Friday, August 08, 2008

Christian the lion


Thursday, August 07, 2008

This is too true


Actually, I'm not sure this isn't Rule #1.


Three years ago

Three years ago I started this blog because some members of the community at BFA felt the environment there had become too toxic, but they didn't want to give up the community. I was one of the people who felt that way. My son has Asperger's Syndrome, and, heaven help us, we've never really managed to cobble together a really good IEP and a good team of professionals who are all on the same page as us. So the beginning of the school year can't help but be a stressful time, and that was a time when maintaining a supportive community was especially important to me.

But I knew that starting a new community blog on my own was more than I could handle, so before I ever flipped the switch to start up the blog, I e-mailed a number of people to ask if they could help me.

Over time we've lost some contributors. And I've lost almost all desire to write about politics. Maybe it will come back one day, but I don't know. Anyway, for anyone who's been away for a while and is just now coming back, that's why so many of the posts consist of pictures of dogs and cats.

So now it's August--back to school time is looming once again. And things are more complicated now that the kids are teenagers. So yeah, I'm a bit stressed from time to time. I really need to be able to take some time away--like everyone else does every now and then.

The history of the comment software issue is rather complicated, and one thing I lack at the moment is the time, patience, and focus to try to explain all of that in detail. But basically, some people have trouble using the integrated Blogger commenting. I installed Haloscan commenting, but for some people, that didn't work unless I made the comment link by hand. These days I have a separate blog I use to "grow" new Halosan threads. I've added a link to it in the sidebar, and in my posts.

So the comment link no longer takes you straight to the comments, but to that other blog. But I've tried to make it as straightforward as possible. You just need to click on today's date.

I need to take off for a while now, as we have someone coming to the house shortly.

Update: Some time ago I lost my password for BFA and couldn't find a mechanism for retrieving it. Could someone please post a link to this entry over there. I know some people there come over here once in a while, but maybe not often to keep up to speed on changes. And if someone comes by here and asks a question in the comments on any given day, it may be hours before someone sees the question and is able to answer.


Thursday Open Thread



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Open thread



Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Water and me

At first, it didn't seem like water and I were going to be friends. I mean, of course, water in quantities large enough to submerse myself in. I do get that we're made of mostly water, that it's essential for life, and so forth. But when I was growing up, I spent season after season failing to advance out of the beginner's level swim classes. I can visualize myself standing at the edge of the pool in my swim suit and (gack!) cap, lined up with the other students in my class. That last season I was at least a foot taller than the rest of them.

But I finally passed the test that would allow me to graduate from the Beginner's level. I don't remember how old I was, but I'm pretty sure I was a teenager. What I do remember is that during that long swim I had the distinct sensation, "I might actually die right now!" But at least I finally passed, dang it, and that was the end of swim lessons.

I first tried water aerobics in 1999. I realized at first that I *could* enjoy it. Not as tiring as other kinds of exercise. And if I was doing it wrong, other people in the class couldn't see. I had to be sure to get to class early, because the only spot that really worked for me was in the deeper water, close to a wall. Facing a wall helped me tune out the people around me, and gave me a focal point to keep me from drifting all over the pool.

And I actually stuck with it long enough for it to become a habit. One I knew all the moves and really didn't need to think about what I was doing, some pretty cool things started to happen.

First, I discovered that doing some fast water aerobics was great stress relief. That was especially important when we were having a rough time with Son in Ohio's kindergarten. It was at the end of that school year that we started the three years of homeschooling, but in the months before we finally made that decision, I'm sure you can imagine there was plenty of stress.

Also, I discovered that while my body was occupied with a familiar routine, my brain was free to work on other things. I could get a lot of good thinking done during water aerobics--sometimes creative stuff, but sometimes it just gave me time to plan and remember the things I needed to do in the coming days. It was the first time in my life that I had actually been able to make physical activity a *habit*--even one I looked forward to and missed if I couldn't go.

Classes were only on certain evenings, though, and one particular quarter, when I was teaching almost every night of the week (thanks to the Bush economy I had to), the habit got broken. For a long time I tried to get back into my regular routine, but it never quite happened. When I couldn't make it to class, I would just try to do the water aerobics moves on my own.

Last year I let my membership to that gym lapse, opting instead for a community center that the whole family could go to. In theory, that could have worked out just fine, but the reality is that it was hard to predict the kind of environment that would greet me during open swim hours. Sometimes the pool would be sparsely populated and I could just position myself near a wall, do my own thing, and get into that "zone" again. Other times the pool would be crowded or there would be a class going on. Or there would be conversations taking place that I really didn't want to listen to, but couldn't manage to tune out.

When I got my waterproof mp3 player, I was thrilled. I could set my own playlist, tune everyone else out, and just go. It was like having my own little portable Somebody Else's Problem Field. I hadn't quite gotten back to the level of activity I had years ago, but I was getting there. Until my allegedly waterproof mp3 player decided it was done being waterproof. I'm still making myself go to the gym, but the whole stress relief, focus, and creativity thing has been eluding me. As a new school year looms (Son in Ohio is starting HIGH SCHOOL for cryin' out loud!), I'm really wishing I could get some of that old water aerobics magic back.

Anyway, when I started clumsily hinting about donations to HEP yesterday, this is what was on my mind.


Monday, August 04, 2008


This is a detail from a map hanging in the room where I teach. Maybe this is common practice now, but I'd never seen it before. Instead of just showing Alaska in a box off to the side, but totally out of context, they show how big Alaska is in comparison to the 48 contiguous states.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

New Google Reader Shared Items

...can be found here.

Happy Sunday.