Sunday, May 30, 2010

Be a good person to be a good parent

Even if you're not a parent, being a better person makes you and all the world better.

A friend of over 20 years posted something negative on facebook and I responded "Negativity changes the world, but not in a good way." Someone criticized me for that, but I don't feel the least regret for reminding people to be positive. We have choices.

Another friend I've known for over 30 years wrote this yesterday, in an unrelated exchange:

One of my mom's favorite sayings was, "Brighten the corner where you are." As a young hippie idealist, I snorted at those words. It's taken me this long to realize how right she was, cuz that's the only way the world heals.
My response was
My dad told me, when I was 15 or so, "You just need to decide to be happy." I thought he must not be very smart.

As I got older I looked back and saw how many situations in his life had involve deciding to be happy and accepting and to make the best of situations. At 15, though, it made no damned sense.

My dad was my best influence. He was generous, helped others freely, smiled through adversity and made the world around him safer and better.

It's popular recently for some people to assert that there is no such thing as "good" or "bad," but that's nonsense. Without knowing the direction we want to go, how can we make choices at all? I think people confuse "there is more than one good choice" with "all choices are equal."

My dad didn't die in the war, though he was in the army during WWII. I was 24 when he died. He was buried in the national cemetery in Santa Fe. He was as good a parent as he could be, and made up for my mom's meanness and alcoholism by being kinder, nicer and stronger. It's not virtue that he wasn't an alcoholic; he just wasn't. Yes, it's a condition that some people inherit, but lack of knowledge and resolve do make it worse, and I'm glad people understand it better now than they did forty years ago.

Today can't be made better tomorrow.

Today you will make choices. Those choices will affect more lives than your own.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Holly, a reflection, and "photobooth"

(There was a flash video file that didn't transfer from photobucket to my site, but I'm leaving the note just in case someday it is transferred and restored.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Holly... soon!

I get to see Holly in two weeks. I'm visiting at Bea's house for a few days on the way to the Great Big Happy Life Conference in New Jersey.

Holly has uploaded a bunch of photos to her photobucket account, and I'm going to share some of my favorites. They're clickable.

(well, everything is clickable, I suppose, but these will go somewhere)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just the top end of me

This is what I looked like to Cheryl Etzel last time I spoke at the HSC conference. I should be careful not to look so much like that this year!

Her explanation:
In 2006, at the HSC Sacramento Family Homeschool Conference, I was
sitting very close to the front of the audience while you spoke on a
quite elevated stage, behind a large podium, obscuring you almost
completely from my view.

Normally, the obscured view of a speaker would move me to a new seat,
but your voice and passion moved me to sit still and carried your
message, perfectly. I found your face interesting in the half-sy
view provided by my too-close seat, and wound up doodling this drawing.
She gave me permission to share it. Here's part of my response:
In just a few lines, you drew something no one has ever mentioned to me, but I'm always aware of it. My cowlick is right at the front of my hair, and so one side goes up and one side goes down. I've known that since I was a teen, but the fashion for straight hair was parted down the middle, and there it still is. My mom's hair did that same thing, too.
Before Sacramento, I'm speaking in Montreal and New Jersey, but I don't expect a high stage and a podium.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Albuquerque, and The Ace Festival

Today I went to the grocery store, thinking of the ACE Festival. Adam Daniel (who is five years old) and I corroborated on a name. Adam did most of the work. It's the Albuquerque Chatting and Exploring Festival, planned for January 7-10, 2011.

Adam said that when his mom was younger, people would say "that's ace!" rather than "that's cool." Yesterday I was watching "As Time Goes By" (a British sitcom, or Britcom), and the character Alistair, who is usually modern-to-futuristic in his slang, said "that's ace." It was partly to show that he was slowing down and being more himself. And because of my correspondence with Adam, I knew that.

This morning at the store I saw this:

And going out to the car I saw the parking lot in such glory that it would have been perfect for out-of-town guests, but I was the only one there, so I whipped out the cameraphone and brought these images:

I didn't have to go out of my way. That's my cart in the first one. I was headed toward my car when I saw the old panel van, and the new delivery truck. The pickup for sale was parked right next to me. There will be a logo but it's still in process.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Agapanthus, Yard, First Official Notice of something

I couldn't think of the name of "agapanthus." When I bought mine it was labelled "Peter Pan Lilies of the Nile." And before I can think "agapanthus," I think "australopithecus." Because my mental filing system is cluttered, I'm likely to call them australopanthus someday, especially since I've learned they're growing like crazy in New Zealand. And yes, yes, I know NZ and AUS aren't the same and they're not twins or buds, but from my point of view Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico have nothing in common but borders and highways, but I do understand if people from Australia or Texas can't tell them apart very well. Poor Texans have so much Texas history, geography and trivia to learn that they just can't keep the neighbors straight. That's okay.

Julie Daniel is the one who told me "agapanthus," at her house in Ashford, near London, last year. NEXT year (barely 2011, early January), Julie, her husband James and her son Adam, will be in Albuquerque to visit, and are interested in meeting other unschoolers (though where they live the term is "autonomous home education"), and I said I would try to stir some up!

Last January we did the serious SUSS gathering in Santa Fe, for parents and older unschoolers. This January, though it's not named yet, there will be events and some shared meals, but no "site" really, except my house sometimes. Adam is five, and so young children will be the focus again. People who already live in the area might host friends, and others can stay in an inexpensive motel (or wherever you want, but I'll find a place to recommend that has space and internet and not too far from here and the freeway). Other options would be The Hotel Albuquerque (not inexpensive, but walking distance of two of the museums we'll be going to) or one of the places near the airport, if someone wants to try to do this without an automobile at all. There's a bus stop within a few hundred yards of my back gate, and buses go to Old Town, where the museums are.

More information on things like that will come within a few months, along with a name for the plan, but it will be three days or four, January 7-10 or so. No reservations are needed, there's no fee, contributions of food might be appropriate a time or two. There will be fees to get into The Natural History Museum and to Explora, two of the planned meet-ups. You might have reciprocal admission from other museum memberships; you have half a year to check on that.

Here's the official visitors' site for Albuquerque.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Criticism harming self-esteem

Humor. A skit that was cut from Saturday's Saturday Night Live. Apologies to those who can't watch it because of the mysteries of international TV rights.

It's about how the media hurt the feelings of the incompetent car bomber in New York.
Betty White was the host, but she's not in this sketch. Because she was hosting, though, several female SNL players returned for this one show. Other bits from that program (aired and not) are at the site you can reach through that embedded file above.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Connect the dots, and move the dots around

Holly had tweeted a link to this.

I'm doing some connections presentations in June and August. This reminds me.

Holly and Linnea, my daughter and Bea's

The other day Holly tweeted: "I can't even tweet about this day. I mean it was pretty amazing and average.-------- I love my life in Canada!"

They're enlargeable with a click.

And Xsenia!

Friday, May 07, 2010

yard, thinking sticks, flowers, cat, cloud

At the end, the moon was in the sky, but my camera phone can't see the moon, I guess.

The still photo of the flower is the first of the iris batch, but a couple of days later they were open in three different parts of the yard.

The thunderhead was a few weeks ago. You can see the verga (rain not reaching the ground) beneath it. It was not nearly sundown but the cloud was so dark and the sun so solidly behind it that it went dark. Keith and I were at the grocery store where the windows all face west, and it got suddenly like dusk.

The cat is Nuee. The sun was coming up on the east side of the house. She was watching me work in the yard.

The last video is about Thinking Sticks. I've been working on enough to last me through the summer conferences.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Women's movement, shrapnel, and drawing Mohammed

I've just finished the book When Everything Changed, about the women's movement in the U.S., and civil rights, their connection, and side issues, up through current events. It's one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read, and that's most of what I've read in my life, non-fiction. It's awesome. Probably it helps that I lived through most of those stories and remember those days.

Today I read this:
He alerted a mounted policeman, who got two rookie girl cops to help evacuate crowds from the tourist mecca. Experts rushed to defuse the huge car bomb with seconds to spare.
"Two rookie girl cops" !?!

Okay, it was in The Sun, not The New York Times. Still... When a woman completes a police academy and is willing to risk her life to help others ANYwhere, let alone New York City on a bomb-planting day, perhaps she should not be called a "girl." Not everything has changed.

I questioned this assertion from that article, too:
They said the petrol and propane bomb was "crude" and that a non-volatile type of fertiliser had been used, but that if it had ignited, thousands of tourists would have been peppered by shrapnel.
New York City has over eight million tax-paying residents. So let's say there are thousands of people in one place. Why would they be "thousands of tourists"? Wouldn't some of them maybe have been locals? But The Sun is from the U.K., and from their point of view New York is a tourist destination. But in addition to those who live there, and to the however-many tourists, there are also people there for work, or diplomatic business, or for a one-day event (theatre, meal, museum, visiting grandma). Yet if a bomb goes off the shrapnel is expected to hit tourists?

This is about South Park, some people think, and that's what the article was about. The bomb might have been intended for the offices of Viacom, which distributes (or something) South Park.

Separately, but related: There was a slight joke about having a May 20 "Draw Mohammed Day," which went large on its own, and the originator is sorry it has gone as far and as fast as it has:

Because I'm far from targets and feeling relatively safe, all I'm doing is connecting three dots. Maybe some of it will be of interest to someone here.

It would be interesting if an international incident arose over the actions of two comics who happened to be American. Or Canadian. You know... Matt Stone and Trey Parker, or Terrance and Philip.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Friendly Backlash

After the crazy media colliseum events of a week and some ago, unschooling is doing well this week, even though some of the benefits apparent today from my house started days, weeks or months ago.

Yesterday Heather/swissarmywife got this note stuck on her windshield in response to an unschooling bumper sticker on her van:

The details are here.

This morning when I woke up there was an offer of a trip to Maui in my e-mail. An unschooling family offered to bring me out for stress-recovery. I accepted!

A trip to Hawaii *could* potentially mess up my New Year's sort-of Resolution, were it not that I went to Santa Fe in January (two counties over by the freeway), and then Holly and I went and visited Jill Parmer and family in northern Colorado in late February. And I have tickets to go to Montreal in June and to New Jersey from there, so adding another trip between that and California in August is just one big bonus, rather than a resolution breaker. I believe probably I will be in Atlanta in October. Basically I'm saying that the "I'm not leaving the county" plan didn't quite take.

For 2011 I'm having company in January and going to the U.K. at some point for several weeks.

These things are all exciting and awesome, especially the gift of a trip to Maui just to sit and rest and *be.* (Albeit being with wireless internet access, so being in the unschooling chats and all...)

It was wonderful having little kids, and now I'm finding some wonder in having grown kids! I get to sleep more. I get to read for long periods of time, and I get to start projects and become engrossed in them sometimes without knowing what time it is, without needing to drive someone somewhere! Yesterday I didn't even come out of my room until after noon. There was a time I thought I would be nursing babies and tying shoes forever and ever and ever. Of course I kind of miss that, too, but most of the aforementioned out-of-town trips will involve being with other people's babies, toddlers and young children and I'm looking forward to that!

ALSO today, when the mail came, there was a great thank-you card filled with beautiful words and a gift certificate to Amazon. SWEEET! I get guilt-free, love-soaked books and movies.

Compared to most of the past two weeks, today was blue-sky, sun-ray heaven. And I got to speak with all three of my kids, too, by various means. It was like a holiday, like a birthday, like a... OH YEAH! Keith took me out to breakfast. It's not even dark yet. Maybe more good surprises will come. But even if I do nothing else but sit in the back yard hot tub with the bright moon above and then crawl into a familiar bed with Keith, it will be one of the best days for a long time.