Category Archives: education

Queens of Heart

On Thanksgiving morning, while enjoying my coffee and watching the parades, I discovered that there is a popular musical comedy on Broadway right now called Six – The Musical.  It’s about the six wives of Henry VIII.  Really?  Of his six wives, only one truly survived (Anne of Cleves) and came out of her marriage debacle in relatively good shape.  So now we have a musical about a wife cast aside, two wives beheaded, one wife dead from childbirth complications and his last wife, while surviving, also dead in childbirth after marrying again to a man whom history suggests only wanted her because she was the Queen Dowager.  Somehow all this death and destruction doesn’t seem like the stuff of comedic song and dance.  (Of course who would have thought the plight of five women accused of murder in Chicago would make for a compelling musical?)

If you look up “historical fiction” you’ll find definitions that all seem to include any story that takes place in the past but that’s just silly – unless it’s sci fi, set in the future, wouldn’t every book written be historical fiction after about a week in print?  I’ve always thought of “HF” was any re-working of a historical subject/figure.  Like Hillary Mantel’s book on Robespierre and Danton during the French Revolution (and all her Wolf Hall books as well).  Or King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips.  Or The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory. And I haven’t read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly fiction and very little historical, since even Egyptologists admit to knowing extremely little about the ancient queen.

As these books sell well, I worry that future generations will think of the plots and characters as more historical than they really are.  Of course in looking up Six online, it looks like the plot doesn’t even attempt to portray history, so hopefully no one will come away thinking that wearing a choker to represent that you got beheaded is a meaningful fashion statement.

When was the War of 1812?

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!

In the “always something new under the sun” category – I came downstairs last week to find Nimue’s two ceramic bowls replaced with these two plates. 

YA purchased them because apparently kitties can get “whisker fatigue” if they eat from regular bowls. I’m not even going to look up whisker fatigue; if I do find it legitimized online, it will just make me crazy.

Any new “news” in your world lately?

Conrad and Dostoevsky

I have to admit that my interest in philosophy has been limited to being in love with two philosophy majors, Husband, and a youthful indiscretion whilst an undergraduate.

Their interests in literature, their curiosity about ideas, was entrancing. I must admit, however, that I almost never understood what they were, and are, talking about when they were talking shop.

The other day Husband was excited to tell me about an article he had read in the Journal of Conradian Studies, about Conrad ‘s dislike of Dostoevsky. I have never read anything by Conrad. I read “Notes From Underground” for an Existential Philosophy class. It was depressing, as I recall.

Husband has read a few things by both writers. I could be happy for the rest of my life if I never read anything by either of them. I have become more practical as I get older. I am just happy Husband is still excited to keep reading and learning.

Did you ever study philosophy? Ever read Conrad or Dostoevsky? Tell about an author or idea you want to read or learn more about?

Dog Beds

Guinevere has multiple beds.  YA can’t resist them so there is one in her kennel in the breakfast room, one in my room and one in YA’s room.  Recently we’ve changed up sleeping arrangements; during the day Guinevere and Nimue pretty much ignore each other but nighttime is a different matter. The last month or so, Guinevere has moved from my room to YA’s room at night.  Every day YA moves the dog bed from my room to her room because “Gwen likes that bed during the day”.   I noticed today that both of the upstairs dog beds are still in YA’s room. 

Beds & Lambies

In addition, Guinevere has FOUR lampchop chewy toys.  This is in addition to a huge basket full of other balls and toys, but the lampchop ones are definitively her favorites.  YA and I used a giftcard last spring and bought several of them, so we have extras on hand if the current flock gets nibbles too much.

Guinevere is also refusing to eat her kibble this week.  This happens every couple of years when she just decides that her currently dogfood isn’t fitting the bill.  While YA and I are both fine with changing her food, neither of us is willing to throw out half of a large bag of kibble.  I voted for letting her go hungry on the theory that she won’t starve to death and eventually she’ll eat what we have.  YA is frantic about the non-eating.  So far this past week on different occasions I’ve seen lots of delicacies added to Guinevere’s dish: peanut butter, vanilla yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin and also some very smelly dog sauces in pouches.  Each of these items worked moderately well but we’ve still got at least 2 weeks before we’re ready for a new brand of dry food. Good grief.

Have you ever had a hand in spoiling someone?

Soak It In

I am a Neil deGrasse Tyson buff.  I’ve read several of his books, follow his current podcast (Star Talk) and own a t-shirt with a NdGT quote and a bracelet that I saw on his website of the planets in order.  (I actually made my own bracelet based on his design and I added Pluto – he may be smart, but Pluto will always be one of my planets!)

One of the things that I admire most is his ability to take difficult concepts and to distill them down so that most of us can understand them.  I was re-listening to his description of how the tides actually work/exist and wondered what it would be like to take a class from him (an entry-level class of course – I’ve encountered some of his work that is NOT distilled down and it is way over my head).

My favorite classes in college were always lectures.  I don’t need any small discussion groups or multi-student projects – just let me sit in the presence of great professors while I soak up their knowledge.  Between Carleton and Metro State I took five Shakespeare courses from two different professors – fabulous.  There was a spellbinding Chinese Middle Kingdom class and the professor who taught my King Arthur in English and American Literature (yes, a real class for which I got credit) held my attention like no other.

But based on YA’s master’s program experience, the current trend in education is all about self-teaching, small group projects and collaboration (I detest this word).  Her description of every single class she took for her MBA made my skin crawl, so I guess I probably won’t be going back to school in my retirement.  I’ll have to remain self-taught in the areas that appeal to me.  I’m still doing my online Italian class; I’m almost at 900 days straight.  I’m still working my way through biographies of the English monarchs as well as the American presidents.  Banned books are high on my list of interests as well as reading on Black Lives Matter.  Science is also a love of mine although I would say I have a broad science curiosity  as opposed to a deep curiosity. 

If I were to take any classes, my first choice would be anything taught by Tyson; it’s possible he could do wonders from my understanding of physics.  Add a course covering the history plays of Shakespeare.  I’d like an economics class that specializes in the real world and does not discuss guns or butter.  Literature courses of just about any kind.  No math (I got through trigonometry by the skin of my teeth) and no classes where anything has to be cut up!  

What were your favorite and least favorite classes in school?   

Not Much Happening

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Really not much happening this week. I’ve been at ‘work’ work. Young Padawan started school so he hasn’t been out. We haven’t even got the grass cut in the last couple weeks, but it really needs it and one of us will have to get on that.

I haven’t even taken any pictures of anything farm related this week.

The adult ducks are still well and chickens are all fine. Our duckling number is down to 4. Not sure what’s happen to the others. Plus, mom abandoned them last week. She just flew the coop and joined the other older ducks. One of the four ducklings has a bad leg. Not sure what happen too it, but one leg is bent up over its back so it struggles around on one leg and it’s belly. Been doing that for at least the last two weeks and somehow still managing.

It seems to be a tough time for pets lately. I’ve got a friend whose cat is having health issues and another who just had to put their dog down. The dog people accepted what they had to do even while they cried about it. The cat person doesn’t want to let go and is just angry about everything. It’s hard that we love our pets so much that losing them hurts so much.

I got a call last week to be the ‘Certified Lift Operator’ for an install at the college sports center. The public school district had a ‘welcome back’ meeting last Monday (Public Schools in Rochester start Tuesday the 6th) So a local production company that I work with was hanging a video screen and needed someone to drive the college lift so they could hang the video screen. Back when I was working as a stagehand, there was one old guy that just ran the forklift. I felt like him; I can’t do the harder physical work at the moment, but I can drive the lift! Went back the next day to drive the lift as they took it back down. LED Video screens were just becoming a thing when I quit being a stagehand, so it was really interesting to see how it all assembled (24 – 18”x 18” LED panels that all clip together and then they daisy chain cables for power in and out of each one and another cable for data in and out to each one.) And these screens have become so bright they only run it at about 10% intensity. Full intensity could light up an entire stadium and burn out your eyeballs. 

On the farm I think about how thing have changed. My dad went from horses to tractors. In the winter he put a ‘heat houser’ on the tractor. There was a bit of a metal frame around the seat area, and then heavy canvas wrapped around the engine to sort of funnel the heat back to the seat area. Of course, the back was wide open, but still, it warmed you up as it blew by. There was a plastic windshield too. I remember using that and it was certainly better than nothing. 

We added a cab to one of our tractors when I was maybe 15 yrs old. It didn’t have heat or AC but at least you were out of the elements. In the summer we took the doors and back window off so that was the AC. And I guess technically it had a heater and somehow the hoses connected to the engine, but it never worked. It didn’t blow any air, hot or cold.

When I bought my first tractor in 1986 it had a cab with actual working heat and AC. But dad hated AC and he’d drive with the doors and windows open anyway. Which really made the inside of the cab dusty. He said AC gave him a cold. These days there is so much electronics in the cab, you wouldn’t dare drive with the doors open like that.

The header photo is a group of neighborhood men. I got this photo from a neighbor who knows a few of the men. We’re not really sure what year it was taken or who most of them are.

The drill we use for oats. As a kid I remember an old wooden drill that Dad used. It had big wood wheels and cranks on the back and I think he said it used to be a horse drawn implement and he had rebuilt the hitch to pull it with a tractor. Eventually he bought a different drill. Neither one of them held much seed and he would load the truck with seed and park it at the end of the field, walk back home for the tractor and drill, drive to the field and make about 3 rounds and fill up the drill again. Then move to a different field and go get the truck again.  I remember riding in the truck and moving it up the edge of the field as he needed seed. When I took over, I’d put a bicycle in the back of the truck so at least I could ride that back home for the tractor. (See, I didn’t like walking even then! Huh.) Later on, I traded that drill for a bigger one and it held maybe 15 bags of seed, so I could fill it at home and plant enough that I would just run home again to refill. And a few years later I traded that in for the drill I currently have, and it holds about 22 bags of seed. Again, easier to just run home. Plus, now I have the cameras on it so there’s that.

Our crop timeline here in SE MN is later than farmers to our South of course. Different timelines and different weather. Some farmers are already chopping corn silage or finishing up 3rd or 4th crop hay. Guys are prepping machinery as they could get started on soybeans by the end of the month. Soybeans respond to the length of daylight, so even though they were planted later this spring than last spring, they’ll still ripen about the same time. I’ve seen a few beans starting to turn yellow. Some varieties will ripen sooner than others, but it won’t take long now. Within a couple weeks the leaves will all fall off and the beans will start drying down.  

2427 GDU’s to date. 127 over normal they say. I really have a hard time believing that as cool as it’s been the last month. I’m not sure the online meteorology class I’m taking will cover that. Haven’t read about it yet.

I got a call from the farm co-op saying the price of urea fertilizer is going up and did I want to prepay some now for 2023. Wow. I haven’t thought much about next year’s crop yet. I decided not to prepay yet. If I figure an extra few months of interest against the cost savings, how much would I really save? And it’s possible the price might come down by December. Not likely, but possible.

I learned a new word: “Defenestration” – The action of throwing someone out a window. Seems to be a problem in the USSR.

I did finally get some grass cut. The last few years I’ve been mowing more and more areas out behind the sheds and such. Easier to do that than let it all go to ragweed and wild parsnip. Way off in the boonies I found a garden hose all coiled up and mostly buried in the dirt. Luckily the mower didn’t cut it, just grazed it. Why is there a hose there?? All I can think is, 40 some years ago mom and Dad planted a bunch of trees up there and I remember them watering them the first year or two. Must have coiled the hose up and left it there. It’s a nice rubber hose. The ends still look good and I think it will still hold water! Boy, that’s a good hose!

WHAT DO YOU SEE OUT YOUR WINDOW? TALK ABOUT A RONCO PRODUCT.

First Day of School

Public School started yesterday in our town. The smaller, Class B schools in our region started last week, as did the Catholic schools. The children next door were up early today and making a hullaballoo in the front yard in their excitement. Their parents are educators and administrators in the public schools. It was a big day.

I heard last evening from a music educator in my bell choir that one of her colleagues had a most exciting day, having two elementary boys decide to flash each other as soon as they got in the classroom, and another boy who came in the room with a gushing, bloody nose.

I remember being so excited the night before school started that I couldn’t sleep. My mother was a Grade 3 teacher, and loved her job and would have taught until she was 80 had she not been felled by MS. She adored her children and her classroom.

What is your most memorable first day of school? Who were the naughtiest children in your classes, and what naughty things did they do? Who was your favorite elementary teacher, and why?

Puppy Physics

Our Cesky Terrier clearly has never heard of the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that two objects cannot occupy the same space simultaneously.

Try as he might, Kyrill can’t fit two of his favorite small tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. He loves his balls and runs all over the house with them. Much of the time he looks like a soccer player, one ball in his mouth, the other getting pushed down the hall and around the room with his front paws. He seems to experiment at times with both on the floor in front of him, picking up one and trying to pick up the other, as though he thinks the rules might have changed and he can have both in mouth.

Cesky Terriers are some what different in temperament from other terriers, in that they prefer (in fact, they insist) on being with their people instead of running off and exploring. Kyrill is very conflicted when we are both outside with him, as he wants to be with both of us simultaneously, even when we are in different corners of the yard. He has, apparently, heard of the superposition principle of quantum mechanics, which essentially states that one object can exist in two places at the same time. I have no idea how that possibly could be true, but it appears to be an actual proven principle. Kyrill hasn’t figured out how to make it work for him when husband and I aren’t together in the same room.

What natural laws do you wish you could suspend? What is your experience with animal devotion or loathing?

What’s Your Sign?

On our recent trip to Fargo, our family stopped in to the bookstore at Concordia College in neighboring Moorhead, MN to get some Concordia gear. Daughter, son, daughter in law, and I are all alums, and we needed new sweatshirts. I had no sweatpants, so I got some of those, too. Grandson even got a t shirt.

I typically avoid wearing clothes with designer labels or slogans. I don’t feel the need to be a walking billboard. I feel differently about my college, though. The gear is really comfortable, too.

I remember back in the day when it was pretty common to ask people what their zodiac sign was when you met them, as though that would tell you everything you needed to know about the person. I am Aquarius. Husband is Sagittarius. I no longer remember if that makes us compatible or not. We will be married 39 years come September. I still sometimes read my horoscope in our weekly paper, though, just to see what I should expect. It is never correct.

What is your zodiac sign? Is is an accurate reflection of your personality? Ever been to a fortune teller?

Park It!

It’s been a parking lot few days for me.

There is a strip mall near Nonny’s place that we visited more than once (Panera, post office, UPS store, Walgreens and Starbucks – we had a lot of errands to run).  It is very poorly designed, with parking spaces laid out every which way and with some one-way arrows that everybody ignores.

YA’s game of choice on her iPad this weekend was Parking Jam – in which you have to get all the cars out of a parking lot without jumping any berms to crashing into other vehicles. 

Then when I ran out to get a few things this morning before work, I drove by the backside of the Hub parking lot.  If you have ever seen the backside of the Hub parking lot, you’ll know that it is just wasted real estate.  All the entrances to the mall are on the other side and no one parks in the back – not even employees.  But this morning I noticed that in the last week they have re-painted all the parking lines back there.  What a complete waste of paint and time!

I mentioned to YA when I got home that clearly parking lot design must be a completely neglected part of architecture school – they can’t teach this and have so many folks be so bad at it?  Or can they?

Were you a good student at school?