I love this entry...

By Concierge Services (photo credit to? and mantra credit to Poppins Classical via Dy).

Owning a dog in NYC (a different type of homeschooling)

Since adopting Napoleon, I have discovered a totally new world unbeknownst to me previously. It is the world of the New York mutt.

Sure, I, like everyone else, notices the dogwalkers with 1-2-3-4-5-6-...? dogs in tow at any given time between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in Manhattan. One day, when I had an inkling that we really could use a dog around the house, particularly that week when the fire-escape rapist was on the loose, I got serious and asked: How long do your dogs get walked? "One hour." It was the standard reply. Different walker, same answer. Damn, that's a lot of walking, I thought.

Then there is the New York City dog walking schedule. Everyone with a dog here has it. Most dogs get out at least 3 times a day (ours gets out 4 times a day), unless you are a bad owner and buy the expensive natural grass turf that goes on the balcony that gets changed once a week. From Riverside Drive to Astoria, everyone is out with the dogs at midnight. Pee-pee at nighttime in bed is a no-no.

Then dog training. Fortunately, I found Victoria Wells. And in case you, like we, did not know, it's all about the Kong. Don't blink! Here comes another new dog product that everybody's got.

I did have to find a dog walker in my neighborhood for the occasional emergency walk. Particularly as Napoleon is a Weim, and never tires. Four hours of walking a day? Gimme some more! We don't use a walker regularly, though. That is where A gets to learn things like "becoming the alpha male" and walking and training M. Bonaparte.

A has taught Napoleon how to shake, give a high-five, to roll over, to spin, and now he is teaching the pup to crawl. When I worry that the dog is over-worked or too tired, A and Napoleon will rush in with the "new thing" they've learned. Together.

A is homeschooling 'ol Bonaparte.

*image is of Disel the boxer by Dee Dee Ramone, a dog that I know and love, who encourages me to break into the treat box for him, and gets out of the loft several times a day to pee.


tra la la

A little while ago I asked A to take out Napoleon for his midday walk. A never shirks his responsibilities, and I frequently find him finding new chores to do. But he hesitated. "So today is a half-day?" Ah, I see. You're afraid someone will ask you why you're not in school. You just need to "own" it. You homeschool. That's that.

When A and Napoleon returned, I got this feedback:

"We saw punk kids outside!"

hah, hah, hah....

What we're studying in Genetics today:

- Gene squares with 16 outcomes.
- The Principle of Independent Assortment (for genes with double sets of alleles).

I chuckle on looking at a cartoon in our Genetics book. It shows a woman hugging a man, with the caption: So now you know what a geneticist means by "phenotypically smooth, genotypically heterozygous." The woman responds, "Yes, now tell me about recombinant bank accounts."

Modern Social Studies/History:

- The dynamics behind WWI. We are going to take a while on this one.


- Images of vases and other containers(again). A made a joke today. "So, wine and water were mixed in amphoras...so we can call it Amphora Light?"

Yes, we know that kraters were actually used for the mixing, but it was worth the laugh...


- Listening to the Beatles, specifically, John Lennon, and Bob Marley tunes. What similarities - themes? lyrics? - are in their music?


Hey, Ho, please let Mike Brown GO (far away from D.C.)

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer Tue Sep 27, 3:22 AM ET

WASHINGTON - "Embattled former FEMA director Michael Brown says he was initially unaware of desperate conditions at the New Orleans Convention Center because it was not a planned Hurricane Katrina evacuation site, according to a congressional memo.

After learning from television about the thousands of evacuees who gathered at the center, Brown ordered food and water be delivered there. But Brown, who on Tuesday faces a House inquiry into the government's slow response to the Aug. 29 disaster, told congressional aides that "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand."

Brother, it is your business to pick up the phone and find out what people are doing. How did *you* not know?

"Brown, who ran FEMA for more than two years, has a two-week "transition" remaining at the agency, during which he will advise the department on "some of his views on his experience with Katrina," Homeland security spokesman Russ Knocke said. He is receiving full pay."

Dude, you are *getting paid* to tell folks that you made mistakes, and to testify that you didn't know anything? Who do I call about this one?

In other news, my friend Donna is quoted yet *again* in another New York Times article. Note to La Mai: be seen in more quotes!


...and Mendel is his tutor

A learned to do genetics squares today. He likes to use the word "phenotype" a lot. As in, "Napoleon's eyes are phenotyped for amber. But their genotype could include blue."

Hey Joe

So I am taking the plunge. I am sitting at the computer at 1:45 a.m. loaded with caffeine and writing a proposal to the New York Times. I am trying my hand at writing. For...um...pay.

It seems I have made friends with too many reporters than I can count, who have been friendly enough to lend me their advice. "Go to Media Bistro!" said one. I did, and not just virtually to www.mediabistro.com. I signed up for an in-person course the same evening at their offices in that trendy part of Manhattan. Another writer offered help with my proposals, and shared some of his current working ideas (one of which I'd like to steal and make into a screenplay, but I don't know if that sort of idea-thievery is allowed. I think I'd have to talk to him about that one).

Then there is the book deal. I can't say much yet as I am still in Proposal Land. But do send me your good vibes, please. This is La Mai, who created a community of NaNoWriMo writers but who herself did not finish her writing goal for that month.

This week, I asked A to write out his own questions for a Genetics test for this week. I am happy that he is enjoying his latest subject in his science studies. I always received good grades in genetics, so I don't feel too retarded to teach him that subject.

A has taken to learning whatever he can about Jimi Hendrix. The idea of racism is bothering him, too.

Napoleon, our Weimeraner, has been sneaking up to beds in the middle of the night and squeezing himself in. Fall is arriving, as is the colder weather, so I don't mind one bit.


A little dark humor

There is no drama at Pete's Pond. We have been watching the Pond a lot. Surely, the animals themselves are cute and interesting, and A will soon be writing his findings after one week's worth of Pond observation. But Last Feast of the Crocodiles, the Pond isn't.

So, to make Pete Pond's more interesting for the viewing audience, I offer these suggestions:

1. Add a crocodile. Surely, there must be a crocodile in Africa who deserves the Pond all to himself (or herself). And one crocodile alone can't eat all the animals at the watering hole, but can provide enough drama for young kids everywhere to ask, Why Why Why is nature so cruel? The crocodile will certainly get lonely. So...

2. Add another crocodile. Two crocs will liven up the action at the Pond. Better yet, choose two crocs of the same sex.

3. And another crocodile. Different sex this time. Imagine the mating conflicts.

4. Send Steve Irwin to the Pond.

5. Put fish in the Pond.

6. Like freshwater piranhas.

7. Put food on the Wildcam.

8. Dress up the Wildcam as an animal least likely to be at the Pond and see what happens.

9. Play a loop of "Anarchy in the U.K." at the Pond. Let the animals play with the Wildcam camera and break it.

10. Give La Mai a grant to allow one homeschooler to visit and research the Pond, complete with luxury hotel stay in Botswana. Let the other homeschooling mums scream "Nepotism!"


It's an...

Obsession. And it's education. And it is now past 1:30 a.m. and I am still viewing it. It is Pete's Pond.

Thank you, Poppins Classical.

this added later: A and I watched what was an initial empty pond, evening NYC time, early morning Botswana time. Suddenly, a group of elephants were all there, quietly having a drink. They left. A herd of kudu arrived. Then they left. Then some type of fat bird (an African turkey? what is that? it's not on the species list!!) wandered by for a drink. Then some impala, then some wildebeest...

Then this observation from A: "One herd leaves then a different species comes after that...It's like they all have a schedule there."



La Mai is...

Somehow, I am not surprised. El Che is very East Village these days. And, I do not smoke pot. But, as a reader of Tolkien, I also do not knock the folks who do.


The Mental Multivitamin Challenge.

Which is, to name "Ten books above all others that have shaped or even defined you."

Holy, moly. Okay.

1. Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?

This was one of my first books ever, and I had (omg!!) the unabridged version. My dad gave it to me when I was only five-years-old. I was totally fascinated by the sheer diversity of careers to be had. In fact, I think that I wanted to be everything in the book - particularly a dog riding a motorbike, or a mama goat with earrings that look like bakery whisks.

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Some kids with British accents go into a closet and wind up in a snowstorm eating Turkish Delight? This story so tripped me out, that by age 10 I actually believed that I could walk into my closet and be in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back riding tauntauns in snowstorms and sporting a white jedi costume. Scarred me, I tell you.

3. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

La Mai, as a child, is still trippily living in "let's create new stuff out of this dull old closet wall" land. I believed that I used Tolkien-inspired things, however, to create doors on the wall. Like feathers and twigs. Not a purple crayon.

4. Forever, by Judy Blume. Erm, did I actually read this stuff? Man. I recall actually memorizing *that* scene in the book, too.

5. Jephte's Daughter, Naomi Ragen. This story allowed me to be okay with my divorce from A's father. Yes, the separation and divorce was *that* dramatic. You have no idea.

6. Paolo Coehlo's The Alchemist. Because it illuminates the fact I had been too busy in life trying to carry oil on that dastardly spoon.

7. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Legs McNeil and somebody else. Because who knew that La Mai would actually wind up knowing all the people in the book?

8. Wonder Woman, The Complete History. A classic.

9. William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. I hated this book so much when I first read it (at university, not because of Oprah, thank you). Because there was so much truth in it.

10. Anything W.B. Yeats. My thesis paper in English was based on Yeats and the Nietzschean thread in his works. My thesis got an A+. Stuff like that (the grade that I received) keeps me upward-looking, even years after I received the grade, years after my divorce, and sometimes milliseconds after crappy stuff happens in my life. To Yeats!


Check out...

Dr. Donna Gaines' blog. She was my very first partner in crime in my Big Project.


I just can't get enough!!!

Chemistry Test #1

10% weight for each question, for a total of 100%.

1. In what year did Dmitri Mendeleev come up with the periodic table of the elements? How did he do it? What is a periodic pattern?

2. Name the first 30 naturally occurring elements in the Periodic Table, with abbreviations and atomic number for each:

(space for 1-30)

3. Build orbitals for Hydrogen, Fluorine, Aluminum, Sulfur, and Chlorine. Draw an orbital configuration for each.

4. What is an isotope?

5. What is ionization energy? Where do we find high ionization energies on the periodic table?

6. What is an alkali metal?

7. Define electron affinity. Where do we find the denizens of low electron affinity on the periodic table?

8. What is a halogen?

9. What is the "rule of eight"?

10. Atomic theory has been called…. “ .”

What is the difference between bubonic and pneumonic plague?

It brings me memories of microbiology class. Bubonic plague produces a bubo, which is an inflammation of the lymph gland. If you have a swollen lymph gland (hey, what's that ball-size thing growing on my leg???) and you live in the New Jersey or New York area, then you might want to go to the hospital, not your doctor, immediately.


Oh, there was a little incident with some laboratory mice gone missing from a New Jersey lab yesterday.

Some fun reading about bubonic plague is provided here by National Geographic.

Fortunately, bubonic plague cannot be transmitted between humans. If you have rats, or pets that can acquire fleas, however...



Me and A drove up to the Catskills this past weekend. Of course, I went with my rock and roll crew. Joey's mother led me to the mountains, Joey's onetime girlfriend showed me around.

Joey, Joey, Joey.

Then we caught a glimpse of a picture of Jimi Hendrix in Woodstock village. A was in heaven. "Can I tie a sash around my head to look just like him?" He died of a drug overdose, I told him. "I know. But he was a great musician." True.

We looked at the mountain land. I was smitten. I really was.

"Guess who is in town buying cupcakes?" said the Girlfriend.
Who? I asked.

Ah. It was all she needed to say, as A has a total crush on Ms. Thurman.

So A is totally clobbering Chemistry. Will post a sample test here shortly.

I was filmed for a rock documentary on Sunday afternoon, and tomorrow, I interview with MOJO Magazine. When will this madness end? Do I want it to?

Life is taking a strange turn for me. And I actually like it.

I am addicted to the Rockstar INXS show, which airs shortly, so tah-tah. I am rooting for MiG or Marty.


Okay, Becky rocks.

And I am a copy-cat.

White Foragers Report Threat of Black Looters

Thank you, The Onion for putting this in perspective.

Here in NYC, the benefit concert mania for Hurricane Victims
has begun. Personally, I feel that the more benefit shows and fundraising we do, the less our government takes responsibility for this thing. And yes, I think that is a bad thing.

Maybe I have too much ..erm... faith in my government? I am not the only one. Word through the benefit shows grapevine is that Bruce Springsteen issued a statement which implied that benefit concerts are not the way to go for Katrina victims.


Someone for whom I have little patience of late...

La Mai says, Off with her head.

Should we treat Katrina's victims like the victims of the tsunami?

I think the American Red Cross should consider itself lucky. Certainly, millions of dollars have been raised to assist in the relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

However, I wonder if our heartstrings have been somewhat manipulated.

I think that in light of the tsunami disaster last year, my dollars to the Red Cross to help tsunami victims would have been appropriate. The tsunami victims were not in the United States; our government was not obligated to help them.

I pay taxes to my U.S. Government. I would like to know that at a very minimum, my government will value my life as much as it does my tax dollars, and will toss me a bottle of water and some food if I need it and am in a disaster zone on U.S. soil. Is it fair that Americans should rely on the American Red Cross, which is a private agency, and not on their government to which they pay tax dollars, in times of national crisis? Should the burden of relief efforts fall on so many faith-based organizations and the American Red Cross?

Music Appreciation: a short quiz.

(A has no idea this is coming...)

Review the following lyrics (true, Maitresse did not provide the lyrics to the entire song):

1. Identify the name of the song.
2. Identify the creators of the song.
3. Define or give historical context to - "Scaramouch", "Bismillah", and "Beezlebub".
4. Bob your head to the appropriate section of the song.

Each question carries 25% weight, except question #3. Get one right, I'll consider giving the full 25%.

That is all.

"Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body's aching all the time
Goodbye everybody - I've got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooo - (anyway the wind blows)
I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening me
Gallileo, Gallileo,
Gallileo, Gallileo,
Gallileo Figaro - magnifico

But I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come easy go - will you let me go
Bismillah! No - we will not let you go - let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go - let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go - let me go
Will not let you go - let me go (never)
Never let you go - let me go
Never let me go - ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no -
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
for me
for me"


dumpster dive

Okay. I will admit it. I joined a group of Freegans last week to investigate consumer waste in Manhattan. I was followed by cameras and reporters with the Associated Press. What I discovered was astonishing. Absolutely astonishing.

I joined a a group of about seven people, a Columbia grad student and others, some committed activists. We stopped at three different supermarkets at around 9:30 p.m. on the East Side of Manhattan. I guess grocery garbage is nicer there. We found fresh strawberries, bananas with barely a spot on them, 80 pounds (!) of same-day old bread from Tribeca Oven, Italian basil, buffala mozzarella, organic sugar plum grape tomatoes, and salads, all that still had days left before they were to "expire." I had honestly never seen such nice produce in trash bags.

A few folks in the group regularly cook a community meal out of the food found in the "trash."

If you have a dumpster diving group in your town, go out one night with your kids. Or organize one, and let your local paper know what your group will be doing. Note: dumpster diving alone is a *bad* idea.

I am both grateful to live in the bountiful country that I do, and embarassed that we take so much for granted.


Before I get on my soapbox about Louisiana...

I would like to mention that A has been voraciously reading this book. He took it on the subway once, and another child couldn't help but stare at the illustrations, and as she got off, still couldn't take her eyes off the pages of this book. A has been taking notes, and asked me this week to quiz him on the first 30 elements on the periodic table. He knows each of the atomic numbers, what each orbital in a given atomic structure looks like, learned resonance theory, etc. I suspect that we will move to organic chemistry tomorrow.

Or something.

On Louisiana, I guess that we, as a nation, are too embarassed about our poor to "deal" with their problems. Three thousand Wall Street types killed on 9/11? Our President was there in two days. Possibly tens of thousands killed over the course of days and days since last week? President responds in a leisurely five days, and Condoleezza Rice is right here in NYC several nights ago watching the comedic Monty Python's Spamalot on Broadway, and shopping for Ferragamo shoes (oh, sorry, didn't make news in your town? I'm here to inform you that we New Yorkers booed Condi when we caught her entitled bum sitting at Spamalot, thank you).

Reinforces that neo-con belief on self-reliance, "less government is more" and stuff (funny, those guys are now in government, and even they can't get it right). Check out this entry on My Schola. I think that I'll read each and every one.

Next, my rant on that disaster of a news commentator, Nancy Grace.

Nancy Grace: "What do they mean, hurricane victims should barbecue their food? They have no homes! No appliances! Do they mean they should rub two sticks together?"
Anderson Cooper: "Um, yes. It's a survival technique."

Run, don't walk, to My Schola.