Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Puzzle Pirates

It was Lucas who introduced Cricket (and thus Fish and I too) to Puzzle Pirates. Thank ye very much ye little blaggard ;-)

We had begun to tire of the grind ('kill' lots and lots of monsters to achieve the quest) on Silkroad and this much lighter game offered a less violent, more amusing form of play.

Both offer the opportunity to explore social issues particularly in the online world. That other players may be real people on the other end means that what you do makes a difference to someone else - if you don't keep up your end of the pirateship tasks your character could be planked (and I think I witnessed recently robbed into the bargain). I think also that how well you do your task impacts on others' tasks (though I don't know that for sure in puzzle pirates). And when it comes to melee when one ship grapples another to plunder - your skill (and luck) may affect the consequence for the whole crew.

Curiously we have found beggars in both games - players who ask other players for game-money. How we feel and what we think about the begging is also interesting to observe. Fish can totally relate to the desire to have someone just give him the money so he can get the thing he wants NOW (a wolf in Silkroad, doubloons to play different games in pirates), and so he is inclined to give people the game-money they ask for because he would like to be given for his own asking. Me: "getting money in this game is quite straightforward and easy, if time-consuming... if you want the game-money play the game".

Enough of each begins to feel as monotous as bouncing a ball against the wall but Cricket loves another opportunity to play poker.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Silkroad Online

Which friend do we have to thank for the introduction to Silkroad?

It has kept us happily busy for the last few weeks. It is contributing wonderfully to Fish's reading and Cricket's spelling as we party up with game-friends (and strangers) to quest and try to survive trading on a fantasy silkroad.

Fish has enjoyed Trader and Thief jobs and I've tried out Hunting.

Issues we've explored have been: balancing such games with health and family needs; world-wide timezones; comparing virtual with real-time behaviours (what do we ever know about other people's motives).

I want to expand on that last one first. We discovered (although the game discussion forums did warn) that clever thieves are undetectable while they mark traders out... a new young trader trusts this friendly player who offers to escort you with your carefully loaded trade horse (which is such a low level it may not be attacked by player-thieves) only to be killed by strong npc thieves spawned in the area by the 'helpful' guy's thief friend, after which the 'helpful' guy now in his thief suit and his friend make off with your trade gear.

Watching Fish discover intricacies of the game first hand, despite the warnings, I was reminded that his learning style is very much to leap in and give it a go. It is a huge emotional challenge to support such learners. He is of an age where "it is just a game" is not comforting or consoling, mind you he is also of an age where not winning is almost intolerable. Having said that, it occurs to me that my own style of playing (reading about the strategies, watching others) reflects my own distaste for losses.

Update: 17 February 2008
This post has attracted advertising comments for bot services - please don't make such comments, I will only delete them. If you wish to pay for the advertising space I guess you could make us an offer.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Moonflowerdragon: Scenarios for Internet Ethics

Moonflowerdragon: Scenarios for Internet Ethics

I just blogged over at moonflowerdragon:

Thanks to my Bloglines account, and Francey from Gargoyles Loose in the Library, I now have a bunch of new scenarios to raise when discussing internet issues with my boys.

Our local library gave us material from the government's initiative to promote internet safety (can't remember what it is called), which didn't really address anything we hadn't already discussed ... but finding the material prompted a refresher discussion in a timely way for our exploration of Silkroad (about which more later, right now I want to PLAY).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mum has claimed us at Technorati

We have a few games to post about when we run out of steam on them. In the meantime mum has continued with the 23Things project and is claiming this blog at Technorati with this link to her Technorati Profile

Saturday, October 14, 2006

numa numa warcraft in english

The boys loved this one at YouTube today.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by moonflowerdragon.
Take a look at this, they were right to call it supercoolpic don't you think?


Originally uploaded by moonflowerdragon.
I've posted at my own blog about maybe changing from protopage as my start page, and in the process have been reflecting that the boys use links from two of our protopages (mostly page 2 {I think} of the public pages). Actually that numbering of pages instead of naming is the reason I'm thinking of changing to Pageflakes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Now this is the way I love to laugh, reminds me of the time ... no I can't remember what was so funny but I spent 15 minutes laughing ... anyway here 'tis.

Update 11/10/06: Cricket reminded me what I had been laughing about - and it still cracks me up. I asked Cricket to do something - he said 'in a minute, I've just got to...' and when I turn around to see what is so urgent to him - he is tapping at a keyboard (?entering data ?programming ?communicating ?setting off a program?)...

... - which is not actually hooked up to anything ...
... - the urgent matter was a part of some imagination - a game or role play


It just tickled my funny bone. Still cracks me up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Unschooling workbook - getting to unschooling

There's a funny thing about my experience of Sandra's lists (recently summarised on AlwaysLearning that she might appreciate.  I read them, think they're great, decide yeah I might do some of those, I save them, print them, link to them, try to memorise them, then I get off the computer, find the boys heavily engaged in whatever they're into that day, and the mood passes. 

What I have learned is that whenever possible I share with the boys what I'm into, appreciate what the boys are into, appreciate what our friends and family are into, invest my attention into positive relationships, and enjoy life.

If I have to (or feel inclined to) seek out stimulating ideas, Sandra's lists are my first places to look:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

WOW and Darkheart

Today I played WOW and I did a battleground where you have to capture a blacksmith, a farm, a lumber mill, a mine, and a stable, and by holding the bases to get resources the teams need to get resources up to 2000 to win.

My friend Darkheart is staying with me for 8 days

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Paper Hats

On September 9, at the Australian Breastfeeding Association Goldfields Regional Meeting I have planned a deBono Thinking Hats session to contemplate the issue of the cost of 2007 conference and training.  I thought it might be fun to have coloured hats to wear while we think in each colour, so I went looking for paper hat instructions.

Using a large coloured sheet might get a little pricey - but perhaps the boys could paint some made from newspaper CreativeKidsAtHome had suggestions to achieve the different shapes I'd like to use.  Enchanted Learning offer an origami samurai hat.  Then there is one way to make four different hats.  Then there is the white chef's hat or, from a green leprechaun hat or black top hat.

A green garden hat (from Playschool).

No so usable for me, but fascinating:  While the Smithsonian introduced the Mad Hatter, they don't have images online, so it is Mr Paper I thank for my first image of Moses' beautiful headware sculptures. I'm equally grateful to the student artists, their teacher and Dwight-Englewood School for displaying the students' Mad Hatter inspired creations.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blue whale Photo, Balaenoptera musculus :: Image #05824 :: Phillip Colla Natural History Photography

Now there is something you don't expect to learn every day.

Blue whale faeces (Photo, Balaenoptera musculus :: Image #05824 :: Phillip Colla Natural History Photography)

It was St. Joseph County Public Library's library for life blog (specifically Ewww, Gross!) that piqued my curiosity.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dewey Decimal Classification

I'm not sure how relevant the DDC will be to Cricket or Fish. Possibly they'll only need a basic appreciation of the system in order to use libraries. I'd like to learn enough to classify materials myself. There is an animated tour of the DDC at the Online Computer Library Centre. I wonder whether the notion or practice of classifying websites to DDC is at all useful.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cows with Guns AND StarGate

I'd love to look at it:

Power out

Last night the power went out right when we were about to have tea.

I grabbed the torch and Mum and Fish lit candles.

At the time that the power went out I had just cooked tea and has watching M*A*S*H.

Fish was playing Warcraft on the pc.

Mum was washing a pot.

The power was out for 20 min.

A friend said the police did it, to help resolve a hostage situation.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Mythos - The free online RPG/strategy game based around Greek mythology

Today I looked at Mythos, a game that a mate sent me.
Its kind of confusing but I think it will be a good game.

So far I've found out how to build things and train people.

I still need to learn how to attack.

WOW quiz

I got 30 correct out of 50 questions in the WOW epic quiz.
Today I'm looking for Cows with guns to show a friend.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Considering categories

I'm delighted to discover that a form of categories *is* possible in blogger.

I'll wait till I'm not so tired, and not so overcommitted to give it a go.

But when I do I'll have another look at delicious2blogger
or before that How to do categories for blogger

Ballaarat Observatory

Today we went to the Ballarat Observatory for National Science Week.
We did a scavenger hunt.
The Jelbart building was built in 1918 - I guess, from the date over the door.
The longitude on the sundial was east 143º51'.
On the leadlight window on the front of the baker building there was a magpie and a kookaburrawith a snake in its mouth.
The federation telescope was opened in 2001.
The gears used to open the roof on the baker building were made by tennant&co in Edinburgh.
One of the leadlight windows on the baker building has a eye in the middle of it.
The observatory was built in 1884.
The Jelbart building has leadlight windows facing each direction, the window to North contained an N, to west W and to east E. The south window does not have a S.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Books for boys?

Because I have to note it somewhere...

I might want to find a copy of Great books for boys by Kathleen Odean. RandomHouse have generously extracted seventeen suggestions:

So when I'm not supposed to be working I might search at my local library for:
Lobel, Arnold. Days with Frog and Toad. 1979. Harper. Ages 3-8.
Every child should get to know Frog and Toad. Five short chapters, beautifully illustrated in greens and browns, tell funny, touching incidents about these two friends. One in a series of four outstanding books.

Jukes, Mavis. Like Jake and Me. 1984. Knopf. Ages 5-10. Alex admires his strong, cowboy-like stepfather Jake, and wishes he could be more like him. To the boy's surprise, he finds out that Jake is afraid of something that Alex himself isn't afraid of: spiders. Beautifully written and illustrated with warmth and humor.

Scieszka, Jon. Knights of the Kitchen Table. 1991. Viking. Ages 7-ll.
This lively book combines adventure, magic, slapstick humor, and droll illustrations to appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Three boys use a magical book to travel back in time and confront a knight, a giant and a dragon. Readers will laugh their way through this and the other books in the "Time Warp Trio" series.

Soto, Gary. The Pool Party. 1993. Delacorte. Ages 8-12.
Ten-year-old Rudy Herrera, whose tight-knit family lives in Fresno, California, knows how to have a good time, whether he is helping with the family's yard work business or hanging out with his best friend Alex. Laced with Spanish phrases, this is a warm, funny book about an engaging boy. -2-

Peet, Bill. Bill Peet: An Autobiography. 1989. Houghton. Ages 8-12.
Children's book illustrator Bill Peet has created an award-winning autobiography by combining a conversational text with energetic, often comical, illustrations. In describing his work as a Disney animator, the pictures include many characters from popular films. With pictures on every page, this is an unusually appealing biography.

Shannon, George. Stories to Solve. 1985. Greenwillow, Beechtree. Ages 9-12.
Few children can resist the lure of the mini-mysteries in this entertaining folklore book. Each of the fourteen short stories gives the reader a puzzle to solve, then provides the answer on the following page. Readers can stretch their minds, then pose the puzzles to their friends. Great fun.

Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three. 1964. Holt, Dell. Ages 9-12.
In this modern classic, an assistant pig-keeper named Taran longs to be a hero. He leaves his home with a kind enchanter to go on a great adventure where he fights battles, makes unlikely friends, and changes his views on heroism. The first in a wonderful fantasy series.

Brandenberg, Jim. To the Top of the World: Adventures with Arctic Wolves. 1993. Walker. Ages 9-13.
Spectacular photographs of an Arctic wolf pack give this memorable book wide appeal. Brandenberg's highly readable text tells the story of his months camping in the Arctic to photograph the wolves. A fascinating nature book.

Mazer, Harry. The Last Mission. 1979. Dell. Ages 12-14.
Jack Raab, who is fifteen years old and Jewish, lies about his age to join the Army during the Second World War. He ends up in the air corps, flying dangerous missions over Europe. Sympathetic characters, vivid descriptions, and an action-filled plot make this a popular novel with boys.

Crutcher, Chris. Ironman. 1995. Greenwillow, Dell. Ages 13-14.
In this powerful story, high school senior Bo Brewster channels part of his anger at his unreasonable father into practicing for a triathlon. Forced to take an Anger Management class, Bo finds a caring teacher, a possible romance, and some strange new friends who help him through hard times.

Although those particular selections seems a little more what we'd like boys to read than what would particularly draw them in?

I also wonder if they have Connecting Boys With Books: What Libraries Can Do?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


TodayI'm looking for WW2 things in the year 1944 to show Fish, this is a howitzer.
These are some photos of the D'day landings.
This is the U.S. troops liberating Cherbourg.
This is the US troops entering St Lô.
It says here (Oct 14, 1944) that Rommel committed suicide - I gusee that is the short story- I( think I saw a show on tv saying he was forced to kill himself.
On sept 1944 Operation Market Garden began.
In dec 1944 the allies were sent to the Ardennes ( or Battle of the Bulge)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Today we went to the library so Mum could finish her assignment.
Fish played with the toys then when he was looking at a book, he found that he could read some of the words. We're all proud.
I explored some shelves - taking a look at Star Trek Star Fleet Academy stories, when Picard was a cadet. One of the back covers told me that Picard had failed in his first attempt to enter Star Fleet Academy. The first book in the series wasn't there, I'll check on the catalogue later. I put the Star Wars series books in numerical order.

I have been to 9 libaries:
  • Wodonga (which even Mum doesn't remember),
  • Wangaratta - a sunny place for kids to play, lots of kids books and junior fiction, and that great big snake and was just across the road from Lunch on the Run - my favourite lunch spot.
  • Stawell - also had a warm space for kids to play and housed the Dragon's Den toy library (only open some times). Not so many kids books or junior fiction.
  • Ballarat - A large collection of junior fiction and children's books. Fish likes the fun play space with its sitting/playing foam blocks. It is the only one that seems to have the books I like.
  • Sebastopol branch - a small room for the kids collection and a little play area (it is a *small* branch)
  • Wendouree branch - a small kids comfort area.
  • University of Ballarat SMB campus - a shelf or two of children's books that Fish & I don't explore because we harrass mum to finish her photocopying so we can leave.
  • State Library of Victoria - I thought it was boring because GUF showed us the chess collection, and mum dallied in the Cowan gallery. I want to go back to see the Experimedia centre that mum is telling me about.
  • Mill Park - does have some of my Star Wars books, but I've been waiting ages for the Fifth book in the Star Wars Jedi Apprentice series, which has gone missing at Ballarat and they do not appear to intend to replace. I think not replacing it is unfair to people who want to enjoy the whole series, nor wise for the best use of the collection because who is going to read the rest of the series, if they can't read the fifth?
Then we came home and I stir fried beef for tea. Mum says yum and thanks.
Fish and I are taking turns on the computer. He played Warcraft and I played Rise of Nations.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Today we got the last three copies of horrible histories.

Fish and I played Rise of Nations together we played for an hour and a half and wiped out 4 nations. I was the US and he was the Russians.

Today I cooked tea: chicken and bean burritos.

Fish and I worked together on a map of warcraft a few hours.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reader's Digest

Today I read two articles in August's Reader's Digest.
  • one called Home Smart Home which is on the "homes of the future" by Max Alexander,
    • which is based on Grace, the talking house. I like some of the ideas:
      • projects a list of recipes that would use the items you put on the benchtop.
      • a touch-screen computer you can stick rfid encoded postcards or invitations that could access the internet.
      • smart glass that can be transformed into a TV.
  • the second one is called "Three hours of Fear and Hope" by Kenneth Miller, which is about a plane whose front landing gear had failed. One of the passengers found comfort by his seat mate who said take a "swig of this" and passed him a plastic tonic water bottle and said "its leaded" - the man had smuggled aboard a litre of vodka and tonic.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am sorry

- dictated, and edited by mum -

I worked out only a few days ago how to write "I am sorry". >clapping< Yay!

Dad helped.

I wrote "I am sore" and Dad asked me what I was trying to write and he fixed "sorry".

Why was I trying to write "I am sorry"?

I was playing World of Warcraft online in a group and when I went to blow a kiss I accidentally did a chicken impression instead, and I was worried that I might have hurt the other player's feelings.

Mum was very proud of me using my new knowledge of the sounds letters make to compose words - the dictionary spelling will come later. >kisses< >hugs<


Today I started looking at the WW2 battle (at wikipedia), Battle of Normandy (or Operation Overlord) which was the landings on the Normandy beaches: Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach. I saw a list of games that referred to Operation Overlord and some of the games were ones that I used to play called Medal of Honour (or moh).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hall of Fame and how to care for a thermos

Mum wasn't impressed that I passed up the opportunity to experience the Hall of Fame with Helen, Graham & Richard - she thinks I should take up as many opportunities for new experiences and in-person learning as possible. So, here I am, having to find out what I missed. AFL's Hall of Fame web site shows pictures of what I missed but Wikipedia gave more information: with links to articles about all the inductees. While AFL's site gave some basic information about the Legends, it only listed the inductees.

Mum was even more unimpressed that I put milo and milk in the thermos. So my biggest lesson for today is not to put anything but water in the thermos.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Go 'pies!

Today I went to the football with Chris and Gabe (and Helen, Graham & Richard) to see Collingwood (go 'pies) vs West Coast Eagles at the Telstra Dome. The 'pies won 127 to 90. I was only there for the 1st half because Gabe is 2 and a half yrs old and got restless. Helen, Graham & Richard, who had come up from Portland, invited me to go the hall of fame with them tomorrow but I did not feel like going.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Today I watched part 2 of Killing Hitler - a documentary on the British Special Operations plan Operation Foxley to kill Hitler.

I found an article at wikipedia and mum taught me note-taking strategies: identifying key and sub-points:
  • an assassination attempt was never made,
  • historians believe the most likely date for an attempt would have been July 13 or 14, 1944 when Hitler was visiting the Berghof.
  • The plan was to assassinate Hitler on his morning routine as he walked unprotected to the tea house in the Berghof compound.
    • The scheme called for the British to parachute a two-man team into the area surrounding the compound.
    • The two soldiers were a German-speaking Pole and a sniper.
    • The men would infiltrate the compound and get in place to shoot Hitler.
  • Security around Hitler was minimal because he felt nothing could touch him.
  • As a result, several attempts had been made to kill him,
    • including one that took place during the planning of this operation, by a German officer named Claus von Stauffenberg.
    • However, none of these were successful.
    • Stauffenberg's attempt only injured Hitler.
    • It did, however, have the effect that public appearances of Hitler were greatly reduced, to one or two per year, thus limiting the opportunities for another attempt.
  • One of the first plans was to bomb the train Hitler travelled around in.
    • SOE had ample experience with derailing trains (it was actually what they did most),
    • but the plan was dropped because Hitler's schedule was too irregular, with stations being informed of his arrival only minutes beforehand.
  • The following plan was to poison his tea,
    • to which he was addicted,
    • but this was considered too complicated because of the necessity for an inside man.
  • Next a sniper was considered.
    • A talk with a German POW who had been part of Hitler's personal guard revealed that at the Berghof, Hitler always took a morning walk,
      • around the same time (after 10)
      • and for the same duration (about 20 minutes).
      • In addition, he wanted to be alone during this walk,
      • leaving him unprotected near some woods,
      • where he was out of sight of sentry posts.
      • To top it off, every time Hitler was at the Berghof, a Nazi flag was put up, which was visible from the nearby town.
    • A sniper was found and briefed and the plan was submitted.
    • An inside man was even found,
      • Heidentaler,
      • the uncle of a captured soldier, Dieser, who
      • was vehemently anti-Nazi,
      • lived in Salzburg, 20 km from the Berghof and
      • regularly visited a shooting range 16 km from the Berghof with likeminded shopkeepers.
    • There had been some resistance against the plan,
      • especially from a superior called Thornley,
    • but he was replaced by a supporter of the plan,
      • Templar, and
    • Churchill was also in favour of it.
    • The sniper and a Polish companion who spoke German were to be dropped by plane and sheltered with Heidentaler,
    • after which they could make the approach disguised as German mountain troops.
  • The plan was submitted in November 1944,
    • but was never put into practice
      • because there was some controversy over whether it was such a good idea.
        • Hitler was such a bad strategist that it was believed whoever might follow him up might lead a better war-effort.
        • Also, Germany was almost defeated and if Hitler were assassinated, he would have become a martyr to some, while also leading to speculation that maybe Germany would have won if Hitler had lived. Since the idea was not only to defeat Germany but Nazism in general, that would have been an unfortunate development.
      • However, there were strong advocates on both sides and the plan was not put into practice because no actual decision was reached.
    • By late November Hitler left the Berghof, never to return. He killed himself when the war came to a close on 30 April 1945.
I think they should have gone ahead with Foxley because it would have saved about 10 million lives (based on the historian's calculations in the documentary: Jews and others in concentration camps; Soviet and German soldiers in the Battle of Berlin; bombed cities).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Architectural fragment = Goa'uld cargo ship?

Mum showed me her link from that sculpture in front of the State Library in Melbourne that reminded her of the Planet of the Apes. When I looked at Lucy Tartan's photo of "Architectural Fragment" I thought I saw a Goa'uld cargo ship.

I love chicken

BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chicken and Potato Parcels, Lime Chicken Soft Tacos (actually tortillas) and Spicy Rice are recipes I thought might be tasty and new. What is Monterey Jack cheese? In the taco/tortillas we would use mozzarella instead. Instead of using a fire or grill for the parcels we would use an oven. That one could probably be done as a stew or casserole instead of wasting foil.

The rice dish: I've heard of 'sirloin' as a cut of meat but I don't know what 'sirloin tips' are - we'd probably just use strips of any kind of steak. Habanero peppers... pass ... don't like very hot food. Mum tells me a skillet is a heavy based frypan. Just checking: Google says "A long-handled, round pan with sloping sides. Also called a frying pan." It also says "A skillet or frypan (American English) or frying pan (British English) is a pan used for frying foods, usually heavy-bottomed and made of cast iron" - and mum explained the she thinks of a frying pan as any kind of pan for frying including light pans whereas when someone says skillet she thinks cast iron.

While we were there we also learned about sauté pans: "A sauté pan has a more specific meaning: a deep, straight-sided pan that usually comes with a lid. You can sauté foods in either kind of pan, but the sauté pan holds more, so it's handier for dishes that have lots of sauce, vegetables, or other ingredients."

Mum thinks she'll try the chicken pizza because of the smoked gouda - I don't know about that - I think I'd prefer mozzarella.

Carpet Bowls developed by Henselite

Today, I learned from the Henselite company (via Google) that "The Game of 4 Inch Indoor Biased Bowls was developed in 1956 by the Henselite Company". Mum and I guess they made it so that bowlers could play during winter - thus expanding their market - guessing that Henselite were a major supplier of bowling gear already to the outdoor market.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Letters, Sounds and Words: a phonic dictionary

Fish has almost complete recognition of the sounds of the alphabet, 2 & 3 letter consonent blends, and is beginning to recognise the special sounds ch, sh & th.

Thanks to Collins Book of Letters, Sounds and Words: a phonic dictionary by Linda Hayward

Progress at last.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Base 10

Wendy at Always Learning, British Council's Magic Gopher and Joyce Fetteroll introduced us to some of the fun one can have base 10.

From a visual riddle or a mystery to an exploration of art

The clue didn't really help me work out what was going on with  Sandra Dodd's Mystery Art.  However I am not perturbed as the clue page linked me to Sandra's Art Ideas and Links which will contribute fascinating material to the arts elements of our 'curriculum'.

Today, particularly, we enjoyed Julian Beever's pavement drawings , particularly the 3-D ones - & the peeks into what they look like from other angles, giving the boys a little insight into how some of the effects were achieved.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Xrefer Brainteaser: Hot and Cold

Disappointed that House is not on tonight - Mum scrolled through her backlog of newsfeeds and found a recent brainteaser...

Cricket identified snow from the "dictionary definition: "Precipitation in the form of aggregations of ice crystals falling to the ground in soft white flakes, or lying on the ground as a soft white mass"."

Cricket identified correctly that direct sunlight causes sunburn from UV (ultraviolet) rays.

For measuring temperatures, Cricket guessed first at "Fahrenheit", but immediately agreed with Mum's suggestion of " Celsius" as the word officially replaced "centigrade" in 1948.

We learned that Frostbite is what made the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes abandon his solo trek to the North Pole in 2000.

Cricket was correct this time that Fahrenheit is the name for the scale of temperatures in which 212 degrees represents the boiling point of water.

Fish & Cricket both immediately declared Antarctica to be the coldest continent on Earth.

Cricket correctly remembered (he thinks from M*A*S*H) that "Pyrexia" is another word for Fever.

Mum couldn't call to mind the phrase absolute zero to describe the point at which it would be impossible to get any colder (minus 273.15 degrees C)?

Mum guessed correctly that in 1626, the famous person who died of a cold contracted when stuffing a fowl with snow as an experiment in refrigeration was Francis Bacon not Christopher Marlowe or William Shakespeare?


While waiting for Mum I played Hexalot

Friday, June 30, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


On Fable today I guarded a trader from a town to a farm. Along the road I fended off wasps and bandits.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Learning from Xrefer brainteaser

Mum receives the Xrefer brainteaser via feed from Peter Scott's library blog - so from time to time we research those questions she can't answer.

Like today:

Based on the example of the Forth Bridge (or Forth Rail Bridge, or Firth of Forth Bridge) (specifically from the answer it is meant the rail rather than the road bridge), a bridge that consists of two outer spans that project towards one another and support a suspended central span is a cantilever bridge.

Reading along the way that there is apparently a colloquial expression " Painting the Forth Bridge" referring to a never-ending task, we were reminded of Sisyphus, one of the characters we met in the underworld through a library book of Greek myths borrowed on a tangent from curiosity about minotaurs.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Games night: Secret Sound

At the inaugural games night with the Js, Secret Sound quickly required variation of the rules to cater for the universal desire to help the guesser guess correctly - probably because we had a 6 and 8 year old participating. It was also very slow in the original format, and difficult to track the timer with everyone more interested in how the clue-ing was happening.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Carpet Bowls & Wookieepedia

Cricket somehow developed an interest in lawn bowls after watching a few ends on TV, playing his own modified lounge-room version for several days. When I called a local bowls club for information about junior competitions the secretary offered to teach the boys carpet bowls during the winter.

We're now weekly regulars, although today we discovered a tournament in progress using the whole field, so instead we trouped (with two of the Js) to Black Hill. An hour or so of exploring made us all thirsty and quite pooped, so we followed up with an afternoon of Lego and Star Wars (Episode 6). Actually they watched & played while I surfed at the Carnival of the Infosociences, coincidentally stumbling across the Wookieepedia.

Recently, while so desperate for reading material that I read Cricket's Star Wars Jedi Apprentice books (we're waiting for #5 Defenders of the dead which appears to have been in transit from Administration to Clunes for almost a month), I began to wonder just how all the writers and game makers keep the stories and characters consistent. Maybe they don't always, but I look forward to exploring Wookiepedia to learn more.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fun with GUF

A date to see the Lion King was full of other pleasures and adventures:
  • Riding one of the new trains to town;
  • Battling claustrophobia seeking the surface through Melbourne Central;
  • Exploring the State Library (from the shades of Planet of the Apes to the Chess room);
  • Fish leaping at the Velcro wall in an oversize velcro suit - definitely wish I'd had a camera;
  • Fantasising at MindGames - must remember Fish would like a lava lamp;
  • Lunching at Maccas; and
  • Viewing the city from the Rialto observation deck.
We're not sure how to review the Lion King. (and thankfully we don't need to when such as John Shand saw and heard it similarly to us) While Fish and Cricket were impressed with the opening scenes, particularly the mass gatherings, they lost interest through the middle. However GUF and I were both awestruck by Buyisili Zama's vocal performance. Indeed, that was THE highlight for me, yet I can't describe it. As I don't even know whether the African chants had lyrics, let alone how they might translate, it could only be the sounds that reached in to my chest and played my emotions as if they were harp strings. I cried with no idea why, because the story moments themselves aren't that heart-rending.

Friday, May 19, 2006


In the car (as usual) Cricket asked how many people survived the sinking of the Titanic - and whether the ice was unusually far south for it to have happened.

We went to Encyclopedia Titanica for answers

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Making friends with Black Cockatoos and a King Parrot

Cricket and Mum enjoyed the close company of Black Cockatoos at Ballarat Bird World.  We are grateful to whoever it was in Parents Without Partners who suggested the excursion because we have never been so up close and personal with so many lovely birds.

In the walk through aviary a King Parrot took a liking to cricket, grooming his coat. 

We'd love to go there again - maybe by then we'll have a digital camera to capture such pleasant memories.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Indoor Cricket

Cricket's team "Hot Shots" was only just beaten this week, but I was thrilled to see Cricket's 6, and an excellent four over partnership. Major League Indoor Sports (where they play) don't appear to have a website, but in looking for one I was surprised to learn and hope to remember that as RACV members we can save on mini-golf, snooker and ten pin.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jedi Apprentice

Cricket introduced me to the Jedi Apprentice series. We're waiting for #5 to come back into the library. I've been impressed with Jude Watson's descriptions of Obi Wan's personal development and Jedi principles and philosophies.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


>> insert, if we ever get a digital camera: Fish at gymnastics <<
>> or, if we ever find a scanner: his performance as a baby <<
Fish is having such fun at the Ballarat Aquatic Centre gymnastics program we can at least link to their online window.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Medieval Birthday Madness

Cricket & Fish have been holidaying with their dad so I was very pleased to hear Sir Lucas would be celebrating his birthday at Kryal Castle. When I arrived Fish's shoes, socks and feet were soaked from the puddles in the maze. Fish later showed "sufficient skill with the bow to be of service in protecting King and Country" and was "made an honourary member of the Castle Guard". He is now a Castle Archer.

I couldn't keep up with Cricket, so I took in the Full Flight Birds of Prey display: meeting a peregrine falcon, owls and eagles.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Other home educators ... 1

Someone new joined the autonomous education network at mc2, and diving into the web from his blog (Living in a Deschooling Madhouse) I surfed to Diary of Home Education Nobody. Entry 001 triggered my own awareness of the challenge to provide evidence of Cricket's & Fish's learning. I don't actually 'have' to provide evidence to anyone just now, so the challenge is partly seeing it for myself. I don't want to spoil the boys' enjoyment of their life-learning, so why do I ask them to write about it?
  • At the very least, says one of my justifications, some brief note by which they can practice handwriting.
  • In the process may be practice at generating written words from thoughts (I'd be content with personal spelling)
  • Habits can be helpful: and I am thinking that this kind of writing can help them develop habits of:
    • reflection on performance/development/process
    • documenting either objective data of their exploration (like Daniel does in Star Gate) or
    • deliberate thinking (I'm thinking of showing them deBono's CoRT or at least starting with PMI or Thinking hats)
  • sometimes writing can help reinforce learning
  • Maybe it will help them become aware of what they are learning so that when asked they can answer with more than "I've been playing the computer and watching DVDs"
  • I feel a need for some sort of documentation, and I don't want to spend my days following them around with notepad and pen.
Still, I need to keep requirement to a minimum (to be consistent with my philosophy of autonomy) ... yet I am the guide so maybe for now I need to focus on:
  • pointing out the use and practice of various forms of documentation in their areas of interest
  • finding reasons that have meaning to them.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Popeyed Fish

The Js visited yesterday, buzzing excitedly about the show at the Begonia Festival. J1 insisted we "come see" PopEyed - some sort of balancing act.

Fish loved their show so much we went back to see it again yesterday, and then again today. I have to admit my own hands hurt from clapping.

While PopEyed's website will give you an idea of their acrobatics, it can't convey the cleverness of the "Russian" theme they use to tie some fun family comedy to the the eye-popping balancing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ballaarat Astronomical Society

Cricket, Fish, Oma and Mum joined the Ballaarat Astronomical Society tonight, intending to return frequently to the Ballaarat Observatory . What a thrill to see Saturn for real.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


New Year's Day spent watching fifth season of M.A.S.H. Cricket's New Year gift, followed by Fish's: Stuart Little collection. Cricket commented that one of the scout leaders in Stuart Little 3 hadn't been a very good example of honourable behaviour.