"Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping." --Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own

A lone Disneyland Pic!

This is a picture of my beautiful child Tobias with the one and only Mickey Mouse. We don't have an ugly child, which the first sentence might imply, or a less beautiful child. We just have the one, and only. Of course, my wife would tell you that he's not really my child, but, rather, he is her child. I understand this, becuase she's told me more than once that she loves him more than me. I might feel the same, about her though, not me. It's hard to really know what it means to love some one person more than some other person, especially when the choice is between wife and child. This was taken not at Disneyland itself, but across the way at California Adventure. As any parent can tell you, the most fun that you'll have at Disneyland, or any thing like it, is watching your kid have fun.

Some of the nice things Rachel lets me do with Tobias, besides going to Disneyland, include riding bicycles, though he still is reluctant to go more than a couple miles on his mountain bike, and on paved trails for the most part. She also lets me read to him at night, help him practice piano, do jigsaw puzzles and other father and son stuff. I get kinda short with him sometimes, especially when we spend tons of time together day-in and day-out, but I can't help but love the little bugger.

Three days in Disneyland

Actually, two days at Disney and one, today, at Calfornia Adventure. I haven't done Disney since I was about five, maybe six, years old, which is about 41, 42 years ago. As one might guess, things have changed, if only a little. This time around, though, I'm the parent. I wanted to post a pic of Tobias with Mickey Mouse at the very least, but the wireless connection at the hotel isn't working, so I'm on one of the computers in the business center. That means it's all words for now. Maybe I'll post a pic tomorrow before we head to the airport.

So, what does an adult have to say about Disneyland? Well, the coolest part was watching Tobias. Each morning as we entered the park, he was actually skipping along the sidewalk. Skipping. If you have a child, you know the sensation of watching them skip. If you don't, just wait and keep in mind that it's something to look forward to. If you're never going to have kids, I don't know what to say. Try it with a niece or nephew and multiple the enjoyment factor by infinity, give or take a billion. It's cool.

Here's a top and bottom ten for the last few days:


Okay, I thought I was being at least a little funny, but, boy, can my attempts at humor backfire and blow up in my face. As anyone who has been reading a newspaper, listenging to news on the radio or tv will know, there is a concerted attack on the notion of having or wishing that others have a "happy holiday(s)." The claim by some social conservatives, or conservative apologists, is that secularists (leftist liberal atheist whackos of course) are trying to kill Christmas, to take the "Christ" out of Christmas. Blah, blah, blah. As one letter to the editor succinctly put it, it makes a great distraction from the president tapping domestic phones, intercepting domestic emails, failing (thnkfully) to secure an immediate extension of the Patriot Act and on and on. I've heard lots of people carping on the "happy holidays" they see. I heard it today in the John Wayne Airport as one woman grumbled about it near the statue of John Wayne and I heard it somewhere else yesterday, though I can't remember where. People have definitely picked up on the whole thing.

What makes a police state?

Okay, America isn't under martial law or anything that would make for an obvious police state, but I have to wonder, not happily I might add, just where the lines get drawn in such matters. The two below passages, the first from the original author, Dan Eggen of the Washington Post (requires free registration, but I'm not linking), and the second an AP story on the story taken from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Eggen's two lead paragraphs:

WASHINGTON – President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said Thursday night.

I technoratied myself

Just a few minutes ago I went to technorati.com and did a search of myself, or maybe for myself. I'm not really sure how to describe technorati except as the Google of blogs. Anyway, I conducted a search using my last name, Bleck. There was one worthwhile post in a blog using my last name. It came from Steve Krause's Official Blog. Other than that, my family name seems to be more of a wretching sound for most bloggers, along the lines of barf, blech or whatever. Kinda disappointing, but given the way I was sometimes teased in my youth, not at all surprising. Now I just have to figure out how to make other people's family names some sort of onomatopeic wretch. Hmmm. If I type "bleckblog" in the search box, I come up empty. No one is writing about my blog in their blog. No surprise there given how few people actually read this thing. Guess I'll have to keep using Google or MSN searches to find myself and see who's linking!

Great lines and mangled metaphors

While listening to NPR this morning, the Morning Edition show, I heard a great line from long time Democratic congressman John Dingell of Michigan. It was in reference to Dingell being asked if he wanted to be included in the political process for a particular bill he apparently opposed. He said yes, please include me in the process. Then he was asked if he would support the bill. Dingell said probably no. Then he was asked why he should be included in the process. Dingell then repeated a line he heard from Lyndon Johnson: "Would you rather have me inside the tent urinating out, or outside the tent urinating in?" Next time someone wants to keep you out of something, this might be the best line for encouraging them to invite you in.

Thoughts on warm weather cycling, while cycling in the cold

The thermometer hasn't been even close to hitting the freezing mark in the last couple of weeks or more, meaning we've been below freezing for all that time. Not only has my heating bill just about killed me (double what it was in November!) but my lack of cycling has also been tough on me, especially since I don't know how to moderate my eating all that well to take into account my lack of exercise. Thankfully my weight's been holding steady at 194, down from 210 last year at this time, but up from an all time low of 188 late this past summer. Ah well, middle age.

While on my last two rides, I've been thinking about the rides I want to do this spring and summer. Thinking about these rides is the best way to not think about how cold my toes are getting (and, as I noted in an earlier post, wool socks and shoe covers only work so well when it's in the 20'sF). The rides are fairly well spaced out over the calendar and should give me plenty of time and motivation to train. Here are the bigs ones, in chronological order, as near as I can figure it out anyway:

Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, evolution, and language

Okay, that's probably too much to cover in one blog post, but I'll do it anyway. I'm reading Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Although I'm not as widely read as I would like to be, and I haven't read as much of Pinker's work as I would like, I find his writing fascinating. It's not fascinating just because he delves into the way the brain works in a way I can understand, but also because he, while a psychologist, writes with a broad understanding of the world at large. Here's a great paragraph from The Blank Slate:

Snow ride

I just got back from my first bicycle ride since November 26. The weather: about 20F, clear and sunny, clear anyway since the sun wasn't exactly shining on anything since it's so low in the sky. The route I took was just over 13 miles and it took 55 minutes. Even with all of my warm clothing, wool socks and shoe covers in particular, that was about all my toes could handle. Road conditions were better than I expected in places, and worse in others. I expected the conditions I encountered on the city roads, which is snow and ice in the gutter and having to ride further into the road than I prefer.

Student centered (or, on being a writer?)?

One of the many buzz-words, or in this case, buzz-phrases, or that could be catch-phrases, in education is "student centered." It's one of those phrases that means different things to different people (and almost nothing at the same time), but it's something of an off-shoot, at least I think of it this way, of social constructivism, the theory/notion that knowledge is constructed via social networks (people working together in lay terms). While I agree with it to a certain degree, that we construct knowledge, I'm not sure how we got to the notion of something being "student centered" and other things not. The fundamentals of being student centered are that whatever happens in the learning experience, which is both in and out of the classroom, be driven by student needs/wants.

Student centeredness could be seen to harken back to John Dewey's educative experience (from his book Education and Experience, or, since I never get it right, Experience and Education), which, in short, says that if any educational experience is to be, in his word, educative, then it must foster further learning. The focus on student centered has given us the derisive "sage on the stage" (the person who knows a lot passing along the information and knowledge they have to the person who knows a good bit less) and the "guide on the side" (the person, as teacher, who is a learner among learners). Certainly both of these notions carry some validity. If I don't know more than my students, I can't very well teach them much, can I? At the same time, if I'm not learning something either from (which does happen) or while 9which also happens, or else I get pretty bored with my work) working with my students, then I'm not particularly aware of what is or isn't working with the my teaching and their learning.

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