John Muir

Sesquicentennial!

A sesquicentennial celebration!  Jane’s Cool School’s 150th post! 

To mark the occasion,  I scoured the previous 149 posts and came up with a general knowledge  quiz for my son, consisting of 150 questions.  He did quite well, earning an A+.   

Here is a sampling of the questions (answers at bottom of quiz).  Fret ye not, I have selected only 15 of the 150 questions:

General Knowledge Quiz – Express Lane Style

1)  A blue moon is:

a-  a second full moon in a month     
b-  a moon with a blue tinge due to gravitational pull from Venus     
c-  a full moon in Winter     
d-  a sad moon

2)  The first wheels:

a-  chariot wheels     
b-  grain grinding wheels     
c-  wheels of cheese     
d-  potters’ wheels

3)  Which of the following is NOT depicted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling:

a-  Creation     
b-  The Last Supper     
c-  Adam and Eve     
d-  Noah and the Flood

4)  “Alpha”, “Bravo”, “Charlie” are ways of communicating letters in:

a-  NATO phonetic alphabet     
b-  children’s books     
c-  Navajo Code     
d-  Morse Code

5)  The USA enjoys many unspoiled national parks due to the influence of:

a-  the Pope     
b-  John Muir     
c-  Frederic Remington     
d-  Buffalo Bill Cody

6)  What makes the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra different?

a-  no conductor     
b-  15 violinists     
c-  they play from memory, no sheet music allowed     
d-  members are all women

7)  Who does the waggle dance?

a-  people in Australia     
b-  snakes     
c-  bees     
d-  teenagers

8)  Windless weather on the high seas is referred to by sailors as:

a-  flat water     
b-  the Sargasso Sea     
c-  middle sea    
d-  the doldrums

9)  The engineer of the interior structure of the Statue of Liberty:

a-  Gustav Eiffel     
b-  Frank Lloyd Wright     
c-  Thomas Edison     
d-  the Marquis de Lafayette

10)  The Astroid Belt is found:

a-  between Mercury and Venus     
b-  between Mars and Jupiter     
c-  beyond Neptune  
d-  in any fine mens clothing store 

11)  A country build on coral:

a-  Catalina Island     
b-  Australia    
c-  Greenland     
d-  Republic of Maldives

12)  America’s first great public works project:

a-  Hoover Dam     
b-  Golden Gate Bridge     
c-  Erie Canal     
d-  Highway 66

13)  A Jannisary Band:

a-  a large rubber band used to bind logs together     
b-  a military band of the Ottoman Turks    
c-  a decorative headband     
d-  a orchestral group that plays once a year, in January

14)  The only Finnish word in the American language:

a-  sauna     
b-  loofa     
c-  antler     
d-  smorgasbord

15)  The one place on Earth that can only be used for peace and science: 

a-  the Vatican     
b-  the Bikini Atoll     
c-  Antarctica     
d-  The North Pole

Answers:

  1. a- second full moon in a month
  2. d- potters’ wheels
  3. b- The Last Supper
  4. a- NATO phonetic  alphabet
  5. b- John Muir
  6. a- no conductor
  7. c- bees
  8. d- the doldrums
  9. a- Gustav Eiffel
  10. b- between Mars and Jupiter
  11. d- Republic of Maldives
  12. c- Erie Canal
  13. b- military band of the Ottoman Turks
  14. a- sauna
  15. c- Antarctica

Meanwhile, our Stories and Studies sessions continue.  Hoo boy – our current books have provided discussion* topics that I never thought I would be having with my son:

  • oil spills in the ocean (from “The Penguin Lessons” by Tom Michell)
  • inflation in Argentina in the mid 1970’s (from “The Penguin Lessons” by Tom Michel)
  • the currency of Ecuador  (from “Let’s Look at Ecuador” by Mary Boone, and verified by Wikipedia because THIS IS JUST TOO WACKY) – the US Dollar has been the currency of Ecuador since 1990.  I will never understand how this works, so it is a good thing I am not in charge.
  • homelessness insights (from “Almost Home” by Joan Bauer)
  • the gambling addiction (from “Almost Home” by Joan Bauer)

* how do I have a discussion with my nonverbal son?  Usually, I make up a lot of questions and have my son write “yes” or “no” to each inquiry.  He likes being asked.

Classical Music Time – we considered the concept of orchestral adaptation:

My son and I are enchanted with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – we have listened to their recording of Luigi Boccherini’s seductive Fandango from his Guitar Quintet (1798) probably 250 times –

Topic of the evening:  could orchestral music be successfully adapted for guitar?  Could the LA Guitar Quartet deliver on pieces the were not written specifically for guitar?  Not only could they deliver, we prefer the adaptations.  We LOVE these adaptations.  YAY Los Angeles Guitar Quartet!

First, we compared John Phillip Sousa’s Black Horse Troop (a decidedly happy march, composed in 1924 for Troop A of the Cleveland National Guard, known for using only black horses) – 

Next, we compared JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, movement 3 (early 1720’s).  Both performances here are excellent, but the LA Guitar Quartet has a way of making this movement into pure comfort listening – 

Welcome to the best part of my day!
 – Jane BH

The Rattlesnake Sermon

Our Sunday Services – My son and I celebrate Sundays by concluding STORIES AND STUDIES time with music of an ecclesiastical bent.  But last night, we were so moved after reading from “John Muir – My Life with Nature” by Joseph Cornell, that we decided “Fellow Mortals” (a chapter from the book) also belongs in our Sunday evening line-up.  In this chapter, John Muir champions God’s plants and creatures, and gets specific about encounters with, of all things, rattlesnakes.  He writes that he had killed two rattlesnakes, for what he felt were responsible reasons, but upon reflecting, “… I felt degraded by the killing business, and farther from heaven.”  The entire chapter is powerful and deeply touching.  Welcome to our Sunday night, John Muir.

john muir book

On other fronts

Pastels (secretly, hand-eye coordination work) – we focused upon warm and cool colors.

pastels warm cool

Exponents – we are memorizing numbers 2 – 9 to the power of 0, 1, 2, and 3.

Book plots – last night, we talked about two well-used storyline strategies: the “situation” and the “villain”.  I do NOT like stories with persistent villains.  At the moment we are reading “Othello”, and I cannot get through it fast enough. I HATE HATE HATE that villainous Iago so much that I dread picking up the book every night.  You don’t suppose my revulsion shows?  Well, I hope so.  I want my son to understand that any example of “man’s inhumanity to man” SHOULD be painful to read about.

bell peppers

Our Farmer Brown story problem:  ratios and bell peppers – Farmer Brown grows acres and acres of bell peppers.  On an average, for every 10 green peppers he sells, he sells 8 red peppers and 5 yellow peppers.  What is the ratio of green peppers to red peppers?  What is the ratio of green peppers to yellow peppers?  If Farmer Brown puts together a box of mixed peppers, using the ratios as his guide, and the box contains 40 green peppers, how many red and yellow peppers are in the box?  If a single pepper sells for 40 cents, how much money will be earned if every pepper in the box is sold?

Our Sunday Night Music – our theme was “The Good Shepherd”:

  • Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze”, a cantata (No. 208) composed in 1713 for a duke’s birthday.  Written as a choral work,  how could my son and I not be fascinated by this skillful instrumental rendition, played on the Hinsz pipe organ (a baroque era masterpiece, and possibly the most important antique organ in the Netherlands).

  • Handel’s “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”, from his oratorio “Messiah”.  Composed in 1741, using texts from the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.  I am a UCLA alum, so I was delighted to find this video clip.  Bruins rule.

  • “Tender Shepherd”, from the 1954 Broadway musical, “Peter Pan”.  Music composed by (WE HAVE A WINNER HERE!!!!!) Moose Charlap (we so want to know a person named “Moose”), with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

The Cliffs Notes Version

A neat friend of mine named Mary, teaches special ed. (Lucky class.  Lucky school.  Luckier than they know.)  She follows this blog, and she asked for some ideas about setting up a learning-at-home program, should any parents of her autism students express interest.  So, I am going to pretend that I have been hired by the CliffsNotes people to pare down my basic teaching philosophies:

cliffs notes

  • teach anything YOU (the parent) want to learn*
  • read stories and poems that YOU should have read during your childhood*
  • listen to music that YOU have been wanting to hear*

(I find that when I brim with enthusiasm over a particular topic or book, my son catches the spirit and he brims with enthusiasm, too.  I have an eager learner on my hands!)

  • teach FAST!  One or two pages is often PLENTY, then move on to a totally different topic
  • be on the lookout for unfamiliar words, then STOP RIGHT THEN AND THERE and look the word up
  • give lots of quizzes to check on YOUR ability to convey facts (and hopefully to give a lot of pretend “A+”s)

That’s it.  That’s my CliffsNotes version.

For the practicalities, one might read my first two posts ( July 2014), “In Which We Introduce Ourselves” and “In Which We Explain Our “Stories and Studies” Nightly Agenda”.  These can be found in “About”, on the blog title menu strip.

4 books May 15

Here is what we’ve been doing this past week:

  • Othello – we continue reading through the plots of Shakespeare’s plays…we are in the middle of “Othello” and we have had it up to here with that deceitful rat, Iago.
  • To make up for the dreadfulness of Iago, we are reading a biography on the splendid John Muir.  What a good guy.
  • We continue to read “Schooled” by Gordon Kormon.  Probably our 4th time through this novel.  We love it.
  • We are about a third of the way through “A Long Way from Chicago”, by Richard Peck.  OH MY GOSH, this book is marvelous! (Two kids spend a week every summer with their “law-unto-herself” grandmother).  This book is a keeper!

root beer float

A story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the diner is sponsoring “Barbershop Quartet Night” and plans to serve up root beer floats for the occasion.  Tickets for this not-to-be-missed event will sell for $10, and will include a float.  If each root beer float costs the diner $1.50 to make, and $200 is being spent on decorations, the speaker system, and prizes, how much profit will the diner realize if 200 tickets are sold?

Our music program last night:  barbershop quartets to enhance the story problem – 

  • “Sincere”, from Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” (1957).  Sung in the 1962 movie version by the peerless Buffalo Bills.

  • “Mr. Sandman”, written by Pat Ballard in 1954. A barbershop quartet standard, performed by the Dapper Dans at Disneyland, using Deagan Organ Chimes (very interesting instrument!).

  • And finally, for fun, and to support the endeavors of youth, we watched “The Barbershop Quartet, a How-To Guide”.  The kids are just great (and their ill fitting costumes and hats are still making us laugh).

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH