The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

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Writers: Help my kid learn to spell

Thursday, February 21, 2013, 14:00
Section: Arts & Entertainment, Life

My son, James, is learning to read. (Yes, kids read in kindergarten now, which would have made kindergartener me immensely jealous.) He’s doing pretty well, except when it comes to passing his current set of “sight words” that he has to be able to spell from memory before moving onto the next reading level.

I’d like to double down on this vocabulary list, with an extra emphasis on the words he’s struggling with. And since I know a ton of writers, I was hoping to tap your collective creativity and get a few new stories for him to read.

Here’s the list. Asterisks mark words he’s having extra trouble remembering how to spell, and would ideally be present in all stories:



(And yes, some of this is obviously due to the loss of the letter thorn, but what are you gonna do?)

Post the stories here. Toss in a link to an image that goes with the story, if you like. I’ll print out each of the stories for him and incorporate them into his reading.

And thanks.

A changing of the guard at the Hesperia Star

Monday, July 2, 2012, 18:00
Section: Journalism, Life

This week, I became the longest-serving employee of the Hesperia Star, just edging out former editor Peter Day’s record. I’ve now been at the Star for eight years and four months. But that’s it: At lunchtime today, I gave my two-week notice to my supervisors at the Daily Press.

It’s been a pleasure covering Hesperia and the Victor Valley for the last eight years. I believe that, on the whole, I’ve done a good job and that the community might be at least a bit better off for my having been here. And that’s a good thing, since it’s home to my in-laws and it was home for me, my wife and our son as well. I’ve worked hard to make sure the commuters who make up the bulk of Hesperia’s working adults can know what their local governments — which have more immediate and profound impacts on them than their representatives in either Sacramento or Washington typically do — are up to while they’re traveling back and forth on the I-15. I’ve covered all but one of the Hesperia service personnel who’ve lost their lives as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I even, accidentally, got a homeless man off the street, with a new home, a new job and a new shot at getting things right.

But eight years is a long time to be on a single beat. Although there’s certainly been a benefit to having personal knowledge of politicians’ previous incarnations or the history of long-running stories like the Ranchero Road Underpass, the Hesperia casino project or the California Charter Academy audit and subsequent indictments, there’s also a danger of falling into habits when it comes to looking at given issues. It’s time for fresh eyes on Hesperia.

And it’s also time for new challenges for me. I will be moving to another Southern California newspaper, where I’ll be responsible for the coverage of 16 school districts, a major change from the hyper-focused coverage I’ve done since 2004. Truthfully, the challenge is a little scary, but that’s a good thing, too: I’ll be a better reporter as a result of being forced to grow and develop new muscles.

(I won’t be disappearing from the Victor Valley entirely, though: Last year, the Hesperia Star office came in 3rd place in People’s Choice at two chili cook offs, two weekends in a row. I think we’ve finally cracked the code, and I’ll be back to try and improve on that ranking. Look for us cooking up a big pot of chili at a cook off near you, this October.)

RIP, Grandmother Yarbrough

Tuesday, August 2, 2011, 17:56
Section: Life

Netty Madden Yarbrough died on 29 July, 2011 at age 87 in Longview, TX.

NettyBorn in Columbus, GA, she then went to Atlanta, GA at age 17. She moved to East Point, GA where she raised her two sons while operating several businesses. In 1978, she moved with a close friend and business partner to Bradenton, FL where they ran several other businesses. Before retiring, they created and ran a pet boarding kennel in Myakka City, FL. She moved to Mt. Pleasant, TX in 2011 near one of her sons.

In her twenties, Netty was a highly ranked amateur golfer on the Pro-Am Circuit while a member of Druid Hills Country Club in Decatur, GA. She played with both Babe Zeharias and Louise Suggs. She gave up golf to care for her young family but took the game up again fifty years later. After only a few months of practice, she had played a 6-under-par round and was carrying a consistent 18-handicap. Not bad for an out of practice 75 year old!

During her long life, she endeared herself to many people with her humor, inspired others with her persistence and honesty, and, set an example for all with her loyalty and courage. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

She was predeceased by three brothers (James, Clinton and Douglas Madden), two sisters (Margaret Mitchell and Ruby Graves Munday), and her long-time friend and partner Shirley Degraves of Myakka City, FL. She is survived by two sons, Lanier B. Yarbrough of Oakland, CA and Dane Madden Yarbrough of Lone Star, TX, one niece, June Orr Boyd of Atlanta GA, four grandsons, and six great-grandchildren.

There will be no memorial service at her request. Cremation was carried out by the Bates-Cooper-Sloan Funeral Home of Mount Pleasant, TX.

James and Yo Gabba Gabba!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 18:41
Section: Life

James’ first live show was the Yo Gabba Gabba! There’s a Party in My City Tour, which the family saw on Nov. 26, 2010, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

The origin of chili mac?

Friday, February 12, 2010, 15:18
Section: Life

A former coworker linked this article on Facebook, which makes the very dubious claim that DC invented chili mac, a dish I grew up eating.

What makes it dubious, for starters, is that the Hard Times Cafe’s “chili mac” was actually Cincinnati chili — chili served over spaghetti noodles, although the Hard Times version was less sweet than the Cincinnati versions I’ve tried over the years. The chili mac I had growing up was two cans of Hormel chili (one with beans, one without) served over a bunch of elbow macaroni, with dried Kraft Parmesan cheese shaken on top. (Today, at home, we use Stagg Dynamite Hot chili and refrigerated shredded Parmesan.) Hard Times did do the shake cheese thing, though.

My mom, who served it to us as a way to stretch the family’s food budget until payday, learned it from her mother, whom I don’t think ever went anywhere near Washington, DC, until after I was already born.

Looking online, I see a lot of people claiming that chili mac is a derivation of Cincinnati chili, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, etymology-wise. Wouldn’t it be “chili-ghetti” or something, then?

There’s an appalling (to me) lack of scholarship on this subject. Chef Boyardee (who turns out to have been an actual guy originally named “Boiardi”) had a single can version of the dish starting in the 1970s and the U.S. Military now has a version as an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat ration), but that also seems to be a recent thing, with no precursor in the older c-rations the military used to eat.

But the origins of chili mac may actually be almost as old as normal chili, and date to the same part of the world: The oldest citation I’ve found is this claim that it’s a Texas recipe dating to at least 1918!

I am excessively curious about this. Does anyone have any additional insight into this?


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Veritas odit moras.