October 26, 2007

Poetry Friday - Germs

After a weekend of introspection, I had a week of “no spection” - meaning muddled thinking. I was attacked by a germ.

I have mentioned my love of dictionaries. Well, I couldn’t help looking up the definition of the word introspection again which led me to musing which led to germ - I promise it does!

Ogden Nash’s
“The Germ”

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my popet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

Germ has many meanings, of course. It can mean a minute life form, especially a disease causing bacterium. It can mean a small electronic listening device - a bug. By the way, part of the etymology of introspection is specere - to look - which leads to spy. And we know that spies are very fond of bugs! But one of the meanings of germ is something that may serve as a basis of further growth or development: the germ of a project.

In my book . . . I can only hope that my "muddled thinking" causing germ will soon give way to that one which allows developing a real project!

Side note I: Definitions were taken from The Free Dictionary (Online) and Merriam-Webster Online.

Side note II: Last week some 6th grade boys actually asked me about dictionaries. I was thrilled! As I have said, and as you can see by my last two blog entries, I love dictionaries!

October 19, 2007

Poetry Friday - Introspection

In honor of a weekend for introspection:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog,
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
By Emily Dickinson
I'm Nobody! Who are You?: Poems of Emily Dickinson for Children

Nobody loves me,
Nobody cares,
Nobody picks me peaches and pears.
Nobody offers me candy and Cokes,
Nobody listens and laughs at my jokes.
Nobody helps when I get in a fight,
Nobody does all my homework at night.
Nobody misses me,
Nobody cries,
Nobody thinks I'm a wonderful guy.
So if you ask me who's my best friend, in a whiz,
I'll stand up and tell you the Nobody is.
But yesterday night I got quite a scare,
I woke up and Nobody just wasn't there.
I called out and reached out for Nobody's hand,
In the darkness where Nobody usually stands.
Then I poked through the house, in each cranny and nook,

But I found somebody each place that I looked.
I searched till I'm tired, and now with the dawn,
There's no doubt about it -
Nobody's gone!
from A Light In the Attic
by Shel Silverstein

My trusty dictionary defines introspection as self-examination, given to private thought, contemplative. A study of contemplative leads to pensive defined as deep thoughtfulness suggesting melancholy thoughtfulness. And melancholy means sadness or depression of the spirits, gloom.

In my book . . . sometimes I have to remember another of Silverstein's poems - "There's a light on in the attic. . . And I know you're on the inside . . . lookin' out."

October 15, 2007

Poetry Friday (On Monday) - Fall Break

Another Poetry Friday Monday

My school had fall break over the weekend. The students had no school Friday or today - a four day weekend. However, faculty had “staff development” today with a very interesting topic but still not a four day weekend!

In honor of school breaks:
Charles Ghigna’s
“School Daze”
From algebra to English class,
I've lost my mind, I swear;
One teacher says that pie is round,
The other - pie are square!
From A Fury of Motion: Poems for Boys

My trusty dictionary tells me that daze means to stun, to stupefy
and stupefy means to amaze, astonish

In my book . . . I am astonished that the first 9 weeks term has gone by so fast! Bring on the pie!

October 5, 2007

Poetry Friday - Stars

In honor of stars - as in reaching for!

Sara Teasdale's
"The Falling Star"

I saw a star slide down the sky,
Blinding the north as it went by,
Too burning and too quick to hold,
Too lovely to be bought or sold,
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone.

And . . .

Sara Teasdale's

Stars over snow,
And in the west a planet
Swinging below a star -
Look for a lovely thing and you will find it,
It is not far -
It never will be far.

Poems from
All The Silver Pennies
Edited by Blanche Jennings Thompson

In my book . . . what we wish for might be soon and forever be gone - reach for those stars!
"Look for the lovely" . . . It never will be far."

There's nothing half so real in life as the things you've done . . . inexorably, unalterably done.
Sara Teasdale

October 4, 2007

October Skies

October Skies

Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, a basketball sized satellite weighing 183 pounds. October 4, 1957 changed the world. The Space Age began.

I remember lying in front of our black and white television as John Glenn and others paved the way for Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon - on the moon!
I watched as a tiny silver spec called Telstar (look it up) orbited over my house and dreamed of being in space. I think I still would go given the chance!

One of my son’s first words was astronaut; and as a result, we spent many, many days exploring the Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He went to Space Camp. I went to Camp Marriot with a suitcase full of books - really! Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Gate are all favorites at my house.

A favorite book is Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

Hickam was a NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. His memoir recalls how his life changed with the launch of Sputnik. He was fourteen years old in October 1957 when Sputnik orbited over his Coalwood, West Virginia home. His hero became Wernher von Braun. He and his friends became the Rocket Boys designing, building, experimenting with whatever materials they had, teaching themselves physics, mathematics, and engineering in order to build and fly model rockets. Their efforts led to Hickam’s winning the Gold and Silver Award at the 1960 National Science Fair for “A Study of Amateur Rocketry Techniques”.

One of [the judges] was a young man who spoke in a Germanic accent. I was flabbergasted when he said he was on von Braun’s team. “You mean you actually know Wernher von Braun?” I gasped. I couldn’t imagine that. It was like being interviewed by St. Paul or somebody out of the Bible.

The young man turned and said, “You know Dr. von Braun’s here today, don’t you?”

I sat off in search of the great man himself.

Hickam never met von Braun. When he returned to his area of the Science Fair, he found that he had been awarded the gold and silver medal and that von Braun had seen his exhibit, picked up one of the rocket parts on display.

Hickam might not have met his hero, but he continued in the work his hero helped begin in Huntsville. And, in 1997 one of the Rocket Boys’ rocket nozzles was launched into space aboard space shuttle Columbia.

In my book . . . Always reach for a star - whatever and wherever it might be.

As always, there is much about A Memoir for a librarian to love:

I [Hickam] loved to read, probably the result of the unique education I received from the Coalwood School teachers known as the Great Six,” a corruption of the phrase “grades one through six.”

When I was in the fourth grade, I started going upstairs to the junior high school library to check out the Black Stallion series. There, I also discovered Jules Verne. I fell in love with his books, filled as they were with not only great adventures but scientists and engineers who considered the acquisition of knowledge to be the greatest pursuit of mankind.