CVIndependent

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Know Your Neighbors

20 Nov 2013
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Higher-education degrees are increasingly based on what you can do rather than how long you sit in a classroom, so it is pertinent to ask how technology is affecting K-12 education. A recent symposium, “Literacy Summit 4,” held at Cal State San Bernardino’s Palm Desert campus, brought together four teachers showcasing their efforts to incorporate computer-based learning into their lesson plans. The east valley’s Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) has made the news based on its ambitious goal of providing 18,000 iPads to its students. Katherine Quintana, who teaches at Coral Mountain Academy in Coachella, has already begun using the iPads under the CVUSD pilot program. Quintana has co-produced a short video documenting the project’s use by 120 teachers in CVUSD classrooms. “The capabilities are endless,” says Quintana. “Students are empowered to find their own answers to questions. It’s instantaneous, spontaneous and exciting—a change-based learning model that supports critical-thinking…
08 Nov 2013
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After hearing the lamentable Rush Limbaugh refer to the “chickification of America,” because NFL football players wore pink to support breast cancer research (men have breasts too, you know, and also get cancer), I was fuming and determined to write about my anger and frustration. In spite of that initial impulse, here’s what I’m NOT writing about today: • October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As someone who was once in an abusive relationship (and if it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone, men included), I’m NOT writing about how important it is that society recognize the reality of how difficult it is to leave and to stay alive. I’m NOT writing about how 44 percent of all women murdered with guns in the U.S. are killed by a current or former intimate partner. • More than 135,000 women became extremely poor in 2012—not just poor, but…
23 Oct 2013
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I’m always fascinated by people who find ways to change their lives and pursue their dreams. Leanna Bonamici, 58, of Palm Springs, is a great example of such a person. After a career in insurance and real estate, Leanna became a wine consultant, buyer and educator, teaching classes on how to have “wine-pairing dinners.” “It was a very engaging subject,” she says. “I loved it. People would say, ‘I have to impress my boss.’ I always told them that the best bottle of wine in the world is the one that’s your favorite! “But after 10 years, I wanted to do more. I was interested in how to reach the masses of people who aren’t really into wine.” Growing up in Los Angeles, Leanna had wanted to be a producer—organizing projects and seeing them come to fruition. “I wanted to be behind the scenes. For years, I carried around the…
09 Oct 2013
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Embarrassing confession: I’m writing a book. I’ve been working on it for years. After bothering neighbors who have successfully been published, I’ve now discovered that there are two sides to the story (no pun intended): the writing side—inspiration, ability, dedication, discipline; and the business side—publishers, distribution, reviews, press. First, the business side. With self-publishing, one generally pays a fee up front and gets limited assistance; as orders come in, books are printed to fill those purchases. The writer gets a percentage of total sales, but can also purchase books at a reduced cost and sell them on his or her own at book-signings or via websites. The publishing companies may perform other services for additional fees. Self-publishing—including eBooks—is now so prevalent that it is no longer considered “lesser” in a world where big publishers no longer control the game. For Dessa Reed, a Palm Springs poet, getting published put her…
25 Sep 2013
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We like to group things: a covey of quail, a flock of ducks, a flight of swans, a pack of wolves. I spent last week attending two very different events where neighbors come in groups. First, I had lunch with the Democratic Women of the Desert (DWD) to hear a discussion about the current and future state of Medicare. The program, on Sunday, Sept. 15, featured our local congressman, Dr. Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician who has been instrumental in providing health-clinic services in places ranging from Haiti to our own local poor communities; and Dr. Jeffrey E. Kaufman, an Orange County urologist who also teaches at the University of California at Irvine and has participated on the California Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee since 1997. A streak of tigers. Later in the week, on Thursday, Sept. 19, I attended an evening meeting of the Palm Springs chapter of Republican…
11 Sep 2013
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I’m having a bad hair life. Not just a bad hair day … a whole lifetime! I was born with stringy, straight, thin (and ever-thinning), blonde (well, at least I got something right!) hair. To perm or not to perm? Short or long? Cut or grow? Color, highlight or go natural? Wig or no wig? Thank God for good hairdressers! And when you go to a salon, doesn’t the hair of the person doing your hair make a difference? My new role model in life is Cindy Melchor, 53, of La Quinta. Cindy received a high school equivalency degree at 16. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew I didn’t want to go to school. I had been a model once for a neighbor who was in beauty school, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ It looked like something that would get me out of school.” She…
28 Aug 2013
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Government workers! Political appointees! Those people—and we love to trash them. Elected officials, whether at the local, county or state level, need professional staff to help them represent us, the people who elected them. Political staff are literally public-service employees: They represent an elected official by serving the public. Recent studies indicate that public-employee salaries, with benefits included, may lag a bit behind the salaries of private-sector workers. The average annual salary for a political staff job is $59,000, near the mean that defines “middle class.” When economic times are tough, and politicians want to score points, we hear lots of calls for “those people” to lose their jobs—implying that we don’t need them. But who are “those people,” and what exactly do they do? Pat Cooper, born in Blythe and currently living in Indio, did not grow up in a political household. She became issue-oriented when she joined the…
14 Aug 2013
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The Coachella Valley has always had a love affair with the performing arts, reflected in street names like Sinatra, Shore, and Hope. Admit it: We’re star struck! With the new Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School, and the emphasis by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership on developing a thriving local arts community as an economic driver, the goal is to attract and keep talented people here. We have neighbors whose names you might not know, but they’ve been blessed with outstanding training, experience and vision. Daniela Ryan, 47, of Palm Desert, is one such example. Married, with two children, 9 and 11, she recently stepped back from her leadership position at Dezart Performs, the company she started seven years ago, to focus on raising her children. “I actually put an ad on Craigslist three years after coming to the Coachella Valley when my husband got a job here,…
31 Jul 2013
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There are some things we don’t readily share with friends and neighbors—like having paid one’s way through college by dancing around a pole. Or that romance with the golf pro. Or the nip/tuck during a “vacation” last summer. Or that my grandmother once performed an abortion on herself using knitting needles. With restrictions increasing on the rights granted by Roe v. Wade, women are being encouraged to talk about their experiences so that young women know what it was like—and what it could be like again. It wasn’t until 1960 that “the pill” was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for contraceptive use. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a state law that prohibited the use of contraceptives, because the law violated the “right to marital privacy.” Prior to that, even married women could not get doctors to prescribe contraception. And if you were single? Forget about it.…
17 Jul 2013
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What do you do with all the “stuff” that’s left after someone you love has died? As someone currently mired in combing through my late husband’s disorganized-pack-rat accumulation three years after his death, I’m plagued by the question. So I decided to talk to some of the women I know who have been through it. Esther Crayton, who will turn 79 on July 27 and lives in Palm Desert, is one of the many Coachella Valley widows who has faced that issue. First married at 17 just before high school graduation, Esther had the first of two sons about a year later, and remained in that first marriage for “about seven or eight years—it’s hard now to remember the exact dates.” Why the divorce? “He said we had to move to Mexico, and I decided I’d rather end the marriage.” Subsequent to that divorce, her children’s father “took the kids…

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