2012 Year-End Review

Half-a-Life in 2012

For the fourth time in the last 30 years, I put all my (dwindling) household goods into storage not knowing when, where, or in what state (of mind and residence) I’d be removing them.

The short straw in 2012 went to Grants, New Mexico, where since August I’ve been gainfully employed (for the first time since 2007) as Manager for Instructional Technology at the Grants campus extension of New Mexico State University. This comes as a direct consequence of my May 2012 completion of the Masters degree in Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico (as an outstanding graduate, I might add). To supplement my job-seeking summer activities I put together an online portfolio website, including a six-minute video resume: http://stevestockdale.com/portfolio/

After re-reading that first paragraph you might have thought I earned a Masters in parenthetical annotations. I’ll try to stop.

Steve and StacyIn 2012, I turned 58 and my daughter turned 29. So I’ve lived, and will continue mathematically to live, more than half my life having a daughter. It also happens that 1983 marked the beginning of my own personal computing life with a TI-branded IBM compatible at work and a Commodore 64 at home. So from now on, I’ll also have lived more than half my life with computers.

By no means am I comparing my daughter to a computer. But it’s just an observation that she and computers (for me) came along about the same time. And coincidentally, we both now make our living by extending what we know about computing to others; she at the high school level with students and me at the community college level with faculty.

I guess you could say we’re engaged in the same business of managing electrons in order to influence neurons.

Missing K.C. and O.T.

Last February 23rd, while killing time waiting for a class at UNM, I checked email on my phone. I saw the always-dreaded Subject line from the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates: “Gone But Not Forgotten.” In this case, I immediately rushed into a computer lab to read the message full screen, because this time the Subject line included “Steinbaugh – 1976.”

K.C. Steinbaugh was my roommate for most of my last three years at the Academy, and if I had a “best friend” at USAFA, it was K.C. Even though he and his wife Liz and his three sons lived in Plano the entire time I lived in the Metroplex, I hadn’t seen him in the last ten years. I didn’t know that he had within just the past few months contracted a one-in-a-million neurological disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (known as CJD). One neurologist compared CJD to Lou Gehrig’s disease on steroids – always fatal, almost always within a year of first symptoms.

I attended his memorial service, then came back and as a tribute to K.C. and Danny Sawyer, another of our squadron classmates who died in 2006, I put together a video to commemorate our time at the Academy. The video and the obituary I wrote for the alumni publication are also available on this page: http://stevestockdale.com/portfolio/2012/spirit-of-76/.

Then in November I heard that O.T. Ryan, the long-time band director at Plainview High School and one of my dad’s best friends, died. I had visited O.T. and his wife Pat in March 2011.

It’s hard to escape the parallels – my best friend from college and my dad’s best friend as an adult died in the same year. And they both went by their initials.

A third death touched my life when, just a week before I was to vacate my Santa Fe apartment, my landlord Dennis Leon died at his home in San Miguel, Mexico, after steadily failing health over the previous year. He and his partner Roger normally came to Santa Fe every year at the end of May to do maintenance on the property, take care of local business, and lease renewals. I delayed my departure a couple of days in order to visit with Roger. I consider them good friends after three years as their tenant and commend Roger for his yeoman efforts to nurse Dennis through a very difficult year.

Reflections

Disparate things on my mind … next month will be the 20th anniversary of “The One-Minute Poem.” I honestly can’t say if I’ve made much progress in stowing away my self-criticizing red pen.

During the summer, after graduating and before I accepted the offer from NMSU Grants, I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law. I had a lot of time to think about the paths I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made. I came to the conclusion that more than anything else, what I want to do is have quality time to think about the things I want to think about.

A national monument, El Morro (Inscription Rock) is a 90-minute 45-minute drive from Grants. I visited it one Saturday in October. It’s an imposing rock formation that has ancient markings from the Anasazis, the remnants of a pueblo atop the rock, and from 1605 to 1905, inscriptions from travelers. Literally, El Morro was the rock-hard precursor to a Facebook update: “Governor Don Juan de Onate checked in, 1605, +27 not counting slaves.”

El Morro Inscriptions

The first week I was in Grants, I ate at a local Chinese place. I got the obligatory fortune cookie when I finished. But far from the usual insipid and trite bromide that has come to pass as a digestible “fortune,” I kept this one.

fortune-250

I don’t presume this as a forecast or prediction. But I will admit it’s always been a motivator that I haven’t always lived up to.

More

Stacy is now engaged to Chris, who surprised her with an engagement party I was able to attend just before I left for Grants. In addition to her teaching job, she’s developing a real photography business for senior pictures, weddings, special events, boxing matches, and anything else that needs to be graphically captured for posterity. Visit her website at http://justbreathephotos.com/ and her personal blog at http://justbreathe-stacy.blogspot.com/.

Stacy's engagement party
Susan, Chris, Cheryl, Stacy, Steve

Stacy and Chris took me to the new Perot Science Museum in downtown Dallas after Christmas. Here’s my version of “Roger and Me” (as in Roger Staubach) and why Slingr is, well, Slingr.

I had a great weekend visit with two dear friends, Andrea and Alta, in September. I needed it more than they.

For awhile I tried to maintain my interest in examining and scrutinizing what I believe are … suspicions … about the management of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. I went so far as to request over 600 pages of county documents under the state’s public records act. But one can only fight so many battles and I’ve come to the realization that I can’t win this one.

 

Unexpected Pleasures of 2012

  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
  • Sherlock Holmes (BBCA)
  • The Hour (BBCA)
  • The Newsroom (HBO)
  • This young lady from Spain and her bass covers. I don’t know why but I instantly fell for these two videos of hers:


and

  • And for some reason I’ve been hooked on these classic Queen videos. Maybe I’ll need to come back to these later.

Radio Ga Ga

Under Pressure (the song starts at 2:00, but Freddie’s call and response with the crowd is pretty amazing)

 A New Hope for 2013

Love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the light
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure.

There are a lot of people around the world and across the street who, for whatever reasons and causes and circumstances, exist “on the edge of the light.”

My hope for 2013 is that the Time Magazine will be justified to select as their collective Person of the Year, “The Other.”

The code of our country

May 28, 2005
Special to the Star-Telegram

I grew up playing sports in the Texas Panhandle. On my bedroom wall, I had a plaque inscribed with a then-famous Grantland Rice saying: “For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he marks — not that you won or lost — but how you played the game.”

I’d like to think I took that value to heart.

In 1972, my ability to throw a football, and a decent SAT score, earned me an appointment to the Air Force Academy. On the field, “how I played the game” warranted only a two-year intercollegiate career.

Off the field, I persevered to graduate. I attribute that in large part to my early-ingrained respect for how I (in the broader sense) “played the game.”

At the Air Force Academy, how you were supposed to play the game was codified in the cadet honor code:

We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

Those first three will-nots were straightforward enough. The sticky wicket was that toleration thing, which meant that if we knew of an honor violation, we were bound by the code to report it.

If we didn’t report it — if we tolerated a violation — we could be judged as guilty as the deed-doer, and expelled just as quickly.

What’s up with that?

I recollect the rationale as this: Honorable behavior breeds honorable behavior. Tolerating dishonorable behavior breeds more dishonorable behavior. Dishonorable behavior acts as an invasive cancer, eating away at integrity, trust, confidence and respect. It jeopardizes mission and thwarts duty.

In effect, the toleration clause means that honor trumps loyalty. Misguided loyalty results in blind faith. Trust rooted in honor is fully deserved and rewarded.

Simply not violating the will-nots doesn’t ensure that one has internalized a sense of honor — but it’s a start. The “end game” of the honor code is to develop officers, commanders and leaders whose character is clearly above reproach. “How you play the game” is integral to reaching the end game; the end is defined by the how.

Granted, some Air Force Academy cadets, and graduates, have not always brought honor to their institution. Periodic cheating scandals and worse, including the sexual assaults of recent years, cannot be condoned, rationalized or in any way tolerated.

But for those who continue at the service academies in Colorado Springs, West Point and Annapolis, honor is still taught and valued as the bedrock of their institutional cultures. At least they’re trying.

At least that’s what we were taught.

Yesterday, President Bush addressed the 2005 graduating class of the Naval Academy. Today, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is scheduled to speak to the graduates at West Point. On Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to give the commencement address at my alma mater.

These three men will welcome 2,700 new lieutenants and ensigns to the “real” America that lies beyond the parade grounds, math blackboards and fields of friendly strife.

What might they say to these young officers to prepare them for what lies ahead? What pre-eminent American value should these future leaders embrace to guarantee success in the “real” America of the 21st century?

Just win, baby.

Whatever it takes. Make it happen. Ignore the rules. Make ’em prove it. It’s not how, just how many. Failure’s not an option; admitting it isn’t, either.

Image is everything. Dress for success; line the right pockets. Say it is anyway. Claim a mandate. Perception is reality. Buy two flags: Wrap yourself in one, salute the other and they’ll love ya forever and ever. Amen.

Do the deal. Round it up. Make the numbers. Cork the bat. Shoot the ‘roids. Get the votes. Get the confession. Give ’em his medal, but don’t tell ’em it was our bullet.

And, dude — keep it real. Cause “it’s all good.”

In 21st-century America, honor is an option — not necessary, not sufficient, desirable only if it doesn’t jeopardize the bottom line. As an American value, it ranks a little above recycling but way below redistricting.

Americans talk a good game, but Col. Jessep had it right in A Few Good Men: We can’t handle the truth.

We’ve tolerated our vain hypocrisies, quibbles and misrepresentations for so long that we can’t distinguish fact from conviction, trust from hope, appearance from reality.

Reporting to the Classes of 2005, and to honor America: May the Code be with you.

Steve Stockdale, Spirit of ’76, serves as executive director for the Institute of General Semantics and is a Star-Telegram community panel columnist. © 2005 Star-Telegram and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.star-telegram.com