Zen speak

The universe is a big place - perhaps the biggest.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Gina vs. The Mountain of God

"To see once is worth more than hearing a hundred times." - African Proverb

My sister, Gina (of Kilimanjaro Marathon fame), is currently climbing a volcano that just became active (again) on July 20th. In her own words, "We figure the big things have already blown out the top so why not go check it out." Just a quiet stroll up a peaceful lava spewing rock named Ol Doinyo Lengai, aka The Mountain Of God.

To climb The Mountain of God you begin at midnight, summit by sunrise, and dine on tea and crumpets at base camp by early afternoon. All assuming a car sized hunk of molten rock doesn't render you into a gaseous state...

If you think this is beginning to sound like the lead-in to a Darwin Award, then I'm right with you.

Hakuna matata, Gina. May the mountain go easy on you.

Vitamin D & Breast Cancer

Sunshine helps in the fight against breast cancer

"Findings from this study suggest that higher intakes of calcium and vitamin D may be associated with a lower risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer,” the authors concluded."

Governor Goodhair's veto

Below is an editorial letter dad wrote on the topic of Governor Perry's veto of state funding for community college health insurance. It has been published in fifteen newspapers across the state.

*****

Gov. Rick Perry has finally responded to widespread and harsh public criticism of his veto of $154 million for Community College employee group health insurance.

The governor wants everyone to believe he is just following state law, but he is not. By state law all colleges must pay the coverage for their employees under the State of Texas insurance program. The facts show that Gov. Perry has not been a supporter of Texas’ 50 community colleges.

Under Perry, state funding dropped to 31.1 percent of the budget of community colleges in 2005 versus the 65.4 percent funded in 1985. These institutions have attempted to continue to accomplish their educational and job training objectives despite these huge cuts in state financing. Now, Perry continues to hack away at our future by cutting back funding of community college employee health insurance. To its credit, the Legislature did not support his position, but Perry vetoed the funding anyway.

The governor calls community colleges the “backbone of our higher education system in Texas” and says that he supports “increased funding for community colleges.” But his actions undermine the very foundation of economic growth and job creation in Texas. Gov. Perry is forcing college boards to find funds to replace those lost due this veto through potentially difficult and unpopular measures of raising property taxes, increasing tuition and fees and/or reducing academic and job training programs. His veto is a below-the-belt blow to higher education in Texas, and will directly affect the one million Texas students annually enrolled in our state’s 50 community colleges and indirectly affect Texas employers who rely on community colleges for a future workers or on-the-job training of their current workforce. His veto will affect every Texan in some manner.

Perry appears oblivious to the fact that if he seeks another term as governor or another office, he will have to face the voters in Texas again. He has ignored thousands of letters, e-mails and newspaper editorials protesting his actions.

Thus, his legacy will be a shameful reduction of affordable higher education and job training. Because of him, Texas will continue to fall behind more enlightened states who promote education as a keystone to economic development.

All over Texas, community college boards of trustees face the difficult task of determining how to fund the $154 million shortfall caused by a stroke of Perry’s veto pen. Budgets must be finished and approved by Sept. 1.

As one such trustee, I humbly ask the citizens of Texas to help and support your elected community college trustees in this agonizing task as we strive to continue providing affordable education to anyone who needs and wants it.

We realize this is the duty we were elected to fulfill. I only wish that the Governor of Texas understood this duty as well.

Sid Greer
Member, Board of Trustees
Northeast Texas Community College
Daingerfield

*****

Links to letter in Tyler, Amarillo, and Galveston newspapers.

If you agree that this veto will negatively impact (i.e. screw!) higher education in Texas then please contact your Texas Representative or Senator and tell them so.