Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nat, Cyclone, and Creely

Natalie just spoke to Officer Creely on her front Porch. He was tall crisp polished, and kind. She said Cyclone was the big dealer and he lived in the green house on the hill. We'll get 'em They never go far in this business. He said winking as he went back down the steps. She was self conscious about talking since she accidentally ate a whole clove of raw garlic in her lunch. Nat went back to her perch and she saw that Cyclone was getting out of a vehicle in her driveway. He must've seen the police car and avoided his own house, she thought. She phoned dispatch to give message to Creely. Then just now she saw Cyclone drive out in his white Eldorado with the rusty hubcaps. Two seconds later she heard the siren bleep. Nailed!

Chicken, Hammered

Flavor-Pounded Chicken

Marco Canora

For years I had zero respect for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and questioned why anyone bothered with a food so bland and oppressively dry that eating it feels like chewing on a towel. But as I set off on the path to eat better, I couldn’t help but come face-to-face with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They’re lean, full of protein, versatile, and, as it turns out, capable of carrying a ton of flavor and juiciness if you cook them right. To do this, I butterfly the breast and pound the meat thin, so it cooks evenly and quickly without drying out. This also increases the surface area of meat touching the pan, leading to that deeply flavorful crust I want. Then I make a mixture of Tuscan flavors—olive oil, chopped sage and rosemary, lemon, and garlic—and literally pound it directly into both sides of the breast. After just 90 seconds in a hot pan, the payoff is an insanely tender, delicious chicken breast that has all the succulence of dark meat. Another perk to this method is that the size of the thinned-out meat tricks you into thinking you’re getting a lot more than just one breast. (When your plate looks full, you tend to believe you’re eating more and feel full as a result.)
A Good Food Day
A Good Food Day

The best results come from smaller chicken breasts— they’re easier to pound out to a uniform thickness. You can easily prepare the breasts ahead of time—after step 2, just cover the chicken in plastic wrap and refrigerate, and they’ll keep for up to 2 days. You can also cook more than one at a time, but be sure you don’t overcrowd the pan, or you’ll have a hard time developing a caramelized crust.

4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12 large fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
Grated zest of 2 small lemons
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons for cooking
4 lemon wedges

1. Starting at the thicker side, make a lengthwise horizontal cut into the top two-thirds of a chicken breast, stopping before cutting all the way through. Fold it open like a book. (The chicken breast should still be in one piece.) Put the breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it out on both sides with the flat side of a meat tenderizer, working from the inside out, until it’s spread to double its original size and about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining breasts.

2. Pile the sage, rosemary, lemon zest, and garlic on a cutting board and chop together until blended. In a bowl, combine the herb mixture, salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 8 teaspoons of the olive oil. Divide half of the herb paste evenly across one side of the 4 chicken breasts and rub it in. Cover with plastic wrap again and lightly pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. Flip the breasts, rub the remaining herb paste into the other side of the chicken breasts. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning.

Madrone Tea Bark Eggs
Butterfly the breast, making a lengthwise cut into the top two-thirds. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and pound on both sides with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Unwrap and add the seasoning, then rewrap and pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. (Photos: Michael Harlan Turkell)

3. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over high heat. Wait 2 minutes, or until it’s smoking hot, add 1 chicken breast, put a weight on it (a teakettle or heavy pan) and cook for 45 seconds. Flip, add the weight, and cook for another 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate, and let it rest for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each flavor-pounded chicken just before serving.

While Tuscan flavors are my natural inclination, I often make one of the Flavor-Pounded Chicken variations below. Except for the couple instances that I’ve noted, steps 1 and 3 are the same for all. Once you get an understanding of the process, I encourage you to follow your own preferences and start pounding whatever flavor you like into the chicken.

Indian chicken
Indian (Photo: Michael Harlan Turkell)

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

For step 2: In a bowl, combine the cumin, turmeric, onion powder, coriander, salt, several grinds of pepper, and the olive oil. Season and pound as described in the main recipe.

Maple Spice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons maple syrup

For step 2: In a bowl, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Divide half the spice mixture evenly across one side of the 4 chicken breasts and drizzle 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup over each. Rub in the seasoning and maple syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. Flip and rub the rest of the spice mixture into the other side of the chicken breasts. Drizzle another 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup over each breast. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning.


2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
4 teaspoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons tomato paste

For step 2: In a bowl, combine the garlic powder, oregano, salt, Parmesan, several grinds of pepper, and the olive oil. Divide half the oregano mixture evenly across one side of the 4 chicken breasts and add 1/4 teaspoon tomato paste to each breast. Rub in the seasoning and tomato paste. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. Flip and divide the rest of the oregano mixture evenly across the other side of the chicken breasts. Add another 1/4 teaspoon of tomato paste to each breast and rub it in. Cover with plastic wrap before lightly pounding again.
Japanese (Photo: Michael Harlan Turkell)


Grated zest of 4 limes
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons tamarind paste (optional)
4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
4 lime wedges

For step 2: In a bowl, combine the lime zest, ginger, cilantro, cardamom, salt, fish sauce, and tamarind paste (if using). Divide half the mixture evenly across one side of the 4 chicken breasts and rub it in. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. Flip and rub the rest of the mixture into the other side of the chicken breasts. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound in the seasoning.

For step 3: Substitute coconut oil for olive oil and squeeze a wedge of lime over each flavorpounded chicken just before serving.


Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried seaweed granules (dulse, kelp, nori, any kind works)
4 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For step 2: In a bowl, combine the lemon zest, ginger, seaweed granules, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Season and pound as described in the main recipe.

Flavor-Pounded Chicken is excellent over greens. Toss arugula and sliced red onions with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Make a bed of salad on a plate and top it with an FPC. The residual heat from the chicken works its way into the greens and does something magical.

Reprinted from A Good Food Day by Marco Canora, Clarkson Potter 2014.
DinnerWeeknight Kitchen
chicken breastlemon
Serves 4

Millions of Years

The five children of two fighting Gorillas are being trapped inside with no screens or AC and mosquitoes are eating them alive.
How did the species ever survive? I ask my husband who always has the long view.
Well, they have for millions of years.
I pray for these kids every day.

Houman Farzad

The Innocent Thief
Spiritual Story by Houman Farzad

Mulla Nasrudin's donkey was stolen from its stable one night. The next morning, when Mulla found out that he had been robbed, he began searching for the donkey, asking the neighbors whether or not they had seen his donkey.

The neighbors, who had heard the news, began to scold Mulla. One said: "Why did you leave the stable door open?"

Another said: "Why did you not keep your eyes open so the thief could not steal it?"

A third one said: "You sleep like a log. That is why you could not hear the stable door open and catch the thief."

Hearing all this, Mulla became angry and said: "Well, as you would have it, I am guilty of everything you say, and the thief is completely innocent!"

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Accept the Inevitable

Spiritual Story by Unknown

A grieving mother approached Buddha, carrying the body of her dead child in her arms. She begged him, "I know you can bring him back to life." Buddha replied, "Death is inevitable; I cannot restore his life." The woman was devastated, and was not prepared to accept this answer. Seeing her pain, Buddha said, "I can bring your child back to life, but only if you bring me mustard seeds from a person who has never had a death in his family."

Hearing these words, a hope was awakened within the grieving mother's heart. Immediately she rushed out to beg. She knocked at the first door and asked for some mustard seeds. The middle-aged lady answering the door was very kind and asked her to wait a moment. The woman asked, "There has not been a death in your family, has there?" The lady started crying and said, "Six months ago my husband died in his sleep." The mother was disappointed and she moved on.

The second person she approached was a young man, who said that his grandfather had passed away only a few days earlier. The third was an old woman whose grown up son and daughter-in-law had been killed in an accident. One after the other, the woman found that someone or the other had died in every family.

By the time the woman returned to Buddha, she had made peace with her son's death. She had accepted the inevitable. We should too.

Special thanks to Malladi for sharing this spiritual story with us!

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Gift of Insults

Spiritual Story by Unknown

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"
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Police Cameras

What Has Gone Before
Spiritual Story by Idries Shah

In a dark alleyway an agile pickpocket tried to snatch Mulla Nasrudin's purse. Nasrudin was too quick for him, and there was a violent struggle. Eventually Nasrudin got this man down on the ground.

At this moment a charitable woman passing by called out:

"You bully! Let that little man get up, and give him a chance."

"Madam," panted Nasrudin, "you ignore the trouble which I have had getting him down."
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Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield

Two Rabbis
Spiritual Story by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield

In the course of their long wanderings, the two brothers, Rabbi Zusya and Rabbi Elimelekh, often came to the city of Ludmir. There they always slept in the house of a poor, devout man. Years later, when their reputation had spread all over the country they came to Ludmir agai, not on foot as before, but in a carriage.

The wealthiest man in that little town, who had never wanted to have anything to do with them, came to meet them, the moment he heard they had arrived, and begged them to lodge in his house. But they said:

"Nothing has changed in us to make you respect us more than before. What is new is just the horses and the carriage. Take them for your guests, but let us stop with our old host, as usual.

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The Locksmith

Story of the Locksmith
Spiritual Story by Idries Shah

Once there lived a metalworker, a locksmith, who was unjustly accused of crimes and was sentenced to a deep, dark prison. After he had been there awhile, his wife who loved him very much went to the King and beseeched him that she might at least give him a prayer rug so he could observe his five prostrations every day.

The King considered that a lawful request, so he let the woman bring her husband a prayer rug. The prisoner was thankful to get the rug from his wife, and every day he faithfully did his prostrations on the rug. Much later, the man escaped from prison, and when people asked him how he got out, he explained that after years of doing his prostrations and praying for deliverance from the prison, he be an to see what was right in front of his nose.

One day he suddenly saw that his wife had woven into the prayer rug the pattern of the lock that imprisoned him. Once he realized this and understood that all the information he needed to escape was already in his possession, he began to make friends with his guards. He also persuaded the guards that they all would have a better life if they cooperated and escaped the prison together.

They agreed since, although they were guards, they realized that they were in prison, too. They also wished to escape, but they had no means to do so. So the locksmith and his guards decided on the following plan: they would bring him pieces of metal, and he would fashion useful items from them to sell in the marketplace. Together they would amass resources for their escape, and from the strongest piece of metal they could acquire, the locksmith would fashion a key.

One night, when everything had been prepared, the locksmith and his guards unlocked the prison and walked out into the cool night where his beloved wife was waiting for him. He left the prayer rug behind so that any other prisoner who was clever enough to read the pattern of the rug could also make his escape. Thus, the locksmith was reunited with his loving wife, his former guards became his friends, and everyone lived in harmony.

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The Artist

“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself,” young E.E. Cummings (October 14, 1894–September 3, 1962) wrote in his beautiful essay on what it really means to be an artist. He lived this tenet every day, on every line, and spent his entire career defending the basic creative freedom to dismantle the accepted order, the way things have always been done, in order to get to the heart of truth and beauty.

A Teen Taught Herself to Hack, Then She Escaped a Cult Shyama Rose says hacking is her 'reason for carrying on'

By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2016 4:48 PM CDT
Updated Jul 31, 2016 6:32 AM CDT

Shyama Rose taught herself to hack at age 14. Then she used it to escape a cult. (Twitter)

(Newser) – "There’s nothing that pisses me off more than someone doing something bad to someone who can’t protect themselves," Shyama Rose says. "That obviously stems from seeing children harmed." Glamour has a fascinating profile on Rose, a woman who taught herself to hack, then used that skill to escape a cult. Rose moved into a Texas compound belonging to the Society of Divine Love with her mother and brother when she was 11 years old. At 12, their leader, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, started sexually abusing her, she says. Rose became his personal servant. "It was terrifying," she says. Then, a lifeline. In 1994, 14-year-old Rose received a Macintosh as a gift.

She stumbled upon the internet when she tried plugging her new computer into a phone jack. From there she experimented, taught herself binary, and discovered hacking. "I realized there was opportunity outside my shitty environment and that the whole world wasn't a pile of pain," she says. Rose's self-taught hacking skills got her into a college's computer science program and then into jobs with Microsoft, Live Nation, and NASDAQ, helping those companies find their own vulnerabilities. Rose calls hacking her "reason for carrying on." “I love the sexiness and fun that hacking brings me,” she says. Read the full story, including how Rose sought to bring her former abuser to justice, here.

Disney Gets Patent to Take Pictures of People's Feet It could track theme park guests by their shoes

By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2016 4:19 PM CDT

Disney received a patent July 19 for shoe-scanning technology to track visitors throughout its theme parks. (Patent)

(Newser) – Disney has received a patent to take pictures of visitors' feet at its theme parks, the Los Angeles Times reports. Specifically, the patent titled System and method using foot recognition to create a customized guest experience would scan guests shoes when they enter the park then track them as the move about. According to the Orlando Business Journal, this would allow Disney to track guests' favorite rides and paths through the park. It could also allow them to have Donald Duck greet guests by name or get souvenir photos or videos to them more quickly. The scanners could discern everything from shoe color, to wear patterns, to gum stuck on the sole. Disney filed for the patent back in 2015; it was issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office on July 19.

Disney had already decided against using biometric scanning—such as fingerprinting, retinal scans, and facial recognition—to track visitors because it's too invasive, the Stack reports. Plus those methods can be thrown off by things like hats and sunglasses. The company also didn't want to track clothing because that would "require cameras that are visible to the person." The shoe-scanning cameras throughout the park would be "out of a person's line of sight." Disney says it has no plans to actually use its foot camera patent. A spokesperson tells the Times that Disney files a lot of patents in an "ongoing effort to relentlessly innovate and push the boundaries of creativity and technology to create immersive experiences and legendary guest service."

Tuesday August 2nd River Island Park 5-7PM Woonsocket RI

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
Join the Woonsocket Police Department for:
Live Music
Free Food and Drinks
Emergency Response Vehicles on Display
Police K9 Demonstration
Meet the new police chief, Chief Thomas Oats
and Much More.

Umbrella Smile

Poets are the word gourmets. I sit in my backyard and read poems under my yellow and red striped umbrella. My umbrella is a perpetual smile. I peek at it while I am playing my sax, in the living room. I see it below when I am closing a top floor window, hanging my clothes, looking for my dog in the yard.

Your Life is a Poem



The Mohawk kids Adam and Aden cut their flip flopped toes on glass shattered in the parking lot. They were playing frisbee. I felt partially responsible since I saw the glass there for weeks and had not done a thing. Mark the maintenance man is no longer employed by the new landlord. The new guy just wants to save a buck.

After the incident I couldn't live with myself. So yesterday I got a dustpan and swept the piles of glass pouring the sand and shattered shards into an open paper bag. This aroused interest from all the kids who were outside playing. Can I help? They asked. Sure but only if it's fun for you. I'll get another bag and another broom.

It's addictive! I warned. You start picking up a pile of glass and next thing you know you're cleaning the neighborhood.It happened to us. We began sweeping both sides of the driveway and picking up glass and trash all over the parking lot.

I got out a push-broom and then three more push brooms. More kids came and joined in. I started trimming the hedges and Josh offered his hack saw to chop the Jack and the beanstalk weeds that had become trees. I brought out plastic yellow cups and a jug of cold tap water for the kids.

The barrel-shaped father bellowed from the window and when they didn't run to him like obedient soldiers he threatened to come down and punish them. "You have to stay inside until you're 18, even when you go to school I'll make sure you have no recess for the whole year! the father bellowed.

Does this count as community service the eldest asked me shouting out the window. Absolutely. I said. Who is the officer I will contact him and explain how you worked on the community lot for two hours.

Your Life is a Poem

That is the Question

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd!”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Romeo and Juliet

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

My only love sprung from my only hate!

My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy.”
― William Shakespeare


“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Cheer Up

The same part of me that loves to photograph faces, loves sleuthing. Of course people watching can happen anywhere anytime especially in a city. When I get the blues, I cheer up talking to strangers in the grocery store.


Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


Poetry is my morning vitamin. When I wake I read it before the world news seeps in. I set up my coffee and tea and toast for my husband. My dog and cat supervise my reading after their feeding. Sometimes I play jazz but mostly the sound of the fan is a perfect silence.

As a fifty five year old I realize I am still the parent to my parents and siblings. They will never grow up but I had to. It's fascinating the roles we play in family and life.

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Babies and Physics

What Babies Know About Physics and Foreign Languages


Parents and policy makers have become obsessed with getting young children to learn more, faster. But the picture of early learning that drives them is exactly the opposite of the one that emerges from developmental science.

In the last 30 years, the United States has completed its transformation to an information economy. Knowledge is as important in the 21st century as capital was in the 19th, or land in the 18th. In the same 30 years, scientists have discovered that even very young children learn more than we once thought possible. Put those together and our preoccupation with making children learn is no surprise.

The trouble is that most people think learning is the sort of thing we do in school, and that parents should act like teachers — they should direct special lessons at children to produce particular kinds of knowledge or skill, with the help of how-to books and “parenting” apps. Studies prove that high-quality preschool helps children thrive. But policy makers and educators are still under pressure to justify their investments in early childhood education. They’ve reacted by replacing pretend corners and playground time with “school readiness” tests.

But in fact, schools are a very recent invention. Young children were learning thousands of years before we had ever even thought of schools. Children in foraging cultures learned by watching what the people around them did every day, and by playing with the tools they used. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from this simple observation and play in a remarkably sensitive way.

Young children today continue to learn best by watching the everyday things that grown-ups do, from cleaning the house to fixing a car. My grandson Augie, like most 4-year-olds, loves to watch me cook, and tries manfully to copy what I do. But how does he decide whether to just push the egg whites around the bowl, or to try to reproduce exactly the peculiar wristy beating action I learned from my own mother? How does he know that he should transfer the egg yolks to the flour bowl without accidentally dropping them in the whites, as Grandmom often does? How did he decide that green peas would be a good addition to a strawberry soufflé? (He was right, by the way.)

Experimental studies show that even the youngest children are naturally driven to imitate. Back in 1988, Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington did a study in which 14-month-olds saw an experimenter do something weird — she tapped her forehead on top of a box to make it light up. A week later, the babies came back to the lab and saw the box. Most of them immediately tried to tap their own foreheads on the box to make the light go on.

In 2002 Gyorgy Gergely, Harold Bekkering and Ildiko Kiraly did a different version of this study. Sometimes the experimenters’ arms were wrapped in a blanket when she tapped her forehead on the box. The babies seemed to figure out that when the experimenter’s arms were wrapped up, she couldn’t use her hands, and that must have been why she had used her head instead. So when it was the babies’ turn they took the easy route and tapped the box with their hands.

In 2013 David Buttelmann and his colleagues did yet another version. First, the babies heard the experimenter speak the same language they did or a different one. Then the experimenter tapped her head on the box. When she had spoken the same language, the babies were more likely to tap the box with their foreheads; when she spoke a different language they were more likely to use their hands.

In other words, babies don’t copy mindlessly — they take note of who you are and why you act.

Children will also use what they see to figure out intelligent new actions, like putting peas in a soufflé. For example, in our lab, Daphna Buchsbaum, some colleagues and I showed 4-year-olds a toy with lots of different handles and tabs. A grown-up said, “Hmm I wonder how this toy works” and performed nine complicated series of actions, like pulling one of the handles, shaking a tab and turning the toy over. Sometimes the toy played music and sometimes it didn’t.

The actions followed a pattern: Some of them were necessary to make the machine go and some were superfluous. For example, the children might see that the toy lit up only when the experimenter shook the tab and turned over the toy, no matter what else she did.

Then she asked the child to make the music play. The children analyzed the pattern of events, figured out which actions actually made the toy go, and immediately produced just those actions. They would just pull the tab and turn over the toy. They used their observations to create an intelligent new solution to the problem.

We take it for granted that young children “get into everything.” But new studies of “active learning” show that when children play with toys they are acting a lot like scientists doing experiments. Preschoolers prefer to play with the toys that will teach them the most, and they play with those toys in just the way that will give them the most information about how the world works.

In one recent experiment, for example, Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson of Johns Hopkins showed 11-month-old babies a sort of magic trick. Either a ball appeared to pass through a solid wall, or a toy car appeared to roll off the end of a shelf and remain suspended in thin air. The babies apparently knew enough about everyday physics to be surprised by these strange events and paid a lot of attention to them.

Then the researchers gave the babies toys to play with. The babies who had seen the ball vanish through the wall banged it; those who’d seen the car hovering in thin air kept dropping it. It was as if they were testing to see if the ball really was solid, or if the toy car really did defy gravity.

It’s not just that young children don’t need to be taught in order to learn. In fact, studies show that explicit instruction, the sort of teaching that goes with school and “parenting,” can be limiting. When children think they are being taught, they are much more likely to simply reproduce what the adult does, instead of creating something new.

My lab tried a different version of the experiment with the complicated toy. This time, though, the experimenter acted like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works,” instead of “I wonder how this toy works.” The children imitated exactly what she did, and didn’t come up with their own solutions.

The children seem to work out, quite rationally, that if a teacher shows them one particular way to do something, that must be the right technique, and there’s no point in trying something new. But as a result, the kind of teaching that comes with schools and “parenting” pushes children toward imitation and away from innovation.

There is a deep irony here. Parents and policy makers care about teaching because they recognize that learning is increasingly important in an information age. But the new information economy, as opposed to the older industrial one, demands more innovation and less imitation, more creativity and less conformity.

In fact, children’s naturally evolved learning techniques are better suited to that sort of challenge than the teaching methods of the past two centuries.
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New research tells us scientifically what most preschool teachers have always known intuitively. If we want to encourage learning, innovation and creativity we should love our young children, take care of them, talk to them, let them play and let them watch what we do as we go about our everyday lives.

We don’t have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn.

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of the forthcoming “The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children,” from which this essay was adapted.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Presidential Library

The location of Obama's presidential library has been finalized – it's Chicago's Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World's Fair.

"For the first time, a presidential center will be in the heart of an urban community," Obama Foundation chair Mary Nesbitt said in a statement announcing the decision. "The President and First Lady believe that locating the Presidential Center at Jackson Park will have the greatest long term impact on the combined communities," she added.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley told our Newscast unit, the site "is located near the shores of Lake Michigan, a short walk from the University of Chicago where President Obama once taught and [with] neighborhoods slowly gentrifying."

She added that the Jackson Park site beat out the other major contender, Washington Park. As Cheryl described, Jackson Park is "a historic location too just a few miles away on Chicago's south side, but in a more isolated area, and [with] nearby neighborhoods more economically depressed."

The city of Chicago prevailed over earlier proposals "by New York City, where Obama when to college, and Hawaii, where he was born," as Reuters reported.

"Michelle and I are thrilled that the Obama Presidential Center will be developed in the heart of Chicago's South Side, a community we call home and that means the world to us," Obama said in a statement released by the Foundation. He added: "We are proud that the center will help spur development in an urban area and we can't wait to forge new ways to give back to the people of Chicago who have given us so much."
Jackson Park was home to the 1893 World's Fair. One of the fair's biggest attractions was a giant Ferris Wheel, which carried 1,400 people 250 feet into the air.

Jackson Park was home to the 1893 World's Fair. One of the fair's biggest attractions was a giant Ferris Wheel, which carried 1,400 people 250 feet into the air.
Associated Press

Last month, the foundation announced that it had selected the architects for the project from more than 140 proposals: husband-and-wife team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. You can see some of their past work here.

Weekend Edition Saturday spoke with Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin about the pair, who have a markedly modernist style:

"In selecting Tod and Billie, the Obamas have cast a vote in favor of architecture that you experience rather than experiencing as eye candy. They've cast a vote in favor of crafted buildings rather than those that are computer-driven blobs. They've cast a vote in favor of buildings that create a sense of place rather than just becoming preening objects in the landscape."

Kamin added that there's real potential for this to be a "new kind of presidential library":

"I will say with cautious optimism that they have the capacity to meet that bar and to build a building that is a new kind of presidential library, one that isn't simply a monument to the president, but rather engages the community, engages nature and uses technology not only to create interactive exhibits, but to project the presence of that building to a much wider world."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I LOVE Pope Francis

Pope to young: Try politics, activism; don’t be couch potato

To Boost Memory: Study, Wait, Then Exercise

Phys Ed (NYT)
By Gretchen Reynolds

Learning requires more than the acquisition of unfamiliar knowledge; that new information or know-how, if it’s to be more than ephemeral, must be consolidated and securely stored in long-term memory.

Mental repetition is one way to do that, of course. But mounting scientific evidence suggests that what we do physically also plays an important role in this process. Sleep, for instance, reinforces memory. And recent experiments show that when mice and rats jog on running wheels after acquiring a new skill, they learn much better than sedentary rodents do. Exercise seems to increase the production of biochemicals in the body and brain related to mental function.

Researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University in the Netherlands and the University of Edinburgh have begun to explore this connection. For a study published this month in Current Biology, 72 healthy adult men and women spent about 40 minutes undergoing a standard test of visual and spatial learning. They observed pictures on a computer screen and then were asked to remember their locations.

Afterward, the subjects all watched nature documentaries. Two-thirds of them also exercised: Half were first put through interval training on exercise bicycles for 35 minutes immediately after completing the test; the others did the same workout four hours after the test.

Two days later, everyone returned to the lab and repeated the original computerized test while an M.R.I. machine scanned their brain activity.

Those who exercised four hours after the test recognized and recreated the picture locations most accurately. Their brain activity was subtly different, too, showing a more consistent pattern of neural activity. The study’s authors suggest that their brains might have been functioning more efficiently because they had learned the patterns so fully. But why delaying exercise for four hours was more effective than an immediate workout remains mysterious. By contrast, rodents do better in many experiments if they work out right after learning.

Eelco van Dongen, the study’s lead author and a former researcher at Radboud University (he is now a policy officer at the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), hopes that future studies will help determine both the optimal time to exercise and the ideal activity to reinforce learning. Workouts that are too strenuous “could be less positive or even detrimental” to acquiring knowledge, Dr. van Dongen says, while gentle exertions — “a short, slow walk,” he adds — might not prompt enough of an increase in the biochemicals needed to influence how the brain learns.

For now, he says, if you are trying to memorize a PowerPoint narrative or teach yourself macroeconomics, it could be beneficial to exercise a few hours after a study session. “Long-term memory is not only influenced by what happens when you learn new things,” he says, “but also by the processes that take place in the hours and days afterward, when new information is stabilized and integrated in your brain.”

Running for the Wrong Reasons

By Jen A. Miller

Excerpted from Jen A. Miller’s new book, “Running: a Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport.”

When I was 13 years old, Avalon, the shore town I’ve gone to every summer of my life, started a dredging project to widen the beaches. They took sand from the ocean floor and transferred it onto land. It worked, but it also kicked up seaweed. A lot of seaweed. I was determined to swim anyway, but it clung everywhere, catching in the crooks of my elbows, my knees, my hair. I tried to float over it on a boogie board, but it hooked onto the strap that connected the board to my wrist and weighed me down.

That’s what dating Steve was like. In David Carr’s memoir “The Night of the Gun,” he called this kind of relationship a “minuet of misery.” As Stephen dropped deeper into alcoholism, creating and breaking his own rules (it’s not a problem if I only drink on weekends, it’s not a problem if it doesn’t affect my work, it’s not a problem if I’m a little hungover at work), and as his calls became later, more frantic, and more frequent, he pulled me down too.

That first 5K in Medford came eight months into this mess. I had managed to eat enough to maintain that training, skating on the edge of eating too little to be too small, but I plunged over the edge soon after. I kept running after that 5K, but it was for him. I wanted to be as small as possible, and I saw running as a path toward that goal. I had a strength training routine down. I was in the weight room four days a week, lifting 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 pounds at low reps just like Steve said, but I still didn’t look like Jessica Alba from Sin City, who he had on a poster in his basement. “You can look like that,” he said one night as we played pool, Jessica staring down at me as I tried to sink the eight ball. (I didn’t. I scratched.)

If I do that, if I can look like that, I told myself, it’ll finally flip that switch in him, turn a relationship held together by spider webs into something solid and real. Running burned more calories an hour than any other cardio I could do in the gym. Running needed to be part of my life then so I could show Steve what I was willing to do for him. I didn’t enjoy the miles like I used to. Those days of bounding around Knight Park being serenaded by birds and kids and Little League games were gone. Now I was trapped in the run, like I was trapped with him, trying to use one as the means to an end with the other.

The more I drank, the more I smoked, the less I ate. I vowed to do better with my no-carb, no-fat diet: No more slip-ups. No more carbs at all. And if I did make a mistake — a plate of cheese-covered nachos when out with friends, Saturday sandwiches with Mom — I puked it back up. It wasn’t that different from throwing up after a long night of drinking, right? So what was wrong with getting rid of too much food?

On one cool morning six months before the end, when we hadn’t called or texted or emailed in nearly a week — a new record! — I went for a run. It was a gorgeous, clear day, the first one after the summer heat had finally broken. The world felt wiped clean. Maybe, I thought, that day could be a new start for me too.

I ran straight for Knight Park on my usual 3-mile route. I started feeling that strength again that I had found in training for the 5K, in moving my body forward, one step at a time. But one minute I was looking at the war memorial on the corner of the park and the next I was staring up at the concerned face of a mom and her 2-year-old.

“You O.K.?” she asked as her toddler yelled “Boo-boo! Booboo!” over and over again. “You just went down.” I was 115 pounds, a weight I hadn’t been since middle school.

“Oh, I’m O.K. I didn’t drink any water today,” I lied, and let her help me stand up. My vision started to fade again, so I held on to her shoulder.

“Let me drive you home,” she said.

“No, I’m O.K.,” I said, first to her, then to her son, whose eyes were now wide with terror. I played peek a boo with him until he smiled and offered me his binkie. My vision had stopped graying by then, and I shuffled home.

Excerpted from “Running: A Love Story” by Jen Miller. Available from Seal Press, a member of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2016.

Don't be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth


Don't be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

Proverbs are 'short and expressive sayings, in common use, which are recognized as conveying some accepted truth or useful advice'. This example, also often expressed as 'never look a gift horse in the mouth', is as pertinent today as it ever was.

don't look a gift horse in the mouth As horses develop they grow more teeth and their existing teeth begin to change shape and project further forward. Determining a horse's age from its teeth is a specialist task, but it can be done. This incidentally is also the source of another teeth/age related phrase - long in the tooth.

The advice given in the 'don't look...' proverb is: when receiving a gift be grateful for what it is; don't imply you wished for more by assessing its value.

As with most proverbs the origin is ancient and unknown. We have some clues with this one however. The phrase appears in print in English in 1546, as "don't look a given horse in the mouth", in John Heywood's A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, where he gives it as:

"No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth."

It is probable that Heywood obtained the phrase from a Latin text of St. Jerome, The Letter to the Ephesians, circa AD 400, which contains the text 'Noli equi dentes inspicere donati' (Never inspect the teeth of a given horse). Where St Jerome got it from we aren't ever likely to know.

Heywood is an interesting character in the development of English. He was employed at the courts of Henry VIII and Mary I as a singer, musician, and playwright. His Proverbs is a comprehensive collection of those sayings known at the time and includes many that are still with us:

- Many hands make light work
- Rome wasn't built in a day
- A good beginning makes a good ending

and so on. These were expressed in the literary language of the day, as in "would yee both eat your cake, and have your cake?", but the modern versions are their obvious descendants.

We can't attribute these to Heywood himself; he collected them from the literary works of the day and from common parlance. He can certainly be given the credit for introducing many proverbs to a wide and continuing audience, including one that Shakespeare later borrowed - All's well that ends well.

Kennedy and Orgasms

Dare I call this post Kennedy and orgasms? Let me explain. In elementary school we had the Presidential Fitness Achievement Awards and that's when I discovered the amazing side effect of chin ups, leg lifts, and climbing the ropes. Orgasms. Did our President know? He probably would have been overjoyed.

Swimming in the 'Hood

We got special permission to bring the girls next door to the pool yesterday. It's a vacation, I said. When we arrived we had the whole pool to ourselves. At one point the little one dropped my turquoise flipflop into the pool and we all took turns hunting for it sharing a pair of goggles. It's gone! We swam for a while and then I was convinced it had to be here somewhere. I went under the yellow plastic pool stairs and saw it caught in an air bubble. I FOUND IT!!!

I enjoy making good things happen.

I still think I may be trying to convince myself I am not my mother. Who was a very scary woman.

My favorite teacher took me to RI in tenth grade to see RISD. Years later I went to NYC and had lunch with her and thanked her. She said my mom was one of the scariest women she'd ever met.

Robert Bly in IRON JOHN says we have to make a room for the good father and the bad father in our "house".

It's a long journey. I am 55 and I am just beginning to understand that maybe I am NOT her.
This stuff runs DEEP.

God gave us a Great Mayor Lisa-Baldelli hunt, a State trooper and Herson Gonzalez and Father Dennis and Joe Garlick---we can make this neighborhood sing!

Best Park in Rhode Island

Social Park on Social Street. Come and be Social! Also enter on East School Street for the big parking lot next to Cercle Laurier


I would die without diversity.

Short One

You can have it all.
-my husband

If you want it you can't have it.
-my mother

Ventilation tricks to Cool off Your Home

Natural Ventilation Tricks to Cool Off your Summer
The 2012 Summer Heat Wave Is Here

AND apparently it is in full force. With record breaking highs and no escape from the heat our air conditioning units are whining and our wallets are forking over larger than ever amounts for the high costs of cooling. Here are some natural ventilation tricks to help offset that load, save some energy, and get a cool breeze back into your life. Beat the heat this summer with natural ventilation.
Create a Vacuum

To create a vacuum for air flow you have to have pressure and two openings. One for the air to come in (Scary 110 degree air in my house? Over my dead body!) and an opening for the air to leave. (Ahhh, much better…)

You probably know which side of your house stays cooler in the summer. If there is open shaded area next to your house with grass, note this as the lower “In” opening side for your vacuum. If you have two floors, the entire bottom of the house will be used to move air in for your vacuum. The hotter side of your home will probably be adjacent to more direct sun, and more paving as pavement continues to radiate heat back even throughout the evening hours.
“IN” Side

“OUT” Side

Diagram How the Air Flows

If you know what the floor plan is for your space you can easily diagram how you think the air might flow through your home if you began opening windows. As a rule, air does not cut across hard angles so your diagram should look similar to the one below with “flowing” air movements. Now is the time to go test your theories. Open some windows and feel if you can start to create a breeze.
Open a lower window from the cooler side of your home and an upper window from the hotter side of your home. Make sure all doors and hallways are open from one end of the house to the other so the air can move through the vacuum with ease. The stronger the pull you want the closer the cross ventilation should be. For instance, if you have two rooms across a hall, your breeze will be much more intense if you use the windows in these rooms for your vacuum.
When air moves across your spaces it will also begin to pull hotter air out of your home. If you open the windows on the lower level and allow the hot air to rise, when it moves out of your home, the flow will also take the hot air radiating down from your attic with it. Similar to how a breeze cools your body down. Natural ventilation actually cools your space down as it wisks away stagnant hot air.

So don’t be afraid of the hot outside air coming into your home, it won’t actually stay in your home.

Architecture Elements for Natural Ventilation

There are some common architectural elements you can add to your home to improve your natural ventilation experiment. Here is a quick list break down, some are simple to add to your existing architecture, some are a little more costly and time consuming, but all of them are worth the investment.

Those windows above doors you see in older Victorian homes. We have transom windows above all the doors in our home because our old house at one point didn’t have AC at all

Undercut Doors

These allow flow under a door without having to open up a room. They also create an intriguing lighting effect at night throughout your home, and allow you to see when strangers are lurking outside of your room.

Window and Door Screens

These help to keep out the bugs and make you more likely to open your home to the outdoors. Plus your animals will love them. The biggest problem is they need cleaning often so be sure to maintain them and keep your home looking fresh.

Air Louvers

You open air louvers to better focus air flow at different times during different seasons. Often louvers will be installed above windows so you you don’t even have to open your painted shut beauties.

Attic Vents

Properly sized and spaced attic vents have a huge impact for releasing hot air from your house. Have a professional home inspector take a look. They will let you know if you have the right amount and who to call if you don’t.

Clerestory Windows

These are the high windows seen often in double height spaces close to the ceiling. They allow in wonderful amounts of daylight and are perfect for passive ventilation. Clerestory windows are seen in all ranges of architecture from Modern to Gothic.

Let me know how these work for you. See a decrease in your energy bill? Like the summer breezes and smells? Share your favorites, even if you are not using them in the hottest summer months.

Too Afraid

They're afraid of us, he said. We're not of their socioeconomic class. We care about people and art more than vacations, and status.
I hate vacations, she said.
And you hate status.

I Don't Want to be Locked Inside

He would like to return home, but he said he feared that Yemeni or American security forces might mistakenly decide he was working with terrorists and jail him again — or kill him with a drone.

Estonia will permit family visits, but obtaining travel documents has proved difficult. His father, who had a heart attack after finding out he was at Guantánamo, calls him daily, and his mother has taught him to cook over Skype.

Not long ago, he said, he heard a story about elephants who died in a circus fire. They were tied with a flimsy rope but had been trained in chains as babies, learning not to try to break free.

“When this story hit me, I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to be locked inside my own Guantánamo,’ ” he said. “I promised myself that I have to break free from myself. And I told my wife, ‘I will take you to Paris.’ ”

Mr. Qader said his wife, who has never left Yemen, replied that when she finally reached Estonia: “I will explore the world with you. I will hold you to your word.”

The Cloud that Disapeared


Community Means...

When we first moved here we were at the heritage Coffee shop one night and the owner came over and sat with us. "Do you see that girl buying a doughnut," he asked. She's the local prostitute and she's getting so skinny we're afraid she might have AIDS. My husband and I were astounded by his knowledge and compassionate response.

35 years later I see Anette the local prostitute on East School Street and I say to my husband I'm worried she doesn't look good. I think she's gone back to drugs.

Althea and Monica

"Even the drug dealers go out for coffee. What makes them any different. They probably do their laundry and eat meals too." Althea said laughing.
"Their mother's would be so proud," Monica quipped.
"It's a living. Not one I approve of but hey, there's a market and they've stepped up."
"Gotta give 'em credit for moving the economy forward."
They laughed so hard tears were rolling down their brown cheeks.

Diane Ravitch

How Billionaires Are Successfully Fooling Us Into Destroying Public Education—and Why Privatization Is a Terrible Idea
The billionaire-backed privatization movement is stealthily advancing an undemocratic agenda, cloaked in deceptive rhetoric, that the public is not aware of and does not understand.
By Diane Ravitch / Basic Books
July 21, 2016

The following is an excerpt from the new, expanded edition of The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch (Basic Books, 2016):

Something unprecedented is happening to American public education. A powerful, well-funded, well-organized movement is seeking to privatize significant numbers of public schools and destroy the teaching profession. This movement is not a conspiracy; it operates in the open. But its goals are masked by deceptive rhetoric. It calls itself a “reform” movement, but its true goal is privatization.

This movement has had strange bedfellows. Some of its funders and promoters on the far right of the political spectrum are motivated by ideological contempt for the public sector; others earnestly believe they are providing better choices for poor children “trapped in failing schools.” Still others believe that elected local school boards are incompetent and should be replaced by private management, or that the private sector is inherently more innovative and effective than the public sector. And some are motivated by greed, while others are motivated by religious conviction. These strange bedfellows have included the US Department of Education (during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama); major foundations and think tanks, both conservative and centrist; billionaires committed to free-market solutions—and certain they know what is best because they are so rich; entrepreneurs hoping to make money from school privatization or by selling technology to replace teachers; the far-right American Legisla­tive Exchange Council (ALEC), which has drafted model legislation to promote corporate interests and to expand the privatization of almost all government services, including education; and numerous governors and legislators (mostly but not exclusively Republicans) who want schools to operate in a free-market system of school choice.

The privatization movement pretends that it is bravely fighting "the status quo," but having captured policymakers at both the federal and state levels, as well as think tanks, the nation's wealthiest foundations, a coterie of billionaires, and major editorial boards, this movement is the status quo. It is stealthily advancing an undemocratic agenda, cloaked in deceptive rhetoric, that the public is not aware of and does not understand.

This combination of money and political power has been potent in advancing school vouchers, which were once considered a cranky right­ wing extremist idea, but have recently been enacted in a score of states. Vouchers are seldom now called vouchers, because voters have consis­tently rejected them: in 2007, vouchers were defeated by a margin of 62-38 in the red state of Utah, and Florida turned them down in 2012 by 58-42. Thus, the promoters of vouchers enact them through the legislature without holding a referendum and try to hide their purpose by calling them "opportunity scholarships," "tax credits," or "education savings accounts." Whatever the name, the result is the same: these programs transfer public money to private and religious schools, even when the state constitution (for example, in Nevada and Indiana) specifically prohibits it.

This same movement—unfortunately bipartisan—has encouraged the growth of privately managed charter schools, which are marketed as superior to public schools (although they usually are not). Charter schools are a less controversial form of privatization than vouchers be­cause they do not involve church-state issues. And yet charter schools eliminate democratic control of schools because they are privately man­ aged and in some cases controlled by out-of-state corporate chains­ sometimes nonprofit, sometimes for-profit. In many states, the charter schools get no better results in terms of student test scores than the lowest-performing traditional public schools, and sometimes they are even worse than the lowest-performing public schools. Charter schools are supposed to be innovative, but their most effective innovations to date consist of choosing their students carefully, excluding or removing students who might get low test scores, and enforcing boot-camp discipline on those who remain.

This well-funded campaign to shift public dollars to charters and vouchers has had a damaging effect on public schools. The money for choice schools is taken away from the schools that enroll a majority of students, reducing their budgets and causing them to lose teachers, services, and programs. Some school districts, like Philadelphia, teeter on the verge of bankruptcy, having cut their services to students (for example, closing libraries and reducing the number of school nurses) and increased class sizes because of budget cuts and the drain on their resources caused by charters. The greater good of the overwhelming majority of students is sacrificed to satisfy the privatizers’ ideological commitment to “choice.”

The campaign for privatization is sustained by billionaires and mega-millionaires who fund charters, vouchers, and school choice advocacy groups and contribute large sums of money to candidates and elected officials who support school choice. The same people and groups who support privatization have fought legal battles to end tenure for teachers and eliminate collective bargaining, which deprives teachers of academic freedom and any voice in the conditions of their workplace. The privatizers hope to establish a free market for schooling where people think of themselves as consumers, not as citizens who have an obligation to educate all the children in their community. They believe that teachers should serve as at-will employees, constantly fearful of losing their jobs. Competition, they believe, will improve the schools, although there is no evidence that this belief is true even after twenty-five years of experience with charters and vouchers. In Michigan, for example, the state encourages schools and districts to compete for funding by attracting students; as a result, every district spends $100,000 or more to market its wares and poach students from neighboring districts. Millions are spent to lure students, with no evidence that it produces better education.

Turning public education into a free-market system of choice is a terrible idea. No high-performing nation in the world has done this.

In a democratic society, all citizens are responsible for paying taxes to educate the next generation, even those who have no children. Public education is a public service available to all. When education becomes a consumer marketplace, every family is on its own in choosing a school. Moreover, the general community feels no sense of civic responsibility for private choices. When it comes time to approve a bond issue, why should the public support a system of private choices? In other words: Why should people who have no children, or whose children are no longer in school, pay for private choices? Those who demand "school choice" give little thought to these consequences of their advocacy; they do not fret about their role in the likely destruction of a demo­cratic institution.

The purpose of American education is to prepare our children for the duties of citizenship in a democracy. The federal and state policies of the recent past have aimed to turn education into a competition for higher test scores, despite the fact that testing always favors the advantaged over the disadvantaged. The creation of competing publicly funded sectors—one public, the other nonpublic—has not improved education. Instead, it has divided communities. And it has created a booming and politically powerful "education industry," where the big prize is profits, not educated citizens.

Adapted excerpt from The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch. Copyright © 2010. Available from Basic Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education.

Terrell J Starr

Civil Liberties
10 Things Black People Fear That White People Don't (Or Don't Nearly as Much)

Statistically and in practice, black people have more to fear than whites do.
By Terrell Jermaine Starr / AlterNet
March 16, 2015

When black people wake up and begin the day, we have a wide range of issues we have to think about before leaving our homes. Will a police officer kill us today?
Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.

Rampant Classism Built into our System

noun: classism

prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class.

Translate classism to
Use over time for: classism
Translations, word origin, and more definitions
Class Action What Is Classism
Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It's the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.
Class discrimination - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Class discrimination, also known as classism, is prejudice or discrimination on the basis of social class. It includes individual attitudes, behaviors, systems of policies, and practices that are set up to benefit the upper class at the expense of the lower class.
‎History · ‎Institutional versus personal ... · ‎Accusations of classism
Classism | Definition of Classism by Merriam-Webster
unfair treatment of people because of their social or economic class. Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary. Examples: classism in a sentence.

The Castle

Last night we were both exhausted. Lets go to the castle. They were closing but let us stay for a beer. It was the perfect thing to do. Sit at the oxblood picnic table and watch the traffic and chat. There was even a breeze. When we were done we saw the owners pack up and leave each holding a freshly scooped ice cream cone. Two kids on bikes rode over I recognized them from the neighborhood. "I'm gonna get Jack Black's autograph, he said. They're filming outside my window. Maybe Jack Black will be inside my house? Are you the Mayor? he asked me. No, just a friend.


Crescent Moon

I love to wash my clothes before bed and wake up and hang them on the line at four AM. That's what I just did. The air is damp and cool coming in from the fan. I have the blues radios station playing and the cat is on the windowsill. Even the drug dealers are asleep.

Yesterday the Bergeron-Hogan family kids told me they're getting a working fridge today. I am so happy! Are you going to have a fridge party?

"You guys look like you've been camping!" You're all chewed up by mosquitoes. Maybe we can get some OFF at Joblot until your screens are repaired. I take it back the drug dealers ARE awake. I just saw a fancy Lexus drive in.

We used to have a kid above the variety store that lived on his porch all summer. He made an outdoor bedroom. He had his music houseplants TV out there all summer. I've seen guys have a cookout in their yard with TV to watch the game. When I'm outside I don't want those things I want the outside!

Do you ever go camping? Rose asked? No. Once we went camping and we didn't have a tent so we borrowed one from a friend. We rowed boats out to an island. When we arrived we opened the tent and it was all stinky from cat pee. So we couldn't use it. When we lay down the mosquitoes nearly killed us so we had to sleep sitting up and the wind kept the bugs away. But Ruby our puppy was unable to hide so she was getting bitten and barking keeping the whole Island awake. Nature nightmare. Now we camp out by switching our heads and feet on the bed or sleeping on the carpet under the piano.

Someone asked me if there's poop bags in the park. No but I think first we need sunscreen dispensers like they have in NYC parks.

About dogs in the park, I bet we could get the recycled bags from Price Rite and Stop and shop and make some kind of poop bag dispenser. I could talk to Liz. It sounds like a scout project. Anyway the park is something to build on.

Maybe I can get cream from Wrights Dairy and make ice cream with the kids. They are good kids. Or pizza on the grill.
Ice is better than fire when it's 86 degrees and humid. I love these kids.

I feel like I am in New Orleans after the hurricane.
"You can't save the world but you can save the neighborhood!"

Friday, July 29, 2016


William Shakespeare
“I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.”
― William Shakespeare, Othello


We must not allow apologists for this toxic industry to pull the wool over our eyes with their myth of a safe alcohol dose, however appealing it might be to all us so-called "safe" drinkers. Remember these words of a man whose great family wealth and influence was built on illegal alcohol:

"The great enemy of the truth, is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
- John F Kennedy


We are One!

“Our country’s motto is ‘e pluribus unum’ — out of many, we are one,”

Rice in 5 Minutes

We store our 3 pound bag of rice in a huge glass jar we were given as a gift for Christmas. The rubber seal on the lid of the jar smells like fresh tobacco a flavor I can detect in the cooked rice.

I pressure-cooked rice in a bowl with water and salt on the steamer tray over a small amount of water for 5 minutes. I made napa cabbage stir fry with almonds ginger garlic, olive oil, and rooster sauce. I tossed in rice and my chickpea soup so it wouldn't stick to the pan.


His Spirit Spoke Volumes

Last fall, just a couple of months after finding his voice, he entered the hospital, then a nursing home in Queens. The doormen visited him there multiple times a week. A woman on the block bought him a radio so he could listen to music. He was always upbeat. The doormen went to cheer him up. He cheered them up.

“He left me a lesson,” Mr. Arias said. “Always be happy. Don’t worry.”

Speech Writer

I am reading a book about a speech writer and it has made me want to be one.

Elizabeth Bastos


Elizabeth Bastos lives in Baltimore and writes about urban nature. Follow her at and on Twitter @elizabethbastos.

Fell in Love with Woonsocket

How do you describe falling in love with a city? Do you hug the roads? Kiss the pavement? The answer is yes. This is what we do. But really we have fallen in love with the people so we share our bread and biscuits and try not to expect anything in return. That is the important thing if you are really giving you give and walk away. I learned this the hard way from parents who gave us fish hooks and then tugged when the hooks reached our stomachs.

Real giving is putting it on the 'free' table. Not giving and expecting applause or acknowledgement. Giving is not a deal or a transaction. Giving is giving.

In my family of origin my parents entertained all the time and the folks were not friends they were clients. Pretty soon we were perceived as clients not their children. Christmas was filled with clients getting a seat at the table. There was no intimacy in this family. I was starved. So I ran away and joined the circus.

One day my husband and I drove up unannounced to my parents weekend country house and it was like catching my parents back stage. We had an authentic moment of soup and bread. We knew it was fleeting and magical. We left before the stage lights came on.

Feels Like Saturday

The animals are with me as I type in my office. Their papa just left so they are huddled to be near me. Lily is on her green towel covered bed and Sammy is on a blue towel I set down after drying my hair. I want to replace Sammy's towel with a purple one because his orange fur looks so good with the color purple.

It's wet and gray out and we need the rain. The air is so thick I didn't sleep well. It's okay. I will swim and get revitalized. I am thinking of joining the rotary club but I am not sure that I can make the weekly commitment and the financial one. I am still thinking about it. In transmit energy I am very energetic and community minded and confident. When receive mode hits I think "What the heck have I done?" I feel frightened of meetings and groups and plans. I need open space. But that's not all the time and not necessarily the best thing to do. I've learned that getting out can be healing even when it feels awful.

I am trying to use my transmit energy before I turn back into a gray mouse in mid to late October. We are planning a few picnic table lunches for August to discuss the neighborhood with the friends who can help. Father Dennis, Bishop Herson, Reverend Wendy Van Orden, and Joe Garlick of Neighborworks. This is how our beloved community works. One moment at a time and usually over shared home-cooked meals.

We have the commuter train coming and we might have the revitalization of another important building in the city, the old middle school. The renovated park is a dream come true, which includes free lunches for the kids. I would hope that we can get sunscreen dispensers like NYC parks and maybe some bug repellent too. This is why the rotary club might be a good place for me.

I grew up with Narcissist parents we had no knowledge of community because they only cared and believed in themselves. They didn't attend any of our graduations from HS or college. Birthdays were an afterthought unless it was their birthday.

I love Woonsocket. People are real in this community.

It's rewarding to get out from under the ego bubble of solitary writing, and take a walk and a swim.

Even if I could afford a pool I would miss out on swimming with others.

I have been making iced coffee and German potato salad, hummus, and coleslaw like its going out of style. Lately I keep a few tubs of washed and chopped broccoli and cauliflower, napa cabbage and bok choy for eating raw with my hummus. In hot weather this is a fast meal.

I made soup from the garbanzo bean stock and the potato salad stock, and fresh zucchini. It was excellent cold. Salt and water are the keys to handling 95 degree weather.

I hope we can play Matunuck Beach Light Parade. It's my favorite funky gig of the year.

Next I will cook beets to stain my hard-boiled eggs magenta.

Poverty and Community

The family has no screens, no working fridge and no air conditioning. There are 6 of them and a dog."The fridge is empty and it doesn't work," the oldest daughter Rose said to me. I phone a friend who gets them an air conditioner. The city will help with the screens. It's the law. And the kids are all bitten up by mosquitoes. They can't afford food let alone bug repellent and screens. Yes the children broke the screens but I don't fault them they have been caged inside since school let out.
This is the third world right in my parking lot. The Mohawk boys told me that they see ghosts and they described in detail the ones they've seen. "There was a man in a black hat in the window" they said. I listened remembering reading about Carl Jung seeing ghosts as a child. They resumed playing frisbee in our shared parking lot until one of them cut his bare foot on shattered beer bottle. He's okay but we're going to have a chat with the absentee landlord.

Stanley Kunitz

It's the birthday of poet Stanley Kunitz (books by this author), born in Worcester, Massachusetts (1905). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father committed suicide in a public park before Kunitz was born, and his mother, Yetta, erased all traces of Stanley's father from the house, and refused to speak about him. She opened up a dry-goods store and sewed clothes in the back room, working overtime to pay off the debts that her husband had left behind, even though legally she was not obligated to pay them.

One thing his mother did not destroy were the books his father had left behind, books by Tolstoy and Dickens. One of Kunitz's favorite books was the dictionary. He said: "I used to sit in that green Morris chair and open the heavy dictionary on my lap, and find a new word every day. It was a big word, a word like eleemosynary or phantasmagoria — some word that, on the tongue, sounded great to me, and I would go out into the fields and I would shout those words, because it was so important that they sounded so great to me. And then eventually I began incorporating them into verses, into poems. But certainly my thought in the beginning was that there was so much joy playing with language that I couldn't consider living without it."

His first job as a boy was riding his horse down the streets of Worcester and lighting the gas lamps at night. He became a reporter for the Worcester Telegram, went to Harvard, and stayed for his master's degree. He wanted to pursue his Ph.D., but the head of the English department at Harvard told him that Anglo-Saxon students would resent being taught by a Jew.

So he moved to a big farm in Connecticut, and worked as a reporter and farmer. He sold fresh herbs to markets in Hartford. Kunitz was drafted into World War II, and when he came back, he was offered a teaching position at Bennington College. In 1949, the college tried to expel one of his students — Groucho Marx's daughter Miriam — right before her graduation because she had violated a curfew. Kunitz helped organize a protest of the decision, and the president of Bennington showed up at his house and told him to stop immediately. Kunitz took the plant that he was potting and threw it in the president's face, then quit.

He published a second book, but it was barely noticed. He was so unknown that his third book, Selected Poems (1958), was rejected by eight publishers — three of them refused to even read it. When it was finally published, it won the Pulitzer Prize. When someone asked W.H. Auden why nobody knew about Stanley Kunitz, Auden said: "It's strange, but give him time. A hundred years or so. He's a patient man."

It was more than 10 years before he published his next book, The Testing Tree (1971), and slowly but surely, people began to take notice. He was appointed the poet laureate when he was 95 years old. He died at the age of 100.

He said: "It is out of the dailiness of life that one is driven into the deepest recesses of the self."

Alexis de Tocqueville

It's the birthday of writer Alexis de Tocqueville (books by this author), born in Paris (1805). He was 25 years old when the French government sent him to America to study the prison system. He spent nine months touring towns and cities and taking notes. A few years later, he published his famous book, Democracy in America (1835).

During his tour, the aristocratic Tocqueville was impressed by the fact that American Democracy actually worked. He wrote: "There is one thing which America demonstrates invincibly, and of which I had been in doubt up till now: it is that the middle classes can govern a state. I do not know if they would come out with credit from thoroughly difficult political situations. But they are adequate for the ordinary run of society. In spite of their petty passions, their incomplete education and their vulgar manners, they clearly can provide practical intelligence, and that is found to be enough."

It was AMAZING!!!

read article here

The Chaplains of the Woonsocket Police Department are organizing a rally in support of our men and women in Blue.

The goal for this rally is to let our policemen and women know that we appreciate their brave efforts to keep us safe even as they risk their own lives to protect ours.

This effort is a continuation of the legacy that former Chief Tom Carey left for us and one that our new chief assured me he is eager to build upon; to continue to find meaningful ways to bring police and community together.

"Good work is often hard work but if it results in bringing the community together and making it better, isn't it worth it?"
- Retired Chief Tom Carey

We don't ever want to see in Woonsocket what happened in Dallas or in other parts of the country. As Faith and Community leaders, it is up to us to show a path towards unity and harmony. It is up to us to foster these types of uplifting community events that promote solidarity.

We cannot stand idle locally - as tragedies strike nationally.
About Police Chaplains of Woonsocket
Police Chaplains of Woonsocket
We serve those who protect and serve us. We also serve as a liaison with other clergy in the community

Diversity Academy

By Mark Reynolds
Journal Staff Writer

Posted Jul. 24, 2016 at 9:01 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — State Police Sgt. Kenneth Jones is a tall, sculpted athlete who embodies the culture of pushups, leg-lifts and runs at the Rhode Island State Police Training Academy.

He’s familiar with stiff-backed young men and women standing at attention, waiting for his command.

But this isn’t the actual academy. This time, Jones, who is black, is helping 19 young people, many of them minorities still in school, develop their physical conditioning.

The students are near the end of the state police-run "diversity academy" — a new recruiting effort to help young people, particularly minorities, learn about police careers and experience a taste of academy life.

Since this first-ever diversity academy began more than six weeks ago, a tableau of violence involving police officers and minorities — including assassination-style killings of police officers — has deeply concerned many Americans who care about the safety of people in city neighborhoods and the police officers who patrol them.

The diversity academy trainees, between 15 and 30 years old and hailing from all walks of life, couldn’t have picked a more interesting time in history to get to know the state police.

For state police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell, and Lt. Darnell Weaver, who runs both programs, it's a situation that illustrates the importance of bringing more minorities to the rank-and-file.

And from their perspective, the numbers aren’t great: 187 of Rhode Island’s 220 state troopers are white.

"The department should reflect the community it serves," says Weaver. "As a minority myself," he says, "we can do a better job."

Says O’Donnell: "They’re out there. It’s on us to find them."
address biases, including racial biases, and how to keep them from undermining good law enforcement decisions and practices.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

William Evans

One Hell of a Week
Boston Police Superintendent William Evans ran the marathon, then led the department's field response–from Boylston to Watertown.



RI State Trooper

Our new neighbor is a RI State Trooper. Wow! We couldn't have wished for anything better. Maybe the trouble will relocate now that the word is out.

Woonsocket Rotary Club

Today I joined the Woonsocket Rotary Club for lunch. It was fantastic to see so many people I already know from the community. Lunch was delicious and the conversation fun and lively. Perhaps this is where I belong. People call me the unofficial Chamber of Commerce.

Swimmer's Breakfast


by Jill Castle, MS, RDN
It can be challenging to get swimmers to eat breakfast, especially as they get older and busier. They say no. They run out the door. They have no time for a meal. They aren’t hungry.

The excuses go on and on.

However, all swimmers may benefit from a routine that includes eating a healthy breakfast.

The positive impact on growing children and teens have been touted for years and include: improved attention and focus in school, better academic scores, an ability to regulate eating, blood sugar control throughout the day, a healthy body weight, and for the athlete, the availability of energy and nutrients for exercise.

Researchers highlight protein as a powerful influence on blood sugar and weight control, particularly when it shows up in the earlier part of the day.

In fact, University of Missouri researchers suggest teens eat a high protein breakfast (containing around 30 grams of protein) to improve blood sugar control after eating, temper fat gain, and encourage a healthy body weight.

In young athletes, research further emphasizes the importance of evenly distributing protein throughout the day as a key to building, repairing, and maintaining muscle.

Making sure the swimmer gets a protein-based breakfast clearly helps in many areas.

Swimmers can get a variety of quality protein at breakfast by using foods such as milk, soymilk, Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, beef, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, soybeans, nuts and nut butters.

Try these 10 protein-based breakfast ideas. (They are simple and easy for the swimmer to make independently!):

Easy Egg Sandwich
Almost like a fast food option, this egg sandwich is ready in no time. Scramble the egg with a bit of water, place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for one minute. Place the disc-shaped egg on an English muffin and add ham or Canadian bacon, and a slice of cheese. If you want to bump up the protein even more, double the egg, cheese or ham.

Breakfast Bento Box
Pack one or two large hard-boiled eggs, 1/4 cup almonds, 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 cup berries, and 4 to 6 whole-grain crackers in a bento box or other re-sealable container.
Apple Walnut Oatmeal

Cook 3/4 cups of dry oatmeal with 1 1/4 cup of skim milk. Top with 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts and 1 chopped apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.

Nut & Berry Parfait
Layer 1 cup of vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup raspberries and blueberries, and ¼ cup chopped pecans in a tall glass or Mason jar.

Peanut Butter Toast
Swipe two hearty, whole grain slices of toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter each. Serve with a 12-ounce glass of milk or non-dairy milk substitute.

Overnight Oatmeal (made with milk)
Mix ½ cup of oats with 1 cup of low fat milk or soymilk. Stir in 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and top with 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts and 1 small banana. Refrigerate overnight.

Cottage Cheese and Blueberry Bowl
In a bowl, place a cup of low-fat cottage cheese next to ½ cup of blueberries and ½ cup high-protein granola. Sprinkle with chia seeds or flax meal.

Egg, Ham & Cheese Bagel
Akin to the local bagel shop fare, toast a bagel and top it with an egg or two (scrambled or fried) and top with a slice of cheese. On-the-go tip: Wrap the bagel sandwich in tin foil immediately after assembly. The sandwich stays warm and the cheese melts nicely.

Breakfast Egg Wrap
In a flour or whole grain tortilla, layer scrambled eggs, cheese, and fresh spinach. Wrap in tin foil. Or, sauté onions, mushrooms and chopped green peppers or any other veggies on hand and add to the eggs; top with cheese and wrap.

Avocado Toast with an Egg
Toast a piece of crusty, whole grain bread. Smash ½ of an avocado on top of the toast. Fry an egg and lay it on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, or a mix of spices such as cumin, paprika and chili.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian, childhood nutritionist, and youth sports nutrition expert. She is the author of Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete. Learn more about Jill at and check out her free list of 70 Awesome Pre-Workout Snacks for Kids.

Tea and Nausea


Swim the Smilemile

Urban Mermaid swims the smilemile.

Artists in Action

As part of his slow buildup to writing, Franz Kafka devoted 10 minutes to the "Müller technique"—a series of swings, stretches, and body-weight exercises that he performed naked at the window; he did an additional 10 minutes after he had finished writing. P. G. Wodehouse employed a similar regimen, performing a series of 12 callisthenic exercises every morning after waking.

Igor Stravinsky also did exercise right after he woke up. And if he felt blocked while composing later, he might execute a brief head stand, which, he said, “rests the head and clears the brain.”

Taking breaks: So many of the habits in this series—exercising, smoking, napping, walking, caffeinating, masturbating—are really just excuses to take a break. That’s OK! Breaks are good. No one can work nonstop—and if you can, you probably shouldn’t. A lot of artists have noted that it’s during breaks that the “real” work happens and new ideas or insights spring to mind.

The composer Steve Reich relies on this method. “If I can get in a couple hours of work, then I just have to have a cup of tea or I have to run an errand to get a little bit of a break,” he told me. “And then I come back. But those can be very fruitful pauses, especially if there’s a little problem that comes up. The best thing to do is to just leave it and put your mind somewhere else, and not always but often the solution to that problem will bubble up spontaneously.”

When Hemingway got bogged down in his fiction writing, he would take breaks to answer letters. Charles Darwin took time off in the morning to review the day’s mail and to listen to his wife read aloud from whatever novel they were working their way through. L. Frank Baum alternated between writing and gardening, puttering about in his flower beds while he tried to work out ideas for his books. “My characters just won’t do what I want them to,” he would explain.

Of course, there is a fine line between taking a much-needed break and procrastinating—but as we’ve seen, procrastinating can have its benefits, too. If you’re truly obsessed with a problem in your work, some part of your brain will be gnawing away at it all the time. In some sense, then, artists are always working, even when they’re not.

Mason Currey is the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

Emily Dickinson

We can get a vivid picture of what life was like at Mount Holyoke [a female seminary, which Dickinson began attending in 1847, when she was 17 years old] from a daily schedule she shared in a letter to her friend Abiah Root:

I will tell you my order of time for the day, as you were so kind as to give me your's. At 6. oclock, we all rise. We breakfast at 7. Our study hours begin at 8. At 9. we all meet in Seminary Hall, for devotions. At 10¼. I recite a review of Ancient History, in connection with which we read Goldsmith & Grimshaw. At .11. I recite a lesson in "Pope's Essay on Man" which is merely transposition. At .12. I practice Calisthenics & at 12¼ read until dinner, which is at 12½ & after dinner, from 1½ until 2 I sing in Seminary Hall. From 2¾ until 3¾. I practise upon the Piano. At 3¾ I go to Sections, where we give in all our accounts of the day, including, Absence - Tardiness - Communications - Breaking Silent Study hours - Receiving Company in our rooms & ten thousand other things, which I will not take time or place to mention. At 4½, we go into Seminary Hall, & receive advice from Miss. Lyon in the form of lecture. We have Supper at 6. & silent-study hours from then until retiring bell, which rings at 8¾, but the tardy bell does not ring untl 9¾, so that we dont often obey the first warning to retire.

The schedule was indeed regimented, but despite her anxious dreams about home and her waking fears about the entrance exams, she was in high spirits for much of the time.

Vivian R. Pollak, A Historical Guide to Emily Dickinson (See also: The Letters of Emily Dickinson)

(Thanks to Nick Stanley.)

Fred Rogers

Nearly every morning of his life, Mister Rogers has gone swimming, and now, here he is, standing in a locker room, seventy years old and as white as the Easter Bunny, rimed with frost wherever he has hair, gnawed pink in the spots where his dry skin has gone to flaking, slightly wattled at the neck, slightly stooped at the shoulder, slightly sunken in the chest, slightly curvy at the hips, slightly pigeoned at the toes, slightly aswing at the fine bobbing nest of himself... and yet when he speaks, it is in that voice, his voice, the famous one, the unmistakable one, the televised one, the voice dressed in sweater and sneakers, the soft one, the reassuring one, the curious and expository one, the sly voice that sounds adult to the ears of children and childish to the ears of adults, and what he says, in the midst of all his bobbing-nudity, is as understated as it is obvious: "Well, Tom, I guess you've already gotten a deeper glimpse into my daily routine than most people have."

ONCE UPON A TIME, a long time ago, a man took off his jacket and put on a sweater. Then he took off his shoes and put on a pair of sneakers. His name was Fred Rogers. He was starting a television program, aimed at children, called Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He had been on television before, but only as the voices and movements of puppets, on a program called The Children's Corner. Now he was stepping in front of the camera as Mister Rogers, and he wanted to do things right, and whatever he did right, he wanted to repeat. And so, once upon a time, Fred Rogers took off his jacket and put on a sweater his mother had made him, a cardigan with a zipper. Then he took off his shoes and put on a pair of navy-blue canvas boating sneakers. He did the same thing the next day, and then the next... until he had done the same things, those things, 865 times, at the beginning of 865 television programs, over a span of thirty-one years. The first time I met Mister Rogers, he told me a story of how deeply his simple gestures had been felt, and received. He had just come back from visiting Koko, the gorilla who has learned--or who has been taught--American Sign Language. Koko watches television. Koko watches Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and when Mister Rogers, in his sweater and sneakers, entered the place where she lives, Koko immediately folded him in her long, black arms, as though he were a child, and then... "She took my shoes off, Tom," Mister Rogers said.

Koko was much bigger than Mister Rogers. She weighed 280 pounds, and Mister Rogers weighed 143. Koko weighed 280 pounds because she is a gorilla, and Mister Rogers weighed 143 pounds because he has weighed 143 pounds as long as he has been Mister Rogers, because once upon a time, around thirty-one years ago, Mister Rogers stepped on a scale, and the scale told him that Mister Rogers weighs 143 pounds. No, not that he weighed 143 pounds, but that he weighs 143 pounds.... And so, every day, Mister Rogers refuses to do anything that would make his weight change--he neither drinks, nor smokes, nor eats flesh of any kind, nor goes to bed late at night, nor sleeps late in the morning, nor even watches television--and every morning, when he swims, he steps on a scale in his bathing suit and his bathing cap and his goggles, and the scale tells him he weighs 143 pounds. This has happened so many times that Mister Rogers has come to see that number as a gift, as a destiny fulfilled, because, as he says, "the number 143 means `I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say `love' and three letters to say `you.' One hundred and forty-three. `I love you.' Isn't that wonderful?"

THE FIRST TIME I CALLED MISTER ROGERS on the telephone, I woke him up from his nap. He takes a nap every day in the late afternoon--just as he wakes up every morning at five-thirty to read and study and write and pray for the legions who have requested his prayers; just as he goes to bed at nine-thirty at night and sleeps eight hours without interruption.

Esquire, November 1998 (via sampasumb, he replied)