Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Late May, 2007

A few updates to the webpage, nothing major, just the addition of a few favorite links to the right. These websites were removed temporarily, but now they return, allowing me easier access to news sources I need and enjoy. A personal website, if anything, allows you to manage the WWW to your liking, to keep things easy to access. By default, it's a window into someone's personality. In short, a website is whatever you want it to be.

Like for instance, a place to post a recent picture I took on the West Virginia turnpike, while travelling from Michigan with family members. I like the lush green background of the West Virginia hills, and thought I would share it here.

Or maybe even a short snippet from a current album I am listening to, one by the late great Frank Zappa, called Imaginary Diseases. It's a live recording of his Petit Wazoo band, a more streamlined version of the big band music he was experimenting with in the early 1970s, post-Flo and Eddie. Until I find a useful way of delivering this audio from blogger, I'll just give the link to the beginning 20 seconds of the DC Boogie from the Frank Zappa record, Imaginary Diseases.

The Educational Musings link to the right, Issues at Southern, needs an update and soon I'll prepare a final summative report of my time at Southern this past year. A good year it has been, and I intend to enjoy more good years at Southern.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Webacademy Year Wrapping up

The past year saw me teaching German online to a bunch of high-school students from around North Carolina, mostly Cumberland County. The Cumberland County Webacademy afforded me this opportunity to extend my German classrom outside the Durham area and into cyberspace for real-time, synchronous instruction. The students were great, the milieu of the Whiteboard and the chat window and the Microphone - yes I was speaking to them in real-time - was a milieu the kids understood. Ah, yes, Technology, the common language of the new generation. I hope to continue with this work next Fall in the newly constituted North Carolina Virtual Public School, which builds upon the successes of the Webacademy and creates a statewide umbrella for not just North Carolina students, but also for anyone around the world. Thanks, students, for an outstanding year of German online. Above to the left is a screenshot of last night's final Live Classroom Session. Get a taste of the CyberGerman, gone live!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Alternative News Sources

Are you tired of the same old news format on cable stations and network tv? Then try some Internet-based news delivery. Always on the prowl for news websites, I ran across again the great news site, The Raw Story. The reports provide an antidote, in my opinion, to the scrubbed-down, emotionally charged truth carnage that appears on the mainstream media outlets. Love the Internet.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Fighting Words"

Former President Jimmy Carter has been taking aim at various pillars of current American politics. His latest book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid skewered the current Administration's handling of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, and he spent considerable effort defending the book. He's been a consistent opponent of waging war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and now President Carter publishes his most scathing criticism of President George Bush to date. No doubt, people will be talking about Mr. Jimmy's Carter's comments that
"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered . . . But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies."
He blasts the Iraq War, Middle East peacemaking, the environment, and even faith-based government initiatives, where he says

"The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion. As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."

Read extracts from the President Carter interview at the Arkansas Democratic Gazette. There is an audio extract there also of these "fighting words."

Carter blasts Bush on his global impact - Yahoo! News

Sunday, May 13, 2007

on the Road to Jerusalem and the Holy City Itself

As promised, I offer another slideshow of original photos I took in the summer of 2005. These deal with the road trip to Jerusalem from Ramallah through the Kalandiya checkpoint, one of the hundreds Israel uses throughout the West Bank and into Jerusalem. Kalandiya has taken on a permanent status, with buildings and roads and gates erected there, and it has a generally more organized system to controlling the movement of peoples. In any case, Kalandiya remains an obstacle for most Palestinians. I went through it each time en route to the Holy City, and I never experienced any problem, other than delays.

So here it is, I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the Road to Jerusalem

Here is another presentation of these pictures: a webpage of thumbnails you can select at your leisure.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Short Slide Show of a trip to the West Bank, Ramallah Palestine

For the past two summers I had been spending a few weeks in Ramallah. I visit relatives, do some sightseeing, keep my parents and uncle company, live like the Arabs and Jews do, mainly. I feel right at home there, and traveling there with my brothers are highlights of my life. So in the coming weeks I'll post some slide shows like the one above of my travels to that tense yet beautiful part of the world. You can call these series of slide shows a commemoration and remembrance, because this summer I am staying put stateside, barring any emergencies.

Scenes of Ramallah

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Detroit Tigers in First Place!

Yes, I follow some baseball. It's a baseball renaissance for me. I am revisiting a totem of my childhood, when in the Detroit suburbs we enjoyed tons of pro baseball at Tiger Stadium downtown. Some great memories, following the classic team through ups and downs. They are a on a peak now. Last year they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, but the Tigers got there in great dramatic style, and they deserve to be called a great team.

And now they are rocking. Too bad I don't get to see them that much down here. But their website remains the definitive online spot for Tiger News.

They are now in first place in the AL Central division, ahead of Cleveland by half a game!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Walmart Teacher of the Year?

So today was a banner day. Here I was teaching in my 3rd period class, and visitors arrive at my door. Now, Iw as expecting Mr. H., an Assistant Principal who said yesterday that he wanted to visit my class for an observation. That was fine, of course, so I whipped up something special, as usual, for my 9th graders, and he arrives. But not by myself, but with two other gentlemen and Mr. T., our principal. Mr. H. said there were some people who wanted to meet me, and everyone streamed into my room. The two gentlemen wore WalMart ID badges and had a large rectangular posterboard in their hand. I thought they were going to come and announce some job opportunities for the impending summer vacation. Until they announced that I was, in fact, a recipient of a local Walmart Teacher of the Year Award from their Roxboro Road store.

Go to page 54 of this *.pdf file to see my name listed there.

Now, I was pleased by this recognition, what teacher wouldn't be. I set aside my personal feelings about the Walmart experience, something I do not regularly indulge in, and accepted the award graciously. I thought briefly: now, did I share my views on Walmart with this group of kids, like I have with other groups in the past, the big mouth that I can be? I was hoping that no cheeky student of mine would blurt out something like, "Hey, Mr. Kandah, I thought you don't like Walmart?" in front of the Walmart reps and my principals. Walmart supports education, and I applaud that. With the profits they rake in every year they can afford to support local education, and that's fantastic corporate citizenship.

So apparently, there were a few recommendations made on my behalf at this Walmart, enough for them to take notice and sport me a $100 Walmart gift card and a $1000 check to the school. But I don't even shop at Walmart! I will now; I'll get school supplies for student projects. My next step: make sure the $1000 check is spent on Foreign Language supplies!

Thank you Walmart, and those parents and students who nominated me. It is great to make an impact on America's youth.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Early May 2007

I posted something at my education issues blog, something mostly on the current composition of my German 1 class this semester. Some general observations, nothing major. A fellow teacher remarked how blogs are silly little vanity things, and she asked why anyone would want to pour their hearts out to anonymous cybernauts everywhere. I told her in my case, and everyone has a case, I just do this to consolidate my thoughts, my idea matrices. Since I am a public high school teacher, it makes sense for my community to get insights into my thinking doesn't it?

My wife also looked at and remarked how there are few pictures, too much reading. A common complaint by todays gee-whiz / cheese whiz generation, people who need to be titilated at every turn. So to that end I offer up a picture of the sombrero galaxy as seen through various filters.