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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's really scary about Halloween

For the first time in my life, I will not be trick or treating. My youngest -- my candy buddy -- has a party, and so I have no one to go out with, no one to ring doorbells with me.
I've always had someone to trick or treat with -- younger siblings, then my own children. Now, nada. No grandchildren yet,which is fine with me. Still...still...
This is so strange! This makes me feel so old!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Exxon, Chevron, FPL -- is there a pattern?

Despite my family's heroic efforts, our electric bill keeps inching up -- even as we use fewer kilowatts per hour. The explanation: The cost of fuel has skyrocketed.
Yeah, right.
Now a story about FPL's whopping 50-plus percent increase in profits makes me wonder about that excuse. If costs are increasing, wouldn't profits suffer? Or, are we bearing all the burden while a few make lots and lots of money?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Educating the rats in our midst

An elementary school in Little River in North Dade is so full of rats that the rodents cruise the hallways brazenly. Sick, sick, sick. This is beyond unacceptable. Where is Dr. Rudy Crew and his captains on this?
I'd bet a chunk of change that this would never happen at Pinecrest Elementary or at Palmetto or Krop High.
Maybe the No Child Left Behind has been altered to include No Rats Left Behind.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The housing market has lost its roof (and walls)

Surprise, surprise -- the housing market has swooned. It really shouldn't shock anybody because plenty of experts warned that this would happen. I do wonder, though, how all those people with zero-down mortgages and similar products and investors who were speculating on property -- particularly on condos -- will survive. I remember going to dinner parties a couple of years ago when the talk was all about real estate. It reminded me of the stock market bubble, when everybody -- everybody except me, that is -- was making a killing trading Sun Microsystems and Intel.
When the talk turned to housing, once again I felt left out. I've lived in the same place for a while and I don't have money just lying around to gamble. Well, sometimes it's better to just sit it out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just in time for Halloween...

...the weather is turning wonderful. I love the first cold (cool?) snap because it brings so much promise of relief from the insufferable heat. I wish Miami had this weather year-round, with maybe one real hot month -- say, July, -- before school starts.
I've lived here most of my life and remember a time when most houses didn't have air conditioning. In fact, I remember when my parents bought a room air conditioner unit and what a big event that was. Now, even with sometimes frosty indoor temperatures, it seems hotter than ever and summer temperatures appear to last longer into the fall than 20 -30 years ago.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sanitizing childhood -- schools ban the game of tag

If you doubt that we've become a suit-happy society, read this story about a Massachusetts school district banning the game of tag in playgrounds. Administrators fear kids will get hurt during the game and, as a consequence, their parents will sue.
Is this sad or what?
Children are supposed to fall and skin their knees and cry over boo-boos. We'll be raising a generation of coddled, privileged nincompoops.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's not the kids; it's the adults

My youngest son plays in a travel league baseball team. Last night his team played against one that we had faced before and made a miraculous comeback in the 6th inning, winning 10-8. One of the adults from the other team -- an older man -- began ranting, cursing and otherwise being an idiot as soon as my son's team took the lead. After the game, he kept berating the umpires, two guys who make a pittance per game. The kids all watched.
And we call him a grownup...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

With children, can you afford charity?

This is an incredible story about an incredible Coral Gables woman who lived frugally, married well and invested her money. She left more than $35 million to local charities. That's pretty amazing.
Yet, as I was reading the piece, I kept wondering if she had any children. Well, she doesn't. Which explains her ability to squirrel away so much money.
That's not to say she wasn't wonderfully generous. But children -- and I know this from personal experience -- would have taken a pretty big bite our of her normal living expenses. Clothes, pediatrician, orthodontist, lessons, college, all this and more adds up, according to my best estimates, to several hundred thousand dollars. Those bucks, invested over time, could add up to a fortune.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Big Brother is watching

We take our privacy for granted, but here's a story about how that wonderful thing called technology is making my life -- your life, too -- an open book. Like many people I know, I have several loyal customer cards. I'm getting cash back, mileage back and funds for college, but it sounds like the merchants are getting much more than money in return. They're getting vital information about where I go, what I do, how I shop, when I'm reading, etc. etc.
It's scary.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Catastrophe coming -- nowhere to hide

Okay, so if we have a major catastrophe headed our way, most of us would be sitting ducks. A just released study gives the South Florida area a big fat F for our evacuation prowess. That's not very comforting, especially since I thought that we were supposed to have a well-rehearsed plan in case of hurricanes. Part of the problem, of course, is that we're hemmed in by the ocean on one side and the Everglades on the other.
Given our geographic limitations, what are we supposed to do? Build more roads out? Build better houses or storm/bomb shelters of some kind? Or maybe just move to some podunk town in the midwest where nothing happens and fewer people are fleeing disaster?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In support of underpaid teachers

In case you didn't know: Public school teachers are demonstrating today. They don't have a contract (and consequently no raise). Most parents don't know this but will when they drop off their kids. Teachers I know constantly tell me they love kids but can't afford to continue in the profession. Yet, while they haven't gotten a raise -- zero, zip, nada -- in a while, plenty of the muckety mucks who are acolytes of Rudy Crew have gotten hefty raises, as much as 9 percent!
The morale in the classroom is atrocious, and we wonder why there is such a shortage of teachers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Runaway Bride Redux: Trouble is back

Remember the Runaway Bride? A few days before her wedding, she disappeared, sending police chasing all kinds of lead. Then she called her fiancee to say she had been abducted, but it was all a hoax. She apparently had gotten cold feet.
Not surprisingly the couple eventually broke up. Now she's back in the news suing her ex-fiancee, wanting half of the money they had earned in a publicity deal. My advice to the Mr. Runaway Bride? Give her the money and run. Run very fast. This woman is trouble.
And while on the subject, what kind of society are we that this woman makes money after sending the police on a wild goose chase?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cuban-Americans and The Miami Herald

As a Cuban-American and a journalist (proud to be both, too), it's very upsetting to witness the on-going fight between the two communities. Though disputes go back a long time, at least since I've been a reporter, the latest involve comments by the editor of my paper, Tom Fiedler, who is now being accused of being a racist. I've known Tom for more than 25 years, and he is an honest, just, compassionate man who cares deeply about everyone in the community. I've worked with him in various instances and, in fact, he was my first editor on the metro desk, when I was green and eager and when there were fewer than a handful of Cuban-Americans in the newsroom. You learn to know a person through the thick and thin of covering news, especially controversial events.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

As the world turns, according to Anna Nicole

If you're interested in the sordid twists and turns of celebrity life, read the latest installment in soon-to-be-very rich Anna Nicole Smith's ordeal. Now two men -- her ex boyfriend and her current boyfriend, who happens to be her lawyer -- claim they are the father of her baby girl.
Most of the time, we hear about men running the other way to avoid paternity suits. In this case, it's quite the opposite. Could it be the money?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rep. Foley's confession

As soon as the news about Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate email and IM messages made it on the news, I turned to my husband and predicted that somewhere, sometime the fallen lawmaker would confess he had been molested as a child. Days later it happened -- to no one's surprise, I suspect.
I don't mean to belittle what can obviously be horrible memories, but it seems that we hear these confessions so often now that we've become inured to the claims. Maybe the question now is: Who in public life has NOT been molested?