June 9, 2010

Spitball Warfare

When we were at the Maker Faire I bought some awesome books. So far, our favorite is Mini-Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare by John Austin. After the cops and helicopter left the other night, Jerry and I ventured out into the front yard and he made a catapult out of clothes pins, rubber bands, a plastic spoon, binder clips, and tape.
Charlie watched from the sidelines. (So did Warren, but I didn't take a picture of him.)
Here's the finished product.
And here is the opposing army (as you can see, they have no weapons–we took them by surprise).
And, just for the heck of it, here's Jerry peering through a roll of duct tape.
The other books we bought are also really cool. They are The Way Toys Work by Ed and Woody Sobey and Stomp Rockets, Catapults, and Kaleidoscopes: 30+ Amazing Science Projects You Can Build for Less Than $1.

I forgot to mention in my post yesterday that I have a new laptop! I had been waiting for Warren to get another job before I bought a new one. My previous computer was really old (in computer years) and was almost completely out of space. Actually, it did run out of space while I was working on my group project, which was what inspired me to make a trip to the Apple Store to upgrade. We got a free printer and iPod Touch in the deal. So, Jerry was ecstatic and so was I. And now that I have space on my computer I can put photographs on my blog again! Yippee!

In other (sadder) news, our dog, Patsy, has Cushings Disease, which isn't deadly but is deadly expensive to treat. I found a natural remedy for it online, though, so we're going to try that out first. She also has a urinary tract infection, poor thing. And is now taking two different meds for arthritis. Needless to say, I'll be on the look out for discount veterinary pharmacies online–just as soon as I recover from the shock of paying for this first round of medications.

Sorry, I'm even boring myself here. I was just about to tell you about the minor surgery Jerry will be having on his big toe very soon but, lucky for you, new computers still have delete buttons. I won't bore you (or gross you out) with the details, except to say that we love his podiatrist because, not only is he a fabulous doctor and a nice guy, he's also an XBox gamer.

And now, finally, I will say something about unschooling. I know. You forgot this was as an unschooling blog, didn't you? Well, I've been reading the most wonderful, unschooler-friendly book called The Mathemetician's Lament by Paul Lockhart. You can read the first half of the book online here, but I highly suggest you buy the book so you can underline key passages and share it with family members who worry that your children will not be able to function in the world without taking a math class. The book is informative, funny, scathing, and explains the beauty of mathematics (something I've never quite understood until now). I love some of the things Lockhart writes about teaching:
"Teaching is not about information. It's about having an honest, intellectual relationship with your students. It requires no method, no tools, and no training. Just the ability to be real. And if you can't be real, then you have no right to inflict yourself upon innocent children."
"Teaching means openness and honesty, an ability to share excitement, and a love of learning. Without these, all the education degrees in the world won't help you, and with them, they are completely unnecessary."
I won't quote anymore of it here, since you can read it online. But please do read it! You won't regret it.

Well, I could go on to tell you about my tennis elbow, but I think you've had enough excitement for one post. I'll just leave you with one final quote from The Mathematician's Lament. He's writing about trigonometry as it's taught in school:
"Two weeks of content are stretched to semester length by masturbatory definitional runarounds. Truly interesting and beautiful phenomena, such as the way the sides of a triangle depend on its angles,will be given the same emphasis as irrelevant abbreviations and obsolete notational conventions, in order to prevent students from forming any clear idea as to what the subject is about."
Sad, but true.

Now I am off to study!


brianna said...

Thanks for the book links! My stinkin' library doesn't have any so I'll definitely look used on amazon.

Hope Jerry's surgery goes well!

Shady Lady said...

That mini-weapons book looks cool! I want that!! I hope Patsy feels better and that Jerry's surgery goes well. I added the Mathemetician's Lament to my Amazon wishlist! Thanks for the recommendations!!

Oh...and yay for a new laptop!

Colleen said...

I hope you guys can find the books. They're great!