Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama | So Many Reasons, Many Of Them Small

So, I get to my homeschool group yesterday. Everyone wants to know if I went to the Obama rally. Sheepishly, I said, "No, it would have been too much to ask of Winston (my five year old.) I just couldnt bring myself to make him stand in a line for hours on end; get inside - and warm; and then listen to boring adult's talking.

Then it was revealed, that the people with children in the line were approached by campaign volunteers and ushered in to a "child area." I literally hit myself in the head and exclaimed, "why didn't I assume this from this man, this presidential candidate, this thoughtful human!" Everyone laughed. And I felt so heartened and simultanously kicked myself for not showing up.

I let it go. I had no way of knowing. Many Western societies ignore their children or make it difficult for them to be present in our grown-up intellectual lives. Then, I read this article. It seems that Obama wants all of us to be heard. Of all the letters sent from Solomon Schechter Day School, only Obama replied.

The list of recipients was impressive: Yankee third basemen Alex Rodriguez; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz; Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

But, it wasn't just any schmalty reply. He replied, thoughtfully, respectfully and with attention to age-appropriate communication.

Obama's three-page letter to Aron described Flat Stanley's visit with him and his staff in Washington, D.C. It chronicled their busy day together, which included coffee with constituents, a Senate committee meeting and a trip to the gym. It also had historical facts about the U.S. Capitol, details of Obama's job and a confession from Obama.

"Sometimes I get a little nervous before talking in front of a crowd, but Flat Stanley helped me practice the speech," Obama wrote. "He made me recite it in front of him and then even gave me some advice so the speech would go smoothly. Flat Stanley is really a great coach."
And, once again, I got a little teary-eyed. Because, it is hard to find a person who approaches even the smallest things with intense thought and focus.

Everybody Is Praying

Eleven shamen's in Peru held a ceremony so that America will elect "the right president." (See the video by clicking the link.)

Nine are for Obama. Two of the shamans are for McCain.

Oh, Lordy, Ms. Palin must be having fits. Here are nine "witches working against her." Is she all right with the two working on her behalf? Wouldn't it be nice if the news media bothered to ask her?

I'm wondering if she can figure out a way for the GOP to pay for that African preacher to be called in again to step up his prayers protecting her from witchcraft. (Watch her being protected from witchcraft here. NOTE: You have to skip past the sermon. The video tells you how.)

But, then again, even elephants are defecting from their party. This one chooses Obama. So, Ms Palin, no need to worry about witchcraft! Even nature is against you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Fun Peace - Week Six

I. Welcome
Craft - Peace Sticks
Using string and a stick, we are making Peace Sticks. Thoughts on peace have been written down each week. Then they are being wrapped with coloured string.

Movement Meditation - The Wind
Today, we were both the wind and objects which encounter the wind. We were light breezes,tornados, flashing gusts. Then we were leaves, dust, raindrops, trees, ocean waves, and fire.

II. Circle
A. Love Grows
B. So Glad You’re Here
C. Wind The Bobbin Up
D. Follow Follow

III. Story

Harvesting Hope The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull (modified for pre-school)

IV. Craft
Banners - Muslin, water-colours in spray bottles, leaf stencils, ribbon and sticks. We lay down a square of Muslin. Placed a leaf stencil on the muslin. Using the spray bottles, we lightly mist the fabric. When we remove the leaf stencil, we have an imprint and the leaf is a lovely colour! When the banner is dry, we glue the banner to a stick. Tie on a long piece of ribbons so it can be hung.

V. Snack with Story
A.Owl At Home by , Arnold Lobel. (the winter story)
B. Jonathan and His Mommy by Irene Smalls

VI. Moving Meditation
We adapted the game of “Mother May I?” to incorporate the way Jonathan and his mother use different ways to move through the world. Each child took turns asking to take different kinds of steps. They tried to move together as a group. When they finally got close - instead of tag, we had a great big group hug.

VI. Toning
This week we will do toning with a didgeridoo. We did the different vowel sounds, a,e,i,o,u. We combined the vowels in different ways - “i,u,e,” “i,u” “i,e” “a,o.” We examined different ways we could move our mouths to get different sounds.

VII. Meditation

A. Seed Meditation
We were seeds waiting in the ground through the seasons. Then we grew into shoots. We grew into flowers. And we found uses for our seeds including helping animals cary them far and wide. Then we became seeds again nestling in for the winter.

B. Song - “My head Is In The Sky”

VIII. Story
We finished our craft, so we didn’t get time to read our story, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Feel Good Video Of Campaign 08

If this is standard educational fare at Ron Clark Academy, then I may just re-consider homeschooling. The video is called "You Can Vote However You Like." And whilst they attempt to be fair to both candidates, Obama's solid talking points have tilted this video a bit to the left. But, you've got to praise the teacher for trying to portray both sides.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Am I Not Human?

As you’ll note in an earlier post, I encountered’s racist search engine. Well, it got me thinking. Since alerting the community; having Amazon call me and sending a follow-up email to the company’s customer service, we’ve made the tiniest progress.

Now, it seems that all a searcher has to do is request “Arab terrorist costumes” in order to get costumes which imitate traditional Arabic clothing. This is still unacceptable to me. However, at least the search no longer yields links to pictures of Barack Obama. In this one small correction, I am satisfied. But, I’m really not.

I have this taste in my mouth.
It is maybe the flavour of:

rancid fruit, pickled
lynching remains served

58 years later at a BBQ
whose kindling was made

from archival lynching postcards;
blood on an arm after scratching

a new mosquito bite; scabbed
by dust from a global Trail

of Tears to Al Shifa
bombed. I might add

pustules - poorly lanced
diplomatic ooze;

or starving bloated
aneurysms of wrong action

silently exploding. and in
my mouth - twitching pointing

rage fingers swabbing
my dna screeching

different bad different bad;
acidic adrenaline sweat

after scenting the smoke
of supremacy; the vitriolic spit

of old White women
at Palin rallies.

by most accounts
I am not human

but will give candy to
Indians, ghosts, demons and Arabs

on Halloween.

More about the "Am I Not Humans?" blogging campaign here:'s Search Engine Is Racist

There are many benefits to shopping locally. If I went to a local bookseller, I could always bring a reusable bag to carry home my purchases. I'd be putting money back into my community in the form of jobs and tax revenues. But, I've never quite brought myself to doing it.

Online shopping is easier for a person with a small one in tow. It is easier to compare prices; the search engine knows the products better; and there are no lines with impulse items at check-out. So, I dutifully recycle all of the cardboard boxes and hope it is enough. Well, no more!

At least not A huge fire has been lit under me. Imagine my surprise when I discover through an LA Times article that the Obama masks are listed under the heading "arab terrorist costumes." They have a screen shot to prove it. So, I headed over to one of my favorite retailers and typed "terrorist costume." I tried to get my own screenshot, but, am not that tech saavy.

I vote with my dollars. I do not give my dollars to racists and I encourage you to do the same. What is worse is that they make it very difficult to call or email them. In fact, they don't give you a number, they ask for yours. So, spread the word.

UPDATE: I had them call me. As soon as I clicked the button, my phone rang. A lovely woman with a strong Indian accent asked what my concern was. I explained the issue succinctly. "I'm calling because there is a mask of presidential candidate, Barack Obama under the heading of terrorist costume." She didn't understand and asked again what my problem was. I simply repeated myself. She then asked for the item number. By the time I toggled back to that screen, the website had been fixed.

I got an email asking if I was satisfied with customer service. I clicked the link for "No." Here is my response.

"It was inappropriate for the website to include a mask of presidential candidate Barack Obama under the heading of terrorist costumes. Nor is it acceptable for to show traditional Arab clothing under that same title. The call center failed to understand that racism is not good for business. Until this problem is fixed and denounced, I will not be shopping with Amazon. Furthermore, I will encourage my friends and associates not to shop with you. I do not support racism in any shape or form."

I encourage you to have them call you and then send a follow-up email. Calls and responding to email complaints cost money. Show them that racism is never profitable. Thank you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Send Energy To Obama And His Grandmother

This video with Obama visiting his Grandma brought me to tears. "First, I'm going to give her a kiss, and a hug, then I'm going to look around the house to see what chores need to be done."

I support that man because he reminds me of my grandfather, my father and my calm, so cool, so assured, so ready to lead wherever goodness invites them. But, more importantly, he reminds me what people ought to be.

In the wake of attacks by the GOP for taking time off...I can only wonder if they are going out of their way to make all of us Obama supporters so comfortable that we become complacent enough for them to steal the election. Or perhaps, they've just given up. (Let's hope.)

Regardless, Time Magazine, seems to have already called the election by printing this awesome article entitled "Why Obama Is Winning." It's a durn good read. But please, don't stop here. Do visit with Opie and Richie Cunningham below!

Why "The Real America" Supports Obama

I look back on the shows of my childhood with cynical amusement. I have this clear memory of loving The Beverly Hillbillies. They were forbidden. I recall Miss Shaw - my ancient, Irish Catholic nanny - declaring loudly that she "would not allow us to watch White Trash on television." I didn't know what that meant, but, as far as I could tell it meant they were exciting and funny - like the "dirty, immigrant gypsies" I was not allowed to play with either.

I recall Lassie, Bonanza and The Andy Griffith Show. Miss Shaw, loved these programs. In the instance of Bonanza, I came to understand through Hop Sing that not all immigrants are dirty. I suppose these television programs exemplified the "real America" which Palin still celebrates today.

This morning, I awke to discover that Ron Howard is "desperate"to get the vote out for Barack Obama. So in the video below, Ron Howard dresses up as Opie to talk with Sheriff Andy (Andy Griffith) to talk about Obama. Then he dresses up as "Richie Cunningham" from Happy Days to talk to Fonzie (Henry Winkler) about Obama.

This intriguing ploy re-invents and re-contextualizes that peculiar and bizarre White American nostalgia. These characters symbolize everything McCain and Palin have attempted to cater to. These characters represent the "real America." In many ways, Happy Days was a bizarre show. Post-integration, it celebrated and revered the same racist "real American middle class" which was happy to lynch Black men, bomb churches and terrify children in the process of trying to obtain their court-given right to an education. And that is what makes this video so effective. Because it states clearly that "the good people of America" want change. Perhaps, my friend Tami says it better here: Middle Class Americans Are Not Just White, Christian, Working Class Folks.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Thanks Ron!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Now, Who's A Terrorist?

Well, it seems that the terrorists support John McCain as their candidate of choice. Why? Because they feel his presidency will run America into the ground. So, they support him because he supports their mission. That's a pretty awful endorsement to have. I can't wait to see what the campaign spin control folks do with this one!

From The Associated Press article:
The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

Obama-Biden Tax Calculator

Here's a nifty way to see how your taxes will change with Obama's plan. Isn't this a handy way to compare all the speeches and rhetoric?

If you click through to You'll be able to enter more data. This will give you an even more clear picture.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Hustleknocker | "Yes We Can" by Green Lantern

I'm sitting here listening to DJ Green Lantern's free, full cd of pro-Obama hip hop. It includes nice re-mixes of his speeches. And so much more. Need a little hope on your Ipod/media player? Please thank Mr. Hustleknocker for tipping me to this.

Get "Yes We Can"by DJ Green Lantern and Russell Simmons


Here is Obama at a dinner "roast" on behalf of All Smith:

Now, everyone is calling for health records from all of the candidates:

Suddenly, it is revealed that Obama has trouble quitting smoking cigarettes!

Egads! But, in his speech at the roast, he comes clean and let's us all know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is superman. So, should we really worry?

Oh, I hope we don't loose this election because Obama tries hard not to smoke cigarettes! (I mean, c'mon America! A man fit as a fine fantasy vs a 72 year old with cancer. Is this really an issue?)

The Fun Peace | Week Five

Sorry for the late post, I was ill last week. (And the husband will be gone for two weeks, so after I felt better, we glutted ourselves on family.)

I. Welcome Craft - Peace Sticks
Using string and a stick, we are making Peace Sticks. Thoughts on peace have been written down each week. Then they are being wrapped with coloured string. (They are starting to look gorgeous, maybe I will capture a picture nex week.)

II. Circle
A. Get in Circle
1. Love Grows
2. So Glad You’re Here
3. Wind The Bobbin Up

III. Story
To Be A Drum, Evelyn Coleman (modified for pre-school)

IV. Toning - we made harmonies with our voices.

V. Craft
Using recycled containers - such as coffee tins, oatmeal boxes, cornmeal tins - we will made drums. First we wrapped the drums in the water colours we made from the first class. Then we added jewels, stickers etc. to make them our special drum.

VI. Snack with Story “Whoever You Are” by Mem Fox

VIi. Movement Activity - Earth My Body
Squatting, pat the floor, chant, “ Earth My Body.”
Squatting, pat the thighs chant, “ Water M Blood”
Squatting, pat the chest chant, “Air, My Breath”
Rise up and move your hands in a big circle and sing
“Fire my Spirit!”

When everyone has figured it out , speed up. Then slow it down.
Lay on the floor and feel the earth’s beat.

VIII. Meditation - Living Drum
After all that activity, their hearts will be beating fast. We’ll lay down and feel our pulses. Drum it on the floor.

Then we got our new drums and our peace sticks. Everyone took turns making a rhythm which others could copy or add their own rhythm. We experienced the sound of everybody doing their own thing. We also experienced the sound of everyone listening to each other. Finally, we experienced the sound of unity.

IX. Story
Martin’s Big Words, Doreen Rappaport - adapted to pre-school

X. Hands (5 minutes)
A. Pass Phe Pulse
B. “Hands” = something we are thankful for today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Click. Give. Feel Good.

Thanks to one of my AfroSpear brothers, The Urban Scientist, I came across a site which helps teachers simply do their job. DonorsChoose has a very simple formula. Teachers ask. You give. Children win.

I like it. It doesn't try to solve every problem in the world. It takes it one classroom, one project at a time.

Click. Give. Feel Good.

Urban set up a group, Black Bloggers For Education. He asked if some of us would step up and help out. I joined.

Why should I, as a home educating parent, care about a bunch of public school kids? Well, because I care about children. Here is what I wrote on the site:
Fifty plus years after Brown vs Board Of Education, the playing field still isn't level. It is shakier and more uneven. That’s why our family is in the growing 25% of People Of Colour who home educate. Bush’s policies have left far too many children behind. We are worried that McCain will abandon them to the wilderness. Our children won’t be one in those numbers.

We realise our choice won’t work for many families. We also understand that there are teachers of generous spirit who suffer from poorly planned budgets, ineffective school boards and insane national polices. With help, these teachers may just be able to touch enough lives to make a difference.

For this reason, we support projects which encourage autonomy, free thought, and experiential learning. We seek projects which support undirected playful learning; foster an understanding that learning is fun; and promote critical and creative thinking.

We’ve already given. So, now I’m asking. Will you join me and my husband?

I’m looking for 20 people to give $10.00. But, if you give, we’ll give again. We’ll match half of what is raised up to $200.00 That way your donation will go even farther.

Please click. Give. Feel Good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zoo Encounter

strange joy. kissing
a giraffe.

hands above
my thrown back head

he leans over
the chain link fence

so I can blow
into his thin nostrils.

he blows into mine
and I kiss him

thinking of plantations
and our separate secret

wild places.

Success | Poets For A Better Country

What an awesome event! Reading with so many talented people was exceptionally energizing. In spite of not having a packed house, the end of day informal count is pretty darn good. It's not official, but, the last tally was "a little over $1,500." Good job poets!

Here's some silliness.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

TODAY | Poets For A Better Country

October 12, 2PM until 5:00
Poets For A Better Country
Kelly Strayhorn Theatre
5941 Penn Ave in East Liberty

$10 donation
Benefits the Obama campaign

I'll be reading with Jan Beatty, Deb Bogen, CM Burroughs, Jim Daniels, Toi Derricotte, Lynn Emanuel, Vanessa German, Terrance Hayes (emcee), Sam Hazo, Yona Harvey, Romella Kitchens, Ben Lerner, Dawn Lundy Martin, Jeff Oaks, Ed Ochester, Peter Oresick, Ellen Smith, Sheryl St. Germain, and Judith Vollmer

As the City Paper says "it's clear that if Pittsburgh's top poets constituted the electorate, we could call Nov. 4 today."

The Shenanigans Step Up A Notch

In the early election, There was some delightful optimism. There was doubt that America was ready for a Black president. Then, Obama made history and won the nomination. The tone of the country took on a rosier glow for me. I thought maybe all of these years of being side by side on playgrounds and in schools had made some small difference.

But, they haven’t. In fact,things are getting very ugly. I see illogical ideas on mailing lists which pretend that they are logical. I’ve been noticing colour aroused anxiety taking a tighter grip of people. The same people who in one breath condemn overt racists worry about Ayers’ connection to Obama in the next.

The McCain Palin campaign is fanning the flames of the racist vote. Palin - in particular - revels in whipping a crowd into a hysterical terrorist frenzy. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos, I won’t post them here.

But, now this. Come on. How low and dirty can you get? In upstate New York, several residents received absentee ballots with the name Barack Osama on them. Meanwhile, some states are illegally purging eligible voters from their rolls.

I begin to think this BBC documentary, "Set up to steal it again. Is 2008 already fixed?” is true. Watch Part One here. They have no intention of allowing us a democracy ever again. That was stolen from us in 2004. It’s harder to get something back than let it go in the first place.

On election day, please keep watch at this great site Voter Suppression Wiki. They’ll be keeping watch. And if you see something wrong at your polling place, report it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debate Epiphany

I was never raised to be
a flag waving American.

The colour
of my skin necessitated

the creation
of a skeptical, cautious American

with unyielding belief in truth.
Ink on parchment. Revised. Scratched

out. Over 9,000 times
we asked and received

a simple 27 rights.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Most Valuable Home Education Resource, A Good Librarian

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time now. I don’t know why it hasn’t felt more urgent. But, then again, we are in the midst of the most important presidential race ever. That and being at home six days a week with a home educated five year old has a way of zapping one’s time and energy. But, with that said. I simply have to take a few minutes out to give some praise.

Everyone agrees, a library is one of the most awesome resources in the world. With the advent of the internet and public access in local libraries, I often find myself challenged. I can’t get to a card catalogue for all the focused, dedicated web surfers. I never seem to bring the list of books I’ve compiled. So, my experience lately has been to walk in - chatty child in tow - and feel a searing wave of frustration settle over me.

Without a good librarian, the library becomes a saucy, nasty temptress of unrequited knowledge. For this reason, I must unequivocally state that the most valuable resource a home educating parent can develop is a good librarian.

Some folks might say that any intelligent person can find all of the great books a library has to offer. Not true. Librarians love books unlike any other type of person on this planet. They know the new books, the best books, the coolest books.

There is one striking difference between a good librarian and a librarian. The good librarian is like a village wise woman - one part mystery, one part common sense, one part psychologist and two halves each of magician and show person. (Something like a kinder, gentler Granny Weatherwax.) The good librarian knows the secrets of the books you would never think to look for on behalf of your child.

Until we met Miss Leann over at the Homewood Library, Winston had a tepid relationship to books. They were good and all of that. They were essential at bed time. But, quite frankly, there was always something more interesting to do - like splash in puddles; look at bugs; or build a fire. Lately, he’s been developing a passion for books.

Now, I must admit, I would rather spend my afternoon reading something like “Zen Shorts” And at bedtime, I think “Cendrillion” or “The Girl Who Spun Gold” are just perfect. But, thanks to Miss Leann, we reading things Winston loves. And I am so impressed that she has found books that I am enjoying.

I would never have found either of these books without her. And my jaw is bouncing against the floor that they made it to print. And finally, I’m thinking, I wish I’d written these books. And that’s the best ever feeling because I’m stimulated by these books. So thanks, Miss Leann. She is a good librarian. And like any village wise woman, she serves the whole community.

Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau is a cautionary tale about being a bully. At the end, Uglyfish learns - quite permanently - that being a bully never pays.

Tadpole’s Promise
, by Jeanna Wilis is a must read for teenagers and folks unsure about what it takes to have a healthy relationship. (It’s a good kids picture book also.) Basically, caterpillar falls in love with tadpole but insists that he “never changes.” Well, caterpillar experiences some pretty serious consequences for her demands. I just have to say, I am so happy Winston is growing up with these ideas at this age.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Fun Peace | Week Four

As children drifted in today we all chose to herds, flocks, gaggles and schools of animals.

I. Welcome Craft - Peace Sticks
Using string and a stick, we will make Peace Sticks. Thoughts on peace will be written down each week. Then we will wrap the stick with coloured string. Each week, we will use a different colour.

II. Circle (15 minutes)
1. Love Grows
2. So Glad You’re Here
3. Wind The Bobbin Up
4. Verse
5. “Sharing A Shell,” by Julia Donaldson

III. Movement Activity
A. Parachute Games
We tried to work together to see how many wiffle balls we could keep inside of the parachute. Then we saw hwo high we could make them jump up. We took turns running through the parachute and tried to keep it high enough for the person to get all the way through.

C. Village Idiots
This game is very much like the game "Machine." One person makes an action and a sound. Each person connects to their movement by making an action in reaction to theirs with another sound. For example, I bent my knees, put out my hand and said "ding." Another person mimicked dropping something into my hand and said "zip." People kept joining in until we had a crazy entity that all worked together. Each time it turned out differently. We learned how people's reactions to a single movement can create a loud or soft entity or a rythmic or atonal entity.

IV. Snack time
“Earth Mother” by Ellen Jackson

V. Meditation
1. We did a moving meditation where we were the whirling wind. Then we became clouds and made thunder by clapping our hands together. Then we brought the storm to quiet.

2. Beauty - Song

3. My Head Is In The Sky - Song

VI. Story
“Wangari’s Trees Of Peace,” by Jeanette Winter

VII. Craft - Nature baskets (15 minutes)
Using the watercolours from the first class we made a box. We lined it with wax paper and a cotton balls. We planted alphalfa seeds.

Lyrics for "My Head Is In The Sky"

My head is in the sky, sky, sky.
My feet are on the ground, ground, ground.

And what about my blood?
It is from the sea.

And what about my bones?
Like the mountains be.

And my hands, oh my hands!
I believe with my hands I can hold this land.

My two hands hold the Earth.
My two hands hold the Earth.