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Posts published in “Day: November 20, 2007

A hard lesson to learn

By Kristan Hoffman

The other day, a good friend of mine came to me because she was “freaking out.” She had applied for a major international scholarship for graduate school but had not received a callback for the interview process. This was the second year in a row that she had tried; she did not want it to be the second year in a row that she failed.

Unfortunately, I think I provided little if any consolation. The truth, I told her, is that she probably shouldn’t apply to anything if she isn’t prepared to be denied.

My nonchalance doesn’t come from indifference, but from experience. As a sophomore in high school, I tried out for the Honor Corps on my dance squad. I spent hours choreographing and practicing my thirty-second tryout routine, and even though I was terrified to be watched and scrutinized by the judges — not to mention by my whole squad — I really thought I put my whole heart and soul into my performance that day.

But I didn’t make the Honor Corps.

I spent hours crying that night, and I moped for the rest of the week. A friend who did get into the elite group of dancers tried to comfort me, saying that there was always next year. I thought that was easy for her to say. She had tried out on a lark! She hadn’t invested the same amount of time, energy, or hope that I had.

And that was the key. What I learned from her and from those tryouts was that caring is good, because that’s what makes you try your best, but caring too much only sets you up to be disappointed.

A year later, that very same friend urged me to try out again. She helped me choreograph and practice my tryout piece — which was a lot better than the one I had done by myself — and when I auditioned, I simply danced the best I could.

And I made the Honor Corps.

I would like to say that I learned the lesson instantly and irreversibly, but like most things, it would take some time to fully sink in. A couple years later, as a freshman in college, I applied to be a Resident Assistant, and when I didn’t get the job, I was heartbroken. Everyone—and I mean everyone—thought I was going to get it, so the shock probably hit me worse than the disappointment. But everything turned out for the best, because I did a number of things the next year that I would not have been able to do as an RA, including working at the Carnegie Museum of Art and traveling to New York City to see The Gates in Central Park.

Now, I know better than to pin all my hopes on one thing. When I apply to jobs or submit stories for publication, I adopt the motto “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” And because I believe that things happen for a reason, I trust that “the worst” is actually leading me to a better path.

I came to this conclusion the way I come to all things: the hard way. And my friend may have to do the same with this scholarship. But after spending hours helping her prepare — editing essays, doing mock interviews, giving pep talks — I can sincerely say that she deserves this opportunity, and I hope she learns this particular lesson later, rather than now.

A Thanksgiving Message…

This is a good season. This is the beginning of the holidays and specifically, Thanksgiving week. That’s a good time to think about our blessings, our families and how each has executed these past 12 months. May you find happiness and blessings in your life as we look back on our lives and look forward to our dreams. I get a little sentimental this time of year.
Tomorrow, the vast majority of us will feast.. But we cannot forget those who have not been so blessed. A few days ago I needed to prepare a Thanksgiving message for my church and came across Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford’s “Five Kernels of Corn.” Most all of us know the story but let’s look at it one more time in Dr. Stanford’s words.
“…In the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims had a good harvest of Indian corn. However, the garden seeds they had brought with them did not reproduce well in the New England climate. With the foods they have grown and preserved, the Pilgrims decided to celebrate what they called Harvest Thanksgiving. They invited their Indian friends to join them, and much to their surprise about 90 Indians came and stayed for three days.

“A few days after the Harvest Thanksgiving, the ship Fortune arrived bringing 35 colonists from England. Most of the new arrivals did not have much more than the clothing on their backs. The sailors aboard Fortune also needed food for the voyage back to England, which was an unexpected drain on their food supplies.
“As the food supplies dwindled, every colonist knew daily hunger. They lived on half rations for six months. During the summer, many of the men and boys were two weak and thin to do the heavy labor of raising crops. It was not a good growing season. The harvest of 1622 was slim, and some of the crops that matured were stolen by the Indians.
“They Starving Time came upon the colony in the spring of 1623. Tradition tells us that each person received only five kernels of parched corn a day. When the corn supply was exhausted, they had neither bread nor corn for two or three months, and their entire diet consisted of fish and water.
“For the descendants of Mayflower passengers, the five kernels of corn are symbols of the Pilgrims’ willingness to fight great hardships for their beliefs, and must importantly, of their greatest legacy—a government by consent of the people with just and equal laws.”
A great story that has endured for nearly four centuries. The Pilgrims had a difficult time those first three years, but, Dr. Stanford forgot one thing. The Pilgrims were also looking for, and found, religious freedom.
By the way, if you find yourselves with guests for Thanksgiving dinner may there be less than 90 and may they not stay for three days!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Westfield Fire Department serves area

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY– Volunteer fire departments, such as Westfield, Aldine, Eastex and Little York, are the backbone of our public safety system in Harris County. Medical calls are also answered by ESD#1, the medical responder in these service areas.
Each of these is made up of dedicated men and women who are there when we need them most– fire, car accident, medical emergency.
Departments such as Westfield have a long history of service to the community, and we get to see them at public functions as well as emergencies.
At Westfield, the chief is Maureen Turentine, and she follows in the footsteps of her father, who was the former chief for many years. The department started in 1942, and Maureen joined in 1976. She has been chief for about 4 years. The Assistant Chief is Tommy Searcy.
Westfield is known as a first responder, and therefore keeps paid as well as volunteers on staff so that they are ready for any call immediately. They have had this designation in their service area since 1985. Last year, they answered 2500 calls for service, including fire and emergency calls.

They are part of ESD#25, and get part of their funding from a tax base administered by Harris County. This amounts to a 10 cent assessment on property valuation of $100 yearly.
Chief Turrentine presides over a department with 20 volunteers, 22 paid responders and 2 office staff.
Equipment for the department includes a ladder truck, 2 engines (pumpers), a 2500 gallon tanker, 2 boats, a squad car, and 2 brush trucks. This equipment is housed in two stations now, one on Lauder Road and one on Bentley. Chief Turrentine said that future plans include a new building on Lauder Road across from the present location, where a training facility would be built.
Recently her department participated in National Fire Prevention Week, and visited local schools to meet families, talk about fire safety, and get better known in the community.
Turrentine said that sometimes misconceptions about quality of service come from people who don’t understand the fire protection and public safety systems of the county, and she welcomes the opportunity to explain her department and get to be better known in the community.
Turrentine is one of only a few women chiefs in the area, she said, citing the fire chief in Rosenberg as the only other one she knows.
Westfield’s service area covers 15 square miles with 25,000 residents. It extends from I-45 to US59, and Little York to Greens Bayou.

Aldine student shot at Airline bus stop

ALDINE– Authorities are investigating the shooting of an Aldine High School senior, Benjamin Neal, who was waiting to board a bus on Airline at Lorina streets last Thursday morning around 6:30 a.m.
Neal said that a stranger in a blue Oldsmobile stopped to talk with him, and when he walked away the car followed, and a shot rang out. Neal was wounded in the upper arm, but was able to walk home and call for help. He was treated at LBJ hospital, and discharged.
Authorities think the gun used was a pellet gun, but media reports said that the doctor that treated Neal indicated it might be a 22 caliber wound.
Other Aldine students were near the bus stop when the incident occured, but were not hurt or involved.
Later in the day, Aldine ISD sent a letter home to all parents, explaining the incident. The letter was signed by Cecil Hutson, Principal at Aldine HS. The letter said that the Harris County Sheriff’s office was investigating, and thought it was a random act. However, the shooter is at large at this time.
Neal is a starter on the school’s basketball team. In an interview with channel 13 KTRK, his aunt expressed concern that the injury might affect his ability to play, and to get a scholarship. However, the wound appeared minor, and Neal said he planned to return to the game soon.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. There is a reward, and you will remain anonymous.

Former Nimitz player traded to Astros

Nimitz Senior High School graduate Michael Bourn is coming home to play for his hometown baseball team.
Bourn was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Astros on Nov. 7 in exchange for reliever Brad Lidge and utility infielder Eric Brunlett.
Bourn, who attended the University of Houston on a baseball scholarship, is expected to be the Astros’ starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter when spring training commences in February.
Bourn was a member of a Phillies team that won the NL East title this past season. He appeared in 105 games, had 119 at-bats and 33 hits for a .277 batting average. Additionally, he recorded 33 hits, scored 29 runs, hit one home run, had six RBIs and stole 18 bases. Bourn has two years of Major League experience and should provide some badly needed speed at the top of the order for the Astros.

Police Task Force sweeps Aldine crime areas

As darkness fell Saturday evening, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department quietly moved a mobile command station into an area near Aldine-Westfield and Aldine Mail. Placed far from the roadway between buildings, it remained unnoticed by most area residents. Dispatchers from the Sheriff’s Department were able to work from the remote location communicating with law enforcement officers working in a targeted zero tolerance task force.
State Representative Kevin Bailey requested several months ago that the Texas Department of Public Safety join with Harris County Sheriff’s Department in conducting a combined law enforcement operation. DPS responding to the request joined local deputies in a task force that focused on the unincorporated area of North Houston south of Aldine Bender. The task force focused on drug trafficking locations, gang activity, illegal weapon’s offenses, gambling, auto thefts, and illegal drinking at after hours bars.

“The impact of the Task Force is significant, 14 felony arrests, 18 misdemeanor arrests, 10 DWI arrests along with illegal narcotics and guns being seized,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “Search warrants were executed at four illegal game rooms resulting in over confiscation of more than $17,000, several hundred gambling machines and multiple arrests for possession of gambling devices.”
The intense policing task force that was months in the making was overseen by Lt. Jesse Inocencio of Humble District II substation. Under his command was a force of 39 officers including DPS Sgt. Ken Tuck, 10 state troopers and specialized units.
“In one area residents went out into the streets to thank the officers for being in their community. In another community they were able to target a long suspected drug house. It resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs including heroin and cocaine and the arrests of four individuals,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “I certainly share my constituents’ appreciation for a job well done.”
Specialized DPS units from other areas of the state supported the local sheriff’s deputies and DPS officer. The joint task force resulted in 233 traffic stops, 211 citations, 82 warnings, 18 misdemeanor arrests, 14 felony arrests, 10 DWI arrests and responding to 70 calls for service.
Rep. Kevin Bailey said, “Since the East Aldine Management District is hiring additional deputies for a proactive law enforcement program, they will be providing an ongoing program of aggressive enforcement to keep these criminals out of our communities.” The East Aldine Management District was created legislatively by Rep. Bailey in 2001 and currently employees full-time three deputies. The new proactive program will employee an additional sergeant and four deputies.
The combined task force of more than 30 law enforcement officers and support personnel included the patrol units, K-9 units, Auto Theft and Vice and Narcotics Division. Local deputies participating in the task force included Deputy brook Viningre from the East Aldine Management District and Deputy R. DeLeon from the Airline Improvement District.

Article by Arlene Nichols, District Director, Rep. Kevin Bailey, District 140