Tag Archives: entertainment

Transforming Passion into Profession

If you have read any of my blog postings before, I mention how pursuing one’s passions are mostly a good thing. Although passions endure with a healthy dose of sacrifice in pursuit of their ultimate end.

One of my passions has been writing to you about how I think lifelong learning and continuing education is not just a luxury but an essential component to growth regardless of age or year in school.

But I realize that my passion is limited and must continue to grow as well. It must change from just being convenient expressions into a disciplined position coupled with dedication. In other words, my passions must be taken seriously. They must transform into an enduring profession.

What do I mean? Take for example a professional singer. What is the difference between a professional singer and one who sings occasionally at parties and get-togethers? Both are likely to receive applause from their audiences, but an obvious difference would be that the professional receives money, while the occasional singer may not. But this kind of answer is too simple and short-sighted. Since both singers are passionate about singing, it would be very likely that in most cases both would sing for free.

What I think the larger difference is that the professional singer will sing even when she doesn’t feel like it. She’ll sing when she has a sore throat, haven’t slept, or experience life changes, such as death of a love one or fight with a close friend. The occasional singer would find these changes as legitimate reasons for not entertaining this time; the professional singer continues on.

This must be the same case concerning my passions for lifelong learning and education. Whatever form I may use to express them, either writing books, articles, or still blog postings; conducting speeches, workshops, or sessions, all must be carried out with an unwavering focus. Because I realize something else about the professional singer: She sings as a treat for us, but therapy for herself. Singing can make all that befalls her seem bearable, can make her gray day become a yellow one, and her saddened heart a source of energy underneath her songs.

Perhaps the real reason why I give the analogy of learning to singing, is because I can’t sing though I wish I could. Yet more important, the analogy provides me a score to keep writing, keep learning and of course, continue on.


Linking Music Lyrics to Learning

Many have different tastes and styles about the best music for reading or studying. Melodies like classical or light jazz are occasional suggestions, but there is something about hearing words, lyrics, and turn-of-phrases that teaches the experiences of living and learning. 

I think musical lyrics are often ignored lessons for learning and education.

In fact, I have a couple of questions for you:

First, what’s your favorite song or best lyric, verse, or title?  I mean the kind of song that you can remember without assistance from karaoke or concert.

Next question: Why is it remembered?

For me it depends on the specific lesson that the song brings. This can be the way the singer captures a moment that explains my whole life; or a key verse that teaches me something about society I won’t find in books.

We as listeners learn stories from music and its lyrics.  Stories about singers, situations, and solutions summed up into 3-5 minutes.   I argue these harmonious snapshots consist of our continual ups-and-downs, either personally, socially, or even spiritually. Sort of reminders of thoughts, choices, and actions seen through the mirrors of music.  Certain lyrics speak to us and lead in transforming our thinking, in how we treat others, and in the kind of life we would like to pursue. 

If all of us can agree that music teaches, then why not feature it in classrooms too.  In lectures, conferences, and discussions as well as exams, essays, and other forms of evaluation.  As adults, in addition to crafting a resume for employers, what about building a portfolio of learning music for yourself, linking lyrics to lessons learned that teaches others about who you are and in what ways you  have grown.

Student-Athlete or Semi-Pro: Care to know the difference?

One of the joys in sports are the college games: Basketball, football, baseball, even track and others are examples of young adults, in their twenties, dazzling audiences in the bleachers, at home, or on car-stereo. 

As they entertain, do we ever think about whether one has a mid-term tomorrow, a paper to finish, or chapters to read before next lecture; become a politician, philosopher or doctor;  Do we even care to know? I mean, no one turns on the tv to see our up-and-coming college star got a B in Art Appreciation, C in Physics, and an A in Consumer Economics.  What we care to know is how many points are scored, records broken, or witnessing potential athletic greatness unfolding.

So why do some get uptight when the term ‘student athlete’ is replaced with ‘semi-professional,’ describing the kind of condition some collegians are facing—interning for entering a draft.  

It’s not clear exactly who should be called student athlete or semi-pro. What’s the difference: Money, endorsements, media coverage?  Rules state that these collegians cannot benefit or received those directly anyway.  And why not?

Experiences and lessons-learned also exist outside classrooms, schools, or colleges.  Some have learned perhaps that most sobering and troubling lesson from their fans.  That what they ‘do and show’ mean more to many than what they think and know.

What Fantasy-Football and Stock-Investing Have in Common

TouchdownAcross many computers, websites, and smartphones there are millions engaged in last-minute rituals of tweaking fantasy football rosters for gameday. Admittedly, I am one of them.

It is an activity only recently I call a hobby, in small part, due to embarrassment; the other, due to a real passion for winning despite its fanciful ways. Unlike arts and crafts that are relaxing and even therapeutic, the task of managing a fantasy football team can be mentally exhausting, layered with high risks and rewards: From looking at the injury status lists, making game-time decisions, and ‘pooling’ free agents in hopes of getting more points.

I thought about how ‘fantasy skills’ could transfer in ‘real life’ actions.  In truth, I think being a fantasy league player, coach, and owner is quite the same as being a stock investor , securities trader, or portfolio manager. 

For example, researching company’s ‘ticker’ symbols for making profitable returns is similar to a fantasy owner looking at icons for winning games.

So I encourage fellow fantasy players to start stock investing too.
We see commercials from Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and TRowePrice and think we need tons of cash to make even more money. Unfortunately, starting with $10,000 accounts simply take some of us “out of the game.”

However, there are a few sites that you can invest as low as $10 a month. I’m not talking specifically about a 401K plan or the IRA (Individual Retirement Account) variety, although these may be helpful as well.

Time for a DISCLAIMER: I’m not an investment consultant or advisor, so you might consider talking to a professional before you act on my advice. But if you are a fantasy league owner, I’m confident you will learn a lot just by checking it out yourself.

These investment sites allow you to forego using a broker and discover how to invest directly:

Computershare:  https://www-us.computershare.com/investor/default.asp?cc=us&lang=en&bhjs=1&fla=1&theme=cpu

BNY Mellon Shareowner: https://m1.melloninvestor.com/mellonone/index.jsp

Some other helpful resources and associations:

Drip Investor:  http://www.dripinvestor.com/index.asp

The American Association of Individual Investors: http://www.aaii.com/

Again, these are opportunities to invest in companies directly and take control of your money as you do your fantasy football team. There are thousands of companies to choose from that ranges from the popular to the less publicized. Of course I wouldn’t tell you which companies to invest, just like I wouldn’t tell you my ‘watch-list’ of fantasy football players.

The point here is that although some may look at fantasy football owners as unproductive, I think you might find stock investing not only as a way to make real money, but also just as rewarding and fun as our Football Sundays.

‘Waiting for Superman’ Creates a Secret Hero

After watching this compelling work about the nation-wide damage to American elementary and highschool education, it leaves me bewildered. I’m taken back by how America continues to allow failing schools, bad teachers, and disadvantaged students—On second thought, I’m not surprised.

The documentary looks into the lives of at least four kids at different stages of their academic marathon. Unlike a marathon based on skill and talent, these kids hope to be selected to better schools based on a lottery, a game of chance where the probability of acceptance is too narrow to draw-out a starting line.

The highlight is that instead of “waiting for superman,” a few have taken the initiative to save the educational system one-child-at-a-time. An example is Geoffrey Canada (his name not the country) and the lifelong teaching improvements from his school in Harlem, New York.  These mere-mortals are featured as signs of hope in this real-life tragedy.

Actually, in this episode, “Superman” is the government; or any wish that America, with its equality-promise, would save us from our educational calamities:

Guess what?  No-one came. All are not saved.

If there’s a superhero, then there must be a villain.  Clearly the film picks one:  Teachers unions. 

Teachers unions, with their out-dated policies and bureaucracy, make for an easy target with overwhelming facts against them.  These unions are also politically organized. I suspect some push-back for ‘playing the bad guy’ without given a script—yet again, I’m not surprised.

As in any story, there’s a cliff-hanger conclusion:  What will happen next that could really make a difference to our schools?

In response, I’m not surprised about the facts and figures, friends and foes, in our educational system, because they support a status quo.   How else could we see the same damaging arguments, but different groups with different aims come up with different responses? 

The conclusion is no cliffhanger at all: Adults and job security are getting in the way of real education. 

As any comic book, I’m left with a moral message (somewhat opposite than what the feature intended): 

I see  the secret and potential ‘real superheroes’ are the parents and communities.  They are the ‘kryptonite’ to the educational system including all teachers and institutions: good, bad, or from another planet. 

In other words, if parents became lifelong educators, mentors, and guides, then the community would not seek out good teachers, but create environments where education is another standard of living, like money, food, and a good movie.  Parents add to childrens’ learning by teaching them, being living examples or what to do and what mistakes to avoid. 

In this new direction: Hope turns into responsibility and results. It takes education out of the hands of teachers into the arms of a national family that includes all.  Thus the new heroes are not only a few supermen and women or dynamic duos; but a mighty multitude, a courageous crowd that continually teaches and learns.