Merrily We Roll Along

I have recently been hospitalized in my own mind from a condition known as Moving Syndrome. This psychiatric condition is caused by packing up all your stuff and loading it in a truck and trailer, followed by lots of driving, unpacking all your worldly possessions and depositing yourself in a brand new place, leaving the known and stepping toe into the unknown. Jules Vern shit. Or perhaps Alice in Wonderland, though I can not remember taking the blue pill nor the red.

Today is the last day in my old world. It will be filled with “Bon Voyages” and “see-ya’s”, “we’ll miss yous” and “damn, you’re movings”. Suddenly we are Lewis and Clark trekking across the desert where it is 120 degrees, where the asphalt melts to your tires and you can fry an egg on a stone. Though I can’t tell which of us is Louie and which is Clark, though I think Miss Chicapee would rather be Clark.

With cat in cage and dog on leash, though we don’t own a dog, (can you really own a dog?) we will pack up and travel like the Beverly Hillbillies to our new Beverly Hills. And all this for some sunsets, desert views of spectacular peaks and fine living.

I am awed and frightened at the same time. Can’t figure which would be better for my condition, the blue pill or the red, so I am taking one of each. Searching for Shangri-La, I recognize the gravity of the journey ahead. What keeps me going? The thought of friends and family whom we will reach when we get there. The smiling, if not perplexed expressions of new students to teach, and movie night in our car port. That and the swinging of a weighted stick at a little white ball, all in the efforts of landing it in a gopher hole. What an odd condition this is.

Still I know there will be journeys end, where people smile and the hardware store doesn’t take hiking boots to traverse. 30,000 people instead of 30 million. I plan on befriending each and every one. And as I whip the ponies in a few days the siren call will simply be “Tally Hoe!” which I think refers to the counting of saloon girls.

Good night Cali, good night traffic, good night road rage, good night smog, fog and rats racing, the trout await. And hopefully air conditioning.

STEM

The donwarrick blog has been on hiatus for the last couple of months while I was working my mad plan to take over the world. I am pleased to report that the world has capitulated.

I received an offer from “Imagine Prep” (a very cool charter school) to run their STEM program. I don’t want to betray my always calm and cool exterior, but I am as giddy as a school girl on the inside. Ever since I found out about this position, I started researching STEM and come to find out…we now rule the world.

I challenge anyone to ask a question which will not clearly fall within the confines of our discipline. In STEM, we combine the existential four pillars into a new way of thinking. In traditional education you are handed a rubber ball and told to grip it. In STEM you grab all the balls at once and start juggling.

Since I learned of this amazing challenge I started collecting data. Articles, videos, random notions and general stream of consciousness stuff.

While writing the other day, I had an LED moment. STEM doesn’t always stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In the new world it stands for Stretch The Envelope More.

Livin’ the Dream

In one of the side cupboards of everyone’s mind there is a loose idea about “Livin’ the dream.” It is even a sarcastic reply to the question in passing: “How you doing?”….”Oh, livin’ the dream.” But what if you were to put aside the snark and examine what the dream would look like?

Life can sweep you up and keep you moving in a direction that seems arbitrary. The dream changes to fit the scenario. But there can come a point when you and the dream stand eye to eye. This is where I find myself, facing and embracing the dream.

There is a small town in Arizona called Apache Junction. Like ya do, I have researched this spot and determined this is where I want to be. I have friends there. I have family there. So, what do I want to do when I get there? What I have always done, teach.

I’ve done it in classrooms, I’ve done it in seminars, webinars, boardrooms. I have done it in a coat, I have done it with a goat…(intentional Seuss reference.)

What do I want to teach? Technology, music, auto mechanics, philosophy… Yea, I know…I have to pick one. But maybe not. Maybe the dream is bigger than that. Maybe I can ignore convention by reinvention, it is my dream after all.

I have been lucky in the directions life has charted. I have been an actor, a teacher, an opera singer, an auto mechanic and computer geek. I have traveled the dusty caverns of world religion and philosophy. I’ve waited tables, worked on assembly lines and washed dishes. All leading to a small town that promises glorious sunsets.

Now I am working on the “How” and I have a plan. I am knocking on doors until one opens.

donwarrick@gmail.com

Valentine’s Day Customer Service

This Valentine’s day, consider providing great customer service. Anyone who has ever worked in a job-job has the basic concepts of customer service down.

When we encounter a customer or a boss we apply these rules and techniques. We always try to exceed expectations, we deliver our best selves, we actively listen and carefully respond. That’s all up-line stuff, customers and bosses. But what about your down-line?

In the working world, we’ve all been through it. We all know about the 7 habits of highly effective people, we’ve been through team building and sensitivity training. But again, I ask, what about your down-line?

It came as a bit of a shock to me the other day that I wasn’t applying the basic principals of customer service to my down-line. While I am all joy and light to the boss, I am less than attentive and kind to some in my DL. In fact, if I consider them in my down-line I have already pigeon holed them into a subservient role.

Because I am the training guy, I was recently reviewing a bunch of materials on customer service. It reinforced what I had studied over the last many years and it put me in a customer service frame of mind. In this mind-set I encountered someone in my downline and gave them really great customer service. I listened, I acknowledged, I understood, I related. This made me reflect on my communication style. You can’t have one style going up and another going down. There is no down or up.

Why is this my Valentine’s message? Because that person in my DL wasn’t a co-worker. They were someone very close to me.

Happy Valentine’s Miss Chicapee.

Check under the hood for you ?

My second job after high school was as a service station attendant. For those of you born after about 1989, we referred to ourselves as “grease monkeys” and there were two sets of pumps at filling stations. One was self-service and the other full-service. Grease monkeys worked the full service isle and washed the windows, pumped the gas and took the payment. It was a time honored tradition from the age of the horseless carriage. After we had squeegeed the windows, we would ask “Can I check under the hood for you?”

It is an interesting lens through which to view the world and our culture today, slightly transposed. I ask the question now in terms of the endemic racism that seems so raw, so pervasive, so consented in this day and age. The metaphor is simple, the Klan is thriving. If you check under the hood, you see the same faces that have been hooded since 1865.

It all boils down to fear, not supremacy. Supremacy is just the justification for the laying of blame. The truth is, I can understand the fear. It is primal, it is deeply embedded in the reptillian brain and we all have it. It is a survival mechanism that predates homo sapiens. You see “other” and if you don’t recognize them as your species you fight or flee.

We have stopped fleeing. The hood is up now, and nobody is checking the oil.

There’s a hole in my doughnut

You cat lovers know who you are. I see your Facebook pictures, you can’t hide. And one weird phenomenon that we all share in common is the hole in the doughnut.

Every morning our cat Sissy Ree knocks on my office door. She looks up waiting for me to get my shit together then heads down the hallway to the kitchen. She stops at the same 3 spots and rubs her scent then proceeds to her bowl and sits looking down. She looks over her shoulder at me.

It is not that her bowl is empty, but she can see the bottom. Oh the shame she must feel for us, derelict in our duties. There is a hole in the doughnut. She will have none of this. She will not participate and stands as still as a porch jockey until the hole is filled. I fill the hole and she daintily consumes the nom.

I don’t think she is trying to assert her dominance, not really. I think for her it is a matter of completeness. She does not care for doughnuts with a haughty air she thinks “Let me eat cake”.

For anyone reading this that thinks cats are not useful, she is a constant reminder that I am inferior. She is alarm clock, sleeper in sunbeams and arbiter of doughnut holes.

Next time you drop by Dunkin, you might even look down at the frosted cake doughnut and think to yourself “What a gyp! ” – Why the hell is there a hole in my doughnut?

What’s it like to be you?


“Tell me about yourself” is an interview question. Here’s a better one: “What’s it like to be you?” The first one has a simple answer, “Well, I like long walks on the beach…” The second question is one we don’t ponder, much less ask.

It’s almost a question that words can’t answer. You could create a collage of pictures from your childhood through the present day, but even that would be insufficient. And while we shouldn’t attempt to answer about ourselves lest all of creation unravel; perhaps it is a question we should ask about others. I answered the question last night when I rolled over and found my wife next to me watching TV at 2am. I didn’t ask her, but got part of the answer just in the observation. I could have asked: “Are you OK?” instead, I felt a little of what it is like to be her. She lives with insomnia and physical pain that keeps her awake at night. I rolled over and went to sleep, because I can.


This morning I asked the cat the same question in my head and that led me to question the nature of consciousness. What is it like to be her? To be a cat? Silly I know. Then I started asking the question about my closest relatives. I realized I didn’t know the answer to that either. It is an unvoiced question that is the genesis of empathy, perhaps even for those who don’t display empathy, it is a gateway question.


We remember the golden rule. But how can we know the answer without asking the question: “What’s it like to be you?”

“Tell me about yourself” is an interview question. Here’s a better one: “What’s it like to be you?” The first one has a simple answer, “Well, I like long walks on the beach…” The second question is one we don’t ponder, much less ask.

It’s almost a question that words can’t answer. You could create a collage of pictures from your childhood through the present day, but even that would be insufficient. And while we shouldn’t attempt to answer about ourselves lest all of creation unravel; perhaps it is a question we should ask about others. I answered the question last night when I rolled over and found my wife next to me watching TV at 2am. I didn’t ask her, but got part of the answer just in the observation. I could have asked: “Are you OK?” instead, I felt a little of what it is like to be her. She lives with insomnia and physical pain that keeps her awake at night. I rolled over and went to sleep, because I can.


This morning I asked the cat the same question in my head and that led me to question the nature of consciousness. What is it like to be her? To be a cat? Silly I know. Then I started asking the question about my closest relatives. I realized I didn’t know the answer to that either. It is an unvoiced question that is the genesis of empathy, perhaps even for those who don’t display empathy, it is a gateway question.


Ma ma ma my corona

I’ve waited before, this is nothing new. Waited for service, waited for grades, waited for puberty, waited for the check to clear. But today I’m waiting for Corona virus. I recon the only reason I got a test this morning is because I am scheduled for the regular periodic scans of my innerds. But here I am waiting to see what the next hurdle might be.

I’m a guy (most of you are aware of this) and so I exhibit regular guy behaviors and thinking. You know, the standard stuff like: “I’ll go to the doctor when that limb needs to be reattached” or “The human body has a lot more blood than that, let me just get the super glue” How about: “Anesthesia?, hell just give me some rawhide to bide down on.” It’s not the ailment that’s the problem, it’s the waiting. Tell me what’s wrong and I know whether to get the staple gun or the body filler. But don’t make me wait. Heaven help the Amazon delivery guy if he misses the delivery. If they say by 9pm, they better damn well mean it.

As a gender we believe that you should look us in the eye and tell us that our knee bending backwards is a bad thing. We can take it. But at times like this, our moxie can be like peanut brittle. Especially as an older dude and despite my best efforts to stay cloistered, I have a vague notion of what a positive diagnosis means.

A few hours later… My results are back…negative. The moral of the story? Don’t sweat what you don’t know. Yea, if you can survive a tractor rolling over you (Kevin, you know who you are) if you can take that, a swab up your nose or a vaccination in your arm shouldn’t require you biting down on that piece of rawhide.

Blunt force trauma

Enough has been said about him. Enough has been written about him. I was waiting for the day after when when we would wake to a new world. We did, for a moment, but a day later the media was all over it again like a dog on a bone. Not because there was some illuminating new information, but because, like comedians, they had struck a gusher in their own backyards that was pumping crude. Texas tea.

You can’t change the dial. No matter how much you wish you could look away, avert your gaze. You can’t. We are addicted and there is no 12 step program. We could give our problems up to a higher power but I’m pretty sure they can’t look away either.

Selbstelend – German is a cool language because they combinate words. So, not speaking enough German to ask more than where the toilet is, I feel I am more than qualified to combinate. Literally my new word means “Self-Pain”. Oh sure, we all know Shadenfreuda, but this is the age of “Selbstelend” taking pleasure from our own pain. It is the only explanation I can come up with. Even through it makes us want to wretch, we rush to toilet and derive pleasure from barfing.

I wish we could take a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down but all we get is sweet and sour; and it rests in the back of our throats, a reminder that we will wretch again.

Like any addiction we have to ween ourselves. Reduce your Selbstelend a bit at a time. Watch one less video every day. Read one less news story. Have one fewer thought of that which is best served cold. I can’t say that this is a cure, but a treatment. The disease has made itself known. It is measurably greater than we imagined and it will keep happening again and again. The truth is, we have taken a baseball bat to the head, and decided we like it.