Thursday, August 28, 2008

18 years old

All too soon, he will be leaving for longer than a month. Mom

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Colleges That Change Lives fair

Yesterday was a full day. We started with Mobile Meals. Mid-afternoon, we traveled 15 miles to The No Jane Austen Literary Society's monthly meeting. This is the peer-led book club Yakov started last fall. There are 4 regular members and one new one yesterday. They discussed The Old Man and the Sea.

Finally, Yakov, Shoshie and I traveled 90 miles to a Colleges That Change Lives fair. Yakov has been stuck on UNC Chapel Hill, certainly not a bad choice, but unimaginative. I took him to a large college fair locally last fall and it was a waste of my time. He just stood around. Questions? He didn't have any questions.

We had a specific school to check out last night, St. John's. This Great Books program sounds like the perfect fit for Yakov, a boy who reads Machiavelli for fun, whose biggest difficulty in homeschooling has been to find peers to discuss books. As the introduction to the fair ended, the director mentioned, "We hope the St. John's rep has arrived. He has been held up in Atlanta because of tornado warnings." Oh, no. I dragged these two, one complaining he had work to do, across the state in the rain and now we aren't going to accomplish our primary goal.

So Shosh and Yakov went into the big room with all the school tables and promptly saw another Young Judaea t-shirt. It was worn by their friend, Too Short. I don't know his real name and I don't know if that is his usual nickname or a YJ specific one but lots of hugging ensued. It reminded me that their activity with this worldwide organization will often result in recognizing friends and acquaintances wherever they go, or at least wherever they and other Jews go.

Finally they started looking around at the schools. The energetic rep from Rhodes College caught their attention. "Is there a Jewish presence on campus?" "Yes and there is a large Jewish population in the city." Like Grandma. "Mom, did you know about Rhodes?" "Uh, yeah. My first house was about 3 blocks away. Big E's babysitter during my medical school was a Rhodes student. She lived with us. She even moved to Connecticut with us." I had shown them Rhodes when we were in Memphis but last night they "saw" it for the first time. And believe me, the campus is even more beautiful in person.

They wandered around for awhile, talking to different reps. The Goucher College rep was very enthusiastic. Since I waited in the hallway most of the time, watching for the St. John's rep, I'm not sure which school tables they visited.

After an hour and a half, we were giving up. The fair director answered many of our specific St. John's questions, what do graduates do, differences between the Santa Fe and Annapolis campuses, etc. Before we began our long drive home, Shosh took a potty break. Fortunately! Because here he came, harried and no doubt tired, faced with several students like Yakov, who had been waiting, hoping to talk with him.

I'm sure Yakov hogged the man's time at first. And unlike many of the other reps, he was understated. But I think Yakov got a feel for the program and it appeals to him. And Shosh, currently thinking about being a park ranger, thought the Santa Fe campus's well-regarded Search and Rescue team sounded cool.

This year sounds like a challenging one as we prepare our first homeschooler to graduate and get into college. Then we'll do it again the next year. PRM

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Seen in the butterfly bush this summerTiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus

Silver-spotted Skiper, Epargyreus clarus

Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Momma's little babies go off to school

And he let her drive. It's her first day in 10 years. He's an old hand, 4th semester.

Community college dual enrollment. It's a good thing. PRM

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Magazine reading

This morning I picked up the July/August Atlantic and proceeded to read it, planning to read at least the article"Is Google Making Us Stoopid?"

Actually I was intrigued by "American Murder Mystery" first, largely because the article was centered around Memphis and re-iterated what our Memphis family members have been saying over the last few years, that Memphis is a violent and scary place. This article blames the movement of violence from the inner-city to the suburbs on antipoverty programs that move the people from high poverty areas of the city to areas of lower, but not low, poverty. These poor people bring many of their same problems with them, which without other intervention, seems like an obvious outcome. And suburban areas are less well-equipped to handle these new problems, drug use, gang activity. Also the still-poor people, now without their old support systems, have difficulty creating new communities, unless they bring their old dysfunctional ones.

In Memphis, like many cities, poverty and race are so intertwined, that addressing this failure, is bound to lead to calls of racism. It seems to me that Memphis has enough of a black middle class and upper class, that it should be able to transcend the race issue, and move right into a class issue. And the power structure of Memphis, largely black, is invested in the successful reclaiming of what was inner-city public housing and turning it into revival of downtown.

So the Google article was less interesting to me when I finally got there. Is it just another cry that the sky is falling? There is evidence that human brains have changed in the past with changes in the way information is stored or presented. The business plan of Google relies on fast, frequent clicking on links. Will our brains adapt to very short bursts of information? Contemplation doesn't pay.

This is probably off the subject but I read this article after hearing the news on the radio this morning. A man who had seen McCain and Obama last night said that he liked McCain's decisive, quick answers but Obama was too thoughtful, he had to consider his answers. When did thoughtful, considered opinions and actions become weak? Is it the cowboy mentality? Whatever it is, it's wrong. Decisiveness is a Bush trait, but if you make the wrong decision, even quickly, it is still wrong.

I don't know if too much time on the computer has shortened my attention span but certainly it can suck up the hours. I have made some conscious efforts to push away from the computer table and get outside or change seats and pick up a book. There's so much to read and so little time. PRM

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting back in the groove

I am ready for a routine. The summer has been pleasant and rather restful but it is my nature to have a pattern to my days and weeks. And the summer lacks that. I don't want regimented days, just a pattern, a few sticking points about which to build the web of our days. Although the image of a web is too structured for what I really like.

This morning Shoshie and Yakov signed up for community college classes. This will be the first semester for Shosh who chose 3 classes, Spanish I, Anthropology and English Composition. I think the Spanish will be an easy review for her and she was very lucky to get it. They can only register for classes after the regular students do so and many high-demand courses, like Spanish and entry level math classes are hard to get into. Such courses are easier to find in the spring when the enrollment falls.

Yakov is taking the 2nd semester of Astronomy and an online Anthropology. He has not taken an online community college course before. He will need to finish German II with Oklahoma State. At home, he will finish American History. This is a seminar course with Mom. We both found textbooks boring so he will be reading some biographies, perhaps some David McCullough, then writing a paper regularly.

Community college starts next Tuesday. Wednesday, we are going to a baseball game with friends. So we will be starting off slowly. PRM

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Newest family member

Shoshie has been volunteering at the local nature center, helping run their week-long day camps. She has decided that she does not want to be an elementary teacher, " they're whiny brats", but she may want to be a naturalist. A corn snake was her first love at the center and she was saving her money to buy one. Then yesterday morning, as happens frequently there, someone brought in an animal they rescued. This was an Eastern Painted Turtle with a patched shell and a broken, now useless arm. He/She is quite lovely and has been adopted by us for the next few months. The center naturalist suggested that in the late fall we could let him go. Shoshie is somewhat reluctant to bond with this little creature. I think she is afraid that he will not survive. Or perhaps that she will not want to let him go in November.

For now, he needs a name. Any suggestions? We are up to the letter M, so it should begin with an M. Marmalade? Moxie? Myrtle? PRM

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What is going on?

There are just some bizarre news stories out there this week.

The most prominent is this one. Scientist kills self before arrest in post-Sept. 11 anthrax attacks. His psychiatrist had a restraining order out against him. That's scary.

Then there is this one. Wis. manhunt nabs suspect in deadly river ambush.

But the weirdest has to be this one. Suspect in Greyhound bus decapitation charged with murder. What was on his mind?

And what was on Manny's mind this week? Acting like a schmuck. I was a big Dodgers fan while growing up in small-town Tennessee, go figure. For the last 10 years we have been a Red Sox family. Good riddance, Manny. PRM