Aldon Hynes's blog

The Stories of John Cheever

Back in college, a classmate of mine recreated a psychology study where participants read either the story of the Good Samaritan or some neutral text and then encountered a person in distress. The goal of the experiment was to see if reading the story of the Good Samaritan affected the likelihood of the person stopping to help someone in distress. I was the person in distress for the experiment. I wore shabby clothes, and when the person approached I started coughing and the fell down. I don’t know the results of the experiment, but I just remember while some people stopped to ask if I was okay, most just walked by, seeming not to notice.

For my efforts, I was given a gift certificate at the college bookstore. With that, I picked up a copy of a new released collection of short stories by John Cheever. Life is full of these short stories.

Today, I got up early. I went to the transfer station for the first time in several weeks. April was a long month. I said hello to various people there and wondered, what there short stories were. I then drove to Meriden where CHC sponsored a 5K race to raise funds for mental health services. Again, there were so many stories there behind the running numbers.

The next stop was Putnam, where my daughter Miranda was helping with a Tiny House workshop. I met various people involved with Tiny Houses, and the stories were a little closer to the surface. Then, I proceeded to visit my boss in his suburban subdivision. From the outside, it looked like just about any other house, but my boss collects magical apparatus, and each item could have been a John Cheever short story.

I drove home, thinking about the stories I’d crossed paths with today. I thought about writing this blog post. Then, I received a text message to stop by campaign headquarters, where another set of stories was waiting.

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Political Comments

A comment and a post I put up on Facebook today. The comment was in response to a friend who posted about “a segment of the population that acts as if anyone who is accessing their government benefits, they paid into their entire lives, is ripping off the government.”

I often think that people who protest too much about one thing or another are actually reflecting their own fears or weaknesses. They worry about others ripping off the government, because deep down inside, they know that they are getting more out of society than they put in.

I believe that I get much more that what I am justified receiving, not only in terms of services from the government (good libraries, schools, roads, police and fire, etc) than I actually pay for in taxes. Yet I believe that this also reflects the greater condition of mankind, receiving more from God's abundant grace than we deserve.

The other was a snarky comment about a post that one of the campaigns in this year’s Woodbridge Municipal election made about people in local politics having spouses that are involved in local politics. I noted that my campaign manager from my 2012 may have been a distant cousin of mine.

All of these are things I’d like to expound open, if I wasn’t so tired. The next three days will be pretty busy, but then I hope to get a little down time.

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End of Month Checkpoint

A sixteen hour day leaves little time for writing, and there is so much to write about. We are in the final days of the municipal election in Woodbridge. Elections are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of fun.

#rhizo15 continues to give me lots to think about. Content, Connection, and container, after thinking about measurement, mastery, and mystery.

There are the bigger issues from Baltimore to Bernie. There is poetry to read and written, along side the news, and the Gospel.

Then, there are all the events at work and at home. It looks like it will keep up this pace for at least a few more days. Instead of trying to go into any of these in detail this evening, I’ll wait until my mind is fresher and I can spend more time writing.

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Woodbridge Crooks and Liars

Today, in a Facebook discussion about the upcoming Woodbridge municipal elections, one person wrote, “All politicians are liars” and another responded, “They are all a bunch of legalized crooks”. Much of the venom was directed at the challenger, Cathy Wick. It was pointed out that on her website she says she believes zoning commission members should be elected, but that when asked what she would do about issues in the flats, she talked about wanting to appoint someone from the flats to be on zoning.

You can’t have it both ways, the writer complained. I’m not sure these comments are really fair. As much as someone believes zoning commission members should be elected, until that’s the case, they are appointed. One could easily say, I believe members of the zoning commission should be elected to make sure all sections of town are properly represented. Until that happens, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the members are appointed in a manner that I believe best achieves this, including appointing someone from the flats.

Actually, I have to give Cathy a lot of credit for running, twice. Running is hard. I know. I’ve run twice for State Rep and was also elected alternate to the zoning board of appeals. I do not believe that either Ellen or Cathy are crooks or liars. They both have their visions of what’s going on in Woodbridge, and what should be done.

Cathy may not have spoken clearly. She may have a different view of what’s going on in Woodbridge than I do, but I won’t call her a liar. I’ll just acknowledge that Ellen’s description of what is going on in town and what should go on in the future better matches my view.

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#rhizo15 Baltimore

A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday,

It'll be interesting over the next several days to see if my students can make connections between what is happening in Baltimore and our discussions this semester in my Urban Politics class about the formation of ghettos in America's central cities.

My initial reaction was to encourage them to share their thoughts online. How well can they explain what they’ve been learning in Urban Politics and how it relates to what is currently going on? What can others learn from their experiences? Can we have a meaningful discussion?

This led me back to thinking about the #rhizo15. How do we make sense of different perspectives on race in America in an online learning environment? Can online learning circumvent the ghetto walls? Do filter bubbles just create new information ghettos?

It’s late. I’m tired. There is so much more to say about this, about helping people find their voices, about learning to be a motivational listener, about measurement, mastery, and mystery.

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