On February 2015

February is named after Latin term februum, meaning purification

February, along with January, were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar

February is the month limited to 28 days during common years, yet 29 during leap years – but all months have a 28th day

February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years, and on the same day of the week as August in leap years

February ends on the same day of the week as October every year and on the same day of the week as January in common years only

During leap years, February is the only month that ends on the same weekday it begins

February, the Northern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of August in the Southern Hemisphere

February is the only month than can pass without a single full moon – but not this year.
Full Moon 3rd 6:09 pm (Eastern US); New Moon 18th 6:47 pm (Eastern US)

February symbols

  • Birth flowers: Violet and the common primrose
  • Birthstone: Amethyst symbolizing piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity
  • Zodiac Signs: Aquarius (until February 19) and Pisces (after February 20)

February is a month for national celebrations in Dominican Republic, Estonia, Kuwait, Serbia, and Sri Lanka

Movies with February in the title include Summer in February (2013) and The Curse of February 29th (2006); plus documentaries Black February (2012) and February One (2009)

February is for promoting African-American History, pulling your sofa off the wall, returning carts to the supermarket, dog training education, a healthy heart, jobs in golf, feeding birds, indoor air care, therapeutic recreation, mending a broken heart, time management, responsible pet owners, wise health care, and youth leadership

February is for celebrating the Cricket World Cup, women inventors, library lovers, parental leadership, weddings, my birthday, spunky old broads, and Black History

February is for increase awareness in AMD/low vision, hoof care, prenatal infection protection, Marfan Syndrome, marijuana, children’s dental health, pet dental health, spay & neutering, and teen dating violence

February is for appreciating expecting success, barley, grapefruits, Florida strawberries, cherries, sweet potatoes, hot breakfasts, canned food, snacks, pies, and potatoes

February is for embracing blah-busting, adopting a rescued rabbit, my birthday, baking for a family, beating the heat (in the southern hemisphere), loving buses, condoms, laugh friendly, and relationship wellness

Are any days in February special to you? Which songs do you enjoy?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 249

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Although reporters love to ask Sarah Palin (R-AK) if she’ll seek the presidency in 2016, I declare that Nincompoop will not run because doing so would ruin her diminishing brand. Besides, her recent speech in Iowa even caused conservative media pundit Sean Hannity scratched his head. Then again, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stated, She’do great. She predictably blamed the lame-stream media for pre-planning any criticism of her speech. Good night Nincompoop, turn out the lights as the party is over.

Given the topic, I expected yesterday’s post about Congress’s operating budget wouldn’t get much traction … then again, my purpose was to increase awareness.

Here are two outstanding interactives

Earlier this week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, yet the reports of this human embarrassment remain chilling. As the survivors dwindle in number, I can only hope that humanity never forgets. Here’s a story about a survivor on his return trip this year – actually, his first.

Here’s a strong opinion about an upcoming Supreme Court ruling about housing.

If all goes as planned, Life: The Musical comes to an end. I’ll announce the final act’s theme on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

Several ideas are vying for the next musical, but time will tell the choice.

Online comments in posts and articles are in a world of their own – especially at the major publications. I like the invitation to comment by Barry Ritholz.

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forego all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

Sunday is Super Bowl XLIX. Did you know that next year will be the first Super Bowl using standard numbers?

No Saturday Morning Cartoon or Explore post this weekend. Given a new month lies ahead, Saturday’s post is dedicated to February. After all, given only 28 days in the month, time is valuable.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their blizzard survival tips and a list of the least inspiring biographical movies.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Family lets cars come inside during snowstorm
Nation’s historians warn the past is expanding at alarming rate
Man’s area code provides exciting glimpse at past life
Postal Service unveils new stamp honoring Americans who still use Postal Service
Republicans address income inequality with middle class hot stock tip
Study links negative Tweets to more heart disease

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Inane Answering Message Day, Yodel for Your Neighbors Day, Escape Day, Jazz Day, Snagglepuss Day (a Saturday honoree), Fun at Work Day, Croissant Day, Pre-School Fitness Day
  • (Sat) Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, Seed Swap Day, Backwards Day, Hell is Freezing Over Day, Brandy Alexander Day, Street Children Day, Child Labor Day, Appreciate Your Social Security Check Day
  • (Sun) Working Naked Day, Serpent Day, Spunky Old Broads Day, Popcorn Day, Rare Disease Day, Car Insurance Day, Change Your Passwords Day, Decorating with Candy Day, Baked Alaska Day, Hula in the Coola Day, Women’s Heart Day, Freedom from Slavery Day, G.I. Joe Day, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Day, Skippy Peanut Butter Day, Girls & Women in Sports Day, Face & Body Art Day, Robinson Crusoe Day, Super Bowl XLIX

To send you into the weekend, here’s a classic from a classic artist who needs no introduction. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Congressional Budget

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The 114th US Congress (435 Representatives and 100 Senators) is now in session. With Republicans controlling both chambers, it will be interesting to see how their relationship with a Democratic president unfolds.

Republicans love to champion a decrease in spending – of course, they do so while protecting their sacred cows and attacking the Democratic sacred cows. To me, one way the Republicans can legitimize decreased spending and promote their smaller government mantra (plus gain favor with the public) is by significant decreasing funding of their own operation – the budget for operating Congress. (I know, fat chance of that.)

For those that don’t know, the cost of operating Congress is about $1.7 billion per year. In the chart below, I examine salaries, staffing, and office expenses for each office and the Congressional committees.

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

The savings represent over $54,000,000. On the other hand, it’s only 3% of the Congressional operating budget. Nonetheless, it’s a start, which means there is more room to cut even more.

Hey Congress, when you are done looking at yourself, reforming the procurement process can deliver mega-savings – but I know, you won’t do that either. OK – back to your sacred cows.

On Satire Bits: Vol. 122

The nor’easter storm pounded the New England coast this week. Although Lame in NYC got lucky, I’ve got the feeling Audra took the brunt. Maybe Cynthia can give us a report from Vermont. Good luck to everyone up there.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati received a dusting and cool temperatures.

In the spirit of my education series, The Onion’s archives provides this week’s Wednesday satire to spring you toward the weekend. Even though these are from the vault, the Combo Challenge is still available – so hey – make your own headline from the words in the headlines below the image. My Combo is at the end. Have a good rest of the week.

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Students thankful standardized curriculum sparing them from free-spirited teacher antics

Parent urges child to invest in improv comedy education

Study: Most high school graduates woefully unprepared for high school

Instruction in Internet negates need for sex education

Education is our passport to something or other

Are tests biased against students who don’t give a shit?

Study finds college is more valuable than spending four years chained to radiator

Importance of education given valuable lip service

Dept of Education study reveals Seniors Rule

Parents of nasal learners demand odor-based curriculum

Progressive charter school doesn’t have students

Report: Chinese third graders falling behind US high school students in science and math

My Combo: Progressive charter school students who don’t give a shit urge woefully unprepared parents to invest in free-spirited improv sex education curriculum 

On Views of Education: Vol. 2 – Change

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As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. A person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

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Today’s Topic: Educational Change
1) Change is a journey, not a blueprint. Change is loaded with uncertainty, difficulties, and excitement. Change is hard and it takes a lot of time and energy. In the difficult times of change, three keys are necessary to keep the process moving toward the vision: the presence of a vision, support, and encouragement. Because education reacts to immediate needs, it has a long tradition of short sidedness, education lacks the long-term commitment that is necessary to implement change. So let’s embrace following further behind society.

2) I’m not pro-teacher, not pro-student, not pro-community, and for God’s sake not pro-administrator … but I am pro-outcomes and pro-processes that leads to benefits for the students and society. Thus the mismatch: producing an early 20th century product for a 21st century world.

3) Change is difficult. Some will refuse to travel the journey, yet others will reverse course along the way, which also means some will not survive – yet the strongest, the committed will arrive to establish a new way.

4) The body of knowledge continues to grow, but school processes remain relatively unchanged.

5) Society’s It-Was-Good-Enough-For-Me Club will prevent change from occurring, so pseudo-reform will occur to create an illusion of change rather than change itself.

6) At best, reform has simply been a “tinkering” of the old system; whereas restructuring involves overhauling the existing system to establish a new operating structure.

7) Given the amount of change needed, the educational system would be best served by shutting down for a year to reorganize and retool.

8) Change is more than a determining if we are going to have a Homeroom period or not. After all, the best reason for not having one is to put it back in place down the road.

Previous posts in the series

Reform