Archive for May, 2013

Vacant lot by the bluff

16 May 2013

The day was beautiful so I took some time to walk around the corner to the vacant lot, with my camera.

The lot, showing bluff, apartment buildings, grass, trees and flowers.
the lot
California poppies are the first to catch the eye…

poppies and alyssum

…shown sharing the field with alyssum.

Their orange flowers are unmistakeable.
poppy flowers
The small trees are cottonwoods.
cottonwood leaves
A wild daisy makes the perfect landing pad…
daisy with fly
Last year’s teasel stands tall.

They thrive in disturbed soil.

The cliff beneath the bluff is man-made.
A dandelion flower survives in the cliff’s shade.

What If: Students were paid to go to school?

15 May 2013

I just heard a story on NPR about how Los Angeles Public Schools decided to no longer suspend students for intentionally violating rules.
Also, TED recently did an event on education and has been publishing those presentations on their site.
So, it all came together for me:

Going to school for a kid is like going to work for an adult.

So, why shouldn’t they get paid?

For a long time, schools were seen as services available to families who could afford them. Then some governments decided that “an education” should be available to every child, and free of direct cost to the families. Eventually, many governments made going to school for children below a certain age compulsory. We can only assume that this was to help make the parents (both) available to work in the factories. Politically, it was sold to Americans in the 1920s as a way to “Americanize” recent waves of foreign immigrants. Today, the US compulsory education movement is seen as having anti-Catholic motivations.

Like adults have to work to make enough money to really live, if children have to go to school, that makes it like a job for a kid, doesn’t it? Most kids don’t think of it as a service. Some parents do. Who was really behind compulsory education? It’s hard to say. But due to its cost, I think it must have been someone pretty powerful.

Since the 1970s, I have personally questioned the implied equivalence of education with schooling. In fact, there are many ways to get an education, and only one of those ways is to go to schools, much less public schools. Children are seen as unwilling participants in the process, but that is not really true. They just don’t like being told they have to do something when they don’t see anything in it for them. Some would say that’s part of being a kid, part of getting “socialized.” But that’s a lie, too. It’s just how things are set up here on earth, in most “modern” countries.

Children are just people with small bodies who are encouraged to pretend that they are “stupid” so that they can be “educated.” The whole paradigm is actually quite ridiculous. It serves certain interests, so it has support in some important places. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If kids could demand to be paid to “work” at school, or choose not to go at all, social life on earth would be a different game. A game, I think, that would have more respect for kids and what they really know.

A view from the bluff

12 May 2013
view from the bluff

The view from where I live, looking roughly north.

I live on a bluff. Opposite are the buildings owned by the company where I work. In this photo, you can see the route I take each weekday morning on my way to work.

In the valley is a little creek. It is one of the few protected areas in this region. On the communications tower live two hawks; their domain is inhabited by rabbits, geese, ducks, a variety of other birds, snakes, and at least one coyote (I’ve seen it).

On another day I may go with my camera down there – there is a bike/exercise path that goes through – and take some photos for you.

This weekend marked the grand opening of a totally renovated Church of Scientology building in Portland. I helped a bit on its “files project,” as I did at Seattle while its building was being renovated. I would have liked to go, but the time and expense involved in getting there was more than I could confront. That does not mean the occasion was not momentous. In the grand scheme of things, our churches do very important work. I doubt it will ever be officially recognized.

So I stayed home and worked on setting up my work area. Below is what it looks like so far.

I don’t need it excessively fancy. Part of my experiment now is to re-purpose mass-manufactured electronic goods for personal use, and some of the results of that experiment are illustrated in this photo.

As I have mentioned previously, we have an amazing thrift shop in Pullman (Palouse Treasures) not far from where I live, and it has helped me to stock my work bench with power supplies, tools, and organizing bins.

Though I do miss re-PC and the huge Goodwill Outlet in Seattle, Palouse Treasures always has something interesting for the discerning shopper!

my work bench

My electronics work bench, as of this date.

Larry visits Idaho

5 May 2013
Chipman Trail sign

Pullman entrance to the Chipman Trail

Idaho is only about 6 miles from Pullman, so it wasn’t that long a trip!

The area was experiencing an inversion. Warm air pushing down from the east. Temperatures around 80°F and dry. I couldn’t resist going out for a bike ride. I didn’t pack water because I didn’t think I would stay out long. But after an interesting visit to Palouse Treasures thrift shop, I set out to see if the North end of the Pullman bike trail connected to the Chipman Trail. And sure enough, it did!

So I went out on it. My basic purpose after getting under way was to reach someplace where I could get some water. This happened just across the Idaho border, at the Moscow (weird name for a Western town!) Walmart. That’s about six miles out on the trail; I skipped the last mile and came back.

There were quite a few people using the trail. A few walkers and runners. A lot of bikers. And a group of student-age people riding bikes, skateboards, roller skates (a church group?). The trail follows the creek, so is somewhat scenic, unlike much of the surrounding area, except on a grand scale (the rolling hills). If you slow down and watch you’ll see lots of birds. And a few butterflies and insects were out.

The ride “up” to Idaho is indeed uphill (though very slight gradient – maybe 100 feet in 7 miles) but was also against the odd east wind. But as I glided back down towards Pullman I thought: What a joy this is! The greenery, the birds, the rustling grass. The sun twinkling in the moving water of the creek. What a simple pleasure!

I wish everyone on the planet could enjoy such things!

Chipman Trail info

Info sign at Pullman entrance to the Chipman Trail.