Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Drummer Boy

This holiday season, we've added some drums to our music room. It's a set of Yamaha DTXpress electronic drums. SILENT drums (on headphones), unless  you wanna pump 'em through an amp, and then they're LOUD drums!

Friday, November 09, 2012

"What is truth," said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.

Francis Bacon is responsible for that provocative line. It's a good one.

Lemme start with a story from my days in gymnastics. It begins with a report from the sports pages of Pravda.

Today there was an international gymnastics meet in Moscow. The USSR came in second. The USA came in second to last. Congratulations to our Russian gymnasts!

This story was completely factual. It was completely true.

It was also a lie and, in actuality, untrue.

How is that possible?, you ask.

I'm glad you asked. (wink) Lemme parse that for you and examine the nature of truth. Every sentence in that report is factually accurate. True, in the usual usage of that word. It is a lie and untrue because of the unstated facts behind these true facts.

The meet was a dual meet, not a multi-team meet which is implied by the wording. The only teams competing were the USA and the USSR. The USA won. The USSR lost. Nonetheless, it is technically factually accurate to say that the USSR came in second (of two teams, which means they lost) and the USA came in second to last (of two teams, which means they won). Thus, the report can be defended as being factual and true, while remaining, ultimately, a lie.

Augustine is known, among other things, for his hierarchy of lies. It goes:

  • Lies in religious teaching
  • Lies that harm others and help no one
  • Lies that harm others and help someone
  • Lies told for the pleasure of lying
  • Lies told to "please others in smooth discourse"
  • Lies that harm no one and that help someone materially
  • Lies that harm no one and that help someone spiritually
  • Lies that harm no one and that protect someone from "bodily defilement"

  • Obviously, I am not interested in talking about religious or spiritual lying because, really, all of that is one big lie and that's all I have to say about that. But as for the rest...

    Interestingly, Augustine believed that lies told as a joke were not actually lies. Ok, I can see that. Mostly. Even more interestingly, he said that a lie told by someone who believes the lie to be true is not, per se, telling a lie. Of course, the original lie is still actually a lie. And what can we say about the poor bastards who then accept the lie as truth because it was retold by someone who believed it? What of the person who passed along the lie, albeit unknowingly. What can be said about them?

    Augustine was, of course, writing in the context of church epistemology more than 1500 years ago. My response to this conundrum in the modern world is the metaphor of checking snopes before you say or post something which doesn't pass the smell test, or even if it seems like there might be a possibility that it might not be smell-worthy. IMO, the person who regurgitates a lie, even if they do it unknowingly, is responsible for their part in spreading the lie to others, even if they're not responsible for the original lie. Check your facts, and underlying facts, before you share questionable material.

    And for those who create lies a la Augustine's #2 (my #1), well, to reference another figure from our intellectual past, I figure there's a special circle in Dante's inferno for those bastards. Let's talk about them.

    There's a huge divide between journalism and punditry or, worse, demagoguery. Let's consider that for a bit.

    Journalism is an ancient and honorable profession with a long tradition. Journalists comprise the Fourth Estate, not that we free, democratic Americans subscribe to the value of the original Three Estates, but we do, or we used to, respect the Fourth Estate and its immense value to our body politic. Lately, sadly, there's been a concerted effort to poison the Fourth Estate by ideological demagogues who've been trying to dilute and pervert the meaning of journalism into something base and meaningless with no standards and no ethics.

    Journalists have a strong code of ethics in their professional lives. They are human beings so they naturally have personal preferences and biases but their primary guideline is to seek the truth and report it. Within that context, most journalists, especially the good ones, allow their biases to be known in their reporting; but that's just a little coloring on the basic truthful, accurate recitation of the factual reality under discussion. 

    Ideologues have no such connection to reality. Their "truth" is the story they want to tell. If reality is not congruent with their belief(s), they blithely discard reality in favor of what they're selling. They justify their lies with the false equivalency of journalistic bias. "All journalists tell their own version of things," they claim. That's another lie which should weigh down their soul when it goes on Ma'at's scale against her feather. Poor feather is gonna hafta hold on for dear life to not get launched into fucking orbit when they drop these folks' souls onto that helpless scale.

    As I said in the paragraph above, all journalists are human and have their own point of view; but journalists seek to tell the actual truth with maybe a soupçon of opinion. Ideologues seek first to tell their story and they'll use truth if they can but only if it fits their narrative; if not, they'll twist it, or warp it, spin is a popular word nowadays, and if that's insufficient, they'll simply make up lies to suit their position.

    This is NOT an equivalency. The two are not even in the same universe. But this is another lie they're selling to the gullible public. A syllogism of lies supporting lies.

    The "mainstream media," which these monsters have tried to smear as lamestream media, is the demesne of journalism. It is a bastion against the darkness of lies and belief-masquerading-as-reality which has been vomited up from the lunatic fringe.

    Nate Silver is a conservative-hating liberal commie pinko faggot and he's just making shit up to try to discredit conservatives and help his commie faggot Muslim friends. Nothing he says is true.

    No, sorry. I don't know Nate Silver's political or sexual orientation but he's a number-cruncher who is reporting factual information. Numbers don't hate. Numbers don't try to make conservatives look bad. Numbers don't care about your sociopolitical orientation. Numbers don't care about your sexual orientation. Numbers don't care about your religion. Numbers simply are.

    And they are also correct and accurate. When your beliefs are in conflict with reality, it's your beliefs which are WRONG, not reality.

    But true believers refuse to go that route. For them, that's the road never travelled, rather than Frost's less-travelled road. They choose belief over reality. Sure, ultimately they will wind up in the kitchen midden of some future archaeologist's dig; but in the here and now, they are causing great damage to our current universe. Could we please try to put them back in the shadows whence they came and live in a civilization of reality rather than one based on false beliefs?

    Friday, November 02, 2012

    NaNoWriMo2012 sample

    When I did Nano in 2010, I posted chapters for public reading as I finished them because I felt that I needed to do that to keep myself honest about not editing. This time, I don't have the same need and my "new novel" is more a beard (#6 here) than an actual attempt. I really wanna go back to work on "The Lost Century." However, in the spirit of sharing, here's is a sample of aproximately a thousand words. Altough it's autobiographical in inspiration, it's very novelized and the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

    Title: The Last Katrina Fridge.
    Scene: Middle of the Gulf of Mexico, middle of the night, on Gort, a cruising catamaran, three years after Katrina.

    It was sometime after midnight and I was on watch. This night had been as uneventful as the others on this passage and my routine was to do a careful scan of the horizon every fifteen minutes, confirm our course and position on the GPS, confirm that the autopilot was keeping us on course, and make certain that our sail trim was good. Otherwise, most of the time I let my head loll back in the helm chair and let my mind drift. No lights out there to relieve the darkness and, possibly, threaten us with collision. Steady wind. Steady seas. Gort slicing along, eating up the miles, heading for his new home. Peaceful. Hypnotic.


    The booming, hollow sound of a fiberglass hull taking a significant hit sounded a tocsin in the quiet night.

    I came fully and sharply alert, my heart thumping.

    “What the fuck was that?” I asked myself.

    Chuck sat up, clawing his way up from the depths of sleep.

    “What was that?” he inquired, still half drowsing.

    “Something hit the hull,” I replied. “Pretty sure it was starboard side, aft of mid-hull, maybe all the way back here by us. Let’s check for water belowdecks first.”

    I did a quick visual sweep of the horizon for lights of potential traffic and then stepped down from the helm seat. Chuck put on his headlamp and stood up from his cushion bed. We went into the cabin and went down the stairs into the starboard hull. Chuck hit the light switch and headed into his cabin in the stern to check there. I stepped forward toward the head to check it for leaks and/or damage.

    The first thing I did was pop the access hatch in the sole to check the bilge for flooding. Dry. Ok, that’s good. Very good. I then opened all cabinets and access panels to check for hull integrity or failure of one of the thru-hulls which bring ocean water into the boat and are a potential source of flooding danger, but they all looked fine. Everything in the head and surrounding area looked fine. Phew! Good. That’s good. That’s very good. I stood and turned to see how Chuck was doing.

    He was finishing up in his stern cabin and shook his head.

    “No water. No visible damage,” he reported.

    “OK,” I said and reached down to open the hatch in the sole of the passageway to check the bilge there. Dry as a bone. Sweet. Good, good. Good! We were looking good.

    “Let’s go look at the hull and see what we can see,” I said.

    Chuck nodded and gave an elaborate sort of shrug, “So whaddya think?”

    “Hell, I dunno,” I proclaimed as we started up toward the main cabin and from there to the cockpit. “Junk in the water, sleeping turtle, clumsy dolphin… I dunno. Lotsa junk in the ocean these days. Important thing is that we’re intact. Hull looks good. Looks like full integrity from the inside. Let’s see if we can see anything on the exterior.”

    We stepped into the cockpit and I again did a scan of the horizon. I was more on edge than I’d been during the day’s squall. Things that go bump in the night! Ick. That shit just ain’t fun. Especially when the only thing keeping you for going to visit Davy Jones’ locker was a half-inch of fiberglass. Half an inch. Of fiberglass. Less in some places or even in the important places if the workmen were drunk or pissed off or just plain lazy on any particular fabrication day.

    We stepped to the edge of the deck and leaned over the lifelines, turning our headlights to full power. As we swept our gaze along the length of the hull, we saw numerous dolphins still with us, some very close to the hull. As for the hull itself, neither of us could see any visible dents or deformations. There were certainly no visible cracks. I began to breathe more comfortably and steadily.

    “I’m thinking one of these guys just misjudged and gave us a little bump,” I told Chuck. “You know how loud fiberglass is for even a small hit against it. In the dark, in the middle of the ocean, well, that’s probably all it was.”

    “Man, I hope so!” he replied. “That scared the shit out of me. I was deep asleep and I came up thinking we were already half sunk. It was pretty damned scary.”

    “Yeah, I hear that!” I agreed. “Scared the crap out of me, too, and I was on watch, looking out for problems.”

    “It was so loud,” Chuck added. “Sounded like part of the hull exploded or something.”

    I nodded, my head bobbing. “Yep. Scary loud but… pfffft! Nothing important.”

    I hoped.

    Chuck blew out a long breath. “Well, it’s about time for my watch so I guess I’ll just stay up and take over. You should go get some sleep.”

    “I think I will,” I replied. “Think I’ll go down to my cabin and stretch out on a real mattress and get some genuine deep sleep. We’re on course and trimmed just fine, making steady progress.”

    “Cool,” Chuck replied. “See ya in two.”

    “Back in two,” I responded.

    As I headed through the slider into the main cabin, I stopped and turned. “Cap’n Blacktoes, you have the conn,” I declared in my best Hollywood captain-leaving-the-bridge voice. Cap’n Blacktoes was an amusing pirate-esque moniker we’d hatched at some point in our intemperate past. It seemed appropriate now.

    Chuck smiled and replied, “Aye-aye, sir! I have the conn.”

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    NaNoWriMo 2012

    Ok, I committed. I am signed up for Nano 2012 here. Honestly, I mostly wanna go back to work on the novel I started for the 2010 Nano, my tale of legionary adventure The Lost Century. That's not really how Nano is supposed to work, so I officially have created a new novel for 2012. It derives from an event which I wrote up as a blogpost when my pal Bob finally moved a "Katrina fridge" out of a building he owned. It had been sitting, untouched, for three years after Katrina. That post is here and in it I used the phrase "the last Katrina fridge" which I thought would make a great title for a novel.

    I dunno if this new effort from me will be interesting but it will talk about events before, during, and after Katrina, including The Last Katrina Fridge. (wink) Those were certainly interesting times.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    What we've been reading (9/2012)

    Aadel, a G+ unschooling blogger started a blog hop for what folks are reading. Since all four of us are always reading something (or even several things at once), I figured that'd be a fun one to join in on. So here's a quick list.

    [Nota Bene: My friends and regular readers (all four of five of 'em) will note that this is a link to a Christian unschooler's blog. Don't freak out. I'm still the hateful, cynical, atheist bastard I've always been. I simply have a broad range of friends of all persusions and beliefs. You know that. Sort of.]

    The list:

    Frank (me, aka husband, aka dad): Recently finished Evolution: The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. In progress Space Chronicles from Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love him. He's this generation's Isaac Asimov. On the bookshelf, waiting for me to get to the last page of Space Chronicles is Creole Belle, a new offering from James Lee Burke, one of my favorite contemporary novelists.

    Ronnie (aka wife, aka mom): The only one I know she's working on right now is Odd Apocalypse, Dean Koontz's latest in his Odd Thomas series. I liked the first couple of these but the more recent ones are weaker. This one I didn't even bother to finish and that's rare for me. I'll be interested to hear her comments when she finishes.

    MJ (aka daughter, aka older sister): She just finished Game of Thrones, the George R. R. Martin blockbuster. She's now talking about Railsea by China Mielville. It's a wacky take on Moby Dick. Sounds kind of interesting and amusing, really.

    Chloe (aka daughter, aka younger sister): We were recently on vacation in San Diego and Chloe picked up a lovely leather-bound, silver edged volume of The Collected Works of H. P. Lovecraft there. She's been wading through that. She enjoys his style and command of English vocabulary. She also spends a lot of time on online fanfic sites for Harry Potter or The Avengers, reading and writing fan fiction.

    Datzawl fer now. See ya.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Bathroom remodel - from 2004

    While blogging about our reroof, I reminded myself of my favorite of our home improvement projects. The main floor bathroom was a crappy 1980s "update" with a two-level ceiling to allow for new plumbing upstairs, a large "box" on the ceiling over the tub for the same reason, no switch for the light (pull string at the light itself), no fan, original floor (I loved the style -  small octagons - but it was beyond tired and ruined), wall-hung lav of the cheapest kind, low-quality fiberglass shower-tub, minimalist wood trim for doors and windows which contrasted significantly with the original medicine cabinet trim which was congruent with the rest of the house, etc.

    It was functional (barely) but far from aesthetically pleasing.

    We finally got around to redoing it in 2004. I basically took it down to the studs and subfloor. Flooring was original 1920s concrete and chicken-wire bedding the tiles. That was a heavy and highly-resistant PITA to bust up. Wall-hung sink went straight to the dump pile, as did the happily-destroyed fiberglass tub and surround. Broken toilet joined its companions there, too, along with all the fixtures. Now I was in a position to start doing good stuff.

    Insulation in the uninsulated outer wall. New plumbing, including an additional showerhead on the back wall of the tub and new fixture to supply it. New jetted tub. New pedestal sink and fixture (all matchy-matchy with the tub fixture and the associated crap like towel bars, etc.). New toilet and Toto washlet (bidet seat). Hardeebacker to replace previous ordinary drywall (not even greenboard!) and over the now-exposed subfloor.

    This photo shows the floor tiles, some of the tub surround tiles, the jetted tub, the Toto washlet on the toilet, and the edge of the pedestal sink, as well as Circe's feet. More explanation of that in the next paragraph.

    With the plumbing done and the tub in place, I could get some tiling done. We chose a "focal point" of a 1'X2' rendition of a Waterhouse painting we like - Circe Invidiosa - and surrounded it with a tile we found attractive. Flooring tile to match the tub tile.

    (The color of this photo is inaccurate but you get the idea. The poison flowing from her bowl is very green.)

    Meanwhile, in the world of other walls, I levelled the ceiling to make it consistent. I removed the huge ceiling box and enclosed the hanging plumbing with a smaller, more streamlined enclosure. I added a light and fan (with switches!) above the tub. Also added a switch for the light above the lav. I retrimmed the window, door, floor, and crown moldings to be a better match with what existed in the rest of the house. The crowning touch was when Ronnie suggested an arch to separate the tub from the other part of the bathroom.

    Our house has a couple of arches, one in the stone facade of the fireplace opening, one between the living room and dining room, and one between the kitchen and the breakfast nook. When I finished building an arch wall for the tub, it looked (to me) like original architecture. Sweet!

    In that photo, you can see the second showerhead peeking out from behind the showercurtain and a better color rendition of the Circe Invidiosa tiles. This also shows the window trim which I redid to look like the trim in the rest of the house instead of the plain 2" trim which had been on it.

    This shot shows how I redid the door trim and base molding (admittedly, difficult to see) to be a better match to the original style as shown by the medicine cabinet than the plain 2" stuff that had been installed in the previous remodel.

    What's that you say? What's with that virulent green color? And the navy showercurtain and towels (not pictured and a random not-navy handtowel showing at the lav)?

    Well, Circe's poison is virulent green and she's wearing a blue-intensive peacock dress and standing on the blue sea. Plus, that bathroom was previously a deep University of Washington (football) purple, so it seems reasonable that it should now be Seahawk green and blue.

    Ok? Go, 'hawks!

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Reroof 2012


    In process -

    New roof:

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    The Best Thing

    The Unschooling Blog Carnival theme for October is "The Best Thing" with a clarification(?) of "What does that mean in a house full of Unschoolers?"

    Kram "The Best Thing"

    Well, hell!, Sue, why don't you give us something difficult to discuss like the Pioneer anomaly. Oh wait, I forgot. That has been satisfactorily explained. Finally. Phew! Don't ask me about the nonNewtonian perturbations of Mercury's orbit and what that means for our understanding of gravity. Oy! Classical (Newtonian) physics is just sooooo 16th century but quantum physics just ain't very intuitive. It does have lots of cool concepts, however: gravitational lensing, strange attractors, wiggly spacetime. Man!, I admit I do so love the phrase "wiggly spacetime." And then, it was Einstein himself who described quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance." Nonetheless, let's talk about the best thing. Evah! For Unschoolers. I'm ridiculously giddy that you capitalized "unschoolers." It seems so... German, which implies (somehow) that it's very scientific. Thanks, Sue! Let's begin.

    LOVE is the best thing.

    There, I'm done. That was quick and easy. See y'all next month for a new and exciting carnival theme. Now, I believe adult beverages, man food, and Monday Night Football are calling my name. Yes. Yes, they are. I can hear them distinctly. Faintly at the start but growing louder with each passing moment. The call of Cthulhu? Ha! That raggedy-ass old demon, from whatever nighted quantum he inhabits which is as dark and cold as infinite, crepuscular, Helium-liquefying interstellar space smothering a tortured plain whose surface is constantly scoured by the shrieking twins, Boreas and Aquilo, and dotted with sickly, glowing fungi of contorted shapes and configurations repellent to the human eye and disturbing to the psyche, a place where the blasted landscape is occasionally punctuated by foetid fens of stygian gloom and mephitic effluvium, gathering darkness to themselves like a cloak in a seemingly purposeful attempt to conceal the awful purity of their flagitious existence, can't be heard over the cheers of the home-team fans. Besides, I'm pretty sure that "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." means "Are you ready for some football?"

    Yes, I'm pretty sure of it. Really. I know the elders among you, O Gentle Readers, remember that it was an alcohol-sodden (Is this modifier actually necessary? Wasn't Don always pickled?) Dandy Don Meredith singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over" which drove Cthulhu and all of the ancient old ones back to their chthonic realm while driving Howard Cosell to distraction. Which is pretty similar when you think about it. And, c'mon! Howard Cosell was clearly a relative of Cthulhu. Kissin' cousins, for sure.

    Ewww! What an image. Now I need some mental bleach. And mental floss. Lots and lots of mental floss. To quote Guy from Galaxy Quest, "Oh! That's just not right."

    Speaking of love, which was supposed to be my topic and to which I've returned with the mention of Guy's discomfort at seeing interspecies love being expressed between Fred and Laliari in her natural state, our philosophical forebears, the Classical Greeks, divided love into four types: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Fred and Laliari are clearly expressing eros. I'm a big fan of eros and could write about it all day. I've certainly dedicated more than a few words to it in past posts on this blog. Anyone who knows me, knows of my fondness for HDS and its potential-mile-high-club variant HPDS! (wink) But that's only one type of love out of four (in the Classical Greek lexicon, which is not the only one we humans subscribe to, others have more, or fewer types of love) and it's one which is not even the most common or most appropriate to this post, if we're talking about love in a houseful of unschoolers. Or even a house full of Unschoolers.

    So we're essentially talking about agape here, broadening and thinning toward philia as we expand outside the immediacy of our own home and hearth into our broader unschooling tribal connections. But for a discussion about a homeful of unschoolers and their very best thing, let's concentrate on agape. As Byron (George Gordon, Lord Byron) wrote in his poem Maid of Athens, Ere We Part:

    Zoe mou, sas agapo!

    "My life, I love you!" Agape love. Well, that's the word he chose to use. I won't say it was chosen only because it's easier to rhyme than various verb forms of eros but, well...

    For the purposes of this blogpost, we'll ignore the fact that Byron was inspired to create this poem by his love (yes, I suspect more eros than agape but I'm a cynical person) for three sisters who were all under 15 and we'll just abstract it to a generic comment about existence. Isn't that what unschooling is all about, learning how to love your own life and live it so fully that maybe it even spills over to other lives? Yes, you're right. It's what everybody's life should be about, not just unschoolers' lives. When people complain about difficulties in their unschooling lives, my friend Mary Gold always says, "It's not the unschooling." When it comes to love and life, everyone should have the opportunity to fully engage. But I'm writing about unschoolers, so we'll stick to that narrow focus for the sake of this post even though I feel that this discussion should be applicable to everyone.

    Alexander Pope, the king of the English couplet, in his poem An Essay on Criticism exhorted us:

    A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

    The Pierian spring is the font of all knowledge and it inspires all those who drink from it. Why would you sip from it when it's possible to drink your fill? And yet, if you consider it an analog of life, many people do just that. Sad. My suspicion is that those people have had their exuberance for life and their thirst for knowledge impoverished because their wellspring of self-love has been drained from them by external forces. Without the will to embrace life from a core of love, one is reduced to a state of passive existence, joyless, flat, and depressing. Love is the engine which powers our lives. Without it, we're just a rusting, empty shell on blocks, a redneck's front-yard objet d'art.

    No. Not for me. Not for anyone. An empty, hollow hulk is so dolorous. I want my agape engine in place and running. I want a powerful agape engine and I wanna run it WFO (that's Wide Fucking Open for you nongearheads) toward the edge of the universe and grab the life I'm living with both hands and shovel it into my experience receptors as quickly and as fully as I can!

    Now, that's what I'm talking about! Looks like love incarnate to me. [N.B. This is a Lotus Elise. Chloe wants one of these in factory-provided krypton green. I'm not sure she has enough $$ saved up quite yet.]

    Each and every one of us is unique. There are things I like and activities I want to pursue. There are beliefs I espouse and philosophies I want to explore. There's an entire spectrum of stuff peculiar to me and there's a separate spectrum which is peculiar to you. But the specifics are unimportant in an overall sense, even though they're your particular fixation. Love is what makes all of it possible. Love is the engine which powers our journey, whatever and wherever that journey may be, whether you want to go to the corner at the end of your block or to the end of the universe.

    Love yourself. It's where all love begins. It's the root without which the plant which is your life cannot grow and your flowers cannot bloom.

    Love your family. Help them establish their own rich, strong, healthy root and watch their flowers explode in a profusion of magnificence.

    Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    A long, long time ago...

    In a galaxy not so far away...

    You can listen to it here.
    There've been a coupla times on this blog when I've mentioned the band I played in during the 60s in New Orleans - The Better Half Dozen. I still exchange email with one or the other of those guys from time to time. Steve, our vocalist, just forwarded this message he got from The Oxford American magazine:

    Hi, Steve,
    My name is [redacted for privacy] for The Oxford American magazine, a non-profit publication that focuses on the culture and history of the American South. Each December we release a Southern Music Issue + compilation CD and, for the past 4 years, have been continuing our Southern State Series (which will eventually include an issue + CD for all 12 Southern states).
     This year, we're excited and proud to say that we're working on the Louisiana Music Issue, which is being guest edited by Alex Rawls. I'm reaching out to you now because we would like to include The Better Half Dozen’s “I’m Gonna Leave You” on the 2012 Music Compilation.
    For each song there will be an accompanying article in the magazine -- we annually invite some of the best contemporary music writers and authors to contribute. I have attached a copy of an article from a previous issue for you to review, and you can read more articles from past issues on The OA website: Please note that the annual music issue is incredibly popular with everybody from music supervisors to legendary musicians, and each year it gains national and international recognition. In fact, one of Robert Plant’s recent hits was a Barbara Lynn song he found on the 2010 compilation.
    As a nonprofit, The Oxford American relies on the generosity of its donors and supporters. We would greatly appreciate if you would grant The OA a gratis license to reproduce the master of the aforementioned songs on the compilation on up to 60,000 copies, which are distributed with the magazine. According to our research, you control the rights to the masters for each of the songs. Please let us know if this is not the case.
    Thank you so much for your time and assistance on this ambitious project. I'm very much looking forward to hearing from you -- please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
    Well, imagine my surprise. The past is always with us. Apparently.
    That was a while ago!
    That was not so long ago!

    The last time I got an amusing out-of-the-past communique like this was a few years ago when Rickey, our drummer, sent me a link to eBay where a copy of this record sold for just shy of $1700.00. That decimal point IS in the correct place. Go figure.

    So, if you're thinking you're getting a Christmas present from me this year, it just might be a compilation CD from The Oxford American magazine! (grin) Maybe you'd wanna add it to your Christmas purchase list. (wink) Here's a bit about the editor mentioned above.
    Merry Christmas in August!
    See ya at the big reunion gig (somehow, somewhere, somewhen),
    P.S. FYI, aside from the magazine link itself in the message above, The OA also has a presence on Facebook if you wanna check it out there. I'm going to.

    Sunday, August 05, 2012

    Let's disco

    Ronnie, Jerry, Chloe (mostly hidden behind Jerry), and MJ at Jerry and Cori's wedding

    A few years ago, I responded to an unschooling questionnaire. One of the questions was:

    What resources do you use for your children’s “educations?” Feel free to comment on the word “education.”

    My response was:

    Ah, you’ve been burned by unschoolers before! While some would argue that debating the word “education” is mere semantics, I’d counter that, at root, all language is mere semantics. In a sense, this is the core differentiation between unschooling and all other forms of educational philosophy. Therefore, it is significant and worthy of discussion.

    Let’s use some of that classical education I suffered through as a child. We get our word “educate” from the Latin verb “educo” which does literally mean “to educate” but the root implication is “to lead” or “to draw out from.” Caesar ducos his troops; a teacher educos his students. I dislike the parallel, especially because I find it painfully accurate. This is most obvious in the Elenctic method popularized by Socrates. The teacher leads the student to the conclusion the teacher wants the student to accept by drawing the student out with a series of structured (leading) questions. It seems like the student is engaged in a meaningful intellectual exercise but it is, in fact, carefully choreographed and completely controlled by the teacher.

    This is precisely what happens in “education” or “teaching,” the other word unschoolers dislike. It is not genuine. It is not honest. It is not really “learning.”

    Empire-period Romans knew the difference two millennia ago. Dum spiro, disco. While I’m alive, I’m learning. Disco not educo. And one I like: Nemo nisi per amicitiam cognoscitur. Nobody understands anything unless they like what they’re studying. Cognosco not educo. “To know,” “to understand (for yourself),” not “to be led (to someone else’s opinion).”

    As I said in my opening paragraph, for me the core difference between unschooling and all other educational philosophies is freedom vs. coercion. Disco and cognosco vs. educo.

    (E)duco is fine for military troops or slaves or domesticated animals. I find it inappropriate for thoughtful human beings. And that’s why I don’t like the word “education.” YMMV.

    We are discoing every moment we’re alive and we’re cognoscoing things we find attractive or interesting (per amicitiam). If you wanna educo me, you’d better bring some Marines cuz I ain’t getting dragged somewhere I don’t wanna go without a fight.

    You'd probably need to find some leathernecks other than Jerry and his pals, too. They have better things to do than enforce "education." (wink) And, clearly, now you understand that the title of this post refers to the Latin verb disco rather than to the music and dance craze of the '70s. Sorry if you were hoping for some "Kung Fu Fighting." Well, I hate to disappoint my readers, so here ya go:

    I hope those Marines you hired are ready for the fabled Unschooler Kung Fu. Our kung fu is strong. Jackie Chan drunken master style, baby!

    So I'm thinking about educo vs. disco as a theme for my What-I-Did-This-Summer post for several reasons. We're bracketing this Summer by starting with the LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference at the end of May and ending with the Wide Sky Days Unschooling Conference at the beginning of September. That nicely defines the Summer by bookending it with a concentrated dose of unschooling. On the other hand, Chloe signed up for 20 hours, including a lab, at community college last Spring and finished this Summer. She also signed up for Fall quarter. MJ will join her for Fall quarter. So, given those actions, we're sailing from our pleasant, peaceful unschooling lagoon to the unprotected open sea of American Higher Education. Very much a change from disco to educo.

    All hands on deck! There could be some rough weather and merciless seas ahead. Chloe's Spring experience was intense, going from unschooling to a 20-hour class schedule, but she wanted to be there and made it work. That experience led her to choose a 15-hour schedule for Fall. (grin) But this is the Summer report so we'll leave discussion about that for future scribblings.

    What did I disco(ver) this Summer?

    The LIFE is Good Conference was at a new hotel so we discovered the joys of the physicality of that new and different place. We enjoyed time with old friends, made new friends, and had new experiences.

    When told that a new transmission for our minivan would be circa $5K, I balked and did some checking on prices. I learned that the tranny itself would cost more than $4K. In that case, I unbalked and let the pros do it for us. I learned that I had forgotten how nice that car is when the tranny's working properly. (grin) The Odyssey is now ready to take us to Wide Sky Days! And, of course, many other interim locations. Twelve years and 200K miles done and, with a new tranny, we're ready for phase two in our Odyssey's journey. (Odyssey's Odyssey?)

    We went to Houston for niece Katie's wedding and I remembered how much I love warm weather, especially because Seattle has been so Seattle for most of the early Summer. I discovered that I could still get up on waterskis, despite not skiing for a lotta years, and had several wonderful tube rides behind Chuck's (my brother) skiboat. While there, we visited old friends in their new location. Laureen and Co. had just sailed from San Diego to the Houston area and it was nice to visit with them.

    Ronnie and MJ celebrated the Fourth of July at the traditional beach house party at Mary's (Ronnie's mom) while Chloe and I stayed in Houston and celebrated with Chuck and the gang. We all (re)discovered family love and connection.

    Ronnie and Chloe will be heading to Ashland, OR for the "Swan Song" performance, celebrating Chloe's experience as an intern at the Shakespeare Festival last Summer. Then later in August, both girls will be at NBTSC. Ronnie and I will pick the girls up from their last day of camp in Southern Oregon and continue on down to San Diego for Wide Sky Days.

    Wide Sky Days marks the back end of our Summer unschooling conference bookends. One exciting thing I'm looking forward to there is playing music with old and new friends. In '09 at the first San Diego conference, our just-for-fun unschooling parents' rock band (the Greybeards and Hot Backup Chicks) played for the Sunday night dance. This year, some of that original group won't be there but we're adding old friend Matt Jones on drums and new friend Phil LoBue on guitar. I'm excited to be playing music with my old pals, renewing our musical connection. I'm delighted to be playing with old friend Matt for the first time. And I'm overjoyed to meet and play with new friend Phil. I can't wait to hear him wailing his axe.

    That's a quick look at my Summer.

    I say Summer is a perfect time to disco. Whatcha gonna do? C'mon and get down on it!

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Tribute to Dads - June Unschooling Blog Carnival

    I worked on this off and on all month (May). I was trying to be thoughtful, introspective, meaningful, blah, blah, blah, but it just kept coming out as superficial, egotistical drivel. So I sent the whole thing to the bit bucket and started over.

    So here's a tribute I wrote for my dad for Father's Day a couple of years ago. I love you, dad, and I still miss you terribly.

    My first thought on this day is about my dad, who just died this past January [2009]. He set me on the path to where I am and set an example greatly to be admired and emulated. No, he wasn't an unschooler. He was a somewhat traditional 50s dad; but within that context, he practiced many of the principles which we embody as unschoolers. He always listened. He thought before he spoke and said meaningful things, for which he established reasoned arguments. He was always respectful to me and my beliefs, even when we disagreed. I loved him and love him still and miss him intensely, especially today.

    Despite an untraumatic, even pleasant, family upbringing, I was a broken child and young adult. I still am to some extent but I've healed over the years and my wife, my kids, and my unschooling "tribe" have helped me immensely in that. Moreso than years of expensive shrinks, although they did get me to a reasonable starting point.

    Deciding to be a father was a very difficult thing for me. I thought of myself as broken and inept and imagined, and feared, just how terrible I'd be as a parent. I was desperately intimidated; but we did it anyway, mostly because I had infinite faith in Ronnie's ability to be a fabulous mom and help me be a (hopefully) competent dad.

    The early years were tough but I definitely had that instant gestalt the moment our eldest, MJ, popped out. Same with Chloe when she arrived. They were mine and I was theirs and that was infinite and eternal. We always leaned in the unschoolish direction with attachment parenting, family bed, etc.; but we were fumbling around a lot, too. As we discovered the principles of unschooling and waded deeper and deeper into that ocean, things improved more and more.

    Just as unschooling is, for us, more of a weltanschauung than merely an educational philosophy, being a father is more than just having children. To me, it means being a husband and partner to my exquisite wife, Ronnie. We're a team. It certainly means being a father to my girls. We're a team. The four of us together comprise another variant on the team theme.

    Being a father also means participating in, and belonging to, the world around me and not just sitting quietly, being an observer. I have learned from my family and blossomed within my own inner geography as much as the kids have blossomed and grown into the wide world around them. As with most kinds of growth, it's difficult to see the changes on a daily or short-term basis. It's when you look back over a longer period that you really see, and are amazed by, the amount of growth that has happened.

    My critical observation in that context for this Father's Day is that it was just this year that I finally looked at myself and my place in our family and decided that I really was no longer a broken thing, limping through life, hoping to simply make it to death without fucking up incredibly badly. I had been that very thing once upon a time; but objectively, it had been a LONG time since I had actually been that sad creature. It was only inside my own self-image that that entity still existed. My wife and children had healed me and I didn't even realize it.

    So, this Father's Day, I am thankful to be the husband of Ronnie, father of MJ and Chloe, and a functional member of a nonpareil family. They are the ones who made me a father, not only in the limited, dictionary-level meaning of the word but also in the broader context of being a fellow traveller with them on the Great Road of Life.

    Like T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland, I began in the dolorous state of my birth month as "April is the cruellest month" and expected to become J. Alfred Prufrock but finally wound up back at the end of The Wasteland in the peace which surpasseth all understanding: "Shantih, shantih, shantih!" Who'd'a thunk it?

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    New interface test

    So, I just got the new Blogger interface. My first reaction is that I'm hopeful because the old interface had been very clunky for quite a while.

    Switching between "compose" and "HTML" seems functional. That's a vast improvement. Let's add a photo.

    Papa and Chloe look pretty good and they loaded efficiently. Excellent. Howzabout if I add another?

    A bit slower but not too bad. I missed the movie at the theater. It'll probably come to DVD pretty soon. I just hafta remember that it's not the book and doesn't even seem to have pretended to be "A Princess of Mars" just a movie (loosely) based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I've talked about him a coupla times on this blog, once for my HDS post and once for my first, and longest, unschooling post.

    Ok, dat's enuf. I like it.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    For Mother's Day 2012

    Ronnie is THAT MOM.

    The best poem I ever wrote, no contest, is the one I wrote for Ronnie for Mother’s Day 2009. She inspires me. From the very beginning of our relationship to this point, more than a quarter of a century later, she is my muse in every aspect of life, not just poetry.

    Kindness and thoughtfulness are inextricably intertwined in my perception. She is both of those personified. She has put up with my shit for that quarter-century-plus and still retained the bandwidth to be the best mom imaginable for our MJ and Chloe throughout their sweet, young lives. And even beyond that, she has demonstrated the depth of character to also share herself unselfishly and unstintingly with relatives and friends.

    She is the bravest person I know, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’ll tell you one illustrative story. In the Fall of 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we finally managed to get our family sailboat, the Zombie Princess, under the multiple bridges keeping us in New Orleans and escape to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. We spent a couple of days resting at anchor behind a Mississippi barrier island waiting for a good weather window to make our crossing from there to Naples, Florida, then tucked in behind a squall front which was heading in our direction but ahead/away from us.

    Unfortunately, we were faster than the front and caught up with it the evening of our departure day. I’ve been sailing most of my life. I’ve been in some truly shit conditions: conditions bad enough to knock down a keelboat manned by a skilled 8-man crew; conditions where a tack consisted of the crew running the tack then climbing to the high side to be “rail whales” where they all sat puking their guts out and anticipating the same experience on the next tack; conditions where the autopilot could not handle things and hand steering was required and that was so taxing that we had to switch off every hour due to fatigue; and so on. During all those experiences, I never puked. I was always the iron-stomach guy.

    Well, I puked that night. And I was cold and miserable. Yes, cold in the Gulf of Mexico in September. And it was all hand steering, all the time. And you know who kept an eye on the girls and relieved me at the wheel? You guessed it. Ronnie would get up from trying to rest and relax in the forward berth. She would first puke in the head, then make her way aft to the galley, near the companionway, where she’d puke again, in the sink. Then, she’d climb up to the cockpit, come sit by me at the wheel, and puke off the stern. Then she’d take the wheel and relieve me so I could try to rest and relax and recuperate a bit. After a coupla off-duty hours where I was at least horizontal and not at the wheel, I’d return and relieve her. Ronnie would relinquish the wheel to me and reverse her approach path, puking off the stern, going down the companionway to puke in the sink, going forward to puke in the head, then lying down to try to rest for a coupla hours until she relieved me. Again. And again. And again...

    She did this for two days, until we mostly parted ways with that squall. If you’ve never been in circumstances like that, I can only tell you that she is not just mentally, physically, and emotionally tough, she is double tough. Beyond tough. Even though the squall was gone, we still faced three more days of sailing before reaching Naples. She, of course, continued to do her part and more. I wish you could have seen her as she piloted the Zombie Princess into the gas dock at the Naples Marina pretty as you please. An elemental power. A goddess.

    My ability to tell you about her is desperately poor compared to her own writings. If you’ve never met her, or only know her superficially, read her in her own words. Start anywhere, read in any order. An exquisite human being will reveal herself to you. Ronnie is the Zombie Princess incarnate.

    And as Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) says in “My Cousin Vinny”:

    She’s cute too, huh?

    Thursday, April 05, 2012

    Guest post

    Near the end of March a person named Dana Le Roy sent me an email asking to do a guest post:

    I would like to see whether you'd be open for guest contributions. I am looking to write about something related to unschooling and thought that the topics I had in mind may go well with your blog.

    I was thinking about the following subjects:

    1. What are the benefits of unschooling?
    2. How to begin unschooling?
    3. Difference of homeschooling and unschooling

    Apparently, there's a service which would like you to hire them to do regular guest posts and to gain your interest the first one's free. I've had that experience before. (wink)

    So, here's the post I got based on the email quote above. I'll post it with no additional commentary. Feel free to leave your comments, however.

    ----------GUEST POST--------------

    7 Benefits of Homeschooling Your Children

    More and more parents are homeschooling their kids today, and for lots of different reasons. For some parents, the fact that public and private schools are filled with children who are behaving badly is a huge turnoff. Parents don't want their child to be sucked into that environment. Others complain that public school is too insular – kids aren’t learning enough about the world and how it got to be the way it is. There’s not as much of a focus on diversity or tolerance. Whatever the reason, homeschooling is becoming very much en vogue. It used to be that parents had to teach their child themselves, but this is not the case anymore. The internet has allowed parents to home school online, but still get the benefits of educational pedagogy. This advanced technology makes home schooling more enticing than ever before, plus there are still many benefits to homeschooling that have always rung true. Here are a few!

    1) The Environment

    What a student gets out of their education is what they put in. Focusing their efforts in a private or public school environment will not work if there are negative influences and/or other problems. Home school is the environment they are most comfortable in, so a child can relax and concentrate on their education with a clear head. Furthermore, there’s no competition with other children or mean-spirited peers.

    2) Student-to-Teacher Ratio

    Public and private schools have one teacher with tons of students in one classroom. That means less one-on-one time with the teacher, which makes a child feel left behind. With homeschooling, the teacher has less people to teach. This means that more time is spent on each student, which helps children understand the material better. With the help of parents, any child can excel in this environment.

    3) Customized Education

    Public and private schools have one way of learning. Some people get it, others get left behind. Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Homeschooling takes this into account and makes sure that their programs are made for every child to succeed. Homeschooling allows you to concentrate on your child's strengths and get special assistance for weaknesses. A child can also decide if they want to learn in the morning, afternoon or night, which can help if you have to work too.

    4) Emotional Pressure

    In addition to learning, students in regular schools have the added pressure of ‘fitting in’. In all schools, there is a social hierarchy that students create (i.e., popular kids, jocks, geeks, outsiders). Home schooling takes children away from this stressful environment and helps them to concentrate on what is important--their education.

    5) Peer Pressure

    The wrong crowd at school can convince a child to do things they would not normally do just to fit in, such asdrinking, smoking, doing drugs and skipping school, whichsway people from their educational goals. Homeschooling brings no such pressure, because their environment is in the comforts of home. It is the parents' responsibility, however, to teach them right from wrong.

    6) Bonding

    Parents and children can spend quality time together when learning. This is so great, because public school often makes interacting with your children impossible.Thanks to home schooling, parents and children have time to get to know each other on a deeper level, because you can share setbacks, struggles & intellectual interests.

    7) Insularity

    The biggest drawback to homeschooling is that your student will likely miss out on socializing with people who are different from them at school. This is a serious problem, but you can go above and beyond and ensure that your kid not only interacts with people who are different from them outside of the house, but also of different ages. Regular schools can’t provide this, because students there only interact with people their age. If you play it right, your children will know how to talk and behave around others their age, younger children, teens, adults and senior citizens.

    Camilla Ford likes to write about education, saving money & visiting

    ----------------END POST----------------

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Me, wonderful me, fabulous me

    Yet another award. I don't know what I'll do with all the damned things. They just clutter up the place. Oh well, the price of grate-ness weighs heavy on my head and heart. I grate on so many people. It's a gift, and a curse. It's a cursed gift. Or a gifted curse. No, that one doesn't make any sense. Let's settle on a cursed gift. And let's pronounce it old-school, not "curs'd," but "curs'ed." Ok? Excellent. Let's continue. Here are the rules for this award.

    #1 is a nonstarter. I don't call out other people.
    #2 is the first thing in this post, so this one is done.
    #3 is the prolific Shan Jeniah Burton.
    #4 follows this list.
    #5 is done.
    #6 is inapplicable because I didn't comply with #1.

    So, here's the response to #4.

    1. I don't drink water. I don't drink coffee. I don't drink beer. I don't eat cereal in milk. I'm not fond of salad but I will eat it. Reluctantly. I like lemonade-tea. I like Ovaltine. I like Coke (the carbonated beverage not the drug). I've been known to put gummi bears (actually, Crystal Gummi Savers) in red wine. I'm not proud of it but I'm not completely ashamed. It was pretty tasty as a varietal alcoholic beverage on the fifth (or so) day of an alcohol-fuelled Caribbean sail with my old college buddy Bob.

    2. My favorite poem is The Aeneid in Latin. I am poet, a self-conscious, infrequent, odd poet; but a poet nonetheless.
    3. I prefer fruit-flavored sugar treats to chocolate and I distinctly prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, which is inedible.
    4. I'm a SCUBA Divemaster, a sailor, and a pilot (PP-ASEL). I can piss money away underwater, on the sea, or in the sky! I desperately want to go into space, preferably in a Burt Rutan-designed craft, so I can add "space" or "vacuum" to my list of places where I can waste money.
    5. When I was growing up in New Orleans, I started doing European fencing with a French master at about age ten. I continued with him and also had other coaches at school. My college coach had been an Olympic gold medalist in saber. When I moved to Seattle, there was only one master in the entire metro area. I continued fencing off and on but I was attracted to kendo and iaido because there are a lot of kendo/iaido dojos in the Seattle area, and it had always interested me. So, nowadays I have experience with Western fencing and Japanese kendo and iaido. If swordplay ever comes back into vogue, I'm gonna be a BAD motherfucker.
    6. For the vast majority of my life, I had one friend. Now, I have many. Unschoolers rock! And they roll, too.
    7. Ronnie made me a not-insane person. Believe me, that was quite a feat. MJ and Chloe made me that dad. Thank you all. I love you all so very much.

    Thursday, March 08, 2012

    When I'm 64

    April 27 marks my 64th birthday. It is a significant milestone, to be sure. My life has been interesting much of the time. I think that's a wonderful thing to reflect on, rather than having lived a life of quiet desperation, a la Thoreau. So many aphorism apply. Here are a couple to set the tone:

    No one ever said on his deathbed, "Gee, I wish I'd spent more time at work."
    You don't want to go quietly into that good night, ya wanna skid into your grave with your hair on fire, yelling, "Yeee-ha! What a rush!"

    I've often said that Death is an old friend. I know Him well and do not fear Him but neither do I welcome Him nor submit to Him. When He comes, I will not contest with Him over a gentlemanly chessboard like Bergman's Death in The Seventh Seal. Nor will I casually engage with Him in a sprightly game of badminton like Death in De Duva. And I certainly won't give Him multiple bites at the apple which is my life/death like Bill and Ted.

    B&T, "Best of seven?"

    Death, "Damned right!"

    Um, no. Hell no! One merciless, no-holds-barred single combat the likes of which has not been seen since Jacob fought Peniel to a standstill and earned the name Israel, the translation of which I choose as "strong against the divine." When Death comes for me, I will acknowledge Him and accept His presence but I will not meekly bend my knee or my neck to Him like a lamb to the slaughter.

    (Jake, ol' buddy, he's a preternatural being. I don't think kneeing him in the groin is gonna be effective. Word to the wise, eh?)

    I want my resistance to Him make Jacob's fight with Peniel look like a girls' pillow fight in a '60s beach-party movie. I want it to rival the scope of Lucifer's rebellion against YHWH. I want Death to know He's been in the toughest fight of His career and I hope the bastard needs to take a week off to recuperate when our battle is done.

    (In case you can't tell, this is the pillow fight.)

    (This is Lucifer getting a beat-down from Michael and the boyz.)

    Ultimately, He will win, of course; there's no doubt about that. Just as Peniel broke Jacob's hip after naming him Israel to remind him who was really the boss, Death will inevitably best me. That's ok, as long as He knows that I resisted with my last breath and my last erg and He had to take me rather than just crooking His gnarled digit and having me submit willingly to His embrace. You see, when I anthropomorphize Death, I apprehend Him as the ultimate bully; and for me, the most important thing in the world, after loving your family, is standing up to bullies.

    I once wrote a post in which I called Time the ur-predator. Time and Death are equivalent if not congruent in that context. I summarized:

    Time is a Great White shark, striking quietly from below. Time is a pack of Compsognathids, striking multiply and endlessly. Time is the Spanish Lady, striking from within your own body. Time is motherfucking Dick Butkus jamming you in the A-hole.

    But I'm not planning on having my fight with Death for a long time yet. Sixty-four is not as old nowadays as it was even half a century ago when speaking in terms of mortality; and I started doing the family thing kinda late in life, so I gotta last a good while on my back end to have a full dad-daughter relationship with my girls since MJ is only 19 and Chloe's only 18. Ronnie also certainly deserves as much of my time as I can keep before succumbing to Him but at least she was an adult when she chose to be with me and she understood from the get-go that the difference in our ages would begin to become significant in this time which is the Summer of her life but the Autumn of my own.

    Autumn, of course, has its own charms. One of Keats' best-known poems, To Autumn, contains the lovely lines

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,

    Autumn's song is not Spring's song. Of course. Why would it be? That does not mean it's inferior; it's simply different. Like Ecclesiastes says, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." (Yes, I agree, I like the Byrds' version best. Let's don't tell King James. He gets so jealous.) And Spring has its detractors. T. S. Eliot opens his poem The Wasteland with the indictment

    APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land,

    Ouch! Old T.S. may have been a self-important twit but he was an insightful guy and he certainly had it in for Spring, specifically in the personification of April. Naturally, I disagree. Being an April baby I have an historic affection for April. I've had many a delightful birthday party in that lovely, lovely month and I've had many a memorable adventure with my sweet family in the Spring.

    (Pirate party!)

    One strong unschooling memory of Spring for me is the wonderful LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference. The first LiG conference was our very first conference ever. [Brief aside: We almost went to the Live and Learn conference in St. Louis in '05 but we wound up not going because our boat didn't sink in Katrina. That's an interesting story but it's for another time.] I was pretty comfortable within our family with our decision(s) regarding unschooling but I'm a private, introverted person and the idea of going to a conference with a hotel full of strangers... Shudder! That was not an attractive concept. Ultimately, I told Ronnie that I'd go but I might just stay in the room the entire time. Ok. We have a plan; let's do it.

    Well, my fears evaporated about five steps inside the entry when the conference organizer herself, Mary Gold, greeted us so warmly, so genuinely, that I could do naught but feel like family. My nonbiological family, my home away from home, a hotel full of strangers who, in the course of a long weekend, drew me into their embrace like the prodigal son being welcomed back home with a fatted calf. Me, the introvert, the loner, the curmudgeon, now the happy member of a large group, who waits with desperate expectation for each Spring to bring him the next LIFE is Good!

    (Look for Chloe at 0:40, Ronnie at 1:40 and 3:38, me at 2:10, and MJ at 2:45 and 4:50)

    MAY is the unschooliest month, breeding
    Friends out of the disparate lands

    Take that, T.S.!

    Another wonderful Spring event for us is Chloe's birthday in March. Just as I reached a milestone this year, Chole did too. This was her 18th birthday! What a lovely thing to celebrate. She's delighted to be able to vote, among other things. (wink)

    (from this)

    (to this)

    Spring also brings us Ronnie's birthday. She celebrates her 47th lap around the sun this year in May. We need to do something exciting. We'll think about it. We'll think hard about it.

    (Ronnie as a Hot Backup Chick with the Greybeards)

    So, Spring has a number of wonderful associations for me and I love it dearly. I must confess, however, that my favorite thing about Spring is that is the harbinger of Summer. Ah, don't get me started talking about Summer...