Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thomas L Friedman

The more I cover foreign affairs, the more I wish I had studied education in college, because the more I travel, the more I find that the most heated debates in many countries are around education. And here’s what’s really funny – Every country thinks it’s behind.

Tony Blair has been fighting with his own party over permitting more innovative charter schools. Singapore is obsessed with improving its already world-leading math scores before others catch up. And America agonizes that its K-12 public schools badly need improvement in math and science.

I was just in Mumbai attending the annual meeting of India’s high-tech association, Nasscom, where many speakers worried aloud that Indian education wasn’t nurturing enough “innovators.”

Both India and China, which have mastered rote learning and have everyone else terrified about their growing armies of engineers, are wondering if too much math and science – unleavened by art, literature, music and humanities – aren’t making Indira and Zhou dull kids and not good innovators. Very few global products have been spawned by India or China.

Read Full Editorial
Originally printed in The New York Times - March 24, 2006

via Kara

Monday, March 27, 2006


You know it's going to be a weird day when the Reading Rainbow Theme Song, and the Cello part from Strawberry Fields are simeotaneously running through your head the moment you wake up.

Take a look, it's in a book
De dum de deetle dettle dum

I've been awake for more than three hours, and this silly combo will not get out of my brain.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Rock Tumbler
Hiking Boots
Digital Camera
Sewing Machine
Original Painting
Extra Bookshelf

I don't NEED a rock tumbler, bookshelf, or painting. (But that doesn't stop me from wanting them!)
I have terrible sewing skills (I can't even cut straight).
And my old hiking boots are fine (as long as I wear good socks).

This is a very selfish (and impractical) wishlist

Saturday, March 25, 2006


People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution.
They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

-Jamie Raskin,
[Full Story]


Friday, March 24, 2006


1. I get aprox. 50% of my ToDo List done.
It doesn't matter if it's a two-item list or a 20 item list -
Only half will be accomplished.
(So I tend to write obscenely long lists).

2. Playing pretend games helps everything.
(Or as Mary Poppins said, "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.")

3. I get angry too quickly.
This bothers me.
I've mellowed out - In the old days I got angry super-duper-quickly, now a days I'm get angry medium-quickly.
(Most people don't notice because I'm a fabulous anger-hider).

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I got a hand addressed card in the mail yesterday.
Inside it said, "Juile, someone recomended you as a person who'd be great at [volunteer position]. I'd love to chat with you about [volunteer position]. Are you be avaliable to come to a [volunteer position] dinner/meeting next month?

A personalized, handwritten card that opens with flattery and closes ith the promise of food . . . it's difficult to say "no" to something like that!

I wonder who is talking about me.
I wonder why they think I'd be great at [volunteer position].
I wonder if I really could be great at it.
I wonder if they just say that to everyone.
I wonder how much of a time comittment it would be.

And I dream of fame and forture as a [volunteer position].
(Never mind that fame and fortune is anti-thetical to volunteering - let me have my little dream!)

Five years ago I would not have considered this at all.
I would have said to myself "They're not looking for people like me. It's probably just some kind of pyrmid scheme to get volunteers. They don't even know me. And I'm too busy anyway."

But, I'm gonna persue this opportunity/dinner/self-esteem-boost/clever-marketing-ploy.
I don't know if that's progress or regress.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Artists need four basic things in order to flourish:

1. Artistic formation . . . Artists need training, exposure to the best in their media, the habit of disciplined work, the opportunity to present their work to others, and lots of stimulation from similarly minded artists. They also need wisdom to know how and where to proceed. This can come from "experts" or other thoughtful, discerning persons.

2. Spiritual formation . . . To paraphrase Jesus, what does it profit an artist if she studies at the greatest schools, under the best masters, to the acclaim of the largest audiences, accruing a fine fortune and yet along the way loses her soul? The answer: nothing.

3. Business help . . . If an artist wishes to move beyond personal hobby to a commercial exchange, where the art is viewed, appreciated and bought by a public audience, then she will need practical help. She will need help to mass produce, advertise, market, distribute and to represent her work in as many places and on as many occasions as is deemed beneficial. She might also need legal help.

4. Financial support . . . The life of a professional artist is no different from that of a small business owner or Olympic athlete or research scientist: we all need money to keep going forward. Without financial support it's nearly impossible to make new work, and without making new work it's impossible to become better.

Via Arts Pastor

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Great Bach Quotes -
Organ playing "is nothing remarkable..., all one has to do is hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself."

Another pedagogical gem "Just practice diligently and you will do very well. You have five fingers on each hand just as healthy as mine."

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I'm cleaning again (still?) and came across some paperwork from YA.
Those of you with really good memories may recall that I used to work for YA, but then Jo quit, things got ugly, the staff restructured, and I got laid off.

Part of the ugly-ness was a certain person going on an all out ego trip. She came from a business background and did not fit well into the friendly, happy world of non-profits. (Coincidently, the board president also did not fit well in the happy, friendly, world and so this certain person was granted power and authority to match her ego - which was bad!

Ego Woman started making up polices and things (which closed with phrases like "failure to comply will result in disciplinary action upto and including termination."

She didn't like that I used dots instead of dashes for phone numbers, and created a policy against dots. She didn't like our office password system, so she created new rules requiring seven passwords to log on to our computers. She didn't like anything, and created rules against that too!

So, after finding this old YA policy book and re-reading that part of my life (specifically the insnae password policy) I decided to test the webmaster password.

Guess what!! They have not changed it!

(You'd think mean corporate folk would know better than to leave the webmaster password unchanged after laying off the person that updated the website.

(I'm very tempted to go in and make subtle changes - partly to avenge the crap they put me through. But mostly, I just want to be able to pretend that I'm a hacker!)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

GOOD FOR ME (like lima beans)

I’m applying for a job.
You might think it’s dumb for me to write that here
(Esp. since the potato detective might be reading)

But I have absolutely no chance of landing this job.
It’s a national search,
The person who previously held the position is a Ph.D.,
With seven million years experience.

I really need a full time job.
After the last set of rejections, I’ve been reluctant to put any energy into a job search.
(Besides, I love my part time job!)

But, the hellish rigmarole of resume updating will be good for me (just like lima beans).
And, doing research for the cover letter = good for me (just like lima beans).
And, the exercise of thinking like a job applicant = good for me (just like lima beans).

Lima beans aren't that bad - -
You just close your eyes and do it.
(or make soup and hide them behind carrots, corn, peas, and onions!)

I don’t know if there’s a resume equivalent of vegetable soup.
But “Resume Soup” sounds like the title of a Shel Silverstein poem.

Monday, March 13, 2006


If you can't be a good example,
then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

- Catherine Aird

Sunday, March 12, 2006


1. Complications to my Friday Morning (Sleep-Late-and-Loaf-Around-the-House) Plan
My contractions are three minutse apart.
And there is some spotting
Andy is at work.
I'm scared.
Can you drive me to the hospital?

2. Car seat complications
There's no one to watch the kid.
He has to come with us,
but his car seat is in Andy's car.
No choice but to buckle him in and go carseat-less

3. Complications via temptertantrum
If you were a 4 year old that was just woken up,
And you could see that Mommy and Aunt Julie were focused on getting to the hospital -
You'd push it too.
This is the time to unbuckle the seatbelt and launch a massive fit.
Go all out - throw matchbox cars at Julie's head,
take advantage of the carseat-less-ness and unbuckle the seatbelt,
jump around the back seat,
hit, yell, scarem.
Take the focus off Mommy and see what you can get away with.
You'll never have an opportunity like this again!

4. Comlications with the "I will never spank another person's child" philosophy
'Nuff said.

5. Complications regarding the pregnancy
It's too early - way too early.

6. Complications regarding the drugs
First round doesn't stop the contractions
Second round results in a dangerously low blood pressure

This is what families do -
They lean on each other and navigate complications
We are good at this -
Too much experience

The Kid stayed with me for most of the weekend.
We bought a speical "adventure" sleeping bag for the Aunt Julie slumber party
(plus an extra emergency carseat).

They released her late Saturday -
Strict bedrest
The Baby needs four(preferably six) more weeks

This is what families do.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

They say "Life begins at 30."
They also say, "Never trust anyone over 30."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Today’s my last day of telling the truth.
Tomorrow I’ll be old enough to lie about my age!!!
(Alas, I suspect that if I told the truth - no one would believe me).

True Story –
Last month VE had an educational event at a local high school, with special guests, a school assembly – the whole shebang.
As a member of the education staff, I attended the event to coordinate, direct, and such.
I made a point to dress professionally – wearing my VE nametag so folks would know I was one of the people in charge.
(I like being in charge!)

I was in the hallway with a student ambassador greeting the special guests, answering questions about bathroom locations and such. Then, the school secretary came over and handed us both passes for first period. She thought I was a high school student!!! (now I know I’m supposed to be flattered – but ‘ya know . . . I’m twice as old as that student!)

* * * *

This is your one day warning -
Start thinking of marvelous birthday comments, tribute posts, and snide old person jokes.
Tomorrow’s the big day!

Monday, March 06, 2006


For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter's is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you're trying to breathe liquid methane."
— Neal Stephenson

via Sweet Familiar Dissonance

Saturday, March 04, 2006


When I grow up and become President of the World, I'm making a law that all new clothes MUST have pockets.

I got a new outfit today - slacks, shirt, jacket and NO POCKETS.
It's really cute, but where am I supposed to put my stuff? (Don't tell me to buy a purse - I'm not a purse-person).
That's my Presidential Plattform - A vote for JulieVW is a vote for Pockets.
Thank you and good night.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Seven million Years ago, back when I was still teaching, the 5th grade classes at a certain Fairmeadows Elementary School learned about The Orphan Trains. The 5th grade social studies teacher doing this unit created some weird activity that involved students pretending to be orpahans and finding teachers to "adopt" them.

Now, quite a few of my orchestra kids were involved in this project, and THEY ALL begged me to adopt them. (The silly little 5th graders thought life in the orchestra room was all Yo-yo Ma and Snickers Bars). A certain Miss Steph was rather persistant in her quest to be adopted by Ms.VW.

Steph - You should adopt me. We're both tall with blonde hair. People will think we're sisters.

Me - I'm not adopting my sister. Go to back to class

Steph - OK, they can think we're mother and daughter

Me - uh huh, but I only have a one bedroom apartment. So there'd be no place for you to sleep. Go back to class.

Steph - I can sleep on the couch

Me - Yeah, DCFS would love that. It'd be me sleeping on the couch while you take over my bedroom. I don't think so - It's time for you to go back to class little Orphan.

Steph - You could have your room, except for when DCFS visits, and then it'd be my room for a little bit, and then it'd go back to your room

Me - Nice plan. But I don't have time to raise a kid. I have places to go, people to see, things to do. Poor little Orphan Steph would be home alone. GO BACK TO CLASS!.

Steph - That's ok, you don't need to be home all the time - I can watch tv!

The cruel heart-less Ms. VW did not adopt dear darling Steph (or any of the other dear darling orchestra students that wanted to become my children). They probably failed the Orphan Train Unit, which scared them for life and ruined any chance of future academic success. Poor Steph will end up living in a cardboard box out on the streets. (Sorry Dear)

* * *

The other day, friends had me over for dinner and asked if I'd become the legal guardian for their child in the event of their untimely death.

Y I K E S !

Many many moons ago, I was listed in my parents will to be the guardian of my youngest brother, but Phil was 16 then; the role of guardian would have been limited to signing school permission slips, and enforcing curfews.

But my friends' kid is little.

If they were to die tomorrow, I'd be teaching their child to read, playing the part of tooth fairy, buying training wheels for the bicycle, and RAISING A KID!

I really don't feel grown up enough to be that much of an adult. (I'm grown up enough to use sharp scissors - but that's about it). My current job is only part time; I live in a less-than-ideal housing arrangment, and have one of the most un-child-proofed living spaces in the world. I love their kid, hang out there all the time, but, and, uh . . .

All I can say is they better wear their seatbelts.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

LENTEN THOUGHTS (non-profound)

1. You can always pick out the heathen durring Lent.
Yes, I'm the one that notices there are no snacks at a meeting, and pulls out cookies to share with the group. Yes, they are Girl Scout Cookies. And yes, I encourage everyone to have some (offering 4-5 times) and happily partake of the chocolately, minty, yummy-ness.
I forget that some folks can't have chocolate and snacks right now. (Sorry people - I thought I was being polite, not cruel!)

2. My Birthday generally falls durring Lent. And it sucks that people can't share in my birthday cake, ice cream, and fun because they've given up birthday cake, ice cream, and fun. (It would suck even more if I observed Lent and had to skip my own birthday cake!)