HOW TO MAKE A BLOMELET, p. III: THE YOLK OF TO BE AND THE SCRAMBLE

This entry is a sin against culinary social media. This was to be the third “egg” in my groundbreaking “blomelet” series. To recap, in the first entry of this daring serial, entitled “HOW TO MAKE A BLOMELET: DO NOT ADD WATER”, I discover the shocking link between brain hemorrhages, wicked witches, aliens and that rascally wheat protein known as “gluten”. The second entry in this revolutionary treatise on the pitfalls of having a brain injury and not blogging for extended periods, “HOW TO MAKE A BLOMELET, p. II: THE YOLK OF IS”, revealed Jarrett’s struggle in these troubled (Trumpled?) times.

Given recent events (revents?), it has become necessary to hasten the preparations for the blomelet. Submitted for your approval, Internet, I present “The Yolk of To Be” and “The Scramble”.

THE YOLK OF TO BE (Prelude)

Listen, “The Yolk of To Be” was, until Monday last (for posterity, that’s Monday, August 27) a slimy, yellowish glob of delusional mucus teeming with best selling novels, screenplays, movie deals, breakfast cereals, orangutans, etc. Then, on the Monday mentioned previously, I interviewed for a position running an elementary school library. Like that, the xanthous sticky goo became a little less viscous (viscless?) and less murky for the hearty injection of reality associated with steady, gainful(ish) employment.

Because of my bid for regular work, I had to reassess my priorities.

  • How can I write the next best seller if I want to be a legendary librarian (legendarian? Libradary?)
  • How do I ascend to the lofty heights of a legendarian if I spend my mornings and weekends tutoring Chinese kids?
  • How will I tutor Chinese kids if I can’t stay awake?
  • How do I stay awake if I only sleep five or six hours a night?
  • How can I sleep five to six hours a night when my daughter is counting on me to build a Halloween costume from scratch?
  • How do I build a Halloween costume from scratch when I have to take my dog to potty?
  • How do I take my dog to potty when she loses her mind, convulsing with the excitement of a child on Christmas day, preventing me from getting the leash on her collar?

The only conclusion to be drawn is that all my problems originate from my spastic wiener dog mix.

If only it was that simple. No no, this is the labyrinthine gauntlet of…

… THE SCRAMBLE

In her immensely informative memoir My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor calls it “brain chatter”. Stephen Pressfield, in his manifesto in support of the artist, The War of Art, calls it “resistance”. I’ve chosen the name “scramble” because it fits with the “blomelet” theme.

You see, one cannot understand “The Scramble” without understanding “the Yolk of To Be”, but a complete understanding of “The Yolk of To Be” is a pre-requisite to grasping “The Scramble”. What’s more, to understand The Scramble (one can only understand how The Scramble works. By definition, the contents of The Scramble cannot be understood – when that happens it’s no longer called The Scramble), is to understand that you are hopelessly ensnared in a dense jungle where all you can talk about is “The Scramble” and eggs with yolks from various periods of your life.

That said, I will now cast off the shackles of The Scramble (Schramkles?) and provide a deeper understanding of… The Scramble *sigh*.

I digress.

Allow me to return to the topic of…

… THE YOLK OF TO BE (Fugue)

I didn’t plan this, but here is the definition of fugue as I use it here – “a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts”. The use of the term “prelude” was the first term that popped into my head that indicated a starting point. Turns out, a prelude is but one component of the multifaceted fugue. I should mention that “fugue” also means “a state or period of loss of awareness of one’s identity, often coupled with flight from one’s usual environment, associated with certain forms of hysteria and epilepsy.”

I digress again (trigress?).

The point is, the more I try to enrich and fortify “The Yolk of To Be”, the more watered down it gets. Should I blog? Should I write a book? Should I work in a library? Should I open a few more tutoring slots this weekend? Should I spend this time working on the costume? To answer in the affirmative to any one option is to muster the ire of those that didn’t get chosen. As a result, whatever I do gets a shoddy rush job so I can get back to what I do best – worrying about what I’m not doing.

For instance, I’m now going to go beat myself up for all the things I missed while spinning this yarn before you. Of course, I’ll have to walk my dog first…

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

How to Make a Blomelet, p. II – “The Yolk of Is”

As a lad, I remember a commercial for the Navy narrated by that sleazy dude from Requiem for a Dream who, having an ample supply of “H”, takes advantage of strung out junkie Jennifer Connelly. Of course, he wouldn’t play this part until well after providing his voice for our nation’s guardians of the sea.

I digress. Anyway, guy with heroin, by way of a recorded message transmitted through wires, satellite dishes, and what have you asked me a profound question. With austere sincerity, he asked “if you wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it?” I can’t say I approach life with a “what would a Navy SEAL do?” mentality. However, I do think that the story of Jarrett is worth telling and worth reading.

That said, the proposed “blomelet” will have at least three eggs – consider this egg (or “suckass post” if you’ll excuse the language) to contain “the yolk of is”, the previous “suckass post” contained “the yolk of was”. The next “suckass post” will have “the yolk of to be”. Within “the yolk of is” you’ll find –

a. A 10-year-old girl

b. A divorce

c. A loyal doggy named Lily

d. (A) Loving parents

e.A 9 to 5 job, if I lived in China

f. (A) balance

Picking up where I left off last week –

Listen, facts a and f were written in my “that said” phase, I edited it a little bit, but there is still a pretty obnoxious infestation of “that said”. Think of it like Picasso’s “blue period” minus the blue paint and the artistic genius. That said, starting with fact b, I will no longer feel obligated to preface all statements with “that said”. I’m certainly not suggesting I won’t use it again, but not nearly to the extent as I have.

a. That said, here is a fact – I’ve a 10-year-old daughter, Quinn has only really known a dad who wobbles when he walks, slurs when he talks and had the coordination of a drunk toddler. She loves me for me, not who I was or who I could someday be.

  1. That said, here’s a supporting fact for a fact – she is more of who I was than I ever imagined. She loves to draw (some of her artwork is displayed below) – And she’s great with words

b. Listen, the fact that I’m divorced is a source of great shame for me. I dread the “marital status” box on forms and surveys, it’s an unsuspecting, unsolicited reminder of what I perceive as my biggest failure. Jessica and I get along just fine. In fact, I’ve information to share one that topic, but it deserves its own subtopic bullet –

  1. That said (What? That one fit right in), here is the aforementioned subtopic:
    • While I expound on this, I’m going to see how MS Word handles a barrage of subtopics
      1. Jessica and I divorced in 2012. Quinn was 4 years old at that timeMy job didn’t pay all my bills and she needed help paying the mortgage (Yes, I left it all on her. Hells yes, I’m often disgusted with myself for doing so).
        1. We both needed help with Quinn
          • In late 2013, Jessica allowed me to move back in for a modest monthly allowance and equal partnership in the rearing of that little girl that keeps calling me “dad” and her “mom”
            1. Our commitment to be the best possible parents for Quinn enabled us to look past our differences

 

  1. Quinn has turned out to be quite a little person – a charming combination of her father’s wit and creativity and her mother’s graceful good looks and steely resolve.
  2. I take Quinn’s ascension to model child as a small consolation for the divorce. To put a spin on the Stephen Stills assertion that “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”, I say – “if you can’t live the life you love, love the life you have”

c. Listen, I have a wiener dog mix, her name is Lily. She has major anxiety about strangers. Why? Time for some vetereudarian (veterinarian+ Freudian) analysis. When Jessica and I separated, Lily became my roommate. A grouchy, misanthropic, adorable squatter whose only functions were to eat, sleep, pee and poop on demand, and most importantly, defend me from the horrors lurking beyond my front window (Read: EVERYTHING with the temerity to traverse the sidewalk outside my door).

  1. Listen, I had a real job at the time, so she was alone during the day. Without me there to assure her that the children riding bikes in the parking lot were not demons ambulating at a terrific speed by means of two wheels. In her mind, they became, demons ambulating at a terrific speed by means of two wheels.
  2. Listen, then Lily and I moved back in with Quinn and Jessica and two other derpy dogs. Lily, having been away for about 4 years, had forgotten the pecking order. At the top is a minpin named “Pauper”. She might be a female, but she is without question the alpha male (alphemale?)
  3. Listen, at the bottom of the pecking order (and quite happy about it) is a chocolate lab named Lucy. Lucy is a gentle, hopelessly optimistic soul. I imagine she would talk like the dog in “Up” and continually say “I don’t know you, but I love you.”
  4. The result has been a dog caught between two fundamentally different personalities that converge to make an incompetent bully. She’s not afraid of big dogs because, in her mind, they’re all gentle giants who love everything, and all other dogs, especially the small ones, have to be shown (from 10’ or more away) what a vicious killer she is.
  5. Her worldview consists of a waify dog trying to steal her food, a ditzy big dog who loves everything and humanoid imps with wheels for legs.
Ultimate Custom Night - FNAF by Quinn Wilson
The imp demons of Lily’s reality?
Ultimate Custom Night, page 2 – FNAF by Quinn Wilson
Actually, this is artwork from my daughter’s pencil – chip off the old block

d. Listen, I have parents. Two of them. I call one “ma” and the other “dad” – except this one time in middle school when I received some award (a major award that I won by mind power). They were with me in the school library for some reception for all the major award winners. Each MAR (Major Award Recipient) had to stand to introduce any guest they brought along. Like most middle schoolers, I wasn’t especially fond of speaking in front of people. So, in my haste to get it over with I pointed to the nearest parent, my dad and said “this is my mom” then I gestured, without actually looking, at my dear mother and called her my dad. Moreover, my younger sister, Chelsey, was in attendance. Poor Chelsey must have been 11 or so and in the midst of a thermonuclear breakout. The acne equivalent of Chernobyl was on her nose (or it could have been her forehead) and there she was, an L7 neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie, totally cramping my style (bowl haircut, tapered Levi’s, a New York Rangers Starter jacket and Fila hi-tops the size of space boots). I think I almost introduced her as “pimple” or “the zit”. I digress. The point is that now, like then, my folks have my back. My mom is my biggest fan. When I put out a blog or update my status on Facebook, my mom is usually the first to comment. When I need direction for a story I’m working on I call my dad and he’s always willing to read, comment and act as a sounding board.

Like me, they’ve also become amateur neurologists, often taking me to the big city for my annual visit with the the clickety-clack tube (MRI) and the neurosurgeon it sends the pictures to. They often help me to remember to all about this tick or that ache. I’d give you an example, but I can’t remember one right now (which is exactly why one of them takes me.)

e. That said, I’ll talk about employment (that segue sucked ass, sorry…).

  1. Listen, I haven’t been employed full time since October of 2015. Throwing modesty aside, I think it’s a testimony to my resourcefulness that I’ve soldiered on this long (not to mention my eternal gratitude to Jessica for putting me up AND putting up with me for ~4 years, and timely financial support from my folks).

Listen, I stumbled upon the online tutoring business two years ago in November. It has enabled me to keep pursuing my calling – teaching, while expanding my horizons and filling me with purpose; all while compensating me handsomely for what I see as my greatest attributes – patience and insight. What’s more, I get to do it from home. My writers mind says there’s “symbology” to be found in the fact that, when I’m out walking my dog, you’ll see me with a bright yellow (I tutor Chinese kids and the occasional adult, yellow is the preferred color of the outfit I work for) polo shirt and mismatched gym shorts.

You see, only the top third of me needs to look professional. My head, shoulders and chest are all the students can see.

Listen, if my understanding of world geography is correct and this whole “earth as a sphere” talk is true, China is on the other side of this shiny blue ball. This means that when it’s sunny here, it’s dark there and vice versa. So 9am to 5pm for them is actually 8pm to 4am for me.

That said (I’m sorry, I just can’t stop), Chinese kids can’t go to school and get English tutoring at the same time, so “peak time” starts at 6pm BJT (Beijing Time. Chinese students often go to school from 7:30 to after 5pm) or 5am Central Standard Time and runs until 9am CST/10pm BJT. I’m not going to go into too much detail at this time about my role on the interwebs peddling the English language like so much “athleisure” (ick! Who comes up with this stuff?) wear. Just know that the hours are odd, the students are driven and I really enjoy it.

f. Listen, there’s this really smart lady named Jill Bolte Taylor, she wrote a novel called “My Stroke of Insight” which is a must-read for anyone who has experienced a stroke or hemorrhage. I am looking at myself from a new perspective and will, no doubt, espouse some of her thoughts in the “blomelet” to come.

  1. That said, she speaks at great length about the push and pull of left and right. I’ve addressed this notion as well, in my groundbreaking series called “Dialectical Menialisms” find them HERE, HERE, and HERE
  2. You see, I take a broader stance on this issue of duality, asserting that everything is compelled or attracted by some external force.
  3. Moreover (I broke the curse!) the duality detailed above can take many shapes/forms – good vs. bad/evil, God vs. Satan, right vs. wrong, fact vs. opinion, Sammy Hagar vs. Diamond Dave, etc.
  4. Check it, we all, everyone, are faced with one choice – how to suffer. When faced with adversity, one can choose to suffer well, that is to take the “high road” or suffer badly, or succumb to hopelessness and turn to vices and addiction, etc.
  5. Listen, that said, if you read my blog once or you’re a follower, if there’s one thing I want you to walk away with, especially from this post onwards is that you can’t choose the hand your dealt in life, you can choose what to do with the hand. Fold? Raise? Call? Maybe I’m the big blind and I must bet. Maybe you thought you were playing blackjack and you told the dealer to hit you.

ALL that said, I’m going to say that this entry is finally done. I still believe that it sucks ass, but I like it. If you read it all the way through, my sincerest and most profound thank you.

 

FIN

 

@JarrettLWilson

 

How to Make a Blomelet: Do Not Add Water

This entry is the first egg in a blog omelet, a “blomelet” if you will. A common phrase in our tempestuous and whimsical (tempestical? Hmmm, not sure about that one) is “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” One typically says this when he/she has to do something unpleasant to achieve some favorable result. In the case of the egg, the egg is broken – this is bad because there’s no going back, that egg is going to get cooked or will need to be thrown out. There’s also a chance for foodborne illness, a sad hen mourning the loss of another unfertilized embryo, and so on. The upshot to all this heartbreak is the savory omelet that will result.

That said, let me be the coiner of a new phrase – “you can’t make a blomelet without writing some suckass posts.”

That said, what you are reading is not the “blomelet”, but rather a suckass post that will serve as a sacrifice to the savory “blomelet”.

That said, I’ll be upfront – I’m out of practice, so this post will suck major ass, I need to shake the dust off. Again I say, you can’t make a blomelet without writing some suckass posts. How many suckass posts does it take to make a blomelet? Beats me.

That said, I will start this suckass post in earnest. Let me start by apologizing for this post and the dearth and sporadic publication of the last few entries. Moreover, I apologize for the lack of topical continuity. Part of the problem was all the squirrels and shiny things that distracted me from the purpose of this blog – to chronicle my “injourney”. To put that into perspective, my last entry was titled “Follower Analysis…and Some Hotdogs” and before that “The New Ramtha: a Short Story by JL Wilson – Read and Vote Please“. The former had to do with gaining my 100th follower, the latter was a short story I entered into a short story contest. Consistent I amn’t (why not? It works and you know it does). There was a time, in the long, long ago that I updated this blog weekly, I want to do AT LEAST that.

That said, this is my pledge to me that, henceforth, I will regularly contribute to this blog and the content will be topically relevant.
That said, I think it’s time for some fun facts, new and old, about Jarrett –

1. That said, here is the first fact – my injourney started about nine years ago when a number of factors, not least of which was a congenital malformation in my brainstem, caused a brain hemorrhage, festooning the Pons portion of my brainstem with blood.

a. That said, here’s a supporting fact for the first fact – much the same as water is toxic to the wicked witch, so blood is to neurons.

b. That said, here is a fact that further explains the first supporting fact of the first fact – how did the witch go so long without touching water? Did she bathe in her own spit or something? Yuck!

c. That said, I digress.

2. That said, here is the second fact – the episode described above with the blood, neurons and malignant female wizards caused a number of issues and disabilities that are still with me today.

3. That said, here is the third fact – I opted to have surgery to remove the cause of the hemorrhage to prevent future eruptions.

4. That said, here is the fourth fact – these two occurrences (the hemorrhage and surgery) have set me upon a lifelong “brain injourney”.

a. That said, here’s a supporting fact for the fourth fact – “brain injourney” is a clever portmanteau of “brain injury” and “journey”.

5. That said, here is the fifth fact – this blog is gluten-free. Eggs don’t contain gluten and neither do suckass blog posts.

a. That said, here is a supporting fact for the fifth fact – seriously, food manufacturers, the “gluten-free” labeling is getting ridiculous. I’ve seen it proudly stamped on a few products that are leagues away from gluten – I can’t remember any right now, but I’ll get back to you. It’s on the order of a peanut butter advertising that it’s “alcohol-free”.

b. That said, here is a fact that further explains the first supporting fact of the fifth fact – Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. Gluten is composed of two proteins, Gliadin, and glutenin. In the presence of water, this rascally duo conspires to form gluten. Gluten is what makes dough “doughy” and elastic. Some unfortunate souls cannot digest gluten properly, causing it to get stuck at various points along the gastrointestinal tract and bio-terrorize from the inside out (excessive gas, upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.).

c. That said, this is the last fact related to gluten, I’ll revisit this at a later date, it is a topic far too big for a few facts.

d. That said, here is a fact that further explains the second supporting fact for the fifth fact and connects it to the first supporting fact of the first fact and thus brings us full circle – water is a menace. It’s out there creating proteins that are indigestible, and cause some to experience gastrointestinal horrors just shy of an alien popping out of the belly. On top of that, it’s mercilessly killing the “wicked” witches (how wicked can one truly be when surrounded by cute little monkeys?) And if M. Night Shyamalamadingdong is to be believed, it’s lethal for space invaders as well.

The Wicked Egg of the Wheat Protein
“How about a little gluten, Scarecrow?”

e. That said, here is a summary of water’s transgressions –

i. It’s potentially harmful to humans
ii. It’s no friend to supernatural beings
iii. It’s a fine howdy-doo to our visitors from the stars. Think of it like having guests from another country and serving them acid to drink

That said, I will wrap this up – Indeed, this entry sucks major ass, and I both love and hate it. Here’s to a scrumptious, gluten-free blomelet! I welcome your comments, they are the little flakes of cheese that will add much-needed flavor to this culinary literature (liculinature?)

That said, the phrase “that said” occurs 23 times in this post (including the previous two)

That said (24), FIN

That said (25), @JarrettLWilson

Follower Analysis…and Some Hotdogs

I wish to talk today about a milestone. My first ENTRY in this blog was July 1st, twenty ought oh nine. On the 30th day of May, twenty ought eighteen, I got my 100th follower. I thought it might be time for some “analytics” as the captains of e-commerce like to say (to me, they’ll always be “statistics”).

The numbers below that you will contemplate shortly after I finish this statement, are a data hotdog – it’s comprised of this and that to form a deliciously fulfilling tube of meaning. The “parts” I’ve so revivified include – time, number of posts and number of followers. Each factor represents an obscure part of an animal that can’t survive cuisinically (why not?) by itself. Like a butcher of information, I will grind these ingredients together, and produce…

Listen, I like this analogy, but I’m ready to get on with the data processing. To that end –

VARIABLE #1 – TIME:
It’s been 8.8 years, or 465 weeks, or 3,255 days, or 78,120 hours since July 1st, 2009. One or all may be used to represent time in my calculations. Therefore, I’ve decided to call any variable dealing with time, “TIME”.

VARIABLE #2 – LABOR:

You are reading my 200th published entry. That is, it wasn’t published at the time of the 100th follower. Therefore, I put in 199 posts worth of toil. Moreover, I estimate my total word count to be in the neighborhood of 85,291, by adding the word counts of every 19th -20th post and averaging it. That average came out to 428.6 words per post.

VARIABLE #3 – FOLLOWERS:
I have 100 loyal readers. That can be construed in many ways – such as 200 pinky toes connected to 100 brains that enjoy stimulating content. Or 93 or so appendices occupying space inside 93 or so of my readers. This assumes that my followers are consistent with the statistic mentioned HERE reporting that 7 percent of the population experiences an appendicitis at some point.

I feel like I’m flagrantly digressing. Getting back to the point – as a function of TIME (t), FOLLOWERS (f) increases at a rate of about 3.1% of a new follower everyday or a new follower every 32 or 33 days. I think of it like earning followers piece by piece, by this time tomorrow I will have earned a foot or perhaps a hand and forearm of some lucky reader.

As a function of LABOR (l), I gain one follower for every 1.99 posts. At a fitting rate of 199/3255 (I move so very slowly) – one post every 16 days.

Using my word count estimate of 85,291 – that’s 100/85,291 or .12% (.1172%) of a follower for every word, or one follower for every 852.91 words.

Application: up to and including HERE, there are 466 words or about 466 x 0.1172% = 0.546152 (55%) of one new follower. In more practical terms, I only need to write ~387 more words or work 83% as hard to gain a complete follower. At my current rate, such a task would take 85,291 words/3,255 days = 26.2 words/day. Three-hundred-eighty-seven (I can’t start a sentence with a number, so unsightly) more words divided by 26.2 words/day = 14.77 days. Thing is, I’ve written 77 more words already and I’m not done, so this post might earn me 1.4 or even (dare I say it?) 1.75 more followers!

In short, (f)=0.001172l, where l=t/0.038163. Thus, assuming everything remains constant, a period of say, 214 days (π x 100) would result in 214 days/0. 038163 = 5,607.526 words, netting me 0.001172 x 5,607.526 = 6 full bodied followers, the torso and part of the hips from another (6.57).

Inferences: like any blogger, one of my goals is to reach as many whole people as possible. Based on the numbers, reaching my next milestone – 1,000 followers, gaining 900 more – would take 29,306.058 days. If there is no change in the time I commit to blogging, that will take about 80 years (29,306.058 days)/ 0. 038163 or 767,918.45 words. In 80 years, I’ll be 117 years old. I’m not going to bet on living that long – I don’t think blogging would be high on my priority list anyway.

Listen, I transposed the 5s and 2 in the number of days figure (3,255 became 3,522). I’ve just spent an afternoon not only correcting those figures but editing the portion above “Application: up to and including HERE, there are 466 words…” so it stayed at 466 words, lest I recalculate the figures. That said, I don’t want to fade this post out gracefully; I’m hungry, I’m just abruptly halting now to go eat…a hotdog sounds good.

—–

One more thing. there are 779 words above the line, this post should snag me 779 x .001172 = .913 or 91% of a new follower. Assuming this individual is a female of average weight (168.5lbs), that’s 153.335lbs of follower. For the average dude, weighing in at 195.7lbs on average, that’s 178.07lbs of flesh that will soon receive an email every time a spin a yarn.

In closing, I’d just like to point out that the numbers listed above, notably the near 800,000 words and ~30,000 days, as big and unwieldy as they seem, are perfectly rational to me. If you’re like me, you feel belittled when some fatcat starts spouting off about Apple being worth 40 kajillion dollars or that Trump paid $17 million for this or that trivial thing. When used in this way, numbers are meaningless – merely a device for the bourgeoisie to show the proletariat how high they can count. I don’t see the numbers in this post as numbers, but as little pebbles I can collect to someday make a mountain of meaning. Won’t you be one of my pebbles?

Webp.net-gifmaker

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

“The New Ramtha” – a Short Story by JL Wilson – read and vote (please!)

“THE WAIT IS OVER! You may now read the short story People Mag calls “a story by JL Wilson” & EW raves “has characters & a story”

After you read my story  (below) and recover from how awesome it is, go here – https://shortfictionbreak.com/spring-18/ scroll to the bottom and click on the green “blah blah blah VOTE blah blah” button (I forgot what it said, the important stuff= it’s green and it has the word “vote” on it). Drop the tick box thing down and scroll to the very bottom and vote for “The New Ramtha” by J.L. Wilson (fancy huh?). Next, share this and tell your friends to vote for my story.

 

 

“You’ve captured me,” the oversized sleeves of his purple robe billowed as he spread his arms and presented himself to a waifish youth pacing the floor opposite. “What now?” he asked, bemused.

The youth muttered incoherently and upped the tempo of his pacing. His mind was a tempest of doubt and insecurity. What now The words bounced around the inside of the young man’s head, his head ached from all the intrigue.

“Oh, I see…” the robed man put up a long, grey finger. “…you didn’t expect to get this far.” The taut ashen skin on his face became a landscape of sharp hills and furrows as a sinister smile transformed his face. He risked a few chuckles; enough to patronize, but not incense his captors.

The youth abruptly halted. His head snapped to face the old man. “Even now, the Ramtha, the murderous tyrant, bane of the people, laughs? You laugh knowing that I can have you killed where you stand?” The deep, penetrating baritone voice belonged to an adolescent boy in the throes of puberty.

The old man cackled exuberantly.

At length, he composed himself and in a velvety smooth voice said, “If you were standing where I am standing, which someday, you probably will, you’d laugh too, dear boy.” His eyes flashed knowingly as he spoke.

The young man clenched a fist and lunged at the Ramtha. The moment his fist would have connected with the man’s greying temple, he pulled up short.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t order your death right now?” asked the lanky young man harshly.

The Ramtha, unfazed by the sudden maneuver, calmly replied “If you wish to take my place as ruler of Lemuria, you’ll need more tactful methods of enforcement than a gang of thugs.” he gestured to the cadre of soldiers around the room.

“Ruler of Lemuria?” muttered the youth, perplexed. “How…” he trailed off, stifled by another effervescent display.

The Ramtha recovered from his latest outburst. He placed his hands on the youth’s shoulders and bored an austere gaze into the young, naïve eyes.

“Kareb? May I call you Kareb?”

Kareb nodded.

The man leaned into Kareb’s ear, causing a few of the soldiers present to produce pistols and lurch anxiously.

“I fear one of your men might make a grievous mistake, shaky as they are, and we have some high-minded talk they need not be privy to.” he whispered.

Kareb pulled back from the grey head and stared intently into its dark eyes, looking for deceit.

After a long moment, Kareb raised his arms, palms down and signaled the men to stand down and said they needn’t be concerned – the old man was harmless without a unit of his legion behind him.

Reluctantly, the men stowed their weapons and exited. All except one. Gerald, a childhood playmate of Kareb’s, still had his pistol leveled at the old man. Visibly shaking and breathing rapidly, he plainly was no warrior.

Still, he was gripped by a courage rooted in a life of downtrodden poverty and abject abuse at the hands of the Ramtha’s regime.

Kareb held out a hand gloved in the same hide leather of his tunic and kilt. “It’s fine, Gerald. I’ll be fine. Join the others.”

Gerald stood for a long moment, “You sure? Remember Olaf’s?” His voice trembled with a volatile mixture of fear, repressed fury, and teenage angst.

“Definitely, my friend. He will gain nothing by killing me, where will he go? We have this entire complex.”

The Ramtha faced Gerald, “Heed your friend, boy. You’ve done well to get him this far, but only he can continue…”

Gerald spat on the floor and left the office without lowering his weapon or looking away from the Ramtha.

The door shut, they were alone.

The Ramtha put his hands behind his back and started to amble around the room. “Well, here we are. Rather, here YOU are…”

“I don’t want a recap. I want answers.” Blurted Kareb forcefully.

The Ramtha stopped, “Answers? What questions?” he queried.

“What did you mean by I’d someday stand where you are standing?”

The Ramtha turned to face Kareb, his face scrunched with suspicious curiosity. “You really don’t know?”

Kareb stared blankly.

“YEE!” The Ramtha stomped a foot and clapped enthusiastically. “I had my doubts about the boys at the Bureau of History and Enli…”

“Know what?” asked Kareb.

“…ghtenment. But Heinrich’s Jugend Programm has…”

“KNOW WHAT, DAMMIT?” Kareb snapped, his furious eyes burned into the Ramtha.

A baleful smile returned to the Ramtha’s face.

He ambled back to Kareb.

“You’ve got a fire burning inside you, m’boy. It’s critical that you learn what I’m about to tell you at this point in your ascension…” he trailed off leadingly.

“Ascension?”

“You can’t be this clueless and be the leader the people need, lad.” said the Ramtha.

“I once stood where you now stand, having the same conversation with the then Ramtha…”

“… the then Ramtha? But you…”

“… are the eleventh Ramtha since Ramtha emerged 300 years ago.” the Ramtha interjected.

Incredulous, Kareb’s eyes narrowed at the Ramtha, trying to pierce the smokescreen of the old man’s body to his soul to find truth.

“I’m A Ramtha, THE Ramtha is a concept fed to the populous. The Ramtha is not a man, it’s an office; a grand part played on a rotting stage in a melancholy production.

“Don’t you see? Lemurians can’t rule themselves. The revolution occurs when a new Ramtha takes control – the people won’t know and they don’t need to. As far as they know, the Ramtha is divine, an immortal god king. They simply can’t know the truth.

“The results of past attempted coups were disastrous. Lemuria was a wasteland ravaged by war before the Ramtha.

“You have two choices. You can remain the proud messiah, free Lemuria from the tyranny of the Ramtha; then watch Lemuria destroy itself, or take up the mantle of the Ramtha and guide Lemuria into the future. Therefore, you’ll need me alive, to serve as an advisor.”

Kareb stared at the Ramtha in disbelief as he struggled to rebuild a shattered worldview. Kareb clamped his eyes shut and went to that horrible night at Olaf’s bistro. Five inquisitors from the Bureau of History and Enlightenment broke into the Olaf’s, a local haunt for the youth in Kareb’s small borough, to thwart a “rebel co-op”, it was really a welcome home party . Kareb knew this because Gerald’s sister was there, the gathering was for her and her newborn daughter, Gerald’s niece. All present were beaten and the women raped, then flayed and burned alive. Is that the price for our security? The thought made him shudder.

The Ramtha continued, “You are here to play your part in this production, now you must choose – be the savior who destroys the world or the tyrant who saves it.”

The office door creaked open. Gerald entered, “Excuse me, I left my…”. By this time, he was arm’s length from the Ramtha. In one fluid movement he halted. He withdrew his gun and shot the Ramtha in the head. The Ramtha’s body crumpled to the ground, the stump that was his head gushed blood.

Kareb lurched back, face twisted in shocked disbelief.

“Whuh…???” was all that Kareb could say.

He watched as Gerald scurried haphazardly across the room to the desk and snatch up a fountain pen. Then, without looking up, he hurled himself at Kareb and buried the pen in Kareb’s neck.

Attempting to speak, Kareb could only gurgle through the blood in his throat.

He fell to his knees, blood covered the left half of his body, pooled on the marble floor. “I heard everything.”

Gerald, his voice starting to crack, held his friend under the arms so he didn’t topple. He looked down at him, “I won’t live through another Ramtha, even if he is my closest friend.” His eyes welled up with tears. “You were wavering, so I’ve decided for you.” Gerald’s lower lip began to quiver. “Remember when we were kids? After weeks of planning we were going to get back at Sigurd and his thugs on the playground? One look at him and you turned white and walked away. Like then, you’re turning white. Take heart, friend. Your death will redeem us all.”

He put a finger on his com, and in a panicked voice yelled, “COME QUICKLY! BRING A MEDIC! The Ramtha stabbed Kareb with his fountain pen. PLEASE HURRY! HE’S FADING FAST!” —

Gerald looked upon the bloody mess that was his best friend; stared tearfully at his glassy, lifeless green eyes and closed them for the last time while What now? What now? What now? reverberated inside his head.

Social Dysfunction and Mass Shooting

For the content below, I reference THIS post.

I’m not sure why I thought that data collection for this project would be a walk in the park, but the more information I gather, the more I realize that I have even more to gather. Let’s say I start researching how a shooter got his guns (of the 10 or so shootings I’ve researched on that parameter, 100% of the firearms were obtained legally, with a majority doing so despite a record that should have prevented the sale).

 

Big digression, sorry. I’ll start looking for how they got guns and see something about exposure to domestic violence. Then I’ll remember a blurb about so and so watching his mom get beat up, so I’ll add that variable.

 

All told, this dataset contains 20 (as I count them) variables, including –

three demographic measures (it’s been a while since grad school – some of these might not belong to “demographics”). These are the “invariable variables” – the shooter was stuck with these upon being born –

  • Location (state)
  • Date of birth
  • Race

 

Six components that the shooter had some control of –

  • Specific location of shooting
  • Date of shooting/age
  • Graduation date
  • Death toll
  • Injured toll
  • Status of shooter (suicide, KIA, or captured)

 

Three variables of what I will call “life experience”

  • Military status
  • Relationship with the father
  • Exposure to domestic violence

 

Seven dealing with guns

  • Shooter use of AR-15
  • Shooter use of an automatic weapon
  • Shooter use of handguns
  • Shooter use of other semi-automatic
  • Any other weapons
  • Total number of weapons
  • Legality of gun acquisition.

Diagnosed and/or suspected mental and social disorders.

I’m jumping the gun here when I report that, of seven of the more recent shootings, at least four had either been diagnosed or been suspected of having some disorder on the autism spectrum (including Asperger’s). Compare that to one out of every 68 kids in the US are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My methods and results are far from conclusive, but warrant a closer look, in my opinion. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that individuals with autism are inherently violent; merely that, as a social disorder, higher functioning individuals on the spectrum may lack the social coping mechanisms of the typical person, yet they are exposed to the same reality of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other perversions of social norms that the rest of us must face. More than the disorder itself is the treatment, or rather lack thereof. A study released in 2016 by the CDC “shows that, overall, less than half the children identified with autism (43 percent) had received comprehensive developmental evaluations by age 3.” In effect, it’s the lack of intervention that is to blame, not the disorder itself.

 

Ok, that was a big digression, please forgive me.

 

Another common factor that became apparent was military status – of the nine of the more recent shootings, four of the shooters were either active, discharged or interested in joining a branch of the military. Again, this figure is far above the national average of 0.4% or roughly 1 out of 250 people…

 

I have to stop myself now. I’m drawing conclusions from an incomplete dataset of a handful of cases. In the statistical world, that’s a sin.

In any case, I think there is evidence that this issue is far more complex than simply restricting access to guns.

This should not suggest that we should abandon the effort to better control guns. Access to guns gives the crazy inside these individuals form and direction.

I hope to have a more complete dataset soon and will report back with more conclusive observations. Stay tuned…

One more thing – You may not have heard about it, but on Tuesday 3/20 a Maryland student tried to shoot up his high school. He was thwarted by the School’s resource officer – I feel he should be mentioned by name and marked as a hero – Blaine Gaskill was reportedly facing the shooter within seconds of the first shot. Thanks to his prompt response, the shooter only fired on two individuals – Desmond Barnes was shot in the thigh and has been released from the hospital. Jaelyn Willey was shot in the head, rendering her brain dead. She was pulled off life support and died Thursday 3/22. My condolences to her family and friends…

273irg

I was initially incensed by the lack of media coverage, thinking there just weren’t enough dead school children to make headlines. Then I decided that it was a good thing. No doubt the shooter in Maryland was inspired by the Florida shooter, who was inspired by another school shooting and so on. By not sensationalizing it, perhaps we’ll get a reprieve from the bloodshed. There’s an idea media, don’t have a “breaking news” orgasm and ejaculate sensational information every time there’s a shooting. Just a thought…

 

FIN

 

@JarrettLWilson

 

The Second Amendment and the Freedom from Fear

Peep this here, internet. A nice gentleman at the Stonehenge Corner responded to my post about snowflake syndrome and the second amendment.

His opinion, notably on gun control, runs counter to my own.
Instead of resulting in strife and foul language, we’ve approached one another amicably, with a genuine desire to find out what’s behind all this violence.
I think that we’ve arrived at a satisfactory alternative to guns as the root cause – a cause that I will be delving into in greater detail on my next post. The issue I speak of is fatherlessness. To find out how we arrived at this middle ground, you’ll want to read my original post linked above, his response – which I’ve reblogged here and our commentary on his blog.
Please feel free, nay compelled, to comment with constructive suggestions and opinions – agree or disagree. Be part of a solution. You are but one voice, but together we are an ear-splitting din.

Happy reading!

The Stonehenge Corner

bill-of-rights

The attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkville, Florida, by former student, Nikolas Cruz, has generated much anger, bitterness and arguing. In the nineteen days since the shooting, Florida has banned AR-15 rifles, only to rescind that legislation fifteen minutes later; survivor David Hogg has become a media star and the new face for gun control; and, according to a new survey, the solid majority of people who make up the Left in America, want to ban guns—not just AR-15s but other rifles and handguns as well.

I wrote last time that tragedies like Parkland become the nuclei of what has become the cyclical gun debate between the political divide when other questions, such as fatherlessness, would be more important debates to have. But, as I also admitted, (paraphrasing Samuel Johnson) people do not so much need to be taught new things as reminded of things and…

View original post 1,804 more words

Mass Shooter Profiles

As reported LAST WEEK, I’ve started to compile a database of mass shooter profiles.

I didn’t get near as much done as I would’ve liked. All the same, I’m going to publish my labors up to now.

I haven’t collected all the data that I’d like to and, as a result, I haven’t started running basic statistics (frequency tables, etc.) But, there are a few curious trends I’m picking up on.

Firstly, I’m using the top 20 shootings listed HERE as a starting point. Wikipedia has a similar page, but every fact is linked to a more credible reference. During my initial sweep, I didn’t take note of how many guns the shooter had or the category of the weapon(s). I will continue to add –

  1. Gun data
  2. More specific notes about the shooter – including analyzing background. The words “autism”, “Asperger’s”, “loner” and “bullied” are mentioned frequently – I’d like better numbers on that stuff for each shooter
  3. More shootings. I’ve decided to go beyond NCLB, but not rule it out as a key factor in our troubled times.
    1. NCLB era shooters can be isolated from the rest of the shooters to see if they possess some unique characteristic that might point more definitively to issues caused by the parameters of NCLB

A few curious coincidences (curioundences?) I’ve found are –

  1. The prevalence of social development disorders, like autism spectrum disorder mentioned above, and
  2. The desire to enlist or successfully joining a branch of the armed forces.

All that said, here is the table that I’ve labored to produce. Again, it’s not finished, with the way things are going it’ll probably never be finished, unfortunately. If there are any variables you feel should be included, please leave a comment.

Uhh, I dont’ know why, but despite all my effort to get the data into an embedded spreadsheet, it defaults to the bottom. Scroll up a ways to see the content.

No Culture Left Behind

I’ve a third component for my list of agitators resulting in school violence, read about the first two HERE. I’ve pontificated HERE on the dog and pony show that is standardized testing. The third element in this trinity, along with 1. The second amendment(al), and 2. “Snowflake Syndrome” (we’re all part of the same compost heap), is the education system itself.

 

I’ll start with a picture –

Snap 2018-03-03 at 19.06.44
*http://healthycures.org/everything-rigged-medicine-elections-food-media-living-fabricated-fairy-tale

This image doesn’t reflect the myriad of technological changes in education, which is the point. I wouldn’t be out of line if I say that learning modalities and the tools to cater to those modalities are vastly different. In a manner of speaking, it’s like trying to upload rotary phone firmware (insofar as it has firmware) onto iPhones using a coaxial cable.

 

That is to say, the content is outdated and the transmission medium is incompatible with the hardware.

 

What should we do? Give the kids more tests and give the teachers guns!

 

I think it’s time for some fun facts about standardized testing –

 

Listen, I don’t have access to fancy databases like I did in college. I know what I’m looking for, but JSTOR or Ebsco Google Scholar is not. That being the case, the information contained here is a curious mix of stuff I go looking for and what Google allows me to have. In this case, I would’ve liked an article from a longitudinal research study based on data from a tidy sample of a few thousand students from all grades across the country (notably high schoolers and people who were in HS during the NCLB transition from 2003-2007). I actually did find something like this, but I found myself more concerned with figuring out how NCLB SOOO left children behind.

 

Allow me to digress briefly – among educators, NCLB is a four letter word (… you know what I mean).

 

Briefly, it turned teachers into robot bureaucrat prostitutes (hereafter referred to as “robureaucrutes”) whose primary functions are to submit a form for just about everything that happens in the classroom or during school hours and turn their tricks (teach) to tests whose validity and reliability are questioned to this very day. In exchange, they are given a pittance.

 

By its title, we are to conclude that no child will be “left behind”. There isn’t a “No robureaucrutes (Teachers) Left Behind” bill.

 

Indeed, I am one of those lost souls, but that is a horse of a different color – I will digress no more.

 

In fact, I’m at a good place to relate it to our troubled times. If NCLB can be said to have one lasting impact on public education, it’s unrest. Students are nervous that, despite high grades, they’ll perform poorly on the state exam, and potentially get held back, or denied entry into a desired academic program – be it college or maybe a HS AP class.

 

Meanwhile, the robureaucrutes are scared they’ll lose their jobs if their students’ scores don’t cut the mustard.

 

That’s okay, these rigorous assessments hold every child to a high, transparent achievement standard, right?

 

If by “rigorous” you mean hard on minority groups, the answer is yes. We know this because, in many cases, test scores have stagnated and the achievement gap has widened.

 

For example, according to THIS ARTICLE, math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP (a standardized assessment of student achievement in a variety of subjects – scores are reported by demographic group, race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status), shows both a widening achievement gap between minority students and white student and diminishing returns in both math and reading in grades four and eight.

 

Much time and resources go into teaching strategies that target minority students.

 

But all the shooters have been white dudes, right? I can only speculate that white students feel marginalized by an increased emphasis on closing the achievement gap.

 

Another theory – school staff are so busy with minority groups that they don’t notice the warning signs.

 

NOTE: I AM IN NO WAY PROPOSING THAT AN EMPHASIS ON MINORITY EDUCATION IS BAD. MERELY THAT A POTENTIAL UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECT IS THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF WHITE STUDENTS.

 

More to the point, I am pointing out that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Assuming this is true, we can expect school officials to start scrutinizing the metrics of their white male students, to the detriment of minority groups.

 

Thus the cycle of extinguishing the fires of the American public education system continues.

 

What about the tests themselves? THIS ARTICLE says students spend 20-25 hours each school year taking a test. This amounts to “about 2.3 percent of classroom time for the average eighth grader.”

 

This may not sound like a lot until you consider the hours upon hours of test prep. Put another way, teachers are forced to forgo more useful skills – say, coming up with a simple monthly budget or reading and writing cursive to have more time to “teach to the test”.

 

Concerning the former, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) contains a “financial literacy” component that purports to measure –

knowledge and understanding of financial concepts and risks, and the skills, motivation and confidence to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make effective decisions across a range of financial contexts, to improve the financial well-being of individuals and society, and to enable participation in economic life.

I tell you what, dear readers, in my ~12 years in education, this is the finest example of educationese I’ve come across – it lithely straddles the hair thin line between ingenuously vague and technically obnoxious. It’s verbose – pregnant with buzzwords (“effective”, “knowledge”, “skills”, etc.) to show the reader how important it is, but it doesn’t state any concrete or measurable parameters. Fear not, dear reader, I’ve waded through the mire of needlessly grandiose *ahem* verbiage contained in the PISA supporting documentation to give you a clearer idea of what 22% (roughly one in five) of our nation’s youth don’t understand.

Here’s the gist – “financial literacy” as defined on the PISA includes an understanding of –

  • Insurance policies
  • Pensions
  • Budgeting for “household goods and personal items”
  • Bank accounts
  • Inflation
  • Interest
  • Accessing financial information
  • How to calculate a percentage
  • Currency conversion

There is quite a bit more, find it HERE if you’d like some stimulating reading while on the toilet or some such situation.

It is long time for me to get to the point. In short, the focus on testing has pulled the rug out from under the culture of our education system. Education doesn’t serve students anymore, it serves itself. The result has been the neglect of students who feel lost. They’re given little direction beyond always having a #2 pencil and filling in the right bubble – this is not a life skill. Imagine your outlook on life if you suddenly discover that the “real world” is a place where you have to manage your own money, but you have no money because “bubbling with extreme care and meticulous detail” is not counted as a worthy skill.

While writing this, quite a few ideas poured into my skull related to this issue. Firstly, are testing companies, like ETS and Pearson, pulling strings at the US DoE? Seems to me that a company that has made a name for itself through standardized testing would go to great lengths to make sure the government continues to mandate tests.

 

Also, I’ve posted a few times about peddling the English language like so many products at your local convenience store (HERE and HERE if you’re still on the toilet or like to read great writing). I teach English to Chinese kids online. In a recent conversation with an older (age 16), nearly fluent student (fludent?) the issue of school shootings came up. He likes to talk about lofty, philosophical stuff so he perked right up. I asked him, with an education system far more strict and intrusive than ours, why weren’t they having trouble with guns. He thought about it, and he answered it jokingly, but it was more profound than he realized. He joked that they do shoot each other with guns…water guns.

 

Then I jested that I hope he didn’t melt, as per Isaac Asimov’s “Rain, Rain Go Away” and that led to a discussion about how the commoners of today are the sugar people and the government is rain… it was way philosophical.

 

The profundity comes from the idea that he would find humor in the very idea of someone shooting up a school in China. I’m not suggesting that education is without dysfunction in China, but that is another horse of a new hue…

 

For a third time, I’ve wandered away from my thesis – “trigression” to be sure.

 

I’ve produced a flow chart summarizing my stance –

 

As I was producing this graphic, I investigated mass shootings and found that many are not in a school. However, most were perpetrated by a white male who was school age when NCLB took hold – this is a broad generalization I know – I think I’ll look at the shooters themselves next time to get an idea of their school lives.

WORKS CITED

 

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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