My family, when my brother and I still lived at home, used to eat dinner together most nights. This is a scenario that’s becoming more common, according to state Superintendent Sandy Garrett’s last weekly column.
Monday is “Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children,” a movement by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and supported by Gov. Brad Henry by way of a proclamation, she wrote.
Oklahoma City School Board members are in their executive session now, so it seems like a good time to share some things with you.
Among other action tonight, board members just approved a smorgasbord of contracts on a consent agenda, including one item worth up to $60,000 for food from Pizza Hut.
The list of consent items on tonight’s agenda is the longest I’ve seen yet — 135 items, compared to 34 at the board’s previous meeting. Board members approve all the items on the consent agenda with a single vote, unless someone wants to discuss a particular one separately.
Here’s a taste of the other types of contracts approved Tuesday:
- -BUILDINGS: Building leases and architectural contracts.
- -MAINTENANCE: Repair needs for electrical, roofing and other systems, and custodial services for daily upkeep.
- -SAFETY: School security services, asbestos and lead abatement, and fire extinguishers and alarm monitoring.
- -TEACHING TOOLS: Library media services, art supplies, software programs and truancy intervention programming.
- -MEMBERSHIPS: District memberships to various civic organizations.
- -LEGAL: Legal counsel.
The cheapest item is district membership to the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with a maximum price tag of $125. The priciest is a contract with ONEOK Energy for $3,403,939.82 for natural gas.
Someone also had the bright idea to include light bulbs on the list.
Still, my favorite just might be the $90,000-maximum contract for “ice cream/novelties” from Blue Bell Creameries, which is, as their commercials say, “The best ice cream in the country.”
No disagreement there. In fact, that sounds pretty good right about now.
Wendy K. Kleinman
I particularly liked his analogy about creativity to ice cream, because who doesn’t like anything involving ice cream?
Here’s what Kennard had to say (or, listen to Kennard’s quote here):
“Sometimes people think about creativity, it’s like dessert after the meal — you know, we do all the serious stuff and everything else and then if you’ve got still room for a little ice cream with a little chocolate sauce on top, that’s creativity. …
“No. Wrong. It is fundamental to our survival as an individual, as a family, as a community, as a city, … as a state, … as a nation, as a species, as a planet.”
I consider myself a creative person, but I’ll admit I can be hesitant to step outside of the proverbial box.
Then there are people like my brother, who, I believe, isn’t aware there’s a box in the first place. I guess that puts him on the higher end of the creativity spectrum.
Still, creativity is a great thing, especially if it comes with a little chocolate sauce on top.
Wendy K. Kleinman
I wrote a story for today’s Oklahoman about a newly approved increase in school lunch prices in the Oklahoma City School District.
Steve Gallagher, director of child nutrition services, said at Monday night’s board meeting that the increase is needed to keep up with general rising food costs. He gave some reasons for the price jumps:
- Shifting corn and cropland to bioenergy uses.
- Using healthier but costlier foods like whole grains.
- Unusually severe weather patterns.
- Mandatory increases in minimum wage.
- Exporting food overseas to stronger markets.
“I wish that I could say that prices will go down and maybe we’ve maxed out, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Gallagher said Monday.
“It’s having a major impact on the entire food industry, as I’m sure Ms. Vines can attest to,” said Gallagher, referring to school board member Gail Vines, who co-owns Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria, a restaurant in the city.
Gallagher said another reason for the price hikes is the rising cost of fuel, which also was cited in a report Monday night about the transportation department.
The district started the year paying $2.70 per gallon for unleaded and $2.35 per gallon for diesel, transportation director Stephen Foster Jr. said.
The district is now paying $3.35 and $4.04, respectively.
Some NewsOK.com readers already have shared their feedback about the increasing costs. Add your thoughts to the mix on this online forum.
Wendy K. Kleinman
Some things never change.
Kids loved hot dogs in the 1950s, and they love them today.
I bought my 9-year-old stepdaughter Piper a reprint of the 1955 Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens this week, and we couldn’t wait to make a surprise dinner for the family.
The book, with black and white photos, made me nostalgic for those years before we knew hot dogs, carbs and trans fat aren’t the healthiest things to ingest. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. This isn’t food to eat every day, but was a lot of fun to try. Piper liked imagining that her grandmother, who was about her age in 1955, probably used the same cookbook.
We made a hot dog casserole, which basically was hot dogs wrapped in bacon and smothered with potato chips. It was super tasty and like I said, we won’t be eating like this every day.
Next on our try-me list: S’mores. All we need is a campfire.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
Most folks buy artwork for their home or office from boutique shops and arts festivals. But some pick out a piece over dinner and a glass of wine, choosing art right off a restaurant’s walls.
On Thursday, an Oklahoma City eatery will give fifth-graders the same chance as professionals to show off and sell their black-and-white photographs.
Pictures taken by 16 students from Cleveland Elementary in Oklahoma City will be exhibited at Tom & Jerry’s, a steak and fish grill at 1501 NW 23, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Each student will get to display two pieces, for a total of 32 items, parent Nancy Woodard said. The subjects of the images vary, though the students were given some instructions — like to consider texture and motion, said Jeanne Davis, co-chairwoman of the school’s PTA yearbook committee.
Professional photographers Kay Wetmore and Michael Muller helped the students select and prepare their art for the dining-room gallery, said Davis, who helped organize the event.
All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to the Cleveland photography program, which is in its first year, they said, and 10 percent of food sales from the evening also will benefit the school.
Wendy K. Kleinman
I didn’t know that beer and wine tastings could teach me anything about geography. Apparently, though, they can.
The nation’s largest geography education conference starts in Oklahoma City tomorrow. But don’t think that means nothing more than the arrival of 700 people who could pull a Ken Jennings in the geography category on ‘Jeopardy!’
Twenty-four lucky participants will go out to Bricktown on Thursday night for a “blind” tasting of four microbrewery drinks. They’ll learn “how to critically evaluate a malt beverage” and learn about the geography of brewing in America. Another group will discover how soils, hydrology and climate affect crops of grapes and wine production – during a tasting at the Canadian River Winery and Vineyard.
Also during the National Council for Geographic Education conference, geography teachers will learn things like how to integrate global positioning systems into their lessons, how Asian governments are preparing for future disasters and how climate change is portrayed in American films – “reel science.”
Students – many on Fall Break right now – also will take part. Among the opportunities for youngsters, Washita County 4-H members will host a poster session, and a hands-on workshop is designed for elementary and middle school students to create travel brochures.
Geography is not just about memorizing maps. There’s culture, climate, cartography and more. And it’s all in Oklahoma this weekend.
Wendy K. Kleinman
QUIZ YOURSELF – Can you answer these geography-related questions about Oklahoma?
1. What is the highest point in Oklahoma and where is it located?
2. Forests cover what percent of Oklahoma?
3. In land area, Oklahoma City is how big compared to other U.S. cities?
4. Oklahoma is one of only two states whose capital city includes the state name. What’s the other?
5. Oklahoma has more man-made what than any other state?
6. What does Oklahoma have more miles of than any other state?
7. Oklahoma’s Cimarron County is bordered by more states than any other U.S. county. Can you name them?
8. Oklahoma is home to the highest what in the world?
9. Only one river in Oklahoma flows north. What river is it?
10. The state’s name comes from two Choctaw words meaning what?
1. Black Mesa in the Panhandle (4,973 feet).
2. 24 percent.
3. It’s the third-largest city in the U.S. (608 square miles) – before Jacksonville, Fla. (759 square miles) and Anchorage, Alaska (1,698 square miles).
4. Indianapolis, Indiana.
5. Lakes, with more than 1 million surface acres of water.
6. Original Route 66.
7. Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.
8. The highest hill, Mount Cavanal, at 1,999 feet.
9. The Poteau River.
10. “Red People.”
A few weeks back, I went to a Business Expo at a local campus.
It was advertised as an event to showcase local businesses and employers to students new to campus.
A restaurant and a retail store were taking applications. Most of the other vendors were banks pitching free student checking services.
The table that attracted the most students was stacked high with pizza boxes. But instead of gooey pepperoni, each box contained bank brochures, a package of Ramen noodles and a small bag of microwave popcorn.
Of course, students grabbed those freebies — “free” being the operative word here. Did that bank have better terms for students? Who knows?
We all like to think we’re getting something for nothing. That’s why I buy some of my cosmetics during “Free Gift!” events at the department store. But not all lipsticks are created equal. And very few banks are able to turn a profit with “free” services.
What do you think? E-mail me at email@example.com
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
I’m not a wine snob. Really. Although I’ve learned that expensive wine usually tastes better than the cheap stuff.
But when wineries began replacing corks with screwtops, I was a little concerned. Wasn’t the cork an integral (and sometimes frustrating) part of the experience?
I got over it. I like the ease of opening a bottle now. No more screwing with the corkscrew.
Well, now there’s another development that has me whining. An Argentinean company is ditching the bottle completely and putting their Iron Wine in 8- and 12-ounce cans. Like Budweiser. Or Diet Coke.
The company says the new packaging is more convenient. You don’t even need a glass.
Excuse me, but I don’t want my fine wine to be THAT convenient. Swigging from a can seems just wrong.
However, I have an open mind. If said-company wants to send me a sample I’d be happy to pop the top. In the name of research, of course.
Susan Simpson, Staff Writer