Seeing through a screen, darkly

A few days ago I was waiting in line at a local grocery store when I noticed an acquaintance standing adjacent to me, also waiting in line. I attempted to strike up a conversation, as it appeared we would be waiting for quite a while, but every time I asked a question or offered a prompt I received a one-word response. Not wishing to be rude, I left her be, as she was rather engrossed in an intense game of Words With Friends on her iPhone and could not be bothered.

But after a minute or so, a signal from my own smartphone alerted me that someone had mentioned me on Twitter.

“Just saw @MatthewProsser at the store, he’s really tall,” the message said, and it was posted by the woman standing right next to me in line.

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“You can’t go home again…”

The great advantage of being a political moderate is having the safe vantage point from which to lampoon the excess and foibles of either end of the spectrum. I’m able to lambast the wild-eyed right-wing kooks and fuzzy-headed left-wing flakes with impunity.

Both parties (and their earnest followers) are still only sharpening their blades for the oncoming 2012 presidential election, and no party has had such keen or constant practice as the Republican Party. Indeed, it seems, the presidential candidates for the “Grand Ol’ Party” have been running against our incumbent Commander In Chief since before Beyoncé belted out “At Last” during the inauguration.

Even so, one has to wonder just how well that’s worked out for them so far.

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On personal accountability and responsibility…

So I’m sitting back in a dentist’s chair, while a good-natured and well-meaning dental hygienist scrapes at my teeth with an assortment of sharp and pointed instruments that send brilliant explosions of painful irritation up my spine through the neural network that was created to instinctively warn me of immediate danger.

As each interminable minute passes, I begin to gradually despise the woman. Internally a great stream of cursing invective rages behind my calm facial expression. Though my mouth remains quite open throughout, I respond to her inquiries with only one-word or brief responses.

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Nice guys “Finnish” last?

Imagine a school system that defies every school reform being touted in the United States.

What would such a system look like?

How successful could it be?

What if instead of excellence, the system’s main goal is equity? The families of poor children receive intensive social and financial support from birth on so that they don’t come to school lagging in the skills they need for academic achievement.

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At the beginning of the year…

A good friend of mine is a self-described “adrenaline junkie” and loves mountain climbing as well as other types of “extreme” sports. He and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary a few weeks ago by scaling Guadalupe Peak.

In an email he sent to me upon their return, he described the feeling of reaching the summit after an exhilarating climb.

“When I looked out at the distance all around me, and looked back down the trail from which we’d just climbed, I didn’t feel the uplifting sense of accomplishment I was expecting,” he said. “Rather, I felt humbled […] it made me feel very small and insignificant in comparison to how vast and permanent everything around me seemed.”

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