Sunday, July 18, 2010

Same and Different: easy answers and second looks

For young children, this might seem obvious. It's not about color, so that might be another way to look at what youngest children look at first.

The video is new at youtube, and the comments there include "the converse has laces and the rest of them don't!"

Many answers that seemed obvious to us in childhood look different in the light of years and experience. The uniqueness of any object, person, idea, plant or animal can be discussed, as can similarities to other things.

All of that reminded me of the game "SET." It's a game that seems easier for younger children than adults. When I play it, I think in words. Maybe people who are more visual will find it simpler.

In everyday comparison and contrast, there are many other factors past verbal, logical, size or color. Which of those shoes were made in the U.S.? Which fit? Which are stylish? How hot is it outside? Ah. but the question isn't about which shoes someone might want to wear. Shoe stores are about which shoes people want to wear!

The video is a good example of multiple choice questions, and a good toy for playing with how we sort and choose, how we name things, and how we interpret what we see. And the song is nice. It reminds me of when Kirby was little, and he'll be 24 later this month.

Much of the comparison/contrast that comes up naturally at our house is about musical styles and forms and versions.

Holly and I saw a quilt at an antiques mall, and I said "Stained glass window!" but I was pointing at the glass case it was in, so Holly thought I was talking about the glass (which was clear).

Patterns, patterns, patterns...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Old Age

"Kama Chinen, from Japan, was born in 1895 and incredibly lived through three different centuries.
She was born on May 10, 1895 — the same year as King George VI.

"France's Eugenie Blanchard now holds the crown of the globe's oldest person, aged 114."

My favorite thing in that article is the United Nations prediction that by 2050 there will be nearly one million people in Japan over the age of 100.

The article that led me to this one was the 130th birthday of a woman in Georgia (former Soviet Georgia, not former Confederate Georgia). Her records have been long lost, so she can't win the international race, as it were... but 1880. She was born in 1880.

Anyway... the articles are from the racy, crazy SUN, in London, and the reason I get their e-mails is that they had an article on the letter I got from David Bowie, when Antisa Khvichava was only 87 years old. For a while there were letters in response to that, so I was checking in on occasion.

I had a grandfather born before the 1900's, but he died in the late 1970's or so. Here we are in the 1950's:

Holly and I visited my friend Beau the other day. Beau can start collecting social security when she's 62, because she was born before 1950. I'll have to wait until I'm 65, because I was born in 1953. All this information is patterns, patterns, patterns. It involves government finances, family relations, and future careers in gerontological fields.

Save the Date - Careers in Aging Week 2011
April 10-16, 2011

Friday, June 25, 2010

Optimism and Gratitude (KIND of...)

Below is a song from a musical that was never successful, but the song is good! Carol Burnett sang it originally, and if anyone knows where there's a recording online of her doing it, or a video, please leave a link to it! Thanks.

Claire Spencer, a friend of ours, sang it to us many years ago, and repeated it a couple of times just because we asked. She had it on an LP from her childhood. Unfortunately, I don't have a recording of Claire doing it, either.

This is Buddy Rich, a famous drummer, on the Muppet Show, not drumming. 1981:

Here's one of him drumming, same program, no drums:

The Muppet Show - Backstage with Buddy Rich

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nerd Pride Day (Día del Orgullo Friki)

Rocco Stanzione:
How did I not know about this holiday? I'm gonna write a nerd poem for my wife...

Señor Buebo, organizador del Día del Friki. (Foto: Antonio Heredia)

Roses are red,
violets are blue
All my base
are belong to you
Marilyn Olowe:
LOL, Rocco. How about this:
Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you ♥
Tracing back from that, I found this by Erin Rose O'Brien:
While rummaging across the internet for wacky holidays, I found this:
Apparently, it originated in Spain. You go Spanish nerds. In addition, it falls on the anniversary of the original Star Wars film.

In 2008, Geek Pride Day came to America and in 2009, Canada. So let's rock our nerdiness. Let's get a large number of people to party it up with us.
Irreverent Haiku

Meanwhile, for the past several days, other nerds have been writing other poems, on a Facebook page created by Jeff Sabo. As those who don't have a part-time home on facebook won't be able to see it, I've brought some of my own, and the promise that there are many more and better there.

People are playing with long words. This is my 5-7-5:

And before that,
Why do we think it?
That big thoughts will not fit in
Small words of one sound.

and what started me with the five-syllable situation:
In Beowulf's age
Haiku all angled to be

One of my favorite geek-poetry things of all is the error message haiku which have been going around for years. There's no one definitive set, I don't think, as they're passed around as office humor, but here's one site with a collection:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Edith Cavell, long division and other trivia

Because of watching this: As Time Goes By...

...I read this: There was just a passing mention of Edith Cavell, in the sixth episode of the third season, and I wanted to understand the joke.

And so I learned a fair amount about WWI that I hadn't known, and how people were being recruited with a story that turned out to have much exaggeration and some denial. But still it was heroism, and had I know this before I was in Norfolk last summer I would have wanted to see this monument. I might have passed right by it, but didn't know the story.

There are roads, schools, hospitals, buildings, people, a pub, a mountain, a bridge, a rose, a radio station, a YWCA camp, and a hill or something on Jupiter named after Edith Cavell, in the U.K., Belgium, France, Portugal, South Africa, Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. And Jupiter. Okay, well not all those named things are in all those places. One in each, at least.

If considering the difference between knowledge and trivia, consider this, by Ronnie Maier.
Wrapping the point in silk

Each of us is born with a crazy passion to learn.
Each of us craves knowledge of our world and our place within it.
We learn because we want to learn, because it’s important to us, because it’s natural,
and because it’s impossible to live in the world and not learn.
Then along comes school to mess up a beautiful thing.
~ Peggy Pirro, 101 Reasons Why I'm An Unschooler

MJ helped one of my nieces with her long division homework the other day. Hearing that she had done this got me thinking again about what a waste of time and brain cells it is to learn long division.

#1 - As Pam Sorooshian pointed out in her math talk at Good Vibrations last year, the precision of long division is just not what we need out in the real world. Think about when you use division in real life: calculating the best value at the grocery store, figuring gas mileage, seeing how many of something you can use in a given time period or distribute to each person, and so on. And how do you do it? In your head, using estimates. "258 miles on 7.8 gallons, um, that's a little better than 30 mph." Done. Typically, we don't need to know that it was 33.07692 mph. And if we do...

#2 -Most of us carry calculators with us all day every day. We have calculators on our computers, in our phones, in our PDAs, in our watches, magnetized to our dashboards, clipped to our grocery carts, whatever. With a little practice, we can use these faster than we can estimate in our heads.

So, why are they still teaching long division in schools???? It is but one example of how schools have failed to adapt.

Once upon a time, it was vital for a certain group of people to know that wearing a silk shirt under armor might save your life, since the silk makes it easier to remove an arrow if you get shot. Somebody figured this out, and the word spread, and it became part of the standard warrior curriculum. Back then, knowing this technique was a matter of life and death. Nowadays, it's a quaint little factoid.

I'd rather have my kids learning about that than long division. Long division is a dead end, an exercise in tedium, a compelling bit of evidence that "math is hard" (not to mention unpleasant), or worse, that "I am stupid."

That little silk tidbit, though... Now that's interesting. I don't remember where I learned it—probably in a romance novel—but I looked it up on the Internet. It led me to Mongols and absorbency and sutures and animal rights for worms. And it led me to wonder: Who figured this out and how? Can you imagine the circumstances...? Chloe and I laughed together as we talked about it.

In other words, that little tidbit is fun. It opens doors. It engages my brain and reminds me that the world is full of things to discover.

That is what learning should be. I wonder why our schools haven't figured that out.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When little kids aren't afraid of Shakespeare

And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them
Shakespeare Through an Unschooling Lens

by Karen Ridd

This is from Life Learning Magazine, March/April 2010. I don't know whether you'll be able to read it without subscribing, but you might want to subscribe, perhaps. Next month there will be an article by me.

A quote from Karen Ridd's article:
There’s a lot of giggling going on in the back seat of the car. We’re on our way home from the prestigious Golden Boy indoor soccer tournament. My eleven-year-old son Daniel has a gold medal around his neck after a hard-played final. He also has a book in his hand – not exactly standard “Grade Six” reading fare. It’s Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare – and he and his eight-year-old brother are quizzing each other on the lines that they are memorizing. And giggling.… They are giggling at how funny these lines are. I, on the other hand, have tears in my eyes, a smile that reaches to Pittsburgh, and a heart overflowing with gratitude that we are able to learn without school.

This year they'll both be in a production of Twelfth Night. Last year Ben, the younger, was in The Tempest, but I don't want to give away the good parts of the story.

The image is a reminder for Sam Rockwell fans (and everyone else!) to watch A Midsummer Night's Dream and was lifted from an older post on this blog.

Sam Rockwell and Kevin Klein as Pyramus and Thisbe (Bill Irwin as "Wall," who is also Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street)

On my own pages there are Tales from Unschooling Lives Involving Shakespeare:

Pam Larrichia wrote "Shakespeare is fun!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Songs about singing, Art about art, and mirrors

This was a Lyrics Game entry in 2007, for the word "mirror," and I wanted to bring it here as it's being retired there.

I've made a songlist for Songs about Singing.

Here are two other links people here might like: Polyphony and Horses, or Art about Art

After that date, I started a page called Reflections on Mirrors.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Anniversary of the death of the first Queen Elizabeth

Mar 24, 1603 Queen Elizabeth I died. She was nearly 70, and had been queen of England since she was 25. From the Death of Queen Elizabeth I:
In March 1603 Queen Elizabeth was clearly unwell and seemed depressed. She retired to one of her favourite homes - Richmond Palace. Stubborn as ever she refused to allow her doctors to examine her. She also refused to rest in bed - she stood for hours on end, occasionally just sitting in a chair. Her condition became worse and her ladies-in-waiting spread cushions across the floor. Queen Elizabeth eventually lay down on the cushions. She lay on the floor for nearly four days - mostly in complete silence. She eventually grew so weak that when her servants insisted on making her more comfortable in her bed she was unable to argue with them. The end was clearly near for the great old Queen. Her Councillors gathered around her. Soft music was played to soothe her. She had still not named James as her successor but she made a sign to Robert Cecil and it was interpreted that this was her wish.

(More details)

The funeral wasn't until April 28. The body was in a lead coffin, which I guess can keep Superman safe from kryptonite, and England safe from a month-old body. In the middle of the site linked above are advertisements for wrongful death claims (just in case anyone wants to sue, about Elizabeth's death, I guess. As she was childless, though, and others benefitted from the death, I don't guess there needs to be a claim. If she WAS childless, that is... There are hints and suggestions that she had a son, and a very bright one, too. Sir Francis Bacon. There's a recent book out (2001-recent), not so much serious history, claiming that the plays of Shakespeare were written by a son of Elizabeth, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. That he wrote the plays, and William Shakespeare was used as a cover, kind of the opposite of ghost writing. A scholar wrote of the believers of that theory: “Oxfordians are the sub-literary equivalent of the sub-religious Scientologists. You don’t want to argue with them, as they are dogmatic and abusive.” But women aren't having children as they're dying, though they might be thinking of their children. If they had any. The images above and many others, including the funeral procession, effigy and tomb (though those weren't until 407 years and some weeks later) are here: So what's the big connection? Besides just everything in the 16th and early 17th century? Shakespeare? (Even way apart from the odd theory that the they might be related indirectly by contract.) Francis Bacon? (Even if they weren't related, they did correspond in a very intimate tone, and he was some kind of genius.) Exploration of the New World and victory over the Spanish Armada? Elizabeth I reigned for 44 years 4 months and 5 days. Five other monarchs have ruled longer. Henry III in the 13th century, Edward III in the fourteenth (and so she died with the third longest reign) and since then, George III (160-1820), Victoria in the 19th Century, and Queen Elizabeth II, 1952 to still-counting. If Elizabeth II passes George III and Queen Victoria, she will be #1, but Elizabeth I will be #6 in any case.
[Elizabeth II] will have to reign until 2012 to reign longer than George III, 59 years from 1760-1820, and until 9th Sept 2015 when she will be 89 years old to better Victoria's record and become the longest reigning monarch.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

History found in playing cards

A brief look at the symbolism behind a deck of playing cards by 16th C. German artist Jost Amman.

Posted to the medieval trivia list at yahoo (
I recently found an interesting article about the symbolism on early
German playing cards, so I put together a little video about a deck we
have by the German artist Jost Amman

MacGregor Historic Games

The "card spots" common in one place might not be the same as in another! In the U.S. I grew up with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. In Spain their club is an actual wooden club, and they have gold, cups and swords. Their playing card art can look like our tarot card art.

I don't know which kind they use in Mexico; anyone know?

The illustration of the Spanish cards from wikipedia:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Deaf Unschooling Comic Strip

updated a bit July 2019

These are by Adrean Clark and are on her Deviant Art page.

I'll need to ask for new links or images. Deviant art isn't available in "waybackmachine" form.

Meanwhile, years have passed and there are other links for Adrean's art and activities!
See (maybe buy!) graphic art in various forms

Adrean Clark dot com webpage said (in early 2010; might still)
Adrean Clark is a deaf cartoonist currently based in St. Paul, MN. Former comics/webcomics she authored are My Hands Full, The Significance of Reality, and The Dark Side of the Moon.

As a strong advocate of American Sign Language, she often deals with signing community themes in her work. Her work has appeared in publications such as SIGNews and Deaf Rochester News.

Clark is the Visual Editor of Clerc Scar, where her current comic work appears.
As Adreanaline, Adrean posts on unschooling discussions sometimes, and is in the Monday and Friday unschooling chats when she's not too busy. Adrean created an image of clear singing, following one of the discussions. It is here:

Her husband is John Lee Clark, the editor of Deaf American Poetry.

They're unschoolers.