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February 2011

January 2011 entries

State of the Union Address: Reactions in Real Time

I'm listening to the State of the Union are my comments in "real time", a la "stream of consciousness" . . .

* OK, if you want us to be at the forefront of innovation and if you want us to be teaching our kids to THINK, then we need to get rid of standardized testing that forces our kids into cookie cutter moulds of conformity.

* Hear, hear.  I"m liking the idea of cutting our dependency on biofuels.  And I'd love to see 80% of our energy to come from clean energy sources. 

* "We need to win the race to educate our kids."  

* AMEN!! Turn off the TV, parents!  "It's not just the winner of the Super Bowl that deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair."

* "It's time to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for the bad ones." 

* In other countries (lost the name -- it went too fast), teachers are known as "Nation Builders" -- "it is time that we treat our teachers with the same respect." 

* Of course our infrastructure is ridiculously underfunded -- we spend too much on the military and on pet projects of legistators.

* 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail!!!  Beautiful!!  (and even an airport security joke tossed in...)

* "It can be done."  In general, I'm so happy to hear a positive, enthusiastic, and idealistic speech.  We might not accomplish all that Obama is outlining -- but darn it, it is all POSSIBLE, if we really do work together and be the American family that he is talking about.  As he said in the recent memorial address in Tuscon, "The forces that unite us are stronger than the forces that divide us."

* Brain cancer patient = pathos!

* Here comes the logos -- "Every day families make sacrifices to live within their means.  They deserve a government that does the same."

* Freeze annual domestic spending for the next 5 years...proposing spending cuts -- Amen to the ones for military spending...eliminate what we can honestly do without...but not on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. 

* What?? Millionaires giving up their tax breaks?  gasp!  :)

* Simplify individual tax code -- sounds like a great idea!  Let's do it.

* "We can't win and do business in the future with a government of the past."

* Salmon = funny.

* "America's moral example must always shine" for those who thirst for dignity...lost the rest.  Like the sentiment, though.  (need to get full text tomorrow.  will cut and paste parts for my students to analyze.  love it.)

* Bringing our troops home in July.  Yay!

* "No one can be prevented from serving the country they love because of who they love." 

* "This is a place where you can make it if you try."  The American Dream -- a solid appeal to pathos and pride -- gets 'em every time!  :)

* Brandon rocks. 34 days of rescuing Chilean miners because he was able to "think outside the box" and went home before the miners came out because he didn't want to be in the spotlight.

* "We do big things.  The idea of America endures.  Our destiny remains our choice." 

God Bless America!

CTL Celebrates Love and Laughter

I am currently in rehearsals for Community Theatre League Celebrates Love and Laughter.  Shows will be held February 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are on sale now!  (  It's been fun -- and the music is great.  Come on out and see the show!

From the CTL website:


Hear some of CTL’s star performers recreate a charming mix of classic and contemporary comedy and love songs.  Songs from Spamalot, Kiss Me Kate, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Rent, Avenue Q, Hairspray, and more!

Denise Connor
Tess Bower Gist
Tom Degan
Robert Hickey
Marisa Hickey
Steve Lindenmuth
Melissa Mabus
Tess Marshall
Zane Wagner
Directed by Jacquie Engel
Sponsored by 21st Century Signs



The Man Who Had a Dream

On the way home from school on Thursday, Aidan asked me, "Mom.  Did you know that they once shot a man just because he had a dream?"

I explained to Aidan the sad fact that once, people didn't like each other simply because of the color of their skin.  Of course, I'm not so naive as to think that racism doesn't exist today, but it was heartwarming to see Aidan's reaction -- he was downright appalled: "I have a brown friend, Mom.  I don't even think about what color his skin is.  We just play." 

[Editor's Note:  Aidan doesn't like the terms "White" and "Black" because they don't align with his impeccable standards of accuracy:  "Mom, my skin isn't white like a piece of paper.  We're more like light brown, I think.  And President Obama isn't black, he's brown!]

In his friend Katie's kindergarten class, the teacher did a really cool segregation lesson -- he put stamps on the hands of half the kids.  Then, solely because they had stamps on their hands, they weren't allowed to play with a certain set of toys that the rest of the class was playing with.  They had to sit at their desks with their heads down.  I asked her how that made her feel, and she said, "Really bad."  What a powerful lesson about judging people based on superficial characteristics that are out of their control!

And I think that Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed at age 39 and would be 82 years old today, would be pleased that the next generation of Americans is learning such peaceful and tolerant qualities.  The Reverend writes about having to explain the injustice of segregation to his own children in his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" -- he says that he had to tell his daughter that he was sorry, but "Funtown" is closed to colored children, and throughout their daily lives, they'd have to swallow the bitter pill of senseless prejudice.   I know that I cannot relate to such a sad reality -- for my kids, every door is open, everything is possible, everyone is equal.  The trick, of course, is to keep our kids this open-minded and accepting of other people as they grow older. 

But, for today, they are wonderfully accepting and loving people who just want to stay in their jammies and play Super Mario Galaxy for the national holiday.  And that's OK, too. 

My Mom Rocks

There are lots of reasons that I love my mom.  She's 4 foot, 11 AND A HALF inches tall, she's had an incredible range of experiences in her life, and she's been my #1 fan for as long as I can remember.  And my mom has a spirit of adventure -- whether she was shakin' her groove thang on American Bandstand in Philly as a kid or riding and caring for racehorses as a young woman.  Lately, it's been a love affair with my Dad, of course, and some four-wheelers that they ride off into the sunset of various state parks across Pennsylvania.  Mom has also gotten a bit "crafty" -- a few years ago, around the time that Aidan was born, she took up knitting.  Sure, she used a sweater machine to do the basic panels, and her first sweater for Aidan had one gargantuan arm and one lilliputian arm, but hey!  She tried. 

Her latest sewing hobby is quilting.  She made a gorgeous crib blanket for Liam's baptism (and my sister and aunt and I were rattling off our bed sizes for her next projects after seeing it . . . Mom, if you are reading this, we have a King size bed and a lot of patience).  This Christmas, she gave my sister and me:

Seriously.  My mom rocks.  I'm not going to tell you how old she is, but I will say that she was 33 when she had me.  :)  I think it's really cool that she is taking on new projects and succeeding at new skills.  Too many people get into the mindset that learning stops at a certain age, and my mom is proof that we never stop learning!