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family – The Salt-Box http://www.jbj.wordherders.net "A man needn't go far to find a subject, if he's ready with his salt-box."--Uncle Pumblechook Thu, 09 May 2013 17:06:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Adapting The Decemberists http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2011/12/11/adapting-the-decemberists/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2011/12/11/adapting-the-decemberists/#respond Sun, 11 Dec 2011 17:26:01 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/?p=425 Continue reading ]]> Calamity War: Wizardry: Cover

The 8-yo spends a significant amount of free time drawing comic books (basically, whenever he’s not playing soccer or on his computer). And one of his favorite albums from the past year is The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead. So it is no surprise, probably, that he has made a comic book adaptation of their “Calamity Song” and “This Is Why We Fight.” His co-conspirator in this project was Alex Jarvis, who’s a co-founder of the comics site Spandexless (as well as his babysitter).

Here’re direct links to the pages:

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Banning Balls in School http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2011/11/17/banning-balls-in-school/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2011/11/17/banning-balls-in-school/#respond Thu, 17 Nov 2011 14:13:48 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/?p=422 Continue reading ]]> The 8yo playing soccer with his cousin

Let’s take it as read that the public schools these days worship a false idol of “safety,” trying so hard to be risk-averse that they often end up spoiling kids’ fun and making it harder for them to learn. I’ve subscribed to Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids for years.

At the same time, this morning I felt the briefest twinge of sympathy for the Toronto principal who banned all non-sponge balls from her school (via electricarchaeo) after a parent got hit in the head with a stray soccer ball. (No word on the parent’s form in heading the ball–was it a flick-on? A nicely driven shot?) The policy’s wrongheaded and should be rescinded. But still.

Reading the story, I was reminded of an incident about a month ago, when the 8yo came home complaining that recess wasn’t fun, even though the kids were playing soccer. This was shocking, because he’s soccer-obsessed, and normally the chance to play would make anything seem appealing. “They’re blaming me for things that aren’t my fault, and it’s not fun.” We pressed him about what he meant, and it turned out that some of the smaller kids didn’t want to play if he did, and a girl had scraped something getting out of the way of one of his shots (which, to be fair, didn’t sound like it was coming all that close to her in the first place).

A few relevant facts: The 8yo is a sweet kid, who wouldn’t know how to threaten someone if he tried. That said, as the picture above makes clear, he’s a bit of a giant: nearly 5′, and solidly built. Plus, he’s kind of awesome* at soccer. He plays on travel and premier teams, 50% as a goalie, 35% as a defender, and 15% as a striker. Thanks in part to his size, he has one of the strongest legs on his (pretty successful) U-10/U-11 travel team.

My wife and I reminded him of all this, and of the fact that he’s the only kid in his class who plays that much soccer, and of the fact that he’s by far the biggest kid in his class. And we asked him to consider, if the situation were reversed, whether he might be a little scared, too.

We talked it out, and he decided that he would not kick the ball when his friends played soccer, but would just dribble and make short passes. He put the plan into effect the next day, and within a couple of recesses, all was forgiven, and everyone was happy.

Which is probably the way it’s supposed to work, right? Kids should try to work out problems on their own, but when they can’t, parents should help find a constructive solution. So I can’t support banning balls in school. But I do feel for a principal who feels overwhelmed by dozens of similar situations every day, sometimes involving kids who actually do intend some malice, and sometimes with parents who are disengaged. It doesn’t excuse such an overbroad policy: The fact that you can see how anyone might feel driven to do such a thing doesn’t mean that you should actually do it!

* “Kind of awesome,” that is, for an eight-year-old who regularly wears a “Geek Kid” t-shirt, of course. It’s not like we think he’s the next Tim Howard, or are counting on this to pay for college, or whatever. And, yes, there are people we’ve met in travel and premier who are already talking about positioning their 8 and 9 year olds for college scholarships. I am prepared to agree with you that that’s crazy.

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I may have watched too much Friends http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/15/i-may-have-watched-too-much-friends/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/15/i-may-have-watched-too-much-friends/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 16:47:35 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/15/i-may-have-watched-too-much-friends/ Continue reading ]]> People who follow me on Twitter know that this week has been contractor week at chez Salt-Box, with the focus of most efforts being the upstairs bathroom.  (You can see evidence on Flickr: “Things That Are Busted in Our Bathroom“; “Day 2: Return of the Contractor“; and “Day 3: Still Contractin‘.”)

The bathtub’s not cast-iron or porcelain or anything . . . it’s a composite material called “Vikrell,” which is why we could afford it.  I have no idea if this is a good decision, or not–frankly, it’s the best we could do now–but the name is unfortunate.  All I can think of is this episode from Friends, when Ross invents a former boyfriend for Phoebe, named Vikram.

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Happy birthday . . . http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/07/happy-birthday/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/07/happy-birthday/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2009 18:56:04 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/07/happy-birthday/ . . . to her:

Promoted and tenured a year early . . . not too shabby for [redacted].

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The zoo! http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/06/the-zoo/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/06/the-zoo/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2009 12:08:00 +0000 bronx zoosummer 2009 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/07/06/the-zoo/ Continue reading ]]> Yesterday we went to the Bronx Zoo for the first time.  A good time was had by all–as you can see here, we got a pretty up-close visit from a polar bear, plus close encounters with red pandas, baboons, giraffes, and a sea lion.  A few observations:

1. While it’s great that the Eco Restroom near the Bronx River parking lot uses so much less water, the fact that you can smell the restroom throughout the lot probably isn’t a very good advertisment for green building practices.  No one wants to live that way.

2. The Zoo is also particularly heavy-handed in its environmentalist moralizing.  Here’s a small example. I’m sympathetic to the message, but geez!

3. The 6-yr-old’s day was absolutely made by the presenter on the Wild Asia Monorail, a college-age woman who saw his Hulk t-shirt and reported, not only was The Hulk her favorite superhero, but she even named her cat “Banner.”

4.  If you can’t wait until September for the new Mac OS upgrade, you can see all the snow leopards you want at the zoo.  You can even buy a plush one in the gift shop.

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The first science project http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/08/the-first-science-project/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/08/the-first-science-project/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2009 02:38:04 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/08/the-first-science-project/ Continue reading ]]> The 6-yr-old, answering a question from his principal

Last week, the 6-yr-old’s school–the Holmes School for Science & Technology–had its first science fair. (I know, right?  What were they waiting for?)  Anyway, the boy was *super* excited about it, as you can see in this photoset on Flickr,  and he did a project on whether a solution of sugar, epsom salts, or alum will grow the best crystals as they evaporate at room temperature.  (Alum!)

We were a bit surprised at the fair to discover that the judges were evaluating grades K-3 together, using a rubric that included such items as a “lab report” and “three documented sources.”  Now, we both know enough about the scientific method to know that good experiments take into account existing knowledge, but . . . documented sources?  For kindergarteners?   That sounds age-appropriate.

Instead of doing that, we opted for a project that the boy could do, and for a poster that he could design and make himself.  He likes his participant ribbon just fine, and he and the *one* other kindergartener who participated both felt super-proud of themselves, as well they should have.   (They also worked each other into a panic early on, because the instructions had said that judges would interview you about your poster before making a decision.  That didn’t happen, but it took them a couple of minutes to catch on.  The adults you see him talking to in the photoset are my dept. chair, whose younger daughter attends the same school, and the principal.)

He’s already announced that next year he wants to do a project on Darwin.

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Land of the Lost: in which I suffer for the sake of knowledge http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/06/land-of-the-lost-in-which-i-suffer-for-the-sake-of-knowledge/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/06/land-of-the-lost-in-which-i-suffer-for-the-sake-of-knowledge/#respond Sat, 06 Jun 2009 14:58:33 +0000 geekdadland of the lostmovies http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/06/06/land-of-the-lost-in-which-i-suffer-for-the-sake-of-knowledge/ Continue reading ]]> This weekend at GeekDad I have a “10 things parents should know” post up about Land of the Lost, which was almost no fun at all.  That said, there’s always a silver lining:

10.  Well, is there at least a GeekDad-friendly catchphrase?

Yes!  “Matt Lauer can suck it!” “Science shows no mercy.  And neither do I.”

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Playlist for a 6-yr-old http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/05/17/playlist-for-a-6-yr-old/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/05/17/playlist-for-a-6-yr-old/#comments Sun, 17 May 2009 22:53:07 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/05/17/playlist-for-a-6-yr-old/ Continue reading ]]> This is the year-in-review playlist for the boy, who turned 6 this week.  (See this post at GeekDad for background.)

1. “Constructive Summer,” The Hold Steady
2. “3 Dimes Down,” Drive-By Truckers
3. “Livin’ in the Future,” Bruce Springsteen
4. “The Spike,” Junkman’s Choir
5. “Meet Me By the River’s Edge,” The Gaslight Anthem
6. “Radio Nowhere,” Bruce Springsteen
7. “A Well-Respected Man,” The Kinks
8. “Wide Blue Yonder,” Junkman’s Choir
9. “Ask Her for Some Adderall,” The Hold Steady
10. “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle,” The Mountain Goats w/ Kaki King
11. “Tire Swing,” Kimya Dawson
12. “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife,” Drive-By Truckers
13. “Back to School Again,” Ken Sheldon
14. “All I Want Is You,” Barry Louis Polisar
15. “7 8 9,” Barenaked Ladies
16. “Happy Home (Keep On Writing),” Kimya Dawson
17. “Pop Fly,” Justin Roberts
18. “Outfit,” Drive-By Truckers
19. “Sleigh Ride,” R2-D2 & C-3PO

Like THS say, “the sing-a-long songs’ll be our scriptures.”

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A miracle of the Force http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/02/22/a-miracle-of-the-force/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/02/22/a-miracle-of-the-force/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2009 00:30:31 +0000 http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2009/02/22/a-miracle-of-the-force/ Continue reading ]]> I was gobsmacked on Friday when something happened for the first time in 10+ years of teaching: A student produced a reasonable definition of the word canonical.  It was a first-year student, in a composition class.

And how did the young scholar know this term?  Through the concept of canon in the Star Wars universe.

All of a sudden the 5-yr-old’s action figures, DVR-ed Clone Wars episodes, and novelizations were redeemed–a little–in A’s eyes.

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Yet another reason not to like RateMyProfessors.com http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2007/08/06/yet-another-reason-not-to-like-ratemyprofessorscom/ http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2007/08/06/yet-another-reason-not-to-like-ratemyprofessorscom/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2007 02:08:36 +0000 evaluationshigher educationparentsratemyprofessors.comteachingweird http://www.jbj.wordherders.net/2007/08/06/yet-another-reason-not-to-like-ratemyprofessorscom/ Today I found out that my parents check up on A’s and my teaching by reading RateMyProfessors.com regularly.


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