Monday, March 27, 2006

Peak oil, climate change, mental gears turning

In my teens -- in the 70s -- I hated that whole "the world might end tomorrow!!!" nuclear-war fear mindset (and what might have been a corollary in the Evangelical church of my late-high-school years, "Christ might return tomorrow!!!"). Bleagh. I'm a firm optimist who eventually learned that rainy days must be prepared for, but nuclear rain is not something I am willing to expect!

Lately I've noticed that my 10-year-old son is quite interested in various disaster scenarios. Most recently the CNN? series on various "perfect storm" scenarios -- super tornado, super solar storm, super tidal wave, super flood. I find these fascinating myself, even as I grump about how the science and preparedness responses are presented in these semi-fictional accounts.

And yet, and yet.

For a couple of months I've become much more aware of atypical weather events and oblique connections with climate change. Now I'm also noticing connections with peak oil (ie, we're at the peak of worldwide oil, and from here on out it'll be more scarce and more expensive to acquire and refine). I am beginning to think that THIS is the set of worries that my children will actually have to live with.

Hmmm. Maybe my personal sea change about preparedness back in the months before Y2K, along with our hard work at being frugal in many ways will be useful after all. Dear husband is the voice of doom and gloom (a/k/a the realist speaks), whereas I think being prepared for a rainy day and developing personal connections throughout my community are our bulwark against the gloomy scenario (a/k/a "stone age, here we come").

I'm being cryptic 'cause I'm not sure anyone wants to hear me processing this stuff, at least not mid-processing. Hmmm. Anyone else thinking that maybe the American status quo is about to start a long, bumpy fade into History, and pondering what the next couple of decades could be like?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Homeschooling update

I posted an actual homeschooling update on my BubblyOne blog, both for those interested and for me to "hear" myself talking things through.

By afternoon yesterday the spring snow was completely melted (except for northeast-facing nooks of roofs etc.), and it's sunny and heading for the upper 50s today. Amazing springtime!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Let's see whether Dear Husband notices this...

Yummmm, the mouthwatering, herb-laden scent of succulent pork cooking into tenderness with Italian seasonings in the slow cooker... The companion anticipation of the crusty Kimelweck-rolls-to-be, gently rising in a covered bowl on the counter...

Yes, it's a day for one of our very favorite, eat-too-much meals ('cause we don't have it as often as we'd like), Italian shredded beef sandwiches! With pork, though; I got some pork roast at 88c a pound yesterday and realized I could make our slow-cooker favorite with it. Too bad I can't eat the smell -- it is SO GOOD and that would be a low-calorie way to enjoy it! We have green salad fixings, so *perhaps* *possibly* *maybe* we'll be able to exercise a tiny amount of portion control.

Hmmm. I think I need to fix this more often so it's not such a huge big deal. I have the other half of the pork roast stashed in the freezer, so perhaps, rather than branching out, I can simply plan to repeat this meal next month. I'd have cooked it all today in order to freeze half of the cooked pork for another meal, but the entire hunk o' pork would never have fit in my slow cooker.

Anyway, hon, we're doing the whole thing tonight, even unto the homemade Kimelweck rolls. Woohoo!

Spring snow & sunshine

Nothing like the sight of snow outlining the branches of blooming redbuds and cherry trees and resting on all of the blossoms. So pretty! And I can appreciate the sight even more when the roads and sidewalks are safely bare and wet. Tonight the remaining wetness from an all-day melt will freeze, but it'll be gone pretty soon after that. The ephemeral snow of mid spring.

What's the state of the planted world in my town?

Done: Crocuses, early daffodils, flower stage of Bradford pear trees, flower stage of some Oriental magnolia trees, some forsythia.

Happening now: Redbud trees blooming, more daffodils, pussy willow, many trees greening up. Everyone's pansies and violas and johnny jump ups are in full flower.

Emerging: Early tulips, spirea blossoms, daylily leaves. The basal leaves of my coreopsis, Mexican hat, and Indian paintbrush seem to have greened up and increased?

Maybe, maybe, maybe I'll grow tomatoes, bell peppers, and beans in containers this year. And shuffle shrubs and perennials in my front garden. I seem to have skipped last year entirely, in the garden.

Ah, spring!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Breathing Texas wildfire smoke

Yep, that's what we're doing this late night in CENTRAL OKLAHOMA -- breathing Texas wildfire smoke. Hmph. We noticed it a couple of hours ago, after a crawl warning on the TV letting us know not to worry -- that the fires are in TEXAS. Yikes, that's amazing.

We have most of the windows most of the way closed, but it was in the 80s again today so we haven't wanted to close up the house entirely. I think we're going to do it, though: now my eyes and nose are bothering me, and I'm pretty sure it's from the TEXAS WILDFIRES. Smell those cedar trees and that dry grass burn, burn, burn.

Might as well close up the house before bed regardless. A cold front is coming and temps tomorrow morning are gonna drop as it passes through, maybe around 6 am. Nothing like going to sleep in late spring and waking up in early spring. Tomorrow night's low is supposed to be near freezing. And then we'll have the more moderate bounce-back for the rest of the week, a/k/a 'spring break' around here. Ah, spring. Did I ever post the photos from our several days of dealing with frozen sleet a/k/a ice-covered streets? From about two weeks ago? Hehe, spring, the trickster.

Anyway, my heart goes out to those dealing with the wildfires in TEXAS and those in Oklahoma (that smoke is going elsewhere); people are losing homes and, either way, having a scary night tonight. Prayers arising.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Limit the negative impact of school!

You need to watch for and encourage your child's originality and not let the schools snuff it out.... What can parents do to limit the negative impact of school?... Three things:

  • Protect your child against the damage school does and intervene on his behalf.

  • Reassure your child that it's okay if she doesn't excel in school and that there is little relationship between the grades she receives and her intelligence and future career success.

  • Recognize that you and not the schools are in charge of your child's education.

  • From Coloring Outside the Lines: Raising a Smart Kid by Breaking All the Rules, by Roger Schank.

    This is EXACTLY what we've been working at all winter with, and for, Son1!! I borrowed this book from the library today; it looked sort of interesting. Well, YES.

    It's pretty sad when you find yourself telling your son that the main reasons he has to finish the (stupid, busywork) school assignments and turn them in on time is because his teacher needs the record of what he knows and because in life sometimes you have to do stuff even when it's fundamentally busywork. Pretty sad.

    Son1 is in fourth grade and turned 10 last December. His grades crashed and burned in late November, after the first quarter grading period, mostly because he suddenly started turning things in late or not at all. We're not sure if there's a social or other reason for this; despite our best efforts with him and his teacher and other parents, we can't figure out anything concrete. So we're focusing on responsibility and doing his best work.

    To help Son1 with this, all winter I've spent almost every after-school homework time sitting near him to encourage and support him in getting his schoolwork done and done reasonably well. There has never been an issue of whether he could do the work, or understood the topic. It's just about whether he turned things in (complete, on time, with answers to what was asked, and legible).

    With almost all assignments being completed and on time, his grades have returned to the general vicinity of typical Son1 grades. And he seems to have somewhat internalized the idea of doing his best work (writing legibly, answering what was asked rather than something else). At the same time, dear husband and I have stifled our ongoing reaction to the actual homework as being a load of busywork and what does it matter for our kiddo if he does this stuff?

    Son1 and I had quite a few talks about homeschooling in the quiet of bedtime. Boy howdy, I'd really like to homeschool this kid. I'm already spending about the same amount of time and at least half of the energy I'd use in homeschooling him! And He Would Like The Projects And Tasks!!! (Mostly.) I wouldn't be inventing stuff for an entire class, but rather coming up with stuff tailored for my kid, working with him to find an interesting, intriguing, challenging (not busywork) way to practice writing skills or gain real-world math experience. Sheesh.

    Funny thing is, we really like Son1's teacher. We just don't appreciate the whole school thing. And we know that we have a way out (homeschooling), if we ever decide to take it.

    By the way, Son2, who turned 6 last month, is reading now and loving it. He really wanted to learn to read this fall, and the phonics-based approach helped him get started. Now the homeschooling work will continue building a good foundation while he has a ball reading everything he can find!