Graduation day…

We have just returned from a brief trip to Colorado for our grandson’s graduation from high school. Jack attended Centaurus High School. It is one of many in the Boulder Valley School District. The campus of most of them have the Flatiron foothills as a backdrop. They eventually give way to the still snowcapped Rockies. Not a bad place to go to school. Daydreaming and looking out the window takes on a whole new significance.  

The senior class of about four hundred marched into the Coors Event Center on the campus of the University of Colorado. The event recognized many cum laude and summa cum laude students. There was a hoorah for 38 who had taken engineering classes since their freshman year and Jack was one of them. During the proceedings there were thoughts galore in my poor little brain.

I glowed with as much pride as the several thousand who were attending. There were whites, blacks, hispanics, Asians and who knows what else? For some of them they were the first in the family to even get this far. For others it was just the first step in what will become many degrees and diplomas. Remarkably they were one and each seemed to revel in the success of the other. 

After the entrance to Pomp and Circumstance, we faced a large American flag at the end of the arena. A more than good percentage held their hands over their hearts during the Star Spangled Banner, that was played by a very credible school band. I thought about all the promise in that arena and as I pondered, arenas all over America.  Campus shootings, school board strife and book banning seemed to be very far away. Why can’t it just be that way all the time?

We walked through metal detectors coming in. Kathy’s small purse had to be returned to the car.It was too big and a gun could have been hidden in it!  It seemed so incompatible with the joy of the occasion. I am not sure if I was shocked at the gravitas or just really pissed off at the loss of innocence. 

The principal was an impressive figure and speaker. His enthusiasm was not feigned. Several kids got up to give thanks and hijinks. It had a lot of good vibes. The class voted the head security guard as the their favorite staff member. He took the plaque with humility and tears from the heart. Was it like this everywhere in hometown America? I hope so.

The next day we went to a graduation party for Jack and three of his buddies at a local sports bar. A lot of grinning. A lot of joy. Corn hole on the patio. Wings and biscuits and gravy. Doesn’t get too much better than that. 

A smoky haze was very evident. This was from the brush fires in Canada some 850 miles away. Gives you some sort of clue to the size of our country. That would be the same as smoke from the Maine/ Canadian border to Washington DC.  The Denver environs were inundated. We really are connected. 

The graduate is always invited to lunch or dinner with Kathy and me. They pick the place. Jack opted for Mexican food on Main Street. As we chatted I began firing questions of all sorts. Not to put him under the gun but because we wanted to learn so much about him. He answered with candor and enthusiasm. His parents said he might be on the quiet side. Au contraire, mes amis.

He leans somewhat left but not to the extent of his older brother’s progressiveness. He noted that the left was more prone to discussion and compromise than the right. He felt the age of our government’s elite on both sides were just too old. Too stuck in their ways. There was frustration at the inability to get things done. Time wasted. Opportunities lost.  The sheer absurdity of a $31 trillion debt that they were going to have to get payed off. 

As we talked about his aspirations we discussed money. He would like to be self sufficient in short order. Within ten years he wanted to own a house. Nothing fancy but something he could call his own. He was not anti capitalist but was put off with what we all called obscene wealth. Investment bankers, sport stars, entertainers et al were just making too much money.  The wealth gap is only going to get worse. It really didn’t make much sense to him. Kathy and I nodded clumsily. 

A lot of this was on our generation. 

One of the more interesting thoughts was with regard to media. He and his friends do not read newspapers nor do they watch TV. They get synopses here and there but don’t really believe anyone is reporting factually. He has shut down a lot of his apps for being a waste of time. That was it.  We thanked him for being with us and being such a great guy. We all hugged.

I hope this has not been too sappy or too full of braggadocio? Seeing my three kids families in action had a real sense of normalcy. Talks with all of them gave me a strange feeling of hope. They are dealing with the world but there were snippets of laughter and good old fashioned clowning around that had me feeling pretty good. This was not just a visit but an enlightenment. 

In all those chats like we had with Jack, there was a sense of openness and not any real hint of complacency. The coolest part was that there was a strict disciplinary style but also a lot of love and understanding. Nobody is perfect and that includes them.

 I have graduated with a new degree. I learned about my kids and grandkids in a different way. I think I might turn off the TV and my apps just like Jack. Most importantly I am looking at my world in a more positive and hopeful way. If it is okay with you I am going to keep my cap and gown on a little longer here in Flalaland. 

As always 

Ted The Great 


There are a little over 15 million kids in high school today. About 10% go to private schools of some sort. 3,250,000 graduated in 2020.

  • The graduation rate is at an all-time high of 85.3%.
  • The dropout rate is at an all-time low of 6% compared to the 15% college drop out rate.

There are 26,727 high schools in the US and approximately 1 million teachers. 


My good friend Oliver Halle pointed out an error in my last post regarding health and retirement programs in Congress.

“Members of congress do not have their own retirement and healthcare system. They are under the FERS retirement as are all federal employees. Their healthcare is more complicated and less than federal employees because they took themselves out of Obamacare.”

 I stand corrected. Thank you.

I Feel Your Pain…

I am struck by the sheer numbers of bad situations going on around me and us. Shootings, wars, the pandemic, debt ceilings, poverty…shall I go on? Most of these I view from afar. I feel bad about the Ukraine but I don’t live there. Can I really relate to my apartment being blown to smithereens? Not in any way. 

I can enumerate at least a hundred things that are really crappy happening to my fellow American and yes all those other 8 billion earthlings out there. I am really at sea as to whether I should even give these a thought  or just go on with my blissful life in Flalaland. I tend to be a sentimental or even an empathetic lug. Why? Let me try to explain. 

Empathy is understanding and experiencing emotions from the perspective of another, a partial blurring of lines between self and other. We put ourselves in the shoes of others with the intention of understanding what they are going through, we employ empathy to make sense of their experiences. (Psychology Today)

There are a couple of characteristics. If the victim is a relative or close friend we are all over it. We rush to their aid in any way. If they are in our town or burgh we still feel a closeness. The farther away and the bigger the numbers we tend to look and quickly forget. 

We are tribal. We protect our own. We also have a feeling of helplessness. I recently did a presentation here on Worldwide Famine. There are 39 million food insecure people in these United States. That is around 8% of our population. There are 830 million of the same throughout the world. Nice, TTG but what the hell can I do? If I show you one kid who is on the verge of death you want to reach out. If there are 5,000 you say that is sad but nothing I can do. 

We actually become numb to situations. People knew about the Holocaust but looked away. Because they were insensitive brutes or because there was nothing they could do about it? Really interesting and complex question. If you are a Jew and more specifically a European Jew you scream for the world to do something. If you are not can you still look the other way? Yikes TTG, what are you asking me that for?

Enter media for better or worse. It has been proven that people that obsess about a tragedy by watching  the outcomes over and over again, becoming so involved that it affects their lives. Other have a cursory glance and dismiss it for some predefined reason. It might be cultural, racial or ideological. Those people are illegal. George Floyd was high on something. January 6th was inevitable. Trump had some really good policies. There is rationalization on both sides. 

I think we are sometimes afraid of our feelings. We set up that wall. This is what I believe and have always believed. It has gotten me this far and I am sticking with it. Yet something breaks through our veneer. My cool exterior says that is not right. It is a picture or word or a situation from which we can’t disengage. It is unique and unsettling. Maybe we are being human. Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone. 

Somewhere in our brains there is this thought that could happen to me. If I get involved too much then I have a responsibility for that situation or person. Too many years ago in NYC, I happened upon a poor soul at the base of a staircase in the World Trade Center leading to the PATH to go home to New Jersey. He had slit his wrists and person after person just walked on by. I had to stop. I had to help. Not as hero but as a fellow human being. After I wrapped a handkerchief around his wrists and got a cop, I continued on. Was our world this bad? Are we that insensitive and uncaring? I am not sure. I fear it has only gotten worse.

If I only can feel for people close to me we are getting further and father away. Cities are getting bigger as people abandon rural America. We build higher skyscrapers and higher fences. Yet there is the rotting underbelly of poverty and homelessness. Yes, there are bums and nee’r do wells out there but there are also decent people who just want a life. 

As part of my research for famine I looked locally. In our nice part of the world there are over 50% of our kids on a free lunch and breakfast program. I called one of the  school district’s food program managers to question the veracity of the qualifications. She said we have no idea of the poverty, right here in River City. A family of four at $26,172 income is at or below poverty level. If you are a bus driver for the district you make $15 per hour which comes to $31,200 per year. Their kids go to those schools. There is not enough to buy food after all other expenses. Never thought of it that way. 

A fellow who attended my lecture said, “Ted if you keep this up you are going to become a left wing extremist.” I thought about the comment and did not in any way resent it. I was dumb enough to do my research and look beneath the covers. I wanted to dispel the concept of food insecurity at least in these United States. Numbers bore and sometimes numb people. I get that. But numbers don’t lie. I always take a number like 39 million food insecure and reduce it by a third or a half. It is still a really big number. 

I can probably never feel the pain of my fellow planet dwellers. But it sure has got me thinking. I hope it got you too. 

As always 

Ted The great 


Globally 3.9% of all children die before reaching the age of five, which means that on average 15,000 children die every day.

As a nation we spend $13,187 per student per annum

Florida $10k

NY $25k

AZ $8.7

In 2022, proficiency in math for eighth graders was 26.5%.Proficiency in reading in 8th grade was 32%

There were 44,000 firearm deaths in 2021. 24,000 suicides 20,000 homicides.   That’a lot of pain. 

A family threw a six figure birthday party for a one year old in Washington DC. Isn’t that painful ?

Members of Congress have their own healthcare and retirement system as opposed ot Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security

How much pain do you think they feel?

Sorry, if you did not feel any pain in my factoids