Wednesday, December 14, 2005

For My Friend

When your voice collapsed,
I knew your world had too.

So many layers
Of life
And so much love
Suddenly in pieces
On the floor of your heart.

Sharp shards of
Piercing pain
Etch grief
On every surface
Of the soul.

Heartfelt words
Echo hollowly--
The emptiness
They were meant to fill.

My heart aches for you.

November 20, 2005

Once you let someone into you heart, they become a part of who you are, and you become a part of them. Neither divorce, death, nor distance can change that. Love integrates. Grief only testifies of love.

A Blogger At Heart

I have been thinking about why it is that I seldom post anything to my blog except poetry. I frequently e-mail my friends about the things I am reading, and it only occurred to me recently that those e-mails are essentially blog postings. I guess I'm still a digital immigrant in the sense that blogging those reactions isn't my first thought (although sharing them with others who are likely to enjoy them is).

Perhaps there is also an element of perfectionism involved--sharing with friends doesn't compel me to craft my thoughts as carefully or as completely (in part due to trust--they have enough of a baseline with respect to who I am to be able to identify and ignore any anomalies, and in part because I can anticipate their prior knowledge due to shared experiences, so telegraphic representations work). I suppose quality blogging, in its own way, requires the same discipline as the development and refinement of any other talent or skill--regular, habitual practice.

As a song by Anna Nalick says, I think it may also have something to do with the fact that, "If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to." Nonetheless, there is also a positive side to it--it seems to be my way of making art (and sense) out of my life.

It was fun to clean up some of the e-mails I had sent to friends about the interesting things I've encountered online today for posting. Perhaps I should do that more often.

And Now We Outsource Even Our Play?!

To the Chinese, of course! Somehow, the esteem-influencing properties of "ascending the ladder" (be it real or virtual), combined with a chronic inability to defer gratification, now mean that we even PAY people to play for us?! What is MOST interesting to me about this article is what it says about the blurred lines between work and play . . . play has become work (and I don't mean for the Chinese, I mean for the Americans who are applying their conceptions of success that have always permeated the workplace to their leisure time).

What does that say about the values we place on production as opposed to experience, about American psychology, about the kinds of products Americans are likely to be in need of that enterprising folks could anticipate and provide as a result of the fractures in psychological functioning that this might indicate?! Yes—the economics of the article are VERY interesting, and business people and educators alike had better watch out—the tech has given individuals a lot of power they never had before and they are using that power.

Guiding young people in the use of that power will be even MORE critical than ever before, and leads me to believe that we have to relinquish the teaching of static content (a.k.a. facts--especially since they are outdated daily anyhow) and start teaching a conceptual curriculum that can accommodate flexible thinking, that promotes problem-solving, and that gives kids significant experiences with recontextualization and transfer. It has to be a curriculum of immersion in order for them to acquire the skills they need (and yes, the parallels to second language acquisition are purposeful).

Where the True Techies Live

Click here to see a map of where the "true techies" live based on the results of a survey reported in Click on the county listings and the methodology buttons to see easily digestible info. that is really interesting. So what do all those counties have in common? Is it affluence? Is it access? Is it proximity to technologically-based business and industry? Is it social networks? Is it a particular perspective that arises out of the local culture? I found this very interesting and look forward to exploring it more . . .including the survey on which these results are based.

A New Twist on Technological Integration

So, imagine my surprise when, while looking for images that depict the way teens are integrating technology into their lives, I come across this article in the MacDailyNews about iPod underwear. Yeah, if you click on the link, you can even see a picture!

So this is what we can look forward to as tech becomes more and more a part of our lives?! I must admit that at first I was puzzled by it, but then I realized if you like to listen to music and happen to do your relaxing in your underwear, then it makes perfect sense. Oh those shifting paradigms!

The implications regarding the things that Americans value and the ways that American culture is changing as a result of those values are worth noting, and make Lowell W. Monke's thoughts on The Overdominance of Computers important to consider. I found his comments regarding the unprecedented power that is now available to even very young children and the need for strong adult guidance right on target. Just because children have technological skill doesn't mean they have the wisdom to use it wisely.

Missing an Organ--Just Print It!?!

Okay, so maybe it isn't quite as simple as the title of this post might lead you to believe. Nonetheless, while looking for good headlines that show how future trends in technology that might affect the literacy skills required for students' future success, I came across this article about biological printers that "print" the components of organs onto special gel-coated biopaper and then allow cellular processes to take over to finish self-assembling the structures. Can you imagine having been on THAT research team the day the chicken cells started to beat . . . in synchrony!?

Yet in the name of preparing students for "the future," we still have them sitting in rows, completing avalanches of worksheets, and practicing for standardized tests! This article makes it clear just how "standardized" the future will be, along with the kind of thinking it will require! :-( I think Einstein summarized the whole matter very nicely in this little image.


I serendipitously discovered John Maeda's blog on Simplicity today and fell in love with this quote: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, while adding the meaningful."

I hope that will be one of the by-products of my PhD work . . . the development of a stronger intuition for the mathematics of research and, more importantly, of my life!

It reminds me of another powerful quote that a friend shared with me back in June from Brian Tol's Wiremine information garden. "I opened up bloglines today for the first time in two weeks, and had about 2000 items to sift through, including about 45 wiki-related items. At that moment BCP's quote of the week really rang true: 'Life is all about unbolding.'"

Back to balance and prioritization once again!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blog Revolution

  • Teens now are doing some very interesting things with blogs, and what's interesting is that they've pretty much done it in their own ecosystem - they haven't been told they're a smart mob, or that they're participating in a personal publishing revolution.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Power of Play . . . Again!

It occurs to me that learning should be joyful. We structure the life out of it. I say smash the structure, liberate the ideas!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quantum Dots

I just finished reading an article on Quantum Dots. It sparked a number of thoughts, including the idea that this is just one example of the kind of a world for which we are preparing our students. Of particular interest to me was the way that the following concepts were represented:

1) The exchange of capital – What if Bowers hadn't been willing to make THREE separate batches of dots for McBride? What if Associate Professor Sandra Rosenthal got irritated that he was using her lab, her equipment, her resources to make dots for some other student? Notice the fact that all the students were from the same lab . . . so the physical structure of the lab potentially intensified the interactions among the various students because they are all in closer, more bounded proximity. Wonder if, like atoms, as people collide repeatedly and with more frequency, it increases the energy between them, intensifies the momentum of their thinking? I think that could be part of the magic of the NFLRC . . . bounded space, intensified collisions of people and ideas . . . yields increased energy and momentum . . . plus there is always the issue of increased access to resources as a result of the pooling of people.

2) The concept of transference – The student who brings stuff from a completely unrelated context (parents' summer cabin) into the lab, which fertilizes another students' thinking and he begins to consider using the Minwax in a new way. Also, note that each student had different interests, but the lab provided a point of common connection . . . a physical nexus for the convergence of disparate ideas.

3) The concept of extrapolation – "Such a fundamental change could open up a wide range of new possibilities, such as making almost any object into a light source" . . . now consider the importance of light throughout history in a wide range of contexts, then extrapolate from the prediction above . . . if any object could become a light source . . . think about new applications, marketing, ART! Think if you could mix that stuff with your paint! Now, think about problems such applications would create (because every new technology comes with its problems—that law of opposition again) . . . and if you could anticipate them and begin working on solutions now . . . and think what a great exercise it would be for students to think about these concepts . . .

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Mosaic

In a flash of torrential trauma
Words intrude--
Hard, jagged edges
Ripping into her reverie,
Puncturing her peace,
Shattering her soul.

she stumbles,
then stands
sloshing, slogging,
through painful puddles
of gray grief

until sunshine emerges—

the wailing wind
into a weak whisper . . .
"Seek safety . . . in the shadows!"
it sighs,
. . . solace within the shards!"

They sparkle
in the scintillating sunlight
she collects—herself—

Colors connect,

—and energy expands

Filling the void
with multiplicity,
Mixing media
Restores reason
d roundness
to a Still Life.

Cherice Montgomery, October 8, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Puzzle

comes in pieces . . .
an edge here,
a corner there . . .
of connection.

But the Meaning?

Still flat--
in the spaces

And Life?

Beyond the borders?
Or in
the layers
of the jumble
that persists . . .

Cherice Montgomery, August 15 - September 17, 2005

Of Understanding and Becoming

We are constantly creating our own realities, and what we know is the raw material for this creation. Through the recursive and reciprocal processes involved in drawing on that knowledge, it is transformed, becoming a tool (or a box of tools) that we use to carve out both a space and a place for ourselves in the world. As we take our experiences in those spaces and places back into ourselves, we are expanded, making it possible for us to make both space and place within ourselves to accommodate the world . . . In a very real sense, then, we become what we understand!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Of Needs & Needing

Sometimes it isn't enough just to be needed. Sometimes, it is nice to be needed by someone who wants and needs YOU! It seems that the ability to satisfy someone's need in ways that others cannot somehow validates the value of one's existence . . . and some days, affirms that one DOES really exist! ;-)

Sunday, August 14, 2005


It really doesn't matter how it IS. What matters is how it FEELS!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Color of Joy

Some impressions are so indelible that no matter how many waves crash against the shores of the soul and no matter how much time passes, they do not disappear. The words, "Joy, like the color purple, is everywhere. You just have to look for it!" were like that for her.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


A genuine smile is merely a symbol for, or token of something bigger, wider, broader, and deeper--analogous to earnest money on emotions.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Foreground v. Background

As we move through the landscape of our days, we position ourselves in relationship to it—sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, sometimes somewhere in between, and sometimes outside of the picture itself (think Las Meninas).

As our eyes, minds, and hearts/emotions/spirits travel over what is in the picture and work to make sense of it all, they privilege certain elements of the composition, foregrounding some, which has the relativistic effect of causing others to recede (regardless of their "true" position in the picture).

The way each picture is "framed" (think perspectives here) also makes a huge difference as to what appears to be foregrounded, etc.

So the resulting composition is as much a product of the position of the viewer and of the forces the different "pieces of the view" exert on it as it is of what is actually on the canvas. The interaction of the various elements is dynamic, not static, and may vary depending on the nature, intensity, and angle of the light hitting it at any given moment.

1) The physical senses, the mind, and the emotions each exert a force on our physical reality.

2) Because the mind, the heart, and the senses are connected—when one exerts a force, it affects the others—and because the elements of our physical reality are connected, when a force is exerted on one element of the reality, it affects other facets as well. If forces are exerted in disproportionate ways, they have the potential to distort the resulting picture.

3) Our thoughts and our choices control, to a great extent, the type, amount, and recipient of the forces.


Perhaps balance (in art, in life, in relationships) isn't so much about the quantity of A vs. B vs. C as it is about composition, position, and perspective!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Gift of the Fireflies

Last night, a friend of mine gave me the gift of the fireflies. "They live in the fields," he said. "At this time of year, they are just covered with them." Well, absent a conveniently located field, I thought I would try a nearby vacant lot filled with tall grass instead. To my intense delight, I encountered hundreds of blinking fireflies, winking off and on, on and off! It was like watching a well-crafted poem in action. The rhythm of their blinks created a percussive background onto which was overlayed a number of other motifs, created by the height and depth of their constantly moving locations in the compositional space (in this case, the grassy
field). It was lovely--particularly when combined with the symphonic accompaniment provided by the sounds of the crickets, the frogs, and the breeze.

I tried to photograph them and learned a lot about the flash settings for nighttime photos on my camera, but I didn't have much luck with the fireflies themselves. I thought that I might be able to capture them using the movie feature on my camera instead . . . but when that also yielded less than satisfactory results, I finally just put the camera away. I stood and watched until I could no longer stand the mosquitoes--laughing at the fact that I had been so much more interested in capturing the experience so that I could share it with others than in actually experiencing it!

Friday, July 01, 2005


The blue in her had spent her entire life trying to explain the green and the gold in her to the rest of the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

She Felt Like a Stale Chip

She had lost her appetite for life, and although every once in awhile she got a little hungry, it was difficult for her to eat anymore. She wanted her old self back--well, maybe not all of it, but at least parts of it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thoughts v. Feelings - Round 1

The inherent nature of feelings makes them impossible to fully expunge—even from a “cold, rational, logic-based world.” Humanity does a great job of “pushing them aside” or locking them up in boxes (compartmentalization), and of then convincing itself that it has managed to separate the logical from the illogical, thought from feelings, etc.

However, I think there is an ever-present (albeit somewhat delicate, nebulous, ephemeral, and, often, almost imperceptible—sometimes like a gas, at others, more like a vapor) layer of feelings that permeates all thought (“layer” is not the right word because it brings an icing-like image to mind, and I don’t really mean that, maybe thread of feelings?)—a deep and underlying connection between thoughts and feelings that cannot ever be completely severed (or, if it can be, that such a severing is what allows some of the terrible things that occur in this world to occur). A good analogy might be the Peter Panesque idea of trying to separate a shadow from a body. The circumstances (how bright the light of the context in which the entity appears) determine the strength of the shadow—sometimes the presence of feelings is more evident than others (I know, I know, an EXTREMELY imperfect analogy) . . . . but do you get the general idea I am trying to convey here?

I suspect that many people who pride themselves on their rationalism and objectivity and who accomplish much in that realm are probably guided much more by their feelings when they arrive at “objective, rational, logical” conclusions and decisions than they would be comfortable admitting. Most such people would probably agree to the idea of “intuitive, logical leaps” but, in their minds, believe that such leaps are distinct and unrelated to “the emotional” or to “feelings”—which they tend to associate with illogical, even irrational thoughts and behaviors.

I think that because feelings connect what is outside of us with “the essential” that is inside of us, we tend to view them as an Achilles heel. The knowledge that there is such a direct conduit and point of access to our deepest and most fragile vulnerabilities is more than uncomfortable—so we push feelings aside, try to impose boundaries on them, deny their existence, etc. To take that a step further, I think that feelings are more difficult to manage than thoughts because they tend to take forms that are more diffuse than thoughts. Consequently, thoughts seem more “concrete” to us, and “feelings” seem . . . I don’t know . . . incidental? They are certainly messier than thoughts, whose structure and components often seem more clearly defined, and, therefore, more trustworthy.

I suppose I am advocating for the idea that there are many different ways to “know” something, that thinking and feeling are BOTH tools for gaining knowledge, that there are other tools besides just those two (experiencing, for example), and that a skilled craftsman (or craftswoman) understands that there is great power in having a variety of quality implements in his or her toolbox, in knowing which tools are available, in using the appropriate tool for the appropriate task at the appropriate time, and in knowing why one is better than another for accomplishing a specific task.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


She couldn't do the transformations between contexts because she didn't know enough about the fundamental elements of the equations.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


A lifetime of longing . . .

Joyous existence

The longing and the loss
The aching and the echoing
Of crystal teardrops
Shattering . . . . . . . . . . . .
Shards on the floor of an empty soul.

(Cherice Montgomery, April 12, 2005)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


The paralytic nature of the school experience froze her world!

I'm freezing inside, but that's alright--

My mind's a conflagration!
'Tis strange, the balance one maintains
With delicate calibrations.

(Cherice Montgomery, February 2005)