Deborah Booth

An Issue That Needs Your Attention

Nov 2, 2017

The next two meetings of the DeKalb School Board will deal with a recent report recommending a district diversity plan to help ease racial tensions.

Those tensions have been building for a long time, escalating last year after an incident at the high school.

An Invitation To Be Informed

Sep 28, 2017

Bruce Rauner was elected Governor in 2014 partly because he promised to shake things up. A wealthy businessman with no prior governmental experience, he initiated a budget stalemate when he attached political conditions that Democrats found unacceptable.

We all know what happened next: two long years of unpaid bills that led to crippled social services and struggling public universities.

Film Series Offers Views Of The World

Aug 24, 2017

A cousin once told me that going to the movies was like traveling to different places without leaving home. To see how true this is, I invite you to the Egyptian Theatre in September and October.

Six stunning documentaries -- all released in the last few years and none shown in DeKalb before -- offer memorable views, perspectives, and film techniques. The Green Lens Environmental Film Series will be shown on Thursdays at 7 p.m. The films are free.

Weighing Numbers Against Priorities

Jul 20, 2017

Donald Trump won the presidency, at least in part, because he pledged to bring back coal jobs. He promised to end what he called his predecessor’s war on coal and signed an executive order in March ordering agencies to review or rescind many Obama-era environmental regulations.

But a recent Columbia University study finds that these regulations aren’t the cause of most of the lost coal jobs. What is are clean renewable energy, cleaner sources like natural gas, automation, and a drop in international demand.

What Happened To Their Climate Stance?

Jun 15, 2017

In 2008, presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama both ran on a platform to combat climate change. In 2009, the House passed a cap-and-trade bill to incentivize businesses to cut emissions. The bill died in the Senate.

About Jackson And The Civil War ...

May 11, 2017

I cannot understand how Donald Trump was confused recently about Andrew Jackson's time in history … because Trump actually visited Jackson's home in March.

Even a cursory glance at the museum notes his presidency took place in the 1820s and 30s. He left office 24 years before the Civil War. There were eight other presidents in those intervening years, all of whom joined Jackson in either ignoring or exacerbating the widening gulf in the country.

What's Behind Non-Easter Egg Hunts?

Apr 13, 2017

There's a major controversy brewing in England. Chocolate giant Cadbury removed the word Easter from its annual egg hunt at National Trust sites around the country.

It's now called Cadbury's Great British Egg Hunt. Before, it was the Easter Egg Trail.

An Interesting American Group

Feb 16, 2017

Consider the Amish.

This religious sect settled on farms around my hometown, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, beginning in the early 19th century. They emigrated from Switzerland, attracted to southeastern Pennsylvania because of the rich farmland and tradition of religious freedom. They now number a quarter of a million and live in many states.

A Fond, Admiring Farewell

Jan 20, 2017

Dear President Obama,

It has been an amazing eight years. You swept into office in 2008 on a wave of “Yes, We Can” optimism that became the theme of your administration.

You did your best to find ways to bring people into the mainstream, to give everyone a shot at the American dream -- children of illegal immigrants, minorities, women, gays, people without health insurance. The list could go on and on.

Museum Visits Offer Some Comfort

Dec 22, 2016

A few years ago, my husband and I took a road trip to Pennsylvania. As we drove across I-80, we stopped for a break in Fremont, Ohio. That's how we came to spend a fun afternoon touring the Rutherford B. Hayes museum and home. It was the start of a great hobby.

Another 'Thanks' To Give Today

Nov 24, 2016

Today is Thanksgiving, and I'd be willing to bet that there is someone in your kitchen right now baking, roasting, boiling, or mashing something -- maybe all at the same time! Because this is a day for serious cooking and serious eating.

Most holidays have lots of rituals, but Thanksgiving is pretty much all about the food.

Surrogate Nesting Pays Off

Oct 27, 2016

We've finished the bread; the refrigerator is almost bare. Our bags are packed. The gas tank is full.

We are on baby watch, prepared to drive to Pennsylvania as soon as we get word that our daughter Anna has gone into labor. It's our first grandchild, we know it's a boy, and we're very excited.

We may be ready, but the baby is not. Week 39 turns into week 40 and he stubbornly resists birth. I reach into the recesses of my memory for useful advice and find an old chestnut. Nesting activities, such as baking or cleaning, can bring on labor.

Spectacle Masquerading As Debate

Sep 29, 2016

It was hard to listen to Monday's presidential debate without a sinking feeling about how low the level of public discourse has sunk. A candidate who admits he hasn't paid federal income taxes. Who shouts, "I've got the temperament to be president."

It was spectacle masquerading as debate, at least on one side. On the other side, it was business as usual. Two people with such different world views -- and, yes, temperaments -- that they seem to come from different planets.

What Are They Going To Do?

Aug 18, 2016

It's been a fascinating election season, and there's almost three more months of twists and turns to look forward to. I know a lot of people hate the spectacle, and I can't blame them.

I think one of the big takeaways from this election is going to be how Republican politicians have calibrated themselves in relation to Trump. Because it's become obvious that they have to take a stand. Endorse? Endorse with reservations? Renounce? Staying on the sidelines is just not an option.

Where Was The IT Department?

Jul 28, 2016

It was six years ago, during the first Obama administration. We were getting a computer upgrade and the NIU IT people were transferring information from the old to the new computers. Suddenly, they went into a huddle.

They had found some inactive documents that contained Social Security numbers on our system. At one time, Social Security numbers were commonly collected and used by the university, but no longer. Rightly seen as presenting a security risk, Social Security numbers were no longer collected or used.

Funerals Bring Up Good Memories

Jul 7, 2016

It's often said that funerals are for the living, and I think that's true. I found out how true this spring with the death of two elderly relatives who were very close to me.

We all know that dying is as much a part of life as living, but we really aren't comfortable talking about it. If we can, we avoid it. Until we can't.

Learning Lessons From The Past

Jun 16, 2016

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

Written in 1905 by philosopher George Santayana, those words have become a truism. Think about it. We are always in the process of making mistakes that we try not to make again. Most are small mistakes, like forgetting an umbrella and getting wet.

But Santayana's words have usually been taken to refer to history with a capital H: to wars, or politics … or institutions.

Time Doesn't Change Everything

May 26, 2016

This past spring, I took an undergraduate film class at NIU. This was my first class since the late 80s, a distant era that predates the birth of most of my fellow students. A lot has changed in the classroom since then.

Thinking I'd blend in with the other students, I came to class dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. It turns out, the girls aren't wearing jeans much anymore. The styles now are pajama-like bottoms and moccasin-like shoes --more understandable if the class had been in the morning instead of mid-afternoon.

Recycling Done Right Is Better

May 5, 2016

Nearly everyone I know is a committed recycler, carefully separating glass, paper, plastic, and metal from the trash. Yet a recent conversation with friends revealed lots of different opinions about, well, almost everything. It turns out to be a very complicated subject.

An Idea That Has Appeal ...

Apr 14, 2016

Consider the banana. It's the most popular fruit in the West; we eat as many bananas as oranges and apples combined.

Botanically, the plant is a herb and the banana is a berry. It does not have seeds; to propagate it, the farmer takes a cutting from one plant and puts it into the ground. This means there's little genetic diversity, making the banana vulnerable to disease.

Bananas are grown in 100 countries; and 100 million people in Africa, Latin America, and Asia depend on them for food or income.

You Can Give New Life To Old Books

Mar 24, 2016

Books! They make us laugh and they make us cry. They are a source of knowledge and information. They provide solace and escape.

People who like books love to buy and read them ... and then, well, then they get put on a shelf. If they're lucky, they may find themselves in alphabetical order. For years, they sit there. And then we start to run out of shelf space. Which is when it's time to find a new home for some of these books. You know, the ones you started and didn't like or that you know you won't read again.

#Proudly DeKalb Says It All

Mar 3, 2016

Hashtag Proudly DeKalb.

You've probably seen the signs and t-shirts. What's it all about?

A year ago, a group of committed citizens entered DeKalb into the America's Best Communities competition. Sponsored by Frontier Communications, the challenge was for small towns to come up with an economic development plan.

Faculty Art Biennial Covers The Gamut

Feb 11, 2016

There are only nine days left to see a wonderful art exhibit at the NIU Art Museum.

The NIU School of Art and Design Faculty Biennial showcases the accomplishments of many talented artists. The works in the exhibit include prints, drawings, ceramics, woodcuts, sculptures, fibers, videos, and multi-media works.

Holidays Seem Out To Get Son-In-Law

Jan 21, 2016

I know someone who probably is relieved that the holidays are over:  my son-in-law, Jason. It's not for the reason you might think. We've all begun to notice that the house misbehaves when Jason visits.

During his first Christmas visit, a stream of water hit the library floor as melting snow found a path through the roof. Chaos ensued as the family scrambled upstairs to find and stanch the leak's source. To gain access to the window, my son used his old bed as a stool. It broke. Jason looked a little shell-shocked. We assured him nothing like this had ever happened before.

Time To Call It What It Is ...

Dec 31, 2015

Myanmar has been much in the news since its November election.

You might be drawing a blank here. Myanmar? That could be because for the past 25 years, our news people have often helpfully added a few words of explanation: “Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.” Ah yes, that Myanmar.

Why, you might ask, do we need this help?

Is this because the news media think we're too dimwitted to make the transition? After all, we don't say Thailand, formerly known as Siam. Or Iran, formerly known as Persia.

Live Music Hits All The Right Notes

Dec 10, 2015

I'm going to turn on the radio and listen to some music while I write this. We do it all the time … have music in the background while we do other stuff.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was at a concert. The Avalon String Quartet was performing at NIU. Why drag out to see a live performance? Why not just turn on the radio or a CD or listen to iTunes?

It's More Than Just A Nuisance

Nov 19, 2015

I learn with dismay of another report of a man exposing himself on the path behind Michaels. Like many people, I love to walk that path with its wooded expanse (especially on one side), its spring wildflowers, fall foliage and, yes, its isolated feel.

It is maddening to no longer feel safe walking on the path alone, knowing this guy has been able to commit this act time and again.

I was especially upset to read that a female jogger thinks she's seen him four times in the past five years. He's been out there for five years?

Views From Close To The Tragedy

Oct 29, 2015

The gunman's father said the massacre “would not have happened” if his son had not been able to buy so many handguns and rifles. "It has to change,” he said. “How can it not? Even people that believe in the right to bear arms, what right do you have to take someone’s life?"

In an online posting, the gunman said of another murderer in Virginia, "I have noticed that people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

Walk Softly, Slowly, And Really Look

Oct 8, 2015


I love watching the birds in our garden, but have been slow to learn anything about them. So I was thrilled to learn that bird walks are held every month at Cantigny, a beautiful estate near Wheaton. I joined the group at the visitors center at 7:30 am for the August walk. As we set off, the group paused at a coneflower patch. There was a ripple of excitement when someone spotted a pine siskin, not often seen this time of year.

Old Film Showings Highlight Journey

Sep 17, 2015

  I went to a movie theatre to see a film the other day.  Nothing unusual about that, except the movie was 71 years old.

Thanks to the TV station Turner Classic Movies, “Double Indemnity” -- a classic starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck -- was shown in theatres all over the country over two days this summer. It was an exciting event for people who love old films, and it got me thinking what a journey the film business has had since its beginnings in the 1890s.