A Call to Mercy

31 Mar

About a month ago, I read A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.

A Call To Mercy

Two things continue to haunt me.

First there was Mother Teresa’s childlike faith.

Yes, there were daily devotions and prayers.  However, I didn’t get the impression that there was a litany of wants/needs.  There seemed to be basic prayers — Our Father or Hail Mary or devotion to a particular saint — coupled with belief that the needs would be met.

Clearly, our world would be a better place if our beliefs were less complex and more childlike.

Second was Mother Teresa’s view on religion.

Yes, she was Catholic.  However, her ministry extended to Muslims and Hindus as well. Having attended a church while in college that refused to interact with other Christian churches, it was amazing to read about Mother Teresa’s service to not only living Muslims and Hindus but also those who had died to insure that their bodies were dealt with according to their beliefs.

Certainly, our world would be a better place if each of us could embody religious tolerance; after all the moment of truth is going to occur when each of us stand in judgment upon our death.  Let’s get out of the Dark Ages of religious intolerance.

Just think about it!


Daily Stoic – March 8

18 Mar

The theme for the meditation on March 8 was “Don’t Unintentionally Hand Over Your Freedom.”

Daily Stoic

It compared our reaction to physical restraint versus mental restraint.  Especially given that society seems more upset with the concept of physical restraint while embracing mental restraint.  This meditation really struck a cord.

I’ve begun to realize how often I surrender my mental freedom and how easy it is to fall into that trap.

  • My friends on Facebook keep repeating the same message.  It must be true.  But … why hasn’t Hillary Clinton been arrested?  Perhaps my friends are only repeating what they want to hear.
  • The news entertainment folks seems to have one political agenda, i.e., expose the ineptitude of the Trump administration.  It must be true.  It’s on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, PBS, etc. Perhaps the news entertainment folks are only repeating what they want to hear.
  • The President and journalists seem to be at an impasse regarding “fake news.”  What is real news?  Where are the facts?  Where is the evidence?  Where did the facts, evidence, or information come from?  Who said it?  Who provided it?  I’m tired of news by innuendo.  I’m disgusted with ongoing character assassination.  My mantra has become “an unnamed source” means “it a figment of the author’s imagination” regardless of whether it’s mentioned by the Administration or a journalist.  Perhaps it’s all “fake news.”
  • Then there are the pollsters.  They fail to tell the whole story.  Who was surveyed? How were they selected?  Is this sample representative of some larger group?  Were they paid?  Who paid for the survey?  In the end, without a complete picture, these pollsters simply report meaningless numbers; yet, these random numbers are treated as if they came from God.  Perhaps it’s simply filler for politicians, journalists, and the news entertainment folks.
  • Scientists have an agenda.  For some reason, my science teachers emphasized that scientists were in the vanguard for the impartial quest of knowledge.  However, they now seem to find results consistent with whoever paid for their research.  Do cigarettes cause cancer?  Does aluminum cookware contribute to Alzheimer’s disease?  Is genetically modified food dangerous?  What about global warming?   Perhaps science has simply become a whore to big money.

I remember that witnesses never tell the truth, but only testify as to his or her observations of the events.  When all the evidence — testimonial, documentary, real, circumstantial, demonstrative — is put together, the truth tends to be somewhere within all that stuff that was submitted for consideration.

I continue to ask questions.  I continue to be suspicious.  I continue to seek freedom from mental restraint.

Think about it!


Daily Stoic – March 6

10 Mar

After reading about VADM Stockdale’s experiences during the Vietnam conflict and how influential the Stoic philosophers were to his survival while a prisoner of war, I wanted to learn about this philosophy.  Consequently, one resolution for 2017 was to contemplate the daily meditations presented in

Daily Stoic

For March 6, the theme was “Don’t Tell Yourself Stories.”  I won’t repeat it here.  Get the book and read it yourself.  However, it did strike a note … actually three.

Admittedly, I’m a wallflower.  Oh, I have Walter Mitty dreams (thank you James Thurber). Thankfully, I don’t share them frequently although a couple of success stories while serving as a Navy JAG do come to mind.  I’ll practice the Stoic philosophy and keep it to myself.

I changed barbers because of his stories.  Whenever I had an appointment, I could count on hearing his tales at least twice: once while waiting and again while having my haircut.   His stories always took the same form — “but for” his actions something wouldn’t have happened.

  • He “saved” criminals by starting a Christian ministry for those in the County Jail.
  • He single-handedly managed all aspects the annual Lion’s Club annual auction.
  • He organized the Fourth of July parade and, through his efforts to fly the flag, brought patriotism back to the community.


I have two friends who know everyone. Just mention a project and they know an expert.  Just mention a purchase and they can name people who have the item at a price lower than whatever I paid.  Just mention a genealogy project and they have or can easily access the needed information.  Yet, when asked for the experts or the folks having the item or the information, it disappears.

Reality or just stories?

Finally, I had an employer who always imagined the institution was on the cutting edge.

  • If the issue was student retention, it was always other institutions, not us even though the department meetings consistently stressed the need to retain students.
  • If the issue was acceptance of academic credits, it was always other institutions that didn’t, not us although the nursing department routinely refused to accept military training because there was no evidence that the student could make a bed.
  • If the issue was job preparation, it was always other institutions that didn’t, not us; however, our advisory committees were filled with graduates who approved what they had been taught.

Yet, if the objective data was any measure, then each of these areas needed attention.

Just stories?

This meditation reinforced the concept that some folks, and institutions, can sometimes just be blissfully ignorant.  They become obsessed with their own stories … their own fantasies.  I shall strive to focus on what’s real.

Just think about it!


Siren’s Song

19 Feb

Homer, in the Odyssey, tells of the Sirens who, through their music and voice, lured mariners to crash on the rocky coast of their island. I have had such an encounter.

*           *          *

It began with a simple Twitter message:

“Are you a Christian and a believer of God?”

We exchanged Twitter messages about God and religion.

Her profile indicated that she worked for an international aid agency.  Occasionally she would disappear.  When she returned two or three days later, the rationale was no Internet wherever in the world she was.

We talked about A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.  Then she asked:

“Do you believe in charity?”

To which I spoke about the West Ohio Food Bank, Read for L.I.F.E., WGTE, the Toledo Museum of Art, BGSU, UT, and the Stratford Festival.

Our conversations continued for about three weeks.  She then mentioned that she had to go out of the country for the international aid society. On the day prior to her return, I get a message; she’s been mugged and has spent the day in the hospital.  The bandits escaped with her credit cards and all her money.

“Can you send me $600 to get home?”

However, things just didn’t add up:

  • Her purse was stolen but she still had plane tickets and cell phone.
  • She didn’t want to involve the international agency that she worked for because of the protocols involved.
  • She didn’t want to involve the Department of State or the embassy because nothing happens within the country without a bribe.
  • She said she had received either some “raw gold” or 300 acres in country for her assistance. (Isn’t this an ethical problem?)
  • Even though she travels regularly, there didn’t seem to be any contingency plans should an emergency arise:
    • Funds to be wired
    • Traveler’s checks to be replaced
    • Credit cards reissued
    • Friends … family
    • Employer assistance
    • Embassy aid for travelers in distress

Why did everything rest on an Internet acquaintance with whom she had communicated for three weeks?  It just didn’t smell right.

I sent emails to the international aid agency both in-country, and at its headquarters and can report that I heard nothing from the in-country office but the international headquarters had no knowledge of these events.

I also contacted via email the embassy and was advised that they had attempted to contract her without success.  I passed along the embassy’s phone number and email address to her.

I drafted an outline of the events and submitted those to the Sheriff’s Office, who noted that this was a typical scam to get money, and the FBI.

*          *          *

Perhaps I suspected this from the beginning.  I called her a Siren.  I told her I wasn’t about to be wrecked on the rocky coast after hearing her voice and song.  I can see how easy it would be to succumb to this enchantment.

Little Ninjas

7 Feb

It was a simple beginning.  It was the Christmas program at 1 Amazing Place.  My four-year-old grandson had practiced his songs.  The teachers said that he was in good voice throughout the practices.  Sadly, the teachers neglected to tell him that the auditorium would be filled with loving parents on the night of the performance.  He had a big smile as he entered the auditorium but then the tears began to well up in his eyes as he saw the audience.  He stayed with the other four-year-olds as he fought the tears.  I’m not sure how much singing was accomplished, but ample praise was heaped on his shoulders for simply surviving the program.


Perhaps my grandson needed a self-confidence booster.


Little Ninjas seemed like an answer.  The program concentrated on

  • Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Control
  • Discipline
  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Fitness
  • Coordination

My grandson enrolled in the program.  He loved it.


It was wonderful to watch his development.


Master Paxton is an excellent teacher who possesses the patience of Job.


When it was time for Christmas program the following year there were no tears.


Last week he graduated from Little Ninjas and is now enrolled in the beginning adult class.


Frankly, I hope he stays with it.  This could indeed become a lifetime activity and much more beneficial than the team sports pushed throughout elementary and secondary education today or the activities taught in physical education classes.


MarketMuscles.com. (2016, May 17). Findlay Martial Arts Academy. Retrieved from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FindlayMartialArts/photos/basw.Abp3cCdK0qum5G56lTgnOW6EB8i-R161h4vLVP8gdHeaYJykvuTdNCasmY7rLjtLHc2y3h4x0i967CgCo0sW-zKgbf6YYMQN97gaRCPFnobnGCowCoeHjTtXAncNVr9QHzhWZw4XPe-nGFI9CVSdkqhf03pWAdN-ybdv6oY42bnhriEPgW7kSZ-el7SbYP7yIaM.116

Szkudlarek, K. (2014). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2015). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2016). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2017). Sawyer – Karate.


1 Feb

Teaching has been, and continues to be, a journey.

There were the practical exercises that followed the introduction of new material throughout elementary school.  There were the experiments from 7th and 8th grade science through General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  There were the math problems, proofs, and the dreaded story problems from junior high math to Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Solid Geometry.  The English classes had worksheets on parts of speech and sentences to diagram and essays to write and the over-analysis of poetry and literature until the life had been beaten out of them. There were hours in front of the typewriter in keyboarding.  However, the subjects that interested me the most were built upon lectures by the teacher.

College did not change this.  The lectures simply became more intense.  I particularly recall my secondary social studies methods professor lecturing about engaging activities but seldom proffering any suggestions to further the concept.

Consequently much of my teaching career I mirrored my role models.  I lectured.  I was the sage on the stage. I believed every learner was an auditory learner.  I had them write essays.  I focused on rote memorization.  I expected the students to regurgitate the information from my lectures.  There was no engagement. I truly feel sorry for those students who had to listen to me drone on about some historical fact.

Law school did not change my perspective.  Oh, the professors used the Socratic method to get us to “think like attorneys” which is the actual goal of law school instead of actually teaching the law.  The examinations were a bit more practical since the goal was to respond extemporaneously as if a client presented this problem in the office.

With regard to teaching, there was desire to do things differently.  It really came together when I began teaching online and earning my Certified Online Instructor (COI) designation from LERN.

The Internet provides access to an array of resources in a variety of formats that accommodate all learning styles. I wanted to become the guide at the side.

  • I began identifying topics consistent with the course objectives and allowing students to find material addressing those topics that was meaningful to them — text, audio, YouTube, etc.
  • I also stressed that they were as much of a teacher as was I. It was a journey for both of us; I should probably be recognized as the most ignorant person in the room.
  • Therefore, instead of seeking THE answer we focused on understanding and applying the material. Oh, it helped that my teaching assignments were legal and ethical in nature.
  • Consequently, evaluations presented real world scenarios that required a recommended course of action with justification and could be in any modality with which the student was comfortable:
    • Papers
    • PowerPoint
    • Presentations (audio and/or video)
    • Panels

The practical application of this material has been beneficial to acquiring useful knowledge about the law and ethics.  (I have carried this philosophy over to the math students that I tutor for Read for L.I.F.E.)  However, instead of simply becoming a guide at the side, I’ve become a fellow traveler on the road to knowledge.



The Ought To Be A Law

23 Jan

It never fails.  It’s happened in every business law class that I’ve taught.  It always occurs at the beginning of the term.  It’s the first topic of discussion:

  • What is law?
  • What are the four types of law?

All is well until statutes are mentioned.  Then the question is posed: “Why are there such stupid laws?”


Then, for a brief moment, the class spins off talking about

  • cornflakes[1],
  • saggy pants[2],
  • bikini clad women require an armed escort[3],
  • lollipops[4],
  • red shoes[5],
  • fishing for whales on Sunday[6],
  • patent leather shoes[7],
  • getting fish intoxicated[8],
  • no civil arrests on Sundays[9],
  • slot machines in outhouses[10],
  • absent pet tiger[11].

Frankly, it’s a good question.

Frequently, these movements succeed on the city or county level, but there are many instances wherein individuals made a difference and have changed the law on the state or national level.

  • Look at Carrie Nation and the Temperance Movement (PBS, n.d.).
  • Look at Candace Lightner and the campaign against drunk and drugged driving (MADD, 2015).
  • Look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Burns, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt and the women’s suffrage movement (History.com Staff, n.d.).


Too often “there ought to be law” becomes the mantra for people who see something they don’t like and believe their personal perspective ought to be THE universal standard.   After all, eating peanuts in church could be disruptive to other worshipers (Buzzfeed, Inc., 2017).  It could be hazardous to other pedestrians to eat your ice cream while standing on the sidewalk or your donut or doughnut while walking backwards (Buzzfeed, Inc., 2017).  Can’t you imagine the complaints from these activities?  Sadly, frequently these people want these laws to apply to others but not them such as a friend’s spouse, who employed this mantra regularly and was found wandering the beach at Naval Station Norfolk beyond the sign declaring the beach “off limits” by order of the Commander, Naval Station Norfolk.

With sufficient influence, even pecuniary interests can be furthered.

  • Was the manufacturer of the polycarbonate sheets[12] behind the Ohio law “prevent[ing] banks from using plywood[13] on properties vacant and abandoned properties in foreclosure” (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017, para. 1)?
  • Were the owners and operators of rock climbing walls behind Ohio SB235 shielding them from civil liability for injury even if the equipment failed (Siegel, 2016)?

Perhaps there ought to be law ….

Just think about it!


AliExpress.com. (2016). Girls Patent Leather Shoes. Retrieved from AliExpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/af/girls-patent-leather-shoes.html?aff_platform=aaf&cpt=1485173043090&sk=ey76EUj&aff_trace_key=8f36ddb40d464e6c9079e18b554be7d7-1485173043090-04712-ey76EUj

Allard, S. (2013, June 18). 12 Dumbest Laws Still on the Books in Ohio. Retrieved from Scene: http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2013/06/18/12-dumbest-laws-still-on-the-books-in-ohio

Buzzfeed, Inc. (2017). 10 Weird Food Laws (That Should Be Resisted). Retrieved from Community on BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/radicaleater/10-weird-food-laws-that-should-be-resisted

Cakespy. (n.d.). Cranberry Sauce Jelly Donut Recipe. Retrieved from Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/11/pantry-essentials-canned-cranberry-sauce.html

CandyWarehouse.com. (2017). Lollipops and Suckers. Retrieved from Candy Warehouse: http://www.candywarehouse.com/candy-type/lollipops-and-suckers/

History.com Staff. (n.d.). The Fight for Women’s Suffrage. Retrieved from History: http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/the-fight-for-womens-suffrage

Kellogg’s. (2016). Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Retrieved from Kellogg’s: http://www.cantonrep.com/news/20161227/ohios-new-laws-are-you-affected

KimDara.com. (n.d.). Off Limits. Retrieved from KimDara.com: http://www.kimdara.com/photochron/

Krause, S. (2005). Stupid Law. Retrieved from S. Krause: http://www.skrause.org/humor/stupidlaws.shtml

MADD. (2015). FAQs. Retrieved from MADD – No More Victims: http://www.madd.org/about-us/faqs/

Ocala Post. (2014, July 17). Pull’em up, pay up, or go to jail: No more saggy pants, it’s the law. Retrieved from Ocala Post: http://www.ocalapost.com/pullem-up-pay-up-or-go-to-jail-no-more-saggy-pants-its-the-law/

PBS. (n.d.). Carrie Nation. Retrieved from American Experience: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/1900/peopleevents/pande4.html

Seuling, B. (1975). You Can’t Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws. New York: Doubleday.

Shockley, J. (2015, July 1). These 15 Crazy Laws in Kentucky Will Leave You Scratching Your Head in Wonder. Retrieved from OnlyInYourState: http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/kentucky/these-15-crazy-laws-ky/

Siegel, J. of the Columbus Dispatch. (2016, December 27). Ohio’s new laws: Are you affected? Retrieved from CantonRep.com: http://www.cantonrep.com/news/20161227/ohios-new-laws-are-you-affected

The Columbus Dispatch. (2017, January 6). Ohio law now prevents banks from using plywood on vacant, abandoned properties. Retrieved from The Columbus Dispatch: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2017/01/06/state-law-prevents-banks-from-using_plywood-vacant-properties.html

The Dumb Network, LLC. (2016). Dumb Laws in Ohio. Retrieved from Big Government. Small Brains. Dumb Laws: http://www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/ohio

World Casino Index. (2016). Las Vagas Scams. Retrieved from World Casino Index: http://www.worldcasinoindex.com/guide/las-vegas-scams/

[1] Columbus, Ohio (Allard, 2013).

[2] Collinsville, Illinois (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[3] Commonwealth of Kentucky (Shockley, 2015)

[4] State of Washington (Krause, 2005)

[5] Sadly, I’ve been unable to find a reference for this one.  The story that I heard involved a means of identifying ladies of the evening; however, it may have only applied to Sunday apparel when red shoes were considered to ostentatious for church.

[6] State of Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[7] Cleveland, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[8] State of Ohio (Allard, 2013).

[9] State of Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[10] Bexley, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[11] Canton, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[12] $115 for a 4-by-8 foot sheet (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017).

[13] $17 to $20 for a 4-by-8 foot sheet (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017).