Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our long national nightmare is over

So said Gerald Ford. It is true again.
Let's wake up this morning to peace and hope. The future is here. PRM

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

This is the view from my window. Why does snow always seem so quiet and peaceful?
I've never seen bluebirds at the feeder before. Their presence makes me happy.
It's truly a day of peace and happiness. PRM

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Frozen bubbles

It is very cold here this morning, 11 degrees when we got out of bed. I was inspired once again by Lorna who posted this earlier in the month. I had to try this myself.

The bubble stuff was in my car trunk where it was a frozen mass. After microwaving it and then letting it chill again, I was ready. The wind was a problem, scattering the bubbles widely and destroying many but I did get some photos.

You can see that it is starting to pucker a bit. Initially the air inside the bubble was warmer than the ambient air but it is beginning to cool. This will decrease the air pressure inside.

Here it is collapsing.

And this is a shell, all that is left. There were many such shells around where I had blown many bubbles but few stayed around for pictures.

Who but a homeschooling mom would crawl around on the frozen grass and take pictures of bubbles in 11 degree weather? It was fun, too. PRM

Friday, January 16, 2009

Young Judaea

YJ is the peer-led youth organization that has been a large part of Yakov's life for the last 4 years. He began going to camp when he was 10 and has gone every year but one since that time. He LOVES camp. He LOVES Young Judaea. Last summer he spent 5 weeks in Israel with YJ. Next year he hopes to take a gap year and do Year Course, which is 9 months in Israel. This has been his goal pretty much since the first time he dropped his duffle bag on the dirty wooden floor of a cabin in the mountains of NC 8 years ago.

Four years ago, he attended his first YJ convention. He ran for Mazkir of his region and won. Mazkir is equivalent to the president. He did this for 2 years then ran for Mazkir of the Merchav, which is a larger region, covering the area from DC to Arkansas to Puerto Rico.

Young Judaea will be 100 years old this year. Since 1967 it has been supported by Hadassah. Now there is trouble for both. The economic downturn has really hurt Hadassah's financial situation and then there is this man.

Clearly a schmuck. Bernie Madoff took $90 million dollars from Hadassah.

In the last two days, YJ laid off all its regional employees, the young adults who help Yakov organize the conventions he and his friends run. YJ laid off much of the Israeli staff for Year Course. They will be relying on "volunteer" staff this fall. They are selling the Youth Hostel where Shoshie would be staying part of her time in Israel this summer.

This is very sad. PRM

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It is done!

There are now six completed college applications either in the mail or already delivered. Finally. This has been a tortuous process, dragged out over 6 or 8 weeks. Except for my dad's illness, this has been the focus of my life. Now what do I do? Just kidding. I can start with cleaning the house. And writing some blog posts.
One more semester and then this. PRM

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tuesday night

I am going to the Bookmarks Festival event, A Conversation with Geraldine Brooks. I wanted to buy the premier ticket for a good chance to meet her but I was afraid JP would be home too late for us to get there in time for the 5:30 reception.

For my birthday last year, my MIL gave me an Amazon gift certificate and my first purchase was the recently published People of the Book. I did not want to wait for the paperback. I had just read and loved Foreign Correspondent about her growing up in Australia. Like me, Geraldine Brooks felt an early affinity for Jews and Judaism, and, like me, that resulted in conversion and marriage to a Jew, to living a Jewish life.

I am excited. I'm not really a fan of celebrities but I am drawn to Geraldine Brooks. I hope I get to meet her. PRM

Raising scientists

In my reading of our new science weekly, New Scientist, I stumbled upon this article, "Why kids are natural-born scientists".
"We need a way to keep children bouncing along and excited about learning and discovery in general, despite the barriers and boundaries they come across at school."
Well, we don't have the barriers and boundaries of school, and at least, I am trying to avoid erecting them. I'm not sure I have been as successful as I want to be.

Monday, I will start doing biology with my younger science lab students. We will be looking at animal and plant cells through the microscope. They will get the animal cells from inside their cheeks. Looking at your own cells is always more exciting than looking at prepared slides. I hope they will have fun.

The following week we will be isolating DNA, first from peas, and then from their cheek cells. I have only done the cheek cell DNA once before and, of course, the DNA volume is low but it was considered cool by the young scientists. Noach and I will do a trial run of this before the lab, just in case.

So I will keep trying to avoid erecting barriers. They do keep bouncing. I just hope they are excited about learning and discovery. PRM

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Thinking of Israel and our Israeli friends. PRM

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Darwin's birthday

is coming up on February 12th. I think it is extraordinary that Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day, 200 years ago. Both men were so pivotal in their respective realms. Time Magazine, I think, had an issue last summer comparing the impact of the two men, finding Lincoln's effect to be the greater. I think that is an American opinion. Darwin clarified what is now the fundamental concept of biology, a far-reaching change.

Lorna, of Socks and Books, reminded me of some programs on the BBC Radio 4, In Our Time and Beyond Belief. Take a listen. Enjoy Lorna's photos of Darwin's home as well.

I chose the picture above because I like that it recalls the young Darwin, the young fellow on the Beagle who walked the rocks and sand of the Galapagos. PRM