Friday, February 29, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama Dresses Up

In regards to the whole Obama in tribal gear story (Turbangate?) what he said.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reading Update

It's been a long time since my last reading post. Here's what I've finished:

Book #2 of 2008 was Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. This was well-written but I found the story depressing - people in search of their own fulfillment to the detriment of everyone around them. The end was completely unexpected.

Book #3 was Brother, I'm Dying, by Edwige Danticat. This was a wonderful book, my favorite of hers. (I've read and enjoyed all of them.) Her prose is spare and totally unsentimental, but she puts you right in the middle of the action, and breaks your heart. This is a memoir about Danticat's childhood, when her parents went to the United States and left her in Haiti with her uncle, about her father's and uncle's illnesses, and about her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, and always the backdrop is the turmoil of Haiti. Beautiful and highly recommended.

Book #4 was Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison. I had read an essay excerpted from this in the New Yorker, and that made me want to read the book. It's fascinating to see the world through the eyes of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. A couple of the chapters felt like padding to me, but overall I found it compelling reading.

Book #5 was Small Steps, by Louis Sachar, a follow-up to Holes, containing the continued adventures of X-Ray and Armpit. This is aimed at slightly older kids than the first book, and it just isn't nearly as good. I'm sure it will make a great movie, and it seemed as though that was the raison d’être of the book. Many of the scenes are very cinematic. I'd give this one a so-so.

By this time last year I'd read twenty-three books. Clearly, there's too much going on in my life right now. I need to be making more time to read!

Here's what all the cool kids are reading and reviewing.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I never got my act together enough today to participate in Poetry Friday, but lots of people did and here's the roundup at Big A little a. I did, however, finish enough work in my classroom that I'm not going to go over to work there at all tomorrow! I brought some grading home, but not much. I'm planning to have a relaxing weekend. We'll see if it really works out that way.

We've been trying half this week to get some water delivered, and it finally came today - 3,000 gallons pumped into our cistern. The level in there was low enough that I was starting to worry that the pump wouldn't be able to reach it any more to move it up to our roof. Since it's the dry season, we're being very careful with our water - we save bath water to water plants or flush toilets, and those toilets only get flushed when they really need it. (Should you be interested, you can read more about the water situation in our neighborhood and in other parts of the developing world here.)

This evening I read this post about the blogger's personal experiences in Kenya recently. And still no settlement announcement from Nairobi. I'm starting to wonder if Kofi Annan's optimism was really warranted.

Now off to watch something mindless.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I discussed this quiz with my eighth graders today. Many of them saw no problem with the scenario of buying an essay - after all, if you bought it, it's yours, so that's not stealing. They also frequently used arguments which included some permutation of "everybody's doing it" or "if the technology makes it possible, what on earth is wrong with it?" Interesting discussion, anyway, though perhaps they weren't really convinced by my point of view.

Women in Kenya Demonstrate for Peace

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"All of you -- wear your white dresses, carry your food. Tomorrow (Friday) we shall go to peace house," said Violet Mavisi, an activist with the Coalition of Women for Peace and Justice, referring to the Nairobi hotel where talks are ongoing.

"We will circle their cars and make sure that those guys do not come out of there without a peace settlement."

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Carnival Again

This week's Education Carnival is up over at Sharp Brains. It takes the form of a briefing for the next President of the United States on what exactly are the issues facing teachers and students.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Poetry Friday - Ekphrastic Poetry

I learned a new word this week from listening to a podcast from The word is ekphrastic and it refers to a representation of one piece of art in another medium. Ekphrastic poetry is usually poetry about a painting or sculpture.

While I have read and enjoyed many ekphrastic poems for years before learning the ten dollar word for them, my favorite one remains Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts," which refers to the Pieter Breughel painting "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus."

Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Poetry Friday

Click on the button above to go to today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day and Roses from Africa

Many of the roses given in Europe today will come from Kenya. Here's an article about that and here's another. And Africa Expat Wife weighs in on the issue.

Education Carnival

Here 'tis. Have fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Buzz from lack of sleep
Equal parts joy and terror
Baby in the house

Monday, February 11, 2008

We Heart Kofi Annan

Lots of love for Kofi Annan is flying about the blogosphere. Mzungu Chick is smitten and R at What an African Woman Thinks is thinking about starting a cult. And he's got a rhinoceros named after him! Now how many world leaders can say that?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Médecins Sans Frontières

If you are looking for a place to donate hard-earned money, let me suggest this one. I have no connection with this organization, but I have been privileged to watch them in action this week. I was still in a third-world hospital, but it was wonderful to see how respectfully people were treated, the high-quality medications given free, and the hundreds of women and babies being helped. Life is still hard, but MSF is trying to make it easier. There was a poster in the hallway that said that you shouldn't have to die while giving life. Amen to that. Here's their US website - Doctors Without Borders.

Poetry Friday - Chinua Achebe

I didn't even know that the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe had written poetry until this week, but his novel Things Fall Apart is one of my favorites.

Here's Achebe's poem "A Mother in a Refugee Camp."

No Madonna and Child could touch
Her tenderness for a son
She would soon have to forget...
The air was heavy with odors of diarrhea,
Of unwashed children with washed-out ribs
And dried-up bottoms waddling in labour steps
Behind blown-empty bellies.

You can read the rest of it here.

Click on the button above to read the rest of the Poetry Friday posts, all neatly rounded up for you.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Beginnings are Hard

What a day. I spent much of it becoming more familiar with the options for the care of a sick newborn in this city. And being reminded once again what a cushy life I have, and what a wimp I am.

The story isn't mine to share in such a public place, but there's a baby who could use your prayers tonight, and a mother who has been through an ordeal. And there are so many more in the world who don't have the luxury of a "birth plan" and a "good birth experience" but who just hope to make it through alive and with a living, healthy baby.

Of course my thoughts are never far from Kenya these days, and I thought of the women who have had to give birth in fields during this past month - several news articles have referred to cases, and I'm sure there were many more.

And I am so thankful for my healthy children and the peace and privacy in which I delivered them.

Carnival of Carnival

It's Ash Wednesday, so it's a good day to recover from Carnival and read this week's Education Carnival.

Monday, February 04, 2008


I just listened to the reading for the day from Readings of the Church. Today we remember Cornelius. Which of course makes me think of the song Cornelius by the Newsboys.

Yeah, I don't have to go to work today. :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Crying for Africa

The African Union summit ended, amid reports of violence from Kenya and now Chad.

"What can we do for Kenya, for the Comoros, for Chad? This is painful for us, as under the eyes of the whole world we kill each other," said Gaddafi.

OK, I know you have preconceived ideas about Gaddafi, and maybe you dismiss his sadness as crocodile tears. I have no way of knowing how sincerely he mourns the suffering in his continent, though I hope it is sincere, since he's someone who can do something about some of the problems. But I can assure you that I and millions of others feel what he says he feels.

Then there are those who just find it amusing. Here are some comments on an article in the Houston Chronicle. I guess there's nothing wrong with being happy to live in the US, except that to me it smacks of "Forget about all those people." Another person recommends reading Robert Ruark, otherwise you "don't have a clue" about the situation. I have read Robert Ruark, but I suggest that quite a few things have happened since he wrote his books and I'm disgusted at the commenter's thought of dealing with Africa only in relation to its commodities (wait, that's what the majority of the world already does). Someone else says that the continent has already been flushed down the toilet, giving for evidence that the gang recruiter in the news story they are all commenting on was wearing high heels and designer sunglasses. Someone else makes a mocking remark about how that's not really the de rigueur outfit for a gang recruiter.

Meanwhile, millions of people suffer. The vast majority of them are just living their lives and have nothing to do with causing the problems their continent faces. And the world looks on and says, "Just more Africans killing each other."

Saturday Review of Books

Here's what folks are reading and reviewing this week.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Days, by Philip Larkin

There's too much going on in my life right now to make it easy to find an appropriate poem. I am keeping one eye on death and destruction in Kenya and another on a baby expected any minute (but I'm not the mother, I hasten to add).

Finally I've chosen this one by Philip Larkin, who asks "What are days for?"

Poetry Friday

Just click on the button for access to the Roundup. I'll post my entry later.

When People Think of my City, they Think of...

It's another theme day for the Daily Photo blogs. Today folks are supposed to post something that represents their city in the world's eyes. Here's the entry from Sharon, CT, and Eric from Paris posted a montage of quintessentially French scenes. Of course, both included links to the other DP blogs participating. Enjoy a little trip around the world today.