Each day I wake up and scour social media. I’m despised by all — as eventually I poke at one of your posts or comments. I’m the classic Devil’s Advocate. Some consider me a Renaissance Man.
My dear, wonderful high school friend, Carol Phoenix (née Murphy), Valedictorian of our class, and I recently reconnected after we suffered the loss of a mutual friend.
Carol was straight A with the highest of honors. I was class Salutatorian. I received a B my first semester in 9th grade Algebra, ironically math was my best subject. I had an 89.7 average. I challenged my teacher at the time, “Hey, it rounds to 90, which is an A.” He laughed, “I want to make you work harder. You have a lot of potential.”
That was my only non-A grade. I was honored to be second to Carol. She was amazing and has been awesome all her life. I’ve always been a Mr. Spock, Science Officer, and second in command to the captain. How fitting!
She wrote after I caught her up on my life:
This is an abbreviated account of my reflections. It is a heavy burden to live out of step with time. I was raised to revere the “Renaissance Man” who strove to be the elite in all things — the polymath who was the athlete, the student, the intellect and the artist. Our culture may not reward this ideal but it has remained my ideal. This is the ideal that I see in you. You are a renaissance man and maintain a high ideal for yourself and others.
Her words touched my soul and brought tears to my eyes. I remember fondly our time challenging each other in our classes and laughing at lunch with our good friend, Curtis Austin.
We graduated from Highland High School. We were the Rams — Right Attitude Means Success. It was a simpler time. I’m not sure what caused our society to lose its collective mind.
Another friend from high school posted on social media. He wants to point out “The Problem With Our Food Supply.”
Millions of Americans struggle financially today. Obesity is at epidemic proportions. Heart disease from too many greasy foods. Too much sugar from sodas, juices and carbonated beverages. Michael points out a common complaint. Why do unhealthy fries cost so much more than a healthy alternative?
I answered on social media: Fries are a dollar because they are mass produced and frozen. They can be stored for something like a million years. The fruit is perishable — only last a couple days. Yet Michael missed the real point. The plastic container drives the higher cost. It also ends up in a landfill or ocean — and definitely lasts something like a million years.
The container of plastic is made from oil. To get oil, we have needed to suffer many wars around the world. This means we must have over-inflated military and defense budgets, which leads to spending more on guns and bullets than on our collapsing middle class and schools.
Our insatiable demand for oil now requires the use of technologies such as fracking. We insert water or liquified chemicals into the ground, which can cause earthquakes, pollute lakes and streams, or create fires or other disasters.
Gotta have oil; gotta have plastic; gotta have this fancy plastic container so we can have a healthy alternative to greasy french fries. Absolutely!!! Gotta have it!
I broke down the micro-economics of the comparison for Michael. The higher price isn’t due to the fruit. Primary cost is the container. Gotta factor in the cost of all the wars!
As you may be able to tell, I cut off my response. Wanted you to think about the numbers for a second. This was a second part to my comment:
SOLUTION — as we did as kids: Orange: $0.89.
How stupid are Consumers today? And, the ORANGE comes with it’s own container. As the container isn’t plastic, it is biodegradable.
Again, how stupid are consumers today?
Carol, Curtis and Scott … top in our class. I believe we ate a lot of oranges. I still do.
It’s not that hard to extend your consumer budget. It’s not that hard to protect our environment and care for our personal health. For me, the only thing hard was earning that Damn A in Mr. Thompson’s first semester Algebra class.
Love you, Carol and Curtis. Thank you eternally for all the fond memories.
Your Renaissance Man
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