Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Eugene Robinson was courageous in speaking out against the death penalty for Lawrence Russell Brewer, who, along with two other men, committed a heinous hate crime in Jasper Texas some years ago. The three white supremacists murdered James Byrd Jr. after offering him a ride. They killed him by dragging him behind their pickup truck. Robinson said in a recent article that if anyone deserved a needle in the arm it would be Byrd, but Robinson is against the death penalty, period. He considers the death penalty to be a "barbaric anachronism, a crude instrument not of justice but of revenge." He points out that most other countries have stopped using capital punishment, and urges the U.S. to do the same.

I would have to agree.

In a recent letter to the editor in The Dallas Morning News Allen Barseth wrote, "As a conservative, I would gladly be more compassionate in giving to others if they used my tax dollars as a safety net rather than a hammock."

I thought that was a telling statement about the legacy of relying on welfare that seems to be passed from generation to generation in some families. Welfare, food stamps, unemployment payments and other government help should be limited to encourage people to find a way out of the need. Members of my family have, at times, relied on that kind of assistance, but that was a temporary situation that we worked through. Granted, some people have no way out, but others have come to accept assistance as a way of life.

 "Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened." I ran across this quote by Anatole France this morning and it struck a chord with me. We are still missing our little dog, and in talking to other animal lovers we have shared how our pets become such an integral part of our lives it leaves a significant hole when they are gone. Some people wonder how one can grieve the loss of a pet with a similar intensity as the grief over losing a loved one. Pet lovers never wonder.

On a lighter note -  We opened "Arsenic and Old Lace" last night at the Main Street Theatre in Sulphur Springs last night and the audience loved the show. One nice thing about live theatre is the interaction between the audience and the players, and we all had a lot of fun. I am playing Martha Brewster, one of the Aunts who "help lonely gentlemen to a better place," and I have really enjoyed working with a terrific cast. Anyone in the East Texas area who would like to see the show, we have performances tonight and tomorrow night at 7, and Sunday at 2. Next week we have performances on Thurs, Fri, and Sat at 7pm. No Sunday matinee.

Pictured here is Martha Brewster and Elaine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It was quite a privilege to be given the Trails Country Treasure Award last Sunday, and a friend and fellow-journalist, Joe Dan Boyd, was kind enough to write up this little story for local newspapers and his own blog Tinney Chapel Today    I am pictured here with Joe Dan as he presented the award.

Maryann Miller, Winnsboro artist of multiple talents, is the 2011 winner of the Trails Country Treasure Award, presented by Winnsboro Center for the Arts (WCA) to individuals who have made profound contributions to the overall arts scene: local, regional, national or worldwide.

Miller is the sixth recipient of this coveted honor which was created originally to honor 96-year-old poet Odena Brannam who was still an active poet and writer at that age. The idea was to honor artists with roots in the Trails Country, but whose influence had extended well beyond any geographic area. At that time, WCA was known as
Trails Country Center for the Arts (TCCA), and the board has voted to preserve the original Trails Country designation for its premier honor.

Previous winners include Grahame Hopkins, Helen Burlingham, George & LaVonna Hitz, Bill Jones and Odena Brannam.

Miller received the award Sunday, September 25, at a ceremony hosted by Winnsboro Center for the Arts (200 Market St., Winnsboro), where she was introduced by Becky Pickett and presented two tangible awards of recognition (a mounted certificate and a sculpture cast) from Helen Burlingham and Joe Dan Boyd. All three, Boyd, Burlingham and Pickett, are members of WCA's Treasure Award Committee.


Last week I received the Sweet Blogger Award from LD Masterson, and I meant to acknowledge it sooner, but, you know, life got in the way. I have recently started following LD and enjoy her blog very much.

According to the rules of the award I am supposed to acknowledge who gave it to me, so thank you very much LD, and share 7 random things about me. I'm not sure I can do seven, but here are a few.

I love hamburgers and chocolate ice cream, but not necessarily together.

I was once asked to stop singing during a talent show in elementary school.

I still have clothes I wore in college. Some fit, other's don't, depending on the waistline.

I once worked as a roller-skating car hop.

Another rule of the award is that I am supposed to pass it on to five new blogs. That feels a little awkward, just dropping in on folks I don't even know, so I will pass it on to a few bloggers that I do know and would like to introduce you to:

Tracy Farr, who calls his blog simply, Tracy Farr
Mary at Giggles and Guns
Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder
And Elspeth Antonelli at It's a Mystery

I hope you will visit these blogs if you get a chance. They are well done and offer a variety of content from cartoons to humorous essays, to serious topics related to writing.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Losing a Beloved Pet

This has really been a tough summer here on "Grandma's Ranch." The drought in Texas has wiped out my garden, most of my roses and azaleas, as well as my pasture and many of my other flowers.

Then a couple of weeks ago, one of our goats got bitten by a snake and we lost her. Then the two cats last week, and now we lost one of our dogs.

We got Misha about 17 years ago when we lived in Nebraska. Her breeding was always a bit of a question mark, but I think she was part Pekinese and part long-haired Dachshund. When she was very young and her marking were distinct, there were perfect circles around her eyes that made it look like she had eye-liner on.

She loved the snow in Nebraska and would dive into the snowbanks and then burst out in a flurry of snow and delight. She also loved our evening walks and had several dog friends along the way that she liked to stop and visit. What she didn't like was storms and firecrackers. The Fourth of July was never one of her favorite days.

Misha also did not like many people except my husband and I. She was never mean or aggressive, she just saw everyone as a stranger and would tell them all in no uncertain terms to get out of our house, even when our kids and grandkids came to visit.

When we moved to our place here in East Texas, I wondered how Misha would adapt to being a farm dog after being raised in a city, but she was quite happy here from the first day. It was great to have this big expanse of land to run on after having a backyard that was smaller than my present kitchen.  She knew how to behave around the horse so she wouldn't spook him, and did not bother the goats. She also got along very well with the cats.

Early on, Misha learned the perimeter of our land and knew the boundaries she should not cross. Seldom did she wander off our property, until recently when I think she was having some issues with dementia. I would find her sometimes going down the road, and I would have to go get her. Last night, I was too late. She had been hit.

RIP, Misha, you were a good and loyal friend.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

I never thought I would find myself defending Rick Perry, but I have to agree with a recent column by Steve Chapman who said Perry's mandate that all teen girls in Texas get the HPV vaccine was the right call. Michelle Bachmann, and others, have taken Perry to task saying that making the vaccine mandatory was wrong.

Chapman, who is often a voice of reason when it comes to heated public debate that is more rant than true debate, points out that this is really no different than other vaccines that are mandated by law. Yes, it has that sexual connection since HPV is transmitted via sexual activity, and that is what Chapman thinks has stirred more of the controversy than necessary. To be effective, the vaccine has to be given before sexual activity begins, and, as we all know, that is starting at younger and younger ages.

As many as 20 million people are thought to have an active HPV infection at any given time, and as many as 5.5 million new cases of genital HPV infection occur in the United States each year. Most men and women — about 80 percent of sexually active people — are infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but most people never know they have the virus. It makes sense to have protection when protection is so readily available.

Just to show that the government does get it right sometimes, in a recent session of Congress members of both parties approved legislation to help states get charter schools up and running. Part of the legislation provides access to federal funding for planning and establishing the schools.

Good for us, and good for the young people who will benefit.
I usually end on a positive and upbeat note, but this will be an exception. It has now been a week since two of our cats disappeared, and we doubt that either will come back. Many of my readers have been introduced to John and Orca through previous blog posts and enjoyed their stories. Out here in the country the life-span of a cat can be very short, but we had managed to have these two longer than most of our other cats. They are missed.

I have recently found a website, Digital Book Today, that features the top e-books for Kindle. It is a great place to find quality books, as they only take books that have ranked high enough among readers that they have been "vetted" so to speak. I am thrilled that they considered One Small Victory one of those books. If you have a Kindle and are looking for some good recommendations, I suggest you bookmark the site and visit when you can.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

STOP the XL Pipeline

I've posted about this issue before, and I only raise it again because apparently government approval of the XL Pipeline that will bring tarsands oil from Canada to refineries in Houston is close. Robert Bryce, in a recent column said that President Obama will probably give that approval because not doing so will hurt his chances of re-election.

So, the president is considering something that could prove to be an environmental disaster because of politics? Or is that just Bryce's opinion? Either way, we should let the president know that we don't want the XL Pipeline.

Bryce points out all the ways that the pipeline will benefit the U.S., while downplaying the environmental issues, which are huge.

First of all, this is not regular crude oil that will be coming through these pipes. It is a thick substance that needs chemicals to thin it out and keep it flowing.Those chemicals are highly toxic and could ruin water systems for generations.

The Sierra Club has been following this issue for some time and recently posted a report released by the University of Nebraska that details the disastrous results of a worst-case scenario spill from Keystone XL. According to the report, a tar sands oil spill from the Keystone XL "into the Platte River in Nebraska would form a plume of oil that could extend more than 450 miles, contaminating drinking water for people as far away as Kansas City, Mo., and threatening wildlife habitat….a worst-case spill in the Sandhills region of Nebraska could pollute 4.9 billion gallons of groundwater with a plume of contaminants 40 feet thick, 500 feet wide and 15 miles long."

Read the full article HERE

Unlike crude oil spills, the contamination would last for generations, not just a few months until some cleanup is complete. We are looking at the possibility of destroying a water source completely, and that is true for every state that the pipeline crosses.

An organization, STOP Tarsands Oil Pipeline, that was started right here in East Texas has a website with a lot of facts that the oil companies and politicians fail to mention when talking about this pipeline, including the significant threat to the water supply in Texas should there ever be a leak.

Maybe I shouldn't say "should there ever be a leak." We are all painfully aware of how prevalent oil leaks are.

The other significant environmental issue is the increase of carbon emissions at the refineries. Tarsands production creates three times the greenhouse gases than crude oil. The bay area of Texas is already a hot bed of cancer and other illnesses directly related to pollutants, so we are just going to dump more on them?

Shame on us.

Shame on our government.

And shame on the oil companies who are pushing for this, despite the dangers. All in the name of profit.


On another note, I have just found this great site that features the top e-books for Kindle. It is a great place to find quality books, as they only take books that have ranked high enough among readers that they have been "vetted" so to speak. I am thrilled that they considered One Small Victory one of those books. If you have a Kindle and are looking for some good recommendations. I suggest to bookmark the site and visit when you can.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

At a writer's workshop a long time ago, an editor of True Confessions Magazine suggested that if we were interested in writing for them or one of the other similar publications, we should read the advice columns in the newspapers for story ideas. Writing for those magazines was a good source of income for a writer just starting out, and I considered the idea. However, I just couldn't get into the mind-set to write about some of the things people would ask about in their letters.

I thought of that recently when I was reading Dear Abbey - I still read the columns now and then because you can pick up really interesting character ideas, which is not at all the same as saying I read Playboy because of the articles. Honest.

Anyway, I always thought the letters came from real people and were about real problems, but more recently I have wondered if the letters are made up. Take for instance a recent letter from a man who said that he has a small travel trailer for weekend fishing trips and has always taken his dog along, who sleeps on the bed with him. Now his wife wants to go on a weekend outing with them and he thinks the dog should have first dibs on the bed since she was there first. When he told his wife that she would have to sleep in the back of the truck, she was upset and is now not speaking to him.

The letter-writer thought his wife was being inconsiderate and selfish.

To her credit, Abbey suggested that the man sleep in the back of the truck and let the wife and dog share the bed.

Now I ask. Could that be a true story?

On another note, today I am over at Sylvia Ramsey's blog, Thoughtful Reflections, talking about books and what I do when I am not writing. Stop by if you get a chance. I didn't make anything up in that interview.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thanks to Carl Brookins for an introduction to another good read.

Murder Has No Class
 Rebecca Kent
Berkley Prime Crime  

Tired of the daily news of the world? Read too many grim thrillers or suspenseful detective stories lately? If you are looking for a change of pace, for an amusing, diverting traditional mystery in the best of the cozy fashion, I give you Rebecca Kent. Author of more than twenty-five novels, this one is set in the Cotswolds of Edwardian England when women sought sufferage and the keepers of tradition sought desperately to rein in rabunctious but upper-class young women.

The novel is set at the Bellhaven Finishing School, run by Headmistress Meredith Llewellyn, with the assistance of a staff of tutors. Llewellyn’s tasks are complicated by her extra-sensibility to the ghost of a hanged man who demands her attention to prove his innocence. Meanwhile, some of the girls and some of the servants are anxious to prove their support for the burgeoning suffragette movement in England.

Ms. Kent has got pretty much everything just right. The characterizations, the tone, the emotional turmoil are all in precise keeping with the time and with the story. The principal characters are classy and distinct and any reader tuned in to the traditional mystery will have a pleasurable experience with this novel.
Carl Brookins Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Pointing out the dangers of labeling people, Juan Williams, has this to say in a recent interview in The Dallas Morning News, "Most black people tell me I'm a conservative. Most white people tell me I am a liberal. But this paradigm is a shortcut for the lazy. It is for people who want the ease of not listening."

In the interview, Williams, whose new book is Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, talked about how public debate has gotten skewed. He also answered questions about getting fired by NPR for comments he made about being nervous seeing people in Muslim garb at the airport. First he clarified that the comment had been taken out of context from statements he was making about the fear of terrorism in America since 9/11. He was referencing in general terms that having that fear is natural for most Americans.

Then he went on to talk about how difficult it is to have civil public discourse when everyone is labeled, and that label assigns a certain mindset that others react to. A Democrat can't listen to a Republican, because they are polar opposites. A liberal has nothing to learn from a conservative.

Toward the end of the interview Williams made this point, "The key to expanding debate is to make it solution-oriented. Be very suspicions, even disdainful of people who use speech codes or personal attacks to stop enlightened discussion of the best ideas for moving America forward."

Amen to that.

In that same issue of the newspaper, I read an interesting column by Helen Zoe, an assistant professor of history at Michigan State University in East Lansing. She was asking for a little respect for home economics classes. What I remember of those classes was making an apron, trying to learn how to set a proper table, and cooking something that did not resemble old shoe leather.

Zoe pointed out in her column that "...that producing good, nutritious food is profoundly important, that it takes study and practice, and that it can and should be taught through the public school system."

She is offering that thought as one way to help fight the issues of obesity and chronic disease that are plaguing our society today.

Sounds good in theory, but I think good eating habits start in the home with parents who eat healthy and teach their children to eat healthy. Sit-down family dinners with meat and vegetables as opposed to fast-food take-out, is a good start.

How about you? Does your family eat healthy? What are the challenges you face in trying to maintain a healthy diet?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advice to the Lovelorn

Many thanks to Slim Randles for sharing another story with us. What would I do without my friends who are so generous with their talent and time? Enjoy....

Marvin Pincus, (since his honorary degree, now being called Associate Pincus), turned the lights on his fly-tying bench, coming to focus on the small vice where love issues would be solved.

Dewey Decker, obviously nervous despite sitting in the comfortable green chair, was sipping some coffee.

“Okay, Dewey, I’m ready. What seems to be the trouble?”

“I’m in love, Marvin. Really in love for the first time in my life. I can’t help it. I really can’t!”

“Whoa there!” Marvin said to the valley king of fertilizer products. “You haven’t been backsliding on that thing we discussed last time, have you?”

“You mean the showers? No sir. Been taking them before I ask a girl out. It’s not that, Marvin, it’s just this woman’s so perfect and she doesn’t know I’m alive.”

“In this valley? That’s pretty hard to do. Who is she?”

Dewey fidgeted and then whispered, “Emily Stickles.”

“Emily … Stickles? You mean the same Miz Stickles that tried to get my counseling service stopped?”

Dewey nodded. “I can’t help it, Marvin. Honest.”

“Well,” said the older man, “she is awfully easy on the eyes.”

“And her cheekbones, Marvin. Did you see them? And the kind look in her eyes? And the way she …”

“Got it! Okay now. So why haven’t you asked her out?”

“She’d never go out with me…”

“Faint heart ne’er won fair lady, Mr. Decker. You need to dress your best, go right up to her and introduce yourself, tell her who you are and what you do, and ask her out. Now, I’d do it in daylight. Go for coffee. You know, so she doesn’t think you’re stalking her.”

“You really think so?”

“Absolutely. And, to emphasize the point, I’m going to tie you up an attractant fly on a number two streamer hook. You will look at this every day, reminding yourself to preen and look your best, take showers, and just cowboy up. I think maybe a bivisible with jungle cock eyes.”

In mere minutes the fly was securely in Dewey’s hands and he was headed home.

“I’ll do it,” he said. “I’ll do it!”

He looked. There was no one around. “Maybe next week...”

Brought to you by Slim’s new book “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

As if my life wasn't already frenetic enough, things are really going to be busier than ever the next couple of weeks. We are counting down to the opening of Arsenic and Old Lace at the Main Street Theatre in Sulphur Springs, Texas  on September 29th, so I only have two weeks to finish learning my lines. And in addition to lines, I have to learn more blocking moves for this show than I ever have for any other show I've been in.(If you click on the link you can see pictures from one of the rehearsals.)

In addition to that, I have to start preparing for two shows at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts. One, a Reader's Theatre production, will run the last weekend in October, and the other is our annual holiday show. It doesn't open until the first weekend in December, but we need to be in rehearsals by the middle of October, which means I need to be ordering scripts, etc. now. 

I'm also arranging an Author Showcase, to run the first weekend in November in conjunction with the Winnsboro Fine Art Market. Thankfully, there is not a lot of work involved with that, but I do need to contact a couple more authors, and prepare press releases, registration forms, and exhibit space. 

On the home front, we are getting a new deck built, and work will probably start next week. That means I have to finish emptying the "step" flowerboxes that connect two sets of stairs leading up to the deck. They are filled with good, rich dirt so I don't want to lose that when the steps are taken down.  I love those flowerboxes, and in this current drought, the flowers there have been some of the very few to survive.

In the midst of all that, I have to finish editing a book for one client and get started on another right after that. I also have deadlines to prepare Open Season for electronic release in December, and I am really trying to finish writing a new book.

To get through this and not mentally explode, I will have to make lists of tasks and really focus. Sometimes my approach to a daily task list is what my husband calls "push down- pop up". Apparently that was a common term among computer programmers to describe how you would be pushing down on one task and somethings else would pop up that needed attention. My husband says I am much to easily mislead by a pop up.

How about you? Is it easy for you to stay focused on the task at hand?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

To some people it might seem like all we do is open wounds to have them bleed again by remembering these horrific events. It's better to just pack it all away and forget about it and get on with the healing. That is the same approach that many take to the grieving process in general. When we lose someone we love, get over it.

Problem is, we don't get over it. A loss is always there. That person is missing from our lives and we never forget that fact. We may learn to live with that fact, and even enjoy life despite that loss, but there is no getting over it.

And there should be no getting over the horrors of genocide, slavery, mass murders, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee, or 9/11. Memorials should stand in memory of those who died, as well as reminders that at times humanity is sometimes its own worst enemy.

So I am remembering 9/11 with sadness for those who lost their lives, respect for those who gave their lives to save others, and for all the families directly touched by those losses. I am also remembering with anger for all those who use religion as a basis for deciding to commit such horrible acts of terrorism.

Not long after 9/11 Alan Jackson recorded the song, Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning, and every time I hear the song still, it touches me deeply.  I thought it appropriate to have a link to the song today.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

As we listen to all kinds of people from politicians to celebrities ranting and raving and getting downright down and dirty in public, more and more people are calling for more civility in public discourse. Eight out of ten Americans think that the lack of civility is a serious problem. I am one of those eight.

Columnist Gregory Rodriguez wrote a recent piece about the civility challenge and quoted  Kristen Cambell of the National Council on Citizenship, who said that "Successful civic engagement is all about capturing and harnessing empathy."

In his book, The Science of Evil, Simon Baron-Cohen, a Cambridge University psychiatrist, refers to empathy as "double-mindedness." That refers to a person's ability to take into consideration the feelings of another.  Cruelty and unkindness occurs when people are "single-minded", too focused on their own feelings and thoughts to be able to connect with someone else or respond to them in a reasonable manner.

I like that idea. I plan to work harder at being double-minded.

Here's something that could brighten your day.  The Dallas zoo recently named a new baby giraffe "Jamie" in honor of  eight-and-a-half month-old James Sikes who loved giraffes. The boy died in July from a brain tumor, and he had been fascinated with giraffes from the time his parents took him to the zoo when he was two-months old. As he struggled with his illness, he liked to hear songs and stories about giraffes. After he died, a family friend heard about the contest sponsored by the Dallas Zoo to name the new baby giraffe and helped organize a campaign on a social media site to name the giraffe after James. Because the young giraffe is a girl, the family decided to use "Jamie" and that name won by a landslide.

For a writer it is always such a joy to discover a new review for one of their books, and I just found this one for One Small Victory. "Excellent! That is one small word that hardly describes a novel written with such heart.   Maryann Miller is an accomplished writer, weaving her tale of intrigue, romance and determination.  She takes her readers on a wild ride of adventure that will not be soon forgotten."
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Reviewer:  Elaine Fuhr, Allbooks Reviews Int.

I am participating in the East Texas Book Fest in Tyler tomorrow, where I will have copies of my books available. I love to go to venues like that where I can meet people who love books as much as I do. It is always so much fun to talk to readers, as well as the other authors there. I always come back energized.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

School Days, School Days

Since school has started for most kids across the United States, I thought I would share some of my memories of school days when my kids were young. This is another excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck, which is still under consideration for publication at a small independent publisher.

I clearly remember the first year I had more kids in school than I had at home. It's hard to miss one or two when there's still three or four hanging around. But this particular year I was down to two at home.

That first Monday morning of school, I got up bright and early, and surprisingly, with a very cheerful outlook. l don't normally function too well in the mornings, smile or no smile, but that morning was very special.

This being only the first day, the kids were as excited about school as I was, and they were already dressed by seven o'clock. We had a nice leisurely breakfast. Then they collected their bags, their brand new supplies, and their lunches and were on the way by eight o'clock.

While the twins were engrossed in a television program, I sat down with a second cup of coffee and a book. (The quiet was almost deafening, but I loved every minute of it.)

I contemplated flaking the whole day away with my coffee and my book, but just the thought of that much caffeine gave me such a burst of energy, I couldn’t sit still.

By ten-thirty, I paused to take stock. In two and a half hours I’d done the dishes, two loads of wash, made beds, cleaned the bathrooms, and cleaned up my bedroom without a single interruption.

That reinforced my belief in the combined value of Sesame Street and the first day of school. But it was only the beginning. I had other special moments to savor throughout the day:
At lunch time, there were only two kids to make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for and to clean up spilled Kool-Aid after.

Later, I had two hours of solitude while they napped, and I didn't want to do anything but sit on the sofa and enjoy my good feelings. I could have gone to my office to get a little writing done. After all, I’d been waiting most of the summer for more than fifteen minutes of solitude to write, but there was something so nice about just sitting on the couch in absolute silence, totally alone, nothing I had to do.

The therapeutic value of that first day of school was indescribable, and by two-thirty when Michael was due home, I felt like I had spent a year in a rest home. I was actually delighted to see his smiley little face and listen to him describe his day in a voice ten octaves higher than conversation level.
He was our resident Jason.

“School was great.”


“The teacher said cause I can read so good, I can help the other kids.”

“That’s nice, Michael, but you might want to work on your grammar.”


“Never mind.”

Considering how beautiful that first day of school was, you will understand why I was reluctant to let David come home early the next day when the school nurse called to say he was sick. He could have at least given me a full week of bliss before getting sick.   

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Holiday Weekend

In honor of the Labor Day holiday weekend for those of us in the States, I thought I would the lyrics to this great song by the country group Alabama. To listen to the song on YouTube, click on the title:

  "Forty Hour Week"

There are people in this country who work hard every day.
Not for fame or fortune do they strive.
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay.
And it's time a few of them were recognized.

Hello Detroit auto workers, let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a living', just to send it on down the line.
Hello Pittsburgh steel mill workers, let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a living', just to send it on down the line.

This is for the one who swings the hammer, driving home the nail.
Or the one behind the counter, ringing up the sale.
Or the one who fights the fires, the one who brings the mail.
For everyone who works behind the scenes.

You can see them every morning in the factories and the fields.
In the city streets and the quiet country towns.
Working together like spokes inside a wheel.
They keep this country turning around.

Hello Kansas wheat field farmer, let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line.
Hello West Virginia coal miner, let me thank you for your time.
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line.

This one is for the one who drives the big rig, up and down the road.
Or the one out in the warehouse, bringing in the load.
Or the waitress, the mechanic, the policeman on patrol.
For everyone who works behind the scenes.
With a spirit you can't replace with no machine.

Hello, America,
Let me thank you for your time.

And let me add my thanks to all the people who work to keep the things we take for granted running smoothly. Hope everyone here in the States has a safe and happy holiday weekend. BBQ anyone?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Thousands of companies that received money via the economic stimulus efforts, are apparently not taking care of their tax payments. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, almost 4,000 companies that received contracts or government grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are delinquent on $750 million-plus in unpaid corporate taxes and excise and unemployment taxes.

Thank you so much for your part in keeping the national debt so high.

Book banning is alive and well in Dallas where Slaughterhouse Five has just been banned by the School Board because of offensive language and graphic violence. Apparently a parent wrote to the school board to complain about the offensive content and the board agreed to pull the book from high school libraries. Commenting on this decision, Dallas Morning News columnist, Jacquielynn Floyd wrote, "they're making the anti-literate statement that staying ignorant is preferable to exposure to ideas and that a single word that offends one person must be withheld from all."

Offering a counterpoint, Mark Davis, another DMN columnist, wrote that, "It is the role of school trustees to restrict works to reflect a town's prevailing views."

Silly me. I thought books were chosen on the basis of the literary merit, not the personal tastes of a board of trustees that is comprised of business people and community leaders. Shouldn't the teachers be choosing what books will enhance a student's learning?

In keeping with my wish to always end with something positive. I was positively delighted to read a recent news story about a California school superintendent who gave up his $288,000 annual salary for three-and a half years to save educational programs in Fresno County.Kudo's to Larry Powell for that act of generosity and integrity

See, all you well-heeled administrators, CEOs, and members of Congress. It can be done.