New York Philharmonic

Meanwhile…

city book

Around the world in perhaps 150 days – my son and I are working our way through Lonely Planet’s “The Cities Book” (thoughtful Christmas gift from sister –  Lonely Planet books are so A+).  There is a two page spread for each of the 200 cities showcased , and we are managing one or two destinations per evening.  Ten categories define each city, but alas, most are of little interest to my son, so here is how we are using this book:
1- we find the city on the globe.  I am dismayed to report that there are several cities of significant population that I have previously never heard of, like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (5 million) or Lahore, Pakistan (almost 9 million).  For shame!  So I learn along with my son and I just keep appreciating the opportunity.

globe

2- we find out how old the city is.  (eye-opener)
3- we read about the location’s “weaknesses” (beastly hot/spotty electricity/toxic smog levels)(always worth a side conversation).
4- we read about the city’s exports.  If the city produces enough of something to supply the city residents and the product is good enough to export, like coffee, oil, silks, and Siamese cats (!!!), we want to know about it.
And lastly, I should mention this book is quite large and weighs a lot.  I let my son guess how much it weighed.  He guessed 10 pounds, my husband guessed 2 pounds, I guessed 40 pounds (and ta-da! the book weighed in at 7.5 pounds on the cooking scale).  “The Cities Book” can be our new go-to device for pressing flowers or flattening out a curled document.

president book

Meanwhile, back in the USA – we are pretty much loving every page of Ken Jennings’ “Junior Genius Guide to U.S. Presidents”.  Frankly, we are planning on reading everything this super clever author publishes (we have read “Maphead” and his “Junior Genius Guide to Greek Mythology”).  We like to know quirky info like:
– James K. Polk accomplished all of his campaign goals in his first term!  Commendable, but at what cost?  (He quit after one term and died three months later.)  Jennings suggests that Polk’s time was spent “working, not having fun, working more”.  (It would be so interesting to get a glimpse of the family dynamics of his childhood.) (It looks like mirth and relaxation were not encouraged.)
– James Garfield came from the most economically deprived upbringing. He was 19 before he ever heard a piano!  He was 23 before he tasted a banana!
– Woodrow Wilson was the only president (so far) to earn a PhD.

herbs

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – Farmer Brown has all the seed catalogs out, anticipating planting a large herb garden once the winter frosts have passed.  He wants to purchase 40 heirloom seed packets at $4 per packet from the “It’s About Thyme” company and 25 seed packets at $5 each from the “To Bee or Not To Bee Heirloom Seed Company”.  If Farmer Brown budgeted $250 for his herb garden, will he have enough money buy all the seed packets? (answer at bottom of post)

NY Phil

Well, listen to this!   I have recently enlisted the assistance of personal trainer “Brute” (not his real name – smirk).  Brute promised that I could work out to my choice of music.  Yay!  So I said, “classical” and was met with the most puzzled expression.  (Seriously?)  To make it simple, I said I would be happy to listen to any recordings by the New York Philharmonic, to which Brute responded, “Hmmm, I have never heard of that band.”. (Seriously?) AAAAAAACK.  See? This is what happens when school systems are forced to cut funding from the music curriculum.  My son selected three pieces that he decided even a new classical music listener could love, and I found a recording of each by the New York Philharmonic:

  • “Mars”, from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, composed around 1916.  The standard by which all scary aggressive music must be judged:

  • “The Radetzky March” , composed by Johann Strauss, Sr, in 1848, commissioned to commemorate Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz’s victory at the Battle of Custoza (Oh yeah, the Battle of Custoza)(?????).  This is just the dandiest of marches, maybe THE BEST MARCH EVER:

  • “Masquerade”, a waltz composed  in 1941 by Aram Khachaturian (as incidental music for a play of the same name).  Delicious, dark, depraved.  Yikes, it is all here:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer: NO)

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crab 1 crab 2 crab 3

Our study of invertebrates concluded with an in-depth look at hermit crabs, one of nature’s super-star recyclers.  My son learned that hermit crabs take over shells left behind by snails…the snail dies and disintegrates, but the shell remains in prime condition for hundreds and hundreds of years.  As the hermit crab grows, he houses himself in larger and larger shells.  We learned that the posterior of the hermit crab is soft and curvy so it can easily back into a shell (miraculous and yet, a teeny bit repulsive).  We bid a regretful farewell to Susan Middleton’s book, “Spineless”.  Terrific resource.

Our Farmer Brown story problem last night – we calculated the number of stitches in a pair of striped boot-socks that Farmer Brown just knit for himself (seriously, more than 6,000 stitches).

A new unit! Chemistry.  I need a pair of Farmer Brown’s socks because I am quaking in my boots about this chemistry unit.  I did serve as a lab assistant for my high school chemistry teacher, but as I recall, my primary responsibility was to manage donut orders for all of the science teachers. We are using a DK book, so I know the images will be fantastic.  We’ll just see how this goes.

Maestro Matching – I gave my son two matching tests last night – first we matched symphony composers with famous compositions. Then I gave my son a list of composers and he placed them in chronological order.  Yay!  A+.

 drucker

Music: Last night was VIRTUOSO NIGHT showcasing clarinetist Stanley Drucker! While listening to “Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin” on the car radio last week, we heard Mr. McGlaughlin talk about clarinet player, Stanley Drucker.  AWESOMENESS: in 1948, at age 19, Stanley Drucker was appointed principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (let’s just think about THAT for a moment), and he retired in 2009.  The math: Stanley Drucker served as principal clarinetist for the NYPO for 60+ years!!!!!!!! (this really calls for 60 exclamation points!).  This is the sort of thing that grabs our attention, and listening to him play flew to the top of our priority list.

  • First, a short youtube video celebrating his 60 year tenure with the NYPO:

  • Then we listened to Mr. Drucker play Brahms’ “Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F Minor”.
  • Then we listened to the “Doppio Movimento” movement (the “Simple Gifts” variation) of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, played by the NYPO.  The clarinet is paramount in this piece.
  • Finally, we watched a show-stopping performance of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, with Leonard Bernstein conducting AND playing the piano, and Stanley Drucker beginning the piece as no one else could:

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH