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What I Have to be Happy About This Week

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I can’t say that this week was so fantastic, however, it was a pretty good week.  I’ve got some pictures of flowers to share from our visit to the Florence Griswold Museum.  I also finally used my “new” steamer, so I’ll share that simple, easy “recipe”, if you can even call it that.  And, best of all, I’ve gotten a new computer that so far I haven’t broken – yay me!

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Steamed Vegetables:

I just cut up some squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, broccoli and mushrooms and placed them into the steamer (we have a small one, so I did this a few times), which was already in a pot with an inch or so of boiling water, and steamed the veggies for about two and a half minutes.  Then, I served them on quinoa and brown rice along with some garlic sauce that we had left over from our Chinese meal from the last time we ordered.  You can use any veggies that you want.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself!

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The new Destiny add-on dropped this week, and yes, I did play it on Wednesday (the first day it was available).  Fun, fun!  I’m “such” a gamer.

I’m back to working on getting my coaching certificate now that I’ve got a computer.  My goal had been September 30, but now I’m changing it to October 15, since I lost a full week of studying.  Ah, computers – they’re great when they work!

Hope you found something to be happy about this week!  Enjoy your weekend and be happy!

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American Schools

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While watching Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next I got to thinking about the state of education in the U.S.  My state, Connecticut, just had a ruling handing down by the court that they have to do an over-haul the entire education system here, since the richest school districts were receiving the most in state aid, and the poorest ones were receiving the least.  However, part of the ruling claimed that students with disabilities did not have to be educated. This of course is in direct opposition to the federal ruling known as the Disabilities Act.

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Most people seem to think that creating privately run charter schools is the answer, but it is not.  In fact, charter schools fail most tests at a higher rate than public schools.  Also, charter school teachers do not have to be qualified teachers, their pay is less, and the schools dismiss any “troublesome” students.  (I’ll be providing links in regards to the previous statements.)

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While watching Moore’s documentary, I was struck by the education system practiced in Finland.  There are no private schools; all public schools have the exact same programs, books and teaching methods.  There is no such thing was needing to move into a “good” school district, since all schools are equal.  Because the level of education is equal, the playing field for life is more level.  Why can’t we do that here?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/20/a-dozen-problems-with-charter-schools/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?no-ist

http://hechingerreport.org/how-finland-broke-every-rule-and-created-a-top-school-system/

 

 

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Saturday Adventures

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On Saturday, my daughter and I got to visit the Florence Griswold Museum.  It was the one of the last days of their “Artists Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement 1887 -1920” exhibition.  Not only were they some of the nicest Impressionistic paintings I’ve seen, but the museum has also re-created Florence Griswold’s house and gardens.  Florence operated a boarding house on the Lawrence River in Old Lyme, CT.  She opened her doors to various artists who were enthralled with painting her gardens, the river and other notable locations in and near Old Lyme.

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The results of these paintings can be appreciated both in the museum and in her home, where the artists painted the paneling on her walls to show their appreciation of her kindness.  While Florence was not wealthy, she enjoyed a rich life by way of the life-long friendships she had with some of the most famous of American artists.

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It was a peaceful place to visit, and we had a great time.  We’d never been there before, but will be going back soon to see their next exhibit.  It was such a nice day, seeing great art and walking the beautiful, quiet grounds.  Days like that go way too fast, but here are some photos we took of the gardens.  Enjoy!

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I'm kind of looking forward to this!

Growing Older

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I had a birthday this week and I have to admit, I had a tiny pity party.  It revolved around the question “is this all there is”?  I started thinking about all the things I haven’t done.  This, of course, is a long list, and is guaranteed to make me depressed.  Not that other things could also make me depressed – being another year older; feeling like an ancient old crone when I first get out of bed in the morning; realizing that I’ll probably never ride naked on the back of a motorcycle through the woods – you know, the normal, average everyday thoughts of someone who is getting older.

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I’m kind of looking forward to this!

So, I decided that I had to do something proactive about my little pity party.  I didn’t want it to go any further.  I’m making a list of all the things I want to do before I get “too old” to do them.  Then, I want to figure out which ones are truly feasible.  To tell you the truth, I really don’t think that riding a motorcycle naked through the woods is going to happen.  For one thing, I don’t have a motorcycle, for another, just think of all the obstacles I could get hit by.

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After I finish with my actual list, I’m going to look at them one-by-one and figure out how I can make them happen.  As always, moving forward is much better than looking back.  I can’t change the past, but can influence my future.

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For now, I’ll continue claiming to be ten years younger than I am.  Remember, you’re only as old as you believe yourself to be!

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Computer Issues

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Computers, as we all know, are wonderful wonderful pieces of equipment – when they work!  On Sunday morning I turned my laptop on, noticed that it was a bit slow, but thought nothing of it.  Then, after I plugged it in to charge, realized that it didn’t show it was charging, but it was also informing me that my 37% had 1,295 days and 25 minutes of charge left.  Insane, I know!

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So, thinking that this was a cord or battery issue, my daughter and I went to Staples where the very nice salesman told me to bring the laptop in so that he could check and see if it was a cord, battery or port issue.  I went home right away and brought my laptop in so that the issue could get resolved as soon as possible.  After two hours of working on it, with the cord plugged in, but no charging going on (but with 37% battery left and  1,295 days of battery left!) he couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Since a diagnosis would cost $159, and the laptop was a refurbished one that only cost about $200.00, I’ve decided to buy a new one.

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Looking at laptop reviews is just making me more and more frustrated.  It seems that buying a new laptop is a lot like a crap-shoot.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.  With all the reviews that I’ve read, about 50% of the people love it, and the other 50% are less than pleased!  What the heck is a consumer to do?  I guess I’ll just go ahead and buy the one that looks like the best one for my needs and budget.  I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

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Where to Invade Next – Michael Moore Documentary

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I was a little reluctant to watch this documentary, as I entertained the confused belief that it was yet another documentary on our endless wars.  However, I did finally watch it the other night, and was pleasantly surprised that my previous ideas were indeed wrong.  The “invasions” that Mr. Moore was undertaking were in the name of finding good ideas, with the intent to hopefully bring them back to the U.S. and implement them here.

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So, where did the esteemed Mr. Moore invade?  Italy, France, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Norway, Germany, Tunisia and Iceland are the countries that had so many aspects of social welfare to offer the U.S.  So quick examples include:  state paid family leave; state paid health (in Germany you can have your doctor write you a prescription for a three week stay at a spa, completely paid by the state).

Other ideas include eight weeks paid vacation, (Italy) workers can live on their salaries and go for a vacation.  When drugs are legal there is suddenly money available to fund social welfare concerns (Portugal).  In France lunch is a class with four course meals, manners are taught and nutritious food is consumed.  They also teach sex education that includes respecting your partner.  Slovenia has free education for all, including foreigners.

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Germany workers enjoy a reduced work week, but are still paid for forty hours.  They also spend time teaching about the Holocaust with the idea that if they talk about it such a thing won’t happen again.  In Norway prisoners are treated with respect and rehabilitated in the actual meaning of that word.

Tunisian woman are afforded extremely good health care, including family planning and abortions.  In Finland they have overhauled their education system in a manner that to me looked a lot like the Montessori Method.  They have also cut the school day down to 3 or 4 hours a day, including a lot of music and art, and have no homework.  They are also rated number one in education in the world.

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And last, but not least, Iceland has given women incredible opportunities.  Any board of directors must, by law, have a 40/60 percent mix of men and women on it.  As an explanation, when the infamous crash of 2008 occurred, there were four banks in Iceland.  Three of them failed.  Men were in charge of the failed banks, and 80 of those bankers went to jail.  The bank that did not fail, or lose any money, was run by women.  These laws are the result of that.

So, if these countries can have the social welfare programs that work so wonderfully for their citizens, the question that remains is, why can’t we?  As a side note, they do have taxes that are indeed higher than ours, but once we pay for all the items that are state-paid there, we actually do pay a lot more.  Do yourself a favor, give this documentary a watch and let me know what you think.

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Some of the outdoor areas at the main store.

The Book Barn – A Bibliophile’s Dream

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One of the many small buildings at the main Book Barn

On Thursday, my daughter and I went to Niantic to visit the books at The Book Barn.  The Book Barn is a series of buildings located along Main Street in Niantic, Ct., containing over half-a-million books between the four stores.  Since we’ve only gone to the big store – the one with the large house full of books and the little buildings outside, we decided that we would visit some of the other locations this time.

What a treat!  I’d always wondered where in the heck they kept the books on myths and legends, classics, philosophy and metaphysics.  Now I know.  They live in the Downtown store.  Finally!  I was in my element.

Since we went after Labor Day, there were only a few people and we got to spend as much time looking through the books before making any purchasing decisions.  How great is that?

After this fabulous experience we went to the Natural Food Store, again in Niantic, where we perused the entire store, had a good time and bought some drinks and chips for our lunch.  We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at a picnic table at the Niantic Bay Boardwalk, where we watched the waves, looked at the boats and witnessed a pair of seagulls, one of which was totally enthralled with the other one.  What a great day!  I hope your weekend is as good as my day yesterday.  Happy Friday!