Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I post this, today, with complete respect for Senator Bob Duff who continues to be a champion for youth and writing in the State of Connecticut. Whereas I have dedicated my first year in Connecticut to learning more about the state, I feel it is important to tip my hat to the man who is partially responsible for making my work possible. I met Senator Duff this summer when Faye Gage, the previous Director of the Connecticut Writing Project, invited him to speak with teachers and students. I quickly admired that he would take time from his busy schedule to listen to them about the importance of teaching and learning to write.
I met with him again yesterday to update him on our programs and, once again, was impressed by his amiable willingness to meet. He is someone I have quickly learned to respect in Connecticut.
The following is from his state profile:
Bob Duff represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Norwalk and Darien. Reelected to his fourth term in the state Senate in 2010, he continues to serve as chair of the Banks Committee and as vice chair of the Transportation and Energy & Technology Committees. Bob also chairs two subcommittees as a member of the AppropriationsCommittee.
Bob’s continuing commitment to “stand up for you” is evidenced by his legislative accomplishments. Determined to save Connecticut homeowners from the ravages of predatory lending, in 2008 Bob rallied the legislature to create a package of assistance programs and reforms to reduce the number of home foreclosures in the state. He’s also led the way in energy conservation and planning, historic preservation, consumer protection and transportation.
To read more, click the following: Bob Duff, Supporter of Writing Instruction in Connecticut
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
For my own sake, Nutmeg was a name a Dragonfli once used in Kentucky. I do not use the powder spice made from the nuts and I am not sure I would recognize a tree if I saw one. Even so, I now live in the nutmeg stage (thanks, Barbara for the trivia)
The following comes from the Connecticut State Library: According to the book State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1941):
"The sobriquet, the Nutmeg State, is applied to Connecticut because its early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs. Sam Slick (Judge Halliburton) seems to be the originator of this story. Some claim that wooden nutmegs were actually sold, but they do not give either the time or the place."
Yankee peddlers from Connecticut sold nutmegs, and an alternative story is that:
"Unknowing buyers may have failed to grate nutmegs, thinking they had to be cracked like a walnut. Nutmegs are wood, and bounce when struck. If southern customers did not grate them, they may very well have accused the Yankees of selling useless "wooden" nutmegs, unaware that they wear down to a pungent powder to season pies and breads." Elizabeth Abbe, Librarian, the Connecticut Historical Society;Connecticut Magazine, April 1980.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Every year, Alice Stevenson (the History counterpart to my English class) joked we should start the first day of school with the song from THE KING AND I, "Getting to Know You."At the college level, though, new students arrive every semester, so yesterday was like a first day of school.
As students trickled into my graduate course, I thought I would finally use the song she suggested to introduce myself to students and vice versa. It was an easy task to lip sync to the musical and shake everyone's hand. Musicals are corny and, well, so is learning, no?
Of course, it was not as special without Alice at my side laughing at the foolishness of the idea. But I can say, Alice, I did it and I made fun of myself like you would want me to....and it sort of worked.
The only thing that could have been better would be if Alice was still right next door to laugh with me.
Sigh. I miss teaching with her immensely.
Monday, January 16, 2012
But I can not help it.
After four weeks of a winter break, where I revised a dissertation, created two new syllabi, revised a book chapter, organized twenty teachers to score for Scholastic, did a workshop for 4th graders and another for 5th graders, wrote three recommendation letters, sent requests to several politicians on behalf of the Connecticut Writing Project, created a budget to keep our site alive, and mentally wrestled with the financial reality of selling a home in upstate New York, it is time to teach once again. I think I had a bit of a break at some point, but somehow I remember it involving a sausage roll and fist fights.
So, I want to go on vacation, but it's "back...back to school again."
Lucky for me, I only have to teach for four and a half hours tomorrow. It is always strange f the night before a new set of students arrive. I will only have some new students, though. Most of mine have carried over from last semester. Only the content and courses will be different.
These are some of the findings from my dissertation, and I wanted to know more about Connecticut.
Connecticut has relocated approximately 3,000 refugees since 2005. Many of these are Karen from Myanmar who were living in camps of northern Thailand. Also, individuals from Congo, Somalia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia, Burma, Burundi, Iraq, and Bhutan found homes in Waterbury and New Haven.
Carol Pipher describe the changing demographics in the U.S. as diversity happening in the middle of everywhere. For me, it represents that the American dream is still alive. Yet, I also know that the dream is much harder than most imagine (including those who are American-born and struggling in the U.S.).
And this this said, I have much more to learn about Connecticut's work with refugee families.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
The game of nine pin was very popular in Europe and eventually made its way to the United States, including Connecticut. Yet, because of gambling, Connecticut outlawed nine pin to inhibit the ways men placed dollars onto pins. To get around this, they added a pin, so that ten pin bowling became the sport it is today.
I know this because last night I went bowling with a group from Fairfield and checked into its history. Sure enough, there is a Connecticut connection. I am a little sad, however, because I was heading to a high score and lost my mojo. I ended up with a 182 and still, to this day, have not broken the 200 mark. That is a new goal to my life's bucket list.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
The IB program implemented at the school teaches students to view the world as curriculum, to read often, and to aim high. The kids treated me like a superstar and energized the potential of what young people can do when given the tools to write. Their teacher, Tania Nicole Williams (who participated in the Connecticut Writing Project's Summer Institute at Fairfield University, recently sent me the invitation after she completed an audio podcast project with her 5th graders. They impressed me so much I knew I had to go.
I am charged by her brilliance as an educator and what her colleagues had to say about their young writers. The hope and magic is definitely alive at their school.
Friday, January 13, 2012
She's a year older and Cliff is a year younger, but it all works out....Latethirtypostforty somethings who found themselves at the same school and living in the same town, all with interests in writing. We talked about books, aging, moving to Connecticut, domestic life, and what comes next.
It's nice having acquaintances in the area to say hello to now and again.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
That is not why I post, however. This is to celebrate what I witnessed last night.
Twenty teachers from the Connecticut Writing Project volunteered to score writing for a national contest. They gave up an evening to be trained, arrived, and began scoring. They realized they would have to finish on their own in the next two weeks, but committed to the creativity of youth, they were willing. They are not being paid. I could only afford to get them pizza. Yet, they came. And they talked about why: "to see what the nation's best are doing," "to discover possible writing assignments" "to encourage more types of writing beyond state assessments," "to be with colleagues," "to recharge my battery."
These are parents, spouses, and educators with 100s of students every day yet they find a little more oomph in their week to support one of the few programs in this country that promotes the artistry of youth.
That to me is heroic. That is admirable. Thumbs up, Connecticut.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I will be spending free time this week (rumor is that free time still exists and that I should designate a part of each week to it) to scoring for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. My team of twenty teachers will look at short fiction, flash fiction, poetry, news writing, essay writing, portfolios, dramatic scripts, and expository writing and help this program find the best adolescent writers in the United States.
When I taught in Kentucky, I sent a few entries their way and my kids won a gold and silver keys. I was proud of them. The publications of writing and artwork that result from this are astounding and, for the best, scholarships are offered.
In 2012, creativity deserves to be recognized and that is why I promote the work of these organizations. In a time when curriculum becomes more and more standardized and leaders look to quantify what is known rather than qualify the possibilities of what youth can do, I applaud Scholastic and the Alliance. They offer hope.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The CWP – Fairfield Invitational Summer Institute uses the model of teachers teaching teachers and has trained more than 350 teachers, kindergarten through college. In addition, CWP – Fairfield offers to a wide audience of educators a rich assortment of programs, including nationally recognized speakers on reading, writing and learning issues, Young Writers' Institutes and Writers' Retreats.
The Connecticut Writing Project was designated a Center for Excellence by the Connecticut State Legislature in 1986 and shares with other Writing Project sites the Carnegie Corporartion od New York’s evaluation as the “best large-scale effort to improve composition instruction now in operation in this country”.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Approximately 3,578,097 individuals call Connecticut home (that is approximately 1% of the nation). Hey, it's a very small state.
77% of the state is White, 10% Black, 4% Asian, and 8% other. With this said, almost 20% speak a language other than English at home.
The average person commutes 25 minutes to work (probably, in my opinion, less that four miles. The traffic is that ridiculous).
Now get this: The average price of an occupied home in Connecticut is about $300,000. Yeah, right. Interesting, however, the median income or homeowners is $66,7000 dollars and for non-home owners is $35,000. My read is that most people can not afford to live here. This might explain why 10% of the state lives below poverty.
My analysis...this space is not the reality of the rest of the United States. Only one reality.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
The good news in Connecticut is that I have an administrative assistant that lives around the corner and who has a turntable Scrabble board. She beat me two games to none as I simultaneously played her old skool style while tending to the 21st century Words with Friends version on my phone. In some ways, having the cell phone and the in-person version of the tile game going at the same time makes for much more interactive word play (although Words with Friends lets you attempt words without being challenged - it simply tells you when a word is not a word).
We hit a snafu on the old fashion game, though, when Dictionary.com acknowledged words that her Webster's dictionary did not. It was a conundrum of whether or not a digital word book was worthier than the printed one that is traditionally used in game play. We tended to use the online dictionary more because it was more tolerant of acceptable words.
I don't know about you, but an evening playing Scrabble is always a good evening. My letters did not cooperate, but it still is fun to see how many points you can rack up. I know that if these word games continue at this pace, I will be putting tiles down in my sleep.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
I am stoked.
Of course, there's controversy surrounding the plant and I doubted the green Gecko myself because I didn't realize Connecticut had jobs that typically were outsourced overseas. I am totally intrigued about everything PEZ and I imagine I will learn a lot when I finally get a walking tour. Kentucky had its Derby, and New York has its big apple, but Connecticut has the PEZ factory. That is beyond cool and it is now a quest to find it.
Sigh. After careful research, I learned they don't give tours. They do have online videos, though. Boo Hoo.
Friday, January 6, 2012
I love Louisville and I love Syracuse. I also love the work I have been able to do in both locations. Now I am in Connecticut. It has been a difficult road (far from easy), although I have grown to appreciate the experiences I have had with the individuals who changed my life, the obstacles that presented themselves to me that I needed to overcome, and the daily existence I was fortunate to establish with many people I love. With this said, for the last four years I have not have had economic comfort and I lost money. Recent news, too, added to my financial woes. I had begun to think that I made a mistake doing doctoral work and leaving the financial comfort I once knew.
And this is the reason for today's post. I believe in magic and love. I also know I have a lot of karma to return to the world.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
My 2012 postings would not be complete without a nod to Javier Colon and his accomplishment of winning the first NBC Voice show. The better trivia is that he came from Stratford, Connecticut, where I currently hang my coat when I return from the University. So, he's a local guy (although I haven't seen him at any events I've gone to or at any of the local grocery stores).
Here he is singing Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. We might do better in Connecticut by having him sing in loud speaker's across the state. He's got an inspirational tone, no?
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Connecticut was an original colony founded by the Dutch after they ventured up the Long Island Sound and began trading to work against the English and the Pequot Indians. With them came small pox that did a number on indigenous people. The Dutch didn't last long and by 1965 they retreated to Great Britain. Colonists from Massachusetts went south and began to settle the area with easy access to the water.
It is interesting to know that Long Island could have been given to New York, but through the power of the Duke of York, the Empire state claimed the land. I suppose it might be nice, today, to know I could cross the sound and visit relatives in the same state. Alas, they're Yankees because of York's prestige.
Connecticut was involved with the American Revolution. The British landed to its territory to maintain power of their colonies, but as history tells us, they failed. It was occupied shortly by the French during the revolution efforts, as well (more indication of Europe's imperials thirst - the same lust that divided Africa and caused the civil wars of the 20th century that uprooted many of the refugee families I have worked with). Americans, however, were triumphant (and note that the land they claimed belonged to native Americans before European occupation.
That's a good start and I will finish there. More is to come, however, so stay tuned.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Ah, surely I joust.
I bought a lemon of a home when I returned to CNY. I should never have purchased one, but having sold my house in Indiana, it seemed like the logical thing to do. I lived paycheck to paycheck to fulfill my mortgage obligation AND I loved that house: the land, the nature, the woodburning stove, the openness. I did not have much extra to invest in home repairs, although I did what I could.
When I moved in, we noticed the floors were uneven and when we had the home inspected an officer saw nothing wrong. He reported the floor must have been replaced. We now suspect that was a scam by the realtor at the time and that the jousts underneath the house had rotted and the floor sank.
Witness the jousting above. That is me against life. Live versus me. Several inches of water have resided underneath the house in the crawlspace for more than a decade and this has caused jousts to rot. That is why the floors are uneven. The inspector I had did not report this when I purchased the home, yet the inspector hired for SELLING my home discovered it. So four more years of joust rot has occurred. It needs to be repaired and, because I am an honest person, I will repair it.
Thunk. Whack. Phwtt. Bop. Life is hitting me hard again. I truly am jousting.
As I try to think ahead to the Connecticut world, my mind is focused on my house in Syracuse. C'est la Vie. I am imprisoned to a soaked foundation in North Syracuse that needs a gigantic sump pump. Let the slurping of my wallet begin.
Monday, January 2, 2012
It is 279.95 miles from my parents house to my rental in Stratford, Connecticut. Mapquest predicts it is a five hour drive, but I have averaged about four and a half hours.
Syracuse plays UCONN on February 25th at 9 p.m.
Both Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun won their 700th game within the same week in March 2005. UCONN has won big East tournament championships in 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2011. Syracuse has won big East tournament championships in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2003, 2010 - They have one more than the Huskies.
Is that enough trivia for one day? How about the fact that Boeheim has a 1.7% Career win advantage over Calhoun. With this said, Calhoun has led Connecticut to one more NCAA championship than the Orangeman.
I am sad that the Big East will no longer be what it once was.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
As my sister pointed out to me as I hastily tried to put together a last minute movie to close out 2011, "Bryan, that music is really stupid. Don't you have anything better than that?"
The truth is, NOPE. Not on this machine. And I am still not comfortable with the new version of IMovie. So, I am still playing.
Either way, this is a wave good bye to my New York life the last four years and a greetings to the state of Connecticut. For the next 365 days I am hoping to learn much more about my new environment and envision projects that might make the world a better place. In the meantime, the video above is a montage of a few memorable scenes in 2011.
I know. I know. I know. The music is terrible.