Archive for September, 2013

Losers

My aunt Jane just sent me this interesting op-ed from The Times and I must say I found it quite timely. Recently, I became aware of some of the phenomena discussed in the editorial. For example, a friend of mine told me that on her 3-year old son’s t-ball team, it is not possible to be “out.” She was describing how her son would gleefully hit the ball and meander over to first base. She said she would yell, “Run,” but her son would just look at her kinda quizzically, as if to say, “Why?” It’s not that he’s lazy – far from it; in fact, she said he’s the first to run after every ball hit. It’s just that he doesn’t understand the point of sprinting to first base. In his mind, quite understandably, all a person does is hit the ball and then move onto the base. In addition to finding the image adorable, I thought, “That’s so weird.” I didn’t have the studies cited in the article to back up my scientific conclusion that the t-ball rules were “weird,” and I didn’t really think about it in terms of harm to the child in the way the article describes.* Instead I thought, “Why on earth would it be bad to tell a kid he’s “out”? It almost seems as though the adults are implicitly suggesting that failure is a character flaw instead of what it really is: a necessary part of life. And certainly a necessary part of baseball. I mean, really. Those games are long enough.

I’m sure it won’t be fun to watch Molly fail (though if the present is any indication: I’m callous. I’m still laughing about her running smack into the clear glass door at the library), but it’s not something I’m very scared of. Of course she will fail! If she doesn’t, how will she ever succeed? It makes so much sense to me that the kids who are uber-praised will stop trying once they have that first failure. If you haven’t learned how to deal with failure early and often, it must be terrifying to experience it after only lots of “success.” Good grief! It’s like just setting kids up to fail by not letting them fall. Oy. Let’s please try not to do that, ok?

Not to mention that I have no interest in storing a boatload of crappy participation trophies in my house.

*And let me be clear: I don’t think there is any harm being done to this particular charming three-year old. I know he’s already been given – and will continue to be given – plenty of opportunities to fail and succeed in his life.

Welcome back

“Welcome back,” I overheard the librarian say this morning at the long-awaited grand opening of the new library. She wasn’t talking to us, but to a group of men I’m pretty sure are homeless. I agree with the city’s library director that the central library shouldn’t be a substitute for a proper shelter for the city’s homeless, but I sure am happy that it’s back in action and warmly welcoming all of Madison with open arms.

Oh, and it’s beautiful.

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I wanted to move the trash and recycling bins

I love the blue!

I love the blue!

It’s also super fun!

Giant storybook characters

Giant storybook characters

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It’s also very comfy!

She did not really appreciate the cool factor here

She did not really appreciate the cool factor

And obviously quite educational.

I checked: it does a nice job of dealing with the Favre debacle without scaring the kids.

I checked: it does a nice job of dealing with the Favre debacle without scaring the kids.

She made herself right at home.

She made herself right at home.

But it might be a little too clean right now. Bear walked right into a glass door.

Wisconsin Wednesday

As you may know, the State’s school “report cards” were released yesterday. I found some of the information really interesting. For example, did you know that almost 20% of Madison’s school kids have only limited English, but that number drops almost in half if you move to Milwaukee? Also, did you know that Madison Metro’s student population is 48.6% economically disadvantaged? That’s crazy. And more than 82% of Milwaukee’s school population is economically disadvantaged? 82%!? That’s crazy! I mean: that’s CRAZY. Geez Louise do we have some work to do.

Anyway, so I’ve been scanning the interwebs for other Sconnie education news and came upon this. I don’t really have too much of an opinion on it right now, but I think it’s interesting. Any thoughts, friends?

TV Tuesday: Sorkin redux

I know I have the wrong audience here for this topic. As witnessed here. Crickets. And I know I don’t have too much of an audience to begin with. In fact, even using the word ‘audience’ is something I should probably never do.

That said, and with the risk that I may lose the few readers and Spam-ites I do have (including my own mother), I can’t stop myself from posting this quote from an article in last year’s New Yorker that made me laugh out loud. It’s about The Newsroom.

Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV.”

I know there’s always someone out there to back up whatever position you need support for, but this one quote really made me smile. It didn’t hurt that the author called Parks and Rec, a personal fave, “the one excellent political series on tv.”

Anyway, Newsroom fans, I hope we can still be friends.

Larry slept here!

Awhile back, AO’s mom gave us two estate tour passes to Ten Chimneys. She also gave us a generous gift certificate to The Union House, a nearby watering hole. Well, because the gift certificate to the restaurant expired at the end of August, we decided in mid-August that we better getting going in making our plans to take on Genesee Depot. Due to the restaurant’s generous flexibility, yesterday was our day out. AO’s mom sweetly watched Bear so we could tour-it-up without the little one (kids under 12 aren’t allowed in the place anyway). We had the best day! Sure, the Lunts may not have had the best taste (no pictures are allowed to be taken inside the homes, otherwise I would have loved to show you the pretty cheesy murals all over the place) and Alfred may have been a bit of a miser (the gold leaf Alfred applied to the walls of the honeymoon cottage was actually gold Scotch tape). But holy cow was it fun to see a grand home in small-town Wisconsin that housed the Lunts and their estimable  friends, like Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier (Larry) and Katharine Hepburn.

I'd seen this sign from the freeway for years and been quite curious.

I’d seen this sign from the freeway for years and been quite curious.

Getting excited!

Getting excited!

This outside does not reveal the amazingness of this visitor center.

This outside does not reveal the amazingness of this visitors’ center.

The sitting room before the women's bathroom in the visitors' center.

The sitting room before the women’s bathroom in the visitors’ center.

In case you need a vanity before or after your tour, the Ten Chimney's visitor's center has your back.

In case you need a vanity before or after your tour, the Ten Chimney’s visitors’ center has your back.

Pretty wallpaper.

Pretty wallpaper.

They're such a cute couple!

They’re such a cute couple!

Ok, that’s enough of the visitors’ center. Let’s move on to the big stuff. It’s what you came here for, right?

Aaron on stage.

Aaron on stage.

Ok, I lied. Just a few more inside the visitors’ center. It was just so cool! And, yes, I know: we don’t get out much. But seriously, I love things like this!

Great exhibit of plays.

Great exhibit of plays.

Aaron.

Aaron.

Kate.

Kate.

Aaron wearing a replica of Alfred's rooster hat.

Aaron wearing a replica of Alfred’s rooster hat.

At last, the estate house!

At last, the estate house!

A plaque. I love plaques.

A plaque. I love plaques.

The gate has some sort of traditional Finnish greeting pattern. Or something like that.

The gate has some sort of traditional Finnish greeting pattern. Or something like that.

Two of the 11 (gasp) chimneys.

Two of the 11 (gasp) chimneys.

More chimneys.

More chimneys.

Another view.

Another view.

From the back.

From the back.

I apologize for the poor quality of photos. I just used my phone. The place is truly impressive and I’m sure there are tons of other better pics out there.

The greenhouse.

The greenhouse.

Did I mention the whole place was a working farm?

Did I mention the whole place was a working farm?

Gardens. I believe our guide said they are now tended by master gardeners at the UW-Extension.

Gardens. I believe our guide said they are now tended by master gardeners at the UW-Extension.

Yet another building. A cool space they used to rehearse plays. There is even a balcony for all of those plays that have balcony scenes.

Yet another building. A cool space they used to rehearse plays. There is even a balcony for all of those plays that have balcony scenes.

A pool and poolhouse!

A pool and poolhouse!

For some reason, I didn’t get a pic of the “honeymoon cottage,” which was the spot Alfred and Lynn lived in when they first moved there (Alfred’s mom and half-siblings lived in the bigger building for a time). After our tour (which lasted more than two hours), we headed for an early dinner and some nice refreshments.

A refreshing Sapphire martini.

A refreshing Sapphire martini.

It was such a fun day. Thanks CJ and Bear, for making it possible. And thanks AO for liking to do stuff like this. Or at least convincing me you do.


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