Variety is the spice of life. I’ve discovered the truth of that statement again during the days of substituting. Some days I know in what subject I’ll be substituting, but many days are filled with surprises.
On many days, I enter the school knowing what the day will be like. Maybe it’s because I’ve done a good job or because teachers are familiar with me, but for whatever reason, I walk into rooms and students automatically groan or shake their heads. They know that I am friendly but demand that they do the work left from them, even if we all know the assignments are nothing more than busy work. Sometimes I allow students to listen to music on their phones; however, some teachers instruct me to have students keep their phones in book bags or pockets.
Young people have much smaller bladders than folks in my generation. Otherwise, why would so many ask to go to the restroom sometime during class? I learned the first day of subbing that refusal to let a child go was frowned upon by school offices. What I do insist is that each person who leaves lays his or her phone on my desk before exiting. That causes some arguments as students want to know why I insist they leave them. I answer that if I have their phones, I know they are coming back. Enough said.
On other days, I arrive at a school without having any idea what subject I’ll cover. Upon picking up the sub folder, I sometimes laugh and sometimes groan with the news of what my job for the day is. Underclass courses are sometimes painful to endure. I’m not much into immature behavior, and those classes often have students who try to be funny or to challenge a sub. I’m not usually amused with their humor, and I don’t plan on allowing any student to take over a class.
It’s ironic that some of my jobs are in math classes. People who know me realize I am a weak student in that discipline. On one occasion, a class was taking a test, and one student came up and asked me to help him. I declined, he asked again, and I declined. On the third request, I told him that I couldn’t help him even if I wanted to because I had no clue what he was doing.
I’ve also subbed in biology and chemistry classes, two other areas in which I am deficient. The students worked on their assignments, but at some point, they all mentally wandered away from them. Who can blame them? I remember how confusing biology was in high school and college. I didn’t bother with enrolling in a chemistry course; I figured that learning symbols and working labs would end in a failing grade.
Just the other day, I sat in for a teacher’s human studies classes. Old folks, that’s what we once knew as home economics. The new name goes along with the educational jargon that systems now use. The students worked in groups. Some of them completed information on nutrition, food borne illnesses, and parenting. The other groups were in the kitchens. They whipped up batches of zucchini bread during the period. I spent my time supervising as they cooked and offered suggestions, such as to be careful using a grater so that they didn’t bleed into the recipe. Some of my time was spent folding wash clothes and towels and washing and drying pans and utensils. I fit right in.
Not every day is a winner in the subbing business. However, some are fun or bearable enough to make the job worth doing. I like walking into something different each day, as long as the students aren’t behavior problems. Even after all the years away from the classroom, I still enjoy the company of teachers and the vitality of students.


Predictions for the fate of the world are dire. According to scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the temperature will rise 2.7 degrees by 2030, and that can lead to catastrophic floods, droughts, wild fires, and food shortages throughout the world. Most of those things already occur in our country. We’ve witnessed unprecedented hurricanes, downpours of rain, and fires.
The simple sounding solution to the problem requires that all of us drastically reduce carbon emissions. The difficulty with that is most folks love their cars too much to give them up, and they don’t want to give up the convenience of throw away packaging made of plastics. Our immediate comfort is more important than keeping this planet in a state that will sustain life.
I remember the past and don’t want to go back to it. However, we might learn a couple of things from that simpler life. The first deals with recycling. Yes, that activity has been going on for a long time.
These days, we throw plastic containers in recycling bins, and the materials are re-used to produce other items. That is a logical step since it takes approximately 450 years for a plastic bottle to completely degrade.  
In an earlier time, most bottles were made with glass. The price charged for soft drinks included a deposit on every bottle. We boys used to walk the ditches on Ball Camp Pike in search of ones that had been tossed from passing cars. We’d return them to the store down the road and collect a few cents with which we bought candy or bubble gum.

A huge dent could be made in the garbage that is produced if companies returned to the use of glass bottles and deposits on them. In 2010, 25.7 billion cases of Coca-Cola were produced. Just think of the amount of energy demanded to produce the plastic bottles for even a fraction of them, and think of how many bottles have been discarded in dumps where they will exist for the next four centuries. Returning glass containers makes more sense in the overall scheme of things.
Energy demands increase yearly. Our thirst for electricity to run appliances, televisions, and chargers requires plants to release more pollutants into the atmosphere. Not so long ago, air conditioning was a luxury that few homes had. Now, we all have it and rarely leave its comfort. I’m not necessarily calling for a return to electric fans and open windows, although both could be used during spring and fall seasons. Instead, I suggest that folks
adjust the thermostat. Instead of keeping the house a bone-chilling 68 degrees in the summer, a family might turn the temperature to 70 or even 72. In winters, the reverse would hold true— 68 degrees instead of 72. The savings for the consumer would be substantial, and the amount of life-killing carbon dioxide would be cut.
If we are to survive, one thing holds true: we must develop vehicles that run on something other than gas. Many electric cars already travel the highways. Our citizens must demand that manufacturers produce these vehicles so that they can travel longer distances. Yes, we might also insist that those electric cars have more appealing body styles.
The average passenger vehicle coughs out 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Multiply that by millions of cars we in the U.S. own, and some idea of the problem comes into view.
We are choking ourselves, other animals, and plants to death with our cars. Car manufacturers, like cigarette companies, have addicted us to gas-guzzling vehicles, and deciding to rid ourselves of them will be an enormous problem. However, the alternative is that in the near future, our lives will become miserable as all sorts of disasters befall us.
If the threats that are predicted are real, the time is short to make even a modest 


Life decisions are often difficult ones for us humans to make. Unlike our dogs, who wile away the days sleeping, sunning, playing, and eating, we must make choices. The tough part about making those choices is having to also accept and live with the consequences.
As small children, we learned as we grew. Sure, life was easy in comparison to the one a grown-up led, but lessons were many times difficult. I came from a generation that quickly learned what was appropriate. A wrong course of action many times resulted in a swat to the bottom. In most cases, I understood what the expectations were and what the difference between right and wrong was. Not once was I placed in time-out and instructed to think about what action would have been better, nor did I ever hear from my parents what amounted to “stop…our I’ll say stop again.” So, when I did choose to do something that broke the rules, I knew I had to suffer the consequences.
The same held true just a few years later. Part of being a teen included our making bad, often stupid decisions. Staying out passed curfew (that’s that time when we were to be home) meant opening the door to a worried, fuming parents. Drinking alcohol with friends most often ended in the dry heaves over a toilet. Racing the car led to wrecks, tickets, and loss of driving privileges. Teenagers were too big to spank, so parents “grounded” them instead. Being trapped at home with no hope of escape was much worse than the temporary pain from corporal punishment. In all cases, we teens made conscious decisions and knew that we deserved whatever consequences came our way.
During our adult lives, we’ve acted in ways that sometimes have run counter to our best interests. We’ve associated with the wrong groups of people who enjoyed doing things outside the lines. We took the chance of running afoul of the law. At other times, we lived a life well beyond our means and then discovered that the debts we’d incurred would take years to be paid. Sadly, some of us made the wrong choices in personal relationships. They ended with the pain of divorce or separation, and other our lives were forever impacted or colored by the broken bonds.
What is common about all of these situations, as well as life in general, is the principle of “action equals consequence.” The same hold true for the political elections that just occurred. People made choices of candidates. I’m afraid that instead or researching the persons running to discover their truths that most people chose based on what they felt (emotions) or what they saw (negative ads). In either case, the American electorate acted in choosing their representatives. This year’s race inspired a flood of voters, something not usual for a midterm election. That is the positive of our democracy. People determine the face and body of this government. Sometimes, it’s beautiful; sometimes, it’s monstrous.
The part to remember is that now that folks have made their decisions, they must be willing to accept the consequences of their actions. No one needs to whine about losing rights; not a single person needs to carp about a spiraling national debt; never should people snap about “how corrupt the folks in Washington are;” no worries should be uttered about the plight of others less fortunate or of our world affairs. The majority spoke to elect the ones who are in; they must now live with the things that those elected officials do.
It might prove to be wise for people to remember that choices always have consequences. That might prevent them from selecting poor leaders the next cycle. If not, then those folks will certainly need to sit down, shut up, and accept what is coming.


Sometimes, fits of honesty come over me, even though I try diligently to fight them off. It’s during those times that being truthful makes me see and admit my shortcomings. Upon reflection, I finally have to admit that my negatives are glaringly obvious. At the top of the list is my lack of tolerance for some folks.
I am less than kind to bad drivers. You know the ones to whom I refer. They drive in the passing lane at less than the speed limit. Not for a minute do they think of moving over so that others can pass.
At the same time, the folks that drive as if the Interstate were a racetrack infuriate me. They insist that
everyone yield to them, and if a car is traveling at the speed limit or a bit over, these morons tailgate the person. They think that maneuver will force the car in front to move. My ire rises as my foot lets off the accelerator. When I have passed the cars who are in the other lane, I “ease” over, never hurrying to get out of the speeder’s way.
I am most prejudice against those drivers who zip down the right side of the road and then cut into a packed lane of traffic. Under no circumstances will I allow them to pull in front of me. On some occasions, they’ve come within inches of hitting my vehicle because they thought I would just stop when they turned on a signal light. “It ain’t happening.” Call that road rage if you want to, but I refuse to allow drivers with no regard for others to take what they want when they want it.
I also have no tolerance for lazy students. Yes, I was a one of the worst students in my high school class. Even with that, however, I did enough to make it to college. There I studied constantly and struggled as the result of my poor efforts earlier. The world now is a much more demanding place for
people. Without an education, individuals become a part of to 8-40-52 club. That stands for $8.00 an hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, equating to $16,640 a year before taxes are taken out.
Young people who refuse to work in school are dooming themselves. I have no patience with them and want to grab them by their collars and tell them that being lazy now will result in hours of hard labor for years to come. I want them to become proficient in something. If college isn’t for them (it isn’t the great panacea that some paint it to be), they must learn a trade of some kind. Their skills must be such that the closing of an assembly line or a fast food restaurant doesn’t doom them to a life without income.
I reserve my greatest anger for those who abuse animals. I’ve seen so many photos and stories about the mistreatment of pets. Owners fail to feed them. They are housed in deplorable conditions. Some
are beaten or kicked for doing what animals naturally do.
The abuse of a child or another adult is unconscionable; the acts of cruelty to an animal are every bit as evil. No pet should ever be placed in the hands of such a disgusting person, and it is the job of each of us to report abuse when we discover it.
I am not much of a forgiving person. Admittedly, I easily identify others mistakes while being blind to my own. Maybe more time should be spent on my personal faults and less on others. That’s a nice thing to say, but the truth is that I’ll still steam at the acts of these groups. I’m a work in progress, but the work is much and the progress is little.


The past weeks have been exhausting. No, working hasn’t been difficult; home is still the same, even with son Dallas and his dog Harvey staying with us for a while; the grass has slowed down so that I can keep up with it now. What’s just plain sucked all the energy from me is the political scene and the lies that dominate it.
The Kavanaugh debacle filled the airways with lies. The Republicans and Democrats both spun every
aspect of the affair to their own advantages. Allegations by Dr. Ford rocked everyone on both sides of the aisle. The problem became figuring out how to confirm a man who had been accused of sexual assault . If the victim were as credible as all declared, how could Kavanaugh be confirmed? If he had been unjustly accused, apologies were owed to him.
On the heels of that event came the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia took time to cover their tracks in the commission of this murder. With the entire world watching, Saudi leaders lied over
and over as they struggled to find a story that would stick. Next, some government officials tried to tie Khashoggi to extremist groups in an effort to discredit the horror of his death. What remains is the fact that the man entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey and never came out. Neither the leaders from the Middle East nor the ones in our country can put a spin on this story that will make it acceptable.
What is most important to all politicians is that their sides come out on top. For some reason, “the common good” has been erased from the workings of the government. In its place, the self-serving actions of representatives who are hell-bent on keeping their jobs are witnessed every day.
Right now, the airwaves are bombarded with political ads paid for by candidates or PACs. They spend millions of dollars telling voters that opponents running for office are liars. The worst about individuals is spread across television screens; however, most of the stuff consists of half-truths or out-and-out lies. Our politicians now appeal to the public’s baser instincts.
Even the executive branch of the government is filled with lies. Leaders of government departments have been caught using “alternative facts.” They’ve lived in luxury at the taxpayers’ expense, and when questioned about their actions, these people either swear they didn’t know the acts were wrong or that someone else led them astray. Their actions defraud the American people and damage the agencies which they oversee.
When we were children, our parents told us that lying was bad. It was that simple. Some of us were punished for fibbing. As parents ourselves, we’ve passed along to our children the wrongness of telling lies. How are they to believe us when after witnessing the folks who lead our country telling untruths or bending facts to support their agendas?
According to legend, George Washington stated he could not tell a lie when asked if he cut down a cherry tree. The principle of telling the truth is, in large part, firmly fixed in that story. How disgusted the first president would be if he were to experience the rapid-fire lying that has become part of the country’s leadership. We owe it to ourselves to demand better from the country’s elected officials and to insist that they serve as models of truthful individuals. In short, we need the president and our representatives to speak out and be true leaders.