Entries from blogs tagged with “Citizen Journalism Academy”
It is Monday evening and a major ice storm forecast looms. My backup front wheel drive 1987 model car is ready for my ninety mile route. With studded snow tires in front, it is better than four-wheel drive on ice.Tuesday morning it is raining steadily. The temperature lingers at freezing. I am not sure I have seen an ice storm begin with so much water run off. By noon it is running over the low water bridge on Deer Creek. Slowly the temperature drops and ice begins to accumulate on trees, fences and electrical wires. Trees bend more and more under the weight. Lines must be going down as the radio reports lost electricity.Low night temperatures and a thick coating of ice give way Wednesday morning to limbs, mainly Elm, lying under trees. Several times I hear a sharp crack and see a limb go down. Hardy cedar tree limbs simply bend to make a tent of ice forming a house underneath for rabbits and quail. Pines bend but hold. Oaks with leaves still attached have an extra burden. I saw one large branch loose the battle. With pastures frozen over, cattle stand at gates waiting for a bale of last summer's hay. Geese honk as they follow the Wakarusa Valley. Are they thinking of turning south? I would not blame them.I had company on the roads. Douglas County, Clinton and Kanwaka townships are busy blading and throwing sand. I wonder if they have been out all night as many roads and all bridges and steep hills are treated. A rancher with a big bale heads for the pasture. Along with me, brown, yellow and white delivery trucks bring holiday orders. It seems everyone else smartly stays home.Thursday dawns beautiful. There is no other word to describe the ice covered world under a clear sky and sunshine. Branches encased in ice radiated like stars or prism-like spectrum of colors. Ice on metal mailboxes melts from the inside out. A drive under a tree results in a barrage of ice falling like rain. Squirrels and turkeys, run about excited to feel the warmth on their backs. As the sun warms, steam rises. Birds, especially finches and sparrows fluttered in cedar branches. Hawks use warm updrafts from the melted fields to soar low looking for prey. Cattle spread out over the same fields grazing contently.Three days, the ice storm is history. In our area, most have electricity. Trees survive although some still bend as ice clings on northern exposures.What's next? Snow.
Steroids, human growth hormones, cheating. Confirming what many suspected or already knew, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Mitchell explained yesterday that performance-enhancing substances are a significant problem in Major League Baseball.The most important thing to emerge is, as Senator Mitchell noted, how does baseball look to the future? Senator Mitchell made recommendations to the league and the players union as to how they may be better able to reduce or eliminate banned substances from the game. But the investigation missed an opportunity to make real change.Establishing a department of investigations, cooperating with law enforcement, turning over testing to an independent agency with real authority, better publicity of the rules, logging packages and better education and awareness are the core of the panel's suggestion of how to reduce the use of performance enhancing substances.Give me a break.Are there any players who don't know the rules? Are there players who won't have steroids shipped to their homes now instead of the stadium? Was the league obstructing investigations by law enforcement officials (pretty sure that is a crime in itself)? The recommendations are more likely to produce the reaction "wow, I can't believe these policies weren't already in place, are the surprised everyone was breaking the rules?" than produce any meaningful change in the game.Problems with steroids happened with the full knowledge and tolerance of all parties. The players were writing checks for crying out loud. The only way any sane person would write a check for something genuinely against the rules or illegal is if they fear no retribution.Some say the league permitted this to happen because baseball needed help to recover from the strike in 1994. Home runs are exciting and put fans in the seats. Others say it emerged as the superstars neared the end of their careers and needed an extra boost to break records or reach milestones. Regardless, the game has been severely damaged and requires dramatic measures to clean up its act.Rather than slap everyone on the wrist and implement policies that should have been in place years ago because they are the bare minimum of what should be in place, the following measures should also be enacted:1. Bud Selig should be required to resign. He was in charge, he either let this happen or he didn't have the ability to detect the problem. Neither possibility is a good one for the commissioner. He's out.2. Any players caught using performance enhancing substances (including those named in the report) shall be banned from membership in the Hall of Fame. Sorry guys, if you are not good enough for the Hall without steroids, you're not good enough for the Hall with them. More specifically, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be made to be definitive examples and warnings to all future players. Both were clearly qualified for the Hall of Fame without these substances. Both could be argued as two of the best of all time. Clemens may even be the best pitcher ever to play the game. Not any more. It is painful to realize and accept that neither should be considered for Cooperstown, but it will do wonders in cleaning up the game.3. Any records established by players associated with performance enhancing substances will be disqualified. Cheaters do not and cannot win (also true for Mr. Bonds who still lacks a World Series ring). Make notations next to the empty spots for any records explaining that the player who won the award or set the record was caught cheating and the award was rescinded/record reversed to the previous holder.4. First time offenses will be punishable by a two year suspension.Baseball is the national pastime. Steroids diminish the quality and integrity of the game, they should have no place in the game. Let's not make it more difficult to use performance enhancing substances, let's make it impossible to find a rationale to use them. These four additions should make a world of difference in cleaning up the game, much more than the "I can't believe these policies weren't already in place" recommendations by the panel.
There is a movement underway to goad the presidential candidates into a debate on science policy. Given that so many of our issues today involve science, it is only fair that the voters get to hear candidate's views on science and science priorities. Visit the Science debate 2008 web site for more information and about how you can get involved.www.sciencedebate2008.com
This summer there was a notice in the LJWorld online that a memorial service would be planned for Byron Moats and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Moats and his wife were killed in a car accident. Mr. Moats had only recently retired from a long and successful teaching career. When I heard the news of their deaths, I thought that the name Byron Moats sounded familiar. When I read that he had recently retired from Oak Park High School everything fell into place. Oak Park High School is in Kansas City, Mo., near Gladstone.I graduated from Oak Park High School in 1978. My K-12 school experience was rather chaotic and dysfunctional. I went to seven schools in two states. When it was time to graduate, I was short by either a quarter or half a credit. School officials let me go through the graduation ceremony with the rest of my class, but I had to take a class that summer to make up that credit shortfall. That's when I met Mr. Moats.As might be expected, I was not terribly happy to be stuck in a summer class when I was supposed to be done with school altogether. I thought it was a "pud" class with ridiculously easy work. But Mr. Moats made that class fun. I think he realized how awkward it might be for me to be there and he seemed to go out of his way to make me feel comfortable. At some point, he and I discussed the end of the class. I told him that I was sure that on the last day of class I would be presented with my high school diploma amid much fanfare. Mr. Moats told me that actually my diploma would be mailed to me. I was horribly disappointed and it showed. Mr. Moats took action.Unbeknownst to me, but known to all of my classmates, Mr. Moats arranged for me to receive my diploma on the last day of class. On the final day of class he asked me to go to the office with him. He didn't tell me why. I thought there was probably some paperwork that needed to be done. But instead, Mr. Moats had arranged for the school principal, assistant principal and a few other school officials to present my diploma to me with much pomp and circumstance. They presented the diploma to me, shook my hand and then clapped for me as if I had just won the Nobel Prize. I was thrilled and thanked Mr. Moats for making that happen. I couldn't believe he had gone to so much trouble for me. But that's the kind of person that he was. I don't know if Mr. Moats would have remembered me. But even though it has been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school, I remember him and am deeply saddened that he is gone from this world. I wish that I could have told him that even with my inauspicious K-12 career, I managed to go to college eventually and currently hold a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I would have been proud for him to know that. Mine is just one story. I imagine there are many others from people who were touched by his kindness. The world is a lesser place without you, Mr. Moats, but many of us are much better people because you touched our lives. No doubt, heaven has a special place for you. Rest in Peace.
When I was younger I dreamed of snow days. Random days in the middle of a busy school week where I could sleep in, drink hot chocolate and see all the wonderful television I missed each day when I ventured off to school. I remember dancing at the site of the first snowflake and watching the evening news praying that our superintendent would be nice enough to give us the day off. What I didn't know was that along with thousands of school children, teachers were also eagerly watching the news and waiting. In my mind teachers loved school so much that they hated weekends and breaks. They sat at home depressed that there were no students to take tests or copy words onto a sheet of paper. They were lost without students who they forced to read a book they didn't want to and they missed being unable reprimand anyone for talking when they weren't supposed to. Boy, was I wrong. Now that I work at a school where I force students to read books and tell them to be quiet when they walk in the halls, I know that teachers look forward to the weekends more than anyone and that they started praying for snow days in mid-September. Because there I was Sunday night smiling at the weather forcast for freezing rain on Monday night. And there I was waiting for Lawrence Public Schools to appear under the closings on the evening news. When they did finally call off school I did a little dance and turned off my alarm. It's not that my job is terrible and unrewarding and I believe that most teachers love their students and only want what's best for them. But every once in awhile it's nice to have a day off where you can sleep in, watch bad TV and pretend you are a kid again.
It's a beautiful, fragile world out there this morning. I nearly fell flat on my back as I stepped out in the dark to fetch the paper. It lay about halfway down the incline of our driveway, so, not wanting to break any vital bones with half my family out of town this week, I practically crawled the rest of the way on all fours while the rain pelted me.Even so, I couldn't help admiring the way all the trees down the block look like they're outlined in crystal. It seems somehow appropraite this time of year.Yesterday evening, my sister-in-law called to say my nephew's Christmas program had been postponed again because of the icy weather. I was afraid he'd be terribly disappointed after he's so looked forward to it. It's so hard to wait when you're six years old! But no, she said. He's okay as long as they do eventually have it.And so we're all safe inside . Yesterday, I addressed envelopes until my hand ached, and today I'll probably do thirty more...A Christmas CardTossed into the postman's sack Along with catalogues and bills,He'll carry me from block to blockOr wind along the country hills.Across two thousand miles, I'll come,To where the winter's warm and dry,Or maybe simply down the street, Delivered while the snowflakes fly.A piece of light from every star Is carried to you here in me,A very simple gift that can'tBe wrapped beneath your Christmas tree.A note of joy from every songThat I've heard sung this time of year,The smell of cinnamon and cloves, I have it all gathered up hereInto just another Christmas card To wish a Merry Christmas where you are.
If you are a Boston single, as of today you have a new option to find a mate. A company called scientificmatch.com has a new wrinkle in the match making game-matchmaking based on DNA analysis. The idea is to find a mate based on the compatibility of the genes related to characteristics of the immune system. The company's website claims:
"When you share chemistry with someone:
- 1. You love their natural body odor. They smell "sexier" than other people.
- 2. You have a more satisfying sex life.
- 3. If you're a woman, you have more orgasms.
- 4. There's significantly less cheating in your relationships than if your DNA isn't matched properly.
- 5. As a couple, you're more fertile.
- 6. Your children have a better chance of being healthy."
Governor's Child Abuse Task Force-Final RecommendationsRecommendations:3. The initial review and response to all intakes must include clear policies and procedures for social workers to follow.4. The improvement of the investigative and interview stage of child abuse and neglect cases is needed by requiring specific investigative and interview skills for all Child Protective Services (CPS) social workers and by developing and enhancing accredited Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) and Multidisciplinary Teams (MDT).5. Regular and on-going training must be mandated for all SRS staff who work in child protective services.These are the final recommendations of the Governor's Task Force. I don't think that there is any debate on recommendations 3 and 5. Training and revised policies and procedures almost always follow unfortunate results and revisiting what is done in these areas is always a good idea.Recommendation 4 deserves some comment and clarification. Special expertise is needed to determine what is being said. I think that this is a 3 part recommendation.1)Police or social workers? One of the ongoing debates in child protective services is whether social workers are the best people to be investigating child abuse or neglect. A bad result of an investigation frequently is followed with a recommendation to have police take over CPS. Police do have special expertise in investigating if a crime has been committed. However, not all child abuse or neglect situations are crimes. For example, judging when neglect requires state intervention is not an investigation of a crime. In addition, a previous post mentioned the large percentage of reports that are investigated where the report is for the non-abuse neglect situation of a child being without proper control. I think that few police would welcome the added responsibility of responding to these concerns. There is evidence that a joint investigation of child abuse situations by police and social workers is effective. Cross, Finkelhor & Ormrod (2005) found, among other things, that police involvement may promote CPS effectiveness and should be coordinated in every community. A close working relationship between CPS and the police is an essential ingredient in the community's response to child abuse and neglect. The police and social workers who testified at the Task Force meetings agreed with this assessment.There is another aspect to the collaboration between police and CPS staff. It is not uncommon for social workers to be asked to investigate a very dangerous situation. CPS staff are sometimes asked to neighborhoods or housing units that few of us would venture near. These staff need and deserve all of the protections available.2)Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs). Another part of this recommendation is developing and enhancing multidisciplinary teams. MDTs bring the professionals together that are needed to determine what needs to be done in a particular situation. Child abuse and neglect situations are frequently very complex. For example, a CPS worker might be confronted with a mother neglecting her children and diagnosed as developmental delayed and mentally ill. She may also be alcohol or drug dependent. Expecting a CPS worker or a police officer to have expertise in all of these areas is unrealistic. Professionals for substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and mental health are also needed. Jones, Cross, Walsh & Simone (2005) conclude that MDTs can improve investigation and case outcomes. This was widely agreed to by those people who testified at the Task Force meetings who had experience with MDTs. Every community should have MDTs as part of their child abuse and neglect response.3)Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC). Developing and enhancing CACs is the third part of this Task Force recommendation. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC), Child Advocacy Centers are non-profit agencies designed to coordinate multidisciplinary investigations of child abuse in a child-friendly environment. CACs were begun in response to the complexity of investigations of child sexual abuse. Victims of sexual abuse can easily experience additional trauma by repeated interviews of their experiences. Police, county attorneys, social workers all need the information but they don't all need to interview the victim. In addition, if the interview is not done well, the trauma can be exasperated.Children's Advocacy Centers can be effective in coordinating investigations, conducting forensic interviews and referring children for mental health services. One of the interesting aspects of this recommendation is that it was part of Governor Sebelius' original charge to the Task Force. In the press release announcing the appointment of the Task Force (March 8, 2007), she proposed the creation of child advocacy centers and devoted $1 million in her budget to begin establishing them around the state. Several CACs already existed so this is really an expansion.I do think that it is curious that Governor Sebelius proposed this solution before the Task Force had an opportunity to access the problem. So of course the Task Force complied. Please understand I have nothing against children's advocacy centers. I just think that the solution should have come from the committee. In addition, the problem in the Wichita case was not sexual abuse for which CACs were designed and have demonstrated expertise. Given the range of recommendations in the Task Force Report and the state legislature's propensity to avoid spending money it is going to be difficult to fund all of the Task Force recommendations. Calling for funding of an expensive solution to a different problem than what was the situation in Wichita may not be the best solution.Stay tuned to see what happens in the next legislative session.
December 08, 2007Former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon, continues to rewrite the D2 football records books as Northwest Missouri State downs Grand Valley State 34-16 in semi-final game.I hate the cold. I'm such a pansy I've considered moving to Florida to avoid another Midwest winter. However, I sat in 17 degree freezing rain Saturday evening to watch as my favorite football player helped his Northwest Missouri State Bearcats become eligible for their third consecutive Division 2 national championship and I never felt warmer. I've written an article previously about former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon's bid to set a new NCAA rushing record by gaining over 1500 yards in four straight years at Northwest Missouri State. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/nov/10/bearcat_brink_ncaa_record/?sportsOmon's team hosted the Grand Valley State Lakers Saturday night in Maryville, Mo. An estimated crowd of 7296 braved the elements to root for their Bearcats who had fallen to their Grand Valley Lakers counterparts the past two years in the D2 national championship game in Florence, Alabama by a combined total of seven points. As Bearcat coach Mel Tjeersdsma states, ""I'm glad number 2 [Omon] plays for us and not anyone else. We had tremendous effort on both sides of the ball tonight".The excitement at the nationally televised semifinal match was palpable in the frigid Maryville, Mo air. The task to upset the Lakers would not be easy. Grand Valley had won 40 straight games, their last loss coming at the hands of North Dakota in 2004.The game was hard fought from the coin toss Saturday night. Grand Valley scored first and took a 13-10 lead into half-time. The second half clearly belonged to Omon and the rest of the Bearcats. The Bearcats scored 24 points in the second half while holding their opponents to six points. Omon finished the game with 292 total rushing yards and 11 yards receiving. He has now rushed for over 7000 yards in his four years at Northwest Missouri State. Omon scored four touchdowns on the night with the longest being a 98 yard run after Grand Valley State punt pinned Northwest Missouri State down at their own two yard line. Here's a link to an ESPN video highlight of Omon's run, which made one of th Top Ten Plays of the Day on that network's Sportscenter show.http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3147433&categoryId=2564308&n8pe6c=3After the goalposts came down at the Mel Tjeesdsma field in Maryville, elated fans stormed the field as the D2 semifinal championship award was handed down. Omon and his mother, Delorise Omon, embraced at midfield as tears of joy streamed down their faces. As has been customary, Omon shook hands and posed for pictures with many loyal Bearcat fans. As it also customary, Omon gave the credit for his prowess on the field to the offensive line. The stingy defense also held Grand Valley to only 16 points for the game while snagging a game changing interception in the second half.The Bearcats head to Florence, Alabama to take on the other semi-final champions, Valdosta State, who beat California (PA) 28-24 in a game earlier that day.
I emailed my daughter for her permission to post this video. I thought it unfair that she did not know she was being taped. As a matter of fact, I did not realize the background conversation when I made this little poor quality video of our youngest grandson discovering the Christmas tree. When I previewed it, I decided both were worth preserving. Thank you Kim for letting me post this even though you think you sound a bit edgy. Considering it was dinner time and everyone was tired and hungry, it is a delightful conversation to overhear.
Thursday night around 9 pm, a significant portion of the city lost electrical power, including Lawrence High School where the opening night of "Lend Me a Tenor" was just twenty minutes from curtain call. So what do you do when you are performing a show and the electricity goes out? You perform by flashlight, of course!The adage is "the show must go on" and that's exactly what happened. Without hesitation, Director Charles Goolsby told his cast "Don't leave the stage, just keep going," while he and Assistant Director Ceri Goulter stood at the front edge of the stage wielding flashlights as spotlights. Luckily, most of the action toward the end of the second act involves only two people on stage at a time, so the lighting demands were simple. I went to see this hilarious show Friday afternoon. While I was commiserating with Charlie over his memorable opening night, I thought back upon some of my own memorable openings. I can laugh at them now, but at the time they were sometimes horrifying and sometimes merely disappointing.Like the time about eight years ago I had a high school actor on drywall stilts playing the Uncle Sam character in the parade scene of "State Fair." Despite weeks of carefully choreographed rehearsals, someone put a bench in the wrong place at the wrong time backstage and Uncle Sam tripped over it in the blackout for the scene change. When the lights came up, I saw Uncle Sam all nine feet in height sprawled on the floor with his head too close to a platform. He wasn't moving. I rushed backstage with my principal and head custodian to find several girls in hysterics. "He's dead!" they cried. "Don't be ridiculous!" I snapped. Then we grabbed his stilted feet and dragged him off stage during the next transition. When I asked why he didn't move or give a sign he was okay, he explained he thought he would be less conspicuous and the scene would look better if he stayed as flat as possible. "After all," he said, "the scene must go on."Just a couple of years ago, I had a student discover why it is that we never say "Macbeth" backstage. He scoffed at the tradition, being new to theatre, and would go around backstage saying it just to prove the more serious Thespians wrong. We were performing a double bill of one-act adaptations: "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Much Ado About Nothing." Opening day, he came down with a serious case of some stomach virus. He tried to stay at school rule is you have to be in attendance at least half a day to perform but I could see he wasn't going to make it. I suddenly questioned my practice of working without understudies. So, opening night the role of the Prince in Much Ado was played by one of the lead actors from Earnest, script in hand. He was so natural that you'd never know he had never rehearsed the show and had only watched one rehearsal.Good thing the costume fit, because the show had to go on. The Prince was disappointed, but was well enough to perform the second night of the show. I'll have to save my most potentially disastrous show for another entry. But if you want to know why the arts are essential to the future of our youth, consider the lesson they learn in these seemingly hopeless situations. You want creative problem solvers in your workforce? Hire those who've been in theatre they know how to make magic from a possible disaster.
Today, Gyroduck commenting on a Journal World article, Drawing on God posted a link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPepr...) from You Tube explaining a really puzzling aspect of quantum mechanics. Hop on over to view the video. Also read Gyroduck's comment linking the observations discussed in the video to prayer. Is Gyroduck right to make this connection?
One of the hottest areas of biology today is synthetic biology. Synthetic biologists are not content to take a gene from one species and insert it into the genetic material of another species.Instead, synthetic biologists are attempting to build a set of standard building blocks often by synthesizing DNA from scratch. The idea is to have a set of modules that can be plugged together to make the biological equivalent of electrical devices.So just as an electrical engineer designs new circuits by plugging together standard parts on a breadboard, the synthetic biologist attempts to create custom organisms by inserting these biological circuits into cells.The field has progressed to the point where there is an annual student competition at MIT dedicated to designing custom devices called iGEM which stands for InternationalGenetically Engineered Machine Competition. The winners of the 2007 competition have just been announced and they include teams that developed applications of synthetic biology to medicine, environmental sensing, energy and information processing.For example a team from Alberta Canada developed a synthetic set of genes involved in the production of butanol, an organic compound that could serve as a fuel alternative to ethanol.A team from University of Missouri at Rolla, the Missouri Miners developed a biological breathalyser and a biological timer.Synthetic biology is in its infancy and the power of this technology is rapidly increasing, much like the power of computers, so that soon synthetic biologists may be able to construct synthetic organisms entirely from scratch!Readers, how is this dangerous in a positive sense? How about the risks?LinksSyntheticbiology.orgSynthetic Life, Scientific American 2004
Recommendation #2. One toll free number should be used to report child abuse and neglect and skilled and trained staff should take the call.Now this is a recommendation with which I totally agree. Currently SRS maintains 7 call centers to receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. There are six Regional Protection Report Centers and the Kansas Protection Report Center (PRC). The PRC operates 24 hours a day seven days a week while the regional centers do not. This probably grew out of history where child welfare was originally part of county welfare offices. Over the years for a variety of reasons including reorganizations of SRS these responsibilities morphed and merged into our current arrangement. It is time to consolidate once more. The major argument against a single statewide hot-line is that local people have professional relationships and know community situations that make a local response more efficient and effective. In some communities social workers know the police officers and the county attorney very well and can call on them for nearly instant help in protecting a child. For example, a school social worker might suspect that a child is a victim of abuse, call a social worker in the local SRS office who might call a police officer and they would jointly investigate the situation within a few minutes or hours.A part of this argument is that a single statewide child abuse reporting hot-line is distant from the community, wouldn't know the key actors and may delay an effective response. For example, the school social worker in the previous example might think twice about calling an anonymous statewide phone number even though she/he is a mandated reporter.On the surface this argument has merit. Investigations are local. It is local police that aid the investigation. It is the county attorney that normally files the petition to find the child a "child in need of care". However, during the Governor's Protective Services Task Force meetings it was clear that the 7 call centers did not all operate in the same manner. This is a problem. If the person answering the phone whether it is local or regional, doesn't get the right information and make the right decision, a child's life may be endangered. This may be what occurred in the case of the two girls in Wichita. It is, in part, a matter of quality control. When the safety of a child is at stake it is important to get all the necessary information, check all relevant files such as the child abuse registry and Kansas Bureau of Investigation offender registry and make a correct decision. It is difficult to assure that this occurs for all calls in 7 call centers.Consistency is also important because a child abuse or neglect investigation brings the power of the state into private family matters. I don't think that we want a situation where an investigation of suspected child abuse would occur in one part of Kansas while that same situation would not start an investigation in another. With the technology available in 2007 there is no reason why a single statewide child abuse and neglect hot-line could not operate as efficiently as a local system. When a decision is made to investigate a case, staff can instantaneous call, email, text message or use whatever communication channels are available to notify local SRS social workers and police so that the investigation can begin. Of course if it is midnight the SRS social worker would not be on duty and the response would have to wait. But that is another problem.
Robert Hawkins killed himself and eight other people in an Omaha mall. Another fact is that he spent time in treatment centers, group homes and foster care. For some people the headline says it all and that is all that they need to know about Robert. Foster care equals trouble. What does this say about Robert or foster care?Robert was certainly troubled and trouble for the community. From news reports we do not know all the details of his life. We do know that he could relate to some people in a non-dangerous way. Debra Maruca-Kovac took Robert into her home when he was homeless. At some point he had a girl friend. There was more to Robert than foster care. Placing a child in foster care is used by the community for protecting children from abuse or neglect. It is also used when we don't know how to help a parent respond to troublesome behavior.SRS reports that "83.8% of assigned reports involve the non-abuse neglect presenting situations without proper control." http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/datareports08.htmlThis means that when people call to report that a child is suspected of being a victim of child abuse or neglect they are more often reporting a child exhibiting behavior that is difficult to manage. Some of these children are placed into foster care. The assumption seems to be that parents are at fault and providing better parenting will change the child's behavior. I am certain that this is sometime true.It didn't work for Robert and it doesn't work for many others. Our ideas that parenting is responsible for a child's behavior is not always accurate. Many children have mental disorders that we don't recognize soon enough and for which our response is inadequate. That seems to be Robert's situation.We ask our child abuse and neglect agencies to also be our child mental health response and it doesn't always work. In Kansas we require our foster care agencies to be fiscally liable for some results for foster children. Our mental health centers are under no similar obligation. This is true in most states. "Shooter was in group homes, foster care" says little about Robert. It may say a lot about foster care and even more about children's mental health services that aren't even mentioned.
It seems, at least to me, that my last name is unusual. A Google search of my name does not find a single other "David Klamet". I suppose that can be useful, sometimes. I've never had any trouble getting the username I wanted when registering for email addresses or on web forums.Maybe I'm just sensitive about it. The show that plagued my childhood, The Beverly Hillbillies, was about the Clampett family (if you're fortunate enough to not know or remember it) that ran for nine painful years during my childhood. During that time, my name was almost always mispronounced. For years after there was an invisible "p" in my name that I couldn't see, but people would still pronounce. Were there really that many professors at KU who were influenced by the show and used that pronunciation?For me, though, the name "Klamet" has a stolid, earthy tone and images of tilled fields and fall harvests come to mind. My father's father was a farmer. I imagine that his ancestors back in Germany were farmers, too. He raised seven daughters and two sons in the old farmhouse my father grew up in and that I spent many Christmas Days in. I cannot help but imagine their life in rural Leavenworth county. My father's mother died when he was young. The children attended Dafer school, a one room schoolhouse not far from my father's farm, where I grew up. I once overheard my father tell of his resentment that Charley, his older brother, got to use the tractor to plow, while he had to use the mules. I can imagine him walking behind the mules, resentfully watching his brother across the field on the tractor. Recently, at the funeral of the father of a high school friend, I happened to meet several elderly ladies who new my father and his brother. I overheard one of them as she talked about how she new them both and used to dance with my uncle, and what a good dancer Charley had been. He died when I was very young in an auto accident with his oldest daughter, their truck was hit by a train as they drove into town one evening. How and why is a mystery.My father died many years ago. He did not farm full time, but every season a crop was planted and there were always cows in the pasture. The farming tradition did not end with him, but it did not continue through me. The thought of my being a farmer would make my brother laugh out loud.Fate has played a strange yet subtle joke on the Klamet family. Of all the brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandchildren and cousins, the future of the Klamet name passes only through me--the one who had the least interest in the only life they all knew. My father's brother had only girls, as did my brother. My three sons are the only ones who will carry on the name.I often see that name now, printed in programs for high school music concerts and soccer games. Among the long list of names in small print, my sons' names seem to stand out as though they were printed in bold. Out on the stage or on the field I see my sons, but in my mind I see my father behind those mules.
This is how our spur of the moment road trip through small towns of the Flint Hills materialized. My husband said, "How about:" and I said, "Let's go." That's it. It only takes an hour from idea to heading up the lane in our camper van. These kinds of trips happen other times of the year, but never before at Christmas. We are ready to leave by 6:00 pm. Armed with Marci Penner's Kansas Guidebook for Explorers, a list of the best Chicken-fried Steaks in Kansas from the Kansas Explorers Club, and a map, we plan to find good rural Kansas food and Christmas decorations.Overbrook is a progressive small town only 11 miles south of our rural home. It does not surprise us their decorations are nice. Normally, we stop at Conrad's for their special, but there are more towns to visit. So, from there we head west on Hwy 56. We consider the restaurant at Four Corners because the parking lot is packed, a good sign in small town Kansas. Alas, it is not on the Best Chicken Fried List it so we head on, past The Trop for those who know.Scranton's lighted snowflakes are very beautiful for the size of their main street. No tarrying, it is on to Burlingame and Santa Fe Cafe, which is on the List. Decorated for the season and housed in an obviously historical storefront, the Santa Fe Cafe is busy. Local families laugh and visit while waiting for their orders. Even though pan-fried steaks are a prerequisite, ours are deep-fried. No matter, the homemade gravy and real mashed potatoes make up for it. Full with enough leftovers for breakfast, one last look at Burlingame's lights and we are off.Continuing on the old Santa Fe Trail route, Hwy 56, we visit Osage City, Admire and Bushong. Community spirit is still strong in small towns because they all manage nice decorations. Council Grove did not disappoint. As we slowly drive main street it seems the lights outlining the buildings and the decorated storefronts have a charm befitting the historic town. We take a little extra time to drive back through before taking off south on Hwy 177 toward our destination of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. As we turn on the street leading up to the town square in Cottonwood Falls, the sight of the historic courthouse completely outlined in white lights was breathtaking. Businesses on each side of the street are festive but not over done to take away from the beautiful building. We stop right on the street to take it all in.
By LindaKBy then it is 10:00 pm but Cottonwood Fall's Emma Chase Cafe is still rocking. We slip in a corner table and enjoy the bluegrass music. As people drifted home, the musicians soon outnumber the audience. Obviously, the jean and overall clad participants are having fun. The Emma Chase is winding down and so are we. We scout around for a spot to boondock for the night. Saturday morning finds us in a parking lot near downtown Cottonwood Falls. We enjoy our leftover chicken fried steak and coffee for breakfast and take off. I want to see the sunrise over the Flint Hills. We continued south on Hwy 57, part of the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. The sun is just peeking over the horizon as we stop at an overlook. Flint Hills as far as we can see with cattle still grazing despite the time of year makes this scene a quiet, inspirational moment. We continue south still enjoying the beautiful rolling hills, impressive barns and rock fences. Matfield Green is a tiny town, but earned an entrance to the turnpike.In no time, we are in Wichita and the outdoor/sporting store located in downtown near the convention center. We spend several hours shopping and turned toward home. We again exit at Matfield Green exit on the KTA because nearby is the Cassody Cafe in the town by the same name. The Cafe is on the Best Chicken Fried Steak list and we are hungry. Unfortunately, the menu said Thursdays only for the steak. We settle for their buffet of fried chicken and homemade beef and noodles with four-star gravy. The Cassody Cafe is a destination for motorcycle riders in the summer. From the pictures posted by the register, it appears the city doubles its size on weekends.As we once again stop at the tollbooth at Matfield Green, the lady recognizes it is our third time through. We laughingly tell her, Merry Christmas and head for home.
Took my almost-five-year-old to his first Advent service last night. Actually, it was Simon's first church service, period. I wanted him to understand at least a little of what he heard, so on the way, I told him the basics of the Christmas story. I started with the parts I thought would be most interesting to a child: How Jesus was born in a stable to parents Mary and Joseph, and how shepherds got a message from an angel that something special had happened, followed a bright star, and found the baby Jesus.My husband and I are not religious, at least not as the term is usually used, but I've given a little thought to how and when to explain mainstream religious beliefs and stories to our two young sons. A child who isn't familiar with, say, the Christmas story or the notion of heaven will be at a loss at times, to say the least. (Last night, it struck me how big this cultural disadvantage might be when Simon asked "Is Jesus a boy or a girl?")After the service, we talked more about the Christmas story--including the belief that Jesus is the son of God--and I found myself fielding questions like "How can Jesus be the son of God if his parents are Mary and Joseph?" and "How can God still be alive if Jesus was born such a long time ago?" and "Is God a man or a woman?" Now I was the one at a loss! More than once I answered, "That's a great question" and "Well, the story goes like this:" and "Many people believe that:." I've talked to Simon about God before, usually referring to the "Animal Maker" or the "Great Spirit." I want him to have some notion of a powerful, good, divine spirit who takes an interest in our universe. I also want him to understand that there are different and beautiful faith traditions around the world. I'm not comfortable presenting typical Sunday School stories as if they're facts. And I sensed last night that Simon would take what I said as fact. That means I have a lot of power, at this point in Simon's life, to shape his beliefs about religion and the divine. I want to use this power wisely, so I've got a lot more thinking to do.I'd like to hear from others who've struggled with this. If your family doesn't have obvious faith traditions and beliefs to pass down, what role do religion and spirituality play in your family life? How and when have you presented religion and spirituality to your children? Are there any faith groups in town you recommend?