Monday, November 29, 2010

Sophomoric Communication

When I was young and in college some 25 years ago a friend gave me a T-shirt for my birthday. It was always a safe bet that I would like a T-shirt and this one became one of my favorites. It was white with black letters imploring: “SMILE if your (sic) not wearing panties.” I likes wearing the short to watch people’s reactions. Getting a reaction out of people, good or bad, seemed to be my goal back then. I think it’s why all authors write and indeed my any artist expresses themselves through their craft. (Monetary payoff might be just as big a reason)
Not long after I got the t-shirt I also got a fake hand. It was rubbery and flesh-tone and looked pretty real unless examined close up. I would walk down the sidewalk with a friend and the hand coming out of my long sleeve and then let it drop to the ground. My friend would casually inform me that my hand fell off. I would look exasperated, pick it up and we would move on.
Then I closed the hand in the trunk of my car and did my driving around with it sticking out. One night after driving home my dad woke me up at about 1:00 in the morning. Two police cars and the Lahaina Precinct detective were at our front door. Someone had been following me home and saw the hand sticking out of my trunk. She called the police presumably when she got home or to a pay phone with my license number and according to the police was very upset.
I showed the police the fake hand and they took it. They didn’t arrest me that night but The Lieutenant called me into the station the next day. I took out my earring before heading up. The police were not amused at this prank. Lieutenant Arakawa showed me the holding cell with feces-smeared walls and then lectured me about malicious mischief.
To date that is the most in trouble I ever was in with the law.
I don’t know how much of a lesson I learned from the scoldings I got. When he showed me the holding cell I realized right away his goal was to scare me. Just like me he was trying to get a reaction out of someone. They kept the fake hand.
I didn’t do anything like that anymore though. I respected the MPD and didn’t like the idea of making their jobs any harder. And now 23 years later I went to the thrift store and bought 5 t-shirts all plain black. If I want to make a statement or get a reaction I’ll do it with my own words written here or spoken face to face.

Monday, November 22, 2010

what makes "Christian education" Christian?

A friend sent me the question: ‘What makes Christian Education Christian?’ and I’ve been pondering over it for a week now. As I write this my kids are asleep in bed while other families around the neighborhood are getting up and getting ready for a short week at government school. The younger students might make turkeys tracing the palm of their hands while older kids might be learning about Squanto or Miles Standish. Or perhaps the students are only being taught what they will need to know to pass the California high School Exit Exam.
Here in our house we have been learning about fractions and percentages in the morning at all kinds of specialized social studies in the afternoon. The kids spend considerably less time waiting in lines or doing busy work at their desk so there is more time for other things like sleeping in a bit and eating every meal as a family.
Christian Education can at its very simplest be said to be any education with a Godly worldview. So if I remind my children what the Bible says about the origin of man I am easily giving them Christian Education. But my answer is not that simple or I would have not addressed the question.
Suppose a child is in a grocery store and takes a candy bar off the shelf and bites into it through the wrapper making the item unsellable. A conscientious parent will purchase the candy bar under the ‘you break it you bought it’ rule. The parent may so this stealthily so the child hopefully never sees that candy bar. If the child is handed that candy bar to eat then something has happened. That child has been educated. The simple ‘if-then’ formula and the reward of for a deed done is one of the best ways to train anyone or anything. My point is this: Education is everywhere and everyday. If I’m in that same grocery store with my children and there I have to make a decision on whether of not to be rude or polite my children will observe and learn from what I do. If the kids and I are looking forward to a day off playing Monopoly all morning and we find a list of chores left for us my Prajna I will insist that the chores are done with a cheerful attitude because love and respect must be modeled first and foremost here at home. The children are corrected for attitude and reminded to pray for thanks and forgiveness.
So while I teach math I don’t really go into how God created numbers and they didn’t just evolve from alphabet soup. But their Christian Education takes place in more than our humble classroom setting.
Many homeschooler will tell you at the drop of a pencil what sad shape the world and nation are in and don’t get them started on government schools. I try not to go there because I know a lot of great parents who send their children to these schools and they have great kids too. We choose to homeschool. But Christian Education less of a choice because as soon as we became parents we understood our obligation to God to bring up our kids according to His ways.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the life changing day

I have seen life maps people create that documents the high and low points of their life so far. A horizontal line moves left to right either up or down at significant events. If I were ever to do that today would be significant.
The line on my life map would remain steadily low until the fall of 1982 when I joined up with Maui Youth Theatre. That changed my life forever and the line on the map would have risen and stayed higher after that. I did more theatre, graduated high school, college, had great days and painful heart breaks and the line would have jumped up and down for the next nine years.
Then in November on 1991 I was living in a bachelor pad in Kihei, Maui. It was time to get out of there. Working night shift and sleeping in the day didn’t work and I was becoming too tempted to fall into some old habits I had ditched. I found a one room apartment in Makawao with rent I could afford. So I did something I hadn’t done for as long as I could remember. I got down on my knees and prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. A week later two friends were helping me move into my new place.
It was November 15th 1991. That date is when the little line on the map of my life rose up higher than ever before and steeper than before or sense. I am not saying that this was the happiest day of my life. The day of my wedding however I was happy for days and months before. The same with my children’s birthdays.
This day 19 years ago just marks the biggest change for the better that ever took place in my life. The day before it I had been bitter and lonely. The night in Makawao one of my friends who helped me move was Prajna and on that night I kissed her for the first time. All the more thrilling days and events followed that day. But on the evening of November 15 1991 my life changed forever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who is watching me

I left work at about the usual time on Wednesday the 10th on November which was about 10pm. I drove around the back side of the main church building and then out to Bryant Street, turned right and then right again on Wildwood Canyon Road. This road has several intersections all the way down. Some are four-way stops and I pass by two streets where I have no stop sign but the terminating streets do.
At California street I saw the vehicle across from me signal and it looked like we would reach our stop signs simultaneously. So I slowed down a bit enough to leave no question that they were there first and after stopping I went on through. This cost me 3-5 seconds.
I passed the house I lived in for 6 years then second street and then stopped and went at third street and continued down Wildwood Canyon Road.
Wildwood Canyon Road does not have a stop sign at Fourth Street. As I came up to it I saw on my right headlights moving so fast that it was clear they wouldn’t stop. I hit my brakes and clutch and my truck skidded to a stop as two cars ran the stop sign directly in front of me. They were side by side. The one on the right turned and headed away from me while the one closer to me skidded straight across the street and almost hit a sign. I inched my truck forward a bit and the other car’s backup lights came on. The car reversed and then sped off in the direction of the other car. I made an attempt to follow it and get a license plate but it was going too fast and I was shaken up so I pulled over and called 911 instead.
I described the incident to the dispatcher with the information I observed. I thought I had a make and model and definitely a color of the closer car. Then I drove home and did what I do every night which is check on each of my kids.
The 3-5 seconds I spent letting the other car go at California street would have put me right at Fourth street when the two cars ran that stop sign. Every day I thank God for taking care of me in a mostly absent minded sort of way. Regardless of my forgetfulness of God, though, He had not forgotten me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

boring stories of...

I could waste the first paragraph of just about all of my blogs directing what music to listen to for a soundtrack while reading. I could. I did only once before writing about fizziwhiz. For today’s soundtrack get out your old Bruce Springsteen LP side two track four.
Kids, teens especially crave a clear identity when growing up. The Facebook personality tests show this. This identity can come from belonging. This is why kids are in gangs. This is why family is so important. This is why my buddy Mike, (hi Mike) will make a high school youth group as inclusive as Jesus would make it to model what the Kingdom is like.
KittyHawk was formed by four guys for reasons previously stated. We all had talents in writing, acting and music and we wanted to be a troupe to show these things off and eventually build an empire that would be a beacon of profound (but funny) entertainment. We intended to set up a foundation for other aspiring kids like us so no one would have to join the military for college money.
As I also stated in the previous blog, this never happened. Something better did happen. Four guys, then six, then eight had a sense of belonging. We were a little family in a big world of teenage anxiety. We had a beach called KittyHawk beach where we would camp out overnight. We’d build a fire, toast to things that we approved and hang out all night.
The next morning we would walk from the geographical center of our universe to the polar center which was Azeka’s shopping center and the International House of Pancakes. Ihop was more of our headquarters than anywhere else. We spent hours there flipping over placemats to write skits or draw cartoons, spaceships or girls.
After high school one member moved to Australia. We changed our group handshake to remember him. Then two more left for the Army.
KittyHawk became what it was destined to be, a legend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


My buddy from a long time back is on Facebook now. Facebook being the social black hole that it is and nothing can escape it not even light. I created a private FB group with the same name of the clique that he and I were in. There’s no point to it but that’s okay because it’s just a bunch of electronic bits and bytes bouncing around cyberspace anyway and it’s commemorating a group of teenage boys who would get together and make up wild stories and wilder dreams.
We called our group KittyHawk. This was named after a spaceship in a story I was writing that was named after a location in North Carolina where an event took place that many said was absolutely impossible and would never happen. The spaceship in the story commemorated the dream of the impossible and so did our group of friends. We wanted to be America’s answer to Monty Python. We wanted to make records and movies and publish science fiction books and then make them into movies.
When we decided to form our troupe we were mostly the social misfits of our wider circle of acquaintances. But then we banded together with the cocksure confidence that only comes from being teenagers that haven’t tasted too much of reality. So it wasn’t long before the social misfits were the envy of our wide circle. KittyHawk became a revered name. We became revered.
Then we graduated high school and moved on. One founding member is in Australia, one on Maui, one in Oregon and me in Southern California. But geography didn’t break us up. KittyHawk faded away for the same thing that kills everything eventually and that is time. And while I can cite stories I wrote about time travel and keeping the dream alive as long as one of us still draws a breath it’s a pretty much romantic BS. We never produced a single comedy record or book or film. But the dream we had didn’t die. It just took a backseat to the rest of our lives. That was a great time of my life back then and it was a lot of fun dreaming. But being awake and living a real life is pretty cool too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

broken eggs and flying arrows

Sarah just announced proudly to me that she opened an egg with one hand. I was pleased and impressed, not just that she accomplished it but why. She saw me do it and wanted me to show her how and I actually did. Some things I was never good at but could teach others to do well. I coached archery at camp Maluhia for boy scouts one summer. I could get the boys to have the right form and stance and then even coach them about breathing and visualizing the arrow flying true. (Jedi stuff, but I thought it was cool.) And the boys shot bull’s-eyes. I was very proud of them but when they asked me to shoot I refused. I don’t even think I was tempted to feed them some line about dazzling them too much, I just said there wasn’t time. I couldn’t shoot to save my life.
Other skills I can master but have trouble teaching. I can’t teach Jamie to tie his shoes and I had a terrible time teaching Sarah to do a Hawaiian cat’s cradle. Maybe this is because they both involve strings. Another boy scout skill I had a terrible time with was knot tying.
I learned to crack eggs with one hand watching McDonald’s commercials. An excited voice sang to the tune of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody and there was a close up of a hand breaking an egg against a hard surface. Sarah saw me breaking eggs like this and wanted me to show her. I did and now she can do it too. I have tried to break eggs using one hand and no surface to strike. Maybe some people can do this but I can’t without ruining the egg and making a mess.
If someone has a unique skill like cracking eggs one handed, I might call it a superpower. So my superpowers might include that as well as a few other talents. I can most times tell the gender of an unborn child. I can interpret dreams. And I can make good soup. I would like to think that teaching is one of my superpowers but I can’t go that far. I may be a good teacher but I am also an experienced teacher. I have all kinds of students from enthusiastic learners to shy discoverers to surly teenagers to outright evil manifestations. What I’m saying is teaching is not a superpower because right now I have good students. One of whom is making blueberry pancakes from scratch for breakfast.