Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quote Thursday

Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them.
-O. S. Marden

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Final Black History Month NRU

Out of the shadow of the Emory president's remark, the university is hosting an exhibit of little seen documents and photos from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

There was a flurry of reporting around the release and screening of a movie about Whitney Young, a controversial (according to the movie) civil rights figure.

Special for Back History Month, either ironically or just in bad taste...

...southern states are going to court over voting rights and the government having to still watch what they are doing.

...blackface costume for Purim... really?

...Supreme Court Justice has to rebuke the prosecutor for saying things that in a supposedly *post racial* world we would be above [that only one other justice saw fit to sign on to as the court decided not to hear the case of defendant affected by the the way].

...the Oscars brought out the folks musing on Lincoln and "forgotten emancipationists"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy come, easy go... a reminder.

 Back in January ...  I got an extra check deposited into my checking account from work.

On the one hand, I thought, "someone has made a mistake."  At first I thought it was my first month's payment and it was wrong.  It was short like $600.  I was irritated that I was going to have to tell someone that they forgot to pay me (I have two jobs in one location that both pay me through this one check).

Then I went to look (online) at the pay stub.  It is kind of ridiculous to call it a pay stub anymore since it is not a stub and it is not connected in reality to the payment.  Whatever.  The pay stub site, not the actual stub, indicated this was "back pay" for December -- an adjustment is what they call it.

So, before I got excited, I thought, "someone has made a mistake."  I waited to see if two days later, as scheduled, I got my regular January paycheck. 

Low and behold, I did.

Now I was certain, "someone had made a mistake." 

I worried, a little tiny bit, if I should ask someone where the extra money came from, what it was for, etc... then I realized that if someone had indeed made a mistake, they would figure it out and take it back in due time. 

Like any other rational person, I put it in my savings account (so as not to spend it) and waited.

A couple of weeks later the person who does accounting for one of my jobs asked if I had gotten paid for December -- as in for break.  I said, YES.  And I had gotten paid for January ... she said that someone else thought it was a mistake, but she intended to pay me for break. 

It seemed like an odd thing and an odd amount, but whatever. 

I had, indeed, worked over break -- just a few hours here and there -- but no big deal.  They do consistently ask me for an hour or two before each contract session, but, again, no big deal.  No need to pay me extra -- it all works out in the end.

Then, yesterday, she called me to her office to ask me if I had been paid twice for December. I explained to her how I understood the contracts to work; that it isn't hourly work, really, that they just take your full contract amount and divide it by 5 months (Aug-Dec and then Jan-May) and pay you that same amount each month.  She had been worried that they weren't going to pay me for December, so she had put in an adjustment to pay me for that time between Dec-Jan when we are technically outside of contract time.

I told her I thought it might have been a mistake, so I was holding the money if she needed it back.  Easy come, easy go... right?!

She and the other accounting person were so mortified to ask for the money back that they decided to let me keep it.

Hoorah... I was already thinking about how much closer I was to my goal of Italy for writing when I took my car to get the oil changed that same afternoon.

I prepaid the oil changes and I have two left.  So, this visit was supposed to cost me $0.

But, my little green car has been faltering a little lately -- so I told them it might be a good idea to check that out.  Maybe all it needed was a new spark plug to go with the fresh oil and air filter?

The guy, the one I actually enjoy dealing with!, looked at my car's dr. visit record and said I had never done the 90K mile service (that was nearly 20K miles ago).  Mind you, I have replaced NOTHING but a side mirror I broke and tires on this car in twelve years (hear me knocking on wood?). 

I cringed as I waited for him to tell me the price ticket on the 90K mile service... $539... yeah, easy come, easy go.

Well, it wasn't just that ... the fuel injectors were also dirty, plugged up, never been cleaned in almost 120K miles.  That would be another $160.

Easy come, easy go... the silver lining is that I didn't have to actually dip into the Italy money to do the car sprucing. 

So several hours after having received a windfall, I have spent nearly half of it on the little green car.  But it sounded much happier on the way home.

The rest of the windfall will probably be spent on taxes, but, again, it won't dip into the Italy fund. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sugarman and Oscar

I read this piece on the day of the Oscars, and thought, I should blog it ... to update the piece on Sugarman - but I can't find the piece I thought I wrote about it.  I remember it like I did ... weird.

Anyway, they won! I hope that they do figure out the royalties ... even if Sixto decides that he wants to give the money away. It is his money to give away after all.

I hope you caught it ... and if you didn't, I hope that it shows up near you soon thanks to the win.

Friday, February 22, 2013

more mish mash

I love the sentiment of the board to name this earnest young man as an "honorary" director, however, I wonder who they think he is that he would know how to better reach out to at risk youth.  It makes me suspect that this was only a publicity stunt, and, in that case, I am sorry they used this boy's generosity in this way.

Let's see... where to start with this one:  cyber-bullying of teachers?  I am interested in the way that the district formulates the threat ... though I am not sure that there isn't some other way to handle the issue in an educational setting.

This story about "baby boxes" was troubling -- mostly because it spent so much time on the "debate" as to whether or not they should be available.  There is no discussion about the underlying reasons for mothers to feel that they cannot take on the challenge of mothering.  Instead the focus is on the "child's right to know his/her parents."  I have no quarrel with that point, but it is hardly the central issue.  Much like those folks who only worry about fetuses before they are born, this concern for babies' rights misses the mark.

I was thinking about titling this mish mash something more negative when I heard this piece.  There is just so much hypocrisy in this "inquiry" -- yes, by all means, report on what you think are problems with financing of elections ... but don't forget that these donors could have just started a PAC and you wouldn't be able to even ask their names let alone force someone to give the money back.  The fact is our political system is broken when it comes to this issue, and the people who have the ability (and the charge) to fix it are part of the problem ...

It is not frequently that I think to myself, I wish I were a fish and game warden, but when I read this article, I certainly did!! 27 bear cubs in your backyard! What could be better than that?  Thank goodness for bears, although the sad circumstances of their orphan status makes this more of a lemonade story than just a happy story.  I super appreciated the game warden making the point that killing hungry mama bears after they have already eaten your chickens is pointless ... I would have said revenge... it is sad to think that these folks were given the opportunity to safeguard their chickens, and instead took their lack of foresight out on the hungry bears. 

I am not sure exactly what to make of this piece, but I was mildly entertained.  Were you?

And, in the category of too much time on their hands, is this piece on a lawsuit against a school district for providing yoga as part of the physical education program.  Note these specifics, it is part of the physical education department.  Yet, the suit insists that this is breaching the freedom of religion constitutional right.  But these folks are probably the same ones that believe they are being violated because there is no praying at school.  Ah, to have so much free time to go with my righteous indignation!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quotable inspiration and perspective

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
Helen Keller

Rest in peace...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

nineteen ...

I don't know for how long, but for right now, nineteens are hard.

Five months, yesterday.

I got to the middle day and had only cried once ... I thought, maybe it is getting easier.

Just that thought hit me like a dagger through my heart. Tears tumbled down my face and my vision was blurred. 

I felt guilt mixed with the pain and longing.

I don't want it to get easier.

And I desperately need it to be easier.

The tears come easily now ... everything reminds me of my brother ... or it reminds me of something I never told him ... or I just remember the pain of that day ...

Usually I welcome the tears ... happy they are not damming up behind some crazy sense of control.  The easier they fall the less they hurt. But one of these days, crying in public...

Why is it so appealing to be as close to the ground as possible when I feel this way?

It is easier and it is not easier and it is still unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NRU mish mash edition part 73

I was listening to the radio and remembered that Morning Edition Sunday might still be on as I drove to my community service project when the universe gifted me with this piece.  Hurrah! Someone else that believes that text messaging, emails and other kinds of communication are not interchangeable.

In fact, on that Sunday morning, NPR was full of advice on communicating perhaps in honor of it being St. Valentine's day several days after this was to air.  Not sure, but that is my guess.

This piece made Steve Inskeep cry ... wonder how often that happens.  In this short piece, the power of love is revealed...truly.  Gotta love StoryCorps!

As my classmates and I are delving deeply into the process of observation and detailing those observations with detailed notes, this piece brought home the difficulty and the constant need for stretching!

I am trying to figure out how to take Barry's pronouncements about education ... and then I read this from Caroline Kennedy... I believe their hearts are in the right place... I just wish that I could believe that these were policy statements and ones that had a basis in history, theory and practice.

One thing struck me about this article more than anything else... that the incorporation of the common core in the GED will change the test to an online exam that will cost $120.  I am not sure that it is the most salient point of the article -- but for me, it stands out because these policy decisions that are money makers for test companies raise my eyebrows.  Perhaps there are reasonable explanations for this ... but the fact that these tax paying citizens have already paid into the K-12 system and not gotten out of it the golden diploma, are now taking time and energy to put back into the system and a new hurdle of $120 is added ... hmm... we believe in dropping back in?  We believe that high school diplomas are important? We want to increase the number of people who reach this milestone? The extra $120 does not speak to those beliefs, in my opinion, regardless of who pays for it.

I think it does take a lot of heart to try something new at a later point in life ... so I wish this couple the best of luck in their endeavor.  I am particularly moved by their heart conditions ... and so glad that they heeded the warning signs given them by their bodies.  May we all learn to be so attuned to these signs.

This story made me weep.  I wish there were anthropologists studying this kind of phenomenon instead of just trying to figure out what is "wrong" with people.  What is right is so much more interesting, useful and compassionate.  What will we do with this knowledge?  How will we bring more productiveness to the world (trying to not use the word "good"). 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baby steps and miracles

Applaud all the tiny
baby steps along the 
way in your journey...
acknowledge the 
wonders of you 
persistence in the 
difficult times ...
Marvel at the 
of your courage and
delight in your self
at every possible
what how much you 
flourish with
enjoyment at the 

-R. Posin

This is the card I pulled from the deck ... and it is lovely.  Beyond its loveliness, today I will be celebrating having a carrel in the business administration library.  It's a long story that I don't really want to tell right now.

Let's just say that many frustrations are going to now be forgotten as I put all my energy into preparing for my exams and finishing the proposal.
Imagine the rainbow that followed...

I am thankful for the blessings...

Friday, February 15, 2013

making enemies

Immediately following watching the second tower be hit by an airplane, I was clear that it was a terrorist attack.  Before the towers fell, and before anyone knew the ins and outs of the planning or execution of the attack, I said something that did not make me any friends.

I said, we need to learn to treat people better.

Not that I would change my mind about that ... just I might not have said that in front of my colleagues.

I strongly believe that we reap what we sow ... as individuals, groups (hear me, Boy Scouts), corporations, institutions, and countries.

We reap what we sow.

And there are plenty of us that are making more enemies than friends.

It is a horrible (and unforgivable) act to take your hurt feelings (however based on real recriminations) and take someone else's life. 

It simply is not our place to make those kinds of judgments.  We have no right, even in court, in my opinion, to cast a vote that would take someone else's life.  That is how I feel... it is the creed I live by.  It won't get me on any juries, I know.  But it is how I feel.

So, when I heard that it was believed that a disgruntled former police officer from LAPD was behind the murders of the couple in Irvine, I wondered... [do not doubt, and go back and look, I had already been mourning those two people -- I certainly do not condone the taking of their lives or those of the two law enforcement.]

And, yes, I read the much maligned manifesto.

For LAPD this is certainly a case of reaping what they sowed ... sadly, it didn't have to be this way.

For years and years, through scandal after scandal, the poor judgment exercised by rank and file and administration alike in the LAPD has been displayed for all to see.  But no amount of shame or court order has proven able to sow integrity. [That is not to say that there might be individuals within this organization with integrity ... we might never know, however, due to their thin blue line.]

I am not sure who I would call if my life were in danger in Los Angeles.  I would have to think twice before I just called the police.  I might call the firefighters ... I might try to handle it on my own.  It wouldn't be the first time I talked my way out of a tight spot.  I might lose ... but I am not sure I could entrust my life to the LAPD.  Or the police department in the city where I grew up ... though not as notorious as the LAPD, they have failed me on the few occasions I have given them the opportunity to protect and serve.

From this you can see that I am not naturally inclined to love the police, to feel that they are my protectors, or to have much sympathy for them when others may judge them harshly.

Back to the manifesto ... there is, indeed, plenty in the screed that demonstrates some imbalance.  I am not here to judge that -- where it came from, how it grew or was fomented by actions of others, or if medication might have helped.  That is for someone else.

However, the story told within that document rings true enough to me to believe that there were some toxic seeds sown between the LAPD and that former officer.  [I will continue not to name those who take the lives of others here -- his name is on the lips of plenty of others. And it is not clear that he did not make this fatal choice because all the others who were recently hailed in the press after exercising the poor decision making that led them to open fire indistinctly on innocents.]

What is clear to me is that this situation is not as black and white as the LAPD would like the world to believe.  I hadn't put much thought to it ... I am too busy, really, to even be writing this ... but I wasn't surprised to see that I wasn't the only one thinking about seeds and enemies.

I wasn't going to write about this ... even though I was hording some articles ... I didn't want to add fire to the flame.

Then I came home on Tuesday afternoon to the news that the suspect was in a stand off with law enforcement.  Though I don't have cable, I know how to find the pertinent feed on the internet.  I am ashamed to say I was riveted for the next few hours.  As I went about typing and organizing, I listened to the incessant reporting.

When the image of the burning home sunk in ... it took a while, as I tried to pretend that I didn't really care ... I heard ringing in my ears the words of the LAPD spokesperson who claimed he just wanted the suspect to give himself up.  In my wildest dreams, I could not imagine the LAPD allowing the suspect to give up... to come out of this alive, to tell his story on a platform that the LAPD could not control.  [The chief claims he is going to reopen the case -- but I will not hold my breath on that one.]

As the tears rushed down my cheeks, I prayed ... not something I am wont to do ... that there could be a peaceful resolution ... that law enforcement had not simply exacted revenge by setting the house on fire -- in the middle of the forest we try so hard to protect from fire, I might add.  Law enforcement needs to find a way to bring more protection with peace, to honor the notion of serve, and to banish revenge from their modus operandi. 

It was clear these prayers were in vain ... so I sent my thoughts and hopes for peace to that tormented man.  May he rest in peace.  May he find the souls of the lives he took and make whatever recompense is possible.  May we find a way to live together more peacefully.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On Love

  The beginning of love is 
to let those we love 
be perfectly themselves, 
and not to twist them 
to fit our own image.  
Otherwise we love only 
 the reflection of ourselves 
we find in them.
-T. Merton

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

News Round Up, Education Edition

Here are some education stories I have been collecting.  Some of these might rightly seem only tangentially related to education.

I am just not sure that this is the way to get a useful comprehensive update to teacher evaluation.

There is so much to pull apart in this piece on a "bar exam for teachers" and the backing of the "union."  Let's start with some inside knowledge. Randi was never really a teacher. They might have had her "teach" a class when they courted her to be the head of the NY-UFT.  But that hardly makes her an expert.  There are so many contradictory pieces in here -- teachers are not like lawyers, lawyers do not apprentice, many states already require exams in both pedagogy and subject area.  And the worst of all, I fear, is that the only winners in this scheme are the test makers.

Arlene Ackerman passed away here in Albuquerque (of all places) on my birthday.  I still think that she was never given wide enough berth to make the kinds of changes that take time ... and support from the community, parents and board members.

This was a somewhat confusing piece on funding formulas in Texas or perhaps more accurately about a court ruling about school funding in Texas.

I am glad to know that someone is thinking about the NCAA, poor academic policies, and college educations.  I hope that someone figures out how to get this young man a real shot at college.

This story describes the intersection of schooling and parenting with a program that works with "rebellious teens" -- seems an odd way to describe teenagers, as if most teenagers aren't rebellious? Probably more interesting is the fact that this program is specifically targeting those teens from immigrant families that seem not to be "adjusting" to "Americanized life."

I am guessing that the Inside Bay Area newsgroup decided to post a link to this blog post because it is Black History Month since it is nearly three months after it was published on the blog.  However, I don't really care why they did. It is an informative piece from both the standpoint of this "reporter's" alleged re-education and the thoughtful recounting of the facts.  May the Black Panther Party's 10 points continue to inspire the kinds of connections described here.

Jon Stewart interviewed my favorite target, Michelle Rhee, last week.  If I ever get to interview her, I hope that I can be as graciously critical as Jon is... Some of Michelle's best friends are teachers, in case you were wondering.  She is such an easy target -- partly because she appears to have no consciousness about what is objectionable about herself.  Um... has registered as a Republican yet?  Here is the extended interview part 1, in case you didn't get enough on the first linkAnd part 2.  It is in part 3 where Jon really gets her to trip over her own words. I would have wanted to slap her with her own words more forcefully -- that's why I said, I hope I will learn to be as gracious as Jon in his slap-downs.  I won't be reading her book, unless someone pays me.

This piece talks about George I. Sanchez -- and a group in NM that figured out he was a native son who hasn't been given his due.  I wonder if Sanchez would prefer to have buildings named after him or actions taken to remedy the ills he pointed out decades ago.

A last minute entry is about a new scholarship started in my home town ... I am not sure what point they were trying to make with this article.  I wish they had at least given a link to be able to contribute to the fund.

There were several pieces from the NYTimes that caught my eye, but I will admit that they have been open on my computer for days, and I have not had the energy to read them... you can let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No, Please

My niece, the littlest one (for now), likes to control her interactions with everyone ... at least, that is how it feels when she is around "us" -- by "us" I mean my birth family.  I mean not her mother, my sister-in-law.  You can tell, I am sure, that there are others stories to go with this last statement.

But, I came here to talk about "no, please."
we were talking to each other through the balloons

When E. doesn't want you to do something, or she doesn't want to answer your question, or in general would like you to go away, she says, "No, please."  If you insist, it becomes, "NO, Please!!"
She never ungripped the balloons ...

If you continue to insist, it becomes, "GO AWAY!"  And with this, her head will be buried in her mother's shoulder.  Because if she were under her own power, she would have run away at the first "no, please."

It took me a long time to understand that by "no, please, " she was trying to articulate, "no thank you..." As in, I would rather not ... play with you, talk to you, tell you how I feel, etc.

Sometimes it is playful, but other times is it forceful and purposeful.  I push the envelope every time until I get the NO, GO AWAY!!

I love that she expresses what she wants; I worry that she needs to learn realistic limits... but it is not my job to teach her those.  So, I play with her until she is irritated.  Mostly because irritated is pretty darn cute.

I wonder, in the long run, how "no, please" will translate into E's older selves ... what will it be like when she has more words (she just turned 2) to articulate her wants? What will it be like when she is a teenager -- full of words but potentially not interested in sharing them?  Will she write poetry, like her dad?  Will she cry in the corner or lash out with her fists when her words fail her?

I was reading Andrea's post about her sons and some of the ways that they articulate "Am I lovable?" -- through word and actions.  

And, the first picture that popped in my head was Miss E -- head buried in her hands at the end of her birthday celebration. 

She was exhausted, but happy to have her house all to herself again -- except for the lingering interlopers ... principally my sister and I.  She simultaneously wanted to be the center of our attention and to not have us there at all. 

Ah ... to have the right and the power to demand just what we want even when it is contradictory.  The joys of being TWO!

 [Photo credits: my lil sister's iphone, this photo shoot came at the end of a long birthday celebration at her house -- an extended tea party for the adults and children.]

Monday, February 11, 2013

News Round Up -- Inspirational Edition

Some people just do ... they see a problem and they act.  More of us need to follow our instincts to good.

Here's another do-er -- someone who no one expected much of ... it should teach us something about the value of low expectations, or rather to always think the best of people.

When you read this story, several aspects will jump out as the silver lining ... but my favorites are the horn and that this man loved his job -- but it wasn't his life.  May he have a lovely retirement!

These families are not only making lemonade, they are sharing it with other families in need.  I am sure their children are smiling on their efforts.

I watched this piece on Corporal Todd Love on CBS news last week.  His zest for life is beyond inspirational.  I got tired just watching all the things he was doing.  It was sweet to hear him say that college intimidated him... not for long, I'm betting.  We all have a lot to learn about taking each day as it comes and gratitude from this young man.  And, yes, thanks to him for his service -- and for sharing his love of life!

I don't know if there is a harder situation to find a silver lining to than the loss of a child. I listened to this while holding my breath... I was sure they weren't going to hang listeners out to dry, but it was touch and go there for a while. I was filled with an incredible sense of pride, compassion and love for this couple -- for their surviving twin -- and for those researchers who took the time to talk with the mother.  If one was ever in doubt about the connectedness of our lives, experiences, losses and triumphs, then this is the story you need to hear.

In this piece, several universities are getting together to work on the dialogue about gun control.  This is a slightly tarnished silver lining to the horrible events at Newtown, CT.

I could not pass on this interview with the guy (unnamed) who started the gnome movement in Oakland. Long live whimsy!

Friday, February 08, 2013

On new moons and words of the year

I was chatting with a colleague a couple of weeks ago, and I blithely said, "My goal for this year is to conquer the writing demons."  I meant it, to be sure, and it seemed like such an easy and simple statement. But something in my body stirred at the word CONQUER.  It wasn't a sense of power, it was determination.

I started to wonder if CONQUER was revealing itself as my word of the year.

I have been working on it -- that is, I planted the seed back in December, thinking, surely the word would come.

I thought about the trajectory of words... open... fierce ... fearless.  They were all adjectives.  But, I wanted something that would not just connote action, I wanted an active word ... a verb.

I asked some people what they thought of the word.

It got some mixed reviews. 

Some could see what I do ... here is a word that shows my determination to prevail for myself.  It does not feel especially bellicose or violent, it feels determined. 

But others could only see it as a negative. 

I guess you have to know me better to understand why this word doesn't resonate for me as "against" anyone or anything.  For me it is about the determination, the perseverance.

It's hard to explain well.

I was reading something else later and another word jumped out at me: EMBARK.  Someone had suggested FORWARD, but it hadn't resonated.  EMBARK seemed to connote movement with purpose ... propelling oneself forward rather than just moving with the vicissitudes of the universe. 

I can't decide, but at the moment, I am considering having two words again ... but this weekend is the new moon and the start of the new lunar year, so I am going to try to decide before 11pm tomorrow night.

Yeah... I know this is not a new moon ... but it's a pick I had.
Chime in quickly if you have a thought.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Poetry/Quote Thursday

Do the thing you think you cannot do.
-E. Roosevelt
I was supposed to be preparing to start my exams in the next two weeks ... now they are postponed, probably until the middle of March or early April ... but this quote still applies as I race towards the finish line with my super achy body.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

NRU, guns, control and sensibility edition

This is a very news round up heavy week ... there are drafts of other things that need to make the light of day ... but I am also buried under a million articles that I am using to make yet another exam reading list ... yes, reading things in order to make the list ....

These are just a small collection of stories I have been reading about guns and death and gun control, sensible and not.

Ok... I am going to freely admit that I don't think anyone except the police (and then again sometimes that is questionable) and the military should have guns.  If you want to hunt so desperately, use a bow and arrow ... get some real skills.  All that to say that I don't tolerate the so-called "sensible gun laws" - I am a pacifist because I know what I would be capable of if you let me do whatever I want.  The problem with only discussing "illegally obtained guns" and calling that *sensible* is that it discounts the fact that too many people with guns -- legally or illegally obtained -- settle disputes in this way.  Still think we don't have a gun problem in this country?? [Each of these links is a different story about deaths wrought from guns in the past two weeks.]

Oh... and what exactly is sensible about this? I am afraid I am giving this guy exactly what he wants, publicity.  But I think the rebuttal from the law enforcement professionals who actually do the policing/patrolling in Milwaukee deserve to get their say -- which appears towards the end of this story.

Rather, there should be more attention paid to what is going on in our cities on a daily basis -- and more talking with folks like these about what it is like to live in the kind of violence that guns bring.  They may not have all the answers, but they might just have the right questions. And this woman ought to get four votes in the House for gun control laws.

I wish someone had had the presence of mind to ask this man how he feels about gun control now.  Instead they took the opportunity to talk about how to get more people ready to shoot first and try to talk them out of it later.  It could have been a really interesting piece, instead it was only kind of interesting.

Here is a visual representation of gun-deaths and the years of life stolen by them.  If you didn't click the link above, here's one that is the verbal representation of life stolen by gun violence.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

News Round Up -- more mish mash

Last round of mish mash was pretty fruitful as it produced UPDATES... I love it when other people get interested in the same stories I am fascinated by ... Oh, okay, let's face it, I just LOVE news. I can't get enough.  Oh, and maybe I haven't been saying as many snide things as pass my mind out loud ... or maybe I have and I can't stop.  You are duly warned.

These stories caught my eye...

I am sorry it took the media to try to discredit something the president said in order to focus on issues of the working poor, but here it is.  Turns out, hold on to your hat, that many people who get assistance from the government live on the edge of bankruptcy/homelessness, etc.  Turns out it is not only hard to save money under these conditions, our government (federal and sometimes state) kick you off assistance if you SAVE money -- just listen in ... they will break it down for you.  They got it now.

First of all, this guy sounds 12 on the radio -- you might want to listen to it just for that, but be careful, he is the "co-founder" of Facebook (is that after the lawsuit??) and a former presidential adviser (read he donated a lot of money for the 2008 election).  In any case, his *vision* for the future of the New Republic does sound like something I can get behind.

So, college is for chumps, and we should be encouraging those entrepreneurial spirits to go right into business, but Watson should go to college.  Yes, Watson is a computer, but since he already won Jeopardy, doesn't that mean he should get out there and use his dazzling skills, not hone them.  That was a really long, run-on sentence, but I am already in college...what to do?!

I am touchy about family right now, so almost anything makes me cry, but my heart was held when I listened to how this family worked out getting back together.

I absolutely approve of the president drawing the line in the sand on immigration on the idealistic side of the equation.  It may be the only way not to water down the already mild immigration bill put forth by the bi-partisan vote wanters. -- On a related note, a friend shared this story [and she said she would keep sharing it until everyone got the message] on what you can do to make this happen.  On a related note, this story tries to bring some historical perspective to the issue of immigration.  Tries, but there are several important historical pieces missing and plenty of other people's perspectives ignored.

Every year, for Black History Month, news outlets trot out some old stories and find some new(ish) ones to share.  Here is one about an exhibit about a segregated school that once existed in a city I once lived in.  This is not really a Black History Month, but I wonder how much prominence Ms. Washington-Williams' death would have been if she had died in March.  May she rest in peace.

This story is really too long and indulgent, but the saving (and thriving) of Grand Central Station in NYC is really worth some indulgence ... especially if you have looked (have to look) at Penn Station and mourn the loss of a once beautiful, vibrant space.  So, happy birthday GCS ... may you long be too prosperous to tear down!

Here are some thoughts on an icon of a pizza place that has been put out of commission (temporarily) by "superstorm Sandy."

Monday, February 04, 2013

Mostly Education News Round Up

This is a fairly well-rounded piece about the Common Core ... at least it is attempting to be well-rounded. There is one substantial part of the equation missing: how are schools, districts, states thinking about the ways teachers should be supported through this transition?  As in, what training is being put into place to ensure that this curriculum can be adequately delivered by the teachers?  Oh, and Malcolm Gladwell is considered high quality non-fiction?  Best selling and high quality are not necessarily synonymous.  Just sayin'.

I am still trying to decide how to feel about this piece about a teacher and a district in SC.  Ostensibly, this article is about a superintendent's decision -- to fire or not this teacher for stomping on a flag.  The AP journalists did a pretty good job of uncovering the whys on the teacher's actions -- and some good work on why this is an issue.  Perhaps, though, the most important part of the article is that it tells us what it looks like (for superintendents, principals and teachers) to work in a system where there is no union.

In the same week the news came that the teachers in LA had "approved" the new teacher assessment scheme, this piece played on NPR.  It is about some teachers in Seattle taking a stand against a test that does not help students or teachers to do a better job but is mandated by the district.  Bravo to them for sticking together and getting this story on national news.    I am a rule follower from way back, but I also prescribe to the idea that bad rules should be broken -- publicly and with the intention of demonstrating their flaws.

This is a somewhat confusing story about a "test" for at-risk (not specifically defined) students that teachers have to fill out.  What do you think?

Add Deferred Action policies to the list of seminars needed to prepare California students for college... here is an article by Jill Tucker from the San Francisco Chronicle that plays the roll of reporter and info resource.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Un-birthday Tribute to my Name Story

I have struggled with my name my whole life -- it's boring. I am the only person in my family not named for someone (some of my family members are named for two people).  My name is so common that I have met five other people with my same name -- first, middle, last.  It is short ... to short for a nickname, though there are always those who have something to add to it to make it nickname-y.  Not always my favorite thing to be called is what everyone always wants to call me ... my name and then a fruit.  The only interesting thing about my name is that it is a palindrome... not many can say that -- except for me, Otto, Bob, etc...

When I was young, I longed for a really long, vaguely exotic name like Francesca (but I could never figure out how to spell it).  Something you could shorten with purpose.  Hell, I would have taken Francisca, but my mother's very specific naming rules did not allow for this kind of a thing.  Mother's rule:  name in English but easily translatable to Spanish... thus my little sister was not allowed to be named Misty as my father wanted... what would we call her in Spanish...Brisa?

I don't know if I could ever have pulled off Francesca though -- she sounds tall and thin, smoking in the hallways, hair always done, makeup flawless, strolling casually in high heels.  I could not pull off any of that ... not one bit.

Beyond not having a name I would like, then I went to school with someone who had the same first and middle name as me.  The teacher did not want to have two people answering to the same name, so one of us had to go by the whole name ... the other one refused, so there I was first name, middle name in all its plain jane, named-after-nobody unglory -- for six years.

I don't even know who that first name middle name was ... no one else has ever called me that.  At home I am "mija" as long as I haven't pissed off one or the other of my parents.  It cuts down on mistakes, if not confusion, to call all of us mija/mijo.

And if I am not in the good graces, or they are referring in particular to me, they say my name in Spanish.  So, my name in Spanish is my family name.  Special, for my family only.  People outside my family never did -- until I went to Spain, Mexico or lived in New Mexico.  It took me some time to get used to hearing people (not my family) call my name in Spanish ... it felt intrusive and wrong, but then I gave up when I couldn't get the English pronunciation out of Spanish speakers.

Now I introduce myself in English, but I don't correct people who insist on calling me in Spanish -- so, am I who I answer to??