Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

We are living in interesting times. That has been stated throughout every generation. The fact is all of them have been right. The world is moving faster today than ever before. The written word and spoken word is seen and heard almost instantaneously if we want it to be. But now we are seeing an influx of people becoming involved in activities that have been stagnant for a long time. These activists have created a new discourse into talking to each other and particularly on how to have a national discussion when people disagree.

Politics Permeates our Discussions

One of the most common topics in this country is politics and it has become apparent that there is a problem with how we are sharing our ideas with one another. Who we vote for should not define who we are. We should not be judging others for who they are just because they may have views that oppose our own. We live in a country that was built on the idea of being able to have controversy without conflict. The concept of being able to have a rational debate on educated ideas is what America’s structure consists of. Agreeing to disagree peacefully has become a lost art.

Aside from all the social media trends and endless blogging that contains no factual information, it is obvious that the majority of people are failing to have the drive to learn new ideas. The thought of having views that are your own and not being able to sustain a conversation with someone with opposing views shows a lack of confidence in what you believe in. If you have beliefs that are supported by facts, then there should be a drive to first, spread your ideas and reasoning, and second, absorb and understand the reasoning behind the views that you are opposing.

Personally, I believe that it is a sense of embarrassment that drives this failure to peacefully communicate in our society. People are ashamed of the lack of factual knowledge that they have; therefore, this leads them to becoming hostile when someone tests their ignorance. This can also be compared to the saying, “Ignorance is bliss”, which seems to be growing in popularity in the younger generation. But that is another problem of its own.
If you want to live in ignorance, that is your right as an American. It is not a right however, if within that desire lies a sense of entitlement for their ignorance. While all Americans are free to follow whoever and whatever ideas they please, they should not discredit all other ideas merely out of ignorance about them. I find it ironic when someone desires to spread ideas but refuses to obtain any new ones. How did that person learn that information in the first place if all they are interested in is people accepting their ideas or convictions?

The point here is Americans are residing in a country that is able to contain a world of opposing ideas in one place, under the banner of freedom. We are free to believe in what we want as well as what we do not. We are free to spread and accept all ideas we interact with. We are free to obtain any knowledge we want even if we do not agree with it. We should not allow conflict to have a crippling effect on our awareness.

 

Just my thoughts on that!

I Graduated Last in My Class

It’s time I came clean. Not many people know this fact about me. Some would say they aren’t surpised. 🙂 I graduated last in my class in the 8th grade. True fact. I will get back to that later. What I want to let you know about will be from my Junior High school years. I will touch on the 7th grade tournament but I am saving the majority of that for a complete blog all by itself. These are some random thoughts about Junior High School

 

JH was Cool

These years were very cool. It was the first time in your life you got to move around for classes and you had some freedom between classes. It was a couple of years of experimenting and actually being able to participate in sports every night after school that made Junior High a special place. It was also cool to get out of Manito.

 

Dancing

There was an odd phenomenon called dancing. It was a horrible thing to do in Junior High school. The problem with this was it required that male and females to touch each other. But what came with it was the stigma of knowing how to dance. The school always had a back-to-school dance about the second week of the year. It was from 7-9 in the gym. The vast majority of the boys hung together and the girls all huddled off to the side. Every once in awhile some couples put on an attempt to dance but that was far and in between. What went on was the gossip that floated around the gym. Some girl would come over to the boys and tell us so and so like one of the boys. Later, a boy floated over to the girls and told what had been said in their group. This went on for about an hour and a half. By the time you worked up the courage to ask a girl to dance there was 15-20 minutes left. It was a definite social experiment.

Another thing that happened was in PE, Mrs. Rossi would have a unit in dancing. This was not good. You could actually get paired up with a girl that carried cooties and you had no control over it. She lined us up and we called out a number and that was our partner. We did that several different times and was quite embarrassing.

 

Arts and Crafts

 

We had to take Arts and Crafts. Mr Guy was the teacher and he was a very odd duck. Now for me, this was one of the worst classes that I could be in. I had/have absolutely no talent in art or in the making of crafts. It was a boring class to be in. One assignment was to sculpture something. I didn’t do until he announced that it was due tomorrow so those not done should take their sculpture block home to complete. I had done nothing to mine at all. Mid-evening, my brother Lyle asked me what it was and what was supposed to be done with it. I told him and explained I wasn’t going to do the work. He said very little and I went to bed. Lo and behold, in the morning there was this great looking sphinx sitting on the table for me to take to class. I was a bit embarrassed because I knew and everyone knew I had no talent. I took it to class and turned it in. Just before the bell was to ring, Mr. Guy called me up and asked me if I had actually completed the project or did someone else do it. What am I to do? Just what I need to do to get a decent grade…. I told him I did it all by myself. I got an A on the project but he and I both knew I didn’t do it. Thanks, Lyle!

 

Baseball

It was a blast. Two weeks before the first day of class we are practicing baseball every day. I had never experienced anything like it and Junior High was going to be so much fun. As the practices progressed, it appeared I was going to be the starting shortstop as a 7th grader on the 8th-grade team. Until….. one practice the catcher (I don’t remember who it was) got a ball fouled off his knuckles and broke two fingers. Coach Rudd took me aside and said I was to be the teams’ catcher for the season. I was just happy to play and that year and that position was a lot of fun. Jim Petty was a fireballing pitcher and he and I had played baseball in the summer for years. I loved being catcher as you were into every play of the game.

I remember two particular plays and they likely were in different games. I wasn’t a power hitter but a gap man. I was up in the bottom of the 6th inning and we were down 2 runs and the bases were loaded. Do you think I hit one out of the park? Well, not exactly. I hit the ball hard just over the second baseman’s glove that rolled on the grass in the outfield and just kept rolling and rolling. I was fast enough to make it a grand slam and we won in the 7th inning by two runs.

Another play I remember was in the field behind the plate. No big deal but I remember this. The pitch by Petty got away from me or he threw it wild with a runner on third base and the baseball rolled to the fence. I went back to get it and tossed it backward towards the plate as Jim Petty dove into the runner and he was called out. Just a cool blind throw that ended the inning. I think I remember that because the umpire told me it was the best play he had ever seen in a Junior High game.

 

Getting Stitches

Letting me share two stories with you about getting injured in the 7th grade in PE. One day we were playing flag football. Both the 7th and 8th grade boys played together. I was playing defense when the quarterback threw the ball downfield when I jumped to catch it. Problem was that at the same time on offense Leonard Wheat jumped to catch it and his teeth caught me just above the right eye and I was instantly bleeding all over. Whoever the PE teacher was sent a kid to the office to let Mr. Rudd know we needed an ambulance. He didn’t call anybody. He drove his car out to the field, put me in it and drove m to Havana hospital. It was the first time I ever heard a teacher/principal cuss as we were a fes miles from town he said, “You have a hell of a gash there, Tommy. You’re going to get damn stitches for that.” Well, they called my mom from the school and she met us there. I had 14 stitches. Ten above my eye and 4four on the eyelid. My actual eye had no damage. I went to school the next day.

In the spring I was pitching softball in PE when a line drive smacked me in the right eye. They called my mom and she took me home. I didn’t go to school the next day…….. because it was game one of the 1964 World Series and the Cardinals and Yankees were playing.

 

 

7th grade Basketball

Basketball was a blast. It was about this time of the year that I really started to like girls. However, I will add that it was also becasue girls started liking me. You see, I was the only 7th grader started on the lightweight team. Mark Thompon, Dennis Specketer, John Middleton, Lynn Vogel and myself were the primary starters. We had first year coach/science teach Frank Gassmann, a new SIU grad, as our leader. The core 5 of the team tried to emulate the players from the starting five of the then Bradley Braves. I was Joe Strawder, somebody else was LaVern Tart, another Bobby Joe Mason and I don’t remember the other three.

Our season was loads of fun as we kept winning and winning. We were 22-0 going into the state tournament to be played in Rantoul. It was because of this success that I can remember that my life was a blast. The State Touney brought out the entire towns and neighboring villages along with our own student body with fan busses and such. More on the State Tournament in a few weeks.

 

Jamboree

Remember this? The Mason County Jamboree. I don’t have anything to say about it but I enjoy it and won the baseball toss four years in a row. However, it leads into my next story.

Graduated Last in My Class

I suppose I shouldn’t be admitting this and should be ashamed that I graduated last in my class when diplomas were given out a graduation. I still shake my head but there was to be graduation on Thursday night at the Forman Junior High School. On the previous weekend I was in the Mason County Jamboree on Saturday and all went well. That night I began to feel bad. All day Sunday I laid on the couch in some pain not doing so well. My parents thought maybe I had hurt myself at the Jamboree. They mentioned a rupture and to an 8th grade kid that was an embarrassment.

Finally, Monday morning they took me to the hospital and I was diagnosed with appendicitis. They did emergency surgery Monday afternoon and I got out of the hospital on Wednesday. I missed three days of school for it. Come ThursdayI really hadn’t walked very far but about 5pm I insisted I go to the graduation. My parents allowed me if I walked sparingly. The school was in an uproar as they had practiced the ceremony and now I had put everything out of kilter. So they made an administrative decision. Instead of changing everything they just added me to the end. So, they added a chair for me at the end they called my name to graduate and I  walked up there slowly to the podium and received my diploma. Since I was last the crowd cheered loudly ( I am sure it was ALL for me) and officially graduate last in my class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irritations I Have Driving on the Interstate

Irritations I Have Driving on the Interstate

Just a blog to allow me to express myself with my thoughts.

The Drive

I can’t say that I drive a lot on the interstates but sometimes I am on them for multiple hours. We have made several drives to Orlando in the recent year or so and that is 17-18 hours with most of it interstate driving. That always reminds me of The Eagles song “Take It Easy.” 

I understand I am getting older and crept into the mid 60’s in the age category but I still believe I am a decent driver for the most part. I will admit my biggest drawback at this moment is getting into a parking spot and appearing to be straight. Not sure how that skill can become diminished but I can see that after I get out.

The Speed

I kind of like getting out on the road and moving along at a good clip. I usually get into the flow of the traffic and then bump my cruise control to about 7-8 miles per hour more than the speed limit. I know that is not daring or anything but that is what I do.

From time to time I find myself usurping the cruise control and I am flying along between 80-85 mph. I don’t know how that happens :). But then some (I usually call them an idiot) comes out of nowhere and uses all the lanes to go past me at a much higher rate of speed. Then I realize how fast I am going and bump it down some. I secretly am wishing that a few miles up the road a state trooper has that car pulled over for speeding. Would it be impolite to toot my horn? There is an old adage that says, “no matter how fast you are driving, someone is driving faster.”

Another group of drivers are those that are in 4-lane traffic and they are sitting in the 2nd or 3rd lane driving about 50 mph. It happens constantly in larger cities like Nashville or Atlanta. Cars are darting all over and you need to change lanes and you get into their lane and have to do a “whoa Nelly” or you will run into them. If you are going to run with the Bulls, then keep up!

The Flashers

I get so irritated when I am driving down a crowded interstate which is one that is jammed up, moving along but there are about 4 cars in each of two lanes and they are driving about the same speed. Then you look in your mirror and a (made this part up) a black sports sedan is quickly approaching you from behind and they are flashing their lights to get out of the way. What am I supposed to do, jump over the vehicles in front of me? Those kind of drivers I would love to ask them how they are so self-important that they believe everyone in front of them should get out of the way.

Left Lane Drivers

I suspect some of you read that title and smiled. Yes, you and I know people that do this. This can be very irritating on the interstate as you approach them. Are they going to dart over to the right as you get there? When you are passing a few cars and are in the left lane and then suddenly, BAM, they are sitting in the left lane driving 60 mph and now you are stuck. Don’t they know that slower traffic to suppose to be in the left lane? I guess not. What advantage do they see in driving over there? I have never understood this.

Semi Trucks

Ok, before truck drivers get on my case I understand this can go both ways. I am in a car so this is my rant. Truck drivers tend to be in groups on the interstate. All are driving down the road in the right and left lane and you approach a semi and decide to pass. There is no one behind your to impede your progress and suddenly the semi driver decides to pass the semi in front of them. He pulls out without warning because he knows he has the bigger vehicle and start to pass….and continues to pass…. And continues to pass. My point is he is about 2 mph faster than the one he is passing and it takes 3-5 minutes for him to get around. I had no one behind me so he could have waited to pass a bit longer and allowed me to go through. That’s not happening.

Another gripe I have actually has happened several times while navigating around and through Chattanooga. They have hills. Real mountains, actually. The Department of Transportation in Tennessee has put a slower lane to the right when going up the incline. Many drivers use that which allows the cars and pickup trucks to pass with ease. However, some truckers decide to pass them going up the hill. Again, it is about 2-3 miles per hour faster and with it going up hill it really slows things down. It doesn’t sound good on your car, either.

I am sure semi drivers have many stories about cars on the interstate.

Is There Really Construction?

You see the sign that reads, “Road construction for the next 12 miles.” I understand that roads need to be repaired. It seems about 2 miles before the intended construction they begin placing road construction cones on the highway to get the traffic over. Cars and trucks jockey for position and now you are driving on one lane. Now the signs tell you that you are in a construction zone. More cones and barricades. More slow traffic. On the side of the road you can see Caterpillar equipment. Lots of it. There in the lane that is barricaded off is…nothing. There are no people in sight. So how do they plan to do road construction on this road without people? Maybe it is a new process using robotics. No, that’s silly. It is just 12 miles of one lane road in preparation for road construction when they decide to get to it. Frustrating.

I have shared with you many of my frustrations when I drive the interstates of this country. Rest assured I have never really experience road rage. I don’t flip anybody off when I drive nor do I honk my horn at other vehicles. I just drive and complain to my wife. Until now. I have added you to my rant group through a blog.

Isn’t this a wonderful country?

“You Want to Ride the Ball…..”

I heard some version of that sentence at least three times. It still haunts me a bit from time to time. Allow me to work up to giving you more information at the end of the blog.

During the summer of 1978, I began working as a Union Laborer. School was out and I wanted to earn some extra money. One of my brothers knew the Union Steward and he had no problem getting me a union card. That is, he had no problem after I paid $500 for “dues” which was interesting since the union only charged $350. It is called “greasing the wheel” and I was set. I had no issue with paying the money because a union worker made a good wage. I was set to work from June 1- August 10.

Grab a Broom

I was assigned to work at the new power station they were building just outside of Havana. The first day they took all my information and assigned a foreman to me. I was to grab a broom and clean all day. They had part of the plant up and union men of all trades were working on it. I was to clean an area that was the outside perimeter of the plant. I was told NOT to clean the inner circle. It was open to the sky in that area and workers were working high and they wanted to keep people out of the area on the ground level. They told me that was to prevent injury and things could be accidentally dropped from high. They assured me nothing had every fallen but it could. By 9AM I am cleaning and sweeping and leaning on my broom like any good union laborer when about 10:30AM I heard a whizzing sound and then workers yelling. One of the groups above had allowed a roll of cable to slip out of their grasp and it can down to the ground with a whizz. Whiping around and it would have decapitated any one in its path. So much for nothing every dropping.

Geniuses at Work

A couple of interesting things happened that I want to share that didn’t directly affect me but is related to the power plant consturction. The first one deals with a railroad. There was a crew that was to build a railroad track from one end of the site to the other. Rails were mounted on five foot planks and then they were placed together (linked) to form the tracks. Problem was… they started with a crew on one end and another crew on the other end and they miss meeting each other by a good 50 feet. They had to go back and remove some of them and re-do the linking so they could complete the project. This took about 3 days to get it back on track.

Another day here was a horrible thing happen. Every day new pieces of steel were lifted up and beams were placed in the building of the plant. One particular day I happened to notice them swinging in the beam and a guy standing on the adjacent beam slowly signalling the beam into the correct place. He got to the last part and told the operator to set it down. Just as he did it moved about 3-4 inches and it was set down on the feet of the guy doing the signalling. Long story short he was taken to hospital and had three toes on each foot gone. The beam had crushed them. Ugh.

Sitting Idly

Another thing was I was working in the back lot of the site and I came across a guy sitting in a crane. He was just sitting there. He sat there for about 4 hours and then when I came back past him I struck up a conversation. I asked him why his crane was not running and why he just sat there. He said several days before he was sent out there to work and when he was done they instructed him to leave his crane and they would have him bring it up the next day. Problem was… in between that time they had unloaded a very large load of lumber in the path of his return. They couldn’t get him back. He was told to go to his machine and just sit there until the path was clear for him to return. It was 6 days later that they finally got him back. He was paid the entire time to just sit there.

What to Do With Lazy Workers

One oddity happened. I had worked there for about 3 weeks with a guy named “Butch”. He didn’t work hard and he showed up about three days per week. The supervisors called a short meeting one morning and informed all of the workers that Butch had been promoted and was to become a supervisor immediately. Wait, this is the guy that doesn’t work hard and only 3 days per week? Yep. About 3-4 weeks later we got the scoop. They put him in that job to make him show up. It worked. Butch was there everyday and didn’t have to work, only supervise. I guess somebody was a genius to think of that.

Jackhammer

I had a horrible couple of weeks when I was assigned, daily, to run a jackhammer. They needed concrete taken out of a 80’x60′ area that was 14 inches deep. It was a mistake and they neeed to rectify it. So for about 10 working days I ran that hammer. It was hard work, slow work and when I got home I was shaking a bit like a jackhammer. Then they rewarded me for four days ( I never complained to them about the jackhammer) and was given a job “spotting.”

Making Sure Nobody Gets Covered Up

This job is on the ground as the backhoes are working. The holes are about 40 feet deep they have a laborer in the hole doing some digging to make it a clean dig. So I stood on top of the hole and watched the laborer work as the backhoe also worked in the same hole….. if the laborer should get covered by the backhoe I was to signal the operator to stop and then I was to alert others that he had been covered up. Then three of us were to go into the hole and dig him out. It never happened.

The Ball

One day my foreman’s boss approach me and ask me if I wanted to work high. I asked him what he meant and he pointed to the top of the building. I stood there for a long while and then I began to talk.

Me: “You want me to work up there?”

Boss: “Yes, it’s an easy job. All you do all day is make sure everyone has water. You check the water jugs.”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Boss: ” It’s easy. They have flooring and railings up there and besides you make a $1 more per hour.”

Me: ” Ok, I guess I can.”

Boss: ” Good. You want to ride the ball up?”

Me: “huh?”

Boss: “The ball. The ball on the crane. just grab ahold and ride it to the top.”

Me: “Nah, I don’t think so.”

Boss: “Ok, there are steps that go up there. ”

So off I went. I found the stairs and headed up. Oh but wait! The stairs ended at the fifth floor and there are eight stories to the building. What am I looking at? Oh my. There was a straight up ladder that extended to the sixth, seventh and eighth story. Straight up. I stood there for a few seconds when some random guy came by and asked me if there was a problem. I told him I was unsure about climbing the ladder to the top. He responded with, ” do you want to ride the ball up?” I declined and grab the rungs of the ladder. White knuckling my way one at a time. I reached the top level. What am I going to do now? I had to swing my legs over to get on the flooring of the work area. I froze for a bit. Some guy asked me if I was ok and I shook my head affirmatively and slowly swung my leg over and crawl over to reach the top.

I was at the top and not feeling very well.  My new supervisor approached me and asked me if I was ok.

New Boss: ” hey buddy, you ok, you don’t look so good.”

Me: ” I guess I am ok.”

New Boss: “Great, let me get you started and you now that you make a $1 more per hour working high, don’t you? (I nodded) You have five areas up here to make sure they have adequate water supply. If a water jug gets almost empty you need to signal the guy down there running the ball. Tell him and he will send a new one up.”

So he pointed to my first area and I started over there…but one thing didn’t look good. They told me there was flooring a railings up here. Technically, they were correct. BUT it was boards running from beam to beam with a rope railing around the edge. GULP. So I started over. Slowly I inched my way over, holding on to the railing. The boards were bowing in the middle and I felt really uncomfortable. I reached the water and it was fine. I told myself I couldn’t do this job. I inched my way back and got to some solid footing when another random guy stopped me.

Random Guy: “Hey buddy, you ok?”

Me: “No I don’t think so. I don’t feel real good working high.”

Random Guy: “But you get a $1 more per hour working up here.”

(I thought that $1 more isn’t going to help me when I die up here)

Me: ” I think I need to go back down.”

Random Guy: “Ok, you want to ride the ball down?”

Me: “No thanks.”

So I decided to forego the dollar more and head back down. I walked over and then it struck me that I need to go back down a straight ladder and I froze. I had to swing my leg over and grab the rungs of the ladder at the same time. I stood there. Another guy asked me if I was ok and repeated the same offer to have me grab the big ball on the crane and ride it down. I mustered the courage to climb down. I finally, reached the ground, and my legs were shaking and I felt ill.

Once on ground,  the first supervisor came to me and I told him I couldn’t work high. He said it should be worth it for a $1 more. I made some comment about being at the top and seeing Canton from there and how I wanted to live to have a family and the dollar meant nothing to me. I told him I was sick and was going home.

That night, laying in bed, I could visualize everything I saw from the time starting up to getting back on the ground. I passed up the extra money but that didn’t bother me. The next day back to work, the supervior told me that less than 20% were cut out to work high.

I wonder if things would have been different if I would have ridden the ball.

 

 

Previous Blog Posts:

Sunday Fight Behind the Root Beer Stand

Remembering My Time Around Easton

“Oh Well, I Will Strike Her Out Anyway”

What Were Our Parents Thinking?

Call the Sheriff

Kilbourne Condom

I’m Still Paying For It

My First School Basketball Team

The History of Me- My Birthday

 

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