Friday, April 28, 2006

A few things...

1) I love my weekly Metro pass. I think in the past three days, I've used up the face-value of the card by zipping back and forth through the city. Serene Koh, jet-setter, subway style...
2) And by virtue of 1), I love public transportation. You big-city folks, please don't take public transportation for granted. To be able to catch the subway at 12.30am is a luxury the car-culture of Michigan has long forsaken and also one of the things I miss about Singapore.
3) I have developed calf muscles I never knew I had. Montreal is a lovely walking city and apart from taking the subway to further away places, I'm sure I've walked more than I have in the past year in Ann Arbor put together.
4) Sambuca is very sweet. In a gung-ho attempt to take a shot of sambuca (mostly at Shibani and Stan's goading), I took all of a microcosmic sip. Deeply intense, sweet and heady. I could get used to it (read: I should never have it again...)
5) It has been proven again that in Montreal, if you crave the authentic French bistro food experience without burning a catastrophic hole in your wallet, only one word suffices- L'Express. We had it the last time we were here, but if it's actually possible, the food was even better this time round. Simple and exquisite.
Take Montreal and pour it into a pot. Slowly turn up the heat and start reducing. As the city bubbles away, we are down to the Latin Quarter, to rue Saint-Denis. Keep simmering until we have reduced Montreal to its essence, a dozen or so long blocks between Mount Royal and René-Lévesque. Now, in the final stage of demi-glace, the heart and soul of Montreal emerges. It is the restaurant L'Express.
-montrealfood.com restaurant review

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Platonic crème brulee

So how wonderful is this? The sun is finally out here in Montreal (although it’s still not warm enough to go walking at the Botanical Gardens), and I’ve just watched a matinee at our favorite movie theatre, Ex-centris (where buying a ticket is what Jude likes to call a HCI experience...). Am now sitting in a cafe along Ste. Laurent (that doesn't appear to have a name) enjoying a deep dark coffee with what can only be described as the mother of all crème brulees, the Platonic crème brulee, the crème brulee that all crème brulees look at in envy before curdling up in inadequacy. The custard was chilling in the display case and torched just as I ordered it- golden and crusty on the outside, rich, smooth, creamy and cool as silk on the inside. Unspeakably marvelous... I think I’ve found my death-wish dessert** (this and my sister’s warm chocolate pudding). The only thing spoiling the whole experience is watching this old man in front of me unceremoniously gulping down his coffee (with four creams!) in between large mouthfuls of his baguette. Mouthfuls. Very large. At least have the courtesy to close your mouth as you chew sir…

The movie was good- Barbiers: Une histoire d’hommes. I made the mistake of not really checking the language it was going to be in and it ended up being in French with no subtitles. Amazingly, I understood more of it than I would have imagined, not because of any language abilities on my part (my French vocabulary is limited to food items- surprise, surprise- “please”, “thank you”, “exit”, and “sale”), but great camera work and cinematography that really captured the heart of these simple men. And here you thought you couldn’t have a genuine film about real men without the horses, guns or cars. The 20 percent I understood was a fascinating insight into the dying trade and a group of men who still think of their job as a craft. It was a portraiture that was sometimes incredibly sad (one man faithfully leaves his shop open from 7am to 7pm everyday only to be lucky to have two customers a day) but mostly heartwarming, especially the scenes where they all come together and talk about how no one really understands the skill to do what they do, and what finesse it takes to trim a person’s eyebrows and nose-hair…

[Status report on crème brulee: I’m on my last spoonful- of if my taste-buds had emotions, they would cry from sheer sadness. I wonder if anyone would notice if I licked the dish…]

Going to walk along for a while more. Want to see if I can find a good second-hand book store to find something to read. All along the Latin Quarter of Ste. Laurent and Ste. Denis, you can find wonderful gems of bookstores and vintage clothing places which are a refreshing change from the larger and sometimes more jarring establishments on Ste. Catherine. It’s a bit of a hike from anywhere and there isn’t really a Metro station nearby, but the weather is good- I’ll survive.

[Status report on crème brulee: It’s all gone. I think I’ve scraped the dish as clean as humanly possible with a spoon. Body parts would have to be operationalized if I want any more of the residue custard…]

Okey dokey, think I should get going. There’s no point in sitting here pining over the empty crème brulee dish- it’s not like it’s going to magically refill itself. Right? No? Please? More?... Till tomorrow if I find time (and the connection) to blog, this is the mournful dessert fiend reporting from Ste. Laurent, Montreal, Quebec!

** My way of describing the dessert I would want to have at my death-bed, the absolute last thing I want to remember this world by, a.k.a. all that is gastronomically sweet, good and pure.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bonjour de Montréal

So how depressing is this? Here I am in my favorite city in North America and what happens? The weather has been nothing but grey, crummy and wet. It rained the moment we got in the car on Saturday, all through the 10-hour drive here, and continued to pour all of yesterday and it's still raining as we speak!... Of course as luck would have it, I had packed in anticipation for spring, with a bag full of skirts, sandals and t-shirts. Do I have water-proof jackets and good shoes for walking in the rain? No. Could I do with at least a pair of sneakers and a windbreaker of some sort? Yes. Should I wear a hat and a scarf? Double yes. Do I have them? No. Have I been a stupid packer? Most definitely. Were the $199 I spent all those years ago on my leather Birkenstock mary-janes the best $199 ever spent? God yes.

But testimony to how much I love this city, despite this all, I'm still having a whale of a time. The food has obviously been great (we've made our friends undying devotees of Pho Bang and Schwartz's), but also hanging out with our uncle (he's still the coolest 60-something year old I know), meeting all the SI people again, and just soaking in the heady vibe of being in the city, rain or no rain.

Jude's at his conference right now and I'm sitting here in this cavernous multi-colored conference center stealing the wireless. I'm going to have to do some necessary shopping in a bit (read: waterproof shoes and a raincoat), but maybe something less commercial tomorrow. I'm thinking of a themed-day perhaps, tim-sum for brunch and the Chinese Botanical Gardens after- mmmm...

What can I say? j'aime Montréal...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Free Cone Day 2006







Was walking down State Street the other day and this popped out at me- it's going to be Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's on Tuesday! So guess who's going to be looking out for the nearest B&J's and having herself a treat? We'll be in Montreal by then but I've already scoped out the nearest B&J's at Ste. Catherine and De Maisonneuve :)






BROWNIE BATTER!
You scored 81% SWEET, 66% CHUNKY, and 55% UNIQUE!
brownie batter ice cream with a rich brownie batter swirl

Mmmm....you are a very sweet mix indeed! You are warm, loving, and caring to all those around you, but you're not boring in the least! You have a wild streak and a creative, unique streak, too. You are a great friend, an interesting person, and you know how to have fun without ending up crouching over a toilet bowl. Nice!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Spicy comfort food

I don't make mac & cheese alot- I think there's something about being Asian that doesn't predispose us too much to dairy, and mac & cheese is probably not high on the list of favorites in your regular Chinese household. The SI people had a potluck today and I've been promising to make my spicy mac & cheese for the longest time. Yes, SPICY mac & cheese. I think the tangy spiciness cuts through the richness of the cheese sauce and makes it less cloying. Which is also why I use green onions instead of regular white or yellow ones. They're really fragrant and together with my secret ingredient, I think they give the whole dish a more flavorful depth than just dairy and starch.

After frying the chopped green onions in olive oil and butter, add 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make the roux. I know, it looks a little suspect, but you need it to thicken the sauce later. And questionable as it sounds, it actually smelled really good because of the green onions and butter. You have to keep stirring it around so that they don't go all clumpy or burn.

This is the hardest bit for me; everything has to move really quickly because you're working with dairy and don't want things to mess up and go yeeky and gooey in the wrong way. Add the milk to the roux and stir it gently so that the roux gets incorporated. You want to heat the milk but not boil it. Once you see the milk beginning to get really hot (but not bubbling), add in the cheese bit by bit, and stir while you're at it so you don't get clumps. Add the sambal oelek now, as well as salt and pepper. I add the sambal oelek to taste or at least until the sauce turns a pretty salmon pink (the color of cooked salmon, not raw). For the cheese, I suppose you could be traditional and stick to just sharp cheddar, but I use shredded mixed cheese (monterey jack, cheddar and mozarella). I like the more varied taste to the sauce and it also doesn't look all Agent Orange... When I was home and made this for my sisters, I used a mix of gruyere, swiss and fontina. But only if you and your wallet are feeling a little indulgent...

Once the cheese has all melted, incorporate into your dish of cooked pasta. I used mini-penne (pennette), but anything tubey works, like regular elbow macaroni or cavatappi. Then top with more of the shredded cheese you used in the sauce, a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan (I didn't use it in the sauce because it can be a little overpowering, but perfect as a crust), and breadcrumbs for that toasty crunch.

After 30 minutes in a 375F oven, it should come out all golden and bubbly. The house smelled so delicious, you almost couldn't believe it's really at the end of the day a simple dish of cheese and noodles. It was really hot though and the fact that I used a 15 x 10 Pyrex baking dish (meaning the whole thing- with pasta and cheese- probably weighed about 8 pounds) made it really hard to handle. But we survived and got it to Rick and Emilee's safely with the help of two sections (yes, you're reading right, two whole sections) of the New York Times, and even then I could feel the heat through my hands...

All in all, I think Serene's Spicy Mac 'n Cheese went down well. It duly fed about 20 people, wasn't too spicy to scare people off, but enough bite to keep them coming back for seconds.

Like I said, I don't make mac 'n cheese often; but when I do, I try my best. I'm glad people enjoyed it as much as I had fun making it :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And so it begins...

Four and a half months of vacation, here I come! Had my last class for the semester today and it's spring/ summer break from here on :) It's been one of the lest infuriating and more gratifying semesters so I do feel a little wistful that it's ended. Not that there won't be work from now till September, just under less demanding circumstances and in more forgiving temperatures. In fact, I've a whole ton of stuff to do over the next few months: am still continuing on my Sesame Street project, have a publication to churn out, a training manual to produce, will be working on my pre-candidacy paper, got a research/ writing job with the National Center for Children in Poverty based out of Columbia's School of Public Health, and other various random things I promise myself to get done like organizing my notes (and academic life in general) and dignifying my professional website to look less like a glorifed Powerpoint presentation.

To kick things off, we'll be in Montreal this weekend for CHI and also to spend some time with our uncle. I'm desperately looking forward to it and it'll be so much fun! I've said it so many times, but it's worth saying again, that Montreal's one of my all-time favorite cities, and this time, they'll be friends around to share it with: a bunch of Jude's classmates will be there, Eric, Amy & Finn, Stan & Susan, and maybe even Jonas. Woo-hoo, it'll be like a field trip!

Oops sorry, I forget, people are actually there for the conference... ;)
In summer, the song sings itself."
-- William Carlos Williams

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blessed

So how lucky am I? Barely 24 hours after I talk about mangoes being my favorite fruit, and I come back to a lovely surprise treat from my wonderful husband- mango and sticky rice with a sweetened coconut-milk sauce from Bahn Na!

This girl is happy :)
Paul Gauguin, Woman With Mango

Sunday, April 16, 2006

10 Things About Me...

...That I Think Haven't Landed on The Blog Yet but I'm Too Lazy to Dig Through the Archives to Be Sure

I've been tagged with this meme. And only because I'm upset that I'm squandering a perfectly gorgeous day by sitting here, writing away in a windowless room, I'm going to defiantly put off doing work and respond to this instead:

1. I have no wisdom teeth. The dentist took them all out when I got braces at twelve.
2. When I was 17, I had to skip a day of school to be with my mum at the hospital the day she planned to deliver Sam. When I told my teacher, she said I would have to think of a better excuse than that to stay away from school.
3. I try not to have to say "awry" in public because until today, I'm not sure how to pronounce it.
4. I don't eat carrots unless they're too difficult to remove, like in spring rolls or coleslaw.
5. When I was six, I danced in my kindergarten "graduation" ceremony. The song was "Morning Has Broken" and I was a purple orchid.
6. Accord to a personality assessment report, my literary counterparts are either Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing" or Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series.
7. If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it'll have to be sushi.
8. Jude and I first bonded over "The Virgin Suicides"- the novel, not the movie.
9. My first Hollywood crush was Ke Huy Quan, the little boy in "Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom" and "The Goonies".
10. My favorite fruit is the mango.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sesame Beginnings

Ok, so Sesame Street may be about as far from MySpace as Elmo is from dana boyd, but I came across something that perhaps not-so-obliquely piggybacks off Jude's post about MySpace yesterday. Read in the NYT today that Sesame Street has produced a new DVD targeted at children between 6-months and 2 years old, "Sesame Beginnings". Apparently this has gotten a Boston-based advocacy group all huffy and puffy, and they've come out publicly to criticize what they see as the psychedelic warlordism of fluffy muppets and the larger apocalypse of The Television's terrorizing hegemony.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that all you parents out there go run and get a TIVO-enabled, cable-ready, 40-inch TV just for your little tot- in fact, the work I'm doing with Sesame Street right now isn't persuading me very much that TV alone helps children's learning...- but I do think that there's something to be said about being overly rabid and paranoid. Can't people let kids just enjoy themselves anymore? Does everything have to be about a cause, or an issue that has to be advocated and debated over? I felt the same way with the furor over Teletubbies "corrupting" children and Rainbow Brite being demonic- hello?? And I'm sure Mr. Potato Head is a actually a diabolical vegetable-only fiend in disguise, bent on taking over the world and making spuds the official food of the universe.

Yes, there is something that's definitely not right when parents use television as a substitute for human interaction and stimulation, and in replacement of other activities like reading or playing outside; but when that happens, should we point the accusing finger at the box, or should we ask ourselves why these parents think that using the TV as a babysitter is acceptable in the first place? I don't think that all children's television is good- a purple dinosaur and floating gelatinous sparkies comes to mind- but I know wonderful parents who use TV as just another tool, like books, to bond with their children, and help them develop positively, on top of other things they do together like hiking, playing at the playground, going to museums, or simply just spending quiet, quality, media-free time at home. With the right scaffolding, some children's programs can help children learn language better and faster, and also introduce them to a world their sometimes sheltered lives cannot.

[steps down from soapbox]

Ok, having said that, a particular googly-eyed, ruby-clothed muppet still annoys the heck out of me. And even worse when he starts to sing...
...this made me realize something about the experts in Boston. They were more than a little Luddite in their opposition to "Sesame Beginnings," as if technology itself — a screen of any kind! — would harm children, who ought presumably to gaze only at sunsets, shake wooden rattles and cuddle corn-husk dolls. This seemed unrealistic, to say the least, and possibly even discriminatory, like the old anti-disco edict that decreed that good music could be played only on fancy guitars and expensive drum kits. The drum machine — like the television — strikes music snobs as lazy and unwholesome. Good parents don't rely on crutches like television, which delights babies without enough parental exertion. I didn't buy it."
- Virginia Heffernan, NYT

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Storm in a teacup: it's their space!

So, ok ... unlike Serene, I have never had the occasion to blog about the work that I do. However, that occasion has now arisen (I am volunteering to be a Real Time blogger for CHI2006) and I think that it would be a good idea to start putting my thoughts into the blog and maybe even start making my research ideas more explicit and intentional.

Something that has been occupying both my professional and personal attention lately is the tempest in a teacup over the social networking site, MySpace. I know a lot has been written and debated about the issues that have emerged over MySpace. In fact, today's news highlighted the fact that MySpace recently hired a security monitor- who was a former prosecutor from the Justice Dept, and who helped Microsoft in a similar fashion- to develop online child-safety strategies and educational materials about online sexual predation. (Intriguingly it was interesting to find out that MySpace is owned by the conservative Fox media group…) Don't get me wrong, I certainly think that MySpace's actions are certainly warranted given the knee-jerk reactions of the general public and the level of propositioning that is going on in MySpace. However, I think that simply sanitizing MySpace does not help us understand how young people socialize. And in fact, I think that such actions will drive them away from MySpace.

This whole issue about MySpace has got me thinking about the role that online social software plays in the lives of the young people today and the implications that it may have for educators in the future. I think that the general public has very little understanding of what goes on in MySpace. What is perhaps not appreciated is the fact that the online sociality generated by social networking sites like MySpace helps create a layer of relationships that overlay existing personal social networks. Some of you know that I’m currently in the midst of a study on the use of blogs/social tagging system in the classroom. One of the things that emerged during my interviews with the students is that they were very happy to use the system in addition to class work, because it improved the relationships within the classroom. To paraphrase the interviews, because the ideas that were shared online were public, it was as if everyone was given a glimpse into the inner thoughts of everyone else, and this enabled the creation of some level of social empathy of sorts. Everyone not only knew each other better, but also had a better appreciation, and hopefully respect for each other's point of view. I don’t think enough people, especially educators, value the fact that networked technology can add this layer of sociality. A recent article about a law school professor who banned the use of laptops in the classroom simply indicates to me how much work there is to do in this area to create a heightened awareness for the positive uses of these kinds of programs. I think people are blaming the technology without fully understanding it, and instead of overcoming their ignorance, are blindly indicting the program, instead of the use of it, which I think are two different things. In fact, I was appalled to find out that there is yet to be research done on the effects of the use of technology in classroom. We simply don't know what the effects on student learning are when there is the use of laptop computers while class is being conducted?

And I don’t think that educators are the only ones who don’t know enough about these new technologies. Coming back to MySpace, I recently came across a talk that danah boyd presented to AOL staffers. I thought that danah was highly insightful in her identification of the age stratification that is going on with particular kinds of media and websites. She highlighted the fact that there is an age trajectory in terms of the use of these sites. MySpace appeals to younger teens from age 13 upwards; the 16 - 18 year olds aren't well represented, and from 18 onwards they tend to gravitate towards Facebook. This has a lot to do with the financial and physical mobility from age 16 onwards- car culture takes over, and being highly mobile, you don’t need websites like MySpace (or even want to be associated with the young ones). So, my personal take on this age-divide is that it mirrors the socialization patterns that occur when you are growing up. From age 13 onwards, all you want to do is make more friends, 16 – 18, you only want to hang out with your closest buds; and from 18 onwards - when young people are thrown into the working world or college, socialization becomes important again, but of a different nature. I think that danah's talk gives focus to a larger issue of the lack of knowledge of the parents, media and schools about where and how young people socialize. Perhaps things have changed such that the way young people socialize no longer fit prior conceptions? And perhaps parents- and the general public- shouldn't be blaming MySpace but try to get to know their children better.

Bye!

So am back in the 'ole Midwest, still a little sleepy from coming in late last night, reeling slightly from the excitement of a "by-the-skin-of-my-teeth" 15-minute transfer in Denver, and missing all our friends in the Bay Area already... That was probably the highlight of the trip- as much as the presentation went well, the city was beautiful, and the shopping was painfully good (I now have a new favorite store, no thanks to Miss Sarah Tucker- Anthropologie), the thing which I appreciated most was just being able to see everyone again, hanging out at Dave & Jen's like we used to, bonding over food, drinking bubble-tea, and enjoying Maggie's (and now Dylan's) adorable antics.

It was wonderful to see how well everyone is doing, but more importantly, that they're enjoying what they're doing, and it really does seem that California is fulfilling so many people's vision of the good life. We wish you guys were closer so we can hang out more often, but seeing how happy everyone is is even better :) You guys just have to come visit often coz these two grad students sure don't have enough money to fly out West every year... :( Take care all you Bay Area people and we love you tons!

(more photos on Flickr...)

Monday, April 10, 2006

The deed is done!

So here I am, sitting at the corner of Sutter and Powell having a croissant and coffee for breakfast as I steal the wireless off some poor unsuspecting soul (sorry!!). San Francisco is a gorgeous city and since it's Sunday, it's nice to see it still tentatively waking up and not bustling and hustling as it's going to be in a couple of hours.

So, I have overcome!

The presentation went flawlessly and it was very very gratifying. SIX people came up to me after to ask me for my paper to read more closely and share it with their students (!), and I got such validating comments from the audience after the presentation too :) This lady said something about supporting my vision, and after I was done, a little Santa-Claus grandpapa of a professor came up and just said, "Good job, keep fighting the good fight." I thought I was going to cry!

And all my friends came to listen to me. It helped so much to see them peeking in from outside the door smiling in encouragment; even my professor came and gave me a thumbs-up! :) So all in all, FABULOUS! I'm happy.

Which is why immediately after, I took a whirlwind tour of SF instead of hanging around the conference. I just wanted to unwind and relax after all that pent-up anxiety (ok, so maybe not so pent-up...) Took a bus to Haight-Ashbury to Amoeba Records, got Jude one of his request records, walked through Golden Gate Park, and bused to Golden Gate Bridge. And omigod, the Bridge is nothing short of breathtaking. NOTHING compared to postcards or apocalyptic disaster films. Simply awesome. Oh, and I saw Alcatraz. My very first frame of reference for Alcatraz was when I watched a David Copperfield special on him attempting to escape from the prison. Of course, I wasn't quite paying attention to the prison then... ;)

Anyways, sitting by the beach for an hour or so after was very very precious. It was nice and cool, kids were playing everywhere, people walking their dogs- just perfect. Made me miss beaches, wide open spaces, and the ocean even more...

Anyways, will be spending the day with Dave & Jen today. I didn't realize how much I've missed them till I heard Jen's exuberant voice yesterday. They're coming into the city and having lunch with me and we'll head over to their place in Mountain View for the rest of the day. Gonna see Jonas, Melanie, Kathy & Adrien tonight too, and I can't wait! :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cross-country

Boo-hoo... in less than 24-hours, I'll be on a plane across the country to a state from which everyone says flows milk, honey & sunshine. But what should happen? I'm nursing a chill I caught from walking in the cold yesterday, and the weather report says it'll be raining all weekend in San Francisco... *&^%$#@!! But I'm determined to enjoy myself so let's look on the bright side of things:
1) I'm flying with a bunch of my closest friends from my school so the 8-hour flight isn't going to be as dreary as my 2-hour one to D.C. in January. In the event of the god-awful landing in Denver for the stop-over (Frontier Airlines pilots have issues with the Denver airport I've been told...), we can form a support ring and hug each other till it's over.
2) The above said friends are also all squeezing into 2 rooms at the Crowne Plaza so it'll be like a grown-up pyjama party, except without baby-pink pyjamas with unicorns all over (I'm assuming...)
3) I'll be seeing all the SI folks who abandoned us to lonely times without them- Dave, Jen, Dylan (and Maggie too!), Kathy, Jonas, Melanie, & Adrien. We've missed you guys!
4) I might visit Stanford, but only if I know I won't get lost getting there, and if Kathy has time to hang out around campus with me... (*hint hint* hee hee...)
5) One word. Shopping. Amoeba Music for Jude, City Lights Bookstore for me, Giant Robot, and if I have time, the Haight Street shopping district.
6) Fresh seafood. Enough said :)

Well, the degree to which I'll enjoy Nos. 3- 6 is largely dependent on me not getting chewed up and spat out at my presentation on Saturday morning. But at least it's early on in my trip there. That'll give me time to heal... :)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What would you do?

So I encountered what might be considered my first intellectual crossroads yesterday. It was the trial run of my conference presentation and I thought I was fairly prepared for it. The thing isn't till next Saturday, I had my slides in order, and I knew the points I was going to make about my data, so I was pretty confident going on. But oh what a disaster it was... there were people in the audience who seemed genuinely flabbergasted at what I was saying, outraged even at my "perposterous" propostion that we are somehow short-changing certain groups of children!... The professor who was listening cautioned me strongly from making certain conclusions about my findings; she said I can't say that schools of education aren't doing a good job; other people are beating up schools of education already and we don't have to do it to ourselves; I can't use the word achievement "gap" because that somehow conveys a sense of deficiency and deprivation; use the more neutral "difference"; I'm perpetuating racial and cultural stereotypes, and my presentation is too controversial and potentially explosive; I should "re-frame" my discussion and not talk too much about the gap but more about how policy can redefine certain parameters of teacher quality, etc...

It was distressing to say the least and I for the first time, I felt the pressure to "spin" my data to make things more palatable. I appreciate my professor's remarks and I know that to some degree, she's being protective of me as a grad student, and doesn't want me to be torn to pieces at the conference, but still, I have a message to convey, and as uncomfortable as it may be, it's a message I believe people need to hear. As a research-one university, and in such close proximity to high-need areas, if we don't make a statement about what can be done- and what must be done- to help schools and children who need help, then who's going to? If all we worry about is producing feel-good, self-validating research which consoles ourselves that we are just fine the way we are, how will we ever progress and improve the things which really need improving, i.e. the life chances of ALL children?

I left the practice session disheartened and a little disappointed actually. I'm proud of what my research says, and I'm proud of what I was planning to say, but yesterday, I was made to feel somehow less for it... I spoke to a couple of people after that, spoke to Jude, spoke to some close friends, and you know what? I might change a few slides and rephrase some of the word use, but at the end of the day, I'm going to make the same conclusions. At every level- local, state, federal- we need to rethink how we're training teachers and defining teacher qualifications. Things are not going ok, and there are children who are deprived. I cannot in good conscience, in the face of empirical evidence, choose to ignore some things and highlight others just because it will go down better . I'm hoping that there will be people in the audience who will appreciate what I'll be saying, and even if I make some of them angry, that's something I'm going to have to be prepared to deal with. It's a 20-minute presentation and then a Q&A after. It'll be over before I know it. Besides, this is not about me, it's about the academic well-being of all children.

The data doesn't lie, and I'm not going to either.