Finding Nirvana as an ADHD Sufferer

On April 13 I wrote the following.

IMG_0248My daughter, bless her soul, suffers from dysfunctional ADHD which she inherited from me. I feel guilty about passing it on to her.

Or sometimes I feel smug.

For example recently I felt smug when she lost her keys because I’ve learned two rules to stop losing my keys. I didn’t explain my rules while she was tearful about losing hers, but maybe writing about them would work.

My rules to avoid suffering missing car keys:  1. Always hang keys on the same hook.  2. When I think of a better place to put them for whatever reason, never put them there and follow rule number 1. That’s simple.

Except it’s not that simple for me. I keep each key for our two cars on separate rings so each and fit snugly in my pockets.

But my key for Karen’s car is not on the hook right now.

I, like many ADHD sufferers, used to beat myself up for wasting time looking for my keys. A search would frustrate those around me. I would apologize and feel more guilty, which reduces the effectiveness of my search. It is not pleasant which is why I always follow my two rules.

Right now I’m not suffering because I’m practicing Buddha’s four noble truths to avoid suffering. As I understand Buddha’s truths, we suffer. The causes of suffering are desire and ignorance. I want my key and I don’t know where it is. I can reduce suffering by reducing desire and gaining knowledge of where my key is. Fourth, I need to follow the path to enlightenment.

My path is to deny desire for the key. I wonder where it is: in a coat pocket, vest, dresser or pants. I can’t remember the last time I drove Karen’s car, or gave it to her to drive us.

Last night I asked her if she knows where my key is and she said, “I hope I don’t have it.” She borrows mine because it takes up less room than her set of keys. I know her key is hanging on her hook because I’ve already checked.

She doesn’t appear to be suffering about my key either, so maybe she’s more enlightened by Buddha’s path than I am.

My path seems enlightened. I’m enjoying writing this and I’m curious about where my key is.

On April 14 I wrote the following. When I came home late last night, my missing key was hanging on its hook. Am I experiencing nirvana?

 

 

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Let’s Back Campaigns that are Guaranteed Winners and Save Lives

This is a story of politicians’ presidential campaigns compared to different politicians’ life-and-death campaigns for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.

On July 29 2015, 23 politicians had announced their candidacies for president.

July 30 Sen, Susan M. Collins (R – ME) announced her campaign to pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (S. 1911) co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D – DE),

“The purpose of our bill is to improve the health and well-being of women and children in developing countries. Every day approximately 800 women will die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. More than 17,000 children under the age of five will die each day of treatable conditions such as prematurity, pneumonia, and diarrhea, with malnutrition being the underlying cause in nearly half those deaths.”

She said treatments are low-cost life-saving protocols such as clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements and handwashing with soap.

She explained the bill should stimulate international investments and reduce dependence on U.S. funding. She cited a commission from Lancet, a media group covering global health and medicine (http://www.thelancet.com), which “indicated that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $9 to $20 in growing the gross domestic product of the country receiving the investment.”

As the Senate assigned the bill to the Committee on Foreign Relations, the 24th candidate entered the presidential campaign.

On September 9 UNICEF reported “the number of children who die annually from mostly preventable causes before they turn five now stands at 5.9 million.” That’s a drop from 12.6 million since 1990. UNICEF said the millennial goal to eradicate these preventable deaths is achievable by 2035.

On September 10 senior columnist Jay Evensen in the Deseret News, called that drop in deaths “the greatest success story of our times.” He said the success “involves to a large extent, the U.S. government.”

He believes the bill is essential and free. “It would require USAID to develop a strategy that focuses on the most vulnerable and poorest people worldwide with measurable targets. It would require no extra money.”

On September 17 Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) became a cosponsor.

RESULTS, (www.results.org), a bipartisan non-profit that partners with organizations to prevent child deaths and provides research, indicates only Evensen’s article covered the bill in September. The presidential campaigns were had better coverage.

On October 7 Rep Dave Reichert (R-WA) sponsored HR 3706, the House bill cosponsored by a second Republican and two Democrats.

They sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to co-sponsor, saying, “The US government has a strong bipartisan legacy of leadership on maternal and child health. However it is clear we need to do more.”

In November, RESULTS reports seven newspapers supported the bill including the Seattle Times. The presidential campaigns had more coverage.

The House met for 22 days in November and December. At year-end Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chair of the House Republican Conference, was one of 62.House cosponsors. Eighteen presidential candidates were still campaigning and media coverage.

As of April 7, RESULTS says the Senate had met for 44 days and the bill has 7 Republican and 7 Democratic cosponsors. The House had met 36 days and the bill has 110 sponsors (46 Republicans and 64 Democrats). That list does not include Rep. Newhouse. Will Boyington from Rep. Newhouse’s office called me to say, “Newhouse is interested in the bill and is reviewing it for sponsoring.” The bills are still in committee.

As of April 7, www.opensecrets.org reported the presidential candidates and super PACs had raised $1.031 billion. Five candidates remain after millions of dollars and time have been wasted on risky campaigns.

As of April 7, 253 days have passed since Sen Collins pleaded that too many mothers and children under five are dying each day.” Evensen later said, “It would require no extra money.” Reichert insisted, “We need to do more.”

These life-and-death campaigns are winning cosponsors. Let’s pass them immediately before we waste more time and money and lose more lives.

Posted in Community Building, Doing Justice and Having Compassion, Politics | 3 Comments

How and Why my Dog Haley and I Help Each Other

IMG_0213My dog Haley has Karen and me locked into a one- to two-mile morning walk that makes all of us feel better.

Rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, wind or smoke are unacceptable excuses because we’ve been through all of them.

And I love it — even before we start and even more after we’re done.

I’ve wondered why. It turns out there is a medical reason that makes it more marvelously mysterious and it’s linked to our mutual gazing.

Animal behavioral scientists have discovered when we gaze into each other’s eyes our brains get increased levels of oxytocin. “Oxytocin (is) a hormone that plays a role in maternal bonding, trust and altruism,” according to an April 2015 article “How dogs stole our hearts,” published on sciencemag.org.

Can this experience truly come from a 14-pound brown and white beagle/terrier mix we bought from a rescue mission in 2011? I’d heard people with heart problems like I have healed faster with a pet dog. It’s working for me.

Haley’s excitement starts when she watches me head to the bedroom after breakfast. She jumps off the living room couch and charges onto our bed, where she spins around to lie down. She fixes her gaze on me and licks her snout as she ducks her head while whirling her tail around her rump.

The sciencemag.org article goes on to say, “Mutual gazing had a profound effect on both the dogs and their owners. Of the duos (dogs and humans) that had spent the greatest amount of time looking into each other’s eyes, both male and female dogs experienced a 130 percent rise in oxytocin levels, and both male and female owners a 300 percent increase.”

When I look at Haley, she’s watching my eyes and instantly her tail whips faster, her tongue licks faster and her head bobs up and down faster. That may explain why I’m feel peppier getting dressed.  IMG_0207

Besides, probably no other time during this day will I be so encouraged, so rewarded to complete a simple task.

Haley jumps off the bed and runs back and forth to the back door. She charges out underneath the rising garage door into whatever weather assaults her.

She won’t go into that same weather at night when I open the door for her to make a last pit stop, but before a morning walk, no problem.

I’m not ready to start and she knows it. When I bend over to tie my long shoelaces into double knots around the grommets of my boots, she hits her peak impatience. She zooms back to stick her nose into my knot-tying to lick my fumbling, exposed hands and face. I can’t discourage her. I muddle through.

I love it.

This unfathomably immense cosmos allows a 14-pound, four-legged mammal to bond with a 160-pound bimodal mammal — and make me feel marvelous before exercising and even better afterward. Science explains it’s because we’re increasing each other’s oxytocin levels by gazing into each other’s eyes.

That makes it feel more mysteriously miraculous for which I daily thank a divine presence.

 

 

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The Abuse of Political Rhetoric is More Disastrous than Abuse of Political Power

People are angry at the political processes abusing our newsprint and electronic media. After looking in frustration at the issue of Obama exceeding his constitutional authority, I was stunned at how confusing and wasteful that discussion is.

Obama provoked it by misstating his intentions and acting impatiently. Republicans attacked him with exaggerated claims and faulty evidence. Now we’re wallowing in wasted words inflamed by anger.

Meanwhile, people condemned to dangerous utility infrastructure have suffered because Congress avoided investments until recently.

Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address: “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Why did he say, “without legislation”? It’s red meat for Republicans to gobble up and attack him. Presidential power operates within the balance of powers authorized by the U.S. Constitution and authorized by legislation passed by Congress.

He should be one of the people in the U.S. whose word we could trust the most. He’s a constitutional attorney who’s been president for six years as attorneys advised him about actions being within the constitutional and legislative powers.

He could have said, “Wherever and whenever I can take steps authorized by the Constitution and legislation passed by Congress to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” Big deal. We all want him to expand opportunities for our families, right?

Then he acted impatiently.

He used his right to appoint Noel Canning to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was in a three-day weekend recess. The Supreme Court overturned the appointment unanimously in the Canning case. Obama should have waited for a well-established recess, which Congress takes regularly during the summer and Christmas seasons. Obama’s impatience impaled him.

That decision prompted a claim ruled not true by factcheck.org. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) made the claim on Fox News in 2014 that the Supreme Court’s “9-0 decision last week was the 13th time the Supreme Court has voted 9-0 that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.” (factcheck.org/2014/07/obama-and-executive-overreach/)

Factcheck.org said, “Goodlatte claimed the Supreme Court has voted unanimously 13 times that ‘the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.’ That’s not true.”

Goodlatte should be a congressman whose word we could trust the most. His website said he’s an attorney who’d served continuously since 1982 and is chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee has jurisdiction over immigration, terrorism, crime, intellectual property, constitutional amendments, anti-trust, patents and copyrights. In addition, the committee is responsible for oversight of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

With the gravity of his office, we would hope his statement wouldn’t crash to ground when draped with facts.

I’d like to sue him for exceeding his congressional integrity as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Factcheck.org spoke with two constitutional scholars, Richard Lempert, a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and an emeritus law professor at the University of Michigan, and Adam Winkler, a professor of law at UCLA.

Here’s some of what factcheck.org found: Lempert said, “only Noel Canning can be fairly cited to support this position.”

With a batting record of one out of 13, Goodlatte should be benched.

Factcheck pointed out several of the cases originated during George W. Bush administration’s and Obama’s administration supported the case. Factcheck reported that, “Lambert says these cases weren’t about the extent of presidential power, but ‘rather they concerned technical and jurisdictional issues or the meaning on statutory language.”

Factcheck.org said two cases contested law enforcement rights to use GPS tracking devices and search cell phones without a warrant, not presidential abuse of power.

Winkler said one, “was widely viewed as a major victory for the administration in limiting Arizona’s anti-immigration law.” Obama’s power as president was never an issue.

Somehow, someway we must stop this tragic madness and focus our attention on more serious issues such as investments in infrastructure to make sure our water pipes carry lead-free water.

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

Counting the homeless in East Wenatchee

The annual Point-In-Time (PIT) homeless count for North Central Washington was held Jan. 28.

The PIT count is a snapshot of homeless individuals who are temporarily sheltered and unsheltered on a single night in January for the federal departments of Housing and Urban Development and Commerce. The federal government uses the data to allocate funding.

This year’s count was expanded to those on the streets so I volunteered to participate in East Wenatchee because my wife and I have given individuals on street corners bags of household items collected by my church for the last three years.

On the day of the count, another volunteer and I searched from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. in freezing fog and found only one homeless man.

At the East Wenatchee Police Department, I learned the homeless are around but patrols have increased to keep them moving, making them less visible.

The department also said PowerHouse Ministry Center at the Shalom Church, located on Valley Mall Parkway near 10th Street N.E., is working with them. The ministry center is an effort by area churches to offer help to people in need. Scott Stevenson is a co-coordinator who manages the building and works with PowerHouse Ministry mission. Its website (powerhousewenatchee.com) says they’ve networked with 10 churches and Stevenson said a lot of businesses and donors help out.

They currently work with 15 to 50 people Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can have a shower, laundry, food and first aid. No one stays overnight.

He thinks he serves the same number of homeless as before but the numbers go up and down. “We have air conditioning so it was higher this summer than I’ve ever seen. We were up during the brutal winter.”

East Wenatchee businesses had complained about the homeless drinking beverages with concentrated alcohol, so East Wenatchee worked out an agreement with retail distributors to voluntarily remove selected beverages from the shelves.. Stevenson said, “High-octane stuff is not on the shelves any more. I’d say overall it’s helped.”

Our search on Jan. 28 verified service workers and early morning walkers at the Wenatchee Valley Mall haven’t seen homeless persons quite as frequently lately.

We didn’t see trash or campsites on the hill behind Fred Meyer’s gas station, nor on the Loop Trail where they’ve frequently lingered in trees and benches near the Pipeline Bridge.

They weren’t camping under the east end of the bridge or in the woods north of the bridge up to 19th Street N.W.

An officer and dispatcher with East Wenatchee’s Police Department told us they’re sweeping those areas because of complaints. The state Department of Transportation complained that too many crews were needed to clean up trash and repair damage.

Stevenson said he talks with the homeless about how to behave. “Recycle sometimes. Work with people. Pick up the garbage. You wonder why people are getting angry? Look, make it easier on yourself.”

My partner interviewed one homeless man walking in a parking lot with a stick on his shoulder holding his coat. He said he didn’t stay anywhere because he walked all night to stay warm.

Stevenson said, “After the night, they come in dog-tired, dirty. On Mondays they have bloody blisters on their feet. They say, ‘Everywhere a police officer tells me to move on.’ ”

But Stevenson praised the city. He said, “The police are excellent, kind. Can’t say enough. They got a job to do.”

“Mayor Lacy cares about people. He comes down to talk with me. He talks solutions,” Stevenson added. “Over the last year I’ve seen some good results.”

Stevenson should know. He first volunteered to work with the homeless for two weeks. Now in his 15th year, he’s worked at Solomon’s Porch, Light House Ministries and now here.

“It’s getting better,” he said. “Homeless people take care of this place. It’s worth it.”

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A Taste of Italy Banquet by Culinary Arts Students at the Technical Skills Center

20160129_193357 - Copy

Students in the Culinary Arts Program at the Wenatchee Valley Technical Skill Center held their first Guest Chef Dinner for 38 patrons Friday, January 29.

Culinary Arts prepares students for careers in food and hospitality industry by learning skills from cooking, serving and catering to management, operations, and hosting.

The theme was A Taste of Italy, prepared under the guidance of Ray Allen, general manager and chef from Olive Garden in East Wenatchee. “I didn’t do anything,” he said, “but give orders. The students prepared the food.”

The dinner began with house baked ciabatta bread and a mozzarella caprese salad, followed by three options for the entre: baked pesto salmon with parmesan crust served with crisp potato cairns and grilled asparagus; seared garlic chicken with a lemon sage linguine and cherry tomatoes;  or house made garlic balsamic mushroom ravioli served with Italian vegetable marinara.

The students created an original tiramisu dessert with a milk chocolate bowl holding a wafer in a cream sauce and another wafer dipped in chocolate. How they created the milk chocolate bowl is cooking secret students must be asked to reveal.

Money raised at $20 per ticket will pay for a field trip to Seattle, said Betty Palmer, culinary instructor. “We’re going to the UW Farm & Youth Garden Works at the Center for Urban Horticulture to remind students that the food they dream of cooking comes from the ground, and involves farmers.”

“Then we go to the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central Community College, a splendid program. My hope is for students to see what’s possible for them. Even if it’s not Culinary Arts, there are numerous post-secondary opportunities, scholarships, and it’s doable.

Next is a tour and lunch at FareStart, a remarkable program for job training for homeless members of the community. The staff will let us tour the kitchen and speak with their trainees.”

Cloe VanGog 1Cloe VanGog, a junior from Eastmont, was one of 17 students that night for the final preparations to serve guests who included her parents, JoDee and Theo VanGog from East Wenatchee, and her grandmother, Beverly Bell Hinkofer.

Chloe heard about the program through Eastmont and learned she would earn college and high school credits. “What drew me to the program was that it was hands on learning.  I wanted to do more than just sit in a classroom.”

She said, “Ever since I was little I have loved helping my dad in the kitchen. One thing I really like about the skill center is that it offers a wonderful experience with a variety of high schools and it’s all hands on.  We get to taste, eat, and serve all of the things we cook. There is not just one thing I like about it, it’s everything!”

Peter Jelsing, director of the program welcomed the guests and said he hopes this is the first of many more programs. “We have interest from several other chefs who said they’re willing to volunteer.”

Palmer said they’ve scheduled visits from chefs at Ravenous Catering and Higgin’s in Portland.

The skills center has a modern commercial kitchen attached to a classroom where students receive instruction before preparing food.

Thirty-nine students attend the school in two cohort groups and they prepared the food in the days preceding the dinner.

Students complete their required scholastic classes for the other half of their day in their district schools throughout the NCW region.

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Visiting a Play Based Preschool

Laura Rosentrater, director of Faith Lutheran Preschool watches students clean up. 4 friends folding blanket

Are pre-school readiness standards pressuring educators to harm children in some preschools? A director of a local preschool and a writer for a national magazine are saying the answer is yes. Erika Christakis recommends different approaches in the article “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids,” published in a recent issue of Atlantic Monthly.

The article cites a nationwide survey that found 80 percent of kindergarten teachers in 2010 expected kindergarten graduates to read, compared to 30 percent in 1998.

Consequently 3- to 4-year olds are spending more time on paper and pencil vocabulary learning despite having less developed motor skills and shorter attention spans than 5- to 6-year olds.

Ominously, tests on reading and memory skills indicate paper and pencil skill building isn’t improving the skills of second-graders.

An evaluation was published in 2015 about attendees in publicly-funded preschools in Tennessee. They had higher readiness skills in kindergarten than non-attendees but lower literacy, language and math scores in second grade.

Christakis said, “Researchers told New York magazine that overreliance on direct instruction and repetitive, poorly-structured pedagogy were likely culprits.”

Other reports troubled Christakis. “Thirteen early-childhood literacy programs ‘failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.’ ”

The author said many preschools aren’t following research consensus on four characteristics for successful childhood development. One is substantial teacher-student conversations. “We forget how vital spontaneous, unstructured conversation is to young children’s understanding,” she said.

School readiness goals should include social, emotional and active learning skills. Parents should be involved.

Finally, knowledgeable and qualified teachers are crucial. Christakis said, “Preschool teachers’ use of sophisticated vocabulary in informal classroom settings predicted their students’ reading comprehension and word knowledge in fourth grade.”

Christakis visited Finland’s acclaimed educational system, whose teachers initiate formal reading at age 7. She summarized the teachers’ message: “The basis for the beginnings of literacy is that children have heard and listen. They have spoken and been spoken to, people have discussed things with them, they have asked questions and received answers.”

Laura Rosentrater, director of Faith Lutheran Preschool in East Wenatchee, agrees with Christakis’ article.

Rosentrater studied the article and tapped the author’s summarizing quote. “This is what we do,” she said.

Rosentrater’s description indicated her teachers are often in face-to-face conversations with their friends, as their children are called. Each age group of 16 friends always has one teacher with an aide, plus Rosentrater when she’s available.

About 50 percent of the walls are covered with posters, prepared jointly by friends and parents. Parents accompany their children to the preschool and engage with them at arrival activity tables before leaving.

The preschool has an open classroom with areas for a variety of school readiness skills and integrated learning. Rosentrater said after the arrival activities and free choice time, the teacher forms a learning circle for large group learning for students. Next, friends work in center groups of four or five in teacher-led or self-directed learning in literacy, math, dramatic play and exploration, followed by a snack, recess, Bible stories and music. Throughout the day, staff are always engaged with the students.

When asked about test results, Rosentrater said the preschool is a structured, play-based, academic program and progress and assessments are not gaged by paper and pencil test, but rather through observation, play, and one-on-one interaction. Parent/teacher conferences are held twice a year.

Some of Faith Lutheran Preschool’s learning goals include students recognizing their name in print form and being able to write it, forming letters in standard patterns, basic math concepts, understanding cause-and-effect, exhibiting effective behavioral skills in group participation and work habits.

Their program has operated for seven years. Current and previous families may enroll two weeks prior to new families. Rosentrater said this year alone, they have 11 siblings that started in the 3-year-old classes. Otherwise, applicants are served on a first-come first-served basis, with the rest placed on a waiting list.

They use national scholastic curricula and a Lutheran Bible curriculum.

Staff get feedback from Eastmont School District officials and kindergarten teachers. The preschool was invited a few years ago to participate in Operation Kinder Readiness, a collaborative program between Robert E. Lee Elementary kindergarten teachers and area preschools. One teacher told Rosentrater that students from Faith Lutheran were already meeting benchmark for kindergarten readiness. “The common goal is working together making all children successful in preparing for kindergarten and later learning,” Rosentrater said.

Rosentrater said parents have asked about student readiness for preschool common core standards, which she believes other preschools have promoted. Rosentrater said, “There are no common core standards for preschool. We’re a play-based school.”

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