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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ready for hurricane season?

We have a whole row of cabinets in the garage devoted to hurricane supplies. We also have two generators -- a large one and a small one. And on a regular basis my husband makes sure we're up to date on everything. In other words, we practice what forecasters are telling the public to do.
Nonetheless, I still get a little anxious when the season begins. Hurricane Andrew pummelled our house, and it took us eight months to rebuild. I can't imagine going through all that again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Immigration debate continues

Though Congress closed for the long weekend, the debate over immigration, a hot potato issue, continues. Now many are looking at what went wrong during the last major overhaul in 1986 in hopes of learning from it.
Two points seem very relevant to me:
1) Good enforcement is needed. In other words, if you pass a law and don't have anyway to back it up, what use is it?
2) Our borders, as one expert said, will be penetrable no matter what we do.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are condo boards trouble?

Police have arrested two people on a condo board, including a former president. This doesn't surprise me. Everyone I know who has ever lived in a condo can recount some horror story of board mismanagement and outright cronyism.
For instance, I know of a situation in the Dadeland area where the board president is romantically involved with the condo manager. They live together. When residents complain about something, they are told to speak to the president -- or vice versa. Nothing gets done. One friend checked with Tallahassee and was told there were no rules against this kind of conflict of interest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Immigrants a boon to Florida

A new study by FIU dispels many of the myths about immigrants. Researchers say that foreign-born Floridians are more entreprenurial than the native-born and they also receive fewer government handouts etc.
Do you think that will change any beliefs? The immigration debate is like abortion, and facts and figures don't seem to matter.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Not the best way to start Monday morning

For years I've described the eve before the start of the work week as the time for the Sunday Night Blues. As the weekend wanes, I reluctantly begin to prepare myself for work. I love my job, think it wonderfully interesting, but... I like my free time more, and I don't think I have enough of it.
To make matters worse this bright Monday morning, I read about executive compensation. The suits in the glass cages aren't making as much as they did last year -- boo hoo -- but they're still making plenty, particularly when measured against the average worker. Runaway CEO salaries don't make a Monday morning any better for us peons.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Childhood is no longer carefree

Last night I went to a meeting for incoming high school freshmen hoping to try out for the baseball team. The coach was organized and eloquent, the fields impressive. But I was taken aback by how competitive the sport has become. Now if your kid isn't playing year round, and if he isn't doing some conditioning and agility program (paid, of course), his chances of making it on the team are almost nil. Unless, of course, he's the next Alex Rodriguez. Almost all the kids are playing for at least one team during the summer and fall, in addition to other special training and tutoring.
We're not even in the minor leagues and youth sports has become big business.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Amazing students, hope for the future

I had the great honor to be a presenter for last night's Silver Knights Awards. The kids who were honored -- every single one of them, including those who did not win the coveted trophy -- were truly amazing. Listening to what they had accomplished for their communities gave me hope for the future.
Made me feel like a slacker, too!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Enforce the uniform rule

Broward County public school officials are once again looking at their uniform policy and how strictly it should be enforced. Some parents are saying they should be the ones to determine what their children wear to school. They point out that there are no definitive studies on the benefits of uniforms.
Hogwash! Ask teachers. Look at the anecdotal evidence. Schools are safer when everyone is dressed the same -- easier to spot intruders. What's more, uniforms reduce peer pressure over fashion. Makes it easier during that morning rush when kids are figuring out what to wear, too.
I wore uniforms for most of my academic life. When I hear adults complain that uniforms hinder their children's creativity, it makes me laugh. Private schools -- as well as public schools with uniforms -- graduate plenty of creative thinkers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mama knows best

As I grow older I realize that a lot of what I do in my financial life goes back to what I experienced as a child. In other words, I always feel like I'm a paycheck away from being a bag lady -- an absolutely false impression that nonethless is hard to overcome. I am constantly haranguing my kids about fiscal prudence as well. In fact, I've sent them "mom's list to financial success" at various times.
Just this morning I came across a similar list that parallels some of what I've told my children. Thought you would enjoy.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We need to do something about health insurance for all

Broward commissioners have agreed to offer a plan that would help uninsured and underinsured residents buy prescription medicines at a 20 per cent discount. Hallelujah! Wish we had that in Miami-Dade.
Our health system is in shambles, so this is a teeny step forward. I know many, many who are uninsured, some of them twentysomethings in starter jobs that don't offer insurance. They can't afford to even get minimal coverage on their own and are too old to be on their parents' policies. They're banking on youth and good health. Heaven forbid they're in an accident or suddenly infected with something.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Racism is still alive and well out there

My son and his fiancee came back from a cruise with plenty of stories -- and a new sense of alarm. With them at their table in the 8 p.m. seating was a family from an adjoining southern state. On the surface they seemed nice enough, but the fireworks began when the ship docked first in Haiti, then in Jamaica. The racist comments Son and Fiancee had to hear -- and argue back -- would curdle your blood. In fact, for the first time ever they heard a word I've only seen in books -- jigaboo. My son said it took him a few minutes to figure it out.
At one point he told the younger member of the family that he was Hispanic, which took the dinnermates by surprise. (His fiancee is blond, blue-eyed Irish American.) That didn't seem to take the wind out of their sails, though.
"I can't believe there are still people like that," he told me.
Sorry to say: Believe, believe.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just in time for Mother's Day

This is for all you overworked underappreciated mothers out there. has released its annual figure of how much a mother's work is worth in market dollars. And -- drum rolls please -- it's in the six figures.
In addition, the company also calculated how much money a working mom could be paid for her second shift at home -- more than $80,000. I suppose that should make me feel vindicated, but it really doesn't. As I told a friend earlier this week, parenting is the kind of job that demands performance evaluations every day but offers no merit pay.
A little recognition and respect could go a long way, though.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A job well done

My daughter is graduating with a bachelor's degree today -- almost eight years after she started. She's been going part-time while working and tending house. I'm so proud of her for her perseverence. Eight years is a long time to stick with something.
And best of all: she'll be attending a master's program at Barry University full-time. Seven intense months of an accelerated program, no less.