Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

out of room

September 22, 2015

think visual the first copythink visual2 final

Once upon a time, I started a post for fun. Myspace had become a drag, and thinkVisual’s blog became something new.  I would say it was about 20 trips and several years ago. First I had a spin-off for educational stuff, then I wrote so many posts, I had no more room, so thinkMuseum came along under the thinkVisual’2 banner. Now I have created a third.

New blog is thinkVisual/thinkMuseum3. Thanks for reading.


Even The Best Baked Plans. . .

November 29, 2013


thanks bake

From 10:30 to 6, we took time out to stuff and bake a turkey, make fresh cranberry sauce, candied yams and plantains, fresh green beans almondine,  a steamed zucchini and tomato salad. We even threw in biscuits and garlic bread, and even a pie with the remaining portion of the apple baked in the waste dough. There was a spiced cherry wine, too.

How sad, two of our party got a stomach flu the day before and ate nothing. Well, happy thanksgive and bon appetit, anyway!

ANY: My heroes

May 19, 2012

Hero Songwriters Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff

There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are

There must be a little Irish in me, for I get very sentimental from time to time. I think often of teachers as a form of salvation, and often, the things that can’t be quantified in the endless testing that goes on. I have always admired teachers. I am so glad there are people like Lisa Waxler around, who are so clear headed.

There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

When I think of Julie Bradford with the way she treats her class as a town of citizens who must come to grips with dealing with each other (year of Malik and Vincenzo). When I think of Crystal Bynum with her firm reserve. When I think of Janice Miller taking on kids no one else really wants in their classroom. I miss watching Jill Sherman tons and what she used to do, and Chinese New Year and her Oscars.

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive

There are so many great teachers, Agnes Pagan, who I’ve stood and watched her with her kids on line, trying to teach them respect by having them respect themselves as well as others. I think of Kearney working against odds year and yet bringing them all together after this year struggling against so many diversions. There is also Snoles and Klunk and quiet ones like Calderale and Markley. I love how Perez gets them all in line and so on. . .I miss Andy and his Indian games. I miss Roz.

So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Shier complained so bitterly about changing grade levels, only to find herself alive in first, and back unhappily to happy ever after in 3rd. Teachers bitch so much, and then find themselves all over again, even in the worst of classes. Like Terri and Jenny and Judith and Eleanor and Patty and Heather. And people like Payne and Nikki who happily plug along. And some like Bodney and Ricketts, whom we never quite know what they are thinking. I love the newer teachers like Jordan and McGhee who come in with so much dedication.

It’s a long road
And you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold

We hold a lot of hands. I have seen Sandy with second graders from another planet, as well as the babies, like Caleb and Jacob, whom she plods along to get them from point A to B, without incident, seemingly effortlessly. And I look at him now, and I will never forget the battles of Majdi, lying on the floor, kicking the door and refusing to go in and Suzanne with arms crossed standing over him unperturbed and resolved.

I think it was Nancy Sell, who I remember with Lucas, and she made him realize he was a whole person. And he carries that with him today. Or Carpenter with a boy named Brandon, who was adopted and gone before the year was out. Or Anthony, and the way Laura Cutler helped save him in his first year. No one really knows what Kopelman, Rush and Morrison go through.

You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear

No teacher ever comes to school, and does not get immersed into another world waiting at the door as the kids come in the room. Even as you stand talking with them at the door, you can watch their brains clicking. I have seen that with Donna, Ann Jeffries, Rebecca and Sheldon.

These are moments I get great pleasure in watching the teacher “lightbulb” go on, getting into mode. The things we call shaping and modelling. I love a teacher like Laura Chambers who does things so effortlessly, who is so good at what she does. And Krista, Cristina, Deb and Gretchen. I miss being in contact every day like we used to be.

So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

There are teachers, like in 5th grade, who all have such wonderful strengths, even when they can’t see it in one another. I caught a piece of a science lesson Patti Mathews was doing and it was wonderful to watch the kids responding. And Gary such a trip, with some of the whacked out kids he gets, as he has to help untie them out of the knots they get themselves into. And he turns them into champions, and they will have that moment for the rest of their lives. A pretty neat feat.

Oh ho, Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away, hey yea

Anthony Galeano was talking about Mrs. Cennamo today and his first year with us in second.

I think of Maria, and Kristen, and of course wonderful Berenice who comes back to us time and again. I miss Cheri Behrens. Helgeson’s students are gone now, but Liz’ kindergarteners are going into fifth. You should see Stephen Eubanks now, and Hanin. Karen Gardepe and Beth, who leave us, but are always there. I thought of you Beth the other day, Liz too, as names and years on my papier mache boxes. And Toutounj and Jesse and Jamie and the one Bush I really like.

I think of teachers like Nancy Buchanan and Gloria Johnson who helped, and inspired me, as I came along. And Trevor and Lisa Recca. I think of people like Cornelius Wagner (my first art teacher), and Herbert Bierman and professors like Nancy McGhee and Chuck Dziuban.

Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time, you find the way, hey

Then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive

I think of my team and Peg, and how they move those little people along to the big people they are going to become. The ones I sometimes run into picking up their younger brothers and sisters, years later struggling to remember their name. And Yana and Javier and Winston and Shirley and Lugo, who are separated only by degree, not spirit. Remember, there are tons of people you don’t know, who like you, fill a kid’s life a little each day.

So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

That a hero lies in you
Mmm, that a hero lies in you

And my deepest thanks with all my heart to every one of you, for students who forgot to tell you personally, before they moved on to their new lives, with their new teachers. Sometimes they told me the following year, what a great teacher you really were. I thank you for administrators who forgot to tell you what a great person you are, as well as what a great teacher your are. I thank you in place of  all the crazy parents who put you through hell, one year or another. Or the idiot press and politicians who make your lives a little more hard each year.

Keep doing the things you do. My heroes.

A.N.Y.: Is it over yet?

December 17, 2011

When I walked in this year, from day 1, I couldn’t wait for the year to be over. That was the week of preplanning. Since then it has been downhill. I was working with someone I didn’t know, who would become crowded with me in a now shared room, with a cart to go between us. One would teach in the class, one in someone else’s class on the cart. A novel concept circa 1950s. Sucked then, just as bad now.

After school on Wednesdays, I sit in the media center for 14 weeks, 4:30-8-ish. Unpaid. My instructor is a perky go-getter, probably the next generation of non-immigrants, who are knocking the original immigrant-based ESOL people out of jobs. She holds, or is getting a Masters. My guess is her desire to be admin. Earlier that day, I sit through a school Christmas party, which actually is a cover for the retirement of a 38 year vet. She quit flat out after the new AP (a 3 year classroom vet) gave her an unfavorable rating, using the new county evaluation system. There were not so veiled jokes by another teacher, about how the new system sucks.

Parents are not aware, that there is less instructional time than ever. Teachers have become overburdened following data. Data chit. Teachers are not trained statisticians, a moot point. An exercise in futility. If you can raise 3 numbers here, and hold 2 numbers there, you get–BINGO. I have seen more dumb people sit down with numbers, talking chit. Data chit. A few with a gleam in their eye wanting to become administrators. That already shows you how dumb they are!

This is all under Race to the Flop, the Obama program, which is just as dumb as No Child Left Behind. You know, the one that Kennedy pushed. I wish he had read the bill, nothing but penalty, and no relief in sight. Check out the HBO special, Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card, if you want to throw up over intervention into a school under NCLB. Another leftover of the Bush administration.

This is the first time I have ever felt like this, and now near Christmas break.

¡Hola, El Perú!: Huaca Pucllana

December 11, 2011

I am so glad we walked over and visited the Huaca Pucllana before traveling to Cusco. It was right there the far side of Miraflores near San Isidro. We don’t pay attention to detail, and our teaching of history, egocentric and sloppy. By rights we should be examining the Inca or Quechua language group culture and outcomes.

From higher up, if you look above the midline of the photo (above) you can see the the treetops, there is actually a section of modern street dividing the site. The legend has it, from the English-speaking tour guide included in the admission (you do not walk it yourself), that the owner wanted to bulldoze the site in order to get a move on with progres$. The government clamped down on his act, so we are lucky enough to see a piece of history of the Americas. This site is so amazing in the brickwork that was devised, which here is exposed (below, left). If you notice how the bricks are spread apart and run in rows, you are looking at an ancient solution to an area plagued by earthquakes.

On the West side yellow tee-shirted workers were in action throwing up adobe blocks to one another (circled in red, right).

It is hard to sit within a city area, with large buildings looming around, that this was a sacred site. I am not a bumpkin, I know the proximity of suburb to the Pyramids in Cairo. This is even more jarring, that among these flat areas people met in plazas (directly below) and that burials of the more important were performed (further below).

There are several recreations in the site of the pre-Incan Lima culture who originally build the pyramid. They are tough looking, short men of indigenous origin, not unlike those in the North America west. This recreation shows them with the shark pot, the shark symbolic to them.

There is also a small museum on site incuding the wonderful slip pottery that ancient Peru is famous for (above) and some weaving artifact. There are also those figures where the faces take on dimensions of caricature (directly above).

No one marks the large Spanish pot, not unlike the one I have seen in St. Augustine (above left). There is a small area (center and right) with llamas and alpacas, and the poor little guinea pigs, which I eventually ate in Cusco, and would care not to again.

You can eat at a renowned restaurant (above) in a city of renowned restaurants and have a meal in the evening among the beauty of this place (we opted out of this hundred dollar event, and came ourselves daytime).

There is something not to say about letting kids in these sights for free. I think one of the dumbest things I saw in Peru was the clueless mother, who let her child get away from her and who climbed up the side of the Huaca Pucllana, jumping up and down upon the brick terraces, while she stood there. Another of her children realized this was a no-no and went to bring the jumping bundle of jerk down. They should have all been thrown out of the park. No one should blame the child when they behave that badly. The idiot mother should have known better.

The signs give you some information (above). Here is a copy of the brochure (below), if you are in Lima GO!

ANY: This week’s mail? Half asleep. . .

November 9, 2011

FW: Vin
Sent:    Tuesday, November 08, 2011 10:56 AM
To:    Specials Teachers

Please do not permit students to go to restroom in pairs or unsupervised


Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 9:17 AM
Subject: FW: Vin


Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 8:53 AM
Subject: FW: Vin

Please read below. I received this yesterday while I was out from Vin’s father.

Please advise.

Thank you.

From: Vin’s father
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 1:22 PM
Subject: Vin


Vin is alleging he smoked pot with a boy named Van during gym class last week.  Vin said they did it in the bathroom or behind the bathroom. Apparently this boy always has a lighter on him (he keeps it in his bag) and has brought pot to school a few times.  He supposedly steals it from his aunt.  There is also another boy to watch out for (whose name I can’t pronouce) who claims he can get some.  What can be done about this?


FW: Homework for Patty

Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 1:04 PM

To:  A P

Cc: Special Area Teachers

Who are the students we should watch for with Patty in Patty’s Teacher’s class?


Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:51 AM

To: PATTY’S MOM; Patty’s Teacher

Cc: A P

Subject: RE: Homework for Patty

Thanks for ccing me on your message. The investigation related to this event has occurred and consequences have been administered in accordance with code of student conduct based on the information we had available to us. I understand we did not have the statement from your daughter that  A P requested last week.  A P is correct. We are not at liberty to discuss specific consequences administered to children other than with the parents of  those children receiving the consequence.

All teachers and support staff at school have been alerted to keep children separated while in class, at lunch, in transition and at special area classes to monitor behaviors.

We look forward to having Patti’s return to school  very soon.



Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 10:48 PM

To: Patty’s Teacher


Subject: Re: Homework for Patty

I’ll pick up the homework tomorrow AM. In regards to Patty’s return to school, what is being done from a disciplinary perspective to the students who have been harassing her? Have they been moved to a different class, a different school?

We heard nothing today, and the meeting in Friday with A P, which I had to instigate, has me with a feeling that the situation is being resolved. A P was quick to come to his own conclusions, and that was to insinuate that Patty has caused this whole situation, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. On Friday morning when you called me, you immediately guessed which two girls were involved, without me providing any names. What has happened in the past with those students I do not know, as administration will immediately claim it’s a privacy issue. As a parent, I believe we have a right to know what is going on, and as a teacher, you have a right to know what happens with your own class, so why the administration claims it is a privacy issue is a mystery to me. Patty has not received an apology from anyone, nor have we, rather we are being treated as a nuisance, as if we have caused an inconvenience.

Patty is not safe in class with those students, perhaps not even in the same school as those students. As parents, we place a lot of trust that the school will see to it that while under school supervision, our children are not harmed. That trust has been broken.

On Nov 7, 2011, at 3:30 PM, Patty’s Teacher:

I sent up today’s and tomorrow’s homework to the office this morning before school started. It is up there waiting for you. I told your husband on the phone Friday that you could come by and pick it up on Monday. Do you know when she may return to school?


Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 3:06 PM

To: Patty’s Teacher

Subject: Homework for Patty

Good afternoon, I hope this message finds you well. Please let us know what homework Patty can work on at the moment.

Best Regards, PATTY’S MOM


Re: Request for class reassignment


Sent:    Monday, November 07, 2011 6:01 PM

To:       Dean.; AP.; Guidance; Buddy’s Teacher.; CRT; Staffing Specialist

Cc:       Specials Teachers

I’ve received a letter from a parent requesting reassignment of her child to another classroom. Mother is in receipt of the placement policy and has submitted a formal letter of request, today,. the first step before I schedule a conference for both parent and teacher.

Team, please begin to collect observation data in preparation for this meeting. Mom says that child is being harassing by Buddy’s and does not feel safe in this class.

Special area teachers, please be alerted and keep Buddy’s and Julia” in Buddy’s Teacher’s class separated during specials and/or while they are under your supervision.

Buddy’s Teacher, please ensure that you have made the appropriate safe guard arrangements during lunch times, transitions, for substitutes or for anytime that students are not under your direct supervision.

Thanks, everyone



FW: Amy


This message was sent with High importance.

Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 1:43 PM

To:    Specials Teachers; Amy’s Teacher; Extended Day.; Dean.; AP.;  Harriet’s Teacher


Extended Day and Dean,

Please let me know at your earliest convenience the status and/or results of your investigations.



From: Amy’s Mom
Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 9:18 PM
To: Amy’s Teacher; AP; Extended Day.Harriet’s Teacher
Subject: Re: Amy

Dear Amy’s Teacher,

I am writing this email to inform you about some incidents that have happened over the last week. I have included Harriet’s Teacher, AP, and Extended Day so that they will be aware as well. I mentioned to you in our parent/teacher conference that Amy had been coming home and complaining that a student was bothering her…making fun of her hair and other little things like that. I thought that maybe Amy and the other student were just aggravating each other. This weekend Amy informed me that the student’s name is Harriet and that she is in Harriet’s Teacher’s class. Amy told me that Harriet steals her snacks during the afternoon and that she takes the incentives that you give to her for good behavior away from her. She also told me that Harriet has an older sister that has started bothering her as well and throwing dirt in her hair. I asked Amy when this happens and she said that it mainly happens during the afternoons at Extended Day and that she has tried to tell the teacher, but nothing happens. I do not know if Amy encounters Harriet or her sister at any other time during the day, but I would appreciate it of their contact was limited and possibly discontinued. I asked Amy why she waited to tell me about Harriet’s older sister bothering her and she said it was because she did not want the teachers to be mean to her. I reassured her that no one will mistreat her for telling her mom about what was going on.

I am very concerned about this because Amy has started crying and saying that she does not want to come to school. I am appalled that this is happening so early in the year and at such a young age.  Amy does not fully understand what harassing is, but she does know that this is wrong. I am really upset about this considering the recent actions of eight and nine year old students trying to end their lives due to being harassed at school. I do not want my child coming to school and feeling unsafe and like the adults around her have failed her. Amy told me that Harriet slapped her in the face and when she told the Extended Day teacher nothing was done. I am unsure of what your policy is to address this, but something needs to be done immediately.


Re: New Student
Sonia’s Teacher
Sent:     Monday, November 07, 2011 8:46 AM
To: Specials Teachers

I got a new student on Wednesday of last week.  Her name is Sonia Monroe.  Just an FYI- she has a history of  seizures.  I’ve been told she hasn’t had one in four years.  If you should see that she has a fever, please send her to the clinic ASAP.


ANY (Another new year): with High importance

September 29, 2011

Reminder:  It has come to my attention that primary students, when playing on the playground for scheduled Alternative PE/Recess, are being sent to building 6 (4th and 5th   grade building) to use the restrooms.   Intermediate restrooms were not built to code for primary students as they are designated for intermediate students only.  In addition, primary students have been reported to be quite loud and disruptive to the adjoining intermediate classrooms on the hallway as well as soiling the floors because toilet seats are too high for young children.

In the future, should your children need to relieve themselves during recess, teachers must escort their  entire class to the courtyard restrooms or back to your own classroom, as primary children may not be sent alone to the courtyard restrooms, either. Veteran teachers on your team may share with new teachers the reason behind this policy.  TIP:  To decrease the number of trips you’ll have to make to the courtyard restrooms from the playground, you might encourage your children to use restrooms  (either courtyard, or classroom)  prior to going to your scheduled class to prevent too many students on playground at once.

Thanks, everyone.

Neon Vegas

September 1, 2011

The original photo of the Slipper in front of casino (center). Left, is one slipper on Fremont, with other neon, this one moves. Right, another, on the strip down from the Natural History Museum.

Lois, Marlene’s cousin said, “Take a picture of this, cause the next time you come back it will be gone.” Even in the late 80’s, they were telling the days of the old Vegas were gone. The days when you could lose everything, including your plane ticket back, and the hotel owners would put up the money to send you home. Lois, now a pretty 80s cocktail waitress, had shocked her Jewish aunts in those golden days, by baring her boobs at the Lido as a showgirl. So going back to Vegas would be something else after 20+ years or so.

Judging by the photos the slipper in the center is the one on display on the right. The other must be the one Howard Hughes hated, that moved. I was quite shocked trying to shoot this as I was driving in the car, duh. The last time I was in Vegas, it was a world of low buildings with big spaces from parking lots. The old North section was old. But there was all that neon. And my heart broke, as I expected the Flamingo to still have all that red neon! I expected Caesars to still have those goofy legions and the long glass walkway into the hotel and casino. It had all become concrete.

The Westward Ho, a pretty light venture and the Stardust, with its 60s design were gone. The Sahara had closed, it’s marque announcing an auction.

I don’t think I have any pictures of the Flamingo. That is sad, because it was all neon. It was something else to see all red. They have kept the idea with the stylistic flourishes, but it is all concrete, and glass. But concrete is almost everywhere. The Wynn hotel is further up, but all brown glass, I was not inside, but from the outside it could be any city.

This crappy shot, shows how airy it was in the Paradise area. Everything went into this massive scale. On the strip, the air was gone, the mountains were gone. You could kind of see the desert, and there was space. If you wanted to see something you had to travel along Frank Sinatra Boulevard. Otherwise, the Strip further south turned in upon itself.

I have a fondness for these light constructions. Perhaps they hark back to the old palace theater days, when lights gave the illusion of movement. The Fremont Experience and the Circus Circus marquee, which I will cover in another blog, still have a lot of this going on. And south yet they are not dead. Having been adopted commercially for products.

Signs like Pepsi Cola do a lot of fun things with color and movement. Harking back at NY/NY to the old sign seen along the East River Drive.  Harley harkens back to the bad old days, strange shapes and tending towards the garish. The Hard Rock makes itself be known.

My real favorite being the dread capitalistic tool, which satisfies thurst, but does not do away with world hunger.

UPDATE: Nice blog on the signs and what happens at the boneyard:


Another new year: For chriz’ sakes

August 25, 2011

Don’t you love the way Betty closes Bob Hoskins mouth? Three days in, sharing a cart. The kids are fine, so far, but the administrative b.s. is so bad from the county that you need a snooze or a shower before wading through it all. We are even MORE accountable this year, as we begin to move off to new standards. Rick needs MORE evaluative processes, to assess teachers. That is for that big merit pay, the “good” teachers are going to get. I wish we had some methodology, and perhaps transparency, to evaluate politicians. It starts to sound like a Michael Moore movie, faster than you can say “Koch brothers”.

More work, on less money. Well, at least it is not Wisconsin. Teachers are all beginning to have it sink in, that they are loosing 3% of their earnings for the pension. Which from my calculations dried up a lot, when Bush was playing the stock market and it took a tumble a few years back. Did anybody ever figure, it is not the brightest thing to invest in Wall Street with pension funds?  Wouldn’t it be nice if Bernanke stopped lending out cheap money, to lousy banks and creep corporations, who shouldn’t get loans to start with.

Hey, Bernanke and Rick Scott, get out of here. Give me some money, too.

A New Year: Looking down the end

June 7, 2011

Sleeping in the chair again, as someone asks me to treasure hunt for photos of two of our teachers, a couple, who have given service to the school and are now retiring. The last days are always the most hectic. As I awake from a night in the chair, at 5-ish, figure I can get in and either get last of the fish done, or bag final handprints from another class.

With only 3 more sets to go, and numerous papier mache projects still to find owners, I feel accomplished that I have gotten so much done in terms of all grades in Progressbook (they actually closed down the system 2 Saturdays in a row). Plans filed a while ago, now for the real disaster: the room, which still looks like a bomb hit it. I just go around now uncovering things!!!

Both videos are meant to be soothing. Looking at old photos, I realized school used to be fun. Now after the legislators and Rick Scott, you see schools can be as awful as them. I remember when we had time. Now a year rushes by, with lots of busy work, like data collection, which is the real buzzword for b.s.

Jerks like these think they are making schools more efficient. That’s because they have no idea what efficient is. Knee jerk reactions to public whims, or at least those shaped by the corporate media, do not make good policy. They wreak havoc and cost money. Money that does not go directly to kids, but to book companies, “security” companies and the high rollers devising big time testing. They are not efficient with the way they do things, yet that is what they want to impose on schools, which are an animal of another kind. I know they don’t get it, but is the public ever going to?