Category Archives: education

Frozen Treats

I have always loved popsicles.  I ate so many as a small child that I got lots of cavities in my teeth. My early favorites were the blue raspberry ones. Ice cream bars were never a favorite,  not until I spent a month in the summer after Grade 11 in Saltillo, Mexico studying Spanish. It was hot there in July, and I discovered a world of wonderful frozen confections. My favorite were strawberry ice cream bars with a ripe strawberry at the base. I looked for them in vain in the grocery store back home, but never found them again. I stopped eating popsickles and ice cream bars over the years.   My frozen treat consumption had dwindled to mainly bowls of vanilla  ice cream.

Just the other day I was wheeling my cart past the frozen treat section at Walmart when I spied some interesting looking frozen treats with a lot of Spanish words on the boxes. I bought some ice cream ones and some fruity ones that had the slightest hint of hot chili. They were all wonderful, and the strawberry  ones were very much like the Saltillo strawberry bars. I am in Heaven!

What were your favorite summer treats as a child? What do you like now?

 

Staying Home

Perhaps I’m odd. Perhaps my early years as an only child enhanced my ability to entertain myself. Perhaps I have forgotten what it was like to be young.  I just can’t understand why people are having such a hard time staying at home.

I see in my Facebook feed challenges to live for  a couple of months off the grid in a remote cabin, and winning a bunch of money. Heck, we have all sorts of entertainment in our living spaces, yet people continue to crowd into bars and large parties.

My  question for the Baboons today is:

Why is it so hard to stay home?  What would you include in a tutorial that would help people stay put?  How would you manage in a remote cabin off the grid for a couple of months?

Identifying Marks

Daughter told me that when she was at a farmers market in Tacoma last Saturday, she ran into another graduate of Concordia  College.  (I and both our children graduated from there). I asked her if she knew the person. Daughter said no, but the woman recognized her Concordia ring and identified her as a Cobber. As you can see from the header photo, it is a pretty plain ring and not all that easy to spot on someone else’s hand.

The College magazine is full of stories of Cobbers encountering  other Cobbers in odd places, always identifying each other by their rings. “Marlys Swensrud (’64) was surprized to meet up with Lars Lindstrom (’88) on a bird watching trip in Cyprus last August”.  You would think all we alums do is stare at people’s hands hoping to find a fellow graduate.  It isn’t even that the ring tells much about what sort of people we are, only that we have a shared experience of a certain place.  I think that if I wanted to let people know about me by wearing something symbolic, it would be small ceramic pins in the shape of a pie or a garden hoe, or perhaps a Welsh Terrier.

What symbol would you wear to let people know about you?  What do you think are some symbols that could identify us as Baboons?

RIP Grant Imahara

I saw the sad news that Grant Imahara has passed away, from a brain aneurysm at the age of 49.  Although he worked for 9 years behind the scenes and Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic as well as winning the third season of Battlebots, he is probably best known as one of the co-hosts of Mythbusters from 2005 to 2014.

I started watching Mythbusters right about the time that Grant started and I was hooked from the beginning.  This was about the time in my life when I was really starting to embrace my interest in science or as my baby sister says “my nerd stuff”.  As I know I’ve talked about here before, I spent decades of my life trying to mask my intelligence.  Even though I was the “smart one” in the family and did well in school, I never highlighted any accomplishments and purposely didn’t gravitate to things that were too nerdy.

But by the time Grant came into my life I had begun to realize that being interested in science, being a big reader, watching shows like Mythbusters was nothing to be ashamed about.  I loved the show and I was always amazed at Grant’s ability to whip up a robot whenever it was needed, from a baseball pitching machine to a robot that could fling a metal rimmed hat at a statue (a la James Bond).

So I will always be grateful to Grant for helping me along a path that has made me happier – I (and the rest of the world) will miss him.

Anything around your house you would like a have a robot do?

What To Read Right Now

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

When Toni Morrison died on August 5th last summer, I was amazed to realize I’d never read anything by this Pulitzer (and Nobel!) Prize winning author. Then I watched, on CBS Sunday Morning, and excerpt from an NPR interview, and promptly read three of her books to get a sampling of her writing. They were not an easy read.

What I’ve realized in the past few weeks is that, while I’ve heard myself say I love to read about women’s lives (and lately some men’s, too), I’ve read precious few books about black women’s lives, most by Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker – either fiction or memoirs. There have been tons of posts on FB, etc., about what it is like to be African-American in this country (not to mention Native, Hispanic, Asian) – stories that try to explain what the term “white privilege” means, and I think I’m just beginning to understand.

Something  PJ said the other day on the Trail spoke to me:  “At the moment I’m immersed in learning more about American history, race relations, politics, and the changing vocabulary and strategies that have been used over time to divide us along racial, economic, and political lines. I’d much rather be doing something else, but it feels as if it’s my civic duty to be as informed as I can be so I can better understand what’s going on all around us.”

To that end, I’ve ordered James Baldwin’s Collected Essays, after hearing a conversation about him with MPR’s Angela Davis. I came upon this “Anti-Racist Lit. Starter Kit.”

It can be argued that we need to do much more than try to fix it by “throwing a book at it”. But like PJ, educating myself is what I can do right now.

Do you have any recommendations for books we could read right now, to further understand what needs to change in our culture?

Science

On this day in 1752, Benjamin Franklin conducted his experiment with electricity and the kite. He invented the lightening rod.

I never could understand why my cousin Carol and and her husband had all theses lightening rods on the roof of their very old farm house in Pipestone County.  Why would you want to attract lightening?

I avoided hard science classes in High School and college at all costs. Now, I regret it. I wish I knew more of Physics. I think Physics is a way to understand God. What a coward I was!

What are you experiences in science classes?  What about kites?

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

I Know What I Know

Yesterday I added my eggshells to my bales.  I use a high nitrogen fertilizer on the bales and somewhere in the past I must have seen something (probably on the internet) that suggested added calcium in the form of eggshells to counteract that.  While I was setting the crushed eggshells around each plant, some of them were blowing away in the stiff wind.  This made me think about my friend, LeAnne.  I’ve known LeAnne for over 30 years and from the beginning I’ve known that she believes that if you get wind in your ears, you’ll get sick. I’ve never even tried to talk her out of this belief, because you can tell that she’s not willing to believe anything else.  In fact, just last week, she mentioned how she had felt bad all day because the day before she had been gardening and it had been quite windy.

As I stood there in the wind, watching some of the eggshells blow away, I realized that I am the same as LeAnne.  I know what I know and it’s not just about adding eggshells to my bales.   Snakes.  I didn’t want YA to have an irrational fear so whenever we were around snakes (zoo, children’s museum, etc.) I made it a point to “pet the snake” in her presence.  So my brain KNOWS that snakes are dry, but my brain also knows that they are slimy.  Airplanes.  I travel for a living; I’ve been on plenty of planes.  I have even researched lift and airplane engineering.  But I still know in my heart of hearts that on every single take-off, when the plane tilts for lift off, the tail of the plane is going to scrap the runway.  The fact that this has never happened, not even once, makes no difference. I know what I know.

Do you “know” something, despite evidence to the contrary?

What If?

Photo credit:  Manfred Richter

One of the lawns along my walking route got an aerated overnight.  As we walked by, I was struck how all the little sod pellets looked like goose droppings, although more brown than greenish.

There aren’t all that many geese where I grew up (suburbs of St. Louis) so I could not have made this comparison until after I moved here.   If I hadn’t come to Minnesota, I probably wouldn’t know be a single parent.  I don’t know if I would have finished my college degree.  And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t know what hot dish is.

Imagine you are still living in the city of your birth.  Tell me how your life would be different.

 

Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo credit: Crissy Jarvis

I had already begun a tech-related post about social media, (see below) and then found on my Firefox start-up page a notice about National Day of Unplugging

beginning this Friday at sundown. This, then, is the Public Service Announcement segment of the post.

According to one study:

75% of Americans spend 3 or more hours per day on their devices (smart phones, tablets, computers);

48% use the devices 5 or more hours; and

32% check in before getting out of bed in the morning.

I know myself well enough that I will probably not wean myself from my computer for an entire 24 hours, but will try to cut down during that period. (I don’t have a smart phone, and rarely use our tablet.)

Meanwhile, here’s the post I’d already started:  Should I stay or should I go?

A California friend recently posted one last item on her Facebook timeline, saying: “I’m going inactive on FB. A book can change me and THIS ONE DID… Picture the same posts: me baking, fostering senior dogs, meeting up with friends and reading, and watching Netflix, and volunteering, and going to Church. Contact me via email for a while.”

The book in question is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW, by Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer. From the book’s dust cover:  “Lanier’s… reasons include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more ‘connected’ than ever, and to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.” It’s not a huge book, just 144 smallish pages, and he skims over a lot of detail (and gives numbered references to innumerable online articles). I understood maybe 1/3 of what I was reading.

But he’s right about the Big Brother aspect to our current online society. I hate it when I go to, say, a Perkins restaurant (and pay by credit card), and see online the next day (for the first time) ads for Perkins’ Signature Burgers. It’s creepy – I feel like I’ve been spied upon. I’m sure you can all relate similar happenings.

Oxford’s definition of social media reads:  “Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. … Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

I got on Facebook years ago so I could see photos of far flung relatives, especially the little kids who are growing up so fast. Lately I find myself getting on sporadically, but once I’m on I seem to be addicted for days. I have also been addicted at times to msn.com’s news feed (which is full of junk), and of course I find myself checking emails – and this blog – multiple times on days when I’m home. And I’m starting to play Spider Solitaire more often… Who knows what I’d do if I had a smart phone!

Are you comfortable with your level of involvement on social media?

If not, what would you like to change?