|American White Pelican, courtesy WikiPedia|
I've always had a hard time knowing what to do outside, but counting birds for the eBird project has become a favorite. So far this year I've seen ten species (and I didn't hardly peep a foot outside in January, because it was so miserable), and but surprise was that there are already American White Pelicans in the area this year. I looked them up, and they're not common in our area until closer to April, though it's not unheard of to see them around the area now, either. Pelicans are cool. They have a really distinct way of circling around overhead, always near our river. I like watching them; this year we'll have to see if we can't get down to the waterfront while they're there so we can watch some of the other things they do. Pelicans are fun to watch.
There's some cool free audiobooks out there. LibriVox has several of our favorites, such as Children of Odin, and The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Before Achilles. Those are some that the kids go back to over and over. This week, I found another free one that I want to have a listen to: Lafayette and the Revolution, about how a French Marquis came to be fighting in the American Revolution.
So, NASA's been finding planets around other stars for a while. I even had an app on my phone for a while that would show me things about them, before I deleted it in favor of language learning stuff. Now, they've found some cool ones: planets that might have water. And they're not even that far away. I need to figure out where Aquarius is, because that's where NASA says this Trappist system is located, and it'd be cool to know how to stare in their general vicinity.
The kids invaded and nabbed my electrical tape to enhance their sticks. The big guy has created a pilum; the small two immediately copied him, but theirs are swords, they tell me. It's really quite remarkable what a little electrical tape can do to a stick. And the things they come up with in "play"; I certainly didn't tell them to recreate ancient weapons. I just said to go outside to play! I'll be interested in seeing how long these stick around: they are carefully stacked outside the door, after I told the kids that their "weapons" were not allowed in the house.
I'm a Constitutionalist, and I learn foreign languages for fun: I believe that words matter. They have meaning and how you put them together is important. But it still sometimes catches me by surprise to see how big a difference it makes to change the structure of a sentence, even just a little bit. With a little bit of mindfulness, we can avoid teaching (or at least avoid reinforcing) ugly stereotypes by tweaking the way that we speak about groups of people: The "zarpies" example in this article is particularly interesting. Reading that article made me think of the research on teaching colors that I read a while back - the one that explained why color is so difficult to teach, and why kids often will take a lot longer than you'd expect to really get the hang of it. Turns out that some linguistic mindfulness will go a long way here, too.