Monday, August 29, 2011

A Story of Leo, A Person with Dyslexia

I was asked by an educator to email him a few documents I had written on dyslexia.  I sent three docs: the story of Leo, a form I created to help teachers quickly identify children who may be dyslexic, and a copy of a letter to the editor I have used in Ellis County, TX, where I live.

The following is the story of Leo, "Who is the Student in My Classroom?  Could He/She Be dyslexic?"

By Lee Gabor, M.Ed.

Leo is an interesting child. Unfortunately, he has severe dyslexia. But we don’t know that when Leo comes to our school. Since we are not trained to recognize dyslexia in our students, we don’t look for characteristics that could lead us to test Leo.

The school district would like to offer staff development in dyslexia, but with reading, math, science, and social studies so important, there simply are not the resources to give teachers even a one-hour class.

Leo’s school has almost 1000 students. There is no doubt that teachers there lack time to learn about dyslexia at their own expenses during the evenings or weekends. They care, but their most precious commodity is each minute of each day. The career demands on them are enormous, even over-whelming. And most have families who deserve quality time and attention.

Teachers are only human. They do the very best they can. Education is a profession full of caring people. However, when we are stewards of many children, it is difficult to deal individually with Leo’s apparent problems. He isn’t on track with the class and can actually be disruptive.

In the primary grades, it is not Leo’s behavior that frustrates teacher as much as the fact that he won’t pay attention and he draws during class. Other students find his illustrations attracting and want to pay more attention to Leo’s contribution than to Teacher’s. Teacher gets upset with Leo.

He does not want to complete his lessons. Since he avoids reading and certainly doesn’t write much, Teacher may not have the evidence that he sometimes flips his letters.

Obviously, Leo is becoming more shut down and more of a behavior problem. Although he is not learning well, the system moves him up from primary to upper elementary grades. Since he cannot read well, Teacher takes him out of art classes and places him in the remedial reading classes. Is it possible he has been labeled LD (learning disabled)?

Leo is very energetic in the sense of looking around the class. He pays too much attention to what is happening outside. He seems to be day-dreaming. Parents have also seen this and, after discussing this with other educators in the school, a decision is made to put Leo on drugs. His records now show he has attention deficit disorder. The drugs help him to phase down somewhat during the day. The chemicals change his behavior but do not help him to learn. At least he does not adversely affect the classroom environment as much as before.

Even with the drugs, Teacher sometimes gets irritated with Leo. He is doodling on his notebook or on the paper inside. He is drawing sketches of machines and cars or, perhaps, people. We tell him to pay attention and quit messing with his notebook. We are frustrated that the other students want to see what he has drawn. Leo is an interesting and unique character and magnetizes the energy of his peers. This makes Teacher’s job doubly difficult.

Leo is day-dreaming AGAIN. As the days go by, we begin to mention to him more times to pay attention. As our frustrations build, so does our vocal volume. Soon we are yelling at Leo more than once a day. We may even send him out of the room to sit in the hall.

We have decided Leo has very little future potential. Teacher examines his record from previous years and recognizes in 3rd grade, he failed the TAKS (Texas) Reading test. Teacher doesn't know it, but Leo's failure was noticed in Austin. The State’s Penal Authorities marked a tally for him. They predicted he will go to prison and that tally meant a cell was scheduled to be built for him. State Corrections people think by the time Leo is about 16, he will quit school.

Unfortunately, Leo's reading problems cause him to receive low grades in elementary school, in high school, and on any academic university pre-inventory test.

What will happen to Leo? One of two things: he will either move down the road to quitting school, doing manual labor, and possibly going to prison OR on his own volition, he will struggle to use his abilities in some to create a successful life that reflects his talents of unique perspectives on his surroundings and the ability to put those into some visual form.

Leo is not a student in a local school these days, but the behavior patterns in school are the same for the Leo in our writing as they are for dyslexic students in our schools. What can we do? The goal is to identify students with dyslexia and intervene. Other documents from Lee Gabor include methods of identification. Parents must insist that the school board, the school principal, and the teachers identify and provide intervention. Nothing less is acceptable.

Fortunately for him, the Leo in our writing lived hundreds of years ago. Since he was, at that time, free of the constraints, labels, and drugs we use in modern education, he was able to develop the talents he possessed. Also, at that time, careers in art were considered as important as those in banking, education, medicine, etc.

We know him as Leonardo da Vinci, one of the world's greatest artists and inventors. He had such severe dyslexia that his writing was mirror-image backwards.

With dyslexia affecting 10% to 15% (according to experts in the US; some experts in Europe estimate 5%) of the general population, EACH class MAY have a child with this challenge. We must observe closely, use interventions, and refer students for testing.

Students who are identified as dyslexic can receive specialized training to alleviate the effects. This is NOT a disease, so there isn’t a CURE. We must modify the degree of difficulty the child has with learning.

With dyslexia no longer a major limitation, we all are able to see the many potentials and opportunities of our children for successful careers and futures. This, along with the newer ease of and confidence in learning, helps the student to build/gain self-esteem. We must encourage.

Districts and individual schools who offer training in dyslexia identification can help teachers recognize this potentially devastating challenge early in the student’s educational path. We must train educators AND parents.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Software for Writing Projects and My Writing Career

Jennifer asked me about software - here is a quick explanation as well as info on how I have started my new writing career:

For the screenplay, I used an old version of Movie Magic Screenwriter (I also do Astrology and knew back in 2006 I would be writing a screenplay, so bought software in preparation). Any software dedicated to screenwriting automatically sets margins for descriptions as well as for dialogue, etc.  This, to me, is much easier than trying to set Word.  In fact, I tried to use Word and had such a hard time with it, I quit and went back to MMS. 

I think I bought MMS when it was on sale at The Writers Store, online.

I am using Word for both the screenplay logline (finished) and synopsis (working on today).  The logline goes directly into the query (whether hard-copy letter or email to producers and/or agents). Once finished, I will convert the synopsis into PDF format so that I can attach it to an email or print it, if hard copy is desired.

I use Cute PDF for converting text written in Word into PDF.  Years ago, I downloaded CutePDF free from the Internet and use it ALL the time!.  Also, since I wanted the finished 120-page screenplay with Title Page in PDF format (as well as printed hard-copy), I used Cute PDF to convert it.

On my computer, When I click on Print, I can choose PDF as a conversion or print onto copy paper.  When I downloaded the program and installed it, Cute PDF automatically set itself as a print choice.

I grew up wanting to be a newspaper reporter and began college majoring in journalism.  After three years, I left college, was married, and had my son, Rocky (and later, a daughter, Kristina).

Shortly after Rocky was born, I needed a job and begged the managing editor of the local newspaper in our town to give me a chance as a reporter, stating I would work without pay for a week to show him I could do the job.  He immediately hired me and I was a reporter on a daily for four years, covering a lot of political and business news as well as writing features (just had a nose for news, so didn't have to be told what features could be written).

After four years as a reporter, I had the opportunity to return to college.  I graduated with a degree in elementary education (the school didn't have a journalism program).  Since teacher pay was so low and I had two children to support, I became a full-time entertainer and opened a talent agency. 

Those careers continued for the next 25 years.  When I closed the agency and retired from performing, I did free-lance technical writing.  Then, I was (I almost want to say kidnapped, since I never really planned to teach) drafted to teach by a principal with DISD - they were desperate.

I taught, returned to college to get a Masters degree, and became Academic Coordinator for two years, then resigned in June, 2008.  Before resigning, I started writing again, only my interest was fiction.  I had already been offered the job as News Editor at the Ellis County Press, but my dad had been ill and I didn't take the job.  Also, I had already experienced working on a daily and didn't need to re-experience covering county politics.

I wrote my first short story in 2006 (Zigzags) submitted it to an online contest at and won first place, earning me a software program geared more for planning and writing short stories and novels as well as non-fiction books.

I have that short story somewhere in a file on my computer.  Until a few months ago, it was available on the contest website, but that site appears to have been terminated.

With that software program, Page Four (a great program), I wrote a romantic novel based on the Vietnam War.  I write fast and am wordy.  When I wrote the novel, Love Never Dies, it expanded to 130,000 words.  When I tried to sell it, everyone I contacted rejected it, stating nobody would read such a lengthy novel from a first-time novelist. They want initial novels to be about 90,000 words. 

I tried my hand at editing it, but found the task too difficult at the time, since I was so close to the novel.  I put it on the backburner.  When I finish the screenplay sales attempts (hopefully next week), I plan to go back and either re-write the novel as a screenplay OR severely edit to 90,000 words, or, as my granddaughter said, if the screenplay sells, fiction publishers may be willing to read a 130,000-word novel from a newbie. 

How did I get started in screenwriting (and this is my first attempt)?

I started the short story about 9 pm and wrote very quickly.  The deadline for the contest was at midnight and I submitted it a few minutes before the contest closed.  With that success, which thrilled me, I next wrote the novel over the 2005 Thanksgiving weekend plus a few weekends after that (wish I had stopped with what I had at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend - I had about 90,000 words at that point).

I started sending query letters and hard printed copies of the novel (expensive to do) and hoped for the best (all eventually rejected - too long!)

In the meantime, in January of 2006, I joined Dallas Screenwriters Association and attended a workshop they sponsored featuring William (Bill) Martell, who has had 18 of his screenplays produced as movies.  The workshop was fabulous and gave me the confidence to try screenwriting in the future. Among my photos on Facebook, there is a pic of me with Bill. Also, one can Google him, go to his website, and sign up for his newsletters, which are full of tips for screenwriting.

During that time, I was still employed by Dallas ISD and stayed very busy.  With the novel rejected, I stopped writing.  After resigning from the district, I got into various activities and put writing aside.  The photo of me with the camel in my FB albums contains a description of my activities since leaving DISD.

In early June of this year (2011), in my own astrological chart, my Midheaven (career) finally moved from Taurus to 0 degrees of Gemini, which is the communication and writing sign.  I've known I would start writing more diligently once June of 2011 came around.  Therefore, over these past years since June 2008, I've been writing down ideas and getting prepared for this next stage of my life.

On June the 11th, I began the screenplay and the plot easily flowed.  The first draft was very easy to write (both descriptions and dialogue).  It totaled almost 160 pages. To make myself create a quality work, every day I read lots of articles on the Internet and also read books I had purchased (a few years ago) on screenwriting.

After writing the draft, the hard part was going over and over and over the pages to whittle it down to 120 pages and to strengthen the dialogue.  Editing is not the fun part, but it is necessary.  It has been difficult for me to do, but has helped me develop discipline.

I just recently finished the screenplay and, as mentioned, have had to write the logline and, now, the synopsis of 450 words.  Both of these have been very difficult for me.  I think they also get easier over time..

To summarize, I loved the four years I spent as a reporter.  Winning the short story contest was unexpected and thrilling and spurred me on.  I enjoyed writing the novel and will do something more with it.  The screenplay is finished, logline is finished, and synopsis is almost finished.  I WILL sell the screenplay to somebody. The rest of my life will be spent writing and I have tons of outlines and ideas ready to go. 

My philosophy about the writing:  I am a great believer in trying something and if it doesn't work, practice, practice, practice until a quality product is the result.  Therefore, if the screenplay queries don't incite someone to request and read the screenplay, I will know 1) either my logline and synopsis aren't good enough or 2) the concept is not good enough.  At that point, I'll continue working on the screenplay until it becomes something that can sell.

I think writing is 1) having something to say, 2) not being afriad to say it (after all, God listens and reads and if what we do is good enough for God, it doesn't matter what others say), 3) not allowing the self to stop trying, and 4) at some point some level of success will come.  Any finished product is worthwhile.

If one reads how many rejections famous writers have received, it is easier to realize we jsut have to keep going.  Also, recently, I re-read James Michener's Workbook and it is astounding how he had to tear apart his work and re-write.  And, Michener actually did physical cutting and pasting. We have it easy when we use comptuers and word processors.

One can Google "free writing software" and there will be lots of full, unrestricted programs, as well as trials of programs.  If screenwriting is a goal, I strongly recomment joining Dallas Screenwriters Association, at least for awhile and attending both any workshops, all the meetings, and all the readings, to get a hang of what screenwriting entails.

There are lots of writing websites and many offer free newsletters with tips. 

All of that is fine, but the only truly meaningful action is to write, write, write!

I hope this info is helpful.  The most important words I can write are: just do it - like everything else, writing improves with practice.

I watch a lot of movies, many really stupid, so I know there is somebody out there who will want to produce my screenplay.  It may take awhile to find that person, but I'm persistent.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Refusing to be defeated by a logline

In the world of Hollywood scriptwriting (or even writing screenplays for documentaries), a logline is written to "sell the qeury letter."

When one completes a spec (speculation, not asked to write) script, one sends a query letter to appropriate producers and/or agents to tantelize them to request to read the screenplay.  The query letter cannot be more than one page and includes a logline, very brief description of the characters and plot, as well as very brief bio information. Loglines are typically about 28 words.

If the query letter, with the logline, are written well enough, the scriptwriter hopefully will have one or more requests for the screenplay.  Once read by a Hollywood "reader," a form is typically completed that either recommends the script move on up the pipeline for others to read or recommends a rejection letter or email be sent to the submitting scriptwriter.

It is said that the logline makes or breaks the potential sale and the purpose of selecting a script to buy and movie to produce is "high concept" or "something that will put butts in the theater seats on a Saturday night."

I've written my first screenplay, Texas Trilogy: The Legacy, and that was hard enough.  For most of us, it always is challenging when we attempt to do something we've never before done.  I'm thrilled I finished the script, especially since it usually takes about three months to write one and I completed mine in two months.

Ice cream and a small piece of dark chocolate were my reward for finishing the project.  At my age, I always reward myself with food, kind of like giving treets to a dog when it behaves well!

I'm anxious to move on to the next script.  However, there is business to complete before doing so!

Writing the logline is causing me to want to tear out my hair.  The pressure is on.  If my logline isn't good enough, nobody will want to read the script and I think it is a very good story, with strong characters (espcieally El Limpiador, The Cleaner), interesting localities (in Dallas, of course), and lots of conflict.

To better aquaint the reader of this blog posting with quality loglines, which are those written by professional screenplay writers who have experience, let's look at five samples.

"Seabiscuit" - 29 words - The extraordinary story of a thoroughbred racehorse - from his humble beginnings as an under-fed workhorse to his unlikely rise and triumphant victory over the Triple Crown winner, War Admiral.

"Pirages of the Caribbean" - 39 words  - A 17th Century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England's daughter and reclaim his ship.

"Spy Kids" - 43 words - After segueing from a life of espionage to raising a family, Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez are called back into action. But when they are kidnapped by their evil nemesis, there are only two people in the world who can rescue them... their kids!

"My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" - 47 words - Toula's family has exactly three traditional values - "Marry a Greek boy, have Greek babies, and feed everyone." When she falls in love with a sweet, but WASPy guy, Toula struggles to get her family to accept her fiancée, while she comes to terms with her own heritage.

"Titanic" - 19 words - A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

These samples range from 19 words to 47 words.  My understanding is a new writer submitting a first screenplay should keep the words to about 28.  This information comes from the many books I've read on screenwriting, as well as the many articles on the Internet I've downloaded and reviewed.

Also, notice some of the samples include names of characters, but the one for Titanic doesn't.

Where am I today on the logline for my script? Here it is:

An epic tale of the struggle of a good-hearted daughter, overpowered by guilt, to keep the family’s drug trafficking empire from the clutches of the Mexican cartel who murdered her kingpin father.  33 words, which is five more than 28.

Since this is a trilogy, there are two more screenplays to write that feature some of the same characters (along the timeline, various people are murdered - drug trafficking is a very dangerous business, which is the theme of and reason for the trilogy).

At this point, since I must complete the synopsis of about 450 words (some producers and/or agents require that with the query letter), I may have to go with the logline I've written.  I don't feel totally satisfied with it, but them I'm well aware of the many interesting characters in the script, as well as all the action.  It is so hard for me to convert a 120-page screenplay into about 30 words.  It is difficult enough to whittle it down to 450 words.

The relevant question is, IF you are someone who likes crime adventure movies, "Does my logline make you want to read the synopsis or the 120-page screenplay?" If not, my logline needs more work.

I want to get these query letters out this week.  Therefore, the logline must be finished today and I'll give myself through Thursday to finish the 450-word synopsis. 

And that means rewards of ice cream and dark chocolate both today and tomorrow.  Arf, arf! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stupid Things I Do and Did They Really Do That?

One thing I do that is absolutely not smart: I write something on the computer, I do research for someone, or I look at something on the Internet and copy and paste it to Word on my computer, then, when saving it, I STUPIDLY just save it to the desktop, knowing later I'll come back and move it to the correct file folder.

Today is one of those times when I'm moving files to their respective folders.  Almost everytime I do this, I promise myself that next time when I initially complete the action, I put the results in the correct file right then and not save to desktop.

I've made and broken this promise to myself many times.  I get into a rush and, yes, it is faster to save to desktop.  Is faster the same as smarter?  Absoltuely not.  Why?  Because with some of these docs or items I saved quickly with some crazy name, I must now take the time to open the doc to figure ot what it is and, therefore, to where it should be moved!  That is NOT an efficient use of time.  Sometimes I have to rename the file as I move it to a folder. It would be more efficient to at least get it into the correct folder, even with a crazy filename.  When I'm searching for it, I would at least start in the right place.

I'll try to do better, but won't promise to do so regarding this matter, since I've broken this promise so many times.  I'm not proud of breaking promises to myself, but I only do so regarding a few issues - won't eat more chocolate, will lose weight, will file correctly, will get rid of some of the thins I have that I no longer need. (like the size 8 clothes that are too small, but just in case I lose weight, I need them!). 

Breaking promises is stupid.  If I'm going to break them, I shouldn't make them to begin with.  So, I promise to try to do better in this area!

So what do I think is really stupid and I hope I am absolutely wrong! On a newscast last night, the announcement was made that the new Martin Luther King Memorial in D.C. is open and, among the 16 or so sayings of Dr. King is NOT anything from the "Dream Speech."  Could this possibly be true?  I cannot believe they would leave out that great line about looking at character instead of a person's skin color.  The reporter must be wrong.

At the same time, the original sculptor for the statue was eliminated because he refused to create a huge, overpowering piece of art, stating (I'm paraphrasing) that Dr. King was a humble man and would never have wanted his image to be so "out there."  Instead, Dr. King would have wanted the words to stand, not the image.  I can agree with that..  I think when people reach the place of being truly great, they have lost a lot of their own ego and their beings are broken into pieces that others can easily absorb.

I'm sure we'll hear more about the memorial over the next few days, since it is suppose to be dedicated (with grand opening) on the anniversary of the Dream Speech and March on Washington, which, to my regret, I didn't participate in.

If the reporter is correct, I can only say, 1) as stupid as I am sometimes, I'm not as stupid as to leave out Dr. King's MOST FAMOUS words and 2) is everyone on drugs except for my very close friends and me?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Appreciating Life in America

Today, millions of people of all ages all over the world are carrying buckets as they walk various distances to community wells, or to rivers and lakes, many polluted, to obtain the water they will need for cooking, washing, etc. I do not know if they have to pay for the water. Many, however, probably struggle to carry the heavy weight of liquid.

Most Americans, however, can walk into the kitchen, bathroom, or to the front or back yard, turn on the faucet, adjusting the temperature from hot to cold (typically only cold water outside the house), and let pour as much water as is needed for the task.  We do pay for the water, but it is brought right to our homes.  Also, we receive reports on the quality of the water and, if a pipe breaks, we can usually get help right away.

Today, millions of people all over the world are washing clothes and other items as they stand in the lake or river and scrub by hand. Then they hang out the items on the line to dry.

Most Americans, however, can walk to the washer, throw the clothes in, add detergent, set the machine, and walk away, enjoying an automatic cleansing of items.  When the washing has finished, we toss the clothes into the dryer.  We pay for the appliances and we pay for the electricity or gas to run them.  We once had to separate clothes by colors and now there are chemically treated paper cloths available that will absorb any dyes that run from clothing/items.  Whites can go in with reds.  That's both good and bad.  Good that we advanced to that and bad because it always was fun to see guys that washed red t-shirts with white underwear end up wearing pink briefs!  Of course, items are still separated by weight - heavy jeans not washed with delicate silks.  And some people in our country do wash by hand and hang out clothes.  Most of us, however, who have had to do that (and I have), find a way to buy the washer and dryer.  After all, we need time to watch our favorite TV programs.

Which brings us to television.  Many people in the world do NOT have televisions, much less computers, cellphones, even land-line phones, etc., although more and more people are getting cellphones, even in third-world nations.  I think radio may be where most third-world nations start, since it is cheaper.

In America, we have access to all types of technology, including Ipads and Iphones with cameras.  We even have those big screens on the walls that present us with fabulously clear and detailed pictures. Of course, for we chocoholics, it is overwhelming to see an M&Ms package that is 2 feet by 9 inches.

People around the world have no way to keep their foods cool.

In America, we have refrigerators and freezers.  Sometimes, I remember the icebox in the old Jackie Gleason TV show.  Did somebody, using those big pincers, drag ice up all those stairs to their apartment?  How much did the ice cost?  Before electriciy, where did the ice come from?   Did people go on ships to the Arctic, cut out ice blocks, transport them back to the big cities, and sell the ice in those horse-drawn carriages the moved through the streets? What a far cry from the refrigerated units we now enjoy.  We can even get ice from the fridge door!

Around the world, people suffer with the heat and cold, not to mention all the bugs, snakes, and other critters.

In America, we have window air conditioners, space heaters, fireplaces, or, if more fortunate, central air and heat.  We have lots of cans of chemicals we can spray to kill what we don't want in the house or we can pay someone to come protect us from yucky things, except for fire ants, that is!

My mind wanders - I think fireants came to the U.S. from South America.  Their bites are horrible.  Many illegal drugs also come from there.  Maybe the fire ants were sent purposefully so that people with lots of bites would use illegal drugs to erase the reality of itching and burning. Another conspiracy!

Getting back on track - around the world, people walk, ride camels, ride horses, ride in wagons that are pulled by oxen, horses, even people, or endure some other more difficult type of transportation.

In America, we climb into our cars and pickup trucks and go wherever we want, depending on how much money we have for fuel and maintenance.  Hopefully, the license tag has been paid for, the vehicle has an up-to-date inspection sticker, and there is insurance.  In America, trucks of all sizes transport stuff we want to stores at which we shop for food, clothing, furniture, etc.

Around the world, people live in villages with no doctor. They suffer with no prescription drugs.

In America, we have doctors everywhere and many so specialized they can fix almost anything wrong with us.  We have drugstores in every town. Maybe we even have too much availability of prescription drugs.

Around the world, people can't vote for their leaders.  In fact, in many places, they wake up and go to sleep listening to gunfire. 

Oh, should have left out that last sentence.  Unfortunately, we have that in America, although we can vote for our leaders.  Of course, many Americans are too lazy to read about the issues, make up their minds, and go to the trouble of going to the voting booth.

Around the world, millions of children get no education.

In America, every child gets an education that is free for them (although taxpayers pay for it).  As I told my students during the four years I taught in a public school, if you don't like it here because you have to study and do homework, I can guarantee you there are many children who would be very happy to switch lives with you, even if they had to do 10 times the work!

There are very ugly things that happen to many people around the world.

We have some of that, but we do have law and order and most laws are enforced and most law enforcement people are good and honest and care about protecting and serving society.

The point - shut up all the complaining.  Yes, we have high unemployment - 9.1% unemployed, means 90.9% employed, on average.  As bad as it is for there to be 50% unemloyment among teens in Chicago and Detroit, at least 50% do have jobs. 

Yes we have inflation in food and energy prices.  But we have food and energy available to us.

I'm not trying to negate the pain of people who have lost jobs and who are having a hard time paying for food and gas, mortgages, and other bills.  You have a right to complain and more power to you.  Scream as loud as you want to!

What I am saying is, for my friends who complain even though they live in nice and clean homes, have jobs, cars, running water, appliances, and so much more, please realize even the poorest people in America are richer than who are considered the richest people in some third world nations.  If your guy or girl dumped you, there are more possibilities out there.  Unless you have a really good reason for complaining, please keep your petty complaints to yourself and share with us friends the really serious issues.

Today, I'm washing clothes in my washer and will toss them into my dryer.  Today, I water the plants in my cottage with water I obtained by simply turning on the faucet.  This morning I drove to the bank, the post office, and Wal-mart in a car that got me there safe and in much faster time than I could have walked, ridden a horse, camel, elephant, ox, or dinosaur.  I haven't yet met any aliens from other planets who would zap me up from my cottage and zap me down at my target errands.

As bad as this heat is for us, I think it was worse for the pioneers, who tilled the fields and, when they came into their houses to rest, they had only breezes (if there were any) through open windows (without screens) to enjoy.

In America, we have it great.  Yes, we have problems.  Our citizens have brains and if the complainers would stop complaining and start coming up with solutions to our problems, wouldn't we all be better off?

I greatly appreciate being an American and having access to so much.  I especially appreciate that my children and grandchildren are healthy and if an accident happens, we can call an ambulance or we can drive down the road a few miles to a hospital.  And, I appreciate that I can write this as my washer does its work.

I am so proud to be an American.  And, I am so NOT a socialist or communist.  I don't want to give up what we have so that someone else can have it.  I'd rather just see all those millions of people all over the world come up to our lifestyle (the postiive parts of it) without our having to lose what we have.  The more educated and informed those people become, the better the chance they will work for what we have.  If you don't believe that, look at China and India!  I believe in Capitalism and those nations that are reaching and passing us are doing it through Capitlism.

Education and information are key, as are the opportunities for entrepreneurs and inventors to bring their ideas into practial technology that can be freely available and purchased. 

Washer shut off - time to toss clothes into the dryer and for me to move on to the next project.  Think I'll go to the refrigerator and fill my glass with tea.  How I appreciate being so fortunate!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Old South Slavery and Modern College Football

People who know me are well aware I do not keep up with professional or college sports.  In fact, I see much of it, especially football, as similar to the old gladiator fights of the Roman Empire in which testosterone-laden people exhibited their blood-thirstyness.  I am astounded that it has taken so long for the NFL and other leaders in all levels of football to FINALLY become aware that players can receive head injuries that devastate their lives and FINALLY intervent. 

Players have a hard time saying no to the money they receive for their participation.  Owners know there are plenty of other potential players, so, if someone gets hurt, there will be a replacement.  Fortunately, enough evidence of brain injuries is coming forth to make changes in equipment and observations of players.

As a person who promotes education, I despise seeing high school coaches make enormous pay while teachers receive much less and academic programs take the back burner to blood-and-guts football.

All that is said to emphasize I come to any discussion of football with a prejudice against it.  So please take what I say with a grain of salt.

What bothers me now comes from a recent conversation with my son, Rocky, who is a football expert.  In fact, he is an expert in almost all sports.  When Rocky was a kid and I let him come to the Shamrock Hilton in Houston (I played piano and sang in the lounge), he so impressed members of the LA Dodgers that I personally was told by some of the team members that Rocky knew more about their records than they did.  Even Steve Garvey came to meet this kid who knew so much.  And players were very happy to provide Rocky with free tickets to Dodger games when they came to Houston to play. 

I think people who play this Fantasy Football with Rocky also are well aware of his expertise.

So, what did he tell me that made me so angry? Simply, that college football teams make a lot of money from their football programs and are not allowed to give money to players.  So I looked up the 2010 stats.

UT grossed $93,942,815 and, after paying coaches salaries, for equipment, and for other expenses, they netted $68,830,484 in profit for the college.

U of Georgia grossed $70,838,539 and profit was $52,529,885.

Penn State grossed $70,208,584 and profit was $50,427,645.

Michigan grossed $63,189,417 and profit was $44,861,184.

And Florida (the school that I asked Rocky about because of recent news regarding illegal spending on players) grossed $68,715,750 and profit was $4,258,193. 

That is over $1 billion in profit from just those five colleges.

How does this relate to the old plantation owners, IN MY MIND?

I grew up in the Deep South, in Georgia.  The 1950s and 1960s were filled with us trying to figure out the Old South Slavery issue.  I personally marched for Civil Rights in the 1960s.  I made a point of making appointments with the pastors of various African-American churches to ask why all the fuss.  I attended services once at Dr. Martin Luther King's church.  I remember the pain in the eyes of the African American teenager who registered at Roosevelt High School, where I attended in Atlanta, when she was snubbed by so many students and spoken to by very few of us Anglo kids.

I believe in equal rights, the equality of all humans, and, like Dr. King, that we should look at character and not at skin color, gender, ableness, IQ, etc.

Also, a student of history, I'm very acquainted with (from various sources) life on plantations.  Slaves were African Americans and slave owners were Anglos. 

Slave owners gave slaves a place to sleep.
Slave owners gave slaves food to eat.
Slave owners provided tools for slaves to use.
Slave owners required work of the slaves and did not allow them to be educated, to learn to read or write, etc.
Slaves were not paid money, which would have given them freedom to buy what they wanted.
All financial benefit from the work of slaves went to slave owners.

In my opinion, how does this compare to College Football programs?

Colleges give scholarships to players (of all races), part of which is providing a place to sleep (called room, as in room and board).
Colleges give players scholarships, providing food to eat (called board, as in room and board).
Colleges give players equipment to use.
Colleges require players to work by performing on the football field, whether in practice or in games.
Colleges to not pay players money, although, if on scholarship, they do give them books and provide them with education. I don't have the stats on how many college football players are on scholarship (full or part) and how many pay for their own education.
All financial benefit goes to the colleges.

The only difference I see, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, is that slaves were imprisoned in the system for life, whereas, colleges let go of students who are players, giving them the freedom to be where and do what they want for the remainder of their lives.  Certainly, this is better than the Old South.

But, what is NOT better, in my opinion, is that these young college football players, whether on scholarship or not, need money for cars, clothes, dates, etc., and are not given any pay by the college so they can avoid stepping into the clutches of the fans who circumvent the rules and provide them with things they need.  I understand one isn't even allowed to give a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a player.  I don't know if that is an extreme, but I did hear that stated.

The colleges tell us they don't pay players so that the field is even for all colleges.  In other words, the big high-monied colleges, if allowed to pay players, could pay more, thus encouraging players to come there and eliminating the better talent from smaller colleges.

I haven't done enough research to learn how much the smaller colleges gross and net, but wouldn't it be possible to select an amount of money that even they could pay players so that all players, across the board in college football, received some pay that would allow them to buy cars, date girls, buy clothes, get a shake at Sonic, etc., without having to take money under the table.  Of course, some would still go the illegal route.  There are always people who like to cut corners.  But at least MOST players would be fairly paid for their work.

According to the 2010 Report from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports,
"In Division I football, African

That tells me almost half of all football players in Division 1 football are Black.  So half of the students not being paid are, for the most part, descendents of slaves.  Where are Jesse Jackson and other Black leaders on this issue?

And just as bad are the White players, Latinos, and Asians.  Where are the leaders of these groups on this issue?

If you look at the entire 2010 report, you see that in college football, there is a much higher percentage of Whites in the administrative, coaching, and other leadership roles for the colleges.

I believe God gave humans brains so that we can make life more fair.  To me, it certainly is NOT fair for the colleges to make so much profit on the backs of these players while not sharing some of that bounty with them.  Again, young people need cars, clothes, and spending money for dating, etc.

Further, it is grossly unethical to place these young people into positions of having to make moral decisions on where to obtain such money.  These students have enough to deal with as they study, stay healthy, stay away from drugs, learn to interact successfully with their peers and with others.  Why set them up to skirt the rules?  

Can't people see by tempting them to travel down the negative brain path of breaking rules, that we are creating a future for them that may make it easier for them to break many other rules.

The point is, change the NCAA rules and pay these young people something.  Don't continue this style of Old South Plantation Slavery by taking advantage of students.  
In case you are interested, The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports has many documents available online about all level of sports.

At some point, things will change and student players will be paid.  That may happen only in the distant future as people stop paying for tickets and stop watching football on TV as they realize they are promoting this inequality and demand fairness.  The sad thing is, every viewer and every attendee at these college football games is unconsciously (or, for some, even consciously) giving an OK to this behavior.  So, if you don't like it, email the NCAA and ask them to change the rules (that is called lobbying, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term).

Obviously, I have another reason for not watching college football. Give me blood-and-guts chess tournaments any day (that is sarcasm)!
Americans account for 45.8 percent of the athletes and whites hold 45.1 percent, indicating the levels of participation between these two races continue to remain very close."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Parents Who Are Divorcing - The U.S. Congress

Children who grow up with parents that fight are recognizing the relevance to the current activities in Congress. The bickering among the two parties in Congress remind me of a couple on the verge of divorce.  The Mediator/Leader, President Obama, is smart enough to realize this is a no-win. Nobody is truly attacking today's problems. Instead it seems to be the same old whining about what got us here.

Many of us can see positives in both sides and negatives in both sides - nobody is totally right or totally wrong. People who are members of the party of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln (the Republican Party, yes, surprise, surprise, why they don't make this their brand) DO care about others.  At the same time, most Republicans are Capitalists who like entrepreneurship and obtaining goods and success on one's own merits, rather than being entitled to everything. 

And Democrats DO care about others and lean heavily to the entitlement side.  I could never be a Democrat because I grew up in the Deep South years ago where many Democrats also were members of the Ku Klux Klan.  I was a Republican for most of my life, but this past year left the party to become an independent.

And I am sick of this fight. I said in the early 1970s we would get to this horrible economic situation if we allowed manufacturing to leave our country. I wanted to see a law passed requiring that one-half of everything purchased in the U.S. had to be manufactured here.  I was laughed at by people in Congress who didn't believe things in America could fall apart.  I now believe it is too late for the U.S. to recover. There are too many problems and the parents (two parties) are fighting over how to get well.

If I could, I would put all the Republicans on one-half of the country's landmass and the Democrats on the other half. I would let each create their own country and see which one works the best. For myself, I believe people who cannot take care of themselves should be helped, but this doesn't apply to people who don't want to work and they label that not being able to take care of the self. 

I certainly would want every child to appreciate the free education and forget about what happened a hundred or even ten years ago. All that is water under the bridge. It is painful to see a student turn his or her back on a good education because he or she doesn't like the race of the teacher. That is very stupid to do, but it is done everyday.  Idealistically, I hope this changes. Realistically, I doubt it will, at least anytime soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Assassination of Usama or Osama Bin Laden

I've been thinking about whether or not I would have ordered a kill of UBL, if I were in the position of President Obama. Both killing UBL and not killing indicates a no-win situation.

After a lot of consideration, I've decided I would NOT order the kill and here is why:

Truly, UBL is a dangerous person to the United States. About 3000 people died on 9-11 alone due to Al Qaeda's bombing of the Twin Towers.

There has been no doubt that other attacks would be coming to America. A few already have been thwarted. Should those attacks have happened, a few hundred people would have died. These piece-meal attacks would have killed a few hundred people at a time. The Intelligence community has been able to prevent attacks and for that, I think all of us are grateful. We don't want even one American, or anyone else for that matter, murdered by these terrorists.

However, Al Qaeda's top henchmen have stated for quite some time that, should UBL be captured or killed, they would detonate a nuclear bomb inside the U.S. A nuke will kill many more than a few hundred people.

Was killing UBL or taking him out of Pakistan the only choices available? I think now. It is stated that the compound at which UBL lived in Abbotabad, Pakistan had no Internet or telephone connections. The means of communicating was through couriers. Had UBL been left alive in that compound with this family and the people who lived there, BUT without the ability to communicate with anyone else, how much damage could he order? His cohorts wouldn't know what to do. They couldn't get direct orders from him and wouldn't know why. This would leave them without the idea of using a nuke on Americans, although they probably would continue with small attacks.

There are American servicemen who speak the language of that area of Pakistan. They could have been placed as guards around the compound (dressed as Pakistani military) so that it appeared the guarding was being implemented by the Pakistan government, not the U.S. Further, with as much money as the U.S. provides to Pakistan, those government authorities probably could find loyal police or military to guard the compound.

These are just a few thoughts and I'm sure there are many more ideas I could come up with as time allowed.
At this time, I simply think the retribution for the death of UBL will be a lot worse than anything that would have happened had he been left alive, but with his communication abilities stopped.

Another thought - why didn't they bring the wife out? She would have had so much information to share about the comings and goings at the compound.

Also, why didn't the Seals drag UBL into another room if they were ordered to kill him so that all those children didn't have to witness the shooting? His wife and, apparently, about 10 children were in that room watching the killing. Of all those children, only one has to grow up wanting to revenge his dad's death for us to continue to be threatened for decades into the future.

Right now I'm listening to comments about the press briefing to occur shortly regarding releasing the photograph of UBL after his death and showing the gunshot wound. Apparently, President Obama will NOT release the photo and thinks because there hasn't been any retribution so far, there won't be. Therefore, not releasing the photograph helps to stop any attack. To release it, according to the President, could inflame people and cause retribution. This is bizarre to me. If revenge is in the plans, the photo will not make a difference, one way or the other. I never quite understand where the President is coming from.

Most people in this country know that the Al Qaeda leadership and members are EXTREMELY patient and plotting. Many probably are scattering since they data has been confiscated and the Al Qaeda people don't necessarily know what information the U.S. Intelligence community now has. However, they will settle and they will plot and I do believe we will get hit hard unless all of them are found and captured.

If many more Al Qaeda people are arrested, the mission has completed a double duty - kill UBL and gain information. However, if many of those others aren't arrested, simply killing UBL with the potential ramifications for a nuclear attack is NOT, in my opinion, worth it.

Of course, the President must consider his billion dollar re-election and this assassination is a boon for that.

It could occur in the future that this whole thing turns on the President and is more of a negative than a positive. We shall see! I do think President Obama makes a lot of decisions that are of a self-sabotage nature.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting Ready to Reveal the new Astrology

I haven't posted in awhile since I've been working hard on getting the new Aquarian Age Astrology ready to reveal. If anyone reading this blog is interested, that website is The blog for it is My email there is and the Facebook is

I'm now commenting on world events at that blog.

I am very sorry to see the mess we have in education now, but it has been coming - there was no doubt. You can't waste money and think it always will be there and, believe me, I saw tremendous waste when I was teaching in public schools. In my opinion, the important thing is to keep teachers IN THE CLASSROOM.

In the War on Ignorance, firing teachers is like getting rid of front-line Soldiers and Marines. Really think you can win a war that way? Looks to me like some people in administration need to be educated! This is all SOOO SAD!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

I have not posted since August, 2010. Just too many projects I am completing. Soon, I hope to be back on schedule with blogging. The best to all.