Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Ummm, On France

Hey, I have been accused of being anti-Franco, but these are not my observations...

My 'Friend' From the Ukraine

Nataliya is not only my friend, she is the sister I always wanted and finally had a chance to have. I had an older sister, Mary Beth, whom I loved with all my heart, but she had Down's syndrome and lived away from home. She was also deaf, moreso than myself. She made me learn sign language. She died 3 years ago. She taught me a lot, but there still was a part missing.

My mom became very sick over 4 years ago. She had been sick over 8 years, but it got worse, (details aren't really necessary, let it suffice to say 2 more major strokes and 3 hip fractures). Her and my dad had to live with my brother or me. We didn't realize the permanency of the problem at first, so they lived with my brother, as his wife is a nurse and his house is spacious, and a ranch.

As things went from bad to worse, they moved in with me, they were more comfortable with me, though my brother and sister-in-law were very willing to let them remain. Regardless of room, my mom was not going to get better. In order to live in my house, we needed 24 hour nursing. It really was too much for my SIL, she needed to work and still had a child in middle school.

Enter Nataliya. She was an MD, in the Ukraine, with specialty in microbiological diseases. In the US she was happy to work as a caretaker. She had followed her sister, who was a theology student. We found Nataliya who was willing to take over all care, rather than 3 people, the only caveat being that on Sundays, from 11-5, someone would have to take care of my mom, for those were her 'off hours.' Myself and my three children learned a lot about taking care of someone in their last days. We are better people because of it.

Our relationship began in June, 2001. That summer I was gone for 5 weeks. When I returned, my mom was not in as good a place, but still feisty. Nataliya worked hard at making me understand the differences from when I left and when I returned.

School started, then came 9/11. I came home that day to find my mom holding Nataliya, rocking her like a child, saying, "Don't you worry, we'll get those sons of bit****". Nataliya's first thoughts were how Putin would hurt US. She had no use for him. Her feelings were he was KGB, I tried to reassure her, based on what we had seen from him and GW. My mom was the one who made Nataliya see the differences from what had gone before. They became very close.

The following summer, my mom had another stroke, she was also down to 68 lbs. She was trying to leave the house constantly, nursing home care became the only alternative. She was there nearly a year before she went to a better place. Nataliya had to return to the Ukraine, her mother-in-law was very sick, needing her help. She too has passed, and we are praying that Nataliya, her husband, and child will be allowed to emigrate.

Happy Thanksgiving

Alright, I'm a day late and a dollar short. No surprise there. I do hope everyone had as nice a holiday as me and mine. It was a bit hard for my dad, got that anniversary nailed down, would have been 58 years, if my Mom hadn't passed a year ago September. Guess that makes it Thanksgiving, 1946.

I got a letter from my friend in the Ukraine:

My dear family Doh****! Happy holidays . Today all my thoughts with you.I , hope all of you are in a good heath , your house is full of friends and turkey is just delicious .I smell it through the ocean .

I am sorry for Jim , hope now everything is fine and he feels okay. I wish ,I could came tonight for a dinner. Well , some times…

We are okay ! My family send you a good wishes.My country now is in a danger situation. We have a three presidents today, and no one wants to leave . We lastly tray to get a real democracy here but you can imagine how difficult if is 3 millions people now is standing in Kiev at area of freedom and people is coming from all corners of country to a Kiev, bay buses ,cars, trains and plains. 100-200 miles from Kiev a police keeps them , do not let them go to a Kiev.But every day Kiev get more and more people . People standing already 4 days and 4 night.At every town of Ukraine a people is coming together and stand up for a democracy and freedom . I so proud now for my country .

Will see…Ta*** invite me to come at January. After 6 years of philosophy she has a lot of problems with chemistry in North Western, and last 3 months we learn chemistry through the telefon.So , maybe I, will come for a month or two to help her with biology and chemistry .

I do so hope she'll be able to come back to US. Time will tell. Thought it interesting to get her perspective of what is happening there. She lives in Lviv.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It's Official!

Bush won New Mexico too.

Wonder What This Is About?

Considering Chirac's comments while in Britain?

France told an international conference on Iraq Tuesday it was time to put aside differences over the U.S.-led invasion and help the country put an end to violence.

"We all know what positions our different countries held in the period that led to the current situation developing. But today we must turn to the future. France, and Europe, are ready to do so," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said. . .

Granted, It Wasn't 'Big News' I Missed

But sure was interesting:

. . .In the fracas that ensued, amid a flurry of half nelsons, one Secret Service agent wound up jammed against a wall. "You're not stopping me! You're not stopping me! I'm with the president!" an unidentified agent can be heard yelling on videotape of the mayhem.

It took Bush several minutes to realize what was happening. The president and the first lady walked on through the door onto a big red carpet, looking relaxed. They greeted Lagos and his wife, Luisa Duran. "You want us to pose here?" Bush asked Lagos with a grin, and they turned to face a wall of flashes.

Then Bush either realized he was missing something, or he heard the commotion. The president, who is rarely alone, even in his own house, turned and walked back to the front door unaccompanied, facing the backs of a sea of dark suits. Bush, with his right hand, reached over the suits and pointed insistently at Trotta. At first the officials, with their backs to him and their heads in the rumble, did not realize it was the president intervening. Bush then braced himself against someone and lunged to retrieve the agent, who was still arguing with the Chileans. The shocked Chilean officials then released Trotta.

Trotta walked in behind Bush, who looked enormously pleased with himself. He was wearing the expression that some critics call a smirk, and his eyebrows shot up as if to wink at bystanders.
Bush adjusted his right cufflink and muttered something to Lagos, took the first lady's arm and headed into the dinner of grilled fish. . .

There Are Reasons For MSM Contempt

This is one of them.

If Only I Had Been Reading This Week

I would have posted this much sooner:

New from Lt. Col. Bellon. The real news of Fallujah.

Dear Dad -

Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men who fought and took Fallujah. . .

I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians during the battle. Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out of their homes. They were provided food and water and most were evacuated out of the city. At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city when we attacked.

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. . .

Read it all!

Still Putting In Time, More Tomorrow

Still working on the finishing touches for presenting the institute tomorrow. Pretty cool, my prof. reviewed it for me and said that she can get me other presentations, that will pay more than my school. I'll need to turn it into 5 hours though-which shouldn't be too hard, already have enough for 10!

Have to get an appointment for the doctor tomorrow too. Have an angry sty going and there is a bump on the white of my eye! Anyone have a clue to what I'll hear? (I hate going to the doc!)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Mysterious Ways

Since about 7:30 this morning I've been hard at work, sweating over my non-internet laptop in order to resist the temptation to blog or read blogs. I'm telling you, it's an addiction! I've been writing up the institute I am presenting at my school on using differentiation as a means to implement an IEP. For you non-educators it means coming up with a way to make sure the student gets the essential information-however you can deliver it to them or they to you, as the case may be. In any event, I came upstairs to google some info on IEP and parochial schools, couldn't resist mail checking. Good thing too, had 3 emails from students. Also one from my daughter, which is where the mystery comes in:

People always say how mean kids can be, never how nice they can be. This story will either make you cry, give you cold chills or just leave you cold, but it puts life into perspective!

At a fund-raising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school's students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all that attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question. "Everything God does is done with perfection.Yet, my son Shay cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is God's plan reflected in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself and it comes in the way people treat that child." Then, he told the following story:

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they will let me play?" Shay's father knew that the boys would not want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were allowed to play it would give him much-needed sense of belonging. Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play.

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher.

The pitcher picked up the softgrounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shay, run to first, run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, "run to second, run to second!" By the time Shay was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Shay ran towards secondbase as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home.

As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "run to third!" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay! Run home!" Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero for hitting a "grand slam" and winning the game for his team. "That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this world."

I do not know if this is true or not, but the message was clear. Just struck me, probably because I was working on something addressing the needs of special ed kids. Still am struck by the timing.

Wow! From A German Editorial

Davids Medienkritik has been posting some of the most telling things out of Germany for quite awhile now. Interestingly since the election, there have been more rays of hope, but to me, this is the most promising voice in the darkness, we'll hope it's not too little, too late:

Zero Tolerance for the Enemies of Open Societies
An uncompromising editorial in the Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag:
Zero Tolerance for the Enemies of Open Societies

German version. Translation by Hartmut Lau.)
Lead Editorial
By Otte, Romanus
Mosques, Muslims schools and churches are burning. More than 20 attacks motivated by religious hatred or xenophobia have been recorded by the police since the murder of Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker and critic of Islam, almost two weeks ago. A fanatic Muslim murdered van Gogh on a public street. Artists, politicians and human rights advocates who made remarks critical of Islam are now living under police protection. Many Moslems live in fear of revenge by xenophobic zealots.

The Dutch shock themselves. How could such a thing as a religiously motivated murder happen? Where did the hate that led to this deed by a single fanatic come from? Why did it happen, of all places, in The Netherlands, a society that of course considers itself among the most tolerant in the world?

The answer partially is, "Precisely because The Netherlands are one of the most tolerant countries in the world." A critical debate about what tolerance means has started in The Netherlands. This debate is both painful and long overdue – not only in Holland, but also, since that which happened to our neighbors could happen here at any time, here in Germany.

An explosive mixture has come to exist here just as in Holland. Its ingredients are the same: sub-cultures of fanatic Islamites, fanatic right-wing extremists, and fanatic left-wing extremists. More than anything else

it is the fact that a large number of young men in either society cannot see a future for themselves assures that extremism of all strips can find numerous recruits. And our societies call that tolerance.

This attitude, developed under a cloak called exemplary tolerance, is in fact a mixture of well-meaning illusion, disinterest, conflict aversion and self-hatred. . .

There's more, especially interesting is the line about Europe being based on Judeo-Christian heritage. Read the whole thing.

CNN Presents: The Fight Over Faith

The weekend is going much as I thought, busy. The boys are home, they and their friends are streaming in and out. I'm cooking. Only wrench thrown in, seems my dad's remaining family, his sister, became very ill. Last we heard she has improved, fall just seems to be a bad news time in recent years for our family.

With the computer being in son #2's room, access is limited. Good thing about that, getting more done for school and around the house. Downside, well less news. I did throw on the telly and during a commercial flipped on CNN. They are going as nuts over religion as I've always thought the 700 Club is about non-believers. The election really does seem to have left some with psychological problems.

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