Friday, March 28, 2008

This n' That

We are home from the Water Convention. The best speech was the last. I will write more about it later. Basically all should be concerned about our future water supply.

So far, I am in first place in our NCAA bracket. I am hanging on by a thread. KU won their game and I am wondering if I should have chosen them to win it all. They are playing very well. Texas also is in the Elite Eight. The Big 12 is a tough league.

I found out today that I am working tomorrow. Since I had four days off this week, I am not complaining. However, I am starting my annual "worry and talk about it alot but don't do anything" time. It usually ends up I have to take a day of vacation to complete this hated task.

I am talking income taxes. The tax office is next door to our post office. I asked him the other day if he had his stuff together. The annual joke is the last two forms he completes are ours and his own.

Skye, the boxer, usually stays with a neighbor family with four boys. She loves to play with her squeaky toy but is used to playing a while after supper. The four boys have more energy. She sleeps two or three days when she gets home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

where I am there is a lot to drink. We are attending the Kansas Rural Water Association convention in Wichita today. Dan is in technical meetings more to do with his role as a board member. I enjoyed the opening session keynote speaker and two of her afternoon workshops.

Shirley Garrett is a full-time professional speaker and author. Her morning presentation, "A Tap Water Girl in a Bottled Water World" was more about human kindness and pride in accomplishments than water. Of course, she did mention the fact people are willing to pay $8.20 a gallon for bottled water, a common fact, but fit well with her audience.

This afternoon her sessions were on communication and stress.

I will admit one thing. I thoroughly enjoy speakers of this type. I always come away being reminded how I need to remember basic human kindness and practice listening skills when I am with other people.

Perhaps I will write more about her presentation later, but right now the one statement she made that stuck is, "Seek first to understand, then be understood." She attributed this to someone which I will need to add later.

Tonight is more food and a musical review.

If you can believe this, we have our Trekker parked in the lot right by the front door. Pretty cool picture--will post it later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kansas Legislature Insights

NOTE: This is my submission to the Lawrence Journal World Perspectives web site about a day at the Kansas Legislature. Please forgive the formality.

Insights from the Rail

Health Care, Agriculture, and Utilities. Just a regular Monday at the Kansas legislature.

Admittedly, I am not a Kansas political junkie. News media and occasional casual conversations are the extent of my participation in the legislative process. Perhaps it is time to learn my way around, so I accept the challenge to take a day off to watch and listen.

The Capitol building itself is familiar. The dome, rotunda, and renovated chambers especially the senate with its ornate art work, are a Kansas treasure.

Eight o’clock Monday morning finds me at the lower east entrance where a guard assesses me harmless. I locate the press room and Lawrence Journal World’s Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild. We pick up a Senate and House Calendar from the Document Room on the first floor. These may be downloaded from the internet at Kansas Legislature I scan the calendars of both chambers, circle the committee meetings of interest, and then fit them into the day.

Scott is off to the no smoking debate while I attend the meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. There are at least fifteen interested people waiting with me. At the stated starting time, there is an unexplained cancellation and they quickly disburse.

I slip up a floor in time to catch the Senate Utilities committee meeting before it is on to the House visitor’s area to wait for the call to order. Following opening formalities, there appears to be general disorder on the floor. I happen to sit next to a person who knows the procedures well. He informs me much of the talking is in fact a way of getting things done even if a person is up front is formally reading a bill or amendment.

It is obvious from the debates legislators spend many hours working in committees before a bill or amendment comes before the entire house. They speak persuasively either for or against, often quoting constituents of their district.

The House session spends a great deal of time discussing a bi partisan health care bill that includes a program to fund insurance for poor families, a plan that enables workers to deduct premiums, longer interim insurance in a job change, and dental care for pregnant mothers. Politics are present when members point out for the record they are making compromises for the good of the entire bill and the people of the State. Listening to the debate lets me know the state is seriously looking at this important topic.

The House works through the lunch but at their adjournment, I still have time to rush to the House Budget Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. From there it is on to the formalities and business of the Senate.

My assessment is the political health of our state is good. While I feel a little impatient with the procedure, our elected officials talk and work together—and apart, but that is the process. Certainly if I feel strongly about an issue, I can speak. On the other hand, if I write or call, they listen.

Young people were present in the halls and chambers the entire day. They are there as Pages and groups on tours. Their participation is encouraging for the future of Kansas as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A stylish hat completes the outfit

Forty years ago, this might have been a common description, but disappeared when most women gave up hats in the 1970s. Not for Patt Morrison, a columnist for The LA Times who explains the allure — and disappearance — of the hat in an NPR Talk of the Nation radio program. Click here for the enjoyable 15-minute interview online or download a podcast.

Ms. Morrison likes to wear a hat. It is a part of her daily clothing choice. She is quick to point out she is in the minority as women gave up hats when the “uniform” went out of style. The Love Generation with Janice Joplin type hair styles found no place for the hat.

When Dan and I were married in the mid 60s, our wedding pictures show most of the ladies in attendance in hats. Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat was a popular choice.

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This is a picture of our “going away outfits.” Note the matching hat, purse and shoes with white gloves. Interestingly enough, the dress is somewhat back in style only worn with sandals and definitely no hat.