Robin Williams

There’s so much going on in my head about the death of Robin Williams that I scarcely know where to begin.

My heart aches for his daughter Zelda who left social media because of the negativity she’s gotten, probably because a lot of people view suicide as a coward’s way out. All I can say to those people, is that I fervently pray something like this happens to you. Maybe then you’ll figure it out.

Others equally insensitive wonder what he could have possibly needed to be depressed about. He’s got fame and fortune. To those people I’d say, you are a shallow human being if you truly believe that all that is required for happiness is fame and fortune. And depression is not a need. It’s not something that’s required to live your life. In fact, as in Robin’s case, it’s enough to destroy your life.

I have known of many many celebrities who have died during my lifetime, but for some reason Robin Williams’ death has hit me hard. Yesterday I sat at my desk at work and teared up reading the responses of his friends and other celebrities with whom he worked. I teared up again this morning when I saw bits of Jimmy Fallon’s tribute to him.

It deeply, deeply saddens me that a man who was clearly loved by all who came in contact with him – both in person and on the screen – was so troubled in his heart that the only way he felt he could escape the pain was to end his own life. He spent his life making others laugh, yet the laughter, I suppose, didn’t quite reach the deepest part of him.

I hope that Robin is now finally at peace and that time will heal the family he left behind.

 

A selfish rant (but aren’t they all?)

I love my friends. I really do. I am thankful every moment of every day for them. Without them, I’d be a pretty fucked up individual and more than likely would not have made it to this age. Two in particular seem to keep me emotionally afloat more than the rest and nothing I’m about to say is a poor reflection of any of them and their friendship.

I was browsing through Pinterest this morning and saw this graphic of words that friends have told me in one form or another over the years and it finally dawned on me why I dislike being told these words. It’s something to the affect of “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” As I saw those words on Pinterest, I realized that I don’t like those words because it feels to me like a nice way of saying, “no matter what you want in life, you’re never going to get it.” I feel like I don’t deserve anything in life – not love, not happiness and I certainly don’t deserve the friends I have – so why bother looking for any of it?

I don’t know the answers to anything. I’m just trying to figure all this out and find a sign that just maybe I do deserve love and happiness and a whole bunch of other stuff and it will happen.

The Over-thinker

I’m a writer. At least on good days I’d like to think I am. My problem is perfection. Of course most artists are perfectionists, but I’ve also been an editor. I know what it takes to make it in the cutthroat world of publishing. It ain’t easy.

My friend recently asked me if I would consider self-publishing – which I would because I know it can lead to a traditional publisher finding your work – but I can’t get anything written. Why? Well, because I over-think things. There is one story I’ve had for a few years now and it has evolved over the years, yes, but it’s gotten out of hand and I just over-think this idea until it’s something twisted and ugly and not what I want at all.

I just haven’t figured out how to stop myself. I claim to be a writer, I want to be a writer, but I can find a million other things to do besides writing. I don’t live and breathe writing like every other writer out there. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Education

Under Bush it was ‘No Child Left Behind’. Under Obama it’s ‘Common Core’. Though I’m not a parent and not a teacher, I’ve been thinking about education in this country lately.

The two programs developed during the administration of two very different presidents seem to be, at their hearts, a means to raise the standards of education in this country so that we can adequately prepare our children to compete on a global scale.

No Child Left Behind was bad in that it pushed students through the system, regardless of their preparedness to move onto the next grade level. Students are evaluated based on one standard and does not take into account how different students learn differently and may have individual needs.

Common Core seems to want to establish a standard across the country for all schools regardless of state. I would assume that this is so that if a family relocates from one state to another, any school age children will not have to spend time catching up to what the new school is teaching or waiting on everyone else to catch up. The standards have changed the way students are reaching answers in mathematics so dramatically that parents are unable to help their own child if the child does not understand how to do the work for him-/herself. I have not seen any criticism of the language arts aspect of Common Core, but I’m sure there are some lurking around. Again, though, Common Core seems to ignore the fact that children learn at different speeds and through different methods.

When you have such a large country as the United States, divided into smaller sections with a will and mind of its own, standardizing anything is difficult. Imagine parents with 50 different children, each with their own personality, opinions on everything, desires on how they each see the future, etc. To get 50 individuals to agree on something can be difficult and that each of those individuals represents millions more makes the task even harder.

I don’t know what the answer is to improving education in this country, but I do know that we need to find a way to actually engage the students in their learning. I am somewhat familiar with the education system in England and like the way that in the final few years of high school, students take classes in a manner similar to college: whatever they plan to study in college is what they study in high school. So if a student is going to study art in college, they study only art in the last year or two of high school. However, I still believe that maths and language arts should be taught through grade 12 as there are still so many with a poor grasp of grammar and always need a calculator for the very basics of maths.

Perhaps thinking outside the box is what we need and outside the country.

Don’t look now, but…

There is a forum I frequent on a daily basis to talk about a wide variety of topics. One of the sections of the forum deals with science and technology. One of the subjects discussed in the S/T section has been Google’s on-going attempts to create driverless cars. Being the sort of individuals who don’t like to give up their rights, most people are firmly against giving up their right to the daily grind of traffic.

It’s occurred to me, though, that we’re already moving toward driverless cars and ultimately they will happen in these small increments. Just think of the car commercials where there’s a back up camera (rather than utilizing the mirrors which are standard on any car); cars that park themselves for those who are incapable of parallel parking themselves; cars that “think ahead” and can help you stop more quickly if the vehicle a few cars ahead of you stops suddenly; and lastly, cars which alert you when you start to drift out of your lane (because you’re tired or would rather pay more attention to your telephone than your driving). Granted, with the exception of back up cameras, most of these features are on luxury cars, but let’s face it: when driverless cars are a reality, only the rich will be able to afford them. Many car companies are also actively coming up with ways for us to connect to the internet while driving. This is the first step in allowing an office on wheels when a driver doesn’t have to think about driving; the car will drive for him/her.

Don’t look now, but driverless cars will be a reality. Perhaps not in the way Google envisions it, but it will happen. And I, for one, will be thrilled when it does.

Stop Sweeping It Under the Rug

Yet another tragedy has occurred in this country and once again, we point fingers at the wrong things/people to try to find answers instead of accepting that sometimes there aren’t any answers that might make sense to us.

I’m speaking most specifically of the tragedy that happened last weekend in Isla Vista, California. I wasn’t going to say much beyond discussing it with friends here and there, but after reading some news yesterday that really ticked me off. Apparently, the gun-man – Elliot Rodger – played the Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game known as World of Warcraft. Of course in the general grasp for some sort of answer (including the old standby of blaming Hollywood), gaming is targeted for blame.

I play this game. I don’t consider myself a gamer because World of Warcraft is the only game of it’s kind I’ve ever played. I’ve never owned an Xbox or a Nintendo. I own a Wii, but haven’t touched it in a long time. I only bought it because the games required that you get up off your ass to play, not just sit staring immobile at the television. I have played World of Warcraft for a number of years and I can assure you, nothing on there has ever made me want to kill people in real life. I’d wager that most people who play that game aren’t likely to commit a crime because of it. So that Elliot Rodger played World of Warcraft has nothing to do with the acts of violence he committed.

Neither does Hollywood. Though I admit I haven’t seen details, but I’m aware of rants from the likes of Seth Rogen about something he did that might’ve contributed to Rodger’s violent outburst.

It’s not the gaming world that’s to blame. It’s not Hollywood that is to blame. It’s the system that failed and the government which took the lead in the 80s and decided to shut down a lot of the institutions that might help those who are mentally unstable. Granted, Rodger’s is an extreme case and there was really little that could be done for him, but we need institutions available for those who can be helped. Don’t just dump them on the criminal justice system and expect things to work out fine.

In talking with a friend of mine, we’ve both acknowledged that it would be difficult to take steps in reverse and renovate a lot of the institutions that were shut down more than 20 years ago, something should be done. It’s certainly not easy to know which people should be put into some sort of institutional prison, but when you have a young man whose parents are telling his therapists that more needs to be done, that would be a fair starting point.

We must stop pointing the finger at everything else and accept that by closing these institutions back in the 80s we failed not only those patients who were helped by their existence, but we failed ourselves today and in the future by not protecting ourselves from the exceptionally violent members of society like Elliot Rodger. As I have said a few times on here before when I have blogged about this very same subject, I don’t like guns. I am smart enough to know and accept that I am in an extreme minority and no one in the majority cares how I feel. Attacking the NRA time and time again is only going to result in a tighter grip on the United States. Blaming the entertainment industry in all forms (movies or games) is pure ignorance.

There’s an answer out there, but no one seems to want to accept it.

Two Weird Dreams and Thoughts from the Past

Though they don’t seem to occur as often anymore and certainly nowhere as repeatable as they once were, I have bizarre dreams sometimes. Last night I had two, along with thoughts of people I once knew 20 years ago, in between.

All I can recall of the first dream is that there was a guy wandering around my neighbourhood throwing knives at me. No idea why, only that he had been doing it to someone else, then turned on me. His aim was poor (I was able to dodge every one of them thrown at me) as well as his throwing skills (one was thrown and it was no more than a foot off the ground so that I could jump over it). I don’t recall feeling particularly scared, either. At one point I turned to see where I was running and a carving fork landed in the grass just ahead of me, thrown by him. I picked it up and tossed it back, managing to lodge it in his shoulder. After that I woke up.

I’m usually woken in the middle of the night by Nature’s Call, so after I climbed back into bed, I lay there trying to fall asleep when I thought of the two ladies I worked with during a summer job when I was in college. I worked that summer in an optical store in a high end mall and we had loads of fun. I wish I could remember their names. The younger of the two was in a band with her husband called XLR8. I only remembered that after looking up the one song I recall them recording. I think they were planning a move to Nashville not long after I quit, so that’s probably where they are. The other woman was very soft spoken and sweet to talk to. The store closed some years ago so I have no means to find out what happened to them. Just seems weird that thoughts of them popped into my head with no prompting.

In the second dream I left work either in the late morning or mid-afternoon to run an errand. I do not know what the errand entailed, but as I was going to return, I noticed that the passenger side windshield wiper was completely detached from my car and dangling over the side by a wire of some kind. I pulled off the interstate entrance ramp and as I was trying to figure out what was going on with the windshield wiper, I noticed that the tire below was practically shredded to pieces and yet it hadn’t felt that way when I was driving. I called work to tell them I wouldn’t be back, then phoned my father to ask him to come change my tire. I don’t remember anything after that.

Such a weird night!