All posts by X Teri

A Soup of Pictures

777I made the above picture to be funny, picking on my wife.

white-thorns-on-wooden-floorI made the above picture after reading another John Pavlovitz blog entry, this one at:

x another day another internet

The above picture was the result of the fallout of people not being creative with their criticism.

nullifying book reviewI wrote a pithy book review last year under a nom de plume. I got quoted, so I guess someone liked it.

doug acuff final

The above picture was one I made for someone’s social media birthday post. I liked the quote.


Another one I made for a social media birthday.

I Disagree With Almost All Anti-Vaxxers


I made the above tongue-in-cheek argument, hoping to perhaps disparage both the learning of algebra and the anti-vaxxers. (I fit the futility of algebra and the crazy of anti-vax into one pithy meme. You owe me $1. Thanks)  (How Anti-Vaxxers Sound – YouTube) This link uses satire to drive home the point of the idiocy of many anti-vax arguments. Comedy tends to do a better of unmasking the absurdity of arguments.

I’ve yet to meet someone who demands the right to avoid vaccinations who isn’t missing a few threads on their bolts. I’ve seen some online who have great control of their arguments – but only when their arguments are used singularly; taken as a whole, it is fairly crazy. Personally, I’ve never met someone with doubts about vaccinations who doesn’t also do some other unrelated and even more dangerous things. But I can’t seem to tell them that. “They” are different from everyone else.

Vaccinations should be avoided only in demonstrable cases of medical necessity and then only under very strict conditions. Parents withholding them should be treated as if they are abusing their children and expect punishment for violating the social compact of immunization.

As for the “religious exemption” justification for forgoing immunizations, I’m not sure if I have a big enough “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me” stamp to hammer it with. Part of the price of admission to society is by participating in reasonable restrictions to how crazy you can talk and act. There is no sugar-coating the goofiness of allowing ignorance about cause and effect to affect public health.

Regardless of how strongly you believe your religion and scientific grasp goes to protect you, you need to stop perpetuating the illogical nonsense of anti-vax arguments. While prayer may or may not help you, it has been shown to have no effect on infection rates or statistical models of contagious disease.

“The World Is Changed By Examples, Not By Opinions” – Not Quite True

“The world is changed by examples, not by opinions,” a quote by Paulo Coelho. You’ve probably seen it in other forms on the internet. Usually it is cited as “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” It is a minor variation but can affect how it is interpreted.

Like most pithy generalizations, it can be used incorrectly. Instead of giving an esoteric or confusing example, I’ll give you a real-life snapshot to visualize.

A young man, Jake, secretly disagrees with his family and friends about gay rights: they are staunchly opposed, while he is completely in accord with the LGBT community. The more Jake sees people being discriminated against based on sexual orientation, the more frustrated he is with those who are guilty of it. He watches, listens, and disagrees. At church, he notices that Jenna, a choir member,  is often posting pro-LGBT information on social media. Jake begins to read Jenna’s words, noting that she gets a lot of negative commentary for her posts. She handles them with aplomb but never wavers from the insistence that it is bigotry to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Over time, Jake internalizes the logic Jenna presents and begins to challenge his friends and family.

Did the female choir member “do” anything? Or was she just owning an opinion?

I think it’s obvious that while she didn’t “do” anything substantial, she used the tools available to express her opinion in such a way as to cause a change in another person’s behavior. This, in turn, began to challenge the young man’s friends and family, who otherwise would have been unchallenged in their discriminatory beliefs. Her opinion caused changed.

Whether we are posting on social media or discussing important issues face-to-face, opinions can and do cause changes in the world. They are not “just words.” Words from the right source at the right time are often the perfect catalyst to bring people out of silence or to change their reactions to people and what happens.

Opinions can be powerful. Opinions combined with action probably lead to results with greater frequency. However, we shouldn’t discount properly expressed opinions as catalysts for change. A speech seen in person or on TV, paragraphs in a book, or words read from a blog can all be powerful enough to start us thinking differently. A calm conversation between pastor and parishioner, a relaxed chat between parents and child, or even a classroom presentation from a great teacher can all transform from opinion to lasting knowledge and action.

Untraditional Mother’s Day

mothers day 2015

I didn’t want to do the traditional mother’s day, so I made a homage that best represents her, when she was young and already set on her course. Not because my mom is gone, nor because I ever was committed to these types of holidays; rather, because although mom was a real person, she was never really whole, and she didn’t get the life she could have had. Her shadows kept her disconnected and unable to connect like one would expect. She passed her weakness on to me – as most parents do. (There are a lot of us out here, the ones who envy the legions of normal families.) I have many memories, many of them good. When I think of mom it is just as likely that I recall black and white, with fewer soft edges to bring her together. It is no offense toward her to acknowledge that she was a person, with demons and laughter in equal measures.

Story Challenge: “Grab A Shovel And Say Hi.”


Esoteric status update #37: I was challenged to come up with a quote that would serve as the catalyst for a story. Here it is. Elmore Leonard would probably use it if he were still around.

I’m still surprised by how many people have difficulty “being creative,” whatever that might mean.  I have the opposite problem most of the time. My brain is often a huge set of observational little notes, scattered and amusing.

Young People Are The Same Today As They Ever Were


“The Entitlement Era” is an empty phrase used to attempt to describe what many older folks believe is a spoiled generation of younger kids. It’s dumb to use it that way. Kids have been kids since the dawn of time – and old coots have always dragged out pitiful arguments to explain just how bad kids are “nowadays.” It’s a corollary to the old adage that things were better “back when.” It’s not true now, and it wasn’t true back in the good old days, either. Even the Bible admonishes folks to not look back on the old days as better. Last I checked, Ecclesiastes and other references were written a long time ago, much before these young kids these days started acting like spoiled brats and staring at their cellphones.

For generations, it has been a “known fact” that the younger generation feels entitled and that they should have grown up the way the older generation did. People were better, they respected their elders more and discipline made them better than the current crop of young’uns. What a load of hogwash. We were just as irritating and unresponsive to authority and responsibility as the current generation. We were lucky it wasn’t okay to kill us sometimes – because you know as well as I do that sometimes we stretched every limit we could imagine. We thought we were smart.

As an old coot, I feel qualified to say these things because, well, I’m an old coot with a more realistic understanding of how history teaches us that people have always thought the younger generation was less respectful, less hard-working, less everything. It’s the same wrong-headed and conventional wisdom that tells us that people aren’t as smart as they once were. That idea, too, is wrong and gets more wrong each generation. But it plays well for people who want to romanticize the past.

As for the discipline, good parents know how to administer expectations and change the behavior of their children. It wasn’t just because grandma knew how to get a switch and tan your hide, or that dad would get out his belt and physically whip the daylights out of you. Those people also loved us and wanted the best for us in every way we can imagine. (Although many of us had parents so committed to discipline that they almost killed us a few times.) Falsely honoring the tendency to get out the switch often belies the presence of other more important factors at work. Good parents don’t cross the line and good kids often misbehave. You can do everything perfectly as a parent and still have troublesome children.

Discipline takes place in the hearts and minds of parents: by example, by loving and unavoidable and constant insistence that children listen and be considerate, and by dishing out reasonable consequences for misbehavior. There wasn’t a magic fix to mischievous children when we were young and there still isn’t. I learned respect in the only way that matters: by being reciprocal toward everyone who treats me as worthy of consideration.

This ongoing harsh attitude toward an entire generation of youth only serves to further a cliché which has no basis in reality. Kids today aren’t less motivated, less intelligent or more spoiled than they ever have been. No, I’m sorry. It is us who are filtering our world to perpetuate a tired myth of insolence. The Talmud says, “We do not see things as they as we, we seem them as we are.” If you’re looking at young people with a jaundiced eye, you will indeed find a lot of yellow in the world.

As we get older, we can’t help but look back fondly and with memory-crossed eyes, forgetting that we often did and said things that would have made any grandmother blush or make our parents want to whip us until we started screaming in a foreign language. All of us. Whether it was drinking, smoking, not wanting to do chores, not wanting to study or get up early on Saturday to mow the lawn, cursing, or back-talking, our generation also mumbled under our breaths at our parents – or spoke in anger when our parents weren’t around.

There is no “Entitlement Era.” Kids are the same today as they’ve always been. We were once the younger generation, warts and all. Most of us were good kids, some of us weren’t. That’s true. But generalizing and forgetting that there is no real line between kids today and ‘back when’ does a disservice to every young person trying to do be a good person, work hard, and live well. You can focus on the misbehaving kids of today as much as you want. I think, though, that your focus is at fault rather than the young generation.

Just as you listen to the music of today and think it sounds like a cat being skinned, your tendency to glamorize the past generations and compare them to today’s kids is a reflection of you getting old, not that kids are worse than they’ve ever been. There’s no “them” and “us.” It’s all “us,” both old generation and new.

College Sports – A Picture Commentary


I disguised the original coach and subject of this picture. But his salary alone is $3,200,000 a year.

I wonder about the sanity of public university employees being paid so much – regardless of who is actually footing the bill.

It’s one of the few jobs where no one thinks twice about a grown adult screaming at other people – during a game of sport.

And the participants are all earning nothing for their efforts, while those on the sidelines are paid.

Everything they say and do is treated like words of wisdom and worthy of comment and reflection.

A Picture to Explain Some of My Frustration With People Commenting on Baltimore

the-railroad-goes-into-the-distance“…None of us conduct our lives based solely on practicality, logic, or self-benefit. We make stupid choices, even when we have all the benefits of money, education, and food. If we feel wronged, we react stupidly, often without thought and without concern for consequences. Now multiply our individual humanity into groups in less than ideal situations….”  This is one of my own replies to people being mean-spirited on social media.