough to recognize that.


I will never be seventeen again;
In fact, I never was the first time.
Nothing I missed at that age,
Or in years after,
Can ever be recovered.

I will never be seventeen again,
Nor twenty-seven,
Nor even thirty-seven,
Though less distanced from that.

It doesn’t matter why this happened,
How much of my reaction was unconscious
And why.
Those are still the “lost years”;
All I have left for them
Is to mourn and cry.

Digging up those sorrows
To the taste of consciousness
To taste that pain and learn its lessons,
To digest more
Of my inner emotions and psyche
Is sometimes bitter,
But more so, mouth-stuffingly numb,
Like the tasteless taste of day-old bread
To the burdened depressive.

But swallow I must,
And likely more than once.
I may have to swallow a thousand times
Before I own it.

I am not seventeen,
Or even twenty-seven.
And, if I am to find fulfillment,
Or love today,
Or other contentments and desires,
From the inner joys
Nestled with the inner pains,
It must be as someone who is forty-three,
Or doing his reasonable best to accept that.

Puppies and people: a parable for the “walking wounded” with unknown hurts

There’s another apartment complex about three blocks north of mine here in Far South Lancaster.

When I was out for a walk last Sunday afternoon, I noticed a young puppy, couldn’t have been too much past a month old, beside the Dumpster for the complex. It looked like it might have had a St. Bernard ancestor; if not, maybe a golden retriever would have explained the large size for a young puppy, as well as the domed head. He seemed skittish, but did let me briefly touch him.

Later Sunday, still before sundown, I went for a walk in the same area. The puppy was still out. A lady from one of the apartments was out, and said it appeared to have been abandoned, which confirmed my impression. She said he had been feeding it. I mentioned that if nobody claimed it in a day or two, I might just “abscond” with it.

The puppy was even more skittish by now. There was a crawl space under the Dumpster, and it quickly burrowed all the way under it.

When I reached to try to pet it, it snapped at me, and pretty ferociously for being as young as it was. That confirmed another impression of mine — not only had this puppy been abandoned, it had likely been abused. That’s about the only way a young pup gets that snappish out of what appears to be aggression but is actually fear.

That puppy seemed to offer a parable.

None of us is fully aware of ourselves, whoever “we” may be. Some of us are less aware, though, of at least parts of ourselves. We may be unaware of why we hurt. We may be unaware of how we react today to long-ago, now internalized hurts. We may not even know to react differently, or not to interpret similar stimuli as though they were exactly the same, coming from the old hurts and old hurters.

So, give your inner child a healthy, unabused inner puppy of the mind to play with.

I’m sure I need to remember to do that more.

And perhaps we can all learn more empathy from such things.

February 05, 2007

Yet ANOTHER thing wrong with Mac OS X — Key Caps

I wanted to check out a couple of keys in Zapf Dingbats this afternoon. Rather than typing through every key straight, every key with the shift on, then the option-key, then shift-option-key, I went right to where I would go in OS 9.

The Apple menu.

Ain’t no such thing as Key Caps there.

What the hell?

That’s a basic tool for desktop publishers and graphic artists.

Meanwhile, and I kid you not… I’m sure Photoshop CS on my Windoze XP runs faster than CS2 does here on OS X.

Put down the Kool-Aid, Mac-addicts.

Lancaster, and the whole Metroplex, feel so far away ...

As to be another planet.

I have to get up there, first weekend with decent weather, just to confirm that place still exists, if nothing else.

February 04, 2007

Larry Lewis: Illegally, or at least unethically, attempting to funnel business to a Lancaster School Board member?

A source reports that, out of the “goodness of his heart,” Larry is worried that teachers and staff, his Lancaster Independent School District “family members,” have ARMs that might be getting them into trouble.

So, he recommends three people who can give them mortgage help.

On the list? Lancaster School Board Trustee Sue Mendoza.

It sure as hell is unethical, Larry, and it may be illegal, too.

On the lack of ethics side, it opens up the question as to whether you could get any “considerations” on your own mortgage, brokered by Mendoza, in exchange for you doing PR and advertising for her.