Yom HaShoah

I visited HMS Indefatigable's blog to learn that she had read a name.

snarky, me.

I can't help but laugh when re-reading this entry of mine. I reiterate that not everyone should homeschool their kids!

What did the child learn so well that irked me so much? World War II fighter planes and weaponry!

Harvard Extension School Information Session

I could not attend the Information Session in Cambridge last week (A had Law class), but since I had already given my RSVP, I asked the Harvard Extension School offices to send me a set of the handouts. I received the packet today. In it, I found an article by Ursula Pawlowski featured in the Fall 2005 Alumni Bulletin. In part, it reads:

"Extension School faculty have discovered unique qualities in students who are homeschooled. Dr. Paul Bamberg, who teaches math and physics, was struck by an exceptionally bright student in his advanced geometry course. 'I had a half-dozen Extension School students combined with Harvard undergraduates in my class,' he says. 'The top two students happened to be Extension School students, and the top student was homeschooled.' Of the homeschooled students he has come in contact with, Bamberg says he has found them to be 'more inclined to speak up, more careful with all the detail on their homework.' As for stereotypes, Bamberg says, 'I've heard them - that homeschooled students are antisocial, a liability to high schools. I haven't met any of those types yet.' "

What A is reading for pleasure...

Last week A read this (top); this week it is this (bottom). I know. Brian James is so emo. But isn't that what adolescence is about?


Music to motivate learning

We tend to pipe in music into our lives on a steady basis. To kick-start our learning neurons, we flow between Mozart, Bach, Beatles, and Bluegrass. Lately, there's been a lot of bluegrass. I am curious as to what everyone else listens to. Anything interesting, cool, new, or weird?

Being the change.

A has a Genetics test in Brooklyn this morning. Last night I got barraged with questions about somatic chromosomes and gametes and haplodiploidy in bees and wild brown dominant alleles in drones crossed with F1 progeny of g-d-knows-what combination.

"Mom, I know all the mitotic phases!"
That's great, son!
"Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase, and do you know when cytokinesis happens?"
Let me guess.
"Late anaphase or telophase!"

Man, I used to teach that stuff to wide-eyed 18-year-old college freshmen.

Which is funny. The majority of homeschoolers in the co-op here are incredibly studious, nerdy, geeky, or just plain scary. In a good way. A's Law class is comprised of kids who look dead-serious as they walk into class, ready to attack the "issues" of the cases they are given. Big, tall, kids whose 2006 hormones make them taller than the tallest teens I ever encountered, some with buttons on bags and hats and clothing that read things like, "Question Authority" or "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World - Gandhi".

I sometimes wonder if mixing all ages of teens together in one room to study the same class material is a problem for A. So far, he seems to actually like it, and doesn't mind if the older teens are better able to understand the class material than he is. He knows if he doesn't "get" it one day, it will come later. Because I am the secondary teacher, and I can break things down ad nauseum until he does get it. Ah, the beauty of the Classroom of One.

Which brings me to another thing about flexibility in homeschooling. Unfortunately, A was not accepted to the International Center of Photography Teen Workshop for this Spring. Someone at ICP, who I will call "Tim" left a voicemail message on A's cellphone that went like this:

Tim: Hi!! This is Tim at ICP!! And I have news about you and the Teen Workshop! Call me as soon as you get this! I'll be in the office until 7 tonight!!

It was nearly 6 p.m. when A retrieved the message, and we were on the street. In Times Square. A got incredibly excited. "It's ICP! It's ICP! I have to call them NOW. NOW. Before it's too late." He got Tim's voicemail. Tim returned the call to A, after much sweating and adrenaline-rushing, by 6:55 p.m. The conversation went like this:

Tim: Well, you know, this is a very competitive program, and you're very young, I see that you're 13-years-old, and, we're supposed to take high school kids, so we just don't have a place for you. Try applying next year.
A: Okay.

A to me: "Does that mean I wasn't competitive enough?"
Me: Grrrrrr....

My imaginary e-mail to Tim:

Dear Tim:

Hurry up and get rejected? Lotto-Winner syndrome before being tossed? Is this a New York thing? Puhleez, darling. Send an e-mail when rejecting an applicant to your program. And, include the bit about high school enrollment as a requisite, in your literature. You otherwise are just getting their hopes up for nothing. You are evil. Go back to Mordor.

Very truly yours,

La Maitresse

Later, we called up our photographer friend, the one whose images are in numerous coffee-table photo books and on too many t-shirts to mention, and asked if he could teach A how to work in the darkroom in his studio and maybe learn some photography technique. His reply? "Sure. What's your schedule like?"



Even journalists don't read?

Is it me, or does it seem to anyone else that the reporter who wrote this piece has not actually read Don Quixote? If I were Bono, I'd give the journalist a call.

note: as a native Spanish speaker and reader of Cervantes, I was rather surprised to see Don Quixote and Bono's work for Africa mentioned in the same article. Don Quixote is not known in the literary world as a "knight in shining armor who champions causes," but rather, is as synonymous to "seriously-touched-in-the-head guy in armor" as you can get. Because there are corporations financially backing Bono, it would seem to me that the publication has essentially brought itself into "libel" territory.

from Detroit Free Press, January 27, 2006:

Bono's new cause

U2 front man Bono is proving anew to be the 21st Century's Don Quixote. On Thursday, he unveiled a new push to fight disease in Africa. He announced in Davos, Switzerland, a partnership with several companies to sell products under a brand called Red, with the proceeds going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"So here we are, fat cats in the snow, and I say that as one," he said to laughs from the ink- and pixel-stained wretches at a media confab. Red includes red-theme products from American Express, Converse, Gap and Giorgio Armani.

In that other story that makes LaMai think hard about her own little memoir, the story about a certain writer who got Frey-d on a certain talk show, Gawker takes this spin.

Swarthmore pulls through!!!!

Some more feedback:

Dear Ms. LaMai,

We have tracked down some figures for you. Each year we receive approximately 30-40 homeschooled applicants and they are accepted at the same rate as the rest of our applicant pool, which is 22-23%. If you have any further questions please let us know.

Swarthmore College
Admissions Office



LaMai asks everyone who is not feeling sunny to go visit The Denim Jumper. LaMai says: Try it. You will probably like it.

why is LaMai starting to sound like Manolo?

from Swarthmore College

Sorry we do not have statistics on acceptance rates for homeschooled students.

We are looking for the same sort of activities, grades, etc that we look for in our other students. Swarthmore is looking for the intellectually curious student who is taking the most challenging courses available to them and who is active in no-school [sic], community activities.

Admissions Office
Swarthmore College

Those colleges that do not offer any numbers at all, have left me no choice but to ask the follow-up question: "Do you accept any homeschoolers at all?" I will add that information as I receive it.

Edit: Swarthmore further responds:

Dear Ms. LaMai

I'm not quite sure what you mean my[sic] "any" but if you are referring to whether we allow home schooled students to apply and do we accept any of them, yes we do.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Swarthmore College
Admissions Office

My response to their response:

Without statistics, or an affirmative response as to whether homeschooled students are actually accepted by Swarthmore, it is difficult to gauge if any homeschoolers at all have been accepted by your institution. I therefore felt the need to ask if any number of homeschoolers have actually been accepted by Swarthmore. I thank you for your responses.


Swarthmore pulls through!!! Some more feedback:

Dear Ms. LaMai,

We have tracked down some figures for you. Each year we receive approximately 30-40 homeschooled applicants and they are accepted at the same rate as the rest of our applicant pool, which is 22-23%. If you have any further questions please let us know.

Swarthmore College
Admissions Office


from Yale University

Hi LaMai-

The stats for applicants and martics [sic] are not available for me to give out;
however, I can tell you that we have some extremely competitive applicants for admission who have been homeschooled in the past.
Our application process is a wholistic one in that no one thing can
help or harm an applicant's chances of being accepted, and having been homeschooled
certainly should not by itself harm any applicant to the University.


Undergraduate Admissions
Yale University

The Danes win again!

LaMai is trying to get over the fact that there are many, many lurkers who are too shy to say "hi." I do not expect Calletta, L, Liz, Sarah, or the regular bloggy folk to out themselves yet again. It would have been nice to see new names. But no. The Canadians and Australians win again. Maybe that is because Canadians habitually leave their front doors open, and Australians are fearless and use crocodiles to clip their lawns. I suspect the New Yorker who commented, who regularly outs herself, was being polite and tried to show others how safe it really is here on a New York City blog (thank you, nycitymomx3; I owe you lunch at Balthazar's). That is okay. I took a nice long whiff of a lavender martini and ate chocolate. I am over it now.

In other news, last night at my knitting circle, I took the opportunity to unveil my fugly hat. It was supposed to be a nice round simple garter stitch mohair-ish creation. What I actually produced had, well...

A: "Mom, that shape is weird. It looks Scandinavian or something. Like it should be on a troll."
Me: "Don't make fun of my hat!"
A: "Not making fun. I'm just saying...."
Me: "Is it really bad?"
A: "Um, it looks like a [insert prophylactic thing here]."

Goth Girl at Knitting Circle: "Um, is that a, uh, reservoir tip on top of your hat?"
Me: [Sigh] "Yes. I guess. Doesn't it look Seussical?"
GGaKC: "Uh. Yeah. Sure. Seussical."

Knitting Circle Leader Hipster Chick: "Wow. Your hat rocks. It's so funny."
Me: "Thanks."
KCLHC: "No, really. I love it."

Okay. Stop laughing, folks. I found this hat (top-right) online. It all makes sense now. My viking DNA wins again. It is now knitting for me.


Because lurking can be creepy...

De-lurk yourselves. It's de-lurking week. And we're pretty friendly here.

Edit: Oh, wow. I had no idea that Relaxed Homeskool declared de-lurking week about two weeks ago. That's okay, though, because lurking is still creepy. So I declare it de-lurking week on this blog. Thank you kindly, folks.


Me: Huh?
Napoleon: Are Americans more fearful of de-lurking than other populations in other cultures?
Me: I have no idea, Nappo. Let's find out.
Napoleon: Woof.
Me: Indeed.


Happiness is....

Knowing your kid is not alone enroute to class on the subway, but is accompanied by another homeschooler.

photo: sionnac on Flickr.

picking up a meme...

This meme from Andrea's site over at Atypical Life. She is tagging anyone!

Four jobs you have had in your life:
Airline reservationist (gag me! but I got to fly for free)
Fish importer for gelatin (the fish came from Lake Victoria when it contained victims of the Hutu/Tutsi conflict in Rwanda)
Americorps reading tutor to inner-city kids (where all the dads were away "at college")
"Celebrity Justice" the t.v. show, content writer

Four movies you could watch over and over:
The Wizard of Oz
Love, Actually
Ocean's 11

Four places you have lived:
Los Angeles
London (Belsize Park)
Paris (18eme arrondissement; the apt. was very small)

Four t.v. shows you love to watch:
Extreme Makeover, Home Edition
Trading Spaces
60 Minutes
Anderson Cooper 360°

Four places you have been on vacation:
The Middle East
U.S.S.R. in August 1991 (don't ask)

Four websites you visit daily:

Four of your favorite foods:
blue corn quesadillas!!!!!
Aloo Gobi with parathas
All my grandmother's Cuban cooking
feta/shallot quiches that I make at home

Four places you'd rather be right now:
Charlotte's house near Woodstock
Magnolia Bakery

I tag anyone, as well!


Concierge Services, where are you?????

Ode on an Itinerary for: Marlette and Guisseppe (super condensed)

Thou still most ravish’d site of bloggyness
Thou foster child of Postings and cool Font,
Mormon mommy-teacher, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than this rant:
What purple-border I last recall about thy template
Of King Tut or mortals, sometimes the Ramones,
In Tempe or the dales of Albuquerque?
What men or gods have seized (you)? Should I phone?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What new curriculum? Gives it you ecstasy?

*you probably know that this lame poem was inspired by this guy's work. And Concierge Services, WHERE ARE YOU?

Lazy Sunday

A is finishing his Rowan Big Wool yarn scarf, and Napoleon is enjoying the fruit of his labor...


Quick food

It's been a long time since I've blogged about food here. Part of a good education is teaching young'uns how to fend for themselves in a kitchen and over a stovetop. A's friends can make pancakes and mousse. Right now I like A to learn simple foods that, as Dolly Parton once said, "Any fool can make," because that is how I got started: making spaghetti. Until I was 19-years-old.

Tonight, I decided to learn more about quesadillas for A to cook. My pre-prep involved calling up my good friend Arturo Vega, the artistic director for the Ramones (Isn't his Ramones logo cool? I bet you own one of his shirts, too). His hospitality often includes quesadilla-making at his loft on Joey Ramone Place.

[Ring, Ring]
Me: Hi. We're making quesadillas.
AV: [laughs, because he knows he's responsible for our obsession] Oh yeah?
Me: Yes. I need your help. What is the most preferred cheese in Mexico used for quesadillas?
AV: You can use anything. I've used parmesan [laughs], Monterey Jack, even gorgonzola.
Me: Uh-huh. But what would you use if you were in Mexico?
AV: You can use anything.
Me: How about a normal Mexican? Shopping in a normal Mexican grocery store? What would he or she look for?
AV: Oh. You should try queso de Oaxaca.

The result -

(Top) The traditional quesadilla: made with blue corn tortilla, filled with queso de hebra de Oaxaca (sounds like Hebrews in Oaxaca, I know) and cilantro, topped with salt and salsa casera.

(Bottom) The New World quesadilla: made with a gorda white corn tortilla, filled with organic sauteed shallots and gorgonzola, topped with salt and apple/corn/chile salsa.

A preferred the traditional quesadilla.


LaMai shares another secret...

Theater-going isn't normally cheap in New York City, but Theater Extras is an organization can help you go to a show every week with very little money. They also support the arts by using a percentage of your membership fee (as low as $99 annually) to support Fiorello LaGuardia High School (the "Fame" school), Broadway Cares, and Equity Fights AIDS. The catch? You will not gain access to their Broadway or Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway shows list until you become a member.

So, take your kids to the theater. Run along now.

Bog Men Had Manicures

This from National Geographic News.

"Oldcroghan man was preserved so perfectly that his discovery sparked a police murder investigation before archaeologists were called in."

Our very own Knit New York is featured in today's CNN Student News. Click on the "Student News" icon to the left in the Watch and Learn section.

Pomona College

I had initially received this response via e-mail from Pomona College:

Hi LaMai,

Unfortunately we do not have the statistics for homeschooled applicants. We expect your application to be just like applications from non-homeschooled applicants. Many applicants submit a resume of the extracurricular activities which I would encourage you to do as well if you feel as though you have unique experiences which the application does not cover.

If you have any further questions, please contact us by phone at (XXX)-XXX-XXXX.

Best wishes,

Pomona College Admissions

I decided to call. I spoke with an admissions director who did not have statistics on-hand, and seemed very reluctant to give me inaccurate information. Pomona College does not track homeschool students. Regarding how many homeschoolers apply, "It's a small number [of applicants]," she repeated more than twice. She did say, however, that she herself came across three applicants. Pomona College currently receives over 5,000 applications for admission annually.

A "very explicit and detailed" curriculum that provides "a feel for academic promise" is ideal for submission with application from homeschoolers, but the admissions director stated that homeschool applicants already seem to be generous with information about their studies. That said, a synopsis of every single book the student has read "is not necessary." ACT/SAT tests are required as per their standard (link above). Two references is the standard number required from applicants, but, homeschoolers tend to provide more.

What I gleaned from this exchange was that homeschool students know what they're up against, and do not short-change information about their studies when applying to Pomona.


Last night, A and I ventured to the TKTS line in TimesSquarelandia.

Me: Hi. Do you have tickets for Spamalot?
TKTS Guy: No. You have to go to their box office.
Me: Okay. Do you have tickets for Avenue Q?
TKTS Guy: Yes. $70 each.
Me: Okay. Do you have tickets for RFK?
TKTS Guy: Yes. $32 each.
Me: And I'd have to go downtown, right by CBGB's to see it. Hmmmm...Do you have tickets to The Producers?
TKTS Guy: Yes. Those cost a hundred million dollars.
Me: Um, I'll be back later.

This is what you do in New York if you can't get tickets anywhere. You go to the box office, of say, Spamalot, and say, "Hi. Do you have tickets?" To which the Box Office Guy inevitably replies, "Standing room tickets. But you needed to come at 3:12 a.m. before the cock's crow and stand in line for those."

Then someone will see you pathetically ask for tickets and get none. And that someone is called a professional tickets broker (i.e., a scalper guy with a license). And he will say, "Hey, lady, I can get you in for 140 bucks." His friend down the corner will maybe be yelling out "Spamalot tickets! 800 bucks!" And you will think, "Carpe Noctum!" and say, "Do you have a card? I want to make sure your tickets are legitimate." And he will give you a card, with a real area code. Because 1-800 numbers do not count. And you will reply, "But I only have 109 bucks in my pocket right now." And he will say, "Okay. The tickets are yours."

We liked Spamalot. A little too Hollywood-meets-Broadway, a little too Clear Channel Entertainment, for Monty Python fans, but it had me and A laughing so hard that we nearly, well, you know.


"Stupid in America" just won't go away!

LaMai's friends at Gothamist feature an entry about a woman challenging the government for her education dollars. Comments include talk of the "20/20" segment.

LaMai thinks that the public park lawn care analogy is weird, though.

Directly from Gothamist:

Woman Wants Government to Pay for Private School

This is awesome: A Queens woman is asking a judge to make the state pay for her five children to get a private school education. The basis for Dianne Payne's claim is that since the state owes the city about $5.6 billion to give public school students a basic education, the city is currently failing her kids and therefore, the $12,500 the city reportedly spends per student should just be given directly to her! Payne, who sends two children to private school in Queens, told reporters, "I'm doing my job as a parent. The problem is that the city is not doing its job." While people don't expect her motion to gain any traction (the city calls it "obvious grandstanding"), Gothamist imagines this will pave the way for people suggesting that the city give them the money it uses to maintain the parks because they know how to take care of lawns better. This actually sounds like an extension of the credits for parents who would send their kids fo private school that we think Giuliani floated (it was some politician) a while back - does this still exist?

Fun fact: Payne's lawyer is Eric Grannis, former City Council member Eva Moskowitz's husband.

Harvard Secondary and Homeschool Students Information Session

Will be Wednesday, January 25, at 4 p.m. in the Grossman Common, 2nd Floor, 51 Brattle Street. Link here for Harvard Extension School. Scholarships are apparently available for Middle and High School teachers and students, but I could not find anything on the .pdf site that says students can get the funds, or if homeschoolers qualify. I will try to find out next week and report my findings here.

New Yorkers can take the Fung Wah bus to Boston's Chinatown for $15, then hop over to Cambridge from there.


Look, guys, I do not expect to win, but it did occur to me that I did not include the correct link to vote. There are edu-blogs that are waaay better than this one. I mean, look at the formatting and information over at some of those blogs on the list. Vote for who you'd really like to win. Because it's all about choice.

And what could be better than choice?


In other news, "Stupid in America" - that 20/20 segment that ran last week - has been on my mind. I found a link to someone who transcribed the show. But LaMai is not responsible for the link, or its contents, or errors, or lack of spell-checking, including that place called "Chechoslovakia" [sic] which LaMai suspects does not exist. There is also that chart entitled, "How to Fire an Inept Teacher." And mind, LaMai does not wish for New York City school teachers to be fired. Unless they suck.

edit: I found this link to a better synopsis.


schlepping around, LaMai style (and dreaming in Gwyneth)

Today was a travel-heavy day. In fact, all our days now will be travel-heavy days, now that we belong to and participate in NYCHEA. On Monday there was Genetics class and writing class and later a teen meeting in the evening. We traveled from Brooklyn to Queens to lower Manhattan and...well, it was a lot of travel.

Last night I dreamt that I had to babysit Gwyneth Paltrow's baby. And breastfeed the infant. The scariest part of the dream was that I couldn't remember the infant's name, or where I had (mis)placed her. "Is it Fiona? Apple? Nectarine? It's Apple. That's it. Apple. Okay, where is Apple? Where did I put her? Gwyneth is on the way now. I've got to find this infant. Where. Where. Where. Apple? Apple!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPLE!!!!"

Today A had bar mitzvah ("b-m"") prep and I had to check out the b-m space. I went to a lower Manhattan location not far from CBGB's. It is a loft. Not the same loft I posted about before.

Loft Lady Giving Me The Tour [LLGMTT]: "It used to be a brothel."
Me: Really?
LLGMTT: "Yeah. There used to be all these little rooms all over the space, and apparatus attached to the walls. We didn't know what the apparatus was for."
Me: This place is amazing. Are those windows original? They're amazing.
LLGMTT: "Yes but we added the tinting."
Me: Wow. And the flowers....Can I have those, too?
LLGMTT: "Sure. You know, we get a lot of weddings and corporate parties here."
Me: Oh. Really?
LLGMTT: "Corporations are evil, I know. We honestly should bring back crack to lower Manhattan."
Me: You have kids?
LLGMTT: "Yes. One. In kindergarten. At the [insert elite kindergarten school name here]. You and I...we're the same age, aren't we?"
Me: I think so. [I offer my age to her] So, is it okay if the Sick F*cks play here? They do this routine called "Spanish Bar Mitzvah!" They're friends of mine, and...
LLGMTT: Sure. You'd have to rent the stage, though. And for your menu choices...any idea?
Me: Um....Asian and East Indian?
LLGMTT: Sure. We do fusion menus all the time.

It used to be a brothel. Corporations are evil. We do fusion menus all the time.

Me: Um, can you send me the proposal ASAP? I think we'll book it.

Later, I run home and get A ready for his Law Class in SoHo. I drop him off but notice he's the first one there. Five minutes later, most of the teens from Monday night's teen meeting appear.

"Oh, hi Alex," they chime. Homeschoolers sure do get around New York.

After class, A tells me he studied the same Tort cases that I did in law school. Hammontree v. Jenner. Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Fresno.

Did I know that there was a lawsuit where a woman defendant drove into a truck thinking the headlights were directed by G-d, causing her to accelerate into the truck, thinking she would become airborne like Batman?
No, I didn't know that.
"The truck driver Plaintiff won."
Thank G-d.
"The professor is teaching us issue-spotting. He's so cool. And we can intern there later if we want. I think I really like homeschooling now."

from Middlebury College

Dear LaMai:

We only receive about 25 home schooled applicants during the course of a year, so I don't think we can come up with any meaningful statistics. We generally admit about 24% of our applicant pool and I have no reason to believe that home schooled kids fare any differently than the other applicants.

Home schooled students come from all sorts of backgrounds, and we have no particular formula by which they are evaluated. We take each case as it comes along and try to make the best possible decision given the information provided.

I hope this helps.

Mr. Associate Director of Admissions
Middlebury College


Duke University

The admissions director at Duke with whom I just spoke directed me here. I am impressed that this page exists. She also stated that "more is more" in terms of submitting curricula information to Duke when applying. Portfolios are accepted on an artistic basis (there is a portfolio deadline).

Homeschooled students are accepted at equal or higher rates than the national average, according to the admissions director.

While I wait for Pomona College and Duke U. to call me back...

...and will they call me back? Today before 4 p.m, please? I will say that I consider myself lucky to have met the man seated on the left of the picture here. Because he was in contention for this award. A proud expecting papa, he flexed his thespian muscle plenty for Brokeback Mountain.

Brokeback Mountain was difficult for me to watch - I am embarassingly "old school" when it comes to watching homosexuality on the screen (no, "Will & Grace" does not count, try "Maurice" instead). I look away when I see homosexual men cuddling or kissing or doing more. Ditto women. But something about the film resonated, when I didn't expect it to. I am playing the film score on my computer over and over to figure out what the thing was.

I cannot place my finger on it. Other than I do not yet have a mountain of my own. I should consider myself lucky if ever I find a love that brings me fulfillment, challenges, and integrity with who I am, and the same for the other person. It would be good to feel that fullness in my heart, which is a different one from the parental kind. Sometimes New York City - despite its millions of people, many who are equally searching, I think - can be as lonely as that dusty road in the film.


I Have a Dream...

Today, while A attended his Genetics class in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I headed over to the same cafe as last week. The class began at 10 a.m. and we were late. I found the mom who organized the class, N., also sitting in the cafe. Of course she would be there. She told me about the cafe, and that it is a good place to pass time, study, knit, etc. She was studying for her dissertation next a hip-looking chic on an iBook. I hoped she would not notice that I arrived at the cafe at 10:25 a.m. instead of 10:05 a.m.

I told her that I wanted to start a Geography class for teens. "Oh that would be great," she says. I ask her if she watches Jay Leno. I recount that one Jay Leno episode that horrified me to bits:

Jay Leno: "This country's capital is Mexico City."
Random woman on the street: "New Mexico!"
JL: "New Mexico is a country?"
RWOTS: "Albuquerque?"
JL: "Not a country. Let me ask again. This country's capital is Mexico City."
RWOTS: "The United States!!!!"

N. expressed similar frustration with our geographic literacy. She is an African-American woman who grew up in the South, married a Swiss guy and learned that most people thought Swiss people were Swedish, yet was still stupefied when someone - a New Yorker - she knows was challenged with this question: "Name a Northeastern state." The answer by the New Yorker was "Paris."

N. agreed that we should have a Geography class.

I then went to the downstairs section of the cafe to knit my French Market Felted Bag.

After 5 minutes, N. popped her head to the downstairs area where I was sitting.

N: "Sorry to disturb. Do you know which was the Civil Rights Amendment in the Constitution?"
Me: S&*T!.

I do not know the answer. I am embrassed. I was a law student. I studied Constitutional Law. And I have forgotten. On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Me: New Mexico?

If you, like me, are stumped for the answer, today would be a good day to learn it. I have a dream that one day, we will all know this very, very basic information, like recounting the capital city of Mexico. The real Mexico.


The College Survey resumes...

I began the College Survey in November, then the holidays impeded my fact-finding. I have organized the responses obtained from nine colleges thus far into a neat little column (currently under the blog list, but that will change). I expect it to grow as I aggressively attempt to get answers from institutions of higher learning about their views and acceptance rates on homeschooling applicants.

I have a question for the parents: Do you prefer to read stories aloud to your kids, or make up stories as you go along?


::Tap Tap:: Is this thing working?

I have learned that this blog o'mine has been included for this. Thank you to the folks responsible for the nomination. I like you, too.


I love the rants coming from Princess Ennui on Pat Robertson's holier-than-Sharon-speakthese days. If you haven't checked out her blog, run, don't walk. You just might like the Princess.

We had a chat at my knitting circle this week about religion. We almost never - ever - talk religion (there is some sex talk and plenty of political talk, mind). We talked about folks who believe in intelligent design as opposed to evolution, and rapture, where entire populations of human beings would be left behind because they had not accepted Jesus. I then went on to explain that different branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc., all seem to have some type of exclusionary "beyond the present world" belief. When death or the Messiah/prophet appears, you are screwed and get left our if you haven't accepted the One And Only Acceptable G-d. Of course, many cultures and faiths are unique to themselves in that their G-d is the only acceptable one.

LaMai recalled being told, as a child, that "Jews get to go to hell" for not accepting Jesus. LaMai also recalled the rabbi telling her that goyim don't "get to go to the same shamayim" as Jews do. I wonder where infidels get to go, according to Islam. No, we have not studied that one yet, me and A.

It was also then that I began to wonder about the prohibition of tattoos to receive a Jewish burial. Okay, that is going off on a tangent.

So I declared that I would join the practice, compartmentalize my world, and create my very own religion. That's right. I get to smoke the shaman's pipe, not you. And nobody else can join me in my after world. Because it is mine. All mine. My secret handshake, not yours. My Rosetta Stone. My nirvana. And nobody else's.

And yes, I am being snarky.

*What Would Joan Jett Do?


In other news, Napoleon seems to have developed needle envy. I found a ball of yarn and a number 7 circular needle in his crate.

Knitting in Schools (credit to Poppins)

This guide to knitting in schools by Cat Bordhi is fascinating (credit to Poppins). I am not sure how much students can focus on lessons while knitting, but I am willing to give it a try. Maybe listen to an audio-tape as Ms. Bordhi did with her students.

And I, too, was skeptical that knitting could be accepted by boys as well as girls. But A's interest in knitting, and now, spinning, seems to demonstrate that crafts - and jobs - should never be limited by gender.


20/20's "Stupid in America"

Tonight's segment on ABC's 20/20 about education in the United States was not enlightening to me - I had already known everything that was reported in that segment. It reinforced how desperately un-fixable the education system is here in our country. I watched teacher after teacher demand MORE MONEY!!! MORE MORE MORE!! for education, while John Stossel visited one high-school aged kid who remained stuck reading at 4th Grade level. During a meeting, the principal of his school felt he was performing satisfactorily. I wanted to bonk that principal on the head.

After a few hours with Sylvan Learning tutorials, the student jumped several grade levels in reading.

If you missed "Stupid in America" you can visit 20/20's website and view clips from the segment.

Switzerland strikes again!

Remember that wedding I had to schlep myself to Switzerland in September of 2004? (see below for reminder - that's me holding a balloon on the right. The balloon thing is a Swiss custom, they were released with little notes bearing favor-type promises to the couple that we wrote; some balloons actually wound up in Italy and Germany) Well, a little fruit dropped from the marriage tree. Nicolas Ian was born! Hurrah! I get to knit a baby blanket!!

Knitting bliss, living under a rock, and evil downstairs neighbors.

Okay, this knitter is kicking my butt. His name is Alexander. That is our dog, Nappo, next to him. A is a proud manly knitter. Who knew that he, as did Laurence Fishburne, would wander into the land of the humungo knitting needle? And now, he's off to guitar class.

Last night I got together with my friend T., the newly-promoted-to-Senior-Editor chick at Big Glossy Pictorial Book Publishing House. I pulled out the Dave Eggers book out of my bag to show her.
I like this guy's writing style. I mean, the momentum is a little much, and he comes off as a jerk, but his writing is so fresh.
That was when she looked at me as if I had been living under a rock.

T: "He's created this entire world based on himself since that book. He's with McSweeney's in San Francisco. He's a big gun now."
Me: Erm...wasn't this book published only three years ago or so?
T: "Yeah. He's had some time to create his empire."

Three years? To create an empire? Based on a book about holding his mother's nose and keeping it from bleeding? Are you kidding me?

I need a literary job to keep abreast of all this stuff and not look like a dork with my Big Publishing House friends. T. also mentioned the James Frey controversy. I have yet to read his book but I am not living under a rock with respect to the controversy surrounding Mr. Frey's literary honesty. Apparently, there is talk among publishing houses about two book manuscripts that were initially submitted as "fiction" - but when the manuscripts were rejected by the publishers - were subsequently re-submitted as "non-fiction/memoir" manuscripts. Ouch.

Our downstairs (ground floor) neighbors are complaining about us again. They are REALLY LUCKY (CAN YOU HEAR ME SAY THIS, YOU DOWNSTAIRS PEOPLE?) that we rarely have invited guests over, if ever, at all, that A does not have playdates here, and that we keep things quiet by 10 p.m. They do not seem to differentiate "noise" from "sounds" and refer to their three-year-old girl in pink barrettes as "the baby." As in, "It's 7 p.m. Could you stop vacuuming? The baby is sleeping." They also told the management that A has a drumset. A DRUMSET. How can they make that up? Do they even know what a drumset SOUNDS LIKE? I think that I shall produce a map with "Westchester" clearly demarcated in yellow highlighter for them. Because that is where they ought to live. Nice and pin-drop quiet and out in the suburbs.

Okay, LaMai has sufficiently vented for today about the downstairs neighbors.


We're here!

And we've been eating waaay too many blue corn tortilla quesadillas (quesadilla not pictured, but blue corn tortilla-something is).

We spent New Year's Eve in Times Square under the auspices of Little Steven, and with the help of the Chesterfield Kings, doused David Johansen with champagne. I think it was the highlight of Alexander's entire adolescence.

Then we all got flu. For a week.

Now we're back, and class is in session. A is taking a Genetics class taught in Park Slope, Brooklyn that was started by a NYCHEA parent. This week, I picked up A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius at the local coffeeshop in Park Slope while waiting for the two-hour Genetics class to finish. I have decided that I like Dave Eggers' honest writing.

Alexander will be attending Film Club in the Bronx. Our biggest change was our switch to Saxon Math, which I didn't want to really reveal until we were sure we would stick to Saxon. So A is on Algebra with Saxon, and is doing well.

The saddest thing is our having lost Catherine to the Lyceé Français. She is teaching there, as well as at Brooklyn Poly Prep, and now cannot fit us into her schedule. I hate those schools for stealing our beloved Catherine.

One day. One day...

And my resolutions for this year? To meet the people I only dream of meeting (David Bowie, Bono Vox, Kofi Annan, and Anita Roddick, to name a few), and to pay my electric bill on time.