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Archive for the ‘Things I Approve Of’ Category

. . . happy Canada Day, eh?

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By the way, get ready for an influx of new neighbors.

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All packed and on my way to Cape San Blas, Fla., for a week’s worth of the beach life. You may hear from me again, but don’t count on it…

And while I probably won’t be doing any surfing, this is a fun way to imagine how a beach vacation might be:
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And of course, despite my best efforts, this is playing in my head.

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OK, so the kids are now in the 6th grade. I know; where’d the time go? Anyway, they started middle school last week and they both decided that for their elective class—what they call “choices” here—that they wanted to take orchestra. So I went to the Parents-of-Children-Who-Want-to-Take-Orchestra meeting last night at the school.

It was a cozy affair, just me and the mother or father of the other 300-plus kids who have signed up for 6th-grade orchestra. Luckily, there are three teachers and the kids will be divided into four different classes. At the meeting, we learned about what kinds of instruments the kids will need (rentals would be just fine, and in fact, encouraged), as well as other middling details. And oh, by the way, could you have your kid outfitted and ready to play on Monday?

A viola and a violin by Mathias Thir, Vienna, circa 1780. These will be out of our price range.

Well, the girl got a jump on it this spring, deciding she wanted to play violin. So she got one and took two or three lessons before stopping for the summer and the mess of activities on her calendar. The boy, to my surprise, says he’s all for orchestra and came home saying he wants to play the bass.

Cool, I thought… bass—even though one is twice as big as he is—would lead to many opportunities and genres if he actually stuck with it. But now he’s wavering, as a friend who took cello last year told him bass was really hard. So he says he wants to switch to viola instead. He’s got a couple of days to think about it, and when he goes to the music store, we can have him sized for both.

I’m not going to put any pressure on them—but I will make sure they practice—and hope they have some musical talent that skipped me. My bothers brothers both played in band in school, and I have always envied them. I tried to learn piano, guitar, bass, harmonica, mouth harp, tissue and comb to no avail… my love for music will have to be passive only.

Before he makes his final choice, I’m going to show him this video of Stanley Clarke rocking out in an astonishing solo at the Newport Jazz Festival. I don’t know if he’ll appreciate it, but I think he needs to what the instrument can do in the hands of a genius.
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A guy I work with, David Pike—a specialist in Japanese and other Asian antique and collectible items, including porcelain—lives in Nara Prefecture in Japan. While he and his family were unaffected physically by last Friday’s devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami, he is planning to do his part in helping the country rebuild itself by doing what he knows; he’s going to form, fire and donate porcelain tiles to be used for reconstruction.

I think it’s a great idea and will be chipping in. You might like his plan too . . . check it out here.

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Katsushika Hokusai's (1760-1849) famous print, “The Great Wave of Kanagawa.” The people of Japan have faced countless earthquakes and tsunamis during their history. In Shintoism, nature is recognized as infinitely more powerful than humankind—as in the wave—and that humankind is in nature with the permission of the gods but with no particular concern from the gods.

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Gaping Void - Hugh MacLeod

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“Corinthians” by Hugh MacLeod @ gaping void gallery

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The boy's "Green Hornet." He rocked on his inner Jackson Pollack on the paint job.

OK, so yesterday was the final Pinewood Derby for the boy. In March, he’ll be done with Cub Scouts and move up to Boy Scouts. For most people I talk to about Cub Scouts, the Pinewood Derby is the thing they remember best, as it probably should be, as boys are all about building things, cars, racing things and competition.

The girl's "Sea World." We couldn't find a toy dolphin so she went with the shark, which made it, you know, meaner.

This year, as in the previous four years, our cars—the boy’s official entry, the girl’s entry into the siblings race and my entry in the parents race (devised to give hyper-competitive dads [and some moms] an outlet and to let the boys build their own cars)—were more style over speed.

The boy and his trophy for "Most Colorful" car.

The boy’s and girl’s cars finished second or third in their heats, but finished out of the money. But the boy’s entry, the “Green Hornet,” did win a trophy for Most Colorful, which had him stoked because he did the whole paint job himself.

"Da Bomb" did sorta bomb on the track, but it looked good (slowly) chugging along.

As for my entry, I tried something a little different this year, coming up with a car that was not exactly what you would call traditional. It, ahem, bombed on the track but received many complements on its design.

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