April 24, 2006


Vacation is over. Back to school, and am tired today. My voice box is in shock after the week off :-)

Interesting thing happened on Sunday. We smelled smoke in the front of the house. Assumed that a neighbor had a fire going. Thought nothing of it. Went out to O'Naturals for breakfast - awesome joint in Acton. Came home.

Still the smell of smoke. Very strong in the front of the house. Could not smell it inside or on the back porch. Very strange. Susan went outside again and noticed that there was smoke coming out of the chimney. Okay, we had a long, lovely fire the night before - but there was no fire in the fireplace now. Opened up the flue and noticed that there were red embers above and behind it. And smoke billowing!

Susan called 911 (her first time!) and soon there were engines and sirens roaring down the street. Men in full gear (not sure what they planned to do with the axes!) stormed in and took charge. Alls well that ends well - seems like for some strange reason there is a depression on the backside of the flue where leaves, etc had collected, and these had caught fire. The firemen got it all scooped out, and cleared the fireplace and removed the flue and grate. When they left, all there was for us to do was clean up the mess and recover from the adrenaline rush. Susan dealt with the firemen, while I captured the entire thing on film (one must have one's priorities right). Will post the pics when I get a chance.

Then a strange thing at school. One of my students, Sothanara, had his house burn down several days ago. Poor kid. He is handling it much better than I would be under the circumstances. Did give him a break on his homework though. That excuse is bullet proof!

April 20, 2006

Quote of the day

The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.

- Leo Buscaglia

It's a Kenyan sweep in The Hub.

Boston Marathon 2006:
Well, the Kenyans won again. No surprise there. The big surprises; The Ethiopians didn't run well, and a relative newcomer, Rita Jeptoo, captured the women's race.

Robert Cheruiyot is the men's winner of the 2006 Boston Marathon. He covered the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in a course-record time of two hours, seven minutes and 14 seconds, shaving one second off the old mark set in 1994. Cheruiyot is the 14th Kenyan in 16 years to win the coveted title. Countryman Benjamin Maiyo was the runnerup, one minute and six seconds behind the winner.

It was a successful day for American men with Meb Keflezighi, Brian Sell and Alan Culpepper finishing third, fourth and fifth, respectively. An American hasn't won the men's race in Boston since Greg Meyer in 1983.

Kenya's Rita Jeptoo was the first woman runner to cross the finish line in Beantown. She covered the distance in two hours, 23 minutes and 38 seconds to become the sixth woman from her country to take home a winner's wreath from Boston in the last seven years.

Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia was the women's runnerup, with Reiko Tosa of Japan finishing third.

** We had the Kenyan flag drapped over the front door in celebration :-)

April 11, 2006

Biology 101

Had a fantastic day at school today. We are learning about Forces - balanced, unbalanced and Newton's First Law of Motion. It was a fun class filled with light banter, humor and laughter. The kind of day I simply love.

My students are taking Family Consumer Science this term. What exactly is that you ask? Not sure myself.

Well, was asked several interesting questions today:

1. Jose was looking at a library book that showed the internal organs of animals - love that he was reading! When he got to a picture of a bee, Ronnie says that he did not know that bees had an anus. How did he think that bees got rid of their waste, I asked. Ummm, from their wings???!!!

2. Samantha asks Ronnie, "What is an anus?". She is a bright English Language Learner. "Kinda like a butt-hole", replies Ronnie. "No way!" she squeals as she turns to me and repeats the questions. My answer? In science we do in fact call the butt-hole an anus. That is the scientific term.

April 4, 2006

Did someone say testicles?

Our 7th grade classes went to see a play based on "The Diary of Anne Frank" at the theater in the UMASS Lowell south campus. The seats are not comfortable for anyone over 18. The play was good - tailored for a middle school audience, and it was great to see kids really get caught up in the spell that only a live perfomance can command.

After the play, we stopped by Burger King for lunch. While the 100+ kids were waiting to order, Samantha, a bright English Language Learner (ELL), asked me in her usual loud voice, "What is a testicle?". I expected chaos. But I do not think that most of the kids even know what that word means - except for 2 boys that I saw sniggering (one of whom is repeating the 7th grade). Language is an interesting thing. Asked Samantha why she wanted to know, and it turns out that she saw a movie were people ate them.

Well, needless to say, they were not on the menu at BK!