Good stuff to know.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Writer Beware has posted a heads up for writers with regard to Web sites The Toast and The Butter, and the rights they are asking from contributors. Specifically, WB reports that contributors to the sites must hand over copyright (and, where applicable, moral rights). The specific freelance contractual clause in question, according to WB (relevant bits bolded by them):

The Contributor hereby acknowledges and agrees that the Work, including any drawings, images, sounds, video recordings, or other data embedded in the work and including adaptations or derivative works based on the Work is the sole and exclusive property of the Toast and the Toast has all rights under existing United States’ copyright law and all reproduction and republication rights. In the event that any portion of the Work is not copyrightable, The Contributor hereby irrevocably assigns any and all ownership of the Work’s intellectual property rights, including but not…

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Chess Aficionados -
If you’ve been wishing you could do something to support kids and thinking it would be awesome if more kids learned to play chess, here is your chance to do both!
Every Wednesday at our neighborhood elementary school, an hour before school starts, two Dads patiently teach a wide variety of kids to play chess. They donate their time.  There is no fee for the kids to join or play.  They’ve been doing this for years. This is their first fund-raiser  (link below) and it’s all going into materials for teaching the kids to play chess and getting the kids – all kinds of kids – tournament ready. 
Even one dollar can help bring them towards their modest goal.



We are trying to learn Korean now as a family. I need to keep this handy!

Originally posted on the talking cupboard:

I’m sure some of you who watch kdramas are already familiar with the titles used in the family, as in how a  person address his or her family members. I got used to hear a servant or maid calling the young master and miss as doryeonnim (도련님) and agasshi (아가씨) in dramas but when I watched another dramas, I was surprised to hear a woman addressing her younger brother and sister-in-law as doryeonnim and agasshi. I then realized that there are various ways of calling your relatives in Korean culture. It’s not as simple as uncles and aunts!

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The time is nearly upon us – the night when the veil is thin, the hungry dead walk the Earth and we ignore them at our peril. In other words, trick or treat!

For people who claim no one played pranks involving eggs or toilet paper “back in the day”, for everyone who complains about teens trick-or-treating, for everyone who lives in Colorado – a State that’s very name is a Spanish word – and then complains about the Day of the Dead colliding with Halloween, I have three words: KNOCK IT OFF.

When I was a kid (in the 1970s), I lived in a bucolic rural area in Maryland. It was lovely. On Halloween, it was a given that if you had no treats, there would be a trick. The severity of trick often depended on how you treated the kids. If you were an older, popular kid, it was possible to end up with toilet paper trees whether you had treats or not.

When my Dad was a kid (in the 1950s), one Halloween he and his buddies carried the neighborhood grump’s Volkswagen up onto her porch and left it there. Of course, she was not handing out candy, so she did not find it until morning.

The pranks are not new. They are not a sign of the times. In fact, I see fewer of them than ever. So, yeah, trick or treat. Get it?

Teenagers are between childhood and adulthood, just as always. Even back when they were considered adults and were settling the (not empty) American West, their brains were still not adult brains. Sometimes teens are like adults, sometimes not. But really, think about it – what would you rather they were doing?

And yes, in Colorado, sometimes adults trick-or-treat – often with faces painted like skulls and dressed in wedding clothes. This is not new. The first non-native land claims in Colorado were made by Mexican farmers – long before the gold rush. This unique-to-the-region Day-of-the-Halloween mish-mash may or may not come to a neighborhood near you. But if it does, that’s really cool.

Here’s the main thing – Halloween is all Soul’s Eve, is Hallow’s Eve. This is the night when the dead were believed to walk the Earth and the living were to feed them. This was believed in many places across many cultures, and I can only speak for myself, but if people come to my door on Halloween, I am feeding them, whether they are 70, 27, 17, or 7 (though I also offer non-food items ~ which makes the night so much nicer for some kids).

So these are the questions – Trick? Or Treat?


This sounds like it has the makings of a modern classic!

Originally posted on Whatever:

There are many interesting things about Rajan Khanna’s debut novel Falling Sky, but the one that pings my radar is that involves dirigibles, and that (of course!) noted dirigiblist Cory Doctorow plays a key role. Read on to find out how it all connects.


Like most novels, Falling Sky began with a sentence. It was a sentence I had written years ago and filed away, like I do with many of my story ideas. It involved a man, floating in a dirigible, afraid to go down to the ground. At the time I didn’t know why he was afraid, or what possibly lurked beneath him. I just knew he had to descend but didn’t want to. 

In 2008, when I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I took that sentence with me. I wanted to turn it into a story, but I didn’t know where to take it…

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It is so important that more people understand this.

Originally posted on Education and Class:

Early in my work as a teacher educator, we were talking in class one day about reasons that parents may not be involved in ways that their children’s teachers expect.  Among other things we talked about were work schedules that can complicate the lives of parents — especially low-income parents who have little leverage for negotiating working conditions of hours.   A young man grew quite agitated and insisted that when he was a parent, he would put his children first and take time off of work to attend conferences and volunteer in his children’s classrooms.

A non-traditional aged woman in class who hadn’t said much to that point turned to him and said “I manage a McDonald’s.   And if you worked in my store and asked for time off like that, I’d fire you and hire someone who wouldn’t complicate my scheduling”.   She wasn’t explaining her personal values — that…

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Once upon a time, when I heard the word “poppies”, the song Dr. Demento used to play would run through my head. You know, this one.

Recently, however, I learned that poppies were a metaphor for soldiers fallen in war – a poetic representation of blood on the battlefield.  And the Existential Blues didn’t play in my head anymore.  I began to think about that metaphor. I began to think about how poppies are prolific.  I began to think about how gardeners call desirable plants that grow where they are not planted (or tended) “volunteers”.  And a picture grew in my head.

I painted the picture below for a fund-raising auction to support a wonderful non-profit, cooperative preschool – Lakewood United Methodist Preschool, aka “LUMP”.  All of my sons have gone there.  This painting is titled “Volunteers / We Stormed the Beaches at Normandy”.  You can’t really see it unless the light is just right, but in the sky is a letter from Winifred to Henry and in the grass is Henry’s reply.  This is an exchange of letters I imagined between a soldier and his wife during WW II.  I hope you like it.

Mixed media on canvas - prepared for LUMP fund-raiser

Volunteers / We Stormed the Beaches at Normandy



In addition to the paintings I shared here, I painted another, then another.  On Friday, I sold the first 3 to the same person – the friend who initially asked if she could commission me to do one.

She has done me the most wonderful turn of kindness without even trying in breaking through the barrier that had stopped me from painting for years. Maybe, having borne the heavy mantle of supporting the family for so long, I couldn’t break it out of simple desire.  Maybe there had to be money in it.  Whether she ever buys another painting again, I also feel that I have a patron, which is a huge big deal.

Paintings #1 through 3 are shown below.  I wrapped up #4 last night.  I did that one for a charity auction for the preschool my sons have attended (last one in his last year now).  I will share it soon.

How did your week-end start?  Did it wrap up in a similar way to how it started?

Pathways #1 - Over the Hill - inspired by Moundville, AL

Pathways #1 – Over the Hill – inspired by Moundville, AL

Pathways #2 - Into the Woods - Inspired in the woods of Louisiana, though the cherry tree is the stuff of fantasy

Pathways #2 – Into the Woods – Inspired in the woods of Louisiana, though the cherry tree is the stuff of fantasy

Ditch Weed/As I Lay Dying - Inspired by the tenacity of life and the rebirth of hope

Ditch Weed/As I Lay Dying – Inspired by the tenacity of life and the rebirth of hope

We are in the national news now, but what is happening here is being misrepresented.  I won’t begin to try to guess why. If you live in Jefferson County, CO and support the current BoE majority, I’d be curious to hear why.  But this is not targeted at you. I am sharing this for all of the people elsewhere who think they are seeing the truth in the news.  Because what is happening here is part of a National agenda.  Large successful districts are being targeted and our #s are being spun out of context to make us look like we are ripe for reform.  Why?  Beats me.  But it’s important to be aware that most BoEs are VOTED in, most BoEs are subject to local control (not State, not Federal), but are generally considered low-enough profile that serious vetting of candidates does not happen by the parties they claim to represent.  So, what a great target for well-organized fringe minorities to target, eh?

The language of Conservatism was used to dupe people to vote for the current board – and I want to be clear – the language of any movement or belief can be used to dupe people.  This is just one case in time – and so many  conservative voters here are expressing disappointment.  The new BoE is NOT fiscally conservative, and they are not supporters of public education (some facts below). I am probably just preaching to the choir by now – but just in case, the  teachers here are NOT protesting a new “merit based” pay system.  They have had their pay frozen for YEARS, voluntarily.  They were told last year that the new merit system was in “beta testing” more or less and would not be used yet to determine pay yet – until the new BoE decided that yes, it would.  They are protesting having been lied to.

Kids here are NOT protesting having a curriculum review board – we ALREADY have one (two, actually).  They are protesting having a review board cherry-picked by the board majority (the current committees are set up to be as non-partisan as humans can be).  The Board member pushing for the ADDITIONAL review committee keeps holding Texas up as the standard us to shoot for.  Anyone who holds up Texas as a standard for Colorado has no understanding of who she represents.  If I wanted Texas schools for my kids, I’d live there. And, despite what is implied by the news, the high school kids walked out one day/school.  The same students have not been protesting for 19 days. Respectful opposing commentary welcomed.  However, if you do not live here want to try to tell me I am wrong about what is happening HERE – in the school district where I LIVE and where MY CHILDREN go to school, I will not tolerate that.  I am getting too old to be patronized by people who think they know better than I about what is happening in MY life.  Here are some words to live by if you feel that’s appropriate:  If someone is present for an event, and you are not, you do not know better than they do what happened.

Some fiscal facts: From

There is certainly plenty of opinion at the other links at this site, but these are simply stated facts – please note that no previous BoE needed their own lawyer (who subjects heavily redacted invoices) or their own PR firm:

Failure to be Responsible Fiscal Stewards 

The board majority has not been fiscally conservative with taxpayer money.  They have frivolously wasted funds on unnecessary expenditures.  On several occasions they have authorized these expenditures without doing the necessary research to ensure that these actions were in the best interest of Jefferson County and its 84,000 students. 
  • $400,000 loan to Collegiate Charter School – Red Flagged on the district’s financial reports
  • $250,000 loan to Mount Phoenix Charter School – Yellow Flagged on the district’s financial reports
  • $900,000+ in district property forfeited, and endangering $15 million more in undeveloped District assets including Rooney Ranch Elementary School, contrary to the district’s legal counsel advice and Capital Asset Management Committee’s advice, Board Majority refused to appeal decision on 2090 Wright St.
  • $90,000 contract for Board attorney, Brad Miller.
  • $10,000 contract for public relations firm, SE2.
  • $5.5 million to charter school equalization, contrary to Community Budget Survey Results.
  • $850,000 to G/T (Gifted and Talented) program contrary to Community Budget Survey Results.
  • $280,000 total compensation for 3 year contract for new superintendent whose highest level of experience is just over 3 years as an assistant superintendent, responsible for 30,000 students (about 1/3 of Jeffco’s enrollment) and 18 schools (as opposed to Jeffco’s 154 schools)

Here’s an op-ed piece that lays it out pretty simply: Here’s an video of our current BoE removing ful-day K from the budget despite overwhelming data-based and community support: No doubt, they claim this was done out of fiscal responsibility, despite the misdirection of tax $ to the items listed above.


It’s important that people who see themselves as “doing good work” understand how racism and classism changes how the see the SAME behaviors differently for different groups of people.

Originally posted on Education and Class:

I just finished reviewing a manuscript for a publisher yesterday.    In this proposed book, urban teachers spoke often of their students, and they seemed to be simultaneously fascinated and appalled by their students’ families.  They wrote of substance abuse, of drinking, of mothers having multiple partners, of fathers being irresponsible in their relationships.  The only parents (or grandparents) they mentioned actually meeting tended to be those who came to conferences at the school to weep in gratitude at the progress their child was making under the loving care of their white teacher.  As they spoke of their work, each of these teachers clearly understood herself to be something of a solitary savior of her students.

When I talk about teachers understanding themselves to be their students’ saviors in my courses, I talk also about how those teachers might ever come to understand whether or not their students actually need saving…

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