Saturday, May 29, 2010

Want to Avoid Stress? Nancy's Advice

Our NI 1B student Nancy, a computer programmer originally from Venezuela. She offered some great advice for avoiding stress:

"Don't take your work home with you! Keep work at work and enjoy your family at home!"

Thanks, Nancy!

Adventures in Bilingualism in Valsequillo (Delmar Lemming)

We had a great time singing in the hills above Telde. Some teachers were asking me about the bilingual rhyme about Mickey Mouse. It is the only song in my repertoire devoted to this revered rodent so I am happy to pass it along! All the best and keep singing! Now in Spanish...

Esta es la cancioncita que entonamos el otro día. Gracias por aquella cálida acogida!
-- Delmar Lemming
--( David Shea)

Mickey Mouse
Was building a house
How many nails does he need?
One, two, three, etc!**

Mickey Mouse iba a hacer una casita,
¿Cuántos clavos necesita?
Una do-la, te-la, canela,
Be-lillo Velón,
Que toquen las cuatro
Que ya casi son!

(**Learned many years ago. ** Aprendido hace muchos años!)

Queso pa' el Día de Canarias, ¡muchas gracias!

Tuve la enorme suerte de cantar en dos colegios públicos esta semana, el de Valsequillo y el de Los Llanetes (un poco más cerca de Telde). Cantamos la famosísima oda a Mariqilla del Pino (la de San José), para el Día de Canarias. Pero en honor a mi querido compañeros de Mixti Fori - Marcos Hormiga y Phil Jordan -- la cantamos en inglés.

Gracias a Patricia y María Dolores por organizar estos dos maravillosos encuentros con sus alumnos. Y gracias por el suntuoso almuerzo en Valsequillo (con esta plantilla tan chachi!) y por el queso y dulce de leche de Los Llanetes. Qué detallazo!

Un saludo desde el EoI de Santa Brigida
Delmar Lemming
(David Shea)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Of Pencils and PCs (Yaiza, our resident engineer!)

(Editor's note: Yaiza, a third year student, is a prominent engineer and formidable mathematician who was asked to compare how work has changed with the advent of the computer and communication age.)

I am an engineer and I do not know how my work would have been ten years ago because I just recently graduated from university. I only know that my teachers did their projects with a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper. They calculated their installations with their own hands and they spent two or three months on an installation perhaps. Nowadays, I can use certain software on a PC and carry out an installation project in four or five hours. On the whole, if you use the computer in your work, you will finish it almost before you can think.

Another example is the way you draw out your plans. To use the PC is better than using a ruler, the former is cleaner, easier and quicker by far. So computers have improved my work but we still need to understand the basic concepts involved and work with great care. Yaiza NI 1B

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mosquito Coast reviewed by Vanesa N1 1B

Our third-year student Vanesa read Paul Theroux's novel The Mosquito Coast. It is also a movie (though neither Vanesa nor her teacher has seen the film-- sorry! Anyway, thanks to Vanesa for recommending this contemporary novel. It is obviously quite thought provoking.-- David)

The Mosquito Coast: Civilization versus Barbarism

Allie Fox decides to go to the jungle with his family. The idea is to leave behind the capitalism, consumerism and corruption of his country, United States. But he doesn’t know that wickedness is born with men.
He buys a village called Jeronimo, where he wants to create an independent, simple and happy life. But early on all the family –except for the father- realize that the place is unsafe and living there is very hard: they must do everything (build a house, cultivate vegetables, hunt, fish). Life is not comfortable in the jungle and for a child it is even harder.
The family follow their leader, Allie Fox, but soon they question if living there is worthwhile, the way to reach happiness. But this situation doesn’t bother Allie Fox, he continues following his ideals, his dreams, although he starts going crazy.
They suffer fire, theft and accidents, and the part bad of nature, so these horrible things show that life in the jungle is not so different from life in civilization. Modern life offers stress, envy, robberies, hurry, pollution, lower quality of life,… but then life in a small town or even in the jungle can offer the same. All the things depends of the point of view. We can live far from the city and have annoying neighbors who steal your food, or also we can have problems to get food or build a house. Life in the city is complicated, but offers security and comfort.
Finally, the most important things – our basic needs is to sleep, eat and love. Maybe, it’s not necessary go to the end of the world peace and happiness. The important thing is the way that we walk through our life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Carla: Dreams of Snakes and Car Wrecks!

(After reading The Dream, we have had a lot of interesting essays about this topic. Carla is an engineer and a very practical person. Maybe this tempers the way she looks at her dream world. Anyway, it is a good piece of writing.)

The Dream
The meaning of dreams has been an interesting topic for me since I was a child. I remember that I wanted a book about this topic but my mother refused to get it for me. In spite of everything, I think she made the right decision. I cannot imagine what I would have made of my first dream about snakes!
It is said that if you dream about a person’s death, you are giving this person a year more of life. But I have never known anyone who wakes up happy after a dream like that! I think that we dream about situations that could happen in our life because of feelings we have. Our past and our present shape us .
I do not think that dreaming about having a car accident means that you will have one. But maybe in your internal world, you realize it is not necessary to drive so fast. My real life is definitely not connected to my dreams, unless I have dogs with two heads and monsters hidden in my garden!
Carla NI 2B

Monday, May 17, 2010

Greetings from a Canary Islander in Asturias!

(It is great to get postcards from students when they are on vacation. Here is post card I forgot to post a couple of months back. It is from Miguel Angel)

Dear David,

Greetings from wonderful Asturias, I came here for to visit my friend Raul. He has been living in Oviedo since he got his first job working in the national police force.

Oviedo is a little city, its Catholic cathedral is impressive, its historical centre is more than five centuries old. You might say it is like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages.

The food here is delicious, you can eat a wonderful beef-steak in Tierra Astur restaurant or enjoy a French bean with hard pork sausage in Casa Amparo at Fontal market.

The nightlife is the best part of Oviedo, If you like to drink cider, you have to visit Gascona street, full up with cider bars. A glass of cider is only 40 cents, it is great.

There is only one problem, in March this is a cold place, but the bad weather is less important with hearty food and even better cider .

Well that is all that I can tell you, I hope to see you soon and to tell you more.


Miguel Ángel NI1B

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Frank Tilsley’s short story The Dream (from a Penguin collection) inspired this thoughtful essay by Esther (NI2A).

In THE DREAM, the author describes a dream in which a man is driving his family along in a car when he realizes that is on the wrong side of the vehicle, The steering wheel was on the right instead of the left. Someone he did not know was driving the car. They suffered a terrible accident when they collide head-on with a huge lorry. For any driver who is spending his holiday time crossing the country by car, this could be a very worrying dream!
In general many dreams are closely related to matters that occur in our daily lives. Sometimes we spend a long time thinking about the solution for some problem in family relationships, with a colleague at work, with someone who is important in our lives. Although we search for the solution, nothing seems to come. In our dreams, however, we could find the best way to solve these situations.
Someone told me that he could hardly remember anything he dreamt. But then there are people like me who recall almost everything they dream. My dreams are often connected with my daily reality, looking for work, searching for the best school for my son.
I am pretty certain our mind is connected with our fears, hopes and troubles in a direct way, through the world of dreams.

Greeting from Valencia, home of the Paella! YUM!

Here is an informal to a friend from Sergio. Here is my question: did he really go to Valencia or not? You decide!

Dear Frank,

I’m writing to you from Valencia! Yes, you’ve read well. After two weeks searching some places to visit at Easter, I found Valencia.
At first, I thought that it might be boring, but then, when I read about the cultural landmarks that Valencia offers, I couldn’t bear to stay in Las Palmas any longer. So, I went to the first travel agency I could find and bought a ticket.

When I arrived in Valencia, it was amazing, I could hardly believe it! It was so warm and sunny and then the friendly people and the charming buildings and points of interest like the Serranos Towers (pictured), it was great. I met a lot of locals and of course lots of beautiful girls! You cannot imagine what a wonderful atmosphere there is here.

Well, I must go to eat paella now!
Write soon,

Sergio NI 1B

STRONG MEDICINE discussed by Nancy

(Our NI 1B class has just read the short novel Strong Medicine by Richard MacAndrew. This story has a close link to the pharmaceutical industry. The class was asked to discuss this link. Nancy from Venezuela wrote an interesting essay.)
In this book we learn about alternative ways to treat certain diseases. There have been many developments in the drugs industry. The drugs that are given to people with Parkinson´s Disease are getting better all the time.
However Western Medicine can not really do much for people who suffer with this terrible disease. The pharmaceutical industry has a number of different drugs they can give people. The drugs can help the patient, but only for a few years. After that, the drugs stop working and the patient´s condition will be the same as before.
Besides, drug companies are spending millions of dollars trying t find a way to help people with Parkinson´s Disease.
In our novel, Deborah Spencer an American doctor specializing in Chinese medicine was writing a book about a new way of helping people who have Parkinson´s Disease. In fact, she could make them better, completely better, without using drugs. This way of looking at the disease is completely new and different.
The story left me wondering what would have happened if she had survived.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

David Hockney and the Rube (by Delmar Lemming)

When I was 16, I had a chance to go to Boston and spend the weekend at my Aunt Pinky’s house in Brighton. It was the dead of winter and I planned to attend a Celtics game in North Station on Saturday night. On Saturday morning, however, a friend and I were kicking around downtown Boston and decided to visit a real honest-to-goodness art museum. Being from sports-minded Turners Falls and not terribly worldly wise in the ways of culture, I gamely ventured into those hallowed halls of marble and majesty. I did not really have a clue of what to look for. An imposing attendant in a sports coat met me at the door and I made a ridiculous request that only a mill-town teenager could muster. “Excuse me,” I said. “Could you point me in the direction of the best painter you’ve got here?!” I did not want to waste my time with the second-rate stuff. Can you imagine! Well, this ardent culture vulture surely spotted the rube but did not let on. He answered me with a wink, “Oh you want David Hockney, his work is that way.” With that he pointed in the direction of the Hockney section.
Well, I was impressed with the sunny California gardens, the stucco and the fine trimmed lawns which I would later learn were made of painted concrete. Ten years later, I was living in the north of England in Bradford, West Yorkshire. In the quaint little town of Thornton on the road to Halifax, I actually was introduced to David Hockney’s mother. We were on a way to a CND benefit where I would be singing. Anyway it was a gloomy day and there was no sunny joy in sight. I thought of Mrs Hockney's wonderful California scapes in his adopted home far abroad. I learned that, in fact, David Hockney came from a small mill town background too.
Another lifetime later, this past February, I ventured into Chicago’s Art Institute and met up with Hockney’s wonderful work again. I felt like I was in the company of an old friend! I love this attached painting. The man's diffidence, the woman's wise gaze. Oh David Hockney, thank you for the light!
(Delmar Lemming)

Contrasting City and Country Life: A Great Essay!

(Jesus B, our science teacher from Marzagan, was asked to compare and contrast city life with country living. He fashioned a very nice essay!)

Both living in the city and living in the country have their own advantages and disadvantages. Today most people in industrialized countries live in the city, where they have found work, home and services, education, medicine, shops and entertainment.
But when the cities grow, more and more disadvantages become apparent. For example, noise, air pollution, stress and crime can force city dwellers to move to residential areas which mushroomed in the end of the last century. These residential zones provided a country substitute in a way. So living in the city has become a difficult thing today.
In fact, I live in a residential area on the outskirts of Las Palmas, but I would certainly prefer to live in the country. Why would I like it? Perhaps the first and most important reason is that I grew up on a farm in San Mateo. My childhood was very happy there even though we were very poor. I knew all the neighbours and met with my friends everyday to play in the fields or in the ravines. Today in the cities young people do not know the neighbors in their own building.
Another important advantage involves environmental quality. In the country, there is more fresh air, flowers and trees, animals and peace which are all very important to me. (by Jesus B NI 2B)

Cristina’s Big Decision: It Took Some Courage!

(Editor's note: When everything seemed lost, Cristina and her husband made a decision that changed their life--for the better!)

Life is sometimes very difficult but even more so when we have to make a big decision. Our choice might alter the course of our whole future life.
Actually that is what happened to me seventeen years ago. My husband and I worked in the same country. Suddenly business started to go very badly and our manager decided to close the firm. As you can imagine, we felt utterly lost. We had a five-month-old baby and our life had changed so quickly. In other words, everything seemed hopeless.
Just as suddenly, an idea came to us. My husband suggested that we start our own company. At first I looked at him in astonishment. He went on to say that we had some savings and as we knew the business, it was worth a try. The very next day we drew up the papers to launch our own packing company.
Today our firm is still going. It took a little courage but thanks to that decision, we were able to go on with our lives. Cristina NI 2B

NI 1B Nancy's First Family Skiing Adventure

Dear mother
How are you? I am writing this at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport while we are waiting for the flight to Gran Canaria. We enjoyed our skiing trip to Jaca in Huesca, a very wonderful place.
When we arrived at the hotel it was snowing so our two daughters were happy because had never touched snow before.
The first day all our family started learning to ski. However, it was awful at first because I fell many times. Also our girls were crying because their equipment was very heavy for them. but eventually we all got into it. What a thrill to feel the snow on our faces as we were skiing down those icy slopes. On the last day of the mini vacation, our daughters made a snow man which they decorated with a top hat and scarf.
I hope this message finds you in good health.
Lots of love