Sunday, January 28, 2007


The saddest acronym in Education is DNQ – Does Not Qualify.

The TAKS test lurks around the corner so testing is going on at warp speed in the hopes of diagnosing learning disabilities. I’m not a special education teacher so I don’t know the official definition but basically it’s assigned to children who have a gap between their IQ and their school performance.

The child can have dyslexia, a processing problem, ADD, ADAH, emotional problems, poor hearing, autism – any of the alphabet soup of learning disorders.
Once diagnosed they qualify for special education, Resource, and modifications.
They can have the test read to them, take it a small group situation, take a special TAKS type test or take one for a lower grade level. These kids are expected to pass A Test but it isn’t necessarily THE TEST.

It’s devastating for many parents when their child is diagnosed and many refuse to accept it and insist, at least for a time that their child is “fine”. Some on the other hand are delighted since there are government subsidies for some of these kids – known on the street as “The Crazy Money”.
However, they feel, sooner or later the parents usually come round the child starts getting the services they need.

No so the DNQ kids. DNQ means a child is learning at the best of their capability, they just aren’t capable of learning very much or learning it quickly. An IQ of 70 or below indicates mental retardation (or mentally challenged in today’s PC parlance), an IQ of 71 means that learning is long and difficult process.

Yet, this child with the 71 IQ is expected to pass the very same test that a child with an IQ of 100 or 110 or 120 is expected to take. And this DNQ child is expected to get the same score, or at least produce a 90% passing rate.

It’s not fair to the child who must spend every hour of school in special tutoring try to grasp what comes to easily to his or her classmates. It isn’t fair to the parents who are pulled in for conference after conference and given dire warnings about what will happen to their child should he not pass. And it’s not fair to the teachers who will be held accountable.

Every politician should be required to prove mastery of the concept of the Bell Curve before being allowed to file election papers.

Monday, January 22, 2007

House O' Cookbooks

The ad on was enough to make any bookseller salivate:
50,000 COOKBOOKS!!!
Collection from a gourmet chef east of Houston Texas who filled her home with approximately 50,000 cookbooks
Dali Cookbook
Some 1800's
Many early 1900's including church and Jr. League
Later 1920's to present Jr. League, church, hospital etc.
Lady traveled - All regions of the country are well represented.
Pepin, Child, Claiborne, Beard, Rombauer
Many country cookbooks
Something for everyone
Priced just like a Friends of the Library sale

I called made an appointment and headed toward east toward Baytown – home of the refineries and oil processing plants. I pulled up to a very ordinary brick 3 bedroom tract house, built in the 1960s with small rooms and low ceilings. House consisted of a living room, with dining room off the living room, which opened into the kitchen, family room across the back and 3 small bedrooms. The house was almost devoid of furniture – a shabby couch, an enormous big screen TV, dining room table and chairs and an off limits bedroom. And of course bookshelves.

There were a lot of books. A whole lot of books. A whole, whole, whole lot of books. There aren't enough adjectives in the English language to describe how many books there were.

The collection was a combination of a labor of love and an out of control case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder crossed with Hoarders Disease gone wild. Many, many, many reaching to the ceiling bookcases most of which were the grey metal steel shelving variety used in garages . The carpet was gone and the shelves stood on the bare slab - which had cracked under the weight of the books. They lined the walls and made paths through in the middle of the rooms - the aisles were barely wide enough for one person. The rooms looked like mouse mazes (complete with mouse droppings). The books were double and triple stacked. It was an archaeological excavation of books.

After an hour or two, I wasn’t to sure about the “Gourmet Cook” tag. The owner loved Southern Living, Betters Homes and Gardens, Cookbook book clubs and Readers Digest. Every cookbook published by those folks was there. In triplicate. Or quadruplicate. Or quintuplicate. Or who knows how many triplicate. I stumbled across 5 copies of 1 book - in 5 different places. Many of the books were still in their shrink wrap and had never been opened. There were books, phamplets, card sets, community cookbooks, here a cookbook, there a cookbook, everywhere a cookbook.

There is no way to look for books in a systematic manner. I decided if I was meant to find it I was meant to find it and just sort of wandered around pulling off titles that looked promising.

The gentleman running the sale said the owner was “encouraged” to move to an assisted living facility. I told him I'd like to come back in a couple of weeks when the first layer was gone so that I could have a look at the second layer. And that still leaves the third layer!

Oddly, the kitchen was rather small and the appliances were outdated. There were none of the accessories of a serious cook – no knife sets, no Kitchen Aide Mixer, no Pasta Maker. I think the lady was so busy collecting that she never had time to cook!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

13 Ways to While Away an Ice Day

Schools across the Houston area never opened up on Wednesday due to freakish ice storm. This only happens once per decade so I figure I need to take advantage of the opportunity. Who knows what form blogging will take by the time the next ice storm rolls around.

1. Go back to bed!

2. Read the paper while leisurely sipping a cup of coffee – as opposed to spilled coffee on
my white shirt as I navigate morning traffic. I am such a klutz.

3. in a Black & White Film Festival.
The Heiress (the Olivia DeHaviland version),
All About Eve (after all, Houston had a bumpy night), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
(Vivian Leigh).

4. Munch away on Pad Thai for lunch at my favorite Tai place. Getting there required no
slipping & sliding up the overpasses. Better yet, it’s a weekday so I could take advantage
of the lunch special prices.

5. Finally finish folding the laundry. I hate, detest and loathe folding sheets.

6. Snuggle with the kitties and a good book (still reading The Boleyn Legacy)

7. Write
E-bay book descriptions for the box of books that’s been sitting on the pool table
for entirely to long. How fortuitous of E-bay to schedule a 20cents listing day tomorrow.

8. Pack up every book that needs mailing. Murphy’s Law being what it is, no sooner do
I finish packing than I get another order. It’s money in the account so who’s complaining?

9. Light a fire in the fireplace. Watch the cats watch the fire.

10. Sip a large cup of hot chocolate – the real kind, made with milk and topped with a dollop
of whipped cream.

11. File books away in their proper boxes in the hopes that I can find them when they sell.

12. Delete the deadwood from
E-Bay inventory. Freecycle it and make
a couple of other people very happy.

13. Hope for another icy night!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snapshot - Visual

Here's the Visual Snapshot. From left to right, My Beloved, Me, Christine (the older, by 1 minute twin) Katherine's SO and Katherine (the younger by 1 minute twin).


The Besty Tacy list occasionally goes through a round of "snapshots" aka "what I'm doing right now". They provide delightful peeks into some one's life and they are fun to read and to write.

What I'm Doing
Watching Chicago & Seattle. Well, sorta watching, My Beloved is a sports fanatic. Writing my blog. Not writing my article for Bookthink. Not doing book descriptions. Watching one of my E-bay auctions that ends this evening. 12 books of Japanese Animee that are sitting at $87 right now.

What I'm Reading
The Boleyn Inheritance, the latest Phillipa Gregory historical novel. It was a Christmas present to me from me. I gave my mother a copy as a Christmas present too. At 85 she's tricky to buy for - she either had it and got rid of it, still has it or doesn't want it. However she adores Phillipa Gregory who has kindly produced a next book in both December 2005 and 2006. However she's run out of Boylens (she's killed them all) so I hope she
develops an interest in another royal line.

Cape Cod White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn (trying to give that up too), which goes perfectly with Coke. Garage sales and thrift stores. My new coupon organizer (I'm easily amused)

What I'm Wearing
Baggy grey knit shorts and an oversize t-shirt and soft slippers. What Lana is wearing: Leggings, socks, long sleeve shirt, fleece jacket and 2 blankets. Guess which one of us is having hot flashes?
Take Out from The Black Eyed Pea. Love their new Light Side Menu.

What I should be doing
Packing books. The worst part (IMHO) of selling on E-bay & Amazon. Or working on my Bookthink article.

What I want to be doing
Sleeping. Book scouting. Reading. Eating Pizza & Coke. Or Sushi. Walking on the Beach. Packing to go to Europe.

The High Point of Today?
That the L Word has started a new season. And that I don't have to get in the car and go anywhere today. And tomorrow is MLK Day and I have the day off!

Where'd The Time Go?

Aargh! I pulled up my dusty and neglected blog and discovered that I haven’t posted once in 2007. I haven’t even read anyone else’s blog. What happened?

School started up again & I went back to work. Once again book scouting, E-bay, Amazon, book packing and blogging are stuffed into the hours available between 4pm & 10pm. Oh yes, have to squeeze in grocery shopping, errand running, house tending laundry and kitty care into that time slot too.

I love my job but I’d still really like to retire so I can get off the treadmill.

My Beloved has lost weight and I sold some of her clothes on E-bay. They sold well, but I’d so much rather sell books than clothes. Books mail at one flat rate rather than priority, which the post office in its infinite wisdom varies by zip code.

Trip to College Station to meet up with my friend Maggie. Lou came along too and we trolled the thrift shops and helped Maggie dispose of her excess books at Half Price Books. And of course talked books, books, books. A good time was had by all.

Another Saturday adventure of garage & estate sailing. Nothing special turned up. I keep looking for another estate sale that will measure up to The BookMan sale but fear it is to be a once in a lifetime experience. However, I the complete optimist keep hoping.

New Year’s Resolution – try to achieve a little balance here! And why does Judy Collin's song 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes" keep playing in my head?