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The Vermont Game

Are you happy with your life? Have you asked yourself this question? Do you dare ask? I didn’t start asking myself this question until I was about 48. Really daring myself to look, past all my stereotypes and habits, underneath my fully conditioned pride and way beyond what anyone else wanted me to see.

And now that I’m done asking, I’m listening. Listening to myself, daring to listen because there are answers deep below that are not extinct, just buried. And now that the hamsterwheel has stopped and I’ve gotten my footing, I feel like I never want to go back. It’s just a feeling. It’s not based in any logic but it’s also not based in any fear. It’s just how I feel and I’m paying attention to it.

So enough of the philosophizing, for now, anyway. Well, one more thing…don’t let the non-storytellers tell you how to tell your stories. Your stories, for some, are all you have and they matter and if you pretend you’re not a good story teller, but you are or want to be, you’re selling yourself way short. Tell your stories everyone, tell your stories.

I have a story for you, actually it’s more of a game

It’s a game about an experiment. It’s actually a play along…it requires crowd participation, like one of those murder mystery dinners or escape room escapades. You all think you know better, to some extent, than, say, Governor Scott about how to run the State of Vermont, right? Don’t lie. If you’ve ever complained once about State Government or Federal Government, you think you can do it better.

Ok here’s the story.

You are the leader of Vermont – whatever that means for you. You have control of the purse strings, you get to dictate where things are spent, how they’re spent, who spends them and so on. You have to hire people to get the job done, you can’t do it all yourself but you have free reign to hire anyone you want, as long as it’s legal in the current system.

Now this isn’t about really getting into the nitty gritty, it’s more of a feel thing, it’s more of a yes or no question with some possible developments for some of you that want to go further.

So we need to give you a budget and you need to think about what you imagine the biggest challenges are in Vermont. What needs help, what’s good, in your opinion only…visualize it, think about it as much as you can. What’s your top 5? Ok, got it?

Ok.

Your budget to get the people in the places you need to solve or address whatever you think are the most pressing issues…is…

$275,000,000
Two Hundred and Seventy-Five Million Dollars.

The question’s are:

1-Is this enough to address the problems you feel we need to address

2-Is this not enough

3-Is this too much

I have to know so please don’t keep me waiting. Play! – simple and then I’ll tell everyone who played the answers and you can see how you did!

Ok – have fun – thanks for reading.

The Leaders Are You

Wondering where all the leaders have gone
but now,
it’s been 2 decades and 3
and I can’t lie to myself
like before
that someone will stop the madness.

There is no one coming.
The ones in power are there
because I’ve waited
because I’ve stayed away
because I’ve pretended.

And the ones in power
are not going to make things better
that’s not what they do
they can’t
and I shouldn’t expect them to
anymore,
so I won’t.

I am the leader.
You are the leader.
The leaders are us.

Look at what’s happening…
my god…
it’s all so human
it’s all so tragic
it’s all so fearful
it’s all so masculine
it’s all so forceful
Look at what’s happening…

Look to yourself to make it better
look to yourself to make it better
look to yourself to make it better.

Eternity and Me

I got back to the silence of the mountains

It was like breath

Like soul

I felt the vibrations

The call back to peace

Even though I’ve been removed

And have been coming back

The absence

And refreshment

Was like a blood transfusion

It is there

On that Mountain

Deep into the woods

There’s nothing there

But eternity and me.

The Steamroller Of Life-Pt. 1

Vermont
an idea with green mountains
a philosophy with pure water
and my philosophy isn’t the same
and my idea isn’t the same
as yours.

So possessive
am I, of my ideas
So possessive
am I, of my “I”
without knowing it
I need it
without knowing it
I don’t breathe without it

My “I”
not freedom,
chains and heavy
my “I”

I never want my son to feel this heaviness
this reliance on being recognized

And I continue to follow
in my desire and fear
and achieve the things I am most afraid of

My “I”
my map
my knowledge
my way
to what can only be,
and I know this now,
misery and want.

But what about the feeling
The one about getting rolled over
by the steamroller of life
and people
if you don’t stand and proclaim
if you don’t stand and proclaim
and fight
what about that steamroller of life

It’s coming for me.

Politics Got Nothing On Love!

The reason for “Straight Pride” is the reason for Trump.

It’s a response to people putting the State in a position of authority over themselves. They feel unrecognized and they themselves only recognize one way out – to appeal to the faceless behemoth that they’ve been taught is the ultimate creator and arbiter of human rights.

Whose fault? Who knows. But most people aren’t concerned with other people doing what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt them. So what if the system that now blindingly oppresses was created by these same people. We’re missing the point if our view is to blame the people that created the system. No matter who or how the system of oppression was created, it was created before a time of mass self-awareness. We are in a time of a turning, an awakening to our own power, violence, intolerance, compassion and love.

We are missing the point.

Our reliance, each and every one of us, on the State to be the example and upholder of humanity is the biggest mistake and confusion. The State cannot and will not ever be able to fulfill the role that so many desperately want it it. It can never give love, acceptance, justice, equality, it is not equipped or designed for that and yet all of society continues to clamour for these things to be legislated.

The only thing the the State can give us are laws and criminalization as the punishment if you break these laws. This is where we are in our civilization and our culture, we think in terms of laws and punishment instead of love and acceptance. Why is this?

Is it because we’re too afraid to face, within ourselves our own dark and punishing natures; have we given up all responsibility for facing these things to a State mechanism that can’t possibly see us as humans but must instead see us as criminals or non-criminals?

It is this neglect of ourselves, this turning away from our hearts and souls, that is crushing the human spirit and crushing our civil society. As each separate “culture” seeks to find what they are missing or what has been withheld from the external world, they only ensure their continued oppression. It is not possible to achieve justice externally before it is achieved internally and it is the same for acceptance, tolerance, compassion and love. We cannot ever create these things in the external world, without first creating them internally. And the confusion around this simple fact is why we live in the world we live in today.

Government can not ensure human freesom. The best it can do is to provide, as directed by the people, the loosest structure that allows for the people from all different cultures and walks of life, to learn how to live together, humanly and humanely.

The more we clamour to be recognized by anything outside ourselves the more we move away from our greatest power and the greatest power that exists…Love. Every time we beg an outside force for freedom or justice or equality we ensure the opposite for ourselves and our people, we ensure the opposite for our children.

Something can be done about this but it’s a true revolution. It’s a revolution of LOVE and it’s a deadly serious thing. It requires a disruption in our lives and in our hearts, it requires a re-allignment with our true natures, not the natures we have all been taught, of fear and lack and loss and violence. There are people speaking out, they’re not as hard to find as they once were. They’re not associated with power or party, they’re associated with love and humanity. Find these people, support these people, become one of these people.

Minimum Wage Law is Bullshit and Will Create the Opposite of What People Implementing it Want, Unless What They Want is More Poverty

Larry Elder says California will lose 400,000 jobs sure to $15 minimum wage
I really like to write. This is the blog with the most history for me and I haven’t been here in almost a year. Just happens I’m sitting in a coffee shop (PK Coffee – Stowe, VT), back in Vermont and picking up this blog again. It feels great, like coming home.
And so why not just open it up…

(MWL)Minimum Wage Law (in Vermont and anywhere) is Bullshit. And I mean that in the nicest way. I mean it in the nicest way because I do believe that most of us are more similar than we are led to believe, want to believe or allow ourselves to experience (more on this another time, but it’s a problem). I believe most of the strongest proponents of minimum wage law want things to be better for people. I believe they care about people and they want to do good. And it’s with that belief in mind that I call BULLSHIT because I assume that people who want to do good, really do want to do good more than they want to be right and so therefor calling BS is helpful because it helps to redirect focus so that good things can actually be accomplished rather than just promoted.

I was discussing this the other day with two people who were staunch supporters of Minimum Wage Law, so much so that they were dismissive of my questions, even the slightest thoughts that maybe it’s not a good idea was met by this hard line that’s hard to describe but easy to experience. It was like I was a little child, I guess, or maybe a women in the company of misogynists. They expressed in absolutes saying things like “there is no doubt…” and “the data all shows…” and then kind of gloating over their own responses while leaving me to feel (If I happened to be 7 years old) stupid, immature, and not worthy of my own perspective, I’m glad I’m not 7 years old.

These two people told me to “just Google it, there’s so much data that shows how minimum wage law is helpful to communities”. Now just to be clear, I am no proponent of Minimum Wage Law at all, I think it’s bad for society in a big way and bad especially for the people it’s seeking to help. But that being said, I thought, Ok, I’ll try it, I’ll Google this and find out what’s “out there”. I expected I would have to dig, not too much but maybe to the second page of results, to find data that supported my position but I had no doubt I’d find it.  So I searched this “Minimum Wage Law Success or Failure” (Try it). And I was completely surprised at what came up, and then I wrote this post.

Disclosure: I have done no more searching since I searched the above statement. I got the information I needed and it was enough for me in this context.  The first three results were all negative towards the success of MWL. They were current, they were articles in mainstream media and they were all headlines that illuminated that maybe it’s not working out so well. The reason I was surprised wasn’t because I was questioning my belief but because these two people who are so convinced that MWL is the right choice that they told me to search, hadn’t actually searched themselves. And not only that but that the top three (and maybe it was more…but I didn’t look) results in Google are all mainstream articles exploring the ideas that in Seattle and maybe one other city, MWL wasn’t working the way people had expected and that it actually may be hurting the people it was supposed to help.

Don’t get me wrong though, and I went back just now to take a closer look. There is news saying that MWL is helpful and saying that it’s the “Conservatives” making up stories in regard to any negative perspective but even those articles are older, like 2015, 2016. The most recent articles, 2017, are negative (accurate in their negativity in my opinion). And so I’m right back where I started. What the hell is going on?

Honestly I don’t think it’s as much a  Minimum Wage Law issue…it’s a people being willing to really challenge their beliefs issue. Where are those people? Are you one?  And just to let you know, if you think I’m not challenging my beliefs, if you ever meet me or have met me and feel like I’m being closed minded (which I certainly have been many thousands of times in my life) please tell me…and I’ll check myself, because I do want to do good, I do want to help people, I do want things to get better and I have a lot of experience where my own Bullshit has gotten in the way of doing that.

Thanks for reading and welcome (me) back to Vermont!

School Consolidation is a Fabrication of Education

The general concept of school consolidation doesn’t feel right to me. It feels like we’re treating children like objects, it feels like the Wal-Mart-I-Zation of our schools. You know what else doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right that we are spending billions and billions of dollars on “education” and we seem to be going in the wrong direction, meaning we’re not getting the value we want from our dollar or, more precisely, our children aren’t getting an “education” that best serves them and, of course, us.

I can’t help but wonder if the problem isn’t one of dollars and cents but more of perception. After all, the people making the decisions today are all products of our educational system. Most people, in general, are in some way a product of our educational system. When you look at the state America finds herself in today, what does it say about the system that has educated the people who have led and followed us to this point?

Is the problem that we are paying too much for education? Let me ask a different way…are you willing to pay for something if you think you are getting a good value? When put this way it seems like the problem is not that education is too expensive but that we are not getting the value from our dollar. Achieving value and cutting costs are not necessarily (and often not at all) the same things, yet with all the talk of school consolidation it would seem like they are. Which brings me back to perception. What if the problem, in this case with education, is more a failure to see the true problem and not about saving money or cutting costs. Maybe the real problem is not what we’ve been educated to think. Maybe the real problem is our inability or unwillingness to see the real problem.

Maybe we are so educated in saving money and making money that we think that those two things are the only available solutions? What if solving the crises of education in America and in small towns today has nothing to do with money? Is it safe to imagine that possibility?

Micheal Tebbano, the BCSD Superintendent said in an article this past week “…the decision should focus on children…not on four walls and a roof” (Altamont Enterprise, February 17, 2011). I couldn’t agree more. However, school consolidation is the focus on the “four walls and a roof”. If we really want to solve our educational crises we will have to have the strength to root out the true cause of the problems. With every argument that raises consolidation to the level of the solution we get further and further away from our ability to find the true solution and further and further away from focusing on children.

Be Different Burlington

So what’s the problem?  Did Mayor Kiss and/or Jonathan Leopold intend to withhold or distort information?  Did the City Council fail to uphold their commitment of responsible oversight and participation in City Decisions? Should we throw out the baby, the bathwater, the tub, the towels, the sink and the soap?

 

This is my case for Mayor Kiss and Burlington Telecom.

 

I like Bob Kiss.  I liked him as a business owner in Burlington and I like him now after seeing how he has dealt with his adversity.  I don’t agree with some of his policies about the best way to encourage business or the responsibilities of government and I don’t think he had any other intent in his dealings with BTC than to make it as successful a venture as possible for the City.  Did he break code, laws, rules, regulations…I’m not sure.  Have other Mayors or councilors broken the same codes, laws, regulations in their drive to improve the city in their way…I don’t know.  A better question is:  Is 17 million dollars enough money that a reasonable person would think that there would be a whole hell of a lot more oversight from a whole hell of a lot more people than Bob Kiss and Jonathan Leopold?

 

I like Bob Kiss because he doesn’t “Kiss Up”.  Until this event I barely heard from or about him, he doesn’t talk at the public.  He’s not on a stump.  Additionally the financial state of the City was not in great shape when he arrived I think he and Jonathan Leopold have done a pretty amazing job at getting the City back on track (the BTC verdict non-withstanding).  To me Bob Kiss is not a politician and to me, that’s a good thing.

 

I like Burlington Telecom because I know what it means to control the stage.  What does it mean?  It means you control the source or that you have the ability to control the source. While at Nectar’s it became clear that in the changing world of music, entertainment, technology and communication one of the most important things for my success was to control the stage, the source. In Nectar’s case the source was the venue, the actual stage on which the expression of musicians and artists took place.  The source in the case of BTC and the City of Burlington is BTC itself, it is owning our ability to originate and distribute information as we see fit, beholden to no one other than our community.

 

The Internet has become automatic, it is as natural as breathing.  The communication barrier between people has been decimated and the importance of controlling the source is greater now than ever.  A giant telecom company does not have to allow community programming, no matter what the law says; laws can be changed.  If Burlington is in control of the stage, the source, the network, if Burlington has it’s Burlington Telecom there is no need to ever worry about the source.

Can we examine this situation with 360-degree perspective?  Can we acknowledge our responsibility as well as envisioning an acceptable and even positive outcome?  Is it important to find out if people lied?  Yes!  If that happened then those people should be quickly and appropriately dealt with.  But to think that giving up Burlington Telecom is in any way a good idea or to make allegations against a single person from a position of ignorance or shared responsibility for the problem is only angry, harmful and misleading behavior that could (if it hasn’t already) devolve into a political excuse for short sighted or slanderous action.  Sound familiar.  Let’s be different Burlington!

 

My response

I don’t care

to share

my life with them

 

I don’t care for

their despair

I don’t care

to share

my life with them

 

I don’t care

 

They do not live

as I live

they do not

show me

what I don’t

already know

they do not

live the way

I live

I don’t care

which way they go

 

I do not care

to share my

life with them

 

I don’t care

to share

my care

 

they do not live

the way I want

to live

they do not

care to

find it so

 

I do not care

to share

their despair

nor find

myself

in their crosshair

although

I may not have

the choice I choose

the choice I choose

will be my muse

and will celebrate

my different shoes

to walk a different

path then they

I don’t care

to enter their

foray.

 

I don’t care

to share

my life

with them

 

I don’t care

just what

they do

 

I don’t care

to open my eyes

to them

 

I don’t care

just what

they do

 

I care

for my life

and for those

like me

who believe

that humans

majestically

are gods

and creators

all the same

until they

choose a

life of shame

and even then

there’s always

choice

to bring you

back to love

rejoice

 

but them, they, those

that fight and yell

and propagate

authority

for the sake of fear

to dominate

are ones

that I have left behind

my life is not

worth their kind

and even though

we live together

meaning

on this planet

earth

I will stoop to them

no more, my son

for they know

not

what

they’re worth

 

I don’t care

to share

my life

with them

 

I don’t care

just what

they do

 

I don’t care

to share

my life

with them

 

They are

destruction

through

and

through

Thank You Henry David Thoreau…

I love this quote  by HDT and was inspired to write today after reading it again.

“…and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.”

from the chapter “Economy” in Walden, H.D. Thoreau

And so this is my wish, pipe dream though it may be.  I have a child now and naturally am becoming more of a child myself; recognizing what is never lost but only covered by convention and fear.   And so I wonder, as I sit and type my music on this glorious, blue-cold winter day, watching my son explore, I wonder what he can expect from society and I think to myself…nothing…if I do my job right as a father, as a parent, he will expect nothing.

I think I am done with wondering why people do a certain thing, why life and times are the way the are.   I think yelling and anger about perceived (or real) ills is the best solution for not changing them.   I think I’ve probably spent too much time in the comfort of my anger and indignation and been rewarded with the consequences of that comfort – more of the same.

I have awoken into a world that has forgotten what it is to live.   Into a world where magnificence is just a word, a world where technology is held up above the human spirit, a world where paying for life is now the norm.  I can leave the questions for my son, the “why’s” the “how did you allow this”; I don’t deserve them.   The world is the way it is today because we’ve all decided that this is what we want.   It is not complicated.  I think about what I can do, what action I can take to help align the world to my values and then, thankfully, I catch myself, chuckle and grin at my beautiful ego and all it thinks possible.   Align the world to myself, HA!   As if there is an alignment possible that will somehow relieve me of my own responsibility in living.   Of my responsibility to the recognition of my values and my value.   Of the responsibility to uphold my values no matter what the world looks like.   How many of us have used the excuse of the world to justify our actions, to allow compromise in ourselves…it’s no wonder we live in the world we do today.  And yet there is the most tremendous beauty.  Still.  Always.  In everything, everywhere.

I think where we have forgotten ourselves is in our compromise and there is no despair necessary to correct this.   I have no doubt (and little consolation) that we small and infinite people have been like the frog in the pot.   There has been someone at the stove controlling the temperature, turning it up, slowly, it’s been hard to notice, especially for those multitudes who have been taught from such a young age to take authority as truth.   After all what foundation is there to be discovered if one doesn’t know to check underneath the foundation.

And so I look into my young son’s eyes and there is only the staggering joy of life staring back at me and I am either open or closed to it.   I choose to be open and in that openness to the joy of life I see many things, many things; some painful, some pleasurable and all, all joyful.  There is one thing I don’t see however.   I don’t see authority for authorities sake, I don’t see control for powers sake and I don’t see selling for money’s sake. And with this my friends I wish for you peace and good fortune but I know that you…we…will all get what we want regardless of my wishes.

Let’s see where it all goes.

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