I love this ad.

I have seen this ad for the Freelancers Union in subway stations and trains around town. Today I took a photo of one.


from NYU

I spoke to a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at NYU. There is actually an admissions director who handles only homeschool student applications, but she was not available. The SADA was happy to answer my questions in her stead.

New York University received 35,000 applications for 4,500 freshman places. The national average is 28% acceptance. The SADA believes that approximately 100 applicants this year were homeschooled applicants. Of those 100 applicants, about three or four will matriculate.

The SADA's take on the low matriculation rate: "NYU is probably not a great match for homeschooled students, since most who apply have been taught One-on-One or belong to a [small] association. In this case, we have 18,000 undergraduates [making NYU not the best match]."

Note: NYU is not a centralized campus school, but primarily utilizes already-existing space and architecture in the City for its colleges and classrooms, and the University continues to acquire more property to expand its academics. The University, then, spans the West Village to the East Village, SoHo, and other NYC locations.

The SADA recommends a homeschooled student taking as many SAT II subject tests as is possible before applying. Private and public NYU applicants typically take two SAT IIs. Again, the SADA recommends as many subject tests as the homeschooled student can possibly take to demonstrate academic ability.

Portfolios are accepted only if required into the applicant's undergraduate program or college.

Grades are not necessary, but sending in your curriculum is not enough. A prose evaluation can be provided in lieu of grades. The SADA did mention that several private schools ONLY provide prose evaluations, which are sent to NYU admissions directors, and which the directors use to make their acceptance decisions. The SADA lamented that some students only send their curricula, believing that that is enough. For NYU (and LaMai believes, everywhere else), grade or prose evaluations are necessary.

The SADA also says:

"Just as we would require grades from traditional high school students from grades 9-11, including the list of classes they are taking in their senior year, we would also want to see each year of progress from home schooled students. A significant portion of our evaluation for all students is based on grade trends--for example, is the student improving, declining, or remaining consistent in their performance. Having grades or evaluations just from one year, or overall from the entire 4 years does not allow us to gather that information."

Overheard at the Tribeca Film Festival...

[standing outside the cinema in front of big SUV limo, while Marky Ramone, CJ Ramone, and others are leaving, LaMai desperately tries to settle something that's been bugging her]

Me: I just wanna know something.
SVZ: Yeah?
Me: Do you hate me?
SVZ: Huh?
Me: Do you hate me? After putting you through all the CBGB's stuff.
SVZ: No, I don't hate you. I don't like to lose a fight, though.
Me: Well, it's not over.
SVZ: And my hands were tied. I just don't like to lose a fight. I've never EVER lost a fight before. I fight and I win.
Me: It's not over, though. So I just want to know that you don't hate me?
SVZ: No. No, I don't hate you. Of course not.
Me: Okay. Good. Get home safely.

[Bobby Funaro, who plays another character on the Sopranos, is standing by, listening to all this. And yes, you have to decipher the initials for yourself because this stuff is searchable on Google]


The NYC Board of Ed Guidance Counselor back-pedals...

I used the word "attorney" not once, but twice, when I requested my IHIP forms from John P. He eventually back-pedaled, and our final points of discussion centered around proof of residence (which was never an issue for us, but for some reason, John P. felt he needed to harp on something, anything, to seem official. It's unfortunate when people do that). I cited other families who live in the Region who did not provide immunization or previous academic records before registering their homeschooled students, which he also references. His e-mail is below.


Dear Ms. LaMai,

This office will be happy to send you the forms and Regulations for home schooling but as I indicated we cannot monitor home schooling for A or send you a “letter of acknowledgement” for your “letter of intent” until you “establish residence in the school district.”

As far as other families and procedures for home schooling, many of these families have been in the system prior to being discharged to home schooling so access to the student’s records are available to us. Immunization applies only if the student will participate in a public school setting for testing.

John P. Something

Regional School Counselor

New York City Board Of Education

Region 00000- Office of Youth Development & School - Community Services


Since when did we start re-using the term "junior high school"?

After having been registered as a homeschooler in Florida, we decided to finally register A here in NYC. For months we tried to get a response from the NYC Department of Education. Today, I received this in my e-mail inbox:

Dear Ms. LaMai;

We have received your Letter of Intent to provide home schooling for your son Alexander , DOB XX/XX/XX.

In order to proceed you must provide this office with the following documentation since we must process the student as a new admission to the system and need to update essential information.

Please provide us with the documentation listed below for this student:

· Immunization

· Proof of current address

· Latest school records for the past two years

This office must receive these records immediately to process the home schooling request. Until we have received this documentation your child should attend the local junior high school in accordance with the Regulations of the State for mandatory school attendance.

Please contact me if you need further assistance.

Yours truly,

John P. Something

Regional School Counselor

New York City Board Of Education

Region 00000 - Office of Youth Development & School - Community Services


I have been assured by some members of the homeschooling community that John P. might be a little overwhelmed and not know his Regulations of the Commisssioner of Education. That is okay.

I will e-mail him a nice reply.

geisha and the grenade

A friend of mine in Kyoto e-mailed me to let me know that she will be in NYC this week. Last time we spoke, her mother went to the Shinto shrine for me so that I would be accepted to law school in New York. "Can you please go to the shrine for me again?" I e-mailed back, "It's been a weird week. I'll explain when you get here."

I found these geisha-inspired hair barrettes and they made me smile.

I also read this bit of news from last week.

I still won't step out the front door yet. The laundry is being picked up and I ordered my groceries through FreshDirect.


A says:

"Mom, you need to relax."

I should have checked my horoscope this morning

There must be something strangely aligned in the universe. Because this morning, I found out that:

- I failed a copyediting test but the entity giving the test refuses to allow me to see what I did wrong (I typically score in the 90s),
- My storage handler quit and our things in storage are mysteriously being auctioned,
- My credit card was declined on a transaction,
- Condé Nast is no longer accepting resumés on hard copy.

Can anybody else beat that? (I guess not, because it has been hours since I posted this, and no one has been bold enough to respond.)


A website about NYC public schools

Another homeschooling parent told me about the Inside Schools site. She and her husband are researching public schools for their homeschooled teen to attend next year.

Works in progress

I am finishing that French market felted bag. I hate the rusty color of this yarn, it was supposed to be gold when I ordered it, but stuff happens. I'll make another bag with un-Halloweenish colors. A is working on a hat in baby alpaca wool in black and grey that he started a little over a month ago (when it was actually cold). Yes, these Florida kids can knit. We plan to continue knitting through summer, so that we actually have some stuff to wear come fall and winter.


Closer Than Ever to Zero

I am exhausted.

The last couple of days have been a trying test in figuring out the bureaucracies of the police department, the ASPCA, learning that cops love when you say that you know real live people on "Animal Precinct" to which said cops will respond with a wide-eyed, "Really?!!" only to be disappointed to learn that you know this because what they are claiming the ASPCA can do is actually something that the ASPCA cannot do, the civil court, the New York City Department of Health, and the synapses between my cerebral neurons.

Napoleon has been sleeping a lot. He is as fine as is caninely possible. Thank you, everybody, for your kind words.

Alexander and his team had a rowing race today against the Bucolic Campus School for Brainiacs. It was cold and rainy. A's team did very very well. None of the kids seemed to mind the weather.

And it is Earth Day today. I know this because random people on the street handed us Google Earth Day tote bags, and someone offered to align A's chakras for free.

Going to nap now. Will post later.



We found you on Petfinder.com this past summer and brought you home. And we have come to not like, but love you. We find that we must constantly take photos of you like this one, where you inevitably find yourself on a pile of books when you pose. You are our biblio-pose-dog.

We speak to you and make doggie commands in French. Oddly, you respond.

You always bring shoes to me and A as if to gift us with them, then quickly pull away if we reach for them. You know how to tease us humans and make us the butt of your joke.

You like to play tug-of-war with our pillows.

You eat bananas.

And salad. And tomatoes.

You lick my hands if I put lotion on.

You stole the super hot spices off the table from our East Indian dinner once, thinking they were food. I spared you the agony of being burned by Madras sauce.

We laugh a lot with you.

You live in a part of New York City where there is much dog-o-phobia. We cannot help the dog-o-phobes, except to let them meet you. Last week, two very frightened girls approached me and asked if you would bite them. I said, "No, not unless you are a lamb and pasta dinner." They gave you a treat. They asked you to sit. You did. They hi-fived you. You hi-fived them back. They giggled and said, "He's so cool!"

Today, Alexander and I meant to take you on a walk to the dog park to get some sunshine. We expected to spend the afternoon meeting that Afghan hound, or smelling the blooms in the park. Instead, a pitbull and another dog rushed out of someone's yard, without collars or leashes, focused on you, and only on you. Not on me or A, but on you. As soon as we saw them, we knew they did not intend to meet and greet and play.

I don't think we ever could have fought so hard against a couple unleashed vicious dogs as we did. After examining your wounds, your vet thinks we were nuts. Indeed, in retrospect, I think so, too. But we don't care. Had it been us on the receiving end of an attack, you would have done the same.

Rest up, puppy. We expect to be teased again with shoes and other paraphernalia very soon.

Collegiate hookah bars in the news

This article in the New York Times by Tamar Lewin.

Dreaming? Who Me?

I am reading Dreaming in Cuban. The book confirmed my hunch that it is a truly astounding geographical and spiritual phenomenon that all Cuban women and their estrogen-carrying offspring seem to share the same childhood messaging: You will never amount to anything, your brother/cousin/neighbor Miguelito will, even though he has turned out to be a gay man whose only profession is to write one hit song for Jon Secada and listen to Elton John records from the 1970s until his dying day in 2027, so forget about earning our respect. Go back to tidying the house.

Let me explain.

On the other hand, let me not.

It is 1:50 a.m. and I need to get some sleep and post about something educational in the morning. My other blog, however, Not Gone Fishing, will soon be up. The unadulterated LaMai will return there.


David Letterman spoiler

So Rupert will be dancing with a lady under a disco ball at Hello Deli in tonight's episode. Amazing how many people this event attracted.


For your consideration:

Among other problems with this message, an apostrophe catastrophe. I photographed it 30 minutes ago.

Picture of the moment...

Napoleon was still asleep well after 9 a.m., and I couldn't resist. Excuse the, um, graphic nature of this photo.


WSJ: Who Got Into College?

LaMai read this in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday; it is, apparently, making the rounds in the homeschooling community, as well.

Who Got Into College?

In an Unusually Competitive Year, Some Schools Sought Passion; Others Went for Tuba Players
April 13, 2006

Who did get in this year?

The question is haunting thousands of high-school seniors who are
reeling from rejections in recent weeks. In one of the most competitive admissions seasons ever, Stanford, Brown and other top schools faced record numbers of applicants and accepted a smaller share of students than ever before.

Facing an applicant pool of unprecedented strength as well as size, admissions officers sorted through the applications with a more critical eye than ever. Recognizing that a growing number of students are paying for outside help with their applications, they stepped up efforts to identify the overly coached. They even spent more time trying to gauge applicants' sincerity to determine, say, when a high school student pursued volunteer activities just to build a résumé.

In addition, admissions officers sought to fill particular gaps in the student body. Swarthmore in Pennsylvania has been particularly interested in applicants who are potential majors in classics, as well as modern languages such as German and Russian. Brown continued its efforts to lure science and engineering students. And the
University of Pennsylvania this year was looking for a few more tuba players for its marching band.

Adam Hoffman, a student at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, was admitted to all eight of the schools to which he applied. Among them were Stanford and Brown.

On Mr. Hoffman's application: A flawless score of 800 on the critical-reading portion of his SAT (and a near-perfect 780 on the math section) and a first-place award in the Greater St. Louis Area Science Fair, on top of awards from myriad math competitions.

But his application showed more than just a math expert. It also made clear his deep interest in animal rights. He wrote a essay about the intolerance he faced as a vegetarian at a New Mexico ranch with his Boy Scout troop. He co-founded a "vegetarian club" at his school and has volunteered with the St. Louis Animal Rights Team.

That extra something -- a passion or commitment communicated in a clear voice -- is what many admissions counselors at top schools say they are looking for. "I think we're all looking for kids who are committed to something, extracurricularly, intellectually, and hopefully both," says Jim Miller, the new admissions dean at Brown.

Swarthmore admissions dean Jim Bock recalls a recently admitted applicant who took a year off after high school to work with AIDS-infected drug addicts. "How many high-school seniors would take a year off to do that?" he says. As an admissions dean, he says, "you don't forget it."

"Sometimes you do question, 'Is this for real?' " says Mr. Bock. He believes the AIDS worker is; he said she is a middle-class youth who attended a Southwestern public school and showed a sense of service.

Questions of credibility arise because in the current pressure-filled environment, some parents pay thousands of dollars for extra attention from private advisers. A growing industry surrounds the college frenzy -- including test-prep tutors and independent college counselors whose advice comes for a fee. For admissions officers, it can be more difficult than ever to distinguish students who are genuinely committed from those who are merely groomed. These officials warn that the voices of many of the groomed applicants sound similar: The essays all start to sound like tear-jerkers. And hours spent in community service can appear disingenuous.

"Some more than others are artificially packaged, and you can see that. If they are well-coached ... it's hard to find the nature of that individual and what their passions are," says Lee Stetson, dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania.

Private schools continue to play an important role in college admissions. In a speech at the National Association of Independent Schools' annual meeting this winter, Yale President Richard C. Levin said that independent schools provide between one-fourth to one-third of the matriculants at highly selective universities.

But that doesn't mean public-school students are necessarily at a disadvantage. Indeed, many guidance counselors from public schools work extra hard to develop relationships with college admissions officers, who may not have heard of their school. The admissions officer relies on getting good information on students from
counselors he feels he can trust. Breaching that trust by offering exaggerated claims or descriptions could cost the high-school counselor an important relationship.

This year, "the level of advocacy for students and the relationship developed with admissions counselors played a much larger role than I anticipated," says David Ford, counselor at Queensbury High School in upstate New York.

Mr. Ford made an effort to get to know one of the admissions officers at Columbia, a top choice for one of his students. In July, he made the initial phone call. He was told that while his student ranked among the top 10 students in the graduating class of about 300 kids, the student would benefit from demonstrating "a high level of
intellectual curiosity that doesn't necessarily come out in the numbers."

Over the course of several months, Mr. Ford stayed in touch with his Columbia contact. He called or sent an email about a half-dozen times to ask questions and offer updates. Perhaps the most important call he made was to let Columbia (and other colleges) know his student had won a national award in an Oprah Winfrey-sponsored essay contest -- which came at the end of February, as applications were being
reviewed. What followed was "almost a quasi-interview" in which the Columbia admissions officer asked Mr. Ford about the student's personality and ambitions.

While the student was wait-listed at Williams College in Massachusetts and rejected from Yale, he was admitted to Columbia. After that experience, Mr. Ford believes he will make contact with more college admissions officers earlier on in the admissions season.

There are other strategies that are now widely accepted as giving students an edge. One of them is applying "early decision" -- generally in the fall. The pool of early-decision applicants is generally smaller than the pool of students who apply later. Top colleges sometimes fill as much as half of their incoming class with
early-decision students. "Our data showed that applying early decision is the equivalent of adding about 100 points to your SAT score," says Andrew Fairbanks, a former associate dean of admission at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and co-author of a book called The Early Admissions Game.

The catch is that the applicant is committed to attend if accepted. Early decision has been criticized for benefiting privileged students who don't need to compare financial-aid offers that would come later in the spring.

Other factors that can help include being the child of an alum, donor, or employee of the school. Offering racial, ethnic or geographic diversity or being a first-generation American may also be a plus. "A student from Montana is more attractive than a student from New York City," says Mr. Fairbanks, because "schools like to boast they have all 50 states."

Amy Seymour was recently accepted to Princeton. Amy Seymour is near the top of her class at the Pennington School, a private school in New Jersey. Besides her straight A's, her interests in video and film production took her to Brown University for a three-week program last summer. She also co-founded a mock-ESPN video program featuring her school's sports teams.

Her applications to both Stanford and Cornell were turned away. But she was admitted to Princeton, and both she and her mother believe that her father's job as a math professor there may have played some role. Princeton this year took only 17% of the 1,886 valedictorians who applied.

Some valedictorians weren't so fortunate. Brooke Epstein, who ranked No. 1 in her class at Brimmer and May School, a private day school in Chestnut Hill, Mass., didn't get into her top choice, the University of Pennsylvania. Cornell and Northwestern are among the schools where she has been placed on the "wait list" -- neither admitted nor rejected. "You work so hard for four years and you spend a lot of your life preparing for this, and it's hard when someone doesn't think that's good enough," she says.


A friend of mine learned that there are many hookah bars in my neck of the New York City woods. He wanted to visit and see what usefulness he could find in the ancient art of the hookah. I couldn't think of any, but am a gracious hostess and I walked with him on hookah bar street to view the following:

"Egyptian hookah bar with Halal cafe" had neon lights, blah tables, and only two customers. Hookahs and neon lights don't seem to "go." We walked further.

"Moroccan hookah bar with Halal cafe" had no lights and customers who were doing things in darkness that they didn't really want us to know about. Pass.

"Hookah bar with backyard" had no customers, so we assumed they were all in the back. Pass.

We settled on a Lebanese hookah bar with lots of customers and dancing babes on video. I was mesmerized. There were girls who belly-shimmied in skirts up to there and girls who did some hip-hop moves on a street in some undisclosed Arabic city on the big screen. A prompt kept coming up in Arabic and English telling us to SEND YOUR SMS TEXT MESSAGES NOW! After which I learned that Mohamed loves Mona. In fact, in the next two hours, I learned that Mohamed loves Mona 154 times. Mesmerized, I tell you.

On the Menu:

Shisha, all kinds - $4
El Fequh-el-something LaMai can't pronounce but it means totally fabulous Shisha - $5
You Can't Read This So We Won't Tell You What This Really Is Shisha, - $4

Our waiter arrived. He had a big smile. YOU READY FOR SOME SHISHA?
My friend spoke: What is "all kinds" Shisha?
Waiter: All kinds shisha is apple, strawberry, banana, mango, cappuccino, vanilla, coconut, grape, anise, cola, lemon, Red Bull, Pepsodent, Bengay cream, whatever flavor you want!
Me: What is El Fequeel-something?
Waiter: It's the BEST! We haven't had any since 1994.
Me: What is this last one that I can't read?
Waiter: Say it with me. سسشضغغظقكللنقش shisha!
Me: Erm, we'll have apple shisha?

Did I say "we"? I don't smoke. Before going to the hookah cafe, I learned on Wikipedia that hookah smoking causes infertility and gum disease. I decided to leave these little facts out of our evening's conversation. My friend is a smoker and I am certain that his lungs have already been on display at the Museum of Tar.

Before the brazier waiter came around, I noticed the windows were now totally smoked and that was when I nearly passed out. That could have been because "hookah-smoking causes carbon-monoxide headaches and poisoning and nausea."

Fortunately, I got to try the rice pudding with rose water and Turkish coffee. They were good.


Napoleon? You can come out now...

Of late, LaMai is becoming more and more fearful each time she clicks open her e-mail inbox. In fact, LaMai gets very very scared - no - frustrated, perplexed, tired, loony, exhausted, pulling-the-hair-out bonkers, AND very very scared - when she reads an e-mail that a parent took some serious time to write, but the message, subjected to the sensible rules of the e-mail grammar radar, has caused said grammar radar to overheat, shake, go hayware, burn and explode to pieces of matzo meal sending Napoleon for cover before LaMai has finished reading it.

So, a gift to the bloggy readership: some fabu grammar websites for students and parents that LaMai visits frequently (because she is human and make many error and embarasses sheself too) -

Daily Grammar

Daily Grammar's Lesson Archive (dude, like, homeschoolers use this stuff and I didn't even know about it)

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation test (Try it! You will really like it!)

When you are finished with the above, go get a copyediting job on the MediaBistro job board.


The rant below

...was most cathartic. Thank you for bearing with us during this brief pause in rational blogging.

We will return to our regularly-programmed homeschool blogging shortly.

(thank goodness for that. and why does she keep saying stuff like "domina" like it's English, and gettin' all bent out of shape about everyday mundane things and beatin' kids up and stuff? that just ain't normal)


It's official: The world has gone mad (and you need to fix it)

So I was called for copyediting work yesterday, a few hours before our vegetarian Sephardic seder was to begin. Despite that I loathed making a huge fuss over a seder, I did not want to run to midtown to slave over some self-important ad company. See the irony here? Slavery. Does. Not. Make. Sense. On. Freedom. From. Egypt. Day. But I need to pay my bills, and I agreed to do the job as long as I'd be out by sundown. Not for religiosity's sake, oh, no no NO: I just want to eat dinner with A at a reasonable hour before we zonk off to sleep.

The advertising client got billed $120 for my one hour's work. I had four or five such jobs to do. My turnaround time was quick and efficient. As I left, I checked what my pay rate would be. I figured as each client was billed $120, equalling $600 for the copyediting agency, I'd be paid around $120 for four hours' work. Which for Big City pay, was quite lousy, actually. But lo, LaMai was totally and utterly wrong.

Agency: "Your rate for today will be fifteen dollars an hour."
Me: I beg your pardon?
Agency: Fifteen. An hour.


Okay, that is not what I actually wrote. But whatever I wrote, prompted the agency to call me right away and "fix" it.


Last week I found out my bank account was closed because a check was deposited to my account and subsequently bounced. "You've been placed on our fraud alert and we will NOT be opening your account again." I beg your pardon? Fraud alert? I didn't even write that stupid check. I was the recipient of it. Do you get it? "Ma'am, you need to talk to your bank. We will NOT re-open your bank account. It's part of the new terrorist/fraud tracking blah de blah."

After many phone calls and a return-receipt letter typed and signed with my expensive blue-ink pen, threatening legal action on the very last line before "Very truly yours," I got a call from the bank branch manager. "We're so sorry. We don't know why this happened. Your bank account has been re-instated." I mentioned that my cell phone payment got caught up in their terrorist/fraud tracking blah de blah. "We're sorry. We'll take care of that, too." And they did.


Let's turn things up a notch and get political.

There is a place called The All-American Carpet Company near where we live. Dorky name, I know. Stupid name, actually, considering that most of the employees who walk through the doors and painted windows (yes, painted windows, so that you cannot see inside) are Middle Eastern-looking. In white garb. Some people notice that there is the flicker of a t.v. set from the inside. People go in, after a few hours, people go out. In white garb, different garb, but nobody leaves with a carpet. The name on the store is still The All-American Carpet Company. This activity goes on for months until the next door commercial owner's clients have complained so much, she does not know what to do. Seeing Middle-Eastern folks religious garb in these parts is the norm, not uncommon at all. But something is not right. She is told to call the New York City anti-terrorism unit. When the cops finally appear to investigate, nobody works at The All-American Carpet Company anymore. "They just vanished. Cleared out," said one cop.


I am a d10

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

No fair. I wanted to be a d20.

On the CNN Blog

I recently read this entry on Bent Pedagogy. Today, Lisa Ort on the CNN Blog offers this insight on BTK (then I realized how it is that dominas actually get work, but that is another story):

While on assignment recently in Wichita, Kansas, I met Stephen Singular, the author of a new book, "Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer." Singular spent a year digging through the personal history and motivations of Dennis Rader, aka the BTK killer, a subject we cover in tonight's show.

So what would possess a man to do what Rader did?

Singular said that when he looked in the BTK killer's childhood he learned that Rader would get aroused when his mother spanked him. When Rader visited his grandparents' farm, he would watch with fascination as chickens were being slaughtered. One day, he killed a cat. It may have been an accident, Singular said, but it was an event that had a lasting impact on Rader.

"I think it started the feeling of liking killing," Singular said. "I also think it's about power. It's about being something where you can see and feel a sense of power, and you can see and feel having an affect on the world around you."

Rader was in essence two different people: He was married, had kids, and was active in his church. On the outside, he was the stereotypical guy next door. But on the inside, he was another person, someone who killed ten people...

[full text on CNN Blog]


What A is reading for pleasure...

If any bloggy readers would like to recommend a book for A, we'd love to hear from you!

Mom, can I buy a book?

Sure, no problem. Need money?
Where are you headed?
To the bookstand on the sidewalk.

45 minutes later...

Sorry I'm late.
That's okay. Did you get anything?
Yeah. This book: Western Civilization.
[It is a thick book] Impressive. How much was it?
Three dollars. And the bookseller is really cool. His name is Vladimir. He told me how he operates his book business.

I realize that A is still scouting for job ideas. The night before, he asked our local Thai restaurant if they'd hire him. They told him to memorize the menu, and check back with them.

Later, we stroll past the same sidewalk bookseller. Hi, I say to Vladimir. I point to my son and say, I'm his mother. He told me how interesting your book business is.
Oh, your son is vedddy smart!
Thank you, I say to Vladimir.
He has brain.
Yes, he has, I say.

I smile to myself. He has brain.


A is still searching for that Harlem Hellfighter.

I plan to follow-up with all the colleges that did not yet respond to my survey from winter.

A had a good time at the photography school last week. The school was somewhat apologetic when he showed up to register and pick up his materials. Sorry you didn't get in last time. We're glad to have you this time. A's instructor looks like a totally fun artsy-fartsy type. I like her. She gave him a lot of homework. A took some photos of the rowers at the boathouse yesterday. No more rowing this week. It's Passover.

The first seder is tomorrow night. We've decided to do ours at home. Because all of New York's seders are totally sold out, even the ones at the 92nd Street Y and the Chabad seder at Gramercy! It's just as well. I will be cooking a vegetarian Sephardic seder. We'll see how that goes...

Overheard in Union Square yesterday...

I helped out our dog behaviorist, during the ASPCA festival held in Union Square yesterday, from 4-8 p.m. Seen and overheard at the Square (I had help with the "overheard" part):

At around 4: 45 p.m., Sandra Bernhard walks through the Square. A fan approaches her and says, "Oh, Ms. Bernhard, I love your work!" Ms. Bernhard replies, "Yeah. Well, I can't talk right now. I gotta get to work." It turns out "work" for Ms. Bernhard was directly across the street, where she is performing in "Everything Bad and Beautiful" at the Daryl Roth Theatre.

Richard Belzer shows up at the dog behaviorist's table. I nudge the dog behaviorist to let her know she has a guest with questions. Turns out the behaviorist was talking to Linda Dano. Dano says, "Oh hi, Richard! I had no idea you'd be here!" Piccolo mondo.

A blonde in dark glasses with her dog, approaches my friend and his dog. Blonde in dark glasses has deep, raspy, smoking voice. Her dog is very big and very enthusiastic. Her dog's name is Bruno. I cannot tell who she is, but the girl is stylin' - sort of. She talks with us for 15 minutes. After which we realized it was Tara Reid.

Finally, Bernadette Peters shows up. Yes, this is all happening in front of Whole Foods at the Square. She looks young without her face looking like an army sheet stretched from corner to corner. Ms. Peters has actually allowed herself to acquire wrinkles. And she looks beautiful. She stepped inside the ASPCA-mobile to view the cats. Everyone was respectful of her space.

Since this is an edu-blog, I will share what I learned: Hanging out in Union Square on a sunny day is fun. I need to do it more often.


The New York Times as learning tool

Thanks to Laurie Spigel, whose passion for the arts and whose style of teaching I love, we have incorporated the New York Times in our daily learning. There are so many ways to incorporate your hometown paper in your studies. News helps us develop a curiosity about the world, and become better thinkers. And sometimes in the mundane, can be found the sublime. Apart from news, the Metropolitan Diary on Mondays is such a read, and gives a distinctly New York perspective of life. Here are my picks from today's Diary:

Dear Diary:

We were on a crowded crosstown bus leaving Lincoln Center when this exchange took place, to the amusement of the post-opera crowd.
Driver: Would everyone please move to the back?
Passenger: There's no room in the back.
Driver: There's always more room in the back. Please move back.
Same passenger: We can't move. There's no space in the back.
Driver: There are people waiting to get on. Please move to the back.
Same passenger: I told you, there's no room in the back.
Driver: May I please hear from someone else?

Ruth Seiger Maisel

Dear Diary:

My grown-up daughter and I were strolling along Fifth Avenue, enjoying the spring weather.
We were talking about her job opportunities when a well-dressed gentleman of a certain age approached.
Evidently, he had been behind us for several blocks. He walked next to us without any sign of menace, smiling.
"Excuse me," he said, addressing my daughter. "She'll be giving you advice for the next 50 years. Just smile and let it roll over your back."
"Thanks a lot," I said, realizing that I might have been talking more than listening.

Jamee Gregory

Dear Diary:

It's not the Chrysler and not Time
It's the vegetable stand on Third
and the corner.
Makes my heart beat with spring
The vegetable man's back from

Peggy Keilus


becoming New Yorkish (don't announce me)

A couple of days ago, I had to meet my Grammy award-winning filmmaker friend (who I will call "Ernesto") at the photography emporium that is the B&H Photo Video store. I could not, however, find Ernesto at B & H once I arrived. I decided to page him. Yes, on the PA system. I knew he would displeased if his name were announced for the world to hear (particularly in a photo video store full of Orthodox Jews for employees, and photojournalist shoppers). I had him paged anyway. I chuckled at how the Orthodox Jewish employee made "Ernesto" sound Yiddish on the P.A. system. Then Ernesto appeared. WHY DID YOU DO THAT? DON'T HAVE MY NAME ANNOUNCED LIKE THAT. NOW THERE IS A WOMAN STALKING ME. You should be so lucky, I countered.

We decided that his code-name for future paging emergencies would be "Eeyore."

The following night, I had dinner with Arty, who I've mentioned here before, and whose art work you, dear reader, recognize as the logo on Ramones t-shirts. We decided to try something Moroccan but we wound up eating Turkish food. We did a lot of walking. We walked to Alpana Bawa, we walked to Trader Joe's, we walked to Blockbuster Video and we walked some more. Which was when we ran into Big Time Filmmaker Who Won That Award in the South of France last year. Whose movie, as it happened, was next to be mailed from my queue on Netflix.
Hey, I said, That's Big Time Filmmaker and his wife Sarah.
"Yes, it is," said Arty. Then he promptly proceeded to jaywalk across the street. I had no choice but to follow.
Why did you do that? I asked. I wanted to say "hi" and thank Sarah for all her help...
"I don't know Big Time Filmmaker so well."
Ah. I see. Would an introduction have hurt?
Ah, I see. You didn't want to appear uncool and look like a stalker?

And there was my two-day lesson in not being recognized and avoiding meeting people who would clearly know who you are, because it is not the New Yorkish thing to do.


Goddard College Homeschool Program

Goddard College in Vermont has a program for homeschoolers with a residency requirement of three (3) days!


Undergraduate Program for Homeschoolers

The Undergraduate Program for Homeschoolers at Goddard offers young people, ages 14-19, who have learned independently outside of schools, an opportunity to begin earning college credit while continuing to learn in a self-directed style. Students design their own courses in collaboration with a faculty advisor, and may choose one or two 3-credit courses per semester.

Each semester begins with a weekend residency (Friday morning through Sunday afternoon). In 2006 residencies will be held March 3-5 and September 8-10. Students develop their semester study plans at the residency, and attend workshops on topics such as academic writing, library research, critical reflection, and areas of special interest. There will also be time for socializing and informal discussions with peers and faculty members. Students under the age of 18 will be required to be accompanied to the residency by a parent.

Following the residency, students engage in a 12-week semester. According to their study plans, which explicitly list each student�s particular learning goals, students send regular packets containing their particular work to their faculty advisor, who responds with detailed comments and suggestions.


a partial gallery

First drawing: Hand study before commencing art instruction.
Second drawing: Hand study just after commencing art instruction.
Third drawing: Hand study, again.

Study of a chair

A did this negative space drawing of our kitchen chair. He is also beginning to "get" studies in perspective.


Fun, Fun!

I bet you didn't know that The Rolling Stones did a Rice Krispies cereal commercial.

Poppins pointed out something poopy: you can get elephant poo recycled paper!

And I am still thinking about Alpana Bawa, two seconds after posting about it.


New York City style

I have linked here to The Sartorialist, one of my most favorite blogs of late. The premise is simple: catch the most interesting examples of New Yorkers and their sartorial choices of the day.

And I have found a new favorite designer, as a result. Alpana Bawa. It is the most colorful, happy thing happening in this otherwise mega-polluted and too-busy city (I know, I know, I should get over that we no longer live in Miami...). If I had a teaching uniform to wear, where I would imagine myself running the LaMai school for intellectually curious and artistic little ones, I would be stringing the children along a New York City block to the Met in Alpana Bawa's fall/winter 2004-05 collection.

Already? Erm, okay. What A is reading for pleasure...

What all this book reading has done for A: it has made him a better writer. The more we read, the better writers we become. We see standards of style that we incorporate into our writing. And that is, as Ms. Martha might say, a good thing.

I am now reading HOOT.


What A is reading for pleasure...

...which we will follow later on with Flush.

What I am reading for pleasure: your blogs.

I am listening to: NPR streaming audio.

Sitar Player

The Duke: I don't like this ending...
Zidler: Don't like the ending, my dear Duke?
The Duke: Why should the courtesan chose the penniless sitar player over the maharajah who is offering her a lifetime of security? That's real love. Once the sitar player has satisfied his lust he will leave her with nothing. I suggest that the courtesan chose the maharajah.
Toulouse-Lautrec: But, but tell me, that ending does not uphold the Bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and...
The Duke: [shouts] I don't care about your ridiculous dogma! Why shouldn't the courtesan chose the maharajah?
Christian: [shouts] Because she doesn't love you!... Him... Hi-him, she doesn't love... she doesn't love him.*

A woke up this morning to immediately practice his sitar. I helped him edit his second narrative for his writing class, then I sent him off to class. After which he has rowing.

I just joined the NYC Writers Meetup. Unfortunately, their next event, which is Tuesday, is full and is now closed to RSVPs.

Monday afternoons can be so quiet.

*dialogue taken from Moulin Rouge.


But then, you, dear reader, knew this already...

In this month's issue of Discover Magazine:

Body Snatchers

The exhibit is riveting, but critics wonder where these cadavers came from
By Yasmine Mohseni
DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 04 | April 2006 | Biology & Medicine

A dead man, his skin peeled away, frolics with his own skeleton, which has been removed from his body. The two hold hands like children whirling in the middle of a playground. Nearby, a similarly exposed body tosses a football, while another poses as if conducting an orchestra. Scores of viewers stream by, gawking at stringy white tendons, rosy muscles, and alert-looking eyes.

These cavorting cadavers are part of Bodies . . . the Exhibition, a traveling show of 22 whole humans and more than 260 real organs and body parts preserved using a gruesomely effective technique made famous by German artist Gunther von Hagens (see "Gross Anatomy" by Alan Burdick, Discover, March 2004). Premier Exhibitions, the organizer of this spectacle—which has attracted more than 375,000 visitors in Tampa and New York—insists that it displays the bodies for edification, just as medical schools have done for centuries. Critics counter that the exhibition may more accurately recall a darker side of that history, when medical students bought dug-up corpses from the body snatchers of Victorian London.

"I don't care if they're presenting it as medical education," says Harry Wu, executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, a group concerned with atrocities in Chinese prisons and detention camps. "The question that must be answered is: How and where did they get these bodies?"

Premier Exhibitions says that Sui Hongjin, the Chinese doctor who oversaw the preservation process, has assured the company that he used unclaimed corpses of people who died of natural causes. But according to Wu, Sui has been implicated in using executed prisoners for commercial ventures. In 2004, news reports confirmed that bullet holes were found in the heads of two specimens showcased by Sui's former partner, von Hagens, who returned seven displayed bodies when word leaked of their ambiguous origins. Commercial use of executed prisoners might seem scandalous, but in China it is not illegal. A 1984 law allows the use of their bodies for medical purposes without consent, Wu notes, and thousands of prisoners in that country are put to death each year, according to human-rights groups.

When the exhibit opened in Tampa in August 2005, the Anatomical Board of Florida protested the opening of the exhibition but ultimately failed to find suitable grounds to shut it down. The heart of Wu's argument is that the exhibition may be unethical even if it is perfectly legal. The show is now in Houston, where, for $24.50, viewers can see forgotten souls purchased, preserved, and posed for our entertainment. If we really want to understand who we are, Wu suggests, maybe we should look away.

Saturday, Saturday

A got a haircut today. His hair was incredibly long before, wavy and scraggly, and seemed to grow into that never-ending space to where beanstalks reach. Now he looks like a young Andy Warhol.

We stocked up on some books after the haircut. Then Chickpea for falafel on a pita after book-shopping.

I had snuck A's sketchbook with me before we left home. At around 7:00 p.m., I diverted our time downtown to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art uptown, for some drawing studies. A resisted initially, then said, Sure, why not? Carpe Noctum.

We arrived at the Greek antiquities gallery first, since it was closest to the entrance. Tonight's sketch was a negative space study of a crouching Greek lion in marble, 400-390 B.C. Sure beats the IKEA chair in our living room that he's been sketching since last week.

In other news, I am a little hyper-aware of late whenever we board a subway train. Clever me, I will talk to A without moving my lips, because, you see, we are in New York: Is that her ? Those are her ears, aren't they? Cate Blanchett is in town, performing at BAM. "No, mom," A will shoot back, careful not to look in the direction of our subject, "Not her." His lips don't move, either. Is that her? That's her jawline, no? Julia Roberts is in town, performing on Broadway. "Ugh. No, mom. I think we had a better chance of seeing her when we LIVED ON HER BLOCK." Both actresses I suspect would take up the subway challenge, à la Hilary Swank (who rides regularly with us common folk). One of these days.

We have a few more applications to fill out for summer studies. Then A should be set until September. We do need to school at home a little more, though. All this à la carte education, while tailor-made, is exhausting.

I am listening to the Stones' Street Fighting Man.