Posted by Ellen

Norman hit the bigtime back in October of this past year, at the 40th anniversary gala of the Pension Rights Center, when he was honored as a Retirement Security Superhero. You just never know where life will take you: one day, you're catching a ride to Woodstock with your high school biology teacher, and next thing you know, you're a retirement security superhero.

Norman was selected for the award, according to Dan, the very nice man who introduced him at the gala, because he has the superpower of accomplishing work while he sleeps. That's not what Dan said in public, which is a good thing since it's not true, but it really is what he said to us after the event, when nobody was around.  What he said out loud was that Norman has devoted and is still devoting millions and bajillions of hours to Pension Rights Center projects, writing and testifying and helping to change the rules so that fewer Americans will get screwed out of their pensions and retirement savings.

Why does he do all this, on top of working his day job as a bearded professor? What motivates a person to become a retirement security superhero?

At the gala, Norman explained the roots of his "career path." Forty or so years ago, back when he was in law school, he was offered a summer job in Beckley, West Virginia, working with retired coal miners whose pension claims had been turned down. He asked his father if he should take the job.

"Definitely," his father said. "It sounds like a lot of fun."

There are people all over America now who know Norman as the guy who helped them get their pension. A lot of other people work with him as he does this stuff, especially the Karens–pretty much all the staffers at the Pension Rights Center are named Karen, and they too put in millions upon millions of hours struggling to fix our retirement system.

Norman would agree with his dad that it's fun work. Also, the Pension Rights Center party was a lot of fun, especially the part where we got to hear a superhero identify us to the world as "the owner of the spousal survivor annuity of my defined benefit plan." Aw, the way these superheroes talk.

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Posted by Ellen

Ouija is the title that photographer Lucy Stamler gave this self-portrait. She's the girl on the left.

Lucy, a sixteen-year-old eleventh-grader at Toronto's Etobicoke School of the Arts, has at least three claims to fame. First, her photo won the gold medal in the international division of the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. And second, we can proudly claim her as family: her Aunt Cecelia is our sister-in-law.

Finally–and we confess we do not get many opportunities these days to bring this up–this here blogger also won an award in this same competition, about forty-eleven years ago. We didn't get a gold medal, though, or even a silver medal; we won $25 and a ball point pen as some kind of a runner-up in the story-writing division.

So we have sort of a personal reason to be extra-extra proud of Lucy. And we also really like this thing of doing a selfie with your eyes closed.