Friday, November 27, 2015


     Praise God Deanne has a full-time job!  She needs to drive to work, which is a half-hour to forty-five minutes commute each way, so we stuck Jaren in A+/Kamaaina Kids (state sponsored before- and after-school day cares at Jaren's school), which lasts for him from about 6:30 each morning, until I or Braden and Pene pick him up after school between 3:00 and 4:15, depending on their school and my work schedules.
     As a test run, I've been having both Braden and Pene meet at Jaren's school to take him home if I haven't already picked him up.  I felt this is an excellent age-appropriate responsibility for them.  (They're ages fifteen and twelve and catch the bus to and from school, which is true on most days).
     Normally, I get home about four o'clock, but I've been taking off an hour early recently via saved vacation that's "use it or lose it" (by year end).  So on days I feel like it, I could pick up Jaren before they do (when they have later school end times).
     But they need to get accustomed to picking him up, walking him home, inspecting from a safe distance the house for possible break-in, unlocking the door, getting in, and relocking the door.  I feel it's much safer if all three are present at the time, than say, just Pene alone, so I've told her to always wait for Braden at Jaren's school and not enter the house alone.
     Deanne could pick Jaren up at 4:40 or so after work.  For now, I feel it's better if Jaren not stay in before- and after-school care too long.  Plus, our kids could all use the additional exercise of walking home from Jaren's school (which amounts to about a quarter-mile).
     I told Deanne and the kids that things will work themselves out in the coming days/weeks/months schedule-wise, and who does what, when.
     Braden said he needs to stay late at school sometimes to study, work on group projects, etc.
     I said maybe on days that I work-out and take off an hour early, he can stay late and I'll pick up Jaren.
     Jaren said, "I want to stay late to play with friends."
     I said, "You'll have plenty of time to play.  I don't want Mom to have to pick you up everyday.  Plus you need to be bathed and ready for dinner by the time she gets home."
     The first day went great.  I picked up Jaren; we got home, showered, and started dinner (using an omelet recipe left by Deanne).  Braden and Pene got home, showered, and started their homeworks, set the table, and served milk.
     I love cooking so it's nice to be back at it again after a fifteen year hiatus when Deanne assumed all cooking responsibilities (she's a super cook and enjoys it so I passed it on to her).
     Best of all, Deanne's income takes a lot of pressure off me.  If we save most of her earnings, we should be able to cover most of Braden's college tuition, should he attend U.H.--a huge relief.  It increases the flexibility of future options too, as far as financial-related retirement, choice of state residency, our kids' college options, housing, etc. decisions are concerned.  And it renews my hopes (mentioned in prior essays) for a bright, interesting, new, and exciting future not too many years hence, God willing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Burn Out?

     Am I burnt out? I don't know.
     I've been feeling a bit worn out at times over the past couple months but thought it was the usual work-out recovery cycles or less-sleep, more-sleep exchanges I often enough go through.
     But these past two weeks or so, I've been feeling it in my legs. That's unusual, those are usually strong due to decades of daily walking and regular runs, so I take it as a sign of my need to ratchet back. Get some rest. Take some sick leave even, as necessary. (I seldom take a sick day off.)
     I wonder if it may be further evidence of my advancing age. I may have to walk up the two steep, short hills toward the beginning of my three-and-a-half mile run, which I do every third day. But work-outs and recoveries usually go just fine, so I'm not yet convinced. “Run the way I feel” is the old adage I must follow—I try to—rather than force through to make the miles.
     But then again, I've been pushing pretty hard emotionally this past half-year, starting from our church's spring camp, then our public speaking engagement at church service, and outer island mission trip. Then I had to address Braden's academic travails and bad attitudes, and chose to play bass with the worship band. It's all been good, but stressful at times. In the past, dealing with stress has been doable for me—all part of life. But within the past five years or so God's shown me the need to do a better job taking care of myself: I'm responsible for my feelings and I have to do better for the sake of my long-term (and short-term) health at managing my stress levels. I've been trying, but I'm emotional by nature, so it's far from automatic.
     I notice when I push myself (or cruise along at high octane) for too long, I sometimes get sick. I think that's what might have just happened. Pene's out for her second day today with a fever. Though I don't have a fever, I do have other cold-like symptoms (tired legs, bleah feelings, lethargy, occasional stomach aches, deep drowsiness—very unusual for me. I like work and am loathe to miss a day, so to skip, I have to feel pretty awful.)
     I'm glad in a way. I've been praying for God's peace, calm, and rest, and this has helped in the healing/recovery process.  I hope these trials are all just temporary and I'll be back to normal before long. But, if necessary, I'll dial back the intensity of workouts and moderate what I can to avoid/eliminate/reduce avoidable (bad) stress, especially.
     For not all stress is bad and worth avoiding. Some is good and to be appreciated such as a child's wedding, a job promotion, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation trip, etc.
     Oh yeah, Deanne just got offered a full-time job, wonderful news, so she's been arranging for Jaren's before- and after-school care. This is a load off my mind knowing she's building up a strong work history so that when it comes my time to retire, God willing, she'll be able to make up for my pension's lower monthly pay check (especially until social security kicks in). She's almost a decade my junior so she's likely got far more work years in her than I do. Praise God for that!
     I wonder now if I perhaps caught the flu? I every year get a flu shot early, so perhaps I'm experiencing milder symptoms 'cause my body's already built-up an immunity? If so, praise God! (I've had the flu before, sans shot, and it was miserable.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

U.H. Football

     There's a saying I love:  fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
     With U.H.'s recent firing of football head coach Norm Chow, there's been talk of rehiring June Jones who left in very bad graces (greedy—wanted more money; I guess 1.7 million dollars per year wasn't enough) about eight years ago.
     Why bother?
     At SMU, which he recently left in bad graces for personal reasons, he amassed a lousy 36-43 record. Does U.H. want that?
     Bob Jones in Midweek recommended U.H. switch from the FBS (for big, rich schools) to the FCS (for smaller, budget-conscious schools). He thinks it may not result in cost savings (U.H. Football currently loses money year after year after year) but should result in more wins.
     I say it will likely result in substantial cost savings due to reduced salaries, scholarships, staff, and training, recruitment, maintenance, and other costs. Nix the half-a-million-dollars-plus head coach salary (Norm Chow gets $550,000), duplicate offensive and defense coordinators, line coaches, quarterback coaches, assistant coaches and on and on and on, plus state-of-the art air conditioned luxury training and other facilities 'cause expectations will be scaled back.
     Best of all, the costly distraction that football has become from U.H.'s core academic mission will be largely abated. (Why is a coach among the highest paid U.H. positions? Or state positions? What message does that send our youth? Or other civil service employees who do a lifetime of far more meaningful work for far less?)
     During June Jones' heyday at U.H., one of my most painful family experiences occurred. The team won its bowl game, and in a show of good sportsmanship (and for the second time in about three years) engaged in a full-scale, bench-cleaning, on-field brawl (which later got replayed on national T.V.  Welcome to the Aloha State!) Metal folding chair were flung and one was swung and used to strike at least one player's back...) Mid-brawl, I switched off the T.V. we were watching at my sister's house 'cause there were kids present, at least one whom was getting disturbed. This on Christmas day, by the way.
     At that point the angry ball of energy in the room got redirected towards me—even by some of the most reasonable and even-keeled of family members.
     It was a tough stand to take, but I held. And took the abuse, and kept the T.V. off though many insisted I switch it back on. I suggested we continue the Christmas activity we had started but put off until the game's conclusion.
     Since then, I've been looking forward to the day when U.H. football is no longer a part of the big school conference. (U.H. is a minnow compared the mainland large schools, both in terms of enrollment and dollars. Which is why they can never compete against the best, such as Georgia in the Sugar Bowl (42 Bulldogs, U.H. 10, Notre Dame in the Hawaii Bowl (49-21), or Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl (62-35). Sure, U.H. has had a few big wins along the way, but these are becoming increasingly rare and ever more distant, almost like faded memories, tarnished by years of black oblivion.)
     In less than three years, Braden will be college age, possibly entering U.H. Student athletic fees (currently fifty dollars per semester) to subsidize oversized football salaries and budgets (18 coaches/coordinators/assistant /trainers, etc. are listed on the website) may by then be doubled or tripled to add hundred of dollars on top of tuition and other fees to his enormous student loans. Unfortunately, such athletic fees are not and will not be optional—all students will have to pay.
     FBS football, optional for the school, is an expensive and huge distraction from academics that drains valuable resources (there's a long list of overdue building repairs and maintenance at Manoa amounting to over $400 million), is demoralizing, and is bound to produce long-term noncompetitive bottom-of-the-heap losers. And is something U.H. and the state should get rid of by season's end at the latest.
     How many more losing seasons and 3.5 million dollar deficits are the school gunning for? It's been eleven deficits years out of the past thirteen as of 2014, sure to be twelve out of fourteen as of 2015. Is the school out to set some sort of loser/deficit records? Is that how it intends to rebuild its fan base and return the program to profitability? U.H., Hawaii's brain trust, needs to think this through clearly and act wisely now. Future generations of students will be thankful for it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Child Safety Concerns

     Every school year the Department of Education (DOE) and/or our kids' schools send home media release/Student Publication forms with our kids for us to sign saying, in essence, the schools may or may not use photo/video images of them, their names and/or other identifying information (school, age, grade, club, etc.) and print, publish, or post on the Internet any such material at anytime they choose.
     One of the forms states that we may opt out by submitting a signed letter but warns that grievous consequences may result from blanket block-outs such as exclusion from year book photos and awards or graduation rolls. School administrative staff have informed us, too, that participation in certain club/class/school events, and the like, that are blanket video recorded may be jeopardized.
     When our kids were younger, I wrote opt out letters every year, mostly out of concern over Internet postings. Who knows what psychopath, able to easily track down our kids could or might do?—the Internet is open to all, reasonable and unreasonable, stable and unstable.
    In the letters I listed what usages were acceptable (year book photos, awards lists, printed newsletters, and the like) and those that weren't (posting photos, videos, or personal identifying information on the Internet).
     The DOE should do all parents a favor by creating an opt-out check list form of all potential media usages such as:

  □ Internet posting of photos
  □ Internet posting of videos
  □ Internet posting of personal identifying information

etc., that parents could use to check off all unacceptable usages.
     I shared this idea with Deanne, saying this will never happen because the DOE/schools do not want any parents to opt out because it creates more work for them to track kids that can and can't be included in this or that. And it exposes them to liability should a child's image or name appear somewhere that it wasn't supposed to. So rather than do the right thing and provide parents with such an easy-to-use, sensible tool, they place the burden on “troublesome”, “paranoid”, or “demanding” parents to create their own tailor-made opt out letters, knowing most parents won't bother. And they wrote one of these forms in such a manner as to scare parents into feeling like slime for opting out and causing their kids to stick out like pariahs to classmates, staff, and classmates' parents.
     Fortunately, this hasn't happened to our kids mainly due to sympathetic teachers (most or all of whom had kids of their own). During May Day, they strategically placed our kids somewhere in back where they wouldn't likely appear on the official video, enabling them to participate with all their classmates. And they were included in newsletters sent home that listed high achievers, perfect attendees, etc.
     So the system worked, but made it unnecessarily difficult for parents. (I doubt whether all schools would be equally accommodating by strategic placements, etc. I can image some saying, “You can't participate because you might appear in the school's video.”)
     The DOE should do the right think by making it far easier for parents to selectively opt out use of their kids' images or information without deploying scare tactics or making them out to be pariahs or pains or anything negative. It was a good law that gave power to parents to control this vital material concerning their children. It should thus be implemented with nonjudgmental good will by the DOE and schools, too.