Monthly Archives: September 2011

JV’s Pulp Fiction from the 1930’s

Image from "Touch of Evil."

I was in my office on the 27th floor of the Acme building twilling a pencil waiting for a customer to walk through that door. My assistant Lisa had just given me a new cup of coffee when the phone rang.

“Hello, the names Sam Spud, Private Eye,”I said,…”yes”…”ok”
…”I’m on my way.” It was about 11pm when I grabbed my coat and walked on to the chilly street.
I walked around the town for an hour looking for Aceme (this is  what Sam thought the person said) building until I realized that the person was in a crying mess and I’d misunderstood her. I found myself back on the 27th floor of the Acme building walking down a hall of abandoned private eye offices. I tried not to look at the boarded up offices as I walked past. Some of the names on the doors read: Sid Sim or Sim Sall, how cliché I thought. I came to an office at the end of the hall that had a light on inside and the door said Mary Mis – private detective. I opened the door and found a woman crying uncontrollably. I assumed that she was Mary Mis. I found her a glass of water and calmed her down to the point where I could understand her. She said that her husband left home for work and never came back. She also explained why she didn’t call the police and why she is not doing it herself but that’s not important. I asked her about anybody that might be suspicious she had two names: Steve Mona and Carrel Holmes. Both were coworkers at the office building down the street.
I decided to start there so I went to have a talk with them. I soon learned that both of their positions would be compromised if Mary’s husband was promoted to a higher position. It wasn’t much but it was a start. I was asking around the office about the two suspicious men until one coworker said that he saw them hanging around the old warehouse down by the dock. He didn’t put much thought on it till now. I decided to follow Steve and Carrel after work.
I took the back alleys to stay hidden until I remembered that my rent was two weeks over due. I was just about to step out onto the street when I was plucked off the ground by what seemed like a gorilla and he gave me a good beating. Even though I was face down I thought I was looking at the stars. I managed to stumble all the way to the warehouse and saw the two men talking. It was raining that night, and the tin roof didn’t help overhearing conversions. I decided to go in and see what I could see. The door creaked as I opened it and the light from inside almost blinded me, my eyes soon adjusted and I began to walk around. As I was walking around, I tripped and fell flat on my face. As I pushed a few boxes that I had knocked down back in to place, I heard a click and the floor opened up.
There was a ladder leading down into it; it was very dark at the bottom. I groped around for a light switch for a minute or so until at last I found the switch. I turned it on and there was Mary’s husband. He looked very gruff like he’d not shaved in a while. I untied him and we snuck out and devised a plan. I would pretend to have gun while Mary’s husband called the police. “Sticke’m up Steve and Carrel and don’t turn around.” I told the two men. (I always carry a hollow tube about the same diameter of a gun barrel just for these kinds of encounters.) The police soon arrived and arrested the two. Mary’s husband and I returned to her office. She was so happy to see her husband again that she spilt her coffee all over and almost forgot to pay me. “All in a day or so’s work for Sam Spud,” I said as I walked away in a cloud of cigar smoke.

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AV making a case

One of AV’s writing assignments had him choosing among three quotes to argue either pro or con in an essay.  He chose this one.  Don’t recommend giving high school students this quote because researching the author’s life brought up security filters and rightly so.  I’m sure other quotes would have worked as well.  But AV learned a whole lot about modern feminist writing style, topics, and word choices.  Sigh. He can handle it.


Feminist writer, Erica Jong is often quoted as saying: “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” I think it is her way of talking about women’s intuition. While intuition is valuable, I will prove by using a story, logic and historic evidence that all advice cannot be something already know to the seeker.

When you buy ice cream at the family owned shop and you ask the man behind the counter for advice on which ice cream tastes best, you are not asking because you “wish you didn’t” but because you don’t know what is in the ice cream you want to get the best tasting ice cream flavor. But without asking the person who made the ice cream, you will not know which one to order. This one of the many examples that proves Erica Jong assumption wrong.

Although Erica’s statement seems to be an aphorism, it can not possibly be. For example:  an interviewer is having a discussion with a cancer surviver and in the interview the person was asked to give some advice to the audience. The TV viewers could not possibly know what the cancer survivor is going to say. In talk shows, the interviewer asks questions on behalf of the viewers expecting to have the interviewed answer them for the audience. In this case, as in others, the cancer survivor gives his own advice to the audience. The audience would like to never get cancer or would like to know how to overcome it, but they can not have the intimate knowledge that the survivor can give.  Thus this does not fulfill Erica Jong’s aphorism.

Here is yet another short coming for this statement this is a quote from Napolenon proves my point aptly. When asked how to be a great general, Napoleon said: “Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene, and Frederic. Make them your models. This is the only way to become a great general and to master the secrets of the art of war. With your own genius enlightened by this study, you will reject all maxims opposed to those of these great commanders.” This is no doubt advice but you did not know what he was going to say, and if you are not a general, it will not help you in the least.

From buying ice cream to Napoleon’s advice on being a great general, this essay should have convinced you why Erica Jong is mistaken in her claim about advice and its use in culture and language.

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AV’s creative writing project


This is the journal of Jonathan Yousulus. Here I will recount my continuing adventures as a member in good standing with the Explorers Club’s British chapter exploring the vast world and all its ruins. This is my personal journal.  If I have been consumed by cannibals or foul beasts, please return it to my devoted wife, Lucy, in Maddtoppam, Yorkshire, England.

1 March, 1909

Our expedition is taking us to Golconda Fort.  We boarded a freighter headed to Alexandria, Egypt.  I spent a hot month poking about in the Valley of the Kings.  Lucy will be disappointed that I didn’t find one piece of pharaoh’s treasure. I didn’t expect to.  No one is ever going to discover a lost hoard there; it is too picked-over.  It doesn’t matter; I am looking for a more illusive treasure.  Our freighter was finally loaded down with 2323 tons of dry good.  She didn’t look like much and I prayed for smooth passage.  But her engines were good.  We landed in Karachi a day ahead of schedule.

Our over land trip was filled with seedy characters and rough lodging.  Occasionally we stayed at a British fort or a Raja’s palace. No matter where we stayed, I asked about Golconda. Around the time of the Romans the Golconda kingdom ruled much of India from this great fort.  As their kingdom weakened, their fortunes were gathered into this location. It is said that the Hope Diamond was found here and that no one has bean able to explore the entire complex. I hope there are still diamonds there. These explorations cost a fortune! I hope to be the first to confirm the fort with photographic evidence.

AV's process of revision for his paper.

13 March, 1909:

Today around noon we arrived in a dusty village called Manchirevula. The ruins of Golconda Fort should be within a day of this primitive village. In the village, our translator said we had to make an offering to their gods. Although I did it, I only did it because the chief, like the ones in the Americas, insisted that we must. They needed to see if there was a good omen. They worshiped an idol; they are so backward. They won’t listen when I tell them they are wrong to worship an idol. Apparently the sign was good because the village people agreed to let one of their young boys guide us there in the morning.

14 March, 1909:

Without the child’s help, we most certainly would not have come to the ruins of the huge place that seem to be hewn from the mountainous terrain into which it is nestled. My sources back in England said that it was due east from Manchirevula, but in fact it was north west of our location. Dr. Wikipedia’s compendiums about explorer’s treks are not always to be trusted. When we got there, it took us the better part of two hours to get that darn camera up and usable. The camera is state of the art and was given to us by a Swiss company that is trying to brake into the English market.  Maybe they should have translated their directions better. The thing is almost more bother than it’s worth. The negative I will be sending off by runner once we get back to the village. Tomorrow we will go in to the ruins.

15 March, 1909:

The fort was massive; we didn’t even explore the half of it. But we found a treasure room [at the end of a long corder that seemed to stop with nothing at the end. If you pushed a lion statue back (or leaned against it to wipe your brow) the wall opened]. It was amazing that the door worked at all. From the state that the rest of the place was [in], I though for sure we would have to brake the door down but the wall opened right up.

What we found was enough to make us all amazingly rich. We split the treasure among the team as evenly as posable.  But, as the leader of the team, it was thought only right to give me the biggest diamond out of the many diamonds in the room. This diamond may rival the Hope Diamond its self.*1 I have yet to decide on a name.

17 March, 1909:

We are leaving this village. My team and I are going back to merry ole England as much richer men than any one could have expected. The people of the village were kind to us and always more than gracious. This can not be said for all villages. Their were many on the way in to Manchirevula tried to kill us. Because we will be laden with treasure and the high probability of attack, we will be going by sea. Crossing back over all of India again is too much of a risk. I desperately want to see my wife and give her the diamond that I have named the Yousulus Diamond.

*1(note the Yousulus Diamond is second largest d iamond ever discovered)

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Working Out Timelines

Recently one of the children I work with was having difficulty locating dates in a sequence on a timeline.  We’ve incorporated “Casa” work to show the values beyond just written numbers.  I love the flexibility of Montessori materials.

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Filed under "Coming of Man", Geography and World Studies, MMcC

Montessori and sexualization

I’m having a really jam packed week and want to get some ideas on virtual paper.  Please help refine these thoughts with me.

Recently the Christian Science Monitor has been discussing various points of view about the sexualization of children.  This article by Stephanie Hanes opens with a story of a three year old entering the “princess” phase.

A few years ago, Mary Finucane started noticing changes in the way her 3-year-old daughter played. The toddler had stopped running and jumping, and insisted on wearing only dresses. She sat on the front step quietly – waiting, she said, for her prince. She seemed less imaginative, less spunky, less interested in the world.

Ms. Finucane believes the shift began when Caoimhe (pronounced Keeva) discovered the Disney Princesses, that omnipresent, pastel packaged franchise of slender-waisted fairy-tale heroines. When Finucane mentioned her suspicions to other parents, they mostly shrugged.

“Everyone seemed to think it was inevitable,” Finucane says. “You know, it was Disney Princesses from [ages] 2 to 5, then Hannah Montana, then ‘High School Musical.’ I thought it was so strange that these were the new trajectories of female childhood.”

Granted we have boys, but I don’t understand the whole culture driven by TV characters and the general expectation that children will follow the archetypes into their real world.  One of the things that attracted my husband and myself to the Montessori philosophy was that it did not allow any characters on clothing or lunch boxes in the school and strongly encouraged the limiting of screen time to all students.  We pushed hard for no Baby Elmo, Disney characters (and we lived in central Florida at the time), or movie character items to be entered into our family.  This was not too difficult.  Once the grands knew, they helped with everyone else in the family.  But I digress.  The school.

The Montessori classroom is not overstimulating.  It does not contain items that are cartoon based.  No smiling apple waving with gloved hand or plastic worm pointer.  No cartoons to help with math.  No pre-packaged princess costumes for imaginative dress-up.  It provides what children really desire.  It provides children with the ability to be really useful.  To put on their own coats, to prepare snack, to wash their own dishes, to sew buttons, to wash windows, mirrors, and rugs, to arrange flowers, to live a full life.  In this life there is space for imagination but there is not room for helpless privilege no matter how nice. The classroom has natural items, real glass, simple color schemes, and beautiful masterpieces.  There isn’t room for the cheep.  Real trumps cheep any day.

Then the children themselves are different. The normalized classroom doesn’t find ways to talk about “boys” and “girls.”  The normalized classroom talks about your friends.  We are all friends and there is not “boyfriend” “girlfriend” even among three-year-olds because we are all friends.  Just friends.  We are all here to all help each other.  We care about everyone.  Children are encouraged to work with others who are interested in the same things – older with younger, outgoing with shy, boy with girl – all advancing.

I’ve had several children transition into the elementary classroom from non-Montessori environments.  Freedom of choice, self-control, attention to detail are often what administration worries about with new students to the classroom.  The two things that tax the guide are: the new child’s rushing through work because they have not given enough time to make their work beautiful and the immediate need to find out who is liking whom or the cute discussions about boys!  It takes some time to release the children from these ideas.  What can emerge is a playful child.  I don’t know a better way to describe it.  The child isn’t on the hunt to find their place in the pecking order and they can be a child.

Now granted in upper elementary, the boys preen.  But it like watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers barn raising.  It is about the female in the greater sense.  But it really is about one upping the other guys.  The girl is the excuse. AV’s best friend during fifth and sixth grade was a girl.  Taylor and AV became friends because they worked well together.  AV liked to do research and Taylor liked to write it down.  They were both no nonsense and thoughtful.  It didn’t matter about their sexes.

This year the BR is in the sixth grade at a local parochial school.  He said the most difficult thing for him is the snippy girls trying to one-up each other to get attention of boys. Having a conversation is hard enough; he can’t imagine trying to work with a group of them.

One of my favorite bloggers has decided allow her daughter to miss the Disney dynasty marketing extravaganza. Another was a Casa teacher who just completed her elementary training in Bergamo, Italy. She is preparing to welcome a child in the world.  I encourage you to really think about the messages that I Carley or Shake It Up.  Do you want your child to be one of those characters?  You can’t pick which one.

Really folks we as a culture can do better.  We owe it to the children to do better.


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Leprosy and Leprosy Hospitals in Medieval Ireland – College of Charleston

Dr. Rachel Scott – from Arizona State.

The preconceived idea of the disease is that of a disfigured person or an outcast.  We use it in conversations today.

Dr. Scott is interested in why some diseases attract a social stigma.  She has focused on leprosy.

Leprosy:  Mycobacterium Leprae is a primarily human disease related to TB.  Armadillos were infected by researchers and now it found in their general population.  It is droplet transmitted – just like the common cold.  However the attack rate is only 5 to 10% with an incubation of 3 to 6 years.  The symptoms affect the face, hands and feet the most. The face because it is a droplet transfer and your nasal cavity is the first area to house and incubate the bacteria. There is a whole spectrum of the disease.  The Tuberculoid is the least affected by the bacteria.  They loose sensation in their extremities and their face. It often looks like a stroke.   On the other end of the spectrum is the Lepromatus.  Their “immune system” is weaker than the Tuberculoids.    The lepromatus victim displays through nodules on the face. The bacteria eats through the nasal septum, the pallet, and the anterior nasal bone.  It changes not just how they look in the face but their voice’s pitch and tone.  They also loose their eyesight.  The loss of sensation is exacerbated by the reabsorption of the paralyzed bones. Secondarily injuries aren’t notice.  The disabilities are disfiguring but not fatal.

It is one of the few diseases that can be tracked archaeologically.  Leprosy leaves marks on the skeleton where the bacteria have eaten the bones.  The widening of the nasal cavity, jaw bones receding so teeth fall out and the anterior nasal bone loss.

The historical record begins in ancient medical literature of India (BC 600) and China (BC 250).  The Greeks and Romans begin writing about it in the first century BC.  However skeletal remains have been found in India (BC 2000), Egypt (BC 200) and  England (4th century AD)

In a survey of skeletons in North/West Europe:

Roman/Britons     400AD      1480 (skeletons)   2 (affected)     .14%

Anglo/Saxon         700AD      2031                         18                      .89%

Late Medieval       1300AD    4742                         108                   2.28%  (peak)

Religious Text and Medical Fact and Rethinking Leprosy

  • Old Testament (1500BC)   Leviticus 13:44-46 – 44 Now whosoever shall be defiled with the leprosy, and is separated by the judgment of the priest: 45 Shall have his clothes hanging loose, his head bare, his mouth covered with a cloth: and he shall cry out that he is defiled and unclean. 46 All the time that he is a leper and unclean he shall dwell alone without the camp.
    • In this passage, the word translated “leprosy” – zara’ath or tsara’at = ritual impurity.
    • The Septuegent translated it to the Greek word for “lepra.”
    • The Latin Vulgate kept it as “lepra” as well.
  • Medical Texts
    • Hippocrates in the fifth century BC used “lepra” to mean dry flaky skin.
    • Greek and Roman texts refer to leprosy by the term elephantiasis graecorum
  • The jump in the Medieval period
    • Constantinus Africanus translated Arabic medical texts to Latin in the 11th century.
    • He used the term lepra in his texts.
  • The doctrine of purgatory was created in the 12th century.
    • Leprosy was considered a punishment for sins.
    • However leprosy victims were considered to be living in purgatory in the mortal world.
    • It was an expression of faith for a patron to found a hospital for these atoning victims.
  • The “hospitals”
    • Not the traditional “hospital” idea.
    • Housed 8 to 12 people on average.
    • Looked over by people of holy orders.
    • The “inmates” followed monastic disciplines and schedules
    • The “inmates” had to vote to allow someone else to come into the “hospital”
    • The “inmates” could leave and go to the market days or go beg on the highways.
Ireland had 54 leper hospitals in the medieval period.
  • pre 1100 there were 6
  • 1200 there were 12
  • 1300 there were 54
  • 1400 there were 54
  • 1500 there were 2
  • 1600 there was 5
The interesting thing is that the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland happened during the 12th century.  When a map of the hospitals is overlaid over the map of Anglo-Norman conquest town,  the hospitals are located just outside of these towns.  The benefactors of these hospitals are primarily Anglo-Norman.  Perhaps more significantly, in the Gailic texts of that time and later, no mention of “Leprosy” or “Hospitals” is made.
Of the 54, Dr. Scott was able to find 34.  27 are under modern development and can not be excavated. 7 are able to have surveys and possibly digs.  Dr. Scott is working to document the history of the leper colonies.

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Pronouns and nomenclature.

Well the game is pronouns.  Did you know that there are competing nomenclatures for pronouns?  I’ve made it through life as a pretty geeky grammarian and didn’t know that.  Nor could I classify all the different sub-groups in the world of pronouns.  But, in 6th grade this is apparently pretty important.  So MMcC must learn them.

Bring new meaning to me, myself and I. For all of you wondering out there, myself is a reflexive pronoun not a personal pronoun.

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