News Stories to Watch

Oil for Food and the UN Scandal:
More on Eason Jordan and the way the print paper is handling the situation. Tell me what you think of this:
The Patriot Act:

(note: I haven’t read everything at that site, but they promise civil debate, so I hope they mean it).

The Gates, a work of art in New York, or is it? You tell me:


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Christopher Columbus, Mariner

JennyAnyDots and Pipsqueak are reading through this book by Samuel Eliot Morison for school. Today they’ll be reading the last portion of chapter 18 and the first two pages or so of chapter 19 (many parents would wish to preview this section).
Sometimes they trace the maps in the book (Pipsqueak says they especially did this at the beginning of the book, and she ‘remembers it most distinctly.’)
They narrate at the end of every reading, telling me what they read about. They prefer to write their narrations.

Periodically in their reading, I have asked them write down an essay question on a slip of paper and place in an envelope. At the end of the term these questions will form a portion of their exams.

Were I writing the essay question today I might ask one of the following:

Tell me some of the hardships Columbus faced and how he dealt with them.
What did you learn about Columbus’ character from today’s reading?
Tell me what you read of Columbus’ dealings with the Indians.

In fact, these questions might well be rephrased to introduce the reading:
“We’ll be reading about some of the hardships Columbus and his men faced, and how they handled them. We will also be reading further about his dealings with local Indians. I wonder what this will tell us about his character?”

Sentences I would choose for the Copybook:
-“I don’t say it rained,” recorded Columbus, “Because it was like another deluge.”

-Ferdinand remembered that the hardtack had become so full of weevils that some men waited for darkness to eat a porridge made of it, but others did not even trouble to wait, “Because they might lose their supper had they been so nice.”

(both from page 134)

The quote about the rain especially resonates with me today because last night as I pulled into our driveway, long overdue for a new layer of gravel, I bogged down in the bog that passes for a driveway in our part of the country. And there the van sits, stuck until the Headmaster has time to help me get it out, or until the ground freezes again, whichever comes first.
We won’t say it’s been raining here, because it’s like another deluge.

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Bedtime traditions

Tonight young Whose-its picked the bedtime story. She chose How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, from the Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

So, Whose-its and What-its tucked away in their bunks, I settled down in the rocking chair in the corner, covered up with a blanket and began to read.

-I have to cover up with a blanket because the chair is in front of a window, and the windows are about a hundred years old- no joke- and on windy nights the two rag rugs and the buckwheat filled cloth tube used for a draft-stopper are not quite enough to stop the influx of fresh air. But I do have a blanket, so I cover up and read to the First-years.

They giggle sleepily in all the right places. The dim light from the teddy bear lamp behind me has a soporific effect. Whose-its snuggles down into her pillow in the position that always precedes sleep. Whats-it stares owlishly at me while I read. As I peek at him over the top of the book, I see he is struggling to keep his eyes open.

I reach the end of the story, the part guaranteed to waft sleeping children all the way to the ‘luxurious city of Uninterrupted Slumber.’ In our book (not in all versions, but in the one we have) it reads like this:

“But the Parsee came down from his palm tree, under his hat from which the rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental splendor, packed up the cooking-stove, and went away in the direction of Orotava, Amygdala, the upland meadows of Anantarivo and the marshes of Sonaput- where all small people, beginning to breathe slowly and evenly, must inevitably also accompany him- in order to arrive easily and unknowingly at the enormous battlements of the luxurious city of Uninterrupted Slumber.”

Doesn’t that give you a pleasantly drowsy feeling? Can’t you just feel your pulse rate subsiding to a gentle, monotonous blub…….. blub…….blub?

Not so my small people
They perked up immediately.
“What does that mean?”
“What does what mean,” I ask.
“All of it,” they say, “All of the part you just read. Where is that place? What is it?”

“Well,” I say, “I don’t know about Anantarivo and Sonaput and all that, but I do know that the rest of it means something like this,

“Where all small people (that means people like you two yahooligans), beginning to breathe slowly and evenly (that’s when you breathe like this {I demonstrate} just as you are starting to fall asleep, like you should be doing now already); must inevitably accompany him (that means you can’t help it, you have to follow where the Parsee is going eventually, so you might as well give up and do it now); in order to arrive easily and unknowingly (that means you get there without knowing it, it’s such an easy thing to do that you ought to have done it already without even realizing you were doing it. Already) at the enormous battlements (that’s the fancy wall around a castle) of the luxurious city of Uninterrupted Slumber (Slumber- that’s sleep, that is- you know, what you should be doing now! Slumber, like in the lullabye ‘Slumber, Oh Slumber, Rosika.)”

This last reference was a tactical error. You do know what follows.

They: No, we don’t know. Sing it to us. We don’t remember.

It’s a simple lullaby, minor key, soothing melody:
Slumber, oh slumber, Rosika
Slumber, oh slumber, Rosika
I am so sleepy
you too are sleepy
We are so sleepy, both of us.

Whose-its: So why does the story end that way? Who are the small people he wants to fall asleep?

DeputyHeadmistress: I expect it was his children, and he told the story to them. [editorial note: It seems I was wrong. As near as I can tell, it was for his niece, and I’m not sure that the ending in our book wasn’t a liberty taken by later editors]

Whose-its: Just like you’re telling the story to me.

DeputyHeadmistress: Yes, very like that.

Whose-its: And then when I am grown, I’ll read it to
my children, and then they’ll grow up and read it to their children. Like that.

DeputyHeadmistress: Yes, like that, because that’s the sort of thing our family likes to do.

Whats-it: Can you read us some Mother Goose now?

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That’s what it is, you know. Those of us who work at animal shelters know these things. And I did my part and brought home a bunny today. Her name was Hopper, but as bunnies are never clever enough to know their own names anyway we have rechristened her Valentine. She’s a grey and white dwarf, her previous owners brought her into the shelter because they don’t have room in their apartment for her. I wanted her the moment I first found she fit in my pocket, but one has to go about these things carefully when one is still under a parent’s roof. I first thought of our preacher’s son who has gerbils and takes very good care of them, so I called Mom to ask for his phone number. Here is the conversation that took place:
Equus-Chick-“Mom, do you have Wayne’s phone number?”
Mom-“Yes, why?”
Equus-Chick-“Well, he has all those gerbils so I was wondering if he wanted a mini, really mini, bunny rabbit and…”
Equus-Chick-“Yes, someone brought her in today. She’s real sweet.”
Equus-Chick-“She’s on my desk right now, if Wayne doesn’t want her I can put her on or ask bunny rescues about her.”
Mom-“I was just thinking about how much fun it would be for Whose-its and Whats-it.”
Equus-Chick-“She fits in my pocket.”
Equus-Chick-“She is so cute.”
Mom-“Oh, bring her home.We can always call Wayne later.”
Equus-Chick-“It was so hard to talk you into this.”
Mom-“UGH! Don’t you call me about these animals anymore, start calling other people!”
At this point I began making various triumphant signals to Mitzie across the office, who was cracking up. When I hung up the phone she said, “That was your plan the whole time, wasn’t it?!” I’m good.
In all seriousness, we may not have space to keep Valentine permanently, but we’ll make a good foster home for her while I look elsewhere. So now it’s your turn. Do you part, adopt a bunny! =D

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VHS-DVD recorder

‘Tis me again. At the moment I am looking up VHS-DVD recorders online, to see which would be the best to get, as Daddy said that if I found one, he would buy it, and hook it up, and then I would be able to burn all our home videos to DVD. The reason he said so was because he had heard on the radio some guy who said he had a lot of home videos, and he would pay someone to burn them to DVD. Daddy thought that it would be a good idea to do to our homevideos, and if anything like that came up again, we could make some extra money.
However, considering I don’t know anything about VHS-DVD recorders, it’s going rather slowly. I read somewhere, though, that some of them are as cheap as $120. I also read that they are rather a trouble to hook up. *sigh* Hopefully I will find something soon, as it is rarther tiring to read about DVD players, and such like.
Oh, and on another note, the Zookeeper has told me that from now on the first thing I must do on the computer is to post. So, you shall be seeing me a lot from now on. I am unsure whether you should be scared or pleased.

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