Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cashing in on the Green Arrow

I get to have a staring contest with this little gem every day.

The left-turn arrow doesn’t really care who you are.  Or how long you've been there.  Or how long everyone across the intersection has been waiting.   You show up 10 seconds before the lights change, and viola, you win.  Pardon you as you go on your merry way.   

It ain’t fair.  Wait.  Unless it’s me who gets to turn left.  Then it’s a different story.  Point for being the first out of the gate.  

There’s a story of a bunch of people who show up to work at different times during the day, yet all get paid the same amount (whaat?).  Understandably, the ones who worked the longest are peeved, and they complain.  As I was reading, I wanted, and expected, some retribution for the slackers, or correction of a miscalculation.  However the employer  simply says “It’s my money; am I not free to use it how I wish?”  Touché.  But really?  Seriously?  Yes. 

The green light was engineered the same way.  Whether a car has been waiting there for 2 minutes or just 10 seconds (maybe even shorter, it seems), the green arrow lights up just for them.  You can even swing it that you can roll up to the turn lane and cash in on everyone else’s time (they’ve been waiting) and you still get the dignified passage.  Nope, not fair, but I suppose fairness isn’t the goal of the green arrow. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Weather is Out of Control

“How’s the weather?” 

Even in the dog days of summer (named such because of a star -Sirius in the canis major constellation - that appears during the summertime in the northern latitudes), the topic is an icebreaker.  People record the weather, try to predict it, and write songs about the wind, blue skies, cold days, autumn, storms, rain, and sun.

taken on mah birthday.  no digital enhancement, just beauty...and a good thunderstorm later.

awesome.  unless you took this from the window of a plane.   

     Tornadoes have been lurking around these parts.  Even this afternoon, I hear feel the wind pommeling the 3rd story like it’s not even here.  A little part of me wants to locate the specs on my windows to be sure they can stand the gusts.  But barring a break-in by the west wind, I’ll keep writing. 

the smoky mountains of tennessee.  
     Yes-sirree, the weather is easy to talk about.  It happens to all of us.  Bad, good, or somewhere in between, the weather can beautify, destruct, taunt, and control.  Whatever it can do to us, we can do nothing to it.  Come what may, the only possible thing we can do is let it roll through, beautiful or otherwise.  [Well actually there’s this thing called cloud seeding.  We may be onto something, but so far it hasn't made a huge dent.] 

my evening view.

     I used to* dress for how I wanted it to be outside.  You betcha.  My college degree has paid off.  Yours truly still thinks this works…kidding…kind of.  Bottom line, as frustrating as it can be, I/you/we can’t really change the weather. 

     Secretly, I think this is why people are continually fascinated by it.  It’s all at once terrifying and relieving to have things out of your control.  It puts us all in the same boat.  The weather plays no favorites and has no predetermined enemies.  It reminds us that we belong to one another.  I think it has something to do with this:

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  - Matthew 5:44-45

And thank God for that!   

*as recently as march…2012…little miss smarty pants right here.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Power of a Group

I teach chemistry (yes, I love it), and we do lots of labs. 

Behold: the Bunsen Burner.
We play with fire all day...or so they wish. 

     Thing is, during a lab, sometimes students need a hint.  I've tried to give directions by speaking loudly to the entire class, but that’s nothing special.  You see, after some time, my voice blends in with the hum of the AC, and students just aren't too concerned.   

    So one day I started talking with just two students.  I began describing some tip or technique for the lab.  All of a sudden, other students nearby started to listen in.  I saw them stop, glance over trying to be sneaky, a little envious that ‘we’ were moving on.  They tried not to make it seem like they wanted an extra bit of help.  It was pretty cute, to be honest. 

    Cute, yes, but bottom line also a very effective technique.  They were awfully concerned.  They saw a group of us, and they wanted to be part of it.  

     Lest you think their motivation was just to ‘get it right’ and ‘grab the grade’, I’ve also seen this happen before class when we’re shooting the breeze.  If a couple of us are laughing or having a good conversation, I see heads turn, eyes light up, and an ache to be included...and brilliance when they are called out by name to join in the fun.

So my new technique?  Talk with just one's motivation for others to listen in.  

Friends from Peru.
They make you want to join in the fun.
     Truth is, the need to be included is super basic.  It’s deep within and it's here to stay.  I've heard that the best way parents can love a child is by loving each other; children would much rather be caught up in the love of their parents than doted upon to an odd degree. 

     *Ding* this is old news (or timeless news?).  The Trinity.  It's three in one.  Not 1-in-1 (boring).  Not 2-in-1 (a friendship…good, but it's just two-ply).  It's 3-in-1.  To be invited into a dynamic friendship, a love that has been around and inviting before you came to be, yes that’s so much more real.  It's relieving, and wonderful to be along for the ride.  It makes you want to stop what you’re doing and listen in.   

[ Have you heard of the power of the first follower?  Click here for the dance. ]