Nurses, physicians, police officers, fireman, engineers and educators have consistently been considered noble and respected professions. For the 18th year in a row, the most recent Gallop poll has Nursing as the most honest and respected profession. The Covid-19 pandemic, #BLM, cancel culture, police brutality, online education and removal of statues and monuments should make next year's Gallop poll very interesting. My guess is that nurses will still hold the top spot, but the rest of the 2020 list of respected professions will look like Gallop put the names of each profession on a ping pong ball and randomly pulled them out of a Bingo Ball Hopper.
I was honored to be hired as a college Biology professor at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, California in 1997. A college professor is a position of prestige and considered an expert in his/her field. Faculty are entrusted by the community and society to provide students course content, listen to dissenting opinions, and argue for or against a topic using evidence through the use of research and critical thinking.
Things have changed dramatically over two decades. Consider recent events that have occurred on college campuses:
There is an "implicit bias" on campus. But it is a different bias I more concerned about. This is a "faculty bias" that students are naive and faculty need to ensure that students think properly. These dangerous ideas include, but not limited to;
As a scientist, I've been trained to be skeptical and pragmatic. I look for data and evidence. Data and evidence have consistently pointed the advancement of our society towards the truth...and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). To my fellow colleagues...quit being egotistical and narcissistic. Admit we don't have all of the answers. Quit treating students and the community as unsophisticated, ignorant or naive. Let's provide the student body with course content, allow dissenting opinions, and argue for or against a topic using evidence through the use of research and critical thinking.
What would happen if we allowed this to happen on our campuses? Anarchy? Chaos? I disagree. The result would be empowered students transformed into community members and leaders that would find the truth and/or solutions to...
But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
By the way, the California Community College State Chancellor has sent out a "call to action" to the entire California community college staff, faculty and administrators. This is the direction of the Californian Community College curriculum.
My oldest son was scheduled to graduate from high school graduation this year. Unfortunately, the Covid -19 virus had other plans. Graduation is canceled until further notice. There would not be an opportunity wear his graduation regalia, walk across the stage to receive his diploma, move his tassel from the right side of his mortar board to the left side of his mortar board, and throw his mortar board up into the night sky with absolute joy.
Mom is here to save the day. She breaks into action by purchasing graduation decorations, purchasing a PA system, designing invitations and preparing an online graduation ceremony. Within a week, she has organized a "virtual" graduation ceremony that everyone (grand parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends) will be able to attend in the safety of their own home.
The program included Pomp and Circumstance, flag salute, and graduation speeches from mom and dad to the graduate and it all culminated in a "Silly String" fight. Here is a copy of my speech to the my son and the 2020 graduates:
How does a baby screw in a light bulb? The baby holds the light bulb while the world revolves around him.
Likes, hearts, retweets, selfies and the hope of going viral on Tic Tok or becoming an “influencer” is the current measure of success in the world of social media. Let me let you in on a little secret…nobody really cares about you. You are insignificant. As a matter of fact, I’m insignificant. Every single one of us is insignificant, until…
In high school and your 20’s, you worry about what others think of you. In your 40’s you stop worrying about what others think about you and lastly…you know you’ve matured when you recognize nobody ever thought about you in the first place. In psychology, this is called the “Spotlight effect”? Every single one of us is insignificant, until…
There are 7.4 billion people on Earth. And every single one of those 7.4 billion (including me) were either cut out, pulled out or fell out of our mom’s uterus. Therefore, having a birthday is not that special. Heck, thousands will graduate with their Ph. D., tens of thousands will graduate with a BA or MA and millions will graduate from high school this year. Every single one of us is insignificant, until…
One of my favorite writers, Mark Twain said, “"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." My birthday on July 12th. But I also know why I was born. I was born to be a loving husband to my wife Christine, be a father to my sons, be a teacher and mentor for students and actually do things with and for my friends, family and community instead of simply typing “Thoughts and Prayers” on my phone or computer.
Sebastian…and the graduating class of 2020, we only have a limited amount of time on this Earth. Happiness and satisfaction do not come from selfies of the duck lips portrait, the over the shoulder turn and scoliosis of the back or the “hold the phone above my head and let me look sexy picture”. Sebastian and fellow graduates…every single one of us is insignificant. But you will reach true happiness, satisfaction and freedom whey you realize why you were born. This is when you actually become significant. Congratulations to the graduates. Love you Sebastian.
Here is link to the graduation ceremony:
Them moral of this story is...never underestimate the power of Mom. Not even a worldwide pandemic can stop her.
But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
The explosion of YouTube, Spotify and streaming services has given me the opportunity to relive childhood TV shows, movies and music. It's unimaginable to think about the amount of information and entertainment available at my fingertips. This has also allowed me to identify and understand context.
Previous generations always believe their generation is better than the current generation. I'm sure Cro Magnon man said, "What's wrong with these kids today?". I'm sure you've heard it from your grandparents, your parents and your teachers. Yes...I'm guilty of uttering the phrase as well.
I have come to two conclusions about the television shows and the music of my youth...
My definition of progress is based on improvement. The US and the world have made extraordinary progress towards issues of civil, women's and LGBT rights. And these changes have happened in a relatively recent and short time period of time. As recent as 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalized it in all fifty states, and required states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. I would argue that the past few decades have been as socially improved and transformative as any time in human history.
Unfortunately, other individuals define progress as movement. This movement does not necessarily mean movement towards freedom. Their definition of progress (movement) is fluid and restrictive that includes the banning of books, the muzzling of language and speech and anything else that may be deemed offensive. This is progress (movement).
Legally, is there such a thing as hate speech? What if a band wanted to name their group "The Slants"? The US Patent and Trademark Office denied the band's name because it could be disparaging to Asians. In October 2016, the US Supreme ruled in Matal v. Tam...
But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
My wife recently purchased an 8-pack of Kleenex On-The-Go Facial Tissue (see picture above) since it happens to be spring time and allergy time in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The product that is used to capture mucus will also provide me with inspirational guidance for life and success. Who needs Oprah, Tony Robbins, DJ Khaled or 'self-help' books to help you battle through life's barriers and obstacles when the answers to your self-doubt and personal struggles are printed on travel packs of facial tissue. As a matter of fact, I suggest that you find the transcripts or actually listen to the words of Oprah, Tony Robbins when they attempt to assist individuals become the "real you". What does "Believe in Yourself" actually mean? How do I "Summon my Strength"? Here is a link to video of DJ Khaled being interviewed on a web show. This show has guests eat hot wings as they are being interviewed. Don't focus on him eating the hot wings, but listen to what he is saying (or not saying) as he struggles to eat the hot wings;
Tony Robbins, Oprah and DJ Khaled are social media geniuses. They have been able to use their hard work and marketing skills for personal and financial success. More power to them...but do these self-help gurus actually say anything? As a matter of fact, would you be able to tell the difference between Oprah, Tony Robbins, DJ Kaleds or Kleenex's suggestions for success in life you simply read their quotes? Guess who said the following phrases:
The answers are 1 = Oprah, 2 = DJ Khaled, 3 = Kleenex, and 4 = Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins will guide you to "create a life that is filled with passion, achievement and reward, the most effective solution is through self-improvement and personal growth. But before you can successfully make a positive change, you must better understand what influences and drives you forward. Tony will be able to develop the understanding and skills to create change and defy your own limitations. Winners find a way and Tony Robbins can help you find yours at Unleash the Power Within." The cost to attend the Tony Robbins experience...$695-$2995. It must be worth it...it includes a "Fire walk Experience".
If Tony's workshops are a bit too expensive, how about listening to the queen of media and motivation...Oprah Winfrey. She launched a US arena tour in January aptly named the “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus”. The nine-city tour is ready to make 2020 “the year of transformation and triumph because 2020 is a time to have your vision in focus and to live up to all the dreams you’ve made for yourself,” So how much does it cost to “...come together to support a stronger, healthier, more abundant life–focused on what makes us feel energized, connected and empowered?": Ticket prices are...$69.50-$299.99.
Unfortunately, the current Covid-19 pandemic has postponed the Tony Robbins and Oprah life experiences. How in the world are the thousands of people planning on improving their lives supposed to find their "true self"? Well, for the price of a Starbucks Venti Caffè Americano, you can purchase an 8-pack of Kleenex On-The-Go Facial Tissue with inspirational quotes printed on each pack. I would consider these more useful than an evening with Oprah or a weekend with Tony Robbins. At least you can blow your nose into Kleenex. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
I celebrated my 50th birthday in 2017. My wife threw a great party for me. It was an evening filled with family, friends, wood fired pizza and dancing. What else should happen at the age of 50wdeq?...the American Cancer Society also recommends a screening for colon cancer via colonoscopy. Happy birthday to me!!!
I first need to set the timeline. My wife, Christine, made my appointment for my colonoscopy weeks in advance for Monday, December 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM.
Friday, December 8, 2017: Two friends (Jay and Nick) of mine decided to have breakfast and play a round of golf. Jay was really excited to tell me about his new investment in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is basically digital money. Individuals can sell, buy or transfer currency using "digital" technology that is virtually non-traceable. Cryptocurrency is also a very risky investment. I had heard of Bitcoin three years earlier as an alternative to gold, silver and the mighty dollar. The price of one Bitcoin jumped from $800 to $11,000 in three years.
Jay mentioned that he had invested money in a new type of cryptocurrency called Litecoin. The price of one Litecoin was $97.00 when we started our round of golf. Jay continued to see the price of Litecoin creeping up as we continued to play our round of golf. Litecoin was at $108 by the time we finished our round of golf. This was an 11% increase in about 5 hours.
I came home and started doing some research about the potential role of cryptocurrencies in financial markets and the potential risks/rewards of investing in digital currency. I decided to purchase $600 (of my own savings) of Litecoin that afternoon. To my surprise, Litecoin was now at $113 per coin. But I didn't tell my wife.
Saturday, December 9, 2017. The price of Litecoin is now nearing $200 per coin. Cha-ching!
Sunday, December 10, 2017. I start drinking the fluids required to clean out my digestive system for my colonoscopy the next morning...and those fluids really cleaned me out. I would keep checking the prices of Litecoin as I sat on the toilet and as I watched NFL football (it's Sunday). The price per coin was $290 per coin by Sunday evening. Christine will be so excited when I tell her about my investment. I'll surprise her with an amazing trip around the world. We're gonna' be rich!
Monday, December 11, 2017. It's go time! My lovely wife takes me to the doctor's office for my procedure. The nurse, anesthesiologist and doctor give me an overview of the process and off to "sleep" I go as they proceed to stick a camera up my butt (I mention that the drugs they used for the procedure were fantastic). The next thing I remember as I come out of my colonoscopy slumber is the following conversation:
Nurse: Is this your husband?
Christine: Yes he is.
Nurse: He's keeping a secret from you.
Christine: (Holds my hand and gently caresses my hip.) Hi honey. How are you feeling?
Joe: I feel great. Is it over?
Christine: Yup. You did great. Oh by the way...I hear you are keeping a secret from me.
Joe: Yea. I bought $600 worth of Litecoin on Friday and it's now worth about $1900 in three days. I was going to surprise you with a trip around the world about five years from now. We're going to be rich.
Christine: Oh is that it? (Nurse and Christine laugh)
On the drive home, Christine said that I was mumbling on the hospital bed about how I was keeping a secret from my wife. The dang nurse "dropped a dime on me"! The moral of the story is...the person that drives you home from a colonoscopy should be a friend that can keep a secret because nurses can't keep a secret.
By the way...I don't think we're traveling any time soon. Litecoin is currently at $44 per coin. (April 8, 2017)
Second moral of the story...please see you doctor for regular physicals and check-ups. The best way to beat an illness or disease is early recognition. But what the heck do I know...I'm only Joe.
Historically, a campus wide "Welcome Back" event to celebrate the beginning of the new semester is held on Thursday prior to the beginning of the semester at Bakersfield College. The Spring 2020 gathering was no different. Several hundred students, staff, faculty and administrators filled the Performing Arts Center. The agenda is usually several individuals presenting information and data of past accomplishments and upcoming goals...but this "Welcome Back" event was a bit different.
A large portion of the event was dedicated to "Active Shooter" training. It started with a video produced by the Sandy Hook Promise. You can watch the video below.
Although powerful and emotional, I was enraged. I was now sitting in the middle of hundreds of emotionally dazed students and colleagues. The theater that was originally filled with anticipation for the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester was now filled with students and colleagues thinking to themselves, "I'm going to die", "We are destined a horrible disaster" and "It's not a matter of if...but WHEN".
We live in the greatest country in the world. Our freedom provides opportunities for individuals to prosper, but freedom also comes with a price. Our free society also provides opportunities for individuals to commit illegal or horrible acts of violence. "Crazy" or "Emotionally Disturbed" can not be legislated away without abolishing freedoms. As a matter of fact, it's difficult to identify how or why a "disturbed" individual thinks because they are "disturbed". Why would people fly planes into the Twin Towers? Why would a person shoot towards hundreds of concert goers in Las Vegas? Why would a person shoot church goers in Charleston, South Carolina? Psychologists, academics, and law enforcement investigate post-mortem in the hopes of preventing future tragedies. There may be a few patterns or behaviors that were exhibited prior to the horrible event. Maybe he (Yes, most violent acts are committed by males) played violent video games, raised in a home without a father, was addicted to drugs, was abused as a child, listened to violent music or did not take his prescribed medications. But as science has shown us, correlation is not causation. Unfortunately, this also means that will be more shootings in the future and we will not be able to prevent future events.
But I digress, this is not why I was enraged. I was enraged because people simply don't understand basic math and probabilities. Magician, Penn Jillette says, "Las Vegas was built for and by people that are really bad at Math." If we simply look at the probabilities of a shooting event at Bakersfield College or any school in the city of Bakersfield, the odds are extremely LOW. Students, staff, faculty and BC Administrators have a higher probability (although still extremely low) of being attacked by a mountain lion on the Panorama Bluffs. Are students and staff provided training against mountain lion attacks? Of course not, "What are the chance of that happening to any of us"? This is my point!
An active shooter or a mountain lion attacks are equivalent to winning the lottery. As a matter of fact, studies show that school shooter simulations do much more harm than good to the psyche of kids.
Here is a tip that has saved my life, my family's lives and the lives of others...and it only cost about $5.00: Drum roll please...a tire gauge. Data from US Department of Transportation reported 738 deaths in 2017 due to tire malfunction. Checking our tires is cheap, simple and quick. But let's not worry about things and events we can actually save lives versus random acts of chaos and violence.
By the way, our world and country are currently in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you still believe adults are competent in math, take a look at social media posts and see how great adults are at interpreting data and graphs. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is a nationwide youth soccer organization. Both of my sons played in the AYSO from the ages 8 to 12. I am extremely thankful for all of the time and effort provided by volunteer coaches and referees. Youth soccer in the US is really just a game of "kick and chase a ball". Parents scream, "Kick the ball, (insert child's name here)". Of the 20 players on the field (not including the two goalies), 14 young soccer players run towards the ball and kick the ball in a random directions. The other six players are looking at the plane flying over head, admiring the beautiful yellow dandelion flowers in the grass or having a conversation with a fellow teammate. The referee blows the whistle and the final score is either 1-0 or 12-0. This is when the fun (for me) begins.
At conclusion of the game, the parents jump out of their camping chairs, run toward the center of the field, extend their arms at a 45 degree angle above their head and form the "Yeah Bridge". The kids run through the human tunnel as the parents sing in unison, "Yeahhhhhhhhh." Do the kids care that they lost the game by double digits? Do they care that they didn't use the fundamental skills of dribbling and passing the ball that their coach taught them during practice? Heck no. Post-game priority is snacks and Capri Sun juice pouches. We tell our kids, "You did a great job", even though the other team just hung a dozen goals on their team. And the score would have been even more lopsided if the opposing coach didn't pull their best player out of the game in the middle of the game.
The kids leave the field with a belly full of sugars and an over-inflated view of their talents and skills. I have never participated in a "Yeah Bridge.". Why celebrate kids running in a park...this is called "recess" or "playing" if parents are not sitting on the sidelines. I blame my generation. We screwed it up. Some how our children are precious and can never feel any shame, pain or strain. We are not doing our kids any favors by providing them with a false of accomplishment and self-esteem. One of the largest obstacles astronauts face in space is zero-gravity. The body deteriorates without outside forces. About 25% of the International Space Station's crew members time is spent imposing physical stress on their bodies. Force, tension and resistance make the body and the mind stronger
Will either of my sons ever play in the World Cup...? NO WAY. What they were able to do is learn some basic soccer fundamentals, make friends and increase their chances of getting childhood diabetes from the metric ton of Rice Crispy Treats they consumed post-game. They also recognized when I was truly proud of them after they made beautiful pass, hustled to their position or lent a hand to teammate or opponent that fell on the field. Self-esteem is earned and not given. Please provide our children with an environment of support and love by providing accolades when they actually accomplish or improve on a task or activity.
My college Biology students will be taking an exam next Thursday. I told them to study hard and to take advantage of campus resources to succeed in the class. Most of my students will not do very well on my first exam. As a matter of fact this may be the first time for several of them to fail an exam. But that's okay..I told them that I will form a "Yeah Bridge" for them as they leave the classroom. At least they will FEEL better about themselves. Unfortunately for them, I do not provide snacks and juice boxes after the test.
But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
I woke up this morning to the news that the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump. The votes cast to impeach were largely along party lines. This event reminded me of an incident that occurred several weeks ago.
Who does not like a fresh doughnut in the morning? About once a month, I'll sneak out of the house on a Sunday morning to purchase some doughnuts for my family. The local doughnut shop is usually filled with well-dressed men and women picking up boxes of doughnuts for church and with families sitting at tables enjoying a morning treat. One particular morning, I noticed a mother sitting with her young, teen-aged daughter enjoying their pastries. What made this experience unique was her daughter was wearing a MAGA hat (Make America Great Again). MAGA hats are the equivalent to a fuse on a stick of dynamite. Light the fuse, and an explosion will be soon to follow.
I had a mixed rush of emotions rush through my veins. Social media depicts MAGA wearing individuals as dumb, racist and homophobic. MAGA hats are also seen as a "middle finger" to the culture of political correctness and social justice. I purchased two chocolate bar doughnuts, two pink-sprinkled doughnuts and a half-dozen doughnut holes and calmly walked over toward their table. I could feel a bit of trepidation as I approached their table . I made the following statement to the mother with her young teen:
"Hello. I'm sorry to interrupt your breakfast. Mom...I just wanted to tell you that I do not agree with many of president's policies and am disappointed by many of his comments and statements. But something I will absolutely support is your daughter's freedom to support the President of the United States of America by wearing her hat in public without being ridiculed or harassed. Mom...you've done a great job of providing your daughter with the courage and strength to wear the hat with pride. Well done, mom. Have a great day."
I didn't know how they would respond, so I immediately turned towards the door and left the premises without waiting for a reply or a "Thank you". My guess is that I am in the majority of individuals that believe in "live and let live". Love your family, support your community, listen to dissenting views, solve problems and make this great country even better. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
Me and my wife celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. I reminisced by looking back at the pictures and videos taken by the photographer and our friends and family. I realized I'd forgotten about 90% of my wedding day.
Most females start dreaming about her wedding day when she is a toddler. A male prepares for his wedding when his fiance says it's time to select "colors and fonts for the invitations." Preparations for our "special day" also included, selecting a photographer, the DJ, the menu, the cake, the location for the reception, tuxedos, brides maid dresses, invitations and of course...the mariachi. Wedding preparations also included several arguments, heated discussions and many boxes of Kleenex to wipe away tears,
Our wedding day was over in a blink of an eye. Were the thousands of tears and calories spent on preparing for the wedding worth it? I didn't remember the color of the napkins, the flavor of the cake, the center pieces or the name of the DJ. Let me tell you the four things I remember from my wedding day;
The state of California is like the "pretty girl" or "hot guy" sitting by themselves in the corner of a bar. They have the physical attributes that make them attractive. But when you approach them and speak with them...they are bat-shit crazy. California's physical attributes include amazing shorelines, national parks (e.g. Yosemite and Sequoias National Park...), beautiful deserts and perfect weather. California also has the worst traffic in the world, an educational system that is in shambles, tons of bureaucracy (try going to the DMV to obtain the new "Real" ID) and a dramatic increase in homelessness. California is willing to throw money at these problems. California has the highest state income tax in the nation at 13.3%. This doesn't include the recent increases in gas taxes, car registrations fees and local sales taxes. The increased tax revenue should mean that better roads, bridges, schools, electrical and water infrastructure and a decrease in poverty and homelessness. Unfortunately, tax payers are not seeing a return on their investment.
Let me focus on homelessness problem in California. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness data reveals that there were almost 130,000 homeless in January of 2018. And rates continue to rise despite programs targeted to help the homeless. The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, looks to help the homeless by building more homes. The solution to the homelessness problem is within the name...HOME-LESS. Here is the solution...if we give them homes, they will no longer be HOME-LESS. People are not on the streets because they recently lost their job. They are on the streets because they are 1) mentally ill, 2) have a chemical addiction or 3) think it would be "neat" to experience living on the streets.
There are two problems with simply providing a home. First of all, are we attacking the root of the problem? The house has a leak, the house is flooding and we just want to replace some of the drywall. Let's find and fix the actual leak in the pipe. Secondly, even if the state, county or city wanted to build more housing, the cost of building more homes would be astronomical due to the multitude of layers of bureaucracy required to build new homes.
Let's attack the real sources of homelessness and truly help those in need with effective solutions. Do not call it "homelessness" from this day forward. Let's call them what they really are...people that are mentally ill and/or addicted that require professional assistance.
Let's stop the house from flooding by fixing the leak in the pipe. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.