Category Archives: education

Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-Generation

Last week, the Day After the Madness in DC, my daughter and I had a conversation. We packed a lot into a few minutes, she and I – and that conversation has stuck with me, because of what she asked and how she asked it.

On the Day After the Madness in DC, she said that each of her classes took some time to let everyone talk about the events of the prior day. What were their thoughts, what were they feeling, what might they do (if anything) about it? The sort of questions you might expect, especially in a high school history class (one of her classes that day).

This is what stuck with my daughter: her teachers reminded her and her fellow students that they are the future and they can make things better. And she wanted to know, appealed to me to know if I am honest, if I was told the same thing when I was her age. It was clear she felt the message was that the onus was on her and her peers to figure out how to fix what we did not. She wanted to know if the same demand was placed on me, because her eyes and her person was telling me it felt like too much in that moment – too much for her and her peers to take on alone, unfair that my generation was asking them to repair and change what we could or would not, and not right that we should deny responsibility for the mess that we made or allowed to happen.

I assured her that yes, we were told the same thing – that we could and should make things better. That yes, with each generation some of the responsibility to make change is passed on. We tried our best, we got some things right and some things we clearly did not. There is work that takes more than a generation to get right, change that was started before I was born that still needs our voices and labor to bring to fruition. I did my best to assure her that it wasn’t all on her and her peers’ shoulders, I and my peers would be standing with them.

In that moment I saw her fear that change wasn’t possible, that hatred and bigotry are more powerful than inclusion and justice. All I could do was assure her that we can still aspire to be better, we have been working for and will continue to work for change. That while we have made progress for equity in some places, in others there is still a lot to do and I will be there along side her as the generation before me stood with me in the work of justice and change. I’m not sure it was enough because I couldn’t tell her that there will be an end to when each new generation is asked to pick up the mantle, that maybe, just maybe, she will see real change in her lifetime. Because in that moment, I wasn’t sure that I had seen it yet in mine. (Yes, with distance, I can see that there has been good change, real change, but in that moment it was hard to see.) The kids have picked up the mantle, of that I am sure, but don’t let them carry it alone. We still have time. We don’t have to take our hand off the baton in this relay just yet. We can still make change.

Have you ever felt like too much was being asked of you? What did the prior generation pass on to you that you weren’t ready for just yet?

The Chess Gambit

Several baboons responded on Tuesday to a comment about the 6-part Netflix mini-series called The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based on a book by Walter Tevis (who is also author of three other books which became movies: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth).

Apparently chess sets have been flying off the shelves, both in-store and online. I have located our set here, a Christmas gift years ago from son Joel. I’ve never really taken to chess – though Husband has tried to teach me, I never thought I had enough…  desire, mental acuity, or stamina to be a competitive player.

Because of this movie, I’ve become aware that women have been serious chess players for centuries first documented during the Middle Ages – this from Wikipedia:    “Chess games between men and women were a common theme of European art[2][3] and literature in the fourteenth through 18th centuries.” By the 19th Century, the field was dominated by men, and “during the 20th century, female players made significant progress in breaking male dominance on the game.” The first female International Grandmaster was Nona Gaprindashvilli, who received the title in 1978.

Back on the home front:  It wasn’t that I thought women in general wouldn’t be good at chess, just me. I am willing to rethink that and, with a long and at-home winter facing me, I think I just might take another stab at chess. I will, however, need to do a quick room-arrange to accommodate a table where we can leave a chess board up. And wouldn’t it be fun to paint our own chess board right on some old table?   

Here’s a puzzle:  Imagine you’ve decided you need a chess set and there are none to be had in all the land. By what art or craft would you create the board?

What found objects around the house could stand in for the various pieces – pawns, rooks, bishops, knights, king, queen ?

OR:

Because you may be home-bound for several weeks (or months), what other sort of learning might you tackle, that you would otherwise not have attempted?

Good Teaching

The trials our elementary and secondary teachers are having are also evident in the professional continuing education arena. How do you teach remotely?

I must have 40 hours of continuing education of sufficient quality and relevance every two years to maintain my psychologist licensure.  At least 3 hours must be in the areas of ethics or jurisprudence.  20 hours must be from live presentations.  These hours can be in person, or in live presentations on the computer in which you can communicate with the presenters. The other 20 hours can be through giving presentations, writing  chapters in books, reading books and taking tests on the material, or participating  in non-interactive online training.   All continuing education for this reporting period must be obtained by October 31.

This is my year to report my 40 hours. On October 1, I had a total of 20.5 hours. They were all live and in the area of jurisprudence.  It wouldn’t look too good for the president of the psychologist  licensing board to be short continuing education hours, so I had to hustle to find more training.  I found 6 hours of online workshops through the  American Psychological  Association that I completed last week. I was also very happy to find a three day workshop which started yesterday, live and online and at no cost, for 10.5 hours concerning trauma focused therapy for youth with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  The training was sponsored by a facility in Fargo. It was paid for by a Federal grant. The trainers were absolutely wonderful, all PhD’s and LCSW’s from places like John’s Hopkins. We had handouts we got ahead of time, and I curled up on the sofa and petted the cats while I learned from my work laptop. There were 50 participants from across ND,  and we could all see each other and communicate via a chat function on the screen or via microphone.  It was also nice that husband listened along and will participate with me in live advanced training on this topic in Fargo in December. He already had enough hours.

The technology challenges were huge, but the workshop went off as planned. It was so nice to have good teachers. While I would rather go somewhere and get live training, this was wonderful. I am excited for today and tomorrow.  On Friday and Saturday,  I will gain yet another 7 hours of continuing education in jurisprudence in an interactive workshop for psychology licensing board members. Dull, but I will have enough training hours.

What kind of a learner are you?  Who was your best teacher?  Who was your worst teacher?

Salty Language Advisory – Redux

In honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” today, this post comes to us from the archives, gratitude to Dale Connelly.

With some sharp language-related news cutting through the air of late involving the U.S. Navy and some people standing in the road in North Carolina, I thought it would be enlightening to consult with someone I consider to be an expert in the field of salty talk, the skipper of the pirate clipper Muskellunge, Captain Billy.

I tossed some relevant press clippings into a bottle and launched it down the Mississippi through a hole in the ice near Fridley about a week ago, and much to my surprise a reply from the Captain arrived on my desk late last night, boldly dashed on a piece of damp parchment by someone using a parrot feather dipped in pomegranate juice. I deduce that it came from somewhere in the southern climes. Maybe Mendota Heights or even as far away as Cottage Grove!

Ahoy!

Many thanks fer yer question about public language an’ what is an’ what ain’t considered foul!

As Cap’n of a pirate ship, people automatically assumes I has a sharp tongue, a form of stereotypin’ which I resents. Me and me boys labors under heavy expectations from landlubbers regardin’ our manner of public discourse.

Fer instance, if’n one of me boys enters a waterfront saloon anywhere in th’ world, he ain’t taken serious until he either punches somebody’s lights out or utters at least a half dozen choice curse words in th’ local dialect. This gets t’ be a problem on account of th’ vast number of places we visits an’ all th’ different local standards fer rough talk. We ain’t scholars out here, an’ it’s quite a chore t’ keep up wi’ current foul language fashions.

Believe it or don’t, a surprising number of me boys is kind hearted souls who took t’ th’ life of piratin’ t’ get away from uncouth situations at home, an’ they ain’t much inclined to employ harsh language anyhow. They often declines shore leave, on account of th’ fact that it’s too much work to make th’ kind of impression a pirate has to make merely to get served a beer in some places.

But I caution’s ye against thinkin’ pirates is in any way refined. I prefers t’ think we’s Libertarians, language-wise. On board th’ Muskellunge there’s no rules about what a pirate can or can’t say, an’ that goes both ways. Most standard obscenities is allowed as well as any kind of precious, non-piratical sissy words like “Gosh”, “Jeepers” an’ “Swell.”

Where I draws th’ line is attitude. Me boys is not permitted t’ be mean spirited towards one another or anyone else, unless it has t’ do wi’ official pirate business, such as pillagin’ a quiet coastal town or ransackin’ a defenseless vessel.

Th’ one spoken word I never wants to hear on board th’ Muskellunge is th’ last name of that famous FAKE movie pirate, Johnny Depp. If’n one of me boys curses another with a “God Depp” or a “Depp You” or a “you’s a no good barnacle Depper,” I’ll wash his mouth out with a fruity wine cooler – a horrible insult t’ any boy what loves his grog.

Yers in love o’ th’ language,

Capt. B.

The captain has a strong point that the “bad”ness of words is more a question of local custom than universal truth, and the attitude we bring to any exchange is more important that what is actually said. Given that, I do think he is a bit of a hypocrite for taking such an uncharitable attitude toward Johnny Depp.

Do you have to watch your language?

109 in Escondido

The number one attraction on our to-do list in San Diego was the Safari Park.  I had been there about 20 years ago, but as is typical of my travels, I didn’t get a long tour – just the back of a truck to feed giraffes.  While this was a fabulous experience, I had always hoped to get back for a thorough visit.

It was a 40-minute transfer up to Escondido and we had our ride scheduled so we would get there right at opening as the website had said that it was “first come, first served”.  We didn’t need to worry – the pandemic has definitely changed people’s leisure habits – it wasn’t crowded.  In fact, as the day wore on, there were fewer and fewer visitors.

The park is like a zoo, except fewer animals with larger habitats, separated into different areas: Gorilla Forest, Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley, Tiger Trail, etc.  Due to covid-19, all the various tours by safari van and truck were cancelled, so we were faced with getting through the whole park in one day.

We started with the Tiger Trail and that’s where we met the first of the volunteers stationed around the park to answer questions.  These are my favorite people; it’s always fun to ask questions and chat about the animals and the park.  The tiger in the photo is Rakan, a two-year old Sumatran tiger.  He came to the safari park when he was five-months old from the Smithsonian Zoo, after his mother aggressively rejected him.  For the entire time we stood and talked to the volunteer, Rakan laid majestically behind very thick glass, as if it was his turn for the photo op.  YA snapped this great photo.

As the day wore on, YA started to complain about the heat.  I was quite hot as well, but I thought it was probably just all the walking around.  I had looked at the San Diego forecast that morning – high of 85.  Well, turns out that when you drive 45 minutes north of San Diego, towards the mountains and desert, the high is a bit higher.  In fact, at 2 p.m., the temperature was registering at 109.  Yikes.  And the safari park is NOT built on a flat land.  I know that for every up we had a down, but by the afternoon, it felt like all we did was climb up!  We went through a lot of diet pop and water but powered through; who knows if either of us will ever get back to the park.  The other areas we really enjoyed were Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley and Gorilla Forest.  I suppose it’s not a surprise that there were great volunteers at all those locations.

It was a great day and I don’t think either of us have ever appreciated how cool 85 degrees feels after you’ve walked all over a safari park in over 100!

What animal do you like to visit at the zoo?

84 Pounds of Pickles

I have never been able to do math in my head. Husband is far better at it, but last week he failed at basic math hilariously while using a calculator.

Husband found some lovely vegetables at an Adventist farm  stand.  (Adventists are supposed to be vegetarian,  but I find it humorous that some of our most prominent local  Adventists are big time cattle ranchers.) We decided to make German  refrigerator pickles with them.  The recipe called for four quarts of brine and one cauliflower,  one carrot, twelve pearl onions, two cucumbers, and two bell peppers. It all had to sit in the brine in a steel pot in the refrigerator for a week.

We have a refrigerator in the basement just for this purpose,  but we are always concerned about the weight on the shelves. Husband calculated the weight of everything and worriedly told me that we couldn’t possibly put the brine pot in the fridge because it weighed 84 pounds.

Well, that just didn’t make sense to me, and after some sturm und drang, Husband recalculated and determined it all weighed 8 pounds. The veggies are brining  away in the pot in the fridge.  Now I can finally tease him about his math skills.

How are your Math skills?  What kinds of Math are easiest for you? When have you miscalculated?

My Favorite Restaurant

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms

Last September I joined a group of friends who met when we lived together in a dormitory at Grinnell College. David, Jack and Ralph flew into Saint Paul from Boston and the District of Columbia so we could relive old times. Because David made a fortune in the scented candle business, he happily funded the reunion. We would dine in a restaurant two nights. My suggestions about places where the food was good and inexpensive were laughed off. For David, cost is no object. He is used to the very best when dining out near his primary home near Washington, DC.

Since cost was not a factor, I had another suggestion. WA Frost and Company is a splendid old restaurant on Selby Avenue in the Cathedral Hill district. Built late in the 19th century in the Richardson Romanesque style, the Dakota Building, the home of the restaurant, now exudes the charm of an early time. While I had not eaten there in many years, fond memories of the place allowed me to hope it would not disappoint David or my other friends on this special occasion.

The restaurant was as lovely as I’d remembered. The building features arched windows, copper cornices and walls of sandstone and brick. Giant fireplaces provided light and warmth for diners. The room itself was so quiet we could all speak at normal volume as we told stories about our shared past. The wait staff was deft and unobtrusive. The bounty from the kitchen was so good that we kept saying, “This is the best ___ I’ve ever had!”

We had the sort of evening one remembers with a romantic glow. We had expected a great deal, but WA Frost delivered more than anyone could have hoped for. It was perfect.

Other restaurants can be excellent in other ways. The header photo shows Mickey’s Diner, which in its own way is perfect. You don’t go to Mickey’s expecting the elegance and refinement we had at WA Frost, but my last visit to Mickey’s was all we’d hoped it would be.

What memories do you have of a special restaurant, diner, food truck or family eatery? Or do you remember a restaurant that was so bad you can’t forget it?

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?