Friday, November 20, 2015

NRU education edition

It has been hard to read these ... not because they are bad news, but because I feel like in my break up with education, I need to figure out how to not *care* about this stuff.  Fat chance, I guess, but one has to try to build some healthy boundaries.

This is a long list of mixed bag stories - mostly offered with little commentary. Enjoy, ignore, distribute, or refute at your leisure.

LAUSD and how teachers are dealing with new discipline guidelines...

Rewriting the curriculum to include a South Korean Korea, of course, not here, don't get excited.

What teachers really want, it's not what teacher haters would have you believe.

Closely related: low teacher morale, the newest education crisis.

Op Ed on teachers for the needy.

A different take on schools in the US and what our typical view says about us.

Ostensibly this is a story about a strange coincidence and students' resiliency, but it is also the story of a great teacher.

A piece on a different take on teaching English Language Learners, hopeful..

Geffen, UCLA and paying for private school education for the profs and staff of a public university.  You do the math.

Thanks to the many college students standing up to bias, prejudice, ignorance and racism (on small and large scales) around the country, some of the news media decided to talk about microaggression (or whining as many who have never suffered discrimination-other than red cups at starbucks- would have you believe).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Thanks Jack!

Jack Kornfield read this at Monday's dharma talk.  It was magnificent.  I had to share.  Enjoy - and do go listen to Ellen read it.  It seems long in writing, but you will wish it were longer.

Gate C22
(second link goes to Ellen reading this)

Ellen Bass (more from her here)

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching —
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn't look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after — if she beat you or left you or
you're lonely now — you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ugh, NRU, and sigh

For those who misread protest against violent police as anti-police sentiment, please take a minute to read this:  As citizens we deserve to feel protected and served by our law enforcement.  The largely just, competent and proactive police officers should repudiate the unlawful behavior of their violent and racist co-workers.  They should stand with fellow citizens in holding the "bad apples" accountable; as should the courts, rather than contributing to a climate that defends and, thus, encourages unlawful, violent and deadly behavior.

All this before Beirut, Paris, the latest in Baghdad and Syria.

On a different note, this time last year, I was picking up my distant aunt's ashes because I read an article about the unclaimed dead in Los Angeles county.  This year, thanks to that story, the list is digitized so anyone can look for their departed ones.

What about willpower?

Oh, Charlie Sheen, may you find some peace for all this turmoil.   I worry about Charlie.  Not in a teen idol gone awry way -- I worry about him in that way he is a poster child for mental illness not being treated properly in our society. It seems like we either demonize it or use it as a source of amusement. Would we do that with cancer?  Anyway, I met Charlie Sheen once at LAX.  He was sitting in a little bar waiting for his luggage.  Sweet as pie though he was obviously irritated by the travel mishap.  We chatted; he tore a piece of the paper bag holding whatever he had bought at the concession stand and he signed his name.  He wished me well, and I hurried off not wanting to be a bother.  He had really been very nice.  I saw him again at a nightclub some years later.  He was out carousing with Nicholas Cage.  I didn't speak to him, and he didn't seem like the nice, young man I had met at the airport.  Ah... life, it takes us down so many different path and tempts us with mysterious alleys.  I hope he can find peace.

And as we all search for meaning, here are Anne Lamott's thoughts.  We all need some perspective, peace, gratitude and compassion right now.

Friday, November 13, 2015

broken hearted

...and praying for peace, compassion and healing.  These are the only anti-terror tools that I believe can make a difference in our violent world.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Poetry Thursday ... more RUMI

Love means
to reach for the sky
and with every breath
to tear a hundred veils.
Love means
to step away from the ego,
to open the eyes
of inner vision
and not to take this world
so seriously.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans' Day

I don't believe in war.  I know that it "exists" but I don't believe there is any reason for it to exist.

This does not mean that I don't respect the men and women who bravely serve our country here and abroad.

I wish we would allow them to spend more of their time helping those in need, and sowing peace, rather than making war or any of its residuals. 

We have tremendous power and potential for good.

Today, I am going to believe in the ways we can promote peace and the millions of veterans who did just that despite having been sent to *war*

Hug a veteran and give him/her much respect; shower the world with peace today; and love someone prickly even if it hurts a little bit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tough way...

... To spend the day. Just kidding. 
Started work at 5:30a but now I am sipping wine. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

NRU mishy and mashy and terse

Such a wild collection of articles have been sitting open on my desktop ... see the headlines:

The Funny Thing about Adversity

The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield

Spoken Word Poet Elizabeth Acevedo Issues a Challenge to Rape Culture 

Standoff in Boulder [hint -- Buddhists vs prairie dogs ... ]

something to smile about ... silver linings abound.

If you don't know Father Greg Boyle, you can start here ... and donate if you can, in any way you can...

Friday, November 06, 2015

Exhaustion and silver linings

Four days of 5:30am starts, five days straight and one more to go (thankfully not starting til 7:30am).  Three of those days marathon scoring days: 11 hours, 12 hours, and 10 hours. 

Every muscle in my arm, neck, shoulder aches. Stretching helps. The short walks and long walks help. But I shift and several areas in my spine pop. 

Saving grace and silver lining: daylight saving means watching the sunrise as I am working the first hour of my shift and glorious sunset as I walk at the end of the long shift. 

Blessings from the universe or the ability to be present? Either way I am thankful.

P/S Does this count as noticing the unpleasant and pleasant as I was supposed to be doing all week?? 

These are actually both sunset pics from Thursday. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Poetry Thursday -- RUMI

You were born 
with potential. 
You were born 
with goodness 
and trust. 
You were born 
with ideals 
and dreams. 
You were born 
with greatness. 
You were born 
with wings. 
You are not meant 
for crawling, so don’t. 
You have wings. 
Learn to use them 
and fly.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


I don't smile easily.  I don't really know because I rarely even check myself out in the mirror, but I just know that I think to myself, smile back when someone smiles at me.

But, when I do smile, it is generally so authentic that it disarms.  I am sure the brave might admonish, you should smile more.

Smiling, for me, is just organic.  When I am touched or moved or feel close to something or someone, the smile blooms unbidden.  I have a hard time faking a smile.  

Monday, November 02, 2015

Rainy days and Mondays

Too dry to not be happy about light, steady rain... but it is shaping up to be a gloomy day.  After the endless summer, I am looking forward to the fog and chill.  I will be happy to welcome more of that wet stuff if it decides to fall some more.  Thinking about giving into the darker feelings, too.  Storm clouds have been massing behind my eyes for weeks.  Maybe it is time for the tears to flow as well.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I needed this today...

...maybe you do, too.

"... 'Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership:'
  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway."
This is by Kent Keith (not Mother Teresa as it is often attributed) and it is piece of a pamphlet titled: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council.

The fascinating story about how this became "by Mother Teresa" is here.  

I was sitting here feeling sad and frustrated and trying to not be overwhelmed by the sadness.  ...anyway with whispers of these commandments came to my mind, so I googled it.  

Here is the version we usually see, though it is intact:
The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Advice from L. Erdrich

Advice to Myself
Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Somewhere in there was supposed to be a little hummingbird, but maybe he/she flew away before I snapped these?? Do you see the bird?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NRU education edition college for philanthropy? Sounds interesting and potentially awesome and potentially dangerous depending on who is giving the classes.

I can't even offer commentary on this piece about UC and whether or not they are spending enough on their core mission ... just read it and you decide.

Something else I am too tired to offer commentary on ... better late than never?  Or just WTF? Or please, it's just too little too late? I don't know, but here it is.  When teachers are crying in their cars or on their kitchen floors due to the pressure, and students are routinely not performing well, one has to question the value (and/or the purpose) of the standardized test.  And Florida is dealing with its own conflicting feelings about testing: superintendents hopping mad about tests used and statisticians rating Florida students as top five.  It certainly leaves me thinking that putting so much stock into standardized tests is at the very least deeply troubling.

As I am tangentially connected professionally to this topic, I can only offer this as an interesting read.

I hope this is really a good thing because too many companies have been taking advantage of the poor, marginally educated and undocumented folks when it comes to "higher" education.

On a happier note, mindfulness in schools is not only catching fire, it is also getting noticed in the media.  Except for the crazies who will sue the school for religious freedom, this is a good thing (ala Martha Stewart).

And here is what using data productively (instead of pejoratively) can do for a school.  Outstanding! This is the kind of school where I could be a happy teacher.

One more silver lining in the education edition:  East Los High, a netflix original series, is apparently not just a teeny bopper show, it is a teeny bopper educational experiment.  Now that is an interesting use of technology and education.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

sunrise, again

Sunrise has become a very special treat ... though sleepy, I am happy to catch the day beginning, the world coming back to life.
These are not from my early start yesterday -- but last week.  Yesterday the fog hugged the hills like a soft blanket, maybe fall is finally within our reach.

Monday, October 26, 2015

NRU silver linings

Here's one way to make lemonade out of lemons... share what you have even when the chips are down rather than cry over your drink. Love it!

Not really sure this qualifies for a silver lining, except that though this man died alone, the folks in this story spent a lot of time unraveling the story of his life.  In death, he was not alone, sort of.

I have a few more questionable silver linings to share ...
1) Junot Diaz stood up for Haitians against the government in the Dominican Republic, his homeland, in return the government took back an award it made to Diaz.   I daresay Diaz is more proud of losing the honor than for taking a stand.  My response is to give Diaz the good person/standing in his truth award.  Silver lining?
2) This man standing by his wife shouldn't be exceptional, but apparently because he is in the NFL it is?!  So, though I am suspicious of the notoriety, it is a silver lining(-ish) that his fame allows him the ability to shine a light on something we generally pretend is not happening.  May their strength and courage inspire other survivors to ask for help and receive it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Proverb Thursday

Whatever you have in 
your mind - forget it;
Whatever you have in 
your hand - give it;
Whatever is to be 
your fate - face it!
~ Sufi proverb

Monday, October 19, 2015

NRU mostly CA sights

I was reminded of an episode of Star Trek Next Generation when Jean Luc is transported to a planet dying of drought as I read through the news articles this week.  So, here are some of the roundup, drought watch articles: 
This may not seem like something brought about by the drought unless you realize that our overuse of energy has a lot to do with our drought.
Not sure if using disposable plates and plastic ware will really help with the drought ... perhaps the compost-able ones?
Turn your pool area into astro turf? Well, that is another "solution" folks are instituting in times of drought.
Of pumpkins (and corn mazes) and drought ... when we lose our "precious" traditions, will we still see the value of our overuse of fossil fuels or our complicity in the climate change?
Finally, making a young boy's shark week dreams come true, climate change brings feeding shark to the dock near Alcatraz?
[There was also the poisonous snake that washed up in my hometown (a lot of coverage of the snake) ... thanks to El Nino - it has brought the snakes and the mudslides but what we need is slow steady rain and some snow in the mountains, so not sure it is the lifesaver some think it will be.]

In other news, yes there were a few news stories not drought related:
This sounds like a promising way to bring humanities professors to the academy - though admittedly not a necessarily replicable or sustainable.

Who knew there were so many people speculating about Disneyland's Haunted House? The only speculation really necessary, for me, is will it be open when I visit?!  Love that place ... always on my must "ride" list. [And ... should the article have had a posted warning that it was sponsored because why else would you do this story?!]

Wish I could have been home for this ... this is the real story of Junipero Serra and the Native Americans of California ... may they all rest in peace. I am still fighting mad over the *saint* status, but it is far more important that the truth of the "missions" be told.  If you can help on the last leg of their journey between LA and San Diego there is link on this page for places to stay, meals, coordinating...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Poetry Thursday, RUMI!

I love my friends
neither with my heart
nor with my mind.
Just in case
heart might stop,
mind can forget.
I love them
with my soul.
Soul never stops
or forgets!
~ Rumi