Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Gift for Teaching PUSH Campaign 2011

It’s that time of year again, when the asphalt begins to bubble and parents start to buy school supplies for their kids to go back to school.

Last year, I introduced you to Pencil Boy. This year, I’ll just give it to you straight.

Did you know in Florida, about 50% of kids qualify for the Free or Reduced School Lunch Program. You can look at statistics here:

In Orange County for the 2008-2009 school year, the percentage was 48.55%. In Osceola County, it was 65.11%!!

If these kids can’t afford lunch, how will they afford pencils and other school supplies?!

But there’s help!

A Gift For Teaching is an organization that distributes school supplies, including pencils, to teachers and students in need! They operate a Free Store for Teachers where the teachers can come in and shop without spending any money and get supplies for their students and classrooms. Through their excellent staff and kind donations and volunteers, they are able to take a $10 donation and stretch it into $100 worth of school supplies. That’s a LOT of pencils!

Please visit their website and find out more about them!

And you can help, too!

Please visit and consider donating even a small amount to A Gift for Teaching. Every little bit counts! Skip today’s Starbucks run, and give that $5 to them so kids can have pencils and erasers, glue, paper, scissors, etc.

It only takes about $7 to fill a backpack with supplies for kids. Could you give $7 to fill a backpack?

Thank you so much for donating!

More United States Budget Ideas

A few months ago, I posted a blog with some United States budget ideas. You can review those ideas here: United States Budget Ideas

I’ve had some more ideas.

The other day on Twitter, I made this joke:

Can't the government sell antiques to @AmericanPicker to pay off the debt? I bet there's some cool stuff in the basement of the Smithsonian.

Maybe this really is a good idea? The Hope Diamond, if sold today, would bring between $200,000,000 and $250,000,000 according to Wikipedia.

The unique 1849 Double Eagle now has an estimated value of $20 million, according to the Professional Coin Grading Service Million Dollar Coin Club. (Photo credit: Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.) 

The Smithsonian has over 137 million artifacts, works of art, and specimens in their collection. Less than 2% of the collection is on display at any given time! This includes things like Picasso paintings. We could sell just pieces of the collection and earn money to fight the US deficit. If they’re not on display, what good are they?

Did you know that the budget for the Smithsonian is over $750,000,000? For 2012, they’ve asked for more. Most of this is salaries. During the 1995-1996 Government Shutdown, the Smithsonian closed, due to lack of money to pay salaries. I’m not going to debate the merit of their budget, but let’s take a look at it.

Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriation (currently in place):
Salaries and Expenses: $636,161,000
Revitalization:                 $89,300,000
Planning and Design:    $15,700,000
Construction:                   $20,000,000
Total:                                   $761,161,000

The Smithsonian had a record year in 2009, with 30 million visitors. Admission to the Smithsonian is free, which makes sense, because our taxes pay for it. But plenty of non-taxpayers from other countries visit the museum. I say we should start charging for admission. Let’s say $10 per day on average. Even if we don’t maintain the attendance, that would reduce the budget needs above by more than a quarter of a billion dollars. I took my son to the Smithsonian in 2009, and I would have paid much more than that for admission.

I would actually go a step farther. Let’s privatize the whole thing. We can lease the land the museums sit on (with restrictions) and allow someone else to run the museums, charge for admission, sell pieces of the collection for financing. How much do you think the Smithsonian is worth in total? Would there be anyone who could afford it?

But the problem is, the US Government can’t afford it, either. So let’s let someone else take on the risk, and make the Smithsonian profitable. Then we still don’t need to spend the $750 million, and can apply it to other things needed in our budget.

I realize this is a controversial suggestion. But it’s going to take controversial suggestions to reduce our deficit.

I think we should look into the privatization of many government programs… Amtrak, the United States Postal Service, etc. There are plenty of concerns about doing that, but are they worse than bankrupting the country? If a private company can’t make the services sustainable, even if not profitable, then maybe they are services we can do without.

If we don’t cut these things, then we have to pay for them. And that means raising taxes or cutting other things. If we don’t cut these, what else can we cut?

Feel free to argue in the comments!

Edit to add: Reddit has a good article that explains the debt ceiling in the simplest of terms: Can someone describe the debt ceiling to me Like Im Five? : explainlikeimfive

Poetry: Writer’s Block

This is a poem I wrote a long time ago, like when I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the earth. I like bits of it.

My pen writes with my blood
A dagger cutting the page
Poetry is like a flower bud
But my pen only writes my rage
My thoughts are thick like mud
Like the schemes of an evil mage
So I sit and chew my cud
And let blank paper age

Unused ideas getting moldy
Like wet and rotten hay
I curse the muses boldly
They’re absent anyway
Silent sprites haven’t told me
What I need to say
Eyes reflect darkness coldly
I keep my screams at bay

Against the desk, my pen, it taps
My foot, it does the same
New thoughts now within me lapse
Elude me in their game
Imagination in me naps
My writing hand is lame
I put on my pens their caps
My anger is now tame

Poetry: Stars Fall

I’ve had this poem written for years, and thought I’d posted it online, but I can’t find it anywhere, so here it is for you, dear readers, and Google searchers.

Stars Fall
by Matt Hoskins

Stars fall, far flung from highest heaven’s light;
Fated flight for all those below to see,
If above the rut’s edge they raise their sight,
And seek, incessantly, perchance to dream.
Stars fall, trailing feathers of phoenix fire;
Pathfinder’s trail for those who want to be
Offered upon the Promethean pyre,
Burn the emotion and suppress the scream.
Stars fall to fertile but still fallow fields,
Seeding the soil with starlight and heat,
Pregnant with promises of future yields,
Nourished, and nurtured; care given replete.
Stars fall, as angels do, with wingless grace
And falling, trace their fire upon us all
In brief moment passing, they fill the space
That is left hollow when we ourselves fall.
Stars fall with hope they will one day return
To brighten the dark skies and guide the lost
Wandering like Kwai Chang Caine, and burn
Down the bridges they have already crossed.
Stars fall, infrequently. Follow and find
Them as fast as you can. Hold on to them
Through the pain. The passion, return in kind.
The heat and pressure of it form the gem.
Stars fall when they hear the earth to them call
Inspiration to those under sky’s blue cowl
Counterpoint to knowledge they can’t know all
And comforting to know that


My Ugly Couch Revisited

Do y’all remember My Ugly Couch?

Here’s a reminder:

Against my better judgement, I decided to take this on as a project and reupholster the sucker, even though my only knowledge of reupholstering anything comes from watching a lot of Trading Spaces a decade ago. And I don’t recall them ever doing a hide-a-bed.

I’m doing it slowly, because I have no timeline. I do it in bursts, weeks apart. So far, I’ve done the back and the bottom front. Still to go, the arms, the back, the cushions and the pillows. For the cushions and pillows, I’m going to have to borrow a sewing machine, I think.

Being somewhat challenged in the cash department (and really, if I wasn’t, do you think I would be doing this myself?), I am using the cheapest fabric I can find: canvas dropcloth from the Home Depot. It’s a rough weave in an unbleached beige tone. And I kinda like it. And it’s feel isn’t too rough that it’s not comfortable.

I started with the back cushion, with a big sheet of the canvas, and a trusty staple gun.

Then I tried my hand at one of the little throw pillows with some of the scrap… That didn’t turn out so well. I’m going to have to redo it, when I have a sewing machine. It was a good proof of concept, though. It sat that way for a while. And then this past weekend, I did the bottom front of the sofabed. After I took this picture, I cut away the excess.

What do you think?

Don’t be too harsh. Have you ever reupholstered a sofabed?

I’ll keep plugging away at it (slowly), and let you see the results.