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New Years and Politics

  • Posted on December 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

The cartoon version of me living in a cartoon world called politics.

At the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, I always tend to think about the past, present, and future.  This year is no different.  I am sitting here thinking how politicians always manage to pull the American people apart.  They wait until the last possible minute to pull some rabbit out of a proverbial hat that we are supposed to buy as some kind of miracle of sorts.  I don’t really buy the drama that is going on in Washington D.C. because they so easily passed two bills recently that didn’t get much notice.  The first was FISA and the second was a pay raise for themselves.

Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is good for another five years.  Just think about that.

Just when you are lead to believe that the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on anything, you discover that they both believe in stepping on the constitution to catch the bad people, whoever they may be.  We can live safer knowing that they got General Patraeus out of office through the search of his email correspondence.  Now I frankly don’t care about Patraeus as he is of no real concern to me.  However, the fact that my email could be investigated or even my website, well, that is another matter.  I believe in free speech and I certainly believe in utilizing the World Wide Web for learning and sharing ideas.  I don’t believe the government should be able to search any of my documents because I may use some word that they have put on a terror list of commonly used words by terrorists.

About the pay raise, you can see it is not seemingly huge but when compared to most American worker’s pay it is humongous.

Therefore, here at the end of the year there is drama going on in Washington D.C.  Both parties attend the same parties and social circles.  Many even marry each other.  Politicians also seem to live cozy with the press.  If you work in politics, it is only a matter of time before you are on the political shows or in some cases become the show.  The story that they don’t get along just doesn’t work with me because they get along when they want to.  I remember when Senator Teddy Kennedy died.  When Senator Orrin Hatch spoke about his relationship with Kennedy the veil of contention was lifted.  When Teddy asks Orrin, “How did I do?”  You must think about the theater that was created by both parties when dealing with legislative issues.  At that time, I realized that all of the fighting by the politicians is some kind of weird Kabuki Theater.  The drama is created for the American people.  We are expected to think they are fighting for us but the reality is they fight for themselves and the moneyed interests.  We have been expected to “share the pain” of their decisions but in reality the poor and middle class bears the burden of all that happens in politics.

This past year has been frustrating, especially for teachers like I.  Here in Michigan we have painfully watched as politicians systematically took away many of our hard earned benefits through legislative action.  We have to pay more into our insurance package.  Years ago, the insurance was one of the most sought after benefit for teachers.  Now, it is built in with plans that make teachers be more of a gambler than most teachers would like to be.  There is a built in cap, which means if you want a better package, it is no longer negotiable.  Our retirement package has been changed and we are expected to pay more for that change.  Our union dues can no longer be taken out of our paychecks.  Our union has to work harder to collect those dues.  Teacher evaluations in our state are now tied to our students’ test scores.  Within the next couple of years, it will be around 50% of our evaluations.  In addition, as an art teacher, my evaluation is tied to reading and math scores. It seems we are all reading teachers these days.  Recently, Governor Snyder signed into law “right to work” legislation.  He did this as a favor to all of us dissatisfied teachers of course.  Please note the “snark” in my voice.  Here in Sturgis we took a 0% pay raise to go along with all of the other things that happened this year.  We were happy because at least we have our jobs.  This is the kind of year it has been, a contentious one, leaving many people confused and worried about the future.

I have always been an optimist.  I look to the future thinking positive thoughts.  However, I have learned that it is difficult to be in charge of your own fate these days.  It doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you really are.  What matters is how the numbers look on a database.  Things that are not measured like creativity, relationships, emotions, devotion, time, and caring won’t show up on that database that determines my ability as a teacher.  I will live with that.  I look to this New Year still hoping that the politicians will wake up and see all the damage they create when they make decisions for the American people that really are insane and stupid.  I cannot help it as I am ever the optimist.  This next year has me thinking that Governor Snyder probably has a plan for me and it probably isn’t what I want.  At the federal level, they have a plan for all of us as well and it probably isn’t what we want.  I will hold out and keep on voting, trying to remove the blight I see that are the politicians that continually serve the rich and connected.  However, it is discouraging to see what happens to people when they become politicians!

The Despot Lives or What’s the Matter with Michigan?

  • Posted on April 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Once again the mass media is working hard trying to get me to care about Will and Kate.  I want to just state this right now for the record.  I care about Will and Kate about as much as I cared about Jon and Kate Plus 8.  I’m not a fan of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” or crappy reality shows, so I’ll pass on the up and coming nuptials.  No matter how I try to avoid this “Wedding of the Century”, it has had an impact on my daily viewing.  Every morning I like to watch a little “Morning Joe” before I go to school.  This is out of habit.  I used to watch Imus.  This show just replaced his show when he was dismissed.  I like the talk format.  Unfortunately, Morning Joe is doing the show this week in London.  They actually think their viewers care about this wedding.   What I want to hear about has more to do with the economy and civil liberties.

Recently, here in Michigan, Benton Harbor was taken over by our governor.  This means basically that the people that live there lost their local representation.  I look at this as taxation without representation.  This kind of behavior is what one might expect if we lived under a King’s rule like in the Will and Kate variety before they lost all of their real power.  Maybe this is why we are supposed to care about Will and Kate.  We are the little serfs looking up to the wonderful future King and Queen.  We should bow and bring our first born child to them for a special blessing.

Mr. Harris, an accountant, is now in charge of Benton Harbor.  The city must pay him $11,000 a month for his services.  He has the power to hire and fire.  The duly elected officials have no power.  Benton Harbor is a very poor community and they are struggling.  One thing I find very interesting is that Benton Harbor and Detroit are both fairly black cities.  These are the two cities that have been targeted thus far to be taken over by the state government.  While the city of Detroit has not been taken over the schools in Detroit have been taken over and are continually being cut back.

Mr. Harris claims he has the backing of the citizens in Benton Harbor.  I don’t know how he would know this because he is not an elected official.  He was appointed by the governor.  Rachel Maddow does a good job of explaining what is going on in Benton Harbor.

Since 2000 it seems more and more to me that no one really cares about our votes.  We had the Bush/Gore election decided by the Supreme Court.  The Kerry/Bush election still has questions about those votes in Ohio.  During the Democratic Primary here in Michigan in 2008, my vote and countless other votes, were stolen and given to Barack Obama.  Both parties are guilty of stealing our votes or just not counting them.  I am tired of being told I live in a Democracy only to discover that my vote doesn’t really count or has been stolen.

It feels like Governor Snyder believes in an Aristocracy type of government.  According to Wikipedia this is a form of government in which the best qualified citizens will rule.  These qualified citizens are usually privileged by birth and class, thus an elite aristocratic class.  How else can he explain “appointing” someone to run a city government?

The more I learn about “rule” under Governor Snyder, the more I believe we now live in Michigan under Despotism.  In this form of government a single entity, yes called a “despot”, rules with an absolute power.  Yes, this is what we have in Governor Rick Snyder.  It’s his way or the highway.  Everyone is in fear of what he will do next.  He has cut the public school budget, so he can give tax breaks to businesses.   When a group of Superintendents of Schools asked to meet with him, he refused to see them.  They might have had some good ideas but he didn’t want to hear them.

Today Governor Snyder gave a speech about reinventing education in Michigan.  He likes that word, reinvention.  However, much of the talk is the same old line the Republicans have been pushing for years in Michigan.  He wants more charter schools, students to spend up to two hours a day with online instruction, and he wants the money to follow the student which it kind of does now to a point.  However, tax payer money doesn’t go to private schools.  I suspect this is something that he will want to change.  Teachers can expect another year to wait to make tenure which would be five years instead of four.  Teachers can also pay 20% of their health care costs with less pay and more work time.  Many people don’t realize that teachers who are let go don’t get unemployment as they are contracted yearly.  If they are out of a job with all of these cuts, they are out of luck.  Governor Snyder says, ‘We will break down the status quo’.  I don’t know what he has been doing for the last ten years or so that he thinks there is some kind of “status quo” in education as education has been constantly changing.  All of us teachers have had to deal with No Child Left Behind and the constant use of assessment materials both good and bad.  At Sturgis we are constantly doing “whatever it takes” to educate students and raise test scores.   We are not complacent.  This is an ongoing process.  I suspect most schools are doing everything they can to raise their test scores.  With Governor Snyder he wants all of this magic to happen while making drastic cuts to education.  It’s that same old mentality that President Bush used, pay less and expect more.

Here is a video about what’s happening at a school in Detroit set up to educate pregnant teens.

We need to all be informed about what is happening around this country.  If this can happen here in Michigan, it can happen in your state as well.

According to Rache,l Michigan wins!  Yes, we have the most over reaching governor of all of the crazy Republicans that have been recently elected.  Lucky us!

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures….or… Let’s just say the Republicans are in POWER!

  • Posted on March 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

Here in Michigan we are that sleepy old state that no one is paying attention to while everything seems to be going on in Wisconsin.  However, it seems like a coordinated battle plan has been drawn by many of the Republican governors in some very key political states all at the same time.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.  The main battles are taking place in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Florida but of course there is also New Jersey as well as other states that I’m not watching as closely as my own.

One of the things I find really interesting is how close these states have been in recent national political elections.  It seems that all of these governors are hell bent on destroying unions, teachers’ unions especially.  The NEA is the biggest of all.  It is the largest professional organization and labor union in the United States.  Republicans have criticized it for years as being a big supporter of the Democratic Party.  In Michigan the MEA has supported more Democrats but has also supported a few Republicans.

Here is more showcasing the sneaky underhanded tactics being used by these governors to push through their ideology much like Wisconsin’s Governor Walker pushed through his plan in the dead of night.|head

The obvious goal is about taking away the financial support to the Democratic Party and to create an environment where business can have whatever they want.  A few years ago at our school everyone read a book entitled, Whatever It Takes.  Of course that book was about educating students.  These governors are using techniques that embody that spirit of whatever it takes to destroy the middle class.  John Edwards always said he wanted to be the voice for the voiceless.  Well, we know John has been permanently derailed because of the choices he made with Rielle Hunter and the fact that the Democratic Party, much like the Republicans, really don’t care about the poor and the voiceless.  However, I must mention here that Newt Gingrich can double down on being bad to his many wives and still gets respect from the Republican Party.  The reason I mention John here is no one is speaking for the voiceless, the poor and the disenfranchised.  President Obama is working as hard as the Republicans at thinking up new ways to screw the poor and the middle class.  Just keep this tidbit in your mind as you read on because no politician is really speaking for the disenfranchised today.  All we hear from politicians is how we have to have a “shared sacrifice”.  I don’t want to get too sidetracked from things but I wonder why these politicians in the following post aren’t sacrificing.  They want everyone else to sacrifice.

The first time I heard about farm subsidies is back in the seventies when I was young.  I was watching the Johnny Carson show.  Johnny had John Wayne on his show.  John Wayne was laughing about how the government pays him not to farm.  Now that’s class warfare!  The current Republican governors all seem to want to give massive tax breaks to corporations; you know those entities that the Supreme Court fully recognizes for their “corporate personhood”.  It seems to me that for years I’ve heard Republicans chastising Democrats for creating “class warfare”.  The Democrats are always pointing out the massive divide between the rich and the poor.  Unfortunately, this only seems to happen around election time, but it’s enough to get the Republicans crying for mercy.  However, truthfully the Republicans have declared a sort of war on the middle class and the poor in this country.  The class warfare of today is created through governmental policies that cater to the whims of the wealthy and big corporations while slashing everything from education to any assistance to the poor or disenfranchised.  I have always believed the one thing that can help to elevate a society is a good education.  It is getting harder and harder to obtain that education when policies are in place to ensure that it fails.  Budget cuts to education are designed really to keep the poor and middle class where they belong, dumb and uneducated.  If enough people were truly educated in this country, they might do something about the sorry state of our democracy.  We hear all about how education is broken but truthfully if you want a good education in this country you better fix poverty.  I know right now there will be some narrow minded person sitting here reading this and thinking how the poor will always be with us.  That’s uncreative, small minded thinking in my book.  The great leveler in society is education because it opens many doors that would be otherwise closed.

If you will remember back to when President Bush was in office you will remember that we had all of those color coded alerts about potential terrorism in our country.  We were constantly kept in a state of fear and panic at the thought that a terrorist might be living next door to us.  These terror alerts were manipulating us during the 2004 election.  Whenever John Kerry would go up in the polls, a new terror alert would be announced and like the sheep we are we would do whatever we were alerted to do.  Today the constant drumbeat has been about those lousy pubic unions and how they are screwing up our society.  Yes, it’s the lousy teachers that suck the blood and life from our society.  Even though some of them may give hope to the hopeless, they are the new enemy of the poor.  If it wasn’t for those greedy teachers, the poor would have money.  Sometimes you know the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  Those Republicans have called for a moratorium on spending for anything that will help you or me.  However, if there is some new subsidy or tax break they can give to corporations and the wealthy they’ll get right on it because they still pretend to believe in Reaganomics where that “trickle down” theory was invented.  Truthfully, our society is becoming one of the wealthy and everyone else that are left to “attend” to the wealthy.  I’ve never been able to figure out why enough isn’t enough for the wealthy.  How many billions do you need?  That trickle down theory just doesn’t work because the richer someone at the top gets, the richer they want to be.  They don’t let it trickle down and the only way you are going to get it to trickle down is through government policies that ensure that it does.  Our “desperate times” are created by policies designed to make the rich get richer and screw the poor.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Unfortunately, we don’t truly know how desperate we all are until we get a Republican governor to show us!  I’ll leave you with the desperate people in Wisconsin that have done everything they can to make our country wake up to what’s really going on.  This clip includes Michael Moore on the Rachel Maddow show.

Here’s part 2 of that show!

Disgusted Three Times Over

  • Posted on February 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’ve been busy lately, but I’ve read a few things tonight and I just cannot get them out of my mind.  These are the three things that disgust me tonight.

Heating assistance for the poor?  Oh, don’t worry, you can always curl up with a good book under the covers and pray to God you don’t freeze to death when you can’t pay that fuel bill.  I would like all the “sane” people in Washington D.C. to please stand up and make sure this bright idea doesn’t happen.  As cold as it is today, you would have to be one insane son of a bitch to even consider cutting these people off.  It’s not like you’re cutting them off crack cocaine.  This is life or death.  In December President Obama and his new found Republican cronies had no problem giving tax cuts to the wealthy.  Now they’re in “cut” mode and who are they going to pick on?  They’ll pick on some poor family that has all they can do to keep their homes heated and their heads above water.

I remember a couple years ago here in Michigan when a man froze to death in Bay City.

To me this is unconscionable.  We can spend boat loads of money in Iraq and Afghanistan.  However, when it comes to the least among us here in the United States, we cannot seem to find two nickels to throw to the poor.

I guess this guy wasn’t in need of heating assistance.

The sad part is people voted for this joker.  Now they will have to spend more money on another election simply because he was more interested in playing these games than doing his job.

In other education news here in Michigan there may be changes to the MEAP and MME.  This is from the Detroit News;

The State Board of Education will consider a plan today to raise the passing scores on state standardized tests, a move that could mean thousands more students and hundreds more schools won’t meet proficiency levels.

From The Detroit News:

Now if more schools don’t pass proficiency levels than maybe they could be either taken over by the state or privatized.  Some lucky businessman could determine what’s best for your child based on his bottom line.  What’s the bottom line you say?  It’s his profit margin!

The State of the Union and that Pesky CEO Pay

  • Posted on January 24, 2011 at 10:39 pm

This morning Peggy Noonan was on the Morning Joe show.  I watch the show as I’m getting ready for work.  I always think it is interesting when I hear Republicans like Peggy and Joe singing the praises of President Obama.  They both just love Obama and are so thrilled that he is moving more towards the “center”.  I, of course, find all of this laughable because Obama has always been pretty much right of center.  If he was any where left of that golden center, health care would have a public option and we’d be out of these two wars.  I have to make a clarification here as both Peggy and Joe insisted this morning that they are not really into that “Republican” label.  They are really “conservatives”.  All I know is that a thorn known by any other name is still prickly.

I sit here thinking about the state of the union address.  Of course we are all being told that President Obama is going to embrace business with some kind of love fest.  Recently, he put an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal where he said that we have to look at old, outdated rules and regulations.  I’m really curious about this because I have a nephew who sustained a traumatic work place injury about ten years ago.  I’m sure he wishes there were better rules and regulations in place when he had his hand cut off in a meat cutter.  In business, it always comes down to the almighty dollar.  Let’s see is it worth putting that screw on the “kiddie” pool or will we make more money even with a lawsuit, if we don’t?

The questions business must think about.  I wonder what went through the minds of those Toyota executives when they tried covering up their little problem.

You can read President Obama’s entire executive order.  There isn’t a lot to it, but it really makes me wonder why President Obama even bothered with it.  However, reading numbers 4 & 5 really get my curiosity up.  It seems to be quite open to interpretation.  The lines seem a little blurry to me.

Or even his editorial piece.

As stated in that Executive Order and to the extent permitted by law, each agency must,
among other things: (1) propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned
determination that its benefits justify its costs (recognizing that some benefits
and costs are difficult to quantify); (2) tailor its regulations to impose the
least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking
into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs
of cumulative regulations; (3) select, in choosing among alternative regulatory
approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages;
distributive impacts; and equity); (4) to the extent feasible, specify performance
objectives, rather than specifying the behavior or manner of compliance
that regulated entities must adopt; and (5) identify and assess available
alternatives to direct regulation, including providing economic incentives
to encourage the desired behavior, such as user fees or marketable permits,
or providing information upon which choices can be made by the public

I’ve been curious about the push for business in government for awhile now.  Here in Michigan we have a new governor, a businessman.  In the last election Maine and Florida, like Michigan went to the business world for their governors.  Now, I hear talk of President Obama warming to business and yet I saw on MSNBC today that American businesses have created about two million jobs this past year.  However, only 600,000 are in the United States.  I keep hearing the words “business friendly” and I’m not sure exactly what that means but I can deduce that it might imply “labor unions” not so friendly.  It really does come down to the bottom dollar.  How can a business turn the highest profit?  The cost of labor has to go down to make business happy or they can just keep hiring workers in other countries.  Where does that leave the American people?

Our Governor spoke last week and I’m still wondering exactly what he’s going to do but I know it’s going to be some kind of love affair with the business world.  Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that business has to be able to make a profit.  I’m just not so sure that those high CEO pays are all that necessary.  Other countries seem to curb the appetite of their CEO pay.  It is destroying our country.  Here is a good take on it.

Notice that CEO pay can be 400 times the pay of the average worker.  I would say that is kind of excessive!  If we want to fix business in this country, then maybe we should start at the top and stop making the little guy continue to give up things and make concessions.  American CEO Pay needs to be adjusted.  Every CEO should be thinking about his or her country.  John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”  We can start with CEO pay.  Maybe President Obama could create an executive order there.  Maybe the government should do business only with corporations that limit the CEO pay.  President Obama imposed a restriction on CEO pay for companies involved in the bailout plan.  However, many of them found ways around that little gem.  I think our government shouldn’t do business with any corporation that has excessive CEO pay.  If you really want to make your stomach churn, just check out the AFL-CIO site on executive pay.  It really will make you sick. If you’re too lazy to do the search, just check the top 100 here:

There is something wrong with business when the CEO can make such tremendous figures while the little people at the bottom of this food chain are continually asked to take a cut.

I’ll be watching the president tomorrow night.  I’ll be hoping that he’s thinking about those little people at the bottom, but I have this sneaking feeling it’s going to be more about the bottom line for business and how we all have to sacrifice a little bit more.  However, I know that guy at the top won’t be feeling a thing!

As I was looking around tonight I came across a great “read” on what’s happening with public sector unions.  This is a blog post by a teacher.

Just keep all of this in mind when your listening to the president Tuesday night.

Rape Victim, Bullying and Suicide….Tales from Michigan

  • Posted on November 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Samantha Kelly

Wayne County prosecutor, Kym Worthy said, “Due to the tragic and untimely death of our 14- year old victim we did not have sufficient evidence of a crime that we could present to the court today.  As a result we had to move to dismiss the case.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.”

These are hollow words when you find out the whole story of young Samantha Kelly.

This is the law in Michigan as it pertains to Third Degree Sexual Conduct which Joseph Tarnopolski, 18, was accused of committing.

Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct – Section 750.520d (a) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exists:
That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age
Force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual penetration. Force or coercion includes but is not limited to any of the circumstances listed in section 520b(1)(f)(i) to (v)
The actor knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapable, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

(2) Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony punishable b imprisonment for not more than 15 years.

Here is a good article about it.

It was quite fortunate and lucky for Joe that his teen victim was tormented by his friends and sister to the extent that she saw no other alternative than to commit suicide.  Something is really wrong with this picture.  It’s unfortunate that this girl wasn’t given the counseling and help that she obviously needed but it is more unfortunate that the bullying was allowed that eventually caused her suicide.  What I find interesting about this case is it seems to have gone unnoticed by most of the big media.  This girl seems to be unimportant.  She didn’t attend Princeton.  She wasn’t from a wealthy family.  She’s pretty much a “nobody” and nobody seems to really care.  Her poor mom wants justice for her child but she isn’t going to get it as her daughter didn’t live long enough to testify in court.  There has to be something wrong with an 18 year old having sex with a fourteen year old

This young man seems to get around as he has another allegation of rape against him.

The video at this sight is really interesting and well worth watching.

This is the ninth student in Michigan that committed suicide after being bullied in school.

Obviously, something more has to be done to stop students from taunting each other.

From my point of view I find it alarming how many bully cases seem to be happening in recent times.  Many that we hear about are escalated cases that lead to a suicide.  Children today are growing up fast, faster than I remember as a kid.  I think the issue of bullying is far more pronounced in these modern times as there are so many new outlets for students to utilize for bullying.  When I was in high school back in the seventies we all knew about girls that were “easy” and guys that you didn’t want to date.  Today it really is different.  With all of the social connections students can make online and with text messaging, it isn’t really surprising that these same tech tools are being used to cause much pain.  Schools have to be diligent in addressing the problems that bullying creates in our modern society.  Most people wouldn’t think this type of harassment could lead to a suicide but teens are at a fragile time in their lives.  This is a time when their peers mean so much more to them than the adults in their life.  When those same peers turn on them, I’m sure students must feel hopeless.  We as teachers and adults must do everything we can to educate students about what it means to be bullied.  Most kids don’t see themselves as bullies so it is easy for them to fall into a “pack” mentality when picking on other students.  Students need to be called out on their behavior no matter who they are trying to bully.

I’ve had students try to bully classmates but I have also had student try to bully me.  I will not tolerate any of this in my classroom.  Students have to be told when they are being offensive to another person.  Young teens don’t always know how their behavior is offensive.  Since their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed they lack some of that obvious decision making process that most adults have acquired.

Bullying has been around a long time.  I remember my first term at Michigan State University.  I was bullied because I was forced to be the third person in a room with two students that chose to be roommates.  There was over crowding that year so I had to wait for a room to become available the second trimester.  The girls came from Birmingham, Michigan and later I learned that most people considered them “Birmingham Bitches”.  They were horrible to me and I generally don’t ever think about them.  The one girl was the leader and the other one was just her patsy.  The whole floor couldn’t stand them and their treatment of me.  I was a very shy girl that came from a small town and I didn’t stand up for myself like I would today.  In my case the RA met with these girls about their treatment of me.  I hadn’t complained but other people couldn’t stand the way these girls were treating me.  I was use to abuse as I grew up with ten brothers.  I didn’t fight back.  However, after that meeting, the two girls were worse!  I finally got some peace when I was able to move to another room.  That was then and this is now.  That floor filled with other students stepped up and tried to get something done.  Today it seems like most students would join the bullies.  We have to do everything we can to make young people understand that their behavior has consequences.

It’s tough being a teen today.  They are bombarded with all kinds of images that show them what is expected of them.  However, most of those images seem to lack any kind of moral center.  If we want our young teen to grow up to be adults that we can be proud of we must do everything we can to fight for justice.  We cannot let teens think they can get by with bullying without any form of consequences.  This young teen rape victim didn’t see a clear alternative for herself.  We must make sure that our young people are brought up with a sure identity of who they are so they don’t feel like all is hopeless when confronted with a difficult situation.

As far as the young man, Joe, is concerned he may end up in court for another case.  I don’t know why they cannot prosecute him.  I don’t even know if he understands that having sex with a fourteen year old is dead wrong.  Some day he will have to realize that he contributed to this young girl’s death.  That can be a lot to live with.  Some may think he doesn’t care and maybe he doesn’t but surely her face has to stay in his memory for years to come!

Cheeseburger Festival in Caseville, Michigan

  • Posted on August 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

Every small town has some kind of festival designed to get people into town to promote the businesses.  Caseville, Michigan is no exception with their Cheeseburger Festival.  The festival runs ten days long and it’s all about cheeseburgers, music, street venders, and fun water sports.  I was visiting my sister and her family.  They decided to head up to the festival so we went.  However, we did not participate in any of the events.  We walked up and down the streets and saw many vendors with bright colored supplies.  It reminded me of a very small Shipshewana flea market.  There were plenty of food places frying cheeseburgers on grills and you could smell that greasy smell throughout the town.  We did go to the local Cheeseburger Museum which was not about cheeseburgers at all but similar to most small town museums with old things donated from the local people from tools, to war paraphernalia, an assortment of ceramic plates and even someone’s wedding dress.

Going to little festivals like this brings in all kinds of characters.  It’s more fun to see some of the people and the things they bring to the festival that I find more interesting.  I loved the tie dyed appearing Volkswagen bug.  If I was in college I’d love have a vehicle that looked like that!  It looks like something you would take to the beach with a couple of surf boards plopped on top.  While Caseville has a beautiful beach we didn’t go to the beach.   I could see Lake Huron as I peaked by the homes as we were leaving to go back to Marlette.  There were plenty of motorcycle riders and they seem to have their own rules for the road.  I photographed one bike with a helmet on it that said, “My other toy is a dick.”  I think it takes a “special” kind of person to wear something like that!  It certainly wouldn’t be anyone I happen to know.  Of course you could buy some “cheesy” looking t-shirts to celebrate the festival even though the festival over all is set up for fun with family.

We ended the afternoon by stopping by “Shaggy J’s” Eatery & Pub in Pigeon, Michigan.  My brother Pete treated us all to lunch.  The only one that liked their meal was me as I had the Parmesan salad.  It was pretty good.  However, the rest of the lunches were pretty questionable.  We all had problems with the onion curls that were more like onion salt mixed with thin, curly strips of batter and deep fat fried than anything remotely related to a real onion!  None of us liked it.  It looked like a large plate of calamari when they brought it out but its taste was fairly indescribable.  We tried the fried dill pickle which is essentially a dill pickle put in batter and fried.  It was an easy way to take five calories and turn them into one hundred and fifty.  It reminded me of when I lived in Oklahoma in the eighties when everything was deep fat fried from okra to zucchini.  The service was also confusing as the young woman tended to make her own substitutes for items such as sweet tea rather than discussing it with the client.

At the end of the day we all had fun and it was great seeing my sister Nancy, her family and my brother, Pete, who was down visiting all the way from Juneau, Alaska.  Every small town has festivals to get people to visit.  We all should participate and go to these events.  With the economy so deeply in the tank this is one “stimulus” spending that can be fun for all involved!

Miller Family Reunion

  • Posted on August 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Many pictures from the Miller family past can be seen here.

I am truly a “home body”.  I would prefer to be in my home better than any where else.  Even though I live alone it still is the one place in the world that I can just be me twenty four hours a day.  I like the feel of my bed, the antics of my crazy dog and cat, and the warm comfort of my “things” around me.  It’s a relief to be home after a long weekend away!

This past weekend I went to our “Miller” family reunion.  This is the family on my father’s side.  There were well over one hundred people at the reunion which was held in Dexter, Michigan at the Hudson Metro Park.  The weather was pretty good and we all had a pleasant time out under the trees.  Many of us waited until the last of the day to leave.  People came from all over the country to visit with family they hadn’t seen in years.  I was really surprised and impressed at my brothers as they made this reunion a priority.  I have ten brothers and nine of them made it to this reunion.  Many of my brothers live in Alaska but they worked vacation time around this event.  All of the Miller families were represented.  The only one missing from our family was my brother Jim who lives in Mexico.  I’m sure he would have come if he was able to find a way.  Much thanks goes to the Nye family which orchestrated this reunion.  Aunt Katie Nye is my father’s baby sister.  There are only three Miller girls left, Katie, Ester and Glady.  All of the other brothers and sisters from the Miller family have passed away including my dear father.  My father would have been proud of his boys and girls for making this reunion a priority.   Three of us were so tied to our dogs that we brought them with us but I must say all of the dogs were on their best behavior!

It was a potluck and there was plenty to eat all day long!  We played Euchre and had an auction to raise money for the next reunion which will be in two years.  We also celebrated my Aunt Esters ninetieth birthday. 

She was thrilled that so many came to this reunion.  I think she was truly tickled to see everyone.  Aunt Glady didn’t make it and I’m not sure why.  Aunt Katie made a baby blanket that was auctioned off and that was quite a memento as she is in her early eighties.

It’s always difficult to have long meaningful conversations when you’re trying to get around and see family that you haven’t seen in years when there are so many of them.  I didn’t get to really talk with everyone like I would have liked but I totally enjoyed the day.  I would have enjoyed even more time visiting.  I bought a rather large framed artwork that I will be taking to school.  It’s one wild and rather primitive looking cat.  I will be using it as a sample for a special project my students will work on.  It was so much fun bidding against my brother Toby.  He ended up with one and I ended up with the other.  I think his plan was to bid me up and I was supposed to get both of them.  I foiled that one when he had to pay for one of them.  He was flying so our cousin Jim agreed to take it back to New Mexico with him.  I had a pleasant time talking with Jim as he had visited the Frederick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and saw the Dale Chihuly exhibit.  I saw it Memorial Weekend so it was fun talking about the art.

There weren’t a lot of young people.  I think it’s hard to get them to this type of an event.  I know my son wasn’t too keen on giving up his weekend so he stayed home in Chicago.  I did have a nice talk with Linda Steigenga’s daughter, Kayla and her husband.  She’s a dog lover like me and brought her beautiful Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixed dog to the reunion.  She and her husband are both attending Ferris State University.  She reminded me so much of her mother just as Linda reminds me of her mother.  The cycle just continues.  We are all from our parents.  A part of them lives in each of us.  My cousin Carol is always the life of the party.  She came over and gave me a hug.  I told her she smelled good and she told me that was “sex”.  It ended up being “White Diamonds” but Carol made it possible for me to put her husband Joe on the spot.  I love Carol as she is hilarious and always ready for a good time.  I partnered with my brother Pete in the Euchre tournament.  It was probably a bad decision as both our cards were horrible.  We crashed and burned fast.  It didn’t really matter though as there were many other people to visit.

In our hearts I know that all of us were thankful for the opportunity to see each other and break bread together in the spirit of our parents.  Our heritage invites stories of the past but this group was working on stories for the future.  Many met and reminisced about the past and caught up on the day.  Many grew up close but scattered like the wind when their jobs took them far away.  We are all descendants of the Miller family with a rich heritage of large families, Catholicism and sharing.  We were a community in the homes we grew up in and we were a community on this day.  We came together and shared like one heart beat the experiences of our lives, good and bad, that made us who we are today.  I will treasure this day and my heritage.  I will embrace the memory of my kin and pray that all remain healthy until we meet again.

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