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What are the first signs of spring that tell you winter is truly coming to an end?

For me it’s when I can hear the frogs croaking in the pond, the robins hopping  in search for a meal, and a mate, on the lawn outside my condo.  Most importantly of course the first cries of ” Let’s Play Ball”.

One of the best descriptions of Spring I have read is:

in Just-

by E. E. Cummings

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee

 

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My friend Ric posted the following meme on his site,

It is fairly easy to answer so I thought I would post mine.

Three Names I go by
1. Jimmy (Family)
2. Ed (Friends)
3. Modesty prevents me from mentioning what my girlfriends call me. 🙂

 Three Jobs I have had in my life
1. Paper Boy
2. Soldier
3. Auditor

Three Places I have lived
1. Stamford, Ct
2. Okinawa, Japan
3. Seymour, Ct

Three TV Shows that I watch
1. CSI: Las Vegas
2. House
3. Mentalist

Three places I have been
1. Lake Louise, Banff Nat’l Park, Canada
2. Hong Kong, China
3. Kauai, Hawaii

Three of my favorite foods
1. Bacon & Eggs
2. Scallops wrapped in Bacon
3. Anything wrapped in bacon

Things I am looking forward to
1. UCONN men’s team winning the NCAA basketball championship.

2. UCONN women’s team winning the NCAA basketball championship.

3. Watching the sunrise over the water at the beach, when Summer fianlly comes.

Three things you do every morning (Many mornings I don’t get up until after 12:00 noon)
1. Stretching exercise
2. Read the comic strips
3. Check my blog & Twitter account

Three things you do every night
1. Check my blog & Twitter account

2.Shower to get clean, than a good soak in water as hot as I can stand it.
3. Spend about an hour reading whatever book I am on.

New York City is my favorite place in the world.  If I hit the Powerball Jackpot I would move there in a heartbeat. 

To me New York represents life better than any where else I know.  The beauty, the darkness, the glitter and the grime that life can be be.

What is your favorite city to visit?   To live in?

Laura Nyro – New York Tendaberry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Tendaberry

 

New York tendaberry
Blue berry
A rush on rum
Of brush and drum
And the past is a blue note
Inside me
I ran away in the morning

New York tendaberry
Blue berry
Rugs and drapes and drugs
And capes
Sweet kids in hunger slums
Firecrackers break
And they cross
And they dust
And they skate
And the night comes

I ran away in the morning

Now I’m back
Unpacked
Sidewalk and pigeon
You look like a city
But you feel like a religion
To me

New York tendabery
True berry
I lost my eyes
I east wind skies
Here where I’ve cried
Where I’ve tried
Where God and the tendaberry rise
Where quakers and revolutionaries
Join for life
For precious years
Joined for life
Through silver tears
New York tendaberry

Twitter has been killing my blog.  I post around 5 to 10 “tweets” every day, but have had a harder time coming up with an interesting topic to blog about. 

There are plenty of interesting events happening in the world, but it takes me an hour or more to compose a blog post and only about 5 minutes to put up a tweet.

However since a tweet can only have 140 characters blogs are much better places to have a full blown discussion.  You can go into far more detail on a blog.

One discussion topic I am thinking about adding on a weekly basis would be about specific passages in the Bible.  Yes, an atheist leading a talk about the Bible.  Not whether Bible passage is right or wrong, just what a passages means to each of us.  I don’t have to believe in the divinity of the words to gain some meaning from them. 

I have no interest in a debate, but I am interested in exchanging ideas. 

Most of the people who read my blog are Christians.  Many of the blogs I read do discuss the Bible.  I think it will be an interesting twist to add an atheist’s interpretation.  What passages would you like to discuss?

Edit 3/28 – We are discussing the following for any new reader who wants to join in:

“From John, Chapter 14:

“6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

 

Ringling Bros. Circus

Ringling Bros. Circus

I found the following article in today’s (3/24/09) the New York Times very comforting.  Even in these difficult economic times the circus is still part of the American cultural heritage and doing just fine, thank you.

I loved going to the circus as a child.  It was a place filled with wonder.  The last circus I went to was a performance of the Cirque du Soleil.  A different kind of circus from my youth, but it was still filled with wonder.

http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/

Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil

What was the last circus you went to?  What part of a circus performance do/did you enjoy the most?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/theater/24ring.html?hpw

“Big Bertha, as circus folk call Ringling, is under siege as never before. Kenneth Feld, the company’s 60-year-old producer, dismissed any idea that Ringling is no longer the Greatest Show on Earth. “We have survived — and thrived — through every upheaval, every world war, every election, every economic crisis, and even 9/11,” he said. “And now we are the nation’s entertainment security blanket.”

Experts say the show could benefit from the economic meltdown. “The circus is recession-proof — or at least, Ringling is,” said William B. Hall, a 75-year-old circus producer in Churchville, Pa., who has observed it since the 1950s. “It’s about escape and family.”

When you are falling down, your energy is short circuited, what do you do to life your spirits?

Me:

1. Music – listening to upbeat, inspirational, music is the quickest way I can energize my spirit.  Favorites are “Chelsea Morning” by Joni Mitchell, “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood, “Hey Tonight” by Creedence Clearwater Revival” and “These Are Days” by Natalie Merchant & The 10,000 Maniacs.

2. Long walks at the beach or in the park.  Breathing in the fresh air and focusing on the tress, birds, waves rolling in over the shoreline, taking in all the beauty in the natural world is a sure cure for my blues.

3. Reading the inspiring words in poems like “I Sing The Body Electric” by Walt Whitman feeds my “soul”.

Some music videos I found on YouTube yesterday:

Nanci Griffith – “Simple Life”

Airborne Toxic Event – “Sometime Around Midnight” (I promise the song is not as weird as their name.)

Lincoln Brewster – “Today Is The Day”

Which of these videos did you enjoy the most?

Joni Mitchell – The Circle Game

The circle of life changes just like the season.  Today I was planning to do some housework.  I looked at the weather report and discovered it was going to be in the 60’s.  Grabbing my hat, and sun block, I headed out to the beach instead.

The temperature was warm but there was a cold wind blowing.  Not exactly great beach walking weather.  I decided to do my three mile power walk.  I walked a mile, heart attack.  Walked another mile, another heart attack.  Sigh. The older I get the longer it takes me to get back into shape from winter.

I expect it will take a month to get back into good physical condition.  Some of my other goals for 2009 may take a bit longer.

My primary personal goal is to continue to work on my tendency to be self centered.  I work at the local shelter to help my shift my focus to others who are in greater need than I am. 

I also plan to spend more time meditating, to focus on becoming a more balanced personality.

I will work on doing a better job of listening carefully to what others say.  I too often jump to conclusions and misunderstand the meaning behind of their questions and statements.

I think I am making progress.  I suspect I will continue to have to work on my character flaws for the rest of my life.

What are your goals and expectations for 2009?  How are you doing so far?

Both of my grandmothers were Irish.  Nell Leonard, my father’s mother,  Her family was from Galway I think.  Mary Cahill, my mother’s mother, Her family was from Kerry I believe.  There were both third generation Irish-Americans and but I don’t know much of their family history.

I will be spending St. Patrick’s day at the Seniors Center.  I have been told there will be a step dancing exhibition.

I will also pick up some traditional Irish Soda bread, made by the local Polish bakery.  Can’t get any more American then that.  🙂

I can’t think of anything original to post so I will copy some of what I wrote last your.

How do you plan to spend St. Paddy’s day?

Do you celebrate any holidays from your own ethnic background?

Besides Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas what is your favorite holiday?

1) Irish Toast: 

“May your glass be ever full.

May the roof over your head be always strong.

and may you be in Heaven

half an hour before the devil knows your dead”

2) Irish Joke:

On vacation in Europe, Bob noticed a marble column in a church in Rome with a golden telephone on it. As a young priest passed by, Bob asked who the telephone was for. The priest told him it was a direct line to Heaven, and if he’d like to call, it would be a thousand dollars. Bob was amazed, but declined the offer.

Throughout Europe Bob kept seeing the same golden telephone on a marble column. At each, he asked about it and the answer was always the same: a direct line to Heaven and he could call for a thousand dollars.

Bob finished his tour of Europe with a stop in Ireland . He decided to attend Mass at a local village church. When he walked in the door he noticed the golden telephone, but underneath it there was a sign stating: “DIRECT LINE TO HEAVEN — 25 CENTS”

“Father,” he said, “I have been all over Europe and in all the cathedrals I visited, I’ve seen telephones exactly like this one but the price is always a thousand dollars. Why is it that this one is only 25 cents?”

The priest smiled and said,

“Son, you’re in Ireland now. It’s a local call.”

3) Favorite Irish Music videos

 A reel by the Chieftains performed in Dublin

 Cherish The Ladies – The Back Door

Tommy Makem – Will You Go Lassie Go

Here are some singers that I found this week on YouTube.

What songs have you been listening to recently?

Every one have a great weekend!

Kate Webster – “Two Fisted Mama”

Maria Creuza: “Que diacho de dor”

Sara Gazarek – “Let’s Try This Again”

I would give our school system a B in preparing our children to join the work force.

I would give it a F, or D- at best, in firing up the imagination of school children to think creatively.

What are your grades?

Ex-President Bush seemed to give our school system a failing grade when he began the “No Children Left Behind” program. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act.

Now President Obama is calling for “sweeping changes”.  I don’t know what catchy new phrase he has thought up to call this “new” intuitive.  🙂

From an article in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/us/politics/11web-educ.html :

President Obama called for sweeping changes in American education on Tuesday, urging states to lift limits on charter schools and improve the quality of early childhood education while also signaling that he intends to make good on his campaign promise of linking teacher pay to performance.

Having secured tens of billions of dollars in additional financing for education in the economic stimulus package and made clear his intent to seek more in his budget, Mr. Obama used a speech here to flesh out how he would use federal money and programs to influence policy at the state and local level.

His proposals reflected his party’s belief that education at all levels was underfinanced in the Bush years and that reform should encompass more than demands that schools show improved test scores. But they also showed a willingness to challenge teachers’ unions and public school systems, and to continue to demand more accountability.

The president said it was time to erase limits on the number of charter schools, which his administration calls “laboratories of innovation,” while closing those that are not working. He said 26 states and the District of Columbia now had caps. Teachers’ unions have opposed charter schools in some places, saying they take away financing for public schools, while supporting them in others.

Putting limits on charter schools, even in places where they are performing well, “isn’t good for our children, our economy or our country,” Mr. Obama said.

I has been 48 years since I graduated for high school.  I have no children in school.  My knowledge of how we are teaching our children is strickly second hand.  The results of one survey really bother me, the most recent, 2006, report of the Programme for International Student Assessment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment

“The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial world-wide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren’s scholastic performance, the implementation of which is coordinated by the Organisation For Economic Co-operation and Development.”

The US did not rank in the top 20 in any catergory, math, science or reading.

(Love, you Aussies finished 8th in science and 7th in reading.)

Unless there has been a recent dramatic change in how we teach, our classes are based on rote learning, memorizing stuff.  I believe we need to more actively engage our children. Evaluations should be based on how well students can apply what they have learned.  In science class, which seem to have become more like lectures, students need to be performing their own experiments.

Test questions should be essay, not multiple choice, or simple true or false.

How would you improve our school system, if in fact you believe it needs to be improved?

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