About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Boren and Bloomberg Meeting at OU

University of Oklahoma President David Boren

University of Oklahoma President David Boren is hosting a bipartisan political meeting that includes former Democratic U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, former Republican Senator Bill Brock, and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The expressed purpose is to "challenge" the present presidential candidates of both parties "to foucs on serious issues" and talk about "national unity" (Greiner The Oklahman 12/31/07).

Bloomberg has been touted as a possible independent candidate for president although Boren has denied that this is an attempt to launch Bloomberg or anyone else (such as himself) into the presidential race. Yeah, right.

Forgive me, but there is something very Passive/Agressive about this whole arrangement. "You'd better start behaving, or you're gonna make me run for president." It seems that Bloomberg wants to claim that he was forced into running for the nation's highest office to save the country from it's politicians. Since he is a politician, I hardly see how he can claim any particular virtue over the rest in the field. As far as I can tell, New York City is hardly a haven for political harmony.

Just what assurances would Boren and the rest want from the current presidential candidates? Every politician, including the highly divisive figurehead we have in the White House now claims that s/he is a "Uniter" and the only reason we don't have more unity in this country is because certain "special interests" just don't get the message.

Third party cannidates seldom do much good in a race. Usually, they end up denying the country the opportunity to have a majority candidate who can at least have some kind of a mandate to lead the country. Thus it was with Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party, on to George Wallace, Ross Perot, and, most of all, Ralph Nader.

We have an opportunity to have a true majority candidate in this election. I hope s/he is a Democrat. But what we don't need is someone like Boren, Bloomberg, et al to muddy up the electorate's decision.

Will a new candidate emerge at OU?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Clothes Knows

Global Warming

Despite the harsh weather we have had it has not gotten all that cold this year so far. We have had a week lost at school this year and last year. I wonder if we are going to have to get used to this.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

OKC Schedules NBA Vote

NBA Logo

On March 4th, voters in Oklahoma City are set to vote on extending a "temporary" one cent sales tax. The sales tax was approved by voters to fund the highly successful MAPS project that revitalized downtown. Part of that process was used to build the Ford Center which housed the New Orleans Hornets for two years when that team was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The hope is that a Yes vote will convince the NBA that OKC is a legitimate location for an NBA franchise. Clay Bennett, the owner of the Seattle Supersonics and the WNBA team Seattle Storm, wants to bring the Sonics to OKC. Bennett, who heads a group of local investors in the Sonics, will make his proposal to the NBA owners group in April, a month after the vote.

Personally, I am ambiguous, but mostly in favor of this proposal. I do not like the fact that Clay, a rich man with deep ties to right wing politics, wants the citizens to build a facility for him so he can make more money. Here is someone who believes that government should leave his business affairs alone wanting the government to provide a home for his business. This is nothing but Corporate Welfare.

However, I also know that having an major league franchise would provide a big psychologial boost to the city and the state. Oklahoma has long had an inferiority complex. We have no major tourist destinations sites (possibly excepting Rt. 66). We had the experience of the Dust Bowl which still identifies us to some degree. Having an NBA team would to some degree put us on par with other major cities in America.

Besides, this, I feel that a legitimate role for government is to provide for the general welfare. Having an NBA team won't solve our problems of poverty, poor health statistics, and dysfunctional social services. At best, it will be a cosmetic improvement, but one should not discount entirely how much putting on makeup and new clothes improve how one looks and feels. In some cases, it can even make a body do something that goes beyond the dressings.

George Lynn Cross, president of the University of Oklahoma during the Bud Wilkinson era, was famous for saying that he wanted to create a "university his football team could be proud of". If we feel we can accomplish something as noteworthy as attracting a permanent NBA franchise, then we may also feel we can accomplish real change in how we live and act as Oklahomans.

I cannot vote for this since technically I live in The Village, a separate town within OKC, but I hope those who can will pass this proposal on March 4th.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Tween Days

Right now Cat and I are in what I call the "Tween Days" of our annual winter break. These are the days between Christmas and New Years. We have a few days before Christmas and after New Years before we report back to school (this year January 4th for us and January 7th for our students).

I never quite know what to do with these days. Should I be trying to do all the stuff around the house that I've been putting off like clean out the junk room? Should I be preparing my lesson plans for the coming semester? Should I try to read that book I've been meaning to read since the Clinton administration? Should I try to prepare for the upcoming election year? After all, the Oklahoma presidential primary is coming up February 5th. Or should I just "veg out" and recover from the stress of what has been a very disrupted semester?

Usually I try to do a combination of everything which, as a result, means that I go back to school really not feeling as if I got what I needed out of the break. Oh well, I do the best I know how to do.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My brother Rick.

by Rick Green
Above is one of the many cartoons my brother has drawn for his blog "Organized Doodles". You ought to visit it because he's really talented. Just don't tell him I said so. BTW, despite the obvious political message of this print, my Rick is definately "right of center" on social issues. I'm doing my best to show him the light of justice in economic matters though.

The Green Flame

Green Flame
I have a site meter which keeps account of the one or two people who visit my blog each day. The number one search tag used to get to the blog has something to do with making a green flame. Actually, I don't really know much about this, sorry. I do know that if you are doing a flame test on a substance and you get a green flame, you probably have barium in it. Here are some pictures of a green flame just to keep you happy. Enjoy the rest of my blog while you are at it.
Green FlameGreen Flame again

A Few Pictures from My Christmas

Cat with her son John, his wife Stephanie, and their children Skylar and Devin
My niece Serenity
Cat and our nephew Tristan
My granddaughter Skyler

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Eye Operation

Detached Retina
I haven't posted in nearly 6 months. Part of the problem has been the fact that, for a while, I was facing the prospect of going blind due to a detached retina. Back in August, I had an operation to deal with cataracts in my left eye. Some days after the operation, I noticed that I was having trouble seeing out of the that eye. I called the surgeon who performed the operation, and he said that it likely was some "floaters" caused by the operation which would settle down eventually.

However, what I was seeing never "settled" and in fact, grew to block about half the vision in that eye. Then I noticed that my right eye was getting worse. It looked as though I was looking out of a dirty window pane. Then I couldn't see out of it altogether. I called the doctor again, and he told me to get in to see him right away. He took one look and my eye and exclaimed, "Wow!" This is not the sort of thing you want to hear from your doctor during an exam. Then he told me that I had detached retinas in both eyes. He sent me on to a retina specialist.

The specialist, Dr. Lawrence, confirmed the diagnosis. He told me that my right eye's retina was completely detached and the left eye was partially detached. "That's something fairly rare," he explained. "Sometimes patients will come in with one detachment and the other getting ready to detach, but seldom do I see both retinas affecting vision in both eyes at the same time."

He scheduled me for surgery the next day to reattach the left eye first using a scleral buckle procedure. This operation involves the placement of a silicone rubber band around the eye together with wider pieces of material positioned to close the hole in the retina which is caused when the retina detaches. That night after the operation, I spent throwing up into a bucket my wife kept by my side. I was completely blind since I didn't any vision in my right eye. The next day when the bandages came off I could seek, very blurry shapes, but I could see. I was reminded of the blind man in the Gospels who said he saw "men looking like tree walking."

The next operation was on the right eye. In addition to the buckle, the doctor used a procedure called pneumatic retinopexy which involves the injection of air or gas into the eye to help seal the hole in the back of my eye. Once again, I spent a night throwing up, but I also had to spend several nights sitting up in a chair. Cat and I arranged to have a chair wedged in a corner with pillows around me so I could at least lean to one side and get some rest.

The doctor thought I would have to spend 3 months at home, but I only had to be there 3 weeks. Thank the Lord for a good union contract that gave me the sick leave time to do this without loss of salary. During that time I couldn't read anything. I could, however, watch all the television I wanted to watch. Thank God for The History Channel and recorded books.

Since then, I have had to go through a time of wearing a patch on my right eye (just in time for "Talk Like a Pirate Day"!). And a time of sleeping on my stomach to let the air bubble press on the back of my eye. I had my last check up on Dec. 11th. Dr. Lawrence was very happy with my progress. He told me that 20 years ago, I would have had to accept blindness as my fate. He believes that my condition was caused by the fact that I was extremely near sighted for a long period of time. (I know that at one time, my vision was 20-200.) Myopia is caused by an elongated eye ball, and this acts like an balloon overfilled with water. At some point, the balloon begins to tear and this causes the retina to tear.

I am thankful for Dr. Lawrence and his excellent staff at Retinal Associates of Oklahoma. Vision is a precious gift, and they have given me a great Christmas present.