Sunday, February 25, 2007

Alexander the Great

I spoke with Alexander the Great and his Dad, Joe yesterday. Joe, my son was working with Alex on his homework. Alex is 8 years old. He was writing sentences using his spelling words. Joe was guiding him and encouraging him to write neatly. I'm proud of the kind of Dad that Joe is to Alex. They spend a lot of time together. Joe encourages Alex to read, to do his homework, and he encourages good values.

Last year as a bedtime story, Joe read the Oddessey to Alex at Alex's request. Now Joe is reading the Iliad to Alex. Alex is learning first hand the original source of the stories of Hercules and some of the other super heroes from Disney and his story books. Joe reads great literature and talks about what he reads to Alex. I'm so proud of Joe and how he spends his time. I'm so proud that Alex is reading every day and that he does his homework.

Alexander is smart, creative, and wants to be a movie director someday. I'm proud to be his Grandma.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Benjamin Haber

In my book, Ben walks on water. He's always been perfect. When he was a little baby, I used to dance with him around the kitchen and front room. He played chess at three years old. He's always made me happy and made my heart sing. He's good natured, brilliant, works hard, has a kind heart, and is the best person I know. He hasn't had it easy. He's persisted and worked hard to achieve everything he has accomplished. He's fun and I love just spending time with him. Time is the most precious gift. He makes me laugh and he can brighten my world any time he calls, which was a couple of days ago.

Ben deserves every success, every happiness. I'm so proud of him. I've always called him my Golden Boy. He's a distance runner and has a run a marathon in less than 2 hours and 40 minutes so he's smokin'. He's running the Eugene Marathon in April with his brother, Daniel. Now if we can just get all three brothers running together--Ben, Daniel, and Joe. Joe used to run in high school. Joe went to Steens Mountain Running Camp two different summers and is a great runner. He stopped for several years. Ben went to Steens one summer.

I'm so proud that Ben graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in biomedical engineering, the BEST university in my book. Ben has a brilliant mind. At Northwestern, he started the running club. At his graduation Bill Cosby spoke. What a thrill!

Ben has always worked for pharmaceutical companies and now works for Zymo Genetics, the place that has been voted as the best place to work in Washington. I'm glad he's happy where he works. Ben loves Seattle. He has his running. He loves the city. Ben owns two houses. One in Ballard and the other in Green Lake where he lives, which is close to where his running group meets. Ben runs for Seattle Running Company. You just have to do a google search to see how terrific he is. Only greatness exudes from Ben and yes, his mother thinks he walks on water.

Ben took me to see the Seattle Art Museum, the Symphony, the Northwest Ballet Company to see the Nutcracker, to eat at Salty's, and more. Ben deserves everything good and the best that life has to offer because he's truly a good person who works hard at everything he does.

Ben married Amanda Label last September and they live in the "happily ever after" house in Green Lake.


I LOVE Gottchalks! They have great sales on merchandise that I am proud to give as a gift. It's fun to shop at Gottchalks. On Tuesdays I get the discount for being over 55 and I get two gifts wrapped free. Such a deal!

I remember shopping at Gottchalks in Santa Maria, California when I lived in Arroyo Grande from 1978 to 1982.

Gottchalks is always the best store in town. The store where you are proud to buy gifts for your loved ones and where you can find sales to match your budget.

I shop at the Albany store when I have some extra money. This year I'm determined to have all birthdays and Christmas gifts finished way ahead of time.

Yesterday I finished writing the jingle to the tune of I've Got Rhythm. It ended up being a song for Wal-Mart which I posted in my blog but I started writing it for Gottchalks. However, Gottchalks is more subdued. I don't see them singing in the isles with the same enthusiasm as Wal-Mart who has the sales meetings that mimic a political convention.

When I shop at Gottchalks and see the 60% signs posted, a band plays in my heart and confetti falls from the ceiling. A great smile spreads over my face as I select an item for one of my children to make them happy. The last time I was at Gottchalks, I saw a Lennox Christmas table cloth with napkins for 70% off. Wow! Yes, in my heart, I am singing in Gottchalks about all the great buys. It's fun to shop. I don't have the kind of extra money that allows me to shop the way I would like but once in awhile, I can buy a couple of things for a gift to make my children happy, and I enjoy every minute of the fun.

Thank you Gottchalks for being there with the great sales for everyone on quality merchandise that anyone would be proud to give as a gift!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Daniel Haber

My youngest son, Daniel is at Duke University right now and will interview for the MBA program tomorrow. Next he'll fly off to interview at Yale University, then on to the University of Michigan and last at Northwestern University. All are top MBA programs and he will do well at any of these top schools.

I'm so proud of Daniel. I'm proud of the person that he is inside who makes time for people and has compassion. I'm proud of his determination to reach all his goals. He's always planned where he wants to go in life and then works hard to achieve the next step. He's amazing. He has a brilliant mind and can have deep conversations with the best minds on a range of subjects. He can bring original thoughts to these conversations and solve problems that stump experts. He's working hard in life to reach out for the best education available and will be a credit to any of these top universities. He hasn't had an easy life handed to him without financial worries. He's worked hard for everything he has. He's a good person and I admire him. He's my hero who inspires me in life.

Daniel just received a promotion as Research Scientist at Battell in Mountain View, California working exclusively with NASA Ames. He plans to continue working with them after graduation.
Daniel is the most ambitious of all my children. I have no doubt that his picture will be on the cover of business and news magazines some day for his achievements. He's amazing.

His first choice is Northwestern University where his older brother, Benjamin graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering. Ben and Daniel will run in the Eugene Marathon this April in Eugene, Oregon together.

Where will Daniel go to school? Any of these universities would be blessed to have such an outstanding young man on campus who will contribute and be a great example to other students. I sincerely pray that he will go to the school where he will be treated with respect and receive the best education available by the best teachers in this country. He deserves it and will go on to make major contributions. I've always been proud of Daniel. I'm proud he's my son and I want the very best for him always. I sure do love him. He has such a kind heart and always takes the time to talk to me, no matter how busy he is. He has been my life line a few times since I don't have any real friends. Daniel listens and respects me. I'm grateful for him and I'm proud of the person that he is inside.

I've always been impressed with Northwestern University where Ben graduated. I remember attending Ben's graduation and listening to Bill Cosby speak to a packed crowd. I love reading the alumni magazines that Ben receives from Northwestern and reading the articles about the latest research and important thoughts from brilliant professors. I wish in my heart that I could go back to school for my Master of Fine Arts at Northwestern too. Probably not in the cards for me at 58 but Daniel is just starting out and will do well at any of these top universities.


I wrote lyrics about Wal-Mart in the last 24 hours and I thought I'd share it.

This is to the tune of I'VE GOT RHYTHM.


I love Wal-Mart.
I love Wal-Mart.
I love Wal-Mart
Who could ask for anything more!

Sales and bargains
In all departments.
Finding great buys
For every need.

I love Wal-Mart.
I love Wal-Mart.
I love Wal-Mart.
Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more! (slower with a big Wal-Mart smile)

I can see my son, Joe singing this song on a television commercial. He'd be great.
He's the manager of the garden department at Wal-Mart in Kissimmee, Florida.
Joe's a singer and song writer in his spare time.
He just applied for a manager trainee position. He'll be great. He has a brilliant
mind and he works hard. I talked to him this evening. He was helping Alex with
his homework. I'm so proud of Joe for the person that he is and the great father that
he is to Alex. I hope great opportunities come to Joe. He's talented and deserving
of great success.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Yesterday on the front page of the Corvallis Gazette Times was an interesting article that said that patients lie to their doctors. Easy out for doctors. No accountability. No need to feel responsible, if you can say that your patients lie to you and that's the reason why your answers and treatment doesn't work. This may be the answer in some cases but I think that in other cases, the truth is closer to medical records being washed of any possibility of leaving a trail of a future malpractice suit. Prevention is key.

It said in the article that patients just lie when asked if they have ever smoked. Well, I can say in truth that I have never smoked or wanted to smoke. I went through college in the 60's at Oregon College of Education, now Western Oregon University from 1966 through 1970. I have never smoked or tried marijuana. I have come in contact with second hand smoke. My Dad smoked and died of lung cancer. My husband smoked for years until I came down stairs one night finding him asleep in the chair with a lit cigarette. That was it. I made him stop. I think that was in 1984. As a little kid in Libby, Montana I used to play in piles of zonalite with my cousins. We used to throw it up in the air, the shiny particles that was mined in Libby responsible for cancer deaths years later.

At a time when doctors want only one symptom per visit and this visit lasts for 10 minutes, how can a doctor expect to diagnose and accurately get to the bottom of any problem? I think it would be wonderful to have a doctor who cared about my health and about me. I think this is rare these days, just like a friend is rare.

Thinking about doctors, I was sad that Meredith died on the television show, Grey's Anatomy. She was a great doctor and I cared about this character. She cared about her patients. She went the distance. Maybe someday I'll have a doctor who cares about me, who will talk to me, and who will do what it takes to make sure I'm okay. My husband says this takes money. Yes, money buys great service and the best professional care. I guess we come back to Prevention is Key for those without insurance and for those without medical care.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Alexis Serna

I interviewed over the telephone Alexis Serna for the new print and online magazine, WINNERS WITHIN US. It's supposed to come out the first of March.

Alexis is an outstanding young man and I felt honored to have the opportunity to interview him.

I'll have two interviews in this issue. I hope you enjoy reading them.

High Blood Pressure

A couple of days ago I went into Safeway Pharmacy on Philomath Blvd. in Corvallis to pick up my husband's medication and then again last night to pick up the rest of it. While I was there I saw the chance to take my blood pressure in the waiting area so I checked it. It was 146 over 83 and my pulse was 71.

I don't have a regular doctor for care and I'm one of the millions of Americans without health insurance. When I need care, I look for a doctor who will take payments.

The last time I went into be checked was at the Benton County Health Department in Corvallis for a skin biopsy to see if I had skin cancer. First I checked medical books and then I consulted with my sons who said I should check. I didn't have skin cancer but I got a big bill that I'm still paying off. I have 30 something dollars left to pay.

A few years ago I was checked by the nurse at the clinic here in Alsea. I complained of headaches and described my problems reading music and the screen on the computer. I was given a prescription for omoxocilan. I almost died from the severe reaction. What I needed was middle distance vision glasses, which I now have.

When I've gone into see a dentist in Corvallis, I complained of pain in a tooth every time I was checked. Each time an X-ray was taken of this tooth. Finally after repeated x-rays and constant pain, I insisted that he pull the tooth. After threatening to have my husband pull it at home with his pliers, he finally relented and pulled the tooth. When he looked at the deep crack the full length of the tooth, he admitted that this tooth would always have caused pain and that it was good it was pulled. Great! After one check up, I received a paper saying that I had perfect teeth. I put this in my journal because of the irony since my front teeth are in need of big help. At one check up, I showed the dentist a chip in my front tooth and despite the protest of the dental assistant, he didn't fill it. Am I going back? No! I can't afford all this.

Americans need excellent medical and dental care. Americans should receive a certain basic level of care. No American should be without shelter or go hungry. It doesn't show basic respect for human life when basic needs aren't met in our society.

I need to find an excellent medical doctor and an excellent dentist who cares about giving excellent care and who continually upgrades his/her education. First I need medical insurance or a job to pay for it all. Right now my choice is to try to eat healthy and exercise. I can't afford medical problems. Prevention is key.

Ability Grouping

Grouping students in a classroom by ability is the most efficient use of resources and teacher's time. It's unfair to expect a teacher to meet all the needs of the special ed, average, disruptive, and gifted student in the same classroom. Each student has the right to learn. It's unfair for a gifted student to have the attention of the teacher taken up by the disruptive, special ed, and average student, and not have the instruction to challenge and learn at the level of their ability.

Often the urgent needs in the classroom have to be met by the teacher. Sometimes precious time needed for teaching important new concepts is taken up by the disruptive student, which is unfair to the teacher and other students. If a student is not able to control their behavior, they should not be allowed in the classroom.

Special ed students sometimes have major needs requiring special care. Mainstreaming these students is unfair to the teacher and to the other students who are there to learn. Closing Fairview Home and Training Center in Oregon brought special ed students into public school classrooms and I question this decision. Sure it's nice for these students to have contact with regular kids. The kindness lessons are important but the quality of our education in this country is at a crisis level. These kinds of decisions are part of the problem. Maybe there should be schools set up just to deal with the needs of the special education student. Maybe these schools should take a look at the work done in Philadelphia at the The Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential which looks at the full range of human potential from the gifted child to the brain damaged child.

Students in elementary school are smart. They can move from class to class. They can move to the classroom where they will learn math and then on to the classroom where they will learn English at their level of ability. Maybe this move will encourage a little parent and child time on homework after school, if the parent is embarrassed by their child's placement. Afterall, the parent is the first and most important teacher. Most parents want to shove all teaching off onto the teacher. A teacher can't do everything and work miracles. Some kids come from backgrounds that are difficult and see too much. These kids have a difficult time coping and learning in the classroom. Maybe their special needs should be handled in a different way too.

Our future needs each gifted child to bloom so they can go forth to find answers to all the questions in the world and solve problems. They need the BEST instruction, teachers, learning environment possible. They need to be challenged. They need to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated to be excited about learning. They need to be given the tools to find answers.

Our country needs all students to win and learn at their level of ability. We can't afford loss of time and resources any longer with poor decisions that waste both.

The ultimate goal of a school should be to maximize resources so that the teacher can teach and the student can learn. This can best be done in the most efficient way by ability grouping.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Alsea School

I just read in the Corvallis Gazette Times yesterday morning that the Alsea School Board is not going to support the move for gradeless classrooms. The principal, Jason Larson is interested in making sure that children are given the opportunity to learn at the level of their ability. A great move, in my opinion. Children have the right to learn at a level at which they are challenged. I suspect that those who oppose this move have children who would remain in the lower levels. I've been impressed with Jason Larson and what he is trying to do. I understand that he sends young people to college early and he is trying to make a difference here in Alsea.

Gifted children often have to remain in classrooms where the subject matter is not challenging and where it is review. This is a tremendous waste of time. The main priority should be to learn at the level at which you are capable of learning. All children should have the right to learn at the level of their ability in each subject. If a young person reads on the 7th grade level, they should be in the 7th grade reading program and if this same young person is computing math on a 5th grade level, they should be learning in the 5th grade classroom for math.

In my opinion, there are three levels of learning, all of which are important. Review of concepts is always important. You should also be exposed to learning new concepts that are advanced and beyond the level of ability. The last is to have the opportunity to learn at the level of your ability. All three are important but in most classrooms, review is what happens for most of the day for gifted learners. How sad! Jason Larson was trying to change this.

The community of Alsea does not like change. They have fought long and hard to make sure that the Federal School lunch program does not get a foot hold here in Alsea. The Alsea School is one of three or four school districts in Oregon without a federal school lunch program. It is my understanding that at one time Corvallis offered to truck lunches to Alsea. It is my understanding in talking to people that over half the children would qualify. It is my understanding that a nice Deputy Sheriff who lives here offered to bring milk every day to the school and that was rejected. I've heard different reasons for this resistance. One that they cannot afford the program, even though a grant application would take care of upgrading the equipment. Another that parents who do not take care of their children should not be given the help.

I guess the fact that children need nourishing food for their brains in order to learn doesn't matter here in Alsea. I guess it has also been judged that they also do not have the right to learn at their own level of ability.

I guess that a gifted child sitting in the second grade who reads on the seventh grade level must sit bored while the teacher talks about second grade words. What's going to happen down the road to the bright young student who is eager to learn? Unless there is a parent to encourage or a mentor, this child will learn that learning isn't rewarded or important.

The school here in Alsea is one of a few schools with the amazing blessing given by the Clemens Foundation that gives a college scholarship to all graduating students. These students have the opportunity to all go on to college but 100% of the students do not continue their education. Maybe not having the proper nourishment for their brain as they try to learn in the classroom and not having the opportunity to learn at the level they are capable has something to do with it.

When you try so hard to suppress talent, the results are not always positive. Sometimes, it comes out in negative behavior and acting out. Too bad this energy couldn't be challenged in the classroom. There are many homeschooling families in this area. One alternative.

The school band and orchestra program has been discarded here too. Not enough funds. The important things just don't seem to be important here in Alsea.

Alsea is a proud community and the people here do not want to hear anything but praise for what happens but if there is something that needs to be fixed, it should be fixed. I've never understood the reasoning behind the justification that it's okay for a child to sit in a classroom hungry or a bright child sitting in a classroom where they aren't challenged.

Yes, there are hot lunches at $2.00 to $2.50 but not all children can afford this.

Periodically since I've moved here 5 1/2 years ago, I've come forward with an outline for programs I wanted to start but it's all been discouraged and rejected. I can imagine the pain of rejection the gifted child feels in the classroom when they are interested in going forward with a project and it is not respected or regarded as important. Since I don't enjoy conflict, I have stopped but I feel sad for these kids--the bright ones who have amazing talent without an outlet.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My Computer

I'm grateful that I'm not having problems with my computer today. I sincerely hope all the problems are over. Since October, on and off, I've had difficulty getting on the Internet, accessing e-mail, doing research using Google, and reading writing articles.

This is refreshing and I'm thankful.

Joann Fabrics

I started working at Joann Fabrics in Corvallis, Oregon on 9th Street on December 21, 2006. I work part time. It's a great job for me since this store sells everything that I love from fabric to yarn, scrapbooking to sewing patterns. With a little jingle in my pocket, I can afford to do a few more things. I just had my sewing machine fixed, which hadn't been serviced in several years.

It's fun because I have something in common with everyone who walks through the door. I hear about creative projects and meet so many nice people.

I concentrate on trying to give the best service possible, working hard, and doing my best.

We just had a great sale of $1 a yard fabric. Several customers have commented that it must be hard to not spend my whole paycheck at Joann's. Yes, it sure is tempting. So many great sales and so many items that I have been wanting to buy. My next purchase will be scrapbook albums that are on sale for 50% off until the 10th of the month.

Working 9.5 and 10 hour days on some weeks isn't easy for me. Since I have osteoarthritis in my feet and I'm overweight, it's not always easy to work the long hours. I'm grateful that this week will be easier.

I'm sick this evening. I have a fever of 101.9 and I feel miserable. Working around others brings you in contact with more germs. My son says I'll toughen up.