The Sociopath

« The sociopath typically has a history of cruelty, feeling neither guilt nor remorse for hurting others. They are vindictive, lacking in empathy, and rarely learn from their mistakes. If well-funded, they often escape penalty for wrongdoing. Using real-life examples from Trump’s life: a sociopath has no qualms about separating babies from their mothers, mocking a disabled reporter, ridiculing public figures or firing others at will. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants, including inciting violence. »

This could not be better said. Found on the Internet, and written by Fran Ferder and John Heagle and entitled: How Catholics Got Conned by Donald Trump (, these are words that absolutely frighten me.

When I think of people like that and I how I have encountered variations of them through the years, it saddens me to think that these narcissistic bullies are capable and able of getting away with so much and when they do so, often appear as if they are doing things for the right reasons and even applauded.

I wish that I could only say that the person I have personally encountered is malbor, but clearly that is not the case. I have met others. The cruelty of these individuals is something of horror to behold as they strive to manipulate life and its situations to their own desires.

It is frightening to think that people can get away with this.

It is frightening to think that people are okay with allowing them to do so.

Throughout the ages, these people have existed and been allowed to bulldoze over everything in their sights as the go through life.

I always wonder if justice will prevail.

In the case of Trump, that remains to be seen.

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You’re disappointed?

Has anyone noticed that texting is one of the most dangerous ways to communicate with people?

Clearly, all of this falls into what I would call, Communicative Intelligence, which I, perhaps patting myself a little on the back, have.

Years ago, when I was still in a F2F (face to face) classroom, I remember the massive amounts of communication that I was responsible for. It was with students, their parents, fellow teachers and administrators, and for all sorts of different reasons. As a high school teacher, I had many hats to wear and through the years, not only was I teaching students from freshmen through senior year, I was in charge of a club and also of a language lab and responsible for a an exchange program with a sister school in France as well as even a stint as head of the Faculty Senate. My communication efforts were really important.

I remember, back in the day, that all of the people with whom I communicated, had different Communicative Intelligences. I quickly tried to learn which form I needed to work on with them. Some people were great on the phone whereas others were better in an e-mail. Within the building, in particular, I realized that I could get more out of some people with a personal note than I could with an e-mail or a phone call. Whether we like it or not, we are human and have preferences and more often than not, we have slight disabilities in certain areas and communication can well be one of them. I even had a select list of people for whom a personal visit was de rigueur if I were to get anywhere.

Currently, texting has been added to our list of communication systems and, well, I have found that some people are just not good at it. They continue to read things between the lines that are just not accurate and sometimes don’t see the actual focus of the text. Perception is perception, however, and we must go with that flow. We thus have to adjust our communication to allow for that.

With some people, I know that if I have to communicate via texting, that I have to keep it simple and direct. Some people cannot deal with a large amount of information and words.

With some people, putting more than one idea in a text or e-mail means that they will only see one of the ideas and focus entirely on that.

Damn, life is certainly complicated. Add into that: Pandemic, World and National chaos, a dictator wannabe, and the list goes on…

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The unforgettable Ludmilla Coven

The other day we were alerted that there were strangers approaching the house as the dog was barking up a real storm.

Mary Kay went to the door and a we realized that a blast from the past was being delivered.

A person that I have thought of often, who lives nearby and yet we don’t manage to connect to, was brought to the forefront with a delivery of books taken in a clean-out measure. The delivery was done by her daughter and son-in-law. The worry was that these books might provide something of good and were just currently sitting gathering dust. I am not sure that she even knew that I was doing ESL conversation hours.

Ludmilla Coven.

The woman who accompanied my oldest son to Washington when I couldn’t attend a conference where we were presenting. At the last minute, my principal, at the behest of my department chairman, pulled my funds and I refused to go, since I really didn’t have the personal funds to do so. I had already purchased my flight which I gave to my son so he could go and visit his aunt and his cousins.

Ludmilla Coven.

The person that you wanted your children to meet.The brilliant woman with a mind and body that were incapable of settling down. I have been called a ‘whirling dervish’ in my time but honestly, this lady is the epitome of a creative and intelligent person who was constantly thinking of new ways to do things and how to accomplish the impossible. You had a tough time saying ‘no’ to Ludmilla Coven.

A woman who got her PhD after retirement, if my memory serves me correctly. A woman who had her eye on the prize in terms of how to get the most out of the school system for her students. A Special Education teacher who could not rest on her laurels. She connected with several of us in the language department and helped us come up with the subject of our presentation in Washington D.C., HOLA! or How to Optimize Language Acquisition. With her help we came up with a course that would open up the idea that languages should not be elitist, and that clearly anyone could manage to reach a certain level of competency in language learning. Clearly she was ahead of her time.

Ludmilla Coven, a New Trier icon, speaking during the only strike teachers of New Trier ever made and doing so for the students, on their behalf.

Ludmilla Coven, not only brilliant, but a beautiful person inside and out, learned and kind, all focused on the students she taught, all about giving them all the advantages they deserved.

I think it was more than one summer that we taught HOLA! in the New Trier Language Lab and took the kids on local field trips. We taught them ways to recognize Latin and Greek roots and gave them tips and hints to demystify and to make them comfortable as they attempted to be in regular language classes. This push also brought about special classes of language that were easier and less overwhelming for special education students.

What a gift to receive the books from Ludmilla. What a gift it is to know her and to have experienced her love of learning and her enthusiasm for sharing the gift of education.

Posted in Academics, Education, Equality for All, Lack of respect for Teaching in America, Life in general, New Trier High School, People and their characteristics, Special Education, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Knock me down, a poem

Knock me down


Gray is the feeling I have within me.


Bright is the opposite of what I feel and reminds me of that fact.


Cold is the feeling I have within me.


Wind, accompanied by the gray, bright, and cold, cuts through me like a knife as I walk.

My emotional state
is stable
despite the
and wind
that I experience on a daily basis.

I want
to improve
but the
and personal issues
knock me down as


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Pandemically Speaking, a poem

Pandemically speaking

I wake up.

I brush my teeth,
put in my contacts,
comb my beard,
and prepare for the day.

I do my exercises,
open the windows,
moving quickly
so as to include it
as a part of my mini workout.

I start the coffee,
take my supplements
with a huge glass of water,
close the windows,
and by the time it is all up
and I am ready to sit down,
the coffee is usually ready.

The dog is whining.

He wants his breakfast.

A breakfast he usually enjoys
before we harness up
and go out the door.

It is cold out.

It is under thirty Fahrenheit,
actually minus four Celsius,
as I sip the coffee with milk
and ponder what I am going
to wear to brave the cold.

Too many layers and one perspires,
too few and one freezes,
there is not a lot of leeway
in decision making.

I try to think about
how to best dress
for the best comfort
as the dog and I walk
for about a mile or so.

It is our Pandemic routine.

The house is still.

The house is quiet.

The heat has come on,
removing the cold
that we maintain
for a good night’s sleep.

The sound
of the furnace
is a welcome one.

Temps down to fifty-five
in our suburban bi-level
because upstairs,
where the bedrooms are
it is more like sixty
and the sleep is pleasant
under the winter quilt.

That changes
around 7:30 in the morning
as the furnace
works hard
to come up to somewhere
more comfortable
for the daytime.

Outside, the sanitation workers
have arrived,
stop the vehicle,
and grab the sad Christmas tree
that only recently graced
our family room.

We are moving on.

The year 2021
is not showing itself
to be
any better than its predecessor
and rumors
of violence and hatred abound
as we move toward
what should be celebrated,
a Presidential inauguration,
but it may well be
another display
of hatred
and divisiveness.

Time will tell.

It is cold.

My coffee has
pretty much disappeared
and the writing
is on the wall.

I have to walk the dog.

I have to armor up
in my winter gear
and face the cold.

When I return
I shall have some breakfast
and then face my Zoom,
a bright moment of joy
as we practice English,
we learn idioms,
I explain concepts
and I make the newest arrivals
to our country
more comfortable.

Another day,
another dollar,
as the saying goes.

despite the intense cold
of the January day
north of Chicago,
the sun is shining
I cannot help
but believe
that maybe
there is hope
that we,
as a people,
can recover
and be
what we were meant to be.

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