Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Some months ago my computer failed. When it was restored, I got back most of my important files. But my admirable FreeCell statistics were reset to zero. So I know exactly how many games I've played since then. I used to share the computer and there was this pleasing element of doubt. But now I'm certain the games are all mine. Each game represents a few minutes out of my life. If I add them all up, I'm getting into days. For years, I've pondered the mystery of wasting time. Not why I might waste time when I was supposed to be working or doing something dreadful. But why I would fritter away my free time playing solitaire or watching reruns, when this same free time is an opportunity to do something I would love. It recently came to me that the explanation is probably dopamine and comfort. Apparently I crave that.
I'm going to go walk my dog now. He loves to walk. It makes him so happy he practically jumps out of his skin. He isn't able to play FreeCell, but he does chew on his paws a little compulsively sometimes.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
If you leave the frisbee golf course, and walk out onto the big sand flats and south toward the damn, you'll likely walk through this spot. A few eucalyptus trees left behind by who knows, past oaks and amid true natives. It's like a gateway. I lured my fellow painter out to this spot so I could paint in safety.
I was quite pleased with this painting when I did it, and I still like it, but it's starting to look a little busy to me. Like I keep telling myself, simpler is better. I'm mostly convinced of it.
I'm not mad for my last post. But it's better I think than me writing to the editor of the L. A. Times.
Friday, April 19, 2013
I don't think about it very often, but I suppose this is my blog, and I'm free to write pretty much anything I want here. There are probably bounds of good taste and decency, but I doubt that I will cross them.
I wanted to share some thoughts about education. Disclosure: I'm not an education professional, although I did spend a year as a substitute for the Pasadena Unified School District. I went to school and my children went to school too. So I have thoughts. I'm puzzled that education and the work of teachers is such a big political issue. In so many other fields - public health, criminal justice, air traffic control, nuclear regulation, to name a few - the politicians and citizens trust the trained professionals to understand the work and recommend the policies. But it seems like everybody knows how teaching ought to be done. Probably because, like me, they went to school.
Then there is this pervasive opinion that teacher's unions are the cause of everything wrong with education - that teacher's unions want to protect the jobs of dangerously bad instructors. Seriously? How on earth is it in the best interests of the unions to protect the jobs of dangerously bad workers? Doesn't that drag the stock of the other workers down? And make their jobs much harder? It's true that contracts give teachers a certain amount of job security, but isn't job security generally a good thing? I wonder if the jobs of dangerously bad teachers aren't more likely to be protected by administrators who don't want to admit that they have dangerously bad teachers and deal with them. Consider this: Boy Scout leaders don't have unions.
I easily grasp why teachers wouldn't want to be evaluated based on students test scores. That would be like evaluating hair stylists on the basis of beauty pageant results. To be sure, their work is relevant to the results, but nowhere near the biggest factor. Yet I kind of like the idea of evaluating teachers somehow. It seems like good teachers ought to be recognized, and struggling teachers ought to be helped and corrected. Here's what I think. I think there should be security cameras and monitors in all the classrooms. Teachers might balk at first. I would. It would seem like an intrusion, but seriously, there aren't very many working people who spend 99 percent of their work day unsupervised. Administrators could actually watch the teachers teach under all conditions; they could see if the class was engaged and under control. The monitors would also lend some extra safety and security to schools. Intruders and other dangerous situations could be detected immediately, and appropriate assistance could be dispatched to classrooms.
I also think there ought to be a lot more art education. It has been shown that music and visual art education improves students' performance in all areas. Are history and geometry more important than than drawing and instrumental music? What do you think?
Friday, April 12, 2013
It isn't that I don't have anything to say. I have far too much to say. Without David as a sounding board for all the little things that popped into my head, my head has become a rather noisier place. And I spend more time there inside my head, mulling over strange new sad feelings. And wondering how, and whether, and to whom I might express them. Mostly I think you're safe here. I may cry now and then, but my giant filter is largely intact. As if to prove that to myself, I just deleted a whole paragraph.
These are paintings done at Union Station in Los Angeles - two in the same morning. I took a Los Angeles Conservancy evening tour of Union Station last summer, so I know a bit more about it. I've taken long and short train rides to and from Union Station over the years. It's a good place, coming and going.