September 2008

Monthly Archive

Another Legend Gone

Posted by on 27 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: passages, Uncategorized

This time, it’s Paul Newman, an actor and a person I greatly admired. He really tried to live his values. People like him are rare… and seem more rare in the world of movie stars.

Google News Article

My heart is full for his family.

Out of Touch and Out of Time

Posted by on 24 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: economy, Gardens and Life, Politics and War, Uncategorized

The headline right now at CNN reads “Grim Bernanke Offers Grave Threats.”

The premise is, apparently, that unless the Federal Government gives money — with no strings attached — to the companies that caused this whole economic mess the economy will take a huge downturn.

Newsflash for Mr. Bernanke: The economy took a huge downturn a year ago and continues to slide as people are less and less able to purchase items, less able even to make payments on existing debt. We are, as a nation, stagnating, drowning under huge debt loads we cannot pay — debt we would not have incurred without predatory lenders… who were being encouraged by corporations to extend credit so that consumers would purchase things they would otherwise have waited for or never bought. This artificial prosperity allowed “investors” to take profits in advance of people actually paying for the products that were delivered. And, it drove up prices for many items for above their actual value because of temporarily increased demand.

Does it sound complicated? Think about this: 50 years ago, few people had credit cards of any kind. Purchases were made in cash — or on store accounts that were carefully monitored, and immediately frozen if a payment was late. People went into debt to buy a house, to purchase a car, to pay doctor bills – NOT to buy vacations and video games! Today, most people have credit cards, and many (more and more as the economy bleeds jobs) are juggling their accounts to try to keep current… meaning there is less actual cash flowing in to the economy because salaries and wages are pre-spent.

What is apparent is, the federal government and pundits don’t care about the real economy — the one average people deal with. They care about the economy of the rich people, the ones who hold investments and run the banks and other financial institutions.

And yet… their wealth depends on the hard work and prosperity of the actual workers.

Think about it.

Letter to the Editor (unpublished)

Posted by on 23 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: editorial, Uncategorized

This weekend, I wrote a letter to our community’s newspaper. They won’t publish anything unless they put the post office address address for the person, which can lead to unsolicited contacts from disturbed persons. Another stupid bureaucratic rule, administered by an automaton. We are somehow in the phone book — though our number was supposed to be unpublished, somehow it got in a few years back, and now all the phone book distributors seem to have it. So I refused to give permission — have I mentioned how much I HATE talking on the phone?

Hence, the letter being unpublished. Next time, I will just lie and give them a city that is further afield. Like New York or Boston.

Meantime, for your reading challenge (don’t forget to check your blood pressure), here is my contribution to the current discussion about government bailouts and predatory lending practices (I wrote this before I started to hear similar things from so-called pundits, by the way!).

The “plan” for mitigating the collapse of Wall Street is the equivalent of using bubble gum to seal gaping holes in a ship’s hull. We are not making the ship sound, just delaying its sinking — perhaps long enough for the first-class passengers to escape in the lifeboats.

In simplified form: We are experiencing financial chaos because people defaulted on mortgages backed by predatory lenders, and were offered unsecured debt far beyond their ability to pay. Where were the experts? Short-selling, buying up foreclosed properties, encouraging the government to rescind regulations designed after the Depression to avoid precisely this sort of scenario.

Banks gambled that housing prices would continue to increase. They forgot about cycles and downturns. They forgot that, with changes in bankruptcy laws, individuals were unlikely to have debt forgiven in order to pay their mortgages, and as more people defaulted on mortgages and walked away from unsecured debt there would be less money flowing through the economy.

I suggest the government step in and require a moratorium on foreclosures, while banning predatory practices in mortgages, credit cards and other loans. People with mortgages and other debt they can barely afford need a chance to renegotiate. This would keep people in homes and banks would still earn interest. There would be less need for bailouts at higher levels.

The tragedy of the Titanic was the loss of working-class people in steerage who lacked lifeboats and were trapped below decks. Do we really want a sequel?

It was good practice for me, being creative and concise within the 250 word limit allowed.

yes, I know it would be good practice for all my posts!

Stay tuned, I think I will publish editorials here more regularly.

Books I am Reading

Posted by on 22 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: book review, books, books and authors, Uncategorized

  • Many Children Left Behind

    Subtitled “How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and our Schools.”  by Deborah Meier et al.  This was published in 2004, but the comments by people from many aspects of the education world are still pretty current. If anything, they have more meaning as time has gone on. I will say that I was surprised at how many of my own comments and arguments they DON’T refute. And how few new ones they present… A sad prediction of the state of our children’s education. public library

  • Tongue Fu! at School

    Subtitled 30 Ways to Get Along Better with Teachers, Principals, Students, and Parents. This is aimed at teachers, but has advice for older students. by Sam Horn.  I like it. This is one that I would like to add to my own bookshelf. Mostly, it seems to reiterate the advice of many good coaches I have read… LISTEN to the person, consider their point of view, and give chances for them to clarify. This author also talks about “phrases to lose” and “phrases to use.”  For example instead of clarifying the statement “this child works really hard on assignments” with the modifier but then continuing with something that detracts from the positive beginning (but she doesn’t have the skills to do well), he suggests using and then continuing with suggestions for further improvement (and she would benefit from extra help in some areas).  This is not to put a false spin on things, rather it is intended to keep people engaged in the conversations so they leave with a sense of being able to do something rather than a sense of hopelessness or anger. public library

  • Including Students with Special Needs

    subtitled A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers. by Marilyn Friend and William D. Bursick. How practical this really is, I am not sure since I am not in a classroom trying to meet the needs of both average students, delayed students, gifted students and students with behavioral or other needs. I find it slow reading — so far I am about three chapters in after a month. I won’t finish it before my classes start, that is for sure. There is a lot of information in this book, which, though 6 years since the last revision date, is still fairly current. This book goes over definitions, how various federal laws impact service delivery, how funding affects what schools can offer their students… among other topics. There are some sections that deal with specific needs such as autism, or gifted/talented, or health issues. And there is a heavy emphasis on how a regular classroom teacher can make reasonable adaptations to curriculum and with classroom management to accomodate children’s needs. I also appreciate the discussions about how the classroom teacher can (and should) work with other professionals in the schools, as well as the clear reminder that a principal, a parent or a counselor cannot simply tell a teacher to do something without adequate support to and feedback from the teacher. This textbook, like so many today, has additional offerings online and includes website information along with other reference information. found for $4 at the local Goodwill store

  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

    by Julie Andrews Edwards. I am halfway through this book. It is, so far, a wonderfully fun, rollicking tale that would appeal to many children. I like that she used some pretty big words and new scientific ideas — especially for the time it was written about 25 years ago. The descriptions are vivid and fun. Still, it is decidedly a children’s fantasy book. Scholastic booksale ~~~I finished it that same night. It was sweet. A great bedtime story for kids! And tired mamas.

Today’s Headline

Posted by on 22 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: environment, Uncategorized, weather

“Fall Brings First Dusting Of Snow In Cascades”

Well, okay, not really a headline, a byline this afternoon. Still, here it is, the first day of autumn (after a late and short spring and short, intermittent summer), and already we have white stuff in some of the passes. Not a lot, dusting is the right word as it wouldn’t have caused even the most cautious driver to bat an eye…

But still. Will winter be early and long again?

I’ll keep you posted.

Garden Update

Posted by on 20 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: climate, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized, weather

It is raining. The plants are happy. Me? Not so. Finally felt well enough to garden, but no use stirring up mud. It compacts the soil too much.

Still, the fence is holding up well. Tom made one minor repair Thursday, and we have small squash forming already. There is a cuke ready to harvest, and probably some tomatoes… though they were not quite red a couple days ago and the sun hasn’t been out to ripen them much.

Blackberries are showing their age — when they are sweet and ripe and good, they are plump and slightly shiny. When they are a little past their prime but still yummy, they begin to dull a bit. Once they have started to shrink, however, they’re past their prime and all but unusable (not to mention less palatable).

There are still a few blueberries, and Tom’s mountain huckleberry bush is loaded with lovely fruit. It’s time to get the rest of the apples off the trees, and to start watching the pear trees. One of the Asian pear trees is pretty well done. Three never had a chance this year and after an average of four years in the ground are still whips (I will move them into the garden for next year so they can develop a bit more). The other, a large, russeted Asian pear, has three HUGE pears that look almost ready. The European pear is at least a couple weeks away from ripening.

Dahlias — the ones that finally emerged — are lovely, but not as exuberant as in years past. I think I will lift them all (that means, I will direct the menfolk to lift them for me) and store them in the wellhouse over the winter. Will need to put them in something the mice can’t get to. But I really want them to survive and then I can remake the beds and replenish the soil in the spring.

The ash trees around town are turning yellow now. The cedars have loads of small cones at the tips. The stores are full of chrysanthemums for sale.

The air is a bit crisp in the morning, a touch of woodsmoke in the evening, and the sun shines in the afternoon at the lower angle that diffuses the light.

Autumn starts this weekend.

We are ready.

Trying something new

Posted by on 13 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Green Living, Uncategorized

This is an idea that some friends use in their garden. They stick rebar in the ground, then put electrical conduit over that. Zip-tie bird netting to the “posts” and it’s too scary for the deer.  Never mind that a sneeze can break the netting…  They touch it with their noses and won’t try to jump.

Tying flagging to the bird netting

Here I am, tying flagging to the bird netting

The conduit is ten feet tall, placed approximately at ten foot intervals.  We got four-foot rebar, 3/8″ diameter, two feet driven into the ground. We used metal conduit as it seemed it would be sturdier. And we can use it again later for other things.

I tied pink flagging tape at intervals as a way to show there is something there, and we are going to put twine along the top and bottom edges to strengthen the netting.  This is a temporary fix, of course, but with a little bit of luck it will get us through the autumn and into the new year.  At the very  worst, we can mend or replace the netting as needed until we have the resources to build the sturdier fence.

The kid helps

With luck, the weather will be nice enough for another 6 weeks to give me a few small pumpkin before All Hallows’ Eve.

Broken First Page

Posted by on 12 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I don’t know why the main page of this site dropped one of the sidebars — something I did in the last post (goal organiser) I assume! I will try to fix it when I have the time.

Goal Organiser

Posted by on 12 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: crosspost, education, Gardens and Life, Green Living, housework, Interesting Websites, review, Uncategorized

I am putting the pictures in as thumbnails and in gallery form — click on the small pics to get the full-size views! Use your browser’s back button to come back.

An acquaintance of mine (Kate Hudson – not the actress) developed this really cool program to help organize goals — with the ability to put specific goals into multiple categories (as when the classes I am taking are moving me toward both personal enrichment and fulfilling requirements for a Master’s in Teaching and eventual employment…).  Each goal can be assigned as many steps as necessary.  So my goal of getting a job as a teacher has the steps:  get a master’s in teaching (which also is listed as a goal with its own set of steps), get additional endorsements, and volunteer in the areas I am interested in.

I actually signed up for this last spring, but didn’t have much that I was doing (or able to do) to work toward it.  But the program faithfully sends a little reminder… “you haven’t updated” to my email periodically.  And today I decided to do something about the reminder!  You can see in the screen shots that in addition to the ubiquitous “sort through boxes” steps I have now added some specific education-related goals.  I will be playing with this more intensely over the next few days, weeks and months as I work actively toward my top goal.

Basically, it lets me choose when I have finished something (and if it will recur when that should happen, or if it’s truly done).  I can add, rename, delete and change things as I need.  I can specify WHERE something takes place!  And, if I don’t use it within a week, it will send me a reminder until I at least look at it.  As a champion procrastinator (what, you hadn’t noticed?) I need this small nagging sometimes, especially when I have gotten myself into a few more things than I really need.

Now, I have always been a list maker, this just makes it handy from any computer, even if I am away from home.  I don’t have to carry around yet another “thing” along with schoolbooks and the laptop.  So it will work in conjunction with the Google calendars and the “Joe’s Goals” that I link to from the Cool Things page and use to track daily activities.

Goal Organiser is using Google Ads to generate some income.  But the placement is inconspicuous and they are not jarring (or moving, or flashing, or…) so it doesn’t bother me.  I like the colors chosen for this app — calm, professional but not depressing.    And I am looking forward to future updates.  Will we be able to purchase this tool and use it without ads?  Or select our own color palette?  Choose fonts?  Add links to websites that will help us meet our goals? The ability to prioritize the goals?

Kate has a lot of talent.  I think we can expect great things from her in the future!

Kids on Parade

Posted by on 09 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: children, Uncategorized

Well, sort of.  The high school band plays for football games.  The first game of the year was Friday, no uniforms yet…

the trumpet kid in line for the game

the trumpet kid in line for the game

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