1 Just finished our first week of school. It was good.
2 California has more natural beauty in greater variety than any place else I’ve ever been. America is beautiful, yes, and every state I’ve ever been to (all but a handful) has places of great natural beauty. But no other state has as much variety: the Mendocino Coast, the redwood forests, the SoCal beaches, the high deserts, the low deserts, Yosemite, the Sierra foothills, Mt. Shasta, San Francisco Bay – all very beautiful, all very different.
Then there’s Lake Tahoe:
My pictures don’t do it justice, as from the ground or surface, one can only capture a very small part of the lake and landscape with any one picture. We spent a few days in Truckee, just east of Donner Summit of Donner party infamy, attending my wife’s family reunion. (She is oldest of 11, and so family reunions tend to run LARGE.) Several of her brothers kindly located and rented a couple cabins, so that everybody from Grandma down to my granddaughter – 4 generations! – could spend some time together. (The first such grand reunions happened 10 years ago, just a couple weeks after our eldest son’s death. This one was more fun.)
Driving from the Truckee at the north side of the lake to South Lake Tahoe, where the only real town on the lake is located, takes an hour – a beautiful hour, driving winding mountain roads through forests, with the lake popping in and out of view.
Tahoe is deceptively huge: 18 miles long, 12 miles wide may not sound that big, but it’s deep, with an average depth of 1,000 feet. People love to toss around Tahoe facts, like: there’s enough water in Tahoe to cover the entire state of California to a depth of 14″, and that the deepest parts of the lake, at over 1600 feet deep, are lower than the plains of Western Nevada just to the east.
So, if you get to visit Golden State, avoid the insanity of the cities and just see the natural wonders. For my top 3, I’d go Yosemite, Redwoods, Tahoe in order of preference, based on a combination of sheer beauty and you’re not going to see anything like it anywhere else. Then – the other stuff.
Almost. Current business is finding a place to live for the next maybe 6 months while house hunting. While I fervently hope…
Our house in Bay Area sells promptly and at a good price
A suitable property here in the Auburn area can be found at a reasonable price
No more unforeseen roadblocks appear
…it would not be prudent to assume any of these. I won’t bore you with details, but, as it is, our house has still not hit the market (current plan: next week) and so we’re in our third expensive stop-gap housing since we moved out of Concord in late April. I didn’t want to go through the process of finding a typical rental house when we didn’t know how long this all would take. Landlords in general aren’t interested in a 3 month rental, and I fervently want to avoid moving all our stuff in and moving all our stuff out in such a short period.
But – now it looks more and more likely that we won’t be able to turn something around in, say, 60 days, but more likely are looking at something more like 6 months. Maybe. High risk/low information decision making – as a finance guy, I’m familiar with the concept.
For the next 30 days, we’re all in a very nice (and very dear) Airb&b in Auburn, the better to house hunt from, which process begins in earnest once this post is done. So far, just knowing we have a nice place to stay for the next month has been a relief (as long as I don’t think about money.) Then, it’s back to the Current Thing and books and stuff. This house has a nice office I just took right over, and I brought stuff to work on….
But let’s not bicker about who killed who! This is a happy occasion! At least, the last 10 days certainly were. As mentioned in a previous post, the entire Moore clan and their spouses and children (where applicable) gathered in the beautiful California Sierra mountain town of Arnold. Very beautiful area. One of these days, I’ll post on the Gold Rush, the near total clear-cutting of the forests of the Sierra and the foothills, and the way those things shaped the way the landscape looks now. Very interesting stuff. For now, let’s have some picture!
We also went to Big Trees State Park, but I left my phone in the car, so no pictures. Sequoias are freaking huge. The branches shed by the older trees are bigger than most trees. Again, very beautiful.
Checking in, from beautiful Arnold, CA. (pop 3,288; elevation 3,999′) where the entire family is meeting up. But am working on a few things, as follows.
I’ve been working on the pulp-style space adventure from 28 years ago that I found 50 pages of when packing up to move. ‘Working on’ here means taking pictures with my iPhone, offloading them to my laptop, then using Googledocs’ OCR function to open them up as text. It kind of works! I will need another hour or two to clean up the formatting and obvious mistakes, and still need to find the penultimate chapter that somehow got separated from the other draft chapters and read it in. Still faster than retyping it, for me, anyway.
While the writing is obvious amateur first draft level, I love the ideas. I’ve got Dante in there – one of the bad guys is named Smarrita, as in:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood
Where the straight way was lost
And the deal gone bad is with a race I call Selvans – our hero finds himself in a dark spot in the ‘woods’. And so on, I was being cute.
Funny: Brian Niemeier’s Soul Cycle (reviewed beginning here) is all about Dante in Space, and here I was, 28 years ago, writing a very different Dante in Space book. I would be happy to be half as good as Niemeier. Along the same lines, found a short story from back then where the premise is that explorers crash land on an Eden-like planet, only to slowly starve to death, as their bodies can’t break down the available nutrition – a variation on a theme from Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim. I’ve been obsessed with this thought for decades: that the chemistry of LAWKI is so weird and unique, with seemingly arbitrary ‘choices’ among chemicals and stereoisomers, with crazy things life-threatening prions, it would be amazing if encounters with alien life, no matter how superficially benign, didn’t kill us. I would think that the first step toward terraforming would be to nuke the planet from space, just to be sure. This is a theme in several short stories and two novels I’ve started drafting over the last 30 years or so.
Also, is anyone else bothered by the ‘enhanced’ pictures we get from the Hubble, and will no doubt soon get from the Webb? I look, and see nothing; I look, and see nothing even using fantastical modern tech. BUT – I don’t look, let that tech feed its input into spectrographs, computer algorithms, and other fancy stuff, and they produce:
This is also a ‘picture’ of the Pillars:
In what sense are either of those pictures real? Certainly, no naked eye look at the Pillars is going to look anything like either of these, even ‘naked’ eye through a powerful telescope. The question becomes: what information do we want to convey? In the old pulp draft, I have passages like these:
The small circular viewports on either side of the module cabin dimmed automatically for a moment, to protect the delicate eyes of the occupants from the brilliant flash of the cruiser disintegrating into plasma and dust. On the front viewer, a computer processed image revealed the details of the explosion, all extraneous light and radiation filtered away. On that screen, the ship neatly vanished into a gradually thinning aura. Neither man was watching,
The star cruiser appeared quickly, a sudden point of light, then a highly distorted image of a ship, trailed by a thousand house of mirrors reflections strung back into space-time. Then, just as suddenly, and with no apparent logic, a perfect little star cruiser was visible alone against the field of stars. Despite his predicament, Warner couldn’t help wondering how much of what he just saw was the result of the viewsys’s inadequate attempts to create a sensible image out of unknown inputs, and how much was “really” taking place. The question was nonsense, he reminded himself.
It’s a little bit like MiniTrue: somebody had to decide what is the important information, and arrange to have the ‘unimportant’ information filtered out.
Next, my beloved and I married 35 years ago on May 30; our older daughter married 2 years ago on May 30; our middle son married May 29th last year. Younger daughter married Jan 8 this year – but we let her and her husband come anyway. Joint anniversary celebration. Because 3 of our kids married over an 18 month period, it is now a running joke to remind our 18 year old son that he doesn’t need to get married anytime soon, it’s OK.
We, our 18 year old son, and our older daughter, her husband, and their 7 month old daughter are already here; the others are due in Friday morning and staying through Sunday. A rip-roaring anniversary hoedown! Elder son-in-law found a nice big cabin for us all.
It’s nice to have a family where everyone gets along. Anyway, we had lunch and a walk yesterday at White Pine Lake, a reservoir in Arnold. I walked to the dam and back:
And here’s the view from the back porch, where I sit typing this.
Temperature is sensory-deprivation-tank perfect: I was falling asleep earlier, sitting on the back porch, in shorts. Ideal.
Next next, our house is scheduled to hit the market tomorrow, if all things go well., with open houses this weekend. St. Joseph, please pray for us, that the Father may prosper the work of our hands to His glory! Meaning, of course, that we get a good offer soon, and find a good place to buy.
Starting next Tuesday, we will be staying in another very dear furnished rental in Auburn, and spending our time house hunting like mad. Not gonna look at the markets, no siree, not me, not one bit… AAAGH!
A volcano is erupting in Iceland, and has been erupting since my birthday back in March. At least two 24/7 live camera setups have been deployed to help us watch from the safety of our laptops. This one seems to be run by Mondrian:
From his little known Gray Period. It does get cloudy and foggy in Iceland, even if, this time of year, it is rarely dark. I didn’t manage to capture an active eruption in the fog, which is very cool: same Mondrian style image, except exploring a bit of an orange color scheme.
When it’s clear and the volcano is active, looks more like this:
Anyway, as I quipped: The Great Icelandic Traps: the Early Years. 5 months in, and the volcano seems to be pacing itself: crazy-dramatic eruptions, with rivers of lava flowing into the valleys, punctuate long periods of not much.
Yesterday, we had a non-trivial 6.0 earthquake over near the Nevada border, in a thankfully very thinly populated area, as discussed here. Nobody was hurt, and I’ve heard of no significant property damage. My question: it seemed to me that the number and intensity of the aftershocks was higher than usual. Was I simply succumbing to recently bias, forgetting how previous aftershock maps looked? The USGS does aftershock forecasts for most 5.0 or larger earthquakes. Here’s their forecast for yesterday’s quake.
According to our forecast, over the next 1 Week there is a 3 % chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 6.0. It is likely that there will be smaller earthquakes over the next 1 Week, with 10 to 53 magnitude 3 or higher aftershocks. Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.
from the forecast linked to above
Just counted them up: there have been 41 magnitude 3 or higher aftershocks within 20 hours of the quake, way over the lower threshold and nearing the upper threshold for the week’s worth of forecasted activity. Unless this thing calms down a lot pretty quickly, it’s going to push significantly past those numbers. There have been 136 2.5 or higher aftershocks so far, including 13 in the last 4 hours. So, slowing, but still pretty active. (SEE UPDATE BELOW- I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THIS CORRECTLY)
Is this anything to worry about? Nope, at least, no more than usual. Predicting earthquakes is still very much a very broad and inaccurate proposition. Predict a major quake in California sometimes over the next century? Pretty safe bet, especially since you won’t live long enough to face the consequences of getting it wrong. Anything much shorter than that? Seems likely, based on prior experiences, but, like the brokers say: past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Maybe, inch by inch over the next 100 million years, much of California will fall into the ocean, in the sense of becoming something like an island. This is assuming the whole eastern slope of the Sierra thing is where the real action is. The San Andreas Fault is where costal California from just south of San Francisco all the way down to the Sea of Cortez is moving north relative to the rest of the state. If this continues (no guarantees, remember) L.A. will end up a suburb of S.F. well within 100 million years. Doesn’t seem to be any falling onto the ocean action there.
On the other hand, the relatively new Sierra Nevada range, only about 10 million years old, was pushed up (they say) by a process of rising magma along its current eastern edge, thinning and lightening a huge block of granite crust, which then ascended to its present great height. The western edge is like the base of a pivot, as if a gigantic 40,000 foot thick granite table had been lifted along the eastern edge – which is pretty much what happened. Along the western edge, the slope if fairly gentle, except where glaciers carved it up, most famously in Yosemite:
On the eastern edge, it’s crazy-steep. It’s even more extreme that it appears, because the terrain at the base is something like 5,000′ high, so you only see an 8,000 foot change in elevation, while you get the full 14,000 ascending from the west.
Back to earthquakes: the Sierra is still rising. Hot magma is still there under the surface along the eastern slope. The crust has been shattered from east of Bakersfield up to north of Tahoe, with historically huge quakes – an estimated 7.9 back in 1872, in Owen’s Valley, where the valley floor dropped 20′ and a new 86 acre lake was formed – occurring with geologic regularity along dozens of faults.
And then there’s the Long Valley Caldera, formed during what would now be a civilization-ending volcanic explosion 760,000 years ago. Geologist don’t think that is likely to happen again, but my confidence in that prediction is tempered by geologist not having much of an idea for how the volcanism in the area happened in the first place.
Anyway: doesn’t seem this earthquake portends the End Times. I have mixed feeling about this, as, on the one hand, I haven’t gotten this year’s apricot crop in yet. Among other unfinished business. On the other hand, I’m ready to see this clown show end.
P.S.: another 7 2.5 or better aftershocks hit while I was typing this up, including another 3.0. So there is that…
UPDATE: The USGS forecast is – odd. The ‘over the next 1 week’ part is not over the week following the earthquake, but rather over the week following the forecast publication date and time. The forecast is updated regularly. This means that the total I was counting up, from the earthquake to now, does not tie in any way to the forecast numbers. The forecast is forward looking as of roughly now, and is useless for any historical comparisons. I guess that makes sense for a public-facing document, where people might go (layers deep into a government website – yeah, that’s where everybody’s granny is going for her info…) just to see if they should expect to feel anymore earthquakes (3.0 being the smallest earthquake anyone can feel under anything less than ideal circumstances.)
So, to whine a bit: here we are, at the nadir of public understanding of science in the West since maybe 900 AD (not kidding), and a page very narrowly useful, and to only a very small subset of people, is located somewhere where only very curious and somewhat search-savvy people can find it. How’s that supposed to work to anyone’s benefit? Now, while my proposed use of the data is, if anything, even more obscure, at least it’s conceptually simple. That any significant number of people would be interested in the data as presented beyond the blanket reassurance provided by the super-high-level summary – there will probably be some small quakes over the next week or so, gradually tapering off. The chances of another bigger quake are small- requires a faith in the curiosity of the American public that is not seen in reality.
25 earthquakes between 2.5 and 5.9 on the Richter Scale, all in about 90 minutes starting at 3:49 PDT today. And they keep coming – there were 2 more as I typed this,
We’re maybe 200 miles away, but I felt the first one – 5.9 – and so checked the USGS Map linked to above, as I habitually do in such cases.
This area, the backside of the Sierra Nevada range, is geologically interesting. 700,000 years ago, a giant volcanic eruption left a 20 x 10 mile caldera. The San Andreas fault system get the press, for the very good reason that much of its course lies under or near heavily populated areas. But there is also a lot of geologic activity along the eastern Sierra Nevada, a very sparsely populated area.
don’t know what, if anything, is up, but I’ll keep y’all posted. We’re up to *30* earthquakes of 2.5 or greater in the time it took me to write this post. Very unusual.
Last year, my wife came into a good supply of iris rhizomes. She planted them in several locations around the house. Some are right behind the brick ‘bench’ in the front yard.
The flowers have bloomed here and along the brick planter along the street in their dozens just the last day or two. We are having people over for pizza this Saturday, so at least the front yard should be glorious with flowers.
The other planted things – tomatoes, potatoes, basil, beans, okra, blueberries – are also growing/breaking through the soil. Fruit trees look very promising, especially the apricots and figs.
In a similar way, the family is growing. Married off Elder Daughter last May, marrying off Middle Son this May. Younger Daughter, who is a pro-level baker, decided to test out one of *three* different cake flavors her older brother requested for her to make for his wedding cake.
Note: it not only did not seem excessive to ask the little sister, who is maid of honor, to also bake the wedding cake, it seemed OK to specify 3 different exotic flavors, one for each of the 3 layers. Younger Daughter then decides she needs to test out the recipes – which she is making up as she goes – and so for Easter bakes up a lavender/Earl Grey/lemon? (something like that) cake:
She wants to do this. She’s flying out early to bake back east.
Kids these days. At least, she’s not making the wedding dresses – she could do that, too. Both daughters could, if they wanted.
Added a son-in-law last year; adding a daughter-in-law in two months. Grandchildren are the next logical step. Praise be to God! We are truly blessed.
Read this ancient epic with a bunch of 8th graders, in a slightly scrubbed version as discussed here. We read the first half 2 weeks ago, and the second half last week.
I had to share with these very bright kids the wisdom of one Robert Bart, a tutor (professor) at St. John’s College: Great books are not children’s books. He was saying this to a bunch of 18 year olds (I being one at the time. Printing had been invented, just barely). I have been fortunate enough to have had the chance to reread much of the Great Books in the intervening years, and can confirm: while you have to start somewhere, there’s a reason Aristotle recommended (but, of course, did not follow) that one delays the study of philosophy until age 50. Same goes for epics and classics of all sorts. Get a lifetime under your belt, and the Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, the Book of Job, Dante, and all the others are a LOT different experience.
The kids were universally disappointed with the way Gilgamesh ended. I tried to tell them that, at +/- 13 years old, grasping how life looks to an old man is going to be – difficult. I, on the other hand, was almost brought to tears.
Both the solemnity and wackiness of the adventures are taken up several notches after Enkidu dies on Tablet 5. The mythic pair of wild man (Enkidu) and over-civilized man (Gilgamesh) took on classic forces of nature and heaven, defeating the monster guarding the forest with the help of the gods, then killing the Bull of Heaven sent as vengeance. The pair shook, as it were, a manly and even kingly fist at the eternal forces – and so had to pay the price. The wild man loves civilization, but must die for city living to continue. The civilized man has lost what he most loved, that aspect of manhood that provided the test and vigor to his life. After inordinate morning – the body of Enkidu is allowed to corrupt well past its bury-by date so that Gilgamesh can mourn over it -he is willing to abandon the city so as not to suffer the same fate as his friend. He seeks the secret of immortality from the one man – Babylonian Noah, Utnapishtim – to whom the gods have granted it. He lives now forever on the other side of the Waters of Death.
On his journey, he confronts nature at its wildest and most beautiful – a pride of lions – and slays them all, and wears a skin as a cloak. The skin of the king of beasts merely hides a civilized man trying to escape, without passing on to him any of Nature’s native power or glory.
He must pass through darkness, after getting past the scorpion men, a bizarre human/creature blend who bar his way at first, then let him pass. Twelve leagues of the deepest darkness later, he passes through the Garden of the Gods.
When he reaches the coast, the theme of women/bread/wine as the gateway to civilization first encountered with the literal seduction of Enkidu by Shamhat followed by the wild man’s introduction to the signature victuals of civilization – fruit of the earth and vine, the work of human hands. Gilgamesh, however, does not encounter the beautiful and brave temple prostitute, but rather a giant barmaid – Siduri, who flees from the wasted wreck that mourning and hardship have made of Gilgamesh. She eventually warms to him, serves him some very civilized food – and tells him to give up on seeking immortality, and instead seize the day. He should return home, get married, and raise some kids.
Unlike Enkidu, Gilgamesh doesn’t need the comfort of women to civilize him, but rather their wisdom. Which he promptly rejects. He wants to know how to get across the Waters of Death. He’s passing out through the gateway of civilization – wine, women, and song, as it were – and into the afterlife, or at least trying to.
Siduri directs him to the Sumerian Charon, Urshanabi the Ferryman. Gilgamesh finds him painting his boat on the shore, and attacks the ferry, as if it needed to be defeated.
The boat is death, it is what happens to souls at the end of life. By attacking and damaging the boat, he makes his quest to cross over the Waters of Death much more difficult. Gilgamesh has destroyed the magic that guides and propels the soul from this life to eternity.
After crossing the Waters of Death to Paradise Shore, Gilgamesh meets Utnapishtim and his wife, who are languid: what’s the hurry when one gets to live forever? He tells our hero he gained immortality after saving creation from the great flood. The creator god Enlil found people too noisy, and decided to drown them and all creatures right out. Through the machinations of a lesser god, Utnapishtim is instructed to turn his house into a huge square ark and thus saves creation. Eternal life is his (and his wife’s) reward. He repeats the advise Gilgamesh has repeatedly received on his journey: accept your mortal lot, go get married and father some children.
There’s an adventure where Gilgamesh retrieves and then loses a seaweed that grants youth to 100 o0ld men, but that’s a lost consolation prize. The message to him from beings natural, unnatural, and supernatural remains: it is your lot to die. Do great and memorable things, marry and father children – that’s the best you can do.
Gilgamesh returns to Uruk a different man. He finds the people have done just fine without him, and realizes their dread of his wars and building projects. He softens some. He does marry, and his first child completes his transformation into a truly civilized man.
A great story. A perfect example of what I was trying to get across to the kids: myths are how a people explain the world and themselves to themselves. The Sumerians had carved out a handful of towns and cities in a land that could be both generous and harsh. Nature could and routinely did wipe out what they had so painstakingly built, flooding and washing away their farms and villages. Further, they were surrounded by wilder peoples who wanted what they had. Finally, death was always there, ready to take you without warning.
Gilgamesh must deal with all these issues, and answer what it is that makes a man civilized.
(Aside: as long as I can remember, I’ve pronounced – in my head, because who says such words aloud? – ‘cuneiform’ “CUE-neh-form.” Now I hear, on some of the videos I’ve watched prepping for this class, ‘coo-NAY-eh-form’. To MAY to, to MAH to. I think I like my way better, but, while I sometimes argue (tongue in cheek, mostly) for multiple orthodox orthographies, using Chaucer as my hero, not sure I want to do the same for pronunciation. Communication being the goal and all.)
Sure I read this epic way back, but only vaguely remembered it. Today, with my 8th graders, we read the first half of it in conjunction with our studying of Sumer and the succeeding cultures. At the suggestion of the two moms who make up the curriculum committee, we used a version slightly cleaned up for younger readers – Gilgamesh the Hero – where Shamhat merely kisses and caresses Enkidu, and untangles the knots in his (body covering) hair – not the 6 days and 7 nights of lovemaking described in the original(s). Also skates around the whole issue of Gilgamesh’s use of the young women of Uruk, which figures in the sources as a complaint of the people against him.
But not too far off the sources. Since we’re reading translations from languages and cultures distant from us in more than just time, anything is going to be somewhat of an interpretation. It was sufficient.
What struck me this time, after we had just begun studying Sumer, is how perfectly the epic illustrates what I’ve been telling the kids about the fundamental role of mythology: myths are the stories we tell to explain the world and ourselves to ourselves. Consider:
Gilgamesh the historical figure traces back to the original 7 cities of Sumer, around 3200 BC. They were surrounded by Nature in its less cuddly forms.
Enkidu might as well have been an Akkadian: one of the wild men who lived on the borders of Sumer, who built cities of their own in imitation, and conquered it – and were in turn conquered by its culture. It was one of those very common cases in history where less civilized peoples conquer a higher civilization, but then, in turn, absorb and are conquers by it. When the Akkadian empire reverted to the control of Sumerians, did anybody much notice?
Shamhat is the bravest character in the story, sitting naked and beckoning to Enkidu, then ‘civilizing’ him through lots of sex and sympathy (our version emphasized the sympathy, of course -and the two things – sex and sympathy – might not have been all that different in the minds of Sumerians).
Then Nature and barbarism – the two things Sumer knew from experience to fear – embodied by Enkidu, fight the cruelty of of Gilgamesh, who is the corrupted civilized man. Gilgamesh is without any sympathy -he takes the young men of Uruk and spends them like arrows from his quiver, and uses the young women without remorse. But the newly civilized and sympathetic Enkidu – raised to that state by the concubine/temple prostitute Shamhat – fights him to a standoff, and becomes his first and best friend. Their epic tussle destroys much of Uruk, which seems to get reconstructed off screen – at least, it is there to be largely destroyed again by the Bull of Heaven a few tablets later.
So the civilized man by birth, becoming friends with the recently civilized wild man, tempers his excesses, even if unconsciously. The people rejoice because, enraptured by his new friendship, Gilgamesh lays off the wars and rape that have so drained his subjects.
Sumer was built of three materials: mud bricks – very common; fired bricks – less common; and stone – imported at great expense. The locally available timber was meagre, and hardly suited to major projects. So the epic takes our hero and his new friend over to what later becomes known as Lebanon, where suitably epic cedars grow.
With the help of the sun god, they defeat the monstrous spirit who guards the forest. They then chop down the largest tree in the forest, to be used to make city gates for Uruk, and a temple for the sun god. Again, what is more important to or symbolic of an ancient Sumerian city than its walls and gates? Nature is not conquered so much as civilized in an almost comically literal sense.
And so on. We only covered the first half of the story this week, saving the second half for next. All this is very much in keeping with the actual history of Sumer and its surrounding peoples. I imagine it as a Sumerian bedtime story, the sort of tale every kid would learn from infancy. The fatalistic, if not tragic, ending is the only one possible to a people like the Sumerians.
A. Agreed to teach some 8th and 9th graders history this upcoming school year. It will be weird: some outdoor, socially distanced in person classes, some zoom, all mixed: since nobody will be required to be there in the flesh, we’ll almost certainly need to set every class up as a zoom meeting. Sigh.
A couple of very energetic Catholic homeschooling moms are behind setting up a new ‘hybrid’ school, where homeschoolers, once they reach the point where the topics to be studied do, in fact, require more expertise and time than they have to give, they have more formal classes the kids can take.
This point has been determined to be about 8th grade, which seems about right, for many kids, at least. Around that age, a lot of kids get a switch thrown, where their minds now function as adults minds, minus adult level experience. So I will be introducing them to what would have been a typical college-level approach to learning 100 years ago. and, indeed, what a college prep high school age kid would have experienced in the not so distant past: formal – we will call each other Mr. or Miss Lastname; an hour or more a week will be ‘seminar’ style; more time spent preparing for class than in class; very little slack for tardiness or inattention; regular short essays; selected reading from the classics.
The other part of this, consistent with my unschooling attitude: I’m not forcing anybody to do anything. I will do zero threats or cajoling. You want to be there and learn? Then here’s what is required. You show up prepared and on time, and hand in the assignments on time. Or you do something else. No hard feelings.
8th grade runs from prehistory through the Roman Republic; 9th grade from the Empire to the Black Death. With forays into the rest of world history – China, India, Africa, etc. As I have long said, understanding other cultures requires you understand your own, we’ll start with and emphasize our own.
We start in September. As it stands: Four 8th graders, 7 9th graders. Two 90 minute classes a week for each group, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 90 minutes each. One is more lecture/talk with the students. I’ll assign very short essays every few weeks, and teach them by example how to write figure out what they mean to say, and say it (yea, like I know how to do that).
I have a ton of work to do. Prayers would be appreciated.
B. Highs have been over 100F here for the last 4 days, and is predicted to remain above 100F for 4 more. This morning, was awakened around 6:00 a.m. by long, rumbling thunder, went outside to take a look. Beautiful orange skies, thunder in the distance, rainbow, light rain – very beautiful. For the last 3 hours, thunderstorms have rolled through the Bay Area. Tiny amount of rain – .03″ near hear, a quarter inch at higher elevations. But any rain at all is a surprise.
Hot, sweaty weather with thunderstorms? We seemed to have moved to Texas without leaving California. Average rainfall in August here is some tiny fraction of an inch. In a typical year it doesn’t rain at all from June through August.
Very unusual weather. In a week, we went from an unusually cool and windy summer with the threat of an early fall, to an unusually hot and nasty stretch. My peaches had just begun to ripen in mid-August – very late, should have been over in July. With this weather, will be picking everything over the next few days. We only have 2 small peach trees, and one is evidently taking this season off. But still.
C. Speaking of the front yard orchard:
Figs amidst rain-soaked leaves.
D. An old friend, our late son Andrew’s godfather, was ordained a permanent deacon yesterday. Archbishop Cordeleone celebrated the ordination mass down the peninsula at St. Pius X parish in Redwood City, because of the on-going persecution of the Church in San Francisco. In San Mateo County, where St. Pius X is located, you can do an outdoor mass of up to something like 100 people, if masks and social distancing are enforced, and names and addresses are collected for possible contract tracing. So we had a much smaller crowd than would otherwise have been there. Each candidate for the deaconate could only have 9 ‘guests’ including his family.
The Cathedral in San Francisco, where this should have happened, seats thousands – you could put a few hundred people in there with everybody spaced 20′ apart, let alone 6′. Instead, we had to submit to humiliation rituals, and have a mass in 90F+ temperatures, with the sun beating down on the soon-to-be-ordained men – the way the various canopies and umbrellas were arranged, those poor men had to sit in the sun for about an hour. (Once ordained, they got to join the clergy in the shade.)
It was beautiful. I love and am so grateful for Archbishop Cordeleone. Good man, suffering mightily for his flock.
This COVID nonsense needs to stop.
D. I’m going to be very busy. Posts will probably be sporadic. More than usual, I mean.
E. A moment ago, huge very near thunder bolt shook the ground and set off car alarms. Rumbled for what seemed like forever. Got a couple minutes of decent rain.