Saturday, March 31, 2012

Field Trip Day ...

Missouri's homeschool laws dictate that each student must receive 1,000 hours of instruction per year, that 600 of those hours be in five "core subjects" (reading, math, social studies, language arts and science -- the other 400 can be things like fine arts, physical education, etc.), and that 400 of those hours occur at "the regular home school location."

Which means that only 200 hours of field trips per year can count toward "core subject" stuff.

Daniel and Liam got seven hours of (mostly) social studies field trip credit in today, with visits to the Soulard Farmers Market (established in 1779!) and Washington University's 22nd Annual Pow Wow. They also got to spend much of that time with their friends Brandon and Charity, children of our friends Chris and Evonne Bennett (of Springfield, Illinois -- they came down for the day).

I'm not sure how to classify the last two hours, so I'll probably leave it as "social studies." We ended up down at the Delmar Loop where, among other things, both kids watched the Fitz's soda bottling factory (located inside Fitz's restaurant) in operation and visited the Chuck Berry statue, and Daniel purchased an ocarina (an hour of learning to play it so far since we got home with it -- fine arts credit!).

They weren't the only ones doing cool stuff, either. The high point of the day for me came at the market, when I asked a member of a trio of musicians (there's always someone playing at each entrance to the market) if that was a National Steel resonator guitar he was playing. It wasn't. It was a Johnson (an Asian brand based on the National Steel line) ... and he allowed me to sit in with it for a quick rendition of "I'll Fly Away." First time I've played a "Dobro"-type instrument. Very nice! I gotta get me one of those.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Oddities of Television Recall

Virtually every day, my significant other and I discuss what's for dinner.

Virtually every time my significant other and I discuss what's for dinner, I mentally flash back to a short bit from an old sitcom.

I finally went looking for that old bit, and it's old indeed -- it originally aired on January 6th, 1980 (and that's when I would have seen it -- I watched The Jeffersons on first airing, with my parents, and don't ever recall seeing it in rerun/syndication). It starts at about 5:33 into this video:

How did that bit ever get stuck in my head, such that it would repeatedly pop back up more than 30 years later? Helifino. But I'm glad I wasn't just imagining it, either.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Confirmation of MacArthur's Maxim

General Vo Nguyen Giap in 2008.General Vo Nguyen Giap in 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Old soldiers never die; they just fade away," that is.

Vo Nguyen Giap will turn 101 this year.

Don't know why, but I just always assumed he'd been dead for decades. It's been more than 70 years since the French murdered his family, nearly 60 years since he chased their asses out of Vietnam, nearly 40 years since he gave the US the same treatment. You'd think that much of that kind of work would take it out of a guy, but he's apparently still truckin'.

His picture definitely merits placement in the dictionary next to "tough old bastard."
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Condescending Characterization of the Day

WTF, WaPo?

Wal-Mart pledged to help introduce Hollywood's emerging online movie locker system to its customers, many of whom have never owned anything digital in their lives.

Not an MP3 download? Not a solitaire game they downloaded (even if it was from AOL in the heyday of dialup Internet access? Not a cell phone ringtone? Not an ebook? Not  digital bank account access, aka a debit card?

I'd be surprised if as much as 1% of Wal-Mart customers "have never owned anything digital in their lives," and if the bulk of that 1% wasn't in diapers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

But Things Don't Neccessarily Change THAT Much ...

So now that he has a brand-new, home-built computer that runs like a striped-ass ape, Liam has suddenly decided he's fascinated with programming games.

In the DOS batch scripting language.

Er ...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Things Change, Part 79,013

So about three years ago Liam, then seven, decided he wanted to build his own PC. And he's wanted to ever since.

It's just that his idea of "build a PC" was "grab the cheapest motherboard, whatever CPU that's on sale, etc., and throw them together and maybe there's some other stuff, and it will work." And when I explained to him that no, he needed to get together a parts list and make sure that the motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc. he picked would work together and so on,  he'd get mad. And when I told him no dice, not until he did it right, he'd give up.

But a couple of weeks ago he walks up and hands me a list of parts he's sure will work together. And he's willing to use his Christmas money, if we'll help with the overage.

So, starting last night, we built a computer.

Gigabyte 78LMTS2P motherboard
AMD Phenom II CPU @ 3GHz
GeForce 8400 GS 1Gb video card

... and assorted fans and cards and such.

I thought I'd help make it cheap by donating some parts I had. We robbed a SATA hard drive from an old box. Unfortunately, all of the DVD/RWs I had lying around were IDE, and this otherboard had no IDE plug-ins. And when we booted up the box overnight, Windows XP wouldn't run on it (that was what was on the hard drive, and it didn't recognize the new hardware).

So tonight, it was out for a cheap SATA DVD/RW and an OEM copy of Windows 7 (I'm a failure as a father -- I've tried and tried and tried to talk him into using a real operating system, going Linux or even Hackintosh, but he insists on Micro$haft).

If it had been up to me he'd have got a nicer case, but he decided to cut corners there.

Anyway, it's running now and he's doing some kind of weird shit I don't understand involving game console emulators now.

The last time I built a computer it was just a motherboard that never got tested: 16k of handwired RAM and a Z80A CPU running at a blazing 4MHz. So I'm a bit rusty. But it's simpler now, sort of. At least you don't have to make your own RAM. It's still nerve-wracking, though.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Yeah, I've slacked off on the blogging ...

... but I hope to be back soon. I got busy with various things, and have spent the last 3-4 days sick as a dog.

But, I do want to get one set of predictions in:
  • Super Tuesday won't settle the GOP's presidential nomination race.
  • Gingrich will do better than most people expect.
  • Santorum will continue to go toe to toe with Romney and do pretty well.
  • Paul will continue getting significant vote totals.
  • Romney will not emerge as "inevitable."
As always, don't go betting large amounts of cash on the basis of my predictions. That's just how I'm calling it. I've been wrong before and certainly will be again.

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