Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sweet Couple

This sweet young couple asked us to take their picture in the lobby of our hotel in Jerusalem. I promised them I would post it here. I hope they remember to look for it. They were going home the day I took the picture. I hope they had a safe and uneventful trip.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bathroom Fetish

I took so many pictures in Israel that I vowed not to take any more for quite a while. Well, the vow was broken today in Bryant Park. I couldn't believe the public bathroom I found there. It came complete with flowers and an attendant and it had a wonderful, clean smell.

Check out the rest of the pictures here and make a pit stop if you are in the area. (I needed my NYC fix after being away for so long.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Test Scores

There is an article in today's Newsday about how upset Long Island superintendents are at the way test scores have been calibrated and now so many students are failing. I don't get it. The problem is not the tests, it is not the scores, it is the lack of education our children are being given. I teach AP Calculus to some of the brightest students in the city of New York, yet, they come to me not remembering how to add fractions and not wanting to do the simplest calculations without a calculator. They have no concept of how to find the cosine of 30 degrees without a calculator because calculators and test prep are all they have been taught the 12 years before I met them. They haven't been taught to think, only to memorize procedures and regurgitate answers blindly.

Long Island superintendents are upset because their percentages are going down. Where were they all these years when their students were not being taught? They are the ones on the front line. They are the ones with the voices to make people aware of the atrocity we have been calling education. Don't tell me they are upset for the children because I don't buy that. They only care about how these new standards make them look. Yes, I know it is wrong for a child to fail when all along the child thought he was passing but why is the child who knows nothing believing he is passing to begin with.

This whole No Child Left Behind, The Race To The Top, and the closing of so many schools has taken away education and replaced it with test prep. Alternative tests are not the answer, real education is.


When and how does he expect all this to get done?

We have huge classes, no free time during the day and no places to work even if there is time. Materials are limited. Funds are being cut.

The big shots know the oil spill in the Gulf can't be solved with letters, mandates and words, yet Klein uses words and expects schools to fix all the deficits in education. His letter is enough to make anyone sick. The school system is headed down a path of destruction.

Too Many

I vow to stop taking so many pictures! I am getting a headache looking at them. Just put a few more on facebook.

Boycott Donors Choice

I've really been out of touch the past few weeks. Traveling, while good for the spirit and soul takes a toll on the brain. Anyway, I got an e-mail while away from my good friend NYC Educator and the subject mentioned Donors Choice with a request to write about it. Since my Internet connections were infrequent and my brain on vacation, I ignored the e-mail until yesterday when I got quite a shock. Donors Choice is in cahoots with all those other organizations that want to blame teachers for all that ails the system. The movie, Waiting for Superman, is the teacher holocaust waiting to happen.

I could write more, but my other blogging buddy, Accountable Talk says it all and says it better than I possibly could. Go pay him a visit. I already sent ChiTown Girl over to check it out and she is in total shock.

(More pictures posted on facebook here.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Can't Be

I just heard summer school is on a week's intersession in some places in the city. Isn't that great! The kids that learned little or nothing all year can now do the same in five weeks with just one small difference--many will make up the credit they lost.

Oh how wonderful it is to have a mayor who has made education his priority.

(Please, someone, anyone, write and tell me that I heard wrong.)

Support Public Education

New Facebook page--Support Public Schools.

Page is for all teachers and others who care about education in this country.

Join and spread the word.

Trip Pics

I started posting some here on facebook.

I will never take so many pictures again. I'm tired of going through them.


I'm sitting in Panera Bread catching up on all the blogs I couldn't read during the last two weeks. I can't stop coughing and my head feels like it is going to fall off. I hate being sick but at least I didn't end up this way until the last day of our trip.

(Picture--our camel ride on visit to Bedouins. My camel is in the rear. If you look real close you might be able to see a crazy woman with a Nikon in her hand, not holding on for dear life like almost everyone else is.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On The Ride Home

Being in a confined space is torture for anyone. Being stuck in a middle seat on an eleven hour flight for someone like me is worse than being at a faculty conference. I didn’t even know that anything could beat that torture. The teenage girl next to me is a snotty little bitch with a real attitude. I’ve been restricting my walks to only one in two hours but you would think I am getting up every five minutes every time the little princess has to swing her legs over the side to allow me to climb over her. We were supposed to have aisle seats, we booked them early enough but something got screwed up and they were not in the computer when we went to print our boarding passes.

I loved all of Israel and although Tel Aviv was not my favorite city there, it would become my new vacation favorite if the flight was not so long, First, the beaches are magnificent. The blue Mediterranean, with its soft white sand is wonderful. The water is warm and the waves, while rough in spots are gentle enough for me. I can spend hours in the sea and never get cold. The sand is so wonderful we walked from our hotel to Jaffa and back on it, a walk that would have been 2,7 miles each way, had we stayed on the Promenade but was much longer on the beach. The refreshing water enabled us to make the trip, in the heat, in the middle of the day.

While I am killing time, writing in Word (EL AL has no Internet connection), I’ll describe our day. Saturday was the only day the tour had nothing planned for us to do. As it was Shabbat, everything was closed. I remembered Jaffa, from a previous tip as being a magnificent city and wanted to see it a again and knew from reading the itinerary of our trip that we would only be driving through. Surprisingly, I convinced my husband to walk. (We could not convince any of the other 18 people on the tour to walk with us,) The beaches on Saturday are mobbed. While Tel Aviv is not the religious city Jerusalem is, it is still a day when families get together and do things as families. It was good to see so many people out with their families, enjoying the day, celebrating the end of the week together. There was only a short time we could not be on the beach so for that time, we walked on the Promenade and found a great children’s sprinkler to walk through.

After quite a while, we made it to Jaffa where we explored the port and then climbed the stairs and the hills to explore the Old City. Normally, we would have had many artsy stores to visit and spend money in but since it was Shabbat, most were closed We did find a few to browse in and one to leave some money in but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the views and from making our wishes holding our Zodiac signs on the Wishing Bridge. It was too hot to eat so we passed on the restaurants that were opened, had several drinks and made our way back to the beach. On the walk back, a nice bar owner refilled our water bottle with ice. We thanked her by purchasing some Goldstar beer (one of my new favorites) and drank it on the walk back.

We didn’t hear any history and background stories on the trip to Jaffa, but it was definitely one of our favorite days of the trip. It was good exploring on our own, going to the “mooz” (tour guide’s word for bathroom) when we needed to go, not on a schedule and being able to spend as much time as we wanted doing what we wanted to do. In Jerusalem, I spend some time at the Great Synagogue on the sabbath and loved the religious feelings I felt there. Here, I loved the sense of family that shabbat gives.
We were exhausted when we got back to the hotel. Our friends thought we were out of our minds as we figured the entire day’s walk was probably close to 10 miles, but it was worth it. And, I only needed a half our rest before I walked again and found a free hot spot to use the Internet (.7 mile walk).

Only two hours left on this flight of torture. We have friends from the trip sitting in first class who we did manage to visit for a while. There really is a difference in the luxury they are traveling in compared to the cramped quarters of steerage. But, they paid $6000 more for their tickets so I can’t complain. (At the airport we could have upgraded for at $250 a seat but that $500 but that money will go towards another trip.) I’ve eaten, I’ve walked, I looked at and erased some of the over 3000 pictures I’ve taken but even writing this for the blog is not making the time pass any quicker. I will never complain about another Florida flight again.

As soon as they collect these meal trays it will be time for me to walk again, time to disturb the little queen beside me.

(Picture--Jerusalem from my hotel window)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Home Again

We got home about 9:30. Why is my luggage always the last luggage to come out?

I've already put one load of laundry in and have gone through all the mail. I'm so tired I forgot to watch the Daily Show, one of the reasons I am still awake. At least I still made Colbert.

I've been awake since 8:00 AM, Israel time, which is 1:00 AM NY time. We left the hotel at 12:30 and I wanted to get a full day in first. I didn't do as much as I wanted but I did get my last big breakfast, a nice hour long walk, complete with many photos and a last swim in the Mediterranean. If I had any intelligence, I would be asleep now, instead of writing here.

(Picture taken with my Olympus near sunset on Shabbat, Tel Aviv)

Words Of Wisdom

Our tour guide kept repeating "RIGHT IS MIGHT BUT WITHOUT MIGHT THERE IS NO RIGHT." I understand what he was referring to, but this, and many of his other phrases which I will write about at another time help me understand me better.

People, even in Israel have seen me as mighty. Only this morning, the hotel had out ice tea and fruit for the new arrivals. As we sat, waiting for our cab, and after making sure everyone who wanted the refreshment was served, I went and served myself. Soon, everyone in our little party joined in. The hotel was expensive and it was our right to partake of the extra beverages but it was only my might that allowed everyone else to enjoy as well.

Everyone better watch out when I return to school in September. Two weeks with a retired Israeli military colonel has gotten me more aware than ever of my right to might and I plan to use my might to get it.

Home today--picture from the Military Cemetery

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My claim to fame has always been sniffing out public bathrooms wherever we go. I can locate a clean one almost anywhere in the city of New York, in places everyone says none are available. In Paris, where every bathroom is a pay one, I found free ones too. Now, after two weeks in Israel I am adding the ability to find free wireless to my resume. Right now, I am sitting in an Aroma Coffee, using their connection.

Maybe I should write a book.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bus Ride

Right now we are sitting on a bus going from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Traffic here makes me long for the LIE during rush hour. A 92 year od man, with a walker, could move at a faster rate. Our guide is great. His goal was to get us there in time to see the market place, which closes early for shabbat. I somehow don’t think we will make it. Wait, an accident. I hope no one was hurt but at least we are now starting to move.

This morning we went to Rosh Hanigra to see the grottos. I remember those from my last trip, as well as standing on the Lebanon-Israel border. After, we went to Acco to visit a crusaders fortress. Israel is built in layers and you can see the three layers of civilization there. To quote our guide, “location, location, location” is everything and everyone built where there was water. After, we droce through Haifa and stopped to look down on the city.
This is the first organized tour I have ever taken. I do love the people I am with, the information I am given and the ease of getting around this way, but I miss the freedom that comes with doing things on my own. We saw so much, but we only skimmed the surfaces. I need to return, to delve into the places I’ve only glimpsed, to interact more with the people that live here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Be A Majority Member

Words can never express what is in my heart being here in Israel. To be a majority, after living my entire life as a minority is overwhelming. I go into a restaurant and taste all food put in front of me. I don't have to think about what is kosher and what is not. This morning, the eggs had something strange looking in them, but, I knew I could safely taste them. The meat is awful. I usually avoid eating it but here I feel I must put a morsel in my mouth each time it is presented. I had to hold in a chuckle when a group of priests at my first hotel in Jerusalem wanted bacon with their eggs. The salads and the produce are another matter. They are good beyond words. The hotel doors, the restaurants and the stores all have mizzuzohs on the ntrance ways. People with kippas, and Hassids in the street are the norm.

It took my husband forever to get brave enough to make this trip and now that he is here, he will be the first one to tell you this is the safest he has ever felt in his life. We have been to the Gaza Strip, to the West Bank and today we rode jeeps near mine fields in the Golan Heights. Right now, I am writing this post, overlooking the Sea Of Galilea and looking straight at Syria. Tomorrow we will be at the Lebanon border.
I haven't downloaded the over 2000 pictures I have so far. The picture above was taken in Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial). From the air, this area is in the shape of Europe. Each country, in its own area and each town with its own mention on the walls. I need a new blog just to write all I have seen and done.
(Again, glare prevents me from checking spelling and grammar.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flying Hi

This trip beats our expectations. Today we sailed between Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I went parasailing between all four countries and felt perfectly safe with the Israeli Navy around, guarding the King of Jordan.

Right now we are in Aroma, having ice coffee and, for once, using a non hacked internet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lunch Break

Believe it or not I am sitting in a mall right now, on a lunch break. We just left the Airforce Base and are about to ride camels before we take a float in the Dead Sea.

On a plus note, I got e-mails from two of my students--both got 5's on the AP exam.

Hopefully the next hotel will have free internet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I don't even know where to start describing this trip. It is more than I ever dreamt it would be.

I had trepidations about taking an organized tour. I'm kind of a free spirit and hate people telling me when to get on and off the bus, when to eat and most importantly, when to pee. Surprisingly, I am minding none of those things. Our tour guide is the best. He is a retired military colonel and a Sabra (born in Israel.) He is smart and funny and runs the trip with military precision. I just finisthed looking at the more than 1100 pictures I have taken so far and am in awe of all we have seen and done. This no nonsense guy (sitting with the women in the front) promised my husband a special medal at the end of the tour for putting up with me. He calls me "the spy" because my camera is aways ready to point and shoot.
The people on this tour are a fantastic group. I dreaded being stuck for two weeks with people I didn't like (as I don't like that many people I was sure that would happen) so the second surprise is that I love everyone in this group. They are bright, funny, have similar interests and backgrounds and show up on time for everything so we never wait.
Right now I am sitting in front of a closed supermarket in Jerusalem stealing internet service. It is shabbos afternoon and almost everything in this city is closed. I did go to the Great Synagcogue this morning to hear part of the Torah reading and then we spent three hours walking through the Arab and Christian sections where things are open. We saw the Tower of David and the Church of the Holy Selpehcur and then ate and shopped in the shuk (market.)
My huband is probably worried so I better get back. Tomorrow is the Dead Sea, then Eilat. I will try to find another place to post in a few days. Again, forgive the typos and grammar errors. The sun makes reading the screen hard.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday

My wonderful son was born 28 years ago today on the same day my dad was born. I will never forget the way he snuggled into my shoulder the first time I held him. I look at him and marvel at the fine young man he has become. He is kind and smart and no parents could ever want more from a child than he has given us.

My sweet "little boy" (not only is he not a boy anymore, he is over 6 ft tall) will always be my baby boy. It seems like only yesterday he was banished to a summer of book reports to make up for the English home works he missed all year. It seems like last week when he sat at the kitchen table trying to get away with using all 20 spelling words in a sentence: "bad, good, evil, ....." are my spelling words." or trying to split the list with his friend, so each would only have to come up with 10. It seems like last month when my little second grader discovered copy and paste and tried to use this to write his misspelled words 10 times each and how he charmed his teacher into believing this was a great way to do homework. (Computers were new then and his teacher did not know about copy and paste.) It seems like last year when he told his first grade teacher that zero wasn't the smallest number and then listed the negative integers for her.

I miss dancing around the kitchen with him, teaching him his multiplication tables. I miss his running under my legs as I cooked dinner. I don't miss our marathon Spanish sessions, helping him memorize what seemed like endless vocabulary words. I miss the warmth of his little body curling up to me in bed but I don't miss those terrible asthma attacks and ear aches that put him there.

My son, the little boy who had trouble reading, who had trouble getting correct answers down on exams and who always danced to his own beat is a terrific, responsible computer engineer today. I miss him living at home and solving all my tech problems. I miss his humor and his never ending helpfulness. I miss his taking care of the cats when we go away. When I see him and when I talk about him, my heart is full of pride and love. My little boy is a wonderful man.

Happy birthday baby boy--you will always be that to me. Happy birthday dad. I know giving you this boy was the greatest birthday gift you ever got.

Look Out World

Since I made my mistake last week, I decided to to post my picture on Israel's (possibly the world's) biggest tank.

Look out world, I am coming back in September with my own big tank ready for action.

(Posted from a gas station on our way to an archialogical dig outside of Jerusalem.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Right now we are sitting in a Jerusalem restaurant having dinner. Every restaurant has wifi. Everone wants too borrow my computer but I am too much of an addict to share. Besides, I have a low battery and I want to keep going. I was hoping to have access to my kids AP scores, but no luck so far.

Enjoy the view from our hotel window.


After a full day of touring, I am sitting on the ground in front of a bookstore in Jerusalem stealing internet service. The hotel charges way too much to use it there.

All I can sayb is this is not the place I visited 39 years ago, although it was amazing then and it is amazing now. I'll dowload some pictures larer so I can post them next time I walk our.

Having a great time. Hope everone home is having the same.

Please forgive any typos. The sun is so strong it is making the screen hard to read.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Tale Of Many Teachers

The teacher had enough and walked out. The stress she was under was taking a toll on her health and she needed to be away. She cared about her classes, but she cared (rightly so) about her own health more.

The school was left in a dilemma. They needed a sub, a competent individual who could teach the classes and help the kids succeed. For over a week, each class had a different teacher every day. Then, for almost three weeks. different teachers from the department covered the classes. The kids were learning but it was hard on these teachers having to teach a 6th (or in one case a 7th) class every day. Finally, a young man was hired. He was fresh out of student teaching, still learning, but enthusiastic and hard working. He came to class every day, well prepared. He did what he had been taught to do about discipline problems. Many of the kids liked him and were happy he was present. Some did not. The school did not like the way he sent kids to the office for cell phone and other offenses. He was given no administrative support. The administration then decided to fire this young man and hire another inexperienced person to take his place. (This is the person the school wanted in the first place but could not hire because of a license problem.) This person was the 5th teacher of the term. The students were upset. They listened to her less than they listened to the young man.

Two weeks later, the term ended.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Before I Go...

Took these pictures in a little store in Vermont. I know they will make a certain friend or two giggle. Click on my facebook page if you are interested in seeing a few more.


Back to California pictures--In Disney, I was fascinated with people as much as I was fascinated with the rides. It is a good thing most people like having their picture taken.

View them here.

Stupid Me

I did something stupid. I guess it doesn't matter that much since most people know who I am anyway.

OK, NYC Ed, the blog is reopened.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Should Have Apologized

Free Orkut and My Space Sorry Graphics Glitters
Orkut Myspace Sorry Comments & Graphics

Jeff walked into class one day, late as usual, looked at me and said, "Thanks Ms. POd. You made my mom cry again."

Jeff's mom is a doctor, a young, beautiful woman who emigrated here from Russia to provide a better life for her children. The day before, I sent her probably my 100th e-mail telling her of Jeff's lack of classwork, class participation and homework. She is worried about him and tries to keep on top of him. She is thankful for the calls and e-mails and knows that these keep him from cutting as he does in other classes.

Yep, I am the one who made her cry.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Air conditioning.

As much as I love to travel, it is great to be home.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dream Sign

My trip to Vermont would not have been complete without a trip to the Ben and Jerry's factory. Pictured is my dream sign--ice cream samples. Nothing could be better, not even the beer tasting we did this week.

More Ben and Jerry pictures here. I was finally able to post them on facebook.

Rate My Principal

Here's a new site, all us teachers will like. You don't have to leave any identification.

Go to rate my principal and let them know what you think.

Follow Your Dreams

My buddy Ricochet told me to follow my dream every day. One of those dreams involves driving the truck we saw on the way to Manchester yesterday. Red is my first choice but yellow is a close second.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More Vermont

I'm getting brave in my old age. We took the gondola to the top of Pico Mountain and then the bob sled down. The warnings about possible death did scare me a little but since we were given less protective gear here than on any ride in Disney, I decided it was safe. It was tons of fun and we are doing it again Friday.

Also on the agenda was a trip to Sugar Bush Farm to see Maple Syrup and cheese being made. They had some really cute animals too.

And, of course, every day, especially days as hot as we have been experiencing have to end with a beer and onion rings which we happily downed at the Harpoon Brewery.

More pictures here.

Heat Wave

We should be in Vermont escaping the heat. Instead we are being cooked alive. It never occurred to us that there would be no air conditioning. We never even thought we would need it. The fleece jacket and jeans have not come out of the suitcase.

Quechee Gorge

I don't know why I can't get the pictures to post on facebook. I put some here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Career Dreams

My next career will purely be for fun. I don't expect to be a big success at my next career. The people I will be competing against have years of experience that I will never be able to match. To enhance my enjoyment, in spite of losing, I will put Bloomberg's face on the engine, Klein's face on the rear, Duncan's face on the passenger door and a dummy with Weingarten's head in the passenger seat next to me. (It is against the rules to hit the driver's door so no picture is necessary there.) With all these little enhancements, I will relish every bump and bang.

My Next Career

I went into teaching without a support team and without protective gear and I survived. It has prepared me well for my next career--driving in the demolition derby. I saw my first one July 4th and I am hooked. I don't want to just watch, I want to be part of the action. More photos here.


We came to Vermont to keep cool and are experiencing record breaking heat.

Last summer I had record breaking rains. In Texas, we had snow and record breaking cold.

I was hoping the good weather we had in Los Angeles was a sign of a change.

I'm expecting Israel to be hot. Hope I am wrong and we have record breaking cool weather there.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fool's Gold

Pyrite, fools gold--the people that believed in it would believe that people like Bloomberg, Klein, Rhee, Duncan and even Obama really care about education. They would believe charter schools are really the answer,


I don't eat much meat, I don't like it but when I watch those burgers being made on the food channel, I can't stop drooling. I'm particularly drawn to the cheeseburgers, something I don't understand at all. Keeping Kosher means I have never eaten one. Being on vacation means time to watch Bobby Flay grilling those burgers. I'm hungry.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Day 1--Killington

After a slow, leisurely drive we made it to Killington, Vermont. The condo my husband found for us is beautiful. This will be my most mellow vacation ever. During the summer there is not all that much to do here. I need the rest and this is just the place to force me to take it.

(So far, not so memorable pictures but I put a few here anyway)

I Supposedly Got What I Wanted

Why do I still have my doubts? Why can't I trust completely? What is wrong with me?

Friday, July 02, 2010

First Random Subway Day, Summer of 2010

Going on lots of trips means spending free time while home exploring my favorite city, NY. Yesterday, I started out on 23rd and 6th, on my way to Madison Square Park to see the Antony Gormley exhibit, which consists of naked men on top of tall buildings all around the area. It was kind of fun and kind of creepy. I am sure I missed many but it was fun finding them all over the place. It was also fun finding the real people on top of the buildings as well. While in the area, I stumbled upon Virgin Mobile handing out free virgin pina coladas (very refreshing). I also went into Madison Square Park, for the first time and saw how really beautiful it is. It was mobbed and the line for the Shake Shack was ridiculous.

I continued walking up 5th and stopped at one of my favorite places, the Gershwin Hotel, to use the bathroom. Maybe its the red walls or the 70's motif, but I just love this place. Then, it was on to 34th St and some stops at favorite stores, and another bathroom stop in the park opposite Macy's. People say NYC lacks public facilities, but you just have to know where to look. This park has one of those new restrooms that self cleans after every use. There are even flowers on the wall.

Walking up Broadway, I noticed some mannequins in the middle and went to look. I found a Catwalk exhibit by many famous designers that entertained and delighted the viewer from 34th St all the way to 42 St. Also, along the way, in sitting areas, are several public pianos where people wait their turn and then go and sing and play. It was lots of fun.

After 42nd St, I headed over to the Jewelry Exchange and picked up a $5 watch battery and then headed west to meet my husband and friends for dinner before the theater. Lucky me took the street where La Cage is playing and I got to see Kelsey Grammar and some of the other actors making their exits. These actors were all so friendly. They posed for lots of photos and signed autographs for everyone who wanted one. Dinner was at my favorite Chinese Place, Mee Too (dinner ran $22 for both of us) and then a night of entertainment at Lend Me A Tenor, great if you love slap stick.

Unfortunately, the E train was not running for the ride home but as resourceful New Yorkers we took it in stride and headed over to the F train.

For more pictures, go to This summer I am going to concentrate on travel and NYC pictures and try to stay away from bitching about school. (I am sure that will still happen too.)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Too Late

The parent is complaining now, saying her daughter failed because the class was too noisy. She forgets that her daughter had a major part in creating that environment. She doesn't want to think about all the days her daughter did not show up. She doesn't want to know about all the assignments her daughter did not hand in. I understand the mom's support of her daughter, but what I don't get is why she didn't open her mouth earlier, why didn't she say something in October when something could have been done to help this girl succeed? And, more importantly, what will she do to insure her daughter does the right thing so she will be able to succeed in the future? Blaming the teacher will do nothing to help this child.