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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Don't flush...

...during halftime of the Super Bowl. Experts are worried.
I imagine that the halftime flushers will be mostly men. The women I know will have run to the bathroom an average of 4.2 times by the time Prince performs. They'll also take longer in the washroom reapplying makeup.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fat kids: Our responsibility?

More and more health professionals are recommending mandatory P.E. in the schools. That course has fallen by the wayside in many districts because of the increased academic requirements.
Hallelujah! What's the use of having kids who can pass the FCAT, it they're overweight and suffering from diabetes and heart disease?
Of course, providing P.E. during school hours is just one small step to a healthier lifestyle. Parents have to step up, too. We've got to turn off the TV, eat out less and around the family dinner table more, and stop depending on the quick and easy meals loaded with calories.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Who's my daddy?

A St. Petersburg teen wants to know if our new gov, Mr. Crist, is her daddy. Her biological mother, a lawyer, says Crist fathered the girl during a one night stand. Crist denies it and refuses to take a paternity test.
Considering that the teenager and her adoptive parents say they don't want anything from him except an answer to her identity, I think Crist should go ahead and submit himself to a paternity test. What's he afraid of?

Friday, January 26, 2007

What goes up...

...must come down. And that's true of the housing market.
Remember just a couple years back when we were all so land wealthy? Everybody was supposedly making a killing in real estate. New numbers now show that the market has slowed down. Or that at least it's taking longer to make a killing.
No surprise. Unfortunately, though, South Florida is still too expensive, even with a slowdown. For most middle class family, Miami is unaffordable.
I don't know how my college educated children will be able to buy a house here. They have to save $60,000 plus to afford a median-priced home, and that's not even in a neighborhood with good schools. A one-bedroom apartment -- the one my daughter and her husband live in -- now goes for $200,000.
Can you say North Carolina?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Life after FCAT

The brand new gov, Mr. Crist, is saying he's going to make some changes to the way the FCAT is used in our public schools. Hallelujah!
As a parent of kids in public schools, I like the idea of having a test that measures what they've learned. I don't like, however, how that test has been used to reward and punish schools. Worse, I don't like the fact that over the years I've observed more and more teachers "teaching to the test." I want my kids to be taught to THINK!
I hope Crist is getting good advice -- namely from the people on the front lines, the teachers teaching in classrooms, particularly those dealing with kids who don't have all the advantages my own children had.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More family meals and less TV...

...can help kids with their weight.
That's what a new study says, and it's no surprise.
Here's the deal, from a press release I received:

Sitting down to a family meal more often and cutting down on television watching can help keep children from becoming overweight, according to a new University of Missouri-Columbia study.

After following 8,000 children from kindergarten to third grade, researchers concluded that kids who watched the most TV were at the greatest risk of being or becoming overweight. Children who ate fewer meals with their families also were at risk for becoming overweight.

“Other research has shown that children who eat meals with their families eat more healthy foods than children who don’t eat as many meals with their families,” said Sara Gable, associate professor of human development and family studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Studies. “I suspect there are other benefits of family meal times that protect children from developing some of the habits that could lead to weight problems.”

The researchers grouped children into three categories to determine the factors associated with becoming overweight: children who were not overweight during kindergarten and first grade but were overweight by the third grade; children who became overweight during kindergarten and stayed that way through the third grade; children who were never overweight.

“Children who were never overweight between kindergarten and third grade were watching, as per parent reports, roughly two hours of television per day, or about 14 hours during a typical week,” Gable said. “The children who were persistently overweight were watching about 16 hours of television per week.”

Members of the persistently overweight groups also lived in neighborhoods that parents perceived as less safe for outdoor play.

“These results suggest that some overweight children have fewer options for active play when they are at home,” Gable said.

The study, which was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, was published in this month’s issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A teen's party, a parent's dilemma

It's a parent's nightmare: You go out of town for the weekend, your kid hosts a party while you're gone, and something horrible happens. In a case in Broward, a teen was stabbed to death, and while police are busy looking for the killer, there is talk of a civil suit, maybe even charges.
This hits close to home for me. My husband and I have been away and left behind older children -- high school seniors and young college students -- only to return to find out they had hosted "get-togethers" even when we specifically have prohibited it. I remember one particular case when my daughter stayed behind to work while the rest of the family went on a trip. I came home to discover that her little party had been crashed by friends of friends of friends. Result? My fax was stolen, as was some jewelry. The cop who filed the report told me, "It happens all the time."
I'm curious what others think might be a solution.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Finally, the truth about women drivers

A report for the American Automobile Association finally clears our names, girlfriends. Despite the enduring stereotype that women make for bad drivers, there is no statistical proof that this is true -- something we already knew, of course. In fact, researchers now say that men are more dangerous than women.
The women as bad driver is a myth our husbands and boyfriends have perpetuated for decades. Finally, vindication.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Super Bowl publicity -- blemishes and all

Miami is gearing up for its big date with the Super Bowl and layering on the make up to impress her beau. But you can't hide the pimples, can you? A Time magazine story focuses on a shantytown in Liberty City and digs into our problems with low-income housing. Ouch!
But we deserve it. Miami -- and much of South Florida -- has become unaffordable for many. Yes, I worry about the working poor who can't find a place to live, but I also worry about my children's generation, those who are college educated and have decent jobs but don't earn enough to get together a down payment for a home.
Can you say brain drain?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ticking towards Doomsday

Having a good day? Think this is the start of a good year for you?
Well, here's a little spoiler.
Scientists who mind the Doomsday Clock say we're 5 minutes closer to wipe out. It's the first time in five years since they've moved the clock. Reason: Nuclear proliferation (North Korea and Iran) and global warming.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sex in school

In a culture where football is a religion and star players are worshipped, it should come as no surprise that Northwestern High's top football player's alleged sexual misconduct with a minor did not go reported for months. That's an outrage.
Yet, I have mixed feelings about this whole affair. Easterling, who led his high school to a state championship, is 19. The girl in question is 14. Both attend the same high school, so it's not that unusual for a senior to be getting it on with a freshman. The questions to me here is not one of age but of consensual action. Plenty of sex goes on in school corridors, whether we parents want to admit it or not. A few months back, a school official in one of the premiere public schools in the area -- and a friend of mine -- told me how security caught a girl performing oral sex on an athlete under the stairwell. And yes, he was a senior and the Big Man on Campus. She was a freshman.
What's more, the girl in the Northwestern case has had another problem at the same school. Which makes me feel very uncomfortable all over again. (Consensual?) We won't know all the details for a while, and the 14-year-old and other girls in school should be protected. But we shouldn't rush to judgment either. Remember the Duke lacross case.
Of course, at the end of the day, this shouldn't be happening anywhere near our classrooms. Bet the mother sues the school system.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Get it over with already, Fidel

Remember that Clairol hairdye commercial where a voice would blather, as the camera panned in on a beauty, "Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows."
Well, in the case of Fidel Castro and his illness, the speculation is as rampant. Now a Spanish paper says he's close to death from an intestinal infection. The Cuban government denies everything. (No surprise here.) t's amazing that the dictator has so many people on the edge of their seats waiting for the end. He must be enjoying himself, even in the process of kicking the bucket. Always center stage, spotlight firmly in place -- even on his deathbed

Friday, January 12, 2007

Procrastination: a skill we've mastered

I consider myself pretty organized. I keep appointments on a calendar and carry my PDA with me at all times, but I also tend to procrastinate, putting off things I don't want to do -- usually unpleasant, confrontational stuff. I'm not alone. Researchers say we're doing more procrastinating, and we're getting fatter and unhappier because of it.
Sometimes I think we all need a Mommy to nag us into good behavior. Or at least an embedded chip that shocks us into taking the bull by the horn. After all, there's a real pleasure in scratching something off the To-Do List.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Miami traffic: @*&%)# !!!

So I'm out and about this morning, driving here and there for work. And wouldn't you know it -- everywhere I went somebody cut me off, ran a stop sign, took a red light etc. etc.
I vowed to stop whining, to stop sweating the small stuff, but Miami traffic is a true test of that commitment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fry the guy?

I can't imagine anything more anguishing and painful than having your young son's covicted killer making a last ditch effort to get away with it. Yet, that's exactly what Claudine Ryce had to do when lowlife Chavez claimed he had not gotten a fair trial. This poor woman!
I'm against the death penalty and all for the precious rights the Constitution gives us, but I can sometimes understand how people complain that criminals have more rights than victims. To me, any crime against a child should be doubly punished.
Chavez turns my stomach. I can't think of any punishment awful enough to fit the crime.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

24: How preposterous can it get?

If you haven't been hiding under the covers lately, you know that the new season of "24" is scheduled to launch this Sunday. I have informed my family that I will not -- absolutely NOT -- be sucked into watching it again. No way, Jose. As last season progressed, the plot became more and more preposterous. It was implausability to the nth degree, ridiculous piled onto absurd.
Sure, I like entertainment and I like escapism, but how far off reality can a "real" show get? The writers must have been drinking or smoking some mean stuff...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back from vacation...

...and not quite ready to work.
I've been off for two weeks and now am back in the saddle. Must admit that I was looking forward to the routine of everybody being where they're supposed to be without me having to worry about three meals a day. But I didn't miss the rush-rush-rush of daily life, that relentless push-pull of a hectic schedule.
I've just spent an hour answering email and have barely made a dent.
After almost 30 years of taking vacations from work, I've come to the conclusion that the hardest part is leaving -- getting everything in order -- and returning -- when the tsunami of catch-up awaits.