Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Giveaways! Giveaways! Everywhere!

Wow...it's a week full of summer surprises and giveaways!   Have you visited all of them and entered? Lots of good stuff up for grabs, so what are you waiting for?  Here's a quick road map:


 1. Start here with MY GIVEAWAY! I'm celebrating 100+ followers with your choice of 10 free units from my TpT and/or my TN store. (2 WINNERS get to choose their 10 items each!)  Click here to enter!  100 FOLLOWERS CELEBRATION




 2. My Kentucky buddy Katie, over @ Queen of the First Grade Jungle has gotten lots of blogging buddies together to donate some amazing K-2 items for a lucky winner!  (11 units worth investigating!)



 3. Another Kentucky friend, Jackie @ Third Grade's a Charm is having a giveaway, just because she WANTS to...I love it! She's got TpT and Donors Choose gift cards up for grabs! 




 4. I found this giveaway as I was entering another one! Lucky me! It's from Brittany @ Sweet Seconds, who is celebrating the same milestone as I am...100+followers!  Yay Brittany!  She's got some TpT and Amazon gift cards ready to go!






5. HURRY HURRY on this one...Drawing is today (Wed.) @ 5:00 p.m.  But Miss Nelson has a Candy Student Reward set she's giving away that looks adorable!  If you're fast, you'll get there in time!  :-)  

6.  HOORAY for  blogger, Storie @ Stories by Storie (don't ya' just love that blog name?) who is celebrating 50 followers!  She is giving away 2 Math units for early primary teachers right out of her TpT store! 







7.  Yay...another one to add!  Congratulations to my blog friend, Dana over @ Fun in First.  To celebrate 80 followers she's having an 80's theme giveaway.  It ends on June 11, so hurry over.  Stay close to that website because her giveaway pushed her over a 100 followers, so now she may have to have another! Stay tuned!  GO DANA! 






Do you know of any other giveaways?  Having one yourself? Let me know and I'll add to the list!  


Bananas for Summer Celebrations!  

Monday, May 28, 2012

The curious public reaction to Facebook IPO

You couldn't have missed the public fury over the Facebook IPO, over the last week, even if you not economically inclined !  Facebook was a darling before the IPO - great company, stratospheric valuations, etc etc, which this blogger has been heartily against. But now after the IPO , Facebook is a pariah, it botched up the IPO, lawsuits threatened, etc etc. This time this blogger is completely on the side of Facebook and totally flummoxed by the public reaction.

What is the main charge ?  Facebook's price did not shoot up 10 times after the IPO. Instead it has declined by some 16% or so, over the IPO price, in the first week. The company has committed sacrilege. Really ??

Who are the moaners and bleaters. The punters who bought in the IPO wanting to sell on the first day after listing and make a 5000% profit. Please tell me why the company has any obligations to these greedy leeches ? What economic activity have these speculators done (never mind that in this lot might be Oregon widows who didn't know what they were doing !)? Why should they make any profit at all ? Why should Facebook "ensure" that the stock rises manifold on the date of listing ? It can be argued that Facebook should actually be doing precisely the opposite. After all if the price shoots up after the IPO, the company is shortchanging the original investors who first invested in the company to the benefit of the sharks who want to make a whopping profit in one day. By that yardstick, Facebook has done precisely the right thing.

The second charge is that the IPO price was overvalued. Now do you need a MBA to tell you this ? Of course the company is overvalued like crazy. Everybody knows that. People chose to close their eyes and believe that in a stampede they would make a killing. They've now been trampled. Tough luck. 

The third charge, and a more serious one, is that Facebook let some analysts know that its latest quarter's numbers would be lower than expectations, but didn't inform everybody. This is what is triggering the threats of massive lawsuits.I don't know the facts behind this allegation, but I suspect this is a fig leaf behind which the punters are wanting to hide. As if their stampeding to buy Facebook shares had anything to do with numbers or logic or any sensible model of valuation based on earnings. Would they have behaved any differently if Facebook had said they would earn half of what they did ??

I have zero sympathy for those moaning today, I am actually delighted that they have lost their shirts and would be even more delighted if they lost their underwears too. The right course of action for them is to wait a year or two, and see if Facebook's performance doesn't lift the share price. Fat chance of that happening - this lot has the patience of an ectoplasm !

I am totally with Facebook on this one, even though I am not with them on anything else. That's why I am not updating my timeline !

Sunday, May 27, 2012

100 FOLLOWERS GIVEAWAY CELEBRATION

YAY! HOORAY! and WOOHOOO!  I had 99 followers when I went to the movies tonight with 13 members of my family (we almost took up a whole row) and when I got home I was at 101!  Ya'll are so fast, I didn't even get to physically see it at 100!  :-)  It's all good!  I am so excited that I've reached this goal!  I am not able to accurately express my gratitude for you "hanging in there" with me through this adventure.  I've gained a wealth of knowledge (still learning) and some cherished friendships along the way!   I remember my very first follower, Kimberly over at Love of Teaching (She's still HERE!)
I was trying to think of something really cool with the number 100.  I'd love to give away 100 items in my store, but ummmm.....I don't have 100 (yet)!  So...how about 10?  Yep, 10 items for 2 separate winners and YOU get to choose ANY 10 items from either my TpT or TN store.  There are multiple ways to enter so you pick and choose how many times you'd like to!  Giveaway entries will be accepted from now thru June 10th!  Rafflecopter will be used to enter and select the winners!  GOOD LUCK to ALL and THANK YOU again.   Don't forget to leave me an email address where I can send the products!

Bananas for my faithful followers and friends!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 25, 2012

Saturday Spotlight & Memorial Weekend

Is is seriously Saturday again already?  I must have been so into closing out my school year, the week just passed me by.  I will miss this year's class.  I had a super sweet bunch of kiddos.  However, I will not miss getting up at 5:30 a.m.  Who's with me there??
Well, Saturday just means I get to share MORE FREEBIES with ya'!  Can I get a "WOOOHOO?"


Surely I'm not speaking for myself when I say I'm tired of losing my calendar pieces.  It's like socks in the dryer... there's always one or two that go missing.  Grrrr!  
Amanda bailed me out this week with a FREEBIE set of CUTE forest animal calendar pieces. I'm a sucker for adorable clipart, so I've added them to my laminating list.  The great thing about this is  1.) They're FREE   2.)  If I lose any pieces, I can just PRINT them off again!  You can grab them by clicking the image.  Don't forget to say THANKS for her generosity!
My first thought for this next item was prepositions for 1st and 2nd grade?  But, Michelle @ TEACH 123 did it!  She took prepositions and brought it down for 1st and 2nd grade with a cute little ant that students decorate and place ON, INSIDE, BESIDE, UNDER, etc. a jar.  There are a set of preposition flash cards that go with it.  I have downloaded and plan on adapting to meet the needs of my 3rd graders.  I know they can use the flashcards, charades activity, and writing ideas that are mentioned.  Stop by her blog or her store and tell her how much you appreciate it!  


How about one more?  Gillian over @ Nyla's Crafty Teaching has saved you a trip to Walmart for grid paper.  This 15 page freebie has a variety of sizes of grids for those math lessons on symmetry, bar graphs, translations, reflections, rotations, area, and perimeter. (Grades 1-5)  This is a handy .pdf document to keep on your computer and/or in your math files for a quick print if needed!  


I'm already looking forward to next Saturday's freebies. :-)


Hopefully this Memorial Day weekend finds you surrounded with those you love.  This weekend is a little sad for us.  It was one year ago this weekend that we lost my father-in-law to an accident. (He was 79 years old) We miss him terribly, but are comforted in knowing what a tremendous impact he had on the world with his love, generosity, and sweet spirit.  Also, please remember those military personnel that have served, are serving, or will serve this great nation of ours.  Take time to thank a soldier!  


Bananas for quality time with loved ones, freebies that save me time, and SLEEPING IN!  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

“Can’t Believe It” (we deny research findings that defy our beliefs)

So, I have been running a little experiment on twitter. Oh well, it doesn’t really deserve the term “experiment” – at least in an academic vocabulary – because there certainly are no treatment effects or control groups. It does deserve the term “little” though, because there are only four observations.

My experiment was to post a few recent findings from academic research that some might find mildly controversial or – as it turns out – offending. These four hair raising findings were 1) selling junk food in schools does not lead to increased obesity, 2) family-friendly workplace practices do not improve firm performance (although they do not decrease them either), 3) girls take longer to heal from concussions, 4) firms headed up by CEOs with broader faces show higher profitability.

Only mildly controversial I’d say, and only to some. I was just curious to see what reactions it would trigger. Because I have noticed in the past that people seem inclined to dismiss academic evidence if they don’t like the results. If the results are in line with their own beliefs and preconceptions, its methods and validity are much less likely to be called stupid.  

Selling junk food in schools does not lead to increased obesity is the finding of a very careful study by professors Jennifer Van Hook and Claire Altman. It provides strong evidence that selling junk food in schools does not lead to more fat kids. One can then speculate why this is – and their explanation that children’s food patterns and dietary preferences get established well before adolescence may be a plausible one – but you can’t deny their facts. Yet, it did lead to “clever” reactions such as “says more about academic research than junk food, I fear...”, by people who clearly hadn’t actually read the study.

Family-friendly workplace practices do not improve firm performance is another finding that is not welcomed by all. This large and competent study, by professors Nick Bloom, Toby Kretschmer and John van Reenen, was actually read by some, be it clearly without a proper understanding of its methodology (which, indeed, it being an academic paper, is hard to fully appreciate without proper research methodology training). It led to reactions that the study was “in fact, wrong”, made “no sense”, or even that it really showed the opposite; these silly professors just didn’t realise it.

Girls take longer to heal from concussions is the empirical fact established by Professor Tracey Covassin and colleagues.. Of course there is no denying that girls and boys are physiologically different (one cursory look at my sister in the bathtub already taught me that at an early age), but the aforementioned finding still led to swift denials such as “speculation”!

That firms headed up by CEOs with broader faces achieve higher profitability – a careful (and, in my view, quite intriguing) empirical find by my colleague Margaret Ormiston and colleagues – triggered reactions such as “sometimes a study tells you more about the interests of the researcher, than about the object of the study” and “total nonsense”. 

So I have to conclude from my little (academically invalid) mini-experiment that some people are inclined to dismiss results from research if they do not like them – and even without reading the research or without the skills to properly understand it. In contrast, other, nicer findings that I had posted in the past, which people did want to believe, never led to outcries of bad methodology and mentally retarded academics and, in fact, were often eagerly retweeted.

We all look for confirmation of our pre-existing beliefs and don’t like it much if these comfortable convictions are challenged. I have little doubt that this also heavily influences the type of research that companies conduct, condone, publish and pay attention to. Even if the findings are nicer than we preconceived (e.g. the availability of junk food does not make kids consume more of it), we prefer to stick to our old beliefs. And I guess that’s simply human; people’s convictions don’t change easily.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Business May 23rd 2012, "The MVPs who are VIPs that came from LA to SF" Edition

We love LA. Century Boulevard? We love it. Victory Boulevard? We love it. Santa Monica Boulevard? We love it. Sixth Street? We love it. That street where a hooker beat me up with her dick after I called her out for selling me Baking Soda instead of cocaine WHO DOES S/HE THINK I AM , A RUBE?!?! We love it.

That’s why for this edition of The Business, we got some of the finest comics currently residing in the City of Angels to drop by:

Andy Haynes was born in the shadows of Mt. Rainier in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, raised on salmon and caffeine. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works as comedian, and writer. Part camp counselor, part debate team captain, he’s bringing his immature take on serious issue to audiences around the English speaking world. With recent performances on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show, and at the New Faces showcase at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Andy is becoming a must see performer.

Nick Turner is a humble comedian. He did TV once. He recently moved from NY to LA and he’s LAving it.

Karl Hess is a person & stand-up comedian & actor who lives in Los Angeles. He enjoys tacos and leisure. He has performed at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, The Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland the past three years, the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in Atlanta at which he was a finalist, HellYes Fest in Austin, and numerous others whose inclusion might render this biographical blurb unwieldy and verbose. His stand-up has been featured on G4 TV, and he plays reguarly at the top shows in LA, as well as colleges and clubs across the nation.

Scott Boxenbaum is a stand-up comic and writer living in Los Angeles. Scott has performed at clubs and colleges around the country such as Stand Up! NY, Comix NY, Yuk Yuk’s Vancouver, the Comedy Underground in Seattle, and Morty’s Comedy Joint in Indianapolis.

All this for just $5!! That’s SO CHEAP that the SF Weekly says we're the BEST at being cheap. http://www.sfweekly.com/bestof/2012/award/best-cheap-night-of-comedy-3067057/

BYOBurrito.

Your Business regulars will be there as well, except Alex, who we sent off to personally shake Randy Newman’s hand (cause you have a friend in any one who loves LA and hates short people).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adopt a Soldier

If you're looking for a cool, meaningful volunteer or service project to do with your students, consider "adopting a soldier" who is currently serving overseas.  My classes and I for the last several years have adopted at least 10 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  "Adopting" a soldier consists of making the commitment to send one letter a week and one care package a month to someone on active duty. (Which is easy when you have 20 some eager students ready to write their letter!)  My students and I have made some great friends, encouraged someone is serving our country, and participated in some of the most amazing events through this adoption.
How do you "adopt" a soldier?  You sign up with the non-profit organization called Soldiers Angels.
After they give you clearance, they will assign you a soldier and give you his/her address overseas and you're ready to go!  Who says the academics have to take a back seat?  I teach my parts of a friendly letter, map skills, addressing an envelope, focusing on common/proper nouns, some history, and of course, citizenship and volunteering.  I'd love to say that all my soldiers have been actively involved in the process of writing back to us faithfully, but that's not the case.  I've had everything from no letters in return because they're just too busy, to other soldiers who write us back faithfully.  I've even had one show up for a visit on Veterans Day the following year he returned from active duty.  Last year my students got to be involved in a soccer ball drive with our soldier.  He wanted us to collect soccer balls to send to him overseas where he distributed to the local village children in Basrah, Iraq.  The whole "adoption" process has been a WIN/WIN for everyone involved.  Enjoy some photos from some of our FAVORITE moments.
The soccer ball drive was on the news and
in a military publication. My students were
so proud that they helped get 200 soccer balls
delivered to such eager children in Iraq.






Some very excited 3rd graders collecting 
soccer balls for a good cause




This adopted soldier's team proudly
displayed their fitness award








We were lucky enough to have one of our 
adopted soldiers come VISIT us on Veterans Day!  
He presented our class with a certificate of appreciation,
coins from his platoon, and a flag flown over their 
camp in our honor while he was stationed in Iraq.

As always, if you would like some additional information or are interested in getting started, just let me know!  I'll help in any way I can!

Bananas for those that serve and sacrifice for our freedom,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Never mind Greece, there's a bigger basket case

Its the world's ninth largest economy. Its six times the size of Greece. Its actually bigger than India. And its hopelessly bust . Yet; we aren't hearing much about it. Only because ,  its not a country. Its a state. The State of California. The world's biggest basket case ! This has been a favourite topic of mine having blogged before here and here.

California has a state budget of some $90 bn. And it just projected a deficit of $15 bn. What sort of an economy runs a deficit of 18% of the budget ?? This has been going on for years . And what does that state do - simply borrow . And borrow. And borrow.  And with no hope of ever bridging that gap. If California had its own currency, I would be merrily shorting it. It would be a prime candidate for begging at IMF's door. 

For once you can't blame the political leaders for the mess, although they are the ones being vilified and quartered. The blame must squarely rest on the citizens of California. For they are the ones who have brought this mess upon themselves by indulging in direct democracy.

California is a perfect example of democracy run wild. For decades they have been passing laws through referendums without the level of serious evaluation and trade offs that are necessary for good governance. The infamous Proposition 13 of 1978 drastically limited property tax and imposed a requirement for a two third majority to raise any taxes , making it virtually impossible to do so. Then they passed scores of spending laws like Proposition 98 of 1988 which mandate 40-50% of the general revenue to be spent on education. And Propositions like 117 of 1990 that mandated a minimum spend of $30m on wildlife habitat. Proposition 49 of 2002 increased spending on before and after school programs by some $450m. There are tons of such mandated spending with barely a thought on how they would be funded. They also pass whimsical Propositions that mandate that a chicken must be able to spread its wings and turn a full circle without touching another chicken as I outlined in this post !

The problem is simple. California depends for more than 50% of its income on personal income taxes. These unfortunately fluctuate. Recessions drastically reduce tax revenues. In boom times the revenue increases are spent away and nothing is saved. In hard times, there's a massive hole in the budget. There is zero political will ( read citizen appetite) to do anything about it. Budgets are never passed on time. Fiscal irresponsibility has a new meaning in California that would make Greece blush. California is the perfect example of how not to run an economy.

The puzzling thing is that California is also home to the smartest people in the world.  It is arguably the most intelligent place on earth. And yet ..... 

Maybe intelligence is no insurance against stupidity !

Back 2 School...ALREADY? AND a GIVEAWAY Soon!


Is it too early to be thinking about Back to School? YES! YES! YES! I refuse to! However, I am trying to have everybody else ready for back to school when that time comes. My 3rd grade team and I have always done some really fun 'Back to School' activities centered around our classroom theme. I've now got them available on TpT and TN! Whether you do monkeys, bees, frogs, ocean, giraffes, mice, owls, or rock stars, etc. there's a back to school pack for you. I plan to add to the list throughout the summer. (currently working on a Sports and Puzzles theme) If you don't see your classroom theme here, but are interested in one, drop me a line...I'll be happy to work on one for ya' while I'm POOLSIDE!  WOOHOO!  :-) 
  
Giveaway update:  THANK YOU THANK YOU for all who entered the 100 + follower giveaway celebration last month!  I hope to have another one soon!  (Getting close to 300!)  :-)
Bananas for Summer Vacation,



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spotlight Saturday

Hooray for another Spotlight Saturday!  Here's to MORE freebies!  If you're a K-1 teacher, I found these super cool Pencil Hold Flashcards for practice with addition and subtraction facts.  They're not your ordinary flashcards!  Students play in pairs and practice their facts by poking their pencil through a hole and reciting their fact.  The partner facing them will see the correct answer next to where their pencil is poking through. This took some time and creative thinking to create!  Go see them for yourself in Amanada's store!  (Click image for link)
Another freebie you can grab this week is from Arlene's TpT store.  With the push for non-fiction literature, this is a great way to utilize graphic organizers and R/LA skills and connect it to a Science concept.  This 15 page unit gives practice with verbs, KWL chart, writing a paragraph, vocabulary, synonyms, facts, & comprehension of non-fiction.  All this is centered around frogs and toads and is marked for grades 2-3.  (Click image for link)
Ready for another?  Yep...3 freebies up for grabs tonight.  This one comes to you from Heidi @ Raki's Rad Resources.  She put together more than 20 playing card mats that students can use a deck of cards to practice some math skills with!  Mats start out with counting, comparing, ordering #'s, addition and  subtraction, and move into harder concepts for intermediate students with multiplying, dividing, fractions, etc.  GREAT activities for centers.  All you need is the deck of cards!  (Click image for link)

If you're enjoying this feature each Saturday, don't forget to thank the creators who help me bring it to you!  Give these ladies some positive feedback for sharing their goodies with ya'.  I look forward to sharing some more next Saturday!  :-)  Happy Weekend and Happy 5 days of school left for me!  
Bananas for the last week of school,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Monkey Business Has a NEW LOOK!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE....Here it is!  My new & improved blog!  I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the new look.  There are several "small details" to iron out and things for me to play with, but it's up and running and that makes me happy!  A HUGE Thank you to Diana over @ Custom Blog Designs.  If you are looking for a new blog, a makeover to your existing blog, etc....she's your "GO TO" girl!    She helped me figure out what direction I wanted to go in and how to get there.  We were in constant communication for the few days it took her to get it live!  My package even included a new Facebook & Twitter background to match!  (Facebook one isn't up yet, but check out the other social media buttons) 


Perhaps I should celebrate with a GIVEAWAY!  Stay tuned for details!  :-)


Bananas for my new blog!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Lovely Award...

Thanks to Nicole @ teachingwithblondeambition.blogspot.com  for passing on the One Lovely Blog Award to me!  Be sure to check out her blog and TpT store...She's got some fantastic units & ideas!  


There are a few simple rules to receiving this award:  

1) Follow the person that gave you the award.  

2) Link back to the person that gave you the award.  

3) Pass the award to on to 15 new bloggers. 

So here are the 15 new blogs that I am passing it to:

1.  Kimberly @ http://loveofteachingkimberly.blogspot.com/
2.  Jana @ http://readingandthinkingoutloud.blogspot.com/
3.  Teacher's Workroom @ http://theteachersworkroom.blogspot.com/
4.  Dana @ http://theteachersworkroom.blogspot.com/
5.  Pam @ http://www.teaching4real.com/
6.  Kristi @ http://luckyinlearning.blogspot.com/
7.  Tori @ http://toristeachertips.blogspot.com/
8.  Heather @ http://heathersfirstgradeheart.blogspot.com/
9.  Laura @ http://lovetoteach123.blogspot.com/
10. Jackie @ http://third-grades-a-charm.blogspot.com/
11.  Darlene @ http://thirdgradelove.blogspot.com/
12.  Kristi @ http://luckyinlearning.blogspot.com/
13.  Penny @ http://teachthemath.blogspot.com/
14.  Tamera @ http://myheartbelongsinfirst.blogspot.com/
15.  Sandy @ http://secondgradelockerroom.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Business May 16th 2012, "The Tallents of the Fantastic Dr. Foxmeat" Edition (with extra Vannini!)

The Business gets feral this week. Our corporate office will be inundated with wild animals, as Sam Tallent, Cameron Vannini and Dr. Foxmeat get all up in our habitat.

Since all bios for Dr. Foxmeat have been either scratched into bark or howled at the moon, there is no written record from which to draw data. What we can conclude is that he is from Arcata, California on some kind of southward trek (which is weird, cause harvest isn’t for months).

Cameron Vannini is a dapper, young SF comic and philanthropist. Also known as the San Francisco Treat, Cameron performs regularly at the SF Punchline and is a AAA card member (even though he doesn't have a license). He has been spotted at Cobb's Comedy club, the San Jose Improv, and the Sacramento Punchline. Ingredients include the 2010 SF International Comedy competition and semi finalist in 2010 SJ Improv comedy competition.
Sam Tallent's from Denver. Alex Koll and him have done some very bad things together. Sam has been described as 'the black flag of comedy' and a zine in Denmark said 'Sam is the surreal voice of an earnestly silly generation'. Reggie Watts, TJ Miller, Joe Rogan, Kyle Kinane, Sean Patton and other quality gigglesmiths have worked with Sam and not complained to management. His home club is the Denver Comedy Works and he curates Too Much Funstival! at the end of August in Denver. His interests include Genki savory crepes, short haired women and writing in the third person.”

We will miss Chris Garcia and Bucky this week, but never fear, they will return from their walkabouts with new stories of misadventure and poop.

Bring your burritos and $5 to the Dark Room and get your wild thing on (RIP, Maurice). Come on, when’s the last time you had Foxmeat?!?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celebrations Worth Investigating

I WISH I was celebrating a Lacrosse season round 2 playoff win, but sadly my son's team lost.  :-(  But I am celebrating the amazing season they had!  Being ranked #4 in the state wasn't so bad!!  He's a junior, so he has a lot more to look forward to next year!

You should be out celebrating with some blogger buddies of mine who have some great things going on.  Check out A Teacher's Treasure where Mor is giving away 35 items....YEP 35!  I'm happy to announce one of those items is mine!  I donated my Accelerating into Analogies unit, which helps students understand what they are and how to solve them!
So be sure to SWING on over to her blog & ENTER her 1,000 follower celebration!

Ready to celebrate the end of the school year?  Be sure to check out Tessa's "Tales from Outside the Classroom" blog, where she has linked 50 some units/lesson plans for the END of the YEAR.  There are a variety of activities (some free, some paid items) for your students to do the last few days or weeks of school!  I linked up to that party too, with my freebie end of the year memory book called "Bunches of Fun in ___Grade"

Finally, I'm also about to celebrate with a NEW BLOG design.  (YAY!)  I can't wait...Stay tuned for the amazing makeover that will take place soon!

Bananas for events worth celebrating,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A matter of grave import to the nation

The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India is a very esteemed body and is concerned with matters of grave constitutional importance, on which hinges the future of this nation of 1.2 billion people.  Therefore when this august body makes a ruling, we should take it very seriously and comply. It also goes without saying that the Supreme Court only rules on extremely weighty matters and does not lend itself to trivialisation. It is therefore very clear that the removal of sun films from car windows is one of the most important and pressing of issues that confronts India today.

The Supreme Court has ruled, after intense deliberation, and careful consideration of legal issues that pasting a sun film on your car window is illegal. That it has devoted its valuable time to this, while it is suffering from a massive backlog of cases is enough evidence that this is an extremely grave matter. A very concerned citizen of India, Mr  Avishek Goenka (it is completely untrue,  that the aforesaid gentleman is an old f@*$, of the qualities I alluded to in this post) filed a Public Interest Litigation that sun films on car windows was an important reason for rape, dacoity, murder and a host of heinous crimes . The Hon'ble Supreme Court agreed. From now on , thou shall ride a car with sun films on the windows at your peril.The implication of this judgement is obviously that as soon as sun films are removed, the incidence of dacoity, rape, etc etc shall drastically fall. Please monitor the statistics in the next few months to see this dramatic fall.

The police in each state is getting ready to diligently implement this critical matter of public policy. They shall now treat sun film violations on par with catching those driving without a license, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving without any lights at all, five people riding a two wheeler, parking in the middle of the road etc etc. These matters already receive the highest attention from the police, so much so that these problems are largely licked ; they will now have the time to tackle sun film.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court did not mention this, but we can speculate that the corollary effect on public health also influenced its opinion on the matter. We are somewhat concerned that Vitamin D deficiency is at an unacceptably high level in India. Exposure to sunlight, especially the intense summer sun that we are blessed with, is really a significant aid to the health of the nation. With no sun films on car windows, my vitamin balance will be strengthened by the absorption of more sunlight.

A byproduct of this move shall also be to enhance public morality. Activities of an amorous nature, carried out in the confines of a car will now be visible to the, umm,  naked eye and therefore act as an effective deterrent.

I shall also compliment Mr Avishek Goenka on services to the nation and exhort him to continue to strive for further reducing dacoity , rape, etc,. Considering that a significant proportion of such crimes are done indoors, its time to turn the attention to buildings. It is deplorable that building windows are tinted and the view blocked by curtains. I am exhorting Mr Avishek Goenka to move the Hon'ble Supreme Court to also deliberate upon the legality or otherwise of curtains. (Reflections, please note).  After winning this, Mr Goenka is also exhorted to move the Hon'ble Supreme Court to ban the wearing of sunglasses so that potential rapists who are ogling at women with the intention of committing rape can be more easily found out.

I am extremely happy to be living in a land where the institutions are so concerned about my welfare and safety. I shall now feel much safer on Indian roads knowing that policemen are on the look out for sun film offenders. I commend and applaud all those who have diligently framed this public policy. Jai Hind.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Short & Sweet Saturday Spotlight

It's another weekend of Lacrosse for me...Round 2 of the state playoffs.  WOO HOO for my son!  Of course that means more hours on the road for me.  So I'm making this Spotlight Saturday short & sweet before I hit the road for the rest of the weekend.  ENJOY!
Go grab this adorable freebie from FROGGIE WENT A TEACHIN... It's phonogram practice with students brainstorming and naming words that relate to each phonogram.  This 21 page freebie is great for literacy centers and or partner activities within the classroom. (Click Superhero picture for link to download)  This seller also has a fabulous blog that's worth investigating.  You can find her blog here...http://froggiewentateachin.blogspot.com/

Another great freebie you don't want to miss out on is from Teach 123.  She's offering an easy to implement Behavior Incentive System called B.U.G. (Being Unusually Good) **Click B.U.G. picture for link to download.  It comes with instructions and/or suggestions on how to implement, as well as a variety of CUTE bug graphics.  There's even a frog involved (that eats bugs!!)  Teach 123 also has a blog at http://teach123-school.blogspot.com/   
 So off you go...Don't forget to leave these teachers some feedback for their generous freebies.  :-)
Bananas for teachers who graciously GIVE things away, AND LACROSSE playoffs this weekend.  Go Admirals!  

Is the future of digital journalism an outside job?

Making small digital news providers sustainable has become the holy grail of journalists and the search continues for workable business models and revenue streams.

Advertising may produce some revenue, but it will never generate sufficient resources to support digital journalism because so little advertising money is available for sites with small audiences. About three-quarters of all online advertising goes to the top 10 sites and Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo account for about 60 percent of all online revenue. This leaves very little advertising expenditures to be contested among all other players--of which news providers are only a small fraction. At the same time, the prices paid for online advertising are falling because there are so many sites offering advertising, the advertising inventory is nearly infinite, and audiences continue fragmenting.

This means the majority of funding for start-up digital journalism must come from elsewhere and online news sites—especially start-ups—are having mixed success trying to construct multiple revenue streams from philanthropy, memberships, events, consulting services, and payment systems. Both large legacy news organizations that dominate provision of news in the digital space and free automated aggregators are hampering efforts of small sites to develop audiences. The primary successes that can be observed have been for start-ups carrying out special forms of journalism or concentrating on highly specific topics.

The answer to sustainability may not lie in the business creation and business operational approach. The key to making emergent digital news providers sustainable may lie in the 18th and 19th century approaches to journalism, in which journalism was an avocation and not a profession (or at least only a part-time profession).

If one reviews the history of newspaper start-ups around the world, one finds that the bases of journalistic compensation were not journalism itself. It many cases it was funded by public employment—serving as postmasters, teachers, or other civil servants—or by operating commercial endeavours—such as printing firms, taverns, and retail shops (Even brothels funded the costs of newspapers in some towns in the Western U.S. during the nineteenth century).

The current inability to effectively fund small-scale digital journalism means that we all need to be thinking more broadly about how we can support the functions and people involved in them. If the past is a guide, we may need to return to provision of local journalism as community activism, political activity, or business support service—all of which played significant roles in establishment of news provision in years past.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oh no; Not again

This blogger is rather vain about his English. And yet he was completely flummoxed when he spotted the headline "JP Morgan loses $2bn in egregious error" . He has to sheepishly admit that he did not know the meaning of the word "egregious" and had to look it up in a dictionary :( Trust a banker to come up with an unintelligible world - at least unintelligible to one "master" of English :). It sums up the problem neatly. The financial world has gone so bonkers in dreaming up structures of incredible and ununderstandable complexity that we cannot sit by and watch this go on anymore.

JP Morgan is a well respected bank. Its governance is top class. It should be one of the models of all that is good about the financial sector. In  Jamie Dimon, it has one of the finest Chief Executives in the world. It has superb risk management systems, strengthened even more in the wake of the financial crisis of 3 years ago. And what happens - it manages to lose $2bn in  one quarter on credit derivatives trading. An "egregious error".

This casino has gone gone berserk and has to stop. Enough is enough. Here is this blogger's remedy which is an extreme extension of the Volcker Rule.

  • Commercial banking must be made a boring business. No proprietary trading. List of what they can do is made boringly small and strictly regulated by a super Ramamritham. All bankers have to come to work wearing only a panchakacham (man) or madisar (woman) - the logic being that anybody dressed like this can't be a punter.
 
  • Commercial banks continue to enjoy the implicit sovereign guarantee. They are not allowed to become too big. After a certain size, they have to break up into two; somewhat like an amoeba.
  • This is a free world. So the downright crazy casino is allowed; but at only two places in the world - Las Vegas and Macau. If Europe makes too much noise, Monaco can also be let in.
  • Any idiot who enters any of these three places is required to sign a pledge that he clearly understands that he is committing suicide. Before he starts punting, he has to get a license, which will only be granted after he spends one night in the ward meant for the dangerously criminally insane.
  • No bail outs for the punters in these three cities. If they lose their shirt , or something worse, it is their funeral. The state may helpfully construct a 100 floor tower with a fast lift to the top so that those who want jump off are easily facilitated.
Period. No more discussions or engagement with the financial community.

PS : If you are still wondering what "egregious" means, Dictionary.com defines it as " extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant"

Let’s face it: in most industries, firms pretty much do the same thing


In the field of strategy, we always make a big thing out of differentiation: we tell firms that they have to do something different in the market place, and offer customers a unique value proposition. Ideas around product differentiation, value innovation, and whole Blue Oceans are devoted to it. But we also can’t deny that in many industries – if not most industries – firms more or less do the same thing.

Whether you take supermarkets, investment banks, airlines, or auditors, what you get as a customer is highly similar across firms.

1. Ability to execute: What may be the case, is that despite doing pretty much the same thing, following the same strategy, there can be substantial differences between the firms in terms of their profitability. The reason can lie in execution: some firms have obtained capabilities that enable them to implement and hence profit from the strategy better than others. For example, Sainsbury’s supermarkets really aren’t all that different from Tesco’s, offering the same products at pretty much the same price in pretty much the same shape and fashion in highly identical shops with similarly tempting routes and a till at the end. But for many years, Tesco had a superior ability to organise the logistics and processes behind their supermarkets, raking up substantially higher profits in the process.

2. Shake-out: As a consequence of such capability differences – although it can be a surprisingly slow process – due to their homogeneous goods, we may see firms start to compete on price, margins decline to zero, and the least efficient firms are pushed out of the market. And one can hear a sigh of relief amongst economists: “our theory works” (not that we particularly care about the world of practice, let alone be inclined to adapt our theory to it, but it is more comforting this way).

3. A surprisingly common anomaly? But it also can’t be denied that there are industries in which firms offer pretty much the same thing, have highly similar capabilities, are not any different in their execution, and still maintain ridiculously high margins for a sustained period of time. And why is that? For example, as a customer, when you hire one of the Big Four accounting firms (PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte), you really get the same stuff. They are organised pretty much the same way, they have the same type of people and cultures, and have highly similar processes in place. Yet, they also (still) make buckets of money, repeatedly turning and churning their partners into millionaires.

“But such markets shouldn’t exist!” we might cry out in despair. But they do. Even the Big Four themselves will admit – be it only in covert private conversations carefully shielding their mouths with their hands – that they are really not that different. And quite a few industries are like that. Is it a conspiracy, illegal collusion, or a business X file?

None of the above I am sure, or perhaps a bit of all of them… For one, industry norms seem to play a big role in much of it: unwritten (sometimes even unconscious), collective moral codes, sometimes even crossing the globe, in terms of how to behave and what to do when you want to be in this profession. Which includes the minimum price to charge for a surprisingly undifferentiated service.

Pranabda ko gussa kyon aata hai

Statutory Warning - This post has language which may be offensive to some. Reader discretion is advised !

Why is the  Finance Minister  an angry old man  - approximate translation of the title of this post for non Indians. He is one of the most mature and level headed politicians in India. And yet, these days, he is behaving like an "old f&*% with that perpetual scowl on his face" - you can see zillions of this category in any apartment owners' association in India. Either he has gone a bit batty or has let Ramamritham loose - both of which are awful developments for India

I am referring to their collective antics relating to the tax laws in India. The Vodafone story is now well known and is the subject of an earlier post of mine. Pranabda is simply being extremely churlish and petty in pursuing this. I continue to be amazed that they are going after Vodafone (which was the buyer in this transaction and made no capital gain) rather than the seller, Hutchison Telecom, which is really the company they should go after. If Ramamritham has any b*&@$, he should take on China.

But they haven't stopped there. They are loudly defending the retrospective changes they have brought into the Income Tax law . In this process, they are also overriding bilateral tax treaties with many countries. Nonsense regarding sovereignty and the right of Parliament to enact any law it pleases is being spewed. They are seeking to impose GAAR (General Anti Avoidance Rules). In layman's language, GAAR  simply means that you as a tax payer have to prove your innocence (the taxman is simply going to assume that you are guilty). Fantastic. Grrrr.

I can understand the pressing need to raise revenue - given that they are spending money like water on doles and giveaways and simply borrowing their way to nirvana. Even grant for a minute that curtailing expenditure is a non option (wow).  But is this the way to raise money ?

Only 35m Indians pay Income Tax. That's 3% of the population. Is really 97% of India poor ? How about getting some more people to pay instead of screwing those who do ?? Just look at the fantastic (and mostly ill gotten) wealth in property most of which is in suitcases. How about tightening the noose on those. Even today you can earn Rs 10000000000 crores as "agricultural income" and not pay any income tax at all. Why not tax that ?

The relationship between the taxman and taxpayer is one of extreme confrontation in India - anybody who has been at the receiving end of attention from Ramamritham knows this. Laws are draconian and the concept of guilty until proven innocent is well engrained. Dispute resolution in a sensible way is non existent - everything is confrontation. With the latest scowl on Pranabda's face, its only going to get worse.

When will we ever learn that making laws simple and fair , keeping tax rates reasonable and letting economic activity boom is the surest way for governments to increase revenues. Pranabda knows all this - he is a wise and extremely experienced minister. And yet, look at what he has become.

Will the Pranabda of old resurface please ?

For a more level headed and saner piece on this issue, read here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Themes in your Classroom

I'm always fascinated by the amount of time spent on decorating a classroom.  I've had a monkey theme for so long now, I can barely remember what I did in my classroom before the monkeys invaded.  So, as I slowly begin to think about packing up my classroom for the summer and put a few monkeys in the closet, (No, not the kids) I began to wonder what everyone else does to decorate their classroom.  Do you have a theme?  Or do you just keep it tidy & organized?  Do you change your theme often?  Please share your thoughts, cool ideas, and/or leave me a link if you have pictures!  I'm a visual person.  :-)  The picture here shows my Reading corner, otherwise known as the "Jungle." It's a little difficult to see, but I have a cool tree hanging from the ceiling, along with vines wrapped around the area. Yes, I normally have student work displayed on the bulletin board in the jungle,...but with the state testing that just took place, I had to take everything DOWN and/or cover it up with newspaper, so it's currently BLANK.  Looking forward to hearing what you do in your room.  :-)
 
The TpT sale ends after today, so finish loading up your carts & check out so you don't lose out on some great deals!  The TN sale continues until May 11th!  Be sure to ENTER my giveaway on TN...it's a great Genres unit with loads of activities you can do with a few different genres.   The giveaway ends on Saturday, May 12th...just in time for Mother's Day!                                                        
 

A cross post

Should we worry about India's economy ? Yes says Sriram, a friend and a most prolific and versatile blogger. He makes two or three posts a day  and has wide and original views on a number of issues.  On India's economy, he says

"Less than a fortnight into the hundred days in India, the more I observed, the more I wondered whether India's economic "success" story was more hype than real.  That line of thinking morphed into to this column in which I wrote that "the economic health of India is not looking good."

Every day, evidence seemed to pile on to further reinforce the impression that India could run into some serious economic troubles really soon.  I was particularly concerned that the country was not paying enough attention to the long-term requirements of
resources, energy, and infrastructure."

You can read his full post here.

Yes there's much to worry and despair about. We have made some progress, but make disproportionate noise about it. The real tragedy is that India is capable of so much more - Oh what a huge unfulfilled potential there is. With this much poverty around, its a crime to let potential go unfulfilled.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Excuse me, which way is it to Omaha ?

Where on earth is Omaha ?? I must confess I had to look it up on a map. God - its in the middle of nowhere. Who on earth wants to go to Nebraska anyway. Well, this weekend, all roads lead to Omaha, if you are a certain type who likes to make money. For its the annual jamboree of Berkshire Hathway, and one old man named Warren Buffett.

I really don't understand why anybody wants to go to that blessed event. I mean, can there be any excuse for wanting to go to Nebraska ?? For God's sake ! To listen to words of wisdom from the "Oracle of Omaha" ?? Please, spare me the thought. Warren Buffett is no sage. In any case, if the multitude that go there even care to listen to him, they wouldn't be going there in the first place. For after all, he has been saying for donkeys years , don't listen to self proclaimed sages. Don't go on tips and hunches. Do research. Invest for the long term , etc etc. Everybody goes there to get tips on investing. They haven't understood what he has been trying to tell them - don't listen to tips. Whoever said that there was a surfeit of brains in the investing community.

But I want to go to Omaha !! I wish I was there this weekend. But not to listen to the old man. Or even have the free ice cream they dish out. I want to be there for a far more important reason. I want to have a chance to challenge Ariel Hsing to a game of table tennis.



You see, Warren Buffett is an amateur table tennis (ping pong, if you prefer) player. Typical of him, he spotted a talent in Ariel Hsing, when she was 9 years old. He brought her to his annual jamboree and then challenged anybody to beat her - the winner gets a box of candy. In the six or seven years, nobody has beaten her. She is now 16 and has made the London bound US Olympic Table Tennis team. In one of those years, she thrashed Bill Gates, who is an amateur player himself - one of the few occasions when Bill Gates has been thrashed in anything. Buffett even joked that Bill Gates' manhood has taken a severe beating losing to a pre teen !!

So, attendees to the Berkshire Hathway AGM can challenge Ariel to a game. Well, I have some claims to playing a decent standard of table tennis. I rather fancy my chances. Of course, I would chivalrously lose in the end, but after giving the lovely lady a bit of a running !!

Unfortunately Bangalore to Omaha is a fair way, although the opportunity to play with a lovely lady must move a man to trek to the moon. In my younger days, sure.  Alas, with the advent of years ....... I shall therefore pass the opportunity to Gils, who is not far away - he having recently shifted to an equally obscure and godforsaken place, rather close to Omaha !

As for Ariel, good luck in London, young lady. The US team, as indeed many other teams, is entirely made of ethnic Chinese. They will soldier bravely, but really have little chance against the real thing -  China. Which other country can afford to drop the current World No 1 man and woman from their team ?? That's exactly what China has done. Perhaps not that surprising, when they also have the No2, No3, No4 and No5 !!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spotlight Saturday on a Sunday?!

Yes, Spotlight Saturday is a day late...one of the hazards of being a mother of boys in the middle of the playoff season for Lacrosse.  :-)  I didn't even see my laptop for 24 hours.  But the good news is they're WINNING and one step closer to the state championship!  


 I DO have some freebies for ya'll (in my best Kentucky/Tennessee twang)  to check out.  With Teacher Appreciation Week upon us, you know you'll be writing some Thank you notes to your students.  Why not save yourself some time and print these FREEBIE PRINTABLE THANK YOU NOTES from Sue over at SOS Supply?  They are simply adorable and just LOOK like you've taken tons of time to put together...when Sue's done all the work for ya'.  The image will take you right to them!  


The next FREEBIE highlight is really a WHOLE BUNCH OF FREEBIES...That's right...you've hit the JACKPOT!  Several fantastic bloggers/teachers are giving away some incredible items for ONE DAY ONLY!  So take some time today to visit the following blogs (Click Jackpot image) for hundreds of dollars of savings!  Don't forget to take the time to THANK these teachers for their generosity!  


In closing today, have you shopped the sales at TpT and TN?  There are some amazing items at huge discounts up for grabs!  :-)  I know I am a teacher and I feel quite appreciated from my students' parents, but I'm a mommy too.  So I want to give a shout out to my own children's teachers who touch their lives daily!  I truly appreciate you and all you do for my own kiddos!  I am thankful for each of you!


Bananas for ALL teachers and the hard work and dedication that you unselfishly give each and every day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Giveaways, Sales, Jackpots...What Else Could You Ask For?

Wow...this is the weekend to be a teacher...You can't help but feel appreciated after what's taking place this weekend.  FIRST, TpT is having a HUGE Teacher Appreciation Sale.  Most teachers are posting items at 20% off and TpT is tacking on another 8%. (with a special code) "TAD12"  That's a total of 28% off your favorite items.   I know I've got EVERYTHING in my store marked for a sale this weekend.  Don't forget to leave the creator some feedback so you can earn MORE POINTS for MORE SHOPPING!  Click here for deals May 6-8th!  

  Keep a close eye on some of your favorite blogs too...A little birdie told me there's a BIG JACKPOT up for grabs from some fabulous teachers & bloggers!  
  You also can't forget to check out Teachers Notebook this weekend.  Tons of stores are having a Teacher Appreciation Sweepstakes Sale with items anywhere from 5%-50% off! (Including me!)   You can't miss, no matter where you turn for classroom materials this weekend!
As if sales aren't enough good news, I decided to celebrate all the MOMS out there with a little GIVEAWAY on TN.  Entries for that giveaway will be accepted from May 4- 12th....Just in time for Mother's Day.  It's such a fun 45 page unit on the genres.  It currently has activities for fairy tales, biographies, fables, and a project to use with any genre.  Click on the unit to enter the giveaway (starting May 4th)
School may be winding down, but it's never too late to start stocking up for next year!   
So as the weekend progresses...HAPPY SHOPPING!  HAPPY WEEKEND! :-)  

Bananas for SHOPPING & SALES!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Business May 2nd 2012, "Seregina & Dhar" Edition




This week the Business loses Chris and Chris, but welcomes back two local faves Anna Seregina and Rajeev Dhar to make up for our Chris-less-ness.

Anna Seregina is a San Francisco-based stand-up comic and performer. She was born in Moscow, Russia, which could explain her deep-rooted cynicism. It could also explain nothing. After being involved in theater and improv for nearly a decade and being funny for nearly a lifetime, she decided to take the plunge into stand-up comedy. Her style can nearly be defined as vocal and un-lady-like, drawing heavily on what little life experience she has. She has been described as having the “worst aura.” Most facts about her are true. Most truths about her are facts.

Rajeev Dhar (Phd) has a Tumblr page, but it's password protected, so I couldn't lift his bio from it word-for-word like I did Anna's. Regardless, he is very funny and runs the Tuesday night comedy show called The Break Room at Amnesia in the Mission, not far from yours truly. I've only caught him looking in the mirror at himself once, but I don't blame him.

Bucky returns to us this week from Portland, and Alex, Caitlin and Sean will also be on hand. Will Hologram Bucky confront his flesh-and-blood counterpart? Come down and see.

As always show is at 8pm, only $5 and all burritos welcome.