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PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
July 8, 2020

Here's a thought experiment regarding schools

My son is a young adult and has been out of school for a while so the issue of re-opening schools doesn't impact me on an immediate personal level. And to be clear, I'm not sure what the big picture solution is for our education systems. What I do know is that if we send the kids back to the schools, we'll experience additional spikes of Covid-19. But if we continue with the ad hoc online lessons, our kids won't learn effectively and they'll lose the social lessons schools can provide. So, what follows is simply a mental exercise. (To be totally open, I have no affiliation or personal experience with the education program I'll reference.)

In the late 1980s, I met a family of four who had spent more than ten years sailing around the world on their 50-foot sailboat. Their stories and adventures were fantastic and the closeness of the family and the poise and erudition of the two daughters were remarkable.

When they set sail, the girls were in elementary school and to continue their education, they enrolled in a home schooling program designed and supervised by the University of Nebraska. This program is accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED) and the Nebraska Department of Education and their AP courses are approved by the College Board. There are other similar programs and they are all first-class.

The lessons are integrated among the various educational disciplines to create an educational continuity. Coupled with their traveling experiences, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the girls' educations. They continued their home/sailboat schooling through high school and both were admitted to excellent universities upon their return to dry land.

I was curious to discover that the University of Nebraska program was old, comprehensive and very successful. It was started in the 1920s to provide education for farming families who lived too far away for regular schooling. Their programs require adult supervision and I believe that written papers and tests are sent back to the University for review by teachers.

From a quick skim of their website, it appears to be kind of expensive: $250 for a one semester/5 credit course and $450 for a two semester/10 credit course. When you consider a proper curriculum entails 4-7 classes, the tuition can escalate quickly! In addition, books and materials cost extra. If anyone is interested, here's a link:


On the other hand, the recent past has shown that remote learning through Zoom, etc. is of limited benefit. There are many disciplines that cannot be effectively taught online. Student supervision has been a big problem for many teachers. The solutions to these issues are elusive. If I had to make a choice today, I would seriously consider one of these university directed programs. It would be a considerable commitment in time and treasure but it would provide a superior education to the mess we're facing now.

June 27, 2020

I remember her fondly

We dated for about 2-1/2 years then stayed friendly for another 5 or so before losing touch. I always wondered where her life took her.

Twenty years later, we re-connected through a mutual friend. With phone calls and email, we reestablished a friendship and shared our respective lives. Although we never saw one another, and there were no illusions or fantasies about getting together, we had our history as a bridge to our new relationship.

Then one day, I got a phone call from her daughter with whom I had spoken on several occasions. My first love had died suddenly at only 58 years old. For about an hour, I stared at a blank wall trying to comprehend my feelings.

Although I'm a very happily married man sharing a wonderful life, there is a hole in my heart.

June 19, 2020

Of course Bolton is an asshole!

It's so ludicrous to try to portray Bolton as some kind of patriot.

A patriot would have stood up when they heard Trump tilting foreign policy to his own electoral benefit.

Bolton did not do that.

A patriot would have stood up and testified when the U.S. House of Representatives was hearing evidence in the impeachment process.

Bolton did not do that.

Instead, Bolton tried to hold onto his "ace-in-the-hole" in order to hype the sales of his book detailing the criminality of the man that Bolton served for 17 months. He put his own financial gain ahead of the nation he had sworn to serve.

Bolton is no patriot.

And I'm supposed to respect him because he's telling the truth about Trump? I've known the truth about Trump since the 1980s. Glad to see you've caught up with the rest of us, Bolton.

Too little and way too late, Walrus Boy.

June 6, 2020

Regarding Trump's trip to the bunker

For the past week, it's been fun to poke Trump about his hiding in the basement when the crowds were at the gates. As usual, Trump makes the story even worse for himself by coming up with a ridiculous story.

All he had to do was tell the truth: The Secret Service perceived a dangerous threat to the perimeter of the White House grounds. It was their call to protect the president (and his family, I guess) by escorting him to the safe facility. I believe the Secret Service has the authority to over-rule anyone in such a circumstance. All Trump had to do was tell the truth. No one would have mocked him because the Service was just doing their job, (which they do very well).

But Trump can't help himself. He has to lie to try to make himself look tough. Yet, just the opposite occurred. Trump looked like a frighted little boy who then had to puff out his chest and tell everyone how strong he is. And the walk to the church wasn't just a PR disaster, it was blasphemous since he was using a church and the Bible as political props.

All he had to do was tell the truth. But he can't.

It's because Trump is an idiot.

May 23, 2020

We attended a wedding yesterday

My nephew and his fiancee have been planning their wedding for a year and chose May 22nd as their date. When the coronavirus made it clear that everyone wouldn't be able to attend, they pushed the date back to July. In the last few weeks, however, it became clear that that date wasn't going to work either.

In a sign of our times, they reinstated the original date and got married on Zoom. They had a beautiful day for their ceremony and the groom's brother-in-law performed the wedding. They had to limit the number of attendees to 15 and the ceremony took place outdoors with appropriate social distancing. There appeared to be over 50 people tuned in for the event and it was wonderful to be able to be a part of their wedding.

Some observations that struck me:

-We didn't have to travel 4 hours each way
-We didn't have to get a hotel room
-We didn't have to get dressed up (one couple in their bathing suits was watching from a beach)
-I didn't have to dance at the reception (I suck!)

So, all in all, it was a terrific experience and my nephew and his wife are happily married.

In the future, I guess there will be weddings where the couple will be separated but they'll get married remotely!

Modern life... ain't it great?!

May 21, 2020

Hey, busterbrown! My wife and I played today, too!

We played the resort course at Villa Roma in Sullivan County, NY. It was a glorious sunny day with temperatures in the mid-70s. The course was in pristine condition and the greens were nearly perfect.

The Covid-preventative features were:

- Face masks required in the clubhouse; no more than four people at a time in the pro shop.
- Carts are disinfected after each use; one to a cart unless the golfers live together.
- Flagsticks remain in the holes; there are foam rings in the bottom of the cup so the ball doesn't drop all the way in. This was way better than when I played in Virginia last week where the foam filled the hole and all you had to do was hit it with the ball.
- No rakes in the sand bunkers; no ball washers; no water coolers on the course.
- Restrooms were open but wear your mask.
- The restaurant was closed but the pro shop had beer, sodas, juices and snack food; the course has lifted its "no coolers" policy.

Once we teed off, it felt like a normal day. Although my wife is a beginner (bless her!), I'm addicted to the sport and I had a pretty good round playing from the blue tees measured at 6120 yards. The course is located in the Lower Catskills so it's quite mountainous with lots of elevation changes. The views are spectacular!

Although there were other players on the course, we were comfortably surrounded most of the day by at least a hole on either side of us. This was good for my wife because she gets flustered if she feels were holding up the course. Since there were two foursomes ahead of us and two behind us, there wasn't much of a backup during our 3-1/2 hour round.

Golf is probably one of the safest sports in regards to social distancing. It is a magnificent feeling to be out on the course again!

April 23, 2020

At least months

Let's face it: Until there are antibody tests, treatments and a vaccine, this disease is going to be around and we'll have to socially distance until we have those tools. Businesses will be irreparably changed, schooling will be very different and our previously normal social activities will never be the same.

Even with fast-tracking and relaxing of testing protocols, a vaccine won't be available in 2020. So more people will become infected and more people will die. The disease isn't Trump's fault but his lazy dismissiveness and inattentiveness will cause suffering and death for many Americans. MAGA, my ass.

I'm lucky to have my best friend (my wife) to isolate with. We're able to do some of our work remotely and we're developing a "new normal" for our day-to-day lives. Our big thrills of the week are when we leave the property to go to the post office, the dump or the supermarket! Sometimes, we'll go for a long drive through the Catskill Mountains and with gas so cheap, I don't feel any anxiety about the supply for now.

I'm with you, leftylady, this feels really weird. I have no idea when we'll be able to go home to our NYC apartment but I know it won't be soon. Several weeks ago, I changed my mailing address to a P.O. Box here in Pennsylvania making this the 6th state I've officially lived in. We were thinking of retiring here just not this soon!

April 16, 2020

Have you ever traveled to the American South?

Those who fly the CSA battle flag are clueless about their flag. They also lack any self awareness about their bigotry, ignorance and treasonous desires.

I've often wondered what our nation would look like if the North had prosecuted and executed the traitorous leaders of the Confederacy. My thought is that by trying to quickly heal the nation following the Civil War, our country's leaders failed completely in that goal. By allowing the criminals to go free, their supporters were able to build the myth that the South would rise again. I also think that the racism that has plagued us would have taken a less destructive trajectory had those treasonous and divisive leaders been held to account.

That flag is the most un-American banner I can imagine! The Confederation wanted to dissolve the United States. That's a fact and, frankly, I don't care to debate what their reasons were, (although I know exactly what motivated them). Don't we pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag and the U.S. Republic, in part, saying, "One nation, under God, indivisible..."?

Do those idiots carrying those ugly flags know what that word means?

Perhaps there's an historical lesson for us should VP Biden become our next president. Don't let these bastards run free or the results will be long-lasting.

April 14, 2020

My business is changing forever, I think

I work with Broadway musicals and represent the writers of some classic shows and songs. The music business has undergone tremendous changes in the last decade and the income streams available to creative writers have, in many cases, dried to a trickle.

In the past, songwriters and their publishers could count on various royalties for income. These included mechanical royalties (for the sale of records, tapes and CDs), public performance royalties (for radio, TV and live performances), printed sheet music, commercial licensing, theatrical licenses (for the use of songs in stage plays) and synchronization licenses (for the use of songs in a motion picture, television show or other video-type use).

Today, the only viable income stream is the last, sync licenses. The rest of the list above has become nearly irrelevant. Music creators and their publishers have had to re-tool and re-focus their business models to adapt to this reality.

One aspect of these profound changes is that almost all of the business transactions-- from pitch through negotiation to final agreement and payment-- are done by email. It doesn't matter where the individuals are located as long as they have internet access.

My wife and I retreated from New York City to our mountain house in the Catskills over a month ago in anticipation of the self-isolating that we're all experiencing. Through good fortune, I've been able to keep working with my clients' "intellectual property rights" and continue to make good business for them. I think this is going to be a new model for this sliver of the entertainment business that I inhabit.

February 26, 2020

An encounter with a Trump supporter

Last weekend, I went to a Long Island golf course that I used to belong to. I wanted to donate a set of clubs to their First Tee Program which provides encouragement for underprivileged kids to learn the game. While I was there, I ran into a number of old golfing buddies including a pro with whom I had becomes close friends over the years. He taught my son how to play and he has invited me to play in several Pro-Ams, a couple of which we won.

As we were chatting, he began to make political comments. In itself, this was unusual. There's an unwritten rule of etiquette that the two things you never talk about at the golf course are religion and politics. I chose to say nothing but he went on to praise all of the great accomplishments Trump has brought to the U.S. After a couple of minutes, I asked him where he gets his news information. Unsurprisingly, he said he watches Fox News. His comments illustrated that he was somewhat disconnected from reality. He also went on to praise Trump's golf courses. I played three of his courses before he announced his candidacy: they suck and they're ridiculously expensive.

My response to his comments was three-fold. First, I told him that Fox "News" had admitted in court that they were not a news organization but an entertainment outlet. Second, I told him that he was foolish to vote as if he were in the 1% when he's nowhere near that level of wealth. I reminded him that he could not have afforded his double-knee replacement were he not covered by the ACA, also known as Obamacare, (I wanted to needle him a little). Lastly, I scolded him for violating the unwritten rule of etiquette regarding religion and politics.

He responded by saying he was surprised to learn that I was a liberal! He also apologized for bringing up politics.

I like this man and he's been very generous with his golf talents. But it baffled me to see and hear him spouting such utter bullshit and assume that I would be in complete agreement with him.

It's become increasingly clear to me that there are 40% of Americans who are clueless, stupid and/or evil. As a country, we're in for a rougher ride, I'm afraid.

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 04:16 PM
Number of posts: 21,721

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat

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