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Friday, June 30, 2006

Why can't we all take a long weekend off?

Is anyone working today? I am. Bummer. Many people I know are taking part of today and Monday off -- officially and unofficially. That adds up to a four-day weekend. Must be nice.
So I propose: On holidays that fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, can't we all agree to take a second day off? Kind of like the Thanksgiving holiday, when Friday is used to digest the previous day's feast.
It's not like people forced to stay behind in offices are actually doing real work. We're only pretending we are.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Community service: another homework assignment?

Every once in a while I have a conversation with my kids that truly worries me. The last one was about community service. It seems one of my sons -- along with all of his friends and probably most other high schoolers -- look at community service as one of those things they have to complete to graduate from high school. Another homework assignment, in other words.
That's not what this is about, I tell him. Community service is about finding something you feel passionate about, and helping to discover a solution. It's not about earning hours or marking time so it "looks good" on some college resume.
Am I being naive about this school requirement?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Old Glory, free speech and high school civics

Just in time for the Fourth of July the Senate narrowly defeated -- by one vote -- a bill that would make the desecration of the flag a crime. Thank heavens cooler head prevailed. It's pathetic that some senators, angling for success in mid-term elections, want to curtail one of the great red-white-and-blue freedoms of this country: free speech.
I suppose they've forgotten their high school civics lessons. Remember: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Powering up is the new status symbol

Have a little cash lying around? Well, those in the know are investing it in generators. A story about how South Florida's well-heeled are buying mega-generators is so...well, so Miami. C'mon, where else would those noisy contraptions make such a statement?
Honestly, I don't think you have to be rich to buy one of those biggies. A couple I know who live in a pretty regular home in a pretty regular neighborhood bought a generator to power their entire house a few months ago. They were without electricity for almost a week after Wilma and couldn't stand the heat, not to mention the noise from everybody else's generators.
We don't have one of those mega-g, but we do have two smaller ones, an old and a new. My husband takes care of them as if they were the family pets. He's even got some elaborate system to store gas and keep us safe. No one wants to rough it anymore, I guess.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Is it hot in here?

Scientists are confirming what so many of us long-time Floridians have long suspected. It's getting hotter by the year. Global warming isn't something you notice immediately, of course. But most of us can figure out gradual changes over time. Human activity has much to blame for higher temperatures, so they're recommending we become more energy efficient.
Sounds great -- until I have to turn off the air conditioning?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Get me some caffeine

For those of us who stayed up late watching the Miami Heat championship game, today is going to be a lo-o-o-ng day. Few in the Magic City got enough sleep, and I bet there are plenty of people absent from work today. There were firecrackers and honking horns way past 1 a.m. in my neighborhood. I know I'll need lots of cafe this afternoon.
But hey, wasn't Wade something?!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The more the merrier

Celebrities set the fashion for the rest of us. Their choice of clothes, hairdos, cars and colors, eventually trickle down to the masses. In this time and age, they've become the arbiters of style. It would be great if the good things they do also become popular.
Angelina Jolie says she wants to adopt another child. She already has three, two adopted and one biological. Considering all the kids hungry for families, this is one celebrity habit the rest of us should imitate more readily.
It's certainly better than having a child without marrying the father, Brad Pitt.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The REAL price of vacation

When is a vacation not a vacation?
I ask myself that question every time I'm gone from home for a few days and leave the children behind. Last week I attended the National Association of Hispanic Journalists up the road in Fort Lauderdale. My husband came along. When I returned, I had to spend a couple of hours getting the house back to snuff. It wasn't entirely a mess, but my children's version of "clean" and my version are as different as zebra stripes and giraffe spots.
I've long mantained that there's a price to pay when a mother goes away -- and it's usually when she comes back to piled laundry, half-cleaned dishes and countless empty containers of take out food.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Political pandering and other stupid educational ideas

Leave it up to our local school board to teach an invaluable lesson -- that is, how to make stupid educational decisions. It's an embarrassment these people are in office.
I'm referring to the story in today's paper about the board banning a book on Cuba as well as several others in the series. Instead of using the material as a springboard for discussion, the majority of the members did what they thought would play favorably in their districts.
Shame on them! Book banning is what despots like Fidel Castro do.
Sad part is, we taxpayers will have to foot the bill for this decision. The ACLU vowed to sue, as it should, and the school board attorney repeatedly warned his bosses the futile defense of such an action would be "costly."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mammary glands in Miami Beach

As a veteran mother of five (my youngest is 13, my three older ones in their 20s), I read the story on breastfeeding with both amusement and skepticism. It's hard for me to believe that a young mother got kicked out of Starbucks in -- of all places -- Miami Beach, a city where people go around topless. Not that it didn't happen, of course. After all, there are plenty of stupid store managers.
Yet, something in the story doesn't ring right. The breastfeeding mom changed her kid's diaper in the restaurant?! That's gross. She should've done it in the bathroom.
Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is a beautiful, selfless, healthy act that is the most natural thing in the world. Do people stare? Sure -- but it never bothered me. I breastfed all my children at a time when there was no Florida law "guaranteeing" the right to do so in public. I suppose I was lucky I never got booted out of restaurants, hotel lobbies, airports etc.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dozing off at work

Most of South Florida will need a nap today after staying up late for the NBA finals. Sad part is that because the Heat lost, there's no extra adrenaline to push us through the day. We've just got to fumble around and pretend we're working when our "awake" moments are actually being spent discussing why our pro basketball players can't make free throws.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

First comes love, then comes...

...well, not marriage -- at least not for the rich and famous. I'm writing, of course, about Angelina and Brad and their brood. The latest is a story denying rumors that the two will wed. They said something about being really committed to the children and blah blah blah, but no wedding bells for the superstars.
Gee, I thought that's what people did when they were in the family way, especially if the guy stuck around for Baby. Stability and all that old-fashioned stuff.
I suppose we need to rewrite the lyrics to that childhood song. First comes lust, then comes baby, and then...(fill in the blank.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What about the women who aren't CEOs?

There's good news for the Florida women who make it to the top, as colleague Cindy Goodman's story about an FIU survey recounts. Husbands of these highly successful women help around the house and with the kids, and they also choose flexible schedules with their own jobs.
That's all good and dandy, but don't you wonder if the underlings have the same kind of situation at home? Most working women I know still do the bulk of the chores and child-rearing, no matter their achievements in the office. Sure, more husbands are sharing the load, but it's still not 50-50.
And no matter how you paint the picture, it's exhaustingly difficult to work eight or nine hours (at least) in the office and then come home to wage the normal battles of raising a family. CEO's and professional women can afford nannies, housekeepers and cleaning ladies. But what about those who aren't CEOs?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Time to bring out the lucky charm?

So the calendar has flipped to this unlucky day -- the mark of the beast, 6/6/06.
I thought of calling in sick, but I think my boss wouldn't take kindly to it. I'll wear my lucky charm or something. Truth is,I think this whole triple-six bit is something the media cooks up during the slow summer news days. The rest of us idiots just buy into it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A tropical gamble: flying naked

Over the weekend the conversation at a get-together turned to a favorite South Florida subject: the hurricane season. I was surprised to hear a couple of long-time homeowners say they had finished paying their mortgages and were "flying naked" -- that is, they weren't buying any windstorm insurance for their homes. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to a company, they were putting that same amount in a savings account and taking their chances. Everyone thought this was a good idea, considering that the most recent damage from Katrina, Rita and Wilma was not enough to meet the steep deductible in our policies.
Most of us, of course, have a mortgage and the mortgage holder requires homeowners' insurance. We don't have a choice.
Another suggestion by those gathered: Forcing insurance companies to sell windstorm policies if they expect to sell any other kind of insurance in the state.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Thank God for Spellcheck

After so many years of writing and Catholic schools, I'm a pretty good speller. Still, I can't pretend to hold a candle to the spelling bee wizards that went on to compete nationally. I've never even heard many of the words they had to spell out.
Best thing about the Spelling Bee is that it's finally getting some attention. For years I've emceed the local bee sponsored by my employer, The Miami Herald. Except for a story in the paper, it rarely got any attention elsewhere. Over the years, however, as one bestseller featured a bee contestant as its heroine and a couple of bee movies were made, s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g has become hot.
It's about time the brainiacs got as much attention as the jocks.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

When the winds blow

I've got a new roof, two generators, a pantry full of canned food and a closet with plenty of C batteries. But I'm still not mentally ready for hurricane season. Though I feel like a veteran of the winds -- I survived Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Wilma with some damage -- I hate the fact that I have to invest so much time before and after each storm. You know the drill: Bring in the patio furniture. Put up the shutters. Haul in the plants.
The worst part is that we haven't finished our repairs from last season. Not to mention that the landscape is only now beginning to recover.
And they call this paradise.