Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can We Clone Him? Please?

“The American People Are Angry”

I first met Bernie, Senator Sanders, back when he was the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. I liked him then and my admiration for him has grown exponentially in recent years. What’s not to like about a plain spoken man with common sense, who is always working on the side of the angels?

If you would like to read a recent op-ed by Bernie which covers the same ground, you can click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Class Warfare

"House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable."

Click to read the full text of this atatement by Robert Greenstein, President of the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

About 50 To 311,832,658

When we were in Washington state for Chuck’s sister’s surprise birthday party, our timing afforded us a bonus event: our nephew’s senior prom! “A” is a great kid with a good sense of humor and a whole bunch of musical and artistic talent. He’s been friends with “B” for many years so we’ve enjoyed getting to know “B” during our visits to the Seattle area. The afternoon of the prom, 16 couples gathered at the home of one of the girls for photos. That’s 32 high school kids dressed to the nines, along with lots of parents, some siblings and the occasional Auntie and Uncle!

It was like a mini-prom without the dancing and completely unlike any of my high school prom experiences. We had a great time. “A” and “B”, along with their dates, were going to the prom and post prom together. So after the photo op there was a bit of coordination and combining of stuff into one car back at “A’s” house. “B’s” parents swung by to deliver something their son had forgotten. After waving goodbye to the prom bound kids, Chuck’s sister invited “B’s” parents in for a drink. The six of us sat out on the deck and chatted about the kids, the prom, the post prom, our own memories of how different things had been back in the day, etc.

We had never met “B’s” parents before but it was an easy going conversation. At one point I mentioned Rhode Island in passing. “B’s” mom asked if we lived in Rhode Island. I said no, but then gave the typical Rhode Island thumbnail sketch: born in Providence, grew up in Warwick attended such and such schools. “B’s” mom repeated the name of my parochial elementary school and followed with “I went to that school!” An extremely fast paced exchange ensued until we both said we had graduated in 1972! Yes, “B’s” mom and I were part of the same graduating class, she in one classroom, me in the other! Amazing. We spent another hour connecting the dots and reminiscing about growing up together.

There were only 50 kids in our 8th grade class. But there I was, 2500 miles away from that little school, and I was sitting across from one of my classmates. What were the odds?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Well, technically second cousins and second cousins who had only just met. But you wouldn’t have guessed that if you had you seen them together this afternoon!

Our 13 year old grandniece Alex, visiting from the west coast, gave her second cousin, our 11 month old grandniece Isabella, a whole lot of support and encouragement today in the crawling department. Alex took a hands on approach, getting Izzy into a good starting gate position and then provided a little hip assist. Very soon Isabella was rocking back and forth. Shortly thereafter, Izzy did a nifty 360 degree crab crawl / spin the bottle sort of move. Isabella’s Mom, Carrie, loved it and figures it’s probably time to get the baby gates up!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paging Palmer & Spencer!

“44 States Discontinue Teaching Cursive Writing!”

How did I miss this?

Many states have adopted the “Common Core State Standards”. The CCSS English Language Arts Standards do not include cursive writing. Likewise, with “No Child Left Behind” cursive writing is not a requirement. So now 44 states have stopped including cursive writing as a skill to be learned. Their focus is on printing and “keyboard skills”.

I’m a product of the Palmer Method (Yes, I am that old.) and I’m slackjawed. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I understand that teachers are increasingly put in the untenable position of wearing far too many hats for their students and “teaching to the test”. But how is a person supposed to read original documents without knowing cursive? What about the development of fine motor skills? And heaven forfend I should ask the question: “What about the art of cursive”?

The emphasis on “keyboard skills”, what I knew as typing, reminds me of the news anchors who say: “To learn more, go to our website and click on such-and-such a link.” It presumes that everyone has a computer and access to the internet. It is narrow minded and insensitive. With reference to no longer teaching cursive, you can add short sighted to that list.

Thankfully, Massachusetts has “re-included” cursive writing as a standard. But with 44 states throwing in the towel I remain disturbed.

Here’s just one article on the issue of cursive instruction from the Huffington Post. But a quick Google search will lead you to many, many more.

Want some inspiration? Go to the IAMPETH website - that’s the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting.

: : Update: Dorothy Ann Yanni has created a Cursive Handwriting App. Yes, an iPod and iPad APP for cursive handwriting! That’s an integration of classic and contemporary I can get behind!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keep Breathing...

I found myself recommending a relaxation breathing technique to a gal who is beginning a challenging recovery in a rehabilitation facility. She was hit by a car just last week. Melanie, AKA The Coupon Goddess, is a generous soul with a very good sense of humor. Do stop by and wish her well. As I left the information for her, I realized I had never posted about it here.

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the “Relaxing Breath” for stress reduction. We discovered it years ago and it is something both Chuck and I utilize in difficult circumstances. We’ve found it helpful in pain management and it even helps when I’m having trouble falling asleep.

For a long time I just had the numbers 4-7-8 written on Post-It Notes around the house. I created the image above to share with family and friends and now all of you here on Pink Granite.

You can read all the details about the “Relaxing Breath” at Dr. Weil’s website, along with two other breathing techniques.

Feel free to click on the image, then drag and drop it onto your computer and print it out for your own use.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Oh I know it’s only mid July and there is a whole slew of summer left to go, but this heat and humidity has already gotten to me. Far too soon, I know.

Jump shift:

You love Adele, right? Of course you do. We have her albums “19” and “21” and love them both. Recently she performed in the iTunes London Festival. It is a delight! You can watch it here. And if you reside in the Northern Hemisphere I suggest an air conditioned room and an iced beverage of your choosing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crazies, Breadcrumbs, A Delete Button & A Hat Tip

I saw a tweet or two on Twitter from Margo and Roger Ebert which intrigued me. They were about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann signing a pledge called "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY". But the tweets referred to slavery. Curious, I followed a link which led me to an article by Jason Linkins on the Huffington Post entitled: “Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa Social Conservative Kingmaker, Unveils A New Pledge For 2012ers”. I read it and was duly appalled by the entire outrageous “Vow” and in particular by the language quoted in Mr. Linkins article: Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.

I wanted to send out a tweet about all this, but first I wanted to check out the “Vow” for myself. I went to the website of “The Family Leader” who wrote the “Vow” and clicked on the link which took me to the PDF. As I read it I couldn’t find the slavery reference. I did note that the URL had the date “7.9.11” in the address and yet the Huffington Post article was published two days earlier. So I copied all four pages into a Pages document and searched it for the key phrases. Nothing. Then I downloaded it as a PDF and did the same search in Reader. Again, nothing. So I logged onto Huffington Post and left a comment: “Has "The Family Leader" edited the pledge? I cannot find the 1860 slavery reference in the current pdf of the vow or the notes” I also put in the link to the PDF of the “Vow”.

Then I went back to Twitter and tweeted my query to Margo and to Ebert. Finally I tweeted it to Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post. In less than an hour Mr. Linkins tweeted back to me: “Thanks for the heads up!”. By 9:00 p.m. Mr. Linkins had posted a new article on the Huffington Post: “The Family Leader Drops Controversial Section Concerning Slavery From 'Marriage Vow' Pledge”. And there at the very bottom of the article he wrote: Hat Tip @pinkgranite The @pinkgranite was a link which opened to the relevant tweets I had sent out earlier.

Fortunately, the original version of the “Vow” - the one signed by Michele Bachmann - has not been lost to the ether. And the extant revised “Vow” still provides useful insight into the thinking of the right-wing. The 2012 presidential election is just 16 months away. Things won’t get prettier nor will they get easier as the calendar pages flip by. As I wrote to George Geder, who posted about the slavery version on his blog this afternoon: “We'll all have to stay vigilant!”

This post was edited and updated throughout the evening.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mount Rainier

On every trip we have taken to Seattle, Washington we have always been able to glimpse Mount Rainier at least once. You would think that at 14,411 feet or 4,392 meters, it would be a constant presence. But it is frequently shrouded in clouds, fog, rain or snow. On our most recent trip, we saw Rainier on the clearest day we have ever experienced in the Northwest. It was absolutely stunning. We saw it repeatedly as we drove around the area - but only from the highways. I never got a photograph of it that day. Sorry. The next day we were out on Lake Washington on the boat belonging to Chuck’s sister and her husband. In the distance, slowly but surely being cloaked back in clouds, was Mount Rainier. It was, as if, on our last afternoon in Seattle, it was bidding us farewell.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Happy Fourth of July!

We did our celebrating a day early on this long holiday weekend. We spent yesterday down in Rhode Island with family and friends. Al and Carrie kindly hosted the sometimes boisterous cheerful group. Isabella was at ease with the crowd, including one cousin she had never met before and an Auntie and Uncle she had only seen once, half a year ago. Good food, a couple of different varieties of killer sangrias, lots of laughter and post-downpour fireworks over the bay made for an excellent celebration!