Archive for August, 2012

August 23

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I was talking to a co-worker when the walls started to shake and undulate. I consider a shake as a movement without rhythm. We looked at each other as we could hear rumbling. It was very evident that we were experiencing an earthquake. A confirmation was needed first, so we checked outside to see if we had an idustrial explosion or something similar first. The East coast does get earthquakes but not of this magnitude. I have felt earthquakes in the range of 2 but never in the range of 5.8.

Today marks a year ago when I experienced this neat phonomena. Yes, it was neat for I am of the science mentality. I was unharmed and experienced something new which in my book allows me to derive pleasure from it. It now has me wondering if there will be more. If so, how severe will it be. The East is not as prepared as areas of known earthquakes. The devestation in the East will occur with lesser quakes than in the West.

This is a powerful reminder of how dynamic our earth is. There is nothing static about this planet or universe.

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Homeschool Music Outside The Home

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I have enjoyed Leon Redbone since the mid 80’s when I first experienced his music.  For the past seven years or so, I go to one of his concerts to not only enjoy the music but his live entertainment.  The interaction with fans and the various instruments he has with him (I’m referring to musicians such as Paul Asaro) makes the concert an enjoyable and memorable one.

I introduced Leon to Youth 1 some years ago.  He took a liking to my cassette, On The Track.  My thoughts were, why not take Youth 1 to a concert.  Heck, throw in Youth 2 and the Educator.  Sounded like a great idea at the time.  Everyone will love Leon Redbone, just like me!!!!

Okay, you may be guessing that the youths were not as into it as I was, and the Educator doesn’t like that style of music.  You just can’t get some people to appreciate quality.  I blame it on the comedian if you can call him that.  This guy did less to warm up the crowd and had me covering Youth 2’s ears and sacrificing Youth 1’s from the non-funny crude jokes.  Believe me  Leon Redbone is family entertainment.  Put the mistake on the theatre.  I am digressing here, sorry.

Even though Leon Redbone wasn’t their cup of tea, they experienced life that most families will never experience.  It was an outdoor theatre with a rag time and jazz style music.  No, they had no idea who Paul Asaro is but that didn’t matter.  I exposed them to music other than the modern pop stuff and a concert experience where the people were respectful.  This was a new experience for them and there was an appreciation displayed by the Youths even though they may not realize it.  Since then, they have experienced the symphony to their delight. Dagilėlis was their favorite!  This is a boys choir from Lithuania.

I believe homeschool parents should not only encourage the learning of a musical instrument but also the experience of a variety of music through concerts.  Not a lot of money needs to be spent.  There are plenty of free concerts around.  The Dagilėlis concert was free.  We went to a church center to hear their wonderful sound.  This style of education provides not only an appreciation of music but also the love of music.

Go forth and enjoy the music!

Homeschool and the Internet

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Several years ago, we encountered a new experience with Youth1.  You see, Youth 1 has homeschool friends, public school friends and private school friends.  Most of these friends have or use mobile phones, have a Facebook account and or Twitter account.  Let us not forget Skype.  Around the same time, a homeschool parent addressed me with an issue of her own.  What was my opinion about phones, computers and the new medium; and the relationship with youth, in particular her son.

Too often we see these new modes of communication and do not understand or take the time to understand them.  If you think about it, the telegraph was the internet of its day.  Really, it was!  They had information now transferred on the same day.  There were telegraph scams going on.  Our internet of today is really nothing new.  It doesn’t matter how educated we are.  If we do not step back and think about it, we end up placing barriers in order to keep this “new” parasite out.  I give this mom credit for she was wary but willing to explore.

 For me to give advice, I had to think about my decisions placed upon Youth 1 and Youth 2.  These two creatures were just as affected.  Fortunately, we encountered and solved this new issue in our family.  It came down to where the future is headed and what is proper for the two creatures.  I was used to the old atari systems, slow computer, landline phones and letters to name some of the modes of communication adults are used to.  What was required was insight on the future and that was found with my work and friends.  In order to stay relevant at work, I needed to be proficient with email and instant messaging.  Computer skills are a must so excel, word and powerpoint skills are there.  Looking at my future were cell phones (I didn’t have one at the time), iPad, tablet, Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

We need to keep our youth progressing.  This is no different than there liking modern music much to the chagrin of most parents.  Youth 1 was allowed a Facebook account and email account.  Youth 2 was considered too young (Oh, I’m still hearing it).  The catch for Youth 1 was a password for parents to have for monitoring purposes.  They were allowed an account to Runescape; again monitored.  It was determined that a phone was not needed at the time, though this has been updated for Youth 1 (again much to the protest of Youth 2).  We even considered the iPhone but it was too expensive and not really needed.  I allowed the two to play with the Office Suite that I had on my computer.  Even the Xbox was permitted.  All of this was alien to us.  Imagine the awkwardness of two sets of parents connecting through Kinect.  Let me say, it was a strange and silent moment for the adults.  Youth 2 and his new friend from another state had no problem communicating.

The results of this releasing of technology is very amazing.  Youth 1 has freedom to grow, and I monitor Facebook less and less (Oh, he still has to “friend” me).  Communication with fellow friends has alleviated the loneliness of homeschoolers and provided a surrogate form of youth socialization.  I still prefer face to face interaction.  Youth 2 through Kinect has developed a healthy friendship with a friend from another state.  This was the most surprising development.  Both youths have developed skills that the vast majority of adults still lack or are not very good at.  They are developing along with society and technology.  Their morals are not sacrificed.  The value system they hold is the same.  All I did was provide the new future to them.  The belief system endowed upon them from their parents has not been replaced.  They each have freedom according to their age.  Yes, there are downsides to this.  I have witnessed cursing from friends.  HEY YOU HOMESCHOOL PARENTS!!!!  Listen up, your children are the worst with the language and not the public or private school kids.  WOW, shocked me!  As Youth 1 has mentioned, he hears the same language everyday in society, and I must agree.  We can not go to Walmart, park, museum and even grocery store without being exposed.  I still have the authority to vocie my concerns about language, though seldom used for my sons police it well.    It is up to the parents to teach their children what is proper and what is not.  New modes of communication and technology are indifferent to a humans moral value system.

What did I tell this lady?  She should expose her children (she has more than a son) to computers.  Allow them to explore the computer by playing with word, excel and such.  Give them freedom on the internet but maintain a watchful eye.  Be open to advances in technology else they fall behind.  Only she can determine how much freedom she allows.  One last parting advice to her was she needed to explore and learn as well.

I do not know what path she followed.  She may not have agreed with anything I said, for I may be more liberal on this, but I am constantly involved with this technology, too.  We need to allow our children to grow.  Soon, this idea will be the telegraph of yesterday and something new will be along.  The values and morals we hold remain the same as long as we as parents demonstrate to our children what is right and wrong; upholding our values through our actions.

M.C. Escher

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

I do not like Picasso, and I’m not big on Rembrandt.  I do like Escher and Dali.  It is Escher that I truly relate to in the world of the arts.  His work doesn’t speak to me, but it does bring a strange understanding.  Youth 1 and Youth 2 need to learn more about this man and his art.  The reality is, they will not see and understand what I see.

What connects me to Escher is my mathematical and engineering like mind.  To me, Escher is all about mathematics.  When I see his artwork, geometry can be found.  I even think some forms of fractals can too.  He provides me a sense of order.  My mathematical mind is drawn to his work for there is a connection; unlike Picasso.  My eyes can spend large amounts of time looking at one piece of his with serenity as I try to decipher equations of his work.

As for Youth 1 and Youth 2, they may not be as mathematically minded as me.  They may be drawn to him and his scratchings.  This is where we as parents and educators need to introduce them to the world of the arts.  Yes, they’ve been to a symphony.  They have studied art and even created artwork for display.  What they need is to see me interested in art.  Yes, they see me with the variety of music; Leon Redbone anyone!  If my Youths or any youth see their parents interested in something, they too will be drawn to it.  There may never be the appreciation but that is not the issue.  We want them to be familiar with art. 

I shall sit back and look at the Waterfall enjoying the calm it provides me.


Books, books and More Books

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The one great benefit of homeschooling is the opportunity of reading books.  I do not mean two, three, four or even five books.  I mean loads of books.  My youths read over twenty books last year.  That means the educator either reads around forty books or reads a select few and pretends to read all of them.  It helps if Dad has read or reads a few of the other books.  The downside of certain curriculum is the selection.

The main goal of our homeschooling is education and not theology.  Sorry, but the theology part is for religion through religious services or a separate religious curriculum.  The big flaw of our curriculum are the books that concentrate not on history but missionary work.  Don’t get me wrong, this is important in a theological sense, but I want my youths to understand the historical, sociological and cultural aspects and less of a religious aspect.  This is where we end up eliminating books based on religion.  We just eliminated a missionary book.  If we were only reading two books for the year then yes go ahead and read.  We save the missionary reading for the religious education.  Even the books studying literature or the literary arts revolve around theology.  There is so much more to learn.  I can not allow my youths to be narrow.

Now some of the non-religious books my youths have read, I do not really like.  Yet, it is beneficial for their development to read these books.  When not constrained, they have very interesting thoughts on these books, and the discussions are very educational even for the parents.  Youth 1 read Brave New World last year.  I didn’t enjoy the book and youth 1 didn’t either.  His analysis was very intriguing.  He recommended all high schoolers to read this book.  He pointed out the immoral aspects of the characters in the book.  He made the parents proud not in his viewpoint of drugs, sex and control but in the thoughtfulness of his essay.

One book I am looking for to is The Hobbit.  Youth 2 should be reading it this year.  I love this book.  Read it for the first time when I was twelve.  A little interesting fact about the book is the author.  He was a very religious man.  Anyway, I am curious to see how youth 2 will react to the story and his thoughts.

Reading is very important for higher level education.  It was very common for me to read six or more books for history courses.  In the science fields, I was reading a lot for my science labs.  Even english has a lot of reading.  This is where homeschooling has a distinct advantage over public and even private education.  If your child reads many books, they’ll be prepared for the university life.  A variety of subjects are necessary for the youth to expand their knowledge.  This will be most valuable at the university level.

My end advice is to have your homeschool youth read, read and read.

First Day of School Results

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Educator is sick.  Youth 1 wants to work ahead of schedule (don’t think it is for educational desires) and youth 2 is trying to race ahead in math.  We have Teaching Textbook Pre-Calculus and Teaching Textbook Algebra 1.  Dad is coming home to the unexpected.

Well, the educator is grumpy.  Youth 1 considers this as true for the educator is tired of youth 1 pestering to have the math reviewed.  Youth 1 is alway confused on function notation.  Youth 2 thinks the educator is fine and has no problems.  This Youth 2 races to do the second lesson before soccer practice.

It’s not as bad as it could be.  The two parents review the Pre-calc lesson.  One understands, math major, and the other is not.  It takes a short while to explain the obvious to Youth 1.  Problem solved… or is it?  We shall see in the near future.

All other subjects scheduled for the day seem to have no problems.  They consist of reading and grammar or that is all Dad can get out of youths.

Jeremy Brett, Sherlock Holmes and Granada Television

August 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in 1984, before I was a Sherlock Holmes fan, a show on pbs appeared catching my attention.  This show nurtured a love of a detective that I always looked down upon.  It would be the standard for all other Sherlock Holmes – show or actor.  So far, none have come close.

If you have the chance rent or buy the episodes.  They are delightful and do the best at keeping to the original stories.  The key to this show are Jeremy Brett and the scenery.  Jeremy IS Holmes.  No one else, not even Willaim Gillette, compares.  The accuracy of the time period completes the show.  Watching the show, you begin to understand Victorian England.   David Burke and Edward Hardwicke give you a real Watson.  Sorry Nigel Bruce, even though I’m entertained by your radio show, you are not Watson.

Sadly, 42 of the 60 shows were made.  Poor Jeremy Brett died before all were done.  It becomes Schubert’s unfinished symphony.  Give it a try!