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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Happy Halloween!

I just had Barack Obama and John McCain come to my door!

“Give me candy and I’ll lower your taxes,” said mini-Obama. “And I’ll give you no taxes,” said mini-McCain (I guess that sort of sums up the campaign rhetoric). They were wearing suits and ties and the masks were really good, so it was almost surreal.

For a liberal laugh, check out the cover of the Nov. 3 New Yorker magazine: it shows a mini-McCain and mini-Palin advancing up a sidewalk while ghosts, witches and devils cower and flee.

posted in Laughing Matters | 1 Comment

Baffled by opposing views: do you hear what I hear?

These last few days, it’s as if I am slowly emerging from a self-inflicted burial, like a female version of The Awakening sculpture…  Blame it on family health concerns, turning 50 (UGH—did I actually admit that?), the imminent onslaught of winter, or the bleak fiscal environment that surrounds us. Whatever it is, I have been struggling to thwart this malaise, and one helpful distraction has been my preoccupation with the views of people I love and respect regarding the presidential campaign. How is it that intelligent people can have such divergent perspectives on the leading candidates? We watch the same debates but seem to hear different things. For instance, I hear Obama say he wants to redistribute the wealth by reducing the tax burden on those of us making less than $250K and make priority investments in areas such as energy, environment, and education. I like that. McCain’s response is that he will cut taxes for all people (Where’s the revenue to do anything?) and slash spending (What about vital services?) and provide a $5K credit for funding health insurance. (Good luck finding insurance for that $.)  Some in my family, many of whom also make less than $250K, aren’t comforted by Obama’s plans to help the middle class. They say he is inexperienced yet have no problem supporting Sarah Palin.

Perhaps it is because we are informed only by points of view that support and strengthen our preconceived ideas, so we don’t really hear anything except what we’ve already decided. In my family, we can’t even have a polite conversation about it. I tried at my birthday celebration last week; it lasted barely three minutes before voices were raised and accusations made about Obama’s alleged terrorist affiliations (oh come on!) and Palin’s cutesy ignorance—not much listening happened. Perhaps our voting choice is more about philosophical differences regarding the role of government, but even that seems an incomplete explanation. The fact is, most of my Republican family members share my values; apparently we don’t agree on which leader will take us there. For my part, I can’t understand how they can be good, smart people (which they are), yet so misguided. I just wish they would listen more closely…

posted in Just life, National issues | 1 Comment

Honoring alumni reinforces importance of excellent schools

Last night’s Distinguished Alumni event at Lowell High School, like the previous four, exceeded expectations in impressing me with the range of talent, philanthropic spirit, and innovation of our graduates. Current students were also exceptional as food preparers and servers from the culinary arts program, musicians, singers, ROTC students, and speakers introducing the honorees. (For a complete list of current and previous notable alumni chosen for the honor, check Dick’s blog.) All the speeches since the program began in 2004 have resonated with me because they articulate aspects of what makes Lowell schools unique—the diversity and creativity of our students, the spirit of cooperation and giving back to our communities, and the very basic and important belief that we are masters of our own destinies. Last night was no exception.  I was touched, in particular, by William Sullivan, who founded the Patriots and co-founded the Jimmy Fund, because my own son, a sophomore at LHS, is a rabid New England football fan (along with his dad) as well as a current patient at the clinic. Both my kids already think LHS is the coolest high school ever and can’t wait to count themselves alumni. But when I got home last night and relayed the latest accomplishments in a long list of notables from LHS, they were, like me, awed to think they will be part of that legacy. Recognizing the accomplishments of our alumni is important, not only as a means to raise vital scholarships for future graduates, but as a way to inspire current students, and reinforce to teachers, staff, and the community what a vital role a good education plays in our collective future.

posted in Lowell High | 1 Comment

Adding some links

Check out these new links under local groups:

I first heard of the Lowell Film Collaborative when promoting the documentary The Greening of Southie that they helped sponsor last week. By all accounts, it was a successful event and they seem to have many more upcoming opportunities to view and discuss old and new works on film.

Co-sponsor of the above-mentioned film night, the Lowell Green Building Commission is another active local group. They have an upcoming workshop on green building geared toward developers, but for the average homeowner, they offer energy conservation tips and resources to help cut back on utility bills. (I rode my bike to a meeting today, saving about $1 according to their calculations, but also getting exercise and enjoying this fabulous fall day).

posted in Local Groups | 0 Comments

Easy

I thought for awhile how, or whether, to answer
That column on poetry.
You know the one, tongue-in-cheek, yet speaking
scorn on anything not an aw-shucks response to life.
(Yet, I, too, like rhymes, and comfort and things to be easy).

To brag about not knowing a word is now become
a password – shorthand for being authentic.
(Laureate is to be crowned with laurels;
earned by heroes or poets great in name,
once, they were the same.)

It’s not fair to site Poe and Frost, or even Kilmer,
without also mentioning
some horrible sing-song rhymes,
like Hallmark cards, that deaden the mind.
(Yet – once – poets and heroes – they were the same!)

Striking the populist note is easy,
let’s talk about painting, too;
Just drip or slash some paint on canvass.
And if only all music were without disturbing dissonance
Set in a pleasing major key— how easy art and life would be.

posted in Poetry | 2 Comments

Sometimes you have to spend money

Despite Bill Gates warning last week about a severe decline in consumer spending, sometimes you have to spend money to protect your investments even during tight times. In my case, we realized that trees were growing into our house, the paint was peeling to expose wood, and the porch stairs were rotting—factors that prompted us to take on some hefty expenses immediately. Believe me, we do not have thousands of dollars right now to invest in painters and carpenters, yet exposing our home, our biggest asset, to another New England winter would have been foolhardy. It reminds me of the Lowell City Council last night reaffirming its earlier decision to upgrade the city’s sewer system. This is a priority investment for so many reasons from protecting residents from floods to making sure the city remains eligible for federal funding and maintaining our precious waterways. It was the painfully necessary thing to do in spite of the difficult financial climate, and no matter how much angst they had about it, the City Council made the right decision. When it comes to government services to our communities, there are many areas that fall into that “priority investment” category, such as education and public safety. These services are important and don’t come cheaply, which is why I oppose Ballot Question 1 to eliminate the income tax. More efficient delivery must be the focus, rather than slashing support for vital services that impact our quality of life today and in the future. That way you ensure the money, at least, is well spent.

posted in In the News, Local Politics, Money Matters, State Concerns | 0 Comments

Special film screening tonight

You can watch an interesting movie about the challenges of creating a “green” building tonight at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street beginning with a reception at 6:30 pm, film showing at 7:00 pm and a panel discussion at 8:15 pm. The Greening of Southie is a documentary about the Macallen Building in South Boston and is billed as “a story of bold ideas, unlikely environmentalists and the future of the way we live.” This event is sponsored by the Lowell Green Building Commission and the Lowell Film Collaborative with the support of Enterprise Bank.

posted in Environment, Local Groups | 0 Comments

Powell support powerful endorsement

As a Barack Obama supporter, I was thrilled to read in today’s Boston Globe that Colin Powell had endorsed his candidacy. Powell, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor under Republican and Democratic presidents, brings his own brand of credibility to this election, and his approval is a huge asset to Obama’s campaign. I remember years ago reading Powell’s autobiography, My American Journey, and being struck by his work ethic and his commitment to do his best at whatever task he was given—even if it was simply washing the floor. He was a man who commanded respect on both sides of the aisle. Powell later disappointed me in 2003 when he spoke before the United Nations Security Council and made a half-baked case built on misinformation that led to the U.S. invasion into Iraq. At that time, I remember thinking that he had caved to the Bush administration and compromised himself out of loyalty to his leader—a true soldier after all. Despite that flawed decision, Powell’s integrity and intelligence remain intact, as demonstrated by this quote in response to the scare tactics from the McCain campaign about Obama’s alleged terrorist connections and faith:

“If you’re an American, you’re an American. We have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together and realize the strength of this country is our diversity and our unity.”

Yeah, Powell gets it. It shouldn’t be about the color of your skin or the name of your house of worship. Scare tactics should be recognized for what they are: feeble attempts to divide us by folks with no real solutions. The only way we are truly going to deal effectively with the economic, international, and environmental crisis we find ourselves in is with a leader who has the ability to look forward, build consensus, and unify our nation. In this race, that man is Barack Obama.

posted in National issues | 0 Comments

Vacation musings

The best thing about being on vacation these days is NOT knowing what is going on in the world. While in the quiet southwest corner of France, the U.S. election and even the world financial crisis seemed far away and looking at ancient Roman ruins gives one a philosophical attitude about the frantic tone of the media. Despite the French reputation for being anti-American, we had no difficulties of that kind. An internet cafe gave us the bad news about the stock market one day, but the feeling among the French, German and fellow American tourists was one of camaraderie – the globalization of the disaster has put us all in the same boat. A brighter note occurred, when we were able to share the good news about the Red Sox win with some people from the Worcester area. A discussion with a French college student who was hoping for an Obama win and the end of the war was the only political note that was struck, and we were d’accord. While standing on a bt of the Via Domitia, the ancient Roman road through Gaul, linking Italy to Spain, one felt the age of the world, the transitory nature of our lives and our troubles, and a kind of deep silence and peace. Now that I’ve read the blogs and listened to CNN, this mood will likely be short-lived, but c’est la vie.

posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Town meeting with Dr. Scott

With all that’s been going on in the world and the economy, it’s time to check in on what’s happening in the school system! The Citywide Parent Council this month is a “town meeting” with new superintendent Chris Scott, to be broadcast live from the LHS Channel 22 TV Studio on Monday, October 20, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Dr. Scott will talk about her plans for the schools, answer questions and take suggestons. You can attend the meeting as a member of the studio audience or watch from home. Questions can be called in during the meeting or emailed to lowellcpc@comcast.net.

posted in Education | 0 Comments

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