Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Can School Districts Really Ignore Students Who Need Help?

On Disability Scoop this morning, there was an article on school districts and their obligation to identify students with special needs under the “child find” clause of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  But this school district (in Compton, CA) was more worried about being liable for  “educational malpractice” than getting this student help. This case was about a girl who was promoted to 11th grade after testing below the 1st percentile level and who performed at less than a 4th grade level as a 10th grader. Counselors and teachers noted issues, but no one ever suggested she get evaluated.

Yes, budgets are tight; yes, there are many students who need help, but what are we educating our children for, if not to get an education and not just be shunted through school, grade after grade even though there are signs of trouble.

School District’s can’t ignore students who may need Special Ed services and then claim they had no duty to notify the parents. In this case, “[t]he School District asserts that, because it chose to ignore Addison’s disabilities and take no action, it has not affirmatively refused to act. The School District therefore contends that the notice requirement does not apply… We reject this argument.” Thankfully, the 9th Circuit rejected this argument outright. Frankly, I don’t know how that school district made that argument with a straight face – “we ignored it so we have no duty to notify the parents of an issue???” Really? If that were true, school districts would ignore every issue and claim no duty to do anything about it. THE Court went on to say, “[t]he School District’s wilful inaction in the face of numerous “red flags” is more than sufficient to demonstrate its unwillingness and refusal to evaluate Addison.”

There are many reasons the signs may be missed that a child need special ed services – but something seems off, you just can’t put your finger on it. Sometimes their performance (or lack thereof) may be attributed to behavioral issues or to something the child will grow out of. At the end of the day, we all (the parents, the child, the School Districts, and society as a whole) have a vested interest in educating every child. This case was decided on the pleadings, meaning that facts weren’t presented, that means there aren’t a lot of factual details presented.

The few facts that are mentioned in the case directly: “Addison’s mother was reluctant to have the child “looked at,” and School District officials decided not to “push.” Instead, the School District referred Addison to a third-party mental-health counselor. The third-party counselor recommended that the School District assess Addison for learning disabilities. Despite the recommendation, the School District did not refer Addison for an educational assessment, and instead promoted Addison to eleventh grade.

In September 2004, Addison’s mother wrote a letter to the School District explicitly requesting an educational assessment and Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meeting. The assessment took place on December 8, 2004. The IEP team determined that Addison was eligible for special education services on January 26, 2005.”

There are many lessons to be learned in this case — put requests in writing, find out your rights as parents (read the handbook that the school district hands you), don’t trust that school districts or school administrators know the law,  inform yourself and don’t stop asking questions about how your child is going to be helped, specifically.

What I find most fascinating in this case is that the Supreme Court is requesting the Obama administration to weigh in on the situation. I think the Supreme Court is capable enough to balance public policy needs versus what the law plainly says and requires.

If you have thoughts on this issue, please share them in the comments.

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Gimme 5 – Eating Healthy While Traveling

Today’s Gimme 5 is about Eating While Traveling. It is so hard to eat the right things while traveling. The grab and go is so easy – unhealthy carbs become your best friend while traveling. (I think we had pizza in each state as we drove across country this pasts summer.) And it is so easy to eat out all of the time and over indulge in great food while traveling!  I have worked really hard the last 15 months to lose weight and change my habits. One of the hardest things to change is how I eat while traveling.

 

Today’s tips are about the changes (like NOT ordering the burger and fries) I have made that have worked for me to keep me from gaining weight – I’m not sure it helped me lose weight, but at least I didn’t gain any! With Spring Break coming up, I wanted to share these tips for eating healthy while traveling!


  1. Plan ahead – I think this one is probably the hardest one to do on a consistent and regular basis. Think through whether there will be food where you will be while you are traveling (think plane, train, and automobiles) and where you will be going (airport, train station, or hotel). Will there be food on the plane? Will you have time to get anything before your flight or afterwards? Flying to the East Coast often means that I get in really late and often don’t have time for a regular dinner. I either have to bring something or plan to stop on the way to the place I am staying. All of this is a long-winded way of saying plan ahead.
  2. Bring Your Own – Along with the first tip of planning ahead, I usually bring food along. I don’t really like the food on the plane – no snack boxes for me thank you very much! And I never know if I will be served a meal on the flight, so I usually bring almonds, yoghurt, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs or something with protein on the plane with me. I also usually have a power bar or two stashed in my bag along with the all important DARK CHOCOLATE!
  3. Appetizers are your friend – I have changed to ordering two appetizers rather than an appetizer and an entree. I usually order a salad or soup plus one of the smaller portions of an enticing entree. This results in less food being put in front of me and therefor, less of a temptation to overeat! It is very easy to keep talking and eating and drinking! Ordering smaller amounts is a great way to lessen the impact of eating out!
  4. An Apple a Day – this really means eat fruit, not sweets. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an apple, but it does mean choose fruit. It is better to stick with fruit when it is offered or available. Usually at conferences at 2 or 3 in the afternoon there is a plethora of sweets offered along with fruit. Choose the fruit, not the cookies. I know it sucks to not choose the cookie but your body will love you for it later. Or, if you really want the cookie – be prepared to run another mile or two the next morning (or swim or whatever your exercise of choice is)!
  5. Club Soda with Lime is Your Friend – OK, mea culpa — I love to drink! I love red wine. I love cosmos and martinis. But one of the worst things to do when traveling is to try to keep up with the sales team or other colleagues on a drinking basis. I find that these guys can drink forever and I, unfortunately, cannot. So, I have learned to substitute, substitute, substitute.  Working with sales, it seems like one long drinkfest with work throuwn in occasionally. I have recently switched to water, gin & tonics, or light beers. Although red wine is still my favorite, I stick to no more than 2 glasses through out the entire evening. This is quite a change for me, but the nutritionist definitely said to watch the alcohol intake and it has made a big difference!

What has worked for you! If you have a tip for eating Healthy while traveling, please leave a comment!

To a Special Lady – Celebrating Grandma Edith’s Birthday

Today is my grandmother’s birthday – she is 89. She looks the same as she always has to me, but moves a little slower these days. I went back through many years of pictures to pull out the ones that look like she does in my head when I think of her. I have this universal youthful picture of her in my mind when I think of her. The picture I remember seeing most was a picture taken of her right after she graduated from nursing school – that’s how I remember her.

 

 

I remember her working at her desk coloring well logs for my Grandfather’s geology business. She even had the patience to teach me how to color those well logs.

 

She taught me to have love and appreciation for music. She played the cello and viola. She would trot out her stringed instruments and play them for us whenever we would ask. She always had a few about the house that we could try our hand at. I never wanted to cut my fingernails to play a string instrument so I stuck to the trombone and piano. She tolerated my playing her piano (with washed hands, of course) and teaching myself to play during the time we spent at their house in the summers.

 

She and my grandfather made me the most wonderful jewelry that I wear whenever I have the chance. I have stones of all colors. My favorites are a malachite set and the amethyst pendant shown here. This was a 70’s Halloween costume, but that hardly matters…

 

She made incredible mobiles. When I started having children, she and my grandfather made us a cat mobile which included stones that they had polished and turned into pendants. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the cats are all made from sheet metal that my grandfather cut out using templates made from wrapping paper with cat pictures.

I love that my grandmother wanted to live closer to us. My grandfather didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, even after he retired, and even though all three of their kids were in California. After he died, she moved to California and is very near us. I love having her close by and it is nice that she can know my sons (her great grandchildren). I’m not sure all of the things that I love about her will rub off on them, but I do know they like to play Qwirkle and Mah Jong with her!

Happy 89th Birthday Grandma Edith!

Tell me what you love most about your Grandmother in the comments!

Gimme 5 – Awesome Restaurants in Sedona

There are many great restaurants in Sedona and today’s Gimme 5  highlights five of my favorite ones. The restaurants vary from Mexican to Italian to the local fare. I have been to all of these restaurants several times so I have a good idea of the repeat quality, which is good at each of the restaurants covered today.

Their Grilled Cheese on Texas Toast

1. The Cowboy Club – I love the Cowboy Club, which is on 89A in uptown Sedona. It is full of locals and tourists. The popular food here is western fare. My personal favorite is the combo appetizer platter of cactus, buffalo, and rattlesnake. It was great fun to order this platter with my kids and watch them try everything! They serve a lot of food so sharing is a good idea! I have not been in the Silver Saddle Room upstairs because I have been there in large groups or we have sat outside, but it serves the same menu and is for adults. Put your favorite cowboy boots on and head on down to the Cowboy Club!

2. Rene at Tlaquepaque – this is mostly the type of restaurant that you want to go to for a special occasion dinner. I went there with about 15 people and we had a nice long dinner. The food is old school, french (continental) cuisine with a little modernity thrown in for good measure! It is located in a very nice shopping are near the intersection of Highway 179 and 89A.

3. Oaxaca Restaurant – Oaxaca features traditional Mexican food more than tex mex. It was more authentic than most Mexican restaurants. It is in uptown on 89A and features a patio with a spectacular view of the Sedona scenery. My kids loved this place. The restaurant is a little like a rabbit warren  inside with a few small rooms and various seating places along with a big room facing the patio and view. It is beautifully decorated with colorful Mexican tile. Bring a huge appetite – they serve enormous platters of  food. My favorites are the chili rellenos and huevos rancheros.

4. Cucina Rustica Dahl & di Luca – Now, these are really two restaurants – one is the original Dahl & di Luca, and their sister restaurant, Cucina Rustica is on Highway 179. I prefer Cucina Rustica, which is the newer one. It features nice, simple, very tasty, traditional, Italian dishes. I have never had a meal here that wasn’t great! Sometimes it is very crowded and you have to wait – but the bar is long and the martinis are inviting. My favorite place to sit and eat here is outside on the patio.

5. Full Moon Saloon – now, technically this is really a bar and not a restaurant. I have only snacked here, drank a lot of beer, played a lot of pool, and sang a little karaoke. Anyone remember These Boots Were Made for Walking? Some karaoke artists took themselves a little too seriously, but the pool games were totally fun. The fire pits outside were a nice place to hang out while waiting for an open pool table.  This bar is one of the only spots in Sedona (and this one is in the same area/complex as Cucina Rustica, down the hill from the Hilton) that is open past 11 pm and serves any food after 9 pm.

I do have another restaurant that I would like to return to but, I can’t remember the name. It is a couple of doors down from Cucina Rustica down the hill from the Hilton. It had clean lines and great modern food. I’ll have to take a look when I am there again and figure out what it’s name is 🙂

Don’t forget to leave a comment – especially if you have a favorite restaurant in Sedona.

Guest Blogger Monica L. on Packing Tips for Backpacking Across Europe

Today’s Guest Post is from Monica of Travel Knit Read who just spent the better part of the last year traveling the world. She had to travel very light and that meant she had to pack very little and could not pick up much along the way.  After writing about my packing efforts on a recent trip with my family, I thought, “wow, how did Monica travel for most of the year with just a roller bag?” So, I asked her to write a little about it — Enjoy!

Monica in Barcelona

“Well, a dear friend of mine just posted to her blog about her packing tips for her travels within the US with her 3 kids. I thought I would post some packing tips after my 7 months of travel through Europe as well. After all these travel sites, including Rick Steve’s travel list, I do have some lessons learned and tips as well. As I traveled in the summer, most of these are obviously tips for packing light:

  • 3 technical dri-fit t-shirts (they dry quickly when you are sweating in 100 F or 40 C weather. They are also easy to wash and dry quickly and they never stink like cotton t-shirts. They are also way lighter.) Under Armour, Reebok, Nike, Adidas make them.
  • 2 pairs of convertible pants (with long shorts zipping off so the zippers don’t cut into your thighs while you walk) I lived in my Mountain Hardwear Yuma pants for 7 months. They also dry very quickly.
  • 1 technical long sleeve shirt (light colored)
  • 3-4 pairs of sport socks (they take the longest to dry of all clothes)
  • 1 pair of “>Havianas flip flops (make sure to choose a rubber pair, the thong parts must have a lot of room above the foot if they are too close they will cut into sides of feet. The thongs you can wear when showering in not so nice places and they will dry quickly.)
  • 1 pair of leather ” target=”_blank”>Teva sandals with suede footbed (they have the mostsupport when walking around and most comfortable)
  • 1 pair of very comfortable running shoes for hiking/walking in the rain/walking alot.
  • 1 pair of ” target=”_blank”>Birkenstocks (Everyone in Europe wears them in the summers, suede footbed and very comfy. They are made differently in Europe than in the US. The ones in the US are very hard and uncomfortable.)
  • 6 pairs of panties
  • 3 bras
  • 1 swim suit (1 piece is usually more convenient than bikini)
  • 1 head lamp (many streets are not lit at night, sometimes needed for hiking, caves)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt (over the knee)
  • 1 fancy top to match skirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 Saree for the beach
    1 EnviroSac (nylon bag for the beach and shopping)  I like the Timbuk2 line of packable totes/backpacks.
  • 1 light fleece hoodie
  • 1 thermal long sleeve t-shirt (the best ones are ” target=”_blank”>Icebreakers made of Merino Wool made in New Zealand)
  • 1 sarong for beach coverup or travel towel
  • 1 windwall jacket (lightweight but warm on those cold nights – mine was from North Face)
  • Sunglasses (Maui Jims that are dressy yet light titanium wire frames so they are sporty as well)
  • Hat

All of the above should be very light for your very light backpack or roller bag. I used a convertible Eagle Creek Switchback 22″ bag, it converted from a roller bag to a backpack when the elevator did not work or when there was no elevator to speak of.

I have a few other hard-earned travel tips!

  • Do not pack jeans or wear them! They are heavy, do not dry quickly and hard to wash in the sink!
  • Sunscreen is a must. You should have 2 100 ml small bottles so that you can put it in carryon.
 Max out your tubes to the 100 ml or 2.5 oz size.
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Moisturizer
 – Washing your stuff in hotel sinks is what I did mostly, so have 100 ml of detergent with you.
  • Don’t forget your meds! Antacids, Aspirin, Imodium, etc. in a small pill box.
 Sometimes if you travel with people, you will need eye mask and ear plugs.
 Buy the eye mask that has a nice fabric that is silk as they don’t leave marks on your face and are cool and feels nice on your face.
 Get the ear plugs that look like wax, they are malleable that conform to your ears. Only those block all sounds. The others will pop out and do not block noise.
  • If you are going to be gone for a long time, please get a light Netbook, iPad, or new 13-inch MAC but be sure to have combination locks for your luggage.
  • Try not to bring too much cash as you will worry about it more. Most places have ATM machines. The exchange rates for cash is always worse than ATM machines.
  • The best camera that people used was the ” target=”_blank”>Canon S95 (pocketsize) or Canon G11 (slightly bigger). I would have chosen the S95 if I had to do it again. I couldn’t take most night shots with my older camera.
  • Reading materials: Get yourself a Kindle or Kobo reader as carrying one lightweight item to read is way lighter than lugging around 3-4 books in your luggage. I read quickly and I left 4 books in different hotels around Europe which seemed like such a waste. I saw so many copies of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in hotel lobbies.

My favorite travel tip:
 After washing clothes in the sink, place clothes flat on a towel, roll up the towel, twist towel and wring towel tightly to wring excess water out of clothes. Then hang clothes to dry. Your clothes will dry overnight this way. Sometimes, you might want to have some fun t-shirts as you don’t want all your photos to be of the same clothes all the time so I did have a few Hello Kitty t-shirts that made for cute travel photos but they don’t last long and can be trashed and new ones can be purchased. That is all I can think of for now…”

Thank you for contributing Monica!

If you have travel tips of your own or tips for packing light, please leave a comment!

Gimme 5 – Great Places to Stay in Sedona

I travel to Sedona fairly regularly for work (I know there are places that are a lot worse that I could be sent to…say, Arkansas), so I have had the opportunity to stay in many different places there. While most of the hotels in Sedona are fairly small, a couple of the ones that I highlight today are big, and all of them are great for a family reunion or vacation. If you have a work retreat or event to plan, consider Sedona, you won’t be disappointed!

  1. The Enchantment Resort – this resort is a little out of the way, but it is very quiet and exclusive (rumor has it that we passed Madonna’s place on the way out to this resort). It was a great place to stay when my husband could travel with me. (We stayed there on election night which didn’t make the Bush – Gore election any more palatable). It is an amazing place. The spa was fantastic; the food was fantastic; the exercise classes were fantastic, but our favorite part was the location. You can literally walk out your door and go hiking on many different trails. It felt like we were on the edge of the earth. While they do have a conference facility on site, mine was not being held there, so we had to drive every morning for 20 minutes or so to get back into town and get to my conference. For work or vacation, this resort can’t be beat!
  2. The Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa – this place is great! I have spent the most time here and at the Amara, but this one is a mix of regular hotel, resort, and fun place to be. The hot rock massages at the hotel spa were wonderful and relaxing. I felt 5 inches taller walking out of there. The pool closes early and the hotel security didn’t appreciate a bunch of people climbing the fence to try out the hot tub after a late dinner! My favorite part was the golf course and being able to wake up and walk the course at sunrise. Rabbits and all kinds of wildlife were out there to say good morning!
  3. The Sedona Rouge – the Sedona a Rouge is a nice, peaceful hotel despite being on the main road, 89A,  in Sedona. The rooms were generously sized and appointed. The spa is quite relaxing and the tea served in there was a surprise. Sedona is a sleepy town with little night life. We had to pay the bartender to stay open later for our little raucous  group after coming back from dinner. The hotel is a little separate and disjointed but that’s what makes it quiet.
  4. L’Auberge de Sedona – the name should say something to you – like – “With my French name, I am going to be very expensive!” It is, but it is built into a hillside and backs up to Oak Creek and is very, very worth it. It is located at the North end of town on 89A and hidden down its own driveway – it looks like you are going to drive down an embankment into Oak Creek. The views from this side are stunning. The balconies of each hotel room back up onto the creek and make for a very peaceful evening.
  5. The Amara Creekside Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa in Sedona – this one is my personal favorite. The Amara is right next door to L’Auberge but is much, much less expensive. In fact, when I drove across country last summer and decided to stay a couple of nights in Sedona, I threw my idea of camping out the window and we stayed here. My kids loved the pool and being on the creek. I loved being able to sit out by the fire pit and have a glass of wine while the kids raced each other up and down the pool. The rooms are simple and elegant. The balconies are small, but the common area around the pool and creek  were much better for hanging out anyway. I had the best hot rock massage ever at this resort (the masseuse was named John) and they have since expanded their spa into a separate area, which is very tranquil.



All of these hotels are in the nice to very nice range – the prices and service range wildly from reasonable to very expensive. But, no matter where you choose to stay the views will be stunning, the spas will relax you, and you will have good food!

If you have a favorite place to stay in Sedona – leave more information in the comments.

Gimme 5 – Travel Tips – Be Prepared for Bloody Marys in Your Lap

Today’s Gimme 5 is all about travel tips and being prepared. It makes me feel like a boy scout giving the advice to “be prepared.” I guess all the boys’ activities are rubbing off on me!
1. Refill, Restock, Replace
The first tip is to check any pre-stocked supplies when you are packing to see if anything needs to be refilled, restocked, or replaced. Or better yet, restock your supplies when you return from your current trip. This tip is especially important if you need medicine on a daily basis. A couple things I never need to replace or stock is shampoo/conditioner or a hair dryer – all of the hotel rooms I have been in lately (read, for the last 7 years) have those items readily available.
I also wanted to share a tip sent to me from Bianca:
“One thing I like to do when I travel (to minimize on the liquids) is to take a snack size Ziploc bag and fill it with cotton balls (I count one for each night I’m traveling and put in one spare) and then I squeeze eye makeup remover all over them. Then I close the bag and let them saturate. Then, while I’m on my trip, I just take out a moist cotton ball and use it to remove my eye makeup at night. No need to bring the bottle of remover!”
I liked this suggestion even though I don’t use eye makeup remover. It applies to all kinds of other liquids that come in bottles that are bigger than the 3 oz. travel size.
2. Label Your Luggage – 98% of bags are black.* Be sure to label your bag with current contact information. (I recently found one bag that I got out for the kids to use and it had a tag on it from when I was in high school.) Labeling your luggage means labeling it on the outside of the luggage, in the luggage, and around the luggage. I always have a laminated business card on each bag, along with a business card or identifying information inside my bag (actually I put a card in each zippered pocket/section), and I also have an identifying  handle wrap that is bright blue. This marking or labeling can mean putting some kind of distinctive marking on your bag like colored duct tape on the handle or bottom/back of the bag. These steps help distinguish your bag from others, especially if your bag is black. Or better yet don’t get a black bag in the first place – I can always find mine because it is a dark green!
* I don’t know this for sure. I made it up because it seems like 98% of all bags are black!
3. Carry Cash – I hardly ever carry cash, but I have run into some taxis and restaurants that don’t take cash. I make a point of stopping at an ATM by one of the gates that I fly out of frequently. It can be a very big pain in the butt to ask the taxi driver to stop at an ATM so that you can pay him. Having adequate cash on hand is very important if you travel internationally.
4. Mind Your Manners – Shit happens… delays, security snafus, a plane change, a security check  where everyone has to deplane with their bags, whatever it is; when shit happens, find something to do that is constructive, helpful, or positive. Listen to music, talk to someone around you, make a new friend, but don’t start complaining or worse, berating an airline employee – none of that will do any good, or make the security check go faster.

5. Be Flexible – I don’t mean do Yoga in the aisle of the plane, even though I have seen that done; what I mean is, shit happens (see #4 above). And when it does, Be Flexible.  I once had an entire Bloody Mary spill on me right after I got on the plane – we were climbing in altitude and about three seconds after the stewardess set it down on my tray, the entire drink slid into my lap. Yep, that’s right, an entire Bloody Mary, in my lap. It ran right down my leg, into my shoes, there was ice all over me and the seat, and everything soaked into my pants. I thought I could just wipe the tomato juice off and let my pants dry – and change my (not so) white shirt. Nothing doing – when I got into the tiny plane bathroom, it was clear that my pants were soaked all the way down the leg and were not going to be wearable. I went back out and got a complete change of clothes out of my suitcase. I changed into a different outfit (complete with a sheriff’s badge as I was coming from Texas at that time) and I proceeded to make 5 new friends on that flight.
If you have a favorite travel tip – please leave a comment. I look forward to hearing what your favorite travel tips are.

The Tale of Two Grandmas

My grandmothers are awesome – let’s just state that right up front to start this tale! I’m working on this project where I am writing some guides on how to share photos online and the end-user I have to keep in mind is someone who isn’t that comfortable with the internet but wants to share and print photos with their friends and family. At the same, I had just come home from a visit with one of my grandmothers and we had spent a ton of time looking through old photos and slides. Both of these things got me thinking about my two grandmothers and how polar opposite the are when it comes to computers and the internet.

My Grandma Edith is  going to be 89 in April. She was a nurse and worked for my grandfather’s geology company for years, color coding well core samples. She now does tai chi every day. She plays viola and cello beautifully. She makes incredible jewelry, does intricate silver work, and uses the rocks that my grandfather finds and polishes to turn them in to jewelry. Over the years I have learned many things from her. Using the computer isn’t one of them!

We have tried to set up a computer for her and my grandfather to use (he would actually send emails). But I never saw her use it. We even volunteered to go down to the library and set up a free gmail account, so that she could email us when she went to the library. The whole idea of email is foreign to her. She actually writes letters and makes phone calls. I think she is one of three people that I know who still hand-write letters. I don’t think we will ever get her to use a computer – for email or for any other reason.

My other grandmother, Grandma Frances, is 92 and is the polar opposite. She taught math, shorthand, and other subjects in high school until she retired in 1976. She uses the computer for all kinds of things – she uses Quicken to balance the farm books; she uses it to email all of us family members; she tracks all of our birthdays and addresses – from her children to all of the great grandkids! She hasn’t shared any photos with me online, but I am sure she can figure it out with the instruction sets I am writing! She is the one I credit with getting me interested in photography. She took the time to explain the camera, how it worked, and more importantly, she trusted me to use her Canon camera when I was 10. This trip, we had a blast looking through her old photos and slides. We even got the slide projector up and running to share silly pictures with my kids – like the ones of my dad from the 70’s with an afro, and the ones of our cows, and my teddy bear. She sent me home with a stack of slides and pictures to scan in!

Today’s blog is a tribute to these two lovely ladies who each have their own strengths. These are ladies 3 and 4 in my effort to highlight 30 women this year. Read more about the others: BFF, Michealene Cristini Risley

Red Cross, Johnstown Flood, Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

How Can You Help with the Relief Effort for the Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster in Japan?

In 1889, the South Fork Dam broke, unleashing over 20 tons of water and massive amounts of debris onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small coal and steel town of ~10,000 people. Officially, over 2,200 people died in the flood and ensuing fire, and many more went missing and were never found. To a small town like Johnstown, the scale of the disaster is not unlike the earthquake and ensuing tsunami disaster in Japan today.

As unlikely as it seems, one great thing came out of that disaster – The Red Cross began offering disaster relief services. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, led with disaster relief efforts after the Johnstown Flood. The Red Cross has been assisting with disaster relief efforts ever since. In 2007, I was lucky enough to visit the Johnstown Flood National Memorial and learn more about the Johnstown Flood disaster. The sheer scale of it was awesome. The videos posted of the tsunami disaster are even more awesome. The destruction is unbelievable and sad. My heart and prayers  go out to those who have died in this disaster and to those who are working like crazy in the recovery efforts.

I know many people are looking for a way to help with this recovery effort. The Red Cross is a neutral organization that assists in disasters like this worldwide. I saw a message today that United Airlines will even match miles as donations under their Charity Miles program when you donate to the Red Cross.  These miles will be used to help transport people to/from the disaster area in Japan. I am sure we will start seeing more and more programs like this to help Japan recover.

Please consider donating miles through your own airline affinity program or donating cash to the Red Cross.

Gimme 5 – Eating (for Success) in Airports

Gimme 5 – Eating (for Success) in Airports
I travel a lot for work and when I travel, my good eating habits tend to go right out the window. Over the last 18 months or so, I have tried to focus on eating more healthy  all the time, not just when I travel. When I went to Florida for a family vacation a couple of weeks ago, I had a rather rude wake up call about my efforts in this area. Most everywhere we went, the food was fried or greasy or in the carb category. Basically, the menus consisted of everything that I wanted to avoid AND have been trying hard to avoid for the last 18 months. Over this week of family/vacation travel, I thought about how eating and traveling can work with a healthy eating focus and I came up with a few tips for eating (for success) in airports.
1. Scope it out – don’t just stop at McDonald’s, Gordon Biersch or TGIFridays because it its the first thing you see or is close to your gate – check out a map to find a healthier alternative. One of my healthy favorites is the Jamba Juice store in the Charlotte airport. On this trip we found a new restaurant in the Phoenix airport in the US airways terminal (which is the award-winning Terminal 4). The BarFly had opened the day before we sat down for a meal before taking the red-eye. The BarFly menu contained interesting salads and grilled steaks – which we a better choice than fried shrimp! Although it was probably 1,00o calories, their Mac ‘N Cheese was fantastic – it was a grown up version of Mac ‘N Cheese with bacon or pancetta. To find this restaurant – we traveled the length of the terminal to check out  all of the food choices and then we decided on a place that had more menu choices than hot dog, hamburger, or fried “anything.” What ever your method of scoping out the restaurants, it will be better than just stopping at the first restaurant you find.
2. Be Picky – If you can find one of your favorite food places or a restaurant with healthy choices on the menu (for example, salads that go beyond the house salad of iceberg lettuce and an unripe tomato wedge)  you will have a higher likelihood of finding a healthy food choice! I tend to prefer Starbuck’s Coffee or Peet’s Coffee, because I can usually get yoghurt or fruit in addition to my favorite beverage. If I’m not picky about the place I eat, I usually find that the chili-dog at the airport bar looks great and goes with the beer I just ordered…
3. Drink water – Drink water when you are in the airport. Drink plenty of it! Go ahead…go ahead and drink tons of water while there is a big, convenient, and (usually) clean bathroom close by. It sure beats having to go in the tiny, cramped, and usually smelly airplane bathrooms! Besides you want to stay hydrated when you travel – it cuts down the chance of getting sick!
4. Small portions/take it with you – Eating successfully with a focus on healthy food usually involves eating less food altogether. I try to order something small if possible. If there isn’t any thing small to order small, consider ordering something that is easy to eat half of and then take the other half with you for a mid-flight snack. Half of a Muffuletta sandwich from the New Orleans airport is likely to be much tastier than anything the airline snack boxes have to offer! If I know I am going to arrive past 9 pm at my destination, I usually order a chicken caesar salad from Peet’s Coffee & Tea (in the San Francisco airport) and eat that for dinner. Unless I have gotten upgraded to a first class seat, I usually try to take something on the plane with me and avoid the snack boxes.
5. Choose one healthy item – If you are in a hurry, it can be rally hard to find a healthy choice. Most places have a few healthy choices. You can usually find yoghurt, fruit, popcorn, hummus and veggies, or hard-boiled eggs. Some places offer healthy sandwich choices – one of my favorites on the go is a Caprese salad sandwich.  The best Caprese sandwich I ever had was running to catch a plane to San Diego and there was a cart vendor outside the SFO gate with several sandwich choices and I just grabbed one because it looked good. Well, it turned out to be one of the healthier sandwich choices and it was fabulous! You can always find one healthy item among all of the unhealthy choices!
When trying to eat healthy in an airport – take a moment to think about it – just don’t get the first thing you see. If you do I guarantee you, you will pick something that sounds tasty but is NOT healthy. At least that’s how I am – because I will always end up with a carmel apple rolled in pecans from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or something equally tasty, but not so good for you. Yeah, I know there was an apple somewhere in there under all that carmel… but I’m not sure that counts as healthy.
What is your favorite tip for eating healthy in airports? If you have tips for eating healthy while traveling, please share it in the comments below.