Catalpa Trees of Cherry Hall


I park at the gates of dawn.

I shoulder my burdens

And disembark

to the sound of mockingbirds

in the car park.

Three of them are hectoring

a crow

And doing a respectable job.

The crow lands on a snag

at the top of a Catalpa tree.

The three take it

in turn

to flog

the beaten black form.

The crow calls for help,

but no murder of them responds.

Up the crow,

mockingbirds in tow.

“Are those chimney swifts or purple martins?”

My eyes are so bad

I cannot know

how long

their tails are

and how split.

I would love to think they are swifts.

They are all but gone around here.

I catch their stubby outlines.

Ahh, sadly, not swifts.

I used to sweep chimneys

for a living.

I refused to sweep

any nesting swift.

Did you know that they are migratory?

They fly to the equator for the winter.

That is, they used to.

I gaze at the rogue catalpa again.

It is one of two

on the top of Vinegar Hill

where I work and wonder

when will it bloom again….

Oh, I see, the blossoms are forming.

This time next week

their velvet white dapple

will burst

and the first

thunderstorms of May

will beat them from the branches

by the bushel load,

For all that, a blizzard of blooms.

I never understood why

no one planted Catalpas like they planted

cherry trees–for the flowers.

All the leaves,

green gold, green gold,

shimmering and shivering

as the dawn air rises up,

a thermal that I catch, too:

last day of classes

day of remorse

day of joy

day of us all,

wings lifting

pouring out into the sky,

liquid and loose,



coming home

from Belize.


We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.




Uploaded by TERRY ELLIOTT on 2016-04-29.

the eternal burlesque,

the transcendance,

the tarantella

of enso

Not pointing
Not pointing



The Four-Leaf Clover and the Centipede

When my wife looks down on our farm she sees these easily:


When I look down on our farm I see these easily:

WP_20160428_012 (1)

Elaine and I have lived together since 1977 yet our pattern recognition filters are awesomely and radically divergent.
Google and Facebook think they can be our alternate filters through algorithms that predict and then recommend from the available data what we might want to view next.
They can try,but until they can do way better,  I prefer my human filters, my online curators, my non-artificial intelligences. That is one of the lessons of connecting online–we can rely on each other as recommendation engines.  You never know when someone will share an entire patch of four-leaf clovers or some hideously gorgeous bug.  And you never know how that pattern might just be an exact click fit for what you are in need of that exact moment and that auspicious place.

(This web post was designed with in mind.)

Now I Understand What Black Lives Matters Needs to Succeed

And not only do I understand but I also get how this is a formula for success for any oppressed group: knowledge and solidarity. A simple formula that might take generations to balance.

What I Learned for #CLMOOC16

What I Learned from Trying to Innovate at the New York Times

I think we can draw some very useful lessons for our #CLMOOC  renewal this summer from John Geraci’s stint at the NYTimes, one that perhaps will lead to the continuous renewal that we all seek for ourselves.

Companies with the organism mindset are too slow to adapt to survive in the modern world. The world around them changes, recombines, evolves, and they are stuck with their same old DNA, their same old problems, their same old (failed) attempts at solutions.

Ecosystems, by contrast, are boundless, constantly able to grow, absorb new entities, adapt, react, and transform. They don’t acquire new elements by ingesting them, but by absorbing new components at the edges of the network. And when they do that, they create new value for the whole ecosystem.
Organizations that pursue strategies like these have what I call the Ecosystem Mindset. All startups have it, while almost no big companies do. It’s an understanding that your organization is not a bounded entity, complete unto itself, but part of a wider ecosystem. It comes with an implicit understanding that the solutions to your key challenges are not all inside the building, but are out there — and that you must locate and interact with them to thrive.

Are we already an ecosystem at #CLMOOC or are we going to become one in #CLMOOC16?  Nicholas Taleb calls this habit of actively locating and engaging –“antifragility”.  Risks may well be our safeties in disguise.  Why? Because we get stronger through engagement.

Geraci’s takeaway is this:

  • leaders (that means everyone) must focus “beyond the walls of the organization” into the ecosystem.
  • they must focus on building relationships
  • they need to be organized to function as a series of inputs and outputs, permeable membranes with the outside world around us.
  • they must continually ask the question, “Is our network working?”

But his best advice is in simple, declarative sentences:

So what’s the solution…?  Open the doors. Let the light stream in. Get out of the building. Interact…. Everyone. The new value is not inside, it’s out there, at the edges of the network. Embrace that, and grow.

Very Funday Sunday Morning: Eyeballs Are Funny

My fav!  Check out how Larson creates “chagrin” with one eyeball and a grinning alien.  How is that even possible? Genius.

Aliens lost in our solar system.

Again with the eyeball. A threatening squid eyeball. Petrifying and hilarious.

One more eyeball.  Go ahead. Poke it. I know you wanna. I know you will.


Getting Inside Students’ Minds: Why Misconceptions Are So Powerful | MindShift | KQED News

Getting Inside Students’ Minds: Why Misconceptions Are So Powerful

Think about our planet for a second. Earth has an elliptical – oval-shaped -orbit. That means we’re closer to the sun for one part of the year and farther away another part of the year. Does that fact explain why it’s hotter in the summer and colder in the winter?

“Students are not empty vessels,” he says. “Students are full of all kinds of knowledge, and they have explanations for everything.”

From birth, human beings are working hard to figure out the world around us.But we go about it more like the early Greek philosophers than modern scientists: reasoning from our limited experience. And like those early philosophers — Ptolemy comes to mind — we’re often dead wrong.

Sadler says that cognitive science tells us that if you don’t understand the flaws in students’ reasoning, you’re not going to be able to dislodge their misconceptions and replace them with the correct concepts.

“It’s very expensive in terms of mental effort to change the ideas that you come up with yourself,” Sadler says. “It’s a big investment to say, ‘I’m going to abandon this thing that I came up with that makes sense to me and believe what the book or the teacher says instead.’ ”

Which Side Are You On, Boys, Which Side Are You On?

I just lost a post where I tried to explain how learning is a natural state of being baked into our DNA and that teaching is actually training in disguise.

I argued that most of the solutions we propose as teachers within the system are iatrogenic, self-inflicted problems which require half-baked, dumbed-down teacherly solutions.

I asserted that learning is not a solution because learning is not a problem. Teaching and schooling are the problem.

I asked the question, “What kind of assumptions can we make about a system that does not believe that learning is a natural expression of our core natures?” Put another way, if we have to make people learn, what does that imply about our learning selves?

I said all this much better in the lost post. I am sorry this is all that is left.

It is hard to work within such a divided house. Lincoln asserted that such a house cannot stand. So the question remains unanswered, “Have we enslaved our better natures?” This only begs the question inspired by Florence Reece, the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky, “Which side are you on?” Play the song below and ask yourself.

Billy Bragg – Which Side Are You On?

Remember the Miners Strike 1984-1985

And the question for me? Which runs deeper, my courage or my fear?

Here’s Some Nobody Nonsense for Today. Please Ignore.

1. Using Vivaldi browser. Seems stripped down, Chromium core, highly customizable, keyboard-centric/command line if you wish. Enough to make me switch? Not yet, but playing with the Notes function and seems to be able to use all my fav extensions (well, it is Chromium-based so that is expected).

2. Bookzz: a place to find books (nudge/nudge/wink/wink). I am finding electronic books that I already own in the flesh and am beginning to pare down my physical library in favor a virtual one. I have got to get down to “nomad” fighting weight. Here are some books I own that I found there: The Back of the Napkin, Making Comics, Theory U, The True Believer, The Unsettling of America. And before someone says, “Hey that’s an unsafe site”, just be aware that the Internet is still the wild west no matter what the copywrong police say. YMMV.

3. I am going to create a “carrot bag” today. I bought some permeable “bags” that I will be using to try to grow a crop I have always had problems with–carrots. Either the soil is not right or the bugs are too vigorous. I love nothing better than a carrot straight from the garden. Here is a picture of the “Smart Pot Soft-Sided Fabric Garden Plant Container Aeration Planter Pots”. Yeah, I know. It called itself ‘smart’ and that is usually the kiss o’ death.  We shall see.


4. Beginning to lock up my ‘Frankenchickens’: my neighbor has taken to blasting any errant chicken that makes its way over to his property. In my neck of the woods this is only slightly less aggressive than dissing somebody’s dog. I guess I gotta figure out a way to save my beautiful, free ranging yardbirds. They are semi-feral so I am going to have to create a yard using plastic safety fence (cheapest and most versatile) then lure them in over a period of weeks, then put a top over the fenced in area, then enclose them, and the hardest part, begin to butcher and freeze them. People have such idyllic views of the bucolic, but it is no place for the fragile. In fact you need to be beyond robust or resilient. You gotta be antifragile. In other words you have to get stronger from the stress. According to Nicholas Taleb, antifragile systems thrive on stress. So that is what I hope to do. I hope to thrive off of my neighbor’s repugnant behavior.

5. Elinor Ostrom. Want to spend some time with her splendid book, Understanding Knowledge as a Commons.  She wants to crossfertilize other disciplines with the analytic tool of “the commons”.  Here is one of her tools for doing that.  Trying to apply this to my work with CLMOOC.