Saturday, November 28, 2009

Books for Children: The Gift of Reading

Toys are nice for their impact value and their instant appeal, but soon they lay discarded in the corner gathering dust. But a book, the gift of reading, is something that will enrich a child’s life and carry with it benefits and joys that will last a lifetime. Personally, reading helped get me through a difficult childhood. Many a night, having been beaten by my old man, tears not yet dried, I’d curl up in bed and lose myself between the covers of a book. All my subsequent success as a student was linked to my ability as a reader. Besides, to this day, reading brings me peace and comfort.

But, what do I know? I thought I’d see what others had to say about reading:

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
~ Emilie Buchwald

"Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read."
~ Marilyn Jager Adams

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."
~ Jacqueline Kennedy

"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!"
~ A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."
~ Walt Disney

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go."
~ Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child."
~ Mary Ellen Chase

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs,is good for him."
~ Richard McKenna

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."
~ Lady M. W. Montague

"It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations - something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own."
~ Katherine Paterson

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
~ Anna Quindlen

I’ve dedicated considerable webspace to books for children and adults. The commissions I receive from the sale of books are meager, but that does not diminish the satisfaction I experience whenever someone buys a book for a child or themselves.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lose Your Self T-Shirt


Lose Your Self: Be the Traffic Heading the Other Way

Driving home from the pool room the other day, I found myself stuck behind a miserable old goat who was driving an ugly oversized gold-colored boat. Not only was the senile fart dragging his ass, he was constantly brake-checking me, hitting his brakes, flashing his brake lights, even though there was no one in front of him for about a mile. I would’ve passed him if I could, but the section of road we were on didn’t offer any safe passing zones.

As luck would have it, he turned off on the same two-lane side road that I was taking. I knew from past observation that the road immediately presented a wide open passing zone with good visibility, so I slid over into the oncoming lane to pass. Unfortunately, for some reason, the ornery son-of-a-bitch didn’t want to be passed. As I drew even with him, he floored it. Suddenly, we were both doing 55 in a 40 mile per hour zone. Thankfully, my ride had a little more power than his boat and I finally managed to get around him. I thanked him for his cordiality by flipping him the bird.

My driving philosophy is simple. If someone wants to go faster than me, I let them pass. And, if someone’s in my way, I go around them. Hey, in brief, everyone should be able to drive at his own chosen speed. This usually works out pretty well for me, but every once in a while you run into one of these assholes who don’t like to get passed. They’d rather see you smack into a Mack Truck head-on than let you back into traffic.

Florida is the premier spawning ground for road rage. I hate to point my finger at old people as the cause, but, honestly, a lot of them should not be driving. I pulled up at a red light not too long ago and found myself alongside an old guy who had oxygen tubes coming from his nose with his head thrown back at a severe angle and his mouth wide open. He looked like he was at death’s door; yet, he was still driving. You can’t go a mile without some old geezer cutting out in front of you. Their minds are shot as are their reflexes. But, they drive.

Anyway, rather than spending all my time behind the wheel with my nerves on edge and my gut tied in a knot, I’ve developed a technique which allows me to lose my self and go with the flow. It starts by my observation of the traffic coming toward me. I’m sure the dramas that are occurring in front of me conspiring to hold me up are also transpiring in the oncoming lane. Yet, since they don’t directly affect me, they are not a source of tension. At the same time, it occurs to me that to those heading the opposite way I am the traffic heading the other way. As such, that occurring in front of me is meaningless to them as it should be to me. From here, I arrive at a peaceful place.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I’m Just Sayin’ and Sayin’ and Sayin’

Almost overnight, it seems “I’m Just Sayin’” has slipped into our everyday lexicon and this, ya know, leaves me wondering if it’s a phrase I’ve recently picked up or one I’ve always used. Hard to figure.

I find myself employing it more and more, most often when the person I’m talking to, most often my dear wife, takes offense, disagrees or, ya know, somehow responds negatively to something I’m saying.

“Michael Jackson was a pervert.”
“I can’t believe you would say something like that!”
“I’m just sayin’…”

It slips out so naturally that I can’t believe it’s not, ya know, a phrase I’ve been using since… since… since back in the day or, as I prefer, once upon a time. I mean, there are times when I actually think, ya know, that I am responsible for introducing the expression into our vernacular.

I’m just sayin’.

With the help of google, I found out that a sports blog by Danny Picard, a sports writer for Comcast SportsNet New England, is entitled “I’m Just Sayin’.” Similarly, there’s “I'm Just Sayin'! - A Kevin and Bean Show Fan Blog.” Then, there’s “I’m Just Sayin’ Is All” , not to be confused with “I’m Just Sayin’” a personal blog by mom, friend, writer Robyn Passante. Add to these “I’m Just Sayin’” by Ramonassister. There are also a series of blog entries under the heading of “I’m Just Sayin’” at Comic Nexus.

I wondered, ya know, about the origin of the expression and found a lengthy discussion at Pain In The English. Philosophically speaking, it was explored here.

And you might have heard Jon Stewart’s reaction to The CNN segment called “Just Sayin’.”

Not long ago, ya know, during an ESPN interview an athlete peppered his responses with countless repetitions of “know what I’m sayin’?” It’s a word whisker. I’ve decided I like it more than the common “ya know” and pledge to incorporate it into my daily speech patterns.

Know what I’m sayin’?