Category Archives: Misc

A Dream Realized

 Seven years ago, in the spring of 2007, a personal crisis hit. I woke up one day and found I had lost a client in my I/T work that significantly jeopardized the quality of  life for my sons and myself. Facing the prospects of an income that was approaching poverty level, I endeavored to think outside the box for a solution that would not only allow us to make ends meet, but offer me a meaningful existence. Of course, raising two sons myself for years was already profoundly meaningful, but the income I was earning up to that point allowed us, among other things, to travel the US during summers and frankly, to put food on the table.

It also had allowed me to pursue my passion in art. As a photographer, photojournalist, and multi-media artist I had succeeded in actually selling my work. Not enough to live on, but that was a pretty damn good feeling. I was also able to volunteer extensively in the recently resettled refugee community in Phoenix. I mentored families and individuals from around the world who were settling into new lives here and unfamiliar with how to navigate day-to-day American life. I was a classroom instructor (volunteer) as well. I taught US cultural orientation, job-finding skills and technology skills. I loved it.

But as happens in life, all good things must come to an end. So now what?

I decided to go back to college. I enrolled in Mesa Community College in the fall of 2010. Two art history classes and two cultural studies classes whet my academic appetite in topics which I was passionate about. Sure, I was 52 years old “on the outside”, but inside I was still living the journey, still determined to be actively involved in my own destiny.

I hadn’t been in a college setting since 1992-93 in Milwaukee. I only lasted a year though because I needed a job while raising a young family. Before that was a 16 year gap after high school (1976) when I was “finding myself”. In reality I was simply having a good time and working through 27 different jobs (I have them written down). My high school accomplishments barely registered. I graduated on-time, but my GPA as a high school junior was .818. That is expected when one decides to develop his pool-shooting skills instead of his English, Science, etc.

Fast forward back to 2010 and on to college I went. I loved it. I had to sneak out of my regular job every other afternoon, but I had built up enough work-cred as a successful account manager (sales guy), so it pretty much went unnoticed.

I wanted to continue my studies and decided to apply to Arizona State University. I wanted some flexibility in my degree so I decided on Interdisciplinary Studies. My “concentrations” were African and African-American Studies, and Human Rights; areas I had a strong, passionate interest. Three years earlier, in 2007, I flew to Ghana in West Africa (with Stevie Wonder!) for their 50th independence day celebration (see my photos on this site). Here in Phoenix I had volunteered as an official photographer for Amnesty International, and for Bono’s One.org. These experiences were reflected in my art, and I believed that an academic compliment to my creative side would lead me to my own “promised land”.

My undergrad challenge was not a fair-fight. I had passion for the topics and decades of adult life experiences to draw on. I graduated summa cum laude (3.98 GPA) and was named the Graduate of the Year in the College of Letters and Sciences. I was simultaneously named the Leonor Boulin-Johnson Award winner for African/African American Studies Academic of the Year.

After being accepted to Howard University in DC for grad school (African Studies), I ended up back in Phoenix, enrolling in ASU’s New College to pursue a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. I graduated in 2016 with a 4.0 GPA. But what next?

I had a great mentor who encouraged me to apply to teach in the undergrad Interdisciplinary Studies program in the newly named College of Integrative Sciences and Arts (CISA). I applied to be a Faculty Associate (adjunct), and lo’ and behold I was hired! In 2016-17 I taught two of the very same courses I was enrolled in not long before.

In April 2017, my mentor encouraged me to apply for a full-time Instructor position. I did. I was chosen to be interviewed by the search committee via Skype. Then I waited. Two and a half weeks seemed like a year. I was “waiting to exhale” when, on May 31st, the department head called me and offered me the position. Wow.

I couldn’t believe it, and frankly didn’t believe it until I received the offer letter a few days later (I thought hey, it still might all be an elaborate prank).

Now as I prepare to teach full-time in a university, I am on Could 9. Here I am, seven years after things looked bleak. Taking a chance on following my heart, no matter my age. Now I have my dream-job and I intend to be damn good at it.

This is not so much a pat-my-own-back post, as it is a parable. It’s never too late (well, until it really is). The “problem” is, the longer you take to get it done, the less time you have to enjoy it. I am 59 now, and while I’d love to earn a Ph.D., I am realistic. I want to enjoy my life. Check that, I really want to LOVE ,my life. I want to provide for my sons and help them as they become independent men. I want to travel and have meaningful experiences with a variety of people, in a variety of places. I am not religious, but yes, I am blessed.

Nothing is truly given in this life. We have to seek it out and earn it.

Oh, one more word of advice: Try not to wait until you’re 52 to give your parents a great report card.

From somewhere hot,

Michael Mufasa

Idea for Research…

A popular meme going around lately goes something like this:

You can support Jesus, or you can support Trump, but you can’t do both” – John Fugelsang.

In other words, if you’re religious, you can’t possibly support Trump, a man with such an obscene history of greed, misogyny, bigotry, etc., that he could indeed be the anti-christ (I’m an agnostic, so that was tongue-in-cheek).

So why did so many religious groups support Trump? Why did so many god-loving voters cast for Trump? Seems like an oxymoron (emphasis on the “moron).

Actually, it might be a fairly simple explanation. Throughout history, human beings flocked to religion and were proud of being “god-fearing”.That’s correct, they feared their god. Of course they considered him (almost always “him”) to be loving also. But mostly they feared god. And when seemingly inexplicable catastrophes befell them? Well, even their own religious experts were befuddled but humbled, because after all, who knows god’s plan?

On and on throughout millennia, untold numbers of humans suffered and died of a multitude of reasons other than “natural causes” of old age. Why didn’t god prevent any of these? Or if God did prevent some (how would we know anyway?), then why not all? Earthquakes, war, plane crashes, fires, car accidents, etc., etc. etc.

Either god doesn’t exist or he/she doesn’t give a damn, or who knows? I go with the last one, of course it’s “who knows”? Its definitely not human beings that’s for sure. No one knows.

But religion has been a great machine of human control. It gives people what they want, hope. But here’s the beauty of the con, it’s “hope” of an after-life. No need to explain or improve anything in THIS life. Just trust us (faith) and you’ll get the reward later (for the extreme of that, see “suicide bombers”).

So why wouldn’t Trump be popular amongst the various flocks? He gives them hope. Not in anything tangible, but in his words, no matter how full of BS they are. Even better for him, they fear him. They do. He’s the “strong”, “wealthy” (I buy into neither of those), alpha-male (that too), that they yearn for. So what if he’s an admitted pussy-grabber and lusts after his own daughter? – After all, he’s only human. Yuck.

So sorry John Fugelsang, in fact anyone can be religious and support Trump. Hell, their religion is pretty much supporting the “heavenly” version of Trump already.

From somewhere hot,

MM

The Players

Just to get my feet wet again, I thought I’d paste some notes I’ve taken since January 20th…a day that will live in infamy.

Here they are. Here are those great Americans who are NOT part of the swamp he’s draining. Please note, I am being sarcastic. I despise this president. I despise everything I know about him. Literally, I have never heard of a single quality which I would admire or applaud. He his a goon, a punk, a grifter, a con, a criminal, a bigot, a racist, a misogynist, a thief, and on and on I could go.

But instead, here, I offer the “team” (some are not in here, its tough to keep up)….

Chief Strategist- Steve Bannon (empowered White Nationalist movement, believes in “genetic superiority”, supports voting rights to only property owners.)

Commerce Sec- Wilbur Ross (Billionaire private-equity baron who scooped up failing companies, squeezed every last nickel out of them by firing workers and shipping business lines offshore, and usually profited by navigating the companies through bankruptcy.

(EXPOSED) National Security Adviser: Gen. Michael Flynn (along with his son, spread false news about Clinton running a child-sex ring which led to a domestic terrorist firing shots in pizzaria. Retweeted anti-Semitic threats, and Islamophobia.)

Defense Sec- Gen. James Mattis (after DT nominated him, he vowed to reporters that he would “make killing great again”, and that “the survivors of the globe will write about what we do for the next 10,000 years.)

CIA- Michael Pompeo (KS congressman who has close ties to the Koch brothers, called an Indian-American Dem State rep a “Turban Topper”, praised CIA’s former detention & interrogation program, wants to “walk away” from the Iran nuclear agreement.)

Education Sec- Betsy Devos (billionaire who laments that public schools have “displaced” the Church and wants to “advance God’s Kingdom”.)

Health & Human Services Sec- Tom Price (Wants to bar federal funds for Planned Parenthood, introduced legislation that would make it easier for doctors to defend themselves against medical malpractice lawsuits and to opt out of Medicare and charge more than the amounts normally allowed by the program’s rules.)

Medicare/Medicaid Admin- Seema Verma (Introduced work requirements and lockout periods for impoverished recipients of Medicaid in three states

Homeland Security- Gen John F. Kelly Ret. (against women in combat and supports Guantanamo Bay operations.)

HUD- Ben Carson (doesn’t that government can be a force for good, convinced that “pulling yourself by the bootstraps” is the key to success even though he and his mother relied on food stamps and free glasses. Believes Islam is not a religion and that there is a covert plot underway to destroy America.)

Atty General- Jeff Sessions (has fought legal immigration, voting rights, climate-change skeptic, and Southern Poverty Law Center calls his mere presence in DT’s circle as “a tragedy for American Politics.)

Transportation Sec- Elaine Chow (wife of Sen Mitch McConnell and former Labor Sec under G.W.Bush).

Treasury Sec- Steve Mnuchin (Goldman Sachs billionaire who led an investment team that bought the predatory lender IndyMac for $1.65 billion, foreclosed on homeowners, harvested fees for appraisals and inspections and late payments, and got protected by a federal backstop. The FDIC lost $13 billion on IndyMac; Mnuchin and company made $3 billion.

EPA- Scott Pruitt (climate-change denier and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry. As an Atty Gen he fought health care law and environmental regulations.)

SBA- Linda McMahon (Billionaire co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.)

They all make me sick.

From somewhere hot,

Mufasa

New Posts Soon

I’ve been busy…who hasn’t, right? But I am going to make more of an effort to post weekly. Again, I don’t believe anyone is reading these, but that is not the point. Rather, I find the act of writing to be a great organizer of thought. I like being organized.

From somewhere hot,

MM

 

Update…

IMG_6205In an effort to keep you current (“you” lol, as if), here’s an updated blog post. Also, I couldn’t stand seeing my most recent post always coming up; “Way behind…”. I don’t do “way behind”.

Anyway, since driving off the lot with a 2016 model Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree from ASU, I figured I needed to get right to the job search, or like a new car, my value would decrease exponentially.

Fortunately, I have a great mentor in Dr. Michael Pryzdia, who has been in my corner since undergrad, and was instrumental in my receiving the Outstanding Graduate of the Year award from the ASU School of Letters and Sciences in 2013. He set up a meeting with the director of the undergrad interdisciplinary studies program, Dr. Kevin Ellsworth, late last fall (That’s networking, folks).

The purpose of that was to “put me on his radar” insofar as my qualifications to be considered for a professor position. Without the pressure of a formal interview for a definitive job opening, this type of meeting is a great way to get oneself in front of decision-makers. I thought that this get-to-know-Michael meeting went very well, albeit no promises were made whatsoever.

Cut to the chase and last week I got the call and barring any unforeseen problems, will be teaching one of the core BIS classes beginning in August. In early May I had applied for the Faculty Assistant (adjunct) opening in the department.

Its not full-time, but its a foot-in-the-door. I’m thrilled for the opportunity and am enthusiastically preparing. This is an online, condensed class that runs from August to October; the first half of the semester. I am hoping with Dr. P.’s help I’ll be teaching a class in the second half of the semester as well.

That would give me two reviews and that’s what I’ll need to apply for a full-time position- my ultimate goal.

From somewhere a bit chilly,

MM