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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Have Bought a "Gothic" style Chess Set

Sometime back in the 60s, my parents bought a "Gothic Chess Set" that I enjoyed playing with against my brothers. Recently, I discovered something about the set and its designer.
Peter Ganine Chess Set
The set was designed by Peter Ganine who was born in Russia but came to America after living in what is now the Republic of the Congo.
The bishop
His designs are quite attractive and priced well within family budgets.

One of his sets was used for the Star Trek series "Three-Dimensional" chess games.
Scene from the 1960s "Star Trek" television show
I was recently able to purchase a Ganine set on eBay.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Health Care Reform Passage is an "Ugly Victory" But It Is Still An Historical One

For many of us whose politics run to liberal or progressive, the health reform bill is a disappointment since we all knew it could be much better. However, we have debated the right that all Americans have to good health care for more than 5 decades. This is the first time anyone has done anything meaningful about it. We should feel proud of what we have managed to do and take new resolution to improve upon it. I agree with Erza Klein's Washington Post article on the significance of this victory in Congress.
It's been a long time since the legislative system did anything this big, and people have forgotten how awful the victories are. But these are the victories, and if they feel bad to many, they will do good for more. As that comes clearer and clearer, this bill will come to feel more and more like the historic advance it actually is.
Erza Klein,"Winning Ugly But Winning"

10 Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol


It has been announced that a moument of the 10 Commandments will be placed on the north lawn of the Oklahoma state capitol grounds. Presumably, this version of the commandments will still have the prohibition against making "graven images."

More Snow Pics

Merry Christmas

Blizzard conditions on the Southern Plains

Looking out my front door
We're pretty well snowed in here. The airport reports 11 inches plus of snow.

Cat and I are safely at home with each other. Hope you are able to enjoy your Christmas wherever you are!

Merry Christmas!

"Life" Lesson


Watching the Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life is a Christmas tradition for many people. The film teaches an eternal lesson we would all be better off to heed.

When the monied interests in our community have free reign, life pretty much turns into suck.
Mr. Potter, the face of unfettered capitalism in the film

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oklahoma Centennial High School NHS Food Drive





The Oklahoma Centennial High School National Honor Society held their first food drive this December. They collected over 500 food donations which were sent to the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Sunday Worship Leader Remarks


Each Sunday at the 10:45am service, one lay person serves as "Worship Leader." One of the duties of the Worship Leader is to give some brief remarks prior to the offering. This is called the "Prayers of the People," and it gives lay members an opportunity to talk about whatever is on their minds. Here is the text of my remarks:

Typically, we celebrate December 25th as the birth date of Jesus. Many scholars suggest that Jesus likely was born in late March or early April, the time shepherds “abide” in the fields to help ewes giving birth.

I was born in March. Perhaps Jesus and I share a common birth date. Had this date been used for Christmas I would have greatly dismayed as a child. We all pitied the kid whose birthday came near enough to Christmas to get combination birthday-Christmas gifts.

We are not sure how December 25 became the date celebrating Jesus’ nativity. Perhaps it was an attempt to convert a popular pagan celebration. Perhaps to was due to the fact that 4 days after winter solstice the daylight hours begin to get noticeably longer. Some have suggested that the fact that date is 9 months after the Jewish Passover celebration had something to do with the choice.

I think there is something to this last idea. After all, putting Christmas in March or Christmas in April would mean that we would celebrate his birth at the same time we honor his death. This way, the church now gets two big days to pack the pews.

Seriously, I think it noteworthy that we celebrate the birth of Jesus at a time when all seems dead in our world. And we honor his death at the time when the world is starting to come alive. I think this is another paradox of our faith that we have been noting throughout this Advent season. God is always acting in ways contrary to our expectations: giving us grace where grace is not deserved, extending hope when all seems hopeless.

So let us live within God’s grace that gives life all that is dead within us. And let us live in hope as we work to bring life to a dying world.

And let us display this hope we have in a very practical way by making out our pledge cards and placing them in the offering plate. May the ushers come and receive our hopeful pledges and offerings at this time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We have some time off for now.

Cat and I have a couple of weeks rest from school. One of the very best things about both being in the teaching profession is that we get to spend holidays together.

Right now we are preparing for a December 21st "Solstice Party" with some friends. Cat is doing holiday baking. I have been putting up some decorations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OKC Public Schools Amends Its Bullying Policy

The Oklahoma City Public Schools voted last night to add "Sexual Orientation" to its anti-bullying policy. My friend Joe Quigley has fought a long battle to extend protection to GLBT students in our district. I am glad to see his work pay off finally.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Been awhile since I last posted

Don't know really why I haven't posted since August when Cat and I took our vacation out west. School and life are my only excuses. I'm going to try to keep at it. There has been much going on. I've had a pretty good year at Centennial so far, but things are still very difficult as far as getting through to the students. I haven't made any progress in my National Board Certification process. I have about reached the "do or die" stage with that.

I've got some vacation time coming up so I hope I can get on track with several things going on in my life.