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I'm glad you could stop by. Pull up a chair and pour a cold one. (BTW, it's pronounced "sawl-ya", which is Irish for "S") Scroll down to see what I've been up to, lately. Leave your comments, but understand: all comments are moderated and spam is deleted, unread. I don't care about the best deal on basketball shoes, testosterone creams, or knock-off viagra. Site design information is all the way down at the bottom of each page, as is direct contact info.
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Oct 15 14

Enchanted Circle Scenic Drive, Taos, New Mexico

by Richard Sutton

Enchanted Circle Scenic Drive, Taos, New Mexico From late September through early October, north-central New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a best-of-fall highlight reel. For those beginning and ending the drive in Taos (basically circling…

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Oct 14 14

Top Ten Tuesday – Gifts for Book Lovers

by Richard Sutton

A ‘To the Letter’ bookmark. For the OCD readers who feel the need to precicely mark their progress, and the forgetful readers who can’t quite remember exactly where they got to… Fed up of friends borrowing your books and not giving them back? Then the…

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Oct 11 14

Quotes to inspire your writing

by Richard Sutton

Henry David Thoreau “I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.” ♥ ♥ ♥   Winston Churchill “Writing is an adventure.” ♥ ♥ ♥   Allan Gurganus “Know something, sugar? Stories only…

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Oct 7 14

Cover Reveal – Lost To Me by Jamie Blair

by Richard Sutton

  Title: Lost To Me Author: Jamie Blair Release Date:  19th August 2014   Summary: Lauren Kelling’s prom night is a memory she’ll never forget-in her nightmares. She had the dress, the hair, and romantic first time plans with her boyfriend,…

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Oct 4 14

Five Brands Excelling At Storytelling

by Richard Sutton

There’s a small list of brands that have snuck in under the radar to become the fastest-rising companies over the last year in terms of #storytelling . Let’s take a look at those brands and see what accounts for their success.   Curated from www.cmo.com…

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Oct 4 14

Social Media turn offs!

by Richard Sutton

Social media is used to attract more customers and generate sales. But businesses that don’t utilize social media correctly end up losing them instead. Here are seven social media actions to avoid to get what you want. Social media marketing makes…

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Oct 4 14

See These Four Night Sky Sights

by Richard Sutton

See These Four Night Sky Sights Visit stunning stellar grave sites and watch the moon pair up with kings of the celestial jungle for a delightful starry tour this week in sky-watching. The Moon and the Crab In the predawn hours of Tuesday, September…

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Oct 3 14

Lessons from outside the classroom…

by Richard Sutton
Jump in, the water's waiting...

Jump in, the water’s waiting…

Much of my fiction deals with finding a new home and getting acquainted with it, once you’ve found it. It’s a recurring theme in my writing I suppose, because my childhood was one of almost yearly upheaval and change. New towns, new schools, new friends all meant having to learn to be flexible and adaptive. It was a lesson I took to heart from the time I was in first grade.

Some lessons come harder than others, as I’m sure you know, but some of mine seem to have contained nested lessons. Important points safely tucked inside, that would emerge as I matured enough to understand them.

One of these really began my Junior year of high school. We moved to a very rural setting from a mid-sized town. My High School had over seven hundred students when I was a Sophomore. The next year, there were only ninety six. We’d been living in a suburban neighborhood one year and in the woods the next, with our nearest neighbor a half-mile away. It took some getting used to. For example, for any entertainment, I had to either travel forty miles to get to a large enough town, or I had to make my own from what was at hand. Of course, I felt terribly deprived, but I also knew I had to fit in, so I began to wing it and soak up the prevailing rural culture as much as I could. Eventually I noticed how rich the woods were in entertainment and spent more and more time there.

One of the most surprising lessons, hidden within the general lesson of adapting to small town life, was discovering how incredibly resourceful country folks are. While they are not usually ones to blow their own horns, I found they share an ability to find useful benefits and value in almost any situation or even in discards. I learned how to look for value even in junk, which is useful to this day, despite making my wife cringe at the stuff hanging from the rafters in the attic. Ditto the garage/barn.

Coming from the “city” I had swallowed the urban myth of how country people and kids were less sharp, slow moving and slow witted. I found it exactly the opposite. Looking back, I think that year was the one where I really began to appreciate the intricacies of how other people navigate their lives. The tiny town we were situated in wasn’t even close to a monochrome image. There were huge ranges of contrast between those who seemed to live well, even comfortably and the rest of us, including those who lived hand-to-mouth.

In most cases, those who lived well had found resources or skills they could always exploit for gain, while others who scraped by were always trying to ferret out new opportunities, new jobs, new partners. Always changing, always looking over the fence to see if a better deal was to be had. Needless to say, at first, I thought the more comfortable life came from wealth or land handed down. While it turned out to be true in a few cases, in most it was a matter of folks having learned to simply keep working at what they did best, not wasting effort or resources and staying on the path until they reached their goals. It came from the ability to think out of the box, to be resourceful in their approach to life, and to keep it close. Not telling the story of their struggles and their victories to everyone sometimes made them seem closed-mouth or unfriendly, but I learned it was a smokescreen so that they didn’t attract too much attention to distract them.

Today, the lessons I learned that year and later, working in the woods as I entered college, have prepared me better than the lessons learned in the classroom have. It was also my personal introduction to how foolish it is to misjudge people based on outward appearances. In any case, you really don’t know any real truth about anyone else until they share it with you. Shared truth like that is the highest compliment you can give another human being. It comes directly from recognizing yourself in them, no matter how different they may be.

That common ground is our connection to life itself. Being able to marvel at another person’s ingenuity in the face of trouble means you’re learning. Learning is our main job here and it’s the one we are able to perform every single day. The lessons will just keep on coming, as long as we’re alive.

Are there any personal lessons you’ve found to be really important to your understanding of the world? Let me know…

Sep 21 14

Long Island: The View From The Classroom

by Richard Sutton

applebombCommon Core is just the tip of the iceberg here…

So, call me “Still Learning”. I was pretty sure, when the Federal Govt. announced a Common Core mandate, that it was another extension of the discredited “No Child..” program. Coming from a family of teachers on both sides, I figured it was just another attempt to put pressure on the Teacher’s Unions to “produce results”. This is the kind of thinking that I recognized as having been spawned during the time when America decided that the corporate structure could do no wrong. Why not make government a kind of business, with goals and accountable results? It took a while, but it eventually trickled down to public education.

I think the first time I was on to the fact that there was some kind of issue in education, was when forward thinking educators created the “New Math”. I’m not any kind of math whiz, but when I was really unable to help my daughter with her math homework, back in the day, within the new structures, I started wondering what had needed “fixing”. The numbers of standardized tests just kept on rising, too.

It’s pretty clear that if our always-taken-for-granted American Opportunity suddenly didn’t guarantee a future for our children; we would, as parents, get angry. Suddenly, the world we could leave them wasn’t as shiny as the one we were left. It makes sense. What took me time to understand is that education became the poster target for any disenfranchisement with the federal government. This occurred despite the fact that education is a state-by-state institution, managed mostly locally.

Suddenly, the loss of opportunity had someone to blame: lazy teachers. Parents were carefully brought along in their discontent by politicians always keeping their fingers pointed at the obvious, intended culprits. This was nothing new in American Politics. The party on the right side of things has always had issues with labor, and the party on the left side of things has always had issues with big money pressure, or so I thought.

I believed that the “Red States” mostly, had lined up to side with whatever education reform du Jour, targeted teachers. All kinds of vitriol was thrown around, usually circling back to the concept of tenure and union job protection. For some reason, even those whose remaining union jobs provided some kind of security felt that teachers should not have the same consideration. They were carefully ushered past all the benefits and ethical reasons why teachers’ longevity in a community was good for students, and how a teacher’s performance couldn’t truly be measured in test scores alone. Entire communities were convinced that any pre-existing hardships or cultural divisions that existed within the confines of the community simply ceased to exist at the edges of the school grounds. Common Core, it seemed to me, was just another of the concepts put forward by education-based corporate interests fanning the flames of discontent for profit. Isn’t that the way this stuff works here in the USA?

Well, there’s more to it than that. Especially since the mostly liberal states are now crying foul to the liberal government that has inserted Common Core into the nation’s curriculum as a result of some mandate. The Red States that usually extoll the virtues of smaller government, now champion how common core is providing a means to get rid of low-performing teachers. It’s all topsy-turvy somehow and the students remain the last to even enter into consideration. They struggled before and will continue to do so as education continues its reign as the tennis ball of politics that every player wants a chance to give a whack to.

Meanwhile, here on Long Island, “CC” is the last worry. When thousands of Central American children climbed the fences and swam the Rio Grande to enter the US for reasons of their own safety, the Immigration Services had to decide what to do. Since many of these minors were indeed, refugees from dangerous places, it was decided that they were to be granted some kind of status and kept here in safe conditions. The Immigration Laws really didn’t have any special rules for unaccompanied minors, so new ones had to be floated. Quickly.

The result here, was since Long Island had HUGE abandoned defense plants and surrounding acreage, they could be easily (?) housed here. Unfortunately, the government was reminded at the last minute that the former defense facilities were also highly toxic sites with years of dumping of solvents, asbestos and other nastiness to leave them an unsafe place to put children.

While they were wrangling this out and changing their minds as to where to put the children, Suffolk County, Long Island’s mostly agricultural, eastern expanse has been left with a huge number of Central American minor children to take care of. Second only to one county in Texas, where they actually crossed over in steady streams.

Back to the classroom. Now, the districts in Suffolk County, already besieged by protesting parents over class size and Common Core, among other issues including ever rising taxes; have to quickly assimilate thousands of new students. Already heavily burdened by property taxes, Long Island parents are beginning to feel like the knot at the end of the rope is unraveling. It has been estimated that the influx of the refugee children will boost classroom size in some districts to as many as fifty children in certain grades.

And, did I mention that Spanish is only one of the estimated eighteen different languages and dialects they speak among their numbers? English not being one of them, the State Board of Education has deemed it necessary to provide full parity to these children by providing instruction in their native languages, in the classroom. Teachers are expected to handle the situation and still produce track-able results according to the CC Mandate.

Am I wrong, but has the entire country gone absolutely nuts? Is there anybody out there who has a clue? The finger pointing has got to stop and some useful brain storming from both sides of the aisle needs to begin. If there is any mandate at all, it is the one that public education in America is worth saving. Sadly, at this rate, surrounded by failed thinking and ongoing political motivation, it’s just not possible.

Sep 18 14

Something new for eBook readers…

by Richard Sutton

Many readers enjoy getting their copy of a new favorite book signed by the author. I know I do. I have several that even have personal comments. When the eBook revolution began, it was the farthest thing from my own mind, but I suppose the time would arrive when I would want a book signed that I only owned on a hard drive. I would have to buy a print copy if I wanted the author’s scribbles.

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All that changed recently, as I became aware of a service offering signed eBooks!  Authorgraph offers signed eBooks from their contributing authors. I signed up, and now my readers can get my work in signed eBook form. They have quite a few authors in a wide range of genres available, so check ‘em out.

Here’s the link to my own books there: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/RichardLSutton

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