The Burden of Death in Schools

“It has to stop. And spare me your Second-Amendment arguments. It’s all you’ve got. If you don’t have any other practical solution than MOAR GUNS, then you don’t get to participate in the conversation about what we do next to make this stop.”
— Jennifer Gadd

I’m the son of a teacher, and indeed my close family is full of teachers. I’ve been through school, from day one and on to the end of high school, and my wife and I have seen our two children go through school in similar fashion.

And I am—we are—blessed with the good fortune of living somewhere that guns, or even the awareness of guns, let alone the risk of being attacked and killed by someone with a gun, in schools or elsewhere, has never, ever, needed to be part of our daily lives.

We have fire drills, but never gun drills. We have political arguments about school funding, but never about any form of need, imagined or otherwise, for having weapons in schools.

I don’t doubt for a moment that any single one of our teachers would go to any lengths, do whatever they could, whatever it took, give their life if needed, to protect their students in the event of a school shooting. But I am grateful for the fact that, so far, while for years and years school shootings and other mass killing sprees in America continue to make weekly headlines in our news, they do not have to.

I cannot begin to imagine what living with this kind of prevalent fear feels like to a child, or a teenager, or a teacher. What I can imagine is that it doesn’t help with learning, or teaching. Even if your own school wasn’t attacked this week, then the all too familiar news flashes about massacres at schools just like yours, mass murders of children just like you, must weigh heavily on their minds, and constantly remind them that “this could be you”, indeed that “your turn is coming”. Such a burden I imagine would be a destructive challenge to any learning process. Children in any country deserve so much better than that.

American school teacher Jennifer Gadd has quite a lot to say about the situation:

Please read on, and continue to Facebook to Like and Share.

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First little telescope adventure

My dear wife and daughters got me something absolutely wonderful for Christmas: a beginners’ astronomical telescope! Alas, since then, the weather has gone out of its way to keep the night sky veiled and thoroughly hidden around these parts. Only last Sunday did I catch a momentary break in the cover, and an opportunity to check if my some-assembly-required-fu was as stellar as I’d hoped.

Some wobbliness still remained, possibly due to the fact that this was a non-IKEA product with no Allen wrench in sight for miles, thus forcing me to use such unfamiliar tools as — *gasp* — a screwdriver (neither vodka nor a single orange included). Plus I’ve never actually operated a proper telescope before, and much of the initial navigation of the heavens was by trial and trial and trial and utter trial and error. Stars are painfully difficult to track by hand, at least with inexperienced hands and unfamiliar controls, so both Sirius and Betelgeuse ended up far more successful in their game of hide than I was at my game of seek. I suspect my finder may be severely misaligned and the target of future calibration.

Enter trusty old Moon, whose location in the sky is hard to miss unless you try very, very hard indeed, meaning even I ought to be able to do it blindfolded (for the record, I tried without the blindfold, which may have helped). Let me tell you, the apparatus works! We spent a chilly fifteen minutes or so in –7°C, gazing at craters, ridges and plains all over the lunar surface, as well as the zig-zagging of shadows along the terminator. The moon is a big place when it’s up close! Just before I decided to let temperature dictate the duration of this adventure, I fired off a couple of shots with my iPhone into the viewfinder, and here is the result … though I ought to add that the image we saw with our eyes was far better than what the iPhone in my by then freezing hands could capture 🙂

Red Monday Morning

Monday Morning Sleepy Sunrise Revealing the Red Eye of the East.

January 8th, 2018, at a quarter to nine.

Technical: Shot in RAW and edited on iPhone SE using Lightroom Mobile.


Seven Days Seven Photos

You may or may not have noticed the current Facebook trend, which revolves around posting a black and white photo of, well, anything you like, every day for seven days, one photo per day, and with each photo you will challenge or nominate someone else to do the same.

Everyday B&W Photo. “Seven days, seven photos of your every day life in black and white. No explanations, no people. Challenge a new person every day.”

Unlike most other social media trends, this one appealed to my creativity, and I enjoyed it very much. Black and white isn’t something I’ve used a lot before, so that was rather something of a challenge, but it was fun, and I’m sure it’s something I’m going to use it quite a bit more in the future. And in as far as anyone should be interested, here’s my seven contributions collected on one page. Originally posted on my Facebook profile.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven


An American Eclipse in Donaldland

“This American solar eclipse, a terrific eclipse, believe me, and I know this, and it’s one hundred percent American, not Mexican, and not Chinese, even if those fake news sites will have you believe so, which happens just in my first year as President, an amazing year so far, is far more spectacular, amazingly spectacular, than any American solar eclipse that ever happened in America during Obama’s two whole terms! Two whole terms! Not a single solar eclipse as spectacular as this one. Our administration has been working hard on this issue, very hard, great work, amazing people, not even NASA has better people than I do, and definitely not the Russians, and it has been proven, absolutely proven beyond doubt, not even the slightest doubt, that my presidency is making solar eclipses great again!”

Well, OK, as far as I know Trump hasn’t actually said this about the upcoming joint solar and lunar event, and I know this because I totally wrote that little piece of garbage myself, but I know he would want to, and I can definitely hear him say it:

“I know eclipses! I have the best eclipses!”

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