Have a Stressless Christmas

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Preaching to the choir here because everyone knows that Christmas is a time for relaxation and all that, the run up to it is rather stressful. For someone with Aspergers Syndrome, that stress can be multiplied many-fold. I am no different. That was why when we went to do the major food shop before Christmas, my anxiety levels were at a concerning high.

For the most part, the shop went relatively well without any significant rises in my anxiety levels. There was a small blip when we went to the booze aisle and the cider my step-children like wasn’t there and those levels rose slightly when I couldn’t find my traditional bottle of Black Tower wine but fortunately, there was an assistant there to show me exactly where my wine was, crisis averted. Normally, the checkout counter is a real stresser for me as I try to pack the shopping in a practical way. This can be hard when items sail down the conveyor belt too fast. Again, my step-daughter and step-granddaughter were great in assistance. I wish I had maturity at thirteen that my step-granddaughter has.

Even after the shopping was done, those anxieties didn’t go away. It didn’t help that while driving home, some nitwit who wanted to be Lewis Hamilton nearly drove up my bum and then honked his horn at me like it was my fault. That made the levels climb a little but once I got to KFC, they went down again. Food has always been a great de-stresser for me.

Back home, I had to not only deal with putting the shopping away, I had to clean the kitchen before doing so. My wife went and step-daughter went to another store to get the few things the first one ran out of. It was when they got home, I had the short sharp rise. I had left the keys in the door and in my mind, I committed a horrible crime. While punching myself in the head brought the anxiety levels down, I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy for doing so.

The food has been bought, the presents are under the tree and now I am looking for a nice relaxing Christmas. Though I have to work Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I don’t expect it to be any stressful as there will only be one service user there and he’s no trouble. However, my point is that Christmas can be stressful and it can cause high anxiety in people, even cause them to snap. Here’s a light-hearted song by Weird Al Yankovic about Santa snapping, it’s all in good fun.

So, with that, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Oh yeah, it is tradition that I make the awful joke that Americans don’t celebrate Boxing Day. They have Wrestling Day instead. Drum roll please.

My impression of what Wrestling Day would look like

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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School in Literary Bullying- Endgame

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If the occurrences in the novels on bullying and school shootings had actually happened in real life, then what happens in “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden would be the most damning of any school in any of the stories. In “Endgame,” the bullying starts almost straight away as the protagonist, Gray Wilton and his friend are set upon by senior football players, led by alpha-male, Zorro. However, when Gray reports the bullying to Mr Vee, the PE teacher, the teacher’s response is “sticks and stones.” Later on the story he tries to further justify his lack of action on Gray’s plight by saying, “Boys will be boys.”

Sadly, this seems to be the state of affairs in American high schools. The jocks are mollycoddled and patted on the head for abusing the “freaks” and “weirdos.” Like in so many cases, Mr Vee didn’t want to get involved in the situation because it involved his boys, the football players. However, Mr Vee isn’t the only teacher guilty of doing nothing to stop the bullying hell Gray was going through. Later on in the story, Gray conveys to his lawyer how teachers would stay in the classrooms so they could remain oblivious to any bullying happening out in the school halls and therefore not have to deal with it. Furthermore, when Gray comes to school in the mornings, there are no teachers in the area giving Zorro and his cronies carte blanche to do whatever they want and they do make Gray’s life hell. Eventually, he takes back ways and hidden passages into school so he can avoid the bullies. What we have here is a school that pretends they don’t know that bullying is going on in their school because of the fear it might get the star football player into trouble.

There is one teacher who shows Gray some support, that is the music teacher who tutors him because of his ability to play the drums. However, this teacher’s efforts are limited. One reason is because Gray’s father thinks his son playing the drums are a waste of time. The other is when Gray’s drum kit is destroyed before the big Christmas music show, he immediately knows that Zorro is responsible. The teacher seems to believe Gray. However, when Zorro is exonerated, he gets his revenge on Gray by forcing him to drink paint. No teacher is anywhere to witness this and the music teacher is powerless to do anymore.

R.I.P Nancy Garden

The multi-million dollar question is: With no support from the bullying by a school that doesn’t seem to want to know, is it any wonder that Gray took matters into his own hands? I’ll be the first to say that going into a school with a gun and shooting those who have wronged him was not the solution to the problem. Taking a life never is. However, if I was one of the victims or their parent, I would be tempted to sue the school on the grounds that their non actions in preventing the bullying contributed to the later atrocity. The school knew about the bullying and did nothing by pretending it didn’t know. That’ just not acceptable and though this is a book, I can see it happening out there in the real world.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513883369&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Look At Schools in Literary Bullying: Part 1- Nineteen Minutes

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In my reviews of books about school shootings, I’ve looked at the shooters, the parents, the bullies and even explored how much an influence music was in the story. So now, I’m going to take a look at the schools in each case and ask, “Could the school have done more to prevent the bullying and possibly stop the tragedy that resulted from it?”

In this post, I will begin with “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult. In this story, the protagonist, Peter, is bullied from his first day of school until the fateful day nearly twelve years later when he goes into the school with two pistols and two rifles and carries out a shooting rampage that kills ten and wounds eight. Could the school have done anything?

Early in the story, when Peter is Kindergarden, the teacher sees he’s getting bullied and her answer to the problem was to teach him how to stand up for himself. As we see it doesn’t work and Peter’s life continues to be a living hell. After that, there is practically no evidence of any school trying to deal with Peter’s bullying. Yes, school staff seem to know it’s going on but don’t seem to want to do anything about it.

The most damning evidence against the school comes at Peter’s trial. First, the gym teacher is called to the stand and he states that he is familiar with the school’s bullying policy but he never sees the need to address it. Jodi does leave the reader, at least me anyway, with the impression that the teacher’s lack of concern for Peter’s plight is down to the fact that the bullies are the top jocks in the school. Therefore, he turns a blind eye to his boys while they make their victim’s life a misery.

Second is Peter’s friend, Derek, who is called as a witness for the prosecution. He testifies under cross examination the bullying he and Peter went through in school. When asked why he didn’t tell the school about the bullying, he says that the school wouldn’t have done anything and it would have made the bullying worse. Now, you are probably thinking that the school would denounce Derek’s statement but there is no indication of that in the story.

From the evidence Jodi produces in her novel, I am left to conclude that the school did nothing to halt the bullying of Peter. In reality, the school would have tried to hide behind the excuse that it was never officially reported to them but everyone knew it was going on. Plus, the fear of the victims or further reprisals from the bullies if they told on them is even more damning of the school. Therefore, the school is just as guilty for the deaths resulting from the shooting as the person who carried it out.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512983398&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Are the Schools At Fault?

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Protest Outside Norman High School

Reflecting back to events of the past couple of weeks and over the entire time I have been writing, I believe that its time to venture forth and ask, “Are the schools at fault when it comes to bullying?” Looking at the recent event in Virginia where a mother was arrested and nearly charged with a felony for putting a recording device in her daughter’s bag to find out if she was getting bullied, I would say yes in this case. The mother did try going through the correct procedure of informing the school that her daughter was being bullied but had no response. Therefore, she did what she did out of exasperation. It might not have been the right thing to do as there are lots of privacy issues here but the school failed the mother, plain and simple.

I have no doubt that if the school intervened, there would have been no need for the mother to put a recording device into her daughter’s bag. But why are schools seem to be slow or inactive in dealing with bullying? As a teacher myself, I know how overworked schools and teachers are. In many cases, they aren’t simply ignoring a bullying instance, however, they are so stressed out over their workload that it gets pushed to the back-burner. BTW, I am not using this to excuse schools for not dealing with the bullying, far from it. Bullying cases should be fast-tracked to the top of the school’s attention so it can be dealt with before too much suffering happens.

Other reasons for schools not seeming to handle bullying is the simple fact that they don’t know it’s going on. Many victims are afraid to report bullying for many reasons like looking weak, worried the school won’t take them seriously or reprisals by the bullies outside of school. Of course, some school officials and teachers bury their head in the sand because they don’t want to have to deal with it, so they pretend to know nothing about it. Then they play dumb if pulled up on it. This is wrong and what should happen more is that victims should be totally encouraged to report the bullying they suffer.

What really grinds my gears, (sorry, I’m a Family Guy fan), is how some schools over react when victims or their parents decide enough is enough and take matters into their own hands. The latest incident in Virginia is a prime example and for another good one, read my ancient post, “A Victory for the Bullies.” I theorize that schools react this way because they have been seen as not dealing with the bullying, so, because they lack evidence against the bullies, use the letter of the law to punish the victims because that victim has just embarrassed the school by highlighting the school’s inability to efficiently tackle bullying. This is lame in my view and in my opinion brings more shame upon the school.

Family Guy

Ideas leading to more ideas about future posts has given me inspiration here. Using the novels I popularly use, “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult, “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden, “Rupture” by Simon Lelic and my own novel, “He Was Weird,” all novels where bullying results in a school shooting, I will look at each story and see how well the school handled the bullying in it. I tell you now, that I’m not holding out much hope for the schools here but it should make interesting reading.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Lefevre-Michael-Paperback/dp/B00YRC6826/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512406367&sr=1-3&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Thank God! Common Sense Has Prevailed.

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Last week, I posted about how a mother in Virginia was facing criminal charges because she put a recording device into her daughter’s back pack to see whether or not she was getting bullied. Yesterday, the charges against this mother have been dropped. FFI click on the link:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/29/us/virginia-mother-bullying-arrest/index.html

All I can say is thank God somebody saw sense. There should never have been charges brought against this mother for doing what any parent would do if they suspected their child being bullied.

I’ll Always Stand By Victims of Bullying

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Rolling on from my unexpected post about another victory for the bullies, I feel the need to go on more. Like I have said in the past, if I learn of any instance where a bullying victim gets the shaft for trying not to be a victim or stop the bullying, I will highlight it here. Some people might think that I am using being a victim of bullying to excuse any sort of behaviour, I’m not. However, I will not let an instance where the victim is the one done on account of some nonsensical technicality.

My last post was what exactly I am going on about. Here we have a girl who is being bullied, her mother reports it to the school but nothing is done about it. At least the mother isn’t told of anything being done. Therefore, she puts a small digital recorder into her daughter’s bag so she can hear for herself if her daughter is getting bullied. The recorder is found by a teacher and next thing, the mother is up on felony charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Tell me, what delinquent act is the daughter committing here? If there is any delinquency, it’s that of the bullies! So again, we have a mother of a bullying victim, who only wants to find out how bad the bullying is, on some nonsense criminal charge. I shudder at the logic behind this. The worst thing is that this wasn’t the first time I have posted about this and I sadly know it won’t be the last.

In spite of what I have written above, I don’t think being a bullying victim justifies everything. At least not those who commit a school shooting, even though when I reflect back to those three years of hell, whenever a school shooting occurs, I realize that, “This could have been me.” Admittedly, when I read both “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult and “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden, I found myself rooting for Peter and Gray when they were on trial for their shootings. However, while part of me wanted them to be found not guilty, I know in reality they weren’t and deserved to be convicted. Being a bullying victim does not justify murder. Saying that, I don’t think either of them deserved their life without parole sentences due to the circumstances. It was their experiences which influenced my decision when I wrote “He Was Weird,” to make sure Mark wasn’t taken alive when he committed his shooting.

Even though I experienced a lot of the hell that Mark goes through in the story, I don’t feel justified for myself or him carrying out a school massacre. What writing “He Was Weird” accomplished was to exorcise those demons and move on. The bullying I suffered then doesn’t effect me anymore. Back then, I never thought about taking any of the lives of my bullies and am glad I didn’t.

Going back to the beginning, victims shooting up their school is a far cry from a victim or their parent getting arrested on some bullsh*t charge because they wanted to end the bullying. In many of these cases, the letter of the law was applied, in many cases by the school themselves and that gives me thought for my next post. Victims should be seen as such and not be subject to criminal punishment when they honestly and lawfully try to end the bullying.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511815401&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Here We Go Again, Another Victory for the Bullies

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Another story of a mother who was so fed up with her child getting bullied and the school not seeming to care and decided to take matters into her own hands. On this occasion, she put a recording device into her daughter’s ruck sack in order to find out whether she was getting bullied and if the teacher knew or was doing anything about it. Someone in the school discovered the device and now the mother is being charged with two felonies.

FFI click the link: http://wishtv.com/2017/11/22/mom-puts-recorder-in-childs-backpack-to-catch-bullying-now-faces-felony-charge/

Again, I ask when will those in authority stop hiding behind the supposed law and actually tackle bullying? It seems that schools, where a case of bullying is presented and they either don’t take it seriously or don’t effectively deal with it, punish those the victim or their parents if, after total exasperation of non action on the school’s part, take matters into their own hands. Not to punish the bullies but to show proof that the bullying is going on. I hope here, the police will see sense and drop the charges and the school will see further sense and look into the case of bullying. Let’s see if it actually happens.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511433021&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Great Britain! Don’t Go Calling It Black Friday

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Black Friday has been around in the US for several decades. Now some advertisers in the UK are trying to instill it in the minds of people there. Hear’s why the British should resist.

What is Black Friday? In America, it is the day after Thanksgiving Day and it is called Black Friday because it heralds in the official Christmas shopping season. Shoppers make a mad dash for the stores and begin buying presents left and right out of fear they won’t be there if they wait. Not long ago, the television show South Park ran a programme about Black Friday where people were waiting outside the mall for it to open so they could be the first to get in and get their presents. The result when the mall was finally opened was widespread rioting and people getting trampled to death. Being South Park, it was done with their famous sense of satirical humour, which I enjoyed immensely. While there was some dark truth to the episode, it was the gross exaggeration that has made Stone and Parker so funny over the years. Personally, I don’t remember Black Friday being quite so bad.

Black Friday carnage as seen on South Park

There are now commercials on UK television talking about Black Friday sales. My reaction was, “How can there be a Black Friday when Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK? Part of the reason for Black Friday is that Americans are so focused on Thanksgiving until the day, there aren’t thinking too much about Christmas. That all changes when Thanksgiving Day is over. Then it becomes a full focus towards the Christmas holidays in many facets of American life. I wonder if that’s why Santa is the final float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

My point is that there is no need for a Black Friday in the UK. Many people are already in the process of doing their Christmas shopping, they don’t need any particular day to tell them when to begin. It’s all a ploy by advertisers to try to get more people shopping for Christmas.

It is the youth of Britain this push for Black Friday is aimed at. Especially as they are the ones who are most exposed to the media and like American things. This is why there is now Halloween and proms in the UK. However, these two items are harmless in my view and most who oppose them do so solely on the grounds that they’re American. Black Friday is not a holiday or official tradition, it’s something made up by media to explain the onslaught of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. It is not an American tradition in spite of what television might say and there is no need for such a day in the UK.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511202714&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Christians Hated Us Too!

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With my mind still racing from my last post on how America considered its military between the years 1973-89 a joke and the fact that I don’t like to write posts over 1,000 words if I can help it, I decided to continue my peaceful rampage on the subject. Rednecks weren’t the only ones who looked down on those serving in the armed forces between those years. So-called Christians were just as bad towards us. While unlike rednecks, they didn’t call us a joke, they did consider military personnel to be all a bunch of Godless heathens. Some even went as far as that the military should be a mission field in order to save their Godless souls.

When I declared that I wanted to enlist in the Marines when I was in high school, there was some rumblings in my local church about my desire to do so. A lot of the rumblings were started by my mother who thought I would be wasting my life by giving four years of it to my country added on by a documentary she watched in 1978, the year before I joined, which said that the Marine Corps was full of convicted murderers. I can safely say that during my four years of service, I never met anyone I would consider a murderer.

Apparently, there was going to be someone at my church who was going to talk to me about going into the military. I know it wasn’t the pastor because he was a former Navy corpsman who served with the marines. Regardless, that talk never happened and I enlisted. The real funny thing about that was that most of the older adults in the church were complimentary of me going in and all of them wished me good luck. It was my peers who thought I was crazy for taking four years out of my life and giving it to my country. They seemed to be more convinced that all of the ‘heathens’ who made up the US military were going to turn me from the Lord.

Thinking back, I have to give Linwood Community Church credit where it was due. They did seem to be the most supportive of me while I was serving. Even when I was home on leave for two weeks and didn’t shave the entire time, none of them made any comments about it. They all seemed to understand that I was just taking a break from military life and would go back to being a marine when that leave was up. However, I know of other churches that weren’t so supportive. I did go with a friend to another church in uniform and while I didn’t want any special fuss made about me, I was ignored and even looked upon with some sort of disdain by some of the so-called strong Christians in that church. A lot of Christian churches weren’t as welcoming to serving persons.

Ah, another amusing note from my past. I worked at a Christian summer camp during the three summers in my high school years. At a winter reunion after my final summer there, I announced to all my Christian colleagues that I had enlisted. When it was time to say the closing prayer, the camp leader prayed for the Lord to watch over me while I was in the Marines and that even there, I become a witness for Christ.

After my service was up, that church was still supportive of me, now a veteran. Though there were still some in the church who thought the military was evil. It was that other church I mentioned who seemed to be more patronizing towards me. Because of the fact that I did backslide while I was in, it was concrete proof for them that the military was evil. If I’m honest, a lot of so-called Christians did view armed forces personnel with disdain. They were evil and needed to be saved and that was their excuse for treating military persons like crap.

These days, I get comments from current and recently served military persons who say that their churches have been really supportive of them. One went as far as to apologize for me having such a bad experience with Christianity. I informed him that it was Christianity I had the problem with, just a lot of those who professed to be Christians. I am glad to hear that these days, Christians are supporting and not condemning those who serve their country. Maybe they have repented of their actions in the years between 1973-89.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510776111&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

#044–Why don’t they call white male mass shooters “terrorists”?

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I found this post very thought provoking.

The Chatty Introvert

(Photo Credit: nbcnews.com)

I am so sick of this crap.

I’m sick of these killings.

I’m sick of these “woe is me” stories of a guy who can’t hack it and says “screw the world, I’m taking you all down with me.”

I’m tired of white men (NOT BOYS, DAMMIT!) who haven’t figured out that sitting on your ass and being a white male isn’t going to get you very far anymore, be it job related or dating related.

And I’m really sick of the media and government not calling it like it is. I’m tired of them not calling these white male shooters “terrorists.”

I think its a simple formula: if your object is to maim or kill complete strangers that mean nothing to you and have never personally wronged you, because of some supposed belief you hold (whether nurtured, cultural, religious, etc.) and you find a way to…

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