# The Lydster, Part 73: The Health Report

A bunch of pictures from last fall. The reason I don’t use a digital camera is the very real likelihood that I would lose it. I took these on a one-use camera, then lost it, then recently found it.

In any case, Lydia is 4’2″ (50 inches) and 70 pounds. She’s over the 97th percentile for her height and her weight. She’s very active. Not only does she take ballet once a week, but she dances in front of the TV to the music of her favorite TV shows. Usually it’s quite graceful, though the thing she was doing to one particular song from the Backyardigans looked more like thrash dancing.

She loves to run. In a 50-yard race, she will beat me because she has great acceleration; eventually, I can catch her, but it is by using maximum effort. She’ll race me up the stairs and always beat me, but to be fair to me, she usually has the inside track.

She has various and sundry allergies, some seasonal, others year-round. She takes Zyrtec practically daily, plus her fluoride and vitamin, and other medicines seasonally, as needed. She was tested again, and she’s still allergic to peanuts; she’s never been allergic to tree nuts, but we have to avoid them too, since they tend to be processed in the same location.

She lost her eighth (or is it her ninth?) baby tooth this week, and has one adult tooth (top center). I must say that the Tooth Fairy is WAY more generous with her than she was with me.

As I’ve noted she’s doing well in school. Initially she fretted that she wasn’t ready – the source of the glum look (above) is that this was the first day of school back in September – but now she loves it.

I generally help her with her homework. Recently, he had to add coins, two quarters, and she guessed 51 cents. I explained that if 5 plus 5 equal a number ending in zero, than any two numbers each with the last digit of 5 added together would end with zero. She hugged me and said, “Thank you for showing me that, Daddy!” She REALLY loves to learn. The curse of being the child of a teacher and a librarian, I suppose.

EDIT: Found picture.

ROG

# K is for Kindergarten

When my wife and I went to kindergarten in the 1950s (me) and 1960s (her), it was designed to acclimate us to going to school, learning how to be away from home, and an attempt to teach rudimentary things such as learning songs and telling time.

I still remember the Roman-numeraled clocks in my classroom, and the yellow rug that I, and a year later, my sister Leslie used to take our naps. In fact, I specifically remember once waking up at 11:45 a.m. and realizing that no one was there. I actually fell asleep at naptime, and Miss Cady let me sleep, knowing I would just get up and go home afterward. (If a teacher did that now, he or she almost certainly would be fired.)

The book pictured in this post above was/is actually a gift to my wife Carol from her family just before she actually went to kindergarten. The lead character in the book is coincidentally also named Carol.

But now my daughter is now in kindergarten, and it is far from the “children’s garden” its name suggests. In the United States, it has evolved from that “transition from home to the commencement of more formal schooling” to the “first year of compulsory education.” Where once kindergarten was where kids learned skills through creative play and social interaction,” in half-day increments, it is now often the full-day entry level to the standard curriculum.

I mean, my daughter has HOMEWORK! Not just learn the numbers and letters, but adding numbers and combining letters to make words. It’s far more rigorous than her mother and I experienced in the day.

There is this 87-page PDF from early in this century called Original Purpose and Development of Kindergarten in California, which addresses these issues

…kindergarten, inspired by precursor early childhood education concepts, included children from ages six and seven to as young as two and three. It sought to lead children gently “over the threshold of learning by the seductive charm of music, flowers, games, pictures, and curious objects.” Later, kindergarten was integrated into the first to 12th grade system, gradually and subtly changing its focus to emphasize emergent literacy and early academic skills. An apparent consequence was that the minimum entry age was raised several times to its current level. This philosophical divergence is still not fully resolved.

The daughter got a note home from school at the end of the semester, noting that she missed nine days from school, mostly for illness. We were informed that she won’t pass into 1st grade if she misses more than 28 days for the year. Could she “fail” kindergarten? She IS graded on concepts such as “identifies sight words in text”, “interprets data from graphs”, and “communicates ideas, feelings and elements of design,” and is doing well.

This is NOT her parents’ kindergarten.

I’d write more, but I have to go help her with her homework now.

ABC Wednesday
ROG

# The Lydster, Part 71: Hiding Less

Making her own kind of music

The daughter has had this habit of getting all shy, even around people that she has met repeatedly, such as folks in church choir and in church generally. We had hoped that she would outgrow this, and it seems to be starting to happen.

I wonder if it’s the ballet lessons she started taking last fall. Now, let me be very clear that Lydia taking ballet is strictly her idea. Her mother and I are rather agnostic on this issue; we certainly aren’t the kind of parents to push her into performing. The first time she mentioned it, it was merely talk, I think. But she persisted in asking, and now once a week for 45 minutes, she’s in a class with other girls of her age and experience. They had a “performance” a few weeks ago which I went to; it mostly involved showing a few positions and few moves, but it was a pleasant enough experience.

Coming in from the cold

The other experience that seems to have helped her in church choir. She and five other girls sang in front of the church just before Christmas. I would have bet money that she would have bailed, but not only did she stand there, she actually sang out.

It could just be greater security from going to kindergarten, but whatever it is, I’m in favor.

Time to go home – on the road again

ROG
First picture by Uthaclena
Other pictures by Sprylet

# November Ramblin'

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a couple recent podcasts by Arthur at AmeriNZ dealing with the topic, broadly stated: “Are online relationships ‘real’?” I was talking over these podcasts with a couple guys I see on the bus each evening. One suggests that if the relationship generates an action from the other person, then it is a relationship.

Of course, it could be a one-sided relationship. Let’s say you were following Ashton Kutcher on on Twitter and retweeted all of his best lines; unless Ashton reciprocated, it would really be much of a story. But when you are motivated to take some action, and they respond in kind, then certainly, some real human interaction is taking place. I see an article that I believe – because I listen to his podcast, read his blog – that Arthur would interested in for its content. And as often as not, Arthur acknowledges that in some way.

Here’s the odd thing I experienced this fall. There’s a guy in my office. He’s a perfectly nice person. Someone sent out an e-mail asking if we wanted to contribute to a wedding gift. Oh, he’s been engaged? Really? I had no idea. Now this guy sits about 20 feet from my desk, lives (somewhere) in my neighborhood. I say hi to him but I don’t know anything about him, or he much about me, I suspect.

Whereas I know about Scott’s sons, Nigel and new baby Ian, and Greg’s daughters, Norah and Mia; they in turn know a bit about Lydia. I know more about Scott and Greg, and more importantly, interact with them more substantially, than I do the woman who I see on the bus every evening.
***
Wednesday, the wife had a follow-up oral surgery. After the ordeal last year, it seems that six of her lower teeth didn’t have enough gum cover for six of her lower teeth. Without gums, the teeth could rot and fall out. So tissue was removed from one part of her mouth to create gum tissue. She’s recovering amazingly well. The in-laws came to our house this year to help Carol and to celebrate Thanksgiving, which was fine.
***
I was doing research at work a couple months back, when I came across some New York State law:

EDN – Education
Article 17 – INSTRUCTION IN CERTAIN SUBJECTS
801 – Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents
§ 801. Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents. 1. In order to promote a spirit of patriotic and civic service and obligation and to foster in the children of the state moral and intellectual qualities which are essential in preparing to meet the obligations of citizenship in peace or in war, the regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery (including the freedom trail and underground railroad), the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools, over the age of eight years, shall attend upon such instruction.

I did not know that. Surely, this is law that must have been passed long after I attended school – though it seemed we did seem to spend a lot of time on the Irish potato famine. Just found it interesting and can only imagine certain people making political hay over it.
***
The bitter tears of Johnny Cash. The untold story of Johnny Cash, protest singer and Native American activist, and his feud with the music industry
***
***
Hen House Five Plus Two’s In the Mood actually Ray Stevens, the song that first informed me that all music can be done in chicken. The beginning of The Muppets’ Bohemian Rhapsody was a reminder of same.
***
Wonderous invention.

ROG

# The Lydster, Part 67: Kindergarten

I didn’t know how Lydia would take to kindergarten. She’d been going to day care for four years, after all. And the first week’s report was not encouraging: “all we do is color!” Ah, but there was a method to her teacher’s madness. It was “color two of three trees”, understanding the concept of numbers.

So it is astonishing how much she’s learned in the past couple months. When she asked how many days between her birthday and mine, and I said 19, she replied, “Then it’s 20 days between your birthday and Grandma’s,” whose birthday is the day after Lydia’s. Yes, that would be correct.

Notable: she has learned how to tie her shoes. On September 24, she couldn’t. On September 25, she was waiting for her mother, saw this book “Learn to Tie Your Shoes!” from CB Publishing complete with instructions and, more importantly, actual shoelaces; by the end of the day, she could do it. This is pleasing to me for a couple reasons:
1) this means she could tie them long before I could tie mine
2) when I get old and decrepit (or older and decrepiter), she’ll be able to tie mime

She has to do homework for 20 minutes every day, usually with me. Part of it involves taking a picture book such as “K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo” and identifying all the words on the page that begin with each letter of the alphabet; I keep finding new ones myself.

Lydia has mellowed out about the process of learning. Early on at school, she was told to use the phonetic sounds to try to figure out the spelling of a word. When she got one wrong, she literally broke into tears in class. Now she knows that English is difficult, what with those Cs that sound like Ks, Cs that sound like Ss, Gs that sound like Js, and Ys that sound like Is, not to mention silent letters in words such as gnu and knife.

She has always liked to dance, but has actively resisted actually take classes. But she has now taken two sessions in a ballet class and really seems to enjoy it. For our part, we never pushed her in this direction; it had to be something SHE really wanted to do.

Lydia gets more interesting practically every day.

ROG

# D is for the Doraville Schoolhouse

There was a one-room schoolhouse in a tiny hamlet called Doraville, NY. It was so small that, growing up in Binghamton, perhaps 26 miles (42 km) away, I had never heard of it until considerably later. But it holds a special place in the hearts of my in-laws.

Two of my mother-in-law’s older siblings actually attended the school before it closed down during a school consolidation c. 1940. But then a kitchen was added on, and the building was used for years as community center for meetings, suppers and the like. As it was a very short walk from the former school to my mother-in-law’s parents’ house, it became the location for the Olin Thanksgiving for many years, into the 1970s.

At some point, the powers that be decided to tear it down so that some utility lines could be built, or some such. However, members of the community objected. They raised the requisite money to move the building from its original location to a spot in Harpursville, some 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away.

It wasn’t just money that was needed; it was manual labor to cut the building in half, horizontally near the roof line, schlep it to the new location then put it back together. It’s likely that the plans wouldn’t have succeeded at all had the state not coincidentally built a new bridge; the old bridge might not have borne the weight. (The photos pictured tell the story of the move.)

Once moved, there was an effort to try to replicate the school as it once was. Under the leadership of my wife’s uncle Don Olin, this was accomplished.

The doorway in this picture led to the kitchen that had been added in the 1940s.

So when the Olins had their family reunion in July 2009, they held it at the Harpursville Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, maybe 1 km (1100 yards or so) away, the family made sure the school was open for their perusal. The pictures here were taken by this blogger at that occasion with a disposable camera.

Unfortunately, Don Olin died last November. The restoration of the Doraville Schoolhouse is a lasting memorial to him. Here’s more about Don.

And more on the Doraville Schoolhouse.

No, the outhouse, just behind the school, is no longer in use.

ROG

# World Book and Copyright Day

From the news release:
On 23 April 2009, we will celebrate the 14th World Book and Copyright Day, proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 1995 to promote greater awareness of the importance of books in the world.

In order to support the Organization in today’s society, this year international professional associations are once again kindly invited to play an essential role in informing and mobilizing both their members and their external networks of experts and stakeholders.

For this edition of the Day, UNESCO suggests to explore the topic of the paramount function of books for the development of quality education, as well as the link between publishing and fundamental rights.

One of the cool things my wife did this past year was to apply for and receive a \$600 minigrant to buy books for her English as a Second Language unit that had been limited by ancient, archaic texts. Even more impressive, she got a publisher to donate – that is, give for free – an almost equal number of books.

Something I know from personal experience is that teachers often spend money out of pocket for books and supplies that they bring to the classroom. In honor of today, perhaps you might contract your local school or PTA to see what books they might need. Or contact your local library; ironically, in a period of increased demand for library services, library budgets are being slashed.

So buy a book, for yourself and/or for someone else.
***
An action film, Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, will be filmed in part on the streets of Albany. Some folks are up in arms, even though the schedule suggests that it won’t disrupt the morning or evening commutes. I think the real issue is that there was NO information at all going out to the general public until a couple days ago about something that begins today, and there is a lot of misinformation floating out there.

ROG

# Unsettling

I had the TV on last night just before 7:30 pm, when there was a scroll along the bottom of the screen indicating that an Amber alert had been called. I’ve seen them before and they’re always a bit scary, but not as much as this one. The address listed is the school in my neighborhood; indeed, we were at that very school on Saturday, checking out the Pre-K and kindergarten programs. Fortunately, the boy and the man who allegedly took him were found not far away in Cohoes less than one hour later.
***
Saturday as a very busy one for us. First, we went to a pancake breakfast to benefit the FOCUS Churches food pantry, then to the school. We went to our credit union to put money into an IRA to mitigate our taxes, using some of the money we’re going to get from the stimulus package. (Shhh! Don’t tell President Bush!!) Then, that evening, we got a babysitter, went to the Troy Music Hall, and listened to an exquisite performance of the Brahms Requiem and other pieces by Albany Pro Musica; here is feedback from one of the singers.
***
My computer at work uses Microsoft Office for e-mail. Friday, and again yesterday morning, when I would click on a hyperlink within my e-mail, it would look as though I were trying to download an executable (.exe) file. Apparently, the problem was that when I downloaded an update to iTunes last week, I also downloaded Safari, and it did not play well with Microsoft Office. Eliminate Safari, reroute the e-mail – which someone else did, trust me – and I was good to go again.
***
The big news in the area is that Pat Riley, oh, and some other folks, got into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s a huge local story because Riley was a high school star in Schenectady; the high school gym there is named in his honor.

ROG

Happy Easter! Appropriately, I’m answering questions from a couple of good eggs.

Scott, who I recently offered a few questions to, has responded in kind.

1. Who do you think will win the NL East this year?

Why, the M-M-M-M-Meh-Meh-Meh-Meh. I’d rather not say; I don’t want to jinx them. They have a new front-line pitcher which should avoid that near-record collapse from last year.

2. Who is your favorite singer?

Gee, that’s hard. I like lots of different singers for a lot of different moods. People such as Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke certainly would be on the list, but so would a lot of rockers. I find it difficult to separate the vocal from the material. Mike Love of the Beach Boys has a bit of a nasally sound to his voice, yet those BB songs on which he sings lead work for me. Other living singers? Cassandra Wilson immediately comes to mind.

3. Who is your favorite comic book hero? (Gay Prof adds: “I hope the answer to question number 3 from Scott is Wonder Woman.”)

Oh, GP, I so do hate disappointing you. Let me explain how I got into comics in college. A new friend of mine collected them. I thought he was crazy, then I started looking at them. The first one I bought was Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1. I thought he was pretty cool. (Later, he decided to change his name to the boring Power Man, and my interest waned.)
Luke Cage appeared in the shadows of Amazing Spider-Man #122 and was on the cover of #123, which got me interested in the webslinger. At about the same time, I was interested in Sub-Mariner #50 (or so) at a point when Bill Everett, the golden age artist who had created Namor, returned to the book. In fact, Sub-Mariner was the first book I sought out back issues of. I got into the Defenders because Namor was in it, then the Avengers because of the Defenders-Avengers war. So I was a Marvel zombie. I’d say my favorites are Spider-Man, Namor and Luke Cage, but I discount anything that might have happened in the last decade or so.
Conversely, I really wasn’t interested in the mainline DC superheroes that eventually bored me in my childhood (Superman, Batman, Flash). By the time I DID look at Wonder Woman, she wasn’t even wearing the star-spangelled garb. These stories were so damn EARNEST – they marketed some of them as “Women’s Lib” issues – their term, not mine. I owned this particular issue, maybe my first, but didn’t stay with it long, I’m afraid, GP.

4. What was your favorite subject in school?

Spelling. Eye wuz allwayz a gud speler. And math. I always liked arithmetic and algebra. I like how if you have a long number and the digit adds up to nine, then it’s divisible by nine. Numbers are magic. I’m more likely to remember someone’s phone number than someone’s name.

5. What was the toughest subject for you in school?

Shop. I had it in seventh and eighth grade – wood, ceramics and something else. The wood items never came out evenly; the ceramic things kept blowing up in the kiln. Strangely, ninth grade metal shop wasn’t so bad, maybe because the tools were more precise so I couldn’t muck things up so much.

GayProf: My question would be what food is your ultimate “comfort food?”

Mac and cheese. My wife makes it, grating the cheese. We’re not talking blue boxes of Kraft here.

Scott, I’ll answer your other question soon; it’s tied into Nik’s, and should best be answered together.

ROG

# Sputnik and Little Rock

I just discovered that two things that happened when I was 4 1/2, external to my immediate surroundings, but with long-lasting effect on me, both took place within a two-week span.

September 25, 1957: Nine black students safely entered Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, after President Eisenhower sent in federal troops to deal with a mob that interfered with a federal court order for the school to integrate. At the beginning of the school year, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus had ordered the state’s National Guard to stop any black students from entering the school, a decision that was countermanded by the federal judge in the case. The story is well told in a son made popular by Pete Seeger, and performed for a time by my father, State of Arkansas; the third verse I especially remembered without assistance:
“Three hundred National Guard were there
Dressed up to fight a war.”

Even at that age, I knew that race mattered. I was also vaguely aware that the federal government was doing an extraordinary thing that was not universally popular. This led me to believe in the innate goodness of the federal government, a notion that has been dashed time and time again in the intervening years.

October 4, 1957: Sputnik was launched, beginning the space race, which was seen, in part, as an extension of the arms race.

As writer John Noble Wilford put it: “Sputnik changed everything – history, geopolitics, the scientific world.” Certainly, the headway made by the “Commie Ruskies” colored my entire time in school. It fueled competitiveness to learn, but also exacerbated a Cold War paranoia that we’d all die by some entity, unseen until it was too late. I used to do these “Duck and Cover” exercises:

My wife was listening to the “duck and cover” drill that I played, and it was scary to her.
I’ve complained that current politicians like to deal in fear mongering, but on reflection, I grew up learning to be afraid of the Commies. It may be that the “counter culture” of the late 1960s was as much a reaction to that paranoia of the 1950s and early 1960s as it was to the promotion of civil rights and opposition to the Viet Nam war.

These two events, one of civil rights and the other a specter of war, taking place before I was in kindergarten, had a huge, and continuing effect on me that I hadn’t fully appreciated until now.