Friday, October 31, 2003

Yesterday we carved pumpkins with Conrad on our living room floor. Scattering pumpkin seeds and gore across the pages of yesterdays news, while Conrad poked the pumpkins with various pumpkin carving tools and Adrienne (the goddess) brought forth the faces of fear in pumpkin flesh. 8^) I started playing around with a little gift this Bright got last year at the winter solstice celebrations. It's an inexpensive digital pen cam from Aiptek. I took this pic this morning of the clouds from my driveway looking toward the rising sun And this of the medicine isle in Pavilions where I picked up some expectorant for a sickened Adrienne (get well my love).

Friday, October 24, 2003

I'm really pissed I'm not going to live forever. hehe. This article is another teaser in my list of things that will eventually happen but I probably won't be able to see. Wired 11.11: Regrow Your Own

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Yesterday was my anniversary. Eight years married to the most incredible woman I've ever met. I find it humbling and amazing that loves me and strive daily to be worthy. I met Adrienne at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and we walked through downtown to Cafe Mundial. Travis greeted us at the door in his usual style (we went to high school together and I was his boss at his first job) and Ben (Adrienne's cousin) showed us to our seats. Adrienne had stopped by The Wine Cellar earlier in the day and after quite some deliberation picked up a bottle of Southing from Sea Smoke wineries. What a wonderful wine! Our appetizer was seared ahi on a bed of pasta and thinly sliced cucumbers and lighty covered with a cucumber wasabi sauce. Adrienne got the creamy asparagus soup and I got the ceasar salad. For our main courses I had a Chilean sea bass that was covered in an orange tomato sauce. This was excellent. I've never had a bad cut of fish here. Adrienne got the baked sand dabs that were also very good. (not as good as mine however). Then for desert we had a very hot VERY rich chocolate souffle. A leisurely stroll home and another memory stored to think about as we sit on our rockers in old age and hold hands.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

And here I thought I was fairly hip to the 80's culture. Ack!
So I stopped at the local shell station to gas up my car. i was helped by a gentlemen in his late 40's early 50's who looked eastern european (slavic). While he is helping me he speaking to another much older gentlemen in a back room. I didn't recognize the language so I asked him what language he is speaking. "Farsi" he replies. "Huh, cool. I wish I was bilingual", I say shaking my head. "Actually, I'm fluent in 6 languages". I think I stood there for at least 5 seconds with my mouth hanging open.

Monday, October 20, 2003

This weekend we did a bunch of home improvement stuff. On Saturday Adrienne, who has grown increasingly bored and frustrated with the bland shade of whites and offwhites our house was entombed in, painted our kitchen a shade of cobalt blue. On Sunday I rented a floor sander from Home Despot and proceed to sand the hardwood floors in the front bedroom. Someone in the past decided that they should carpet these 70 year old oak hardwood floors, but before that they would paint the room in a shade of the despised white and said to themselves, "Bah! Why should I cover the floors with tarps since I'm going to be carpeting anyway". The result was paint all over the floor. Well this sander just mowed through all that and I happy to report the floors are close to being returned to their prior glory. We need to touch up around the areas that I couldn't reach with the uber-sander and rub some linseed oil in. Then it's a seal. Lovely. While I had the sander Adrienne had the brilliant idea to do the dining room table with the sander. =) So I took the top off of the table and laid it out in the front bedroom so I could free it from the shackles of a very dark stain and years of abuse. Some background on the table may be in order: 80 yrs ago my great grandfather built this table. He then handed it down to my grandfather, where it sat and selflessly served meals to my 6 aunts and uncles. It served up horizontal goodness for homework, cards and all the stuff that brings a family together and sometimes tears them apart. It sat in mute witness to my mother's and father's first date. My grandfather saw fit to refinish this guy twice. Then with the family sent into adulthood (unprepared of course, like all of us) the table moved to my parents house where it witnessed yet another first date on Christmas Eve 1985. One nervous Eric and one enthralled (so I've been told) Adrienne. Now with my grandparents, their standing waves having smoothed back into the background noise of this universe, and my parents, the proud owners of my mothers "first" new dining set, moving on, the table has moved into my home, where it sat and bemoaned the years inevitable decay. Now with it's shiny and "raw wood" new attitude it reflects the light on my family's face and once again serves proudly, providing much needed horizontal space for eating, scribbling, doing bills, drinking tea, holding bowls of fruit, catching mid morning sun... Perhaps someday, my son will grab a block and some sandpaper and refinish it again.
I got a kick out of this article. I can remember playing most of these games. Especially the hand held football one. I still remember the moves you need to put the defense on one side and scream up the side line preparing your wrists for the coming carpal tunnel.

Friday, October 17, 2003

I recently wrote to our senators explaing my opposition to the school voucher program in Washington D.C. and I got this response today: ***Warning this is a loooong post*** October 16, 2003 Dear Mr. Milliken: I am writing in response to your letter regarding the District of Columbia's school voucher pilot program. I recognize that this is a controversial issue, so I would like to try to respond as fully as possible. Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has proposed a 5 year pilot program in the District of Columbia to provide scholarships of up to $7,500 to allow parents to pay for tuition, fees, and transportation to any private school in the District. While I have not supported school vouchers in my thirty years of public service, I respect and support Mayor Williams' efforts to improve educational opportunities for his city. Because of the nature of the relationship between the Federal government and D.C., the issue before us is a package of financial educational new dollars for the District. While I will continue to support our public education system in every way I can, I believe we need to rethink what works for children. If we look at what works for students, we would probably agree that different models are helpful, because what works for one child may not necessarily work for another. Clearly, the public schools in the District need improvement. District schools currently spend $10,852 per student - the third highest per student spending in the country - yet student achievement remains very low. On September 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2004 District of Columbia Appropriations bill, which provided $40 million in new money to D.C. schools, including $13 million to D.C. public schools, $13 million to D.C. charter schools, and $13 million to implement Mayor Williams' voucher proposal. I would not have supported this "pilot" if it took funds from D.C.'s public education system. But it does not; rather it adds net new dollars. Before I decided to support the program and vote in the Appropriations Committee in favor of the proposal to fund the school choice program, I made sure that the bill addressed a number of key issues. Specifically, the proposal contains the following components: Creates a pilot program, not a precedent. The bill sunsets the voucher program after 5 years, at which time the Mayor, the Secretary of Education, and Congress will evaluate the success of the program and determine the extent of improvement in student achievement. Requires student testing to measure academic achievement. Voucher students will receive comparable assessments to their peers in D.C. public schools to determine after 5 years if the voucher program improved academic excellence. I am working to change the word "comparable" to "same," so that we can accurately assess the performance of students in the voucher program. Provides $7,500 vouchers. The bill gives at least 2,000 low-income parents, by lottery, the option of sending their children to private and religious schools in the District. The voucher funds can be used for tuition, fees, and transportation. Priority is given to the neediest parents living at 185 percent of the poverty level ($34,000 for a family of four) whose children attend failing schools. Sets the maximum voucher amount at a fair level. The median price of private schools in the District is $8,000; the bill provides for a $7,500 voucher, making it feasible for some parents to make up the difference between the amount of the scholarship and the cost of some private school tuition. Many schools have tuition well within the $7,500 limit. Ensures that vouchers go to students of failing schools. The bill states that "In awarding grants under this Act, the Secretary shall give priority to applications from eligible entities who will most effectively (1) give priority to eligible students who, in the school year preceding the school year for which the eligible student is seeking a scholarship, attended an elementary school or secondary school identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; and (2) target resources to students and families who lack the financial resources to take advantage of available educational options." An eligible student is defined as a student who is a District resident who "comes from a household whose income does not exceed 185 percent of the poverty line." Increases Mayoral accountability. The Mayor will have input in all aspects of the voucher program and can be held accountable for student results. The bill requires Mayor Williams and the Secretary of Education to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to design and implement the program, including the creation or selection of an appropriate entity to run the program. The Memorandum will address the following needs: the provision of strong accountability measures and program performance evaluations, the specifics of a lottery system which will provide fair and unbiased acceptance of students into the voucher program, oversight by the D.C. Mayor of the program's operation, the criteria for the selection of participating schools, the evaluation and methodology for the selection of participating schools and for the certification of licensure, and other necessary requirements such as health and safety codes, and the development of appropriate oversight and accountability measures. I firmly support the role of parents in the education of their children, and I believe that every parent should be able to make decisions that will be in the best interest of his or her child. Public schools in Washington, D.C. are in dire straights and needy District parents should be given the chance to provide their children with better academic opportunities. Affluent families have that opportunity now, poor families do not. Why not try this? After 5 years, we can then evaluate the program and learn from it. I am willing to allow the Mayor to try this "pilot." It is not a precedent for vouchers in any other community. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I hope that you will continue to share your opinions with me in the future. If I can be of any assistance to you, or if you would like to express additional comments, please feel free to call my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein United States Senator Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website . You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at .

Monday, October 06, 2003

A couple of interesting sites I was directed to this morning when I got my first e-newsletter from the Brights. The first is a website for the American Chapter of the Brights movement sponsored by the American Humanist Association. If you support this kind of thinking do what you can to spread the message. Let's move from superstition and mythology and...well...evolve.