Goodbye 2008

I thought these pictures were really striking:
NBC News 2008 Year in Pictures

2008 was a good year, but I am glad to say goodbye and welcome a great new year - 2009. Looking forward to the progress we will make this spring. :)

Christmas at the "Last House Standing"

Christmas at the last house standing

(CNN) -- The streets are dark and the town is deserted, but Pam and Warren Adams still put up Christmas lights outside their Gilchrist, Texas, home. It is one of the few remaining after Hurricane Ike devastated the area in September.

When Ike hit Gilchrist on September 13, it destroyed nearly everything in its path. Most of the 200 or so houses there were flattened by the storm surge, and the Adams home was the only one left standing on the Gulf Coast side of the town.

Now, the couple has returned to repair their battered home. Warren Adams is living in an RV trailer on their beachfront property. Pam Adams, 53, who spends the week at an apartment in Baytown, Texas, drives more than an hour to visit their home each weekend.
Life goes on, even when it seems like doesn't go on all around them. Everything inside the house is waterlogged, mud-coated, and it is a mess. It looks like it is going to be a very long time before it is completely livable. The couple plans on building elsewhere and using this home as a weekend house.
"I'm so proud my house survived," Adams said. "I didn't realize how much I loved the house until I moved into this apartment."

Adams said she and her husband would sit on their balcony and watch the ocean and sunset in the evenings. "I want everything back the way it was," she said. "I want my neighbors back."
That has to be hard. I can not imagine every house in my neighborhood being GONE. My house still standing. I was not surprised to hear that they haven't seen a dime of insurance money yet. This year there will be no present opening in Gilchrist, but 2009 should be much better.
There will be no presents or visits with friends and family. It didn't seem appropriate, Adams said. "Everything's so depressing. We didn't feel like we should be celebrating when everyone's suffering so badly."

But the couple has big hopes for next year. "It'll be a big Christmas with the neighbors," Adams exclaimed. "We'll fry turkeys, and there will be a lot to celebrate."

Adams said she's looking forward to 2009. "I just want to get back home and watch all the structures go up in Gilchrist. We want to be the welcoming committee. We just want everyone to return."
Amazing. I am ready for 2009 as well.

Breakfast with Santa @ AHS

We had a Santa Breakfast at our school this morning, sponsored by the National Honor Society. Aidan had a nice time, but he was soooo shy. All the pretty girls in santa hats just set him off. He kept hiding behind my leg most of the time.

He had a nice time listening to the choir, orchestra and seeing all the other little kids there. But, he didn't go near Santa Claus. One of my former students was dressed up in the Red/White with the beard, pretty funny). We kept trying to get Aidan up there, but he refused. He was too shy. Such is the life of a 4 year-old.

I hope they do it again next year. They did a super job with it.

It snowed. Holy Cow.

I knew it was going to be cold. I NEVER thought it would REALLY snow. I was wrong.

It snowed tonight, and I mean REALLY snowed for the first time since we have lived here - since 1994. It is really amazing. I am still shaking my head about it. Aidan had a ball!

Snow balls! The snow was so perfect that it packed into snow balls. I couldn't believe it. Heavy, wet and perfectly 'packable.'

Aidan threw a snowball for the first time in his life. He said to me a few weeks ago, "Daddy, I want to see snow." I felt bad, but I said, "Son, I'm sorry. We don't live in a place that it snows. It may never snow in Houston in your lifetime." Guess Daddy isn't so smart! Less than a month later, he's licking snow out of the air. His comment was, "It tastes like lemons!" I'm not sure what that means.

Aidan said, "Daddy, it's just like Christmas Town." He was thinking about "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." It really made me smile.

A crazy night. We went to Target and bought an electric blanket. We have no heat because our heater isn't working. Dude is going to come and fix it tomorrow, but for tonight we wanted Aidan to be warm. So he's sleeping in our bed and we'll have a nice cuddly and warm blanket to keep us resting comfortably tonight. Tomorrow the heat will be fixed and we'll probably never need the blanket again!

What a night. We were driving back from Target and people were outside taking pictures on cell phones like crazy. It made me wonder if the cell phone companies saw a spike in texting and pic sending tonight! Tomorrow morning we have 'late arrival' for the kids. We always do on Thursday mornings. From 7 to 9 the teachers are in meetings, so the kids stay home until then. Then we have periods 2, 4 and 6. This gives teachers and opportunity to plan and meet. And tomorrow it'll give students the chance to get out in their yards, have snowball fights and they are going to be pretty wild come 9 am!

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day. We should never forget our wounded and fallen veterans. Last Friday in AVID we were lucky to have Sargent Brown visit us and explain how the military benefits system for education works. I came across this website this weekend and thought it made a lot of sense to look into:

Wounded Warrior

How can you get involved? What can you do? According to the site they mention what just a few have done here:
One gentleman and his two friends took three days to walkover 130 miles from Miami, FL to Key West, FL, not as a fundraiser but to simply raise awareness for Wounded Warrior Project. Decked out in WWP shirts, with a flag, literature, and stickers, they spread the word to drivers and locals passing by. On their walk they did receive checks for WWP, but more importantly were able to let more people know that there are opportunities through WWP to help take care of these young men and women when they return severely injured from war.
Little things mean a lot. You can also buy some gear - like backpacks - at the site. Proceeds go to help our wounded warriors.

Want to meet some of our wounded warriors: Meet the Wounded Warriors

Have any ideas on what we can do to help?

Check this link out. A great way to learn vocabulary for the SAT and donate rice to people who are in need.

Free Rice Dot Com

The You Tube President?

On Saturday President-elect Barack Obama released the first of a weekly address straight to You Tube. This is the first time a Presidential address was given on this kind of format. What do you think about this? Is Obama smart to play to a wider audience? Will it help him during this very difficult time in American history?

Here is President-elect Obama's address:

World Religion Project

Today I put up the posters of our World Religion Project in World History PRE-AP class. The kids did a great job on the posters and essays.

Below is just a small sample of the great posters that they did.

You can find out more about the project here:
World Religion Project Informational Powerpoint

Unemployment Rate Skyrockets

What do you think needs to be done to solve this problem?

U.S. Unemployment Soars
Jobless Rate Hits 6.5 Percent In October; 240,000 Jobs Lost
The nation's unemployment rate bolted to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent in October as another 240,000 jobs were cut, the government said Friday. It was stark proof the economy is almost certainly in a recession.
Does this worry you? In a few short years you will be looking for your first job. Does Houston offer more opportunities than other US cities?

The Roman Soldier

We had a good time Friday as we learned about the life of a Roman Soldier in class.

World Population Video

Do you remember this from the first week? Have you thought about it any more and want to comment to this blog... leave a comment and you will get a special prize! :-)

Who is...

Who is Barack Obama?

Who is John McCain?

Lasers Clean Acropolis

Really cool...
Greek scientists use laser to clean Acropolis
ATHENS - In the past two and a half thousand years, the temples of the Acropolis have suffered fire, bombing and earthquake. Now, scientists are trying to save them from a new modern enemy: pollution.

Standing on a hilltop at the center of Athens, a city of 4 million people, the Acropolis' elaborately sculptured stones have fallen prey to a film of black crust from car exhaust fumes, industrial pollution, acid rain and fires.

A team of Greek engineers and restorers are using an innovative laser technology system to clean the surface of the ancient monuments, uncovering colors and ornamentation hidden for decades.
Amazing. New technology, like lasers that clean are fixing new technology problems - pollution!

Original "Gladiator" Tomb Found in Rome

Very interesting...
Original 'Gladiator' tomb unearthed in Rome
Life of Marcus Nonius Macrinus believed to have inspired film

Italian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the ancient Roman hero believed to have inspired Russell Crowe's character in the hit movie "Gladiator," Rome's officials announced on Thursday at a press conference.

Marble beams and columns, carvings and friezes first emerged from the Roman soil during construction work to build a residential complex in Saxa Rubra, not far from the headquarters of Rai, Italy's state-run television station.

According to Cristiano Ranieri, an archaeologist who led the excavation at the site, the huge fragments belonged to a monumental marble tomb built on the banks of the Tiber River at the end of the second century A.D.

"This is the most important ancient Roman monument to come to light for 20 or 30 years," Daniela Rossi, an archaeologist for the city of Rome, told reporters.

Further excavation revealed a huge marble inscription that declares the tomb belonged to Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a general and consul who achieved major victories in military campaigns for Antoninus Pius, the Roman emperor from 138 to 161 A.D., and Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 to 180 A.D.

Born in Brescia in northern Italy in 138 A.D., Macrinus was one of the emperor's favorite men (his villa on the shores of Lake Garda is currently under excavation). He was consul in 154 A.D. and proconsul of Asia in 170 to 171 A.D (consuls were the highest civil and military magistrates in Ancient Rome).

The life of Marcus Nonius Macrinus is believed to have inspired the fictional character Maximus Decimus Meridius in Ridley Scott's film. In the movie, Meridus, also a general and a favorite of Marcus Aurelius, fell from grace after the emperor's death and ended up in exile in North Africa — to return as a gladiator and take revenge.

Although the tomb collapsed long ago, the large marble blocks are intact and perfectly preserved by the Tiber's mud. Reassembling them should not be a difficult task, Rossi said.

"We know that the area was subjected to frequent floods in ancient times. Just like Pompeii, a disaster helped preserve the monument. After a particularly strong flood, the mud from the river basically sealed the collapsed marble blocks," Rossi said.

While the construction work for the residential complex has been halted, Rome's officials plan to first reassemble the tomb in a 3-D model, and then fully reconstruct it as the centerpiece of a public archaeological display now underway in the area.
Very cool. We'll be studying all about Roman history in Chapter 5 next week.

538 - At This Point... Obama Ahead.

On the 538 Polling Site: it looks like Barrack Obama is doing pretty well.

Also the site is a great one. Shows exactly how this thing breaks down.

I really wish we would just do a popular vote. It would take all the mystery out of this thing. And we might actually see a presidential candidate come to Houston for a change! (other than during primary/caucus season)

Really interesting to look at this graph: Click Here for graph of events/polling It shows that just after McCain uttered last Monday that the economy was "fundamentally strong" he has sunk. It's quite dramatic. And an interesting history of the past year.

Who will win? Who knows. But, it is fun to watch.

Vice Presidential Debate - SNL

Saturday Night Live has a lot of fun with the debates...
Check out the VP Debate - via SNL here

What do you think? Did they get the candidates right?

You Tube Video - Hurricane Ike

This can only be seen through YouTube. So you'll have to watch it at home (not at school where it is blocked). Worth the time, some amazing images.

In Egypt, a 3,000-year-old find

In Egypt, a 3,000-year-old find

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Egypt's antiquities council says that archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old red granite head believed to portray the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities says the 30-inch-high head was once on the statue of a pharaoh.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities says the 30-inch-high head was once on the statue of a pharaoh.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities says the discovery was made recently at Tell Basta, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Cairo.

The council's statement Thursday says the 30-inch-high head belonged to a colossal statue of Ramses II that once stood in the area. Its nose is broken and the beard that was once attached to the king's chin is missing.

The site at Tell Basta was dedicated to the cat-goddess Bastet and was an important center from the Old Kingdom until the end of the Roman Period. Archaeologists are still digging at the location for the rest of the statue.
We are studying Egypt right now in Chapter 2. Thought this might be interesting. See I told you that History is never finished... it is always being written and re-written.

Hurricane Ike

We are now in San Antonio and I am having my first computer time in over a week. Strange, but I didn't really struggle or miss it as much as I thought I would. I guess we were too busy taking care of Aidan, worrying about getting a good meal and considering that we needed to have fun despite the power outage.

I have finally started to see some of the footage out here on the Internet about the storm. I started with some stuff from our community. I found this youtube video pretty haunting, but it was exactly how it looked at our house too, just before the storm:
Youtube Video - will not work at school:

This one really got to me... it's of a lone house in Gilcrest. The video is amazing.

I found these pictures on the Houston Chronicle website. They just made me shake my head. Amazing how things happen sometimes...

Today I'll be watching my Houston Texans battle the Titans and hoping a win might cheer everyone up a bit. A friend of mine that lives in the next neighborhood over from us emailed me last night and said he has power. So maybe there is hope for when we go back on Monday. I know that will give me hope that things will be back to normal soon when we have power.

TV Interview

Here is my interview on our cable educational access channel about AVID.

AVID Interview from fordee on Vimeo.

Dancing at the Game

Friday night was the "Father-Daughter" dance for our school's dance team at half time of the football game. I was honored to dance with a former student of mine. Her Dad was unable to dance because he has MS.

Aidan had a great time at the game. Norma struggled some because her ankle was REALLY sore after working all week. But, she toughed it out and we went home and iced it down after half time. At that point the awesome Eagles were up 21-0 and later went on to win 40-0. Now the AHS Eagles are 2-0 for the first time in their three year history! Pretty exciting.

Half time went very well. My dance partner was great. She is quite the dancer. Afterwards her mom thanked me for dancing with her and I said, "Well, she made me look good, didn't she? She had to work PRETTY HARD to do that!" And I smiled. To make this white guy look good is pretty much an impossible task. But, she got the job done. It was a lot of fun to see the kids from school yelling my name and waving.

One of the teachers that I worked with said, "You looked pretty good for a guy that was just in an accident last week. Nice and loose." Well, the adrenaline was pumping a little. I never even tried to do 1/2 the moves that we practiced until last night because I didn't want to hurt my back any more than it is. But, once we got out there I was fine.

My dance partner's father has MS. So he couldn't dance with her. I felt a little guilty because he should be out there... but at the same time, I was proud to stand in for him. It is always amazing how something like this goes such a long way with the kids. They really enjoyed it.

Aidan had a ball. I waved up to him from the field and he waved back. It was cool to have him there watching. So I guess now I can say that my son saw me on a football field. Of course, this was NOTHING like what I used to do on a football field. It is actually much harder to face the stands and dance than it is to play a sport like football where you are just focused on your opponent. I never really paid much attention to the stands when I played.

Today I am a little sore and a little cranky. But, I am so glad to have had the chance to dance with her. It was a lot of fun.

Notes Ch. 1 "First Humans"

CH 1 First Humans
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: history world)

Great American Yard Sale

During 5th period this week we got into a very good discussion about the state of our economy in America. I had mentioned that foreign companies, entrepreneurs and governments have been buying up US assets. This seemed to come to a big surprise to my students.

While in line at Kroger on Saturday night (yeah, pretty exciting night for me!), I noticed a Time Magazine article titled, "The Great American Yard Sale." Here is a part of the article:
The weak dollar and our weakening economy are underwriting the great American yard sale. Investors from Dubai are behind the June purchase of the General Motors Building in New York City for $2.8 billion. The Abu Dhabi Investment Council's sovereign wealth fund bought a 90% stake in the landmark Chrysler Building. General Electric's plastics division is gone, and its famed appliance unit could soon be in the hands of China's Haier or South Korea's LG. Chrysler is hoping to hook up with India's Tata Motors or Italy's Fiat. Switzerland's Roche Holding is offering about $44 billion to acquire the 44% of the biotechnology outfit Genentech that it doesn't own.
Read more of the full article on Time's Website here: Time: The Great American Yard Sale

What do you think about this? The authors conclusion is that the US is being bought piece-by-piece because it has worth and value. Is this just a sign of a new shrinking world economy? Is it a good thing? or bad? Will there be a day when New York City is mostly owned by non-New Yorkers? What about Houston?

Car Accident

I wanted to give everyone an update. Mr. Duez will be back on Tuesday. I am suffering from some headaches, back, neck and shoulder strain... but I am walking ok and I believe I should be back to work on Tuesday. I really missed class on Friday with you guys.

Well, Thursday was a tough day. We left our house around 5:30pm and headed off to have Italian at a new place in Kingwood. We pulled out of our village and headed up a two lane street. There was a truck in the lane coming towards us and he suddenly turned left onto a side street and plowed right into us. Very scary.

There was nothing I could do. I slammed on the brakes as he hit us. It was almost simultaneous. He had no turn signal on. And there was just no indication in my mind that he would ever try that turn. After hitting us, he also rammed into a lady who was stopped at that street and about to turn onto the same lane we were traveling in. I immediately got out and checked on Norma and Aidan. He cried for about 10 or 15 minutes which we were panicking and worrying about him. Once he calmed down we realized he was fine. He had some strap marks across his chest and shoulders and that was it.

The car was totaled. My right front passenger side made impact first on his right front passenger side of his Chevy Truck. Again this just shows there was no way I could have avoided him. It's not like I clipped the end of the bed of his truck or something as he crossed into our lane.

Our car spun with the back end pulling around and into the lane he was coming from. It jerked us around pretty good. I know my middle back is aching because of that twist and torque. Norma injured her ankle, which probably struck and was pinned by my seat. She was seated behind me. Aidan was in the back in the passenger side. Believe me, we are so pleased with our car seat that protected Aidan: Britax Marathon - worth every penny.

Luckily for us there was a cop in the car behind the guy that plowed into us. He jumped out of the car after calling the accident in and reporting it. The guy who hit us in the truck looked at the officer and said, "I never saw them." The officer said, "How the hell could you NOT have seen them! What's wrong with you!" It was nice to not have to yell at anyone, he was doing a good job of it for me.

In a matter of minutes there were at least 20 neighbors around us. Lots of them said they heard the crash from their homes. One lady brought ice for Norma's ankle and water for all of us. The police arrived and took our statements. They explained that they issued a citation to the driver of the truck and they gave me the insurance information.

In 38 years I have NEVER had an accident. I know I have been lucky... but I am an excellent driver. Our car was paid off in January! That really, really sucks that we will now have a car payment.

Today was spent in the emergency clinic for about 3 hours getting checked out. Norma has bumps and bruises all over and a badly sprained ankle. She's limping pretty good on it... but I am trying to keep her from walking on it. I have back, shoulder, and neck pain. My left knee is also bugging me. So we know we'll have a few weeks of discomfort ahead of us.

After the doctor we brought on more pain by meeting with our insurance claims agent. She verified that the driver of the truck had insurance through All-State and that our claim should be against them since he was at fault. She said they would be contacting me. I've never gone through this before. But, I am tempted to get some type of lawyer. We can not afford to be screwed around here. Yet a lawyer could screw us in just as many ways.

At this point we are going to know the value of our car at retail - it's about $15,000 for a 2003 Honda Accord. So we'd like to get between 15 and 20 grand out of this to put towards a new car. I CAN NOT BELIEVE we have to buy a new car. At this point we are considering a Honda Civic. My Honda was really, really good to me. We'll also test drive and consider Saturn Aura. I would love to buy a hybrid Prius or something of that quality but it is so much more expensive. And we are teachers. It's not like I have a money tree growing out back.

It's been a crazy week. First week of school and I've already missed a day with my kids! We are counting our blessings though. We are all ok. Cars are "things" and people are important.

Welcome to Room 2605!

This is my rules and expectations video for the year. Can't wait to get started.

Welcome to 2605 - Mr. Duez - 2008-2009 from fordee on Vimeo.

Welcome to Mr. Duez's World History Blog

Hello everyone. Welcome to this blog. This is the first post in the history of Mr. Duez's World History Blog. Hopefully there will be many, many more coming. Hopefully there will be lots of discussion here about topics that can bring history to life.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes. :)

Someday it may be, itself, a piece of history???