Tricounty News

Of smoothies and kayaks

I wanted a kayak. It was a simple request I repeated repeatedly. I talked about how we would go kayaking this summer on the lake. We’d have a blast making family memories while building our triceps and getting a tan. I communicated as clearly as I could, in English, which is the language they speak. I wanted a kayak.

They got me a blender.

There was a reason for their actions. They like smoothies. And, despite the allure of a sleek kayak cutting through the cool, clear water, it was a distant vision. In my climate zone, you can’t kayak in the winter. You have to wait until summer. Smoothies are available all times of the year – for those with the machinery to make them. Months of waiting for warm weather or immediate gratification: the choice was obvious.

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Jan. 31 Update

Make-up dates and instruction time

State statute mandates that independent school districts provide 425 hours of instruction for kindergarteners, 935 hours for first through sixth grade and 1,020 hours for seventh through 12th grade. There must also be a minimum of 165 days of instruction for first through 11th grade, unless a four-day-per-week schedule has been approved by the commissioner of education.

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It ain’t easy being green

Go green! Reduce, reuse, recycle! Be kind to Mother Earth. Protect our planet. The taglines promoting ecologically correct behaviors are as vast as our earnest plans to follow them.

We want to do what’s right, even if it takes a little more effort, so we bring our cloth tote bags to the grocery store and put our cardboard, metal and plastic into the recycling bin each week. We are doing our part.

Despite well-intentioned efforts to be green, we’ve become a throwaway society. I think many of us could learn a lesson or two from our parents and grandparents, who practiced green behaviors more out of necessity than political correctness.

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Does disability make a person less valuable?

Lately, I have had a couple of eye-opening experiences about disability. For one, while looking up a number of dictionary definitions for spina bifida, I noticed each called the condition either a “congenital defect” or a “birth defect.”

That hooked me. For further clarification, I looked up the definition of “defect” on Merriam-Webster online. It said a defect was “a physical problem that causes something to be less valuable, effective, healthy, etc.”

The same online dictionary, and others, also defined cleft lip, cleft palate, Down syndrome, and a whole host of heart problems as birth “defects.” The Centers for Disease Control claims that “about one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect.” One website I found had a listing of hundreds of “defects” in people, ranging from deafness and intellectual disabilities to short limbs.

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At our fingertips

Road conditions in my neighborhood were treacherous yesterday, so I did what any concerned citizen would do. I checked online to see how long it would be before they improved. While waiting for weather changes, I did some shopping on the amazing dot-com site and checked email.

When I want to find a recipe for fancy chicken, I go online. When I want to contact my daughter, I send a text. When I need to double-check the correct usage of lay versus lie, I access my favorite grammar website. When I have a few minutes of free time, I check out cute cat videos on Reddit and hit the Like button a couple of times. I hardly need to interact with real people anymore. Technology is my new BFF. Yippee and Yahoo.

I’m not alone.

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