The Myth and Meaning of Texas Independence

On this, the anniversary of Texas’ independance from Mexico – according to some – a fitting essaty by Dr. Stephen L. Hardin, Professor of History at The Victoria College, Victoria, Texas.  A well-researched and reasoned piece that examines the importance of the macro and microdynamics which led Texas to become the only U.S. state that was also a sovereign nation unto itself.

March 2, 1836 dawned, frigid and gray; cutting winds blew through glassless windows. Texians – as they styled themselves – huddled close, pulled blankets tight, and gave birth to a dream.


The Rat in My Brain

Pain radiates throughout the left side of my skull this morning, presently it has decided to focus underneath my left eye, as though there is a rat gnawing at the bone of the socket and simultaneously pushing against my upper left molars, his hind legs firmly entrenched in some enflamed, throbbing nerve-ladden spot just behind my left ear. The twitching of my eye only serves to further infuriate me as I try for the first time to write down the experience of a migraine while in its throes. To be honest, this one is mild or else I wouldn’t be writing anything – maybe a six with twinges of seven on a scale of 10.

The muscles in my neck are thick and stiff like new manilla rope, tugging at the base of my skull, spasming with the pulsing in my head. Sometimes the damage to my neck – bone spurs and bulging discs – can prompt a migraine, but oftentimes the headache begins first and pulls my neck into the whole neurochemical process. This isn’t your typical tension headache caused by stress; in fact, most of my pain is completely electro-chemical and induced by some still undiscovered imbalance. This chemical mess is why I’m nauseated most of the time, even when I don’t have a headache, but particularly when I do, and the meds I’m prescribed all have nausea as a side-effect, so there’s that.

Heightened senses are a common component of migraine, making sounds, tastes, smells, sights and touch distorted and overwhelming. And there’s no rhyme or reason to it, sometimes loud music is soothing if it has the right beat, while a whisper is excrutiating, certain tastes are sickening and others are bland, light of nearly any intensity is painful and being touched, even by the sheets is infuriating. A migraine is so much more than “just a headache” and to hear people say, “Oh, I had one of those once,” or, “This is giving me a migraine,” is usually a clear indicator that they are ignorant of migraine disease. Twenty-five years ago, when first diagnosed, I had four or five migraines a year, and that was the norm until about four years ago when my headaches gradually became chronic – defined as 15 or more headache days per month. There doesn’t appear to be any cause for mine, although chronic migraine is more common in middle age (I’ll be 45 this year). I currently experience between 25 and 30 headache days per month – severe.

As I was lying in bed next to Crystal earlier, with the rat grinding away, I thought what it would be like if I could take my head off and put it on a shelf for awhile. Or, even trade heads, not so the other person would have to suffer, really, but so that I could have my life back, just for a day. It has been so long, years, since I didn’t have some level of head pain on a daily basis that I don’t even know what a regular day feels like. My neurologist and I are focused now on quality of life rather than a cure, so there’s a possibility I’ll never have another “normal” day – a day where my thoughts aren’t clouded, where the sun doesn’t blind me, where sound isn’t painful, smell isn’t nauseating, being touched isn’t irritating and my favorite foods taste right again. I don’t want to be pitied, my life could be so much worse, and I do manage to eek out happiness in the midst of the pain. I have learned to smile and converse in the middle of a headache, to push my way through dinner with friends when I’m nauseated, to ride in the car for hours when every movement makes me want to cry, to bite my tongue when I want to bite someone’s head off instead.

It has taken me four and a half hours to put these few paragraphs of thoughts together. I’m an English major, a writer, this should be rote, but instead it’s a struggle. My pain is still blinding, sharper now than it was when I started. Definitely a seven. There are times when I wish I were dead and others when I’m so glad I’m not. Most of the time, sadly, I’m indifferent.

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Apathy – Does Your Prof Care More than You Do? Will Your Boss?

Ellen Bremen has written a powerful indictment of the entitlement culture rampant among youth.  As a high school teacher, I see this same apathy every day and the nanny state of our educational system won’t allow us to truly hold these students accountable for their lack of work ethic.  A student’s failure to read or submit assignments, engage in discussion or, often, even hold up his head in class is scapegoated to the teacher who is then indirectly pressured into inflating passing rates for fear of having to explain high failure rates.

When I was a student, cheaters received zeros and that was the end of the story. A colleague of mine is faced with the dilemma of having caught a cheater and being required to give the kid another chance to take the test and replace the zero. While I agree with the concept of content mastery, this student has forfeited the opportunity in this instance and should receive a zero and demonstrate mastery on an additional test rather than a replacement test.

Most often, the head of this hydra are the parents who insists a child has been unfairly treated or disadvantaged in some way. No longer is a teacher’s word trusted. I spend nearly as much time documenting poor and apathetic behavior for future reference as I do preparing lessons.

Does Your Prof Care More than You Do? Will Your Boss?.

Why More Patients Should Blog About Illness And Death via NPR

Having experienced the death of a spouse from cancer and seeing the dearth of writing and/or video she left behind makes me a huge proponent of this movement for a number of reasons.  First, my wife was terrified of what eventually became inevitable and I strongly believe journaling about her day to day experience would have given her not just peace, but also a renewed sense of purpose as she worked to leave behind something meaningful to our children.  As it stands, there are a handful of half-written entries, two fragmented attempts at letters to our kids and only sporadic video footage of her last 18 months of life.  If you sense a hint of anger in my tone, you aren’t off base; however, my overwhelming emotion these 12 years later is sadness that there aren’t more of her thoughts left behind, particularly when she died in such a media-rich age.  Anyway, here’s a great piece on NPR about this matter.  Enjoy.

Why More Patients Should Blog About Illness And Death : Shots – Health News : NPR.


Cage-Free vs. Free-Range: The Truth Behind Eggs and Confusing Terminology – Houston – Restaurants and Dining – Eating Our Words

As a family who have raised true free-range and organic chickens, it was surprising to me that there is no real meaning behind the words within the poultry industry. Why am I wasting extra money on cage-free or free-range eggs when the chickens are either confined to a tiny sliver of outside space for short periods or simply allowed to roam freely enclosed in one large coop?

Read and decide for yourself before you buy again. Find a local producer if you can. Check with your extension agent or farmer's market.

Cage-Free vs. Free-Range: The Truth Behind Eggs and Confusing Terminology – Houston – Restaurants and Dining – Eating Our Words.


Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable – Can Teaching’s ‘Revolving Door’ Be Stopped?

Revolving door (base)

It will be interesting to see if American public schools make any significant strides in this area within my lifetime.  Within my own district this is a continuing issue with multiple factors involved.  This ongoing discussion at Education Week is worth a look for its numerous perspectives on the issue.

Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable – Can Teaching’s ‘Revolving Door’ Be Stopped? Archives – Education Week Teacher.

Grab and Go: 5 Make-Ahead Lunches to Pack in Jars | The Kitchn

Grab and Go: 5 Make-Ahead Lunches to Pack in Jars – via The Kitchn 

via Grab and Go: 5 Make-Ahead Lunches to Pack in Jars | The Kitchn.

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