Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Good Thing from the Charter Movement...

It bugs me that the charter movement is seen in some quarters as the enemy of public schools. While it's clear that there are folks out there - and to an extent, in leadership - who are not concerned with the health of public schools or of American democracy, I don't think it's fair to paint all charter advocates with one brush. It's a complex situation, and I'm trying to pay attention...

Here's a cool document from New Leaders for New Schools around principal leadership - I really like this format!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogspot is now Google?

Looks like one more aspect of our online lives has joined the Google network! I got a notice that someone commented on my blog, and when I clicked the link, it turned out to be a connection to a Goggle log-in. That's a change! Of course I haven't blogged in ages, so it may have happened months ago, but it both did and didn't surprise me.

I was not surprised, in part because of the cover article of the most recent Fast Company Magazine: Why Google Will Win. There is no source I respect more with regard to the future of commerce than Fast Company. So I'm thinking about it. I've been using Gmail for several years & I love it. Google+ may not have launched in a major way yet, but it certainly has potential. I have started using GoogleDocs at work, and am seriously considering moving from laptop to iPad in part because GoogleDocs would make it easy to move away from Microsoft Office. So I give them credit. And it's not like I use any other search engine (outside of dissertation work) right? I even have my own customized iGoogle page.

But it turns out that the article above is actually a small sidebar part of a larger article: The Great Tech War of 2012. The Fast Company writers actually make a case for each of the 4 big tech companies: Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. So it may or may not be Google; maybe that's just the cover of the mag that was delivered to my house - like New York and other mags, it looks like they could have 4 different covers this month.

So what of the other 3? I'm not sure Why Facebook Will Win, but I have to admit I spend a lot of time on Facebook - in fact, it facilitates much of what I used to do here on Blogspot. I can share articles & other links easily. I can keep up with people that I love but am too busy to spend much time with. It's a great source of commentary on current events! It's even what we used this past year to facilitate communication for our 25th high school reunion.

As for Why Apple Will Win, I've been a Mac devotee for years! My first husband was, and I became one through our original Mac desktop back in the mid-90's when internet was dial-up, but we were thrilled to have it. The computers are a better product. I've used Mac laptops for almost a decade. The iPod didn't do a lot for me, though I used it. Now I have an iPhone and it's fabulous. Faster internet than my Blackberry, much better calendar synching - the real reason I switched - and of course I can play Scrabble with people across the country. Love it!

Amazon - not so much. I always resented that they squashed our wonderful Minneapolis Amazon Bookstore - and for no good reason that I could figure out. So I don't use it when other sites (like B&N) have an item.

It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds in the coming year!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Positivity in Reform

This week, Newsweek profiled the Charlotte, NC school district because of a unique idea: finding incentives for the best principals to take over the most challenging schools. And it seems to be working. Check out An Offer They Couldn't Refuse - it's similar to an idea that the Minneapolis teacher's union explored years ago for teachers but never developed. It makes sense!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Perspective - from Geneen Roth

I first discovered Geneen Roth in college, when I was struggling with "food issues." She's the wise woman who said "you can't hate your thighs and love your self. You have to love all of you." Easier said than done, but it's stayed with me.

I want to share this blog post of hers, Money, loss and what can never be lost, because while it is not about food, it is wise and timely. I am not a "worrier" in the general sense - I don't stay up until my kid gets home, I don't fear the future. But her admonition to be "fierce about staying in the present" resonates with me this summer, as our family explores the many different options that present themselves.

Good food for thought. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Women in Leadership

We don't talk much about gender parity anymore... feminism has become uncool. But even today, a woman with a professional degree makes $2mil less over her career than a man. And what's the correlation to the sad stats on women in leadership in Minnesota?! Pretty direct, I'm guessing. There are few women in the top spots in MN - we've never had a female governor - so there are simply few women making "the big bucks." Sad.

J. Brian Atwood of the U of MN's Humphrey Institute writes about the issue in today's Strib: Minnesota Voices: Women still have a long way to go

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cirque du Soleil - High Bars from ALEGRIA



I love that YouTube has scenes from various Cirque du Soleil shows! The hula hoop contortionist from Alegria is also phenomenal.

When I was teaching 7th grade English (and I just had this on VHS) I used to have kids watch scenes when we studied parts of speech. As you watch - what are the nouns? The verbs? The describing words (adjectives & adverbs)? Naming verbs is really fun when the actions are things like this! :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tim Wise on Immigration

Facebook | Tim Wise: On Illegal People...and Forgetful Ones: Reflections on Race, Nation and Immigration

I love Time Wise's work - he cuts through the superficial baloney surrounding current cultural issues with a scalpel. Regarding "illegal" immigrants: how many of us really have ancestors who ALL came here "legally"?!? My grandmother says we trace back to William Bradford, and the folks on the Mayflower sure didn't get any advance permission from the locals to settle at Provincetown. My German side also goes back so far it's impossible to say that they came "legally".

Taking on the xenophobes who keep thinking up new ways to harass undocumented folks, Wise is right on: "The degree to which it is ironic is only exceeded by that to which it is pathetic."

For me, it's about the kids. It's not right that the American Dream is denied to so many kids who grow up here - just because they weren't born here. We need to pass the "Dream Act" and ensure that kids are given access to college & careers no matter what their status was when they arrived. They're here now.

Elena Kagan: Is Gender Finally a Non-Issue?

PostPartisan - Elena Kagan: From trailblazer to less of a big deal

Someday the nomination of a woman will truly be a non-event. In the meantime, I'm still frustrated by the small numbers of females in the top ranks of leadership across America - including schools. But it's nice to see us moving in the right direction!

On Gangs... and Employment

Murder on Lake Calhoun | StarTribune.com

Thanks for putting it out there, Gary! These statistics are real, and they aren't going to change by themselves.

PSEO - it's complicated!

MinnPost - Dual-credit focus now is on under-represented, low-income and at-risk students

I'm frustrated by this movement, because what we're seeing at the local level is MCTC and the like targeting students directly & inviting them to participate - often in classes that are high-school, NOT college level.

And now I'm hearing that MCTC has created a "jump-start" program that is literally high-school level. They get the $$ from the school districts, but the "credit" that this kids get doesn't count toward a degree. Lovely.

And it's all cloaked in righteous talk about including more kids of color. In fact, I think kids are getting suckered and it's shameful. With all the money we are spending on AP, IB and CIS classes, kids have no need to go down the road for college preparation or even college credit.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I Am Officially Married and Boring

I haven't had time to write in a while... and don't expect to any time soon...

Since I married JP, I now have a 6-yr-old for half of each week, which is wonderful, but also time consuming! And, it turns out that being married is actually more fun than writing, no matter how interesting the world happens to be on any given day.

So adios for the moment... I may change my tune, but for now, I'm signing off. My random commentary is appearing occasionally on Facebook, but that's about it.

Peace!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And Another Easter Thought

From a random forwarded email from a friend - sometimes the best stuff comes that way! Here's a prayer for tomorrow:

Saint Theresa's Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.


'Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up.'

Mel's Meditation on Easter

Trade Offs
by Melissa Borgmann

What if we stepped into that space?
Recognized our nearness to death:
Thorny piercing of skin
Nails through the wrists
(because the palms would not have worked, right?)

See this:
Sharply hammered iron pins that are driven through epidermis, veins,
move over bone.
Yes.
Affixed.
[Can you imagine the craftsman who forged that spike?]

Lungs collapsing from the tug of ribs
Pulled down by the weight of legs
Chest cavity crushing spirit.

And we try to breath.
We try.
He tries. We try.

Something like blood or sweat trickles down from the temples.
Do you get a headache? Appropriate, or not?

Yes, “This crucifixion gives me a headache.”
[“Me, too.”]

Pain is so inconvenient.
Suffering so easily remedied by, say, a cocktail?
A glass of wine appears.
The bitter irony of drink.

This is my body, given up for you.
This is my blood, shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Have the meal, it is much easier.

Amen.

Read more on Melissa's blog

Sunday, April 05, 2009

MN Ranked 5th in Health & Happiness

A recent Strib article (3/11/09 - ok, I'm a little behind here!) says that a new Gallup poll ranks MN 5th overall in health & happiness - behind only Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming & Colorado.

More specifically, MN ranked:
* 1st in physical health
* 2nd in basic access (medical care, healthy food, safe neighborhoods, etc)
* 4th in emotional health
* 17th in work quality
* 19th in healthy behavior
* 23rd in life evaluation

The state that was first in each area:
* Physical Health: Minnesota
* Basic Access: Massachusetts
* Emotional Health: Hawaii
* Work Quality: Utah
* Healthy Behavior: New Mexico
* Life Evaluation: Hawaii

I knew there was a reason I was living in a state that SNOWED on April 4th!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Purging!

In the process of getting my place ready to go on the market next week, I threw out a whole bunch of newspaper & magazine articles & items that I had saved to write about but never found the time. It bummed me out, but I'm in an "everything has to go!" mode right now.

8 boxes of books to Half-Price Books
9 bags of trash
More than 10 bags of clothes, etc to the surplus store - not done yet...

The busyness of life is keeping me on my toes, but it's cool. My 20-year-old called with what she thought was a crisis today & was surprised I wasn't angry. I got over being angry at her screw-ups a long time ago! And she had actually solved it (mostly) before she called me, which was really cool. She's growing up! :)

Maybe things will slow down this summer...!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy...

You've seen this video by now, but here it is for posterity anyway. :)


Louis CK WIth Conan Oct 2, 2008 - The most popular videos are a click away

Life is Taking Over...

I love thinking about and writing about the world - but I just don't have time these days. Real like is taking over! So my apologies to my friends who faithfully read this blog - I would like to be more interesting for you!

My current Facebook status bar:
Emily is starting spring break wondering what to do first tomorrow: housecleaning or dissertation or wedding invitations or just go to the office?

Housecleaning: I'm meeting with the realtor tomorrow afternoon, after which I expect to have a pretty significant to-do list with regard to getting the house ready to go on the market next week. The staging lady will help too, but it doesn't take brains to de-clutter - just time!

Dissertation: My literature review - prereq to oral prelims, which precede written prelims, all of which are supposed to be getting done this semester so I can get kicking on the dissertation in the fall... is running a little late.

Invitations: JP and I discovered yesterday that we have different ideas about when wedding invitations should be sent out - I always thought 2 months in advance, he was thinking 4-6 weeks. Bless him, he's on board with trying to get them out this week! (The reception's not until August, so those invitations can wait... :)

Office: Yes, my boss & I have two projects we've decided need to get tackled this week, even though it's spring break. Actually, that's the best time - no other distractions. But I think that's going to have to wait until about Wednesday...

I won't quit blogging completely - I still want to do a more thorough review of the Obama administration with regard to Gen X - but that's it for now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Truth

Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.
-Anne Lamott

I'm trying to wrap my brain around this concept and live it out - I know I am too busy and maybe this is part of why. Lots to say but no time to post. I'm juggling dissertation, moving and wedding planning - with a job I love but that is also time consuming.

Peace.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If the Shoe Fits...

Interesting little video applying the logic that ended laws against interracial marriage to the issue of gay marriage today - gotta say, I agree. As I have been part of an interracial family for years & am about to enter into my own interracial marriage, I am struck by the parallels between laws we consider antiquated, and laws that are still on the books here today. Food for thought...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We're Ready!

I've had the tag line: "Gen X will soon lead the world... are we ready?" for several years now... and here it is! Barack Obama was born in 1961. That puts him in most people's range for Gen X, and very close even if you date us from '63 instead of '60.

He has several top officials in his administration who are Gen X. Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan looks like the youngest with a Nov. '64 birthday. Lisa Jackson, his new EPA head, was born in '62. Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, like Obama, was born in '61. Chief of staff Rahm Emanual was born in November of '59, just missing the Gen X label but no doubt bringing some Gen X attitudes.

So far, it looks like Gen X will do a much better job than the Boomers did. Clinton & Bush (W) were both partisans who didn't get things done the way they wanted to. I'm not sure what we'll say about Obama four or either years form now, but I am sure that he is ready.

It's time! :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Northside Knows

I found - through a friend's Facebook page, of all things - this blogger who is a Mpls Northside activist. He's been writing about the student in my last post with some interesting information... check it out at Johnny Northside.

A particularly interesting thread is his 12/17 post & a slew of comments that follow it, including some that named the victim (& the likely suspect) long before the news did.

As always, the info is out there. Whether the community cooperates with police is another matter. Prayers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Dead Children

I've written about dead children a couple times before. I've come to believe it's an occupational hazard in education: I know a lot of children, so I guess I'm more likely to know one who dies.

Two died this month in Minneapolis that I didn't know, but I am still shaken. A 15-year-old girl was found dead, frozen, but likely beaten to death. She was a student at the school I worked at just two years ago. She was 7 months pregnant. (I have a goddaughter who was born 2 months early, so have to see this as two children.)

What kind of life was this girl living that it ended such?
What kind of person beats a visibly pregnant girl until she dies?
How did it happen that she had been missing from home for a month when her body was found, but she was not identified for two more weeks?
Where did her family, friends, teachers, etc think that she was?
What was it like to lose her life that way? (Don't be afraid of this question - be afraid if we DONT ask it.)

And just this morning I was researching black student achievement. Connection? We can guess what this child's test scores looked like.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008

This year rocked. A few highlights:

* Met Mr Wonderful and got engaged
* Watched my daughter successfully navigate college life
* Finished my last doctoral class
* Turned 40 and went to Cabo with my best friends
* Drove cross-country with my daughter
* Saw Obama elected
* Continued to love my job, my neighborhood, and my family

Blessings to all as we head into 2009!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Post-Engagement, Pre-DC

So this isn't the Post from DC - but I've been bad about posting from the road recently, so thought I'd get one in early...

JP and I are heading out to DC on Friday so I can meet the rest of his family and we can show off the engagement ring. It will be a 2-day whirlwind of meeting people, and then I come home & he stays for a few days for a conference.

Gotta give him credit for a great proposal: at the table after Thanksgiving dinner, in front of my whole family! Creative and a good surprise, but not too over-the-top. Turns out they all knew before I did - it was almost like getting punked - but that's OK. It was beautiful.

I was amused to get an email from an ex (who saw our status on Facebook) asking if he should stop emailing me now... as if JP is worried about some random old flame. I said sheesh, we're 40 - we have too many exes running around to worry about any of them! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still Interested...

Obama has a new website: www.change.gov - the Office of the President-Elect.

Since I'm not done being interested in what's happening at the Presidential level, this is a great website for tracking who's been appointed and what's just a rumor. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

Yesterday: Feeling giddy that election day was finally here and Obama was probably going to win.

Last night: Incredibly excited when FOX news called the election for Obama at only 10pm! Thrilled!!!

This morning: Tired, but grinning like an idiot all morning. Still thrilled. Thinking about how our students are affected by this.

Tonight: Just happy. At peace. Ready for the future. Amen.

The crowd at the DFL party at the Crowne Plaza last night

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Prayer

It's 5pm on Election Day... here's my prayer:

May everyone who wants to vote be able to. Bless the folks who have to endure hardships but still do it.

May the best of the spirit of America be revealed in the ways that folks help each other out today. Bless the election judges and election volunteers.

May everyone involved with voting approach the system with integrity. May the result reflect the truth. Bless those who respect the opposition enough to help them vote too.

May the result come by midnight. May the result be uncontested. Bless the folks who do all the work of tabulating so we don't have to wait too long.

May the best man win. (Since it has to be a man this year...) That's Obama. Bless him for stepping up to lead us at this time.

Amen!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Post from King of Prussia & Philly

I'm in Philly for "Parent Weekend" at U Penn - and today was all about shopping. We skipped all the official Penn events, jumped in the car with my daughter's roommate & roommate's mom, and headed to PA's version of the Mall of America: the King of Prussia Mall.

Ironically, being WITH my kid makes me miss her more - the fun of spending time with her makes me wish for more time!  Tonight Bonnie & I took the four roommates out for a nice dinner - they are all lovely girls & it's really fun to be with them.

This is one of those "count your blessings" trips - it's a blessing for her to be here at U Penn, and so great for me to be able to come across the country to spend time with her. 

Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Lawn Sign with Attitude

Gen X creativity in action:

JP has uploaded his designs to CafePress.com so you can now buy lawnsigns, buttons, etc with the designs from the entry "Partisan but Entertaining" below - and more!

This sign is in his yard right now...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Decent family man" is to "Arab" as "Barack Obama" is to ________

A supporter says to John McCain at a rally that Barack Obama is an "Arab" and he replies "No, ma'am, he's a decent family man." (This happens in Minnesota, of course - aren't we proud.)

Hello? How is "decent" the opposite of "Arab"?!!?!?!

And then McCain's close advisor, Mark Salter, says that the campaign is not responsible for "the occasional nut who shows up and yells something about Barack Obama" - as if the climate of racial hate that those folks are acting from was NOT created by contemporary Republicans? Really?!

I have HAD IT with McCain. One word: PATHETIC.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

History through Technology

I love it: The Smithsonian has "flickred" a ton of photos from the Scopes Trial in 1925 so they're on line for everyone to see.

How cool is that? :)

Here's John T. Scopes, the teacher who had the audacity to teach his students the theory of evolution in Tennessee. Would that we all had his chutzpah.

Something Non-Political, Please!

Lord have mercy, I think this election has taken over the public consciousness like a cancer! Yes, I think it's fabulous that folks are paying attention, and I hope everyone votes, but I am really looking forward to a dinner with friends tonight that I am reasonably sure will NOT be dominated by political topics.

(OK, I am also throwing a fund raising party for a friend on Wednesday who is running for local office, but hey, we get to talk about schools there, not lipstick or Russia or wall street.)

Surely something else of interest is going on in the world!

Today is the last day of Banned Books week - I'm bummed that I missed it! Time to celebrate To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, and other great works that are too brain-stretching for conservative tastes.

Bless Sheila Variations for posting on Paul Newman's passing - the loss of a great man is truly worth a moment of reflection.

I just got a new credit card in the mail - which I found somewhat amusing given the craziness in the credit industry the last couple weeks because of the wall street meltdown. Maybe I should be thankful instead of amused... but somehow getting another zero-percent interest card just cracked me up.

Riverbend hasn't posted to Baghdad Burning in almost a year. It makes me sad to wonder what she's going through - still in Syria? Still safe? Too depressed to write? What must it be like to be a refugee watching your country get torn apart for five straight years? I mean dang - the American Civil War didn't even last that long. We weren't in WWII for that long either.

The Peace Foundation in Minneapolis is hosting the 5th annual Peace Ball next weekend, and yes, we will be there. Check out Melissa's pix from last year's bash at QueenMAB.

And if after all that you still need a fix, check out English Al-Jazeera's special section for US presidential election coverage. That'll keep it interesting!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chris Rock Spells It Out

On 9/26, Chris Rock appeared on Larry King and gave his take on the election. Comedy with a point...

ROCK: I think Obama would be great. I mean, just look the big thing right now is the economy. And people are going broke. And here: The choice isn't Republican or Democrat. The choice is you got a guy that's worth $150 million with 12 houses against a guy who's worth a million dollars with one house.

KING: Well --

ROCK: The guy with one house really cares about losing a house, because he is homeless. The other guy can lose five houses and still got a bunch of houses. Does this make any sense? Am I the only one that sees this?

KING: It's unique way of ...

ROCK: I'm just saying, John McCain could lose half his houses.

KING: You got a point.

ROCK: And sleep well.

~~~

ROCK: You know, I hope Obama wins just because, you know, the country needs it. The country needs a change. We kind of seen what this whole McCain thing is. And I'll go with the guy with one house. The guy with one house is scared about losing his house.

KING: I never thought of it that way.

ROCK: It is that simple.

Five-Thirty-Eight

Interesting new website - extensively tracking the polls to predict the outcome of the Presidential election based on electoral votes. Not that polls tell us much of anything... but it's still good fun. Check it out at Five-Thirty-Eight



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Read the Platform!

I get frustrated with friends who say they don't know exactly what a candidate stands for. Not only do the candidates have extensive policy ideas laid out - easy to access on campaign websites - but the political parties have platforms adopted at each convention.

Interestingly, the Republicans just adopted the following last month:

"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all."

With the glaring exception of public education, I do generally believe in free markets. Although I think regulation is important to avoid monopoly and corruption, I do not think that huge companies that go broke need to be rescued - little ones never get that help! Who let AIG get so big that its demise would be "catastrophic for America" anyway???

What am I missing here? My great-grandfather owned three banks in MN the 1920's. They all closed during the depression (after his death) and my great-grandmother became a social pariah because her friends & neighbors didn't understand how it was possible that she didn't have all their money. She was suddenly broke too, but they didn't get it.

Today, our bank deposits are federally insured up to $100,000 - so that scenario will never happen again. That being the case, what's up with the bailouts? How is this good for you & me? I saw something that said my personal share of $700 billion is over $30,000 - sheesh!

It's starting to appear that the only folks in DC with integrity right now are the Republicans who are resisting a bailout. Gotta give 'em credit for walking their talk; not so McCain or Bush.

Obama's Advice from West Wing's Bartlett...

Maureen Dowd had the fabulous idea to ask Aaron Sorkin to write a scene in which Barack Obama asks Jed Bartlett for advice.. very funny and of course RIGHT ON. Check it out in Dowd's recent NYT column.

My favorite lines:

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a LancĂ´me rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

~~~

OBAMA They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET
I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity.

~~~

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

~~~

LOVE IT! Attitude and truth are a powerful combination. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

American Dream?

From Jonathan, at Urban Superhero:

Unbeknownst to me,
the world had changed.

Gone were the carefree days of my youth,
afternoons spent dreaming of young girls in sundresses,
plans for the future as a rock star or president of the u.s.

The mindset had changed;
the people didn’t feel the same;
the magic was gone.........

Never again would we bask in the sun,
unafraid of what the day would bring,
believing that in America, anything was possible.

Who was I to remind them of their forgotten ideals,
of the truth and principles that we supposedly fought so had for,
of the evils perpetuated in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Who would listen to a small voice which cried out from the pit of darkness,
ever encroaching in from the sides,
consuming the life from a once vibrant populace?

America, America, God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy Good, with Brotherhood......
But what happens when there is none to wear the crown?

Is it a Black thing? Is it a Hispanic thing? Is it a White thing?
Perhaps it is a Justice thing, a Righteous thing, a Good thing!
Supposedly, it was an American thing!

Rodney King, Auschwitz, Columbus, Egypt, Hong Kong.
How long do the lies and extermination have to last,
ingrained in the minds of our children before we wake up?

"We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal....."
Does someone not understand the definition of self? Of evident? Or is it equal?
Perhaps the confusion centers around the phrase “all men” and who defined it.

It is well and good to support our country, to have pride in our troops,
to celebrate the 4th of July, and Washington’s birthday;
but what happens when you find out you’ve been celebrating a lie?

I do not hate America.

I believe in American ideals.

I believe in the American people!

I believe that
when in the course of human events
it becomes necessary,
a nation must rise up
and defend itself
from tyranny,
injustice,
and oppression

but we can’t feed
and clothe
and heal
and protect
the very people
who comprise
this greatest of nations.

Where are the priorities,
where is the truth,
the righteousness?

Where is the country that
"four-score and seven years ago
our forefathers brought"?

Where is America,
land of the free,
home of the brave,
nation among nations?

Hopefully preparing for a rebirth
that will insure that
all PEOPLE are created equal

and are endowed
with the Rights
to Life,
to Liberty,
and to the Pursuit of Happiness....

from sea to shining sea...

Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Just for a Smile


Too much to be crabby about today - saw this & had to share. It's silly - but it made me smile when I needed it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Juno to Juneau

Creativity at its finest! Call it political satire or just making fun of hypocrisy when we see it - either way this is hilarious.

[Not following politics this week? GOP VP Candidate Sarah Palin's 17-yr old daughter is pregnant. Which we'd ignore if Palin wasn't adamantly anti-sex-ed and anti-abortion.]

I admit to a small amount of hypocrisy of my own here: in general, I believe we should leave the kids out of this election - it's not the girl's fault her mother is running for office. But this was just too spot-on not to share.

Amazing what photoshop (or whatever application was used) can do! (Look up Sarah Palin on Snopes.com to see a very funny fake picture of her in a flag-pattern bikini with a rifle.)

Again, hats off to folks who think of things I never would. Love it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My "Lady Brain" Is Just Amused

I was amused when I heard that John McCain had chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate - all I could think was: BIGGEST PANDER EVER!

Leave it to John Stewart & Samantha Bee to articulate better than I ever could why this choice is so dumb - Friday's Daily Show has a great "analysis" of the choice. The skit is funny but also right on.

Some women are offended by his choice, and some are energized - I just think it's funny. If Obama wins in a landslide, I will NOT be surprised. The one good thing this choice will probably accomplish for McCain is getting conservatives who couldn't bear to vote for either candidate to independents who will say "are you kidding me???" is much larger.

I also remember how badly Mondale lost in '84... everyone always credits his straight talk about raising taxes, but I think having Ferraro on the ticket was relevant too. As the Democratic primary season revealed (to my surprise) sexism is worse than racism in the country right now. There are plenty of folks who are simply not comfortable with a woman in charge.

But to his credit: McCain just made this race even more interesting! :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Post after the Road Trip

I've become a slacker with regard to posting from the road - we had pretty regular computer access, but were too entertained to think of posting!

I just returned from a 3-day cross-country road trip with my 19-year-old daughter. Apparently we have both matured a lot over the last year because we had a GREAT time! No car trouble (blessedly) and a couple fun stops with friends.

My trip actually took me from DC to Deep Creek, MD to Philly to Chicago (via suburban Cleveland) and then home. I picked up my kid in Philly so she was with me for most of it.

Deep Creek Lake in NW Maryland (see above photo) is one of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced. My cousin has a lake place there, so we spent an afternoon on the boat - a lovely day.

But the revelation of the trip was not in the scenery, amazing though it was. The exciting part was spending 24 hours in a car with my kid and enjoying ourselves. Beautiful.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Homeland Security's Latest: Brilliant!

In the "Gotta Love It" category...

The StarTribune reported yesterday that in response to their "admitted blunder" of hiring ex-MNDOT official Sonia Pitt, (after she was fired for mishandling the 35W bridge collapse,) the US Dept of Homeland Security is instituting a new policy:

"From now on, more job candidates will have their backgrounds searched on Google."

Oh yeah, that'll fix that problem!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Perspective from Here

The view from my front door:



It reminds me: "If I am not happy in this place, in this time... I'm not paying attention."

Life is good. :)

Points for Creativity!

Nothing makes me feel old like seeing a really fun, creative idea executed by people 20 years younger than me! Whether or not you think this is silly, we have to give these kids points for creativity.

The New York Times reports a new movement of Barack Obama supporters who are "expressing solidarity with him" by adopting the middle name "Hussein" on Facebook pages and in daily life.

A cursory look at the results for a search of "Hussein" on Facebook today netted: Tonya Hussein Van Tol, John Hussein Hartman, Dustin Hussein Hamari, and Kyle Hussein Randall, all in the first 2 pages.

There are lots of ways to make a point, but at least this one is entertaining. I like it!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Hope I'm Wrong

I was genuinely surprised at the headline on today's Start Tribune - "Franco Guilty in Crash" - though I probably shouldn't be. I'm been making Minnesota red-state jokes for a couple years now, so I know that anti-immigrant negativity is alive & well here. But seeing that Olga Franco was found guilty in that bus crash was jarring: I still don't expect that from Minnesotans.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope there was compelling evidence that she did it, and somehow it just didn't make it into the newspaper. All I know about the case is what I've read in the StarTribune, so I realize that may leave much to be desired. But there is so much reasonable doubt in my mind that I can't help but wonder what role anti-immigrant sentiment - read racism - played in the verdict.

For the first time this year, I can envision McCain winning the presidency. I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Events

Events in my personal life are actually more interesting than the rest of the world right now... my excuse for not writing for almost a month. Life is good - both joyful and heartbreaking, but never boring.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's a Small World pt. 2

I haven't done this in a while, but I started clicking the "next blog" link at the top of the page just to see what's out there. The first FIVE blogs to pop up were in other languages - and then the sixth was English, but about a family moving from Ottawa to Switzerland.

I don't even recognize all the languages I come across.

LOVE IT!

World View on Zimbabwe





A friend forwarded these political cartoons from around the world that she received from a friend of hers in South Africa. Small planet. Big issue.

No shock to find that folks in leadership in Zimbabwe are not interested in what we think about it! In a recent article on allAfrica.com that appears to be from a newspaper in Zimbabwe, a senior aid to Mugabe, Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde George Charamba, is quoted as saying the West can "go hang a thousand times" for criticising Zimbabwe's presidential election run-off.

Alrighty then.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Friedman: Wake Up Call

This man is pretty much always right, as far as I can tell, and right now he's becoming a serious doomsday prophet!
In Thomas Friedman's latest NYTimes column, "Anxious in America", he makes the case that rebuilding Iraq will not be the big issue in the next election - it will be rebuilding America. He's been writing a lot recently about our pathetic oil dependence and need for alternative energy development, including a recent column "Mr. Bush: Lead or Leave" that really lays it out.

His latest column details many ways in which America is on the wrong track right now: low savings rates, high consumer debt, food prices soaring... and then one paragraph jumped out at me:

"My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working."

He gives lots of concrete, specific examples to back up his assertions, and concludes with:

"If the old saying — that “as General Motors goes, so goes America” — is true, then folks, we’re in a lot of trouble. General Motors’s stock-market value now stands at just $6.47 billion, compared with Toyota’s $162.6 billion. On top of it, G.M. shares sank to a 34-year low last week.

That’s us. We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters."

Scary, but quite possibly true. As prophets go, this is a man that I listen to.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dance with Matt

This video is the ultimate in beautiful randomness - placing it squarely into my favorite category of things in life: "Who thinks of these things?!" Gotta give this guy some credit - 42 countries in 14 months. (Be sure to move the cursor off the picture after you hit play so you can see the bottom of the screen.) Enjoy!


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Memories

Reading The Sheila Variations usually leads to me finding something she wrote that I want to copy, and today is no exception! In "You Can't Take it With You" she lists favorite memories that she'd like to take with her when she dies.

Here are a few of mine. I would love to hear other people's too...

* Long weekend in Newport RI in '94 with my friend Rachael and a bunch of people we had never met & never saw again, but who adopted us because one was a friend of a friend and we were coming through town

* Playing yard games with the neighborhood kids on summer nights when we were young - something I didn't consciously appreciate until some girls from school who lived a few blocks away wandered down one night & commented on how cool it was that our block all hung out & played together

* Halloween parties my senior year ('85) dressed as the Robert Palmer back-up band with my 3 best friends

* Graduation day the first year I taught seniors ('05) at Patrick Henry HS - seeing the blessing in each one who made it to the finish line

* Visiting U Penn and Columbia last spring with my daughter who was trying to choose between them after being accepted to both - being so incredibly proud of her every day

* Watching my 3-year-old nephew climb on my dad's tombstone & knowing the God holds us all and life goes on...

Wombat Wisdom

I couldn't find the code to embed this here so you'll have to trust me and click on the link:

"All is One" Wombat


Just do it.

10 Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering

10 Reasons to Believe in a God who Allows Suffering
from Mandilakhe Dabula
via Auntie Mo and Melissa Borgmann:
1. Suffering comes with the freedom to choose.
2. Pain can warn us of danger.
3. Suffering reveals what is inside our hearts.
4. Suffering takes us to the edge of eternity.
5. Suffering loosens our grip on this world & life.
6. Suffering gives us opportunity to trust God.
7. In suffering, God suffers with us.
8. Suffering is lesser than God's comfort.
9. In times of suffering, we find one another.
10. God can turn suffering around for our own good.

From my own experience:
- It is true that pain serves a purpose in life! It warns us to pull hands away from hot stoves and hearts away from bad relationships.
- It is true that sometimes we hold negativity in our hearts, which causes suffering - but that suffering reveals what we need to let go of.
- It's true that pain helps us focus on what matters - not things of the earth, but trust in God.
- And it's absolutely true that God can use our suffering to make us stronger, healthier, and better able to do God's will on earth.

I do not know what suffering this South African young man has endured, or where he found these words, or why he sent them on. It doesn't matter. I am blessed to read and ponder them today.

The More Things Change...

Mitch Pearlstein has a hilarious little quiz in the Strib today: eleven quotes by presidential candidates about change. From Bush to Obama to Nixon to Kennedy, you can't tell them apart.

Examples:
2. "My fellow Americans, something new, something different has happened. It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new day."

8. "This nation is daring and decent and ready for change... My fellow citizens, we can begin again."

Same message? The first is from Hubert Humphrey in 1968 - the second is GW Bush in 2000.

The more things change...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Right Living

Wise words from Henri Nouwen:

Right Living and Right Speaking

To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God's presence in the world. What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking. When we forgive our neighbors from our hearts, our hearts will speak forgiving words. When we are grateful, we will speak grateful words, and when we are hopeful and joyful, we will speak hopeful and joyful words.

When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages. Giving double messages - one with our words and another with our actions - makes us hypocrites. May our lives give us the right words and may our words lead us to the right life.

I really try to live by "do the right thing" - but sometimes a reminder is nice! Nouwen's words help me focus on what's important: consistency of thought and action. Living my beliefs.

All good. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prayers Needed

With all the flooding in the Midwest right now, we are clearly doing a better job taking care of people this time than we did with Hurricane Katrina. I'm not sure why yet - I suspect it's a state issue (high-tax, high-service blue state) but who knows. The StarTribune article today reported one FEMA official saying there was much less need for temporary shelters because of people sheltering others in their homes: "It's evidence of that neighborly Midwestern grit out there." Interesting!

25,000 people left homeless in Cedar Rapids by the flooding...

Somewhere between 2 million & 5 million acres of crops destroyed...

20 levees breached already, with 30 more at risk...

The entire town of Winfield, MS was flooded out...

Prayers needed!

What's up with the Question Marks????

I don't think of myself as someone who is generally confused or unsure - more people would probably call me confident & opinionated - but as I was scanning back, I noticed three entries in a row with question marks in the title. What's up with that????

Am I carelessly being like those women who can't make a statement without raising the pitch of their voice at the end of the sentence for approval? I hope not!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Classroom of the Future?!



How's this for cool? An economical use of resources - the Classroom of the Future brings a tech-advanced space to the school via flatbed truck. So a district might invest in one and share it among schools - or share with other districts.

It has:
* a stage and a small-cinema-sized screen for presentations and performances
* work space for 15 students to explore music and filmmaking
* adaptability for additional needs as technology improves!

Bravo, future thinkers!

"Nerd Girls" - a Step Forward?

It sounds stupid, but according to Newsweek, "Nerd Girls" is actually a group of female engineering students at Tufts University who are trying to break down the stereotypes and claim both science brains and femininity at the same time.

Apparently it's working - junior Christina Sanchez says being a computer whiz and a sexy girl is no big deal: "Just because I get dressed up Saturday night, that doesn't mean I won't do better [than a guy] on a test on Monday."

Amen, sister!

I was stunned, though, that the older woman in the article quoted saying "I hid my passion for all things scientific and focused on pursuits that were allowable" is only 38! Younger than me! When did Gen X become the prior generation???

Still, gotta give credit to the young ones coming up - if they do it better than we did, that's as it should be! :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Race No Longer a Political Tool?

Paul Krugman has written a great column, "It's a Different Country," about the use of race as a tool of political division. He makes the case that without it, much of the right-wing agenda makes no sense.

Example: fear of "Big Government" which of course was a Reagan staple & has been used to divide and conquer ever since. The reality: Americans support the biggest domestic programs: Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Reagan used to imply that the problem with big government was money wasted on "them" - welfare queens, etc. But Clinton's reform of the welfare system blunts that argument significantly.

Krugman's basic argument is that if Obama wins in November, it won't "transform America" so much as it will show that American has already been transformed.

Given the recent racism I've seen from Fox media surrounding the Obama campaign I'm not so sure... but we'll see!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"I'm Voting Republican..."

OK, this is certainly superficial - and maybe even mean - but it's also worth seeing and thinking about...!

It's Come to This...

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but apparently since they can't attack his platform or positions, folks are just attacking Obama with lies. The campaign has created an official "Fight the Smears" page on its website to debunk the lies as they circulate.

I'm sad that it's even needed, but at least modern technology allows the truth to catch up! (What's the old phrase: "A lie makes it half way around the world while the truth is lacing up its shoes?!")

Check it out!

She's Many Things, but "Baby Mama" Is Not One of Them

Wow. I knew that the race would get ugly, but so quickly?!

Apparently, Fox News referred to Michelle Obama as " Obama's Baby Mama" - seriously. I got this from an Andy Ostroy post on Huffpost which, while opinionated, has always been accurate as far as I've seen.

Holy $%^&#!

America, we're about to get to know ourselves really well in the next 5 months...

18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

"18 million cracks in the glass ceiling..." a great metaphor for 18 million voters who were intentional about electing a woman to be Commander in Chief! I am sorry to see Hillary's campaign end, but I am proud of her, and of America.

We've come a long way, baby.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

And on That Subject...

Ironic - I finished the post on Antoine's memorial, picked up my notes to see what I'd been thinking about writing next, and found it was MN graduation rates.

According to stats from 2004-06, black students in MN are currently graduating at a rate of 62%. Antoine did graduate, as did all the boys I knew who were at his memorial today.

What did that get him? Or the rest of them? Two had gone on to college, but neither is going back. The rest - not so much.

Overall, MN is down to an 85% graduation rate, though 91% of the state's current workforce has graduated from high school. Why the drop? Why are kids opting not to finish? What does the diploma offer them that they can't get without it? What does it guarantee?

I'm getting like Melissa - all questions, no answers!

Gun Violence in My Life

I attended a memorial today for Antoine, a former student who was killed this spring. In spite of the tragedy, I was glad to have the chance to see many former students - most graduates '06 or '07 - who I might otherwise have lost touch with. As I told the young man who organized it, sometimes bringing people together is the best we can do!

I was so proud of him: organizing any event when you're 19 isn't easy, especially a memorial service for a friend who shouldn't be dead! But it was lovely. We had a cook-out in the park, with a time for people to share their thoughts about Antoine, a prayer, and the release of a ton of balloons, each with a little message written & tied to it. Cool.

I remember vividly the moment I first heard about the shooting of a student of mine: fall of 1995. I was just starting my third year of teaching. We were in the copy room in the morning, and someone came in with the news, and I remember suddenly crying, and being embarrassed to be crying in front of colleagues. He was a 9th grader, shot while riding his bike - not an accident. I remember attending the funeral, and planning things at school to help our students process & grieve.

I don't remember where I was when I heard about the next student of mine who had been shot - it was after the fact so I couldn't attend the funeral, and it was a couple years after she'd moved on from our school, so not too many people were left who remembered her. But I did. She was killed because someone was playing with a gun in the next room and it accidentally went off & shot right through the door of the room she was in.

So this is the third student gun death - that I know of - of my kids. And, shockingly, pathetically, it actually does get easier. Maybe this is how we cope. If it didn't get easier, I guess at some point we would just stop functioning.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's Equality, Stupid

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has me thinking about and noticing sexism is ways I haven't in recent years. And it's not just me: two newspaper commentaries today echo my concerns:

The New York Times Magazine has a piece by Peggy Orenstein called The Hillary Lesson ruminating about what our daughters are learning from her candidacy. Is it "We've come a long way, baby" or "We've got a long way yet to go?"

Her statistics point to the latter: Only 16% of governors and 16% of members of Congress are female, and only 24% of state legislators are female. Only 12 out of 500 of the top executives of Fortune 500 companies are female - less than 3%.

Sigh.

Lori Sturdevant, in a political commentary piece in the Strib today called "Dont Despair", takes the opposite tack with the same info - stats in MN are better than the national average, so we have much to be proud of. Our current legislature is 34% female, with a female house speaker. She also cites several significant legislative accomplishments that happened because a woman or women were in power.

Amen.

But interestingly, it's not just the women writing on this issue: George Will, who we can always count on to make the sexist position sound practical and reasonable, writes about Clinton's run in "The Prize Clinton Isn't Owed" (reprinted in the Strib as "The Other Part of Equality is Losing".) The second half of the article is boring Clinton-bashing, but the first part is interesting. He makes the point that you know you're equal when you're treated badly:

When, in 1975, Frank Robinson became major league baseball's first African American manager, with the Cleveland Indians, that was an important milestone. But an even more important one came two years later, when the Indians fired him. That was real equality: Losing one's job is part of the job description of major league managers, because sacking the manager is one of the few changes a floundering team can make immediately. So, in a sense, Robinson had not really arrived until he was told to leave. Then he was just like hundreds of managers before him.

Thus, he asserts, Clinton should take the calls to bow out of the race as a compliment. I don't agree, but I am always impressed by his ability to make sexism (or racism - or whatever he's peddaling at the moment) not only palatable, but even seem logical.

Gee thanks - not much there to advance the discourse. Orenstien, on the other hand, gives us genuine food for thought as she points out that framing gender as something to be "overcome" is not necessarily in a young girl's best interest:

Right now, my daughter doesn’t know about the obstacles she may face someday, and I’m not sure of the wisdom of girding her in advance. Even the supposedly “girl positive” picture books, designed to address this very issue, pose a dilemma. Take “Elenita,” a magical-realist tale, given to my daughter by a family friend, about a girl who wants to be a glass blower. Her father says she can’t do it: she’s too little, and besides, the trade is forbidden to women. The lesson, naturally, is that with a little ingenuity girls can be glass blowers or stevedores or [fill in the blank]. Nice. Still, I found myself hesitating over the “girls can’t” section. My daughter has never heard that “girls can’t be” or “girls can’t do.” Why should I plant the idea in her head only to knock it down?

Indeed, I think this relates to my concerns about how we kids teach about slavery in America - even telling the stories of overcoming, we are still laying out the paradigm of inequality as the base from which all else grows. What would happen if we quit framing our culture in those terms and just taught our kids what it takes to get ahead?

Food for thought!