Thursday, December 02, 2010

Root and Fruit

I love it when ideas take root and bear fruit.

A history teacher I work with ran with my suggestion to, "have students experience history, not just read about it." In his WWI-on-the-home-front unit, he had his students create a weekly menu, and list out the ingredients.

Then he posted the ration points available, based on a wartime document from a typical midwestern town one week in March, 1943. Flying eyebrows and colorful language ensued. One group had decided to keep chickens in the yard; no points spent on eggs or chicken. That prompted a family-lore recollection: During the war, the family kept chickens on the vacant lot next door. Each day, the hens were lifted. If there was an egg, it went into a pocket. If there wasn't an egg, the bird got its neck wrung and went into a basket. Produce, or else - there's a war on, buddy!

Another group blew two months' worth of points for a single week's menu. "Enjoy the feast, because you're going to be mighty hungry in a couple of weeks."

Student: "How come there are no points for bread?" Instructor: "There are points for flour. You can bake bread."

Bottom line: They "got it."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mbele Tse’ Tse’aar - The African Wise Man

Background: This Christmas, my church will donate mosquito netting to a village in Africa to help prevent malaria. The worship coordinator decided that an African theme to the service would be nice. She wanted to have the children come up and be told an African Christmas story. The problem is, of course, that the Christmas story isn't African. But there is a lgendary tie-in to Africa....
Mbele Tse’ Tse’aar - The African Wise Man

Many, many years ago, in the east of the vast land that is now called Africa, there was a great kingdom called Ethiopia. Their rulers were noble and wise, and they built great cities. The stories were told of how Tse’ba, an ancient Queen of Ethiopia, had won the heart of the great King Sh’lomo of Yi’isra’al, far to the north. Egypt, the glory of her Pharaohs and pyramids long past, bowed to the East African Kings. The Romans, who had conquered so much of the Known World, left Ethiopia alone. The people of Ethiopia lived in plenty and peace.

It was into this world that Mbele Tse’ Tse’aar was born. From an early age, Mbele was taught how the heavens direct the hands of men, telling them when to plant, when to expect the rains, when to harvest. He learned how the stars and moon wheel in the great dome of the sky, how the Wandering Stars (the ones the Greeks called "planets") move among the constellations, and how to use their motions to predict the change of seasons. He also learned to watch for signs and portents, unusual happenings in the sky, portents of change.

Mbele grew wise in the ways of his people, earning great honor for his ability to read the stars. A learned man, he knew of the prophecies recorded by the people of Yi’isra’al, whom Queen Tse’ba had adopted as her own. These prophecies foretold the birth of a great King, a King of Kings, who would rule the whole earth. Mbele hoped that he might one day see the heavenly sign of this King’s birth, but he did not really expect to live so long.

One night Mbele was holding his hands up to heavens to measure the distance between the White Wandering Star (the one the Romans called Venus) and the Red Wandering Star (the one the Romans called Mars), when he saw something new!

A faint, fuzzy spot of light had appeared where nothing had been before. Mbele took careful note of its position.

The next night, he looked for the fuzzy light. It had moved! The Wandering Stars were where he expected them to be, but this new, fuzzy star... was not.

The next night the fuzzy star had moved yet again. When day came, Mbele spoke with the elder sky-watchers. Together they consulted the records of their people. Fuzzy stars were rare indeed, sometimes taking on terrifying appearances. And more, they always seemed to appear at times of great change.

Mbele did not sleep well that night, nor for many nights thereafter. The new star continued to move across the heavens in a steady northward path. By the time of the new moon, Mbele had decided that this new star heralded the birth of the Great King predicted by the ancient prophets of Yi’isra’al. He resolved to travel to meet the new king.

At that time, the greatest and most knowledgeable of the sky-watchers lived in the ancient land of Ur, between the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates, the land where civilization itself began. Mbele arranged a to join a caravan of traders to that distant land, where he hoped to consult with sages even more wise than he. After many weeks’ journey he came to the sun-baked city, built around a tall, stepped tower. At nightfall he climbed the steps and greeted the sky-watchers there, who were taking their measurements of the heavenly bodies, including the new star. They listened with interest as Mbele told of his observations and his travels.

Mbele was chosen to be part of a delegation to travel to Yi’isra’al to greet the new King. The journey by caravan was long. They traveled by night, following the star as it grew into a flaming arrow pointing to the west. They came into the land of Yi’isra’al and sought the King, Chah’rod. Chah’rod was a jealous king. He was alarmed that a new king had been born, and especially that the birth had been announced in the heavens. He inquired of his own wise men where the King was to be born. Consulting the ancient writings, they told Chah’rod that the King was to be born in Beit Le’chem. King Chah’rod asked Mbele and his companions to find the newborn King, and then return and tell him where the child might be found.

Of course you know the rest of the story: The Wise Men found and worshipped the baby Y’Shua, the new-born King, giving him princely gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned by a dream that Chah’rod meant harm to the Child, they returned to Ur by another path.

You might think the story ends there. But decades later, Mbele traveled even farther east, to the land called India - as ancient as Ur, and as learned in the ways of the stars. There he met a man from Yi’isra’al, called To’mas, who told him an amazing tale: How the child Y’shua born in Beit Le’chem many years ago had grown into a great teacher and healer. How he had angered the religious rulers and had been put to death, and how he rose again after three days. To’mas had doubted the story until Y’Shua appeared to him in the flesh.

To’mas carefully explained to Mbele how Y’Shua had fulfilled all the prophecies of the ancient prophets about the King of Kings. He explained to Mbele that if he trusted in Y’Shua, that all his sins would be forgiven and that he would spend eternity in the presence of the Creator of the Heavens. Mbele received this Good News with great joy.

The tales record that Mbele T’se T’aar, later called Balthazar, was baptised by Thomas the Doubter, who brought the Gospel to India.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where the heck have I been?

On Twitter, mostly (just passed 21,000 posts).
There, I'm talking to nearly 1700 folks. (Not necessarily talking WITH them, mind you...)
Here, I'm mostly talking to myself.
Not that that's a bad thing.
And in my defense, August and September were VERY busy. Still, six posts since the beginning of the year is pretty pathetic. Am I unable to think more than 140 characters at a time?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Some folks want to build a mosque on the 9/11 Ground Zero site. While we're at it, why don't we also:
  • Give the Alamo to La Raza to use as a training center
  • Erect a Shinto shrine to Emperor Hirohito over the U.S.S. Arizona
  • Put up a statue of General Sherman in Atlanta
  • Build a Biergarten at Auschwitz
  • Use the Kabba as the cornerstone for a new Temple on Temple Mount
  • Turn the Dublin General Post Office into a vacation home for the British Crown
  • Build a US Army base at Wounded Knee
What part of insult don't these people understand?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My most popular post, by far

I'm pleased that I keep getting comments on my February 2009 post, "The Upside-Down Pop Quiz". I am curious, though, what route people take to it. Is it turning up in search engines? Under what keywords? Did some influential edublogger link to it? I wonder as I wander...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Here's wishing you a happy voyage home, Dad.

Dad passed away Saturday morning.

Considerate of others to the end, he hung on until I arrived Friday night, (weather delays be damned), and then kindly gave me and my sister all day Saturday and Sunday morning to "do stuff."

Through the wee hours I sat as his bedside reminding him of the good times we had fishing, cooking, camping, Scouting. I chuckled that not a day passed that his voice didn't come out of my mouth. I reassured him that "the kids were alright" and that all would be well. He'd done his job. Several times I looked into his eyes and I know that he saw and heard me. On a couple of occasions as I just sat next to him I looked up and saw him looking at me. I met his gaze and he gave me a slow blink, as if to say, "Ya done good, Aggie."

Around 6:30, his breathing pattern changed. At the suggestion of the nurse I called my sister and held the phone up to his ear. He took a sharp deep breath and closed his eyes. I sang "Anchors Aweigh" to him as he sailed, just as he used to sing me to sleep.

Later, dozing at the hotel, I had a flash of an image: Dad dancing with his beloved Kathleen, his wife late in life, and then with my mother, who passed away decades ago. He was in the prime of life and had that mischievous look in his eyes. Mais oui, he was surrounded by family and friends at the biggest fais do do you ever did see, cher.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lost Nation Airport

Remarks delivered at a public hearing before the Lake County Port Authority and the Commissioners of Lake County, regarding this report.

Lost Nation Airport is an irreplaceable part of the business transportation infrastructure of this area. While the study looks at the profit & loss and payroll of the airport itself, it's not clear whether it examined the secondary economic impact - the increase in productivity for local businesses who use the airport. More than 80% of general-aviation flights are business-related, carrying line managers, technicians, and salespeople.

Here's a typical scenario: You're an account manager for a Painesville manufacturer. Eight o'clock Monday you get a call from your customer in Dekalb, IL. He needs you and an engineer on-site as soon as possible. If you drive, you get there at the close of the business day. Work into the night to solve his problem, drive back the next day. You're gone two days and with IRS milage rates, it's a $500 trip.

You could fly commercial. But by the time you drive from Painesville to Hopkins, park, and convince Security that you don't have a bomb in your BVDs, you've missed the last direct flight to Chicago. Your best option connects through Cincinnati. You get to O'Hare at 3:30. By the time you rent a car and drive out to Dekalb, it's the close of business. You don't save any time flying commercial, and the trip costs $1200.

But if you can rent a plane at Lost Nation, you're off the ground by 11:00. You fly direct to the Dekalb Municipal airport. The airlines only serve 250 cities, but there are five thousand local airports across the country. By 2:30 you're solving your customer's problem, instead of cooling your heels with a Cinnabon in Cincinnati. At the close of business, you're wrapping up instead of just arriving. You fly home that evening and you're back at work Tuesday morning. You've saved an entire business day for two key employees, and the cost of the trip is half of what it costs to fly commercial.

Business aviation means business productivity, which means jobs. Now more than ever, the Lake County economy needs the Lake County Airport.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So now I'm a music reviewer

De-metaling after taking DrummerBoy to a show at Peabody's. Scale the Summit, Devin Townsend, Cynic, and Between the Buried and Me. We were right up front, and I mean RIGHT up FRONT. We used the first moshing to get up to the 2nd row and I braced against the stage for the next three hours. DrummerBoy sat on stage for the last set.

I liked Scale the Summit. Soundscapes of prog-metal. They'll never headline an arena, but in 20 years they'll be co-billed on the Dream Theater reunion tour.

Devin Townsend... imagine Lord Voldemort as a (really talented and REALLY happy) metal singer with a big mourth full of large teeth and a rubber face. Devin loves his job, it really shows. During one song he yelled, "I WANNA SEE A MOOOSSHH PIIIT FROM THE FROOONT TO THE BAAACK!!" then said, "No, just kidding. Group hug." Seems like a really fun guy, and he's got amazing vocal chops. Two octaves plus demonscream, I have to give him the props.

Cynic is psychedelic yoga prog-metal. Yes, really. They had the crowd do a basic yoga stretch mid-set, then played a song to "take you into your mind" and "let you focus on your breathing". Far out, man. Good music, but please lose the Vedic/Zen tutorial voice-over between songs. I do overtly religious music, but only in venues where it's expected (i.e., church, Sunday morning.) I expected them to end the set with "Across the Universe."

BTBAM was... impressive. Incomprehensible, mind you, but very impressive. Baritone screaming alternating with lyrical guitar work. I liked the bluegrass bit they did 2/3 through. That shows confidence. The band members stuck around after to shake hands and be nice.

All in all, it was an interesting evening, and I was very glad to have had the earplugs.