Taking Note of a Few Things: The Back-to-School Edition

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Now that college athletes are getting paid, I find it hilarious to read complaints about how it has destroyed college athletics. In a matter of a few years, it has resulted in the formation of super conferences which have eradicated college tradition and rivalries all in the name of increased revenue for Universities. The reason I find it funny is the fans who seem to complain the loudest are the same ones who complained that college athletes were not being treated fairly and deserved to be paid.

Whenever a group demands massive change, they seem shocked after it happens to find out the snowballing effect it has. In college sports, kids are getting paid as they deserve to, and universities are raking in more money than before. Nothing has changed. If you look at the money universities are making now, college athletes are still underpaid. We just seem to focus on the few who make a lot of money playing college ball, but the average athlete is still getting screwed financially while their coach receives a huge pay raise and more power to get rid of players he no longer wants.

Any group that screams loudest will eventually cannibalize itself when it gets what it wants because once they have destroyed their competition, they have no one else but themselves to turn on. I say this because what has happened in college sports is the same thing that will happen to MAGA followers should they ever get their hands on all the power they want. Once they defeat the Democrats, LGBTQ, planned parenthood, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and all the woke groups they can name, does anyone really believe they will retire to a life in their recliners and marvel at their accomplishments?

Perhaps there is no better analogy than to look at your local middle school or high school campus group of mean girls. All they do is attack any pretenders and whittle their group down to a final select few before it inevitably implodes and keeps the counselor’s office busy putting out the ensuing fires. MAGA wants to be the mean girls of America, the NCAA wants to be the mean girls of college athletics, and when you get as old as I am, HOA’s become the mean girls of the neighborhood. I can’t think of one good reason to join any of these groups.

I retired from teaching in 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago. The funny thing is, whenever I go into a store and see a back-to-school sale going on, I instinctively stop to buy more paper, pens, and colorful paper clips.

Every now and then, I reach into my car and hand someone in need my change cup. By the time I do, it must have twenty bucks in change. The other day, I was waiting in a very sketchy liquor store parking lot to meet with someone regarding a Craigslist purchase when some poor guy came up and asked me for a dollar. I handed him my cup and off he went. I could have yelled at him or ignored him, but something told me he was sincere with needing help. A few minutes later, he walked by me with another person who was showing him the wire he collected to cash in for money. As he passed me, he was holding that cup with both hands when he looked at me, held it up and nodded my way. He was indeed thankful which in turn made me feel good inside.

A few minutes later, I meet a very pregnant woman who is trying to sell off her collection of things she has decided she needs to get rid of to make room for her fourth child which is due in a month. She also had a one-, three- and seven-year-old and a tiny two-bedroom apartment. The woman was beaming with a wide smile and not complaining about how difficult life was given her and her husband’s circumstances. Her kids were smiling and laughing as well. When I saw the item that I inquired about and noticed what great shape it was in, I did not have the heart to try and talk her down. I paid her the full asking price.

I never would have paid the full asking price if I had told the guy at the liquor store parking lot to get lost. He would have just put me in a foul mood and changed my entire mindset when I met the pregnant woman with the litter of kids. Instead, the guy in the lot got what he needed, the pregnant woman got what she needed, and hopefully I got what I needed. Life doesn’t have to be complicated.

Tomorrow, the USWNT takes on Sweden in an elimination game. If ever there was a team that reflected the fair-weather attitude of American fans, this is it. Great world cup teams have eight-year windows, enough for two World Cup tournaments. Our women are attempting to be the first national soccer squad, male or female, to win three straight World Cup titles. Thanks to injuries and a changing of the guard, it’s not likely to happen and fans have turned on our women. The working media and social media have made this squad seem as if they are a national embarrassment, failing to grasp that they have already exceeded most anything ever accomplished by our men.*

And just so you know, our men’s national basketball team, handpicked for the upcoming FIBA World Championships, is ranked second in the world. That’s right, they are number two behind Spain, despite having a roster of NBA stars. Not only are we not tops in the world right now, but our squad also lost its first two scrimmages against teams of players NOT selected to represent our country. And yet, no outrage or personal attacks. I guess having a penis helps athletes ward off criticism from the media.

Now you know, “Tusk” is a song about Penises.

Stanford University may have a band that puts on questionable halftime shows and Cal’s band may run onto the field before the last play of the game is over, but only USC can lay claim to a song that is played at every football game that is about a man’s genitalia (there I go again, I got genitalia into my writing).

I won, I won! It took just a month for me to defeat Covered California, but I did, thanks to my bank’s help. On July 1st, I began Medicare coverage and no longer needed my coverage from Covered California. In late June, I went online to cancel my CC insurance and their site clearly stated not to drop my coverage until the date my Medicare began. On the first of July, when I began Medicare, I attempted to cancel my Covered California only to be told I had to do it before the first of the month. I attempted to call later that day, a Friday, only to be told their offices were closed and to call back on Monday. I immediately called my bank, told them the situation, and they agreed to cancel the automatic payment.

On Monday, the CC message machine informed me they were closed for the fourth of July holiday and to call back. On July 5th, I finally spoke to a human who said there was nothing that could be done and that it was my fault for not calling sooner. I explained how I tried only to be told I should have called before July 1st. I reminded her there was nothing on their website instructing me to call, and that in fact I followed their link to do it online.


The next day, I called again and received the same song and dance before demanding to speak to a supervisor. This stumped the voice on the other end before I was informed there is no supervisor to talk to. I then explained the economic advantage for the state to waive my fee and cancel my insurance as of July 1st because they were going to be on the hook for my cancer surgery and the months of recovery (ok, I lied about the extent of it, but I figure I should get something positive out of a cancer diagnosis). No luck. The state wanted the $518.00 for my expensive insurance so they could pay for my cancer at a time when money is tight for the state.

I then informed her that I placed a stop payment on the money they wanted and that I handed the matter over to my bank. She asked me for the bank’s name and a number so she could call and work something out. I told her I was sorry, but that HIPPA laws prevent me from handing out private information and that she could talk to my supervisor who is currently on vacation. Then I hung up.

One month later, I received word from my bank that I had won my dispute and they are placing the money back into my account. It’s been a difficult year for me, but I now feel like I am on a winning streak.

After yet another indictment, much is being debated about whether or not Trump is planning to let loose his goons, uh, supporters, before he goes to trial or after the 2024 election. Unless there is a huge change in voter turnout from our most recent elections, it is predicted Trump will win at least 45 percent of the popular vote, which may or may not be enough to win the Electoral Vote (It’s also enough to be considered a majority in Trump’s eyes). If he wins, it is assumed he will pardon himself and unleash a reign of political payback that may well destroy our system of government. But if he loses or is convicted of crimes, does anyone think Trump will quietly take his defeat?

The mood of high-ranking political experts seems to indicate not if there will be violence encouraged by Trump, but how much of it there will be and who is targeted. Judges, prosecutors, witnesses, elected officials, and former employees who have spoken out against him are all seen as possible targets. Of course, since he isn’t POTUS, Trump may need to rely on The Wagner Group to fight his war.

One thing seems certain,the GOP has no intention of backing another presidential candidate and will ride or die with Donny boy. To think the GOP was complicit in this political saga that dates back to 2015 just shows you what little regard they have for our system of government If Trump is defeated in 2024, it will be the perfect opportunity for a saner and levelheaded bunch to form a third party to attract conservatives who have grown tired of the GOP while not being all that thrilled about the platform of Democrats.

I saw a list of the top 15 safest cities to live in that are affordable and it turns out almost all had one thing in common: snow. In 13 of the top 15 places, winters are long and cold. As for the other two, well, they were in Mississippi.

*Looks like the USNWT has been sent home much earlier than expected. Much will be said of their failings, but if you look at the exits of several other high-ranking teams, you will see this was a world cup where many other nations showed they have made big progress. It will be interesting to see if our squad grows more in the next four years or if we can expect the women’s competition to be as wide open as the men’s World Cup has been for decades.

I once did an experiment with my freshman classes toward the end of my teaching career. All had ranked racism as the biggest problem our nation faced which stuck with me. A couple of days later, after I took attendance, I said, “Today, I want you all to get into your own groups of any size and work together to solve a problem.” After a few minutes, once they settled into their groups, I went on to explain what the problem was they were to address.

Students were asked to explain what factors figured into them selecting the group they just formed. Race, gender, and familiarity were the top three reasons with race receiving over half the responses in every class. After discussing their reasons, I had them return to their assigned seats before asking them a series of questions to answer on paper.

Instead of writing down their names on the assignment, I asked them to simply write down their race. Then I began asking them a series of questions.  Nearly all said if they had enough money to live in the best neighborhood in any city, they would still prefer to live in one that was mostly made up of their racial background and not their financial means. When we discussed why, they admitted they all see color and gravitate toward it out of familiarity and comfort. They felt they would be accepted more from the beginning and that was important.

“Why,” I asked, “would you feel more comfortable in a crime ridden neighborhood of people mostly of your race than a safer one filled with law abiding people of mostly different races?” Granted, these were 15-year-old students and not adults. But it showed me how early color is ingrained into our decision making process.

We all know racism begins in the home. What too many of us do not realize is that we may not see ourselves as contributors to the problem when in fact we are. Maybe we do not preach hate in our households, but we reinforce stereotypes with our actions. We, the adult population, need to change our own behaviors if we have any hope of seeing our children grow up and end the problems we have been contributing to in some form or other.

Only love can conquer hate.