Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Aurora Borealis in Ohio

I saw the aurora borealis last night! In Ohio! It is also known as the Northern Lights and I didn't know it was possible to see it here. My hubby and I were out in the hot tub around 9:30 PM. I saw a vertical streak of red in the sky and it grew a deeper red. Then we noticed another horizontal patch of bright red in the northern sky. It was beautiful but we were a little freaked out because we didn't know what it was. It only lasted 10 minutes or so and I feel like it was a once in a lifetime chance to see something unique and indescribable. This photo is not mine, but it is the closest thing I could find on the Internet that compared with what we saw last night. My husband also saw two shooting stars last night!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Do Love my iPod

Today is the 10th birthday of the iPod. Of all the recent technological inventions I believe it is my favorite. What's better than taking all your favorite music wherever you go? I leave it on shuffle and constantly hear songs and artists that I wouldn't probably search out - but I love them because they are from my music collection! Apple unveiled it on this date in 2001. It was created under the code name "Dulcimer" and was presented a few months after Apple released iTunes, it's program to convert audio D's into digital files. The original iPod had a 5 gigabyte hard drive and Apple founder Steve Jobs declared it would put "1000 songs in your pocket" and it does! The name was inspired by a scene from "2001"A Space Odyssey" which included the line, "Open the pod bay door, Hal!"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Around the Emerald Necklace of Cleveland

The first photo is Squire's Castle in the North Chagrin Reservation. The next two are at Brandywine Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the last is nearby on the towpath trail which will soon extend from Akron to Cleveland. Amazing beauty that we all take for granted too often.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Do You Really Believe?

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition - and then admit that we just don't want to do it.

Stephen Colbert

Monday, October 10, 2011

Testing Children

Once again, I am feeling frustrated in the age of "blaming teachers" for everything from students underachieving(regardless of the circumstances)to making too much money that has ruined the state budget.

I would like to share some excerpts from an article by Diane Ravitch, a former US assistant secretary of education, a historian of education and a professor at New York University. the article addresses the failure of No Child Left Behind, the ten years of testing students grades 3-12.

Maybe standardized tests are not good predictors of future economic success or decline. Perhaps our country has succeeded not because of test scores but because we encouraged something more important than test scores - the freedom to create, innovate and imagine.

Instead of sending the vast amounts of money that schools needed to make a dent in this goal, Congress simply sent testing mandates that required that every child in every school reach proficiency by 2014 - or the schools would be subject to sanctions. If a school failed to make progress over five years, it might be closed, privatized ,handed over to the state authorities or turned into a charter school.

The fundamental belief that carrots and sticks will improve education is a leap of faith, an ideology to which its adherents cling despite evidence to the contrary.. . experts who concluded that incentives based on tests hadn't worked.

. . . testing every child every year and grading teachers by their student's scores - is not found in any of the world's top performing nations.

Piece by piece our entire public education system is being redesigned in the service of increasing test scores on standardized tests at the expense of creativity, innovation and imagination that helped this country succeed.. . competition produces winners and losers, not equality of educational opportunity

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When despair for the world grows in me . . .

I've realized lately that the divisive state of our country, the injustices I read about and see on the news daily are beginning to stretch my soul and spirit.

From a young age I had a sense of indignation at injustices and it was then that I began writing about them. Then, as an adult, I became completely consumed with raising children, various relationships, and discovering myself and how I would spend my time in life. My 30's and 40's were turbulent, and life is a little calmer now.

My mind is uncongested of so many yearnings now. I attribute this to my new-found frustrations with politicians, education, infighting and generally NOT coexisting!

There is a running dialogue in my head on various topics and I don't like it! There may be times when righteous anger makes a real difference, but in reality we have very little say and very little impact on the larger world. We can, of course, make smaller positive changes in our own corner of the world and sometimes this is all we can do.

In a moment of serendipity I came across this poem today. The first and last lines captivated me. I don't want to live in a state of anger or even frustration so tonight instead of watching the news I will come into the peace of wild things.

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.