Major Tom Had It Easy

Posted by: elraymundo at 4:16 pm on Friday, June 19, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, Jeep

I guess if Major Tom was willing to buy peace with his life then I shouldn’t be too worried about buying peace which allows me to keep a few thousand dollars, right? Even if the rest of the dollars are flowing away like water thundering over Iguazú Falls?

If only my Jeep had a connection to Ground Control…

How To Catch The Ebola

Posted by: elraymundo at 10:47 pm on Wednesday, June 17, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Lotus Blossom, Minnesota, Ah, Memories

I’ve been going through boxes of stuff, trying to whittle down the amount of things that we’ll move back east after the house sale closes on the 30th. “Going through stuff” is very dangerous for me. I’m a pack-rat and a sentimentalist and the process of going through even a small box of papers can take me hours. If there are photos, old journals or stories…well, let’s just say I am helplessly obligated to endlessly re-examine whatever historical epoch of my life is reflected in the artifacts contained in the box.

Tonight, for example, I shredded several pale blue sheets of paper that I had received in 1981, each documenting my completion of a self-guided curriculum called a PACE. Each certificate shouted “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” in a giant, bold-faced Arial font, along with the course, score and date of completion, all wrapped around a line-art sketch of a man, young girl and young boy, each very high-cheekboned and Caucasian and very well-dressed and probably drawn by the same guy who illustrated those wretched Chick tracts that used to scare the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. I had forgotten all about PACEs, along with most of the rest of whatever happened in the eighth grade, but I did remember that I went to school at Chapel Hill Academy, a Christian school in the suburbs of Minneapolis and that the curriculum was self-study; students learned and did their work at their own pace with guidance and help from the teachers.

(Hence the acronym PACE. I have no clue what the letters in PACE stand for - it’s been 28 years since I was in the eighth grade - although I suspect the letter “C” stands for either “Christ” or “Christian.” I have a strong hunch it didn’t stand for “C, as in Charles comma Darwin.”)

(Aha! A quick Google search has turned up “Packets of Accelerated Christian Education” in an online article dated May 27 2009. The PACE, apparently, is alive and well - in Alton, Illinois, at least.)

This is one of Lisa’s PACE certificates…I didn’t think to scan one until after I shredded mine.

Anyway, I shredded several PACE certificates congratulating me for my 100% scores in Science and Social Studies. There were only one each for English Literature and English Grammar. I find that interesting because I was an English major in college, but looking back over my life I realize I’ve had a consistent interest in astronomy, geology, physics and things that roar, like dinosaurs and loose women. Maybe those PACEs knew something I didn’t?

So I fed the shredder little bits of my life: an MFL (Michael’s Football League) schedule, documented in my sprawling 13 year old hand on spiral notebook paper in multiple colors of felt-tip ink, tracking in detail the 1980 season I played out on my electric football game with the little plastic players (which I still have stashed in a box in the garage), the aforementioned PACE certificates, a couple of Bible class quizzes on the book of James and the book of Hebrews printed in the dull purple ink from a mimeograph machine (I must not have been paying attention; I scored a 25/40 on James and the Hebrews treated me even worse: 24/40), four pages of a cartoon creature called Hungry Harold that were probably drawn during the class lectures on James and Hebrews and a bright yellow speeding ticket I got in 1985. (I think I got the ticket on Joe Rogers Road while driving my ’79 Chevy Monte Carlo - sweet chocolate brown, baby! - with my left foot out the driver’s side window.)

And then I came across this gem. (Please keep in mind this list was probably published in the late 70s or early 80s. Anyone who has bought a home in the last 10 years will giggle when they get to item #20.)

SCALE OF STRESS VALUES (life change units)
Death of spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Jail term 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Fired at work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of a family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sex difficulties 39
Gain of new family member 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to a different line of work 36
Change in number of arguments with spouse 35
Mortgage over $30,000 31
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Son or daughter leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Wife or husband begins or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in work hours or conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 19
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 19
Mortgage or loan less than $30,000 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family get-togethers 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Christmas 12
Minor violations of the law 11

Dr. Thomas H. Holmes predicts that people run the risk of developing a major illness in the next two years if they total more than 300 LCU points. (LCU = life changing units)

So. 300 points gets you an anxiety attack or a stroke or the ebola. Debra and I scored a 458. And that’s with earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, IRS problems, lightning strikes, power outages and betrayal not even appearing on the list.