Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with JoLynn DiGrazia of Westside Ministries, Major Debi Shrum of the Salvation Army and Pastors Samuel Galdamez, Steve Carlson and Tim Hawkinson of Turlock Covenant Church.
I like Hanukkah. It's a very nice holiday, as Jewish holidays go; one of the few where the Jews actually won, as opposed to having the Temple destroyed, or fleeing the divided sea, or being spared from the evil Haman. Usually, it's enough if we survive. Often, we don't even do that.
If anyone still believes that nothing big ever happens in Turlock, then they haven't been to a city council meeting in a long, long time. Although Turlock can only be considered a small city or big town in population terms, it often has big city political issues.
As a record-keeper, I'm pathetic. I often can't keep track of where my checkbook is, let alone the balance in the account. The chief problem determining the balance isn't my arithmetic skills, it's that I don't enter all the checks that I write for merchants in the ledger. No wonder the amount I show I have becomes a tad different from what the bank feels I have in my account.
After living in the Valley for the past 11 years, I have finally made the journey to Bethlehem.
Although the 1980s occurred three decades ago, it seems like just yesterday I was pondering the genius of the Rubik's Cube and wearing parachute pants. While the '80s were the dawn of the personal computing and cellular phone boom, they were also the years in which a new fear was introduced into Western civilization: HIV.
The other day the forecast near my home included winds up to 50 mph. That's a strong wind, to be sure, but not something I'd write home about. One forecaster I heard, however, presented the news in a shrill voice, as if we might have to stay in the basement all day. I considered calling his station and explaining that, when I was a small child, we walked to school in winds of 50 mph (and back) without a second thought.
The frantic rush to start shopping for Christmas always catches me a bit unaware. It might be that I'm still sleeping off my turkey and tryptophan hangover on Black Friday each year, but even on the best of days I am in no hurry to battle crowds of sleep-deprived deal hounds.
It is that time of year again; a time to count your blessings and give thanks. Many of you might read that and say "Give thanks? What for?" I understand why giving thanks may be a little bit harder this year.
As everyone who watches the evening news knows, in the western United States wildfires and forest fires are common enough in the late summer. Young people work diligently on fire-crews here in the West, fighting one of nature's great forces. Out-of-control blazes in our National Forests are all but an annual event, with only the number and intensity of the fires varying from year to year.
When I came into work on Thursday at the Turlock Journal, I was surprised to hear that there had been a protest at California State University, Stanislaus that morning. I had spent the last three hours in class at Stanislaus and I hadn't heard a word about it. I took a look at photos and a cutline by Meagan Martens, and found that a group of about 30 students had organized a morning march to the president's office. That's pretty out of character for CSU Stanislaus.
While today's criminal justice system can, at times, seem to favor the guilty and punish the innocent, all one needs to do to get the proper perspective is read the history page published every Saturday in the Journal.
My 84-year old mother bent over the cookbook one day recently and read aloud to me as I wolfed down a chicken sandwich I'd made at lunchtime. The reading was a lesson in how to make a traditional - and very fine as it turned out - pork roast.
I'll be the first to admit that I do my best to avoid national news, despite being absolutely fascinated by the intricate politicking that goes on in Washington.
I am a strong believer in going to college and getting a degree. It is essential to progress in a professional career and most companies require a bachelor's degree at minimum. But with the increased tuition prices, it is making a bachelor's degree almost unattainable let alone getting a master's degree or a doctorate.
It's tough to support one's self on $8,000 a year.
College professors often think out loud.
McDonald's isn't my kind of place.
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