Posted by middlerage on June 21, 2014
…of Women Rocking
Of course it should be a given that women rock. But then there’s the fact that, without any input from me or my wife, my kids are already learning that women need rescuing, are weak, and pink is a lousy, girly color. Thank you TV, Disney, and society in general.
Anyway, this past week I was an adult volunteer for a Cub Scout summer camp (ahhh unemployment… so much free time). So here’s this program devoted to boys – activating their minds and bodies, piling on super fun activities, and spritzing with plenty of playtime. Mix in chocolaty chunks of BB guns, archery, and knot tying. Viola! better boys.
And who was responsible for all this? Plenty o’ men helped, but it was the Camp Director (a woman), the Program Director (a woman), half of the den leaders (women), and various and assorted Girl Scout volunteers, who all made the whole thing rock.
You might say there was selfish element involved, but the two directors are not mothers of Cub Scouts, and the Girl Scouts are definitely not mothers yet.
I mean, insert long, profound dissertation here, but I think the anecdote speaks for itself. Women quietly doing what they always do to make the world a better place.
Posted in kids, observations | 1 Comment »
Posted by middlerage on June 11, 2014
Dear readers, do any of you have an opinion on the best way to start kids programming computers? I am thinking an argument could be made that this should be part of the “new” literacy. But the question is what kind of programming exactly? I am attracted to the step-by-step process of, say, writing Fortran (or C, or COBOL, or insert-traditional-language-here). This could lead to algorithmic thinking and breaking up a problem into solvable pieces. Good skills to teach and have.
But then there is also the idea that with young kids you might want something more visual – like a building blocks or lego style of visual programming (to do what? – I dunno). I’ve never tangled with “visual Basic” and I’m not sure if it is even still around, or if VB is even what I am thinking of. My kids love love love Minecraft (which if you haven’t heard, is the video game taking over the world), and Minecraft is kind of a glorified Legos (not really, but a suitable analogy escapes me). With monsters. But there is the visual and building process, the sandbox* aspect, that is hands-on and so appealing to children. Inspired by Minecraft, I went searching for a sandbox-ish, child oriented programming platform and came upon MIT’s effort called Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/ It seems to fit the bill, but so far my kids have been ‘meh’ and it is not tearing them away from Minecraft. Might be an age thing, but I’m also not sure it is teaching “doing something useful with computers” that I want from a programming language.
Please tell me what you think. And feel free to discuss it holistically, like appropriate age, cultural considerations, etc.
* here I mean sandbox in the original definition, as in a place for children to play. Not in the new world order, IT definition of a place to test your wiki programming skills. Which is ironic since I am discussing programming skills, but anyhoo…
P.S. You’ll note I do not use FORTRAN, but rather Fortran. I had the pleasure, once, of taking a Fortran course from one of the originators and he explained that there was never any push to make the official spelling all caps, and that it is sort of a bizarre, historical mod. Interestingly, my spellchecker hates Fortran but not FORTRAN.
Posted in kids | Tagged: Minecraft, programming, programming computers, programming language, programming skills, visual programming | 6 Comments »
Posted by middlerage on June 11, 2014
I won’t say I like it like it, but a phrase I find very useful and do employ quite often is Six of One, Half Dozen the Other. It just helps make decisions, when you know there really is no difference. In fact, I might make that my code phrase when I’m meeting a fellow spy: foggy train platform; I approach a man in a trenchcoat; I glance shiftily everywhere but at him; I breath deep on my cigarette and then blow out a stream of smoke while saying, “Six of One;” He responds, “Half Dozen the Other;” the briefcase is exchanged and world collapse is averted.
Speaking of cigarette smoke, a phrase I absolutely love is the one you say when you are trying to ascertain if some one is pulling one over on you: Are you blowing smoke up my skirt? Hah! I am continually impressed with how colorful, nay poetic, slangy English can be. What a perfect metaphorical image – the soft, tickley smoke gliding up your private places, lulling you into credulousness. And not just credulousness but pleasurable credulousness. There’s hoodwinking, selling a bridge, pulling the wool over your eyes – all fine words – and then there is blowing smoke up someone’s skirt. Awesome.
Here is the updated list:
Contributions from readers and the Phrases They like:
- Crazy as a soup sandwich (Mark L.)
- Colder than a witch’s tit (Switbo and Nieuwguyski)
- Harder’n a woodpecker’s lips (Mark L. (?))
- Real nice and Kentucky (from Mark L. and means something fits well, well made)
- Like herding cats (from switbo)
- Spat the Binky (Dummy) (from Annie)
- Hottern’ two rats fucking in a wool sock (from the muddledrambler)
- Gird your loins (from Mark C.)
- Put your best foot forward (from Mark C, who actually dislikes this phrase, haha)
- Grinnin’ like a fox eatin’ shit from a wire brush (from Mark L.)
- This is a fine kettle of fish (from anonynurse)
- Chile so hot it burns twice (from Fatman)
- You’re not tryin’ to blow smoke up my skirt are you?
- Six of one, half dozen the other
- It’s colder than a well-digger’s wallet
- Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty
- S/He’s busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest
- Got a bee in one’s bonnet
- Don’t get your panties in a bunch (knickers in a twist if you’re over the pond)
- Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
- Too clever by half
- I’ve got to go say hello to Earl on the big white telephone (for when youse gots to vomit)
- I’ll be there with bells on!
- Madder ‘n a wet hen
- Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life
- Beat like a red-headed step child
- Bob’s your uncle
- Like carrying coals to Newcastle
- A real belt and suspenders guy
- Truth is stranger than fiction
- Peace through superior firepower
- Shut your freakin’ piehole
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Expect the worst, hope for the best
- He’s so big he must go bear huntin’ with a switch
- As big as your head
- Better than a sharp poke in the eye
- Piss or get off the pot
- Tear him/her a new asshole
- Put some mustard on it
- Now you’re shittin’ in tall cotton
- Raining to beat the band
- Back-handed compliment (Damning with faint praise)
- Hotter than a two dollar pistol
- Brown as a berry
Posted in Phrases I like | 2 Comments »