Mr. Donald J. Trump: Self-Made American Brand and Unintentional Manchurian Candidate

Post-CNN GOP Presidential debate before Super Tuesday Redux: 11:52 p.m.

Note: I’m a CEO of the Home (domestic goddess or the antiquated “homemaker”) here in South Florida at the Bean household with husband, children and grandparents asleep and am afforded some strength to write tonight.  

I can easily agree that earlier tonight we saw Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz really come alive during the questions and getting into it with Mr. Donald J. Trump.  But for lack of a more original assessment, too little too late. The brand has been seared into the psyche of most tired Americans–regardless of political affiliations.

Here’s what you cannot disagree with when it comes to Mr. Donald J. Trump: he makes headlines, he has children loyal to him and vice versa, it may seem he stumbles but he doesn’t fall, he might even be quoted with foul language and harsh words but in the end he makes the deal happen and even if he technically didn’t make the deal happen he is able to put the verbal stamp of approval by Trump himself.  In essence, he is a smart man and though he may use simple words and repetitive phrases, most Americans are able to process this in a positive manner.

Simply put: The American political system, namely both Democrats and Republicans, have brought this opportunity to capture the GOP presidential nomination for Mr. Donald J. Trump by a collective ignorance of how most Americans are faring when it comes to their relationship with the government, especially the federal system (let alone their local municipalities).

John Kasich: He still has a place in the federal government, I believe he should be a Vice President nod or Secretary of State.

Ben Carson: Surgeon General? Please step down sir, it is time, but thank you for the gentleman fight.

For those family, friends and political colleagues of mine that are still not understanding how we are on this road now with Mr. Donald J. Trump: I am a native Floridian, I grew up in West Palm Beach and remember his name at an early age and both the ire and desire that it drew from folks irregardless their political or social background.

Despite the way people may feel about him, he is consistent in his manner and although he may seem like an unlikely choice for President of the United States, I ask you to look back at the last several cycles and ask yourself what is the “right” choice for this job? Our country is young and yet we’ve been blessed with incredible technological advances and also  weathered some terrible social regressions (think domestic terrorism, chronic racism debates, lack of personal responsibility).  Extreme islamic terrorism has come to our land and global neighbors abroad. Our domestic markets have taken hits and the generations following the “Baby Boomers” have names with letters at the end of our alphabet, just like the money that runs out for most of them each month.

Stay tuned America, especially you who like your brand names and your repetitive pop and R&B song refrains: will the 2016 winner of the presidential race bring us a spouse of a dynasty, an America brand businessman or a senator that has little support in general? Recall that our country is struggling with its own form of “bankruptcy” in its extreme debt.

Ramona V.S. Bean

P.S. To the question as to “where are the donors’ or Super PAC’s (sp) voices about Trump: They are not stupid. They are gauging where this is going and they don’t want to be on Trump’s bad side, he does not easily forget.

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Bush and Clinton: Democracy or Dynasty?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two Political Peas in a Pod

In our household we receive two newspapers in the morning the old-fashioned way: The Palm Beach Post and The Wall Street Journal.  WSJ had on their front page today “Clinton Freezes Rest of ’16 Field” by Peter Nicholas.  The Palm Beach Post had in their second page of the front page “Jeb Bush airs campaign ethos” by Peter Baker of New York Times.  Is it already time for 2016 presidential candidate talk?  Evidently it’s been happening for awhile now and only gaining momentum.

Shortcut Update

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was recently in Texas and made some public comments that Mr.Baker writes about saying “even as he sharply criticized President Barack Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and health care, Bush made clear that he would run against the style of politics that has characterized recent Republican nominating contests.”  Mr. Nicholas’ opening line in WSJ says it all: “Hillary Clinton’s phantom presence in the Democratic presidential-nomination stakes–neither in nor not–is freezing the rest of the field, creating formidable obstacles for other candidates needing to raise money and set up an organization.”

What’s in a Name?

When we hear the name “Clinton”, what does the general public call to mind?  Is it Bubba and his saxophone on the Arsenio Hall late night show?  The first black President of the United States?  The blue dress? A congressional call for his impeachment and the question of what “is” is?  Or is it first lady Hillary Clinton “standing by her man”? Perhaps it’s the pacification of President Clinton when his two term presidency was over and then Hillary Rodham Clinton was finally able to pursue her political career beginning with a U.S. Senate run, presidential run and most recently our Secretary of State during the first years of President Obama’s tenure.

How about “Bush”?  Enough negative press was showered on this name in this century alone that it may be appropriate to assume that the name “Bush” immediately invokes “Iraq” or “War on Terror”.  The truth is that most adults who are between 30 and 40 years of age can’t recall too much prior to 9-11-01.  We were just finishing school years and starting careers or families when that national tragedy struck and started that decade into a hurtling mess of economic disparity and loss of privacy in the name of national security.  Can we remember what President George H.W. Bush was known for? Vice-president for the iconic President Ronald Reagan? “It wouldn’t be prudent”?  Or was it the obvious loss to the more photogenic and charismatic Democratic presidential Bill Clinton-Al Gore ticket in 1992?

Buzz Words and Who’s Listening

It’s a somber reality that most of us will not be ready for the multimedia onslaught of presidential buzz words of who’s the possible candidate for this party and that.  The American public is pretty weary after weathering various difficulties–especially economically–that hit the middle-class and below quite hard.  In an era of people learning about how to simplify and return to organic and holistic means of living, we are also being inundated with talk of Obamacare and how we ought to sign up now for our health care security.  So now I hear from people in person and now in print media that it may be a Clinton versus Bush episode–is this a democracy or a dynasty system?

This rhetorical question doesn’t intend to belittle or insult what former Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have done in service to our country.  However, we should try to stop for a moment if possible and consider what we truly want when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate to lead our executive branch of the federal government–serving as the proverbial “leader of the free world”.

Political Benediction

Depending on who’s reading this either you may love politics and follow everything closely or you might abhor the nonsense of the rhetoric and corruption that seem to follow anything affiliated with the government.  I would encourage anyone who is a U.S. citizen reading to remember that we are all Americans together, despite the party or non-party affiliations.  This country isn’t perfect by any means and rather young when you look at the history of the world in general–still, it’s our nation and we do have a right to continue to ask questions and seek out whomever we think should be in the power seats we’ve set up through our governing system.  Please don’t forget that we are a country “for the people by the people”.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

“The Gentle Art of Blessing”: A Book Review and a Cautionary Tale

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“The Gentle Art of Blessing – A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World” by Pierre Pradervand

A Book Review

Initially I picked up this book at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore because the title and decorations on the cover looked calming.  In my hectic life, reading is often a source of entertainment, of learning and at times of healing.  I perceive this as a healing and educational sort of book.

Besides his book, Pierre Pradervand has a website that describes his life work: http://www.gentleartofblessing.com

The premise of this piece is to encourage everyone to consciously bless others–even if they’ve directly wronged you or others.  The author uses extensive references from Christianity, Native American wisdom, Arab proverbs and other cultures around the globe.

An excerpt from his book that encapsulates a mini-version of his discourse style:

“That is why loving unconditionally is the most important activity in the whole universe, and the one most       able to produce the deepest happiness. We do not love unconditionally to satisfy some abstract moral law or some faraway deity.  As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, wrote, ‘You love because you love. There is no reason to love.’ If the very ground of our being, our very essence, is love–which is one of the postulates of this book–then love is simply the most genuine, the most natural expression of our true being.  And in active love, we will also discover a wonderful path toward happiness, health, and fulfillment–but it will be an unintended result, so to speak.”

As I write this book review, I freely admit that I haven’t completed reading–It is one of those books, however, that keeps on giving even if you are only able to read a few pages at a time over the course of several months.

A Cautionary, yet Comical Tale: How One Takes Inspiration to Action

In the wake of reading an incredible chapter from “The Gentle Art of Blessing”, I felt confident driving out during a recent Monday morning with a certain set of goals in mind for my children and I.

It all began with getting the boys packed up quickly in the car after I received a call-back from my women’s health physician’s office that they were able to squeeze me in immediately.

After frantically rushing through stubborn traffic patterns, I made it upstairs to the second floor with my kids for what I thought would be a short 5 minute wait.  The waiting room wait was more like 50 minutes–the ball beads and wire toy on the floor lasted as entertainment for about 15 minutes–not enough for my energetic little ones.

My name was called and we were checked in by the nurse into the examination room.  Figured this meant I’d be seen shortly after I dressed myself in an attractive paper sheet while also refereeing the under-stimulated offspring that were now quite set on getting each other all ruffled up for jest and jeering purposes.

I cannot come up with a figure for how long I waited in there because ultimately when the nurse practitioner came in she was attentive and efficiently thorough with me.  In fact, she even had someone in training along with her who was quite helpful in distracting the youngest to my left while I could maintain eye contact with the older child to my right–priceless when one is quite helplessly laid back on the examination table.

Thankfully when I left the doctor’s office I was ready to pursue the course of action intended to assist me in being healthy again as soon as the pharmacy could fill the prescription.  Now I faced the minor problem of our vehicle nearly out of fuel and we were late for our next appointment.  So I called the office to alert them and although they assured me it was fine whenever I made it, I felt guilty for being tardy all the same.

This brings me to the climax point of my small and common tale: I turned out of the medical plaza area and drove down the road a little bit to turn into the very next gas station.  Upon rolling up to the pumps I noticed that the space was cramped with cars at each fueling kiosk and it was difficult to get in the right position to fuel up (my gas cap is on the right side of the car).  This was a challenge, but I assured myself that all was well and it would work out as it should.

It took me a few minutes of circling around the four lanes of gas pumps available but I found the right spot to pull up behind a Bentley–mind you, I’m in my 12-year-old beat-up mama SUV.  Assuming I was in the home stretch of this thwarted morning, I swiped my credit card anticipating the display prompts like “please enter your zip code” and so forth to begin fueling already.

Alas, I got the dreaded “please see the cashier”.  You know, the one person you really don’t care to see or walk all the way across the fueling and parking area to go inside and complain that your card is not registering on the supposedly convenient digital outdoor gas pumps.

Once inside I was able to clear up the little set-back after pleading that I didn’t have my ID on me and head back outside again to finish the job.  I saw the back door was open and rushed over and in a relieved-but-furious manner scolded my oldest for having opened the door in the first place.  As I closed the car door I hear a woman’s voice raised in a near-yell, “Excuse me, excuse ME…”

I turn to my right to face the middle-aged looking woman with a blonde up-do, brightly colored with floral pattern sundress who is standing with one hand on her hips and the other on her shiny, cherry red sports car.  I lock eyes with her and she continues in the same irritable tone: “Can you please move your car? I can’t reach my gas door!”

There was a good full second or two that passed as I stood in shock just looking at her deep into her eyes, the noise level and harsh tone hanging in the air between us.  My anger lit quick and intensely hot inside like that moment you throw a match onto a pile of charcoal that’s drenched with lighter fluid in the outdoor grill (for those of us still using that archaic method).

Somehow how I managed to mechanically respond in a deliberately trying-to-be-nice voice that “Yes, I would be happy to help you–a nicer tone would be nice though”, as I was simultaneously aware that my carnal instinct was to rush at her with all possible physical force and throttle her and yet cognizant that my impressionable young sons were witnessing every moment transpiring.

As I marched in front of my vehicle (left, right, left, right…do NOT start running at her), I kept watching her as she explained hastily that she had tried the “nice” route by yelling after me before–as in when I was walking into see the holy cashier to beseech that they take my money so I could fuel up, endure a verbal lashing from a complete stranger and somehow make it to the late appointment for my children.  “I’m late for work!” she blurts out as I’m entering my car to back up and fight every urge in my right hand to throw the gear into ‘drive’ instead of reverse.

I exaggerated my backing up of the car and found myself stretching the gas pump to reach my own fuel door–too prideful to move again I made it work somehow.  The anger was boiling inside me, like a lava flow that’s got to go somewhere, it festered and was pouring out of my mouth and I was trying to direct its wild track into “the gentle art of blessing” as impossible as that seems.

Silly as it sounds, the first thing I did was make a triplicate sign of the cross with my right hand toward her muttering in a barely audible, but don’t-care-if-it’s-heard voice, “God bless you because I can’t right now”…that at least started to help ease the caustic edge of my fury by transferring the full ability to love to Someone a little better capable at the moment.  Then, I kept mumbling to myself that I want to understand her and am just hurt because I really didn’t mean to foul up her morning–I was barely keeping afloat in my own planet of experience this beautiful Monday morning.

Then a calmness came over me and I looked over her way again now that we were closer together and pumping gas respectively and said in a soft manner, “You know, I didn’t mean to park that way, I just pulled up as far as the guy’s car before would allow me”–without looking at me she quickly replied, “I know, it’s okay…” (It sounded apologetic too, much improved from our first interaction).

As comic relief would have it in our cosmos, our gas pumps clicked at the same time indicating our cars were satisfied.  “Have a good day”, she said with a definitive and much kinder tone to me as she closed her fuel cap, “you too” I said with a relieved sigh.  Thank God we both were walking away a little bruised but able to heal quickly and move on with life without holding each other in a grudge–or worse, paying forward our mutual frustration to any other unsuspecting souls.

Ending Note

Again, I understand that reading is difficult for many of us to do with our respective, hectic lifestyles–but if there was one book I recommend having at your night stand it would be this “The Gentle Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand.  He has a talent for speaking to everyone, no matter what religious background or lack thereof.  The stories shared are the kind we find in many family oral traditions.  Ultimately, Pradervand acknowledges the universal truth that we are all connected somehow and Love begets Love.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame: A Reflection

Note: I credit both The Palm Beach Post for the news link and photo (Bill Ingram)Image,

as well as Palm Beach Sports Commission (www.palmbeachsports.com) for the detailed information on the 2014 Induction Class.

The Morning After

The morning after most big life events can evoke a mixed slurry of both euphoric and bittersweet emotions.  This past Monday I awoke to gray skies here in south Florida with slivers of pink and lavender tones to the east signaling dawn’s arrival–the rain would begin softly and go on to run intervals throughout the rest of the day.

Intervals. How many intervals of some distance or another have I run in my lifetime up to this point?  The seasons of my sport blend into the shifts of my life seasons from a little prep school runner to a student-athlete representing the University of Florida Gators to a young wife of a seminarian to Capitol Hill and U.S. Treasury mini-careers to a CEO of the Home including working as homeschool teacher of young children.

Reflections On Fellow Inductees

After the initial phone call a few months ago when I was informed about my inclusion in the Inductee Class of 2014 for the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, I was curious to know about the other inductees.  This past Sunday evening I was genuinely humbled to be in the company of not only some past honorees but my current class. The following reflection is for each one inducted:

  • Reidel Anthony:  What a blessing to be inducted alongside a fellow Florida Gator! That you were able to achieve such great stats in a short period of time shows what a great drive and understanding you have of your sport. Proud of your personal accomplishments and now as a coach giving back and helping the next generation find their footing as rising student-athletes.
  • Randy O’Neal:  Your baseball career is outstanding and reflects that you not only respected your sport but understood the importance of higher education and collegiate athletic training.  What impressed me the most was that in your speech’s mention that one of the times you learned the most was when you were in a limbo situation during your baseball career–essentially alluding to the fact that we often glean wisdom from our moments of adversity.  This is so important to remind young student-atheletes about as unforeseen difficulties can abound as they forge into their respective careers.
  • Donald Blaze Thompson:  I meant what I said about Coach Harry Howell in my speech the other evening, that he was like a father to me and such–I believe it’s priceless what likely you are to many, if not all, of your players as not only a successful coach in the game of football, but as a mentor on life itself as they go forward from school to the next step.
  • Vincent Bogdanski:  What an honor to meet a fellow Cardinal Newman Crusader and see you recognized for an exceptional sports career that included football, tennis, golf and basketball.  Your focus on academic achievement was reflective in your college choice and yet it’s exciting to learn that you were able to compete for Georgetown in football and then later represent the U.S. Air Force in tennis.
  • Pete and Alice Dye:  Honestly I’m just beginning to learn about the game of golf–it was a revealing education to read about both your accomplishments in and your contributions to the sport.  It is wonderful to see such great team that between the two has designed just under 100 courses that are known as “golf’s best” and because of Alice has been taking “the women’s game into account” by standing on site and helping oversee the construction.

Nutshell Conclusion

The entire event was a great testament to the sports accomplishments of Palm Beach County in general and I was happy to see the various high school student-athletes recognized: Rasheeda McAdoo in Tennis and Jesse Stephanos in Wrestling–including other outstanding persons like Malachi Knowles with Inner City Youth Golfer’s, Inc and Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Bridget Manken.  Amateur Athlete of the Year Tre Mason, Professional Athlete of the Year Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Andrews-Ceravolo High School Coach of the Year, Jack Daniels with William T. Dwyer.  Congratulations to everyone mentioned or missed!

Grateful and Onward

Personally this event was a gift to help take a pause and look back for a moment before heading onward again–as I said, it is impossible to truly thank everyone who has been part of my personal triumphs (as well as perserverance through times of difficulty).  It’s common to say that the people who are part of your life’s journey resemble links in a chain.  However, I would offer that from my experience during childhood through to the present tells the story of family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers resembling threads woven into an elaborate tapestry representing my life.  Thank you and God’s blessings to all who have been, are and will be a part of my life.

R.V.S.Bean

The Palm Beach Post link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/photo/sports/reidel-anthony-proud-product-of-the-muck-enters-pa/p9RKw/

 

 

 

 

 

Irony: The link between ‘flushable’ wipes and the possible 8.8 billion stars with just-right planets in our galaxy

Note: The following philosophical rant is inspired by the following pieces in news in the past couple of days http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/11/05/at-least-88-billion-earth-size-just-right-planets-found-study-says/  and http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-please-dont-flush-those-flushable-wipes/nbfgk/

IRONY:  How can ‘flushable’ wipes and the “Goldilocks zone” have anything in common?

To be fair, ‘flushable’ wipes has been a subject with little attention paid by the media markets but a costly issue that can hardly be ignored.  In short, stop flushing anything down the toilet besides personal waste and toilet paper designed to break down in the sewage!  However, even though we’ve had decades of talk about climate change and our human effect on our environment–there are still folks that don’t give a second thought to tossing their personal wipes into the toilet bowl and in turn causing clogging of pipes and pumps, causing serious blockages and repairs of systems that can reach into the millions of dollars.

Meanwhile there are scientists and astronomers that are absolutely giddy at the recent findings that suggest our planet Earth is not the only girl available to dance with at Life’s Universal Prom event.  “Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.”  The funny question follows by the study’s co-author Geoff Marcy who asks: “If we aren’t alone, why is ‘there a deafening silence in our Milky Way galaxy from advanced civilizations?'”

Wipe, Don’t Flush It

Having read both these random articles lead me to believe that there was a real connection between the two.

We may have i-Phones and devices galore that reflect our amazing technological advances in recent decades but we are having a global crisis of sorts as to what lines exist in privacy of government leaders (i.e. recent NSA leaks and the likes of German Merkel being quite upset with the U.S.A.).

We are aware that we should be striving to reduce and reuse our waste materials and yet we insist on indulging in products like the K-cup coffee and the like revolution: coffee your way in your size although I’m personally clueless on how we can go about reducing the waste onslaught into our landfills by these products.

We claim to have such instantaneous communication capabilities and a wealth of knowledge to anyone who can log onto the World Wide Web…and yet, we still cut each other off with the most vicious disdain when merging onto an interstate highway in the car.

The Good News in Short

The likelihood is we Earthlings are most probably not alone in the universe, if not the Milky Way itself.  However zealous we may be to escape the drudgery of this place in hopes of seeking out new friends in the cosmos, we must take a pause and look around us—better yet, look at ourselves.  How can I make this place a better space to live and thrive in?

It is a comfort to even sense that we are not alone in the unknown of our surroundings past our own atmosphere and humble solar system—but it is a reality check to recognize that there may be countless reasons why other possible civilizations have hesitated to engage with us.

Earth: the toddler planet who refuses to wipe properly and dispose of its waste accordingly.

In part jest and part seriousness,

“live long and prosper”,

R.V.S.Bean

Humpty-Dumpty Vital Signs: How to put the GOP back together again…

Truth Time

“Saudi Arabia rejects seat on U.N. Security Council”

Sometimes the real news is the stuff found on page A11 of a humble local newspaper like the Palm Beach Post where an Associated Press article compiled by Edith M. Ledere and Aya Batrawy describes the unique tale of how a country like Saudi Arabia likes to outline how the United States has really lost its credibility on Friday when it refused the first-time offer of a two year term seat on the U.N. Security Council–a most coveted position for most nations, especially Arab ones. “The Saudis were displeased that the U.S. backed off threats of military strikes against Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons.”

President Obama was quoted the day before (Thursday 10/17) as saying that the 16-day partial government shutdown was primarily the Republican’s fault and risked exposing the United States as a poor leader or in his words, the “shutdown hurt U.S. credibility as leader.

Tea Party Resurgence

Yesterday afternoon I’m driving north on Interstate I-95 in Palm Beach County and approach an overpass for Okeechobee Boulevard–there are signs and people and for a few seconds my eyes register what they’re seeing.  “Impeach Obama”, “Honk…Obamacare” It occurs to me that these folks might be delusional because there is a way we can work out of this lethargy or apathy when it comes to the government as it stands today: get involved and take personal responsibility!

Why Blame Senator Ted Cruz?

Senator Ted Cruz’s last name can easily conjure the image of the Santa Cruz surfing coast in California where a slip on the board can mean death of a surfer on the unforgiving rocks.  It seems this was a similar fate endured by Speaker John Boehner and the GOP this past week–but why do we have to believe that?

Perception is Peculiar

Here’s the reality: neither the Democrat or the Republican party are perfect, unified or fit to govern.  The two main parties in our nation actually need each other just like most of our electronic gadgets require the positive and negative charge in the batteries that power them.  Duality in physical nature as well as spiritual/theological exegesis all encompass the existence and general necessity of  having two different parts both entangle and empower the other.

I’m not proposing that we break up the GOP to make a new one.  I’m also not proposing that we annihilate the Democratic party–I have both friends and colleagues that I respect and care about who are Democrats and I know their heart is in the right place for our nation.  What I do believe Americans are sick of is the arguing about which party is right all of the time.  What’s wrong with trying to accept that both parties are trying to find what’s the right direction for our country?

For instance, did you know that Obamacare was really a regurgitated version of RomneyCare–it is “inherently a compromise because it is a health insurance reform law rather than an overhaul of the structure of our nation’s health-care system.” (see Jane Mansbridge’s ‘Obama already compromised big-time’ http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-mansbridge-obamacare-democrats-single-payer-20131015,0,7930456.story)

Humpty-Dumpty GOP: Can It Be Put Together Again?

I do believe that if the Democrats can keep it together after recent years of hardships for our nation, the Republicans can as well.  The key is to stop focusing on what divides and instead focus on what unites the party.  What are the GOP’s priority issues? (hint: drop the gay marriage and abortion flagships)  After that’s established, then Republicans need to pick out what issues they think they can best work toward compromises with Democrats and others.  The United States really does have a great system in place when there is a balance between the two major parties–our political health will not be demonstrated in how well people stay within the party line, rather it will be how often both sides can show the ability to cross the line to find each other and help our nation progress.

God Bless America,

Ramona V.S.B.

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The Education Revolution: Perception, Possibilities and Parents’ Prerogative

Education Revolution: Perception, Possibilities and Parents’ Prerogative

NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading this blog right now,please consider watching this now or later, a TEDS talk clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

State of Education

Parents or caregivers in 2013 are facing very different straits than 50 years ago when it comes to deciding where and how their children will be educated during their formative years as set by our local and federal laws.  As a parent, I’ve been hypersensitive to any news regarding the state of education in our country whether it be standardized tests, curbing of budgets, teachers’ fatigue or fights and the list is endless.  We’d all be lying to ourselves if we didn’t also admit that our emotions are assaulted when observing horrific criminal acts occurring on school grounds—school campuses where it is understood as an unspoken sacred place that we entrust our students will thrive and learn without suffering the pains of a scary world just yet.

Perception

Why has it all shifted?  Most adults recall our early days as students in school as either taking a bus or having our parents/carpool drop off us at a building(s) where we congregated daily Monday through Friday from the morning until a few hours after lunch time—simple, repetitive, no awareness of alternatives.  Of course, there was the occasional homeschooler (read “weird outsider”) that we would encounter but as young children it was easy to fear or make fun of that which we didn’t know.

These days the common buzzwords for educating our children include public, private, magnet, charter, home-schooling, virtual schooling and more.  There is a contentious divide between the public school system and everyone else.  Of the many heated debates in my home state, for example, the Florida legislature considered a bill (HB 867) known as the “Parent trigger” that would allow parents to collectively pull the trigger on a failing school—see The Palm Beach Post column printed on March 29, 2013 by Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of www.FundEducationNow.org: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-florida-public-school-parents-dont-want/nW6zY/

I’m beginning to finally process all of the information I’ve been ingesting over the past decade on the topic and have hit a peaceful conclusion to be continued on a daily basis as my children grow.   What do we think our children should learn? I believe that apart from knowing how to engage in language and other common core standards (see: www.corestandards.org ) that my children should love to learn.  I believe it’s not so important to make sure they attain greatness in one school or another as much as they should enjoy the journey of growing up surrounded by family, friends and community—I wish to help protect my children from the wrath of apathy rampant in many students today.

Possibilities

The Palm Beach Post printed an article today highlighting a place in Delray Beach, Florida called “Space of Mind” written by Allison Ross, read more at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-education/delray-beach-social-homeschooling-facility-riding-/nYpwt/

Although “Space of Mind” is a very unique idea that may be catching nationwide slowly, it signals along with many other developments such as charter schools popping up everywhere that our country is definitely in the midst of an Education Revolution.  There are probably many folks who are unsettled by this reality of the “traditional” education paradigm shifting in different directions, however, may I offer a few suggestions as we ride through this together with the next generation we’re helping to raise?

Try to remember what this is all about: we hope for our future through our children’s progress as we understand that they will carry on after we leave.  With that basic philosophy in our hearts, we can as parents/caregivers exercise our prerogative to decide among the countless possibilities as to what’s the best route to take for our children’s education.

We must also keep in mind that whatever path is chosen must be considered a fluid one as a reflection of what life is really like for everyone.  What works for our 2nd grader attending the local public elementary school down the street may not work for them when they are in 7th grade and would perhaps benefit from virtual schooling with coaching by family and loved ones.  The only guarantee we can assure our young students of is that we love and care for them—we must also accept that we will likely also learn along the way with them, a blessing for adults who have been jaded by life’s difficulties.

Plenty of Resources

Thankfully in the age of internet and iPhones we have many sources of information to access for researching education choices for our students.  Accessing your local school board office is a great start to at least assess what is available in your area.  For example, we have Ms. Beth Gillespie who works for the school district overseeing the home education office for south Florida’s Palm Beach County—a county where more than 5,000 students were home-schooled this past school year.

Whatever you’ve chosen or will choose for your children, you’ll always be their first and most important teacher(s).  May we learn to grow with our little ones as they aspire to be like us—we hope they’ll be greater than us in capacity to love and learn for themselves and each other.

R.V.S.Bean

My sources:

www.palmbeachpost.com

www.corestandards.org

www.FundEducationNow.org

www.palmbeachschools.org

Once, Twice, Three Times a Turtle: A Local Reflection

Bees, Trees and Turtles

Along with rain forest deforestation and honeybee colony-collapse disorder talk in recent decades, the plight of the sea turtles has come onto our radar as a serious environmental concern.  Deforestation affects many other species of plants and animals—not to mention the oxygen supply and possible overall weather patterns.  The honeybee issue is atrocious in its severity although much of the general human population hasn’t realized it yet but may if our food supply is abruptly altered one of these days.   Meanwhile I live in south Florida where it so happens that a few endangered species of sea turtles come to nest annually including the Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtle.  As a child growing up on the east coast here in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to come across a nest of turtle eggs and there were no public pushes to “save them”—little did I know that one day I’d be a grown-up where turtle talk would be critical to our survival in addition to those of other plants animals such as the bees and trees.

Turtle Walk: Not What First Comes to Mind

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is located in Juno Beach, Florida and their website is www.marinelife.org .  It turns out they have something called a “Turtle Walk” where attendees arrive on a scheduled evening and learn more about the details of the sea turtles’ habits and the kind of research and direct assistance to the sea turtles that the LMC provides through generous donation of volunteer time and public donations.  At the same time, there are “spotters” in communication with staff indoors as to whether there is a turtle sighting—they inform if is there a female turtle approaching the shore in order to lay her eggs in the dark.   If a turtle comes ashore that matches the species allowed by state permit for LMC to view with a tour then the visitors are chaperoned down to the shore in the nighttime with the assistance of red flashlights that will not hamper or scare the turtle.  The general purpose of this Turtle Walk is to educate visitors through education and viewing in real-time the tedious work of a sea turtle to try against many odds to secure the next generation’s survival.

Last Tuesday: No Turtle Show

I had the opportunity to participate in a Turtle Walk event last Tuesday at the LMC in Juno Beach.  Unfortunately our group didn’t have the chance to view a turtle laying in real-time, however, the information I was able to learn in a couple of hours from some of the staff that evening was really enlightening.  Among my favorites: learning that the water evacuating from the pipe from rehabilitation turtle tanks has been treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution that affirms my intuition that has allowed my children and I to enjoy the water play by the shore from it, the fact that leatherback turtles are our best friends because they eat their weight in jellyfish(!) and that LMC’s presence in our area has helped to make significant changes that benefit humans as well as turtles with keeping the nearby beaches cleaner and calmer with less ambient light.  Also, “hot chicks, cool dudes” was the phrase coined to describe the fact in the 1980s biologists realized that sea turtles undergo temperature-dependent sex determination–i.e. the temperature of the sand encloses the egg nests on the shore will sway whether an egg hatches a male or female sea turtle.

Mean Green Clean

If you have had the opportunity to read some of my earlier blog posts you will already understand my anger about our shorelines being treated as an open sand landfill or ashtray—seriously, what possesses us humans to think it’s okay to discard our trash on purpose in a place we all share with each other and the other animal and plants?  On July 5th the LMC organized a beach cleanup and invited the public to come out and utilize tools to pick up any and all trash that could be found after a major holiday.  I brought one of my young children along and when faced with a tantrum I gently sang to him as to why we needed to clean up—for the turtles, for the trees, for the bees and for you and me.  It was both impressive and sad to see how much the public had left in the sands only inches and feet away from wooden markers indicating a sea turtle nest.  Although it is great to have public beach cleanups organized, I feel it’s incumbent upon anyone who steps on a beach to refrain from littering and to pick up any rubbish they see and properly discard.

Local Paper Highlights

Within the same week of attending a LMC Turtle Walk night and participating in a public beach clean up our local paper The Palm Beach Post had a fun Accent front page story entitled “On the trail of turtles” written by Barbara Marshall and photographs by Greg Lovett: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/lifestyles/on-the-trail-of-turtles/nYc6g/  It was a fun piece that highlighted a snippet of what volunteers, biologists and physicians do at the LMC to help ensure that the leatherback turtles who nest on our shores are able to continue their calling as part of our ecological balance in the ocean–did you know they may actually be natives of the Asian oceans? Also, they eat jellyfish, I repeat: THEY EAT JELLYFISH.  There is more to be written on the need to assist the sea turtles, of course, but it is good to see that the information continues to come out no matter how big or small.

Turtle Time

It is understandable that we can get so overwhelmed by any news that affects the survival of animal species, plants and the frightful fluctuations of our climate on this Earth—so that we actually are moved to not move, we become paralyzed and apathetic.  My hope is that we can at the very least become more aware of our immediate environment where we respectively live and do our best to assist outstanding issues with wildlife other concerns.  We cannot disassociate ourselves from the fact that we depend on each other and other building blocks in our physical world to survive and thrive as we strive to become a better human race overall.

R.V.S.Bean

Some newsworthy links:

recent article on honeybee CCD: http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/

recent article on rainforest destruction: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22706402

Price of Privacy: Isolation or Ignorance?

price of privacy june 24 2013

Follow the Rabbit

Thanks to Edward J. Snowden’s current life adventure, the question of our privacy in 2013 and beyond has come into question again. Mr. Snowden isn’t so special, however, as there’s weekly news bulletins that highlight how transparent we’ve become whether we know or like it—hardly anything is a secret.

Remember the Red Seal?

There was a time when official state or personal correspondence was sealed with a wax imprint to ensure the privacy of its contents. Today we may have certified mail or services like FedEx for direct correspondence but the majority of us conduct both professional and personal discourse through the internet and phone texts. There’s no guarantee that these interactions are safe from unwanted monitoring or hacking.

Blame the Governments?

The fact remains that the U.S. government is unable to truly “spy” on everyone’s conversations or internet blah-blah: there simply isn’t enough manpower and the computer algorithms in place are just barely keeping up with the real terrorist/hostile enemy threats to U.S. citizens and interests. Personal responsibility remains the ugly elephant in the room—when you log in or have your phone on, you are placing yourself in a vulnerable position.

Perception is Revealing

The next time you post photos on your social media website of choice, try to imagine that you just ran them on one of the huge screens at New York City’s Time Square and any other major metropolis in the world. Let’s take that a step further and consider that the text you sent earlier today blasting your boss was retrieved by your human resources department at the job—oops. An entire article could respectively be devoted to the exposure of our financial, medical and other very personal assets in this “connected” world.

Concede or Recede?

I personally don’t know what the answer is to this question of our privacy in the 21st century. It must be a conversation we continue to have without too much malice for one group or another–respect for each other is the best foundation to find what’s our common ground.  Please remember that those who work in the government are still people just like you and me. In order to live freely in America we’ve had compromise through the decades of contentious things like the Civil War, Civil Rights and now access to information–personal or public.

R.V.S.Bean

note: for those catching up on news of Mr. Snowden, a recent New York Times article found here http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/world/europe/snowden-case-carries-a-cold-war-aftertaste.html?_r=0

and I recommend watching Ben Affleck’s “Argo” for a Hollywood-style reality check on just how deadly information in the wrong hands can be (I’m sure there are many other films in this category, this was the most recent I’ve watched-cheers!)

Mother’s Day: A Day Open for Interpretation

Attention all women: Happy Mother’s Day! (belated as it was technically yesterday-wrote this just before midnight)

Several years ago I sat alone in a greek Orthodox church in Falls Church, Virginia listening to the priest deliver his homily message on a spring Mother’s Day.   Although I can’t recall his specific words, I do recall that he said they would be giving out a single stem flower afterwards to every girl and woman in the room after the church service–this interested me greatly as at the time I wasn’t a mother yet.  He explained that the purpose doing this wasn’t just to avoid any awkward questions as to who was a mother but to also honor the nurturing role that females play in our human society.

This morning I was crawling on my knees between pews and following a darting flash of golden hair and giggles as my youngest demonstrated his toddler skills in another greek Orthodox church here in south Florida.  The priest was delivering his Mother’s Day message by making fun statements that “without mothers nothing would get done” and also alluding that whether any woman was a mother via birth/adoption of children, this day was meant to honor us regardless of being a mother or not.  It was a pleasant deja-vu moment to have the priest announce that a single rose would be given to each female exiting the church in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It was my pleasure to reach out today and wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” greeting to my family and friends whom I know are called “mother” by their roles in their families and rank.  At the same time, it was equally natural to me to recognize and express gratitude to the other women in my life whom I know or have met in passing who have also fulfilled the role as a mother through their selfless giving of themselves to me or my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!

R.V.S.Bean

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