Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ms. Betsy DeVos for Secretary or Education…  If there is any single thing which Donald Trump is proposing which shows his inadequacy more than any other thing for the high office of President of the United States it his appointment to this critical office of a person who has shown for her entire life a distain for public education and for the people who keep trying year after year to make public schools work for all students who are assigned to them. 

The questions asked by members of the Senate were reasonable… and predictable.  Those Senators who are in the party of the nominating President-Elect asked questions that were at least weak and perhaps should have been seen as embarrassingly inadequate by everybody who heard them. The answers by Ms. DeVos to those questions were inadequate and provided little insight into her understanding of either learning and education or to management of a great program which should be designed to get young students ready to be adults, fully prepared to be citizens of a great country.  Ms. DeVos is obviously a very wealthy person who has always had all the advantages of wealth as she was growing up.  She fails to understand what school and schooling can be for the children of poor families who are trapped in poverty. 

There are plenty of people, many of them having grown up in middle or upper income families who have education and experience that has given them insights needed to make an education program work for all people.  Senator Sanders’ questions were the best.  He wanted to know if Ms. DeVos would be in favor of working to make post high school education free for all students.  She dodged the question by responding that nothing is free.  Senator Sanders answered by saying that the question wasn’t about the cost of education but whether it should be free for all students.  Ms. DeVos smiled and said something to the effect that somebody has to pay… and she dodged the question.  

Poverty is THE problem.  The children who grow up in families who live in comfortable, well-furnished homes, homes that are furnished with everything needed to make every member of the family comfortable, expect to be successful.  That expectation makes a tremendous difference in the child’s education.  In building and maintaining appropriate educational programs and facilities for children, the expectation factor must be taken into consideration.  I have worked in both environments.  Some of the most capable youngsters I have seen, in the schools where I have worked have grown to be successful adults.  I have watched capable students at all grade levels who have come from financially stressed families grow at home and at school into successful adults.  I have watched less capable students at all grade levels who have come from financially secure families manage to grow also into successful adults. The expectation factor was very important.  The Secretary of Education must be a person who knows the importance of making all schools places where all students will learn to expect to become successful… with the definition of success being understood by all students.

Mary Kusler, the Senior Director of the National Education Association Center for Advocacy, sent the following advice:

“As a lobbyist and political donor, Betsy DeVos has a decades-long track record of working to undermine public education and privatize our public schools, harming students in the process. 
She favors schemes like vouchers to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools. 
DeVos has pushed for-profit charter schools which allow corporations to profit off of taxpayers, with no real accountability.
In Michigan, she fought for a tax cut to benefit wealthy families, even though it would result in enormous budget cuts for public schools.

We need a secretary of education who will support and strengthen public schools, fulfilling the promise of a great public school for every student, regardless of their ZIP code. Someone who wakes up every morning dedicated to students and public education.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

David and David are neighbors to beautiful, energetic young Jayla.  We sat together at the Birthday celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King.  Jayla likes Blue Berries...

The Birthday celebration was the 29th All Peoples Breakfast in Balboa Park.  The Keynote speaker, Dr. William Barber who is president of North Carolina NAACP and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, is a man of great courage and great talent. I came away from the celebration more determined than ever to find a way to get the message to the President Elect that America in this age is a different place from the one in which he grew up.  We definitely don't need to go back in time to find the greatness of America and of Americans.I will try to find a way to bring Jayla's energy to my political rhetoric.  I hope to have the courage to challenge the President and always stand up for justice for all people.  These are strange times.  The program today was exactly right.  It set the appropriate tone for the four year challenge which begins this Friday when the President-elect becomes the President indeed.  Maya Salameh, a San Diego high school student who has been named  a 2016 National Youth Poet, read her poem "Change in the Feminine." The bkSOUL &SD City College Dancers presented a dance they called "Conqueror."  This was a good morning and a reminder that America is a great place with great citizens.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Today was my friend Jim's 92nd BIRTHDAY.  WOW!  Jim is a lively, good man.  The birthday party happened at his son's house.  The two "new" dogs in that family stole the show.  Both dogs are "rescue" dogs.  The bigger one has been blind from birth.  The pictures are of him, "Toff."  The smaller dog "Baker" is also a rescue dog.  The pictures were taken of Toff.  He finds his way around by smelling the ankles of people.  He stays close to the smell he likes.  He likes the smell of my ankles... and he also stayed close to Jim.  "Baker" stayed close to Javier,

Saturday, January 14, 2017

DETAILS:  I took another look today at the murals in buildings where I live… and at a fountain in the reception area.  The dogs in the Coronado mural and the birds in the jungle mural are worth stopping to look. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Today is Friday the Thirteenth, and although I am not a superstitious person, a person who fears what may happen because of a broken mirror or dreads whatever hides in the dark shadows may be planning for us if we don't cross ourselves or ... well, I don't have to go on... I am going to ignore the calendar facts and NOT explain what I decided not to show my friends in my BLOG.  Instead, I took a picture of the section of the mural in the Sky Bridge where I live and invite you to guess (I don't know) what is going on in the picture on the left.  A guy is bent over, and a girl behind him is doing what?  ... and that stuff on the ground, what is it?

In another section of the Sky Bridge, a section I think of as the jungle, I wonder what has got the birds attention.  They can't see the Coronado section of the Bridge...  I like the murals.  They give me something to do, to think about, when I walk by them.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Today is Thursday, my volunteer day at the Museum of Photographic Arts.  I parked the car on the east side of Balboa Park, and thought I'd better get at least one photograph before the rain started, so I used my cell phone to get a picture of the curb.  I've always liked curbs.  There is something about the abstract expressionistic sense of the darker pavement of the street separated from the lighter color of the sidewalk by the curb, painted red now gone to pink from age. My intention was to have only one photograph for the day, and this was it; but in a couple of minutes I came upon a Eucalyptus that had been knocked over... The gentle rain yesterday and last night and the wind had brought the tree down. I knew the faded red strip would be joined in the BLOG by the amazing tree, flattened by the storm.  California has been in a deep dry spell for three years.  Southern California especially has suffered.  Trees and grass and shrubs have needed the rain we've been getting this December and January.  Today I am celebrating the end of the drought.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WALL HOPPING…  After I got the photograph of the Nara Mask yesterday, I looked around at other memories from that period long ago in Southeast Asia, and I decided to spend another day with a couple of beauties.  One of them is a reminder that even chairs can be beautiful, in that part of the world.  I remember buying two carved pieces that had been taken from the backs of chairs, in China, I think.  

Another piece is from Bali.  I remember that it has something to do with blessing on the rice harvest.  The piece is held by an important person who is blessing the harvest, and it is later attached to a pole or post until the owners of the rice paddies have found that the blessing has worked.  Life is simple… and very good.

Monday, January 09, 2017

I can't think of any reason for including in the Blog this photograph of a mask that hangs in our house other than that I like it very much.  I don't know if it has historical significance.  I bought it at a little shop in Nara, Japan... The shop is near Todai-ji, a very big Buddhist temple.  I believe I remember that Todai-ji is the largest temple, perhaps the largest single building of its type in all of Japan.  I was there first in 1969 and again a couple of times over the years between 1969 and 2000.  The mask is a familiar part of my daily life. Perhaps that is the reason I like it.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY  The month of January is dedicated to music that was inspired by America… Margaret and I came away from the afternoon performance saying to each other that today was just about as good as it gets…  “Making America Great Again” is a phrase that is at least redundant… and probably is a silly idea.  Americas is wonderful, and so is American art, and so is art that has been made by human beings for all times and for all places.  Trump doesn’t have to “make” America great again.  The American idea, flawed as it has been at times, makes me proud to be American. We have lagged behind in our commitment to equality and fairness for all people, but the American idea is beautiful and eventually we get it right.  Our American Music is especially wonderful. Today’s concert was called “Americans and Paris.”  Two works by Aaron Copland, both of which were composed partly in Paris but definitely with American themes,  one by George Gershwin which was also definitely American, and a new piece by Andrew Norman, a contemporary American composer.  

Today’s program included A suite from Billy the Kid by Aaron Copeland, and a piano concerto also by Copeland.  Wow!  Both were wonderful and made me proud to be American.  George Gershwin’s American in Paris was definitely a tour de force.  The honking taxis turned symphony hall into a Parisian Motorway.  Andrew Norman’s Suspend played by Iron Barnatan was one of the most intriguing pieces of music that I have ever heard.  It was a 20 minute piece for piano and orchestra.  Norman took an idea from Emanuel Ax, an exploration of two melodic fragments, F-A-E (frei aber einsam, free but lonely) and F-A-F (frei aber froh, free but happy).  Barnatan began by “playing” the piano, pressing the keys, but we heard nothing.  Gradually he began to press keys so we heard his playing.  Then the Pianist pulled the members of the orchestra into the piece until finally they were playing together.  

The program explains it: “At first the sounds exist only in the pianist’s own mind, but little by little they become real to the rest of us.  The pianist very gradually imagines an orchestra into existence, and over the course of many minutes that imaginary orchestra assumes its own voice and identity, transforming from a shadow, a resonance, an echo of the piano into a powerful and distinct musical entity that threatens, at the work’s climax, to swallow up the pianist.The piece ends with a coda in which the pianist freely meditates on the F-A-F motive and the orcestra, player by player, is released into a world of free, uncoordinated playing.”

SUSPEND was/is worth hearing over and over again.  Hearing it again is something I will do as soon as I can find a recording of the piece.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Still clearing out "stuff" from the old place... I came across this hanging barong which I got in a market somewhere in Southeast Asia... It must have been in Bali.  The Barong is a character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia.  Barong is ugly but good.  The Barong is often made into a bell and hung at a window.  The tongue is a clapper, and when the wind blows, the tongue hits the edges of the mouth making a clattering sound.  The sound is meant to scare away evil spirits, especially Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guardians in the mythology of Bali.  This one was well worn and well used when I got it.  I brought it back to the U.S. when we came back to live in this country. Perhaps it should be in a place where the wind blows here in National City and left there beginning with days the new President is inaugurated.  I had hung it over the door of a room I used for an office in the old apartment.  The wind didn't blow in that place, but I liked having it hanging there scaring away badness.  It is scaring away bad stuff in the room I use for writing in the new apartment.

Friday, January 06, 2017

I parked the car today next to the building in Paradise Valley where I live, and because I hadn't found my picture for the day, I began the search.  Lately, I've noticed that right next to beautiful things, there are signs of decay and dying. Next to the car parking lane were beautiful roses, and because we are in what passes for winter in San Diego, the detritus of flower bushes hangs around longer than it does in other seasons.  We don't have snow to cover it and mask the decay, so a dying blossom just stays there next to the beautiful flowers that are ubiquitous in our part of the world.  Roses bloom all winter... which means they die all winter, and the dying ones sometimes don't get plucked off by gardeners. Perhaps that's the way life is, and the winter here is a time when we are reminded in a not-so-subtle-way that all beauty fades and dies. I looked around and a camelia blossom that survived yesterday's rain was beautifully white and perky.  The buds which will open in a day or two have been scarred by the rain which people who grew up in San Diego call a storm.  There's a lesson in this somewhere.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Granny Smith Apples... Against the blue table cloth they could be a painting instead of photographs.  I thought of still life paintings at the San Diego Museum of Art and at other museums, and I wondered if I should have waited until daylight to avoid the reflection of ceiling lights on the pictures... For breakfast tomorrow I'll have one of these apples with granola and home-made yogurt and maybe grapes and for sure some banana...  Life is good.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Sometimes a simple gift isn't simple at all, and the thoughts that come with it don't require words.  This morning Clyde gave me his Ginger Cookie...I receive one every year at the holiday season. Beautiful, like the  good visit today with Alan, Victoria, Kai, and Nikko.  These friends are in town from Anchorage.