Archive for July, 2015

Kaleidoscope Discovery Center

My daughter’s piano teacher, a couple weeks ago on facebook, put out a question as to the location of the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center in Rolla.  I was able to answer her query as it’s in the same building that the Rolla Boy Scout Shop is located in, where I work part-time.   A friend of the piano teacher then asked, “What is this Kaleidoscope Center?”  Hence, I decided that my blog for today would be to explain what this place is all about and what it hopes to do for the kids in Rolla and the surrounding communities.

KDC 5

Before there was a Null and Sons Funeral Home on Kingshighway, that business was housed in the Null Building, which is located at 612 N. Pine St., in Rolla.  After Mr. Null moved his business to it’s present location, different businesses have occupied that building, and Rolla’s Boy Scout Shop has been there since the early 2000’s.  Community Partnership of Rolla, a not for profit organization in the foothills of the Ozarks,  wants to ensure “the development of  healthy, thriving communities by promoting awareness of needs, creating and implementing services and partnerships to help meet those needs, while encouraging individual responsibility”, one of it’s members saw a need for an outreach to the children of Rolla and surrounding communities: an outreach to expand and enrich the kids educations about  sciences, mathematics, and art.  Thus, The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center was born!    KDC 2

Classes have been held this summer for preschoolers, for Cub and Boy Scouts working on the Nova Science Merit Badges, the Rolla High School’s Robotics team is now housed at Kaleidoscope, and Kinder Musik classes will be offered in the fall. Next week, a Math Camp will be held, for kids ages 11-14, a refresher course in math that will run Mon.-Fri., 9 am-11:30 am.  We will also be offering Science enrichment classes in the fall for homeschooled students: preschoolers all the way up to high schoolers; more information will be coming soon to the community about those classes.  Fees will be charged, however, scholarships will also be available as we don’t want any students deterred from taking classes due to costs.  I mention the pronoun “we” because I will also be teaching one of the science block of classes for the homeschoolers, the middle school/junior high group.

So get ready, Rolla, for  The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center!  We will be aiming to “provide opportunities that advance the understanding and appreciation of engineering, science, technology, the environment, arts, and math.  We will use hands-on learning experiences, which inspire everyone to imagine, explore, and create a better world.”

For more information, here are links to The Community Partnership and The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center.

 

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Paulding, Rolla, and Chattanooga

Paulding, Ohio is the county seat of Paulding County.It’s the county that is directly south of the county I grew up in, Defiance County, Ohio; both counties  nestled in Northwest Ohio.   Paulding has been on my mind since I found out this weekend that US NavyPetty Officer Second Class Randall Smith, who died from his wounds on Saturday,  the fifth victim in the terrorist attack at a Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee,was from Paulding.  I told my husband and we found out that Smith had graduated from Paulding High School, that he had wrestled and played baseball there, and that he enrolled at Defiance College on a baseball scholarship. After a year in college, Smith decided to join the US Navy and serve his country, just like one of his grandfather’s had done. US flags around NW Ohio have been flying at half-mast. I also saw on a friend’s facebook page a shared announcement, that Amercian Legion members in NW Ohio were being called upon to ride their motorcycles to help escort the body of Smith to Paulding.

With a son who is finished with his 4 years of service in the US Marines, I was heartsick when I got home from work last Thursday and found out that 4 Marines had been killed by a young man of the Muslim faith.  I didn’t realize then that our military forbids recruiters to be armed while on their job.  It doesn’t make any sense that military personnel, whether they are on their base or at a recruitment office, cannot have a gun on their person for protection!  I saw in the news since this horrible terrorist act, that citizens with conceal carry permits have been volunteering to stand guard at recruitment offices across the country and that some states governors’ have announced that their National Guardsmen can carry weapons for protection.  A friend who served proudly in the US Navy, whom I was discussing this policy about “no guns” with,  I mentioned that common sense would seem to dictate letting military personnel be armed and he said sadly common sense seems to be lacking.     1292820_600061856803413_7918403076136407459_o

Rolla, Missouri, where I now live, is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology, a premier school for educating engineers, scientists,  mathemeticians: all careers that rely heavily on math and science.  We have  a lot of students who come here from other parts of the world, and many are from Asia.  I would say that several times a week I see Middle Eastern students, the females wearing their head coverings, or Middle Eastern male students out shopping with their wives and kids in tow.   I haven’t had any bad encounters with those students, but I have found myself wondering, just wondering, if any of those male students, the one’s without a wife and kids, are susceptible to joining in with some terrorist organization?  Our oldest daughter, during her senior year at Rolla High School, took a class that let her work at a preschool held at the high school and several of her students were Middle Eastern children, as their parents didn’t want to enroll their kids in the other preschools in our community that are Christian based and held at churches.  One day our daughter came home with a sort of funny tale, their craft for the day involved gluing marshmallows down on paper and one little girl began screaming that the marshmallows weren’t “halal”.  None of the teachers or student helpers could figure out why marshmallows would freak out a 4 year old, so we asked a friend who had done mission work with Muslims in Detroit and she explained that some marshmallows are made with animal gelatin, from hooves or bones, and that that’s not “halal” or proper food for a Muslim to eat.  (Here’s an interesting link I found about what is and isn’t halal food.)  In that same preschool class, my daughter said one boy was always scowling and one day he said he and his family hated America, it’s a bad place, and as soon as his dad had his degree, they’d be moving back to where they were originally from!  I wonder to myself, if America is such a “bad place”, then why come here at all??  Child #4 in our family of 7 kids, is a Senior at Rolla High and last year as a junior he wrote a very thoughtful piece for his school’s newspaper. He decided to interview Muslim students at the high school to ask them what it’s like to live in America and to practice their religious faith.  My son’s article was well-done and helped me to see that not all Muslims here think America is “bad”.

My twin daughters, since 8th grade when they left homeschooling and enrolled at Rolla Junior High, have several friends who are Muslims.  The girls are bright, practice their beliefs including the headdress and food rules, and my daughters get along with them really well.  They know from our girls that we are active at our church, Greentree Christian, so there is an air of mutual respect for each other’s beliefs.  One of their friends, they told me, is a bit sad though as her father announced that in another year their family  will be moving back to their native country so Dad can work there with his new degree from MS&T.  The country they’ll move back to is having a lot of internal troubles and the girl has confided to my daughters that she doesn’t want to leave America.  I told my girls that all we can do is pray for her friend, that God will keep her and  her family safe, and perhaps she can come back to America when she is an adult.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head this week due to the tragedy in Chattanooga, I give it all to God: my anxiety, my wrong-headed prejudicial thoughts, my concerns with our government and how they are dealing with these crises, those grieving families who lost their loved ones suddenly in Chattanooga, the family of the shooter and the pain they are dealing with.  Life is full of many events that we can only ask “Why?” about and we realize that the answers may  never come to us in this life.  From looking at the book of Job on the Sunday sermons at our church, I have been reminded that Job was dealt an awful hand: his wealth, his children, his health were all taken from him.  With horrible advice from his suffering wife, friends with bad assumptions, he too cried out “Why?”  Ultimately, Job was reminded how great is our God, how far above He is from what mere mortal man can comprehend, and that despite the disasters that befell Job, he didn’t give up in his belief in God.  Job 27:1-6, Job states how he won’t give up his belief, no matter what else may happen to him in this life.  I, too, pray that I can hang on and deepen my faith no matter what this life may present to me.

 

 

 

 

For the 1947 Blogathon: They Won’t Believe Me!

If  cable tv had existed in 1947,  then the movie I chose to review for this blogathon, RKO Studio’s They Won’t Believe Me!  would have appeared on the Lifetime Channel!   Instead of a woman in danger film, we have a man who is the  protagonist/antagonist all at the same time.   He is really a jerk, incapable of making good choices as to  who to love, marry, and even how to work at a job! The  3 female characters  are either blind to his numerous faults or they think they can change him-3 pretty ladies who are hooked on this idiot!  Ah well, c’est la vie in Lifetime movie plots and in They Won’t Believe Me!   They Won't Believe Me poster

They Won’t Believe Me was based on a story idea by Gordon McDonell and the screenplay was written by Jonathon Latimer.  The film’s producer was Joan Harrison, Alfred Hitchcock’s reliable assistant on many of his films and his television series.  Former actor, voice actor, Irving Pichel helmed the film as director.  The film has a noir feel to it, but despite some movie critics calling it a top notch noir, I felt it was a bit weak in a true noir description.  More on that issue later in the post.

Wife Greta, ably played by Rita Johnson

Wife Greta, ably played by Rita Johnson

Robert Young, who usually played nice guys in film, and was most well-known in his later years on television as the all-knowing, loving Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best and as the wise and caring Dr. Welby in Marcus Welby, M.D. is this film’s stinker!  Young’s Larry Ballantine  is a jerk,  a weakling sort of a man.  A weakling because he married wife #1, Greta(ably played by Rita Johnson) because she’s wealthy.   He wants to divorce Greta when he falls in love with her friend, Janice (Jane Greer, a  news magazine writer) and even has  plans to meet Janice in Montreal, her new home office assignment.  The clever Greta finds out and deals her trump card: you can run off to Montreal with Janice, but the money flow will dry up, dear Larry.  Rita plays Greta as an understated, quiet, and very patient woman. Greta’s not a shrieking harpy, and she calmly informs Larry that if he chooses her over Janice, there is a job lined up for him in LA, at a prestigious brokerage firm, and that she, Greta, has a fabulous house with tennis court and pool in Benedict Canyon,  all ready for them to live in.  Janice goes alone to Montreal.  ( A side note-Greer got to wear the most outstanding hats I’ve ever seen in a movie-just gorgeous creations!)

Love #2: Jane Greer as Janice

Love #2: Jane Greer as Janice

Time goes by and at the brokerage firm, we can tell that Larry isn’t a good employee.  He tries for a bit, but one day his boss chews him out for not having a requested report ready for a prospective, rich investor.   As Larry is about to voice some lame excuse as to his awful work ethic, in pops a sexy and smart secretary, Verna(Susan Hayward) who hands Larry the report with a, “Is this the report that’s needed, Mr. Ballentine?”  Before Larry and his boss know what’s hit them, Verna sashays her way to the secretarial area of the office.  Larry finds her to thank her and offers to buy her perfume!  Verna has a better idea, why not have Larry give her a ride home some evening.  Verna, of the three women, is the closest to a femme fatale in this noir wannabe.  She admits she’s a gold digger, she correctly accuses Larry of being no more mature than a child,  but she thinks Larry is her only ticket to a life of luxury.  They begin an affair in earnest until Greta finds out and once again she calmly plays her trump card.  This time, her suggestion is to move to a ranch house out in the middle of a valley, no phone, mail delivery will be at a general store, horses to ride every day, a pool to swim in, and they can just while away their days by relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the valley and the nearby mountains.  Larry looks queasy at her offer, but he agrees.  I wanted to cheer when Verna lashes out at him and calls him a rat when he delivered his breaking up speech to her.  Run, Verna, as fast as you can!!!!

Verna(Susan Hayward) catches Larry's eye!

Verna(Susan Hayward) catches Larry’s eye!

"But Verna, you don't understand! Greta is loaded with money!"

“But Verna, you don’t understand! Greta is loaded with money!”

The plot of the movie, up to this point, was easy to follow, but it was a bit  frustrating to me.  Larry’s character, while conflicted, was not a hard-boiled noirish hero.  The 3 women characters weren’t femme fatales in the true noir definition, although Hayward’s came the closest.  What frustrated me the most was  how could these 3 seemingly intelligent and attractive women, fall for this guy, Larry?  I kept thinking that if the part of Larry had been recast with Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, Victor Mature, Ray Milland, or Robert Mitchum, Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, or even Joel McCrea,  then I could possibly see why these women would all fall for Larry.  I like Robert Young, but to me, he was miscast as Larry.  I’m sure he didn’t mind too much as he got to have some kissing scenes with Greer and Hayward!

The  last third of the film  the plot became trickier.  Sir Walter Scott wrote, “Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” (I thought Shakespeare wrote that but I was wrong!)  Larry and Verna reunite and come up with a tangled web.   Larry  decides to spurn Greta and take some of  her money.  He’s going to go to Reno and get a quickie divorce, Verna will go with him, and then they’ll get married and move away to begin a new  life.    He tells Verna that he’ll write a letter to Greta telling her he’s divorcing her, and since he’s on a joint checking account with Greta, he’ll write out a check to Verna and she can cash it at the brokerage house.  Then she can bring that money with her when she and Larry meet at a tiny burg,  Thomson’s Corner.  They’ll then drive to Reno together.  To redeem the two for a teensy bit, Verna reveals that she didn’t cash the check and Larry tears it up into little bits.  Aw, they’re not going to gouge Rita’s checking account!   All seems to go according to plan until on the drive to Reno they have a horrific crash at night with a delivery truck.

Yes, when running off to Reno to get that divorce filed fast, let's delay our trip by taking a swim!

Yes, when running off to Reno to get that divorce filed fast, let’s delay our trip by taking a swim!

To reveal anymore of this film is to give away too many spoilers, but I will add that the film is told from a courtroom flashback: Larry is the defendent in a murder trial and he gives his side of the story to the jury: he shares with them how he is a jerk, how he trashed his marriage vows to Greta, how he only cared about her money, how he dumped Janice, how Verna dumped him, how they reunited, planned to get to Reno, the horrific car accident, his meeting Janice again by accident(or is it by accident?), and how Larry came to be put on trial.

Larry on trial...he thinks the jury won't believe him.

Larry on trial…he thinks the jury won’t believe him.

To see the surpise ending of this romance/crime/drama noirish film, seek out They Won’t Believe Me!  TCM is going to air this film again on September 4th at 6:45 am Eastern/5:45 Central.   The films is also at Amazon but mainly as a VHS tape(!) or on dvd through third-party sellers.  It does deserve to be re-released on a proper dvd format, in my opinion.

Publicity still for the film

Publicity still for the film

This post is part of the 1947 Blogathon hosted by classic film fans Speakeasy and Shadows and Satin.  Please visit their sites by clicking on the links and read about other films that came to the movie going public in 1947.

 

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Coming Next Week!

I’ll be participating in a blogathon dedicated to films that were released to movie going fans in the year 1947.  My pick is  They Won’t Believe Me!,   a romance/crime/drama of all things, starring Robert Young (famously known for playing Jim Anderson of Father Knows Best and Dr. Marcus Welby of Marcus Welby, M.D.-nice guy characters all around) playing a guy with lots of women trouble that he brings upon himself.  The women trouble are ably  supplied by: Rita Thompson, Jane Greer, and Susan Hayward.

 

 

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My Reading Corner : Undaunted Courage

Before I dive into the main point of my post today, I just want to say wow!  I was alerted by WordPress yesterday that my blog was booming with visitors, the graph line was zooming upwards and as of today, I now have 104 followers of my blog!  That statistic just boggles my mind-I feel akin to The Little Engine that Could-so thank you to all of my followers for reading my posts.  I will refrain from quoting actress, Sally Field, who’s honesty on accepting an Academy Award led to a wince-inducing reaction.  Now, on to may main post for today.

I am a book worm.  I love to read.  As a kid, I loved to ride my bike across town to the public library, one of many libraries built via donations from that ancient philanthropic rich guy, Andrew Carnegie.  I would take my time, peruse the books in the Children’s section, and take my selections home and pore over them.  I can recall my frustrated younger brother, begging me to stop reading and play with him outside!

Defiance, OH's public library that I would visit a lot!

Defiance, OH’s public library that I would visit a lot!

When I hit my teens, I began to put the kid lit behind me and aimed for the Classics.  I did discover that through all of my years of reading, I loved history books the best.  Whether they were books written by Augusta Stevenson that I devoured from the public library or books written by adult historians, I always prefer to read such books over mysteries, or romance writings.  Becoming a mom in 1991, I discovered that my reading had to be put on hold.  I would still read, but it now took me quite a while to finish a book.  Now that my kids range in ages from 12-23, I am starting to speed up my reading, just a bit, but hopefully in another year I ‘ll be back at my former fast-reading ways.

With my love of books, I decided that for some of my blog posts,  I will  focus on good reads, books that I’ve enjoyed reading; my own Reader’s Corner Review type of blog post.  I will still plan on my Friday/Weekend posts to be about a classic movie, but  my Tues./ Wed. mid week posts may be about a book.

My first review is the late  Stephen Ambrose’s  Undaunted Courage, the saga of Lewis and Clark’s amazing exploration and journey of the land purchased by President Thomas Jefferson in the Louisiana Purchase.  Living in Missouri as I do, Lewis and Clark are still pretty important men to the state’s history and as I read about their endeavor and outcome, it amazed me at how well the journey progressed.   It amazed me as to  how they were able to avoid the potential pitfalls and dangerous outcomes due to their God-given talents and wisdom, in leading about a group composed of young soldiers, fur trappers, Lewis’s slave, and one Native American woman, who was expecting a baby!

Undaunted Courage-cover art for the book

Undaunted Courage-cover art for the book

Ambrose goes into great detail about Meriweather Lewis’s life, his family’s background in Virginia, Lewis’s boyhood, military career, and his work as a secretary for the new President, Thomas Jefferson.  After Jefferson had made the purchase of that great swath of land, he wanted Lewis to lead a team to explore it and find an all water route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean.  Jefferson was convinced that the two rivers were somehow connected.  He also wanted Lewis to make allies of all the Native American tribes that they would meet.  Jefferson had a “kooky” plan for the tribes in my opinion; he wanted Lewis to evaluate the idea of placing all the Native American tribes west of the Mississippi River, and have them live all together in a specific area, learning how to farm, read, write, and to assimilate into American ways of life, yet making them stay on the west side of the Mississippi.

The book also introduces us to Lewis’s co-leader, William Clark and how they had known each other, respected each other, and were friends due to past military service together.  4 sargeants, 23 privates, 6 civilian adults, eventually 1 baby, and Lewis’s Newfoundland dog, Seaman, made up the expedition.  Only one man died along the way west, and now historians think he died from appendicitis.  Amazing that during that entire journey, which was begun in St. Louis in May of 1804 and ended with their return to St. Louis in September of 1806, that only the one soldier had died.  Many Americans at the time had given all of the expedition up for dead and there was even a rumor that Lewis and Clark had been captured by the Spanish, who still controlled a lot of California at the time, and that they had been forced to work in a silver mine somewhere in the Southwestern territories!

Lewis was also called upon by Jefferson to take copious notes about plants, animals, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, and to make nightly measurements using the stars as to their latitude and longitude when ending each day’s travels.  To get Lewis ready for his scientific notes and drawings, he was sent to Philadelphia months before the expedition began to be trained by leading scientists of the day.  Lewis was also in charge of gathering all of the supplies, trinkets for the Native Americans, and he also learned medical treatments and gathered the medicines available at that time for any future illnesses that would occur.  Map of Lewis and Clark Expedition

After the success of the expedition, we learn of Clark’s courtship and marriage to Miss Julia Hancock and the birth of their first child, a boy.  We learn how the US Congress complained loudly about the expedition, the costs associated with it, how it was Jefferson’s folly to have it done.  We also sadly learn of the decline and demise of Meriweather Lewis.  Ambrose looks at the theories that exist as to why Lewis would commit suicide: his family’s genetic leanings to depression and mental instablility-was he a manic/depressive?  There was the young lady he was in love with and tried to court but she didn’t care for him at all and married another man.  There was the pressure to get the journals that he and Clark kept of the expedition published and Lewis procrastinated to have them published.  Why?

Undaunted Courage, something the two leaders and all of the members of this great journey had in spades.  Lately, when I am feeling a bit daunted by a task, I just ask myself, “Is what you have to face as difficult as what Lewis and Clark had to face?”  The answer to my rhetorical question is usually “No!” and off I march to face my task and get it done.

Lewis and Clark