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Showing posts from December, 2008

The time is the 6th day

The Sixth Day of Christmas—The great feast is now half over. Being herded through most stores you couldn’t tell it even occurred. Nary any green or red (though Christmas’ colors are white and gold) to be seen up and down the aisles, it shall not appear again until October. Consigned to a bargain bin or shelf, the symbols are packed away as our corporate masters wish us to think (obliquely) about another saint, Valentine, if they are directing our thoughts to holiday spending at all.

All time is holy, claimed Sylvester I, whose feast day it is today. If that is true, why are you wasting time reading this blog post when you could notice that on days like this even the trees appear cold. Perhaps, you’d enviously observe the chickadees and juncos puffing up their feathers for extra warmth. Maybe you’d play with your children or talk to your friends, make love to your spouse, devour a writer’s words. Better yet, are there any post-Christmas sales still occurring?

On the Fifth Day of Christmas. . .

Five golden holes! Five wounds of Christ, five books of the Torah. The spell is breaking, but only because I look to Madison Avenue to fill those holes, not the deceptive babe who grows up to be a lamb, transformed into a phoenix, keeping his holes, with flames and fangs, and yet, not without mercy. Five days of feasting, five days to celebrate the Holy Family. Theotokos, child-god, and step-father and protector. It is lightly snowing outside, and inside, I think about his wounds and love the child as best I can.

On the fourth day of Christmas

. . . Is it still Christmas? “Clean the air! clean the sky! wash the wind! take stone from stone and wash them. . . Where is Canterbury?” The headlines read: Former player turned Archbishop murdered in cathedral. Four coal black birds fly overhead—crows or merely blackbirds? Too hard to tell.
Later, those same birds mysteriously appear on the other side of the Atlantic, centuries later, pulling the cooling flesh off the corpses of Indians and White soldiers. Merry Christmas to the Lakota people from the United States. Pax Vobiscum!

An Open Letter

Dear Hasbro Packaging Engineer,
I appreciate the care with which you designed the protective casing for the "Biggest Little Pet Shop." I do wonder, however, if you are even human, for what human can open said packaging without fits of rage, mumbling Anglo-Saxonisms so his children won't hear, and regressing into a pre-rational state refusing to let anyone help him because he "won't let this damn packaging beat [him]?"
Is the displaying of the product your end goal, why then, excellent work, my friend. You have succeeded in creating packaging that lovingly (and at this point, permanently) shows off the toy. But if you would like children to actually enjoy PLAYING with the product then is it necessary to include so many quasi-invisible rubber bands, wires tightly wrapped into bug-sized balls, and plastic bands, tape, and enough cardboard to create a small shantytown? What is your goal, sir (or madam)? It cannot be to foster enjoyment on any lev…

Day 3

(This one is my favorite, so far)
The Third Day . . .
Don’t strange things happen in threes? Work routine almost reestablished until the order comes in to ride to Bethlehem, swords at the ready. What will I use that Lowe’s gift certificate for? Bust down the doors, yelling Merry Christmas—we live and die for tyrants—let’s hear it for the boys as we gut them, slash and smash them. Oops, did we just kill your daughter, Ma’am? Later, much later, the reports claimed 14,000 dead tonight (the Syrians said 60,000) but I think the number was closer to 20 dead Jew baby boys. And the least I can do is to unplug the tree lights and skip dessert for these, lully lullay, who died in thy stead. A baby boy now on his way to the land of dusty pharaohs.

Day 2 brings. . .

On the second day of Christmas. . .
Back to work for most of us. The decorations are still displayed, though they never seem to glisten the same way as before the 25th. If you didn’t want to fight crowds to return something today wouldn’t be a bad idea.
To love as John loved—loved Jesus with a burning cup of wrathful fire poured out in love on his head to run down over his body. To see sights unseen, what the ear hasn’t heard, to touch him in his glory, to be like him. To love as John loved that would resurrect Christmas.

Quixano is dead--Quixote lives!

Starting on 18 February, I tackled what many consider to be the first novel--DonQuixote--and today I finished it. If you're at all interested you might try it for yourself. Be warned, however. My interest in all 982 pages waxed and waned. It was at turns, funny, tedious, interesting, compelling, and repetitive. I did sympathize with Quixote though, because so many people took advantage of his delusion--perhaps that was Cervantes' aim--of course, when the narrative was dragging I wished one of his tormentors would have just killed him.

Next for fiction? Either Tolkien's The Children of Hurin or Spenser's Mutabilitie Cantos.

The First (or second, depends on how you count) Day of Christmas

I started this series about two years ago and added more last year. Maybe this year I'll finish it.
Blessings to you, my two or three readers.

On the first day of Christmas. . .
The presents have all been opened, paper sheddings cover the floor. I’m still stuffed from last night’s turkey—now what? From the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve ooey-gooey songs, presents, food and frenzy are all concentrated on every observant American who tries desperately to manufacture the long-gone feelings of a long-gone childhood.
Empty boxes—empty hearts. Fill them with the rocks that stoned Stephen or unpack my heart and give something to someone who doesn’t have much now that they’re forgotten once more since Christmas has passed.


Christus est natus ex Maria virginie!

Eine Kleine Tannenbaum/The Coldest Solstice Ever?

A week later than usual for us, but we committed arborcide yesterday. The snow was a good six or seven inches deep; the boy complained, but somehow made it through. Unfortunately, about two hours after the lights had been on the tree they shorted out. No time to fix them now. (Note: these pictures are in reverse order.)

Today, we celebrate Christmas with the wife's family on a blustery, cyanotic appendage inducing day. You can't see the wind whipping the veils of snow across the landscape in these photos, nor can you feel the burning of my earlobes, trust me it all occured. Today was an example of the dangerous beauty of nature.

Ah, Advent 2008

Restoration Ecology is in the can. Next month starts my last class: Invasive Species Ecology. But inbetween--Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Now I actually can begin to slow down and enjoy this time of patient anticipation. Tonight begins the O Antiphons as well--the titles ascribed to Christ found in the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel as well as other Biblical poetry.
Our first big snow last night; alas, no snow day.

Enjoy your Advent people, it only comes once a year and the great feast of Christmas is eight days away.

The 23rd Thing

Take a few moments to reflect on your journey. You've covered a lot of material over the past ten weeks. What does it all mean? How has your thinking changed between Thing 1 and Thing 23? Has this program changed how you view the Internet or how view teaching in the digital world? What plans have you made for using these tools in and out of the classroom? How will you continue to learn about Web 2.0 tools? What are your big "take aways" from this experience?

What does it all mean she (they?)asks? Good question? This course, while useful for looking at, exploring, and sharpening skills related to Web 2.0 does not give the tools to answer that question.
Let me quote from Patick Deneen's article in the Summer 2008 issue of The New Atlantis (a journal that anyone who is concerned about contemporary technology and its meaning should be reading) entitled "Technology, Culture, and Virtue."

When we think of airplanes and iPods, computers and cell phones as the mar…

Thing 22

In your blog post be sure to include the link to your wiki. Then discuss your feelings about using a wiki. How does a wiki differ from a blog? When is one more appropriate to use than the other?

I made two wikis: Wiki of Doom and SmashMedia
However, there is nothing on either of them at the moment. I might make SmashMedia a project for my Mass Media class that is ending next month--and a new one starts soon after that. I have a few ideas, but they need some stewing time.

Wikis differ from blogs in that blogs are more like journals and wikis are like newspapers in that there is a variety of content by many contributers. How's that for analogies?

Appropriateness? For what? It seems for the classroom, the wiki has more control over it than allowing students to make a class blog.

I'm still skeptical, let's see where these go.

Thing 21

Uggh! I have to sleep and finish this and finish my final. This won't all happen.

Describe a wiki you found that inspires you to create one of your own. What hurdles might stand in the way of your using a wiki? What would it take to remove the hurdles? Is it worth the fight?

I don't know that I found any wiki that inspires me to create one, in fact, they bear more investigation. For instance, in order for one to work as a class project is it better to make one class wiki or several wikis from one class? What exactly do students learn--other than snippets--in working on a wiki? Is this better or just different than other projects one could give a class? Well, in order to fulfill the requirements of the prompt, I'd have to say in the relatively short time I spent looking at educational wikis, this one came across as the most interesting.
Hmmm... the link isn't working now.

Thing 20

3 to go!
Include in your post the name of at least one podcast to which you subscribed. Describe your experience using the various search tools. Which do you prefer and why?

This is nothing new as I indicated in Thing 19; I already subscribe to some podcasts, though those are for personal enrichment rather than anything professional.

I used both the Education Podcast Network and Podcast Alley in my searching. I suppose epnweb was the better site if you are specifically looking for education topics. The two standouts I found were from and the "Shakespodospheare." The former had tips for creative writing and the latter obviously focuses on Shakespeare.

Podcasts have their place in the classroom, but as one commenter pointed out--if you bring up something longer than 10 minutes you'll lose most of the students. I don't know if it's their age or the fact that all this digital technology has reduced their attention span to gnats. If it is the la…

Take a Vow

For some reason, I'm flying through quite a few books right now. This morning, for instance, I finished up Dennis Okholm's Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants.

* I interrupt this blog to report that the sun is shining right now--something that hasn't happened for at least a week here. Now back to our regularly scheduled review.*

Not only does Okholm give a good summary of the Benedictine precepts such as, humility, balance, and hospitality, but he also devotes a small end portion explaining why the Reformers condemned monasticism (rather unfairly, Okholm posits). Okholm makes the case that all Christians should be living the way Benedict laid out so long ago. He also includes a list of ways to incorporate Benedictine practices in the lay life. This book represents Ecumenism in the best sense of that word, virtuous and red-blooded.

And yes, I'm still working on Quixote--less than 230 pages to go!

Thing 19

Which podcasts did you find interesting? Identify one or two podcasts and describe how you would use them in your teaching. (Be sure to include links in your blog entry to the podcasts mentioned.)

I have to bust through to the end soon--I've also a test due for my Restoration Ecology class next Monday.

Podcasts, ah yes. They are good, aren't they? I must admit I do stay away from the educrats and their blather, but I did enjoy the Princeton Review's Vocab Minute--too bad it seems to be discontinued.

Some favorites of mine that aren't necessarily focused on the classroom are:
X-Minus One a radio show from the 40s and 50s of science fiction stories. You could actually use these in a classroom if you were discussing either the history of communication or science fiction, and since they are so old there are no issues of appropriateness in the classroom (though some may be too old for younger students). I think I found this originally on the iTunes site.
Another favorite is

Thing 18

What did you like about the presentation you embedded? How might Slideshare be useful in the classroom? out of the classroom?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the Real WorldView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: greywellington)

This relates to much I've talked about in the unit we recently finished in the Mass Media class I teach. Being a Conservative, one would think I would be in the hip pocket of these corporations that have extended copyright to the point of "property" and abuse the notion of limited monopoly. One would be confusing me with a Republican. A Conservative has no use for either too much governmental power or corporate power. A Conservative is about de-centralization.

Anyway, this tool is handy when you don't want to construct your own power points. Yes, sometimes convenience and time-saving are a good thing and not the death of the weak and flabby West.

Thing 17

Give a review of the tool you explored - what worked, what didn't work, how might it be used either in or out of the classroom?

I, to a greater or lesser degree, explored all the options given. I saw Knowtes as being the most directly applicable to the classroom and and Remember the Milk as being least applicable. The rest were in a middling range. Honestly, much of the tools here can be completed just as well on paper and sometimes it seems like an extra step to include one or more of these in your life. Of all of these, I would probably use Zoho show the most, as I don't have Power Point loaded on my home computer, but I also couldn't get the demo to work for Zoho, either.

Really, what's wrong with paper for most of these?

Thing 16

How might you use this tool in your personal and professional life? What issues come to mind about using this tool with students (ie, they need email addresses to log-in)?

In order to finish this project by it's due date of next Friday, I've to complete at least one thing a day (sound of whip cracking).

Hey, this Google docs thing is kind of cool. I created an agenda for the Creation Care ministry at my church and can share the load of that task.

School uses? I don't know--at least as far as students go. I do wish our administration would try this, it would make our meetings more collaborative and less authoritarian. But maybe, they don't like sharing power. That seems to be the case with power. Anyway, this is something I think I'll continue to use.

Thing 15

Is RSS becoming easier to understand? Do you recognize new benefits of using this tool? Do you remember to check your feeds regularly? Has it become a habit (or obsession!) yet?

Er, umm. . . sort of? I'm still having trouble with Bloglines (I haven't enabled a button for it in the toolbar still). But, playing around with the search by tags feature on Delicious provided a link to the Sierra Club and all the links they have for religious groups concerned with creation stewardship--everything from Buddhists to the Indigenous Environmental Network. That is a feature that bears more exploration.

Wendell Berry, Education, and Gnosticism

I finished this on the 4th of August. I would highly recommend this to anyone who already appreciates the Kentucky sage, but not to anyone who hasn't read a few of his works. It runs the gamut from personal tributes, to sharp analyses, to dryer academic examinations, the latter being the minority.
While there were several standout essays, Jason Peters' (the book's editor) "Education, Heresy, and the 'Deadly Disease of the World" bears particular mention. Why? Well, Peters examines Berry's views on education, and finds that Mr. Berry, not surprisingly, has little patience for education that doesn't include knowledge that leads to self-sufficiency. If it isn't "the husbandry and wifery of the world" then Berry despises it. And, I think, for good reason, if it creates the superstition "that money brings forth food."
Another interesting point that Peters turns to is Berry's hatred of gnostic dualism--the idea that mat…