Friday, March 16, 2007

I spent most of tonight writing a lesson plan...

...for my interview this coming Sunday with the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. It sure is a bit of a pain in the neck trying to figure out how to write up a lesson plan for a 5 minute oral class presentation, especially since I can be very enthusiastic about the subject matter I have chosen. No - I will not be giving a lesson plan on the Beretta 92FS or the Remington 870. What I will be giving it on is the classification of vertebrates (backboned animals). While that particular subject is not necessarily near and dear to my heart, animals indeed are something in whcih I have more than a passing interest. Since this is a presentation as if I were teaching a science class, I polished it up a bit to make it somewhat scientific. I figure my presentation will be on somewhere from the middle to high school level, but I'll have to check with my son on that one. He is, in that regard, the expert being he is in high school. I am keeping my hopes high that I will be selected for a teacher's position, and that I will therefore be able to retire from law enforcement.

If you are not into biology, nature, animals - then don't bother reading on. If on the other hand, you have an interest in biology, nature and animals, read on if you will. It is nothing complicated, but I am hopeful it will do and make the interviewers think I know my stuff; or at least that I know how to present it. Of course, during my presentation, I plan to have several live examples to exhibit of fish, amphibians, and reptiles. If nothing else, it will keep their interest!

As we learned in class last time, living beings are divided into 5 kingdoms. The kingdoms are then divided into smaller more specialized groups called Phyla. The phyla are divided in more specialized groups called classes.

Of all the phyla, the one with which we may be most familiar is that of Chordata, or animals with a spinal cord. Of these we are probably most familiar with the animals with vertebrae (backbones). In class today we will learn the names of all five classes of vertebrates, and we will also learn how to distinguish between three of the five groups found with the sub-phyla Vertebrata.

All of the vertebrates have some things in common such as: a backbone made up of vertebrae, a spinal chord, and a central nervous system controlled by a brain. Typical vertebrates also have eyes, though in some the eyes have degraded or disappeared due to adaptive changes. Despite these similarities there are many diffrerences among the five different classes of vertebrates. These classes consist of: the true fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The fish, amphibians, and the reptiles are typically ectothermic, or in other words their body temperature is dependent upon the surrounding environment. Birds and mammals are endothermic, and can maintain their internal temperature as a function of their metabolisms. Today will will focus on the ectothermic, or cold blooded, vertebrates.

Fish are aquatic. They are typically ectothermic, or as we commonly call them they are: cold blooded. For the most part they breathe oxygen through internal gills. Most have an outer covering of scales, although some lack scales having tough gritty skin (sharks), or slime covered leathery skin (some catfish). Fish do not have ears, therefore do not have ear openings. A fish's limbs consist of fins. Typical fish have a tail fin, anal fin, dorsal fin, paired pelvic fins, and paired pectoral fins. Some fish can, in addition to breathing through their gills, breathe air through small lungs and or through their skin, and therefore can survive out of water for extended periods, e.g. the walking catfish, and the lungfish. These two fish are easily distinguished from other vertebrates, when they are out of water, because they have fins and gill slits. Most fish have teeth though not all have them. Fish reproduce either by laying eggs or giving birth to live young dependent upon the type of fish.

The amphibian class consists of Sirens, Salamanders, Newts, Frogs and Toads. Amphibians are ectothermic. They all lay eggs to reproduce. Typical amphibians lay their eggs in water, or very near to water where they can remain moist. This typically is in fresh water, but some amphibian eggs may tolerate brackish, slightly salty, water. Many but not all amphibians go through a larval stage wherein they must live in water and breath through external gills during that stage of life. Most mature into a different form as adults, such as a tadpole turning into a frog, or a gilled water breathing larval salamander turning into an air breathing adult. Most adult amphibians will breathe air through lungs, but almost all can also breathe through their skin. For the most part adult amphibians have four legs, a protective slime covering on their skin which is scale-less (some like toads may be drier and have warty skin), and need to live at least the larval part of their lives in water, then the remainder of their lives partially in, or at least near water, in some form. Some types of amphibians never come out of what appears to be a larval stage, and they continue living in the water and breathing through gills such as the mud-puppy, or the axolotl. Some amphibians, the frogs, exhibit what amounts to an external ear, or the tympanum membrane. Salamanders have no external ears or openings. Some amphibians have teeth while others do not, for example most frogs do not have teeth while one species the Argentine Horned frog does have them.

Reptiles - The reptile class consists of the crocodilians, lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises, and the tuatara. Typical reptiles are ectothermic, though at least one is now believed to be somewhat endothermic (capable of regulating its internal body temperature independent of the outside conditions).All reptiles have scales. All reptiles also have ears, but some such as the snakes have only vestigial ears. These have degraded through evolution to the point where they are useless to detect sound. Lizards have clearly detectable ear openings. All reptiles, with the exception of the Monkey Tailed Lizard, lay eggs in order to reproduce. Although it is a common misconception that some are livebearers as opposed to being egg layers. For example snakes which are referred to as live bearers, such as Garter Snakes, actually lay eggs but the egg membrane is so thin as to burst as soon as it passes out of the mother. These eggs incubate within the mother snake, and the babies are born fully formed but are still born from within, or hatched from, the egg. Many reptiles have fours legs, such as most lizards and all turtles and tortoises. Others do not have legs, such as snakes and legless lizards. Reptiles do not have gills at any stage in their lives after birth. Reptile skin is normally dry to the touch, they do not produce body protective slime as do the fish and amphibians. All reptiles, except turtles and tortoises have teeth; turtles and tortoises have beaks attached to their jaws.

There is a homework assignment being handed out, if you have any questions about it, ask now. Have this assignment ready to be handed in to me in out next scheduled class.

All the best,
Glenn B

No Cheer In The 6th Precinct This Week

Instead of cheerfulness over the warmer than usual weather we enjoyed here in NYC two days ago and early yesterday, there was little cheer if any to be found in Greenwich Village or the NYPD's 6th Precinct. Just two nights ago at, at about 9:30PM, a gunman reportedly entered a local restaurant and killed a waiter there by shooting him 15 times in the back. The gunman fled the scene, but two of New York’s Finest pursued him. These two though were finer than one would expect, you see they were auxiliary police officers, volunteers who don a uniform almost identical to that of a NYC Police officer, and then patrol the streets usually afoot to be the extra eyes and ears of the police department. What made them even finer still was the fact that they tried to do their jobs and beyond, apaprently to save others. They did not just observe the aftermath of the above killing, they apparently tried to intervene when they thought the killer posed a threat to others. They approached him attempted to wrest a bag containing his firearms away from him, and when he broke away they pursued him, all the while being only armed with night sticks. Then they were hunted down and both executed by the bad guy. You see, in NYC even the auxiliary police officers are not allowed to carry firearms, nor are they issued body armor. Yes one of them was actually reported to have been wearing body armor, probably a vest he purchased himself; but the sad truth is that it did not help him. So it happened as per the reports I have read so far today. A few links to articles here: (Please note that this last link is to a NY Post article, and the page that comes up will contain a link to actual video footage from a security camera, of one of ther officers being gunned down, it is very graphic.)

These were two very fine young men: Nicholas Pekearo, 28, and Eugene Marshalik, a 19. They gave their lives apparently to protect their fellow citizens from a crazed wacko. Shit - I have tears running down my face as I write this and I did not even know them; maybe it is because I frequent restaurants and shops in the exact area (and I do mean exactly the same location as the streets where this happened - no I don't live in NYC but do work there). Or maybe it because of how bad I feel that these young guys were gunned down and no one else helped them; but then heck - no one else was armed to help them. It is certainly getting me choked up to write this.

The city will most certainly be in mourning for quite some time too; there had not been an auxiliary officer killed in NYC in about 14 years. They will be given full police funeral services if their families want it that way. Those funerals will honor them to some extent, but it is sad that their lives will likely be in vain at least in some regards. Not in vain that they tried to help; they may well have saved other lives by their actions. They were very corageous. Yet their loss will be in vain. You see, NYC is unlikely to arm auxiliary police officers to prevent such from happening in the future. Instead, auxiliary officers will likely be reminded not to intervene in such situations, just to be the eyes and ears and take no action. Yet, that will not change the fact that there are really bad criminals among us. Nor will NYC be likely to change the restrictive guns laws therein. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to bet that because of these shootings, Mayor Bloomberg will try to enforce even tighter gun registration and gun control laws. The irony there is that it will only further restrict law abiding citizens from owning guns, and will likely make it eve more difficult for people to try to protect their own lives when some dirtbag like that starts killing people. If on the other hand, NYC allowed concealed carry weapons, and made it much easier for regular law abiding folks to arm themselves for self defense, chances are that things like these shootings would soon become much less prevalent than they are nowadays. In fact, chances are, had an armed good guy been seated in that restaurant, the bad guy may have never made it out the door to be able to shoot those two officers in the first place. That is just not likely to happen any time soon in NYC; and as much as I love the city, pardon me while I steal a phrase from Kim du Toit (a phrase by the way which I loathe), and at least just for today, I will use it when I refer to this city as - New York Fuckin City. Things like this should just not happen, and if folks had been allowed to be armed to defend themselves and other innocents it may well have been different.

On another note, if violent dirtbag criminals who kill others were put away for life, or better still, if they were executed for killing another person then these events would be less likely. If any criminals were given an add on sentence of a mandatory 25 years for use of a gun in a crime, then these events would be much less likely. If a criminal was given a mandatory sentence of 20 years for stealing a gun, then such events would be less likely. But it will not happen in good old way too liberal New York Fuckin City, because the mindset there is almost always to see the criminal as some sort of a victim. That is just a plain wrong way to see a violent criminal felon who harms another. They are, as I see them, dirtbags pure and simple. If people began to realize such and enforce tough anticrime laws, against real criminals instead of against good guys who want to own firearms, such events would be much less likely to happen. When will New Yorkers wake up and realize it is not the law abiding gun owner who is the enemy, it is not the gun that is evil, and instead come to the realization that it is the violent felon criminal dirtbag that needs to be put down (as in 'seen to be the bad guy' not as in 'killed like a dog'). I can only hope beyond almost all hope it will happen in my lifetime.

There was one ray of light in all of this, but it came too late for the three victims. The killer was shot down and himself killed by armed police officers when they arrived on the scene. It was reported as being like the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. My guess it was nothing like that for the three victims, they were all unarmed. They were executed, without much of a chance to fight back.

My condolences to the families of these two fine young men. My condolences to the family of the other victim who was also killed by this dirtbag. As to the family of the dirtbag, my condolences even to them - not because he lost his life, but for the pain he probably has caused them.
Be safe,
Glenn B