Category Archives: geography

Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.

It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.

the photo says it all….really, no Raleigh.

Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.

It’s why I am in Raleigh, North Carolina for a social studies conference. I realize I don’t know everything and I want to learn and be a better teacher. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

Partners – a photo challenge

Yesterday was our 32nd anniversary. Actually, it was 32 plus 1, but after eleven thousand six hundred eighty-eight days, what is another day? It all depends on how you count it. I mentioned it to B and I got a smile, I think.

B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
I’ve known my wife a few more days longer than 11,688 days, but yesterday was the anniversary of our first date. We went to the zoo and it was a blazing hot day as most days in Houston, Texas are in June, or late May, July, and August. The night before we had gone out with a group and had fun dancing, listening to music, and talking and sharing a beer or two, it’s what twenty somethings do. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history, of sorts. Continue reading Partners – a photo challenge

What a difference two days make

“If you don’t like the weather wait a day and it will change” anonymous

I’ve heard that said about the weather almost everywhere I’ve lived and visited. I heard it in Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and when I visited – London, Paris, and northern Michigan. And, yes, it is true to a certain extent. Weather does change and it should because that is what weather is – change.

The weather yesterday and day before was cloudy, blustery, and downright chilly, especially when you consider it was the last day of June and the first day of July. This morning, it’s chilly but clear and looks to be a million and six times better than yesterday.

I taught geography for fourteen years and most of my 7th graders always mixed up the two terms – weather and climate. Weather is the day to day change in the atmospheric conditions in an area and the climate is the long term pattern of weather in an area or region. I wanted my students to understand that climate influenced where people settled, where cities grew and civilization developed.

Weather changes, climate should not, but it appears that our climate has been changing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and is the change is accelerating

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis issued his encyclical on Climate Change and it was the hubbub of the news for a few days, and then it disappeared. The subject will reappear after the next large weather event and folks will be concerned for a moment and then all will be forgotten. It’s an awful cycle – for a moment, a fleeting moment, we are concerned, then we return to the behavior that got us here.

It was 48F here when I began writing and 83F in Paris yesterday it was 103F. Yikes, that’s hot. It’s too cool here and far too warm there. Not normal.

Continue reading What a difference two days make

The state bee

Today is gonna be a great day. I usually end my posts with this, but today I’ll start AND end with the quote. The quate is aline is from a song, aptly named “Today is gonna be a great day” and it was in part, part of the inspiration for Making the Days Count almost five years ago.

This could possibly be the best day ever
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be
A million and six times better

So make every minute count
Jump up, jump in and seize the day
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way
Today is gonna to be a great day

It is gonna be a great day, because today is the National Geography Society’s state Geography Bee and my student qualified for it. Actually, he really isn’t my student he’s a sixth grader and he goes to my school. I just happen to be the Geo Bee coordinator and very passionate about geography. I’ve been helping him prepare, first for the state qualifying test and then for the state competition. We’ve had two study sessions where I’ve helped him and guided him by asking questions from past geography bees, but he really knows his stuff. Today will be the big test and he’ll be up against 100 other kids from across Illinois from grades 4 to 8 or ages 9-14. Most of them will be boys, about 80-90% and I wish him the best.

The best part is that I get to go and watch. Continue reading The state bee

License plates and sunshine

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our route – I think I could do it with my eyes closed….

We are all back up north – B, W, O, Ivy, and me. If I could, I’d stay up here forever, but there is something called money, and a job, that keeps me from doing just that. And, perhaps being up north might lose it’s luster if it weren’t an occasional treat like ice cream or chocolate. This is the place that grandpa built – it’s the place for family and more memories than I can write about for now. B’s sister will be joining us later this evening for a short visit and grandma will be coming up next week. It’ll be a good time.

We came up Sunday afternoon. We had planned to come up Sunday morning, but we just needed to take our time. I’d been at Beauty and Charm all week and W came home from football Saturday afternoon and wouldn’t move – he was so tired. He needed to pack for his scouting trip next week to the boundary waters trip in northern Minnesota, but he just lied there on his bed, so we let him sleep. He slept from 6PM until 8AM Sunday morning, he must’ve been tired, because when we got here Sunday night, he slept another ten hours into Monday morning. We drove both of the cars because W has to go back Friday for his trip and one of us has to drive him.

O, Ivy, and I left first in my car and B and W followed hers with W driving. Driving 359 miles can be a drain. O was watching a movie on the iPad beside me and I was driving, paying attention to traffic, and listening to a Market Place podcast when I had a brilliant idea, why not count the number of different state license plates we saw along our way? I nudged O and explained my idea. I asked her how many she thought we might see and she replied 24. She was in. We had rules for our game – only cars and pickup trucks, no buses, and commercial vehicles like tractor-trailer rigs or delivery trucks. And, only US states, no Canada plates. She quickly called out our first license plate – Illinois. We quickly had ten or so – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and we had fourteen when B called to check in and I told her about our game. She took it as a challenge and it was game on. Driving along the interstates made it easier: I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-196 are heavily trafficked but once we were north of Grand Rapids, we didn’t see another new license plate.

We finished with 24 and B and W beat us Continue reading License plates and sunshine

Death of a tree

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the culprit, emerald ash borer

It happened last week, a week ago today. The crew came and cut down our tree. The Ash tree. She had been in front of our home for as long we’d lived here. She was here before we moved in, before the kids were born, and before we got Ivy. She shaded our front lawn without fail, never complaining. I’d raked her leaves for 22 years, I’d trimmed her branches – before she got too tall, and then, she got sick. I didn’t notice at first but this spring she didn’t  leaf out along with the other trees –the maples, the oaks, the willows, and others. She had always been a late bloomer and the first to shed her leaves in the fall. But, when she did leaf out she looked sickly; a green branch here, a green branch there, interspersed amid many sickly dead grey branches. Then the crews came, first with their paint marking other trees in the neighborhood, they left a faint red dot at the her base. Then they came back with their ropes, saws, grinders, and trucks. They had many trees to cut down – we counted over seventy stumps in the neighborhood. Ours was one of the last to come down, but she came down anyway. The stump is still there as a reminder of where she once stood. This morning, I looked closely and I could see the stump sending out a couple of shoots in a desperate gasp to survive. It’s too late, our tree is gone.

I should have known that she was in danger, but I missed the signs. Continue reading Death of a tree

Father’s Day and the World Cup

france1998I’ve been watching the World Cup. My dad would be proud. I do not follow soccer; I mean football and can only recognize the player’s names because my students wear their jerseys – Messi, Rooney, Dempsey, Ronaldo, and Beckham. I know a couple of those players are retired. Nevertheless, I am watching. It’s Father’s Day morning and there is calm throughout the house. I am back outside in my garden office, Ivy at my feet guarding the yard from intruders. I started indoors this morning with Ivy under the table at my feet there, too, but I decided to move outside and enjoy the morning.

Last night I checked Facebook and discovered a high school friend had posted a picture of him and his dad. The looked exactly as I remembered them. Most of my photos of dad are ‘old school’ and I have not transferred them over to digital, yet. The day will come, though a few years ago I went through slides and photos at my mom’s house and came across the photo below. I scanned it and saved it for all of us. I think mom has the original, but I have the copy. I skimmed through the flash drive and found a photo of dad and I. My brothers came along for the ride, too. I posted it with my Happy Father’s day message. I hope they appreciate the trip down memory lane.

Chirstmas 1978 - Reading, England - Warren, David, dad with Sambo, and me
Christmas 1978 – Reading, England – Warren, David, dad with Sambo, and me

This morning, I went back in time and re-read old posts. They links are below. Father’s Day 2010 is raw and real and Father’s Day comes early is one of my favorite posts. I can close my eyes and remember the sounds, smells, and events of that day four years ago.

Father’s day is early this year, early in June, as early as it gets. The first of June was a Sunday and Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June; it’s the way the calendar works. The mind works in completely different ways.

Today brings back many memories – some good, some not so good, but memories that have shaped me. Shaped me into the person that I have become.

My dad was my dad, he was shaped by the events of his life and he gave what he could. He, like me, had his regrets, just as I have many. I also have many triumphs as a dad. It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda game,’ very easily. It’s negativity, man – so, I won’t. This morning I will remember my dad for what he shared, what he taught me; and to laugh, smile, weep.

Continue reading Father’s Day and the World Cup

Day 4: Friday the Thirteenth

 

thirteen

I am enjoying a lovely morning on the deck; the wind gently rustles the leaves above me, the birds chirp and flit about.  It is a bit on the cool side, 56°F, but it will warm up, eventually. I am the eternal optimist, besides I have coffee to keep me warm. The wind chime emits an occasional ‘ding.’

It’s quiet this morning. Ivy is beside me, at my feet, or was until she heard something and stalked off to investigate. B is in Ohio with her mom and dad. W is at off-season sports camp, and O is sleeping. I hope that she’ll sleep for a couple of hours and get the rest she needs. We were supposed to follow this afternoon, but we will not. We’ll need to figure another time to head over and visit. We need to.

It’s Friday the thirteenth, the first and only one of the year. Continue reading Day 4: Friday the Thirteenth

Memorial Day weekend – 2014

It’s that time of the year, again. There are two weeks left before summer vacation. Nine school days. Summer vacation would’ve been sooner, but we had the brutal winter with sub-zero temperatures and excruciating wind chills. Four school days closed twice for two days and days were moved from June to January to make up. There is nothing like summer vacation days in January. My students are working hard and last week it was clear they knew exactly how many days remained; some even knew down to the hour and minute.

the flag flies outside, it's Memorial Day weekend
the flag flies outside, it’s Memorial Day weekend

But, I am not a day counter. I work at making the days count. Continue reading Memorial Day weekend – 2014

CH4 and the last weekend in April

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looking closely you can read it – OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR

I looked at my calendar last week and was stupefied that May was so close. It felt like the wording on the passenger-side side-view mirror: OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. I suppose it is a lesson, which I need to heed more often. I have a habit of letting things creep up on me; it is along the same lines as not reading the fine print or asking for directions. I asked myself how it happened, but I already knew the answer. Ferris Beuller said it best, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop look around once in a while you could miss it.” Life does move fast and sometimes the only thing you can do is look around.

I’ve been looking around a lot lately. My seventh grade ELA students finished their Mask and Identity unit and we are now on The Road to Perseverance unit to finish the year. There are four units – one for each quarter. The bad weather days in January messed up the schedule and we finished the third unit in the fourth quarter and started the final unit a few days late, hence my ‘closer than they appear’ observation. It has been a good year. The students have been great and I will miss them, but I won’t miss all of them because I found out after Easter that I’ll be moving with them to eighth grade. After fourteen years in seventh grade, I finally was promoted!

The move to eighth grade is not the only change,

Continue reading CH4 and the last weekend in April