Tag Archives: Christina+Ivazes

STOP! Before you shop for the holidays, read this:

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2011 Holidays for the 99% Across the Globe – Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans and other countries with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of

local labor. This year can be different. This year Americans and other countries can give the gift of genuine concern for their own

local economies. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by

local hands. Yes there is! It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your

local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small,

locally owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates. Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course or recreation facility or skating rink. There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the

local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

If you are still fortunate enough to have a

local bookstore, it may cost a few extra dollars to purchase a book from them, but it will be worth every penny.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.

Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes and old fashioned wooden toys for children.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a

local play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands. Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip. You see, Christmas should not be about draining local pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas should be caring about US, encouraging local small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about our fellow countrymen, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. Make this the new international Christmas tradition. Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of the 99% caring about each other and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

Children’s gifts can be just as inventive and supportive to

local economies from local movie, dance, music or theatre tickets that support teen theatre workers to

local bookstores, classes, fun houses, museum memberships, hair salons, ski resorts, etc.

Please pass this on! I cut and pasted and modified this message so it does not get tracked by whoever tracks our group emails because I generally do not pass on anything from email but this was too good to drop the ball.

Like this idea? You can also “like” it on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-99-Supporting-Local-Economies-for-the-Holidays/273216302721563

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The 25 Most Important Things

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The 25 Most Important Things To Pass On To My Children and Grandchildren:

1. Be honest and kind with yourself and others. You will save a lot of pain and suffering while attracting more honesty and kindness into your life.

2. Exercise often and as aerobically as you can because 4-6 days of exercise will:

  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Keep your immune system strong, thereby reducing sick days and health care costs
  • Prevent injuries
  • Increase your memory and learning capacity
  • Release stress from your body so it won’t impact your health
  • Keep you fit and healthy and toned
  • Increase your options in life and recreation with a working body
  • Decrease anger
  • Balance your hormones and best of all
  • It’s completely free if you need it to be!

3. Eat real food, especially veggies, legumes and whole grains and eat everything else in moderation. Remember that children’s tastes are developed by what is in the house and what they eat and drink in the first few years. Each food is designed perfectly balanced as nature intended to nourish our bodies. Each step from food’s original form is substandard and less nourishing for our bodies. Our bodies are our vehicles for everything we do and want to do in life so they deserve the best!

4. Develop an appreciation for reading because once you can read, you have the entire world and its history and cultures and fields of study at your fingertips.

5. Education is the key to giving yourself the best chance in life but you also have to give your best to get the full benefits. This means sacrificing personal time now, which you will get back later because then you won’t have to work as hard as a person without an education. Education also means experience. Make an effort to travel out of your home country to understand a little about how the rest of the world operates from direct experience, not heresay. Traveling is some of the most valuable education that you can experience.

6. Do at least 1 thing very well in your life! Devote enough time, even before you are an adult, to become an expert at something! When you are an expert at something, you will always have this expertise to fall back on, even if you don’t decide to make it a career.

7. Forgive yourself and others for anything in the past. It does not serve you to carry the weights of blame or regret around. Not only do they weigh you down, they can also make you physically ill. You will be closer to realizing your dreams and personal well-being when you learn to let go.

8. Visualize yourself doing what you dream to do and remind yourself of this vision frequently! Do not let others dictate your future or change your dreams. A delay or detour does not mean destruction; it may just mean a lesson you need to learn before you are prepared to soar!

9. Start small. Make small changes in yourself before uprooting everyone and your own life. Big changes = big risks. Each time you start over it costs in more ways than one. A person can never get ahead by starting over continuously.

10. Practice compassion with everyone, especially with people who aren’t like you. They may need even more than your friends and family. (Remember that compassion is different from enabling.)

11. Practice service to others as a necessary part of your spiritual fulfillment and soul requirements during your lifetime.

12. Express yourself creatively. Creative expression is a necessary part of each person but it is up to each person to find their own and commit to it, even as a hobby.

13. Addictions are the suffering of tortured souls. If you ever become tempted by an addiction or start suffering from an addiction, you may be suffering from a lack of #11 and/or #12. Start with those first for a deeply lasting solution.

14. Time with family is important, things aren’t. “You can’t take it with you.” Be sure to balance your time with yourself and your loved ones and only have things that serve you in your life, not as items of worship.

15. Learn to listen to, understand and trust the real needs of your body and spirit and obey them. You will save yourself a lot of pain, suffering and money if your body does not have to be sick to rescue you from your own deafness. The more you listen and obey, the more you will develop trust in your own intuition to know what is best for you, thereby leading to more effectiveness.

16. With any new plan, life change or strategy, remember the 3-day, 2 week rule. The first 3 days are the hardest, but you should see some improvement by the end of the 3rd. day (or 3rd.time). The habit and adjustment will become a part of your life after 2 weeks of consistency. Do not deviate if you are experiencing positive results. It is often right when things seem toughest that the light of day is approaching, but we need to stick it out so we can reap the benefits. If you do something 3 times and you see no improvement or progress, move onto plan B. This may just mean a small adjustment or a total 360. It depends on the situation. Listen; really listen for the answers on this one.

17. Maintain your financial reputation, regardless of what you earn. Treat personal debts as seriously as others. You will hold your head higher and will have more opportunities to reach your goals when you are respected by others by keeping your word & commitments. Do not waste your precious dollars on unnecessary expenses like late fees, tickets, overdrafts, higher interest rates & deposits from bad credit, etc. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and you will have more for the things you really need and want, including an emergency fund.

18. Make sure you  get yourself into natural surroundings as frequently as possible. Oftentimes when we don’t feel right it is because we are out of balance. Nothing helps more than a day outside, especially surrounded by trees.

19. Be accountable for your life and ensure your children are accountable for theirs! If you find yourself blaming others and are angry at others for your situation, look in the mirror instead for the solution to your challenges! There is no better way to take back the control of your life than by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.

20. Clear your head of all responsibilities before you go to sleep at night to ensure a restful sleep & take time out for yourself every day. A neutral book is helpful here (and maybe a notepad to write things down so you can let go of them until morning).

21. Only buy what you need and avoid purchasing what you don’t. The benefits are many, but at the very least you will have more money and less clutter to contend with during your day.

22. Take care not to waste what you can prevent from using. We are the stewards of the earth and can get by with so much less. Remember that everything we buy or use requires energy and resources from somewhere and usually involves polluting the earth, water and sky. Any food thrown away has used precious resources (and money) for nothing.

23. When dealing with children, remember who is in charge and it is definitely not the child! Take care to phrase your language to make children accountable for themselves as soon as possible. Take care to phrase your language to make sure they know that you are in charge, not them (even if you have to fake it).

24. Respect all elders by speaking and treating them with kindness and interest for they have seen and experienced many things you may never see or experience. You too will be an elder someday and will deserve the same respect, regardless of your mental or physical limitations or personality.

25. Treat each of your family members and friends as if they won’t be here tomorrow. This will lead to no regrets if ever they are gone; it will make them feel loved by you because we can never have too much affection and caring from those we love!

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9/11 & Another Perspective on “Imagine”

   September 11, 2001 became an inspiration for me to dream the most fantastic reality possible to rise from the ashes of thousands of lives lost. As CNN replayed the twin towers imploding and news journalists interviewed survivors and first responders, my child’s mind formed an image I wrote in a poem I called “Imagine.” It seemed to be channeled by a combination of John Lennon’s idealism and Steven Spielburg’s creativity to transform the supernatural into a story on film for us to embrace.   

After a few laptop crashes, several moves and ten years later, I am not able to locate  my original poem or file, but that vision in my mind of an idyllic world following our American 9/11 tragedy is still within me. I can see it on the big screen, but at the very least, here on my blog on this day, 10 years after the events that sparked my imagination of what could be, if only we would allow ourselves to go that deep:

“Imagine”twin by Christina Ivazes

Is it possible for you to imagine a horror so penetrating that it shatters all material, trivial, gossip and power-driven superficial reality?

9 11   Is it possible for you to imagine a figure three days later, emerging from the rubble of the fallen towers?

Is it possible for you to imagine this figure, a man crawling out virtually unscathed by the devastation around, walking peacefully and calmly?

Is it possible for you to imagine a sleep deprived reporter and cameraman rushing over to the figure to interview him?

Is it possible for you to imagine yourself as this reporter for one moment, a reporter that is just as wounded as every other American by this violation on our soil?

Is it possible for you to imagine this man that walked out of the rubble actually looking into your eyes as the reporter, and causing you to drop to your knees sobbing because instead, he is asking you what you are feeling, where you really need to be in that moment and who you really need to be with?

Is it possible for you to imagine this man asking you a question that completely transforms your idea of what is real and what is not?

Is it possible for you to imagine something that someone could ask you that would actually explode all of your present beliefs and paradigms and replace them with a new set of higher-minded paradigms that insist you change the way you live from this moment forward?

Is it possible for you to imagine this person that climbed out of the rubble of destruction is walking throughout the ruins asking the same questions of every reporter and every last person he can find in his vicinity?

Is it possible for you to imagine a deep sense of inner longing becoming unlodged by his questions to every person he meets and that this person sets off a chain reaction throughout the entire city, the entire country, the entire planet?

asd   Is it possible for you to imagine that with this chain reaction, another reality is created based on the authentic and connected values of human, animal and natural life that respects all living beings and elements on our planet?

Is it possible for you to imagine that out of such a tragedy of immense magnitude can come an even larger healing of our planet and people, creating the Utopia we all deserve; a Utopia every living, breathing thing on our planet deserves?

Is it possible for you to look so deeply inside yourself right now and acknowledge that that person from the rubble is you and that you can find that authentic and deeply connected purpose and way to relate to every person you come in contact with from this moment on?

WE CAN BE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!

THE FINAL QUESTION IS: WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

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Who’s My Daddy? (So I can wish him a Fabulous Father’s Day)

My mother went to her grave without disclosing the fact that I even had a different father. She was an airline stewardess with American Airlines in the late 1950’s close to the time she became pregnant with me. I was born in early November, 1958. She worked out of Buffalo, New York. She was also a jazz groupie and hung out with the Stan Kenton crowd in upstate New York.

She put the name Jordan on my later adoption papers (which I received years after her death). I am listed as Christina Jordan on those adoption papers which were filed in Queens, NY in 1962.

She moved across the US to Monterey and lived in the basement of Kalisa’s for a few months when she was pregnant with me.

This very personal information is meant to attract someone who may have known my mother at the time and may have known who the man with the last name of Jordan was. Was he a saxophone player? Was he an airline pilot? Was he actually my father? If the Mr. Jordan she dated around this time was an African American sax player, he is not my father and a name she just put on my birth cerficate to satisfy the name in the box titled, ‘Father.” I need to know this to in order to eliminate his search.

My mother had me when she was around 22; she was born in 1935. Her name: Roanne Milga Lindquist. She was blonde, beautiful and very intelligent.

ANY clues are important!

Thank you and praise those who know their birth parents! You are blessed more than you realize!

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My Life is Like a Pearl Necklace

bnm(of Itty Bitty Miracles All Strung Together.)    by Christina Ivazes

This story is dedicated to the parents of Joanna Newsom, who nurtured an angel!

 

Although it was obvious there wasn’t much living going on in our living room, I never thought of it as being empty until the morning after that magical night.

The temporary territories we called “home” only contained necessities and usually didn’t include things like couches or coffee tables, and definitely did not include anything decorative hanging on walls. Our family necessities were mattresses, cooking and eating utensils, a few pieces of clothing each and a kitchen table with chairs. As a child, I never questioned the need for more furniture to create the warmth of a home. Our view of what was normal was designed by what we saw and experienced, not by what we did not.

In between homes, my father must have scavenged assorted pieces of furniture quickly to provide us with the basics until we moved onto the next house or apartment. We only carried what we could fit into the trunk of our car and a few toys, though there were still the instinctive and repetitious fights with my siblings over who got the ‘baby spoon’ or ‘baby fork.’ It mattered that whatever it was stood out from the others because in a family of five children, standing out was the ultimate goal and a complete set of matching silverware and dishware was something only Grandmas were made of.

Or perhaps baby spoons and those other coveted objects disguised the fact that there were much deeper terrors in my life. This may also explain why I have guarded a few precious and seemingly insignificant memories, elevating them to the prodigious events of my otherwise tragic childhood recollections.

Something else I should mention is that even though we didn’t have living room furniture in that short-lived Mountain View home in California, we were blessed with two new sets of second-hand bunk beds while we were living there! It felt to me like we had hit the lottery when my parents carried them into our house. I don’t know how they did it. These beds were the first real bedroom furniture for us older kids. One set was made of wood and the other set was metal, which I distinctly remember being painted a pale green. They were each put in a separate bedroom. I remember the thin, green metal railings. I slept on the top bunk because I was the oldest. I must have been about six or seven years old.

Though the arrival of bunk-beds was monumental, it doesn’t compare to the unexpected event that highlights this home like a blazing light in my childhood. And forgive me while I explain a bit more about my father because he was the conductor of this particular event. Daddy was a house painter by trade in those days before he became a chimney sweep. But foremost, he was a musician.

Daddy played the horns. He played trombone, baritone horn, and the trumpet (which he played in the military service). He must have been quite good because when I was older Daddy told stories of two famous brothers who had big bands in the 40’s who were fighting over who would have him in their band. He decided against their offers. He also boasted that Martha Graham had offered him to be her lead musician when she went out on tour, but he turned her down too. Even back then, Daddy’s brilliance was overshadowed by his eccentricities that became the theme of my childhood. Eccentricities that made poverty pale in comparison. Like when Daddy eventually added giant gongs to his instrumentation, but those gongs are yet another story.

Yes, Daddy’s passions lied in his life as a musician. Ironically this same lifestyle, the lifestyle that attracted Mommy to him the night he played at Nepenthe in Big Sur (with Henry Miller in the audience), was where many of their marital problems erupted. As the eldest, I observed and experienced the tensions between Daddy and Mommy more directly than my siblings as Mommy spilled her anger and frustrations onto me in the form of yelling and beatings. All of this going on while Daddy dedicated his evenings to music after a hard day of work.

Though my story takes place in the late 1960’s, Daddy was known as one of the first people to perform during a ‘light show’ for the other counter-cultural Beatniks in San Francisco from the 1940’s. (A light show is a moving picture of swirling food coloring and oil on a projector that is displayed on a screen while spontaneous instrumentation is played in the background, most closely related to the ‘acid jazz’ of our modern era.) Daddy was way ahead of his time with the ‘in crowd,’ so he said, although I never understood any of this stuff until I became an adult. I was just a kid.  I didn’t really understand what he did late at night in the garage with other people that never came into our house, with the exception of this one night.

I recall Daddy asking Mommy for permission to store an item for one of his friends, only overnight. Like a dutiful wife, she complied. Later that afternoon I walked into our stark, white walled living room and saw it. The most beautiful thing I had ever seen illuminated in the far left corner of the room as if it had its own stage lighting. It was a giant, magnificent golden harp as exquisite and curvaceous as a mermaid, as golden as an award’s statue, and as finely strung as if by a hundred angels. I am quite sure I lost my breath. As I moved in to get a closer look, Daddy blurted out in his firm, no messing around manner, “Don’t you dare touch it Christie!” Daddy’s wrath was my biggest fear. He was always the bad guy in every nightmare I had about Mommy and him fighting. The last thing I wanted was for one of those nightmares to become real.

bnj   So, to state the obvious, there was no way I was getting anywhere near that gorgeous instrument; even though I wanted to so bad I could feel it resonating throughout my entire being. I just planted myself on the bare wooden floor in the opposite corner of the room and studied it.

A child’s active imagination is an amazing pool of creative wealth and mine was extremely active in those days. My school report cards were speckled with comments about too much ‘daydreaming in class.’ In this particular moment, my eyes glued to the harp, I was liberated to daydream without teacher retribution. Familiar cartoon images of angels playing harps started racing through my mind. I envisioned full-sized and feather light angels dressed in gossamer fabric playing sweet melodies that drifted off in never ending sonorous threads. The imagined sounds and physical dimensions of this instrument seemed larger than life and much grander than I had ever realized the influence of a harp could be. It sounded luscious. It glowed profusely, filling the entire room with its beauty. It became my refuge, offering me a perfect and tiny, yet infinitesimal moment of peace through my eyes and imagination.

Today, I can only speculate that that was one night where I truly had sweet dreams, instead of the ritual nightmares of Mommy and Daddy fighting. Nightmares that always left me in a urine soaked sweat by morning. But on that following morning I wasn’t wet. Without hesitation, I jumped up and raced into the living room to greet my wonderful new friend.

My heart sank.  It was gone, taking my dreams away with it; taking its golden light from my otherwise dark reality. The living room was no longer a stage. It was just a barren, cold living room again, like the dozens of other barren, cold living rooms throughout my childhood. How I wished I had secretly snuck up to touch and strum those magical strings just once, to leave the room with its real, everlasting echoes of angels. Why didn’t I? I knew why.

But the feeling of its soothing sound and its golden glow beaming from the corner of our gallery stark living room will always sit inside me, illuminating a corner of my mind with magic and surprise. I had been very lucky and I knew it. I had been graced with the potential of the ever appearing surprises life offers when you least expect them. To this day, whenever I see a golden harp, I am transported. That warm glow becomes the present and I thank the harp for offering refuge to the little girl in me and for the proof in the miracles of possibility.

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Education Reform and the Over-Inflated, Over-Rated 4-year College Degree

by Christina Ivazes  

 The current state of the US economy, our unskilled labor force, the need for educational reform, and the skyrocketing costs of a college education demand we be smart and efficient about solutions that affect and connect all of the above. Perhaps a better strategy is to back away from the ideal that every American should go to college. Yes, we can all agree that every American should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose. However, to give our students and our nation the best educated and skilled workforce, we should not focus on every American going to college, but first, on every American graduating from high school with two years of career training. This pragmatic strategy offers numerous benefits to our country. 

vh   By becoming more efficient and effective in preparing students for the real world and college, the US will save money and jobs. In 2010, The Fiscal Times reports, “just 56 percent of those who enroll in a four-year college earn a bachelor’s degree…Some students drop out because of the trouble paying the cost—the average college debt upon graduation is a whopping $24,000” (Reynolds Lewis). According to the U.S. Dept. of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the cost of a four-year college education is from $18,900 to $35,500 and rising. We also know that these quotes are a low-average and not really what a four-year is typically costing our college graduates, where $50-$100,000 is a more common estimate today in 2011. And graduation does not necessarily equate employment as we see with a glut of unemployed college graduates today weighed down with inflated student loan and credit card debt. There are jobs however, that are immune to outsourcing and which do not warrant an expensive four-year degree.

Secondary and post-secondary vocational and technical training programs are historically lower in cost with competitive salaries to those earned from four-year college degrees. Matthew B. Crawford advocates for the many benefits of trade-based training in his bookShop Class as Soulcraft, “You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information system or low-level “creative” (53). The Houston Chronicle published an article supporting Crawford’s concept stating, “Mechanics of all types are in high demand and can command a high hourly wage… Many blue collar jobs require training through apprenticeships or vocational training programs and others may require on-the-job training or passing an aptitude test prior to employment” (Nielson). This is not a proposal to eliminate the college track for high school students in America.

Shouldn’t we beg the questions: Why are we so single tracked about how to create a productive & competitive job force? And, shouldn’t we think about downsizing the cost of education along with our lifestyles? The IES reports that in 2008, earnings for an employed four-year college graduate are on average of $55,000/males, $45,000/females per year. Compare the costly four-year college degree with training and apprenticeship (which can begin as a junior in high school) for an electrician who can earn from $34,000 and upwards with no student loan debt with just two more years of post-secondary training for $400-$1000/yr. “Semi-truck drivers…start out making $50,000 annually…and only requires about four weeks of training to obtain a license” (Nielson). Debt free high school training in the trades or technology/health careers can yield from $34,000-$50,000+ per year. Another pragmatic idea Crawford suggests is “even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers” (53).    By increasing high school career training programs, we can create a stronger buy-in for students, reducing training costs while also reducing the costs of high school dropouts for our society.

cgh  The costs of high school dropouts are far-reaching beyond the costs of college dropouts. According to the 2007 report The Economic Losses from High School Drop-outs in California, the significant impact from high school dropouts come from lost tax revenue, Medical and Medicare expenditures, fiscal costs to fight crime, prosecute and incarcerate felons, and increased assistance for both felons and their families. “The economic magnitudes are substantial” (2 Belfield, Levin). After deducting the cost of education, the average total lifetime social gains for a high school graduate is $391,910 per graduate in the State of California, with the savings for black males being the highest at $681,130 (Table 18, Belfield and Levin). My point is not to stereotype but to acknowledge that we need to do everything in our capacity to invest in our high school students to become ready employable adults and/or ready for college, not inmates and/or recruits for drug cartels.

Career and technical training can be a ray of hope for all high school students, not just the disenchanted. Crawford makes a strong case in favor of the trades in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including his highlight on their little recognized intellectual merit, “I quickly realized there was more thinking going on in the bike shop than in my previous job at the think tank” (27). With a PhD. he describes a collegiate fall from grace as a blessing because it led him back to his original high school training as a motorcycle mechanic.  Crawford describes his own cognitive journey as well as those of other tradesmen he interviewed. The conclusion is worth a new focal point in our education reform. In Crawford’s view “Given the intrinsic richness of manual work— cognitively, socially, and in its broader psychic appeal—the question becomes why it has suffered such a devaluation as a component of education” (27). Some may view this idea as undermining a college education, but what Crawford is really pointing out is that “Practical know-how… is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (162). Children and teenagers have always responded positively to the value of hands-on learning, especially when it has a practical application in their lives.

At the age of 16, a teenager’s cognitive maturity starts him or her on the path towards the reality of the adult world and all that entails. You may wonder what cognitive maturity has to do with a broad-based high school career and technical training program, but if students are struggling in school, have no money or family support for college, many see no future in the value of their junior and senior years. Challenged students need full engagement to prevent them from becoming avoidable statistics. By focusing on Math and English proficiency by the end of sophomore year, juniors and seniors can take core subjects and science classes with their half day of training courses to ensure they are ‘college ready’ at graduation. This schedule does not limit a student’s education, it enhances it by making it relevant; it prepares the student both for life and for college should they choose to attend.

 cvb  Though career and technical training in high school is not the solution for every student, it can serve a healthy percentage of our labor force. Some model programs in the US illustrate the potential of every high school, such as the Howard High School of Technology in Delaware.  The 2010 report by the Delaware Department of Education declares, “Howard has a high graduation rate (97 percent) and daily attendance rate (95 percent) and a low serious infraction rate….In addition to an academic program, Howard students choose one of the following career pathways: finance and business; carpentry; computer network administration; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; electrical trades; engine technology; legal administrative assisting; medical assisting; nursing technology; public service; or structural steel detailing.”  This richly diverse program serves a variety of student and community needs. It is a model that deserves replication.

There are still many questions to address in more detail before programs like Howard can be implemented effectively across America.  Questions like: How will we pay for this?  How can we make a solid case for the benefits of high school career training that will not be sabotaged by budget cuts every time state and federal revenues fluctuate? How can we refocus dollars from punitive institutions to education so we can create a higher skilled work force, reduce high school dropouts and prison populations while also reducing student loan and credit card debt? The answers to these questions and are necessary for the design of lasting and effective education reform that will strengthen our economy and society.  Of course, to change the current system, we may also have to challenge for profit college and prison industries that have benefitted by the shrinking of high school career education in the U.S., but it’s a challenge worth taking up.

Work cited

Belfield, Clive R. and Henry M. Levin. “The Economic Losses From High School Dropouts in California.” University of California, Santa Barbara: California Dropout Research Project Report #1, August 2007. PDF.(Table 18) Web. 7 April 2011.

Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft. New York: The Penguin Press. 2009. Print.

Delaware Department of Education. “Delaware Partnership Zone: Howard High School of Technology.” PDF. 2010. 21 April 2011.

Nielson, Lisa. “Highest Demand Blue Collar Careers.” The Houston Chronicle. 2011. Web. 7 April 2011.

Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “High College Dropout Rate Threatens US Growth.” The Fiscal Times. October 28, 2010. Web. 22 April 2011.

 Wei, Christina Chang. “What is the Price of College?” U.S. Department of Education. December, 2010. PDF. (Table 1). Web. 7 April 2011.

 

 

 

 

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Want to become an Instant Chef? Just Add Booze!

For decades, my daughters, friends and family members have been asking me to write down my recipes. I just can’t do it; at least not yet. This is because I don’t measure, I splash. In Julia Child fashion, I add a little brandy here or a little white wine there and voila’, instant savory dishes!

Instead of a cookbook and the labor involved, I have been assessing the simple techniques I use to make quick and easy entrees with whatever libations happen to be on hand. What follows are some of my standard recipes. Hopefully, you will get the idea by the end that this is not brain surgery; it is amazingly easy and the meals taste amazingly delicious! Feel free to add your booze laden recipes in the comment section too!

SOME BASIC RULES FOR BEST RESULTS

* Whether it be fresh fish, chicken, tofu, beef, turkey or pork (not prawns because this process will just make them tough), the key to flavoring the meat, fish or tofu is to first braise it, brown it in a little oil (oil type depends on primary flavor of the meal) in a pan on a high heat. The crisper the outside before cookinG on the inside and the drier the pan, the faster the meat will absorb the flavors of the alchohol and other flavorings.

* Have other meal sides, table set and all other ingredients cut and ready to go and set aside beforehand and make sure there is a cover for the pan handy (or cover/tinfoil if this is an oven cooked meal).

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1. SALSA CHICKEN-Beer & Salsa

Mix equal parts of red salsa of any type, beer and 2 fresh garlic cloves. (about 2/3 cup salsa & 1/2 beer)

*Optional-Monterey jack cheese or other mild white cheese, grated.

If you have time, marinate chicken pieces in salsa/beer mixture; if not, no worries.

Brown chicken pieces in a pan with just enough hot vegetable oil to keep from burning.

When chicken pieces are brown on both sides and pan is hot, pour salsa/beer mixture over, turn to low, cover pan and let chicken absorb flavors and cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on whether it is boned or not).

Just before serving, sprinkle jack cheese on top of all, cover and let melt.

Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice. If there is too much liquid, you can turn up the heat for the last few minutes before you add the cheese, take off cover and cook over some liquid.

Yummm!!!! This is a recipe I have used over and over and over and everyone loves it!

You can substitute salmon and white wine or just use beer for a slightly different, yet equally tasty and very fast meal! (I always make sure I have some type of salsa around either fresh or canned, and of course beer, so you always have this meal available.)

2. ROAST TURKEY or CHICKEN (whole, leg, or breast)- Brandy & Apple Juice ej

In a hot oven (450 degrees), brown turkey, uncovered with nothing else in baking pan. When skin is darkly browned, pour a mixture of 1/2 brandy & half apple juice over browned meat and instantly cover pan & meat with cover or tinfoil so no steam can escape.

Adjust temperature to about 350 degrees and cook for about 1 hour until meat is tender ( or longer if it is a whole turkey).

*You can also add onions and potatoes to pan when meat is browning initially so they also get brown before the liquid is added.

This is a very easy and so tasty meal and you don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to eat it.

3. MUSHROOM CHICKEN-Beer or white wine & mushroom soup

This can be done with chicken or meatballs, canned mushroom or chicken or celery soup and a handful of fresh thyme or oregano (though dried can work too.) * I often use a few fresh ingredients and booze to a canned flavoring to make it taste homemade. A few fresh herbs and some fresh garlic will also help create a ‘fresh’ flavor.

Brown the meat in the hot pan with a tad of vegetable oil. When meat is browned, turn heat down to simmer and add the 1 can of mushroom soup, water down with beer or wine. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of fresh or dry chopped thyme or oregano and a few chopped garlic cloves if you want.

Stir gravy mixture in pan and scoop over meat. Cover and simmer until meat is tender. Add more beer or wine if it is too thick. Serve over a bed of brown rice or pasta.

4. SPAGHETTI SAUCE-Fresh, jarred, or canned spaghetti sauce & red wine

Add red wine, and if you can, a few fresh garlic cloves and some fresh herbs to bottled or canned sauce. It will make the difference between a processed or homemade flavor.

5. CHILI- Chili Beans & Beer (Dark, Microbrewery Beer is best!) nmn

Add beer to chili recipe and some honey if you want.

6. SPECTACULAR SOUPS- Just add booze!

For minestrone, add red wine; add white for lighter soups.

7. SUPERB, SODIUM FREE BALSAMIC GRAVY-Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup

Braise whatever meat or tofu in a pan until cooked inside with a bit of oil, sprinkle with pepper. Add about 1/4 c. of red wine, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. maple syrup. Cover and let simmer for just a few minutes. Serve over rice or pasta or potatoes.

6. SAVORY TOFU- White wine, soy sauce

Brown small squared pieces of tofu in a pan with hot oil (sesame oil if you want an asian flavored meal), when all sides are browned, turn down heat, but before pan is cooled down, sprinkle a few cloves of chopped garlic, and douse tofu pieces with soy sauce and cover pan so tofu soaks up soy sauce. (Take care not to let pan get dry.) Add white wine as needed, but don’t let it get too watery. Add fresh vegetables to the pan, mushrooms, onions, etc. using soy sauce and white wine as needed.

7. FRENCH TOAST, CREPES, PANCAKES, WAFFLES WITH FRIED BANANAS-Firm Bananas, Brandy, Butter, Walnuts, Whipped Cream (vanilla).

Okay, this is not a dinner entree, but it can be a dessert or special Sunday Brunch and is just as quick and super scrumptious!

Make french toast or pancakes and keep warm. In a separate pan, 1 tbsp. butter. When pan is hot and butter starts to brown, add sliced bananas on high heat to brown quickly so they don’t get mushy. When browned, add chopped walnuts, and a bit of vanilla. Then add a big splash of brandy (watch for fire) and shake pan (cover for a moment). Pour over french toast and top with whipped cream. This all takes about 2 minutes so make sure everything else is already done!

*You could also use mangoes in season, peaches, apricots or other fruit instead of bananas.

Bon appetit! I will share the other recipes. I hope you enjoy this and remember that

oldAny booze you have lying around is best suited for creating that fabulous meal while gaining rave reviews and clean plates from those you feed! 

*** As long as you cook the alcohol 2-3 minutes, the alcohol burns off, leaving only the flavor.

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