Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash
Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash
Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

It sure is.

If you believe that the main reason for educating our children is to make them cogs in a spinning wheel, then virtual education is all you need. However, if you think that education means more than achieving literacy and numeracy if you think it includes the following:

  • how to socialize with other people,
  • forging bonds with peers that will last a lifetime,
  • challenging preconceived notions about the world,

then virtual education falls short of a real education.

Virtual education is great for acquiring skills quickly, training to do a specific job, or learning a specific skill. …

The gift of a great recommendation

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Photo by Miranda Garside on Unsplash

I like to pick out the books I read and I smile kindly, appreciatively, when books are sent or given to me. However, I reluctantly accept them. After all, how can anyone really know the book I need at the moment? I have a stubborn belief that books suggested to me are somehow too removed from my own taste, too alien. I’ve always believed my personal vibe would lead me to the perfect book. Well, lately, I’ve been mistaken.

The last several books recommended by a good friend were wonderful. And, the one given to me by my sister is exceptional. The book sat on my night table for weeks, its title suggesting a journey I did not wish to take. I avoided it like you avoid making a painful phone call or engaging with a gruff co-worker. …

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Photo by Andre Furtado on Unsplash

Fall Fashion Right From Your Closet

This is the time of year when my newsfeed fills up with the colors of fall, the must-haves, the favorites of this gorgeous actress, or that stately member of the British royal family. There are accessories too, a decorative mask for every outfit. I tell myself to scroll past, resist the temptation to see what the beautiful people are wearing as they shelter in place, and make a lifestyle out of hibernating.

A quick peek leads to a mental list, then to a cursory inventory of my closet, with its untouched dresses long abandoned. It dawns on me that I’ve totally neglected my attire, wearing the same three pairs of shorts, rotating a handful of tee-shirts with flip-flops or sandals. The rest of my clothes are suspended, like relics of a bygone era, even though it was only in March that the need to press one’s pants and dry clean blazers became unnecessary. …

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Defending New York City

I wonder what the greatest novelist of the Victorian era would say about our beautiful New York City. Would he simply ignore the squalor and serenade us with sentimentality like Frank Sinatra crooning, “If You Can Make it Here, You Can Make it Anywhere?”

I think Dickens might write another hit, a hugely successful novel like a Tale of Two Cities, maybe. There’s certainly enough material. …

An accidental encounter or planned universe?

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Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash

Ants have their own civilization,

So too they say of bees, whales, and manatees.

Birds soar in arabesque to far off destinations,

On migrations planned in antiquity, continued in perpetuity.

How unusual and careless it would be

of God to take such care with perfecting a ladybug,

a bee, a falcon, a tree, yet leave us to chance —

Highly unlikely, it seems to me.

Yet, we are to believe that man alone

Left to dream in folly is the result of a drunken spree,

Wildly thrown together indiscriminately?

Bacchus, Roman god of wine and song, was he

Master of creation? Are we where he went wrong? …

Yes, you can come home again

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Photo unsplash

This book should be required reading for parents, musicians, romantics — anyone who is looking for a heartfelt retelling of the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son.

It begins with Cooper O’Connor, who returns to his mountain home in Colorado after years of estrangement from his preacher, musician father who dies before Cooper returns. The story of Cooper, the child prodigy who rebels against his father, seeks the limelight, money, and a new life in Nashville follows the basic fall and redemption storyline, but it feels new and totally engaging because the characters are so familiar and real.

With the introduction of Daley, Cooper’s partner, love interest, and savior, we get the full story of how one person can indeed make a dramatic difference in a person’s life. The story works because it is both familiar, yet unpredictable, especially at the end. …

We are losing our ability to tell the difference

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

My local library here in New York is still closed. With my usual supply of library books temporarily suspended, I decided this would be a good time to sort through my bookcases and cull my collection.

Of course, I made absolutely no progress whatsoever as I am unable to part with even a worn copy of a Milton anthology filled with my scribbled notes, barely legible, and useless at this point.

Yet, I can’t part with the craft that sustained me for thirty-two years in the classroom. While the wind howled and tidal waves of administrative and bureaucratic initiatives lapped at the door, I held fast to what I loved: teaching literature, writing, grammar, and the absolute power of the spoken word. Idealistic? …

How I learned to live with fat

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Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

I’ve always been trim, mostly fit, and within the range of normal, as defined by medical guidelines. I was able to bounce back after gaining weight during three pregnancies. Then, something changed.

I exercised more, ate less, worked out at the gym, but still, I couldn’t get rid of a layer of fat that had surreptitiously formed over my mid-section. I didn’t deserve this, I thought indignantly. After all, I followed all the rules, this shouldn’t be happening to me, but it did. The turning point in my approach to this middle-age dilemma came when I discovered an ominous lump just under my rib cage. …

Book Review: Hello World by Hannah Fry

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Photo by PIOTR BENE on Unsplash

I can’t believe I just finished reading an entire book about algorithms. As a retired English teacher and adjunct instructor, I’ve got plenty of time to indulge in any kind of reading I want to do. Now, I can read all of Shakespeare again, maybe a little Dickens, or any of the many brilliant authors writing great fiction today.

Still, I chose Hello World by mathematician Hannah Fry and I am glad to say that this wonderful writer has not only made algorithms intelligible to a common, die-hard literature fan like myself, but she explained how algorithms are the new magicians of our era. …

Why we have to stop giving away information

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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been sharing a little more on social media. I suppose it’s due to the quarantine. Covid-19 has trapped me in my house, which isn’t a bad thing, I like my house.

However, since face-to-face meetings have been few and far between, I’ve found myself relaxing on social media sites. I’ve given a couple more likes on Facebook, dutifully tweeted a few responses to aspiring writers, encouraged a couple of virtual friends, debated the statue controversy, threw my two cents into the virtual windmill — all in an effort to stay connected.

However, I’m becoming increasingly creeped out by the observers, the anonymous people out there reading, commenting, judging, censoring, archiving, and using the information I and a gazillion other users are supplying on a regular basis. …


Margherita Gilley

English teacher, bilingual ESL adjunct, author, reader, writer, reviewer of books, trends, and everyday life:

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