My Condolences to Cpl. Dickinson’s Family and Friends

When a friend told me about the ambush of the officers in PA I was shocked.  How can someone be so evil?

Sadly, one of the officers died.  Here is some background on Officer Dickinson from PennLive:

Dunmore resident, Dickson was born in Minot, North Dakota. He and his wife, Tiffany, had celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on August 20. He was the father of two young sons: Bryon Keith Dickson III and Adam Robert Dickson.

Mourners pinned blue and black ribbons on their lapels, as much a show of camaraderie for police as that of the emblem for a fallen officer.

“The loyalty and brotherhood among police extends far beyond the badge,” said Joshua Grudzinski, a mourner from Pittston. “It is a family that runs very deep.”

Dickson was a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in 2007. He earned various awards from the Pennsylvania DUI Association and numerous state police commendations.  

In July of 2013, Dickson was promoted to corporal and assigned to Troop K, Philadelphia.  He was subsequently transferred to Troop R, Blooming Grove in June of 2014 where he served as a Patrol Unit Supervisor.

Respiratory Virus EV-D68 Is In PA! Be Smart. Take Precautions!

If you’ve been hearing about the mysterious enterovirus that has been sending children to emergency rooms out in the middle of the country then you know that it was quite possible that we’d be dealing with the same virus locally sooner or later.

Well, it’s here!  According to experts there are three known cases in Philadelphia hospitals.  So that means that since most people will get the virus and feel lousy for a few days to a week but then improve, that  we can’t know the numbers who are infected by this virus in the PA area.  We just know three cases turned up needing help at local hospitals.

So I’m reprinting what the CDC says we need to do to get through this season of nasty colds that can turn kind of ugly in small children.

Most people with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, and treatment with over-the-counter pain and fever-suppressing medicines should work well, the CDC said. Some infections, however, can be serious, causing respiratory problems, rashes with fever and even neurological illnesses such as encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, the department said.

Since EV-D68 is spread like the flu, the same precautions apply, the department said:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Cough into your sleeve or a tissue.
• Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who are sick.

• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Will Scotland Do It???

If you have been listening to the news you’ll know that today Scotland is making a pretty important decision about their future.  Currently they are part of the United Kingdom, or the UK.  But a vote is taking place right now that will decide whether citizens of Scotland are moving away from that partnership and are heading off on their own.

I’m no historian, but I’ve got a child’s eye view of what is going on and I’m willing to share because at least I’m thinking about it!  If you want to listen in, you are welcome to, and if you want to disagree with me, you are welcome to do that as well.

Let’s start–

There is written evidence of a group of people who were known as Picts who were in the area we now know as Scotland back in 297 CE.  There were also folks who called themselves Scots.  Imagine groups who were more bound to their families than to any nation.  Add a couple of other groups to this original bunch like the Vikings and the Normans and you’ll have a fair view of the types of people that made up early Scotland.

Let’s move forward in time to the 13th century.  One English king, King Edward the I decided he’d try to wrest control of those Scots…it didn’t work.  They were an uproarious community and they created the Declaration of Arbroath which promised that as long as there were 100 Scots left, they’d fight the English rule and NEVER SURRENDER.

That was until the Queen Elizabeth I died. She didn’t have any children and so the crown went to a King who was a Scot.  King James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England.  Scots became part of England’s parliamentarian system, but they kept their own parliament as well.

There was an official union in 1707. No more Scottish parliament.

The National party of Scotland fought for their own independence in 1928.

1975 the National party wanted to separate slightly in a move called “devolution”.  They failed to win enough votes.

1997 the Scots voted for “devolution”.

1999 Full and separate Scottish parliament is once again restored.


If the Scots vote for a complete separation there is going to be a bit of a mess for a while.  Other countries might be energized by their success.  The economic picture might be murky for a bit.  But on the other hand, this has been a long time in coming.  If they national party doesn’t succeed we can bet that this won’t be their final push for independence.

Can you imagine struggling for over 300 years against England?

I guess we’ll find out what happens a little later today.



Panevino in Reading

We went to a very nice restaurant the other night.  It is called Panevino in Reading and it’s on 2nd street right by the Goggleworks.

It’s an Italian restaurant and it’s not all that big.  The ceilings are painted black, there are gray stones on several of the walls and some Christmas trees with tiny white lights decorate the place.  I wouldn’t say it was the most sumptuous place, but then they didn’t make you pay a lot for a nice meal.

You know how all the franchise outlets that cater to families by selling two for 20 dollar menus?  Panevino is a little more expensive with a $19.95 menu per person, but you get to order a salad, or a soup, an entree and a dessert.  And we aren’t talking one standard salad.  You could go with a spinach salad, a spring salad, or a wedge salad.  Soups were pasta fagioli, asparagus tomato, or clam and crab soup.

My entree was Chicken Milanese, and it was delicious.  My daughter had noodles and meatballs, another had gnocchi, and my third daughter had a personal wild mushroom pizza.

For dessert we had several NY style cheesecakes, a wild berry compote with gelato, a chocolate bread pudding with bananas foster, and a tiramisu.

You could get wine and beer as well.

It was a wonderful meal, very fairly priced in a nice atmosphere.  Our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable and I really enjoyed the evening with my girls.

I probably would have enjoyed it no matter where we went, but it was really nice that the place turned out to be lovely.


Day off, I Made Rice Pudding!

I don’t really like rice pudding.  So I bet you are wondering why I made it then? Well, my significant other does like it and so I made it for him.

Aren’t I sweet?

Talking about sweetness, I added a little more sugar than the recipe called for because I’ve made it before and I didn’t put in enough the last time.  Speaking of the recipe, it isn’t much of a recipe.  Wanna see?

3 Tablespoons of Rice

4 cups of whole milk

1/2 cup sugar


That is the recipe.  You toss the rice in a pan, add milk and then heat for 3 hours at about 325, even though I turned the heat up to 350 after an hour and a half.

Also, I didn’t use raisins because I didn’t have any, but I did have dried cranberries and I figured they’d work.  I was right.

It isn’t bad.



This Blog Isn’t About Pottstown!

I started this blog years ago talking about what I saw and thought about while living in the Pottstown area.  I would sometimes talk about what was going on in town, and at other times I’d talk about what local kids were doing, or I’d talk about local businesses.  But it was always from my own point of view.  So rather than a travel guide to our town, it was my own personal scratch pad where I could and still can chat about what I see.

Just like you folks, I’m a citizen of my community and my community is connected to the larger world.  I guess I’m trying to explain why you’ll find posts about what I think of the world news.  My intention is not to tell anyone else what to think.  I’m just sharing what I think.

Generally, it’s my feeling that there are no simple facts.  There are no easy answers.  There are threads and all of these threads become part of our lives.  I hear about what is going on in the world, and I’m daunted by all the questions.  And honestly, I’m not just talking about political issues.  This blog is my place to talk about everything that occurs to me as a person.  *( I do try to keep it family friendly).

This blog isn’t about Pottstown.  It’s about me, and my views and they just happen to be the views of someone who lives in the Pottstown area.

Take care of one another!



Educational Regulations for the Islamic State

I am not an educator, but I am interested in what children are learning, here and around the world.
The other day I was talking about something called Common Core standards that are taking shape in this country.  Today I came across a new educational policy which I believe has been instituted by the Islamic State, or the folks we’ve been talking about as ISIS, or ISIL.

Islamic State
Caliphate on the program of the Prophets
Education Administration
General Statement 01

Directorate of Programs in the Islamic State
General Statement to all Education and Teaching Institutions

1. The following subjects are to be definitively abolished from teaching programs: artistic musical education [music], nationalist education, social studies, history, artistic composition education [drawing], sport, philosophical, social and psychology studies, Islam-Christian religious education), to be replaced by subjects added in compensation by the directorate of programs in the Islamic State.

2. Complete abolition of the name ‘Syrian Arab Republic’ wherever it is found and it be replaced by the Islamic State.

3. Complete abolition of the Education Ministry and its replacement with the Ministry of Education and Teaching.

4. Removal of all photos that do not concord with Islamic Shari’a.

5. Removal of all Syrian Arab song wherever it is found.

6. No teaching of nationalist doctrine and instead: commitment to Islam and its people, and no affiliation with idolatry and its people. Indeed the land of the Muslim is the land in which the law of God governs.

7. The teacher is to patch up gaps in knowledge of the grammar of Arabic dependent on omission by examples that do not contradict the Islamic Shari’a and politics of the Islamic State.

8. The word ‘homeland’ (watan), or ‘his homeland’, or ‘my homeland’ or ‘Syria’ is to be replaced wherever it is found with ‘The Islamic State’ or ‘his Islamic State’ or ‘the land of the Muslims’ or ‘The Islamic State’ or ‘the province of ash-Sham’.

9. Abolition of any example in maths that points to interest, interest on money, democracy, or election.

10. Abolition from the sciences of anything connected with the Darwin theory, natural selection and not attributing all creation to God- Almighty and Exalted is He.

11. The teacher is to make the students aware that all the laws of physics and chemistry are from God’s laws in creation.

12. This general statement is considered compulsory and all who disagree must be held accountable.

Well, this is pretty straight forward isn’t it?  Syria is to be erased and replaced by the Islamic State, and anyone who disagrees with these new compulsory ideals is to be held accountable.

Let’s imagine that someday the Islamic State takes hold, how will they operate alongside people who have different cultures?  How will they understand “maths that point to interest”  How will they get by not learning anything about elections?

It makes me wonder!


Rush Limbaugh’s No Means Yes “if you know how to spot it”.

When Rush Limbaugh decided to make fun of a university for creating a policy about sexual relations he attacked a couple of things.  The first thing he objected to was the suggestion that any kind of sexual relation had to be with someone who was “over thirteen years old”.  The other thing he balked at was the idea that sex had to be agreed to as a process.  I’m guessing that the overall idea was that kissing doesn’t necessarily lead to anything.  If a partner says ” no” it means that the game is over.  There is no natural progression from “first base” to “second base”.

Rush seemed surprised by that and he asked his audience whether or not they had had experiences with women in which they had to suss out what she really meant?  He asked if it wasn’t true that men learned in the “art of seduction” that sometimes a woman said no when she really meant yes and spotting it was a skill.

It’s pretty shocking that we aren’t telling people that no means no.  Yes means yes, and no means no.  How hard is that?  If a woman says yes and she means no, then she should change her statement so that she then indicates that she is in agreement with a decision.  And if she doesn’t, then it’s fair to assume her no was meaningful.  What don’t people understand about that?

Why would Mr. Limbaugh try to incite his listeners with suggestions that there are law suits waiting to happen if men are asked to agree with their partners about sexual acts?  What is the big deal?

If he’s confused because he’s wallowing in nostalgia I feel sort of sorry for him.  I would imagine he knows more about law suits with members of the opposite sex than I do.  Apparently his early training in becoming a Lothario didn’t work out all that well for him.



Thinking about Common Core

This week Governor Corbett  said he wanted to create a committee to look at what Common Core is doing when it comes to PA students education.

I’d applaud that decision if he hadn’t been behind it in the past.

The question that gets me is what are educators trying to do with this stuff called Common Core?

While I won’t pretend I’m an expert, I’ll try to share some of the things I’ve found after looking a little more deeply into it.

We have to begin with why we educate citizens anyhow.  We want to create a populace that is well-trained and intelligent enough to make decisions that ensure a secure future.  The problem is we don’t exactly know how to do that.  The second problem is that there is a fine line between educating and indoctrinating people.

When the government is in charge of education some people naturally worry.  When George Bush implemented ” No Child Left Behind” a lot  of very good people were 100% behind him.  But that program began people worrying about something called ” teaching to the test”.  We started worrying about education being ” dumbed down”.  Now don’t get me wrong, when I say we started worrying, I don’t mean that educators and sociologists hadn’t been having these discussions amongst themselves before, I just mean it began to be part of the talk in the commmons.  Average people started wondering what we were doing reforming education?  Were we gettiing what we wanted out of schools?  Were children coming out highly educated?

It’s probably true that more children were getting better educations than anytime in our past, it’s just that there were some serious problems that were becoming more and more obvious.

Fast forward to President Obama.  He offered to make ” No Child Left Behind” a thing of the past, but don’t think there wasn’t  a new goal for education reform!  Obama challenged schools to “Race to the Top”.  That sounded good, but it included some things that teachers and their unions weren’t so happy with.  The Obama administration wanted more outcomes based measures.  They wanted teachers measured by their students success.  Teachers balked at being judged on how their kids peformed for several reasons.  Like how would you like to get judged based on a group of people that are transients.  In communities where there was a lot of  insecurity in housing, all of that movement would  make it impossible for a teacher to pull the group together in a short time so that he  or she could show their own skills as educators. Also, in schools where the funding wasn’t sufficient, teachers  felt hamstrung.  But if their grades didn’t show improvement year after year then they were liable to lose their jobs.

The folks with the new reforms said that they weren’t really changing anything.  They were just making education equal across the nation.  The idea of “common core” subjects like math and reading  should help American students.  Large corporations donated  money to help create the  new methodology.  Schools across the nation could teach whatever they wanted to teach their kids, teachers could teach whatever they felt their children needed to know…they just might want to look  into using these common core lessons so that they could see how they were doing in comparison to other schools throughout the nation.

But the problem is when the government invests in planning education it has a tendency to want to show itself how it’s doing.  That means it needs to test the students.  It also means it needs to maintain databases on the students.  Another problem is in the old days when local communities were responsible for their own schools they could hire and fire their school administrators and teachers based on their views about what education could consist of.  Their views were at least somewhat tied to what their constituents views were, or the people who lived in the communities.  But if a national board is in charge of what students are learning across the nation–where are the checks and balances in local communities?   Aren’t teachers still teaching to the tests?  And now isn’t the Federal government MORE involved in something that was at least at one time a states’ right?

We are getting to the problem. Or problems!

Okay, so let’s pretend this is a perfect system and everyone is really interested in helping American children succeed.

How???  And what kind  of success is it that we can expect them to have?

Well, originally we taught expecting very strict outcomes.  Students were either right, or wrong.  It was as simple as black and white.  Then we started seeing that some children did very well, and a lot of children were falling through the cracks.  When people looked at the  children and asked why this was happening, they saw that the results weren’t true across the board.  Naturally folks began to wonder why some children did well and others failed.  Teachers were taught to use  “best practices” and still some children were failing.

Maybe the educational model was at fault!  Maybe children weren’t learning anything when they were simply regurgitating facts.  Maybe some of them would learn something to pass a test, but they weren’t incorporating that new learning into their lives.  Maybe that is a problem!

The new common core material isn’t necessarily going to pop out students ready for college and university.  What it is intended to do is to create students that can think about their answers.

It isn’t enough to know how to solve a problem…we all know calculators can do that. What educators are beginning to see  is that what students need is a thirst for answers.  They need to wonder why do things work the way they do?  What makes facts align? What will change a models outcome?  These are questions students weren’t taught to wrangle with in the past. They were simply taught how to arrive at the answers.

Secondly, students weren’t taught to work in groups. They were taught that some of them would do well and the rest would struggle.  That was how it always was.  But that model isn’t sustainable in a diverse global future.  We need to understand one another and know how to work together. Therefore schools are being tasked to have children work together on their own to find answers.  It isn’t as important that they get the exact answer in a timed fashion.  It is now seen as necessary that they can listen to their  peers and teach one another.

In the old days in  English it was  patently obvious that students needed to read “the classics”.  These days people are beginning to wonder if those classics inculcated certain beliefs in students.  Did they teach a Western culture without  acknowledging the importance of other cultures in the world?  Did students learn to be participants in common culture through their reading?  Or were they simply learning how things used to be without having a deeper appreciation of how and why some books inspired so many readers.

The thinking has begun to change.  Maybe students need to learn how to be savvy readers.  Maybe they need to see what  arguments look like instead of trying to figure out how to understand Olde English. Maybe they need to be able to read a wide assortment of material and not be restrained to reading “literature”.

If you can see that this might cause strife in creating all these minor changes at the same time, well, then you can understand how to some folks all these little changes are qualitatively equal to making one big change.  Then if you see that then you can appreciate why there is such a fuss with this “Common Core” business.

To be really simplistic the questions are:

What are the changes going to be?

Who has the right to change what schools teach students?

Who will have access to students information?

Who has a right to adapt standards in the future as the need arises?

Will our students be prepared for 21st century careers?

Are they being trained to be workers?

Are they getting the best their teachers can give them?

How can parents help?

Can we be sure our students will succeed if parents can’t help?

Who will provide the educational learning materials?

Are the new materials age appropriate? Are they culturally appropriate?  Are there any substitutions that work as well.

Are students of differing abilities offered the same education?

What is education in the 21st Century?  Is it one teacher to 15 students?  Or is it one computer program to an entire district or even nation?

There is an awful lot to think about, and the truth is most of us don’t have the time to look into education.  We have to trust our teachers, and school administrators and the government.

Some children are still going to fall through the cracks…this may not be the best plan for the future.  The new math and reading programs might not meet every child’s needs.

The tough news is that there is only one way to find out.

So, whatever Corbett’s group decides the facts remain that education for the future will change.  Our children will need to compete with children across the nation and across the world for the jobs in the future. Whether we allow an Obama care like plan for education to change the system, or we have another politician’s name on the new educational plan– things will change.

My suggestion for my readers is be prepared!