Another Badge Update

Brownies can do anything

Anna’s Brownie badge progress has slowed up a bit since the start of school. We had to switch troops once again in October, but now we’re settled into an excellent troop with a great leader who also happens to be a very good friend. So it’s time to start ironing and sewing again …

Making Games (January 22).

Making Games (1/21/15).

Anna began this badge at a Girl Scout Halloween/Juliette Low Birthday Party last October. She created a party game called Pin the Hat on the Brownie Elf, a mystery touch-box game, and a find-the-differences picture game.

Then at our troop party in December, she taught everyone a variation of Four Corners called “Trefoil.” Instead of separating into four groups, the girls split into three. And instead of the number called being “out,” the other two are. The goal of the girl who’s it (Anna) is to eliminate everyone. The goal of the other girls is to be the last one left.

Finally, at our meeting last night, Anna introduced a brand-new sport she invented called “Cookie Relay.” The nine girls split into three teams and ran a relay. The first girl in each team had to pick out a cookie based on a description, the second girl had to make correct change from a collection of play money, and the third girl had to find an appropriate hello, thank you, or cookie description. The first team to finish (without making a mistake) wins. Everyone enjoyed the game and learned important cookie-selling skills too.

Computer Expert (1/22/15)

Computer Expert (1/22/15)

Anna started this one at the beginning of January and is all set to finish it tonight. The first step in this badge is by far the most important—reading and signing an Internet Safety Pledge. After that, she created a picture in a paint app on her iPad, looked up a bird she saw in our backyard and correctly identified it, and researched Brazil to prepare for World Thinking Day next month.

This evening, she’ll write  “thank you” emails for her birthday presents and assemble a five-song playlist to share at her next Brownie meeting. And that will complete her Computer Expert badge.


Brownie Quest badges

Brownie Quest (in progress).

Finally, there’s our current journey, Brownie Quest. The Brownies in Anna’s troop are working on this set of badges together. Last month, we completed the requirements for the first two keys—Discover and Connect—and last night we brainstormed ideas for a community service project to complete the third key. The plan is to pick a project next week and try to complete it before booth sales start.

Brownie Cookie Badges

Wait! I almost forgot about Cookie Badges!

Bloggerhood Etc. 10/7/13

Giants run through Eagles in Madden.

Image: Jon Bois/SB Nation

This week’s list begins with an unusual category, before continuing on to some more typical ones. Here we go!

Best Chance the Giants Have to Win a Game This Season.Breaking Madden: In which the Eagles get drunk and give up 2,400 yards in a single game” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

I. WE GIVE THE GIANTS THE BEST OFFENSIVE LINE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL. I released all of the Giants’ starting offensive linemen and replaced them with seven-foot-tall monsters …

II. WE GIVE THE GIANTS THE BEST RUNNING BACK COMMITTEE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL. David Wilson and friends are gone. This is the Giants’ new running back depth chart: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, (and) LeSean McCoy …


The result? 231 points and 2,458 rushing yards in one game! Meanwhile, in real life, the not-so-giant Giants lost to the sober Eagles 36-21.

Best Parenting Post.Two Tales Involving 350 Kids, Entitlement and Lessons in Parenting and Life” by Cornelia Seigneur at The Huffington Post.

Our children will make mistakes. They are not perfect, and we need to own up to that. Heck, we are not either, right? That is OK. It does not mean we, as parents are bad people. It just means our kids are human and like all human beings, they too need to own up to their mistakes.

One of the most important responsibilities of a parent I feel is to teach our children how to say sorry. It is amazing the healing that takes place in our lives and the lives of others, as human beings, when the words “sorry” are communicated.

Best Repost.Caregiver Beatitudes” by Robert Anthony Martin at Abnormal Anabaptist.

In the summer of 2012, my wife and I began a rather interesting journey together.  And by “interesting” I mean the same sort of “interesting” that is implied in the ancient apocryphal Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”. You see, my wife was diagnosed in July 2012 with (to use the medical techno-geeky terminology) Type II invasive ductal carcinoma.  For those of you less involved in the whole process, this is breast cancer.

A year later, she is a breast-cancer survivor.

Best Photo Essay.A Brief History of the Computer” at Time Magazine.

ENIAC, 1946

Photo: Jerry Cooke/Corbis

Best Review of an Awful Album.We Will Rock You: Miley Cyrus’ New Record Is F**king Horrible” by Jon Hunt at l’etoile.

I keep trying to think of a metaphor for this thing, and I keep coming back to this: a clown farting. That’s an utterly witless metaphor, so let me explain. Just imagine — the guy puts on his clown suit and his big red shoes in order to entertain a crowd of engaged children. And instead of producing humor, even of the horn-honking, capering variety, he just blats away loudly. Maybe he ate some beans that day, or just some bad eggs at breakfast. Farts are occasionally funny, at the lowest possible level — we’ve all laughed at them at some point in our life — but an explosion of gas caused by stomach upset isn’t funny, it’s just loud and awful and slightly painful. Just imagine the guy, standing there in his clown suit, frown on his face, unable to stop farting. That’s this album.

Best Question. About 15% of Americans live in poverty, so why is no one talking about it?” by Daniel A. Medina in The Guardian.

In a nation where, according to the US Census Bureau’s poverty statistics released last month, 46.5 million people (roughly 15%) of the nation’s population lives in poverty, the idea that the media would not cover such a pressing human interest story because of financial troubles is misguided, if not inexcusable. It represents a failure on the part of the industry in fulfilling its role in serving the public interest.

Favorite Saint Namesake.Pope Francis’ homily during Mass in Assisi [Full text]” transcribed by Catherine Harmon in Catholic World Report (translation by Vatican Radio).

Franciscan peace is not something saccharine. Hardly! That is not the real Saint Francis! Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos … The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ.

Benedict may still be my favorite saint, but Francis is my favorite pope. May God bless him and grant him a long ministry.

Best Video.Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

“Welcome to New York City … (now) get out of the way!”


Anna's new computer

Anna got a new computer this week. It was an early present in advance of her sixth birthday. She’s played educational games on Julia’s computer for several months now, she also works on both iMacs and iPads at her Kindergarten, and she can dial out on our iPhone. She’s ready.

She’s not quite six and she’s already immersed in technology. Realizing that got me thinking about how different her childhood has been from mine and from Julia’s.

Personal computers didn’t exist we we were kids. There was no internet, no cell phones, and certainly no texting, twitter, or facebook. At best, kids in our generation had Ataris that plugged into the TV, or, more likely, cheap store-brand consoles that only played Pong, if they had anything at all.

We both got our first computers in high school. I had a Texas Instruments TI99 that plugged into my color portable, while Julia had an Apple II—these were the days of blinking cursors and command lines. When I wasn’t playing TI’s knock-off versions of Space Invaders and Pac Man,  I taught myself BASIC programming. From there, I took college classes in Pascal and C, and through those classes I gained a functional knowledge of  UNIX. That first computer, primitive as it was,  helped lay a good foundation for future web-design gigs.

But for me, computers were always a means to accomplish other things. I never had the temperament to tinker. Whether I’m writing, composing music, or designing a website, give me something that works and gets out of my way. So once I tried my first Mac (an SE in college about 25 years ago) I was done with command lines for good. I get the “power user” mentality—I know people like that—but I don’t have the time or the patience. I want something intuitive; something that quickly becomes second nature.

And that’s the difference today. Pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners can operate computers and iPads because the interfaces have reached a level of intuitiveness that is almost pre-verbal:

This is the “iKid” generation. They won’t be able to remember how they learned to use a computer any more than we can remember how we learned to walk or talk or tie our shoes. It will just be another part of their lives.

And as long as they still go out and play, it’s ok by me.

My Laptop is my Office

Bruce Sallan (of A Dad’s Point of View) discusses the gift of free WiFi on Boomer Tech Talk:

Every SAHP (Stay-at-home-parent) knows the joy of running their kids around all over town. As if that were not bad enough, the real pain is how often we parents have to wait around, at wherever we’ve had to take our kids this time, for our kid to finish a lesson, a game, a school activity, or any of the myriad things modern parents seem to have to do for their children. It always seems there’s not enough time to go back home and/or do errands so we end up waiting around, internally resentful, until our kid is finished.

There is a solution once you are tech-savvy enough to take advantage of it. Wi-Fi*. Free wireless internet allows the parent to take a laptop with them on their kid-shuttles, go to a nearby place that has it, and maybe do something useful with that intermediary time that we parents find ultimately so wasteful!

Free WiFi has been a huge gift to me as a stay-at-home dad/writer who hopes to become a writer/stay-at-home dad. My laptop is my office, whether I’m home, or at lunch, or the mall play area.

And where WiFi isn’t available, I have my iPhone. Since I write most of the time in Word (on a Mac—so I’m not totally evil) I can keep up on Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc on my phone as necessary. It’s a little less convenient when I’m blogging, but I manage.

That said, iPhone owners can work around the no WiFi problem. I haven’t tried this myself, but it is possible to tether a laptop to an iPhone’s data network. Two caveats:

  1. All bandwidth consumption counts against monthly data usage.
  2. It’s a hack, so backup your iPhone first.

A Better (or Worse) Eraser.

Brian Hayes of The American Scientist reviews A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution by Dennis Barron. This passage, in particular, struck me:

Baron points out that just about every other new writing instrument has also been seen as a threat to literacy and a corrupter of youth. The eraser had a particularly bad reputation, under the thesis that “if the technology makes error correction easy, students will make more errors.”

Each generation inherits new technology that is sure to destroy their intellectual and moral foundation—whether erasers or computers, televisions or video games, email or texting. Yet somehow each generation survives long enough to worry about the corruption of next one.