In the movieSmoke Signals,” the main characters, Thomas and Victor, hitch a ride off the Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation with a young woman who drives her car around the Rez all day in reverse because that’s the only direction the car will go in. I highly recommend this hilarious movie, and seeing it again recently got me to thinking.

Driving in reverse would make it powerfully difficult to navigate freeways, curvy roads, mountain passes or, for that matter . . . life! Yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been observing.

Throwing out Cursive

Throw that outdated junk out! seemed to be the attitude toward teaching cursive to children a few short years ago. I personally heard a principal tell parents on the first day of sixth grade that our student, or any student, didn’t need such an antiquated mode of communication anymore. He literally espoused that keyboarding was the new cursive and that printing would suffice for anything else.

Hmm . . . imagine the signers of the Declaration of Independence printing one of our most important historical documents and then signing their names in juvenile block letters.

Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. has some definite opinions on this subject in an online article in Psychology Today, May 2017.

She said, ”  . . . printing and cursive writing stimulate the brain and mind in unique and encompassing ways that typing does not, including hand-eye coordination, self-discipline, attention to detail, style, and global engagement of thinking, language, and working memory areas.”

She cites that studies have shown laptop note-taking “produces a more shallow understanding of material compared to notes taken by hand . . . other research has shown that students using laptops to take notes do not perform as well on exams as longhand note-takers.”

Occupational therapist and creator of the widely used program, Handwriting Without Tears, Jan Olsen worries about the loss of cursive’s signature contribution: the signature.

“Handwriting is meant to be personal,” she said. “That’s why a signature is a signature. Because nobody writes exactly like anybody else.”

Conversely, Tamara Thornton, a University at Buffalo historian who tackled the subject in her 1996 book, Handwriting in America: A Cultural History isn’t swayed by the signature argument. “People do like to express their individuality, but they can do it in many ways,” she said. “For all I know, people are coming up with their own emoji and maybe that will replace the signature.”

Say what? An emoji in place of our personal signature?

A hacker’s dream!

Can’t you already see them salivating, hands poised—waiting and watching for that glorious day when signatures are replaced with “unique” but  replicable smiley faces and ice cream cones wearing princess hats and frogs in tuxedos?

Old Math vs. Common Core or New Math 

Two photos – that’s all I’m going to say about it. Oh, and I have for your viewing pleasure a lively, short video to watch. Turn down your volume first unless you like loud background noise. Worth seeing, for sure!


Knowing How to Drive a Stick Shift

Of course, this blog is entirely subjective. Everyone has the right to his/her own opinion. But when I heard that learning how to drive a stick shift vehicle was being frowned upon by some and discouraged by others, I had to weigh in. No surprise, right? Lol.


  • You have the ability to drive any car on the planet.
  • You sharpen your driving skills by anticipating what’s coming ahead, planning slow-downs and stops, and determining when to downshift rather than use the brakes.
  • Texting and shifting DO NOT go together.
  • It’s fun!
  • You develop a set of coordinated motions and reflexes that would simply never happen without using a manual transmission.
  • Bragging rights! According to some reports, only 18 percent of Americans can drive a manual transmission. If you do, brag!!


  • Harder to sell; less buyers.
  • It’s more difficult in stop-start situations, especially on hills. Remind me sometime to tell you what happened when I drove my little stick shift Toyota from Arizona to the steep hills of San Francisco many years ago. I still have nightmares.

Knowledge is power. Knowing more is always better than knowing less!

How did we forget that?

So, when you are told it’s folly for a child to learn cursive when studies have shown it makes them smarter and better learners to do so . . . when the new or common core math takes up half a page or more of imaginative, artful (silly) figuring plus fifteen minutes or longer vs. one-half inch of a scratch pad and five seconds to calculate . . . when someone says it’s stupid to learn to drive a standard transmission car even if you have an interest in doing so, you can merely reply:

Driving in reverse is only funny in the movies!



Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas to an “Okie” mom and a Texan dad. Her younger years were spent in Texas and Oklahoma; hence, she knows all about biscuits and gravy, blackberry picking, chiggers, and snipe hunting. At the age of eight, she moved to a large cattle ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona. Later, she left her studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love, and exactly what she DIDN’T want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised three children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional Western articles, and served as managing editor of a Fortune 500 corporate newsletter. She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats, and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Her trilogy, Silki-The Girl of Many Scarves, was a finalist in three categories in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. BLACKBERRY ROAD is her first historical fiction novel.


Blackberry Road is available on Amazon.

Trouble sneaks in like an oily twister one afternoon in 1934 Oklahoma, pulling Biddy Woodson into a dark mystery that changes her life forever.

“Beyond the humor and entertaining antics of the main character, Biddy Woodson, BLACKBERRY ROAD has depth and meaning as it explores stirring universal themes that we expect in great literature” ~ D.B. Jackson, acclaimed Historical and Western author

BLACKBERRY ROAD is engaging, entertaining, and a book that is sure to linger with you . . . the trip is well worth the time ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and publicist


What’s next? The Accidental Road, a historical novel set in 1954, On the exterior, it’s about a different side of America emerging from the dust of war and prosperity—an underbelly few comprehended even existed. Internally, it’s about a mom and her teenage daughter escaping a personal war, and how they wound up in Holbrook, Arizona, instead of Las Vegas. It’s about a town full of ghosts and tales, treachery and secrets, and how sometimes you have to hold your hands over your eyes and leap, not knowing where you’ll land.