Monday, November 30, 2009


pale yellow rose close up
Kama Sutra
- Vatsayana (sort of)

Advice for those in
a difficult position.
First, be flexible. 

 David M. Bader, Haiku U

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Hand

outline of hand filled in with doodles

by Jane Hirshfield

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. photo landscape in shape of right hand Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping— not sponge of rising yeast-bread, not rotor pin's smoothness, not ink. The maple's green hands do not cup the proliferant rain. What empties itself falls into the place that is open. A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question. Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

From: Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2001 by Jane Hirshfield.

Top image: 'give her a hand' – © sue okieffe 2008

Saturday, November 28, 2009



Here are two from . . . 

“My whole work is to catch the word by surprise, sneaking up on language, sneaking up on the world as it lurks in words,” McHugh said. “I love the recesses of reason. That’s a great place to set my mind at rest.”

Etymological Dirge       

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.
Calm comes from burning.
Tall comes from fast.
Comely doesn't come from come.
Person comes from mask.

The kin of charity is whore,
the root of charity is dear.
Incentive has its source in song
and winning in the sufferer.

Afford yourself what you can carry out.
A coward and a coda share a word.
We get our ugliness from fear.
We get our danger from the lord.

Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun       

A book is a suicide postponed.
Too volatile, am I?  too voluble?  too much a word-person?
I blame the soup:  I'm a primordially
stirred person.

Two pronouns and a vehicle was Icarus with wings.
The apparatus of his selves made an ab-
surd person.

The sound I make is sympathy's:  sad dogs are tied afar.
But howling I become an ever more un-
heard person.

I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood.
The mirror's not convincing-- that at-best in-
ferred person.

As time's revealing gets revolting, I start looking out.
Look in and what you see is one unholy
blurred person.

The only cure for birth one doesn't love to contemplate.
Better to be an unsung song, an unoc-
curred person.

McHugh, you'll be the death of me -- each self and second studied!
Addressing you like this, I'm halfway to the
third person.

Friday, November 27, 2009



As hatred, rancor, and division grow in response to uncertain times, I find myself drawn to these words and the choices they contain.

fawn curled up in grass

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
that where there is hatred, I may bring love
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony
that where there is error, I may bring truth
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith
that where there is despair, I may bring hope
that where there are shadows, I may bring light
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I might seek rather to comfort,
than to be comforted
to understand, than to be understood
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful for our soldiers, who put themselves on the line without hesitation or relief. May you you find peace and support with your loved ones as quickly as possible.

I am thankful for our peace officers, who strive to hold themselves to both the letter and the spirit of the law to truly serve and protect all. May you flourish in light and grace ..

I am thankful for our fire fighters, who rush into hells that others flee. May your angels always be at your side, wrapping you in their protective wings.

I am thankful for our emergency responders, who give their all no matter the situation in which they find themselves.  May you be cloaked in the the love and gratitude of those you've touched.

I am thankful for our educators, who struggle against every foe that they may prepare our children to achieve the best of their potential. May your fulfillment also be your security.

I am thankful for our care takers who endeavor to refill the cups of others, often at the expense of their own. If ever it is in my capacity to lighten your load, I hope that I have the strength of character to do so.

I am thankful for those of you who offer a smile, a nod, a thank you, or excuse me. The smallest gesture can mean so much. It is often the only reason to smile when a day has been too hard.

Yes, I am thankful.


helping hand reaching outLately, I feel a great deal of sadness and anger as I watch good people turn their backs on compassion and mercy, and count their fellow humans as having less value than the dirt beneath their feet. This phenomenon has crossed all barriers; age, class, politics, economics.

Times are frightening and uncertain for most of us, citizens of what our founding fathers called "The Great Experiment."  And like starving dogs, people are ready to trample the homeless, poor, uninsured, sick, different, at the mere thought that these people might take something from them. And this is the time of year dedicated to peace, love, and charity.

The past few years have been hard for my family. We have, and continue to, deal with many trials. But so, so many are suffering much worse than we are right now. Shelters, Soup kitchens, pantrys, and charities of all kinds are finding themselves unable to meet the need. People who work hard are finding themselves in a place they never thought they'd be.

The hole that was dug the past few years is deep, and it will take many more before we have recovered. So what do we do in the mean time? Remember the starving, homeless people who came to this country over 200 years ago. Without the kindness of strangers they might surely have faced a different kind of fate.

There are really many options. In my side bar are two charities which directly benefit Victims of domestic violence, and Needy classrooms, respectively.

And listed below are some links for volunteering locally. This is also a way to help our kids learn valuable skills they will need to be good citizens when they grow up. It is also a way to show them the real spirit of thanksgiving.

And to those who would incite hatred and acrimony. Remember, we declared our independence by proclaiming that ALL are equal. And in our Constitution, if WE does not stand for ALL it stands for NONE.

A Nationwide Dialogue About Housing, Poverty, and Homelessness.

Where volunteering begins

Habitat For Humanity
Connect with Habitat in your community
Register to volunteer in disaster recovery

thick haze over sun

by Marilyn Nelson

Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

These Are Still Good Words To Live By.

abstract hearts

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.

And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

And if I dole out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I may boast but have not love, nothing I am profited.

Love is long suffering,
love is kind,
it is not jealous,
love does not boast,
it is not inflated.

It is not discourteous,
it is not selfish,
it is not irritable,
it does not enumerate the evil.
It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth

It covers all things,
it has faith for all things,
it hopes in all things,
it endures in all things.

Love never falls in ruins;
prophecies will be abolished;
tongues will cease;
knowledge will be superseded.
For we know in part and we prophecy in part.
But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.

When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I reckoned as an infant; when I became an adult, I abolished the things of the infant.

For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know as also I was fully known.

Three things remain;
faith, hope, love,

The greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


dove in flight

I Rise 
Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
 Does my sassiness upset you?
why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
pumping in my living room.
 Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
 Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
 Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.
 You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
you may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
 Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
 Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise

I rise
I rise

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quote For The Day

"For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences." 
— Rainer Maria Rilke


'Feast on Your Life #3' © Karin Turner

Love After Love
- Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the others welcome, and say, sit here. Eat
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

The beautiful painting above is entitled 'Feast on Your Life #3' © by Karin Turner. Click on her name to experience her remarkable art at her website. I absolutely love her work. As you can see, even this still and silent figure vibrates with life.

Other Information for Ms Turner:
"Filled With Abundance... Life is Luscious!"
Lusciously Different Uplifting H2oMelon themed Art
karin turner 510.635.8360
p.o. box 14422 - oakland - ca -94614

Sunday, November 22, 2009


May 29, 1917 - November 22,1963

On the Anniversary of Kennedy's Death, Extremism Lives On


Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.
John Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946)

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.
 Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 - 1986), in Irving Good, The Scientist Speculates (1962)
Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.
Ralph Charell

The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.
Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888), 'God and the Bible,' 1875

The spirit of the age is filled with the disdain for thinking.
Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965)

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Hamlet", Act 2 scene 2

Laekin Limriks Ere Ye?

By DeadFish

There once was a Scotsman named Warren
Who wore a kilt and a sporran
It was shocking, they said
When he stood on his head
And the women all saw something foreign

Saturday, November 21, 2009


 - Yusef Komunyakaa 

I love how it swells
into a temple where it is
held prisoner, where the god
of blame resides. I love
slopes & peaks, the secret
paths that make me selfish.
I love my crooked feet
shaped by vanity & work
shoes made to outlast
belief. The hardness
coupling milk it can't
fashion. I love the lips,
salt & honeycomb on the tongue.
The hair holding off rain
& snow. The white moons
on my fingernails. I love
how everything begs
blood into song & prayer
inside an egg. A ghost
hums through my bones
like Pan's midnight flute
shaping internal laws
beside a troubled river.
I love this body
made to weather the storm
in the brain, raised
out of the deep smell
of fish & water hyacinth,
out of rapture & the first
regret. I love my big hands.
I love it clear down to the soft
quick motor of each breath,
the liver's ten kinds of desire
& the kidney's lust for sugar.
This skin, this sac of dung
& joy, this spleen floating
like a compass needle inside
nighttime, always divining
West Africa's dusty horizon.
I love the birthmark
posed like a fighting cock
on my right shoulder blade.
I love this body, this
solo & ragtime jubilee
behind the left nipple,
because I know I was born
to wear out at least
one hundred angels.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Challenge: Fall Into Reading 2009 [UPDATE]

Some of you may recall my Sept. 30 post about the FALL INTO READING challenge. I thought I'd share my status as of today. (click link for first post)

So far I have read:
5 books of poetry (I LOVE poetry - surprise!), 5 murder mysteries (my drug of choice - after chocolate!), 1 book that could sort of be classified as science (in lay terms), 1 beautiful piece of fiction which captures the growing quagmire of dementia from the inside (my no. 1 recommendation!), and 3 modern, thought provoking works of social analysis. That leaves three on the list to read.

If you read the original post you will notice that I've added to the list of books I want to read, bringing the total up to 18 as of this date. Ordinarily this would be a good thing, but I also have a writing goal and need to balance my time between the two.

I have spent less time writing than I had intended, so I think it's time to make a bit of an adjustment. Although I will probably add a few more books before the Challenge is complete, I plan to concentrate more time on writing.

You might also note that I not only listed the books I am reading, but provided a link for their purchase as well, if you are so inclined. I realize that it's the height of self-centeredness to think that you might care to follow my lead, but some of them are quite good and worth reading. This probably also runs into the subject of an earlier post about reading choices.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


 - William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This is really, really cool!

Click on the link below and it will take you to a fascinating site where you can see how things relate to each other.

Genetic Science Learning Center

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


No desire
to read the news -
my life's enough for now

Exhausted in a heap
I lie on the cold floor
dreaming of work that ends

from the haiku year

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poetry is much more than just pretty words. It can help heal.

Insulting Sylvia Plath
 - Linda McCarriston

We teenage girls all loved
a good suicide story. Belt noose,
waterlogged lungs, gas ovens,
The Bell Jar was our how-to
if we should want to push through
and blast a grand exit, though we never
did. We didn’t have to. What counted
was knowing we could have, if we dared,
this one small bit
of self-defeating agency.

But Plath was a poetic copout,
my teacher insisted, playing cheap, the tired
old trope of the lovely girl longing
for daddylove. Enough
with the depression, the pitymongering,
he said, look at Diane Wakowski
who showed us that at least
the world still has oranges in it.

But what teenage girl doesn’t feel
she’s got too little, or worse, too much
from Daddy? He’s an unreachable
shore, and we’re swimming till we drown,
either way. I like oranges, too, but
their sweetness is immaterial
when what you really want is not
daddy’s love so much as his power,
to grasp your tender life in your own hands.

from: Eva-Mary, a horrifying true account of the ugliness of family abuse and the refusal of those in power to halt the molestation and beatings, as well as the possibilities of survival. Poetry is an integral part of breaking that circle.
"It is a powerful work to use with teenagers or adults when introducing poetry books as 'books', not just collections. Tales of child abuse and family abuse never cease to horrify, but by themselves, they would not be a fine work of art, which is what this book is."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The one to whom every that belongs

What Was Told, That        
by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Song


by Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival.  New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety.  We stand round blankly as walls.

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses.  I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's.  The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars.  And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Saturday, November 14, 2009



I just can't decide.

My Favorite Color

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my luve's like a red, red rose.
That's newly sprung in June;
O my luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my Dear,
Till a'the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o'life shall run.

And fare thee weel my only Luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Writer

by Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten.  I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

An Instructional Blog For Your Perusal

How to Write Badly Well   

One example: Always use a thesaurus.
She manipulated the garment in a cogitative mode.
‘Hmm,’ she vocalised. ‘This attire is verifiably marvellous. What is it constituted from?’
‘From the most meritorious velveteen,’ defined her interlocutor, simpering coincidentally.
‘Is it?’ iterated the party of the first part. ‘That’s felicitous.’
‘Additionally, this specified object has the property of being subdivided in terms of its defining mercantile characteristic, and can be taken possession of for the diminutive quantity of merely a half-dozen currency units,’ the retail employee informed.
‘Exoneration?’ supplicated the protagonist appropriately. The commercial tertiary sector worker eyeballed her perspicaciously.
‘I said it’s five ninety-nine. Do you want it or not?’
You might also be interested in: Who writes This Crap?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Travelers

Two Countries        
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.


I was perusing the infamous '1001 BOOKS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE' list the other day (click on the title to go to it), and found some interesting things about my reading habits. First off, of the entire 1001 books, I have read a measly 120. It's not that I don't read. I do it incessantly. It's just that the books I read don't seem worthy of 'must read' status.

I was compelled to look up the source of the list and find the criteria used. I found an article about the book entitled, Volumes to Go Before You Die.  Here are a few quotes from the article. (Click on title to read it in its entirety.)
If the “1001 Books” program seems quirky, even perverse, it’s no accident. “I wanted this book to make people furious about the books that were included and the books that weren’t, figuring this would be the best way to generate a fresh debate about canonicity, etc.,” Professor Boxall informed me in an e-mail message. And how. . . .
No matter how well read you are, you’re not that well read. If you don’t believe it, pick up “1001” and start counting. . . .
That’s the thing with reading lists like “1001 Books.” There’s always that host of the unread.
When you consider how many books are published in a year (approx. 295,523), and how many years since writing was invented (approx. 6000 years ago), no one can truly be said to have exhausted even one genre or topic.

But what a goal!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Lest  We Forget

"Never again," was the heartfelt motto,
"Lest We Forget," became the Veteran's Day theme,
But the big guns did not long stay silent.
And Peace is still a will o' wisp dream.
In the "war to end all wars,"
I had one grandfather on each side.
For my parents, my brothers, sisters and I
It's fortunate neither one died.
Both fought for God and Country,
Believing their cause was just,
Nights they would pray, they'd live to the day,
When the big guns would all turn to rust.
Lest we forget,
The thousands who died in the trenches,
The millions who have perished in pain,
We owe it to all the victims of war,
To keep striving for, "Never again!"
© 2005, Mike Puhallo

Read more about Mike Puhallo and his poetry here

A Dad's Prayer

An old man's sittin' here tonight
by news-talk radio
so maybe he will hear some word
on how the war might go.

He's list'nin' hard and prayin' too
his son now in Iraq,
Dear Lord if You might see Your way
to bring him safely back.

He wasn't told he had to go,
he upped and volunteered.
His reasons made his dad feel proud
but that don't ease the fear.

I love him Lord and miss him so,
his smile and youthful ways.
Don't let the cruelty of this war
now harden him these days.

He's never faced an enemy
who values life so cheap.
He's always seen the good in man
his word a thing to keep.

He sees it as his duty Lord
to be the first to fight
and proudly stand to face the foe
of all we hold as right.

But somewhere over there tonight
he might have thoughts of home.
Would you just let him know for me
he's not out there alone.

I thank you Lord and I'll be here
by news-talk radio,
to listen and receive some word
on how the war might go.
© 2006, Rod Nichols

Read more about Rod Nichols and his poetry here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Some people, all right a lot of people, say that libraries are no longer of any use and we should just save our money by closing them. I could not disagree more strongly. There are a lot of people for whom librarys are not just a convenience, but a way of life.

photo of hand with library card says get it use it.

Let me tell you a bit about my daughter. She suffers from a learning disability and struggled in school, but ironically, reading was her escape. Vampires and monsters helped her find a world where she could come to grips with anger, frustration, and feeling like an outsider. And believe it or not, Shakespeare pulsates with a music powerful enough to calm her sometimes fevered mind. I guess The Bard was a bit of a 'brain whisperer.'

Now a mother herself, and on a very tight budget, she uses her library card for all it's worth. She tends to keep that card smokin'. No cable. No problem. No internet. No problem. Cranky car. No problem. She and the kids can go any place in the universe (or beyond).  They have a library card.

Experts like to talk about 'enrichment' to help our kids all reach their potential. Well, libraries are an essential element in that enrichment for a substantial portion of our fellows. And we can help support them by supporting our local libraries - even if we prefer to buy our own books, even if we can read them on line or on our ebook reader, even if we don't particularly care to read (what are you doing here?).


The San Francisco Examiner offered these reasons 
to get a Library card as well.
10 reasons you should get a library card:

1. You are already paying for it. During these tough economic times, why would you pay double for something? A 2008 poll showed library usage at an all-time high. 
2. Save money. While you may want to own a few favorite titles, do you really need all those books? Anyone who has ever moved will tell you, “Moving boxes of books stinks.”
3. You get to try titles and genres you might otherwise miss. You may not want to plunk down $20 just to find out you that you detest the latest craze in vampire romance novels.
4. Reading broadly makes you smarter. Studies have repeatedly shown that vocabulary development, language acquisition and background knowledge are all improved in those who have been exposed to a variety of information.
5. You can get more than books with your library card. The library offers an amazing array of products and services: DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers, movie nights, computer use, homework help, college prep, after school programs, kid & teen programs, author visits, career planning, and free classes. Many libraries are beginning to feature audio books, eBooks and even eMovies that are downloadable from your home computer.
6. Libraries are better than bookstores. If the bookstore doesn’t have a title or subject you are searching for, you can get it through Interlibrary Loan. This even works for international titles! The library also has 24-hour online access. Bookstores close, but you can access databases and reference information while sitting in your pajamas.
7. Free WiFi. No more wardriving or mocha latte obligations for you.
8. They will bring the books to you. Some libraries will deliver titles you request right to your mailbox and many neighborhoods have bookmobiles. Think of it as the corner ice cream truck, only less fattening.
9. Libraries will give you free money. Most library cards offer perks like discounts to museums, zoos and art galleries in your community.
10. Librarians are hot. While you’re there, getting your shiny new library card, remember to hug the librarian. They hold the keys to unlocking our mass of information, the superheroes of our information-saturated society.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Anniversary, Or Two.

As we celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall, Nov. 9, 1989, there are many who also remember Kristallnacht November 9, 1938. Like illuminating book ends, together they expose for us the dualities of human society; hope and despair, compassion and barbarity, creation and destruction.

The choices are ours to make, on grand national levels and on small personal ones. In many ways it is these intimate, daily and hourly choices that have the greatest impact. The choices we make in how we treat the souls who graces our lives daily, they are the stepping stones in the paths we follow through our lives.

The question we must ask ourselves, often, is "which way does my path lead?"


Helen Keller sees president Truman with her handThis site, Iconic Photos, contains many images which are seared deeply in to the collective unconscious of a nation, and the stories behind them. 

The linked names below are those that have been addressed on the site (among others) as of today.

Helen Keller sees the president

"We Didn’t Start the Camera Fire"
So it was a friend who first gave me this idea: to use Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as a template to see how many of these culturally significant events that I have already covered in writing this blog.
Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, “The King and I”, and “The Catcher in the Rye”

Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen, Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye


Josef Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev, Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron, Dien Bien Phu and “Rock Around the Clock”

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team, Davy Crockett, “Peter Pan”, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev, Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac, Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball, Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, “Ben-Hur”, space monkey, Mafia, hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy, Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo


Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs Invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania, Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex, JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon, back again, Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline, Ayatollolah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune” , Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide, Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz


Hypodermics on the shore, China’s under martial law, Rock and Roller Cola Wars, I can’t take it anymore

(I was going to embed the video for 'We Didn't Start the Fire' but that's not allowed. Sooooo you can use the link to Billy Joel's site and watch it all you want there.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All Things Move On

black and white photo of rocking chair on old porch
Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking Toward Them [But the rocking chair]        
by Jenny Boully

But the rocking chair appears to be missing a little something. If you hang the birdcage there, we'll hear its singing. Keep the curtains sheer drawn over the four poster—that’s the kind of bed I would like to have. I will can the preserves; I will can the preserves so that come autumn, come autumn when I have hung up the dustpan, you will have this small bit of apricot to remember. Me by. I don’t think I quite believe in that anymore, and besides, this here tooth has fallen out; it's the last one I've needed for quite a while. I will cut the slices of apple for you; I will shake the grove of bramble bushes for you; the raspberries, too tart, too tart, I will lemon and sugar them for you, 'cause that is what mother has taught. My dear, did I write down all of my symptoms this morning? Has the paper been left right on our doorstep? I do believe, Wendy, I do believe that Smee has stolen it.


I found a great list of amusing headlines (here). The site includes some very humorous pictures also.

  • Include your children when baking cookies
photo of RCMP car with marks for pedestrian hits
  • Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers

  • Iraqi head seeks arms
  • Prostitutes appeal to Pope
  • Miners refuse to work after death
  • If strike isn't settled quickly, it may last a while
photo of bridge with strips of red tape tied to it and leading up
  • Red tape holds up new bridges

  • Typhoon rips through cemetery - hundreds dead
  • Man struck by lightning faces battery charge
  • New study of obesity looks for larger test group
  • Kids make nutritious snacks
  • Local high school dropouts cut in half

Friday, November 6, 2009

Some Sources For Accessible Children's Literature

colorful stack of books
* Accessible Book Collection
* Alex Catelogue of Electronic Texts
* Childrenstory
* KidsClick
* Magic Keys
* National Geographic for Kids
* Online Children's Stories
* Tar Heel Reader
* We Read

    As Autumn Gives In To Winter

    After a Death        
    by Tomas Tranströmer
    Translated by Robert Bly

    Once there was a shock
    that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
    It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
    It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

    One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
    through brush where a few leaves hang on.
    They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
    Names swallowed by the cold.

    It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
    but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
    The samurai looks insignificant
    beside his armor of black dragon scales.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009


    Abraham Lincoln, from an 1855 letter to Joshua Speed:

    "I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.'  We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

    If he were writing that letter today, Mr. Lincoln would be adding Gay to that list.


    In the British Isles, November Fifth, Guy Fawkes Day, is celebrated as the deliverance of the King and Houses of Parliament from an ill fated plot to blow them up. As you might guess, the conspirators were dealt with promptly and harshly and the day was to be celebrated annually in perpetuity. It still is in some quarters.
    (Good guys 1, Bad guys 0?)

    "After The Gunpowder Plot was foiled, King James decreed that on the anniversary of the plot's failure should always be remembered. 400 years later, that celebration is known as Bonfire Night where bonfires and fireworks are lit, and effigies of Fawkes (known, appropriately, as "guys") are burned, in celebration. (You'll have to ask the individual revelers whether or they are celebrating the Plot's failure or its attempt.)"
    V for Vendetta (site about the graphic novel)
    (Good guys 1, Bad guys 1?)
    Below is an illustration of the conspirators.

    old engraving of plotters in the conspiracy from newspaper
     An account of the real incident can be found in Faith and Treason by Antonia Frasier.

    The incident was one of rebellion against religious oppression and persecution. But subsequent books and movies have moved beyond that incident to paint a passionate picture of the UNIVERSAL and TIMELESS fight against fascism and the death of the human spirit.

    graphic novel cover, v for vendetta over paper mache mask
    In short, the new plot became,
    "[W]hy don't we portray him as a resurrected Guy Fawkes, complete with one of those papier mache masks, in a cape and conical hat? He'd look really bizarre and it would give Guy Fawkes the image he's deserved all these years. We shouldn't burn the chap every Nov. 5th but celebrate his attempt to blow up Parliament!'"

    V for Vendetta is set in a dystopian future United Kingdom. A mysterious anarchist who calls himself "V" works to destroy the totalitarian government, profoundly affecting the people he encounters. In a near-future Britain, a limited nuclear war has left much of the world destroyed and a fascist party called "Norsefire" has arisen as the ruling power. "V", an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, begins an elaborate, violent, and theatrical campaign to bring down the government.

    Alan Moore, the graphic novel's creator, made a long list of what he wanted to bring into the plot:
    Orwell. Huxley. Thomas Disch. Judge Dredd. Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, Catman and The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by the same author. Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes and Theatre of Blood. David Bowie. The Shadow. Night Raven. Batman. Fahrenheit 451. The writings of the New Worlds school of science fiction. Max Ernst's painting "Europe After the Rain". Thomas Pynchon. The atmosphere of British Second World War films. The Prisoner. Robin Hood. Dick Turpin...[1]

    In the movie made from the graphic novel, staring Natalie Portman, the particulars change a bit but the message is the same. In fact, it may be even more of an indictment of our leaders and their ways.  Britain has not been destroyed, but its people have been duped into believing so. The populace is tightly controlled through curfews, media, and suppression of even books and artwork as harbingers of evil.

    The citizen militia enforcing curfew are reminiscent of roving morality police we hear about in the middle east, frightening in their complete autonomy. And the media jackal who controls and drives the conscience of society at the behest of the Chancellor? He bears a striking resemblance, both on stage and off, to a certain media jackal, we know as Rush.

    The most terrifying thing about every evil done to the people, however, was that it done for their own good.

    What ever one thinks of the inspiring event, Fawkes is no longer solely a British citizen. He has become resident of the world, and his struggle, that of all people.
    (Good guys 1, Bad guys 2?)

    In the spirit of self-determination, I wish you all a happy Guy Fawkes day, and bid you:

    "Remember Remember the Fifth of November"
    The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
    I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
    Should ever be forgot.

    Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
    'Twas his intent.
    To blow up the King and the Parliament.
    Three score barrels of powder below.
    Poor old England to overthrow.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009


    From the Big Read, (Campaign for Education) which took place in April of this year (2009). (A pdf of the book is here.) The book tells stories of education and the struggles of those denied the chance to learn.

    After reading a story in the Big Read, you were asked to sign the last page and send it in; to write your name for the millions that cannot. (774 million adults can not read this, and 75 million children who are not in school will be denied the chance to learn to read and write.) They collected the names to deliver to governments during the week of the 20th to 26th of April 2009 to demand that they take action to make sure that everyone has an education. There are many beautiful stories and contributions.

    One excerpt: 
    They tried to lock up freedom

    They seized the book
    Ripped out its spine
    Flung it in the fire

    Pages fluttered through smoke

    They grabbed the pages
    Scratched out lines
    Crushed them in their fists

    Words squeezed through knuckles

    They twisted the words
    Tore out sound
    Swallowed them in their silence

    The heart of the book cried out

    The pages grew wings

    The words breathed Freedom

    * ‘They Tried to Lock up Freedom’ © Beverley Naidoo 2004. Commissioned by Barbican Education; published in Journey to Jo’burg, HarperCollins Essential Modern Classics, 2008 

    More about Beverly 

    (Some lessons and work sheets associated with the
    writings in the Big Read)

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Blogging about Google gets you more traffic. Apparently, Google likes itself best!

    I've found that results from my Google searches, when I know EXACTLY what I am looking for, often have only tentative connections to what I actually asked for. But when I put Google into the search, the results were precise and on the money (for Google, that is). Does have any connection to the subject at hand? Probably not.

    I ran across this very short 2006 article entitled, Blog posts on Google get more traffic.
    "To remain focused, if you want to get traffic, start blogging about Google."
    I guess my assumption is that If I can't count on my blog coming up high on any search including MY titles, maybe I should choose other titles that will bring it up consistently in other searches. So if each future post ends up with 'Google' somewhere in the title, I hope you all will understand.

    logo what do we know about google page rankSome possibly relevant information: