Sunday, April 17, 2011


Seventeen, I have heard, is the most interesting number. Seventeen is superior, say some, and scarier, say others, to any other number.

I remember a talk I heard once in Boston by David Kelley, a math professor, a specialist in 17.

According to Professor Kelley, 17 is the “random number,” meaning the chances are more than random that a random number will be divisible by 17. Here are some other little random things I learned in that talk about seventeen:

• There are 17 distinct ways to fit polygons around a point.

• 17 is the smallest prime whose sum of the digits is a cube

• The book of Genesis records that the Great Flood started on the 17th day of the month, and the ark landed on the 17th day of a different month on top of Mt. Ararat (guess what the elevation of Mt. Ararat is?? Yep, 17,000 feet)

• The Alhambra, the gorgeous Moorish castle in Grenada, Spain, contains 17 different tiling patterns, which is actually the total number of possible tiling patterns using triangles

• The shortest form of Japanese poetry, Haiku, contains exactly 17 syllables

• The White House has 17 bathrooms

• There are 17 miles of corridors in the Pentagon

• There are 17 species of penguins—Professor Kelley pointed out that sadly, among penguins, their divorce rate is 17%

• Seventeen is the number of eyelashes on a yellow pig

• A cow’s saliva increases by 17% while grazing

• The Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, is the only mammal that can clear its own ears with its tongue, which can grow to 17 inches in length

• At age 17, Jack London wrote the first of his 17 books

• Benjamin Franklin, a 1700s figure was born on January 17, was one of 17 children and moved to Philadelphia at age 17

• The average person breathes 17 times per minute

• Modern Italians view 17 as an unlucky number. Air Italia does not have a 17th row and Italian buildings do not have a 17th floor. Why?? The Roman numeral XVII (for 17) rearranges and spells “VIXI,” which in Latin means, “I have lived,” (meaning “I am dead”) and is used on Italian tombstones

• Tradition holds that Eve was 17 years old when she handed to Adam the forbidden apple. There are 17 sets of chromosomes in the apple.

• Here is something I knew before Professor Kelley’s talk!! Iktinos and Kallikrates, the ancient Athenian architects, chose to place 17 columns on the long side of the Parthenon as part of their equation x = 2y + 1 as their equation to symbolize perfection

• Last but not least: it takes 17 facial muscles to smile (it takes 43 muscles to frown). Seventeen to greet the new day, a new friend, and old friend with warmth and kindness.

So, why does this matter?

Oh, I thought it was interesting on this 17th day of April to remember how fascinated I was by that talk on the power of seventeen long ago. However, in terms of current interest, Seventeen days from now is the long-anticipated AP Art History test for my students (most of whom are seventeen years old).

And in a bit of also-long-anticipated news, on this 17th day of April, on this first day of the week, I look forward to the fact that by the end of this week, I will be on Spring Break. No, the break is not 17 days long—I don’t even think anything about the break will be 17 of anything. The cycle/fascination ends here!

Enjoy the 17th!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Never underestimate the power of little pleasures

Maybe I just boxed myself into a corner. I mean, of the scores and scores of blog entries I have written in the last 45 months (wow—really?) many felt epic, at least to me. They were jeremiads or sermon-ettes, or inspired by big, big things, and sometimes I forgot about the simple little pleasures that can make a day. I think each blog entry must be Churchill-ian or Orwell-ian in scope.

Yesterday I went to McDonald’s. Now, that is not a big surprise, except that I went on Friday instead of on Saturday night when I usually stop by the big McDonald’s on Airport Road about 10 minutes out of Amman and 20 minutes before KA. I rarely go to McDonald’s while I am in the United States, (he hastens to add!) but here in Jordan, again, almost every Saturday night. I go on my way back from church heading back to school and gearing up for the new school week. I go every week for several reasons, not least of which is that the hot fries are really good. Yes, I have seen the movie Supersize Me and not only did that not curb the weekly habit, it made me hungry for Saturday night. But I go in part to McDonald’s every Saturday night because it gives this world-away-from-home some structure and predictability. That in itself is a little pleasure (maybe even a big pleasure).

I went to McDonald’s yesterday because two guys from class missed some extra classes this week and they wanted to study the art they missed. As we wind down the AP Art History class, I wanted to make sure I didn’t rush too much through early 20th century art, so I added three classes in a segment of the day called “O Block” at the end of the school day. It is a catch-all time when various clubs could meet or AP lab sciences or anyone else who wants to claim it. I wanted to meet and discuss the art of Edvard Munch and Gustav Klimt one day, Pablo Picasso (rather big in the course you might imagine) another day, and then some crazy Russians, Malevich and Tatlin on a third day. Omar and Ramie were already “claimed” by another zealous teacher and were going to miss the extra classes.

Of course they could have just read the textbook and learned a fair amount. I am also so hip now with technology that I post all the power point slide shows on-line so you can zip through the art works anytime you want (oh, my, the changes from when I started teaching this course a decade ago with the slides!). But Ramie and Omar wanted to meet and really discuss the art, so I suggested we meet on our day off for lunch at McDonald’s. Now, it’s one thing to suggest a meeting, and it’s also one thing to intend to want to study more, but it’s another thing for teen-agers to follow through on that! Omar and Ramie really showed up! But then again, I knew they would—these are in the cream of the crop.

We met a little after 1:00 and we decided to go outside to a table and do all the art stuff first. The noise was a little loud inside—McDonald’s is very popular in Jordan—and the “Habibi songs” were cranked up a little too much. (“habibi” is an endearment in Arabic, and to my ears, every Arabic song sounds alike with a heavy emphasis on panting about your “habibi.” I guess that would be like almost 50 years ago when to older ears every “Beatles” song sounded alike!) So we sat outside and looked at the art on the laptop, discussing it, noting how this art broke with traditional expectations and conventions of art, seeing links with older eras of art, and trying to understand what theories they developed. Kazimir Malevich is an especially interesting artist—but you have to meet him on his own terms. His art is called “Suprematism” (oh, the explosion of –isms at this time is daunting and hilarious!) and he imbues his art with theories of color. Black, for example, is the supreme feeling—Omar noted that black, as an artistic value, is actually the combination of all other colors, and so that made perfect sense to him. White is the absence of feeling, a void that has been created. We looked at an art work, White Square on White Square, and instead of the obvious, “Oh, please, that’s nothing!” they realized that Malevich was bemoaning the fate of the world. Malevich fell into the same camp as Sigmund Freud at the time lamenting that civilization had gone so far and would never recover. They discussed the historical phenomena that might allow Malevich’s pessimism to overwhelm him the way he showed the white overwhelming and consuming all the feeling.

After about an hour we went inside, got the fast-food that cardiologists warn us about and we proceeded to sit and talk. I had thought I would be back on campus an hour before I was, but it was such a pleasurable, casual time sitting with Omar and Ramie and talking about New York, about college, about home towns, about teaching and school and headmasters, all those things that just pop up in an organic and enjoyable conversation. At 3:30 I got in the car, stopped at the grocery store and headed back to campus.

Not a life-changing event, no camels, no spiritual or sit-com revelations, just an enjoyable afternoon with curious, hard-working, fun students.

On another note, I had to call Hamzeh and say that I would be late. We had an appointment for a “graded talk,” but I knew he wasn’t in a rush, and I decided not to be the German train I am 99% of the time. This “graded talk” has been a good idea. Another little pleasure this weekend.

In the History of the 20th Century class I had assigned a memoir by a man named Alfons Heck that is entitled, A Child of Hitler: the Days When God Wore a Swastika. Some title, huh? It is a compelling read about a young man in the Hitler youth who, down the road, must come to terms with what Germany did in the Second World War. In the end he pleads for sympathy and understanding, stating that he is a victim of Adolf Hitler as well. I decided on an unusual assignment: I wanted each student to explore a different WWII-era film, so I wondered if they could juxtapose the memoir and the film. Before the paper was due I told the class I had changed my mind about the paper and I preferred that we sit and discuss the assignment, one-on-one, instead. As we come toward the end of the school year, there are fewer times for good one-on-one discussions.

Yesterday I had four of these discussions, all very exciting, very pleasurable, and all different. Each student looks at the book differently given the movie they have watched, and so far, each has found an unusual parallel in the book to illumine something about the war they hadn’t considered before. Faisal watched Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun and found a great parallel of the two lads, Hamzeh watched The Great Escape, Zeyna saw Casablanca and Rob enjoyed The Pianist, and again, each found insights very original from juxtaposing the film and the memoir. I have 10 more of these to enjoy in the next couple days.

Somehow in the midst of all this talk—either in McDonald’s, my apartment, or the Dining Hall or my car—I thought of the biblical image of the Peaceable Kingdom, the highly unlikely scene Isaiah paints for us of peaceful co-existence. I don’t know why it popped into my head, but again, I live in Biblical Territory, so maybe seeing those hills of David just beyond us here creates that open space for Bible images. Maybe it is also perhaps from the images in the news from the Middle East these first 99 days of 2011—we live in a world that reminds us again and again how preposterous the idea of a peaceable kingdom is, and how unnatural. Isaiah lived at a time and in a world red in tooth and claw, a time and a world in which insecurity and terror was the norm, war was routine, natural, inevitable. I would bet that Isaiah was laughed out of many a room for this co-existence silliness. “That Isaiah,” they’d hoot, “he’s mad as a hatter and crazy as a loon.”

Peaceful co-existence. Do you believe it is worthy of our highest efforts? I do. Or at least on my good days, I do. Even on my bad days, I really want to. But of course, courage and wisdom and love are forged slowly and painfully. As I thought about it, this concept of a peaceable kingdom may be unnatural but not foolishness.

Oh, all of this comes from having a 30-minute drive back to campus. I am sure if I had not had that drive I wouldn’t have even wondered about my little pleasures with my students and the chance of a greater peaceable kingdom. Right now the drive is almost like a drive through Ireland with the beautiful spring carpets of green here in Jordan, and that time to wonder and reflect and have my mind dance as I drive to and from Amman.

I resent that drive sometimes—like when I want to go out to breakfast or brunch on a Friday and it is a 45-minute drive to get to a decent place for brunch. But maybe it is the quiet drives that have allowed some of the wonderings and jeremiads of the last 45 months.

Anyway, I pull into the KA driveway, wait for the security guard to open the gate, park the car and put away the musings about the peaceable kingdom for the moment. This is a weekend of little pleasures and savoring of these exquisite conversations.

Friday, April 8, 2011

An Older Star Twinkles

Last week my 20th Century History class was treated to a visit from a wonderful historic relic—a man who lived through World War II as a young man. Abdullah, surely you have heard me speak about this young man over the last four years—he is the one his friend Faisal has dubbed “The Mayor of Awesomeville”, has a British grandfather, and he had asked him to come and speak to our class.

In the last couple weeks we have studied the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and how in that incredible display of promise of the “World of Tomorrow,” fair organizers indeed pinned their hopes on the Fair as a means to stave off what many knew by 1938 was an inevitable tumble back into a sequel of the Great War. We studied the Fair, and who came, and how the events and activities at the Fair provided a backdrop for the declaration of war that September. As we studied this new world war we looked at various artifacts from the British homefront, during that long time when the Brits fought alone heroically against the Nazi machine. On one of those days Abdullah, my student every day for four years now, suggested he invite his grandfather to come to class and speak.

I may never have explained Abdullah’s background, but it is an interesting one. As I remember the story, Abdullah’s father, a man from Jordan, studied engineering in the UK in the 1980s, fell in love with a British lass (Bridget) whose father was also an engineer. They married, lived awhile in England, and then moved back to Jordan and have raised their seven sons in Jordan. When Abdullah was a little boy in England he was chided as “the Arab kid,” and then when he moved to Jordan, they teased him as “the British kid.” In the first few days of KA fellow 9th grader Jude met Abdullah, sized him up and said, “You don’t look like an Abdullah; you look like a James.” And so Jude has called Abdullah ‘James’ throughout our four years (and by the way, Jude is another of the elite four-year club of exciting students I have taught every day here). Anyway, I digress. A few years ago Mr. Morrison, Abdullah’s grandfather, moved to Jordan to join his daughter’s family here. That is how we came to have a valuable cultural artifact from World War II Britain here in Jordan.

Abdullah called his granddad and asked him. Mr. Morrison first said, “Oh, I don’t remember anything about those days. But I will think about it and let you know.” This past Tuesday Mr. Morrison treated our class to a presentation about his high school and college years in war-torn Britain.

The man was prepared! He came with a power-point presentation, a laser pointer, a script, cues for when Abdullah should change the slides, a hand-out on dates and helpful historical facts, a youtube clip from a British comedy show looking back at the war, and my favorite—sound effects! He had included a sound effect of an air raid siren for us to hear.

Mr. Morrison began by telling us that he was 16 when Britain declared war against Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939. He digressed—a wonderful and helpful digression, unlike some blog writers I know who seem to drift onto situation comedy tangents at the drop of a hat—and explained his school and how he was chosen to attend his public school. He joked about how strange it is that British public schools are actually “private” schools—I knew about the strange twisting of public and private—but he then explained the historic derivation of such a practice. I had never ever heard the reason for the strange twist. He explained about how an ecclesiastical York school in 627 opened its doors to the public, and then, oh, I knew I was in for a good presentation since he provided such good context in the first five minutes!

He explained about how important the radio was as announcements about the war and rationing schedules were made; he explained how as a 16-year old he and his family “bomb-proofed” their suburban London home; he explained how all the young lads his age joined up in the OTC (Officer Training Corps) and the LDV (Local Defense Volunteers—a group so shabby that the real soldiers nicknamed the LDV the “Look, Duck, and Vanish” group). Mr. Morison recounted the story of Dunkirk, one of those seminal moments in the British defense in the spring of 1940, a moment of surrender and retreat, but also a moment as new Prime Minister Churchill claimed was a moment when “so many owed so few.”

It had been a long while since I have gotten to teach World War II with a little bit of time. In world history courses the goal is to give more of a global perspective, and I have not gotten to trot out some of the things I enjoy, the film clips and the documents and the Vera Lynn songs. Yes, I sang for them “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover,” and made sure they knew how much former headmaster Eric Widmer loves Vera Lynn and her “We’ll Meet Again” anthem. But it was also wonderful to have a guest speaker to come and recount his memories of the war time years. I remember that around the year 2000 at Hackley it seemed for the first year in my teaching career none of my students had had a grandfather who fought in World War II—it just felt the world had gotten a pinch older and farther away from those years. Another interesting point is how adept with 21st century technology Mr. Morison is in planning his presentation. It was just 10 years ago that I was showing slides in class about the homefront of WWII, and he had created a zippy presentation with all the power-point bells and whistles!

So our 87-year old guest explained how as the blitz in England continued, how it affected daily life: taking street signs down (I assume to confuse any German bombers who landed??) and the ration books—oh, my he showed us the weekly rations for sugar, butter, meat, etc. and I think I eat a whole week’s worth of rations in a day easily! He explained about black-outs and sentry duty at school and sleeping in the library awaiting the air raid sirens, how the lads were taught to defuse bombs. The new German bombs of 1941 were even more intense and the shrieking sound was horrendous he explained. With an air of someone who had lived through such tension, Mr. Morrison almost off-handedly remarked, “Very disconcerting, those bombs.”

He discussed about driving in the black-outs, the reduction of trains, and the rationing of clothes and everything else—he also provided a table as to when the rations ended, and some of them went on years after the conclusion of the war. He explained about the evacuations for children so that fewer young persons were in the London area during the war. He explained how important the WOSB—War Office Selection Board—was in shaping decisions for people’s lives. At the age of 18 Mr. Morrison’s eyesight was deemed too poor for military service, but the WOSB directed him as to which kind of engineering he should study. His job was to test the new pre-fabricated houses—the houses that would quickly go up to replace the homes destroyed by bombs.

I am a sucker for this kind of presentation—I just love hearing the veterans of life describe what they have seen and how they reacted. Of course Mr. Morrison’s presentation made me think of my own grandfather and his service in WWII. Somehow I never heard any of those stories in my childhood from him, and only after studying abroad in Austria in 1985 did all the war stories tumble out of him. I met friends of his in England, friends that he had made and kept over the decades. The men in the English family were off fighting the Nazis in Africa, and my grandfather was in Bristol, England, awaiting deployment for the invasion of France. In the time he was there he visited this family almost every week, bringing them treats from the GI store, and they providing him a family environment while he was away from his Cincinnati family. I loved the stories and how it took meeting these “strangers” for me to learn so much more about my grandfather.

Anyway, Mr. Morrison concluded his presentation explaining how the Brits were encouraged to dig up their flower beds and plant vegetable gardens—“Dig for Victory Gardens.” As he came towards the end of the class time, I wondered if he planned to touch on the theme of death at all. In the end he did, albeit briefly. He explained about two good friends of his, two lads who had gone off for military service, and while in training, they died, from what we would now call “friendly fire.” It was a brief reminder that this war business was more than just defense and sacrifices of food and gasoline etc. but as he said, “There wasn’t a family I knew who was not touched by the sadness of grief in the war.”

I joked with Mr. Morrison at the end that he had at first told Abdullah he couldn’t remember anything—but then look at what a little reflection had created! It was a delightful talk, a reminder of bonds I once shared with more students, when we had all had grandfathers who served or endured the privations of World War II. I think of my dad’s friends he sees regularly, Chris who fought in the Pacific, Ruby and Harry who met and fell in love during the war in France, and the German couple, Hans and Annelise, obviously from the other side of the war, who join the group at the Imperial Diner every week.

“There’ll be love and laughter, and peace ever after, tomorrow, when the world is free,”
promises the end of the “White Cliffs of Dover” song. How poignant, how helpful to be reminded of the many factors and promises and hopes and fears and joys that shape us as we go. Mr. Morrison, a man the same age as my students when that war started, thank you for sharing your memories and reflections.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Star Is Born

I must have walked by the laptop a dozen times in the last two weeks to write this particular blog entry. Maybe even two dozen. Writing the blog entry has been on the proverbial and literal “To Do List” every day—what has happened? Where has the enthusiasm gone for me to write my appropriate-for-the-world bi-weekly thoughts down as well as any Broadway, literary, religious and sit-com references…oh, the intention is there, and so therefore, I guess the enthusiasm is there. It is just that Time keeps stealing away itself. Or Devouring? I seem even more busy with committee meetings and, let’s see, what else…while the running of our little project has become so much more efficient and manageable, there is little time left for such blogging pursuits. I still have those “wouldn’t that make a nice reflection for the blog” moments, but I seem to be like the dog chasing his tail to make those observations in the laptop and set our history down for posterity.

Anyhoo, a few weeks ago now, I attended the third of a series of evening events that have been dubbed “Sympo.” The Sympo came about when two students, Abdullah and Thaer, two seniors whom I have taught every day of this enterprise, decided that they wanted to start a speaker series featuring…themselves. The name, of course, is short for “Symposium,” and the guys wanted to emulate the practice in ancient Athens where young people would sit around, speak, wonder, muse, engage, and challenge each other, all for the benefit of imagining a better world. They wanted to create a forum wherein students may feel comfortable making a public address, or wondering about something, or writing a skit, or, just giving themselves an arena in which to invite peers and teachers and hear them. Kind of like a live blog, I guess.

In the first Sympo Abdullah spoke about why he and his peers rarely use the Arabic language for the discussion of scholarly matters. As someone fluent in both languages, he lamented that Arabic was the language for fun and conversation, but not a metaphysical conversation. Several students presented, again, kind of like live editorials, and there was a Q&A period at the end. Of course people applauded their initiative at wanting to create a new forum. There was a second one, and then recently, a third Sympo.

At this third meeting of Sympo there was a theme—the sun and the moon and the stars. One student, Tamara, began with a poem about the moon. The next speaker was Abdullah’s older brother, Moamer, who happens to be a first year teacher here at KA. He teaches physics and offered us “A Glimpse of the Universe.” Moamer’s 15-minute presentation was so masterful—I intended to run home and dash off a blog entry immediately to announce that a new teaching star had been born. The in-joke in all this is that Moamer explained how stars (the literal kind in the night sky) are born. Moamer is one of the teaching fellows with whom I have worked this year and he has been exciting to chart his progress, akin to how one might chart the progress of the gaseous star bodies in the sky. Technology and imagery have become so marvelous that his presentation not only held me captive for his level of engagement, but also for the sheer majesty of the pictures. Moamer attempted to present to us in a quarter of an hour a history of the cosmos and explain how these stars come to be. I wanted to sign up for an astronomy course or physics course or really just sit in his class every day to continue the wonder of what he had presented. Here was a young man so excited about his subject, so in command of his speaking abilities that his presentation was mesmerizing and riveting and captivating. Wow. The Sympo finished off with Mansoor, a student who had composed a piece of piano music. Mansoor had an interesting dimension of audience participation in it. He informed the audience that his piece of music was inspired by the moments just before dawn. He asked the audience to close its eyes and when each audience member felt the moment had arrived in the music when the sun had indeed come up, they could open their eyes. Over his three years here, Mansoor has written a number of memorable pieces, but what a startling and fun thing to do for the audience—what an inventive way to make us listen in a new way to a piece of music, to reflect on something as basic as the morning sun.

At the end of the 45-minutes, after a reflection on the moon, the birth of stars, and the rising sun, I felt rejuvenated to go back and attack the work that must be done to help run a school.

But why did it take so long to get this little blog entry down? Am I running out of energy? Well, we are still three weeks away from spring break, and maybe my body clock is so attuned to the Hackley schedule of spring break in March that that has caused a little run-down for me. Maybe it is all the new committees on which I sit—I try and make sure I know which one I run into after the class day so I know what the tenor, tone, agenda might be. Maybe it is ennui after several years of novelty here in Jordan. Maybe it is the beginning of anxiety at letting the seniors go. Oh, heck, maybe I just need a change of scenery. Doesn’t matter.

I did decide that I should contribute something to the presentation on the sun, the moon, and the stars. On the top of the blog page is one of my favorite paintings, by a German guy named Caspar David Friedrich. It is a fairly simple image with a simple title: Two Men Contemplating the Moon. One of the most endearing elements of this painting is finding out who the two men are. They are a former teacher with a former student. They have donned the “costume” of what they wore back in the day when they enjoyed the stimulation of a shared classroom years earlier. Friedrich writes that they have come back together, picking up the threads of friendship and fellowship, and have taken a moment to drink in the beauties of the natural world and assess their places in the world.

Friedrich is one of the most passionate of the painters of “Romanticism,” that 19th century belief and attitude that we can eschew reason and seek out the answers of life in a natural setting. The goal in Romanticism is to achieve a state of sublime. That word is always so hard to define and explain. I once had an invitation to a dinner party where the dress, it said on the invitation, was to be, “Chic yet sublime.” I never quite figured that out. I hoped the sweater vest I agonized over would somehow achieve that goal!

But Friedrich urges us to find a retreat, either with a companion, as we see here, or on a solitary journey, where the majesty of the world around us presents us with a chance to chant hallelujahs. Friedrich doesn’t use his art to explain the suffering of the world, but in piece after piece he urges us to know that the world is full of suffering. As I just said, what Friedrich doesn’t do is try to explain the problem of suffering—his art suggests that down the road, up the mountain, through the woods, on the hillside, we will find answers. In the meantime, Friedrich wants us to notice the things that give us hope, build faith and cast out fear.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired this piece in 2001, and I remember the excitement at the Met for the acquisition of their first Friedrich. They printed up posters about the mini-exhibition of Friedrich’s works (borrowed works) and his peers. I remember seeing the posters and adding that to my “To Do List” for September, 2001. If you read at the bottom of the poster I have, it says that the exhibition would open on September 11, 2001.

Of course it didn’t open that day. There was little hope and too much fear on that day. Everything was going to be closed that wasn’t helping the situation in lower Manhattan. But in the week that followed, I remember wondering when the Met would re-open and when I could go see that art work. That is probably a very strange thing to be thinking about if you lived in the New York area that week. But I had been to the Met just the week before to celebrate my friend, and former student, and current colleague Chuck’s birthday. When the Met re-opened a week after 9/11, and the Friedrich exhibit did open, Chuck and I went to see the Friedrich. Of course outside the Met there was worry that everything we knew was crumbling and we must assume a brave face.

The Friedrich painting is not far from that same emotion. The former teacher and student, in communion with Nature, are near a gnarled tree. Romantic painters loved the trope of the gnarled tree—it meant disaster sometimes, God’s fury sometimes, anguish over change sometimes, storms and strife always—it was an ominous symbol. But here stood these two comrades—looking out at the simple moon, enjoying the comfort of nostalgia, assessing where they stood at the moment in their careers, and wondering what the world had in store for them.

The painting never fails to help me do the very same things. Where have I been lately? Where am I at this very moment? What do the next few months have in store for me?

I put that poster up every March in my classroom as I teach about the Romantics, looking at the date printed long before the disaster, and remember when Chuck and I stood at the Met, side by side wondering about the world, contemplating the universal and the mundane. Since that day almost 10 years ago Chuck is married with three children teaching in the school where I first taught him 20 years ago. I ended up in the Middle East.

I thank Tamara for her poem on the moon, Moamer for his dazzling skills enlightening us about the stars, and Mansoor, bidding us to wake up and enjoy the rising sun and the new day. Thank you for reminding us of the simple pleasures and the enormous complexities of these fixtures in the universe.

Here’s to your own contemplation at the appearance of the moon on your side of earth.