‘Tallahassee’ Category


Readin’ and Writin’ and ‘Rithmatic

Originally Published July 8, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know how many students attended public schools in the United States in the 2019-2020 school year? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/, about  50.8 million – 35.5 million in prekindergarten to grade 8, and 15.3 million in grades 9-12.

About 3.7 million students graduated from high school this spring, in the strangest ending to a school year anyone can recall. I’ve heard stories from my parents of “depression years” and school schedules revolving around “cotton-picking time.” My Dad was double-promoted in high school during hard times and wound up graduating at age 16. “Daddy had been a school teacher, and he made sure I got my studies done first. So I’d go to classes in the morning and then put in a crop in the afternoon,” he told. My Mom was dealt a reverse blow – her father held her back for two of her school years; once due to a lengthy illness and once when she simply needed to help support the family. My grandfather was a carpenter, and she dug clay from the riverbank to make bricks. But both parents persevered. They made it, despite the odds.

This year’s high schoolers were hit with an unexpected, unpredictable crisis along about March. In a flurry of fears and fumbles, as the COVID-19 virus began to creep across the country, schools shifted to stay-at-home, online classes. The methods varied from state to state, even within school districts. “Let’s stay home till this passes,” was Plan 1.

It didn’t pass. Virus cases continued to go up and state governors were tasked with issuing mandates to protect their citizens. What a thoroughly depressing “rock and a hard place” to be between. We can’t let 3.5 million kids miss a senior year! But also, we can’t let 50.8 million kids sit side by side in a classroom when the danger of illness, or death, is entirely possible.

So what to do?

You know what happened, it’s past now. My two high-school-senior-grandchildren toughed it out, sitting at home with their laptops; certain hours for online classtime and individual study. Yes, you can STUDY at home (that’s normally called “homework”) but how the heck do you complete a welding class online? They missed the senior prom, the cross-country meets, the camaraderie with school chums. It all went flat.

I applaud the effort their school officials made to create “virtual graduation ceremonies” so they did get to WEAR those caps and gowns; they did get photographed with smiling faces and feted with “immediate-family-at-home parties.” And cake, of course, cake. I’ve heard stories from friends in different parts of the country that told of similar, and some very unusual, solutions for “how to make it SPECIAL for the Class of 2020.”

Life goes on, and the virus isn’t letting up as the fall “school year” fast approaches. The daily news is mostly daily arguments and accusations; we MUST do this; we CANNOT do that. The impact of school closures extends far beyond “educational concerns” or “health concerns.” Financial, emotional, practical, common-sense issues are topsy-turvy; our structured way of life is no longer certain of its footings.

I analyze COVID-19 cases every day on the CDC site; today’s totals are 2,982,900 with 145,663 deaths so far in our 50 states, the District of Columbia, and our US territories.

Top Ten List

Sometimes, I noted, it isn’t good to make the TOP TEN LIST. Today, the ten US states dealing with the highest sheer numbers of COVID-19 cases are:

  1. 399,925: New York. Capital City Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat
  2. 277,724: California. Capital City Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat
  3. 210,594: Florida. Capital City Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican
  4. 210,585: Texas. Capital City Austin, Governor Greg Abbott, Republican
  5. 173,878: New Jersey. Capital City Trenton, Governor Phil Murphy, Democrat
  6. 149,574: Illinois. Capital City Springfield, Governor J B Pritzker, Democrat
  7. 110,338: Massachusetts. Capital City Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, Republican
  8. 105,094: Arizona. Capital City Phoenix, Governor Doug Ducey, Republican
  9. 100,470: Georgia. Capital City Atlanta, Governor Brian Kemp, Republican
  10. 92,148: Pennsylvania. Capital City Harrisburg, Governor Tom Wolf, Democrat

Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Phil Murphy, J B Pritzker, Charlie Baker, Doug Ducey, Brian Kemp, and Tom Wolf, governors of these hardest-hit states, have some tough decisions ahead. So do the governors, and health departments, and school boards, of ALL our states and territories.

There are more than 50 million children out there whose future rocks, and rolls, on the decisions you make.

Tomorrow: Colleges



A Talking-To

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Summer is nearing an end, and I’m wagging my finger  to get your attention this Saturday evening about COVID19 in the United States and the World. The virus hasn’t disappeared yet, and sadly, the United States continues to be coping poorly. The World Health Organization reports 30,369,778 cases tallied up around the globe as of September 19. The Centers for Disease Control reports 6,706,374 cases in the United States as of September 19. Do the math: 22% of the COVID19 cases in the world are in the United States. And remember, the United States accounts for only 4% of the world’s population.


  • WORLD COVID19 cases: 30,369,778
  • UNITED STATES COVID19 cases: 6,706,374

  • UNITED STATES: 22% of World COVID19 cases
  • UNITED STATES: 4% of World population

As to DEATHS from COVID19, the World Health Organization reports 948,795 deaths worldwide due to COVID19 as of September 19. The Centers for Disease Control reports 198,099 deaths in the United States due to COVID19 as of September 19.

My stepmother was one of those statistics. She was buried September 13 in Jasper, Alabama (Alabama now the fifth deadliest state to live in). Her name was Opal Burton and she lived for 97 years, until she contracted the virus while quarantined in a nursing home. Not the way anyone should spend their last days on earth; she was in a place that should have been able to keep her safe. It makes me sad, and it makes me angry that we have let this virus dig into our lives the way it has. God bless you Opal, and forgive the laxity that allowed things to get so far beyond control. Your life was much too valuable to be lost in such a way.


  • WORLD COVID19 deaths: 948,795
  • UNITED STATES COVID19 deaths: 198,099

  • UNITED STATES: 21% of World COVID19 deaths
  • UNITED STATES: 4% of World Population

Within the United States, which states have the WORST RECORD?

The FIVE STATES with the HIGHEST percentage of their population DIAGNOSED with COVID19:

  • Louisiana: 3.47%. Governor John Bell Edwards, Democrat
  • Mississippi: 3.13%. Governor Tate Reeves, Republican
  • Florida: 3.12%. Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican
  • Arizona: 2.93%. Governor Doug Ducey, Republican
  • Alabama: 2.91%. Governor Kay Ivey, Republican

Of those who contracted COVID19, the FIVE STATES with the HIGHEST percentage of those DYING from the virus:

  • Connecticut: 8.09%. Governor Ned Lamont, Democrat
  • New Jersey: 8.08%. Governor Phil Murphy, Democrat
  • New York: 7.29%. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat
  • Massachusetts: 6.89%. Governor Charles Baker, Republican
  • New Hampshire: 5.57%. Governor Chris Sununu, Republican

We’ve got to do better people. What are YOU doing personally to make sure the virus doesn’t grab onto your beautiful body? And if it unfortunately HAS DONE THAT, and you are feverish and coughing and feel totally pukey BAD, what are you doing to make sure you don’t spread it around? Our powers in office can make good or bad decisions about issuing mandates and opening or closing facilities. But it is up to YOU to practice good common sense. You’ve heard enough details about COVID19 symptoms, and dangers. You know the drill. In all the political froo-froo and blame-game playacting, it’s still WE THE PEOPLE who can slow the virus down by sensible behavior and good judgment. Don’t be a ding-dong!

In 45 days, it’s time to VOTE. Stay tuned for a daily post about each of the 45 presidents who have already served, from GEORGE to DONALD. You DO NOT want to miss that. If you think things are crazy NOW, well, they are, but there has been mucho craziness in the past too.

Don’t despair. You know what to do on November 3.


That Virus Thingy

September 1, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Six months have passed since we really started counting “that virus thingy.” I check the US stats on the Centers for Disease Control website every week; so far no US state or territory has had a week go by with NO new cases. Except for American Samoa, bless their peaceful, well-isolated hearts. Today I took a worldwide look – the World Health Organization has an excellent site and really good advice. It’s vitally important to track what is going on in our own neighborhood, but I believe it is equally important to track what is happening beyond our borders. Compare – how are they managing? How are we, in the US?

As of the beginning of September, 2020, the World Health Organization shows 25,541,380 cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide; 852,000 deaths. If we want to compare that death count with the population of cities of equal size – we could say that EVERYBODY in Indianapolis, Indiana is dead now. Or, Seattle, Washington. Dead. No living, breathing persons left in those cities. When you look at it THAT way, it seems like a lot of deaths, doesn’t it? Other cities in the US that have populations in the 800,000 range are Charlotte, North Carolina; San Francisco, California, Columbus, Ohio; Forth Worth, Texas.  Imagine them gone! Imagine a dystopian horror tale, such as Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars (2012); a world where the unexpected happened – a flu pandemic struck – and life on the planet had to adjust to “what is.” While I’m a believer in Positive Thinking, I’m also a believer in being well-informed. And approaching life in ways that are reasonable, and not based on impatience to “get back to normal, now!” Like, opening schools.  Sure, kids are getting a sucky education right now. Sure, parents are sick and tired of having to manage and monitor their children’s schooling from home.  Sure – well the issue is ablaze in arguments and accusations and vastly different proposals. Politics involved. What is the best solution? Start with facts.

Here are the numbers broken down by sections of the world, and then the US.

World Health Organization Statistics – Number of Cases Reported Worldwide as of September 1, 2020

  • Americas – 13,469,747
  • SE Asia – 4,318,281
  • Europe – 4,225,328
  • Eastern Mediterranean – 1,939,204
  • Africa – 1,056,120
  • Western Pacific – 501,959
  • TOTAL WORLDWIDE – 25,541,380

Of the Americas, that’s both North and South, let’s look at what is happening just in the United States. We’ve got the most cases of any American country — 6,004,443 COVID-19 cases reported to date; 183,050 deaths from the virus. That “death” total kills off everybody in Little Rock, just about! The US numbers are big, and continue to get bigger. Over the next month, I’ll be looking at what other countries in the world are doing to combat a pandemic that is “sure ‘nough” real, and how they are keeping their citizens safe.

Meanwhile, wash your hands, keep your chin up (with MASK intact!), and if you happen to live in any of the states below, get in touch with your governor because your state is leading the pack this week, an honor you don’t want.

US States With Highest Percent of Population Diagnosed With COVID-19 as of September 1

  1. Louisiana – 3.2%, Governor John Bel Edwards, Democrat
  2. Florida – 2.87%, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Mississippi – 2.81%, Governor Jonathon Tate Reeves, Republican
  4. Arizona – 2.77%, Governor Douglas Anthony Ducey, Republican
  5. Alabama – 2.57%, Governor Kay Ellen Ivey, Republican

US States With Greatest  Numbers of COVID-19  Cases Diagnosed as of September 1

  1. California – 704,485, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Florida – 616,629, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Texas – 612,969, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  4. New York – 435,783, Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo, Democrat
  5. Georgia – 270,471, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican

US States With Most New Cases Diagnosed in One Week as of September 1

  1. California – 40,416, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Texas – 35,432, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  3. Florida – 22,342, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  4. Georgia – 16,522, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican
  5. Illinois – 15,130, Governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker, Democrat

John Bel Edwards, LA

Ron DeSantis, FL

Tate Reeves, MS

Doug Ducey, AZ

Kay Ivey, AL

Andrew Cuomo, NY

Brian Kemp, GA

Gavin Newsom, CA

Greg Abbott, TX

J B Pritzker, IL


A Joyce Kilmer Angst

04 iciclesLinda Burton Posting From Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Joyce Kilmer loved trees, and so do I. Remember that line “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree…”? I’ve been worrying about my trees way too much of late, at complete odds with Mother Nature. She might as well have been an axman, sending all those February ice storms and breaking limbs all over town. What the ice didn’t get, the power company finished, whacking away every straggling branch that dared come anywhere near a power line and forevermore ruining the shape of every hackberry and pine tree that was unfortunate enough to get planted along the Entergy right of way.

I started back in January trying to clear off those choking “exotics” (meaning, non-native plants that will take over a yard if you aren’t careful) that some quick-grow gardener planted long ago. Turn the house into a rental and neglect the yard for a few years and you’ve got a mess on your hands. A mess of privet hedge ten feet tall and as scraggly as a witch’s hideaway, wrapped with wisteria vines that would support both Tarzan and Jane, all underpinned with sneaky English ivy, which is strong enough to grow right through a windowsill. It just wedges 01 Clearing Brushitself through the tiniest crack! You know what I mean. Back down in the ravine, a totally wild and woolly spot at the end of 9th Street, the wisteria has shimmied its way to the top of 60-foot oaks, with no plans to stop twisting and vining and taking over the world.

But not in my yard! Not with White’s Manicured Lawns in town. Quincy White and his brother Dante have chain saws and other devices designed to “stop the madness” and after a few hours in January managed to get a ten-foot area all around the house cleared away. After the February ice storms, their work tripled, this time sawing downed limbs and making huge stacks out front for the city pickup.

My greatest fear during the ice storm was for the giant camellia at the side of the house. » read more


Still In Tallahassee

7 capitolLinda Burton posting from Tallahassee, Florida – “This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Wisenborn whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for the construction of this building.” A touch of humor, and a telling dedication. The nontraditional Florida capitol is the newest in the country, a modern 22-story tower that rises 307 feet from the public entrance on the Plaza Level to the Observation Deck. It is the fourth building to serve as Florida’s capitol; officially dedicated March 31, 1978. Immediately after its opening, restoration began on the Old Capitol, which sits in front of the new “like a jewel,” with white columns, picturesque grounds, and (although they were down the day I was there) red-striped awnings over the windows. The Old Capitol is a museum today, refurbished to its 1902 appearance, but it was almost bulldozed during the controversy over how to gain space, and where to do it. Tallahassee is not centrally located in 7 old capitol stepsthe state now, but it was in the beginning. The Spanish colonies of East Florida and West Florida had capitals in St Augustine and Pensacola; the establishment of Florida territory in 1822 merged the two. The first session of Florida’s Legislative Territorial Council met at Pensacola; members from St Augustine traveled fifty-nine days by water to attend. The next year they met in St Augustine; western delegates traveled around the peninsula on a twenty-eight-day trek. That’s when they agreed on a halfway point, and that was Tallahassee, an abandoned Apalachee settlement. The third session, in 1824, met in a log-cabin; the precedent was set for Tallahassee as capital city. A two-story structure replaced the cabin in 1826; the third capitol was completed by 1845. And the fourth I’m standing in today, despite the “valiant effort” of Senator Wisenborn. » read more


Those Lucky Kids

Linda Burton posting from Tallahassee, Florida – Florida State University is famed for football, to be sure. The Seminoles just wrapped up their 2012 season with an Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois. But this post focuses on something else FSU is famous for, and that is the Florida State Circus. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and Children of All Ages, come see the show, come to be entertained, come for the color and the fanfare, come to learn some high-flying skills, because Florida State campus has a Big Top! This exciting program has been around since 1947 and was started when the school went co-ed. It’s not a degree program, it’s an extra-curricular activity under the Student Affairs division and was designed to give male and female students “something to do together.” You must be a degree-seeking student registered at FSU to participate. Unless you’re a lucky kid (between 7-17) in the Summer Program on the Tallahassee campus, or at the resort at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Which takes me back to 1973, when my kids were among those lucky kids. But first, about the Circus program itself. » read more


Happy Birthday!

Linda Burton posting from Tallahassee, Florida – The first day of the year is a perfect day for reflection. A glance over the shoulder and we can still glimpse the past, even though our feet are firmly pointed towards the new year ahead. But this year Floridians are giving the past much more than a quick glance; you see, it’s Florida’s 500th Birthday and Viva Florida 500 is about to begin. It was 1513 when Juan Ponce de Leon arrived on Florida’s east coast; the first group of Europeans to document such a landing, and to name the place La Florida. Florida’s documented material history dates back more than 12,000 years, but Spain’s claim in 1513 began a new era in human history; it was the foundation that eventually formed the United States of America. The legacy of Spanish Florida started with Ponce de Leon and continued when Pedro Menendez founded St Augustine in 1565, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America. But Spanish explorers were not the only ones; the French established Fort Carolina in 1564; and the British displaced the Spanish in the late 18th century. Under these various flags lived settlers of multiple nationalities; today a number of different cultures thrive in Florida. Viva Florida 500 is about them all, celebrated with a year-long, statewide, big birthday bash. » read more


From Any Angle

Linda Burton posting from Tallahassee, Florida – Winter is in full swing now, and most of the snowbirds (aka people who hate freezing temps) have completed their annual migration south. South to Florida, the winter haven paradise. While you may think of southern Florida as the place to go for a winter retreat, I’m finding that Tallahassee offers year-round opportunities for carefree outdoor living. According to NOAA, it has snowed in Tallahassee only 32 times in the last 121 years; mostly trace amounts. Average that out and you’ll see that a dusting of snow may appear once every 3.77 years; not enough to keep a serious golfer off the course, or a serious fisherman off the water. I smile every time I walk outside as I gaze at these rolling hills and massive live oak trees. The Tallahassee area has vast tracts of unspoiled forests, spring-fed waterways, and wild coastlines. Visit Tallahassee, a magazine published by Leon County’s Division of Tourism, describes the area as a “rich tapestry of nature and human life.” And that’s not just marketing hype; visitors and residents fit easily into the environment here, engaged with nature’s many offerings. Did you know that nearly a million acres of public lands surround this capital city? There is always something to do outdoors and I’ll start with the granddaddy of them all, the Big Bend Scenic Byway. » read more


That First Christmas

Linda Burton posting from Tallahassee, Florida – The big story near the end of November every year is the story of a feast. It’s called the “First Thanksgiving in America” and depicts Pilgrims and Indians gathered around a table, celebrating a bountiful harvest. The focus, often presented by kids in tall hats on a school-play stage, is gratitude and cooperation. The Pilgrims came in peace, to settle in a new country, but didn’t know diddly squat about surviving in their new surroundings. The equally peaceful Indians gave them a hand, showing them how to drop a dollop of fish into the hole before planting the seeds of native corn and squash, provided by said Indians. The fish was good fertilizer; the crops grew bounteously; and harvest time was a time for feasting together, in peace. It’s a great story, or legend; it’s the way we like to think of the settling of what became the United States. Less fuss is made over the “First Christmas in America” however, at least, what likely was the first Christmas; it happened within a mile of Florida’s state capitol building in present-day Tallahassee. Go back to 1539, and imagine Spaniard Hernando de Soto, and his winter encampment there. It is probable that a Christmas Mass was held. But don’t conjure up images of a joyful celebration with the neighboring Apalachee Indians, for de Soto did not come in peace. » read more