25 February 2008
right on the 2nd wide line.
The watch, a gift
from the friend of my heart,
marks the time
we are apart
and very little together
As the 2nd hand clicks past
I wonder if
come back to me.
yet it never obscures
keeping the future
always a moment
24 February 2008
21 February 2008
Just say it over and over again. You know it sounds good. Here's the recipe.
Yes, they’re vegan, but no one will notice and no one will care.
Ingredients for Chocoberry Cupcakes:
¼ C vegetable shortening
½ stick (¼ C) kosher or other dairy free margarine
1 ½ C granulated white sugar
6 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
2 C white cake flour
1 C whole grain all purpose flour
3 Tbs black cocoa
1 Tbs baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
6 oz blueberry soy yogurt
4 oz vanilla soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with paper cupcake liners. Batter yields enough for about 18 cupcakes.
- Cream the shortening, margarine and sugar at medium low speed in a standing mixer with the flat, wide daft. Once those ingredients are very fluffy, add the apple sauce, 2 Tbs at a time on low speed until incorporated but without losing air.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and set aside.
- In a measuring cup, mix the soy yogurt, soy milk and vanilla.
- With the mixer set at its lowest speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the liquids about ¼ of each at a time. The mixture needs to be smooth. Be sure to pause and scrape the sides to make sure all is well mixed and that there are no streaks of unmixed batter.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans to fill each well about ¾ full. Bake for about 20 minutes. Test with toothpick,. Cool completely before icing.
Ingredients for Blunilla Icing:
¼ C or (½ stick) kosher or other dairy-free margarine
¼ C vegetable shortening
1 LB 10x powdered confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 3 tsp vanilla soy milk
Royal blue gel food color
- Cream the "butter" and sugar in the mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and allow it to incorporate completely.
- Add about two or three dots or more of gel color to icing to get the color you want. A little goes a long way with gel color.
- Then add the soy milk, just a little at a time, until the icing comes to a good, spreadable consistency.
- Pause the mixer frequently to scrape the sides to make sure all the sugar and "butter" are well mixed and very smooth.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
Get yourself a cup of hot spiced tea and enjoy it with a Chocoberry Cupcake with Blunilla Icing.
Last night while John and I were talking, he sent me this new album from Mia Doi Todd as a gift through iTunes. I clicked the link in my e-mail and redeemed the album. Although I transferred it immediately to my iPod, I didn't listen to it until this morning when I walked Beau.
Upon my first listen, I might call it contemplatively boring. Individually, the songs are pretty and pleasant, but in a way that is ignorable and that lets you focus more on the world around you. During a long walk or a weekend drive (if you can afford the gas!), this music lets the senses do what they will without interruption. The coherence of the album comes from its repetitiveness, but if you're looking for upbeat pop or rock, it's not here. Mostly the singer and her guitar, there is little harmonic invention, and an ear hoping for teases and tricks will find none.
Work out music it isn't, unless the work out is slow yoga, and then this album might be perfect. I've no familiarity with any of the rest of Ms. Todd's opera, so I make comment only on Gea. The sound isn't original because there are many other artists that fit this genre of plaintive singer/songwriter on the verge of clinical depression (Nick Drake for example), and some might do it better (Nick Drake for example, except he's dead because he went past the verge into suicidal depression). But there is a place for Ms. Todd somewhere in my music collection, and I'm glad to add her to my almost-chock-full-of-music iPod. (I'm running out of space for my favorite podcasts! Help!) She may very well accompany my next yoga routine. Sometimes icy and scalding are extremes that cannot exist if there is no lukewarm, and Ms. Todd's lukewarm folksy-pop might provide better perspective of the soundscape around her.
My own criticism aside, reading the reviews on iTunes is its own comic relief. No one has anything musical to write about the album. The 33 reviews listed at the time of this writing are nothing more than a restaurant wait list of lovers and haters and a few feeling apathy with an attempt at a favorable review. Even the NY Times review that a fan copied & pasted to iTunes wasn't especially clever or helpful. The first review was little more than a moronic "yeah, I'm first". The haters are more than likely too video-game-quick-click-attention-span to be able to listen to the entire album or perhaps to read an entire novel of more than a couple hundred pages in order to give a substantive review. The lovers are mostly in love with their own fawning text. The rest gave middle-ground ratings and could provide little detail as to why. In the end, with all the audience and performers that exist, there's a match for everyone, I'm sure.
(album artwork for Gea and color layout as distributed through iTunes)
17 February 2008
John sent me a stunning bouquet of tulips for Valentine's Day. Because it wasn't the more commonplace dozen roses, I was a bit surprised but very pleased. Their beauty as the blooms have opened full has made me reconsider this flower which in the past I'd taken little time to appreciate. The tulip is truly a beautiful flower, and when once I do finally have my garden, it may join the lily as one favored in my landscape. Thank you, John.
(Sorry, but the links to some of the pictures don't seem to be working properly.)
16 February 2008
For reference see the article "Schools drop one mandatory foreign language course" by Megan Almon from the Valentine's Day 2008 edition of The Times-Herald of Newnan.
Not only does Georgia want to safeguard the state's status in the lowest tier of the Union for educational rankings (see page two of this GBPI publication), but the county where I teach apparently aspires to descend its rank to the least successful of 159 counties for its high school students. Four years of progress made through an effective middle school program articulated through a required third level of study in high school are erased as readily as a misplaced jot or tittle. My disdain and disgust are potentially limitless. Ms. Almon's "thanks to" captures the local mentality and attitude with regard to participation in the world at large better than I could ever describe.
While in the short term I may see a sudden increase in art classes supplementing my teaching schedule, my own advocacy of language study will not waiver. As my father might say, "keep pluggin'." When I came to my school, there were not three full classes of French, and my schedule was replete with such academic equivocations as Freshman Focus and SAT Prep. This year, there are EIGHT sections of French with levels I, II, III, IV & V. I gained a colleague in "my department" and was able to extend my experience into visual arts. This may be only a temporary trend toward linguistic decline, but as long as I breathe (which is sometimes its own challenge), there will be French in Coweta!
Just why does language matter to me? Read this article at the University of Tennessee Martin. It summarizes already and more effectively what I might write on the subject of language education and provides links to related research and bibliographies.
Hé, l'Amérique, le plus grand des lièvres, réveillez-vous alors!
Que le monde entier soit plurilingue!
13 February 2008
10 February 2008
Here is a gull in flight at Coco Beach, FL. I shot it with an Olympus E-410 digital SLR at f/10 with 1/320 sec. exposure time. I had the photo up as my desktop wallpaper, and I realized that I really like it, and I hope others will, too.
09 February 2008
This past Thursday marked the 11th annual CLICK Spelling/Trivia Bee. Originally, it was a spelling competition among local business to support an adult literacy charity that helps the nearly 1/3 of my counties population that does not have a high school diploma. The team from my high school gets sponsorship from the Times Herald, the Newnan newspaper. I've participated in the competition five or six times, and it's definitely a worthwhile cause. My team and I have won once or twice in the original spelling bee, and last year we won the first trivia bee. This year we made 3rd place, but considering the rules kept changing about every five minutes, that's not so bad. Making the front page while the winners made 2A was just a bonus, i guess. I did learn some new tidbits:
- Holocene - the current geologic epoch
- North American hibernating bird - whippoorwill
- Hitch your wagon to a star - R.W. Emerson
- Plantagenêt - England's longest ruling dynasty (1152 - 1399)
- Barney Clark - first artificial heart recipient (I could only remember Dr. Jarvik but mostly from the Lipitor commercials.)
- DeWitt Clinton - New York governor who built the Erie Canal
By the end of the evening, all had a good time (me included) and $21K will go to helping people learn to read, to do math and to earn a high school diploma or GED.
07 February 2008
Turn the -opoly games that are so prevalent into a market segment analysis and study project for a high school economics class. Have students form small groups to research the last 10 years of a particular market segment of their choosing, e.g., wireless communication, housing & mortgage financing, home & business personal computing, musing & recording industries, etc. As students conduct their research, they should evaluate trends, market influences, market explosions and bubble bursts, both stabilizing and destabilizing factors, IPO's, private industries, corporate giants and influential but small-share players. Once students have established a body of research, they begin creating their games. Using soft drinks as a model, they might start off with recognized corporations like Coke & Pepsi then structure the board to include recent trends like energy drinks, health drinks, flavored & enhanced waters, bottled coffees & teas, retail outlets like Starbucks, partnerships with fastfood & restaurant corporations. The list in my head goes on and on. Other market factors that seem on the surface to be unrelated will have effects on consumer spending: war, recession, market drops, trade with China, consumer confidence ratings, Super Bowl commercials, unsuccessful product deliveries (New Coke, yikes!). I've had similar scenarios partially developed in my head for wireless communication: AT&T Wireless is spun off Cingular. BellSouth Mobility buys Cingular but keeps the Cingular name, AT&T buys BellSouth and thus reacquires Cingular and puts everything under the AT&T umbrella. Once you consider branding, FCC rules, bandwidth auctions, proprietary phones and networks, phone number portability, and more, the possibilities for Community Chest and Chance cards start to get a little crazy. That's one strand anyway of a vast web weaving in my little cobb-webby mind at now 4:50 AM. There's still computer & operating system wars: Windows, Mac and the -Nix niche, not to neglect PDA's and other mobile computing options as well as Web-based computing (Google, Yahoo!). Allowing students to dig into market history and to explore current trends along with upcoming market events (iPod vs. Zune, SP1 for Vista and Leopard for OS X) and third party heavy hitters like Logitech, Symantec, Adobe, Intel, AMD. Any one segment is like a great tree with thousands of miles of tendrils, roots, shoots and branches all interwoven to create quite a complex system. I think students would quickly begin to understand better the interdependence of free-market economy. Then as they condense what they learn to the confines of a Monopoly styled board game, they can start to see just how all these factors affect consumers through choice in the market place, the meaning of "multi-billion dollar industry" and the reality of the butterfly effect on global economics.
And now that the alarm clock is about to begin is matinal buzzing, I will dam this stream of consciousness and leave it for some one else to ponder. Maybe I can take a nap today during my planning period.
05 February 2008
Finally, the day arrived. I got up at 5:15 AM to walk the dog. Yoga went by the wayside as I scurried to the shower. Breakfast was a mere swig of orange juice and a few spoonfuls of soy yogurt. Off to the polls at 6:40, just a trip around the corner, and I was there. Fifth person in line. At 7:00 AM promptly, Pam, Ann & Sandy welcomed into the elementary school gym (Carpeted! Can you believe it?) that served as the poling place. By 7:07 I had cast my electronic ballot and was on my way to work. It's a pleasure to find that voting can go smoothly.
However, upon my arrival to school I had to post progress report grades only to discover to my dismay that 45% of my advanced French class (levels 3, 4 & 5; all together, YIKES!) was failing. Mardi Gras was a big fat flop! I had been discouraged by the general lack of enthusiasm or of a real work ethic among some students, but this was a nightmare. I expressed my disappointment and nausea at their lack of drive and bluntly told them to kick into high gear. I also said that I wanted real signatures from living parents on the progress reports. Many looked at me in dismay with the "how did he know?" wonderment. Please!
What's more? My French Club students really dropped the ball this year. Despite all the calendar marking and multiple promises, none of them did what was needed for planning. So no King's Cake, no beads, no masques, no music, no fun was there in French Club. I'm so upset. We'll meet next week and setup a "Lenten" event for the last Tuesday in February. It won't be the same, but it will be something.
04 February 2008
03 February 2008
I don't mean the big ones like what to name a baby or whether to wear boxers or briefs.
Instead I mean little choices like what kind of candy to get at the movies or Cherry Coke or Classic Coke.
Choosing a book at the newsstand 45 minutes before departure from Gate 33B can make me miss the flight.
Blue or black ink is tougher for me than deciding on Windows or Mac.
Selecting storage boxes for card stock and art papers makes my head spin and my stomach turn.
Google, Ask, Yahoo!, MSN--I don't know how to decide even to search!
From a balcony two floors up, a man laments to an unheard audience: "I'm not the one who sneaked out to Wal-Marts at the wee mornins!"
02 February 2008
Cop out aside, my vote is my vote. I've been listening to debates, pundits, analyses, speeches and more. Maybe in the end I agree that it will take another Clinton to clean up after a Bush. However, I cannot abide another Republican White House. An ideal candidate does not exist to satisfy every American, so discussion doesn't matter at this point. Finally, the results of Super Tuesday will do much to determine the Fall 2008 Presidential ticket, but I will vote for Hilary because I will.