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Posts published in “Day: October 16, 2007

The end is a beginning

As new columnists, we would like to use this first opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and let you know a little bit about who we are and where we are.

For us, one summer has ended, but another is just beginning. As the leaves transform from green to gold, we too are changing. At 22, we are no longer in the spring of our lives, when everything is beautiful and new. Now things are heating up, making us sweat, working up our thirst. This is not like the season of play we used to anticipate so eagerly. This is our transition into the so-called Real World.

Even though we have been best friends for the past 8 years, we find ourselves entering this new phase in very different ways. One is back in Texas, where we were born and raised; the other moved 1,100 miles away to Ohio. How did we get to these places? Summer brought us here.

* * *


On May 21st, I carried the last cardboard box from my dorm room to my car. With a mixture of reluctance and excitement, I closed the trunk, settled in behind the wheel, and pulled away from campus. Looking in the rearview mirror, what did I see? A beautiful university, an exciting city, and four of the best years of my life. And when I looked ahead? The great unknown.

Well, not completely unknown. From a map, I learned that “Cincinasty” sits in the bottom left corner of Ohio. From my boyfriend, who graduated and moved there a year before me, I learned that the city serves as corporate headquarters to Procter & Gamble, the company that gives us Crest, Charmin, Tide, and every other consumer product we need to survive. From the United States Post Office, I learned that it’s spelled C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I, not C-I-N-C-I-N-A-T-T-I. Oops.

So, Cincinnati, OH is home to Steven Spielberg, Ken Griffey Jr., Nick Lachey, and now, me. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer just two days before graduation, so it was bye bye summer, hello 9-to-5. I jumped straight into my new city and my new career, making me wonder, whatever happened to baby steps?

But I guess that’s the point: I’m not a baby anymore. Not even a kid. I’m an adult, more or less, and this is how it goes. Work, eat, pay bills, sleep. Repeat.

To tell you the truth, it’s really not that bad. There are things I miss, like my family and friends, but I sincerely enjoy my work, I have a roof over my head, and the weather here is great! Truly I am very grateful for all of that.

But there’s something missing. Though I am doing a lot of things for myself — reading for leisure, practicing piano, playing sports — I feel less personally fulfilled than I did in college. As a Resident Assistant and student leader, I practically had meaning thrown at me. I assisted my fellow undergrads almost 24 hours a day, arranging study groups, volunteering sessions, or trips to the emergency room. While I don’t necessarily want to be on-call all the time again, I do want to feel like I’m contributing to my community in some larger way.

In school, it’s so easy. Every day, we are given purpose and value. Through education, through leadership, through personal interactions. But out here, in the Real World, we lose a lot of that. We struggle, because suddenly we are in a void. We cannot find meaning. We have to make it.

So that’s what I’m doing now. Working and writing, yes. Exploring a new city and taking new steps in my relationship, yes. But most of all, I am trying to make meaning in my life, with my life. Because that’s what really matters to me.

* * *

To be continued…

Kristan Hoffman and Angie Liang have been friends since middle school. Kristan is the daughter of newspaper publisher Gilbert Hoffman, and both she and Angie worked for the paper during summers. Currently Angie is a graduate student in advertising at the University of Texas in Austin, and Kristan works at a graphic design firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kristan and Angie would love to hear from you! Email

Aldine teacher receives $25K national Milken Award

NORTHEAST– Carver High School teacher Justin Singleton received quite a surprise when he arrived at school on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Unbeknown to him, an assembly was held in his honor to announce that he was the recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award.
Lowell Milken, co-founder and chairman of the Milken Family Foundation, was on hand to make the announcement to a stunned Singleton as his peers and students roared their approval of naming one of their own one of 80 middle school and high school teachers who are being honored this year for furthering excellence in education.
As a recipient of the Milken Educator Award, Singleton received an unrestricted financial award of $25,000.
“Teachers have the most important jobs in America,” Milken said. “We entrust them with the enormous responsibility of preparing our young people with the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to be successful in a most challenging 21st Century. The Milken Educator Award says, in a small way, that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded.”

Singleton, who teaches world geography, said he was overwhelmed with the award.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “Thank you so very much. This is just amazing. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. I love what I do (teaching) and I do it to the best of my abilities.”
Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Award has no formal nomination or application process. Educators are recommended for the award without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education. Candidates for the Milken Educator Award are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
•Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
•Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
•Strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
•Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.
Including this year’s selections, the Milken Educator Award has recognized more than 2,300 educators with more than $58 million since the awards inception.
Prior to making the announcement concerning Singleton’s award, former NFL great Rosie Grier delivered a motivational message to the audience. Also on hand for the announcement was acting Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, Aldine ISD Board President Marine Jones, Vice-president Steve Mead, Board Member Rick Ogden and Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg.

Northeast News nominated as Business of the Year

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– The Northeast News has been named as a finalist in the 21st Annual Small Business Awards program of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District.
Each year since 1986 the Small Business Advisory Council of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District has honored area entrepreneurs for their contributions to the economy and the community.
The final winners in each of the college’s 5 districts will be named at an awards banquet, to be held Nov. 8 at the Crowne Plaza Greenspoint hotel. Three finalists compete in each district for the final honors.

Winners have demonstrated the following attributes: Leadership in the community and industry, poritive entrepreneurial image, integrity and reputation, exemplary business operation, service contribution to the small business community, peer recognition, and business growth.
The 15 finalists include the following: Boullion Graphics, Shubot Law Firm, Perry Pools-spas, Lets Mechanical, Hughes Filters, Frost, Biog Corp, Daniel Office Products, Homewatch Caregivers, Northeast News, Magoo’s Printshop, Servopro, and Chaparral Management.
Winners will be chosen in the five college districts: North Harris College, Tomball College, Kingwood College, Montgomery College, and Cy-Fair College.
Gilbert Hoffman, publisher of the Northeast News since 2002, thanked the NHMCCD for the recognition as one of the finalists in the Awards program. Hoffman succeeded the founders of the newspaper, Vic and Donna Mauldin, who started the paper to serve North Houston over 31 years ago. He also thanked those who wrote letters in support of his nomination, including State Representative Kevin Bailey, Bill Townsend of North Houston Bank, and Reggie Gray of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber.
He emphasized that the newspaper serves a unique place in the Northeast community, as a voice to inform and represent all the people.

NHMCCD seeks new name

The North Harris Montgomery Community College District is seeking community input as they prepare to change their name.
The Name Review Committee has narrowed the field of suggestions to three names” Lone Star College, North Horizon College and North Star College. “In the last round of voting the majority of responses came from district employees, said Jill Bouillon, 2007 Chair-elect for the North Houston-Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce and member of the Name Review Committee. “While that is no surprise the committee would really like more input from community members.” Bouillon said that votes would be accepted until Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. Votes for one of the three finalists can be made by logging onto the college’s website at Once the votes are in, the committee will present the final recommendation to the chancellor and board of regents. They will decide whether to change the name or keep it the same.

You eat what you have

While making the purchase of a rutabaga today at the supermarket; the cashier at the store asked what it was and said she’d never seen one much less tasted one. Not many folks eat rutabagas but they are served on occasion at the little house on Goose Creek.
A rutabaga is considered a food of famine and that means “what you eat when you are poor or there ‘bouts”. Probably on the same level as turnips and sugar beets if you eat such.
Shortly after me and the Mrs. eloped 38 years ago, yours truly got mad at work and gave notice. They took it and we went on a famine food diet for several months near as I can relate.
We dined on bologna sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, banana sandwiches, Vienna sausage sandwiches, Spam sandwiches and tuna sandwiches with lots of pork and beans.

You eat what you got and get on with it or at least that the way I was brought up.
We still eat most of the sandwiches mentioned, but the Mrs. will bluntly refuse a Spam and Vienna sausages because we ate so much of it.
But that’s all right; we have a new generation because our granddaughter likes Vienna sausages.
Reckon by having eaten such a variety of and enjoyed the famine foods it has caused me to have mixed taste. Back when we had the cabin @ Day Lake, me and the Four Dog would have turnip greens and ribeyes for supper and breakfast if any was leftover.
A can of tomatoes cut up with crushed saltines make a cheap, quick meal and mighty tasty. Four Dog likes mustard on his fold over Spam sandwich with onion. Guess it depends on how your taste buds work.
Back when I was a chap in Georgia, my taste buds were in order, or at least I thought they were. There were numerous items I would not eat nor drink while growing up.
My folks had a restaurant back then with their main product being fried catfish, fried potatoes, fried hush puppies, Cole slaw, and sweet tea.
Did not know what a shrimp was at that time nor would I eat it until I was in my 30’s. To this day it still reminds me of bait. I’d take a slice of fried fatback any day over the bait. Some people call fatback: streak-Olean, Tennessee Bacon, salt pork and it is what pork rinds are made from.
My grandparents milked their own cow and yours truly ventured to the stall each morning when Ma Pearl went to pull the cow’s teat. I would not drink that sweet milk, rich as it was. They went to all the trouble to pour the milk in a container from the store for me to drink it.
It simply was not good with all that yucky stuff (cream) floating in top of the glass. That’s why we buy fat free or 2% milk to this day.
Wonder where the granddaughter gets all her pickiness from when she puts her feet under our table?
You hear the one about the snake needing glasses? The snake went to the doctor telling him his vision is not what it was and he can’t see well. The doctor checked his eyes then fitted the snake with a pair of glasses and asked that he is to return in two weeks.
The snake came back in two weeks most depressed. The doctor asked if the glasses were any help.
The snake says they helped alright, said he found out he’s been living with a water hose for two years.