One Month in El Salvador

Ellie with her friends.

 Be kind, don’t judge, and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place.” – Jasmine Guinness

Everyone I’ve interacted with at school, home, and out and about is exceptionally nice. My new friends (Pictured below) have introduced me to school life and helped me infinitely with vocabulary, pronunciation, and learning some cultural norms. My Paredes family took me in one month ago (January Sixth) and I’ve been welcomed into the family ever since. I’ve gone to family dinners with guests of friends and relatives. I’ve been shopping with the cousins and baking with some nieces. Continue reading “One Month in El Salvador”

It’s Cold in Athens

The New Year began with a few inches of snow and subzero temps. The girls wisely went to Albuquerque ahead of the snow and spent time taking in the Sandia Mountain range in 60-degree weather.

The falls at White's Mill push through the ice.
The falls at White’s Mill push through the ice.

Chaco Canyon

After leaving Albuquerque we (Bob and Ellie) embarked on a very bumpy ride to Chaco Canyon. The canyon started out as a lively trading post hosting 50-100 year-round residents with seasonal guests constantly flowing in and out. The 700 room, four floor building, Pueblo Bonito, was built and rebuilt by the Chacoans using different masonry styles from 900-1130 A.D. The picture below shows part of Pueblo Bonito with some information about the cultural significance of the site. We got to look around the inside of the building even going inside a mostly intact room within the Pueblo. None of our photos could capture the sheer size of the building or its overwhelming presence in the canyon.

Continue reading “Chaco Canyon”

KinderGraph Theory

Jenny is sick and Ellie had homework, so Kenzie and I were left alone to have our own fun. We got out a small whiteboard (one of many made from a giant 4′ x 8′ sheet purchased at Lowes and cannibalized into whiteboards of various sizes).

Starting with an idea from the wonderful Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogsby Malke Rosenfeld and Gordon Hamilton, we decided to build “pictures” that showed how many letters different names had in common, beginning with just two: KENZIE and ELLIE.

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KENZIE and ELLIE diagram.

Continue reading “KinderGraph Theory”

R.I.P. Zygmunt Bauman

My academic friend and teacher, Craig Howley, introduced me to the writings of Zygmunt Bauman a decade ago. This Polish philosopher and sociologist died on the 9th of January at  the age of 91. You can read more about him on Wikipedia, where I got the picture below. LINK

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He authored many wonderful books full of great wisdom for our times and it would take several lifetimes to appreciate them all. Continue reading “R.I.P. Zygmunt Bauman”

Our Women’s March

I spent the day listening to Jenny’s, Hannah’s, and Ellie’s stories of the DC march and the people, the emotions, and the awe of it all. I looked at Jenny’s pictures and talked to Ellie about her disbelief at the number of people there. I heard stories of women going into labor, of crowds moving aside for ambulances, of people holding up other people. What a gift to have them consider the home I’m part of as a source of strength to come back to. Much rest and reconnection as well as reflection today. There is a nice set of Jenny’s photos on this Flickr album (LINK) and I will be adding to it once I get Hannah’s pics.

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Kenzie on “What is a Leader?”

This morning, Kenzie and I had a conversation about what it means to be a good leader. Here’s the transcript.

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BK: What is a leader?
Kenz: A leader is someone who makes the world a better place.

BK: Do you know any leaders?
Kenz: Yes. The line leader at school.

BK: How do they make the world a better place?
Kenz: By being fair. The caboose is also fair. What if someone was last every single day? They make it fair by not being last every single day—because then they would feel sad.

BK: Would you like to be a leader? What kind?
Kenz: I’m already a leader. I’m line leader some days. I like choosing the kind of bubble we put in our mouths (to be quiet). I usually choose what holiday is coming up. Right now I would choose a Valentine’s Day bubble.

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BK: Do you know any other leaders?
Kenz: Donald Trump.

BK: What is he leader of?
Kenz: The country.

BK: Tell me about what Donald Trump needs to do as a leader. <Pause> Or should I ask what SHOULD he do?
Kenz: Yeah, what SHOULD he do. He should make the world safe.

BK: How?
Kenz: By trying things out and seeing if they’re safe. By cutting trees down if they’re about to fall on someone’s house.

BK: Do your stuffies (stuffed animals) have a leader?
Kenz: Yep. Their leader is Twilight Sparkle because she has magic. Their other leader is Berry because she is bigger than Twilight but they work together because Berry doesn’t have any magic but Twilight does. But Berry’s the biggest.

BK: Are Berry and Twilight fair to the other?
Kenz: Uh huh.

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Happy Easter 2015

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Just a quick family photo. Bob finally shaved and the rest of the girls were all present at the same time.

Capitol Hill Briefing

On July 9, I had an opportunity to present Why Rural Matters 2013-14 on Capitol Hill with my colleague and friend, Daniel Showalter. Since I was in Albuquerque visiting, I had to leave July 8 (E’s birthday!) to fly through Dallas to DC. Things were going well…

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until we got to DC and had to circle for 45 minutes, then get diverted to Dulles (from National) then back to National, and finally forced to land in Richmond, VA where we were deplaned, hosteled for the night, and finally put back on a 737 to fly the 20-minute route to National. We learned after landing that the cause was a nasty storm system in DC. My hotel room was at American Airline’s expense and was mostly okay except for the carpet being soaked by a leaky air conditioner.

We landed 10:30AM July 9 and I promptly took the Metro from National to the offices of Rural School and Community Trust (getting there around 11:30). Daniel brought my suit from Ohio and I used a bathroom stall to change into the suit. Then it was a quick lunch and on to Capitol Hill.

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We entered the new Visitor’s Center and registered for our talk.

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The briefing was hosted by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative “GT” Glenn Thompson (R-PA). You can see Rep. Thompson’s remarks on the floor of the House here:

Thompson introduces Why Rural Matters 2013-14

We were pleased to have his support and the briefing was well-attended and went well.

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After the briefing, I hopped into a cab for National Airport, and flew to Dallas. Our landing was slightly delayed by the President and First Lady’s visit to Dallas (they have to manage airspace around the president’s “luftilla.” On landing, we found out that our flight to Albuquerque was first delayed, then delayed, then delayed, and finally rescheduled for the next morning. Because there were NO beds in Dallas hotels, they added beds to the concourse area of the airport and I spent the four hours catching 20 minutes of sleep.

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I got to know my fellow passenger on both flights very well. I finally landed on July 10 back in Albuquerque and was glad to not have to travel by air until August. The briefing was a success even if travel was frustrating.