Driving Out of Hell

27 09 2010

Three people came to Snook today, searching with that phrase. I give up — couldn’t find anything here Googling that.

Another Belgian Day: Who’s On Strike Now?

13 07 2009


July 13
“Another Day in Belgium”
Posted by kiki under Fayt-le-franc

en route

After a long night filled with uncontrollable fits of laughter, Mer and I woke to another beautiful, Belgian day. After having our customary breakfast of bread, nutella/marmalade, and extremely strong coffee, we went to a world renowned Boat Elevator, and just as we arrived, a boat was making its way down the canal. We were able to watch it moor inside the elevator and then its subsequent journey hundred of feet into the air where it met up with its final destination: the neighbouring canal.

Thoroughly amazed we made our way to the Grande Place of Mons where we FINALLY ‘caressed the head of the monkey’ (and by caress the head of the monkey, I mean rub the head of the small monkey statue.) It is said that rubbing the head of the Singe de Mons will bring you good luck for the rest of the year.


We then joined tante Arlette and Richard in the café on the Grande Place where we wet our whistles and ate delicious Croques, each of us having a different variety.

On the way back to Fayt-le-Franc, we passed through a roundabout where the local farmers were striking. They had pulled all of their tractors into the roundabout and placed signs decrying the injustice of milk prices Read the rest of this entry »

Wonder Bread, Twinkies and My Father’s Oldsmobiles

11 12 2008

Good post from Dana on identity in home education— she’s got me thinking about movements and communities, businesses and lobbies. Human groups. All the ways we individually brand ourselves for love and money, comfort and survival.

Waking up to the radio this morning, I heard NPR telling the story of how the Wonder Bread and Twinkie company has been bankrupted for years and probably isn’t coming back. It seems our generation of moms grew up with those foods as staples but we changed as American culture changed — or we as individuals WERE the change in the culture — and now those products aren’t healthy enough to feed our own kids.

Healthier kid foods weren’t mandated by government or public action, nor Wonder Bread and Twinkies banned. We as independent individuals over time collectively determined as community, that we should change family by family; each of us remains free in the so-called free market to decide what we think about Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and to spend our own money as we choose, but that’s not the whole story.

Once the brands lose their luster and too many of our neighbors turn away, then a shrinking minority can’t keep the company (or cultural meme) in business no matter how much we want to keep choosing it for ourselves.

Live by the brand, die by the brand. The once-golden bakery brand that had cornered the corner market’s market, turning it into its own community of happy loyalists, gradually “obsolesced” when the company didn’t respond to changes in information and attitude in that same community.

Interstate Bakeries introduced a whole grain variety of Wonder Bread to appeal to more health-conscious consumers. Getty Images

Interstate Bakeries introduced a whole grain variety of Wonder Bread to appeal to more health-conscious consumers. Getty Images

When finally their mistake was realized and they tried to change, adding whole wheat to the white bread and taking the trans-fats out of the snack cakes, it was too late. Public opinion had moved on and once that happens, no advertising can get it back, said the bankrupt bakery CEO.

Just like My Father’s Oldsmobiles, I thought drowsily. We always had GM cars when I was growing up, and they always broke down when we were on family vacations. I spent so many hot hours languishing on roadsides and in crummy out-of-state gas stations that General Motors isn’t likely to get me back. Ever.

My story with cars is personal and individual, but I wasn’t alone in changing my mind about Read the rest of this entry »

Do Gas Prices Define “Hard Times” for Homeschooling?

3 06 2008

Dana got me thinking about this today.

I remember the gas wars of the early 70s, when I was a teen driver buying gas for the first time, for my huge, heavy, inherited 1957 Oldsmobile Super88 Rocket — just like this picture, same blue even, except not a convertible.

I doubt if it got even 10 miles to the gallon, but I could get a gallon for a quarter and a couple of pennies, so who was counting? My boyfriend’s family drove ugly little economical stick-shift cars not to save pennies — his dad was a medical doctor employed by academe — but because they were humbly connected to the community, defining themselves as environmentally responsible in those socially conscious “good times” that created the first Earth Day.

His parents could have driven anything, paid any price for gas to go anywhere they chose, because they were so much better off budget-wise than was my shabby-chic academic, politically conservative, school-is-your-economic-ticket-to-ride family story — literally driving My Father’s Oldsmobiles to school and the library and into the economically fickle future — and yet, my boyfriend’s family traveled more lightly through our community and upon the planet than mine.

Or so it seems to me looking back, with new stories on my mind.

But what made those years such good times to both my boyfriend and me, wasn’t the price of gas high or low — any more than the price of gas today makes these times seem like bad times, hard times (much less end times) to me. It was completely irrelevant to our happiness, as it is now.

And without criticizing the stories other folks have in their heads, I need to say that for me, if “now” DID seem like hard times, I sure can’t see how contracting into a little hardshell at home, each homeschooling family pulling into some self-contained, self-sufficiency survival mode script, would help the hard economic times get better. Much less be the change we want to see in the world!

This family’s homeschooling, for example, won’t be helped by mom tilling a garden, hoarding gold or not driving the family car to the library anymore. The economy isn’t so much about her family budget as her community’s thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Wanna Check My School Math?

24 02 2008

Our big neighborhood has a homeowners’ newsletter and I just flipped through the latest issue to see a column about the local school district, written by a fellow resident who’s been on the board for years and now is running for the state House. So he’s killing at least two, maybe three birds with this one school-PR stone. Maybe he hadn’t figured on me reading it, though? 😉

Among the happy fact-blurbs — the cost to run the schools in this county is just under a million bucks per DAY! This is at a time Florida is slashing property taxes and holding monster school district budgets harmless (so public safety and law enforcement, libraries, transportation, family service assistance from meals and health clinics to rec programs etc. get to take the full hit. Academics are just more important, right?)

But then he goes on with his happy little fact blurbs, chirping about all the non-academic things the schools are spending big bucks on — including the same stuff getting cut from city and county budgets!?

* Our school bus system is the largest transportation agency in Leon County logging over 4 million miles per year. . . our buses travel to Alaska and back twice a DAY in total mileage.” Read the rest of this entry »

Unschool to College Is Un-Homeschooling Too — Let’s Call It Real Education

16 01 2008

There is a big email list called “homeschool2 college.” It is exhausting just to read! I can’t imagine and surely couldn’t bear such intense pressures on the family, of trying to do everything schools do fulltime for — to? — many children at once, as large homeschooling families taking this approach must do.

I suppose I always vaguely knew but never felt the real impact, of what all school-driven folk homeschooling or otherwise, go through to get their kids into college, even when all the schooling and drive is, well, homework. So here I am, hit upside the head again with the glaringly clear truth that anybody schooling at home has more in common with charter school parents than our unschooling does, by FAR. We’re the ones who should be griping about the confusion!

Wonder if that’s why they strain at any gnat of difference they can conjure, rightly afraid they are in fact indistinguishable from those schooling at home exactly as they are and for the same reasons, except with some public assistance to pay the bills?

All the while, you can’t help laughing to see them swallowing the camel of our differences within home education! (Matthew 23:24 for the non-bible readers among us)

Anyway, back to getting our kids in college from home: Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of Being Afraid – Do You Have a Driving Teen Yet?

1 10 2007

Wanna talk about it?

I’ll start and then you feel free to jump in!
The NYT had this to say today, but it’s more about the money. I’m thinking about the “education” part — the actual learning of something so potentially life-and- death — which for us as unschoolers, looks like it’s DIY with no other choice.

Believe me, I’ve *tried* to find a way to get some objective professional to take this over for me! I mean the real driving, not memorizing the rule book and passing some test on the computer. We did that in a couple of days, but so what? There’s no relationship whatsoever between that and getting out on the road, really going places and arriving not just alive but unfrazzled and unscathed, not to mention uncited or indicted.

Do parents and schools have this one facet of education handled so well that no one offers it anywhere in our capital city, as a private service? All the so-called private driving schools are really quasi-public law enforcement dirty-work doers, detention halls for drunks and other scofflaws. And they don’t actually even teach THOSE guys to drive any better, they just make them sit in a classroom for more school stuff, some boring lectures and paperwork to prove you did your time before releasing you back into the wild. Read the rest of this entry »