Monday, November 16, 2009

Where I want to go but won't, and why

There are some places that intrigue me, but I don't think I'll ever go there. In some cases, I just don't really think it'd be that fun, even though it's intriguing. Somalia would be a good example, but the intrigue is mostly because of how dangerous it is there, and wondering what it'd be like to walk down a street in Mogadishu (I'd probably be terrified, and with good reason). As it says in this quote from Wikipedia: "Years of civil unrest and uncontrolled insurgencies against Ethiopian occupation have transformed Mogadishu into one of the most dangerous and lawless cities in the world." Of course, there's really nothing to recommend about it anyway.

Then there's places that may have some tourist interest, if they weren't too dangerous. Afghanistan, with its mountainous terrain, is a prime example. Here's a photo that makes it look like a winter wonderland:

What I've found, though, is that I don't really know as much as I'd like to about the world. It's easy for me to list a few places I wouldn't go, but I wouldn't want to anyway. When I think of where I want to go, there aren't many places I can think of that I wouldn't go. An example is Mt. Ararat. I think it'd be cool to hike up the mountain where Noah's Ark supposedly came to rest. Up until 2001 or so, it was in a militarized zone and terrorists were a real threat. Is that still the case? I don't know. But with all the other places in the world I'd like to go, it seems unlikely I'll ever go there.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Teaching how to throw a baseball

I need to teach Roark and Cole how to throw a baseball. Sure, they're only four, but they've started t-ball and watching them practice it was obvious. Cole usually steps with the wrong foot, creating a very awkward, unbalanced motion. When one of the coaches tried to get him to step with the right foot, he threw the ball straight into the ground. Over and over. Roark was his usual wonderfully oblivious self, throwing the ball however he felt like, including once throwing it with his glove hand, which didn't really work so well.

So how do you teach a four year old to throw? I'd say keep it simple, don't overdo it because they'll end up thinking too much. So I did a Google search on "how to throw a baseball". Here's the first couple of lines from the first one that came up: "When kids are taught to throw, often the instruction is watered down into just a couple of steps. The act of throwing a baseball is not that simple. Throwing requires the entire body to work together in order to throw the ball accurately and to put something on it." Sure, maybe to perfect the throw, but I don't think we want to start there.

I plan to start with simply getting them both to turn so their shoulder opposite the throwing arm is pointed at the target, then stepping and throwing. Three fairly simple steps (I hope). We'll see how that goes before worrying about the getting the entire body working together for four-year-olds who fall over while standing still .

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

What season is it?

Today was a beautiful spring day. Sunny and warm. Granted, I didn't get to spend much time outside, but when I did it was great. This weekend Cole and Roark have a couple of baseball games, and all indications are that the weather will be fantastic for a change, replacing the storms of the past few weeks Yes, spring is here.

Except it's November. Just ask Cassie, who goes to college at MSU. They may see snow tonight. Snow has always been exciting to me because as a kid growing up in Texas snow meant no school. So I'm a little bit jealous. But I'm quite alright with spring.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Of Science

I don't spend much time thinking about science. I lost my fascination for it early on. I remember looking at chemistry sets and thinking I'd make some potion that'd make me invisible. I loved the experiments like building an oven out of aluminum foil and cardboard (yeah, that worked - took about an hour to make the outside of a hot dog room temperature and still cold in the middle). I'd collect random junk like nuts, bolts, and wires because I was going to build a robot out of the spare parts. Roark does this now and I wonder why he's collecting all this junk. Now that this memory came out of nowhere I can understand better.

Sometime around 7th or 8th grade science class became more work and less fun. Experiments that I can think of now involved looking at rocks and classifying them (now who wouldn't get worked up over that - just the word classify makes me yawn). I came to dread science class, having to memorize the periodic table, geologic periods in order, blah, blah, blah so mind-numbingly boring who really cares. Which is sad, because I know there's still a spark of that childhood fascination buried down deep. I know this because I love reading about breakthroughs in medical science or potential new energy sources. Makes me wonder what options I might've explored if some teacher had simply made science fun again. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered. There's so many factors that go into determining what one does for a living. However, I do think teachers, exceptional ones, can have a huge impact on the lives of their students. With standardized testing and prescribed lessons, creativity is easily squelched. It shouldn't be. We desperately need it.