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.
Last week, the California Legislature passed a water package that many lawmakers are lauding as the solution to our state's problems. What this dysfunctional legislature really passed is three more layers of unneeded bureaucracy along with a bond that will not create a drop of water for at least 15 years - if at all.
Turlock voters made a statement on Tuesday: They want change.
The countdown has begun. There are only 51 days until Christmas.
I like to think of Turlock as a caring community.
I, along with many of my co-workers, took time out of the busy workday on Thursday to watch a giant helium balloon float over the Colorado countryside while it was chased by a plethora of emergency vehicles.
This year is the 400th birthday of science and engineering. It's an occasion worth noting and giving thanks for because each day those twin disciplines improve the lives of billions of people around the world. (Beyond that, science and engineering are awfully fun, so their total effect is sort of like combining doing good all around the planet with the pure joys of playing chess.)
Democracy is a great thing. A government by the people, for the people sure beats a system that caters to a dictator or a royal family. But like many good and wonderful things in this world, democracy must be nurtured, watched over and protected by everyone involved in order to maintain its greatness.
It costs taxpayers 1.83 cents to mint a penny.
Where's the outrage?
Next week is Thanksgiving, my second favorite holiday after Christmas. It is a time when we reflect on the many blessings we enjoy. I have been here almost one year, and I have noticed many great qualities of our Stanislaus communities. I would like to express my thanks for those qualities, and what they have meant to me and my family.
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