1-17-17 The Relaxation Response

Photo: mind-of-miine

I started spending time meditating about 5-6 years ago. It was slow going at first but after a while I could feel relaxation in my body when I would sit down to do it.

I sit down in a straight-backed or otherwise comfortable chair. I look at images of nature and take deep slow breaths. I say this as a spoken mantra or plain sound of relaxation: “One …….” I sustain the note until my breath ends. It worked then and has continued to work but I have often thought it wasn’t working.

There have been moments since I started relaxation and meditation when I saw how my exercises were putting me in another frame of mind than those around me. I was staying mellow when others were losing it. Those moments are reminders to keep it up.

Relaxation is not something you do, it is a response.

Relaxation and calm are both part of a practice you set out to do each day. My method is more streamlined now and I can even do it in the car or otherwise on the go. I know I will continue to benefit from this. Less and less am I criticizing its effectiveness. I’m very proud of how far I have come.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

“Stop using curse words!” This is a recurrent statement in the Avengers. I wonder who this theme of struggling with four letter words is appealing to? Perhaps the fountain of youth is in cursing? Are the youth who this movie is written for the most happy? I have to say, I appreciate a more seasoned focus in a movie that can be enjoyed by 46 year olds as well as those around 8. They still exist do they not? I hardly ever curse and when I do, I don’t feel I have to join a 12 step program. The Avengers is fun and it has amazing effects but you might to a four letter word review in the way its focus is scattered and plot long,

If a movie is going to be long, let it have killer special effects I say. This film dragged on at times, over developing things that were obvious. Beyond that, the side dramas meant to show the humanity of the Avengers were predictable and out of place. For example, why do Nat and Banner have to get into romantic jabber? If I had to take a pee it would have been during those scenes. Those items aside, there are some amazing effects and it’s cool to watch the Avengers once again bring down the hammer.

It seems these days that these Marvel movies are wont to pour millions into movies that lack the simple ingredients of good movies. They make money on 3D goers primarily who have low expectations for a story. I’m afraid there was a bit of this here. The movie had several settings and several plots. I would have given a higher score if it had chosen one. Tony Stark had way too much screen time. I don’t know if kids these days know Robert Downey Jr. is 5’5″ and has spent time in jail. He’s a B rate actor that gets too much screen time on the Avengers. The suit is cooler than him yet you’ll get lots of him in Ultron. It was too long but I did have fun with my family. I don’t think I’ll see the next one but many others will, I respect that. I won’t call you a four letter word. There is indeed a fountain of youth and I like to think I live in it. It’s the place where you have your own mind on things and t’s never too far away. I guess in a weird way, this product-placement/formulaic film made me remember that. It comes streaming on Netflix next month.

This post is partly in response to Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forever Young.”

Inside Looking Out

Rough weather comes in life, you have to know how to get through it. It usually passes here where I live but I’ve heard there are places were it rains all year long, non-stop. I don’t know how well I’d do there. I suppose big brick fireplace ovens are the mainstay. You gotta try and keep warm from the inside out.
Everybody’s talking about how cold it is outside. That’s a true thing indeed, especially here in the high desert of California. In the same way, people tend to complain about how external circumstances are “cold” or in some way “not agreeable.” You see this hand in the window placed on the glass looking out, she’s looking at the cold and the man outside. she seems to be obsessed with it, afraid of it.

I’ve been afraid of what’s outside. I’ve feared it so much, it crippled me. I’ve waited long intervals until the weather and other things have cleared, with mixed results. I’ve seen how some people don’t fear the cold. They get out there and get things done. Everybody calls them lucky. I’m learning you need to forge your own way to luck.

Whatever the obstacle, it helps to have a fire in your stove. WE can’t control all the elements but we can tend to our inner being. If we spend time there, learning how to get warm, we can get out there and make things happen. People may think us lucky. In reality, we just know where the wood is and how to get it going into a blazing fire to take on the day.

Our 18-year-old son, Brandon, moved out today. It’s hard on both of us but especially my wife. I don’t know when we’ll “get over it” but as we wait for that, we can enjoy each other and the warmth of the fire here at home tonight as we exchange recollections of our life with him in our house.

Another Watchlist Completed 1/7/2017

Last week was the last of my vacation and I set out to review at least 5 films before going back to teaching my wonderful students. I was more than successful. I did not however manage to review Cronos due to time constraints. I saw several more movies however in addition to my watchlist: A Monster Calls, Marnie, and North by Northwest. To comment on my list, you can do so here or click on the image below to be taken to the list on IMDB. I appreciate you comments either place. Thank you in advance.

Links to my reviews (Jan ’17 Date, Title link, # of comments)

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Column: It’s Time we Faced it, No One Will Save Us from Trump

I think my generation is guilty of keeping its head in the sand. It’s been so easy for us with the internet. We go to sleep having heard terrible insult and injury from Donald Trump and those like him and wake up in the morning assuming someone else will handle it, or that it is probably being handled.

yellow_shirt242Damien Riley is a blogger and podcaster who writes a column at RileyCentral.blog once a week, or thereabouts. He married his High Desert princess Sarah, now his queen, and together they have 3 children. Damien has an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton.

Trump is our fault. We wrote blog posts and made popcorn as we watched the debates on Youtube. It was like a sport or me, and I am sure many of you out there feel the same. We’ve seen the news stories of people not willing to accept him, they were petitioning with signs in the streets and they were in high numbers. What did I do after the election results? I took my Google alert for Trump off my email. Not exactly a white horse moment.

Now this imbecile is hiring ridiculous people to run the country. He is an egomaniac and these people either worship him in truth or play into his bullshit game where he is king so they can have their shot and playing with the countries puppet strings. It’s downright scary what can happen under this man’s tyranny.

He lost the popular vote. The country majority does not want him in power. He hates the press, called it “unfair” on his Twitter over and over again. How many advantages has he had to become a billionaire in America that others could call “unfair.” He has become the one who feels entitled, not the poor as he campaigned about.

I think the time to be respectful toward him has passed. It’s time for me to speak my mind any and all places I have influence. Starting here, of course. Trump is not humble and he has sick intentions. This has been seen in his own words time and time again. Playing his own words for him doesn’t even phase him. He simply sates: “Press Unfair” or “Fake” and waves his magic wand.

I don’t get many comments, it’s just something about me I guess. If you’d care to change that, please leave one and I will respond. I’d love to make this a conversation.

Green Room

If you knew punk like I did in the 1980’s, you should watch this if for no other reason than to see how much the punks of today have fucked it up. At the same time, there is a punk spirit still alive in this film that makes the film worth watching. It’s as violent as hell, so much so that is has been labeled as horror. I myself don’t agree it fits in that genre.

Green Room

Green Room

“A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.” -IMDB


Anton Yelchin Pat
Imogen Poots Amber
Alia Shawkat Sam
Patrick Stewart Darcy

Directed by

Jeremy Saulnier

Written by

Jeremy Saulnier

Other Info

Crime, Horror, Thriller
Fri 13 May 2016 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.1

The band is slumming it. I heard Michael Stipe talking about the early days of REM when they were in a van on “tour” of little America. They survived on bags of potatoes and beer. It’s the romance of the things that sounded so fun. I this film you see this same scenario only things aren’t going as well for this band as they did for REM.

There is some sort of scuffle in the venue they play and somehow, someone gets stabbed. The film grows in violence from that point to a raging crescendo of blood and gore that in some metaphorical way might be considered a video to a Sex Pistols song. Unfortunately for me, I got bored. Even though the cause was justified, the violence just seemed to predictable. The things we find below in within this jam house are also a bit predictable.

A lor of people were telling me the same thing about this film, so I’m surprised I felt the urge to see it. It’s not a bad movie per se but I just didn’t find anything worth running to the laptop over to share. For that reason, I don’t recommend Green Room unless your watchlist is about played dry and there’s nothing else really to watch.

3 Stars3 / 5

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Team Tables Configuration

IMG_2544.JPGI’ve made a few significant changes to the way I run my classroom teams. I’ve added an element that is quite innovative, shared with me by teacher and Adelanto board candidate Carlos Mendoza. We had a great visit sipping Starbucks and telling teacher war stories when he suggested something unique with the help of a pencil and napkin. I started implementing it today. My classroom runs on the concept of competition. I have the kids seated at u shaped tables instead of desks. This is in hopes they will be more collaborative.


Each table is a team with a name. I award table points for everything. Carlos suggested a system where each seat has a name that matches the same position at other tables. At times I will award these seats together as a team. It’s simpler than it sounds and you can probably figure it out from the 3 photos on this post. I will report back more down reality road.



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A Monster Calls

I can usually identify why I liked a film straight off. In this case, I can’t. While I pore through this incredibly sad film in my head, I still have to review it so here goes. Let me tell you what it is.

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

“A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mum’s terminal illness.” -IMDB


Lewis MacDougall Conor
Sigourney Weaver Grandma
Felicity Jones Mum
Toby Kebbell Dad

Directed by

J.A. Bayona

Written by

Patrick Ness, Patrick Ness

Other Info

Drama, Fantasy
Fri 06 Jan 2017 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.7

Here, we are in a boy’s dreams though are not revealed as such. In fact, we aren’t sure through the course what is dream and what is reality. Perhaps he’s a sleepwalker for all we know. This is an open-ended film in terms of interpretation. I read something yesterday that claimed the tree was cancer. I wonder. A recent film I liked that did a similar “open-ended” technique was Birdman.

Is there really a Birdman? Is there really a tree? What am I really seeing here? What is the purpose?

If riddles like this interest you as much as they do me? This film is for you. Films like this do not expect to be exactly understood, instead, they invite emotion and tone into the viewer experience. That becomes the meaning.

The acting is superb. There is really nothing child-like here or crafted for kids. There is a lot of amazing artwork reminiscent of the storytelling scenes in Kubo and the Two Strings. The boy and his mother are both artists, it is their bond to be as such. While I’m on the topic, the relationship between dying mother and son is tear-jerking, almost gut wrenching. I wonder why the film seemed aimed at kids with such sad grown-up themes here.

I thought the film was about the stages of grief but as the film progressed I realized it’s a more personal message than that. This book must have been written by someone who went through loss and used the tree monster as a vehicle to explained what must be learned through death. Yes, the theme is death.

There is much to be gained from going to this movie. IT might be helpful to someone who loses a parent or other loved one, but I’m not sure. Perhaps it would be better used for therapists and friends who have not experienced the loss to understand what the sufferer is going through. Without giving it away, I’ll leave you with my recommendation but only if you know going in these are grown up concepts that kids won’t truly get unless you have a hot chocolate with them afterward and dialog. Having said that, now that I’ve explained the theme of death and dark serious tone, I wholeheartedly recommend this for anyone. I liked it the same way you like sour candy, one of the sour low points of life we all experience and can not escape.

4 Stars4 / 5

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