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Against All Odds, My Teacher Gene Still Breathes

I think community colleges are a natural fit in the future bio world. They are at the leading edge of high-tech training.” - Russ Read

Training one student in quality and unbiased reporting is tantamount to enlightening thousands and thousands of future readers." - Judea Pearl

I think what's happened is everybody's kind of gotten beyond all this business with the president, and now they're focusing on issues that directly affect their lives: education, health care, the future of Social Security.” - Martin Frost

Most of you know that I was an instructor in a past life (for 20 years, actually). When the big guy upstairs engraves achievements beside our names, I'm pretty certain that will be one of the biggies for me. A few things have brought it to mind again, even though I left over 8 years ago. First, I checked the StatCounter map for yesterday, just out of curiosity to see where "readers" were coming from.

Here's the list:

Houston, Texas
Austin, Texas
Witchita, Kansas
Liberal, Kansas
Boulder, Colorado
Palm Springs, Calif.
United States, city unknown (Newshane)
Towson, Maryland
Newcastle, Delaware
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey
New York, New York
Vancouver, B.C.
Edmonton, AB
Seoul, Republic of South Korea
Limassol, Cyprus
Singapore, Singapore
Paris, France
London, England.

I must say, that's a rather intimidating "audience"!

Although certainly not totally successful on most days, nonetheless I feel confident in saying that what follows is a fair and reasonable summary of how I treated my (post-secondary, BTW) students.

I see students as kites

You run with them till you're both breathless...

they crash....
you add a longer tail....they hit the rooftop....you pluck them out of the spout....

you patch and comfort, adjust and teach.

You watch them lifted by the wind, and assure them that someday
they'll fly.

Finally, they are airborne, but they need more string,
and you keep letting it out.

And with each twist of the ball of twine there is a sadness that goes
with the joy

because the kite becomes more distant;

and somehow you know that it won't be long
before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline
that held you together

and soar as it was meant to soar....


Only then do you know that you did your job.

[NOTE: for those of you with young families, just substitute the word "children" for the word "students". It truly is the same message.]

[Just a tad of background to the next one. When my brothers, sister and I were sorting through my Dad's stuff after he passed in 1975, I came across the following written on a 3x5 card. He often was asked to deliver speeches to various groups and organizations, so I suspect that is what it's from. I obviously have felt it valuable enough for me to keep it for over 30 years myself now!]


"And what did you do?" said the Lord; and the wandering tinsmith said:
I mended holes in pots and pans to earn my daily bread.
But I haven't got much to show, for it's little the poor can pay
For mending a hole in a kettle's side, and the rich just send you away.
No, I didn't do much below, and I haven't the right to ask
A place up here with the great and wise for doing so small a task."
But the Good Lord smiled and said: "I have so arranged my plans
That a place in Heaven may at last be won by a mender of pots and pans.
And all that I want to know, and all that I'll have you tell
Is, "When you were given a kettle to mend, are you sure that you did it well?"

...and since we're on a bit of a theme here today with learnin' and dyin' and prayin' and rhymin' and stuff, I want to pass on a couple more rather moving and powerful prayers that a friend of mine in California [the one who was threatened with the fires in Morongo Valley this summer] sent to me. I hope he doesn't mind me passing them along. They're worth it!


Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man who's not a creep,
One who's handsome, smart and strong;
One who loves to listen long.
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who'll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he's gainfully employed,
When I spend his cash, won't be annoyed.
Pulls out my chair and opens my door,
Massages my back and begs to do more.
Oh! Send me a man who'll make love to my mind,
Knows what to answer to "How big's my behind?"
I pray that this man will love me no end,
Ans always be my very best friend.




I pray for a deaf-mute nymphomaniac with huge boobs
who owns a liquor store and a golf course.
This doesn't rhyme, and I don't give a shit.




Love the 'prayers'. Too funny.

"A teacher affects eternity:
he can never tell where his influence stops."
Henry Adams

Your words are so true!
Even the prayers!

Oh and you can add "Toronto Ontario" to your list too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It stands to reason, the day I am so busy I can't do my daily blog reading, you do a head count.


That'll teach me to miss class.

I love those prayers Rick!!

Rick, I know I haven't been here in awhile. i just popped over. In case you don't know, I moved to MT and am teaching Jr/HS English. I needed to see what you wrote. I needed the uplifting. I needed the hope. thank you.

And while I'm making the longest comment in the world, I want to tell you the river/ bridge/ fall leaves pic at the top of your blog is stunningly beautiful. I don't ahve tradional fall here in MT- we don't have trees. I have been so homesick this autumn and that pic you have here looks just like my home in Area 52. I love it. Thank you so much. Today, you made my day.

Excellent post mano. You feeling better these days?

the prayers were good, but i like the metaphor of the kites. And also the speech from your dad is pretty interesting as well. I often wonder if i am doing the best i am capable of.

And BTW, you can add Santa Barbara, CA to your list.


HEHEEE! Ok the prayers were great!!

Now the teacher parts... a teacher put my first camera in my hand, saw my potential, gave me something to reach for, a reason to believe in myself. A teacher saw my pain, told me I was a worthwhile person, and made me feel proud of myself. I have had many wonderful teachers, who all had a part in helping me become who I am. You included! Thank you Rick.

Wow! I must be honest and say that I'm somewhat overwhelmed by all the responses to this posting, and thanks very much for them. (Note to self: Try to come up with a less banal expression than "Thank you very much"...what the hell is "very much"?)

JJ: Your quote is so bang on. It reminded me of the Butterfly Effect that I read about this spring in a book on chaos theory.

Dirk: I'll give you an excused absent pass this time, but don't let it happen again without checking with me first. As I've gotten to know you, "too busy" probably means snogging it in the boy's room".

Mackey: Do you have a favorite? Do the shoes fit?!! LOL

Professor: That touched me deeply. I want to give all the credit for the pic to Mel. She not only took it, but chose it for my "new look" which she put together for me!! I know how you feel, though. I haven't lived in Northern Ontario since 1966, and I STILL miss the colours in the autumn.

Red: Thanks for the props. As for me, I'm somewhat better, in that I'm not upchucking anymore, nor have I had a serious dizzy in a few weeks (touch wood!). The only really frustrating lingering symptoms are that I still find it very difficult to walk without losing my balance (...I've had to almost "child-proof my house by taking low-hanging pictures off walls etc. because I would stumble into them, using the wall for support!). I find stairs the hardest..esp. going down. And the other thing is that I have a very bad tremor in my hands that makes it difficult some days to write, eat, etc.

That probably sounds worse than it is, but that's the report the doc's getting next week when I see him!!

Thanks for asking!

Melanie: Santa Barbara is now officially on the list! I think we all wonder at times if we're doing the best we can, and I believe with all my heart the nswer is a resounding "NO". Because that would make you a perfectionist who would never be happy with less. (Preacher mode, here LOL)

KS: It's the lucky student who has great teachers (although I have a theory that great students creat great teachers...in other words you find what you expect to get most of the time). Isn't it amazing, though, how one person or one act can change you direction in a huge way? I call those my "life adjustors". Like you, I lucked out with a whole crew of absolutely outstanding teachers.

Thanks again, everyone! You've started my day off just fine < smile > .

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  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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