Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Fourth Anniversary of Just Add Light and Stir

My busiest blog is four years old. Just Add Light and Stir is a daily quote and image, usually with a link to the place it came from, or something that matches it well. It has a randomizer (thanks to Joyce Fetteroll sending me the code), and each post has three robotically (and well) chosen "you might also like.." links.

Peace, love and happy parenting!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making a video out of other elements without knowing how to

ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge business (spoiler: I stay dry)

Kirby's full video is on his facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154553642215486

Donate money here: http://alsa.org

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Books I'm built of

On facebook, a thing was going around, and I wrote what's below. I'm saving it because sometimes people ask me what books I've read, meaning probably which books made me the way I am as an unschooling advocate, but I don't have a list like that for them.

I used to have a list of books I recommended, years ago. (bottom of this page: Follow-up to HSC Home=Schooling Conference 2001) There are books I recommend now, but they're not at the core of me. They might be at the core of some people who read them now, in an impressionable stage; that would be good!
Instructions: in your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, but they should be ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends including the one who tagged you so they can see your list.
1. Whole Child, Whole Parent (Berrien Berends)
2. Conceptual Blockbusting (Adams)
3. Slapstick (Vonnegutt)
4. Zen Lessons, The Art of Leadership (Cleary, translator)
5. Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (Carlson)
6. The Monastic World (Brooke/Swaan)
7. Learning All the Time (Holt)
8. Man and his Symbols (Jung)
9. The American Heritage Dictionary (editions with the wonderful etymologies since 1969; not all have the etymologies)
10. Material World (Menzel)

No one tagged me, so I'm not tagging. It's just going to sit here. :-)

A couple of recent books I keep referring to and thinking of won't have as many years to affect me as the books above have had, but they're affecting me this year:

Smarter Than you Think (Thompson), about people, computers and the internet
Bad For You: Exposing the War on Fun (Pyle, Cunningham)

(I'll tag people who have already played, whose lists I read: Pam Sorooshian, Rose Sorooshian, Roxana Sorooshian)

I was thinking about what my list would have been when I was in my early-to-mid 20's. The only two above would have been Slapstick and The American Heritage Dictonary.

Probably then, those didn't have the roots in me that they have now.

I think my list when I was 23 or so would have been:

Oliver Twist
The Bible
The Sneetches and Other Stories (still important ideas)
The Lord of the Rings
Life on a Medieval Barony
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Child)
The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles
The Annotated Mother Goose (Baring-Gould(s))
Joan Baez Ballad Book
Be Here Now (Ram Dass)

But the books I didn't list above that are important in my life are reference books, not read-start-to-finish books (The Oxford English Dictionary; Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable), and collections (The Children's Hour, which I've had since before I was in school; Grimm's Fairy Tales; Chaucer; Shakespeare; Poe; various Robin Hoods, and various King Arthurs and the art in them). I liked the Science Fiction magazines on newsprint in the 60's, and LOOK magazine, and MAD magazine. I liked Childcraft books (which friends had, I didn't) and the series on sewing and needlework that someone was putting out in hardback in the 1970's (which I saw and borrowed but didn't own).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who speaks what and why, these days?

Gratuitous photos, each a link.

Rato e Pato photo DSC01401.jpg

Because of unschooling, I've travelled. Because I've travelled, I've met lots of people who are bilingual, or in many cases, who can speak three or four languages—adults and children both, in Europe and India.

I've seen how they've learned, or honed their second and third languages. Some of the adults studied in school, but unless they had a chance to use the language with native speakers, it's not very real, it seems. I studied French in school, and can read a fair amount, but I can't understand native speakers. They have no consonants. It's like a quick song of all unfamiliar vowels and sounds I can't make well.

So I'm thinking… In India there are lots of languages, in the street, in movies, on TV, families have servants who speak the local (state) language, and older relatives might not have as much English as their college-educated offspring have. Hindi and English are known by many. For people who live outside the north central part of the country, they also speak (or understand) one or more of Tamil, Bengali, Marati, Telugu, Gujarati Kannada, Malayalam or Punjabi. Google offers sites in all those languages: https://www.google.co.in

There are a billion people in India. There are 46 cities there with over a million inhabitants.

A smaller city is Rampur. Rampur is in Uttar Pradesh. People there speak Bangla, Hindi, English and other languages, in various combinations. The population was last recorded as 325,000 and some. There are 133 cities in India that are larger than Rampur.

Far away in Iceland, a nation whose borders are as distinct as can be, has a native language which came from Old Norse, so it's 1,000 years old. The entire country has about 325,000 people.

In Texas there's a city named Corpus Christi, on the Gulf of Mexico halfway across the Texas coast. The population is a little over 316,000 people. There are seven cities larger, in Texas.

But closer to the population size of Iceland, and in closer proximity to Canada, is St. Louis, Missouri with 318,416 people.

If someone begins to drive in St. Louis, headed to Mexico, he could get there in 16 hours—1063 miles to Laredo, Texas on excellent interstate highways—to cross over into Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas (where they don't speak Tamil, even though it sounds as though they should).

But say this guy from St. Louis doesn't want to go to Mexico. That border area isn't the good part of Mexico—not the pretty part, nor the (relatively) safe part. So St. Louis people could go somewhere eles. He is (by some of the best roads in the world) 2,050 miles from San Francisco on the Pacific, and barely over 800 miles to Washington DC, on the Atlantic.

Any direction north, he can drive until he hits the Arctic Ocean, and there will be English speakers (even in Quebec). Well maybe he can't drive there. Google says it's 3200 miles to Barrow, Alaska and offered to hook me up with an $825 flight (from St. Louis, a helluva long way from me), but driving directions… even Google maps didn't figure anyone ought to drive to Barrow, Alaska.

Portugal. Portugal has a language and a long and interesting history. And as many people as London has.

There are ten countries in the EU with a greater population than Portugal's. Leaving Portugal and driving on an imaginary US Interstate highway 2000 miles, one would drive through eight or ten countries and maybe more languages. And St. Louis is fairly central, in the U.S. Closer to the East coast. I tried overlaying the US on Europe with Los Angeles on top of Lisbon. It went too far to make sense here.

Canada and the US make a huge area for English speakers to travel and visit in, and it's a long expensive way to get to places where other languages are native, besides Mexico and Quebec. If different provinces and states has as many different languages—60 or so on the mainland—north Americans would probably speak a several languages, too.

I would prefer that people not belittle me for only speaking English. The world has always been rearranging, and someday other langauges will be spoken in lots of places. The US will fail someday as Rome fell and as England's empire shrivelled. But now, in my lifetime, English is nothing to be ashamed of.

My friends in other countries have been sweet and generous in letting me visit even though I wasn't able to communicate in French, Dutch, or Portuguese. The willingness of Brits and Australians to repeat or rephrase is appreciated. I'm glad I was allowed to trade ideas, stories and writing for that hospitality. Thank you.

Here's something about English in Iceland: Bilingualism: Why Not?, by ZR – zoe_robert3@hotmail.com

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What I learned from Holly

Holly is good at photo manipulation, and related issues. She showed me how to find a color, from an image, for making matching fonts or lines or backgrounds. I've used that trick quite a bit.

Today I used it again here: http://sandradodd.com/open

We have three juice glasses, probably from the early 1960's, I got from a thrift store. One day just for fun I photographed one.

Thinking about the heritable personality trait "openness to experience" and thought it would be good to start collecting notes about that, for the benefit of unschooling families.

Helen Davies had brought a Ray Bradbury quote to a discussion:
I was not embarrassed at circuses. Some people are. Circuses are loud, vulgar, and smell in the sun. By the time many people are fourteen or fifteen, they have been divested of their loves, their ancient and intuitive tastes, one by one, until when they reach maturity there is no fun left, no zest, no gusto, no flavor. Others have criticized, and they have criticized themselves, into embarrassment. When the circus pulls in at five of a dark cold summer morn, and the calliope sounds, they do not rise and run, they turn in their sleep, and life passes by.
That inspired me to use the photos of the circus glasses on that page.

This week, someone was asking what to do if adults quiz her child. The child in question is six months old, so it's too soon for her to care. But in the discussion someone used the phrase "my child isn't a circus monkey."

When Marty was four or five (I've forgotten), I wanted him to roller blade for his grandparents. He was really good, very young. He declined. They were getting ready to drive home (200 miles) and I wheedled at him. Keith said (to me, to get me to drop it) "He's not a performing monkey."

True and good point! But what if Marty had wanted to show them and I was the one who had been saying, "No, don't"? And what if someone used "circus monkey" instead, when I already had a page with a circus reference AND a picture of a circus monkey!? Well then it goes on the page.

I didn't think of the page when I wrote my response, but I did think of Marty, twenty years ago, and of Keith who hinted that I should not be a ringmaster.

But back to Holly. The page had a section in red. It clashed with the glasses. The page had horizontal lines as section dividers. They were boring.

I went into photoshop elements to sample the red (somewhat fading away) on the glasses. It was different different places, and had lots of numbers and letters. Not the clean kinds of code webpages need. I picked up the phone to call Holly to ask her how I can find the nearest web-worthy code, and then I stopped and thought "What would Holly do?" So I looked around at my photoshop options and found "Web colors only." Tadaaa! Thank you, Holly who isn't even home!

Holly says she learned photoshop from Marty. I learned it from Holly, but each of us has found things for the others, and that's pretty sweet!

Yesterday on an old episode of Robin Hood I saw a performing monkey in a little coat.
(He's drinking out of the goblet, lower left.)
One more connection, and it won't be the last!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

iPhone, ME!

Like Pinocchio becoming a real boy…

I got an iPhone today, and it's just like a little iPad that's a phone. That last phone I had never did work smoothly. Even Holly (who has a phone just like it) and Marty (who can usually figure out any gadget) couldn't help me.

Keith was feeling generous and encouraged me not to get the smallest iPhone. Destiny was sweet and talked to me all about what was what. Holly went with me to get it "ghost armored." Marty…he's been saying "You should get an iPhone" for quite a while. He said I would already know how to use it, because of the iPad. He was right!. Kirby has had iPhones for years, and he's not even an Apple computer guy, beyond that phone—so I took that as a good sign.

There was one other Mac given to me by Pam Hartley and her husband, when my first iMac was failing to have the power and brains to operate well with all the unschooling work I was doing on AOL—chats and forums, and lots of e-mail—I might find a photo of that and get help identifying it, at some point.
It took lots of thinking and encouragement, but I've owned Apple computers since the Mac IIsi I got in 1991, and had helped Ray Moseley (transcribing The Hammer, and working on a catalog) using Ray's Macintosh II in the 1980's.

Since then I've had an iMac G3 (the fat round ones), iMac G5 (elegant—LOVED THAT ONE), MacBook Pro (a string of those, for various reasons with interesting stories behind each change), and now a MacBook Air.

I have no preferred brands of shoes, chocolate, cars or much of anything, but these past 25+ years of Apple computers have been GREAT! So… I was slow to get an iPhone, but I have one now.

Note to future me: This shows a 13" MacBook Air, iPhone 5s and iPad Air

As I find portraits of the others, I hope I will bring them here, too. :-)

Holly and the G5:

Kirby and the IIsi:
Kirby 5:00 a.m. photo kirbyasleep.jpg

Sunday, July 06, 2014

333 (patterns)

My three kids, in birth order, and then 33 others.