All posts by Walter

Class Announcement — You Can!

You Can–Raise Cash As A Crop!

This fast-paced, participative program will explore the opportunities we all have for “non-traditional” ways of raising cash through cost avoidance, part time work, cash crops from your farm, garden and hobbies. You may want to start a home-based business… or just explore the value of bartering with friends and neighbors. When your wallet’s almost empty, this course will encourage you to open your mind and develop a plan…

Tuesday, March 13th at 6:30 PM at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft. Course fee is only $10. Register by calling the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative at 564-6525 or register online.


Check out the entire series of “You Can” courses at the PVAEC website! You’ll find lots of “traditional skills” courses regarding food preservation, seed starting, raising backyard chickens… a great program of practical and affordable classes made possible through a collaboration between PVAEC and the UMaine County Extension Service in Piscataquis County.

Grab Some Tissues…

And watch this video. Please.

http://www.flickspire.com/m/HPP/MakeADifference

All the way to the end. I’m not going to do a spoiler, but I will tell you that part-way through I found myself thinking how hard I wished people could realize that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in a child’s life. But in the end, that wasn’t the point.

Origins of the Specious

I recently finished the book “Origins of the Specious” by Patricia O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman (Random House 2010). Subtitled “Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language,” it was truly a fun read.  Unless you think etymology is about the study of eyties, you might enjoy it as well. (Etymology is the study of the history of words.) I also happen to enjoy a good word play–and this book starts with one right in the title.

It did take me a while to finish, because I chose to digest it in small bites. Not only was it informative, the writing is great. Watch this.

In the chapter “Snow job” the authors dispel the notion that there are dozens (or hundreds, depending on your version) of words for snow in the Eskimo language. Some dependable sources list four, one got to seven in 1940. (Wait for it!) The authors point out, “In the decades since then, the number or words has snowballed with each retelling…”  Another paragraph notes there has been an “avalanche of snow stories.”

So while I’m recommending the book, I’m also willing to concede that not everyone will fully enjoy or appreciate the topic or the writing… but if you’ll visit http://www.grammarphobia.com/ you can learn more about several books they’ve written… and visit their blog for some “tastes” of etymology that will impress your friends at dinner parties.

Flipping the classroom script…

The other day I was walking a second grader back to his classroom after he’d read a couple of chapters to me. We were bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have time to finish the story. I suggested he might be able to finish it during his MIL and then tell me about it later. He was suprised that I know about MIL.

For those who don’t, the acronym stands for “Managed Independent Learning.” A third grader piqued my inerest a few years ago and explained the basic concept. There are some periods throughout the day when students are, literally, allowed to manage their own learning independently. Well, there’s some obvious supervision required, but it’s pretty awesome to watch.

A slightly older colleague provides an interesting perspective on the process and why it works. I stumbled on to this TED clip a few months ago and it’s been “bothering” me ever since. While the speaker is talking very specifically about using video, spend the twenty minutes it takes to get the concept. Then tell me it doesn’t make sense.

 

Happy What?

“To hear someone say ‘Happy Turkey Day’ makes me sad because they have nothing to be thankful for and no one to whom to be thankful.”

Robert Flatt

It’s that time of year again when the language police come out! I’ve already seen a few people crusading in favor of saying “Merry Christmas” and NOT saying “Happy Holidays.” (I’ve always conjured up this image of some one saying, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men… but don’t you dare say ‘Happy Holidays’ to me. I’m a CHRISTMAS and there’s nothing that irritates me more…”

Language is a funny thing.

Considering the above quote, Thanksgiving wishes may be next to come under attack. Personally, I don’t care too much what you wish me as long as it’s positive.

Happy People Day!

I’d like to think people come up with things like “Happy Turkey Day!” in an effort to be different–not because they have nothing to be thankful for. After all, how many times this week have you heard a traditional wish? A cheery wish for a happy turkey day seems reasonable. (Unless, of course, you’re the turkey.)

How about “Happy Pilgrim Day?” That’s different! I could whip out my language police badge and suggest that we really should say “days,” not “day.”  Afterall,  a lot of people have Thursday and Friday off. At least one version of the original celebration suggests that it was a three day harvest festival involving some fifty colonists and ninety indians.

My fear is that people are starting to think that Thanksgiving is scheduled to make it possible to start the Christmas Season. How great is it that we get a day or two off about a month before Christmas? That way we have some time to drag out the decorations, put up the tree, and do some serious shopping.

My wish for you? Have a happy harvest festival–a few days when the routines change just a little, but there’s an overriding celebration and sense of “harvest.” I hope you become acutely aware of the bounty–the things you have had, the things you have, the possibilities before you–not just for a few silent moments before dinner tomorrow, but for at least a few days.