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Friday, December 22, 2006

Stay tuned until next year...

I'm going off for two weeks to enjoy some down time and fun times with my family. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a bright, bright New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is why we live in South Florida

Surprise, surprise. Snowstorms in Colorado have left thousands stranded. News footage shows people bundled up to look like the Michelin man. Better them than us, huh?
Today, readying myself for a day of writing, I've donned shorts, sleeveless shirt and flip flops. Windows in the house are open. I love this time of year for precisely this reason.
A friend of mine, who is orginally from Michigan, sends daily weather updates to her relatives and friends up north. Her Christmas card has her, her husband and three kids frolicking in the beach, with the date stamped on it. She likes to rub it in.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Miss USA recrowned

Donald Trump, he of the funny hair, proved himself a compassionate man when he gave Miss USA a second chance. Instead of firing her (as everyone thought he would), Trump told the 21-year-old from Kentucky that she could keep the tiara but had to enter rehab and clean up her act. Apparently young Tara had been partying hearty and breaking the moral code of the pageant.
This young woman's fall from grace and her redemption may be the best story to come out of the pageantry circuit in a while. I think Trump may have won over some people, too. Americans love -- and believe in -- second chances.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let's hear it for year-round school

The Broward School Board is set to vote on the start of a school year. Under state law, Florida schools can't start any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day, so it pretty much limits the offerings to Aug. 20 and Aug. 27. That law was a result of lobbying by parents who witnessed the school year opening earlier and earlier to accommodate everything from FCATs to AP exams.
But really, why bother? Instead of figuring out a start date every few years, we should throw out the antiquated school year we have now -- designed for agrarian communities two centuries ago -- and go to year-round school. It makes a lot more sense academically to shorten the breaks from the classroom.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Too much food? Too much stress?

Holiday = overeating? What everyone else has always known is now apparently news, with a study that showed women tend to overeat because of holiday stress.
That's no big deal in my book. It's better than kicking the dog and screaming at the children.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tancredo, Schmancredo

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo seems to like the media attention he got from declaring our warm, welcoming city a Third World Nation. As a result, his speech to a local Rotary club was cancelled. Which prompted him to spew more attention-grabbing comments.
But maybe he's saying in public what others whisper in private.
Too bad Tancredo couldn't visit, though, especially in December when Colorado is snowed over. Colorado, after all, is the home state of Columbine. It is also the home of a state university that has gotten into a lot of hot water for the shenanigans of its coaches and players. Does that make it a second world state?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The First Amendment: another book, another story

I was delighted to read that former political prisoner and poet Armando Valladares had written a children's book about the reality of growing up in Cuba. This will be an excellent alternative to the two other two books -- primarily the controversial Vamos a Cuba -- that was available in school libraries.
A few months back, the School Board (not particularly known for its wise decisions) voted -- against the advice of its in-house attorney -- to ban the first two books because they painted a too rosy picture of life on the island. A federal court ruled against that move and now the case is on appeal. All this is costing us taxpayers hundred of thousands of dollars, not to mention violating one of the most cherished freedoms given to us by the First Amendment. But that's life in Miami. We claim to support free speech, free press, etc, but heaven forbid somebody should disagree with us.
At that time I blogged that instead of trying to cirvumvent the U.S. Constitution, we should find a book that tells the truth and use all the material on hand to teach children critical thinking skills. Valladares' work may give teachers this alternative.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

One of my sons turned 16 yesterday, and the family gathered around to celebrate. Which got me wondering: Don't you think the parents, particularly the mothers, of the birthday children should be feted as well?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Insurance rates: South Florida's unique albatross

So residents are mad and they can't take it anymore. They're signing petitions, contacting their legislators, planning marches on Tallahassee etc. etc. to make sure our ridiculous homeowners insurance rates come down from the stratosphere.
Good for us!But a word to the wise: Better build up that political muscle with money contributions of some kind.
The insurance company is notorious for being one of the largest and most financially savvy, and I doubt the industry will willingly give up their profits, especially with the latest predictions that next hurricane season may still be a scary one.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Warms your heart

In time to keep us in the Christmas spirit, we have a followup story on the generosity of readers helping a disabled boy after Carol Marbin Miller (my colleague and hero) reported that DCF had spent thousands of dollars to deny warming blankets that would've cost $360.
Makes you wonder, though, how many more kids are in similar predicaments and we just don't know about them.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our government at work

Breaks my heart to read that the state has spent thousands of dollars to deny a child blankets that would've cost $360. Though there is some disagreement over whether these blankets would work to keep the child warm, I would like to think that caring, professional people would rush to find a solution.
I'd like to see an audit of the expense accounts for some of our elected and appointed officials. I bet they spend more than $360 a year entertaining their friends on our dollar.
Pound foolish?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Eat bad, exercise right

How's this for ironic:
McDonald's has introduced workout gyms in some of its eateries. If these pilot programs do well, look for more free weights with your fries.
It's a great marketing idea, but maybe we shouldn't be eating the food in the first place. (I love Mickey D fries, though. Best of all fast food places, though Checkers has good ones, too.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

College football: a house divided

Like many households in South Florida, we are a house divided when it comes to college football. My husband, an FSU grad, cheers for the 'Noles. My kids root for the UM Hurricanes. Over the years the rivalry has simmered on friendly, but when the two teams meet -- watch out! it's all out verbal jabs and funny tricks. I always cheer for the Canes because that's the team I grew up with, but I can't get into the heated rivalry the way hubby and kids can.
Now another Florida team, UF, will play Ohio State for the national championship, and we're all ready to cheer on the Gators. Can you imagine what Gainesville (namely, The Swamp) will be like on Jan. 8? Anyone who's been up there during a game day knows that's a football crazy town.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A relaxing start to the Christmas season

Our Christmas tree is up. This is a record for us. Usually it takes us two to three weeks -- the month of December -- to decorate it, and most of that time is taken up by picking up ornaments the dogs and cats have batted away.
Of course, like most people I know, I still have plenty to do for the season. I've got to lay out the village, shop for presents, pen the Christmas cards etc. etc. Yet, I've scaled back those duties considerably. The immediate family, for instance, does a gift exchange, and I've given away lots of the houses in my village. (It had become a megalopolis.)
The last couple of years I've been trying to get the season back to basics: peace, goodwill and time with the family. And you know what? I enjoy the holidays so much more this way.