Monday, February 19, 2018

night trail

there's a perpetual dance of balance being done in girl scouting because there's a lot of emphasis on girl planning but at the same time children don't always know what cool things are out there because they simply didn't know they were a thing.

people can't plan for things they don't know exist.

f'rinstance, i was at least thirty years old before i even knew there was such a thing as reflective trail markers.


there's a badge our girls have expressed and interest in that has a choice to complete a requirement by going for a night hike.

no ten year old who has not experienced a cool winter night hike would EVER decide to voluntarily leave a warm cabin in winter and march around outside, so i simply went ahead and made a night course.

the fact that there was going to be a night course was not a surprise to the other adults. everything else was surprises for even them.

when we announced the upcoming night hike there were some cries of resistance, but we told them that although it was optional, only people on the night hike would get to have the cool surprises. they girls asked what the surprises were going to be, but you already know the answer to THAT.

they wanted to know if there were going to be any jump scares.

no, i told them. there will be nothing scarier than just being outside in the dark. and i gave them the handout.

so they all decided to go.

it was a short course, but at night things look different and you maybe don't always know where you are. for the first part i took them out on a bushwhack out back of the cabin, away from the lights. i marked the way with stick signs.

about halfway through that portion they were all on board.

and then the stick trail came to an end and they were confused.

and i was all like "oh, look. there seem to be some instructions posted on that tree!"

the instructions said to turn off their headlamps and follow a lead line. i told them that being in the dark can be challenging, so i was going to keep my light on at the back and if anyone felt like they needed to turn theirs on, they could.

so off they went into the darkness.

after some turns and a couple hundred feet, at the end of the ropes they came upon another set of instructions and reflective blazes that indicated start of trail. it took them a minute or two to figure out how to look for the reflectors, but they did just fine.

the reflector trail came out at a trail end sign with a .30 caliber ammo can holding glow sticks and candy. and a picnic table with ice lanterns. the instructions said to turn off their lights and follow the lantern path home.

we stood silent for a couple of minutes to listen. we knew there was a barred owl nearby and one of the other leaders does a very good barred owl call.

i had chosen the widest and smoothest return path for the lantern way, marked all along with ice lanterns returning to the cabin, where there was already a leader with a campfire. the part about the campfire wasn't my idea, but it was magical.

the girls decided to bring the lit lanterns back with them, so we picked them up as we left the woods.

we could not have predicted this, and had we prompted it there might have been some eye rolling, but out front of the cabin with all the lanterns there was an impromptu recitation of the girl scout law.

i may have cried a little.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

much fun was had

i am back from my trip with the scouts.

later there will be pictures.

right now there's just going to be a shower and sleep.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

short on time.

i'm packing to take my scouts on their first WINTER CAMPING!!!

so i'm short on time.

here's a fun math toy you can play with.

and you should watch this. nina paley is brilliant.

Paroles Paroles from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

and if you have not seen this yet (or even if you have),  this:

Friday, February 16, 2018

they're not calling it terrorism.

a kid in a white supremacist militia shoots up a public school and for some reason they just call him mentally ill (which he is) but they don't call it terrorism.

it's too soon to talk about gun violence. or gun control. it's too soon to talk about somehow making it more difficult for a 17 year old white supremacist who has already raised a lot of red flags to get a semi-automatic weapon.

yanno, because it would have been illegal for him to have bought a handgun.

if he's been brown or muslim we would be calling it terrorism and calling for an immediate stop to immigration.

but he's a white supremacist who belongs to an actual honkin' MILITIA and we're not calling it terrorism. we're just going to "tackle" the difficult problem of mental health.

maybe by cutting services to the mentally ill? that's how we usually solve mental health problems.

and next week when more people are killed, we will all stand around and talk abotu how nothing could have been done.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

i won't dance

yesterday morning i saw this article in which a school attempts to make everybody feel better by having a rule that if you are asked to dance, you MUST dance with the person.

and let's face it, because of where this school is, we are nearly certain that this is the fragility of boys being protected against the consent of girls. yeah, in some places everybody asks everybody else, but usually it's the boys doing the asking.

which sends the terrible message that anybody OWES anybody a dance, or a date, or any social interaction.

and fine. i get that we want kids not to be mean to each other.

a long time ago we used to teach contradance to our students. and we taught contradance manners, which include changing partners after each dance, and being polite in rejection if one does nto wish to dance with the asker.

we told the kids it takes courage sometimes to ask for a dance, because it opens you up to rejection. so we have some little rules of manners so that anybody can ask anybody and nobody's feelings have to be too hurt. there are polite ways to reject that save the asker's dignity and if we all follow these rules, you don't have to dance with people you don't want to dance with, and nobody is mean to you for asking.

so this is what we told them.

you can ask anybody to dance. if they say no, you simply leave them alone after that unless they have told you to ask them again later.

if you are asked to dance and you wish to dance with that person for that dance, good. you're all set.

if you are asked to dance and you don't want to dance with that person, you have some choices:

you can say you have already promised the dance to someone else, which you should only say if in fact you are already planning to dance with someone else. you can say you are going to sit this one out, but then you have to leave the dance floor for at least the beginning of this song. then you go outside, get some punch, sit by the wall, talk to your friends, whatever.

if you really were going to sit this one out but you do want to dance with the person who asked you later, you can ask them to join you at the punchbowl or on the porch or whatever. you can tell them to please ask you again later. or you can ask THEM to dance later.

and this is the important part: these little bits of script allow us graceful ways of asking, accepting or rejecting and also graceful ways of being rejected.

if you ask someone to dance and they say "i'm going to sit this one out", on its face you have not been rejected, and your dignity is intact. it's a little social fiction that helps us all get along.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

thoughts while crocheting: a guest post

my friend rapunsell from the old game glitch wrote this little piece yesterday and i said i'd run it here for both of you to enjoy, since she doesn't have a blog or anything. i hope you enjoy it.


1. Okay, I’m gonna follow this slouch beanie hat pattern and just insert a row of mesh filet for every 3 rows of double crochet. Should be pretty easy.

2. God, I hate magic circles.

3. Dammit, the beginning of this row has a single crochet instead of a double crochet. Undo entire row.

4. (3 rows later, check pattern) Wait, how did I end up with 50 stitches?  Undo stitches.

5. (2 rows later, check pattern) I’m supposed to have 68 now? Cram in 4 stitches.

6. (5 rows later) Try on hat. Dammit, it’s too small. I should have used a bigger hook.

7. Frantically cram extra stitches into next two rows.

8. Okay, time for a mesh row. Oh, this is going fast!

9. [Expletive, expletive, particularly colorful expletive] I didn’t realize I’d have to stitch into chains from the mesh filet. This sucks so bad.

10. Try on hat. Argh! Now it’s huge! Frantically drop stitches in next two rows.

11. Try on hat. Whew! At least it fits. This is going to be a horrible hat and I’m going to waste all this gorgeous yarn.

12. Repeat steps 8-11 four times.

13. God, the shape of this is crazy. It’s going to be awful. Why on earth didn’t I just follow a damn pattern? I’m in way over my head.

14. Try on hat.  Wait, this is kinda cute. And the shape seems weirdly familiar…

15. Realize I’ve accidentally created a Tam O’Shanter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

brown water

i am, yes, still doing my annual cleanup of camping gear, which means even though it is halfway through february my living room is still full of gear.

usually when my gear is in the living room it's because it's camping season and i don't want to take it all the way to the basement and stow it properly for a couple of weeks.

i clean everything and look at it carefully and do maintenance if i need to.

a lot of bodies of water have distinctive residue they leave on boats and such. waterbury reservoir has kind of a brown scum that attaches to everything.

it comes off with a little mild soap and elbow grease, but here's one of my paddles before and after:


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