Education: Key To The Survival Of Our Society

Not hyperbole. Fact.

Education is key to the survival of our society.

Education's purpose is to replace a closed mind with an open one.

The education of our citizens is the most effective way to be certain that we all understand our place in global humanity and appreciate the world around us.

A well-rounded education is worth the investment.

Art and music help us appreciate the beauty around us and allow us alternative ways to express ourselves.

Studying spelling and grammar ensure that we will be taken more seriously when we present our opinions on matters in a clear and concise way.

World Religions class gives us insight into beliefs that are different from our own. This insight shows us that we are more alike than we are different. The highest goal is to be a good person and to be kind to others.

English class has us reading and reading and reading some more. Through books, we are exposed to new words, new ideas and new horizons.

Writing term papers teaches us how to research issues. We learn how to find sources and, more importantly, how to vet sources. What can we believe? What are the facts and what is embellished opinion?

Consumer Education and Life Skills classes teach us what we need to know to responsibly handle such real-life necessities as banking, mortgages, home buying, credit cards, insurance and all the other matters that are part of a grown-up’s life.

Math – think you don’t really need it? We should be thankful that some folks study math so that our buildings and bridges don’t fall down around us, the recipes we make turn out reasonably well and we can send spacecraft into the galaxy to study universe beyond our little planet. Just to name a few…

Science teaches us about the important balance between our actions and our environment and how our carelessness can threaten that balance.

Social Studies isn’t just learning about the currency and exports of countries around the world. It’s learning about what makes different societies tick. What are their people like? What is their place in the world economy? With knowledge comes understanding.

Geography helps us study the relationships between countries. Some neighbors get along, some don’t. It lets us know, quite literally, where we exist in relation to the rest of the world.

World History informs us about the development of nations around the world. We learn about their challenges and triumphs, their mistakes and the impact those mistakes have had on mankind, the ways in which their society has progressed and the warning signs that signal trouble.

Studying World History also highlights that education is something which has not been afforded to the people of all societies. Sadly, many countries still censor or simply don’t allow their citizens to be educated.

The right to an education is something we should never take for granted.

U.S. History tells the story of the birth and growth of our country. We learn about the fierce struggle for our independence and how our Founding Fathers created this beautiful republic out of nothing but the sheer will to have self-determination and be free from tyrants.

An education in U.S. History makes sure that we don’t forget our darkest period when a civil war – brother fighting against brother – threatened to destroy us.

We learn about the other wars in which brave men and women have fought to protect and defend our lives, our land, our freedom. And we accept the shame that these soldiers have not always been duly appreciated for their service.

It reminds us that, time and time again, courageous citizens have stepped up to risk their lives to right the societal wrongs of racism, sexism, xenophobia, religious discrimination, homophobia, and intolerance in any form.

It forces us to face the reality that it has taken us a very long time to begin to live up to the ideal upon which our country was built: that all men (and women) are created equal. We still have plenty of work to do on that.

We are not a perfect union but we need only remember that, for centuries, America has been seen as the land of opportunity and, most of all, freedom. Millions long to be citizens of our country for the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The study of U.S. Government teaches us intricacies of our republic – how we are governed, how laws are made, how the separation of powers guards against the tyranny of rogue leaders. Our system as spelled out in the Constitution has stood the test of time. While it doesn’t often run smoothly, its design encourages and even depends upon cooperation, conciliation and a desire to achieve the greater good.

Perhaps one of the most important things we learn from the study of U.S. Government is the importance of every individual in determining the course of progress for our country. Our right to vote is a privilege that many around the world lack and should be one of our most cherished freedoms.

Education is key to the survival of our society because it opens our minds and encourages us to understand our responsibilities as citizens of the world.

Above all, it reminds us how incredibly lucky we are to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thanks for stopping by,
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Chicago Cubs Are World Champions…Finally

With a hard fought 8-7 victory in game 7, the Chicago Cubs are World Champions! The Cubs Clause has been activated.

Chicago Cubs World Champions

Thanks for stopping by,
Mo photo signature_zps14e6c366.png

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Chimney Rock Winery In Napa Valley

Chimney Rock Winery is my very favorite Napa winery.

Chimney Rock Winery

Not only do they produce an array of delicious wines (reds including single-vineyard and estate Cabernet Sauvignons and a few white wines thrown in for good measure) but their dedication to providing a top-notch experience for their visitors and customers is second to none.

Chimney Rock was one of the very first wineries we discovered on our inaugural trip to Napa. We have been wine club members for years and have returned for a visit every time we are in the Valley. It’s a sentimental favorite having celebrated anniversaries and the 21st birthday of our daughter, Annie and her friend Hope there.

Last year, our visit to Chimney Rock saved the day after a disastrous experience at another Napa winery with whom we had also had a long relationship.

After feeling most unwelcome at the prior stop, we were greeted at Chimney Rock Winery by this:

Chimney Rock welcome

It was this fabulous hospitality, combined with incredible wines, that gave our friend Ellen the idea to plan a surprise birthday party for her husband John at Chimney Rock Winery during our recent group trip to Napa.

If he had an inkling of what was going on, John certainly didn’t show it. But he may have gotten a little suspicious when our mini-bus pulled into the Chimney Rock parking area and there was not another vehicle to be seen.

We were greeted at the door and ushered onto the lovely patio for a glass of Sauvignon Gris (a cousin aka genetic modification of Sauvignon Blanc).  Bright and refreshing, the perfect wine to kick off our evening.

As we enjoyed the wine we strolled past the vineyards taking in the lovely weather and spectacular views.

We returned to the patio for yummy appetizers and a glass of Elevage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. This beautiful red blend highlights all that is good about the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.

Fun fact: The Stags Leap District was the first spot designated as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) because of the distinctiveness of the soil which carries through to the wine grown on the land.

Next, we moved into the barrel room, decorated with a simple yet elegant look for our private party.

Chimney Rock Winery Barrel Room

Our first course was brilliantly paired with the Elevage Blanc, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and its close relative (aka genetic mutation) Sauvignon Gris. This white wine blend is perfect for those of us who are looking for an alternative to Chardonnay.

This wine thrives in the shadowlands that exist between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The light will seem brighter, the food will taste better, and the wine will elevate it all.        ~Chimney Rock website

Yes! Yes! And yes!

A talented guitar player entertained us with pleasing background music as we enjoyed our delicious dinner.

Chimney Rock Winery private dinner menu

The main course – paprika rubbed filet of beef – was paired with, what else, the spectacular Ganymede Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. From the oldest vines on the property, this is one of the flagship wines of Chimney Rock Winery.

It exemplifies the balance of power and grace that is so revered and expected of Chimney Rock wines.         ~Chimney Rock website

I couldn’t agree more.

The Chimney Rock Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon was served with dessert (and for the rest of the night!).

Throughout the evening we reminisced about the past, revisited the stories of our 40-year friendship, and raised many glasses to toast the blessings in our lives and to toast those who weren’t able to join us but were there in spirit.

But most of all, we celebrated our dear friend, John, and the very special place he occupies in our hearts.

Let me tell you, this guy is the kindest, most generous and devoted friend one could ever have. It is no wonder that, when his wife, Ellen, floated the idea of a surprise birthday celebration in Napa we all enthusiastically said YES!!!

Treasured friends, gorgeous setting, outstanding food, and extraordinary wine.

It was a magical night – one we will never forget!

Chimney Rock Winery barrel

(A special shout-out to Ellen for hosting this memorable evening and to the Chimney Rock Winery Special Events Manager, Lorena Romero, for creating such a beautiful celebration of our very dear friend.)

Thanks for stopping by,
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Traditions And Prognostications – The McLuxies

I love traditions.

As some of you know, among our family’s traditions, my very favorite is

The McLuxies

Way back in 1992, our pal, Ellie, came up with the idea of a prognostication competition in which we would predict the outcome of a series of events during the year and whoever had the highest number of correct predictions at the end of the year would be declared the winner.

the first McLuxies

The very first McLuxies. The notation in the corner says “at Lux’s 1/1/92”.

As you can see on this very low-tech scoresheet, that first year we predicted only 4 categories: Super Bowl, World Series, Presidential election (ironically, the other “Clinton” was running that year) and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Every year since 1992, Ellie and her husband, Archie, Peter and I, and our two children have made predictions and kept score. Along the way, our children have gotten married and their spouses joined in on the competition.

Like all good traditions, this one needed a name. Ellie, creating a mash-up of our surnames, coined the moniker “McLuxies”.

We even have hats.

McLuxies Hat

For many years the winner got nothing more that a feeling of moral and intellectually superiority.

Now we have a trophy.

McLuxies Champion

Please note the plaque on the front bearing our motto:

“Peritia, Fortuna, et Conjectura Temere”

Loosely translated: “Expertise, Luck, and Random Guesses”.

As we’ve gone along, our list of predictions has grown. We have permanently added:

  • NCAA Football Champions
  • NCAA Women’s and Men’s Basketball Champions
  • Master’s Golf Tournament Winner
  • Stanley Cup Champion
  • NBA Champion
  • Wimbledon Winner – Women’s and Men’s
  • Best TV Drama
  • Best TV Comedy
  • World Series Winner
  • People’s Sexiest Man Alive
  • Time Person of the Year

Heavy on sports and pop culture; light on anything really meaningful.

Over the years, however, the McLuxies have been a way to chronicle important, historic or iconic events.

In addition to the list of permanent categories, we have made random guesses about things like:

  • Gender of the Royal baby (more than once)
  • The O.J. Simpson verdict
  • The Clinton impeachment
  • Will Microsoft be in one piece? (I guess that was something about a monopoly???)
  • Major League Baseball teams to be eliminated
  • Combined weight of our twin grandsons, Chip and Dale at their final doctor’s appointment of the year
  • Dow Jones year ending number
  • What college will Malia Obama choose?
  • Number of Supreme Court vacancies at the end of the year
  • Post-election party in control of the House of Representatives
  • Married or not at the end of the year: Tom/Katie, Brad/Angelina, Britney/Kevin, Ben/Jen
  • “Number of countries that will have indicated their intent to withdraw the Euro as their official currency by year-end” (Nerd alert… Although you probably thought that the nerd ship sailed with the “number of Supreme Court vacancies” or “post-election party in control” questions.)

In Olympic, election and World Cup soccer years those are added to the list.

In 2012 we predicted whether the Mayan calendar was right or wrong.

“Will the world come to an end this year?” Spoiler alert: the correct prediction was “no”.

2016 McLuxies

Thanks to Annie our tradition has gone high-tech with our McLuxies google doc.

The 2016 McLuxies have some interesting aspects to them.

For years and years and years, we have had what we call “The Cubs Clause”.

The Cubs Clause states that if a person picks the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series and they actually do, that person automatically wins the McLuxies championship for the year. Game, set, match.

The Cubs Clause was created so that sentimental schmucks like me wouldn’t feel so bad about throwing away a point predicting a Cubs victory year after year after year.

Well, you might know that this year the curse has ended – the goat is gone – the Cubs are in the World Series.

We still have a long way to go but if by some wild chance, the Cubs pull this off and actually WIN the World Series, The Cubs Clause will kick in.

And, the six of us who predicted a Cubs victory will share the McLuxies trophy.

Go Cubs Go

Given that all predictions are locked in place during the first week of January, it’s quite remarkable that Jerry foresaw the Trump vs Clinton presidential matchup.

The Time Person of the Year is generally close to impossible to predict. But, this year six of us have guessed that, if she is elected as the first woman President in U.S. History, Hillary Clinton should find herself on the cover of Time Magazine.

Keeping in mind that Time Person of the Year is someone who has had the biggest impact on society – good or bad (past recipients include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin(twice), Ayatollah Khomeini and Vladimir Putin), other strong contenders would be Donald Trump (son-in-law Jerry’s prediction) or Julian Assange/WikiLeaks.

My first choice would be, of course, that the Cubs emerge victorious and Time Person(s) of the Year are Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon.

But what do I know? It’s all just a bunch of conjectura temere, right?

“Who I Am” is a writing project hosted by Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

Each month we are given a prompt regarding some aspect of our life. The goal is, at the end of the year, to have twelve chapters in the book titled Who I Am.

This month, Chapter 10, the theme is Traditions.

Thanks for stopping by,
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