Imagine not being able to read this sentence …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: You are now doing something millions of American can't. You're reading this. We'll admit that we never realized how many people are functionally illiterate, until we met someone who was doing something about it.

We first met Jackie Aguilera over a decade ago at a Houston Money Week meeting … her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for financial literacy not only took us by surprise, but it was contagious. (Admit it, financial literacy sounds boring.) But she was integrating it into a literacy and workforce readiness program for adults, and as we became friends and started working together, we realized she was a leader in her knowledge of adult literacy and a pioneer in how she approached it in dynamic and innovative ways. (DISCLAIMER: The next comment is not meant to plug our book, but as an example of her outside-the-box approach to making learning relevant.) And using unusual resources, such as our book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, to engage students as well as teach a myriad of subjects, even using our bookmark (yes, a simple bookmark!) to introduce important life skills.

Having dedicated more than two decades to the field of adult literacy, she's now the Project Manager of the Mayor's Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL) Houston, working with Federico Salas-Isnardi, Director of MOAL, to carry out Mayor Turner's vision for a Houston where every individual can obtain the skills necessary to prosper and reach their full potential. (Houston is the only major city in the country where the Mayor's Office includes an Office for Adult Literacy!)

Along the way, Jackie has opened our eyes to the number of people who can't read (including one in three Houstonians), and made us stop and think about how that impacts every aspect of their lives … their families … their communities. Last week in our monthly Zoom session, she let us know that there would be a very exciting announcement. And she wasn't kidding! On Tuesday, the Mayor announced the "Houston Blueprint for Adult Literacy," a joint initiative of MOAL and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. We were watching the press conference and couldn't be prouder and more excited knowing that Jackie will be a part of this amazing endeavor. As former First Lady Barbara Bush said many years ago,

If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless.

How times change … there once was a fictional TV show called "Lost In Space" … now there's going to be a real-life "Seat In Space" …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Red heard that "mere mortals" (translation in this case meaning non-astronauts) were going to be launched into space, all she could think of was how that sounded both scary and exciting, whereas Black, unsurprisingly, had much more pragmatic thoughts.

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Sometimes you don't miss something until it's gone. But was it the movies? The escape? Or the popcorn?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: For both Red and Black (but for different reasons), it seemed like the day (or rather weekend) would never come when Red would feel comfortable, post-pandemic, going back to the movies; but Red never expected the stumbling block would involve one of her favorite things.

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BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Until yesterday, when Black explained it to her, Red, like many people, didn't realize that Pride Month evolved from a tragic event, the Stonewall Uprising, into both a tribute and a memorial before it became a worldwide celebration of the LGBTQ community.

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