Sunday, August 31, 2008

Book Report:: Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale

I picked up the audio version of this book for listening during a drive last week. It is not the first book I have read about the Galveston Hurricane, and certainly not the first time I have heard the story. This event is something you hear about repeatedly as a Texan, and especially as a resident of the Gulf Coast. I wondered how much it could add to existing books for young readers about the storm, which include The Silent Storm and Summer of the Storm. And for older readers, Isaac's Storm sets the mark in my opinion. Dark Water Rising indeed earns a place as an excellent choice for learning about the event, blending fact and fiction into a compelling story. Though I didn't think about it when I selected the book, this is certainly a timely choice as Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast. None of us from that region has forgotten Katrina or Rita, and the waiting game is again upon us.

As an aside, back in the early 1970's I was teaching 7th grade reading in Spring Branch, a Houston area school district. I had one of those stand-out classes, where the students are especially responsive and come together to comprise a very special group. We were studying folklore and I wanted to dramatize the fact that the oral tradition is an ongoing and vital force. Somehow I was able to gain permission and schedule a bus in order to take the kids to a nearby retirement home to visit with residents. Armed with pens and notebooks, the students interviewed willing residents. Coming out of that experience were two amazing encounters. We met a former Pinkerton detective and a survivor of the Galveston Hurricane. I remember how awed we all were by the history these two shared. Sadly I did not take a tape recorder or save the students' accounts this experience. I wonder sometimes if any of those kids remember the singular good fortune we had in meeting people with such memorable accounts to share. Another thing I did for all my classes was bring in guest speakers who were well up in years and who had special stories to share. While busing kids somewhere to visit oldsters would be well nigh impossible with today's constraints, I like to think that if I were still in the classroom I would continue bringing in guests. Video is great and live cams are super, but nothing takes the place of face to face encounters.

As Gustav approaches, I pray for all in harm's way.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Unsolicited advice

Don't listen to me on this...listen to one of my favorite columnists, Kathleen Parker. I like her partly because I only agree with her about half the time, thus keeping her interesting. Some other writers either make me mad 99% of the time, or have me nodding the same. Anyway, stop what you are doing and go read what she has to say in her piece called "A midsummer's notion: Make time for nothingness."

Here's a link, but I read it OFF PAPER while already taking her advice:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reset Computer to Previous Date...What About Life???

A student of mine emailed me that he was calling Dell about a computer problem. I expected, correctly, that they would take him through the steps to reset to a previous date. It worked and he is happily back on course. Every time I do this or recommend it to someone, I cannot help thinking...wouldn't it be nice if we could do that in life? Frankly I wish right now I could just go back to 8 AM today. I lost an entire day stubbornly trying to complete a transaction that just wasn't going to get done in one day. As a result I have little to show for today and mounting frustration as I am behind on so may fronts. Going beyond that simple little adjustment, my imagination can wander down all sorts of paths...what about you?