Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yo-Yos and Environmentalism

Wisconsin television stations were recently scammed. Or duped. Or made a less-than-wise programming decision. A guy named Kenny purportedly preaches a message of environmentalism, using yo-yos and humor to reach kids. Several stations invited him on-air. The segments got weird. (You can see the exposé here, but you probably want to close the window on the ads partially covering the screen.)

I honestly don't care diddly about the so-called scam or who Kenny really is. What should be surprising (but unfortunately isn't) was that more than one station invited this man to be on live tv. They didn't check into his background. They didn't verify facts. His claim that he spoke about environmental issues was enough for them to usher him right onto the stage and stick a microphone in front of him.

And the mainstream media wonder why the public is looking for alternative news sources on the internet?? The ratings on TV news is dropping?? Hello!


Good Morning America interviewed an unschooling family recently, chose the snips of film that would make them look as weird as possible, and then proceeded to run the "news story" and disparage unschooling.

A better explanation of unschooling can be found at momlogic, in an interview with Sandra Dodd. I love how Sandra gives her point of view but is also careful to explain that other homeschoolers have different methods and motivations. I also like how she describes the difference between unschooling and school-at-home (both of which are valid ways to homeschool). She points out that school-at-home makes use of many management tools that are used for large groups of children in the classroom; they can be used at home, but are not necessary when teaching one child or a small group.

HT: Jenny and Dawn

Today's Laugh

US tourists, a man and his wife are traveling in the Middle East. An Arab approaches the husband, saying, "I'll give you 100 camels for your woman."

After a long silence, the husband says, "She's not for sale."

The indignant wife says, "What took you so long to answer?"

The husband replied, "I was trying to figure out how to get 100 camels back home."

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Vain Am I?

Ten weeks ago I got a haircut. I liked it enough to want to keep it that length. I should've had it cut 2-4 weeks ago. I don't want to spend the money or take the time to go to a salon.

Rachel has cut my hair in the past. But she's going to be moving, so I can't depend on her to give me bimonthly haircuts.

Do I trust my husband to do it? He would be the obvious choice; he'll be sticking around for a few years, y'know.

What if he botches it? Does he trust me to forgive him if he makes me look like a complete weirdo? Do I trust me to forgive him if he butchers my hair? Hmmm. This could get dicey.

But I betcha he can do it.

(It's amazing to think that anybody who looks as frumpy as I do could even care about an imperfect "learner's permit" haircutting job. It's simply not logical.)

Next question: If I talk myself into having Gary cut my hair, can I talk him into doing it?

Today's Laugh

A little girl was trying to raise $100 for her softball team. She prayed for two weeks but nothing happened. Then she decided to write a letter to the Lord requesting the $100.

When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to "The Lord, USA," they decided to send it to the President of the United States. The President was so impressed, touched, and amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little girl a $5 bill.

The President thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little girl. The little girl was delighted with the $5 and sat down to write a thank-you note to the Lord, which read:

Dear Lord, Thank you very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington, DC. As usual, those jerks deducted $95. Love, Sara.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Problem with "Work Before Play"

It seems frivolous to play when there's work to be done. Do the work first. Then rest. Or goof off. If we play before we work, we could play forever and not ever buckle down.

Problem #1. Workaholics can work forever and not ever stop buckling down. But that's not the point of this post.

Problem #2. Homeschooling can be confounding when you intend to "work before play." The "work" is the housekeeping and the gardening and the errands that must be done to maintain a household. The "play" is snuggling in bed on a cold morning and reading a book with your daughter. The "play" is going on learning-tangents to assuage your curiosity about a few dozen items that come up during the day's section of history-reading. The "play" is going on a nature walk with binoculars and scouting out birds so that real-life experience fleshes out what you're reading from your science book. The "play" is building a transmission or a sewing machine out of your Fischertechniks.

But if the "play" is the schoolwork that should be occupying a hefty portion of your day as homeschoolers, then "play" needs to come before work. At least, sometimes it does.

Such frivolity. Such goofing off. This workaholic is going to have to try harder to quit working so hard. Or do one doozy of a job of redefining "work."

Today's Laugh

A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of wheat on the road. The farmer that lived nearby came to investigate.

"Hey, Willis," he called out, "forget your troubles for a while and come and have dinner with us. Then I'll help you put the wagon right."

"That's very nice of you," Willis answered, "but I don't think Dad would like me to."

"Aw, come on, son!" the farmer insisted.

"Well, OK," the boy finally agreed, "but Dad won't like it."

After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked the host. "I feel a lot better now, but I know Dad's going to be real upset."

"Don't be silly!" said the neighbor. "By the way, where is he?"

"Under the wagon," replied Willis.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's such fun to have Philip over. He's the one who, for so many years, drove our homeschool with his curiosity about a gazillion things. When the older kids are around visiting, they're always doing what they've done all their lives, hypothesizing and looking up answers to bizarre questions and discussing.

Sunday it was beans. What's the difference between the different kinds of beans? After some web-surfing and science-searching, he discovered that black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, etc, are all the same species. Now, lentils and peas are in the same family/subfamily/tribe, but different genus and species. Garbanzos are the same family/subfamily as all the other beans, but different genus and species; same goes for fava beans.

But Anasazi, pink beans, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans are all the same species. That threw me: they're different colors and they taste different and their nutrients aren't identical. But people come in different colors and we're all the same species. Dogs might look different from one another, but they're all the same species. I guess beans are the same.

The freaky things you learn when Philip comes to visit!

Today's Laugh

A band director named Ravelli was having a lot of trouble with one drummer. He talked and talked and talked with the drummer, and performance simply didn't improve.

Finally, before the whole band, he said, "When a musician just can't handle his instrument and doesn't improve when given help, they take away the instrument, and give him two sticks, and make him a drummer."

A stage whisper was heard from the percussion section: "And if he can't handle even that, they take away one of his sticks and make him a conductor."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Alia Pictures

Because some of you aren't Facebook friends with Katie, here are a few pictures from recent months.

Drawing with markers in February

Just had a taste of bubble-wand



A Second Laugh for Today

Go read my daughter's tale of an interchange with some customers at work last weekend. I couldn't stop laughing as I read it!

Today's Laugh

The father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which one should have the present.

"Who is the most obedient?" he asked. "Who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?"

Five small voices answered in unison. "Okay, Dad, you get the toy."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Accurate Ears and Intuition

Sandy tells the story of how, when she was little, her uncle would play a game of asking the kids to "sing an A" or "what is an F-sharp?" Sandy has perfect pitch, and she could never figure out what the "game" was; somebody asks you to sing a B-flat and you do; so what's the trick?

When I was in school and the music teacher would have us listen to a concert piece, she would point out, "Do you hear what the oboe is doing in this section?" or "Aren't the violins beautiful here!" I didn't get it. I could hear music, but I couldn't hear individual instruments. Of course, I was the kid who drove my 1st- and 2nd-grade teachers batty when they tried to teach me to spell pen and pin, or are and our. "Can't you HEAR the difference?" Nope. Sure couldn't. (By the way, now that I'm grown up, I can hear the difference in the words, and I usually can recognize the trumpets and the cellos and the flutes in a recording of a symphony.)

When Gary was repairing the deck, there was almost nothing I could do to help during the day while he was at work. He had a picture in his head of what needed to be done, and he worked methodically at bringing that picture to life. But to explain the steps to me? Couldn't do it. He didn't have it all figured out; he just had something in his mind that he was making come about. Paul would do the same thing with Lego castles. They have a mechanical-spatial intelligence that I don't have.

People on the autism spectrum don't read faces well. They don't pick up on social clues so as to know what other people are thinking and feeling, or what's motivating the other guy. Then there are others of us who are pretty darn perceptive when it comes to noticing other people's feelings or motivations. When asked to explain how I know what somebody's thinking, I can't do it. But that doesn't mean I don't know -- just like Gary knew what he was doing with the deck but couldn't say why, just like Sandy can pull an on-key pitch out of thin air when other people can't even match a pitch as they're hearing it.

When other people can't see something that is obvious to me, sometimes I try to convince myself that I don't know what I know. After all, I can't explain why I know. I can't prove it. Other people don't see it. So am I nuts to perceive things that other don't perceive? Or is this just like when a 9-yr-old can't hear the difference between pen and pin? Some people detect things that others do not; some people have intelligences that are not as well developed in others.

Today's Laugh

For Eamonn --

A girl went out on a date with a trumpet player. When she came home that evening, her roommate asked, "Well, how was it? Did his embouchure make him a great kisser?"

"Nah," said the first girl. "That tight, dry, tiny little pucker. It was no fun at all."

The next night she went out with a tuba player. When she came home, the roommate asked, "Well, how was his kissing?"

"Ugh!" the first girl exclaimed. "Those huge, rubbery, blubbery, slobbering slabs of meat. It was just gross!"

The next night she went out with a French horn player. When she came back, the roommate asked, "Well, how was his kissing?"

"His kissing was just so-so. But I loved the way he held me."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

and for Kara --

What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
No one cries when you cut up a viola.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

John 21

In the story of the great catch of fish after the resurrection (John 21), when the disciples arrive onshore, they find Jesus with a fire of coals. When Isaiah was commissioned as a prophet (Isaiah 6), the angel touched his lips with [ta da!] a burning coal from the fire.

Near the end of the chapter, Peter asks Jesus about John. What's going to happen to John? Will he be a prisoner some day too? Jesus tells Peter to "Follow Me." Interestingly enough, that was what Jesus said when He first called Peter to be an apostle (Matthew 4).

It's kind of comforting that even the great St Peter had to be told some things over and over.