Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy on Health Insurance

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American...will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

— Ted Kennedy

I haven't always agreed with Ted Kennedy, but on this issue he has been absolutely, and tenaciously, right.

Why in the world would anyone prefer to have a private, for profit, insurance company rationing health care rather than We, the People, jointly sharing the costs and benefits?

I don't want the Canadian plan, but it's better than the status quo.
I don't want the French plan, but it's better than the status quo.
I don't want the British plan, but it's better than the status quo.

I want an American plan, drawing on the best ideas from all the other industrialized nations, a plan that will guard our right to keep our doctors and even our private insurance if that is what any one of us wants, but that also has a public option to help reduce costs and insure that every American has health care when he or she needs it.

Please call/write/e-mail your Congressmen and Senators. Doing nothing is not acceptable. Let them know we will not let them bankrupt our nation by refusing to reform the monstrous status quo. Let them know we are tired of for-profit insurance companies rationing health care. Let them know that the majority of us want universal coverage for every American.

Health insurance reform -- WITH a public option -- this year!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We the People...

...of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity should reform the health insurance system in 2009. IMHO.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Concert - Prestidigitation

Roy Clark will be in Cedartown for a concert at Cedartown Civic Auditorium next month. That occasioned my search for a Roy Clark guitar solo on youTube for my Sunday Concert. But along the way I happened upon this. Roy is a magical guitarist, but even he may be unable to match this feat of prestidigitation (quick fingers). Take a look and listen. I especially enjoy the left-hand solo in the middle.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Lion's Paw

Twenty-four nine-year-olds gathered at my feet on Monday and each day since to hear the adventure of Penny and Nick and their new fried, Ben. I wonder how many times I have read these vivid words.
She would ignore the huge oaks with Spanish moss hanging like dirty gray laundry from every limb.
A foot above her face there was a gray stringed mop, and even as she lay looking up at it a silver drop of water fell from the end of one of the strings and hit her squarely in the eye.
Regular visitors to the my blog (which I have woefully neglected since I joined Facebook) know that my favorite children's book is The Lion's Paw by Robb White. In 1946 White, a Navy commander during the Second World War, created this wonderful adventure set in Florida during the uncertainties of that great war. Two runaway orphaned siblings meet a boy whose father is a naval officer lost in the Pacific and presumed dead. Presumed dead by the navy, the boy's relatives, and everyone else except the boy and his two new companions. They set out to sail their sloop, newly christened The Lion's Paw, to Captiva Island where they will search for a Lion's Paw seashell to complete the collection the boy had begun with his father. He is sure that, if he can find the shell, his father will make it home.

Robb White's sensory images are crisp and delicious. The suspense is riveting. The characters are real and appealing. Here in the late forties we have a heroine who is resourceful, determined, and brave. Penny ranks with Anne Shirley and Jo March as a model for feminists, in my estimation. It is a story of nature, adventure, resourcefulness, bravery, perseverance, loyalty, loss, discovery, and love.

In 1970 my girlfriend (now my wife) suggested I read The Lion's Paw to my students. Her teacher in Tallahassee, Florida, had read it to her class and everyone loved it, she said. I fell in love with it on first reading and have read it to each homeroom I have had in my 30 years of teaching. I also read it to my own daughters. As a matter of fact, when Brannon took a children's drama class in college, she wrote a first act for a prospective play based on the book.

The Lion's Paw has been out of print for several years. It has been listed as the most sought after OOP children's book for several years according to Then last fall, Robb White's widow and step-daughter published a facsimile edition that closely resembles the first edition. I looked for it at Barnes and Noble. Last Christmas I looked through B&N in Manhatten and even at the marvelous Books of Wonder store on 18th Street (if you love children's lit, visit that store when you visit the Big Apple). No Lion's Paw.

So one night last spring, about nine, I was browsing online and found the A.W.Ink website. Their address was several time zones away so I decided to call. I got a recording. Only moments later Leslie, Robb White’s step-daughter returned my call. We talked for about thirty minutes. And I ordered ten copies of my favorite children’s book. Leslie inscribed each with a nice message. I presented one to each of my daughters, my current and two recent student teachers, my niece who teaches fourth grade, and our school library. I gave another away to my nephew’s family as a bread and butter gift after our overnight stay on Friday. Sheila and I have kept one for ourselves. That leaves only one more for the dozen or so others to whom I would like to give this wonderful book. I should have ordered more!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The First Day of Fourth Grade

Here we go! Tomorrow 24 nine-yer-olds will spend the day with me. We will:
• #1 make sure we know how everyone is getting home!!
• we'll begin to brainstorm a classroom Constitution and Bill of Rights
• do the Harry Wong thing and begin establishing those rituals and procedures -- classroom, hall, restroom, cafeteria, lab, interactive whiteboard, outdoor "classroom", etc.
• take up and organize paperwork -- ugh!
• read the first chapter of my favorite children's book, The Lion's Paw by Robb White. If they don't love it by the end of the day just wait till chapter two.
• if it's nice out we'll tour the trail for a little while
• I'll tell a story or two - The Foolish Frog or How Possum Learned to Play Possum
We'll successfully make it through activity, lunch, and recess.
• I'll recite Jabberwocky - at least once - and maybe a few others
• a couple or three students will have been precocious enough to have their Brown Bag reports ready and will present them to the class-- I passed out the bags and instructions at Meet The Teach night. I will video the three-minute reports with our new little USB video camera.
• We'll do a couple of little academic inventories.
• We'll get pictures of each child with Mr. Shaw and Mrs. Echols (my student teacher)
• Maybe we'll begin our "Auto-Biographies" (First person narrative of a recent trip from the point-of-view of each child's family car.)
• Each child will make it to the correct bus line, the car line, or to the After-school program at 3:10.

AND despite the eventful day of many distractions, I will remember my voice lesson and I will not be pummeled by my FB friend and vocal coach, Angela.