Wednesday, February 28, 2018

National Geographic Magazine

I just finished reading the latest issue of National Geographic, a magazine I've been reading since I was 10 yrs old-that's 65 years.  It was one of the best issues in recent months.  The feature was bird migration habits and it included a map of bird migratory routes.  The secondary article was about unique properties of the earth as opposed to the other planets.  It outlined the 13 reasons why earth is uniquely suited to support life. 

I used to (and still do) look forward to the arrival of National Geographic and it was especially fun when there was a large fold up map included.  I still have many of them.  Sad to say readership of NG has fallen off sharply as is true of many magazines.  The internet is of course the culprit. 

I used to bring all of my old issues  of NG into my 4th and 5th grade classes.  Kids used to use the pictures to write reports and produce graphic organizers. Not so anymore.  Schools don't want them.  The town library doesn't want them either.  I did finally find a home for some of them at an assisted living facility I visit but many of them simply had to get tossed.  After all, 65 years worth of monthly magazines takes up a fair amount of space.

I think it's a shame to see this happen.  Fortunately there appears to be enough people like me who feel the same so that the magazine will keep going and the National Geographic Society can still fund important research projects.  But how long this will continue is anyone's guess.

The internet is a great thing.  I, myself, spend a fair amount of time on it.  But so are magazines like National Geographic-at least to me!

Friday, February 23, 2018

What I've Learned-Reflections on being 75.

Today's my birthday. I'm 75 years old.  As is my custom,  here are a few thoughts on what I've learned to be important in this short life.

Exactly 30 years ago I read an amazing book called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten written by Robert Fulghum.  I was 45 at the time  and thought to myself I couldn't possibly improve on what he had to say so I'm reproducing the main points here-the key to a happy life summed up perfectly:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Few Thoughts

There isn't much more to be said about the Florida high school shooting tragedy.  But a few thoughts do come to mind.

First, the response by the republicans in general and Trump in particular is worse than inadequate.  It's insulting and despicable.  The overwhelming majority of this country's voters  is disgusted with the situation  regarding guns.  I hope they're still just as disgusted when it comes time to vote.

Second, even if it could happen I do not advocate the repeal of the 2nd amendment and while better background checks is a start, it is  not nearly enough.  Guns must be kept out of the hands of lunatics and felons and people who commit domestic violence.  That means federal law must supersede state law. In addition gun shows must be subject to the same laws.  No more letting someone go to a gun show in Alabama, New Mexico, Montana or where ever and walk out with a gun.  This must stop.

Third and last:  Historians will agree that student unrest contributed significantly to bringing the war in Viet Nam to an end.  It looks like they're about to accomplish something similar where gun control is concerned.  Interesting.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When will it end?

 Here we go again.  Getting old, isn't it?  Murder in the schools.  I'm so sick of this it's beyond words.  A friend of mine recently wrote her thoughts regarding this on Facebook.  I obtained permission from her to reproduce her post here.  One of her followers asked, "Where do we start?"  Many people expressed the same sentiment.  I'll tell you where.  In the voting booth, that's where.  The men and women, mostly republicans frankly, who are bought and paid for by the NRA have got to go.  Period.  Then and only then will we begin to see some progress.  In the mean time here's the post I referred to.  Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts of your own.  I will publish opposing arguments that are well-written and respectful (

"Another mass shooting at an American school.
Another time for “thoughts and prayers.”
Another community impacted by trauma that will last their life-times, struggling to make sense of a senseless tragedy.
Another day of on-going news coverage of horror and interviews with the survivors and their families.
Another “day after” when the best of humanity is demonstrated after the worst of humanity is exposed.
Another troubled man armed with a legally purchased AR-15.
17 are dead.
14 are injured.
We will mourn. Broward County will come together and lean on each other through these next difficult days, weeks, months, and years. They will attend 17 funerals and support the 14 injured. They will hug each other and hold their children closer. They will rally around one another and will now identify time as “before” and “after”. Their community will be overcome by the nation’s love and prayers and generosity. Those of us who want to reach out to ease the pain of this forever-injured community will do anything. We will send cards and hang banners and light candles and hold vigils and send food and knit prayer shawls and send school supplies and offer comfort animals and send teddy bears and conduct meal trains and buy staff and First Responders lunches for months. We will do anything to provide a modicum of comfort to them as they navigate through their grief.
And we, the country, will rally behind Florida. Moments of silence will be offered at professional sporting events and concerts. Flags will fly at half-staff. The nation may declare a day of national mourning and the Pope may even publicly pray from the Vatican for the victims.
In the days and weeks that will follow yesterday’s massacre we will be a little kinder to each other. We will pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal. We will look each other in the eye more and smile. We will hold the door open for others and commit random acts of kindness. We will do what we need to do to help heal the bruise each of us now has on our hearts.
They, Broward County, will need to find a new school for the surviving students and teachers to attend for the rest of the year. And there will be a moving company that will pack their desks and their books and their technology and their files, and they will distribute them wherever their satellite school is set up. Staff and volunteers will help re-establish a “school” and will unpack their belongings in an effort to create some semblance of a new learning community. And the community will have to decide how to best “repair” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Yesterday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Today is that day that you pray never comes.”
President Donald Trump tweeted, “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”
But these days continue to come Senator Rubio. There have been almost 300 school shootings since the tragedy that forever changed my school community, Newtown, in 2012.
And we teachers and our students haven’t felt safe President Trump. For years. Since Columbine in 1999. In fact, there have been 18 school shootings this year alone. And it is only the middle of February.
We have done everything we can to help prepare for and prevent these tragedies. Schools and districts have increased police presence, armed security guards, and security officers. ERT (emergency response teams) have been established.
When I first began teaching in 1994 we held fire drills and high-wind emergency drills in my elementary school. That was it. We still hold those drills, but now we also have drills to respond to threats within the community, outside the school, and inside the school. Children practice these regularly. We teach our students to huddle together and to be very quiet. And then we tell them that they will be safe. But time and time again breaking news sheds doubt on that promise. And this American teacher wonders how much longer we can keep up the ruse.
Schools have increased their focus on mental health. We have school counselors, school psychologists, mandated social-emotional curricula, kindness initiatives, safe-school climate committees and school climate surveys for children, parents, and teachers. We are doing as much as we can within our purview.
Yet this continues to happen.
The common denominator in these mass shootings: a deranged male and an assault rifle. It begs the question, “How can individuals with these anger issues be allowed to purchase these weapons?”
Yet, Senator Rubio voted NO to help the Senate defeat the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. A law which would have required background checks for all firearm sales and expanded school safety grant programs. A bill more than the majority of Americans supported. So how can Mr. Rubio vote no to this legislation in one breath and in the next breath tweet that he prayed this day would never come?
President Trump’s administration overturned a rule put in place by President Obama’s administration that would have heightened the scrutiny of mentally impaired people who seek to purchase a firearm. Trump’s 2018 budget called for a 23% reduction in the mental health services block grant. How can he, our President, call for the safety of American schools one day, and yet continue to sabotage any small steps made to ensure that safety?
Our leaders need to stop talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Our schools should be places ONLY of learning, of community, of inspiration, and of implied well-being. But they can never wholly be until SOMETHING is done to STOP mass shootings in schools. I urge all Senate and House members and the President of these United States to do SOMETHING, other than think and other than pray, to STOP the violence. Support SOMETHING, rather than inaction. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
#enoughisenough #tomorrowsnews #prayforparkland"

Thursday, February 8, 2018

One More!

One more top level dirt bag from the Trump administration bites the dust.  When is the big guy going to fall?  It can't be too soon.  On the other hand then we'll be stuck with Pence-a religious nut-job who wants to jam his religion down your throat.  So he's got to go too.  Ah, but then we're stuck with Ryan-Trump's spineless lapdog.  It's all so absurd I'm going to see if there's a bear somewhere who has room for me in his cave!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Web page update

I've updated my web site.  There are some new pictures and information about February.  Check it out and feel free to make suggestions that will improve it.  See the 'contact me' link in the navigation bar.