151 Band

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Teacher Pay? Problem Solved

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."  The theory of Occam's Razor applies here in the great state of Oklahoma where teacher pay is concerned.  Yes, it is a fact that our teachers are morbidly underpaid and deserve more than what they are getting in terms of compensation as well as respect.  This being the case, I believe that our indifferent legislature has an answer right at the fingertips but are frightened to touch it.

The bottom line:  Our administrative costs are too high in public education.  It's time to reduce the number of school superintendents and consolidate their respective district administrative functions.  Seriously...why does Oklahoma City need like 6 of them?  The answer is that it's not necessary.  And no, I'm not talking about consolidating schools so the rural districts can ease up on the panic that somehow their schools will lose their identity.  That kind of thinking reminds me of the Dillon Panthers from Friday Night Lights.  It's ridiculous and the time is now for real, demonstrative change in how we educate our kids and how we pay for said education.

Anyone who tells you that we can't consolidate administrative functions is flat-out lying or they have kissed a final farewell to their minds.  

Courage.  It requires courage to lead and it requires courage to do the right thing by our students.  Enough is enough.  Teachers don't need to go on strike; they need the legislature to do right by them and develop some testicular fortitude.  

Of course, that's just my opinion and I could be wrong.   But I seriously doubt it.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Mayor, New Outlook

First, congratulations to former State Senator David Holt for his victory yesterday.  He is a young face who claims to have new ideas but also wants to ensure that the projects for the city that Mayor Mick started are seen through to fruition.  Basically, that means for the first couple years, he's going to be another Chamber lap dog.  But right now, there is a legitimate argument that it may not be a bad thing.  Sure, we are missing out on a lot of concerts to Tulsa because of the supposed "Thunder game conflict," but Holt may be the cat to change that.  He won with a significant percentage of the one (79%) and that is, to me, a mandate.  He has a lot of work ahead of him and while we all wish him the best, we'll still be watching.

While at the hospital yesterday going through the initial screening process for transplant eligibility, I had an interested political conversation with someone who was genuinely concerned for the immediate future of the country with a guy like Donald Trump as our POTUS.  I listened intently as I found myself agreeing with her on many levels.  First, I agree that the pro-Trump movement was just as much an anti-Hillary movement.  People in this country were terrified of what Hillary could have brought to the table and the Benghazi disaster still looms large in the minds of veterans and those who are currently serving in the armed forces.  Second, Hillary came off as shrill and cunning whereas Trump just comes across as arrogant and not intelligent enough to truly be cunning.  Lastly, the fear of Trump's ego is becoming a reality whether we want to believe it to be so or not.  He's a loose cannon and has pushed the envelope where international diplomacy is concerned.  He needs lessons on being a statesman, not a blowhard.

I began the process of transplant eligibility yesterday and while the meetings were long and informative, I felt a bit overwhelmed.  I'm not jumping the proverbial shark here, but I consider it to be a huge blessing to even be considered for transplant.  It's a long and strikingly action-packed process.  Liver transplants are particularly weird because you only have one and if your liver fails, everything shuts down.  The counselors at Baptist were kind, caring, and I am in good hands with them and with my wife as my primary caregiver.  It's going to be a long process, as I have said, and it could take weeks or even months to get on the list and with the amount of testing that is still left to be done, it's very possible I could be disqualified from the list.  One never knows, but I suppose this is where faith comes in handy.

I'll keep you posted.

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How It Started

I sat in the emergency room wearing one of those wickedly uncomfortable and highly exposing gowns as the room spun around me.  The causal factor for my visit was a bout of throwing up blood and lightheadedness.  I had no clue what was wrong, but I knew that blood is supposed to be inside the body, not outside the body.  What I was told next terrified me and made me almost pass out.

Either that, or the morphine for pain was taking over.

The doctor was a short man, his accent making his dialog difficult to understand but a few words stood out to me and caused me to break out in tears.

"You have about three years left, Mr. Black," he said.  This was in 2012.

I had been diagnosed with fatty liver disease that had developed into cirrhosis.  Ironically, it was a result of diabetes and not alcohol consumption but devastating news nonetheless.  From that point forward, my life was different in just about every way.  

I changed my diet, changed much of my lifestyle, and did everything that the doctors told me to and now, I've outlived that emergency room doctors prediction.  So, there.  It's been a hell of a ride and I never imagined for a moment that I would be dealing with issues such as chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues on a daily basis.  It took months, but the result was that a balance was struck between medications and dietary changes.  Hell, I even eat turkey burgers now.  

I was informed last week that the process could begin to get me on the national transplant list but that process is long and tedious.  I'm plenty healthy right now and pretty doggone functional most of the time.  I have good days and I have bad days, but overall, every day is looked at as a gift; a moment of grace extended to me by the Creator to let me hang around with you folks for another day.

I have my wife to thank for her immeasurable patience and as this process continues, a year from now, I may have a new liver and for that, I'm pretty tickled but scared at the same time.  She's been there to reassure me and lift me up when I am emotionally drained.  I also have to thank my bandmates for their support too.  There have been rehearsals after procedures where I had to sit the whole time and just take it easy and they are completely understanding.  I have some of the best friends a man could ever get and I feel very undeserving at times.  Nevertheless, I'm thankful.  

I have plenty of time left so don't freak out; I just wanted to share a little bit of what I'm going through and maybe y'all are feeling it too or no someone struggling as well.  It's not over, the fight rages on and we've completely got this.  I'm even blessed with the energy to perform with my band on weekends and entertain some wonderful people.  Life may be painful at times, but it is very, very good.

Now, you're caught up to speed and you know how it began.  I'll probably share more as it progresses so you can see the difficulty accompanying the whole transplant process.  It's going to be a fun trip.  Buckle up!

Ron "Gorilla" Black

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Crazy Week Ahead

This is going to be a hectic, yet fun week ahead.  Doctors appointments, production of a new edition of Gorilla Bytes Podcast, and a wicked gig on Friday at CeeGee's in Edmond with my band (151 Band).  It's crazy, but like most of us, I recognize the blessing that it is.

This week, we'll be facing the ramifications of the government "shut down," and frankly, many aren't going to like my opinion in the matter.  First, I don't think it's the Democrats who are to blame completely, nor do I believe that it is the President's fault.  Both parties are proving that there is a leadership vacuum of Biblical proportions.  Second, it proves that career politicians who are entrenched in the process of bureaucracy need to be sent home this November.  Lastly, I plan on talking about this in depth on this week's podcast.  It's a mess no matter how you look at it.

What do you think is going to happen in the State Legislature in Oklahoma this year?  Already, we've seen some silliness in bills being filed like the one by Nathan Dahm declaring that all wildlife is the property of God.  Yes, you read that right.  We need legislation, apparently, on what most of us knew in Sunday school class by the time we were 5 years old, but Senator Dahm who claims to be a freedom legislator, is trying to pull off a nanny state theocracy coup with this rhetoric.  How about Dahm take some time and do some good for the state of Oklahoma - including taking care of the "least among us."  Certainly, there will be more self-righteous pandering going on and don't be surprised if you don't see Pastor Paul Blair running for office again but in another district than where he ran before.  He's hungry and wants to be a legislator because apparently, being a pastor is boring.

I'll be talking more about the gubernatorial race on this week's podcast and I'll take a look at the Democrats who are running; though it's more of an exercise in ego-building because this red state won't be electing a Democrat for Governor anytime soon.

Of course, these are just my opinions and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

Ron "Gorilla" Black