Archive for September, 2011

This Week in Rillabooks

September 27, 2011 @ 7:55 am | Filed under: ,

Is there anything in the world more happymaking than the artwork of a small child?

Perhaps the artwork of a small child inspired by a favorite book. Remember how much my whole family (seriously, every single one of us from 42 to 2) enjoyed Jon Klassen’s deliciously startling I Want My Hat Back?

Rilla was moved to attempt her own rendering of the bear at the pivotal moment when he recalls where he has seen his lost hat. That may be my favorite page in the book—the visual shock of the red background so perfectly captures the drama of the bear’s epiphany, and hints at the outrage he feels.

Now she’s working on a page from another family favorite: Don and Audrey Wood’s The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.

That’s just supercalifragilistic!

September 23, 2011 @ 2:56 pm | Filed under:

The latest Facebook shenanigans spurred me to use, in all seriousness, the word “detopstorify” in conversation today. As in, I clicked the blue triangle to detopstorify one of my own posts that kept appearing in “Top Stories” on my feed. My friend Anne Marie took a screen shot of the Google listing for this silly, silly word to record its coinage for posterity. Sharing the moment here for my fellow homeschooglers and kidlitosphere pals.


Facebook Notes: More Big Changes Ahead

September 22, 2011 @ 8:05 pm | Filed under:

Well, as you may have heard today, yesterday’s major Facebook changes are nothing compared to what’s coming down the pike in a few weeks. I’m too wiped to recap it now, but I watched the whole hour+ f8 video with Mark Zuckerberg’s big announcement, and WOW. I live-blogged my notes on it as I listened in a series of public Facebook posts. If you don’t have FB but your kids do, you’ll want to know about the new developments. Lots of privacy issues to be aware of!

The Zuckerberg video, explaining the new evolution of the Facebook profile: the Timeline.

My notes:

• He says FB sees your profile page as “what you’d show someone in the first conversation you have with them.” Well, that’s a key difference in understanding right there, isn’t it? I’ve never seen my FB profile that way—profile in this context means your wall, your info page, your photos. My understanding of a Facebook wall, and I think I’m not alone in this, is where you share things for people you know, people you’ve allowed access into a more personal side of your life. When I meet a stranger, I don’t immediately launch into a personal narrative or pull out my wedding album…

• Zuckerberg on the original FB profile (one photo, basic info, school, work, relationship): “People loved this product…It was the first place that most people had on the internet where you felt safe expressing your real self.”

• Timeline is an interesting concept—it does address the problem of old status updates disappearing into the ether—but he keeps emphasizing how for previous years/months, Timeline pulls only “the most important events” of your life. So…it’s another case of FB determining what “important” means—just as they’ve been determining which friends appear more often in our news feeds.

The rest of my notes are in this long (public) thread on Facebook. It’s way too long to copy here. 🙂

Facebook ate my posting-time.

September 21, 2011 @ 7:32 pm | Filed under:

I’ll skip the rant about the obnoxious new FB profile overhaul and cut straight to the privacy info, since that’s important:

1) Be aware that your Facebook posting default is no longer really a default. If your default setting lo these many months has been “Friends” (meaning only FB friends will see your status updates) but you occasionally post an update to a different audience, like Public or Friends of Friends, well, now whatever you’ve changed it to for that one post is the new default.

See this official Facebook post for more on that. Key sentence: “When you change the audience, it remains selected for future posts until you change it again.”

2) OK, the new ticker thing is driving people nuts, and there are browser extensions to get rid of it if you wish. Here’s one for Chrome.

But even if you get rid of it—or maybe you love the thing and want to keep it!—there’s something important to know about what people see in that ticker. The privacy setting for each ticker item (post AND comments) is determined by the original poster. Which makes sense.

But say you leave a comment on your friend Jack’s latest update. If Jack chose the “Friends of Friends” settings for that update, and I’m your friend, I will see your comment in my ticker. I can hover over your comment and see Jack’s original post, and all the other comments people made on that post, whether they’re my friends or not.

Fine, it’s Jack’s post, he gets to decide who sees it. But you should know that if you comment on that post, all Jack’s friends (and he has a LOT) and all their friends can see your comment.

Thing is, this is actually nothing new. That was always the case with people who share with “friends of friends.” But before, in order to see your comment, I’d have to have noticed on your wall that you’d commented on this guy Jack’s post, and to see it I’d have to click through to Jack’s page. Which I wasn’t doing, because if I wanted to read Jack’s Facebook page I’d just plain friend him.

The difference now is that the ticker puts your comment (and by extension, the whole spicy discussion on Jack’s page!) right in front of all your FB friends in an eyecatching manner.

So if you’re commenting, be aware that other people might be looking.

3) How to know who is seeing your comments on other people’s posts:

In your ticker, hover over the comment and you’ll see the whole post & all its comments. Look for the blue “Like Comment Share” line and hover over the gray gear icon or people’s heads icon. A popup will show you who can see this post and all its comments, including yours. Now you know. Knowing is good, I always think.

There’s lots more privacy tweaking to be done, but these are the big new things to watch out for.

UPDATE: Apparently today’s Facebook changes were nothing compared to what’s coming down the pike:

But these changes are just the beginning. The changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook. These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.

Um, creepy much?

Doggone Digital Camera Batteries

September 19, 2011 @ 6:28 pm | Filed under: ,

Always dead during the cutest moments. Like last night, when I passed by the girls’ bedroom and saw Huck cuddled up next to Rilla on her bed. She was reading him Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?—such a fun picture book. I so wanted to capture the moment for posterity. Couldn’t see Rilla’s face at all: just bare knees bent, supporting the book. Huck: smushed in close, absorbed, still in his grubby orange t-shirt and funny plaid golf shorts from a busy afternoon of pouring dirt onto small cars in the garden. The small voice piping, haltingly but with confidence. Her reading has sprinted forward a mile in the past month or two. She reads books now. And he’s whooshed forward too; he listens to stories, really listens. I keep trying to hit the pause button, but the remote control must be out of batteries too.

Golden Boy

September 16, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | Filed under: ,


(click to enlarge)

I shared this on Facebook earlier today, but for my friends who aren’t there (I’m looking at you, Penny), here’s a photo of Huck taken at the Good Vibrations Unschooling Convention last weekend. The photographer is a fellow named Mike Hedge, and he captured all the merriment of the conference in a wonderful series of pictures. He has kindly allowed us to share the photos. This one, I think, is particularly swoony. But perhaps I’m biased?

Other tidbits:

Dinosaur feathers! Oh my!

• I have returned to Connie Willis’s Blackout, after having set it aside—through happenstance—for several months. Am about a quarter of the way through, and I know it’s imperative to have All Clear at the ready the moment I finish. I adore Willis’s writing. After I reread The Doomsday Book last year I decided it just might be in my top ten—top twenty, at least. But I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m struggling with Blackout. So many characters! All those shifting points of view! Just when I think I’ve got a handle on everyone, along comes someone new. Will my brain be thus taxed the whole way through?

• I’m delighted to find so many people share my fascination with the Quest for the Perfect Vacuum Cleaner!

• I shared this elsewhere, but not here I think: my GeekMom piece about this week’s big homeschooling news: Welcome to the Internet, Growing Without Schooling!

• Did I tell you that Scott got to interview Otis Redding’s wife and daughter for an AARP piece? How cool is that!

What I Really Want Is Something That Totally Sucks

September 15, 2011 @ 2:10 pm | Filed under: ,

The last time I posted a question about vacuum cleaners, I was told (privately) it wasn’t an interesting topic—but that was five years ago, and I for one am still somewhat obsessed with the question, so it’s interesting to one person, at least. 🙂 I’ve bought two vacuums in the past ten years, and both were massive disappointments. Like the Dyson people (whose products are out of my price range), I just like things to work properly!

Here’s what I want: a lightweight vacuum cleaner/electric sweeper for hardwood floors that also works on area rugs. Basically I want a broom that sucks up the crumbs and the dust. I’ve tried the Swiffer rechargeable SweeperVac, and if it had more suction power, it would be exactly what I’m looking for. Alas, its vacuuming capability is simply not up to the challenge posed by this particular family. It pushes the Cheerios around, doesn’t inhale them.

Our Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner is supposed to work on hardwood, but it leaves a lot of crumbs behind (and yes, I’ve tried changing the bag). Besides, it’s heavy and bulky and makes me terribly crabby.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of Orecks. Their light weight is certainly appealing. But then, the Swiffer is so light you can practically twirl it like a baton. Orecks are real vacuums, though. The question is, do they suck?

Fun Fun Fun

September 12, 2011 @ 4:34 pm | Filed under: , ,

Hello, poor little neglected blog. The weekend was much too full of living to leave time for chronicling. And now I could sleep for a week!

The Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference was a blast. Such a fun crowd! Here are a few of the things we got to do this weekend:

*knights and chivalry (Beanie and Jane)

* board-breaking (ditto)

* needlefelting (Beanie learned how and made a lovely new friend)

* drop-spindle spinning (Jane learned how, so AT LONG LAST the spindle I bought for research when I was writing the first Martha book is seeing some use)

* painting and drawing (nearly everyone—there was a wonderful art room set up and you could go create to your heart’s content any time of day)

* “Rock Star Drama Camp” (Beanie attended this most excellent funshop led by the ebullient Amy Steinberg. Later, Amy flagged me down in the hall to tell me Bean’s a natural actress. No surprise to this proud mama who directed her as Feste in scenes from Twelfth Night last spring!)

That’s just a small sample. Flo Gascon, the conference organizer, did an amazing job of putting together a seamless, merry, stimulating weekend—and gracefully weathering the big excitement of the San Diego Blackout.

Some of the talks I attended:

“Zero Tuition College” by Blake Boles, about which I shall have MUCH TO SAY either here or at GeekMom. Fantastic talk. (Rose and Jane also went to a college pros and cons session moderated by Blake. Much food for discussion later.)

Updated: Here’s a link to Blake’s Zero Tuition College website.

“Artodidact” by Brenna McBroom, an inspiring young woman who described her decision to leave college and focus on her pottery with apprenticeships and mentorships. I loved this talk. So did Jane and Rose, especially Rose, who was captivated by Brenna’s pottery (we’d been oohing and ahhing over it in the conference lounge all day, and right before Brenna’s talk, Rose talked me into buying the lovely little pot I kept returning to over and over—I’m so glad I did) and is now burning to take a ceramics class herself. We’ve spent this morning looking at possibilities around town.

“Good Ideas and Bad Ideas” by Holly Dodd, daughter of Sandra Dodd. Holly shared some of her insights gleaned from visiting and/or nannying for many different families around the world.

“Unschooling Lifestyle Q & A”—four veteran unschooling parents answered audience questions. Most of the questions were parenting-focused, and to be honest I always feel a little outside that discussion when it’s from the radical unschooling end of the unschooling/alternative education continuum. I live at a different spot on that continuum and am happy with the way things work in our family. But this talk was lively and enjoyable, even if I didn’t agree with every point made. Heck, the panelists didn’t always agree with one another—that was part of the point, the reason organizer Flo Gascon had structured the panel the way she did: to give a range of viewpoints to common concerns.

Of course the best part of any conference is meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. The hotel had provided a nice big sunny room as a lounge area, and there was always a lot bubbling there. People crafting and chatting, toddlers playing with the toys volunteers had pooled, artisans young and not-so-old selling their wares, and a great deal of laughter. Wonderful, wonderful.