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The Adult Day Care Center and Donald Trump: The Frightening Reality

Senator Bob Corker articulated what is on everyone's mind these days, and his response to Trump's attack is classic. I am not going to disparage adult day cares by inferring that they are a negative, but I think we understand the comparison. Trump's Twitter attacks are juvenile and spontaneous, and they amount to cyber-bullying. It's hard to reconcile Melania Trump's empty announcement that she wanted to take on cyber-bullying as a cause with the constant echo of her husband's attacks resonating around the country. I don't intend to veer off into what Melania does these days; but I will say that other than decorating her husband's arm she is the most unproductive first lady to date. Her husband is the most destructive force our country has ever witnessed. Everything he does and says is negative and does nothing to help us become a better America. It's almost incomprehensible to me that anyone in our country would consider building a wall to keep our southern neighbors out after we collectively witnessed the reverential conservative icon President Reagan utter the famous words, "Tear down that wall Mr. Gorbachev!" After all of the hero worship concerning Reagan, the outlandish pandering to a basic Hollywood washout, the constant praise, and even the coinage of "Reaganism" our fundamentalist, capitalistic neighbors and friends can't see beyond their account balance into their own wretched hypocritical mindset. 

Trump's team of conservative thieves are trying ever harder to plunge the country into chaos so they can wipe the slate clean and rebuild using Milton Friedman's cruel and criminal theory of economics, the shock doctrine, a system that endeavors to privatize everything and redistribute state wealth to the one-percent. Friedman economics is the failed "trickle down effect" on steroids, and it's responsible for most of the suffering and war that is taking place around the world. Betsy DeVos, (Trump's Secretary of Education) the ugliest rich woman in America, is a prime example of the shock doctrine in full swing. She works tirelessly to privatize public schools (imagine a world of private and charter schools) because education is "flush with cash." 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have another spoilt and phony television icon that is obviously teetering on the edge of dementia blathering non sequiturs on Twitter while we all scratch our heads and ponder this unimaginable mess of a future, a future without any public services or safety nets. We look at pictures of this fool tossing paper towels to Puerto Rican residents that are suffering without basic necessities, and we listen to him prattle on about how their reconstruction will have to be a "discussion" like Puerto Rico is of no worth to anyone. 

I can't believe that after all my family has been through fighting wars for this thankless mess of a country that any self-respecting American would follow along with this disgusting agenda of greed and cruelty. All of my peers and colleagues, or at least most of them, have a relative that fought in Vietnam and prior wars. They fought before the military became a system of contractual agreements, before privatization had a chance to take over. This labyrinth of private contracts and agreements were long predicted and rightfully feared, and now we are looking at the result. This is a self defeating system that requires death and violence to profit and grow. Trump, and war pigs like him, want to make sure they have plenty of cannon fodder. If they can finish destroying the middle class by underfunding the workers and denying their children an education and healthcare, then they will have a fascist victory. With the new proposed budget, all of our safety nets are under attack. If this mess passes, many of your children's dreams will be destroyed. 

Some of us have carried an unusually heavy load, and some of us have sailed by just enjoying the benefit of somebody else's suffering. It is to those people that have benefitted the most, those many Trump voters and supporters, that I fail to connect with. I can't understand why you have no gratitude for the benefits you receive (think of basic public services and social security or medicare, college loans and grants for your children). I can't understand why you can't envision the suffering that happened while you enjoyed football and movies, opportunities and growth. Other people had to pay for your success with their blood and their minds, but you just wallowed in conservative nonsense, only thinking of yourself. Trump, a reality television star, conned you. The irony is that he is just a demented puppet. He is tearing our country completely down under the assumption that it can be rebuilt, and that his wealthy special interest groups can reap the profits. This does not has failed in every single country. And the people that starve and die from illnesses, accidents, and wars, are just forgotten. By continuing to support this system, the Trump Conservative greed machine, you are marching your neighbors and friends, and their children, to a certain, miserable death. Soon, Trump will be gone, but the machine will remain. You need to think about what you are supporting because it doesn't care about are not the one-percent.

For two great books that support this argument, please see:

Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism ISBN-13: 978-0312427993

Mayer, Jane. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right ISBN-13: 978-0307947901

Thoreau on Writing

    In this second part of my journal analysis, I would like to examine how Thoreau might have been trying to inspire future writers. Because he was a prolific writer, and because his art was so well-developed, I believe that in certain journal entries he was writing metacognitively in order to instruct others. He almost sounds like a writing teacher in his entry of 4 September 1851:

“Be greedy of occasions to express your thought. Improve the opportunity to draw analogies. There are innumerable avenues to a perception of the truth. Improve the suggestion of each object however humble, however slight and transient the provocation” (95).

When we take each sentence to itself, and then we apply the advice to our own time and place, we realize he is talking about the importance of not just figurative language, but raw detail…even details that pertain to what we assume is a triviality. It’s excellent advice for writers of all levels, and it makes me wonder what kind of positive comments and suggestions he would take the time to put on a student paper.

He talks about developing theme in his journal entry of 18 October 1856:

“My work is writing, and I do not hesitate, though I know that no subject is too trivial for me, tried by ordinary standards; for, ye fools, the theme is nothing, the life is everything. All that interests the reader is the depth and intensity of the life excited. We touch our subject but by experience, or our interest in it, rests on us by a broader or narrower base. That is, man is all in all, Nature nothing, but as she draws him out and reflects him. Give me simple, cheap, and homely themes” (288).

I believe he is trying to advise the writer about character development when he says, “All that interests the reader is the depth and intensity of the life excited.” He could be referring to his own sense of self, and how he wants his own characterization understood, he could be referring to any writer, on any characterization…it is the “depth” and the “intensity” of a character that makes us fall in love with it for whatever its faults or virtues. “Give me simple, cheap, and homely themes” could refer to anything we experience in contemporary entertainment, from reality shows, to metal music. The themes are in essence, cheap, simple, and in some cases shockingly homely.

Finally, as an educator, I value the power of reflection, and the lack of false drama and overdone hyperbole. In his entry of 28 March 1857, Thoreau discusses reflection in his own stylish way:

“Often I can give the truest and most interesting account of any adventure I have had after years have elapsed, for then I am not confused, only the most significant facts surviving in my memory. Indeed, all that continues to interest me after such a lapse of time is sure to be pertinent, and I may safely record all that I remember” (311).

The best stories are told over and over again, orally. I am sure Thoreau was able to flesh out much of his thematic genius by visiting and recounting details with his various friends and family members. His thoughts and stories grew in value over time, and he wants future writers to have an awareness of how much of writing takes place away from the desk.

If we aren’t sharing these insights with our students, then we should be. Thoreau’s thoughts on his art are certainly worth learning.

Thoreau, Henry D. I to Myself. Ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 207.



Another Edition of Charter School Hysteria

This stuff is really getting old, but this woman will not stop spreading misinformation. 

in response to dianeravitch:

Jersey Jazzman has pulled together many of the questions that have been raised about the Gulen network of charter schools. We know that there are many of them, at least 160. That makes it the second largest chain in the nation, behind KIPP. We know that Gulen charter schools typically deny that they are part […]

Here is a goldmine of data assembled by a team of lawyers working on behalf of the Government of Turkey to bring Harmony Schools of Texas into the public eye for over-the top use of visas, issues of self dealing and the like.

Foreign nationals are permitted to own and operate US schools and receive taxpayer dollars for that. I believe that should be illegal. Private schools are a different matter, but these are really the hybrid, privately managed publically funded.

I understand that this legal team is working on behalf of the government of Turkey to discredit the whole enterprise of Harmony schools in Texas. I would love for this work to have been carried out by a legal team representing the US, not Turkey.


Followed by my response and a rhetorical question: Why would any Texan want the leader of a foreign country, under any circumstances real or imagined, meddling in their local schools?

    • Turkish government document:

      At the Harmony Science Academy – West Houston, a male Turkish teacher with a
      Bachelor’s degree and no experience, who teaches English Language Arts and “other”, is
      paid $56,875 annually. At the same school, a female non-Turkish teacher, who has one
      year of experience and teaches English Language Arts, “other”, and Social Studies is paid
      $47,000 annually, a disparity of $9,875.

      The paragraph above is just one example of the lies in that document. I can personally guarantee you that there is no man teaching ELA at the HSAWH. We had a male teaching tenth grade English at that school the year before last; I know him personally, but he was an American citizen (born and raised) and moved to a different state. You should make sure that the facts in your document are not fabricated by the Turkish government before you go running it in a blog because you could embarrass yourself. Furthermore, we do not have any teachers overlapping with social studies and ELA. They are completely different departments, and they are all staffed with Americans.

      I have never known any Turkish person to teach English Language Arts at any Harmony school. I would know because I attend the cluster trainings with my colleagues. The TEA is going to throw the Turkish government’s documents in the trash because they already know everything there is to know about the educators, the visas, and the management.

      I can’t understand why Xenophobes, like yourself, can’t find better things to do than try to hurt schools and children. We are not busting any unions here, this is Texas. And just like any school, you are going to find complaining parents. You are going to find complaining teachers, especially in the cruel world of edreform. But if you want to really find teachers and students that have been mistreated, I have a couple of leads for you. I have some really good stories, but they didn’t happen at Harmony.

      The people of Texas do not want some foreign country meddling in the business of our local schools…you can quit panting and slobbering all over this issue because it amounts to absolutely nothing. Furthermore, it would be a terrible mistake to allow a theocrat like Erdogan to reach across the Atlantic to punish people that he imagines are not supportive of his fundamentalist Islamic plan. Today, he purged 15,000 educators in his own country because of his delusional obsession with Gulen. Do you not recognize insanity when you are faced with it?

      The HB1 visas are legal. The US government is allowing these teachers to come here and contribute to our students, so why would you care? We are facing a shortage of qualified math and science teachers…there is no surplus, and no US citizen is denied a position based on what you are suggesting.

      The students are introduced to teachers from around the world, not just Turkey. It’s true, some of them have a heavy accent from their native land. But the students adapt, and they become better listeners and more tolerant of people of other nationalities. That is what we want for our children…we want tolerance, understanding, and community.

      Think about what you are doing and who you are supporting. Erdogan will murder the people that defy him. Be logical and read everything that you can find on Erdogan because he is becoming a dangerous and unstable president. Your hysteria, based on your hatred for charter schools, could lead to devastating consequences, not just for the students and teachers you are hurting at this moment, but for yourself because you are unwittingly providing support to a man bent on making Turkey a theocracy. In that theocracy little girls and boys will not be allowed to attend school together, Christians and Muslims will be separated, and human rights for all people will be further violated.

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Moving and Unethical Landlords: the Trials

If I said I wasn't happy to write under my old banner again, well, I'd be lying! So much has happened this year that needs to get recorded, but I have been too busy to write for fun. What with teaching, taking grad classes, and looking after two dogs and a teenager, my calendar is full and I am overbooked. 

I had to move this June, and it was a real burden on my friends, my work, and my family. All I know is that if someone wants to become a landlord, then they should have to pass some kind of a mental health check, and also take a quiz on basic ethics. I was able to live in my old house for two years, but I knew when the lease expired that they were going to start acting weird; predicting that the greed meter would reach a new record, I choked back the tears and started packing.

My new office is much bigger, but I am not buying more resource materials. My bedroom is bigger, but I'm not adding any new boyfriends. The kitchen is bigger, but it has a gas stove, and I am very intimidated by gas. Besides, the air conditioner is at least 25 years old, and that's too old to do the job, plus the oven makes the house hotter than Hades. 

Logistically, this house is too far from my kid's school. This means I have to let him drive, and he did not inherit my gift of spatial reasoning. Having the ability to measure speed and distance is crucial to good driving, but my son is a dreamer behind the wheel. Guns and machetes concern me because, for the Houston road rage idiot, they are the weapon of choice. Not only that, I am just not comfortable letting my kid run around unsupervised in a car. It just seems like a crazy thing to do!

Anyway, I am about to start blogging a lot more. I am taking a class featuring Henry David Thoreau, and his diary is awe-inspiring. Not that my prose will ever compare to Thoreau's, but it would be fun to try. And I have missed my much! My old issue used to drive a lot of traffic, and I even had some commercial sponsors. I guess now that I have settled down into a more domesticated life people find me boring. 

Well, that's it for today...the blog about nothing has blogged itself out. Now I have to deal with the lost chihuahua in my back yard, then go wash my face and brush my teeth. I think I'll fix the chihuahua up with a kennel and a blanket. Yeah, that's a good idea!

Night world!

What My Life is Like Now that I'm in Grad School

Thank you God, I was accepted into grad school at a nice, big, Texas college last fall. I started my classes in January, and now my life has totally changed. I am no longer bored at night, and I love my classes (I'm taking two). I took composition theory as an undergrad, but now I am taking it at the graduate level, and it is my favorite class of all time. I am learning so much about teaching writing, and I am truly enjoying my research. 

I have written so many papers since the beginning of the year, I can't even remember them all. When I wrote to the university, I told them that my goal was to improve my own composition and to help my students. I feel like my "academic' writing has already improved dramatically. I have some really good samples that I can show my advanced students, and I am no longer queasy when teaching format, style, and research methods. It is shocking how much I am now remembering about my undergrad education, and I am so thankful for the great professors that I had at my old school. Not only that, I feel like my new school is an awesome match for my old school. I was well prepared!

If I have any complaints at all about my school, it's that they use an older version of MLA than what I am used to; and sometimes I still get confused about how to turn in my papers electronically; but other than that, I am just grateful for this wonderful opportunity.

My literature class is just awesome. I am a little disappointed with some of my fellow students because they rarely want to discuss what we are reading, but I can hardly shut up. For example, we read Nella Larsen's short novel, Passing. I would never have read that on my own. It is fabulous. Set in Harlem during the renaissance, it is deeply moving and even surprising. Then I read Faulkner's Light in August. Well, now that is a book worth reading. Instead of the typical heroic figures you expect from Faulkner, you get something quite's almost an insulting statement on southern life. Then, I read Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding, a story about a twelve-year old girl, so realistic it just captures all of the angst tweens experience, undoubtedly a work of art.

This has been an exciting and fulfilling new year for me. I love pursuing my Master of Arts in English, and I know this was the right choice for me. So now you know one of the reasons why I have neglected my blogging. But I think I can start again, and keep my Tweet Critique going. It's hard to believe that I haven't created a post since August. Watch for your Tweet Critique....or just watch for another happy post!

Paula's Barntique for the Twitter Bargainista

With all of the rainy weather, it's easy to imagine an old three-story home perched on a majestic hill, overlooking a steep cliff, with a rumbling brook cascading below a barn filled to the rafters with lovely antiques and collectibles. And if you follow Paula's Barntiques @barntiques859, then this is the wonderful impression you will receive. 

Based in Wentworth, New Hampshire, Paula has access to all of those fabulous New England shops, flea markets, and estate sales we hear so much about. Interesting old items are offered for sale, and many of them are collector pieces: tea sets, framed art, military, furnishings, and classic jewelry.

But what makes Paula's Barntiques special is the community of buyers and sellers that she supports with her thousands of tweets. I am sure you will enjoy following this online shop as much as I do.

The Drama Queen (poetic elegy)

Another insipid day inspired by abusive lips

that never stop moving

Flapping and flapping like gull wings

jetting across a blank scarlet sky 

of hot southern doom.

Humiliated and forlorn, limping to the car,

another skipped duty across a schedule 

of moronic mediocrity and endless talk

coupled with lips smirking and snarling over

cheap take out food that giggles and jiggles

down to the gullet to

eventually settle on hips that are big

Big like the eyes rolling.


Making Excuses and Missing Joan Rivers

English teachers never have enough time to write; I wonder if this a conspiracy from the left wing education reform movement to silence the big voices in education, and stifle public discourse. You can only help change the world for the better if you know something is wrong; if those in power have hoodwinked the public then how do we alert an opposing force? Maybe there is a conspiracy, but it has nothing to do with me. Maybe I have dropped the ball on my Tweet Critique, and maybe I should just stop complaining and get back to writing. After all, in only a few minutes I can crank out a decent Tweet Critique on any of thousands of possible choices. It could be that I have done little or no writing because I am depressed. When I get the blues, it is hard for me to communicate to my readers. I feel stifled and sad, emotionally drained, and my fingers have lead weights on their tips rather than polished little nails, and they are tired and sore from typing plans and parent emails. I am done with depression. The solution is not mine to solve. the problem is not mine to fix. The day is not mine to change. I am merely along for the ride, and my ultimate destiny is unknown. I think I will start to write again. After all, Joan Rivers has died.

Twitter Account: Charlie and Renae

Charlie the Westie, and his hoosis (human sister) Renae, are two of my favorite Twitter characters. They live in Seattle, but I met Renae at a Starbucks in Houston a few months after I became acquainted with her and Charlie via social media. While some social media friendships fizzle and wither, ours has rather grown, and I am hoping she gets to visit H-town again soon.

Charlie the dog usually comments on their shared life. Renae is a student that loves to read fiction, watch sports, and snack on interesting foods. This makes her an idea hoosis for Charlie, and he obviously loves her immensely.

Charlie and Renae are part of a world wide group of dog owners that frequently communicate "in character." These interchanges are sometimes comedic, but often meaningful as owners provide advice, friendship, and sympathy on a wide range of discussion topics.

LIfe is difficult, but the Twitter account @NaeNae_1204 will lighten your spirits as you read the antics of Charlie and Renae. Click and follow!