Free Guitar Lessons from James Taylor

And, Netflix "Troubadours"concurrently



An age-appropriate guide to using Thanksgiving to talk about Native American history
Photo by Mark Mrwizard, used under Creative Commons license.
Between ages six and eleven, I wore the same Halloween costume every year. It was a pure suede, fringed "Indian Princess" dress with matching leather moccasins. I wore my dark brown hair braided in pigtails, and my family painted my face with my mom's brown eye shadow. A few weeks later, my elementary school would hold its Thanksgiving celebration, where the kids were invited to dress as Pilgrims or Native Americans. There was no way I was going to put on a paper-bag Pilgrim hat when I had my beloved hide dress at home.
When I see pictures of those celebrations now, I have several reactions. The first is "Holy cow, I was a Southern white girl in brown face: these photos must be destroyed." The second thought is this overwhelming nostalgia for a time when wearing a brown suede dress transformed me into something magical, something about which I only knew beautiful things. Finally, I wonder how I can now balance that childhood romanticism with the complex history surrounding the Thanksgiving story, as I explain Thanksgiving traditions to my children.


"Self-Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence."
~Vince Lombardi


Good Will?


Goodwill workers making $2.75 an hour...


Trying to Crawl out of Poverty - With Gory Details an' all

This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

Posted: 11/22/2013 5:18 pm

Linda Tirado
There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2. Had I had a stove, I couldn't have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron whilst knocked up.
I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn't. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you'll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they'll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That's not great, but it's true. And if you fuck it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.
The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That's a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can't afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don't want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We're aware that we are not "having kids," we're "breeding." We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder. 


JFK Library

Pictures from my recent 
summer visit to the JFK Library 


De Kooning

Just a beautiful video with John Legend and Lindsey Stirling


My Christmas Gift Ideas For the Little Ones

In an effort to avoid the cheap plastic toys, and provide a fresh list that any mom would appreciate, these are things that most parents don't splurge on.
My 2013 Christmas Gift Ideas for the little ones:
  • Quality Kids Hangers (cloth or wooden)
  • Instruments (Ukelele, Harmonica, Tambourine)
  • A used but well-made dresser or stand for child's room (made in USA, most likely to be found in a thrift or consignment store)
  • A Classic Hardcover book
  • Professional quality art paper
  • Sunscreen (the good stuff is pricey) 


E-Cigarettes Targeted to Kids a la Joe Camel

E-cigarette sales are projected to double this year, to $1 billion. Today, the most popular e-cigarettes are sold as Logic, NJoy and Vapor King. But Big Tobacco wants in on the act. Sales could rocket to $10 billion by 2017, as Reynolds, Altria and Lorillard launch their own brands.

Studies show e-cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches in helping smokers kick the habit. But without Food and Drug Administration approval, they can’t be marketed for that. That hasn’t stopped longtime smokers from figuring it out for themselves.

Unfortunately, kids have discovered vaping, too. One in 10 high school students has tried an e-cigarette, and 3 percent of middle-schoolers, according to a new federal report.

Nicotine is a highly addictive narcotic. Is it dangerous?
A. When you inhale nicotine into your lungs, something called broncho-constriction happens. When you use these devices for five minutes, there’s a 220 percent increase in lung impedance.

The nicotine alone is the substance that causes broncho-constriction. Nicotine adjusts your behavior. It can cause vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of the peripheral blood vessels. It causes Buerger’s disease and other conditions.

So for people with asthma and conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this might not be the best option. But cancer is really a product of the tars, acetone, arsenic and other poisons that are found in smokable cigarettes.

Nicotine is also certainly addictive.


Setting filters on tablets, PC's, and phones


Time to revisit the parental controls on Google search and youtube filters.

As many of you know, I provide counseling for children. One of the issues I often hear is the inadvertent discovery of something disturbing online. I wish computers came defaulted to the strict filter setting, but they do not. Many parents neglect this step until after the fact.
We are talking about powerful and intense imagery that is overwhelming and scary, simply more than tender gray matter can interpret; it burns itself into a young child’s mind. 

Believe it or not, children often enter therapy when they have seen something that has been traumatizing. Sometimes kids are earnestly researching a topic; and  sometimes they just sit at the keyboard plugging in random letters.  It’s a lot like fishing – exciting and mysterious. Boys are especially drawn to this type of curiosity.
Once a child stumbles onto a porn site, they may panic and try to close the window, only to find it locked up and frozen. This is by design of sexually explicit sites. And, if an image is actually downloaded, it can be impossible to delete.
 Once a powerful sexual image has been discovered online, a child may carry that experience in his mind, and suffer for months, in shame and worry, of being discovered or "caught."
These are very recent examples of innocent Google searches that have been brought to my attention: “Black Eyed Peas,” “Virginia,” and BBBH.”(This latter site shows elderly men physically engaged).
The curiosity is normal - never shame it. Please be clear...we are not talking about being anti-sex education here. In fact, I'd recommend providing age-appropriate physical/sexual ed materials for tweens and teens, to be kept in your child's room to review on his own.
These important filter settings/changes will need to be done on your Ipads, tablets, PC’s and phones.
Make a special point of setting both:
*google search filter 
*youtube search filter


Rob Machado in Japan, with Takashi

Documenting the talents of amazing people who just happen to surf, Rob Machado returns to Japan in this new episode of ‘Through The Lens’ to catch up with a unique individual he came to meet on one of his many travels.

He spends a week working along side legendary tree house builder Takashi Kobayashi during the final stages of a gift Takashi offers to the surviving children of Sendai region of Japan following the devastating Tsunami of 2011.


Confronting Vietnam History and Col. Kurtz Redemption


Col. Kurtz meets Outward Bound. Confronting Vietnam guilt and hard truths at Hurricane Island.

 Col. Robert Rheault
Col. Robert Rheault with his wife and daughter in 1969. (Associated Press)
His was the last face I saw, the final voice I heard before I stepped backward off the 100-foot cliff.
Even now, nearly two decades later, I can envision his weathered features and wispy white hair, and I can recall much of what he said. My fear, he told me, was not only natural but essential both to my survival and to that of the species. Human beings were not meant to jump from high places. He then hastened to add that I should have no doubts about doing exactly that. My ropes and braking bar were in order, as was my climbing harness. If I got into trouble, he would reel me in.
With that, I was gone. At first, I was tentative, descending as slowly as I could. But as I gained confidence, I put on speed, using my legs to push off from the sheer rock wall before me with what amounted almost to jauntiness. When I reached the bottom of the abandoned granite quarry that was my destination, I was astonished by how tiny those still at the top looked. I had never rappelled before, but then I had never done any of the tasks that the 16 of us did the week we were in the charge of Robert Rheault, who died last month at 87.
Rheault was a trim and fit 71 when we met on Hurricane Island, a jagged protuberance just off the coast of Maine that serves as one of the chief facilities for Outward Bound. He had gotten involved in the program, which uses physical obstacles in a wilderness setting to teach self-reliance and communal values, 26 years earlier because he was in dire need of help.
During the Vietnam War, he had commanded all of America's Special Forces, a job that embroiled him in one of that controversial conflict's worst controversies. He was the officer on whom screenwriter John Milius modeled the infamous Col. Walter Kurtz. Marlon Brando's portrayal of Kurtz in the film "Apocalypse Now" remains the indelible image of a great nation's military elite descending into madness.
Col. Rheault had been at the helm of the 5th Special Forces Group and its 3,500 men for just three weeks when, in July 1969, he and five of his troops were accused of conspiracy and murder in the killing of a Vietnamese informant suspected of being a double agent. Although Rheault did not take part in the killing, he lied about what happened to protect his men, who believed they had approval from the CIA for their actions. Before Rheault could stand trial, Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor, apparently under pressure from the Nixon administration, dismissed all charges.
The decision to drop what became known as "the Green Beret case" sparked allegations of CIA intrigue and a high-level coverup, making the incident an emblem of the mysterious and dark Vietnam War itself. Not only did Rheault's case inspire the creation of Kurtz, but it also prompted Rand Corp. analyst Daniel Ellsberg to leak the secret history of the conflict in what became known as the Pentagon Papers.
For Rheault, the whole experience was devastating. The product of a privileged Boston upbringing, he had attended Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from West Point and studied at the Sorbonne. After being awarded a Bronze Star in Korea, he got a master's degree from Georgetown University and joined the Special Forces, where he learned how to parachute at high altitudes, ski above the tree line and dive to the oceans' depths. He served on the East German border during the Cold War and advised forces in Turkey and Pakistan. In military circles, he was regarded as a rising star.
But in late 1969, shortly after charges against him were dropped, he resigned from the Army, giving up everything he had worked for. In 1971, as he put it, he "staggered" into Outward Bound. "It saved my life," he later said. "I've been trying to pay it back ever since."
Rheault started as a contract instructor. Eventually, he became acting president of the Hurricane Island operation. Juvenile delinquents, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, adults seeking everything from new directions in life to inner peace — all had been under his supervision.
During the days I was with Rheault, he gave me only a hint about what had happened to him. He had served in Vietnam, he said, and things had not ended well. He urged me to read about it when I got home.
The subject was still painful, but I don't think that's why he told me so little. The kinds of conversations Outward Bound encourages are internal. In fact, the program could just as accurately be called Inward Bound. The drills are rigorous — before rappelling from that high cliff, I had to climb up to it, using my hands and feet to find tiny crevices in the stone that would serve as stairs. read more



Marine Corps Birthday

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet. This resolution established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Captain (later Major) Samuel Nicholas.


I Might Not Send My Kids to College 11/06/2013 

Sarah Stewart Holland

Recently, I was at dinner with a group of friends, several of whom were mothers. As is often the case, the conversation had turned to the education system. We were discussing testing and home schooling and teachers, when another friend -- who does not yet have children -- asked me a question that caught me off-guard:
"Let me ask you a question. Will you tell your children they have to go to college?"
My response surprised me almost as much as the question. I told her five, even two years ago, I would have said "absolutely." I wouldn't have hesitated. Yet, here I was hesitating and giving a different answer.
"I don't know."
First and foremost, I worry I will not be able to afford it. I recently used an online calculator to determine how much my husband and I need to be saving in order to pay for our children's college education.
$612 a month for Griffin. $607 for Amos.
I'm sorry. I need to save $1,100 A MONTH to send my children to college almost 20 years from now?!? That is insanity.
I don't know many people who have an extra $1,000 every month to dedicate to college savings. In fact, the reason my family doesn't have extra income is related to why I am hesitant to recommend college to my children.
Our extra income goes to student loans. Between my husband and I, we have almost a mortgage payment every month in student loans from law school. In fact, if we continue to make minimum payments, we will still be paying on these loans when our children begin looking at colleges.
This is an insanely depressing thought.
I do not want my children saddled with that kind of debt. I cannot stomach the thought of my boys starting adulthood owing thousands of dollars in student loan payments.
I took out those loans. I made the decisions and I made them at an older and more informed age than most. However, I can't honestly tell you I understood the full impact of my decision. When I was signing those papers, I read the numbers and I understood them logically, but how does a 21-year-old truly comprehend the impact of six-digit debt?
No one lied to me, but no one was telling me the full truth, either.
Clearly, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Recently, I posted an interview with Mike Rowe, who has started a movement to promote the idea that college is not the right choice for everyone. He advocates avoiding debt and promoting good old-fashioned hard work. His position was praised by both my most liberal and most conservative readers.
We all know that this system does not serve the next generation. In fact, there is increasing evidence that this system is not only inefficient, but might even be corrupt.
However, I believe my hesitation to recommend college goes well beyond my reservations about the cost. I loved college. I loved law school. I learned to think. I learned to analyze. I learned to write. I learned skills I use every day. I met people who have changed my life.
And yet...
I now work in a field that didn't even exist when I went to college. I couldn't have majored in social media marketing in 1999. The world we live in and the economy that runs it change too quickly for the education system to keep up with it. We all know the stories of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of college. Heck, the kid who just sold Tumbr for $1.1 billion dollars dropped out of high school!
Of course, the problem is that as college educations have become more expensive and perhaps less valuable, a degree has seemingly become indispensable. A college degree is now seen as "the new high school diploma." I know that if my children do not have a college degree there would be entire career paths off-limits to them.
This difficult disconnect is the source of my indecision. I cannot in good conscience tell my children to pursue a degree at all costs. I also cannot in good conscience tell my children they don't really need a college degree, either.
Maybe the answer is delaying college. Few are the freshmen who can handle unfettered access to alcohol, much less handle deciding the course of their entire lives. Choosing classes. Picking a major. Starting down a road that doesn't end until your mid-20s when you STILL might not know what you really enjoy doing.
I don't want that for my kids. I hope they find work they love. I hope they develop skills that make them happy. I hope those passions present themselves at 10 or 15. If they don't, if the journey to discovering their proper path takes a bit longer, that's ok.
And if that journey doesn't include college... maybe that's OK, too.
What about you? Do you think college is a requirement?


Cool Story on Handwriting Expert & Crime Solver: Andrea mcNichol


Andrea McNichol has examined documents in many high-profile court cases, including the O.J. Simpson and Ted Bundy murder trials.

Andrea McNichols
Los Angeles graphologist Andrea McNichol, 68, has been analyzing handwriting for more than 40 years. She became interested in it at an early age and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, the University of Heidelberg in Germany and UC Berkeley. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 12, 2013

The gig: Los Angeles graphologist Andrea McNichol is no stranger to high-profile court cases. As an examiner of questioned documents, she has worked on the murder trials of O.J. Simpson and Ted Bundy and the legal challenge of Howard Hughes' will. Clients of McNichol, the author of "Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You," include the FBI, other law enforcement agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Baseline: McNichol has used her knowledge of handwriting to assess death threats, debunk hoaxes and expose fraud. In court, she may be asked to testify whether a document was written by a particular person or was doctored. Her forensic examinations help detectives determine whether people are trying to disguise their writing by using their non-dominant hand, whether they are ill or illiterate or whether they were educated in Europe or the U.S., she said. "Anything that might narrow a pool of suspects."
Headlines: In the O.J. Simpson case, a tell in his alleged suicide note pointed to its insincerity. "He put a happy face inside the O," said McNichol, who has looked at scores of suicide notes over more than 40 years and never seen anything like it. Its length, at several pages, cast further doubt on it, she said. "They are usually quite brief."
Dotting her i's: McNichol assisted in a homicide case in which an Ohio woman and her teenage daughters were found dead in Clearwater, Fla. A brochure in the back seat of their car included handwritten directions to a wharf near where the bodies were found. McNichol told investigators that if they could find the person who wrote the directions, they would have the murderer. After billboards in the Tampa Bay area displayed a blown-up sample of the note, a relative came forward. "The aunt calls and says, 'That's my nephew's writing,'" McNichol said. "It helped catch a very bad guy." The case remains her favorite, and solving it may have helped prevent other slayings.
The hook: In elementary school, McNichol struggled with her own handwriting, getting Cs and Ds in the subject. To improve, she studied the A students' writing samples displayed on the classroom wall and started to see patterns. "The outgoing people," she said, "had loud boisterous handwriting." Learning about handwriting and how to make it better grew into a lifelong interest. She further honed her skills working at her father's medical office, collecting samples of patients' handwriting before and after they became ill, as well as before and after taking medication. "I began to see that I could recognize when they were sick," she said.
A stroke of luck: A teenage McNichol found little support from her parents in pursuing her unusual hobby as a career. "Once I said I was interested in this they were so horrified I couldn't tell them anything anymore," McNichol said. Then she confided in her psychologist, who helped arrange for McNichol to study the subject at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. It proved to be a turning point. "Had she pooh-poohed it, I wouldn't have had the background," said McNichol, who went on to study at UC Berkeley. "Back then, in the '60s, it was like you were interested in voodoo."
Descender: When McNichol started testifying in court, Berkeley was known as a hippie mecca — something the opposition would try to use to discredit her. A woman in the then male-dominated field of forensics and a former model, McNichol also had to overcome her youth. "There was this immediate prejudice against me," she said, "that I was not credible." The accumulation of experience and credentials changed perceptions. "Today, when my name is given to the opposition, a lot of times they fold outright," she said. "But it took at least 20 years for that Berkeley hippie woman to go away."
Flourish: A guest spot with late-night TV host Johnny Carson and a Time magazine feature in the early 1980s helped propel McNichol into the spotlight. Today the grandmother of two is offered more cases than she can take and travels only for the most lucrative assignments. She turns down TV appearances and most interviews. "I've had my 15 minutes of fame," she said. "I'm 68 and I'm getting tired."
A shaky future: The omission of cursive writing from the Common Core curriculum standards rankles McNichol. "The signatures I see these days are virtual check marks and little scribbles — a result of not knowing how to write," she said. Not teaching children to write deprives them of an essential lifelong skill, McNichol said. "We are losing sight of something that is so integral."
Outside the lines: Among her charitable causes are the nonprofits Children of the Night and My Friend's Place. "I help the kids with their self-esteem through handwriting," she said. "I have a thing for disadvantaged kids."
Passing the pen: Those interested in the field should take classes, apprentice at police departments and find someone respected to work alongside, McNichol advised. "You have to devote an incredible amount of time and energy to learn this," she said. Tenacity and fortitude help too. "You cannot let the skeptics pull you down.",0,7943605.story#axzz2juT11erH