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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The million and one ways we mess up our kids

Some parents don't deserve to have children. It sounds like the mother of the 4-year-old at the center of a custody fight pitting an adopted wealthy parent from Coral Gables and a poor farmer from Cuba is one of those.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A trip down Memory Lane

Just in case my sometimes achy back wasn't delivering the message of time a'passing, I read about a guy who has put together a retrospective CD of all those songs of my youth in Miami. For those of us who grew up here, not quite Cuban enough for parents and not quite American enough for school, the CD is sure to bring back some bittersweet memories. Oh, all that teen angst! All those crushes and unrequited love!
How simple those worries seem now.
All morning I've been humming "Sabor a Mi."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Education has never been important...

...enough in this state. The latest indication is this piece on how state universities rank -- in the bottom third.
We talk a good game of No Child Left Behind and wanting to attract top-rate business. But it's talk, no more. A good friend of mine says she has lots of problems getting executives to settle here because of the education, from the lower grades to the university level.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Where is Solomon when you need him?

The custody saga of a 4-year-old Cuban girl continues, now pitting the foster father, a well-known Coral Gables businessman, with the biological father, a farmer/fisherman from a little town on the island.
I have no doubt her life, materially, would be much better here in the U.S. Yet if I were the judge, I would grant custody to the biological father. We cannot go down the slippery slope of keeping children out of loving biological homes simply because biological parents cannot provide plenty for them. Only the rich would have children then.
What a hearbreaker this is! Obviously the toddler has bonded with her foster family.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Way to go, Gramps!

So you worried about your teens doing it in the backseat. Well, think again. Apparently, Grandma and Grandpa are, too, and in a new study just out, they're doing it frequently enough to surprise us young'uns. Of course, many people already know that age doesn't stop the urge to hit the sack. For instance: my neighbors will be moving to an adults -only community within the next year, when he retires. He did intensive research and discovered that this 55 and over community has THE highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in that county. That, of course, elicited several snide comments.
Nonetheless, it's good to know the Grands are enjoying themselves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm sorry to see the Old Lady's gradual demise

Anyone who grew up in Miami knows that the Orange Bowl is one of those historic landmarks that brings back fond memories. There, the Dolphins had their perfect season. There, UM won several football championship. Since the Dolphins moved north, they have won how many championships? Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Now the Canes are moving north again and the city is considering the Orange Bowl site for a Marlins Stadium. Some will call it progress. I call it heartbreaking.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cuba: Let's try something different

Sen. Obama must be a brave man. Before even landing in Miami, he's talking about allowing Cuban-Americans to visit family and send remittances to the island without restricitons. In some circles here, that's heresy.
I grew up in a family that refuses to return to the homeland as long as the Castro brothers are in power. But I agree that such restrictions do nothing to undermine the Communist dictatorship. On the contrary, it fuels the egomania and paranoia that has kept Fidel in power.
I'm with Obama. Let's try something different. I'm convinced that a taste of democracy and capitalism will go farther than any embargo.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Multiple births, multiple happiness

Ever since my eldest son announced he was expecting identical twins, I've been fascinated with doublets, triplets, quadruplets etc. Here's a story about a very rare happening: identical quads. I imagine these parent won't be sleeping for the next couple of years!
Early this morning my son called me to say they had had a "close call." Leo had rushed Shannon to the hospital with contractions in the middle of the night. Nurses announced she was dilating, but since she's not at 35 weeks -- the minimum her ob/gyn wants her to go -- the nurses gave her a shot. All is well so far, but as my son was driving to work, he told me was exhausted and sleepy.
The true sign of parenthood.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hurricane plan? What hurricane plan?

Everybody is keeping an eye on Mean Dean as it swirls and strengthens in the east Atlantic. Most of us who went through Hurricane Andrew and the sisters that followed a couple of years back have a generator, bottled water, canned foods and assorted essentials -- in other words, a hurricane plan.
But some people think all the attention we pay to these storms is really a game of Chicken Little. At the gym this morning, one woman watching the weather report opined that the TV stations are in cahoots with Publix and Home Depot to rile up the masses. Fear prompts sales.
I guess some people see a conspiracy in anything.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Deja vu

I guess it was wishful thinking on my part. I thought we would go through August without the threat of a hurricane. Not!
A potential storm is forming in the deep tropics. Though it's thousands of miles away and no danger to us, why do I still get this prickly feeling in the back of my neck?
Having gone through Andrew (which forced us out of our house for 8 months), then Katrina and Wilma (blue tarp for months), the mere thought of gusting winds ruins my day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why are young, educated minorities leaving?

Census figures show that young, educated minorities are fleeing Miami-Dade. I don't have to conduct a study to know why. My younger friends have repeatedly complained about two things: few opportunities and a dismal social life. Miami-Dade is not a hospitable place for these people, especially if you're young, professional and black.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Some guys have all the luck

Remember that song by Rod Stewart? Well, this guy does have all the luck. First he wins a huge lottery to come to to the U.S. from Cuba, and now the Florida Lottery. Should we all be so fortunate.
Hope he gets a good financial planner.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Our U.S. born kids aren't hungry enough

Juan Gomez is the 18-year-old Killian High grad who received (along with his family) a 45-day deportation reprieve. His story has been extensively covered by the media, thanks to a group of incredible friends who have lobbied for him. I wrote a column about how his case is an example of the necessity to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would enable immigrant children to stay if they attend college or serve in the armed forces.
Predictably reader response was fierce -- on both sides. I've come to expect that in the immigration debate. In fact, I have a long-running argument with friends on this very topic, and this debate does not succumb to prejudice, racism or xenophobia as so much of the arguments out there do. Nonetheless, the most ridiculous reason I've heard against the DREAM Act is that it will allow "illegals" to use the university slots that should rightfully go to our U.S.-born children.
If this is so, then our children need to get off their butts and work harder to achieve more. How many of our kids did as well as Juan Gomez in the classroom, on the AP exams and on the SAT? Some of these "illegal" students are not only better in school but also hungrier, and I'm not referring to food here. Our children need to learn to compete and work harder. If we are to succeed in the global marketplace, we better start the competition at home.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

An immigration lesson learned the hard way

The Juan Gomez story is a fascinating and heartbreaking one. Here's a kid who can contribute mightily to society but is being punished for his parents' sins.
Unfortunately, the immigration debate has become so hysterically shrill that even friends can't debate the issues without it spiraling into name calling. (I've witnessed this.) I hope this is the start of a renewed push to pass the DREAM Act, which provides a path to make these minors "legal" if they go to college or serve in the armed forces.