Slice of Life for Late April: Lost my Favorite Student, Violence in Black America

Friday afternoon by accident, I found out from former students on Facebook that my favorite student had died upon moving back to Los Angeles from  Dallas. My initial reaction was a scream, followed by typing a tribute to him. Saturday, I called a favorite teaching colleague to see if she had heard about Kemmel’s “Bandit’s” death. Much to my surprise, he had been murdered in a double homicide. I returned to the that Facebook post and realized in my shock, I’d misread the cause of death as motorcycle accident because the colloquial term “rider” was used.

Bandit was a “B” student in my first year of teaching Developmental English for five years at Texas College, an HBCU in North Tyler.  His attendance was very good, all too uncommon at TC–unlike Mountain View Community College, the Hispanic Serving Institution in North Oak Cliff where I’d been an adjunct instructor for five years. I gave two grades on essays, one for grammar and another for writing. I read most essays twice; an obvious A/A essay is a quick read. First, I plowed through the essay looking for grammar and spelling mistakes. Once I got to the end, I’d start over and look for skill or its lack in the structure of writing. Kemmel’s frequent B’s were the result of C+/A- on grammar/writing respectively. One of his earliest essays was about repairing cars. One particularly rewarding car fixing was marred with a hail of bullets from a rival gang member. Now that’s a shocker in the conclusion paragraph! Since one of my essay rules was not to discuss committing crimes, but being a crime victim is okay to discuss, Kemmel got his usual B. Please don’t stop following me on Word Press!!

As time went on, he took me to hear speeches in Dallas from a popular, yet controversial Black leader. Once I talked him out of mourning the death of an old gang buddy via shooting some rivals. That teaching colleague had the same conversation with him. Kemmel moved to Tyler to get away from “intra-Crip” violence and attend the college where his aunt had a staff position. His small faction was targeted for extinction by a rival, larger Crip group. Yet wearing red that semester to teach became a no-no, for he was a proud ex-Crip who still couldn’t stand Bloods. I was prudent enough never to dispute the illogic of that stance.

Kemmel graduated with a bachelors in Sociology, and he invited me to his graduation party, a truly touching moment for me as the only Texas College instructor or White person there (O.K. 7/8 White). We saw each other a few more times before he moved to Dallas. I’ll never understand why we drifted apart. Suffice it to say that I developed problems with “frienemies” that became quite distracting. He didn’t become a social media addict like me. I moved to MidTown Tyler (east-central/hospital district) almost three years ago. It’s better than the frozen South, where Mom lived near rich, Catholic haters, and the hot North where I integrated the neighborhood. Now I’m in a temperate business area. So now you have the background that leads to the sad ending. I’ve vowed to catch up with long-lost friends and at last, stay away from the “frienemies.”

I wasn’t sure if this would be a good essay to share on Slice of Life, but either MSNBC or CNN is covering the riots in Baltimore following the spine-snapping of Freddie Gray by the police. It’s said to see the anguish of Michael Steele and Elijah Cummings among others amidst the failure of Baltimore over the years. The debate on immigration reform (a largely Hispanic issue) seems ironic when Canada instead looks so inviting as it did during the time of the Underground Railroad during slavery; they’re still sparsely populated, immigration-friendly, and above all: non-violent.

Slice of Life Tuesday: Mourning Computer Meltdown While Hailing Avast, 4-14-15

I’ve gone through an emotional roller coaster because of cyberspace. Less than a week ago, my website went viral in a city in southeast Poland. Resovia (Rzseszow) viewed 14 documents, including my two sample textbook chapter section doc’s and even my MS thesis, “Approaching Neo-Confucianism through Cognitive-Behavioral and Existential Therapy.”  Promptly, I read about this exciting, ancient city of 184K on Wikipedia. Then I discovered their College of Information Technology and Management, a likely location for my new friends.

Then a publisher in India contacted me on Linked-in. Really motivated by this time, I returned to working on my textbook proposal and seriously exploring the merits of breaking up the massive 400-page book into a series. How about “Grammar Champion” (with Appendix of Writing)? This way I wouldn’t be surrendering to the semi-imaginary/usually local conservative, neo-fascist opponents of my topic choices.

Then I got nostalgic and researched Smashwords, a self-publishing site frequented by first higher education Twitter associate, a Cal Berkeley professor. She advertises her many Smashwords books at her site! I attempted to download Microsoft Word (for Berkeley) and Skype (for India); then the trouble started on Sunday. The number of icons on my home computer doubled in columns. Pop-ups mushroomed; often asking me to run a check before telling me about the sickliness of my computer and demanding money for protection.

Monday I made calls. The best was Avast, a site where I had a free anti-virus site previously, but I’d forgotten to do so on my current computer. My only known relative, Cousin Harriet the Real Estate Mogul, refreshed me of the name–Avast. By now, I was lamenting the presence of two Trojan Horses: csrss.exe and koobface and the incredible slowness of the poor, wounded warrior computer. I had to spend $$$ to get computer cleaning, so Avast could even be installed.

Without protection, my computer had probably undergone a steady stream of malware, adware, and spyware before the final attack. Sites can look official but be harmful; it’s good to do google or yahoo searches. I endured a different type of cyberattack 5 1/2 years ago that led me to apply successfully for disability. Success in occupations like substitute teacher, adjunct instructor, or temporary industrial labor is great for a young teacher. However, it becomes a pyrrhic victory for a 50-something year old man because of no health insurance and the onset of COPD. So anyway, I’m alive because I expanded my Medicaid in Texas, and I have friends in cyberspace beyond the “Pine Curtain,” a common nickname for conservative East Texas.  Some of those friends are through Slice of Life. Happy Tuesday!

On Promoting “4 Surgeries to Avoid,” According to AARP–Two Years Ago & Again Today

           I posted this op-ed two years ago at my website and sent the op-ed hither and thither.  I’m trying again not only because my overall Twitter presence has improved, but since I’m a member of several health care social media (HCSM) member lists on Twitter, together with the mutual following of professionals in the health and medical field on Twitter.  This AARP article link still pops up in the margins of current articles, so it must be highly regarded.  Any contention for reducing the cost of an aspect of health care in the USA must be explored (Meyer, 2015).

“I’m promoting this AARP article about over-performed surgeries as something of a sequel to the Fareed Zakaria special on advice for President Obama’s second term. All of these surgeries are questionable in the long-term; some of these are “moneymakers for hospitals and doctors.” Thus, keeping control over Medicaid/Medicare expenses could start here. Here are the four debatable surgeries: (1) stents for stable angina, (2) complex spinal fusion for stenosis, (3) hysterectomy for uterine fibroids, and (4) knee arthroscopy for osteoarthritis.
Besides tweeting the article to my followers at @bohemiotx, I tweeted it to Fareed Zakaria & AARP with the hashtag #obamamemo. Afterwards, I posted it at the White House and Social Security websites. Then I posted “4 Surgeries to Avoid” at my, Facebook, Stumbleupon, and Linked-In sites. Then I emailed it to the county Democratic party and some members before tweeting the link to Reimagining Japan. My most recent cyberspace move is petitioning the President at his website; however, it failed to get hardly any endorsements.

Dr. Zakaria also stated, “U.S. spends $4 for every American over 65, compared with $1 for every American under 18 #obamamemo.” Dealing with an aging population that needs Medicare/Medicaid will be one of the biggest political issues that the U.S. (and Japan) will face in the near future. This could be the first step: eliminating unnecessary surgeries  (Meyer, 2013).”

First April Weekly Slice of Life: Better Breathers luncheon and great JAG re-run

It’s 9:05 CST, so I’m running out of time. I just saw a great J*A*G re-run, a 2004 episode called “Crash,” in which suicide was suspected as the reason for a Navy pilot’s crash–remarkably timely in light of the recent tragedy in the Alps. The dead pilot did talk suicidally, including to his commander officer, but it was a wing malfunction that caused the crash. And that officer in charge of planes landing almost killed himself by leaping off the ship!

Today was our monthly Better Breathers luncheon–a free talk and lunch and talk at the hospital across the street. Today’s topic was medicine for COPD and asthma; plus, we got a handout. The speaker was a pharmacy doctorate intern.

Tyler, a city of 100K, is known as an “eds and meds” with a bunch of restaurants, in urban planning slang. “Eds” means there are colleges here–a branch of the University of Texas, Tyler Junior College, and Texas College–the HBCU where I taught for five years, and the oldest of the bunch. We have a rare status as a senior welcoming city. “Meds” means we have a couple of really big hospitals, and I deliberately moved into the Hospital District, now known as Midtown, to be near them. Then I got a pulmonologist in the area since I got on Medicaid, and I switched to the local pharmacy.

Before the luncheon, I worked on responding to a letter from a friend. Afterwards, I did laundry.

My morning started with some leftover biscuits and gravy. I microwaved some bacon and pured a little hot cherry pepper in the gravy to add some zing. It’s not only great to be at the BBQ place at closing on Saturday, but at the end of breakfast on a weekday. Thus ends my first Slice of Life, outside of March, in reverse chronological order.

Twitter at 2300 Followers: Happy Easter & Have Many a Satori

I crossed the 2000 follower mark on Pi Day, March 14th. Yet I waited until now to provide my third Twitter Tutorial article for various reasons. The best reason was my near daily participation in Slice of Life, a teacher narrative on Word Press, sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Usually, I tweeted my daily slice and posted it on Facebook too.

However, my worst reason for putting off the next Twitter milestone article is being scattered, like many an #ENFP to cite my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator #MBTI profile.  I’m so ready to tweet and re-tweet on many topics.  I’ve become fairly well-known for spreading research on health, often dubbed “Health Care Social Media” (#HCSM). After all, I’m on disability for COPD and asthma; sleep apnea was discovered later once I got a pulmonologist when Medicaid kicked in–after disability and Medicare in my case.

Becoming named as a member of various lists has been a wonderful honor, and you’ll find out if someone has put you in a list through Twitter’s notifications branch. I’m nearing 60 lists, and many are in #HCSM. As you can tell, I’m a firm believer in providing one or two hashtags per tweet if at all possible. I edited my Twitter biography (for only the second time in 3 1/2 years) in order to include health and social media as among my interests. Pure social media has been a key joy for quite a while, and I’ve connected with exciting leaders in that field too.

Developing a major Twitter friendship leads to extra Twitter success as well. Let’s just say that she’s an M.D. with a Master’s in Public Health Administration. I strive to re-tweet new followers and still check on the others as much as possible, especially the other thought-leaders. Yesterday in a fit of focus, I looked for educators among my following because finding a textbook publisher is my prime goal. I’ve returned to working on my proposal. Inspiring quotes and playing with the Twitter trends for the day are fun. It’s seems like almost everyday is a “World Something Day.”

In closing, Happy Easter. I went to Sunday School at my church today for the first time–a time for reading and discussing in a round table of two dozen members. Being an extrovert, I had a lot to say–even more than I expected.

I explained the nature of the satori, a breakthrough of thought that changes one’s paradigm on an issue. (1) The first example was a straight forward explanation of someone else’s satori. I wrote an account of the J.C. Watts Convocation Address at Texas College, way back in 2005. Mr. Watts was a Wishbone quarterback at the University of Oklahoma before becoming a Republican congressman. When his son asked him if he could put this burst balloon back together, Mr. Watts realized that the relationship of God to human should be like Daddy to child–quite conservative. (2) The next satori was very veiled because it’s highly personal and has to do with narcissism, but not me. (3) The last was a realization gained from a Facebook chat on a key difference between ENFPs and INFPs. {First I was merciful enough to ask who knew what the four dimensions of the MBTI before listing the four pairs}. The extroverts aren’t judgmental enough with this intuitive-feeling-perceiving combination, while the introverts are too judgmental. Sure enough, that synopsis accurately described my being initially entertained by the antics of an eccentric, dysfunctional friend before becoming irritated over his downside that included screaming indoors–a somewhat veiled report, squarely in between #1 and #2.

It’s time for some lunch before Fareed Zakaria GPS is re-run at 12 noon, Central Standard Time. Then it’s back to the textbook proposal. May y’all have some satoris too.