Village Free School

A very good friend of mine from college is one of the founders of a very interesting place. It’s called the Village Free School in Portland, Oregon. I’m afraid to say very much about it because I don’t want to tell you lies, I’m honestly not entirely familiar with what they do, other than that they are a very good school and their philosophy seems to be in line with my own.

My understanding of what a “free school” is is rudimentary. I think that the essential idea is that the kids and teachers work together to determine what the lesson will be on and how it will be taught. Whatever topics are piquing the interest of the kids at any given time are explored thoroughly until their curiosity and interest has been satiated. Teachers are there to facilitate, and I’m sure they can inject any good ideas they might have into the learning process if they are so inclined.

I compare this to my experience in lower and middle school. I went to a Montessori style school from pre-kindergarten until I entered undergraduate. The way our school worked was that we had to fulfill certain requirements; say, four “humanities” assignments, three “math and science” assignments, and two “writing” assignments. We were given fairly large leeway to do these things, and a range of activities to choose from. You could generally also “think outside the box.”

For example, my favorite activity was the “shark report,” where you choose a type of shark and write a few paragraphs about it, making sure to answer some basic questions. One day, a friend and I were working on an assignment, and my pencil point hitting the paper was bothering him a lot. So, we got together and decided to learn cursive (I think this was in the second grade). All we got done in a single day was one shark report, but since it was in cursive, we had impressed the teacher enough that she said it was okay. That’s the kind of good feeling that comes from taking initiative, following through, and accomplishing something you can be proud of, and that feeling can only come when you have the freedom to do those things.

The free school seems like it’s even more along the lines of what I support. I support freedom, in all its forms, and giving people, especially kids, the ability to learn responsibility, entrepreneurship, and self-motivation. I think the free school is an exemplar of this attitude, whereas public school is the exact opposite.

The Village Free School in Portland is accepting gifts of money or materials so that they can continue their mission of providing a great learning environment for their students.  Just taking a look at the materials they are looking for gives you a sense of the enabling environment they are building.  I plan to donate and I hope you will too.

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Hi! Gas Prices?

I just bought gas for the first time since I’ve been a single guy. If you’re counting, it’s been 30 days. I spent $35 at the pump, which netted a little less than ten gallons. I could have probably put it off another week, but I figure prices are only going to be going up, so I might as well fill up earlier rather than later.

I don’t think I’m doing too bad, comparatively. I’ve tried to structure my life so that if gas goes up, it doesn’t hurt me too badly. I think I would be comfortable if it went up to $5 or $7 a gallon. Would you be? I think it would be a good idea for people to start making the longer term structural changes for that scenario now. Move closer to work and buy more fuel efficient cars, if you can.

Apparently it costs $1400 to fill up some tractor trailers with diesel fuel. I can’t even imagine that kind of cost.

What is everyone else’s gas budget?

Anatomical Anomalies: Tongueless?

I promised myself that once I started a blog, if I ever tried to Google something and didn’t find results to my satisfaction, I’d make a post so that the next netizen doesn’t have to put up with the same frustration I experienced. This means you may get posts on some rather strange topics, I realize, but you are the one who chose to be here. Live with it!

I remember one christmas, I think it was, I was hanging with my cousins, and they were having a contest to see who had the coolest “special skill.” One of them was doublejointed, one could touch her nose with her tongue, one could roll his eyelids inside out. Anyway, I think I won this competition by having the weirdest skill of all.

I can make my tongue disappear. Specifically, I can move my tongue back behind my uvula and into my nasal cavity, though it looks to the casual observer (starting into my mouth) as though it isn’t there at all. If you keep your mouth closed while talking, you can fool some kids into thinking you don’t even have a tongue at all for a short while. This is hilarious to me.

Anyway, apparently the medical term for this is tongue hypermobility in the nasopharynx. I wonder about the rarity of this ability. It might be extremely rare, which is why there aren’t many hits about it on the Internet. Or, it might be extremely common and people are just a little more embarrassed than I am to have their anatomical anomalies spilled all over the Web.

This article has pictures
(might gross you out a little, if mouths do that to you). Yep, that’s pretty much what it looks like when I do it. Apparently this article claims it can cause an elongated uvula, which may or may not be true for me.  I can attempt to post pictures, if people are interested.

The first time I did this, it was painful.  I don’t remember how long ago it was, I must have been 9 or 10, but it caused a sharp pain that spread to my ears and down my throat.  The second time I did it, it hurt a little bit less, then after that it hasn’t really hurt at all.

I could also try to draw what the inside of the “nasopharynx” looks and feels like, but I think I wouldn’t be able to do it justice in two dimensions.  It’s much drier and scalier than the mouth, with 5 holes that can be felt:  two in the back on either side, which I’m pretty sure head to the ears, two in the front, which become the nostrils, and one in the top kind of in the middle.  I assume that one heads to the sinuses.  Other than that, the cavity is about the same size and feel as the mouth.

So, if we were playing the game I mentioned above, trying to identify each of our “special abilities,” or “anatomical anomalies,” what would yours be?

Shadow priest: 2v2 arena partners

I know most of my readers are not big on WoW, so I’ll put most of this post under the fold. I actually haven’t played in over a week, and I’m not up on the newest patch, but I can share my thoughts on who you should go into arenas with if you’re a shadow priest. The list goes from worst to best…

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Real Men Play Frisbee

Guest post by: poober

I’m not the most athletic guy out there, but I do enjoy certain sports. Many of the more common sports like football and baseball require large teams that I have trouble mustering.

That’s why I have taken to the lesser-played sports. Right now some of my favorites are frisbee-golf, bocce ball, and croquet. Not only can these games be played with at least two people, they can be played right in your backyard.

Now that it’s warm out again Ive dusted off the ol’ discus and started tossin’ it around again. I have a course in my yard that me and a friend randomly picked out one spring and it seems to have stuck, so now not only I know it by heart but all my friends do too:
frolf course
We also put a little twist on it.

I believe traditional frisbee golf is played with hoops on the ground you must land the discus inside. We play that there are trees designated as holes (as well as a sandbank, brick pile, bush, and lamp post). While you don’t break a huge sweat throwing a frisbee and trudging after it, you are up and moving around, so its better for you then just sitting around the house. After a warm up round of frisbee golf with my brother, my parents decided they wanted a go at it and it became a fun experience for everyone.

So grab a friend, grab and brother or sister, grab your parents or children, and get outside to toss a frisbee. Its not the same as going to the gym, but it beats sitting on your ass.

College Reunion

I signed up for my 5 year college reunion, which takes place on the weekend of June 1st.  I’d known about it for some time but wasn’t really planning to go until my life got turned upside down.  I need to take all the chances I can get to be social and get out there to make friends, so now I am signed up!

Looking at the list of people who are going, it seems like all the social and cool people will be there, but I don’t see many that I have known well.  When I was there many of the people I knew weren’t quite as social.  Three or four of the social people I have met recently and been talking to and am interested in hanging out with a little bit, but the rest are unknowns.  I’d like to think I can make some friends cold, just by striking up a conversation, and we shall see.

The drive is a long one.  It’s fourteen hours to Iowa.  I think I will be going to Chicago first to hang out with friends, as I understand a lot of people are doing, and that should break it up, but the drive back may end up being a straight-through kind of thing, which I’ve only ever done once.  It’s times like this that I’m happy I have a hybrid.  GAS PRICES!

Depending on what’s going on, I could take that whole week off from work.  I’m already going to be off four days that week with Memorial Day and then my planned three days, so I may as well go for five.  And maybe the following Monday…

Haircut Peer Pressure

Fine, fine.  Picture follows.

Feel free to photoshop me into whatever outrageous situation you prefer.

This is good motivation to make posts; get this off the front page!