“The flame spreads with an uncanny vigor,
Spreads with an unnatural hunger,
It cannot be charmed…”

by author

The Elementalist Epoch


He woke up, as he always did.

One day in Monglia, the next in Brussels, and now here.

Who was he today?

And that fiery vortex. That dull feeling of fire, dark orange, the vague burning sensation, the smell of burning flesh, and then the knowledge.

March 25, 1911.

“Joey, Bremya raboti!

His “brother” poked his shoulder with a stiff finger, then pushed him out of bed with his foot.

“Joe” protested.

“Come on, big brother, It’s the only time I get the bed to myself. Mama made water for you. You have an hour before work. Once you’re married, I don’t get to kick you out of bed anymore. That’ll be your wife’s job.”

Joe tossled his brother’s head, kicked him back and got out of bed. The truth was, his brother had been his good luck charm in America. It was the schnozz, the elongated forehead, Alex looked like Joe in a funhouse mirror. Joe’d realized that having Alex show up on a date just made him look better by comparison.

Alex was the secret of Joe’s success.


Time to wake up.

1911. People got excited, motivated and energetic because they had a fourteen hour shift ahead of them, six days a week?


Sentiments echoed in this blog. As a college professor, we lived for the excited student, whom, if we’re lucky, we may see once a semester. Very often, they major in PE. Really. Very, very happy people.


Is this what people got up for?

Otherwise, I know I pop out of bed excited about my day. One of the blessings of my life was always doing what I loved, thanks to the sacrifices of my immigrant parents and grandparents, who woke grateful to be alive, gainfully employed, and polio-free.

By the way, the above blog cannot be categorized, explained or encapsulated. It has the energy of an international airport before all the security was added. You never know what you’ll run into.



Somehow it happened, as it always did. When consciousness wrestles your dreams to steal memories, the process happens in reverse. Here, the here and now of who he was wrestled with all the then and theres of who he had been before he entered the vortex.

It was clear. He was Joe Wilson, a nice Anglo name that denied the Russian roots. Yosif Sochin, Russian Jewish skin shed, along with accents and hints of ethnicity. In the kitchen, his round-faced mother, facial skin made elbow-thick by years of toiling in the fields.

She sat scraping the blackened parts off a piece of toast.

She stared out a coal-smog corrupted window, more out of modesty than interest, he thought, and he slid out of his nightshirt, folded it, and climbed into the tub. Factory. Garment factory. I’m getting married in June. Three years in New York City, new life, new job new love.


The place to be. Not many prospects for Jews in Philadelphia. The Sabella family had muscled his dad out of the tailoring buisness.

The air was thick with the acrid taste of burning coal times two million hearths. Joe remembered how these days stung the eyes. He was a tailor, a higer-up, as far as those things went, at the factory.

Well, higher-up meant he got kicked for other peoples’ mistakes.


News item Wednesday, 4/3/13:

A Shot across the bow to all bullies.

Today, they put down a bully.

Well, actually it was more like a crowdsourced firing.

Mike Rice.

Rutgers University Basketball coach.

I’ve coached.

Never like that. Never.

Especially not at the University level.

And if the video hadn’t gone viral, Mike Rice would have “suffered” a three day suspension and a fine of $75,000, and  an




But people called instartwone

what a powerful message from this blogger:

“I just want to tell these children

(And any being bullied)
One day this very thing that makes you different,
God will use in a big way to do something great.
What draws some people to you today in a negative way,
Will one day draw so many others in a positive light.”


I think bullying is a bad response to feeling so out of control that you have to beat the whole world into line. It’s really OK to be incompetent, to be out of control, to try your best with the whole world watching and still fail.

It’s a message lost on bullies.

So, to all you bullies or parents of bullies out there, listen! You can’t control how other people react, except to make them fear you, avoid you etc. But you can control how you react to their reactions.

This wonderful lesson, and so many more ideas that really, really resonate for me- I spent 17 years as a baseball coach and 20 years as a stay-at-home dad

are all contained here:


Not only wonderful, heartfelt advice, but wonderfully written.

What a lucky bunch she’s raising!


No Child Left Behind= Academic Bullying

The bullying thing seems to be in the air.

In academia, Paolo Frere calls it the “banker” concept of education, where students really have no input into the learning process. It is the world of standardized tests, assigned readings and lectures that could be (and often are) pre-recorded.

It doesn’t work.

Yet, that’s the way public education is conducted in this country. It is academic bullying. It doesn’t take into account the desires, personal strengths, fears, and dreams of the student.

It is a bad leadership model.

No wonder it spawns bullies of all stripes.

What’s the alternative?

I know the purpose of this blog is leadership, but you can read the whole thing as a wonderful new philosophy of education.


Here are some tips:

Today’s school follow madated curriculum. No student input desired, or deemed necessary. By all means, do not mold yourself to the interests of your students.

But tow the party line. We all know that the curriculum won’t help you to think, and you’ll basically have to unlearn it and detox from 12 of trash to become a decent college student, but teachers keep telling your kids that this is education, and education is good for you.

But only within the parameters allowed by the union.

But don’t be allowed to use much of your knowledge to enhance the learning experience

As long as you communicate through the magic of the textbooks the district provides.

hmmm. OK, I’ll give them that one.

My kid was very excited about a certain academic topic. He read extra about it, and came to the class with questions. He was told , “We have to get through this, don’t ask too many questions”. Respect?


By the way, Coach Rice? Maybe you should visit the website to improve your coaching skills:

Coaching and Development in an organization helps to:

What? Nothing about throwing basketballs at people or screaming homophobic remarks? How does this blogger expect to succeed??


Come on, you really think this “fluff” could motivate an athlete more than a basketball to the knees?

Could she compile a losing record and earn $300,000 as a basketball coach?

Who would you rather have teaching your children?


March 25, 1911, 7:10 AM.

It was a little cafe that offered a cup of coffee for under a nickel. Joe always paid the whole five, felt like a big man telling Mollie to keep the change.

Thirty cents.

Five percent of his weekly salary splurged on coffee. The factory would give him a slice of apple pie (half the time stale and burnt at the bottom) at dinnertime was supposed to tide him over, but he needed the pick-me up for the shift, that started in twenty minutes, and would continue until 9:30 PM

On a normal day.

A dollar a day for a six-day workweek.

The bosses were bullies. Rank and Harris. They’d sneak up behind you, call you all sorts of things, send you home with no pay if they caught you humming, or talking to the person next to you.

God forbid you took your apple pie out to the fire escape to eat.

They locked the fire escape to prevent that from happening.



Upon their stone it may read
he gave his life for his country
perhaps in love he lived and in love
he passed, or just maybe it might be blank
an epitaph to a life yet lived,
cut short by foolish endeavor
but it might just have been the curt hand
of luck.



4 thoughts on “Professional Bullies (Part Three)

  1. Very nice piece and you have led me to some other really great pieces. Thanks for sharing our work and our message 🙂

  2. very well constructed. I love how you’re using other blogs to punctuate the points you are making. It’s very zen to read, stream-of-thought-like.
    I especially loved this line:
    “In the kitchen, his round-faced mother, facial skin made elbow-thick by years of toiling in the fields.”
    it reminds me of my childhood nanny.

    • You know, writers have always been in dialog with other authors who have inspired them. I often channel Madeline L’Engle when I write kids’ books. But I thought, “why not use other bloggers as inpiration?” So cool that resonated with you. Thanks!

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