You Never Know What Is Getting Through

All Hail the parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities who never give up hope!  Special Ed teachers toil every day to teach students with a variety of disabilities. Some children, like the one in this news piece, may seem hopeless.  Day after day, teachers teach…but may never know if they are even being heard.  They may wonder, as these parents did:  “Is he even in there?”.  Imagine finding a way to communicate with people after being (seemingly) uncommunicative for nearly 20 years!

It is wonderful that the iPad released Watson from the prison of his disability.  But it was the parents and special ed teachers who never gave up that allowed Watson to recognize and use the keyboard letters to type out a message.  He obviously knew how to read and write.  He was just physically incapable of doing so until the iPad.  It was his teachers who taught him to be literate.  The iPad simply allowed them to see the fruits of their mighty efforts!  Technology, no matter how wonderful, will never replace the Annie Sullivans of this world with their relentless efforts to stream light and sound into seemingly closed worlds.

Autistic Man Breaks Through the Silence

Hail the Everyday Heroes

I am thinking of all the brave teachers just starting back for another year being heroes to their students. Everyone has something to say about teachers. Everyone THINKS they know what it is like to be a teacher.

These should make you laugh. And if you don’t understand the humor….just give teaching a try and see how easy that cushy 8-3 really is.


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The Good Old Days?

*FULL DISCLOSURE:  Please read this disclaimer carefully before reading the “Good Old Days” post below:

Am I a Democrat? (AKA Flaming Liberal)

Yes – I find myself mostly on the Democratic side of issues. And liberalism is in my genes.

Do I agree with Rush Limbaugh’s opinion that religious based organizations should NOT be required to provide free birth control to their employees?

YES I DO. Surprised? In my opinion this is a violation of freedom of religion. When a person accepts employment in a religious based institution (such as a hospital) they accept all the conditions of employment. If the benefit package is not sufficient, they need to look elsewhere for a job.

Do I believe that  the government or health insurance companies should impede women’s access to birth control for religious reasons?

Of course NOT! Additionally, I think that health insurance in religious based organizations should be required to provide the birth control pills prescribed for medical reasons.

Do I think Rush Limbaugh should be allowed to express his opinion on this issue in such a piggish manner?

NO, I certainly do NOT. It is HATE SPEECH, and should not be treated as freedom of speech.

So…to those of you who think I missed the point Rush was trying to make….trust me. I missed NOTHING. And if this bigoted  pig were to drop off the air tomorrow, you would also miss nothing.

Please keep reading below



The GOP primaries remind me of those emails those of us of a “certain age” get now and again….looking fondly back at the “Good Old Days”.  You know the ones….

 Remember when….

  • Ice cream cones cost a nickel.
  • Penny candy really cost only a penny.
  • Mom was waiting for us at home after school every day with cookies and milk.

Ahhhh…. such a lovely safe time. If only we could go back!

The Republican Party seems lost in nostalgia these days. Hoping to go back to the days when it would be unthinkable for an African-American man to be president, or a woman to participate on a panel discussion on reproductive rights. (Birth-Control Hearing Was ‘Like Stepping Into a Time Machine’)

Interesting how turning the clock back often revolves around controlling women….

I remember when…..

Most women were stay-at-home Moms because “biology was destiny” and they had a houseful of children. It would appear that Rick Santorum is feeling all warm and fuzzy about those days, declaring that contraception is “harmful to women“. Huh?

I remember when…..

Women were mostly called girls….  Although women who stepped out of line were often called sluts, easy, “no better than they should be”…and (in the REALLY old days) “roundheeled”. Rush Limbaugh has recently revived all of those wonderful old terms, and more.  Doesn’t it just warm your heart?

I remember when…..

Women were allowed to have career aspirations…as long as they aspired to be a secretary, a nurse, an airline stewardess or a teacher.  Have you ever wondered how many bad teachers there were in the old days, because ambitious women had so few choices?

I remember when….. 

Women were considered undependable by banks. Only the huband’s salary could be considered when qualifying for a mortgage. After all, we had that unpredictable habit of getting pregnant. That was true as recently as when we purchased our house in 1973.

I remember when…..

Women had to quit teaching when they began to “show”. How else were we to shield innocent children from the scandal of a pregnant woman? Even if she was married, it still was vaguely indecent. Don’t believe it? I was required to take maternity leaves in 1973 and 1977 by no later than my fifth month.

What memories of the good old days do you have?

I worry that this nostalgia for the good old days is, at best, an illusion and at worst, a move backwards to the days when the closet Rush Limbaughs of the world were socially acceptable. (Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke controversy)

And, by the way Mitt,  what words WOULD you have used when commenting on Sandra Fluke? Good girl? Bad girl? Lady of the evening? Working girl? Little lady? Little woman? Feisty little lady? Hysterical? Any other condescending terms from the “good old days” that might come to mind? Fill in the blanks please, so we know exactly where you stand. And Rick .. . ENTERTAINMENT? REALLY? Minstrel Shows and Christians vs. Lions were once considered  entertainment. Do we want to go back there?

Thank goodness, the entire Republican Party has not gone crazy. Although I don’t often agree with George Will, I do respect his thoughtful opinions.










Image from Cafe Press

I worry that today’s young women do not see the danger.  Most of them think like my daughter (a marine/fresh water fisheries scientist). The other day, while talking about women in traditionally male jobs, she said, “You and Dad always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed you”. I couldn’t help but think of Sandra Fluke’s parents when Rush flung those filthy slurs at their  intelligent, well-spoken daughter. Thank goodness Ms. Fluke believed her parents when they told her she could be whatever she wanted to be, and say whatever she believed to be true.

I know my granddaughter believes she can be anything she wants to be. I hope the world she grows up in believes it too.

Yes … I REALLY hope so. I don’t want my girls to think we lied to them. And besides, all three generations of us would make VERY bad “Stepford Wives“!!!



Have Computer Savvy…Will Travel

Retired.  Hmmmmm.  What now?  I’m looking for meaningful work and could really use some advice.

I would absolutely LOVE to help people one-on-one to become more computer savvy.  Specifically (but not exclusively) I am thinking of older folks who might have just gotten a computer, but are struggling to use it, or even those who might be on the fence whether to even get a computer.

I am thinking of things like this:  uploading pictures from digital cameras, organizing and working with pictures, setting up email, how to attach files via email, organize an email address book, set up a facebook page safely, set up Skype, create document files and shortcuts to frequently used files…and on and on.  You get the picture.

Most importantly, I want to do this individually in the person’s home with their own computer, and not in a workshop setting.  I think too many folks go to introductory classes, and then get home and can’t seem to apply what they learned to their own computer.
Here are my questions:
  1. What do you think about the plan?  Do you think it is something folks would be interested in?
  2. How would you go about advertising?  My husband is freaking out about the idea of me going into strangers’ homes.  How would you deal with that?
  3. On a related subject – do you think too many people would hesitate inviting a stranger into their home?
  4. Do you think there might be retirement communities who would allow me to offer my services?  Other ways to advertise directly?
  5. What do you think I should charge?  I am not really interested in making a lot of money – but can’t afford to do this entirely on a volunteer basis.  I was thinking perhaps $25 for the first hour, $45 for two hours, and $50 for three hours.  Too much?  Too little?
  6. Given the fact that I would rather not charge for travel – do you think a 50 mile travel radius would be good?
I appreciate any and all thoughts you can offer.

Outsourcing Thinking

EasyBib has a new feature. According to their promo video , when you autocite a website, it will tell you if it is credible, not credible, or something in between.

For instance, Wikpedia is NOT deemed to be a credible source. I know there are differing options over that issue – but EasyBib gives a “black and white” answer …. (in this case displayed in red).

I am a great fan of EasyBib … but this feature makes me uncomfortable. I don’t mind automating a more “routine” kind of operation such as creating a citation. When all is said and done, at least automated citation tools make it easier for kids to “do the right thing”.

BUT….. as much as I like using web tools to enhance research, I don’t like automating the evaluation process. I want kids to THINK about their sources, track down evidence to support or reject a source, etc. In short, I want them to have the opportunity to do some higher level THINKING.

I’ve been testing EasyBib’s new evaluation feature.   Easy Bib says this
webpage is credible:
It is a very cute website, created by Brian for a 4th/5th grade
classroom website.  I use it as an example of a website that is NOT
credible, because the author is a child.
So much for the new feature.  Machines just cannot think.  Not really.
If we “outsource” the thinking process to machines, how long before our
ability to think will atrophy?

I’ve been testing EasyBib’s new evaluation feature.   Easy Bib says this webpage is credible:
Joust and Tournaments

It is a very cute website, created by Brian for a 4th/5th grade classroom website.  I use it as an example of a website that is NOT credible, because the author is a child.

So much for the new feature.  Machines just cannot think.  Not really….  Even machines that are monitored by people… (see comment below from EasyBib rep). Every web page is an individual situation. If we “outsource” the thinking process to machines or other people, how long before our ability to think will atrophy?

It would be interesting to watch how the whole thing plays out. Another thing to miss when I retire….watching students and teachers adapt to new tools.

I would love to hear your opinions.