Friday, May 30, 2014

Comics

My eleven year old is experimenting with making comics, using a mouse in Paint.  She's the person on the receiving end of the unwanted affectionate head-pat by her older brother.







Later...








Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“The octaves of human experience”

It is in the Imagination that language and the Muses are born from Memory in the house of tradition. The first lesson of our revised ‘Trivium’ is therefore the vital importance of crafts, drama and dance, poetry and storytelling, as a foundation for independent and critical thought. Through doing and making, through poesis, the house of the soul is built. The grammar of language, however, rests on a deeper foundation still. It rests on music. Music is the wordless language on which poetry—the purest and most concentrated form of speech—is built. Poetry is made of images, similes, metaphors, analogies; but what holds these elements together and makes them live is fundamentally musical in nature.

In music we glimpse the grammar of creation itself, from the harmony of the planetary and subatomic spheres to the octaves of human experience and the cycles of growth in plants and animals. Modern writers as varied as Schopenhauer and Tolkien have seen the world as a kind of ‘embodied music,’ and of course the notion is ubiquitous among the ancients. Music in turn is a play of mathematics, coherent patterns of number and shape in time and space, expressed in rhythm and timbre, tone and pitch. It is the closest most of us get to seeing and feeling the beauty of mathematics.

~ Beauty in the Word, by Stratford Caldecott, pages 57-58


That phrase, “the octaves of human experience” jumped out at me, and of course at first I thought of the musical octave—do, re, mi, and so on. But then I remember that there are dates on the Church calendar that are called Octaves, and I wonder if this is what he was referring to.

The Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent. The first octave day on the calendar is January the 1st, “The Circumcision of Christ and Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lord,” which means it’s the eighth day after his birth.

Another octave, though it isn’t labeled this way on the calendar, is Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday—eight days.

Our church doesn’t do anything in particular to observe most of these, so I haven’t paid them much attention, but our calendar shows that there are several more octaves. The next one begins on Ascension day (which is tomorrow, by the way—this year May the 29th is the fortieth day after the Resurrection) and runs through the following Thursday (Ascension is always on a Thursday). Corpus Christi is June 19 and its Octave Day is June 26. There’s an octave for the Nativity of John the Baptist (beginning on June 24), Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) and of her Nativity (September 8). The last octave on my church’s calendar begins with All Saints’ Day (November 1).

If we lived in a time and place where Morning Prayers were offered every day at church and all the Days of Obligation were kept I’m sure we would feel these rhythms.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I keep re-reading this passage.  There are several other things that fascinate me, especially those last two sentences:

“Music in turn is a play of mathematics, coherent patterns of number and shape in time and space, expressed in rhythm and timbre, tone and pitch. It is the closest most of us get to seeing and feeling the beauty of mathematics.”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Cindy has been blogging through Beauty in the Word at Ordo Amoris.  Be sure to read all her posts!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Recipe for homemade sunscreen

We actually don't wear sunscreen much.  I'm sure y'all already know that a daily dose of sunshine is good for you.  I burn pretty easily so when I'm doing yard work I'll wear a hat and long sleeves, and I'll dress this way to social occasions where that's appropriate, which is just about everything except swimming, and I don't get to do that very often at all.

My kids, on the other hand, get to swim a lot when they're visiting my mom, and I have one child in particular who burns as easily as I do, and who, also like me, not only burns easily but has a worse reaction to wearing most sunscreens -- sunburn and welts. I've found one brand of sunscreen that doesn't do this to us, but it's over $30 for about 4 ounces.  And that's not even addressing the concern that these products might actually be carcinogenic or hormone disruptors or otherwise harmful to your health in the long run.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Vitamin D insufficiency and my doctor put me on a high dosage for several months to correct this.  I later learned that one of the effects of low vitamin D is burning too easily, so I've been giving D to my easily-burned child since last fall.  It helped me last summer, so hopefully it will help him, too.

But still, for those occasions when we're going to be out in the sun for a long time, I want everyone to use sunscreen, so I spent a few years looking for a homemade variety that addresses my concerns and that works reasonably well.

This is what I made last year.  #1 Son can vouch for it -- last summer he spent several days in Mexico and Guatemala, mostly out in the sun, and didn't get burned.  We have some left over from last year, and it's still effective.  A couple of weeks ago his group had a fund-raiser, and they were standing in full sun from 10 in the morning till 7 that evening.  He only put on one coat of the sunscreen and was just a bit pink on the side that faced the sun all afternoon.  Now that wouldn't have worked for me -- I would have had to reapply it two or three times because I burn a lot easier than he does.  But it hasn't lost efficacy over time, which is nice to know.

Time to make a new batch

I've included links to the harder-to-find products I bought, but coconut oil is pretty easy to find in stores nowadays.  I bought the beeswax from a local beekeeper a couple of years ago and paid $5 for one pound.

Homemade Sunscreen 

Ingredients:

4 ounces coconut oil
2 ounces shea butter
2 ounces cocoa butter
4 ounces beeswax
1 heaping Tablespoon zinc oxide


Directions:

Melt the first four ingredients in the top of a double boiler, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the zinc oxide powder stirring well to mix (or use beaters or an immersion blender).  Wear a mask (I used a bandana over my face like a cowboy) so you don't inhale the dust.  It's bad for your lungs.

If you like, you can add essential oils to make a nice fragrance.  I used lavender and rosemary, and possibly rose absolute, enough to mask the chocolate smell of the cocoa butter.  Just don't use citrus oils because they increase sensitivity to the sun.

You can also add Vitamin E oil as a preservative.  I used a few capsules of Wheat Germ oil (which is what I had on hand and is high in Vitamin E), poking a hole in each and squeezing the oil into the mix.

Pour into mold and let cool.  I used a 9 x 13 pan, lined with waxed paper.  After cooling I cut it into bars.  Later, because this stuff melts when it's gets over about 80° I put some of it into small, lidded containers to make it easier to deal with.  You can store the bars in the fridge and then keep them in your cooler if you're going to the beach or on a picnic.

It's nice and thick . . .



 . . . and spreads pretty easily . . .


He looks burned, but he isn't.  It's just the light.  Really!


. . . and doesn't whiten too much, in spite of not using nano-sized ZnO.


Sunscreen on the left arm.  Right arm is bare for comparison.


Other info:

This sunscreen isn't waterproof, so you'll have to reapply it regularly.  I'm going to try adding more beeswax when I make a new batch this year and see if that helps.

Update, 26 May 2014 -- Yesterday I made a new batch using an extra half ounce of beeswax.  It's definitely more waterproof and the bars didn't start getting soft until they'd been sitting on my porch, inside a closed container, in sunny in 85° weather for a couple of hours, which is great for a bar you'll be using while swimming.  I set aside about half of it for that purpose, but the rest I'm going to melt down again and add a little jojoba oil so it'll be more spreadable, like last year's batch.

It's also a really nice after-sun lotion if you forgot to use it in the first place, or didn't reapply it often enough and got burned after all.  It's soothing and helps you heal faster.  Zinc oxide is used in diaper rash ointment for its healing properties.

We've also discovered that it's a decent bug repellent.  I don't know whether it's the essential oils, or what, but gnats and mosquitoes are less likely to hang around when you're wearing this sunscreen.

I've recently learned that you can determine the SPF if you know how much zinc oxide is in the formula as a percentage of total weight.  If the amount of ZnO is 20% of the total weight, that will give you an SPF of 30, which blocks about 97% of the sun's UVB rays, and is generally considered to be adequate protection. 

That said, I've never had this stuff tested in a lab, so I'm not making medical claims about the lotion -- I'm just telling y'all what has worked for us.

Source:

I read several different recipes for homemade sunscreen before deciding what to make for myself, but this recipe at Wellness Mama was my main inspiration.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Merry Month of May



O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.




Now the nightingale, the pretty nightingale,
The sweetest singer in all the forest quire,
Entreats thee, sweet Peggy, to hear thy true love's tale:
Lo, yonder she sitteth, her breast against a brier.




But O, I spy the cuckoo, the cuckoo, the cuckoo;
See where she sitteth; come away, my joy:
Come away, I prithee, I do not like the cuckoo
Should sing where my Peggy and I kiss and toy.




O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green;
And then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.




~ Thomas Dekker (1572-1632)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Apraxia Awareness Day

My nineteen year old son, the one who takes care of the animals and milks the goats, was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech a few months before his fourth birthday.  When he was seen by a specialist at nine years of age, the specialist said that it was the severest case he'd ever had, and described some other problems that we knew he had, we'd just never had them actually named before.

I've never blogged about this because I try to respect my children's privacy, so I rarely mention their weaknesses unless I have something useful to say to moms about raising and educating children, and I can do it discreetly, which is obviously impossible to do when writing about the only child in my family who has an actual medically diagnosed handicap of a rather profound nature.

So, for now, I want to point you to an article that nicely summarizes the condition and mentions some of the difficulties faced by these children and their families -- What Is Apraxia and Why Should You Care?

If this is something that y'all would find helpful for me to blog about, then I'll try harder to figure out how to write about it.  Until now I've only mentioned it in a generic "learning differences" kind of way, both because I don't know how my son would feel about me being more specific, and because that way the information might be useful to any mom.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 9, 2014

C. S. Lewis on Spenser's Faerie Queene

Since, as I mentioned last time, we're reading Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, a very slightly updated version of Book One of The Faerie Queene, I decided to find out what all CS Lewis had to say about Spenser and his poem.  I know he loved it -- that's why I decided to read it to my children in the first place -- but I don't think I had read anything else from him besides this well-known quote:

Beyond all doubt it is best to have made one's first acquaintance with Spenser in a very large -- and, preferably illustrated -- edition of The Faerie Queene, on a wet day, between the ages of twelve and sixteen . . . .


The following are some of his comments in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (all emphasis mine).

On Edmund Spenser:

  • [H]e devoted his whole poetical career to a revival, or prolongation, of those medieval motifs which humanism [Classicism] wished to abolish.
  • It is hard to resist the conviction that his prolonged exile [in Ireland] was a great gain to English literature. It removed him perforce from the rapid changes of fashion, the ephemeral hopes and fears, the petty intrigues, and the time-wasting attendance upon great persons, which would almost certainly have been the portion of a literary man hanging upon the fringes of the court: it forced him to sink deeper and deeper into the world he was creating.
  • He was not made for the fashionable world.
  • He was not a man laying the coping stone on an edifice of good poetry already half-built; he was a man struggling by his own exertions out of a horrible swamp of dull verbiage, ruthlessly over-emphatic metre, and screaming rhetoric.  [Regarding the "deplorable condition" (Lewis's words) of English poetry at the time Spenser began writing.]
  • There are moments in literary history at which to achieve a manner and a music is more important than to deliver any 'message', however profound or prophetic. The message can wait; it will have to wait forever unless the manner and music are found.
  • Spenser believed that... a poet ought to be a moral teacher.
  • Of all Spenser's innovations, his stanza is perhaps the most important.


On The Faerie Queene:
  • From the time of its publication down to about 1914 it was everyone's poem -- the book in which many and many a boy first discovered that he liked poetry; a book which spoke at once, like Homer or Shakespeare or Dickens, to every reader's imagination.
  • Its primary appeal is to the most naive and innocent tastes . . . . It demands a child's love of marvels and dread of bogies, a boy's thirst for adventures, a young man's passion for physical beauty.
  • The poem is a great palace, but the door into it is so low that you must stoop to go in. No prig can be a Spenserian. It is of course much more than a fairy-tale, but unless we can enjoy it as a fairy-tale first of all, we shall not really care for it.
  • . . . symbols are the natural speech of the soul . . . 
  • We shall understand it best (though this may seem paradoxical) by not trying too hard to understand it.
  • We must surrender ourselves with childlike attention to the mood of the story.
  • This kind of poetry, if receptively read, has psychotherapeutic powers.

I'll probably be writing more about this in the future.  I'm so pleased with the way the children are responding to the poem, especially since it's our first time (yes, mine too!) to read the Real Thing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Randomness: Music, poetry, and Star Wars edition

Sometimes I play a piece of classical music to call the children to Morning Time.  Usually it's something by whatever composer we're studying, but today it was the beautiful Kyrie from Haydn's Missa in tempore belli, which my fifteen-year-old daughter and I will be singing this spring (the whole Mass, that is, not just the Kyrie).



There's a point where the words "Christe, Christe eleison," are sung dramatically with a long pause on the last note and the music stops for a breath.  Then the soloist comes back in with "Kyrie eleison, eleison."  It happens at about 3:17 in the video above.

When the soloist started singing again, my eleven-year-old said, "I thought that wasn't the end!"

After the song was finished, we talked about how you can tell whether a song is finished by the way it feels -- it has resolved the conflict.  That Christe eleison ended on a cliffhanger.

Then someone mentioned "The Empire Strikes Back," and somehow we started talking about all the Star Wars movies and how the Anakin Skywalker that was portrayed in episodes two and three couldn't possibly have grown into the magnificent Darth Vader, and eventually we segued into our day's reading from The Fairy Queen.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

From Canto V:

VII

The Sarazin was stout, and wondrous strong,
And heaped blowes like iron hammers great;
For after blood and vengeance he did long.
The knight was fierce, and full of youthly heat,
And doubled strokes, like dreaded thunder's threat:
For all for praise and honour he did fight.
Both stricken strike, and beaten both do beat,
That from their shields forth flyeth fiery light,
And helmets hewn deep show marks of eithers might.


VIII

So the one for wrong, the other strives for right;
As when a Gryffin seized of his prey,
A Dragon fierce encounters in his flight,
Through widest air making his idle way,
That would his rightfull ravine rend away;
With hideous horror both together smite,
And souce so sore that they the heavens affray:
The wise Soothsayer seeing so sad sight,
The amazed vulgar tels of wars and mortal fight.


IX

So the one for wrong, the other strives for right,
And each to deadly shame would drive his foe:
The cruell steele so greedily doth bite
In tender flesh that streams of blood down flow,
With which the armes, that earst so bright did show,
Into a pure vermillion now are dyed:
Great ruth in all the gazers hearts did grow,
Seeing the gored wounds to gape so wide,
That victory they dare not wish to either side.



~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'm having to rethink our school day.  Mike has been home on furlough since the beginning of April -- the contract his company was working on came to an end and the bidding and selection process for the new contract dragged out for weeks and weeks.  We've finally found out that the whole thing is done and he'll be officially out of a job on Friday... maybe.  The way things have been going I wouldn't be at all surprised if it works out differently after all.

So our days feel different and flow differently, and because some of the new jobs he's looking into are work-from-home jobs this might be the new Normal.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

By the way, you could consider that a prayer request.  We really, really, really want to be closer to my mom, so ideal for us would be a job somewhere between Little Rock and Oklahoma City.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The girls and I are watching a new drama, a melodrama called Angel Eyes about a girl who loses her sight in an accident.  She is befriended by a guy and his family, they fall in love (well, I mean the guy and the girl, but really it's his whole family and the girl), but then the family suddenly has to leave the country because Reasons, and it's years before the guy is able to go back to Korea and find the girl.  In the meantime, a corneal transplant surgery has restored her sight... so she doesn't recognize him when he comes looking for her.

So far, this show has been just perfect -- the acting, the music, the script, the camera, the directing and editing, the characterization... Just perfect.

Of course, we're only eight episodes into a 20-episode show, so that could always change.

Here's the title sequence.



I think it's going to have a happy ending, even though it's a melodrama -- they sometimes do.  I'm thinking especially of Missing You, which was the melo-ist melo I've ever watched and had such a happy, well-written ending.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why play math?

Imagine that you are growing up in a world where very few people read books.  At the same time, the importance of Reading is stressed in school because educators and politicians are alarmed at the loss of literacy in your world.

In elementary school you learn the alphabet and how to put two or more letters together to make sounds to prepare you for the study of Phonics in high school.  This is fun at first because you love making sounds.  But sometimes you make a sound that your teacher says is wrong, and when you ask why she just says, “English doesn’t use that combination.”

You also learn to define things like “noun” and “verb” and how to tell one from the other.  In high school you’ll be studying Grammar and putting all this together, but for now you memorize terms in order to lay the foundation for that study.  It’s fun knowing things, and you enjoy trying to categorize all the words you know.

But sometimes you have trouble with a word.  During a beginning Diagramming lesson one day, you write the sentence “I am reading,” on the blackboard and mark “reading” as a verb, which the teacher says is wrong.  It looks like a verb and when you ask her why it’s wrong she says it’s really a noun – it belongs to a special class of nouns that you won’t be studying until later, so for now your sentences should only use words covered in class.   She suggests you write, “I read,” instead, which you do, but all the same it feels insultingly childish.

By middle school, students are starting to complain about Reading class.  “Why do we have to learn this stuff anyway?”  Your teachers always say that reading is important.  When you’re older you’ll need to fill out an application to get your driver’s license.  If you go to college you’ll need to be able to read Literature and Poetry, and then when you’re grown up you might need to be able to read the news instead of watching it.  And even if you never use it after you leave school, studying Reading sharpens your thinking skills.

Finally, in ninth grade, your Grammar teacher gives you a sentence to diagram for your homework:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, and with old woes new wail my dear times’ waste:  Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow, for precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.

Your mom, who loves Reading, even though she isn’t a professional Reader, sits down to help you with this insane work, but she spends at least ten minutes waxing eloquent about how beautifully the words express pain and loss and memory, when all you want is just to get the blasted homework done so you don’t fail the class and have to repeat it.


Of course, you already know where I’m going with this – that it’s analogous to my experience with studying math in school, and maybe yours too, and that this is what I want to avoid in teaching math to my own children.

The very first assignment in the Natural Math class I mentioned last week was to write down my goals and dreams for my own children as it relates to math.  Here’s what I wrote for the class:

I want my children’s experience of math to be similar to our experience with poetry. We read some every day, whether it’s fun and sweet things by AA Milne or Lewis Carroll or Robert Louis Stevenson, or rich, meaty stuff, like Spenser’s Fairy Queen and GK Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse. Through the course of the day, favorite lines from poetry might come up, or someone might invent a rhyming game on the spur of the moment, or one of us might use the words of a poem to express a feeling or idea or just to make everyone laugh. In any case, we live in a sea of beautiful words that lead us into imaginary worlds, and help us understand the world we live in.

From what I’ve been reading about math lately, it seems that it’s like that -- that it’s a language, it’s a doorway into a world of ideas, and a way of understanding and relating to the world we live in. I want my children to be as much at home in that world as they are in the worlds of poetry and music.

We also do this with lines from favorite books, movies, and songs.  We tell each other stories – I retell my children’s birth stories on their birthday each year, my husband makes up stories to tell at bedtime, we tell stories our parents have handed down to us about their childhoods.  From the time they were tiny my children were telling stories with their blocks and dolls and little cars, and while drawing and painting.

This comes to us so naturally that it’s hard realize how much we play with words and stories long before I teach our children to read and write.

But the same thing is not true of math.  I have never known how to provide a math-rich environment so that when my children reached the age for the formal study of mathematics they’d have all that experience and play as a foundation to build on.

That’s why I’m reading books and blogs on playing with math and taking this class.  It’s remedial education for myself as well as for my children.

And it really is helping.  The other day Mike had bought some Kit Kat bars for a treat and gave them to me to break in half and pass out.  As I was doing it, some of them broke into quarters, so I told my children, “You may have one medium-size piece, or two small pieces, or half of a large piece.”

Of course someone said, “That’s all the same,” and we laughed and ate the treat.

That sounds dumb, but it’s a baby step – honestly it wouldn’t have occurred to me to make a joke like that before.  I’ve told you I was math-phobe, right?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

K-drama review: Three Days

Photo credit: SBS.co.kr


2014
Action/thriller
16 episodes
My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Starring
Park Yoochun as Han Tae Kyung
Park Ha Sun as Yoon Bo Won
Son Hyun Joo as Lee Dong Hwi
So Yi Hyun as Lee Cha Young

Plot Summary

Han Tae Kyung is a presidential bodyguard whose father, the country’s Minister of Finance, has just passed away after a car accident.  Tae Kyung is told that his father fell asleep at the wheel, and doesn’t know the truth – that his father was desperately trying to reach President Lee Dong Hwi by phone, when a large truck deliberately ran him off the road, on an isolated stretch where there were no traffic cameras.  Thankfully, the first person to arrive at the scene after the accident is a conscientious young police officer, Yoon Bo Won.  She finds the whole thing suspicious and investigates in spite of being ordered by superiors to drop it.

When he arrives home after his father’s funeral, Tae Kyung’s house has been broken into and he learns that whoever it was is looking for a document called “Confidential 98” that was in his father’s possession at the time of the accident, but disappeared immediately after.  Following clues leads Tae Kyung to a man who has been stabbed who tells him with his last breath that the president will be killed the next day.  Tae Kyung does his best to prevent the assassination but winds up being framed for it instead.

And then things really get bad.

What I liked about it

Throughout the show, Tae Kyung has to deal with issues of trust and loyalty.  What do you do when you have conflicting loyalties?  How do you decide how far your duty goes?  What if someone you have every reason to trust begins acting very suspiciously?  Do you keep on trusting him?  How far do you trust people and on what basis?

Yoochun is growing as an actor and I enjoy watching his work -- he's good at conveying his character's thoughts and feelings in subtle ways, and this character was a really reserved guy.  It was kind of a relief after watching the weeping and wailing of his previous drama, Missing You, which I loved, and the shouting and goofiness of his earlier rom-com, Rooftop Prince, which I also loved.  He worked a lot on his martial arts skills to prepare for the role and it shows – and I do love a good fight scene.

The story was many-layered – intrigue, conspiracy, suspicion, betrayal, disillusionment.  As Bo Won helps Tae Kyung try to clear his name and investigate his father's death, they discover that both circumstances are related to a recent house fire that killed four people, and even to an incident that occurred sixteen years earlier in which rogue North Korean troops attacked a South Korean village, resulting in dozens of deaths.  And that's just the stuff you find out in the first two episodes.

What I didn’t like about it

The incessant flashbacks were such a nuisance.  They were effective when used to give us insight into the characters and their relationships, but too often this wasn’t the case. We would be shown something happening in a way that seemed designed to build tension – the Good Guys appearing to walk into a trap, or about to be cornered – but then it would turn out to be a grand sleight of hand wherein the Good Guys evaded the Bad Guys, and then we’d be treated to a flashback in order to reveal the clever thing that had actually happened.  Only most of the time we had already figured out what was going on so the “reveal” was unnecessary and even a little embarrassing.  These frequent, unneeded flashbacks interrupted the action, slowed the pace, and were generally counter-productive -- they became so annoying that it was hard to stay focused on the action.

The "three days" motif was irrelevant.  At first it seemed that the entire show would take place over the course of three days, but then it became apparent that the time frame was three sets of three days. But even then, the date/time stamp that flashed on the screen periodically was more a distraction than anything and added no sense of urgency to the plot.

The villain owed most of his success not to his superior resources (and believe me, they were superior) but to the ridiculous incompetence of the good guys, which is generally a sign of lousy writing.

While the music was good sometimes, more often it got cheesy, smarmy, and/or emotionally manipulative.

Almost half of the last episode was devoted to flashbacks of the central characters and their relationships with each other.  In two cases, I can only see it as fan service -- the longest flashback was made up entirely of scenes between our Hero and the Girl He Ends Up With, which played like a music video, and then followed another set of scenes with him and the Girl He Does Not End Up With.

Favorite scene

That moment after HOURS of show, after working on the case together for days, constantly in each other’s company, when Tae Kyung finally notices that not only is his cop-buddy a girl, but a very pretty one.  The change in his countenance was priceless.

Should you watch it?

Honestly, unless you are especially interested in political intrigue dramas or want to see any of the actors in this show, I wouldn't recommend it.  The story was interesting enough and I cared about the characters enough to watch it all the way to the end, but by the last episode we were mocking the show almost non-stop, and Mike quit watching it as soon as the major action ended.  The only thing left was to find out whether a certain character had actually died in an earlier scene, and that info didn't even affect the story's outcome.

Also, you have to be able to overlook the kind of errors that inevitably come up in a show that involves police or medical issues or technology.

This trailer gives you a good idea of the tone and style the director was aiming for.  Too bad he didn't achieve it more consistently.

Update 28 May 2014
DramaFever took down the teaser I had linked to before. Here is the same teaser, but sadly, it's without English subs.






[I'm leaving the old trailer here in case DF brings it back.)


Math fun: Exploring radial symmetry

I'm not at all artsy-craftsy, I don't do many educational activities with my children, and I've never bothered trying to make education fun for them.   Really, when we sit down together to read and talk about books we love, that is in itself so fun that I don't have to figure out how to make it fun. 

So this is something that's really out of character for me.

During the month of April, the kids and I took the Natural Math Multiplication course offered by the bloggers at Moebius Noodles.  Each week there were five suggested activities to do with your children in order to "learn multiplication by exploring patterns and structure."  It's been a lot of fun.

This was one of the activities suggested for Week 3.

First we made a couple of mirror books, then I set them up on the table and placed a single object in front of each one to see what they would do with them.  My 15 year old daughter immediately used a few more pencils to build a tree fractal (we had studied tree fractals the previous week).



Changing the angle of the mirrors changes the number of reflections and makes the pattern look really different:






A really acute angle is so dark inside that it's hard to see the reflections, so they brought out the flashlight




and played around with chess men.

It's bigger on the inside



They had so much fun with it that they spent well nearly two hours half just playing with the mirrors and lights and random household objects, and they set it back up again after supper to show it to their daddy and older siblings. 


Infinite teacups



"So, what's the point of doing fun math activities with your children instead of doing, you know, math?"

That's a very good question!  I'm so glad you asked. :-D 

But it will have to be answered in my next post.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Song for Edgar, Bless His Heart

A Cento upon the verse of Edgar Allan Poe, by Yours Truly, because I love Poe, and I learned a new word during National Poetry Month.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Beloved! amid the earnest woes
Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst,
Deliriously sweet was dropped down from Heaven
The loveliness of loving well.

Roaming the forest and the wild,
From ev’ry depth of good and ill,
With many a muttered, “Hope to be forgiven,”
We grew in age and love together.

At morn – at noon – at twilight dim –
In visions of the dark night,
On the earth mine eyes were cast
Again – again – again –

All Nature speaks, and ev’n ideal things –
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope)
And I am happy now.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Poems used:

To F——
The Coliseum
Al Aaraaf
Tamerlane

Tamerlane
Alone
Al Aaraaf
Tamerlane

Fairy Land
A Dream
The Village Street
Fairy Land

Al Aaraaf
The City in the Sea
To Helen (I saw thee once – once only – years ago)
Bridal Ballad

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

A note on the phrase "Bless His Heart"

Some people are under the mistaken impression that we Southerners only use this phrase when we are being sarcastic.  Dear Reader, I assure you this is not the case -- it has a dozen uses, at least.  In the title I am being perfectly sincere.  I love Poe, and I wish he'd had a happy life, although I suppose most of his poetry wouldn't have been written if he'd been happy.