Right now it's 8 degrees fahrenheit outside, much too cold, for me anyway, to ride my bike to work, never mind the icy roads that make it dangerous enough without the cold and the horrifici windchill. Brrrr! It's been over a week since I've been on the bike and I'm not sure when I'll get to ride again. If it were only cold, I might brave it, but the ice and the lack of clear shoulders to ride on scares me. What's a boy to do?
A piece of literature that was on my mind during Bonnie's last days was Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Illych." Anyone familiar with the story could tell you that it is about the life, perhaps the living death, of a mid-level functionary is late czarist Russia. Ivan comes from a cold and uncaring family, and he makes his rise through the bureacracy, at one point abandoning what ideals he had (assuming he had any) and decided his career was to be about making a certain amount of money. While the story concludes shortly after Ivan's physical death, the story is really, at least for me (and this is largely how I teach it), about him being spiritually/emotionally/psychologically dead long before he is physically dead. Once Ivan is passed over for a promotion, a promotion given to a seemingly less qualified colleauge, he and his wife strive only for money, position and something approximating power and prestige.
As he is decorating his latest home, the home in which he will die, he bumps his side and injures himself fatally, though the death is long and drawn out. In some respects, this death is much like Bonnie's cancer that she struggled with for three-and-a-half years, but only in its duration. She struiggled mightily with the affects of many different chemo treatments over the years. Ivan was dressing up his life so others would think himself some sort of a bigshot, which he really wasn't, at least not in any way that matters. Bonnie, too, wasn't a "bigshot" in any respect, though she touched a lot of lives in her work with special education students and their teachers. Rarely did she get thanks of any sort except from her co-workers. Parents are generally a thankless bunch, especially those parents who are expecting special services from school districts, with extracting a better word than expecting here.
Seventy-nine million Americans rode bicycles on a paved surface at least once in 2004, the most popular human-powered leisure activity according to the Outdoor Industry Association. That's more than 25 percent of the nation's population. Mirroring that trend, the number of commutes by bicyclists in the Spokane region has increased, for 2004 and 2005 months in which comparable data is available, anywhere from 39 to 134 percent. Despite this jump in bicycling commuters, barely one percent of the area's commuters regularly bike to work. To keep this trend going, several private and public and advocacy groups are working to get commuters on their bikes.
When I wrote that I want matching sets of towels and china, that wasn't to mean I want those sorts of things from students as gifts. When someone, me for instance, clearly states that she most prefers a card or note over crap, don't zero in on what makes your case and supports your misguided notions. In short, learn to read within the context of the whole. When someone writes that they most appreciate hand-written notes, it's not likely they want anything more, much less a set of anything. Keep in mind that pulling sentences out of context, because they back up what you want to hearthink is so, is not the sort of reading or thinking your child is being taught (at whatever level), so maybe model a bit of thinking for them, even if they don't read this stuff.
Bonnie was diagnosed with stage 4C ovarian cancer three-and-a-half years ago and given six months to live. It's a long story about how the cancer got so far before it was noticed, but my wife would dearly love to sue her doctor-at-the-time for malpractice.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I have an article in the upcoming Out There Monthly on the politics of local cycling.)
I eagerly joined October's Critical Mass ride but based on that experience and Saturday's news regarding arrests during the November ride, I can no longer support the local version of CM. As a cyclist who will log about 4,000 miles this year for fun and commuting, the behavior of too many ride participants is sorely at odds with promoting the cyclist's mantra: same road, same rules, same rights. Not only is purposefully illegal cycling not the point of Critical Mass, such riding is wholly contrary to celebrating cycling, promoting cyclists' rights, and getting people out of their cars and on their bikes. While such a celebration is the goal of Spokane's CM organizers, some participants have determined the rides are to promote their agenda in the guise celebrating cycling. The last thing I want is law breaking cyclists irritating the drivers I'm sharing the road with. To invoke one slogan of the anti-war movement: not in my name do these politically naive CM poseurs represent me as cyclist or citizen. Nor, I suspect, do they represent the many cyclists, CM original local organizers among them, working to make cycling a safer, more enjoyable, part of our life and city.
I won't say that I'm dying here under a crush of papers, but it seems like it. Last week I read and responded to (and, yes, graded) papers. While in Boston I read and responded to and graded papers. When I got home I had new papers to read and respond to. I read and responded to those papers, turned them back, got some more to read and respond to, will turn those back today and then I will spend the weekend reading and responding to the papers I picked up yesterday. I don't think I left any out. Mixed in with all of this was some teaching, reading and writing of my own. Am I really reading that many student papers right now? I think so, but I'm losing track.