St. Pat’s Day: Blarney and Friends

March 10, 2011 As a person with Irish ancestors, I feel compelled to tip my hat to Saint Patrick’s Day. As a person with Irish ancestors, I also feel duty-bound to mix in a wee bit of blarney.  Saint Patrick is famous for (a) bringing Christianity to pagan Ireland and (b) chasing the snakes out of Ireland. Unfortunately, the legend overlooks the fact that there were NEVER ANY SNAKES ON THE ISLAND TO BEGIN WITH!

Arkansas secession convention

March 10, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was entering its second week of debate in the first secession convention in Little Rock. The convention began on March 4, 1861 — the same day Lincoln was inaugurated. As the second week of debates began on March 11, 1861, the Confederate Constitution was adopted in Montgomery, Ala. The eloquent oratory of both the unionists and secessionists in Little Rock was apparent.

Fame, fortune somehow elude me

March 10, 2011 Like most Americans, I would like to be famous. Unlike most Americans, I have managed to sniff around the edges of celebrity achieving a fair amount of notoriety for a nobody, but not as much as, let’s say, a minor cast member on one of the less popular reality shows.I’m not nearly as famous as one of the friends of one of the Real Housewives of pretty much anywhere. And, while I’m sure I have way more talent than any of them, the staff at the Kardashian sisters’ clothing stores gets more recognition than I do.

Why politicians overreach

March 10, 2011 Having dodged a government shutdown for the moment, Congress is now embroiled in a burning debate over cutting the federal budget. The House has passed a bill imposing far-reaching cuts of $61 billion — dramatically slashing everything from education and housing to environmental regulations and public broadcasting. This is “the will of the people,” House Speaker John Boehner argues, citing last November’s elections.

Investigating Muslims or coming together as Americans?

March 9, 2011 As a proud New Yorker and the mother of a first responder who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001, I am saddened to learn that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is planning on holding congressional hearings Thursday on the “radicalization of American Muslims.”

Ugh … computers

March 9, 2011 Computers truly have changed the world. Whether you like them or not, unfortunately they are part of our lives at least until the lights are turned out permanently. My first experience with computers came when I was in high school. There was only one computer terminal in the whole school and there was no such thing as the Internet. In Ms. D’orazio’s room, we called up a larger mainframe computer over a modem. We were able to play games and create programs by running punch cards using the basic codes through a key punch card reader.

How to solve really big problems

March 9, 2011 War, disease, famine, your checking account.Sometimes big problems can seem so overwhelming you don’t know where to start. It feels like trying to dig a hole to China. With a spoon.But what if instead of feeling like you had to solve the whole problem, you could just solve one part of it? Whether it’s credit card debt, a failing career or a house filled with clutter, little incremental steps are what create the momentum you need to take bigger steps later.You don’t have to start at the perfect place; you just have to start some place.

The unknown child

March 8, 2011 The story of how we first became foster parents has its roots much earlier than our first foster child. It all started with an unknown child who lived almost next door. We had lived in the neighborhood for two years before our daughter started kindergarten. When she did, she would tell us about a boy who got off at the bus stop with her every day.“There is no boy that gets off at our stop,” I told her.“But Dad, there is.”“Where does he live?”

A non-romantic view of war

March 8, 2011 Of all the time periods in history I would like to go back and visit, I hate to say the Civil War is not one of them. Sure, Rhett was wooing Scarlett, soldiers were dashing off letters home in their flowery prose, and Jasper Hale was busy being made a vampire.

FIRST step toward the future

March 8, 2011 It’s a compelling event —something we all better hope we see more of, if America is to thrive.I speak of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competitions, which will be taking place at various cities across America through April.Teams of high school kids spend months designing and building computerized robots. They raise money and manage budgets.Then their robots go head-to-head in a rollicking contest.