Friday, December 31, 2010

Charging Center

I need a space in my apartment, like a counter top or long thin table, where I can take all the things that we have that need charging - two cell phones, the iPad, the Leapster, the various rechargeable batteries, Ken's shaving things, and maybe one or two of the home phone sets - lay them out in a neat line on the counter, and drape the charging cords down underneath to a couple of power strips.  It would be so much neater than our current haphazard setup.  But there is seriously no space for such a thing in our apartment right now.  Such is life.  Maybe when we get our own house we will be able to do something like that.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Tidbits

Apparently, they've been sending me an email for every free ebook that I sent to the Kindle app on the iPad.  My hotmail account has 71 new messages in it.  Although, in fairness, probably close to half of those were messages that I was leaving unread from before.

It would take 9 round trip flights from Portland, OR to Minneapolis before we would earn a free flight via Delta's SkyMiles program.  And that would all have to be before the end of July of 2012.  This is so not going to happen. If I combine all of our miles together (and I'm not sure they even allow that), I could buy (from their catalog) ... a blender.  Or a pink hand mixer.  Umm.  Yeah, that was a waste of time.  But maybe Ken would like the set of steak knives or something.

Today is like a "play with the toys that Caleb got us for Christmas" day.  (The Kinect; the iPad; and the Cataclysm expansion for WoW).  Almost no work is being done.  Ken set the Kinect (for the Xbox) game up and we did some playing with that.  It's actually pretty difficult, because Gabe (and sometimes the other kids too) keep walking in front of the person whose turn it is, and that completely messes up whatever moves you are trying to make, because the sensor thinks Gabe is a part of you or something.  And you have to position yourself at just the right distance from the sensor, which in our living room happens to fall in the two feet between the dinner table and the loveseat/couch.  There's almost no room to maneuver.  The kids tried a couple two-player games, and one player or the other would keep getting messed up because they had to stand so close to each other that they overlapped on the sensor's readings.

Right now the kids are watching Scooby Doo via the Netflix app on the iPad.  And Ken is playing WoW.  And I probably will be shortly, too.


My oldest brother got the kids an iPad for Christmas.  He rocks.  Even with just the free apps, there's some great possibilities.  (for instance, Kyrie was reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland via the Kindle app today.)

Google Earth app for the iPad may teach my kids something you can't learn from a map:  the arbitrariness of 'up' and 'down'.

Kyrie told Ken (when he played something on the iPad): "You're playing a game without our permission."  

We sold the (old) minivan today.  Finally.  To the guy who called us 14 times on Dec 26th, when we weren't here.  After the people we sold it to walked out the door, Ken realized he didn't write down their name or anything else.  When he found out that I had written down all the required info for the legally-required seller's notice, he told me, "You are good wife."  I was touched. :) 

Apparently the placebo can work even when people know it's a placebo.  Aren't people funny? 

Some ridiculously funny writing about parenting and stuff:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Traveling With Kids

Is it better to pay $25/suitcase (probably two suitcases), or to make the kids carry their own clothes in their stuffed backpacks across the airport terminals and onto the plane?

Is it better to pay $80-$112 to park at the economy or long-term parking lots at the airport, or pay maybe $10 but have to take all the kids and luggage on the MAX light rail?  (We can't have someone drop us off like we did last time, because we fill up all the seats in our van.  And don't know anyone with a 12 passenger van here in Portland.)

What would you do?

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was intensely focused on reading one of those math things I'm reading, when Kyrie asked something. I don't even know what, I just heard "Mom, can I ...".  So I asked her not to ask me something while I was concentrating.  I meant 'go ask Dad'.  But then I heard her say, "Ohhh kayyy.  I will take that to mean 'yes'."

Backwards Mass Times Explained

So I posted earlier about the odd Mass times for New Year's Day.  Today I tracked down some members of the Parish Liturgy Commission at coffee and doughnuts after Mass to ask them about it.  (And was amused when two of them had no idea.)  I got an  explanation though; turns out that New Year's is not a holy day of obligation this year.  So the 9am Mass on the 31st is actually the usual Friday morning daily Mass, and the 5pm Mass on the 1st is the usual Saturday evening Mass.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Problem With Philosophy

Do Ids exist?  Is the subconscious real?  Was Hegel's theory of historical dialectic true? Does justice exist? Is the world really divided into substances and accidents?

It has always seemed to me that philosophy - and much theology as well - does not ask these question often enough.  The art of philosophy appears to be to notice something about the world and then make up some sort of system of definitions and thinking based on a couple of observations, and then talk and act as if that system is reality.  There is little enough attempt to recognize that there are some observations backing up the system of thought; there is almost never any attempt at all to recognize or determine when the system of thinking might not apply or whether they have any real meaning or (non-propagandist) usefulness at all.

To sum up:  "Philosophy is all made-up."

So I'm going along today, and I happen to be reading through a bunch of articles by some mathematician named Devlin, because I'm homeschooling the kids and I think a lot of what he says might have some relevance to how I go about teaching them math.  And I happen across him saying something about how mathematicians learn math the way that they learn chess, and I instantly think that that's exactly how we learn philosophy too.  Here's the quote.

Rather, a mathematician (at least me and others I've asked) learns new math the way people learn to play chess. We first learn the rules of chess. Those rules don't relate to anything in our everyday experience. They don't make sense. They are just the rules of chess. To play chess, you don't have to understand the rules or know where they came from or what they "mean". You simply have to follow them. In our first few attempts at playing chess, we follow the rules blindly, without any insight or understanding what we are doing. And, unless we are playing another beginner, we get beat. But then, after we've played a few games, the rules begin to make sense to us - we start to understand them. Not in terms of anything in the real world or in our prior experience, but in terms of the game itself. Eventually, after we have played many games, the rules are forgotten. We just play chess. And it really does make sense to us. The moves do have meaning (in terms of the game). But this is not a process of constructing a metaphor. Rather it is one of cognitive bootstrapping (my term), where we make use of the fact that, through conscious effort, the brain can learn to follow arbitrary and meaningless rules, and then, after our brain has sufficient experience working with those rules, it starts to make sense of them and they acquire meaning for us. (At least it does if those rules are formulated and put together in a way that has a structure that enables this.)

Arbitrary and meaningless rules, which once we have been exposed to them enough (say through a philosophy class), begin to seem sensible.  Yep, that's philosophy all right. How does Paul put it?  Ah yes, Romans 1:22 - "Believing themselves wise, they became foolish".

(Note:  I am not actually ranting against ALL philosophy, just what I see as a very common current within it.  I have no objection to philosophy that asks itself whether its thoughts are real, so to speak.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching and Doing

"How can someone teach something that they themselves don’t do?"  

I'm pondering this now.  Can I teach my kids things which I do not do myself?  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Backwards Mass Times?

My parish has listed its New Year's Mass times as:

New Year's Eve: 9am.
New Year's Day: 5pm.

It seems so backward to me.  You're supposed to have Mass in the morning on the "day of" and Mass on the evening before as the Vigil/Eve service.  On the other hand, Ken pointed out that this way they avoid interfering with any partying in the evening of the 31st and avoid dealing with hungover people the following morning.  But it still seems fundamentally wrong to me to try to have a 9am Mass as an Eve/Vigil service the day before.  I'm wondering if they wrote it wrong, since they do usually offer 5pm Masses for the Vigil and 9am Masses for the "day of".  Wrote it wrong twice, since it appeared in both the bulletin and a nice Christmas letter that they sent out.  We'll just have to see, I guess.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tech Savvy Kids

This is what it's like to have tech-savvy kids:

Kyrie: "Mom, can we watch Strawberry Shortcake on the Netflix?"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Funny Things Kids Say

Me: "Clean up your room."
Elijah: "Aww, I knew I should have stayed home today."
Kyrie: "What do you mean? This is your home. [pause]  Are you a vampire bat?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Banner Vote

Which would you rather see as a banner?




Easily Posted Pictures and Video

Julie appears to be my most social baby.
This is the smile that she gives when she looks at someone and is feeling friendly

Ah, Kyrie.  So ridiculously like me, it's... well, ridiculous.
 (Yes, I read while holding the baby too.)

I think one of the kids decided she needed a book, too.
Everyone else has one, right?

Ok, so I think *I* look silly in this picture, with the whole hand-half-to-my-mouth thing, but this is the best of the baptism pictures that actually captures Julie well.  I didn't think ahead sufficiently to, well, explain to my friend taking the pictures how to make the camera focus right.

Turn the volume up on this all the way; it's really about Gabe talking, not about the Julie-visuals.  Gabe just doesn't always cooperate with the whole pointing-the-camera-at-him thing; he's too eager to be on the watching-the-screen side.

Welcome to My New Blog

If you came here looking for older archives, read my old blog:

Otherwise, welcome to the new blog.  I'm switching from livejournal to blogspot because it's easier to post photos and videos.  To post on LJ, I have to upload photos to Photobucket, upload videos to Youtube, and then go through a tedious set of copy-and-pastes to get them into a post.  I briefly played around with Wordpress; I could upload photos directly to Wordpress, but then had to go through a slightly-less tedious process of moving them from the "Library" into the post.  With Blogspot, I can upload and insert photos and videos directly into the post.  It's awesome.