Using Pictures to Teach Narrative Writing with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Subject: Sixth Grade Language Arts – Segregation and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Time allotted: 90 minutes

Organization: large group

Objective: Students will demonstrate the understanding of the components in a narrative by using pictures about segregation to write the narrative.

Student worksheet available at http://www.trinaallen.com/rollofthunderstudent.html

Teaching Mode: Direct

Provision for Individual Differences: Students are heterogeneously mixed. The combination of modeling by the teacher and students will help to meet the needs of the varying abilities in the classroom. This assignment is open-ended enough for all students to find success “where they are” (Gardner, 2004).

Teaching Strategies: Some lecture, dialogue, modeling, discussion, group critique, planning.

Teaching Behavior focus: Focus will be as facilitator. Students will direct the lesson by creating the model used to demonstrate narrative writing.

Materials needed for this lesson:

oOne copy of a picture depicting segregation for each student– ideally with larger copies available for fine details.

oPaper- pencil

ooverhead, board and markers, or chalk

oGeneral classroom supplies

Lesson Activities:

Step 1. Anticipatory Set: (Motivation)

oAs review, ask students to write a definition of segregation. Volunteers will state their definitions. Write the definition on the board for students to refer to as they write their narratives. (Students should have read and discussed segregation and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry prior to this lesson).

oDistribute pictures depicting segregation- one to each student. Or ask students to bring pictures from magazines that demonstrate segregation or reverse segregation. Hang several larger pictures on the wall so students can use them for greater detail.

oStudents will examine their picture individually for five minutes, writing details on the worksheet.

Note: Newspapers and magazines are good sources of pictures for this lesson as well as the following online museum Web sites.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/index.htm

Norman Rockwell Museum http://www.nrm.org/

Online Tours of the National Gallery of Art http://www.nga.gov/onlinetours/index.shtm

Web Museum, Paris http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/

Step 2. Objective (Overview of learning outcomes to pupils):

Students will use pictures about segregation related to their unit of study for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to:

odemonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of narrative writing by writing a narrative.

odemonstrate connections between images and words by using narrative writing to build understanding of content.

ouse detailed vocabulary in writing their text.

Step 3. Presentation (Input) of information:

Students will review the following characteristics of narrative writing as a whole class: developing plot, character and setting using specific detail and ordering events clearly using chronological order.

Direct students’ attention to one picture on the board. As a whole class have students brainstorm possible events and characters this picture illustrates about segregation. Place the words or phrases under the following headings on the board as students share their ideas. Have students fill this information in on their worksheets.

Characters Setting Situation Feelings Vocabulary

Step 4. Modeling/Examples:

Use one character from the class table. Model writing a narrative on the board from the character’s point of view by calling on students to give the details. Encourage students to describe the picture and to invent an original story related to the segregation illustrated in the picture. Decide as a class whether to tell the story that leads up to the picture, or to narrate the events that follow the picture. Write events in chronological order on the board as well as including the character’s feelings and thoughts.

Step 5. Checking for Understanding:

Have students evaluate the story written on the board that they created by checking the blank before each element of narrative writing that they find in the class story about segregation.

1. _____ One character’s point of view.

2. _____ Details about the character .

3. _____ Details about the setting.

4. _____ Details about the situation.

5. _____ The story was in the correct chronological order.

6. _____ The narrative contained feelings and thoughts.

Circulate as students work to check for understanding. Call on students to share their evaluation to be sure all students understand the content.

Step 6. Guided Practice:

Using the picture that they were assigned (or the one they brought from home) students will brainstorm possible events and characters by filling their ideas in the same table used in step 3:

Characters Setting Situation Feelings Vocabulary

Circulate to check for understanding.

Step 7. Independent Practice:

Have students choose one character from the table and write a narrative similar to the one modeled for them in step 4 from that character’s point of view. Students will invent an original story related to the segregation illustrated in the picture. They will decide whether to tell the story that leads up to the picture, or to narrate the events that follow the picture. They will write events in chronological order and write about the character’s feelings and thoughts.

Step 8. Closure:

Students will be evaluated using the same rubric used in step five, Checking for Understanding. Refer students to that evaluation rubric and ask students to give the example from the story previously written on the board to illustrate each area from the rubric. The stories can be assigned as homework or completed as class work as per the preference of the teacher.

Note: This lesson is modified from Gardner, T. (2004). A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: From Image to Detailed Narrative, from http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=116.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.

Questions First Time Investors Should Ask Before Investing

It is easy to find people’s opinion on how to invest in the stock market as everyone has a different angle on what to expect in the stock market at every point in time, but most of the time people’s opinion may be very confusing. The most common problem that new investors do have is how to determine good investments from the bad ones, what to invest on, what time to invest among others. Some of the questions that you need to answer so as to make a good decision when you want to invest are highlighted below.

Is This a Good Time to Invest in Stocks?

On the off chance that you are taking a gander at money markets amid a lofty decrease, you may think it is a terrible time to begin investing. On the off chance that you are taking a gander at it when stocks are reviving, you may think it is a decent time.

Neither one of the times is fundamentally great or terrible in the event that you are investing for the long haul (10 years or more). Nobody can anticipate with any level of assurance which way the share trading system will move at any given time; yet over the long haul, stock markets has constantly moved higher. Each bear advertises is trailed by a buyer market (when stock costs rise). Verifiably, positively trending markets have endured any longer than bear markets, and the additions of buyer markets have more than counterbalance the misfortunes in bear markets

How Much Risk Should I Take?

A standout amongst the most essential fundamentals of investing is the cozy relationship amongst risk and returns. Without risk, there can be no profits. You ought to will to accept more risk on the off chance that you are looking for more noteworthy returns. In that regard, risk can be something to be thankful for, yet just in the event that you take into consideration adequate time to let the inescapable market cycles happen. By and large, in the event that you have a more drawn out venture time skyline, you ought to will to expect a more noteworthy measure of risk, on the grounds that there will be more opportunity for the market to work through the here and there cycles. Generally, understanding financial specialists have been compensated with positive long haul returns.

New investors are regularly encouraged to put fundamentally in common money, which can give moment enhancement, offering the most ideal approach to lessen risk. By putting resources into a couple of various shared assets speaking to various resource classes, (for example, expansive development stocks, global stocks or bonds), you can lessen unpredictability significantly promote without yielding long haul returns.

On the off chance that you are beginning an investment program by investing incremental measures of cash on a month to month basis, you will profit by dollar cost averaging. When you invest an altered measure of cash on a month to month premise, you get some share costs at a higher cost and some at a lower cost because of market changes. At the point when the market decreases, your settled dollar sum will purchase more shares. After some time, the normal cost of your shares ought to be lower than the present market cost. By utilizing dollar cost averaging, your drawback risk will be alleviated after some time.

What Is My Investment Goal?

The most vital question to consider before making any invest is, “What Is My Investment Goal?” Your ventures will contrast boundlessly if, for instance, you are attempting to spare cash for retirement as opposed to attempting to spare cash for an up front installment on the house. Things being what they are, ask yourself, “Is this venture prone to help me meet my objective?”

What Is My Risk Tolerance?

If your investment objective is to profit as would be prudent and you can endure any hazard, then you ought to invest in the National Lottery. Putting resources into lotteries, be that as it may, practically promises you won’t achieve your venture objective. There are speculations for each level of risk resilience. But if you are not a high-risk taker, investing in long-term investment is the key.

What Happens if This Investment Goes to Zero?

Among the 12 stocks in 1896 stock list, only General Electric is still in operation, the other eleven firms in the first record have either gone bankrupt or have been gobbled up. There is a genuine plausibility that any investment you make could go to zero while you claim it. Ask yourself, “Will I be monetarily crushed if this speculation goes to zero?” If the answer is yes, don’t make that venture.

What Is My Investment Time Frame?

As a rule, the more extended your investment time allotment, the more risk you can take in your investment portfolio since you have more opportunity to recuperate from a mix-up. Likewise, in case you’re putting something aside for retirement, and you’re decades from resigning, putting resources into something illiquid (like an investment property) may bode well. “Does this venture bode well from a planning perspective?”

When and Why Will I Sell This Investment?

If you know why you are putting resources into something, you ought to have an entirely smart thought of when to sell it. On the off chance that you purchased a stock since you were expecting 20 percent income development for each year, you ought to anticipate offering the stock if income development doesn’t live up to your desires. On the off chance that you purchased a stock since you enjoyed the dividend yield, offer the stock if the profit yield falls.

Who Am I Investing With?

It is extremely hard to judge the character and capacity of anybody in light of a two-passage portrayal accessible in an organization’s yearly report or a common store outline. However, you ought to at any rate know with whom you are entrusting your money. What is their past record? Things to hope for are long fruitful track records and good dividend and turnover.

Do I Have Special Knowledge?

A celebrated investment expert feels that normal individuals have a tremendous favorable position over investment experts in fields where they work in light of the fact that no investment professional will ever know more around an industry than somebody who works in it. Ask yourself, “Am I putting resources into something I know something about, or am I putting resources into something that some specialist know something about?”

I couldn’t care less how great something sounds. In the event that I don’t totally see how it functions, I won’t put resources into it.

In the event that an investment can’t be clarified obviously, it implies one of two things:

The individual clarifying it doesn’t comprehend it either, or there’s something about the investment that the individual is attempting to stow away.

On top of that, one of the greatest keys to investing admirably is adhering to your arrangement through the good and bad times.

That is difficult. Indeed, even the best investment methodologies have enormous down periods that make you reconsider. Adhering to your arrangement in those extreme times requires a practically religious-like conviction that things will pivot.

Furthermore, the best way to have that sort of conviction is to comprehend why you’re investing the way you are and what every bit of your arrangement is accomplishing for you. Without a solid comprehension, you’ll more likely than not safeguard at the main indication of inconvenience.

Why Do I Still Own That Investment?

It is a smart thought to intermittently look through your investment portfolio to ensure regardless you need to claim your stock. Offering an investment for a misfortune or offering a major champ is exceptionally troublesome. Be that as it may, the greatest distinction amongst beginner and professional investors is that professional investors don’t have passionate ensnarement with their investment and can strip themselves of their investment without kicking themselves if the investment keeps on picking up esteem.

Should I Be Managing My Own Investments?

It is extremely difficult for beginner investor to perform well than a professional investment expert. If you don’t have sufficient energy or slant to deal with your investment, you ought to think about paying an expert to do it for you. Every investor wants to make profit, so there is no harm in trusting your investment in good hand.

Multi-Functional PACS Workstations

Digitizing medical imaging has changed the way medical facilities and hospitals function. Gone are the days of having to purchase film and costly developing chemicals for film images. With the advent of the DICOM digital image format, medical imaging was made possible. Today many medical offices utilize the flexibility that comes from PACS workstations and web-based PACS.

Storage of digital medical images is of vital importance, especially in light of medical facilities and hospitals needing to stay within HIPPA compliance. A PACS server helps to make this aspect of medical facility administration easier. A server takes up infinitely less space than hard copy film images do, plus it requires no physical maintenance of records. Everyone authorized to have access to the PACS server can set up their workstations to automatically send digital studies directly to the server, or to an offsite server that can be used for disaster recovery as needed, or copy the digital images to a CD or DVD.

With a web-based PACS, your medical facility and imaging center can save money while offering physicians greater flexibility in its use and overall better patient care. Doctors can log onto your local-area network, wide-area network, or from offsite by utilizing a virtual private network. Your medical offices will reduce operating costs because you will not need software for each workstation, and because it is web-based, physicians can access the digital medical images they need day or night in order to provide patients with excellent care.

Since a PACS system can also serve as a digital viewer, you will want to invest in a quality, high-resolution medical-grade PACS monitor. Monitors are available for medical use in a variety of sizes and digital image resolutions suitable for a variety of medical modalities. Ultrasounds, MRI, CT, as well as CR and DR digital x-rays can be viewed with a PACS monitor.

Medical facilities of all types will also save on consultations and referrals when using PACS workstations. Instead of using costly printed digital x-rays, you can send digital images stored in the DICOM format quickly and easily over the World Wide Web. This instantaneous   transmission  of patient medical digital images helps to offer them improved patient care while saving your hospital or medical office money.

PACS distributors and manufacturers can answer many questions you might have concerning PACS workstations; many offer live chat features on their informative websites for even more convenience.

SUVs Meet High End Luxury (And Are Kind to Your Wallet)

Sport Utility Vehicles (or SUVs) have become increasingly popular over the last several years, with more and more manufacturers adding their versions to the market. With their ability to function well as both on and off-road vehicles, large storage space, ability to fit several passengers as well as towing abilities, SUVs serve as a very practical solution for much of the automobile buying market. Quality SUVs also handle well, feeling much more like driving a car than a massive truck with many of the same benefits.

While SUVs have always held a certain authority and status due to their size, they are often placed in a separate, “practical” category from the truly high end luxury cars. Fortunately, a few upper-echelon manufacturers have released their own versions of the SUV, blurring the lines between practicality, performance, style, and luxury interior. These include:

– BMW X5

– Lexus GX

– Mercedes G and M classes

– Audi Q7

– Porsche Cayenne.

The BMW X5 Series is a mid-size SUV in the market since 1999. Features include all wheel drive, and V8 engines with gasoline inline. E53 and E70 are the two generations of the model. The E53 model has many features of Landrover. The E70 model is more of a Sports Activity Vehicle. Other luxuries such as high pressure headlight washers, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather seats, automatic climate control, automatic light control, and sun roof add to the comfort and luxury of the vehicle.

The Lexus GX can seat up to 8 passengers. It has many great features including a welded steel body, center locking permanent 4 wheel drive, built in mudguards, illuminated running boards, electronic 5-speed automatic   transmission , and the innovative, unparalleled luxury interior and amenities customary in all Lexus models. Models from 2004 and up feature additional safety modifications like tire pressure monitoring, roll-sensing, side curtain airbags, and a Dynamic Suspension System. Like most Lexus models, the GX has won several awards: 4 wheeler of the year, highest ranked luxury SUV for quality, and best resale value from sources like 4×4 Magazine, J.D Power and Associates, and Kelley Blue Book.

The Mercedes G-Class is a four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle launched in 1979, originally created for military use with a jeep-like look. The three generations of the vehicle are W460, W461, and W463, and it is hailed for its long lifespan and durability as well as off-road performance. The interior of the car is made of wood or leather. The automatic  transmission , power steering, airbag, central locking, air conditioning, engine pre-heater, electric windows, and heated seats really add to the sense of luxury.

The M-Class by Mercedes is a mid-size SUV introduced in the market in 1997, featuring stability control which helps in bringing the vehicle to a halt in case of emergency. Excellent features such as seven speed automatic  transmission , Active Curve illuminating Bi-Xenon headlights, 4-valve engines, and air suspension which can be adjusted are major attractions of the vehicle. The cars also use BlueTec Diesel engine for controlling diesel gas emissions. New front headlights, exterior mirrors, redesigned front grille, an improved interior, and front and rear bumpers add to the beauty of the car. The M class won the “Truck of the Year” in 1998 awarded by Motor Trend magazine. Also it was named “Best New Sports Utility Vehicle” in the year 2006 during Canadian Car of the Year Awards.

The Porsche Cayenne is a five-seat mid size luxury sports utility vehicle launched in 2002 with two generations. The engines in the models introduced from 2008 have direct injection technology. The main features of the car are height adjustable off-road suspension, slanted rear window, remodeled dashboard, taillights near the tailgate, lighter weight due to the usage of aluminum, and fuel efficiency. Owners love the climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power sunroof, radio control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Features such as a rear view camera, memory system, navigation system, sound system, climate control, and CD changer make the car an excellent marriage of luxury and SUV performance.

Price of course is always an issue, but these world class SUVs can be found online at surprisingly good deals. At the time of this writing, HighEndAutoAuctions.com has multiple BMW X5s under $15,000, several Cayennes under $20,000, and several steals on each of the other models. No matter which source you choose to purchase from, these models are sure to satisfy both your practical needs and luxury desires.

AIDS – What Really is AIDS and How Can it Be Prevented?

AIDS is a disease of the immune system which is caused by HIV which is otherwise known as “human immunodeficiency virus” a diagnosis of HIV can be devastating news for anyone. The condition is prolonged and takes time to weaken the immune system leaving sufferers of the illness susceptible to other illnesses such as the common cold, which due to the weakened immune system of AIDS sufferers can be deadly. An individual suffering from AIDS or HIV is also more susceptible to tumors meaning routine checkups are needed after a diagnosis, leading to a life of hospital appointments.

HIV can be transmitted through full on contact of the mucus membrane, such as mouths, lips and genitals and can also be transmitted through full on contact with an infected bodily fluid. These fluids can be blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk meaning that HIV and AIDS can be passed through to a child throughout pregnancy and throughout breast feeding. The contact of these fluids can happen throughout different activities including anal, vaginal or oral sex, a blood transfusion or the exchange of infected needles, which would commonly be more associated with drug use.

AIDS symptoms often lie dormant until the disease is in its more advanced stages meaning that a diagnosis of AIDS can be even more devastating when the time left is short. Sufferers from AIDS have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer in female sufferers and cancers of the immune system such as Lymphoma. AIDS in its more advanced stage with come with symptoms such as fevers, sweats, swollen glands and weakness. Weight loss is also a common symptom of an AIDS sufferer. AIDS sufferers are also more susceptible to pneumonia as well due to the weakened immune system. AIDS is truly a life wrecking illness for everybody involved.

Since there is no cure for AIDS, the best way to decrease the spread of it and stop others contracting it is with prevention methods. Some of these methods include safe sex, being responsible and using a condom. Sexual relations are one of the main causes of AIDS transmission and a condom could save lives. It is proven that unprotected sex is responsible for the AIDS pandemic all over the world. A male or female condom would suffice.

People working in the health care industry also can do their bit in stopping the transmission of AIDS and HIV by following precautions and using the appropriate safety equipment to keep the illness from spreading. Also, it has now been said that mothers who are suffering from HIV or AIDS should avoid breast feeding their child as to prevent the child from contracting the illness as well. This is what any reasonable parent would do for their child if they knew it could save their life.

Overall, AIDS is a life wrecking disease and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Yet the prevention of it is so simple that people don’t need to be dying every day from this disease. AIDS doesn’t only affect one person; it spreads like a fire and can affect thousands. So think, and use precautions so you don’t become a sufferer too.

STD Symptoms in Men

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in men are just as common in men as are in women. The difference is that some of these STDs are not as easily detectable in men. They can be cured through medication or through simple surgery and recurrences of the disease are unlikely. Because it is difficult to detect certain STDs in men it is advised that he gets checked on a yearly basis to ensure that he is in good health and that there are no diseases hiding within his system. This way he can get tested for STDs and begin treatment immediately.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the more common STDs a man can experience. It develops through contracting microbes called Chlamydia trachomatis. As per the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. Between 2004 and 2008, the rate of Chlamydia reported increased to 45 percent due to the advancements in STD testing methods and over the counter testing methods such as home STD testing kits. Chlamydia can typically be detected within one to three weeks after symptoms are presented.

Men infected with the disease will experience discharge from the penis, painful urination, and a burning or tingling feeling around the opening of the penis which can also be felt in the testicles. If Chlamydia is found in the rectal area, men will experience symptoms such as rectal discharge or draining and severe pain both during bowel movements and random times throughout the day if not all day. Additionally, Chlamydia can be transmitted to the throat through oral sex.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is developed through contracting specific microorganisms called neisseria gonorrhoeae. Symptoms of gonorrhea include painful urination, white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, and swollen or enlarged testicles. Gonorrhea also affects the rectum and can be extremely painful. Symptoms a man could experience include rectal discharge, soreness, tingling sensations, rectal draining, and painful, hard, solid bowel movements. If gonorrhea has been contracted via oral sex, a man will experience a sore throat that will continue to get worse due to the many different types of bacteria already in the throat interacting with those microorganisms that cause gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can also cause epididymitis which is the curved portion at the back of the testicles where sperm matures; it is the swelling of the tube that connects the testicle to the vas deferens. Side effects can take anywhere from two to thirty days after contracting the disease. If left untreated, it can leave a man infertile and unable to have children.

Syphilis

Syphilis is one of those “silent but deadly” STDs. You could have syphilis for several weeks, months, and in rare occasions, years before experiencing side effects in any stage. The first phase of syphilis presents itself as sores around the genital area. This type of sore is called a chancre sore. It will appear as a hard, indented portion on your skin and typically disappears without treatment within three to six weeks. The second phase of syphilis rears in the form of a rash on the skin and mucous layers in the body. The rash could be extremely red and harsh or as tan spots that are most commonly found on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. Other symptoms you may experience include swollen lymph nodes, fever, sore throat, cerebral pain, random male pattern baldness, significant decrease in weight, and being unusually fatigued or exhausted. The rash is the biggest indicator of how severe the disease is; while it will go away on its own without treatment, once it goes away it serves as the primary indicator that the disease is now in the advanced stages. In the late stages of syphilis, a man will not show any visible side effects. However, while side effects may not be visible, the disease will essentially “eat away” and attack the major organs. In this stage, the disease begins to attack the brain, heart, liver, bones, and joints. A man can experience loss of motion, numbness, changes in vision to the point where he may eventually become blind, dementia, and the inevitable, death.

Herpes

Herpes is the most common form of STDs. It develops by contracting the herpes simplex infection 1 (Hsv-1) or herpes simplex infection 2 (Hsv-2). However, genital herpes is most commonly developed by contracting the Hsv-2 virus. The herpes virus first presents itself as one or more rankles in the genital or rectal areas of the body. These are open sores that turn into ulcers on the genitalia and rectum and can take a man five or more weeks to get rid of the virus. When the flare up is first noticed, it is the most painful, the most intense, and the most excruciating pain a man will experience. As time goes on, these episodes are less successive and less uncomfortable.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, attacks the immune system leaving a man extremely vulnerable to catching other severe illnesses. Most times when a man who has contracted the HIV virus, he may experience no symptoms of the disease. It isn’t until he becomes ill with another type of illness that HIV is detected. Flu-like symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes can begin to rear two to six weeks after being infected with the HIV virus. Other very common symptoms of traditional illnesses that are often seen with HIV include diarrhea, unexplained weakness, mouth sores, and a rash. These symptoms may take 10 years or more to even appear if the typical flu-like symptoms don’t appear. Having additional STDs can increase your chances of contracting the HIV virus.

Testing for STDs

Getting STD testing is more accessible than it used to be. Now, you can walk into any pharmacy and buy an STD at home testing kit which will detect certain types of STDs but not all. Testing at home has become the more common method of testing to avoid the embarrassment factor of going to their doctor. If a man suspects he has contracted a more advanced STD than what a home testing kit can detect, it is imperative he be tested as soon as possible by his doctor so the disease can be treated promptly. With home STD testing kits, a man can obtain his test results online and can take those results with him to his doctor to begin a treatment regimen for the disease. If needed, additional testing will be done to pinpoint the exact STD he has contracted.

What You Really Need to Know About a MPLS Network

MPLS… or Multi-Protocol Label Switching…. seems to be the buzzword for connecting company data networks these days. But MPLS is really nothing new. It’s been around awhile actually. Maybe now it’s just gaining more popularity and thus noticeable public acceptance and notoriety. Rightfully so too. MPLS offers lots of advantages over traditional T1 point-to-point WAN architectures.

But….. to decide if MPLS is really a good fit for your network requirements….. there’s some things you need to understand first.

There’s no one “MPLS Service”. A lot of what you get will depend how the service provider has Engineered and built their core network. Bear in mind that many carriers don’t own the whole network, but will piece together a service from other carriers networks, or will interconnect with other carriers to extend their reach.

Cell-mode MPLS was mentioned: basically this is ATM which has been retro-fitted with MPLS. Be careful with this for VoIP applications because it can use bandwidth very inefficiently.

MPLS can support QoS, but many services aren’t engineered with this, or only with very basic prioritization. Also the services are very often structured to reduce the potential complexity and to ensure the network can cope. Bear in mind a typical MPLS router can only carry a percentage of “high-priority, real time” traffic. If everyone sends all their data as high priority then the benefit is lost, and the network may suffer. Usually QoS is provided as a small number of service classes, typically 3 or 4.

The biggest bottleneck in any such service is normally the tail circuit to each of your premises. If you move from a T1 mesh to a MPLS service then you will likely find that some sites need more bandwidth than others. Tracking the requirement for this bandwidth is usually your problem, although the service provides may give you some reporting tools to assist with this. I would avoid service providers who cannot offer this as it will make it very difficult for you to manage your bandwidths.

If you factor in multiple service classes then your management of these tail circuits gets more complex as you no only have to work out how much bandwidth is required for each tail circuit, but how much of it should be reserved for each service class.

Regarding resilience, within the service providers core, the service is normally highly resilient to failures. However, when failures do occur, very often (depending on how the service is engineered) the rerouting can take a second or two. During this network re-convergence you will lose packets. Depending on the protocol your traffic uses this can be unimportant or devastating. For instance, some VPN and VoIP services don’t survive this well.

Normally resilience is not automatically provided all the way to the customer. Typically you will have one tail circuit and one router at each site. If either fails (or if the Service provider’s PE router has problems) you will lose service to the site, totally.

If this is an issue, you need to factor in dual connections. There’s multiple ways of doing this, and different service providers will offer different options. Make sure you get your Network Engineer involved as the devil is in the detail here, and some options which sound like they provide a fantastic level of resilience may not be as good as they sound, depending on how your internal network is configured.

And, of course, the key to all of this is SLAs: what do they offer? What happens if they break them? How do they report them to you?

Generally speaking, MPLS services are a great way to run a multi-site data network including VoIP services. I have seen many carriers and their customers doing this successfully for years.

Strictly speaking MPLS does not provide QoS. QoS is done by prioritizing traffic, and most IP routers, even those on the backbone of the Internet, can do this. The difference is whether they are configured to do this or not. In an MPLS network MPLS is provided by standard router features. MPLS technology (specifically Traffic Engineering) gives the carrier better control over how this traffic is prioritized and routed (and restored in case of network fault). All this does is give them the confidence to support SLAs.

As I mentioned, “QoS” is provided as a set of “service classes”. Typically these are things like “real-time”, “high-priority” and “everything else”. Mapping actual traffic into these classes can be done in a few different ways, but this is largely up to you to control. For instance, you could quite easily put web-browsing traffic into “real time” although this would normally be a dumb thing to do.

I would suggest the case for MPLS in terms of performance, cost and continuity against ‘traditional’ or ‘legacy’ data networks is now pretty robust, i.e. MPLS provides significant advantages in all 3 areas.

The key considerations when migrating include provider selection, access media (e.g. using Ethernet rather than SDH/SONET), the decision on procuring a managed or unmanaged service (often called wires-only) and the providers ability to map their CoS/QoS to the applications you need to support. This is especially important if you are operating any proprietary applications.

There is also an increasing trend to use WAN Optimization/application management solutions either as a value added service from the provider or from an alternative integrator or indeed doing it in house. This is important say for voice or applications such as CITRIX.

MPLS providers also now offer a whole suite of value added services such as integrated internet, managed network based firewalls and remote user support. If these are important to you make sure the providers demonstrate how this is achieved.

In selecting your provider ensure they have good geographic coverage in your areas and experience within your market segment. I always recommend requesting up to 3 references. Equally I think it is wise to understand how important a client you will be to the provider. It’s all well and good using the market leader (say according to Gartner)….. but you’ll often get a better service from a provider who values and really wants your business.

Need help designing the right MPLS configuration for your network? There’s a ton of resources….. free and fee….. listed and discussed at Broadband Nation.

Auto Mechanics Curriculum – Preparing for the Job of the Future

While taking driver’s education class in high school, for part of the curriculum, a man insisted his daughter take a basic auto mechanics class. They fought for weeks about this class. It was unnecessary. It was ridiculous. After all, she was a girl. After much verbal sparring, she took the class and enjoyed it, using her knowledge many times.

Years later, it became clear why the man wanted his daughter to take this class. Someday, her car would break down. The auto club would not always be able to come to her aid. Roadside assistance is not always available. Especially when the breakdown occurs in the middle of the desert. A person could wait hours for help. That could be dangerous. It was important to know how to fix the basics on her own.

When she became a parent, and her teenage daughter was ready to learn to drive, it was their turn to fight about taking the class. The mother insisted and her daughter relented. As it turns out, after much arguing, the student really enjoyed it. Since she did not have a “head” for business, or fashion, or mathematics, or English, or any other subject for that matter, it seems the one thing she excelled at was fixing cars.

After taking all of the basic classes the school had to offer, the student’s instructor suggested a transfer to the local high school that offered full vocational technical programs. The transfer took place, and for the next two years she took a number of classes like basic tune-ups and trouble-shooting, tire rotation and balancing, transmission repair, engine repair, fluid transfers for oil changes and transmission fluid, and air conditioning, among others. Upon graduation from high school, the student became a licensed auto mechanic.

For this young lady, that was not enough. She wanted to specialize in foreign cars. That required a whole new set of classes. Thus began her enrollment in the local college vo-tech. Another two years and she earned her A.S. Degree in Auto Mechanics. She was able to fix anything on wheels. However, as with any industry, evolution takes place. The new hybrid vehicles are already on the market, and the electric car is just around the corner. She continues with her education to maintain the high level of expertise necessary for the cars of the future.

Auto mechanic classes can help a student with their future. To become a mechanic, one must learn problem-solving skills. Mechanics is a process. So is life. One cannot put gas in a car that has no engine. Such is the same with life. One step at a time.

For students that struggle in school, vo-tech classes and auto mechanic classes have historically been extremely challenging. Their opportunities for success were once unlike the mother and daughter that both took auto mechanics classes and flourished.

Genital Herpes Symptoms and Treatment

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world today. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus.  This is the family of viruses that causes cold sores, shingles, and chicken pox. 

Genital herpes is caused by infection with the herpes simplex2 virus (HSV2). HSV1 is the virus that causes cold sores on the lips and nose area. The herpes virus, however, is not too particular about the mucous membrane it calls home and will happily live in either the mucous membranes of the mouth and lip area or the reproductive tract.  Because of this, oral genital contact can spread either HSV1, HSV2. Viral transmission can occur from the mouth to the genitals or from the genitals to the mouth. The blister type lesions caused by either virus are virtually identical.

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Sometimes after the initial infection there may be fever and general malaise as could be seen with any acute viral infection but this is not always apparent in all cases.  In fact the symptoms of a genital herpes infection may not be known to you until you see some blisters on or around your genital area. 

This is called an outbreak and is characteristic of the way the herpes virus acts in the body. There will be periods when the virus is dormant and none of the characteristic symptoms of genital herpes are present.  Then there will be these outbreak periods where blisters appear in the genital area and may even extend to the anal area. 

The blisters will act like any normal cold sore on the lips.  They come up with an initial tingling, then grow larger and spread and eventually burst leaving an ulceration that will slowly heal on its own.

In men these blisters occur on or around the penis.  In women the blisters may actually be in the vagina as well as on the surrounding genital area. 

Symptoms of genital herpes will come and go but the virus stays with you forever. The number of outbreaks will gradually become less and less and in some cases, some people do not see outbreaks at all.   

Diagnosis

You may not know you have contracted genital herpes until the first breakout of the blisters. Symptoms of genital herpes are so mild in some people they think they just have a skin irritation.  The best thing to do is to be checked by a doctor so that you can get diagnosed properly. 

Doctors can usually make the diagnosis based on inspection of the genital area as the lesions are quite specific in appearance.  In some instances the doctor may take a swab on the blister fluid to see if it contains the virus.

Genital Herpes Treatment

There is no cure for genital herpes, however, it can be controlled so that you can live a normal sexually active life.  Anti-viral medications are often prescribed at the first outbreak to knock back the infection and may be used for prolonged periods if outbreaks are frequent.

Other treatments for the discomfort of an outbreak are common sense measures such as wearing loose comfortable clothing, using cold compresses or soothing creams and ointments on the blisters.

A strong and healthy immune system is needed to keep the virus suppressed and to reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Health denying habits such as smoking, drug use, or toxic relationships will drain the resources of your immune system so your best method of treatment is to maintain good health.  This would include eating whole nourishing foods, getting plenty of exercise, and managing stress. 

Complications

Generally the herpes simplex virus is not considered a dangerous infection to persons who have a fully functioning immune system. The virus will be suppressed and outbreaks will not be common as long as the immune system is functioning well.

However, if the immune system becomes burdened or compromised in any way then outbreaks will be more likely to occur.  This may happen during times of physical or emotional stress.  If the immune system is comprised by other more serious illnesses such as HIV or cancer then the herpes virus can become more dangerous.

If the virus is directly transmitted to other areas such as the eyes, or the brain, complications can be very serious. This direct transmission can happen in a number of ways but the most common is during the birth process.  The infant can become infected with the virus from contact with the mother’s vagina during birth.

If you suspect you may have contracted a genital herpes infection see your doctor as soon as possible.  Never have sex during an outbreak and never have unprotected sex. This means using a condom  (either male or female type)  during every sexual encounter even during oral sex. 

Additionally you should always inform your partner of your herpes status.  This is always the right thing to do.