Friday, October 14, 2011

Notes from 10/14/11

1. The sky was filled with crows - I stopped counting at something over 40. They were wheeling and diving all in the neighborhood of a grove of young redwood trees. Forty plus crows make a lot of noise!


I was walking the dogs so we went looking and sure enough there was a very nervous looking great huge red tail hawk in the top of a tree. After a bit, the hawk decided he had enough and off he flew with a parade of crows trailing and threatening him - all "cawing" at the top of their lungs.

Every season has its magic - it is now the time when great black and orange orb weavers construct their perfect webs across garden pathways.

Orb weaver

This is a miracle that mystifies me - how do they store web making instructions into the DNA of a spider egg -how can a sequence of nucleic acid chemical code lead each new generation to the same design...? The older I get the more content I am for there to be mysteries that I dont know how to answer... It is the mystery itself that pleases me.

Last weeks rain caused the overnight appearance of the first mushrooms - and the hills are started their annual color change form yellow to green ( I fear it will be short lived if we dont get more rain to support the new grass.)

2. I urge you to follow daily activities of the "Occupy Wall Street " movement at this site - it is updated frequently...

On the same topic: "What you should know about the “1%”

3. EDUCATIONAL TOOLS: Messy old chalk boards! - Do you remember chalk dust - by the end of the day I had it all over me! Do you remember trying to erase the board clean, and then having to thump the erasers to clean them? Chalk boards have long since been replaced with white boards and easy erase color pens … and these have largely been replaced by preprepared PowerPoint presentations – which allow the teacher to travel around the room as the lecture is proceeding with PowerPoint notes and images on the screen controlled by a handheld "clicker" to change images. If you don't know them do a search for LCD projectors.

Do you remember those old mechanical projectors with real film and the sound of the motor driving the mechanism. Classroom films like "Hemo the Magnificent" (

Hemo poster

and "Unchained Goddess" (… often required most of a period to show. – In todays classrooms, there are still videos but they are often brief and to the point. If I want to illustrate the process of Mitosis – I search in Google for “You tube - Mitosis”.

Onion cells at different stages of Mitosis

Here I find that there are several and so you must choose the one that best matches the level and needs of your class- The videos are generally 2-6 minutes in length and can be directly integrated into PowerPoint lecture note presentations. Teachers generally require students to summarize or respond to the video in a short written piece. Check out a couple of examples: Photosynthesis: Surface of Mars:

***My "Don't Miss" favorite source of ideas for high school science and math teachers is here: - Whether you are a teacher, or have been a high school student sometime in your life - check this out - for example - go to 'Biology' - and there you have your choice of student editions or teacher editions... lots of good activities, videos, labs, as well as text... the entire site is a kind of teacher co-op ... no fee - and is continually growing as teachers across the world contribute more good ideas... I love it!

3. "Un American activities" are being "sneaking by us" in some of our state legislatures: The Brennan Center for Justice from the New York University School of Law recently did a study of state voting practices:

Government of the people - by the people - for the people

"State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws making it harder to register or to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Two states reversed earlier reforms and once again disenfranchised millions who have past criminal convictions but who are now taxpaying members of the community.

Fair government for all

Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting. These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. Based on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it is clear that:

These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.

One man ( or woman) - one vote

The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.

Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.

With liberty and justice for all

States have changed their laws so rapidly that no single analysis has assessed the overall impact of such moves. Although it is too early to quantify how the changes will impact voter turnout, they will be a hindrance to many voters at a time when the United States continues to turn out less than two thirds of its eligible citizens in presidential elections and less than half in midterm elections.This study is the first comprehensive roundup of all state legislative action thus far in 2011 on voting rights, focusing on new laws as well as state legislation that has not yet passed or that failed. This snapshot may soon be incomplete: the second halves of some state legislative sessions have begun."

What can be more unAmerican than seeking to prevent all Americans to vote - especially to stack the desk so that "your party" has an unfair advantage... Another reason to join the OccupyWallStreet movement in your city or town...

This week most of my images came from Wikipedia - the Political figures I copied from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC/

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