Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are you good at math?

Back in my teaching days one of mine and everyone else's biggest concerns was convincing kids--especially girls--that they can be good at math and that it could be equally fun. There were many times when I would have a conference with a parent who would blame his or her child's lack of mathematical achievement on themselves because they would say they weren't any good at math either.

The irony is that if a child doesn't seem to be good at math it's not because of genetic or hereditary factors. It's usually because one or both parents have convinced the kid that they're going to be lousy at math because they are.

Fortunately this is not going to be a problem for 8-year-old Brooke & her 5-year-old sister. First, their parents have high expectations for them a second they've found ways to make math fun.

This is especially true of Brooke who can't seem to get enough of math. She's always telling me that she knows the multiplication tables, square roots and long division and she frequently asks me to make up problems for her.

Her little sister is coming along too but for obvious reasons can't keep up with her older sister so she tends to feel left out.

When that happens we do something else or I keep the math challenges at her level so she feels successful.

Whatever the case, both girls will grow up liking math with no fear of it. Now let's hope the public schools can build on that.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Role of the Supreme Court-Has it become too powerful?

I've been following the deliberations now going on before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Health Care Reform Act, aka Obamacare.

It's of course impossible to predict how the justices are going to rule but the line of questioning would seem to suggest many of them have made up their minds, to wit strike it down.

I find this a bit troubling. We've always known the SCOUS has enormous power in the sense they can strike down legislation as being unconstitutional but let's face it, many if not all of those justices have an agenda and are far from objective.

There are at the moment 5 very conservative people on the court. If you don't think they wield great influence just think for a minute as to who exactly it was that got George Bush his first term. It sure as hell wasn't the voters.

So the question is, are they TOO powerful and if so, what can be done about it short of redrafting the Constitution?

I fear nothing except to be sure to elect presidents who when presented the opportunity will appoint the right (meaning correct. NOT politically "right") people to the court.

Pres. Obama has appointed two. Justice Kennedy is probably the next to go. That will likely happen during the term of whoever is elected in 2012. For that reason alone, the upcoming election is very important.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Heading into the last week of March

Forecasts are calling for the return to March-like weather. In other words normal. But during the brief warm spell I managed to get quite a bit done in the yard. Still more to go but it's actually better if it's cooler for what I have planned next which involves a lot of chain saw work.

For the moment it doesn't look like I'll be getting to the park with any of the grand kids. Supposed to be chilly and windy.

But the warm weather will return--for sure.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On the Right to Bear Arms & the State of Florida

The tragic slaying of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin that's in the news every day (make that hour) is bad enough. To add insult to injury the individual who did it is still free on a recently passed Florida law that allows lethal force to defend yourself. It's called the stand-your-ground law.

Previous to the passage of this law it was a person's duty to flee the scene to escape harm rather than resort to lethal force. This is still the case in most states.

Complicating the effort to find justice in some way, gas bag Al Sharpton has jumped in promising to do nothing but inflame the situation.

The sacred Right to Bear Arms as guaranteed by the constitution or so says the Supreme Court at least has gotten out of hand. Where are the safeguards?

Some states are even considering doing away with the need for a carry permit. It's back to the 1880s in the old west.

This nation seems to be a nation of extremes. In many instances it's an all-or-none attitude. That's the case with gun control. Isn't there a happy middle ground somewhere?

Let common sense prevail for a change. Not everyone should be allowed to own or use a gun-period.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yet another Courtneyism

After picking up the girls from school Tuesday afternoon, there seemed to be more than the usual amount of sibling squabbling-at least more than what I'm used to.

I was somewhat exasperated so I told the girls I thought it might be a good idea if each of them had some quiet time in their rooms.

The following conversation then ensued:

Courtney: Why would you send me to my room? Shouldn't you send me someplace else? I love it in my room. That's no punishment. Geesh, Grampy.... on and on it went.

Brooke ended up playing quietly in her room for a while and Courtney and I inspected her captive insect which we're still trying to identify.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Key to Retirement

The key to a happy retirement is very simple. Keep busy with worthwhile activities.

Take this week for example. I spend all day Monday as I usually do with Cole & Nicholas. Today, Tuesday, I am doing my volunteer thing at an assisted living facility in the morning and then spending the afternoon and early evening with Brooke & Courtney.

Tomorrow, it's back with the boys. Thursday it's pick up the girls from school and wait with them until their mom or dad come home.

Friday, it's into the yard to get some much needed spring cleanup work done.

In between all of that I have to get in my workouts, write a column for Newtown Hamlet Hub and keep my blog spot and website updated.

Before you know it, it's Saturday. The week flies by. But that's better than sitting around doing nothing, getting fat and lazy.

Well, time to go.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

End of an Era

In the "signs-of-the-times" department, I heard on the news yesterday that after 244 years the Encyclopedia Britannica is ceasing publication.

While I realize this is inevitable, I find it regrettable. After all, for a long time whenever someone needed information, what did they do? They went to their bookshelf and pulled out the appropriate volume of their encyclopedia and looked it up.

Today of course you log on to Google and there it is.

I still have a considerable number of reference books on shelves around my house. I have almanacs, atlases, dictionaries and other kinds of books dealing with specific topics. I like using them for questions or just perusing them out of general interest or even sharing them with grand children.

I realize however that I in no way represent the norm. The homes of my children and most of my friends have very little in the way of reading material laying around or even on shelves and I'm sure that's true of most people these days.

All hail the internet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Number one of things I don't get

Ultra conservative Rick Santorum (You know, the guy who insists prenatal care should be avoided because it leads to abortion) wins Alabama & Mississippi.

This guy's level of bigotry, chauvinism and general ignorance is appalling. Yet, a significant number of people find him to be "presidential".

What's wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ignorance reigns supreme

Just heard on morning news-
Results of recent survey of random sampling of people throughout the southern states: The majority believe Barack Obama is a Muslim and not a legal citizen. Unbelievable. In spite of all the solid evidence to the contrary (uh, birth certificate????) there are those who still don't get it.

I use the word ignorance charitably. I really think at the heart of this is racism-pure and simple.

Maybe this country hasn't made that much progress after all!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring cleaning

With warmer weather and daylight savings time now here, I took my traditional walk around my yard this past weekend, mentally cataloging what I have to do this spring.

Every year it gets more and more overwhelming and the situation this year has been complicated by the October snow storm that brought down numerous limbs and branches. While I welcome the opportunity to add to my store of firewood, it is just one more thing I need to do.

I have found that the area I attempt to keep free of leaves is smaller and smaller every year. I've decided that it's no big deal if leaves cover the back hill. I'll just mow them into what little grass there is. Also, unlike some guys I talk to from time to time, I have no problem whatever with moss. Moss is green, it doesn't need to be mowed and it is harmless. In fact it's nice to sit on a moss covered area to relax.

Also complicating my spring cleanup endeavors is a chronic back yard drainage problem that has plagued my yard since our house was built.

The builder installed a curtain drain around my backyard to drain off the water that is constantly running down our back hill. The problem is he backfilled the pipe with soil instead of crushed rock thus rendering the system pretty much useless.

I finally managed to find the pipe and remove the mud enough to start the drain flowing. Now I have to lengthen the ditch and fill it with rock. That should help matters for at least the rest of the time we're in this house.

And so it goes, the yearly ritual of spring cleanup!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sick Kids:(

I hate it when kids are sick, don't you? Cole is here today fighting off the latest round of viruses to afflict his school. His brother, now recovered, was also sick a few days ago.

Yet even feeling as miserable as he does, Cole was nice enough to offer me a sip of his water.

I politely declined.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What is your definition of rich?

Mitt Romney's wife recently announced on national television that she doesn't really consider herself to be a rich person.

She and her husband are worth about 250 MILLION dollars! me out here. I personally think that's pretty rich but apparently I'm wrong. So what IS rich?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

He's sorry??? Yes, he is a sorry example of humanity!

Soooo....Rush Limbaugh has apologized. Do you think he's really sorry? Here's a guy whose stock-in-trade is insulting people. Suddenly he's sorry???

What he's sorry about is the mass exodus of advertisers from his program. They can't separate themselves from this jerk's comments fast enough.

THAT'S why he's sorry. It's all about the money!

Monday, March 5, 2012


What's so great about pajamas?

Whenever my grand daughters stay over one of the things they most look forward to is getting in their jammies with grammy and watching a movie while eating their favorite dessert.

Now it seems this has caught on with my two grand sons.

The last few times that I've been at my son and daughter-in-law's house baby sitting for four-year-old Cole and two-year-old Nicholas they've been in their jammies. This is usually because my son has a lot to do in the morning so he doesn't have time to get them dressed. But when I try, they want nothing to do with it. They'd rather hang out in their pajamas. So unless we're going outside to play or we have an errand to run, jammies it is!

Then several hours later (5 p.m. or so) their mom comes home and there they are in their jammies.

Is this not a good thing? They're comfortable and active all day so, frankly, I don't see the harm buy as warmer weather nears and they want to go outside, street clothes it is!

It's all about perspective

Feeling a little down this Monday morning? Wishing Spring could maybe speed up its arrival? Have a sniffle or two? Looking forward (or not) to a busy week at work? Just plain not up to your usual good spirits?

Let's put things in perspective. Imagine yourself being one of the victims of the tornadoes that have been sweeping through Indiana and Kentucky.

How about that little 15-month-old girl they found laying in a field. Yesterday it was reported that she didn't survive her injuries.

To add insult to injury those folks woke up this morning to deal with several inches of new snow on top of all the debris.

How are things looking for you now?

Friday, March 2, 2012

More wisdom from Pig Man

Have you been following the controversy surrounding comments made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh?

It seems Mr. Limbaugh has taken issue with a UCLA law student named Ms. Fluke.

Ms Fluke is an advocate for government paid birth control.

Mr. Limbaugh in his unique way disagreed with her by referring to her numerous times as a slut. He then went on to suggest as a slut, she should post video of her doing...well, whatever it is sluts do.

Class act, huh?

But why is anyone surprised? We all know this is what Limbaugh does. He's just another lunatic fringe, right wing ignorant pig fouling the airwaves. The fact that so many people tune into his broadcast and he makes so much money doesn't really change anything. He's still a pig no matter how you look at it.

The heck of it is I don't think government should be paying for birth control pills either. I think birth control is a private issue and bears private responsibility. BUT, I politely, respectfully disagree--unlike Mr. Limbaugh who launches into an abusive and personal attack.

Message to the media. Ignore him.

Oink oink, Mr. Limbaugh.