Monday, October 01, 2012

No D-Day: A Few Things About Myself

I don't often talk about myself of my family life, in part, because it's mine and just because I'm a blogger doesn't mean I have any obligations to talk about people who don't necessarily want to be featured in my blog.  People who know me also know that my older sister has T1D (note the word I did NOT use here) and she had it since they year I was born and we both dealt with that growing up in the '70s.  She taught me everything I wasn't supposed to know about how to fake out a Clintest with an extra drop or two of water.  But in keeping with today's theme, I'll avoid talking about anything that might be d-related.  I also have a younger brother who was the bane of my existence growing up.  If you ever read Judy's Blume's "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" (catch a post on my other blog on that HERE), that pretty much was the story of my life growing up.  Today, we get along much better than we did sharing a room when I grew up (my sister being the only girl got her own room, buy the two boys had to share a room).

But I do have a family and I had a great childhood growing up.  I grew up in a typically boring town in Connecticut in the New York City exurbs.  We had a Metro North Commuter Railroad station into the city, but there wasn't much else going on in town by my recollections.  Like all of New England, counties are largely irrelevant because individual towns have their own governments, school districts, police and fire safety (see HERE).  The neighboring town could be a half block down the street, but those kids would go to a different school district and they'd have their own town's recreation programs unless it was a sports event and we were competing against them.

I grew up in what has been called by some the lamest decade in history: namely the 1970s, although I graduated from high school in the mid-to-late 1980s.  I didn't think the seventies was lame back then and in hindsight, I got to experience some things that make my generation among the last to have some shared, collective experiences that kids today will never experience.

Dick and Jane: Yes, I Learned With Them!

When I learned to read, I was taught on the long-since-abandoned "Dick and Jane" readers. Those were published until the mid-1970s, but many schools abandoned them for a variety of reasons.  Those readers were actually abandoned by my school district the year AFTER I was taught to read.  Maybe that makes me old, but I like to think of it as making me the last of a dying breed of grade school students!  That was supplemented by a teaching of Phonics, and I remember my first grade teacher having some stories she told about each of the vowels, although now that 35 years have passed, my recollections of those stories have really faded.  But I remember I thought it was fun at the time.

For the record, I was actually an advanced reader for my age.  Truthfully, I don't think "Dick and Jane" had much to do with that, nor did Sesame Street since I was already in school when that became de rigeur for children't television.  I did, however, watch a program known as "The Electric Company" that was another PBS children's educational program at the time (yes, Seasons 1 and 2 are now available on DVD in case anyone is interested) for kids who were too old for "Sesame Street".  Hence, as a child, I was introduced at a very young age to such entertainment icons as Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Gene Wilder, Morgan Freeman and even Joan Rivers who was the narrator for what was perhaps my favorite segment on "The Electric Company" called "The Adventures of Letter Man".

Religion: Who Says Your Understanding of God Is Right or Even The Only One?

I also grew up with some semblance of religion, and even went to Sunday School and was confirmed around age 13 or 14.  I was also a choir boy, hence my adoration of the TV show "Glee" even if the writing for it has been inconsistent.  But I think religion in the United States has taken on a different meaning than it once did and I kind of consider myself agnostic.  I stop short of calling myself atheist, but I don't believe much of organized religion's perspective on a devine being sometimes called God, and I find organized religion to be an abberation.  Also, I find that some Eastern religions are often more in-sync with my own perspective of what a divine being might expect of humanity.  Frankly, I think significantly more than half the world's people cannot just be casually dismissed on religion just because they don't follow Western thinking on the subject.

I also find the notion of prosthyletizing to be a gross manifestation of Biblical writings and are contrary to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  However, I stop short of saying people should avoid it completely.  Much comes down to how it is delivered.  For example, some people feel inspired to share something that has brought them tremendous happiness and a sense of well-being.  Are they wrong for doing so?  I don't necessarily think so, but as I said, it comes down to how they share it.  Different religions differ considerably on this, too, with some promoting a very in-your-face notion of sharing the good word with others, while others basically try to keep their faith to themselves, not even encouraging others to join.  However, as a general rule, I find Evangelical Christian prosthylitizing completely offensive and is against everything the U.S. founding fathers stood for in terms of freedoms.  I fail to understand why some people will defend the Second Amendment, but conveniently choose ignore the First Amendment.  WTF?

I can tell some people are getting all hot and bothered now, so I won't ramble on anymore, and maybe I've shared too much already ... we'll see.  Anyway, those are 2 things about myself in case anyone was wondering.


Melissa Lee said...

My mom taught me to read on the Dick and Jane books and I was born in 1979! She taught me using those books even though the series had made her feel othered and abnormal since she was a child of divorced parents in the 1950s and her family didn't look like the D&J family did. Hearing my mother say that about books and television from her generation, however, influenced my own amassing of non-traditional children's stories that present inclusive examples of families around us for my own little ones.

Also, atheist here. Trying to be less closeted about it in my thirties, but it's not an easy label to wear in the US. Particularly where I live in Texas.

Thanks for the interesting read. See Scott write. See Melissa comment. Comment, Melissa, comment.

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Brenda Bell said...

My early reading classes were in the 1960s. I didn't grow up with Dick and Jane; instead, we had the series that began with "My Little Red Story Book" and went through "We Are Neighbors". While some of our kids with reading difficulty got "phonics", it was kind of academic for those of us who already knew how to read. Another invention of that period was "i.t.a." (Initial Teaching Alphabet), which was completely phonetic and written completely in lower-case letters. Non-Modern-English characters such as the ash and the schwa made it difficult for many of us to decipher the orthography, though many of the same characters appear in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

I believe there is a modern version of The Electric Company on PBS Kids today...