She's Banking on Heavenly Job

--The manager of the American National Bank branch in Meriden, Conn., has an unusual habit. The 39-year-old bank executive also happens to be a nun. Sister Mary Richards, who began working at the bank as a bookkeeper 15 years ago, says she is accustomed to stares from customers startled to see a banker in a black habit. "It takes a while for them to realize that I am human and I'm not going to hit them with a ruler," she said. Richards, who belongs to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, said most of the sisters in her order work 9-to-5 jobs in part because the convent wants to be financially self-supporting. When she's not at the bank, Richards can be found either praying, feeding the convent's goats and chickens or offering financial counseling at the convent's Franciscan Life Center. "Sometimes you read in the Scriptures that money is a bad thing," she said. "And certainly, if you have a lot, you can get greedy. But I believe money can be used in a very positive way, as an end for the good of others."

--Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer may have been better known for playing hooky than for scholarship, but his river exploits have inspired the creation of a floating summer college course to study life on the Mississippi. Fifteen students will take a four-week voyage studying the history, biology, geography and literature of the river in a program dubbed Tom Sawyer University. The course was the brainchild of Tom Wright of Bettendorf, Iowa. "What we want to do is look at the river from its length and its breadth instead of its banks," Wright said. The course will be managed and accredited through Scott Community College in Bettendorf. Students will travel down the river, not on a raft, but aboard the Ste. Genevieve river dredge and, later, on a houseboat. Wright is enchanted with the idea of recapturing the spirit of life on the Mississippi. 'When I think of this I envision a houseboat moored on a sand bar, with 15 students and a couple of professors around a bonfire as the sun is setting, discussing the actions of the day but having a tremendous amount of fun too."

--Thirty days hath September, April, June and November--and January, February, March, May, July, August and October--if Maurice and Mollie Freedman of New York have their way. The couple are promoting what they call the Tranquility Calendar, which they maintain will simplify statistics, budgeting, banking and the monitoring of such personal schedules as birth control and menstrual cycles. Each month would have 30 days, except December, which would have 35, or 36 days in a leap year.

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