Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring Means Brush Fires

We drove to my daughter's home outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday and noticed some large plumes of smoke on the horizon when we were about two miles away. By the time we were approaching the sub-division where they live, it was clear that there was a major brush fire burning on the hills just across the road from where they lived. We pulled into the driveway and I got out the camera immediately. Fire trucks were roaring by and one pumper pull up to the hydrant not fifty feet from us. The kids were fascinated and we all watched for the next forty minutes until the blaze was contained. In the paper on Sunday morning we learned that several stretches of plastic fencing had been melted and that over thirty acres had been scorched. The cause was apparently a homeowner's trash fire that got out of control in the gusty winds. Here's a few shots courtesy of our man on the scene.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Buchanan Arts Center Helps The United Way

Fun was the order when the United Way of Warren County held its first annual Trivia Contest the other night. The Buchanan Center for the Arts fielded a team named the Wombats and managed to take third place. Above you see our Master of Ceremonies, Spud Riley; Grandma and TJ cheered us on in the first half and then were allowed to join the Wombats for the second half. It was a lovely evening.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

London's Theatre Museum Gets Celebrity Support

As one reads about uninviting spaces I am tempted to recall the early years of Sam Wanamaker’s Bear Gardens Museum. No heat in the winter, overcoated guides shrouded in mufflers, dust as thick as that in a backstage prop cabinet. On top of that a location that stood your hair on end—if you could find it at all. With patience, fortitude, and imagination museums can flourish. If the current space is too unwieldy to fix, perhaps a more congenial West End space can be found to house this repository for one of London’s most famous and lucrative attractions—the live theatre. For a current update on the controversy check the online version of STAGE.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More on teaching

Normally I just delete those anonymous messages that flow in offering inspiration or miracle inflation/deflation of body parts. Since I just made a comment about “Why We Taught” the other day, I thought this one deserved to be passed along as well. Read and no need to weep for us Argentina.


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. A CEO decided to explain the problems with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." To stress his point he said to another guest; "Now you're a teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?

"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, and then read some more.
I make them show all their work in math and
perfect their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you have real intelligence, you will follow your heart. And if someone tries to judge you by what you make, you should say, ‘You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?’"

"Teachers make every other profession possible"

Thanks to the anonymous soul somewhere out there who first put these words down.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Angotti Speaks to Good Crowd

In spite of March Madness, Joe Angotti, former NBC Nightly News Executive Producer, fielded a crowd of over eighty people last night at the Buchanan Center for the Arts. His address, on the the nature of the news media in the modern world, argued that though the media were often accused of being biased it was actually the viewer's pre-dispositions and perceptions that created the impressions of political slant. In the years that he worked with Tom Brokaw, Angotti noted that they would keep two piles of letters received from viewers. One pile accused the program of being too conservative and the other pile of being too liberal. The funny thing was that over time the piles generally remained about the same height and that gave the producers confidence that their reporting was actually pretty even handed. After his talk Angotti opened the floor to questions for another thirty minutes.

The program was jointly sponsored by the Warren County Library and the Buchanan Center for the Arts.

The World is Flatter Than You Think!

We may live in "Forgottonia" but we ain't in a bubble.

This very evening at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth, IL Mr. Joe Angotti, formerly executive producer for NBC News with Tom Brokaw and former head of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism will be presenting his take on the nature of the news business in the 21st century. The evening, which begins at 7:00 PM, will feature a talk, refreshments, and plenty of time for questions. It is sponsored jointly by the Warren County Library and the Buchanan Center for the Arts.

Other tics for your Buchanan Arts Center Calendar.

OFTA* April 12th Stephanie Baugh on how to tell if your grandchild has artistic talent.

OFTA* May 10th Robert Hellenga, nationally known author, talks (and sings) about his newest novel “Philosophy Made Simple” It was reviewed positively in last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune and the photo was by local resident John Vellenga. This is Bob's fourth book and we are honored to have him in the community and willing to share his work with us.

* OFTA is a joky acronym that stands for "Old Farts Talk Arts" and is a Buchanan Center for the Arts program for senior citizens that features a talk about the arts each month. Founded by three retired Arts Professors (Jim De Young--Theatre Director, Harlow Blum--painter, and Henry Joe--potter) OFTA has a three year history of interesting and varied programs. Visitors are always welcome to our 2nd Wed. of each month meetings at 10:00 AM. The coffee is hot, the goodies are home baked and sinful, and the price is right--free.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

London's Theatre Museum May Close

I caught the article in the on-line edition of Stage. You can read more below.

This recalls the closing some years ago of the Museum of the Moving Image. There were hopes of re-location but nothing ever came of it. I realize the basement location of the Theatre Museum was not ideal, but recalling the minimal space and surroundings given to the collections when they were located at the V&A, one can only shudder at the prospects for the future. The Covent Garden walk (Part III) from my book has always culminated with a visit to the Museum. Alas if this goes through, the location will be just another mention of what used to be there in the 3rd edition. And I’ll surely miss the delightful Shakespeare tiles in the loos. I’ve always thought if I had the chance to redo our bathroom that I’d look into getting some of them.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why we Taught!

This past week two former students--both out of school for over fifteen years--reappeared on e-mail with requests to write them letters of recommendation. Both had decided to study for an advanced degree and thought that some notes from an old teacher might help them to get back into the formal education business. Few people are allowed to reap that kind of satisfaction from their job. One of those students was a young Japanese woman and we have carried on periodic holiday communications over the years since the early 1990's. Last May, when we traveled to Japan, Kaori made it a point to meet and greet us and show us Tokyo. She is a jewel and we love her.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

More Arizona

There's a lovely article about Tucson in the Chicago Tribune Travel Section this week, so here's a few more photos to give you a taste of the good desert life.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Where Does the Time Go?

We have been absent for a number of weeks and there have been no anxious calls to establish our whereabouts. This is not a surprise as noone generally reads this. Thus the fact that we are still around will probably surprise noone but me either.

So Jim, where have you been and what have you been doing? Well, Jim, we've been to London to see the Queen! Really? No not really. That is a lie, but who will know except me and I'm not telling.

Actually we spend almost two weeks in Tucson enjoying an early Spring with my wonderful cousin Lin and her husband. They are gracious hosts and we are grateful that they still continue to tolerate us after all these years. Luckily we share a number of interests. We all like good food and the fruit of the vine (nicely aged.) We like the indoors and our Tucson travels took us to a number of museums and galleries. But the outdoors called as well so Catalina and Oracle State Parks were on the list as well. Bird watching and hiking are quite pleasant when the temperature is in the mid sixties. A brief photo sample will either follow or go before.