November 20th, 2010

Interesting words (this one is too long; you can skip it)

"I have been idly turning my globe, which is a sizeable one, and making believe that it is in fact the earth itself, and I a gigantic creature here beside it, gazing on the seas and continents on which entire countries are of no greater span than my thumb. By comparison, I am as large as Jupiter or Saturn; and if this globe were really the earth, I should not be able to see any of its inhabitants even with a microscope. They would be an invisible virus, and I should find out about them only by studying their works. They would not be able to see me, either; in size, weight, and cubic content I would be quite incomprehensible to them, except through the science of mathematics. For some reason or other, this has led me to think about ants. They are not too small to be seen; we can study them, and even understand them a little. But they, on the contrary, do not know anything about us at all. They do not see us, or hear us; our houses, roads, and gardens seem to them merely a part of earth. They have no words to explain us; we pass on huge mysterious steps, on inconceivable errands, and our feet overturn, without rancor, the labor of days and hopes of nations. To whom, to what, shall they pray? In any case, we should not hear them. I am sure that someone will tell me that we have improved, and that the ants have not. It is not so much that we have improved which makes me hopeful, as that we are still here. One does not have to be an historian to know that it has not been easy for man to survive. The frost freezes him, the sun burns him, he is plagued by pestilence and starved by famine, the floods engulf him. and he is poisoned by insects; and if there is anything left of him at all, he himself goes to war to destroy it. Of all the enemies of man, man is the cruelest and the most implacable. One would expect him, under the circumstances, to be as rare and backward as the musk-ox; whereas, on the contrary, he is as numerous as the stars, and master of the earth and the elements: master, in fact, of everything except his own passion for destruction."
Robert Nathan

148 - 2nd Grade

My second grade teacher was Barbara Hoff, who was likely the youngest teacher on the Longfellow faculty. Also quite pretty. She used to let a chosen student take chalk infested erasers outside and pound them on the brick walls in order to get the chalk off, sort of like how Grandma would hang rugs over clotheslines and beat them. Miss Hoff also was the only teacher I ever had who actually would do the Christmas Story punishment (that Ralphy got from his mom). If a kid used a bad word, she would actually make him go into the cloak room and stick a bar of soap into his mouth. It was a pretty good punishment. I can't remember anything academic from 2nd grade, but I liked her. She was the last of my teachers to die, and spent her career at the school. The 2nd grade teacher I did not have was Miss Knobloch, who had been at the school for a lifetime. When she and my 4th grade teacher, Miss Kosmo, retired, there was a big article in the paper about two women who had given about a billion years of their lives to the school finally retiring. Only my kindergarten teacher and 6th grade teacher were short termers at Longfellow. All the others I had (and many I did not have) were there for the duration. And those days, when you retired after a billion years, you got a thank you from your employer, and maybe a reception. Unlike today.