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Happy Diwali!

This year(2012) Diwali, or Deepavali begins on 13th of November and last for 5 days(until Saturday, November 17th).

It's a happy time of year and is the biggest holiday in the country of India. Practiced mainly by people of the Hindu faith, many other people enjoy taking part in the festive holiday season,too. Buddhism Jainism and Sikhism also celebrate the "festival of lights." During the holiday, there will be gift giving,lighting lamps(Dipa lamps) special sweet treats including Laddus(sweet wheat balls with nuts and fruits inside) and Karanjis (flour fried dumplings with coconut and sugar), praying, getting together with family and friends and fireworks to help welcome the new year. Deepawali means "festival of lights". President Barack Obama was the first president to participate in a Deepavali celebration in the White House, in 2009.

Learn more about Diwali at these links:

Learn about India at these links:

Make a Rangol
i:Using colored rice flour and water, people decorate patterns on the ground outside their homes and place of worship. It's a way to honor the Hindu goddess Lakshimi and hope the goddess feels welcome in their homes. Use colored markers and create a colorful Rangoli pattern  See some pics:

Make a Dipa Lamp:
Usually made from clay, they are traditionally the size to hold in the palm of the hand. Make sure you make a small depression in the center to hold a votive candle.You can paint your lamp purple, yellow, blue or red and decorate with colorful sequins.Dipa lamps are lit and placed in the water. Legend says if the dipa lamp makes it across the water to the other side, a wish will be granted by the Hindu goddess Lakshimi.

Other countries which have Diwali celebrations include: Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, Nepal(called Tihar), Singapore, Japan, Thailand(called Lam Kriyongh) and the United States.


Malala Yousafzai for Nobel Peace Prize

11/10/12:The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year to someone deemed to have made an important contribution to world peace. A petition has started to consider 15 year old Malala Yousafzai for this award.The Pakistani teen spoke out for girls to be allowed to go to school. You may remember that Malala was shot by Taliban members who do not want girls to get an education. Teachers around the world, perhaps,signing the petition to have Malala considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, is something you may wish to do. In my opinion, Malala is an inspiration and her courage and hope should to be recognized by the world. She has shown that no matter one's age, we CAN make a different.Please consider passing this information along... as Nelson Mandela once said,"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." If interested in signing the petition, go to this link:Sign Petition

Young Girl's Quest for Education Awakes the World

10/11/12:When you say to yourself that you are too young to try and make a difference in the world....think of Malala Yousafzai. When 11 year old, Malala Yousafzai, who lived in the Swat Valley, in Pakistan, was told girls would no longer be allowed to go to school, she was very upset. She didn't feel it was right that those who had taken control of her area,called Taliban, denied education to girls. She decided to write a blog under a pen name for the BBC. She dared to criticize the Taliban telling of how her life had changed and how her community suffered by such policies. Malala actually received threats by the Taliban for her campaign that all girls should be given the opportunity to go to school and get an education! Her courage to speak out earned her Pakistan's highest civilian award. Malala was also nomination for an international children's peace award.Eventually, the Taliban were removed from the area and Malala and other girls were again allowed to attend school. Sadly, the other day, Taliban gunmen boarded her bus and searched her out. They shot the young teen Malala, now 14, in the neck and head as she left a school that she was attending. Pray for Malala Yousafzai as she fights for her life...

9/12/12:Using the News for Creative Writing-Lone Monarch Butterfly in Great Britain.

A monarch butterfly migrating from North America to Mexico made an unexpected detour-to Great Britain. It is believed that Hurricane Isaac caused the tiny butterfly to be carried 3500 miles across the At lantic Ocean! The left wing of the orange, white and black monarch butterfly is damaged. It was spotted near the Portland Bird Observatory on the Isle of Portland,Dorset, Great Britain. Butterfly enthusiasts are coming to the facility to catch a glimpse of monarch butterfly.Some do not believe a monarch could have made such an amazing trek and say that it may be a monarch butterfly raised in Great Britain that flew the coop. Only the tiny butterfly ,with its four inch wingspan,knows its true origins!

  • Word of the day:lepidopterist:a scientist who studies of butterflies, moths and similar insects. Write 3 sentences using the word lepidopterist.
  • Helpful link: Learn about monarch butterflies:
  • Draw/color a picture of a monarch butterfly. Write a haiku poem(or other type of poem) about the monarch.
  • Make a list of descriptive phrases to describe the monarch butterfly. Using similes and metaphors to describe the coloring of the monarch butterfly, its fluttering and how it gathers nectar, etc.
  • Pretend you are a monarch butterfly. Describe your adventure being caught up in the winds that carried you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. What do you see? Hear? Feel? What are you thinking about as thousands of people with cameras are trying to catch a glimpse of you as you rest on some plants gathering nectar?
  • Do an interview with another student with one being the reporter and the other the monarch butterfly. Tell about your adventure.

  • 9/12:Recently, Ferrero,U.S.A.,the makers of Nutella,a sweet chocolate spread was fined $2.5 million dollars. What did the company do wrong? It was determined that the company incorrectly marketed the product as a healthy food. This makes me wonder. Why is it that companies that advertise with false claims can be fined yet our political system allows half truths, distortions and even lies to be repeated over and over on our airways and in press?Shouldn't our political system require those seeking office to state the facts or be fined if they do not? Just wondering....

    5/12:Early Sunday morning, December 19th, a convoy of military vehicles carried the last US soldiers out of the country of Iraq,ending a nine year war. The remaining soldiers crossed the border of Iraq into the country of Kuwait bringing to an end a very costly war-nearly 4500 U.S.soldiers killed and,tens of thousands more U.S. soldiers permanently maimed.If,only, we could get our government,to end the U.S. involvement in the country of Afghanistan!

    10/21/11: BREAKING NEWS:"After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," said President Obama. "Today I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays."

    10/23/11: Should We be teaching Career Exporation in the Classroom?

    With so many curriculum demands on teachers today, do we have time to add career exploration(something popular back in the 80s)? I think young people need to be exposed to different career choices and can be incorporated into the subjects being covered. For example, if you are covering the ancient Egyptians, you could share the work of an archaeologist. Having kids discuss the different character...istics needed to be an archaeologists, perhaps go on a dig using a chocolate chip cookie and a toothpick,making inferences on different "artifacts" unearthed, such as a "metal teabag ball", etc. If you are showing a work of art while covering the Renaissance, you could share the career of an art restorer. Why would someone need to restore a Van Gogh? What might be the characteristics needed to be an art restorer, etc. What do you think? Is career exploration an important aspect to develop in our classrooms?

    10/22/11: Is Teaching Cursive Writing still Important?

    I was watching Weekend Today and the topic was,"Is cursive writing something we should still be teaching in school"?When I first starting teaching 6th grade, back in the days of being self-contained, I remember planning for 15 minutes of cursive penmanship instruction. The students usually copied a famous quote or a funny tongue twister. Then, as more and more responsibilities were placed upon the day, penmanship went on the sidelines. The alphabet, which was posted,on a bulletin board, was taken down, to make room for quotes to live by, flags of countries, students' work, etc. Do we still need to teach cursive writing? Even the youngest child seems to know how to get around a keyboard and most teachers prefer receiving typed work over handwritten. Having never had a very good cursive penmanship, I think it's great to introduce primary students to the "art of cursive writing", but by upper elementary, keyboarding skills are much more valuable. The news report stated that 44 states now say that cursive writing is optional in the classrooms and in the states of Indiana and Hawaii, cursive writing has been taken out of the curriculum completely. What do you think?

    10/6/2011:Steve Job's Death....

    "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."Steve Jobs
    As someone that has used Apple products from the beginning, I feel that Steve Jobs helped change the world-IMACs, IPODS, IPHONES and IPADS. As a girl, I remember watching the Jetson's and thinking how amazing that you could "see" someone that you were talking with on the telephone(or computer). Steve Jobs helped make this a reality in my world! As Steve Job's company shared in commercials for Apple Computers in the 1990s-"Think Different", don't be afraid to be a "round peg in a square hole"!

    3/11: Buy's about Time!

    The ABC series Made in America is a real eye opener! Check it out at this link:
  • ABC News
  • One segment showed a family allowing all items in their home, not made in the USA, to be removed. The house was left EMPTY! Another segment showed that 98% of all our clothing in the United States is made overseas! Still another segment showed how in many Washington, DC, landmark gift shops,such as at the Smithsonian Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, most souvenirs including flag lapels, replicas of US landmarks and busts of US Presidents aren't made in our country. either! It is estimated that if Americans spent $3.33 on American made items, it would create thousands of jobs HERE in the USA. Months ago, when a bill was proposed to give tax breaks to companies that kept jobs HERE in the USA, republicans voted it down! Now, another proposal is being made that souvenirs in museums in Washington, DC, must have American made gift items. Will this also be voted down or will it be passed? I believe it is time that each of us TRY to buy more American items to help OUR economy get back on track.
    Take the Made in America QUIZ:
  • ABC News

  • Take this challenge: Find 5 items in your home that are made in the USA. Time yourself as to how long it takes you to reach this goal of 5 American Made Items!

    11/10: Karzai's Recent Comments Make it Clear- It's Time to Bring our Soldiers Home from Afghanistan!

    Why is the war in Afghanistan basically ignored by most of our media(no mention in the mid-term election debates by any candidates or media), the public and our politicians? We are spending 2.5 billion a week on this war,not to mention the worst loss-our soldiers killed or injured each week. SOMEONE needs to take a stand and end this! The government's corrupt leader, Karzai is making a fortune-money bags from Iran?THAT alone should cause President Obama to make a stand to bring our soldiers home. Now, Karzai, Afghanistan's "elected" leader wants us to limit our military presence in his country-fine, another opening for President Obama to make a stand and order our troops home. Karzai recently told the Washington Post, "The time has come to reduce military operations. The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life." Intrusiveness? REALLY? President Obama-what do you say to this? Will we honor Afghanistan's leader's request? Or, ignore it? Karzai is also holding meetings to form a partnership with the Taliban? Another reason to start pulling our troops out-now! China, is signing contracts to mine Afghan's copper mines and making $$$$ in the country of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan's minister of mines, is asking for other countries to bid on their iron deposits. For the USA, Afghanistan means only death or injury to our brave soldiers,, lots of it. Money we don't have and have to borrow from countries like....China!

    WHY are those opposing the war so silent? Why isn't the news covering the soldiers each week dying in this war?(exception is ABC's This Week with Christiana Amanpour)

    I am so sick of people like Senator John "I haven't seen a war I wouldn't support" McCain saying we must continue this war(after 10 years????)For what reason and for how much longer?And, what is the goal so we can eventually leave? Our Nato allies are growing more skeptical of the mission in Afghanistan. Many have removed or decreased their involvement. Yet, we remain...

    Shame on our politicians for not having the courage to end this war and end it now. If not the President, then, WHO can end this war? A new deadline for a date certain is being discussed instead of 2011. The new date,-2014? I pray that this isn't the case!

    I support our troops-I want them brought home from Afghanistan!

    Enough is enough....end this war! NOW.I am so saddened to see the death toll(never hear about the permanent injured toll) rising each and every day. Bring our brave soldiers home from Afghahnistan!To people like Senator McCain who say we must stay until we WIN. Or,that we must stay so that those who have died, haven't died in vain.(so more will continue to die?) What's a WIN mean? What's the end game to bringing our troops home? I've heard comments that we will be there YEARS to come. WHY?If the Afghan people can't figure out what they want after 9 years, then, how MANY more years must we invest in them? Why must we continue to support a corrupt government. Or, why do we have to pay the Afghans for "safe" transport of our vehicles bringing supplies to our soldiers who are there to "help" them? Amazing! And, as for terrorists-the government says few remain there, any longer. Only 1% of our country has a vested interest in this war. I grieve for those families. The rest of us go on our merry way, with little thought to the sacrifices being made by our brave soldiers. We picnic, go out to dinner with friends, shop, etc. with little thought of what is going on on the battlefields. Little is covered in the media(because trivia news stories take front stage such as Palin's daughter's engagement-who cares!) Perhaps, if the draft was reinstated, and THE children of those dictating our continued presence, had to go fight in Afghanistan (or Iraq-thought this war was to be paid for with Iraqi oil? 1 TRILLION and counting for both wars), they'd quickly change their minds about our presence in these wars. President Obama...end this war! Bring our soldiers! AND,to all of you in Congress, how about supporting those soldiers home with injuries, either physical or mental, with the best care possible!

    11/09: Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice:

    Why go to Iceland? Perhaps, Because It's a Really Wonderful Place to Visit! by Gail Skroback Hennessey

    Most people's response when we said we were going to Iceland was "why"? Thirty-six years ago, on our first trip to Europe(our wedding trip), we took Icelandair and stopped at Reykjavek for 45 minutes. On the return home, we again stopped at Reykjavek and were offered a special package to stay for the two days to see the land of fire and ice. We didn't do so but have often thought it might be an interesting place to visit one day. It was always extremely expensive and thus, we didn't go. With the financial collapse of Iceland, in the fall of 2008, the exchange rate became very positive for the American dollar. Things were 1/2 the price they had been the year before...time was right for a visit to Iceland.

    Our five day trip to Iceland, highlighting the natural wonders took place in the fall of 2009. The drive to John F Kennedy International Airport from our upstate New York home, took over 5 hours. Normally, it should have taken about 3 1/2 hours. We endured horrific rain for the first hour. We almost turned back so my husband could build an ark! Then, we had a horrible traffic delay by the Delaware Water Gap where I crept along at about 3 miles per hour for an hour! The fight was on schedule, at least until we boarded the plane at which time the pilot announced a 2 hour delay due to poor weather conditions. Once we were in flight, the five hours went quickly will little turbulence.

    We arrived at Reykjavek, the most northern capital city in the world, about 7:45 AM, and took the Reykjavek Excursions' Flybus, about $14 per person, from the airport to the hotel, about a 40 minutes ride. I marveled at the barren landscape, the snow covered mountains, the moss covered lava fields. We walked around city centre for a while and had a brunch later in the afternoon. Our hotel was great! A four star, Hilton Nordica, was priced about $160 a night including a fabulous morning brunch! That first night, we took an excursion to see the Northern Lights(Aurora Borealis). For those of you that watch reruns of Seinfeld, it was a definite Seinfeld moment. The excursion, the bus ride from hell to see the Northern Lights, was a disaster from the start. We should have been wary when the original tour company cancelled due to inclement weather. You can't see the northern lights, swirling green and red lights in the polar regions, with cloud cover. Yet, when the registration desk told us that another tour compan WAS going out that evening and that they had a great track record of finding the northern lights, we booked the tour! Think 4 hours traveling a distance of about 120 miles over back roads in search of the lights... in the rain. Despite the fact it was obvious we wouldn't see the lights in such weather, the two guides wouldn't give up and kept us "captive" as they continued bouncing us along the roads/and unpaved roads in their search so that they could say they tried. In a Seinfeld episode, Kramer kept passengers on his tour bus, as he tried to find a place that would take his muffin stumps! At first upset, (I was crying) from lack of sleep-we'd been up nearly 40 hours,my husband and I eventually started to laugh hysterically when I made the Seinfeld connection that we might never get back to the hotel!(along with about 75 other captives on the bus). We were on a bus from 8:30 until almost 1AM! Thankfully, we did have one bathroom break! The guide would say, "Look, over there...I think that's a star" or "That haze to your left is from the city lights of Reykjavek". The tour started with the caveat that they couldn't guarantee a sighting of the northern lights but they should never have taken us out on a cloudy evening! Oh, well.

    The next day, with jet lag and only 5 hours sleep, our next excursion began with our guide David(, a Brit who moved to Iceland in 1985. He was wonderful and I totally recommend a tour with him as he uses a mini van and takes a small group as opposed to a large bus tour. He also makes sure that he times arrivals to the different stops BEFORE the large tour buses get there to insure a quiet and uncrowded visit! He was constantly talking,sharing information on Iceland's history and culture. Did you know that Iceland does not have an army, navy, or air force? It does have a Coast Guard. Did you know that Iceland doesn't have any railways? Or that there is only one main road,the ring road which goes around the island? There are 36 letters in the Icelandic alphabet. There are no C and W. No letters are silent when reading a word. And, there are no regional languages. There is only one way to say each and every word. Takk is thank you, Bless is goodbye and Goda Nott is goodnight. The other Northern Light tour could take a lesson from David. Instead of constantly chatting with the driver, the guide could have used all those hours to talk with the tourists about his country! David told us that Iceland has up to 500 earthquakes a day, most less than three on the Richter Scale. He said that Iceland was due for a volcanic eruption, and I just hoped it wouldn't be as we meandered around the volcanic areas. Called the Golden Circle Tour (about $85 per person),we traveled a 190 mile circular route with David, from around 9-4. We first stopped at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant and learned about how Iceland makes their energy. At the plant, the steam is separated from the water , the water is then also hot enough to supply secondary steam. The remaining water is then returned to the ground. Amazing process of renewable energy which supplies 99% of the countries energy needs! David called our attention to a field of growing marshmellows(really hay bales).We stopped at a volcanic crater called Kerio, a great example of a caldera crater. Because of the great acoustics at this site, there are many concerts and Pavarotti performed here. We saw a landscape of much moss covered lava fields, few trees, high cliffs and open spaces. David shared a joke about the forests of Iceland. "How does one find their way out of an Icelandic forest? Answer:You stand Up!"

    We traveled to the oldest geyser, called geyser(meaning "the gusher")that's where the word originated which doesn't erupt very much any more. Next to it was Strokkur(meaning "on the struck"), which faithfully erupted ever few minutes. We then travelled on to the Gullfoss(means "golden fall"), the largest waterfall in Europe. The 105 ft. waterfall was very beautiful with a huge canyon. I also liked the fact that the restaurant buildings were made away from the falls so you can't see anything other than the falls. An interesting story tells of a woman who is credited with saving the falls. Seems than in the early 1900s, people wanted to build a hydroelectric plant at the site. Sigriour Tomasdottir , who lived near the falls, threatened to jump into the falls if this happened. She is created with her efforts to save the falls. A monument of her was erected by the falls in 1978. Our last stop was at an area called Thingvellir National Park. It is here where you can see evidence of where the North American tectonic plate and Eurasian tectonic Plates meet and are spreading apart. It is also here at Thingvellir, where Iceland's earliest democracy began. Iceland, the world's oldest democracy, dates back to 930. Different chieftains would travel to the area of Thingvellir and set up shelters where people could come to discuss issues of concerns. This lasted for two weeks. Afterwards, the different chieftains would meet to share the concerns of their clans. Laws were established and announced by the lord-chief for those in attendance to hear and take back to their regions of Iceland. The area was a wonderful natural amphitheater! Games were also played among different clans during this two week get-together and people who had broken the laws were brought to the yearly gathering for their punishment.

    The next day, we rested by doing some sightseeing of the city centre and taking in a geothermal pool down the street from the Hilton Nordica. Laugardalur, the largest thermal swimming pool in Iceland, is Olympic sized. It also has four smaller hot pots(or gossip pots) which we used. The temperature outside was a windy 41 degrees, but the pools were about 99F. For about $4, you gain entrance to the pool/locker rooms. Another $4 paid for the rental of a towel. Not having experienced an Icelandic pool before, we had to have someone explain the procedure. All shoes must be removed prior to entering the locker room and all must first take a shower before going outside into the pool area and. In the locker room. I haven't seen so many naked women since I was in high school gym class! There is definitely a totally different mentality toward the human body. In the locker room, women strolled around or sat and blow dried their hair in the buff as I scurried around in my towel to find (a none existent) shower with a curtain! We also took a bus to the Pearl, a huge dome building which also has a restaurant and Viking museum. From the observation deck, you have a wonderful view of the city, it's colorful buildings, the surrounding snow-covered mountains and bay with all its fishing boats. We actually walked the way back to city centre and walked by the US Embassy, located near the city centre, at 21 Laufasvegur. We also passed by the largest church steeple in Iceland.

    The next day, we went with David's associate, Ragner of Super Jeeps,( for an adventure to the South Shore and the town of Vik.(about $200 per person).It was interesting to learn about how people get their last names, a very old tradition.Within an Icelandic family, there will be many different surnames. That's because Icelandic people name their children after their father's first name plus the name son or daughter added at the end. So, if a boy named Ragner's dad's name is Eider. His last name would be Eidersson. If a girl in the same family was named Dugg. Her last name would be Eidersdottir. Because of this, it is easier to find a person in a telephone book by listing first names alphabetically. Additionally, Icelandic people always use first names,never Mr., Ms. Mrs. Even students call their teachers by their first names as do citizens toward the leader of their country. There is also a list of accepted names. All names must be Norse names. Some children have Norse names that when translated mean ugly, criminal, cup,mountain spring and dew. The weather was not cooperating with extreme winds and sand storms. We traveled to see one of Iceland's black beaches, and one of Iceland's oldest towns, Stokkseyri ,founded around 900 AD. We past by many greenhouses, powered by geo thermal energy, that enables the Icelandic people to have fresh vegetables and flowers year round. We visited a number of waterfalls including: Seljalandsfoss and Skogan Falls. We could see Mt, Hekla, a very active volcano and Snaefellsjokull, the glacier made famous by Jules Verne in his book, Journey to the Center of the Earth. We were heading toward Solheimajokull glacier. We didn't get to the tongue of the glacier due to the dangerous winds. Instead, Ragner took us off road and I mean off road. After a brief ride down a gravel road, he veered off onto an earth path with tire ruts. He kept going up and up and eventually left this "road" to blaze a trail of his own over stones, and landscape that looked like we'd taken a wrong turn and ended up on the lunar surface. Thank goodness for his large size tires which he said cost about $800 a piece. Interestingly, NASA used the terrain of Iceland to train the Apollo astronauts and when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he joked that he thought he was in Iceland! We traveled up about 5100 ft from the shore with hurricane like winds(about 50 mph). I could hardly stand upright when we summitted the mountain of Hamragaroaheioi and got out for photographs. Our guide, Ragner, said he's never taken tourists up to the site before, a spectacular view of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands! In 1973, the only town on the Westman Islands of Heimaey, was pretty much destroyed by a volcanic eruption. All of its 5000 residents had been evacuated. The thick ash and lava covered many of the homes. Today, excavation is find the homes well preserved and residents are finding some of their possessions still intact. Because of this, Heimay is called the "Pompeii of the North".On the way down, Ragner played Queen's "We are the Champions"-kind of appropriate as we had survived the unusual but outstanding, side excursion!

    The last day of our visit to Iceland, we stopped at the famous Blue Lagoon for a dip ( Reykjavek Excursions runs a very popular tour to the lagoon and then on to the airport. (cost is about $45 per person including admission to lagoon and trip to airport)They also keep your luggage for you so you don’t have to lug it around at the Blue Lagoon. If you don't have a bathing suit, you can rent one as well as towels and robes. The thermal seawater pool , is located in a lava field called Evil Lava, created during an eruption in 1226. The hot pool is created from the run off of the nearly geothermal plant. White silica mud, collected and put into nearby pots, is thought to be therapeutic for the skin. People apply it to their faces, leaving it on for a few minutes before washing it off.

    In addition to many different types of fish and lamb dishes, Iceland has some unique foods on their menus. There is sheep head, puffin bird, rotten shark called "hakarl", grilled foal, and whale! I did like one of their traditional desserts called skyr. Skyr, is a yogurt type dish flavored (or unflavored) with different fruits. I recommend the Restaurant Reykjavek for their fish buffet located at Vesturgata 2. The restaurant also has a unique bar... an ice bar.You don coats and enter a bar lined with blocks of ice and with has a bar and bench made of ice as well. It was really several different ways. We also at a restaurant called Caruso's in city centre and near the Hilton Nordica, was a great place and value, the Brasserie Askur.

    And, if you are visiting Reykjavek, depending on the time of year, take a glance into the night sky by the bay. You will see a large beam of light stretching up into the Heavens-that's the Imagine Peace Tower. Created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, the light(from geo thermal energy) lights the night sky from October 9th(the birthday of John Lennon) and is extinguished on December 8th, (the date of his death)(

    I hope that my travelogue about my trip to Iceland is of help to anyone that might like to visit the land of fire and Ice! Would I recommend such a trip...most definitely!

    Visit where the North Atlantic Tectonic Plate and Eurasia Tectonic Plate meet

    Can you hear Pavarotti's voice echoing in the area of the Kerio volcanic crater?

    The colorful city of Reykjavek

    Where one small step for man had its rehearsal-on the lands of Iceland.

    The beautiful Gullfoss waterfall

    One of the Icelandic glaciers

    Strukker geysir getting steamed and ready to erupt

    10/21/09: Little news coverage was made this week of what's happening in the public schools of Hawaii. Due to budget shortfalls, the state has decided to go to a 4 day, and not have classes on Friday! And, no, the school day isn't being lengthened for the four remaining academic days! Where are we as a country when we can spend $5 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan and can't afford to keep our schools open? We can have days of the "balloon" story and the hoax it turned out to be yet we can't flood the airways and newspapers about public schools in our nation that can't afford to stay open for a five day week?Read about this story at this link:


  • Travel Back in Time to Michigan's Mackinac Island and the Grand HotelM/center>

    9/09?09:A movie brought me to Mackinac Island. Ever since watching the 1980 movie, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, set and filmed on the island, I've wanted to see the Grand Hotel and sit on what is called the world's largest porch.

    This summer, my husband and I traveled to Mackinac Island(pronounced Mackinawe) an idyllic place where the clippity cloppity of horse hooves replaces the sounds of motorized vehicles. The island, approximately 2500 acres, is two miles wide and three miles long, and is home to about 500 year round residences. Native Americans who first came upon the island, thought the island looked like the back of a giant turtle and gave it its name, Michilimackinac, meaning "land of the great turtle".

    We arrived at Michigan's Mackinaw City, on the Lower Peninsula, where we took a ferry ride across to the island. Another port to the island is at St. Ignace, on the Upper Peninsula. The $48 dollar round trip fee included free parking for the duration of our stay on the island. The ferry rides,which depart every half hour, take less than 18 minutes. On arrival to Mackinac Island, a porter will deliver your baggage to your hotel or bed and breakfast. It is customary to give a $2 tip for each bag that is scurried to your hotel via bicycle. Depending on the location of your accommodations and if you don't wish to walk, horse carriage taxis are available to take you to your destination. On the dock, bales and bales of hay and several trucks loaded with goods wait to be unloaded onto horse drawn wagons. Other than an ambulance, fire truck,and police car that are on the island, in case of emergency, no other motorized vehicles are allowed on the streets. However, a visitor will rarely see any of these vehicles during their stay! Golfers need not worry as golf carts ARE allowed on the course, however, there is one warning. To reach the second nine, you are NOT allowed to drive over the road, violators will be fined. A horse drawn carriage waits to take you and your clubs across to the second nine where you can pick up another cart to complete your round of golf.

    There are two main streets on Mackinac Island, Main St, where most of the restaurant, bicycle rentals,hotels and souvenir shops are located. Market Street is where historical buildings, the U.S. Post Office, medical building, a working blacksmith(for the 500 or so horses), galleries and unique gift shops and bed and breakfasts line the street. Before and after the day trippers, the island is very different. Walking through the quaint town for my morning walk, it was eerily silent at 6:30 AM, just me and two squawking seagulls, Hundreds and hundreds of bicycles resting in neatly lined coils of long rows waited for their first riders in the coming morning. Once in a while, I could hear the clop, clop of horse drawn carriages delivering goods and people to different destinations. Street cleaners were already hosing down the street at this early hour as you might imagine that 500 or so horses leave many road apples behind throughout the day! And, throughout the day, street cleaners on bicycles monitor and keep the streets clean for pedestrians and cyclists.

    I recommend taking a carriage tour, usually an hour in length, to learn some of the history of the island , passing by the white painted British fort, Grand Hotel and some of the many beautiful homes on the island.

    Take a bike ride around the island, as well. Bikes are everywhere! There must be thousands of them on the island and hundreds in use during the peak time of the day. Averaging around $5-8 dollars per hour, it's a great way to see the island. The eight miles of mainly flat road which lines Lake Huron is beautiful. Stop to look at the Mackinac Bridge. Currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world,(and, I was told, longest over fresh water). The bridge opened in 1957. At the mid way point of the bike ride is British Landing. There are bathrooms and also a food court. If you want to get to the top of the fort, see the cemetery and Arch Rock, you can bike from this point approximately 3 miles to the top of the hill. It's a strenuous journey where I walked much of the hills but it was WELL worth the trip for the ride down hill! Afterwards, I was told the bike route from the other direction is much less strenuous. On the way down, you also can travel back in time as you come upon the grand lady of the island, the Grand Hotel. Beautiful horse drawn carriages with drivers in turn of the century garb bring guests to and from the resort. The porch is said to be the longest in the world at 660 ft. long. If you'd like to walk the porch and are not a guest, you will have to pay $10. A beautiful park below the hotel has shrubbery shaped like two horses pulling a carriage, benches and trellises of pinks and red roses and people playing croquet. If the people weren't wearing tee shirts, shorts and having Ipods and Bluetooths attached to their ears, you'd think you had traveled back in time. Mackinac Island Public School,enrollment about 70, K-12 , is located below the Grand Hotel. In 2009, the graduating class was 10. As you can imagine, sports not including many participants, such as golf and basketball are played. The school joins with other local schools come prom time.

    Arch Rock is about 150 ft above the water. Legend says that the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe indians believe that Arch Rock was where the great Creator, after creating the earth, blew the breath of life. You can reach Arch Rock, one of only two limestone arches east of the Mississippi, by a steep wooden stairway has been built from the Lakeshore Road. We took a leisurely walk up to the rock by way of Truscott St. and turning onto Huron Rd. The route was lined with yellow wildflowers and some wild antique pink roses. Tree canopies cooled the journey which took about 1/2 an hour for vistas well worth the walk. On the way back, we took the stairway down to the road.

    As for eating, my husband and I ate at the Pink Pony, the SeaBiscuit and the Yankee Rebel, all good meals and moderately priced. Try the white fish or walleye or a salad with Michigan dried cherries. And, of course, you should stop at one of the 17-18 fudge shops,a confectionary delight for which Mackinac Island is famous. The oldest fudge shop is Murdick's but there is also Joann's, Murray Hotel and Ryba's where you can purchase fudge.

    Lilac trees, of an assortment of colors, are everywhere as wealthy residents brought them to the island many years ago. We stayed at the Bay View Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful yellow and white structure on the Main Street right past the Yacht Club. Coffee and tea are available throughout the day with Cookies served after 3PM in the colorfully decorated dining area with large windows overlooking many yachts docked at the harbor. Scrumptious desserts are served between 8-9 pm. Breakfast dishes vary from day to day. Rooms with private baths are tastefully decorated although ours tend to be rather small.

    The oldest grocery store on the island is Dawd. It's been open for 124 years. Residents can also get their groceries delivered by airplane, ferry and in the winter via snowmobiles(which are allowed during the winter months). Residents call the day when the fire department deems the ice thick enough for travel, "Freedom Day". After Christmas, the discarded trees have a new purpose, lining the ice covered Lake Huron route to get to the mainland!

    As the ferry taking us back to Mackinac City left the dock, I turned for one more view of the idyllic island which I had come to see because of a long ago watched movie, Somewhere in Time!

    Prepared remarks of President Obama's back to school event Here are prepared remarks that President Obama is to deliver at noon ET Tuesday a Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Source: The White House

    Hello everyone-how's everybody doing today? I'm here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we've got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I'm glad you all could join us today. I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could've stayed in bed just a little longer this morning. I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday-at 4:30 in the morning. Now I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times,I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say,"This is no picnic for me either, buster." So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year.

    Now I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked a lot about responsibility. I've talked about your teachers'responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track,and get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working where students aren't getting the opportunities they deserve. But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers,the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world-and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers;listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

    And that's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide. Maybe you could be a good writer-maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper-but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor-maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine-but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

    And no matter what you want to do with your life-I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can't drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to work for it and train for it and learn for it. And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that-if you quit on school-you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.

    Now I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork. I get it. I know what that's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn't fit in. So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I'm not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country. Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there'snot enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right. But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life-what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying. Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez. I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz,from Los Altos,California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer-hundreds of extra hours-to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he's headed to college this fall. And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs;and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college. Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

    That's why today, I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education-and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines,I hope you'll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter. Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you're not going to be any of those things. But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won't click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try. That's OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. JK Rowlingds first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." These people succeeded because they understand that you can't let your failures define you-you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one's born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. It's the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust-a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you-don't ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

    The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other. So today,I want to ask you. what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country? Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down-don't let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.


    7/20/09: Twenty four people on our planet belong to a very exclusive club. Out of the over 6 billion people on planet earth, only a handful have actually walked on the moon. Growing up in the beginning of the space race, I remember news of space accomplishments being a big deal. We gathered around the television or radio to listen as a capsule rocketed into space, in the beginning lasting for just a few minutes, and watched as the early returning astronauts were fished out of the ocean, their capsules bobbing around the waves waiting to be retrieved. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to actually walked onto the moon's surface on July 20th, 1969, I was glued to the television set. Seeing black and white television transmission of Armstrong walking down the ladder of the space craft and placing his feet onto the surface of the moon-how cool was that? I remember the returning Apollo 11 mission and the astronauts being interviewed inside a tiny container. Was it safe? Did they carry any moon bacteria? It would take 21 days before the Apollo astronauts would be released from their confinement-safe to rejoin their fellow earthlings. Today, astronauts walk off the shuttle as if they just came back from a trip from New York to California! I remember the first time the space shuttle actually landed, like an jet plane. A fellow teacher and I watched during our prep period as the historic event was televised. We held our breaths as we worried whether it would be a successful landing and cheered at another successful step in our country's space program. Today, sadly, I think most of the world has lost the "wow" factor when it comes to space. Astronauts go up to the International Space Station with little news coverage and when actual televised space walks and/ or interviews are done from the station or the space shuttles, how many people, young and old, actually watch?(Did you know that there are currently 13 astronauts at the ISS this week?) I wanted to take this opportunity on the 40th anniversary of the first men to walk on the moon, to say... Remarkable accomplishment by all those men and women who heeded President John K. Kennedy's 1961 national goal to land a man on the moon by the end of that decade. Thank you, for the awe factor you gave my generation about the tremendous possibilities people can accomplish when they set out to achieve a goal. Tonight when you gaze up at the moon, think of those footprints left behind by those amazingly brave astronauts!

    Wonderful primary clips of President Kennedy and the first lunar walk at this link:
  • 6/25/09:

    Whenever my husband and I have done some renovations to the house over the years, I have always written a letter and placed it behind the new walls or underneath the decking being made, as a kind of time capsule to future owners of the house that we originally built. Today, was an interesting day. While replacing our back deck, we uncovered one of these "time capsules", from 1988. It was very interesting to read. It was an election year between George H. Bush and Michael Dukakas. I wrote that the prospects of either candidate being the "best" candidate for president were poor but that Bush's possible connections to the selling of weapons to Iran and the possible drug money being filtered to support the Contras in Nicaragua made him the more questionable candidate in our eyes. Movies were $5 at the time, gas was 94 cents and stamps cost $25 cents. Ocean dumping the summer that I wrote the letter was a big story with medical waste and raw sewage being dumped into the oceans. Viles of blood(some contaminated with AIDS) were found on the beaches of New York and New Jersey. I wrote in the letter that I hoped that things would improve in the future, with people being better stewards of our planet. I ended the letter saying that if the letter had been found, it meant the deck was being replaced or other new renovations were being done. I wished the people happiness and good health. It was a big surprise that we found the letter ourselves! I will sit down later and write a new letter to the future owners of my house. It will be placed with the original 1988 letter and hopefully, someone else, will eventually find both, one day.

    11/05/08: History is the study of written records that have been left behind by previous people. Often, we forget in the moment that what is happening around us is tomorrow's history. This presidential electon, had historic results. For the first time in our country's history, the president elect of our wonderful land is an African American. Just forty years ago, many African Americans in our parts of country had to use a different water fountain, couldn't eat in the same restaurant, had to give up their seat on a bus and were given problems when they attempted to vote in elections. Come January 20,2009, when President Elect Obama is sworn in as our 44th president, he will stand on the capital steps, steps, which were helped to be constructed by slaves. It is an historic election, where it is now true, anyone in our country,who aspires and works hard toward a goal, can achieve it! Ever since I can remember, I have continued an idea my mother gave to me. For any historic events, be it man walking on the moon, the first woman running for President(or Vice President), I have gone to the store, purchased a newspaper and placed it in a storage box. Some day, someone will open my history box and find items which happened during my lifetime, which they will be reading as history. For young people reading this, I give you the same idea. Get today's newspaper for November 5, 2008, start your own history box...

    "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."Martin Luther King (Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963)

    11/02/08: Hurray! My favorite color has finally gotten it's day in the sun. I understand that purple is the IN color this year! Do you like the color purple like me? I have a purple car, a shade of purple on one of my bathroom walls, lots of purple clothing AND I just got a purple colored cell phone! The color purple has a very interesting history. The ancient Phoenicians (who lived in present day Lebanon) were the first to develop the shade. Squeezing a gland of a spiral shellfish called the murex, they got a few precious drops of a yellowish liquid. When exposed to the sun, the liquid turned a bluish- red shade. It took about 10,000 murex snails to dye just one robe the color purple! Because if its expense, only very wealthy or rulers could wear the color purple. Glad that today, wearing purple is now for anyone....

    March 24,2008, marked a very sad day. The United States military stated that more than 4000 soldiers have died in Iraq, a war that has now lasted longer than both the Civil War and World War 2. Unlike other wars, where the citizens of the United States made sacrifices back at home, most of us go along with our daily lives not given the war much thought. That's what two recent surveys have found. One study finds that only 1 in 3 even know the number of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war, or the amount of soldiers who have been severely wounded(around 33,000.) And, recent survey says that less than 30% say they are even interested in the Iraq War any more! These are sad numbers whether you support the war efforts or not. If you'd like to see a daily listing of the names of soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq, go to this website:


  • 3/24/08:To paraphrase pop singer from the 60s, Leslie Gore. "It's my website and I'll write what I wish to". The following is an opinion piece.

    How did you spend your weekend? Did you do some shopping,see a movie, go out for dinner,ski? Well, according to a recent survey, one thing is most likely certain. If you are like most Americans,you didn't think about the Iraq War. The survey finds that less than 30% say they are even interested in the Iraq War anymore! Unlike other wars in which our country has fought,this war has become one,which sadly, effects those with loved ones in the war and few others. There just isn't any sacrifice being made by those of us back home as was done during World War 2. As I write this, even our President is enjoying himself at the annual Easter Egg Roll(while 4 soldiers died yesterday in a roadside bomb)! And,the other week, when eight soldiers died in a bomb blast,most of the non stop news coverage was about what Barrack Obama's paster said in some of his sermons. It was difficult to find any news coverage on the deaths of so many American soldiers.

    The United States military states that more than 4000 soldiers have died in Iraq, a war that has now lasted longer than both the Civil War and World War 2. And to emphasize how Americans aren't following the war, another study finds that only 1 in 3 even know the number of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war, or the amount of soldiers who have been severely wounded(around 33,000.) These are sad numbers, whether you support the war efforts or not.

    I listened to candidate John McCain saying that a mother of a soldier, who died in the war, asked him that if elected president,to make sure that her son didn't die in vain. Candidate Barrack Obama says that a mother of a soldier who died in the war asked him that if elected president  to make sure that other families don't lose a son/daughter in this war. It seems that the upcoming election gives you, the citizen, a choice, to decide which path you wish our government to continue to pursue.

    A comment made by Vice President Cheney didn't get much coverage last week. When a news reporter, commented that 2/3 of Americans don't think the war was worth fighting, Cheney's response was, "So". When pressed he smirked and said we "can't be blown off course by the fluctuation by public opinion polls." This is an amazing statement to me. Isn't the first line in the Constitution, "We the People"? Isn't democracy, where the people's views count? Do leaders, whether it is the president, vice president or members of Congress, have the right to make decisions without our consent?

    With most of the Coalition of the Willing having left, determining that it is now up to the people of Iraq to determine their own future, we are pretty much alone in this war in Iraq. With our brave soldiers(over 150,000) doing much more than the citizens of Iraq are doing to protect their own country, with record Iraqi oil surpluses(and our citizens paying $2 billion a week ), and, when the leader of Iran(a country whom President Bush calls one of the Axis of Evil) is greeted, recently, with hugs and kisses from the Iraqi leader and walks openly down the streets of Baghdad(our President had to go into the country in secrecy), it is my opinion that our leaders, both Republican and Democrats, need to sit down and find a solution to our involvement in this war and now. Shouldn't it be the top priority of our leaders, not Easter Egg Rolls, Journalist Black Tie dinners(where President Bush recently sang), baseball hearings, vacations, etc.? And, if our leaders really care about our brave men and women, shouldn't they be appropriating any amount of money for injured soldiers and their treatment? I read with interest a woman fighting to have her son's death listed a casualty of the war. He survived a IUD attack with a brain injury but he died after he returned to the United States and, so, isn't listed as one of the 4000 deaths in battle!

    When the last sad milestone of 3000 was reached, did we think it would be another 1000 lost lives and destroyed families without an end in sight? Then, again,estimates are that 97% of all the fatalities have occurred AFTER President Bush stood on an aircarrier announcing, "Mission Accomplished". Place a name, age and cause of death to each soldier that is dying in Iraq(most from IUDs) by going to the following website to see a posting of the daily listing of the names of soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq.

  • "

    I continue to post my journal for my last year of teaching(2006). I hope to begin to add new "glimmerings" to the site in the coming months. Life continues to be very busy. I will begin my second year as an adjunct professor at SUNY Cortland in a perfect role for me....working with future social studies teachers as they are in the field doing their student teaching assignments. I thoroughly enjoyed this work and begin again with a new group of college students in late January/2008. I continue to write for different magazines and learned over the summer to update my website using my Mac. Originally, a student showed me how to do the web work using the Dell Computer but I am a Mac user and wanted to be able to use my new laptop. After a couple of lessons with a very helpful person at the university in my area, I am having a ball adding things regularly to my website and hope you find the things I have posted of help to you in your classroom. Two new features this school year(2007) are the Career Paths and In the News sections. Thus, far, I've had a great response from people in different careers sharing their profession for young people to read. I hope that my In the News section is also used by students to spark an interest in a news topic and read more about it at the links I provide. Have a wonderful new year, 2008!

    I thought I would try and start my own last year of teaching journal. With my 33 1/2 year of teaching about to begin, I have mixed emotions as I set up my classroom for the very last year. Each June, when many teachers were cleaning up for the summer, I was always putting up fresh paper and new letters for my different r bulletin board displays. I got more than a few strange stares as I busily got things together and covered the bulletin boards with newspaper so they'd stay "fresh" for the new incoming students in September.Now, as I go down to my classroom in August to remove the paper and set up my room, I notice that I have become sort of a trend setter....most classroom bulletin boards are covered with newspaper, too! And, it dawns on me that this will be the final year I will be doing this annual activity.

    8/26: The countdown to the end of summer begins. It's a strange feeling realizing that this is the last year I will have an "end of summer" countdown. Are there other teachers coming to my site that will be retiring in June/2006? If, so, I'd love to hear from you. In what ways are you planning to mark the end of your teaching career? I plan to have a mini "closing of the chapter" ceremony for each unit of study. Best to all for the new school year, 2005-2006

    9/26 The school year is off to a great start. It was a bit strange standing by my door on the first day of school, realizing this will be the last time I will do this.Funny thing happened this week(the 4th week of school). One of my team members asked me if my front stool, which I use to sit on during lessons when I'm not walking around the room, was mine or the school's. I asked her why she wanted to know and she replied....I'd like first dibs on the stool when you retire in June!!!! When I mentioned this conversation to another member of my team, she said she'd like dibs on my paper cutter!

    10/26 My last open house took place on Thursday. I placed balloons around my door and a sign that said that this was my 33 1/2 year of teaching.

    11/15 For over 17 years, I've had an annual Museum Night where the students create projects on ancient people that we are studying. Several years ago, a parent suggested I have an evening time for parents to come down and see the display of projects. The first year, I came down to school that evening thinking I'd mark some papers and have a few parents stop by to see the display. I was shocked when over 125 people came! The line from the movie, "Field of Dreams"....if you built it , they will come was true. I've now had six Museum Nights. I encourage the project to be a family activity where academics can perhaps create some fun memories as well. I still remember my 9th grade science project and my dad and I building a pendulum. Dad did most of the project, I held the nails...but I still remember the fun of doing something with my father that has stayed with me all these very many years. This year, I had thought I wouldn't do the projects until numerous parents from prior siblings said they were looking forward to the annual event!

    12/6 During our study of ancient Greece, I like to tell the students about the ancient myths. Wishing to have some type of "visual" for my stories, I have a few FILMSTRIPS left from many years ago. As the different classes came in for the morning, the students were amazed by a "strange" looking devise I had on the counter. It was a filmstrip projector. Hands quickly went up into the air. The question...."What is that thing?". I told the students that a filmstrip projector was a very common technological tool in classrooms years ago. It also brought back memories of my grade school years and how exciting it was to be selected by the teacher to "turn" the filmstrip as the teacher read or a recording "beeped" the signal to turn to the next frame!

    12/16 A "Snow Day" today! As I eagerly watched the bottom of the television crawl at 5 AM to see if my school was posted as being closed, it dawned on me that when I am retired next winter, the idea of a snow day won't mean anything to me. After seeing the closing announced, I still waited for the telephone call making it official and then used my "special" day to make some Christmas cookies, work on my website and work on an article for Scholastic News. Snow days... they're great!

    1/27/06 The half way point of my last year as a teacher has already been reached. Can't believe there are only twenty weeks to go and that I will be ending a career that I have enjoyed for 32 1/2 year. It's going to be a difficult time as the countdown continues but I know the time is right to retire and that I need to make room for a young person just beginning their teaching career to be given the opportunity to teach social studies, a subject I've loved sharing with my students all these years.

    4/1/06 I was at dinner the other night and a student whom I had had years ago, came up to say hello to me. He said he had been in my 6th grade class. I didn't recognize him and felt embarassed so I continued to speak with him asking about his life, etc. He said he graduated in 1982. I shook his hand and said thanks for saying hello. Back at the table, my husband asked who the student was I had been talking with and I said I didn't remember. He reminded me that I had him almost 30 years ago! The young man was 42! I found the student in the restaurant and asked him his name and said when I had had him as a student he was only 11 and didn't have a beard! I've learned from this to always ask names in the future and not be embarassed!

    5/13/06 The final year is rapidly drawing to a close. I've burst into tears a lot lately. Just walking down the hallway and realizing there are less than 25 days to do such a task, makes me cry. I've been a teacher for 33 1/2 years. That's my identity. It's something that I still enjoy doing. Am I doing the correct thing to retire? So many emotions are going through my head as the days tick down to the final day of my teaching career. I realize it is time to retire, I get so tired by the end of the day and I think it is time to give a young person the opportunity to teach... are there others of you out there going through the same mixed feelings about retirement as me? If, so, I'd love to hear from you.

    5/18/06 Today was a really strange day. My team had interviews with two young men who are seeking to join the 6th grade team as a classroom Sitting across from them, it was a bit unsettling. Two young men hoping to start their careers in teaching, and me, on the other side of the table, about to end mine. Where have all the years gone? I've been fortunate to have worked with wonderful colleagues over the years, and the current group of colleagues is making it extremely hard to retire. We laugh often,value each others opinions, help and support each other. I will certainly miss my team!

    6/18 My school's teachers' union is wonderful. They plan a retirement dinner each year for those retiring. This year, I was the only teacher to be so honored. It was a wonderful evening with my husband speaking on my behalf...he made memory boards of my "different" looks over the years and wrote a lovely poem which I will cherish. My team also spoke, roasting and honoring me. When it was my time, it was difficult to not have tears but I tried to also keep it humerous(had photographs of me with my team colleagues' faces blown up saying that I hoped that they'd all keep a part of me with them got a big laugh).

    NOTE-the photo year should say 6/17/06!

    6/23/06 Well, as expected the last days of my teaching career were very difficult for me. For years, I've put up the next fall bulletin boards with my students' assistance. Cutting new letters, hanging basic bulletin board areas and then covering up with newspaper so it would be "fresh" when I came down to "set" things up in late August. This year, my students, when given the signal(after a couple of last photographs), took everything OFF the walls, ceilings and bulletin boards. A colleague commented that he was surprised that there WERE walls in my room! The echoe in the empty room was deafening! Another colleague was getting ready for fall as I have done for years. It began to hit home that I was truly finishing up my teaching. The last day of school with the students was difficult. Having had a fugitive on the loose in our tiny community, the students had been on a modified Z schedule and couldn't go OUTSIDE for a week...until the very last day, so we took them outside for most of the last day. Several gave me cards, hugs, but to others, it was just the last day of school before summer vacation, they just didn't seem to realize this was a monumental day for me. By the last 1/2 hour, I was crying beneath my sunglasses and went inside for a bit. School was soon over for me forever.


    After The next day was the last day for teachers and my husband came to my classroom after the luncheon and had a piece of the cake that my team members had brought to celebrate my last day. As I closed the door for the last time, I took one last look at my "home" away from home, locked the door and then, with my husband at my side, walked to the Middle School Office to turn my keys in for the last time(this was very hard as I NEVER have turned them in for at least 17 years!), had a good cry and left for home.

    7/1/06 It hasn't hit me that I am "retired". My retired teacher friends say it won't really seem any different from any previous "summer" until Fall and I don't have to get my room ready for school. Although still apprehensive, I am beginning to look forward to all the possibities that lie ahead for me down life's highway. I plan to continue to write, add more things to my website for teachers, read,perhaps take some graduate courses, learn about my new computer , read, etc. When you think about it, we work from the time we are about 5 years old, going to school, college, work....always having a PLACE we have to's kind of exciting to realize ....time is something I now will have a lot of to use in so many ways!

    Dear Students: After 33 1/2 years of teaching at HCS and having had more than 2000 students sit in my social studies classroom over these many years, I have decided to retire from teaching at the end of this school year in June. I've tried to interest you about the world in which we live during our time together and hopefully, learn something about yourselves as well. I'd like to leave you with some thoughts which I find useful in my life:Know the true value of time, snatch, seize, and enjoy every minute of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination, never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.(Chesterfield). Life is NOT a Spectator Sport. Use ever day to the fullest. Read, try to make someone smile, help someone, say a kind word to someone, dream things you'd like to do and work to make them possible AND and at the end of the day, be able to say,Yes, I used the day well.Remember...YOU make your own HISTORY! The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men(and women) to do nothing.( Burke) It's not always easy to break from the crowd, but speak up for someone you feel is being mistreated, don't stay silent, for it may be you that hopes someone will speak up for you one day! Life is an adventure...enjoy the ride. I wish you much happiness as you travel down life's highway and hope you have few bumps along the way but, perhaps some interesting detours! Fondly, Mrs. H The Social Studies teacher who loves the color purple!