Mailbag: Fire rings on the beach are happiness

I seldom agree with the California Coastal Commission, but I applaud it for trying to save the few remaining fire rings along the coast. There is nothing quite so joyous and spirit-warming as hot dogs and marshmallows cooking on a stick over an open fire with surf sounding in the background.

Though I am too old to partake of this simple, low-cost party any longer, I would hate to see today's youth denied yet another of the pleasures of my youth. Regarding smoke from fire pits, remember that most of the rings sit idle the majority of the time. Those rich and lucky enough to live on the coast close enough to occasionally see or smell some smoke, count your blessings and don't deny this simple wholesome pleasure to others.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


On educational reforms

I am a huge fan of education reform. As is usually the case, proponents are promoting self-serving ideas while failing to ask the right questions. Classroom sizes have not exponentially grown, and too much of the budget for schools goes into the wrong pockets — doled out by the wrong hands.

Does anyone still remember the Three Rs? Before I entered the California public school system, I was able to speak, read, write and understand simple mathematics. Upon early graduation from Newport Harbor High School, my skills and abilities were similar.

At no point during my education were any classes offered for basic life preparation — let alone meaningful vocational introduction options. Yes, there was wood and metal shop for boys. Without a working understanding of robotics and automation in general, one might question the value of these limited vocational introductions.

An alarming number of our public school grads cannot balance a checkbook, prepare their own income tax filings, put together a monthly household budget, handle investment planning, negotiate major purchases, or perform anything close to long-term planning for college, retirement, emergency contingencies or most anything normal life requires.

It's controversial to estimate how many students might find success in sports, fine arts, home economics, underwater basket-weaving and other such high-potential career paths. Our public school system seems content investing 12 years "educating" our future workforce, absent basic knowledge and tools required to sustain even a modest lifestyle.

I agree with Mark Twain's motto of never letting school interfere with education. I also believe it is never too late to educate our schools.

James H. Bridges

Costa Mesa

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