Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Video from the Social Good Summit in New York this week!

Watch live streaming video from mashable at

What do we know about Ishmael?

Herman Melville
Starting the reading/study of Melville's Moby Dick!
From Novels for Students:
"Moby-Dick; or, The Whale chronicles the strange journey of an ordinary seaman named Ishmael who signs on for a whaling voyage in 1840s Massachusetts. A thoughtful but gloomy young man, Ishmael begins his odyssey in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a prosperous whaling town and crossing point to the island of Nantucket. Arriving on a dark Saturday night in December, he finds cheap lodgings in a waterfront dive called The Spouter Inn. There he is forced to share a bed with a South Sea islander and "cannibal" named Queequeg, a fierce-looking harpooner covered with tattoos and carrying a tomahawk and a shrunken head. After some initial uncertainty, the two become close friends and decide to seek a berth together on a whaling ship. Before leaving for Nantucket, however, Ishmael decides to visit the local whaleman's chapel, where he sees memorial plaques to lost sailors and hears a disturbing sermon about the prophet Jonah and the terrors of the whale."
Markham is so excited to be discussing his favorite novel of all time. What do we know about Ishmael from the first chapter?
Call me Ishmael (an imperative)
Tormented young man
in exile
Uses the sea as therapy
We see water as an escape
Connected to water
Loves to explore
Does not want power
Wants to work
Perceiving horror; intuition
Concerned with the ungraspable phantom of life
Doesn't have money
Trying to figure out about the living essence of the whale

Ishmael - biblical allusion --son of Hagar and Abraham is the forefather of the Arabs

How does he come to become part of humanity by the end of the book?
At the end of the novel, when Ahab and his crew are all killed by Moby-Dick, Ishmael is the only one to survive. Finding a coffin (carved with the secrets of life which nobody can read) that had been built for Queequeg when he had become gravely ill, Ishmael manages to survive the sea until he is rescued by another ship.

Biblical story --Fall of Man:  God expels Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden
Losing our idyllic status  is reflective of our inability to grasp the phantom of life

Ahab - his reason to stay alive is to get revenge on the White Whale

Epistomology - addresses the questions: * What is knowledge? * How is knowledge acquired? *

These questions inevitably come up when you seriously reflect on who you are:

What are you?  Where are you?  What are you for?  If you realize that the ungraspable phantom of life - everything becomes a wonder, an amazement.

Chapter 1 Loomings:  Fates are weaving

Three Fates in Greek Mythology
Clotho - Clotho was responsible for spinning the thread of human life.
Atropos - chose the mechanism of death and ended the life of each mortal by cutting their thread with her "abhorred shears." Lachesis - measured the thread

Foul Water Lab - September 21

On Wednesday, Jr. IGSS students worked in the Science Lab on a Foul Water Lab.

Their task involved trying to figure out how to purify or "clean" a sample of foul water by using any provided materials (sand, gravel, dirt, oatmeal, charcoal, liquid soap, salt, etc).  They were given many materials, not all of which were helpful.

They were instructed to write down the results from each substance used to purify - and whether or not it worked, observing how it looked and smelled before and after purifying.

Some students even worked with heat, which did help!  Students did a great job cleaning up that nasty looking water!
working on water clean up

progressively cleaner water 

Monday, September 12, 2011

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Speaker - Mr. Brian Bell

Former Trevian Mr. Brian  Bell -was invited as our speaker today. The main purposed of  U. S. Customs and Border Security to protect our nation against terrorism.

Bell was on the scene during Hurricane Katrina - August 29, 2005

1835 Gulf residents died in the hurrican and subsequent floods, the majority in Louisiana

It is a bowl which sits below sea level. 80% of New Orleans was flooded.

FEMA has emergency support functions (ESF) for when the President declares a disaster.  They only come in when called in by the Federal government.

September 6th 2005- U. S. Customs and Border Security called by FEMA for briefings in Washington, DC. Four officers were deployed for this meeting from Chicago.  Directions, instructions seemed confusing and unorganized. e.g. * always have dog biscuits in case you encounter wild dogs??

Then sent to Orlando FL for further training. Found out that their task was to be individual assistance; enter data in computer about victims.  Also got training on sexual harassment. Also had training on transportation systems they had no access to.

They had no idea what they were doing for the 4 days of training in Orlando.  They were asked where they'd like to go.  Everything was really casual and non-hurried.  Aggravation/frustration levels about ineffective instructions and training.

Arrived in  FEMA Joint Field Office in Baton Rouge, one hour from New Orleans.   It appeared like a war zone.  There was a lack of coordination.  Nobody knew who was doing what. Nothing set up for their sleeping arrangements. Options: Tent City - untenable due to the heat or JFO (Joint Field office).  3 showers for 400 people.  This was also a storage area for resources such as bottled water.  No provisions for how ready-to-eat meals/water to get delivered to the people.  There were no instructions for days.

They made their own decisions of where to go to help and how to get there.  Their group chose to go to an easy to access area - Lakeview which was almost overlooked because it was a more affluent area.  Went in boats, house to house to see if victims needed assistance.  They cut through roofs to search attics.  It took a few weeks to pump out the area and then do house to house searches. Any standing building was searched for people.  The moldy smell and lack of sound was overwhelming.   Bell showed us amazing photos of the devastation and destruction that the flooding and storm surge wrought upon the houses and neighborhoods.

There was really no accountability to FEMA.  This search team was on its own without FEMA support. They did what they could.  This team "did what they wanted" without any instructions from FEMA.  They checked in to a FEMA command post a few weeks later and were sent over to the SuperDome.  FEMA was a bad word by this time, so the team changed out of their official uniforms.  Civilian clothing was a must because the citizens were so outraged by the civilian population.   The environment was so volatile  that they didn't want to risk being recognized in public.

Then they were given an assignment to start fingerprinting contractors and new FEMA employees who were helping to clean up. There were background checks being done on those being allowed into this environment.
Hundreds of people coming in needed jobs and they spent time fingerprinting them.  The FBI asked them to go to Gonzales outside of Baton Rouge where there was a temporary morgue.  They had to fingerprint the dead at the morgue. The morgue was a very professional, serious site whose job it was to inform people about missing loved ones.

Next assignment was Grand Isle, which is a barrier island in southern Lousiana where Katrina first hit land. The damage knocked out satellite communications for television, radio, etc.  Here homes are built up on stilts to protect against storm surge.  Cars were strewn all over.  They did a search here for more victims. They spent about 45 days total in Louisiana doing search and rescue.

To what extent did FEMA mess up during the catastrophe?  They did not have proper organization and accountability during disaster response.  Many lessons have come out of this disaster.  As a rescuer it it very dangerous because you did not know what you would encounter.  FEMA is an absolutely essential function to protect the public for the response after the event. Disaster recovery funds are needed in many areas of the country which are prone to hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and earthquakes.  Now there is much better inter-agency cooperation.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front September 13

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front explores two of America's most pressing issues — environmentalism and terrorism — by lifting the veil on a radical environmental group the FBI calls America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." Daniel McGowan, a former member of the Earth Liberation Front, faces life in prison for two multimillion-dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. What turned this working-class kid from Queens into an eco-warrior?
A co-production of ITVS. Winner of Best Documentary Editing Award, 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

The Social Good Summit 2011

"The Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges. For four days, about 3,000 individuals will attend the event in person and thousands more around the world will tune in via Livestream. Tickets are on sale now at the summit’s Eventbrite page and you can RSVP for the livestream if you’re unable to join us in person."

The most innovative technologists, influential minds and passionate activists will come together around the shared goal of unlocking the potential of new media and technology to make the world a better place.
Confirmed Speakers:

Just did an RSVP for live streaming of every session -- free!  September 19-22 (1pm - 5pm) for four days. 

New Trier Organic Garden